• • •
I can feel his fingers trailing up my arm before I even open my eyes. I force back a tired smile and pretend I’m still sleeping. His fingers trail over my shoulder and stop at my collarbone, just before they reach my neck. I have a small tattoo there that I got in college. It’s a simple outline of a heart that’s slightly open at the top. I can feel his fingers circle around the tattoo, and then he leans forward and presses his lips against it. I squeeze my eyes shut even tighter.
“Lily,” he whispers, wrapping an arm around my waist. I moan a little, trying to wake up, and then roll onto my back so that I can look up at him. When I open my eyes, he’s staring down at me. I can tell by the way the sunlight shines through my windows and across his face that it’s not even seven a.m. yet.
“I am the most despicable man you’ve ever met. Am I right?”
I laugh, and nod a little. “Pretty damn close.”
He smiles and then brushes my hair off my face. He leans forward and presses his lips to my forehead, and I hate that he just did that. Now I’ll be the one plagued with sleepless nights, because I want to put this memory on repeat.
“I have to go,” he says. “I’m really late. But one—I’m sorry. Two—I’ll never do this again. This is the last you’ll hear from me, I promise. And three—I’m really sorry. You have no idea.”
I force a smile, but I want to frown because I absolutely hated his number two. I actually don’t mind if he tries this again, but then I remind myself that we want two different things from life. And it’s good that he fell asleep and we never even kissed, because if I would have had sex with him while he was wearing scrubs, I would have been the one showing up at his door on my knees, begging for more.
This is good. Rip the Band-Aid off and let him leave.
“Have a nice life, Ryle. I wish you all the success in the world.”
He doesn’t respond to my goodbye. He silently stares down at me with somewhat of a frown, and then says, “Yeah. You too, Lily.”
Then he rolls away from me and stands up. I can’t even look at him right now, so I roll onto my side so that my back is to him. I listen as he puts his shoes on and then reaches for his phone. There’s a long pause before he moves again, and I know it’s because he was staring at me. I squeeze my eyes shut until I hear the slam of the front door.
My face immediately grows warm, and I refuse to allow myself to mope. I force myself off the bed. I have work to do. I can’t be upset that I’m not enough to make a guy want to remap all of his life goals.
Besides, I have my own life goals to worry about now. And I’m really excited about them. So much so, that I really don’t have time for a guy in my life, anyway.
Busy girl, here.
I am a brave and bold businesswoman with zero fucks to give for men in scrubs.
It’s been fifty-three days since Ryle walked out of my apartment that morning. Which means it’s been fifty-three days since I’ve heard from him.
But that’s okay, because for the last fifty-three days, I’ve been too busy to really give him much thought as I prepared for this moment.
“Ready?” Allysa says.
I nod, and she flips the sign to Open and we both hug and squeal like little kids.
We rush around the counter and wait for our first customer. It’s a soft opening, so I haven’t really done a marketing push yet, but we just want to make sure there aren’t any kinks before our grand opening.
“It’s really pretty in here,” Allysa says, admiring our hard work. I look around us, bursting with pride. Of course I want to succeed, but at this point I’m not even sure if that matters. I had a dream and I busted my ass to make it come true. Whatever happens after today is just icing on the cake.
“It smells so good in here,” I say. “I love this smell.”
I don’t know if we’ll get any customers today, but we’re both acting like this is the best thing that’s ever happened to us, so I don’t think that matters. Besides, Marshall will come in at some point today and my mother will come in after she gets off work. That’s two customers for sure. That’s plenty.
Allysa squeezes my arm when the front door begins to open. I suddenly grow a little panicked, because what if something goes wrong?
And then I do panic, because something just went wrong. Terribly wrong. My very first customer is none other than Ryle Kincaid.
He stops when the door closes behind him and he looks around in awe. “What?” he says, turning in a circle. “How in the . . . ?” He looks over at me and Allysa. “This is incredible. It doesn’t even look like the same building!”
Okay, maybe I’m fine with him being the first customer.
It takes him a few minutes to actually make it to the counter because he can’t stop touching things and looking at things. When he finally does reach us, Allysa runs around the counter and hugs him. “Isn’t it beautiful?” she says. She waves her hand in my direction. “It was all her idea. All of it. I just helped with the dirty work.”
Ryle laughs. “I find it hard to believe that your Pinterest skills didn’t play a little part.”
I nod. “She’s being modest. Her skills were half of what brought this vision to life.”
Ryle smiles at me and it might as well have been a knife to the chest, because ouch.
He slaps his hands on the counter and says, “Am I the first official customer?”