“Today, while we were in the city. I ran smack dab into him as we were leaving Starbucks.”

My dad sat down on my bed. “What else did he have to say?”


“Not much. He said he had just ended his second marriage. I’m pretty sure he still has a thing for Mom because he said he thinks he already lost the girl he was supposed to be with or something like that. I don’t know; he seemed kind of weird.”

“He never got over your mother, and I don’t think he ever will.”

“Why did they break up?” I asked as I was putting on my eye shadow.

“Because your mom was sick and wouldn’t get the help she needed, so he left her. Which I’m thankful for, because I never would have met her if he didn’t.”

“Sick, how?” I asked in confusion.

“Your mom’s cancer had returned when she was twenty-three years old, and she refused to get treatments because she didn’t want to go through it again.”

I stopped what I was doing and turned around. “What? So you mean she was going to let herself die?”

“Yes, and when Kyle found out, he left her.”

“It was because of your dad that I ended up getting the treatments I needed,” my mom said as she walked into the room and sat down next to my dad. He grabbed her hand and kissed it.

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“Mom, what the hell were you thinking?!” I exclaimed.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly, but your dad helped me with that.”

“We helped each other.” He smiled.

“Listen, Julia, you finish getting ready for your date. We’ll discuss this another time,” she said as she got up from the bed. She took my dad by the hand and led him out of my room.

I was stunned by what my father told me. I knew she had cancer when she was sixteen, but I had no idea that it came back when she was twenty-three. There was so much about my parents that I didn’t know and it bothered me. I finished putting on my makeup and curling my hair. I put on the cute maxi dress my mom had bought for me, and I headed downstairs.

“Now that’s the kind of dress I like to see on you.” My dad smiled.

“Very funny, Dad!”

“No, seriously. That dress looks beautiful on you.”

Collin came running down the stairs. “Hey, sis, you look great! Dad, we need to talk about that car you said you’d buy me.”

“I know, Collin, and we will.”

“But I need one now. I can’t even pick up Hailey for a date because we’re here at the beach house and I have no way to get to her,” he said.

My dad reached in his pocket and threw his keys to Collin. “Take the Range Rover. Your mother and I aren’t going anywhere tonight.”

“Thanks, Dad!” Collin exclaimed as he turned around and quickly ran out the door.

“Connor, I thought we were going out to dinner?” my mom said as she looked at him.

He walked over to her and whispered something in her ear. Suddenly, she started grinning from ear to ear. I rolled my eyes and shook my head. I’m sure it had something to do with sex since they were going to be home alone.

There was a knock at the door and my mom said she’d answer it. I walked out of the kitchen with my dad following behind, and smiled when I saw Jake standing there. He looked at me and I pretty much stopped breathing. His face lit up when he saw me and, when I walked over to him, he took my hand and kissed my cheek. My heart was pounding so fast, there was no way he couldn’t have heard it.

“You look beautiful, Julia.”

“Thank you. You look amazing.” I smiled.

“Are you ready to go?” he asked.


My dad walked up to me, kissed me on the cheek, and then shook Jake’s hand. “Have fun, you two.”

“What time should I have her home?” Jake asked.

“She doesn’t have a curfew and just a reasonable time is fine,” my mom said as she pushed us out the door before my dad could say something. “Have fun and be safe,” she said and quickly shut the door.

He opened the passenger door to his Range Rover and I smiled. It was just like my dad’s, but his was white. “Is this yours?” I asked him when he climbed in.

“Yeah, my parents gave it to me as a graduation present.”

“Very nice!” I grinned.

“Is there anything special you want to do? Because I’ll do anything you want. That is, after we grab something to eat. I’m starving.”

I didn’t care what we did. As long as I was with him, it didn’t matter. We could sit in the Range Rover all night and listen to music and I’d be happy. “It doesn’t matter to me what we do,” I said.

“Do you like Italian food?”

“I love it!” I smiled.

“I know this great restaurant called—”

“Tivoli’s!” we both said at the same time.

He looked at me with a wide grin across his face. “You know it?”

“It’s my favorite Italian restaurant.”

“Seriously? You’re serious?”

“Yes, I’m serious.” I laughed.

We pulled into the parking lot and Jake parked the Range Rover. He looked over at me and told me to wait while he got out. He walked around and opened the door for me.

“I will always open the door for you.” He smiled as he took my hand and helped me out.

“Thank you.”

We walked into the restaurant and it was packed. People were standing everywhere, waiting for a table. “Man, look at this line. Hold on; let me ask how long the wait is.”

Jake walked back, shaking his head. “They said it’s at least an hour wait. Is that okay with you or would you rather go somewhere else?”

“Come with me.” I smiled as I took grabbed his hand and led him through the line of people. We walked up to the hostess desk where the manager, Alan, was standing.

“Good evening, Miss Black. Are you dining with us tonight?”

“Hi, Alan. Yes. It’s just me and Jake tonight.” I smiled.

“Very good. This way to your table,” he said as he grabbed two menus.

We were seated at our table and Jake looked at me with a half a smile on his face. “How?”

“Welcome to the Black family’s table,” I said as I raised my hands. “My dad bought this table so we would never have to wait. He’s crazy like that.”

“That’s awesome. Remind me to thank your father.” Jake smiled. “Are you going to open your menu or do you already know what you’re having?”

“I get the same thing every time I come here, chicken parmesan. It’s the best I’ve ever had.”

“I’ve never had the chicken parmesan from here; I usually get the lasagna.”

The waitress came over and took our order. I smiled when Jake ordered the chicken parmesan.

“Don’t hold me responsible if you don’t like it.” I laughed.

“If you say it’s great, then I’m sure it is.” He winked.

I had to stop and think for a moment because suddenly I realized that I was no longer nervous around Jake. I was comfortable and felt like I could just be myself. We talked about our families and Columbia.

“What are you studying at Columbia?” I asked.

“Corporate Finance,” he said as he took a sip of his water.

I placed my hand on the table while I picked up the glass with my other hand. “Sounds interesting. You and my dad will have a lot to talk about.” I smiled.

Jake looked at me and then at my hand. “I really want to hold your hand. Would that be okay? I don’t want to overstep.”

“You’re not overstepping and I would like that.”

He reached his hand over and placed it on top of mine. His skin was soft, and his touch sent a warm sensation throughout my body. He was so polite and such a gentlemen.

“What about you? What are you going to be studying at Columbia?”

“Architecture and design with a background in marketing.” I smiled.

“That’s an excellent field.”

“I’m an artist, but I don’t want to make a career out of it like my mom. So, I opted to put my talents somewhere else. Plus, I’m hoping to work for my dad at Black Enterprises. He’s already grooming me and Collin to take over when he retires.”

“You’re an artist? Like in painting?” he asked.

“Yeah, I paint pictures. In fact, my painting just won Columbia’s Art Competition. It’s going to be hanging in one of the halls there.”

Jake lifted my hand and interlaced our fingers. “Julia, that’s amazing. I would love to see your artwork.”

The waitress set our plates down in front of us and Jake cut into his chicken. He held his fork up and smiled. “Here it goes.” He tilted his head to the side as he chewed with a grin on his beautiful chiseled face. “You’re right. This has to be the best chicken parmesan I’ve ever eaten.”

After we finished our dinner and shared a dessert, Jake walked around, pulled out my chair, and took my hand in his as we walked out of the restaurant. Touching him, I felt connected, and being with him made me forget about everything else in the world. He opened the door to the Range Rover and before I climbed in, he gently placed his hand on my cheek. He smiled at me as he slowly shook his head.

“This is crazy.”

“What’s crazy?” I smiled.

“This feeling I have when I’m with you, when I look at you, and when I touch you.”

“The same feeling I have when I’m with you.”

“Really? You have it too?” he said as he inched his face closer to mine.

“I sure do.” I smiled as I looked at his lips.

“You’re so beautiful, Julia, and I really want to kiss you.”

“I want you to kiss me,” I whispered.

His smile widened as he leaned in even closer and his lips softly brushed against mine. His hand cupped the back of my head as his lips pressed firmly, forcing me to part my lips. He slipped his tongue inside my mouth and I just about died. Everything about him was so warm. I placed my hands on each side of his face and welcomed his passionate kiss. As he looked at me and smiled, he pressed his forehead against mine.


“Wow is right.” I smiled.

“Maybe I need to kiss you again just to verify that ‘wow.’” He smiled.

“Yeah, I think you need to.”

He tilted his head and nipped at my bottom lip before locking his lips with mine. The way he kissed was magical and it sent shivers throughout my body. He pushed up against me and I could feel his erection. I never wanted to have sex as badly as I did right then. Our kiss became softer and he looked at me.

“Kissing you is everything I imagined it would be since I first laid eyes on you. We should get going.”

I took in a deep breath and smiled as I climbed into the Range Rover. Jake got in, shut the door, and took my hand. “Why don’t we go back to the beach and we can talk some more.”

“I like that idea.” I smiled.

We drove back to the beach and Jake asked me if I needed anything and that we could stop by my house. I told him no, I didn’t need anything and that my parents were probably hav**g s*x all over the house. He looked at me and raised his eyebrow.

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