I Wanna Text You Up (Page 8)
“A decent start? You bought like two of everything.”
“And not a single box of mac and cheese.”
“But only because we have enough at home, right?”
He shakes his head, amused. “Sure. Now let’s check out before I think on it too much and make you put that chocolate milk back.”
“You caught that, huh?”
“You’d make a horrible thief. You’re not the least bit slick or subtle.”
“Don’t be insulting, Caleb.”
He rolls his eyes as he pushes the cart up to the belt and begins loading the groceries. “Honest, Zoe—I was being honest.”
“Are you always so sassy?”
“Do you always have to have the last word?”
The cashier, a high school student who looks bored out of his mind, pushes the groceries through the scanner and down to the bag boy, who looks just as enthusiastic as our cashier.
“Paper or plastic?” he asks in a monotone voice.
“Paper,” Caleb says at the same time I say, “Plastic.”
“Paper is better, sturdier.”
“I use the plastic bags.”
“Mittens uses the paper bags.”
“Paper or plastic?” the kid says again.
Caleb and I stare one another down, not wanting to let the other win.
The moment I open my mouth, he does too.
“PAPER!” he shouts at the poor kid, making him jump. Then he throws a cocky grin my way.
I groan and continue loading the belt.
A few minutes and eighty dollars later, we’re caught at another stalemate.
“No way. I got this.”
“Just let me get this. You’ve already spent enough this week with rent.”
“No way. Go put the cart up.”
“You’re being stubborn!” I tell him.
He swipes his debit card. “That’s funny coming from you.”
“Fine, but we’re getting French fries on the way home, just so you know.”
“But the groceries…”
“Will be fine for ten minutes or so. Now hurry up so my chocolate milk doesn’t go bad.”
“This was the best idea you’ve had since you let me move in.”
Caleb moans as he takes another bite of his burger, swallows, and shoves a handful of fries into his mouth.
I watch every movement with rapt attention.
“Are you making love to that thing or eating it?”
He side-eyes me. “Eating it, and enjoying the hell out of it. I rarely eat anything other than chicken and veggies.”
“Are you serious?”
“What?” he says through a mouthful of fries. “I try to eat healthy. I am an athlete, you know. We need to keep in shape to play the best game.”
I pop my last nugget into my mouth and gather up my trash as Caleb polishes off his burger.
“Thank you for that, Zoe.” He shoves his wrapper into the bag and sips the last of his Powerade before shoving that inside too. “I mean, I’m definitely going to regret it later, but damn was that good.”
“You’re welcome…I think.”
“I’m gonna run these to the trash really quick. Lock the door behind me.”
I glance around, surprised he’d make that suggestion. “We’re sitting in a Frankie’s parking lot at eight thirty on a Tuesday. I don’t think anything is going to happen in the forty seconds it’ll take you to toss this out.”
“Are you always so argumentative? The entire time in the store, you were the same way.”
“I don’t argue. I tactfully sway your opinions in my favor.”
“So you argue until you get your way.”
“Sure, if that’s how you want to see it.”
He lifts his eyes skyward and sighs. “Just do it.”
He pushes the door open and steps out, slams it closed, and waits.
I glare at his form through the window as he stands there. He won’t budge until I lock the damn door.
After what feels like several minutes, I give in and click the button.
He scurries away, and I watch him move effortlessly. His walk is determined and sure—and I feel like a damn moron for noticing, especially in this moment.
Before I know it, he’s knocking on the window, I’m unlocking the door, and we’re back on the road, heading to the apartment.
We’re quiet, and as much as I’m enjoying the calmness, there’s something weighing on my mind that I want to talk about.
I’ve known who Caleb Mills was since the moment I stepped foot on campus. Everyone knows who he is: star third baseman for the Hawks. He’s always been popular, known throughout the university as the guy who’s always there, the one you can count on.
Being so easy on the eyes has brought him attention too. I think every girl on campus has crushed on him at some point in her time here, but not once has he earned a reputation as anything other than a gentleman. Until Delia, there were always jokes flying that he was the only virgin Hawk on the team. I don’t think anyone actually thought that was true, but still.
No one has ever said a bad thing about Caleb, so him getting into a scuffle? I want to know what the hell happened.
“Can I ask you something?”
He groans at my words, I’m sure because he knows what’s coming next.
“Yeah?” The word is gruff, full of contempt—not at me though; at the situation.
“You said it happened during a fight?”
“No one important.” His words are almost whispered, and I can hear the regret in them.
“You broke your hand over no one important?”
He sighs loudly and gives me a clipped nod. “Yep.”
“How bad is it?”
“It’s bad. I’m probably done.”
I peek over at him. He’s staring out the passenger window, angular scruff-covered jaw clenched tight. I can feel the heat coming off him, and I wish I hadn’t broached the subject at all.
But it’s too late to turn back now.
I let out a breath, and he shifts in his seat like talking about it is making him physically uncomfortable.
“What about… I thought you were playing with some junior league team next year?”
The corners of his mouth quirk up. “Not junior league, babe, minor, and it was never official. We were just in talks, but now it’s completely off the table.”
I don’t know if it’s that word or what he just confessed that knocks the breath out of me. “Wow,” is all I can manage.
Sadness seeps out of his voice and I want to reach out to him, tell him how sorry I am that he’s lost his dream.
I know if anything happened to my hands and I couldn’t pick up a pencil or paintbrush anymore, I’d be lost.
And that’s exactly what Caleb sounds like right now.
“Did you at least win?”
A chuckle escapes his lips and he shakes his head, pulling his cap off and running a hand through his thick mess of curls. He stares down at his lap with a grin, fiddling with the cap and bending the rim to just the right position.
“Well?” I tease.
“Yeah, I won.”
I ease the SUV into a parking space and neither of us speak as we load our arms with bags of groceries and walk them up to the apartment.
“Do you have a certain way you want this arranged?” he asks once we’ve brought everything inside.
He begins pulling things from the paper bags and I notice the way he favors his left hand, the one not in a brace. He’s been doing that the entire night—at the store, while we were eating, and now. I want to ask him more about his injury, but I also want to give him space on the subject.
“Not really. I don’t use my cabinets much.”
“Mind if I rearrange?”
“Have at it.”
I pour a glass of the fresh-squeezed orange juice we bought and take a seat at the countertop bar. Caleb drags his phone from his pocket and clicks a few buttons.
“We have Wi-Fi, right?”
“This isn’t the dark ages. Of course we have Wi-Fi.”
“XGonGiveItToYa69. Caps the beginning of each word.”
He gives me a blank stare. “Is this more of that Breakfast and Beats shit?”
“Or the fact that DMX is amazing.”
“Sure, or that.” He plugs the password in and swipes around a few different screens. “How’d you get so into rap? You don’t really seem…”
“The type? Why, because I’m an artist and I should be all about that mopey emo shit?”
He shakes his head, flustered. “N-No, that’s not what I was saying.”
Grinning, he says, “Okay, maybe a little.”
“Seriously, how’d you get into it?”