I nod and reach for the chair. “Maybe I should just try to walk on it.”
Allysa pushes my shoulders back until I’m leaning against the wall again. “No, don’t move. Wait until they get here, okay?”
I have no idea what two drunken guys are going to be able to do for me, but I nod. My new employee feels more like my boss right now and I’m kind of scared of her at the moment.
I wait in the back for about ten minutes when I finally hear the front door to the building open. “What in the world?” a man’s voice says. “Why are you all alone in this creepy building?”
I hear Allysa say, “She’s back here.” She walks in, followed by a guy wearing a onesie. He’s tall, a little bit on the thin side, but boyishly handsome with big, honest eyes and a head full of dark, messy, way-past-due-for-a-haircut hair. He’s holding a bag of ice.
Did I mention he was wearing a onesie?
I’m talking a legit, full-grown man in a SpongeBob onesie.
“This is your husband?” I ask her, cocking an eyebrow.
Allysa rolls her eyes. “Unfortunately,” she says, glancing back at him. Another guy (also in a onesie) walks in behind them, but my attention is on Allysa as she explains why they’re wearing pajamas on a random Wednesday afternoon. “There’s a bar down the street that gives out free beer to anyone who shows up in a onesie during a Bruins game.” She makes her way over to me and motions for the guys to follow her. “She fell off the chair and hurt her ankle,” she says to the other guy. He steps around Marshall and the first thing I notice are his arms.
Holy shit. I know those arms.
Those are the arms of a neurosurgeon.
Allysa is his sister? The sister that owns the entire top floor, with the husband who works in pajamas and brings in seven figures a year?
As soon as my eyes lock with Ryle’s, his whole face morphs into a smile. I haven’t seen him in—God, how long ago was that—six months? I can’t say I haven’t thought about him during the past six months, because I’ve thought about him quite a few times. But I never actually thought I’d see him again.
“Ryle, this is Lily. Lily, my brother, Ryle,” she says, motioning toward him. “And that’s my husband, Marshall.”
Ryle walks over to me and kneels down. “Lily,” he says, regarding me with a smile. “Nice to meet you.”
It’s obvious he remembers me—I can see it in his knowing smile. But like me, he’s pretending this is the first time we’ve met. I’m not sure I’m in the mood to explain how we already know each other.
Ryle touches my ankle and inspects it. “Can you move it?”
I try to move it, but a sharp pain shoots all the way up my leg. I suck in air through my teeth and shake my head. “Not yet. It hurts.”
Ryle motions to Marshall. “Find something to put the ice in.”
Allysa follows Marshall out of the room. When they’re both gone, Ryle looks at me and his mouth turns up into a grin. “I won’t charge you for this, but only because I’m slightly inebriated,” he says with a wink.
I tilt my head. “The first time I met you, you were high. Now you’re drunk. I’m beginning to worry you aren’t going to make a very qualified neurosurgeon.”
He laughs. “It would appear that way,” he says. “But I promise you, I rarely ever get high and this is my first day off in over a month, so I really needed a beer. Or five.”
Marshall comes back with an old rag wrapped around some ice. He hands it to Ryle, who presses it against my ankle. “I’ll need that first aid kit out of your trunk,” Ryle says to Allysa. She nods and grabs Marshall’s hand, pulling him out of the room again.
Ryle presses his palm against the bottom of my foot. “Push against my hand,” he says.
I push down with my ankle. It hurts, but I’m able to move his hand. “Is it broken?”
He moves my foot from side to side, and then says, “I don’t think so. Let’s give it a couple of minutes and I’ll see if you can put any weight on it.”
I nod and watch as he adjusts himself across from me. He sits cross-legged and pulls my foot onto his lap. He looks around the room and then directs his attention back at me. “So what is this place?”
I smile a little too big. “Lily Bloom’s. It’ll be a floral shop in about two months’ time.”
I swear, his whole face lights up with pride. “No way,” he says. “You did it? You’re actually opening up your own business?”
I nod. “Yep. I figured I might as well try it while I’m still young enough to bounce back from failure.”
One of his hands is holding the ice against my ankle, but the other one is wrapped around my bare foot. He’s brushing his thumb back and forth, like it’s no big deal that he’s touching me. But his hand on my foot is way more noticeable than the pain in my ankle.
“I look ridiculous, huh?” he asks, staring down at his solid red onesie.
I shrug. “At least you went with a non-character choice. It gives it a bit more maturity than the SpongeBob option.”
He laughs, and then his smile disappears as he leans his head into the door beside him. He stares at me appreciatively. “You’re even prettier in the daytime.”
Moments like these are why I absolutely hate having red hair and fair skin. The embarrassment doesn’t only show up in my cheeks—my whole face, arms, and neck grow flushed.