Of course the first place I went was to my floral shop. Allysa was there when I arrived today, and to say I was shocked when I walked through the front doors is an understatement. It looked like a totally different building than the one I bought. There’s still a ton of work that needs to be done, but she and Marshall had gotten rid of all the stuff we marked as trash. Everything else had been organized into piles. The windows had been washed, the floors had been mopped. She even had the area where I plan to put an office cleaned out.
I helped her for a few hours today, but she wouldn’t let me do much that required walking at first, so I mostly drew out plans for the store. We picked out paint colors and set a goal date to open the store that’s approximately fifty-four days from now. After she left, I spent the next few hours doing all the stuff she wouldn’t let me do while she was there. It felt good to be back. But Jesus Christ, I’m tired.
Which is why I’m debating on whether or not to get up from the couch and answer the knock at my front door. Lucy is at Alex’s again tonight and I just spoke to my mother five minutes ago on the phone, so I know it isn’t either of them.
I walk to the door and check the peephole before opening it. I don’t recognize him at first, because his head is down, but then he looks up and to the right and my heart freaks the hell out!
What is he doing here?
Ryle knocks again, and I try to brush my hair out of my face and smooth it down with my hands, but it’s a lost cause. I worked my ass off today and I look like shit, so unless I have half an hour to take a shower, put on makeup, and throw on clothes before I open the door, he’ll pretty much have to deal with me as is.
I open the door and his immediate reaction confuses me.
“Jesus Christ,” he says, dropping his head against my door frame. He’s panting like he’s been working out, and that’s when I notice that he doesn’t look to be any more rested or clean than I am. He’s got a couple of days’ worth of stubble on his face—something I’ve never seen on him before—and his hair isn’t styled like it usually is. It’s a little erratic, like the look in his eye. “Do you have any idea how many doors I’ve knocked on to find you?”
I shake my head, because I don’t. But now that he mentions it—how in the hell does he know where I live?
“Twenty-nine,” he says. Then he holds up his hands and repeats the numbers with his fingers while he whispers, “Two . . . nine.”
I let my gaze drop down to his clothes. He’s in scrubs, and I absolutely hate that he’s in scrubs right now. Holy hell. So much better than the onesie and way better than the Burberry.
“Why did you knock on twenty-nine doors?” I ask with a tilt of my head.
“You never told me which apartment was yours,” he says, matter-of-factly. “You said you lived in this building, but I couldn’t remember if you even said which floor. And for the record, I almost started with the third floor. I would have been here an hour ago if I went with my gut instinct.”
“Why are you here?”
He runs his hands down his face and then points over my shoulder. “Can I come in?”
I glance over my shoulder and then open the door farther. “I guess. If you tell me what you want.”
He walks inside and I close the door behind us. He glances around, wearing his stupid hot scrubs, and puts his hands on his hips as he faces me. He looks a little disappointed, but I’m not sure if it’s in me or himself.
“There’s a really big naked truth coming, okay?” he says. “Brace yourself.”
I fold my arms over my chest and watch as he inhales a breath, preparing to speak.
“These next couple of months are the most important months in my entire career. I have to be focused. I’m closing in on the end of my residency, and then I’ll have to sit for my exams.” He’s pacing my living room, talking frantically with his hands. “But for the past week, I haven’t been able to get you out of my head. I don’t know why. At work, at home. All I can think about is how crazy it feels when I’m near you, and I need you to make it stop, Lily.” He stops pacing and faces me. “Please make it stop. Just once—that’s all it’ll take. I swear.”
My fingers are digging into the skin of my arms as I watch him. He’s still panting a little, and his eyes are still frantic, but he’s looking at me pleadingly.
“When is the last time you’ve had sleep?” I ask him.
He rolls his eyes like he’s frustrated that I’m not getting it. “I just got off a forty-eight-hour shift,” he says dismissively. “Focus, Lily.”
I nod and replay his words in my head. If I didn’t know better . . . I’d almost think he was . . .
I inhale a calming breath. “Ryle,” I say carefully. “Did you seriously just knock on twenty-nine doors so you could tell me that the thought of me is making your life hell and I should have sex with you so that you’ll never have to think of me again? Are you kidding me right now?”
He folds his lips together and, after about five seconds of thought, he slowly nods his head. “Well . . . yeah, but . . . it sounds way worse when you say it.”
I release an exasperated laugh. “That’s because it’s ridiculous, Ryle.”
He bites his bottom lip and looks around the room, like he suddenly wants to escape. I open the door and motion for him to walk out. He doesn’t. His eyes fall to my foot. “Your ankle looks good,” he says. “How does it feel?”