I had received the text yesterday, and I still had to re-read it several times for the words to really sink in. Gray knew I was here now, something I was hoping wouldn’t happen. But when you were the brother of The Commander, you probably knew the ins and outs of this place, especially soldiers who came and went.
Meet me at Hallowed Grounds tomorrow at ten AM.
Short and sweet, and attached to the message was a geolocation of the meeting place. It shouldn’t be too hard to find as it was in the town square. I looked at my watch and the time was nine AM, I only had forty-five minutes to decide if I was going to show up.
That was the real question wasn’t it? Did I want to see Gray, did I want to bring front and center all of these emotions I felt from the heartbreak he caused me? A smarter man would have deleted the text message, went about his business. Then again, I wasn’t always the smartest.
The morning sun was shining through the floor to ceiling window, casting a nice warm glow across the room. The rest of the team was still up in the mess hall, finishing up their breakfast, and man could I use some Jon wisdom right about now.
As if on cue the door opens and Jon steps through, his eyes land on me sitting on the edge of my bed and he instantly recognizes the turmoil going through my head.
“What is it?” He crosses the room and sits next to me on the bed, his weight causing the mattress to shift and me having to readjust myself.
I don’t say anything, just hand the phone over to him. He takes it from my grasp and I watch as he reads the short message, his expression unreadable.
“Are you going to go?” He asks, handing my phone back to me.
I shrug. “I don’t know. This entire time I’ve been trying to think of ways to avoid him, meeting up with him just seems counter intuitive.”
Jon considers my words for a second, chewing on his bottom lip as he always did when thinking through things.
“Maybe he wants to explain things, maybe he has a reason for his absence besides just being a dick.” Jon reasons.
“I don’t even know if I want to hear what he has to say.” I sigh and stand up, crossing over to the window and peering out at the street.
“Maybe…” Jon replies in an unsure tone. I turn around to see him still sitting on the edge of my bed, the expression on his face matching the tone of his voice.
“Please don’t say what I think you're going to say, Jon.”
“You need to hear what he has to say.” He finishes, saying exactly what I knew he would, and exactly what I was thinking myself.
“I don’t need closure.” I shake my head.
Jon cocks an eyebrow at me, those hazel eyes staring through me in a knowing fashion. I cross my arms over my chest and match him stare for stare. I wasn’t going to crack, nope, not going to crack.
“Maybe he’s right.”
“Dammit.” I curse under my breath, which gets a mischievous grin from Jon. He leans back on my bed, propping himself up on his elbows.
“You know I’m right.” He adds cockily.
“Yeah-yeah, try not to look so smug about it.” I grumble.
"It's not like you have to get back together with him. Just show up and hear what he has to say." Jon reasons.
"What if he wants a second chance?" I ask, sitting back on the bed next to him.
Jon tilts his head from side to side, contemplating my question. "Do you want a second chance with him?"
I groan and run my fingers through my swept back hair. That was the million dollar question wasn't it?
"I…" But the words were lost. I what? I didn't trust him? I still loved him? "I don't know." I settle, responding the only way I knew how at that moment.
"Well then," Jon sighs and gives me a compassionate look. "You better go find out."
I shoot him an unsure look and he chuckles, slapping one of his big hands on my knee.
"C'mon, what's the worst that could happen?"
I scoff at that question. Alot, alot could happen.
I make a frustrated growl and stand up, grabbing my jacket and jerking it on dramatically.
Jon doesn't say anything, just sits there and gives me an amused expression.
I shoot him a questioning look. "Cover for me?"
Jon nods his head, knowing I'm talking about Russo. Technically we're not supposed to go out alone, especially here where people don't seem very fond of us.
I step out of the room and make my way down the hall. Once I reach the bottom of the stairs I hear Russo, Kasper, and Rabbit.
"I don't see what the problem is." Rabbit states.
I panic and step on the other side of the staircase, pressing myself against the wall out of sight.
“We are not going to explore the community so you can get a cultural experience.” Kasper shoots back.
“I have to agree with Kasper on this one. We’re here for a mission, not a vacation.” Russo responds.
“You guys didn’t major in Anthropology, so you wouldn’t get it.” I can hear the mopey tone in Rabbit’s voice, and I fight back a grin.
“Nobody would major in Anthropology.” Kasper responds, and I can practically hear the eye roll in her voice.
“You’re mom majors in Anthropology-ow!”
“Knock it off you two.” Russo groans, and I hear the door to the room open and close signaling that I’m safe to come out of hiding.
I cross the entryway, after first poking my head around the corner just to make sure the coast is clear, and push through one of the double doors to the street outside.
It was a chilly mid-morning day, and for once I was glad I grabbed my jacket. Heading in the direction of the square, I shove my hands in my jacket pockets, ignoring the precarious looks that passerby give me. I was wearing a Republic issued military jacket, so I expected to get stares, but they could stare all they wanted. I could give two shits what they thought.
Hallowed Grounds was located in a strip of brick masonry buildings skirting the east end of the square, so luckily I didn’t have to walk through the throngs of people and artists loitering in it’s center.
I check the time on my watch and it's nine forty-five, knowing Gray he was probably here already. He was always showing up early or on time, not like me though, who opted to take my sweet ass time. For some reason this was different though, a part of me felt, I don't know, excited at the prospect of seeing him?
My suspicions about him being early were correct as I was passing by one of the many glass windows and I saw him sitting at one of the tables on the other side of the shop. I froze in my steps, staring at him, taking him in and letting the flood of emotions I felt just by seeing him go through me before I stepped foot in the establishment.
He looks exactly as I remember him, which was silly to think he might have changed as it had only been a year. Tall and large, looking more intimidating at first glance to those who didn’t know him. Tan complexion that contained a few intricate tattoos on one of his arms, and others that were more concealed. He was wearing a lightweight green jacket with a hood and a tight black t-shirt underneath that left little to the imagination on his physique and the extent of his bulk.
Before I could change my mind I approached one of the double doors and pushed it open, causing a light bell to jingle and curious people to turn their heads, including Gray. We locked eyes and I started walking toward him, my boots thudding against the hardwood floors, and my heartbeat thudding even louder in my ears.
He stands up from the table and almost comes in for a hug before pausing and holding his hand out in a professional manner. I look at his hand and consider not taking it for a second, but I do anyways and the feeling that travels up my arm at the contact of his familiar skin leaves my knees feeling like jello.
“Thanks for coming.” Gray speaks first, the relief clear in his voice.
Words were hard to formulate as I stared into his bright brown eyes, which were swimming with pain and uncertainty.
All I can muster is a grunt and a nod before slipping my hand out of his grasp and sliding into the seat next to me. Gray follows suit and before I know it I’m sitting in a coffee shop, across from the love of my life, my heart feeling like it's about to jump out of my chest and scatter across the table.
“I got you a coffee.” He motions at the steaming mug in front of me and I glance down at it like it’s a foreign object.
“Thank you.” I reply, lifting the cup to my lips and taking a sip. I take the chance to steal a glance around the coffee shop.
It was a trendy looking place, with exposed wood surfaces, neat little knick knacks and pictures on the walls, and alternative music blaring out of the speakers. It gave the whole place a sort of industrial vibe that reminded me of the Pacific Northwest, but for some reason fit right in here in San Francisco.
"This is a nice place."
He gives me a crooked smile, that same crooked smile that used to make me swoon. Who am I kidding, it still does.
"No Riley, distance yourself."
"Yeah, it's my favorite place. Sometimes I come here to work, I like the vibe."
"Yeah, it fits your brooding personality quite well." I jab.
He chuckles and takes a drink of his coffee, letting an awkward silence fill the table. We stare at each other for a bit, words that want to be said seeming to drift around us.
I didn't like silence, it always made my skin itch. Hell I even had to sleep with some form of background noise on. Something that would drive Gray nuts back when-no, not going there.
"How have you been?" He asks. It was a simple question, like something you would ask an acquaintance or a friend after not seeing them for a few weeks.
I cock an eyebrow at him. "I've been fine." I shove down the urge to reply in a more snarky manner. How did he think I was doing? Did he think I was pissing rainbows or something?
He must have picked up on my hidden urge because the look he gave me was an apologetic one.
"I'm sorry, that was a stupid question." He laments.
I sigh and drop my gaze to my coffee mug which I'm clutching between my hands.
"No, it's a valid question." That I don't know how to answer. I shake my head, trying to bury the pain I felt. "How about you?"
"I've been better."
I cock my head to the side at his response. "Oh? Trouble in paradise?"
He scoffs and gestures around aimlessly. "Does this look like paradise to you?"
"Well I figured it must be since you wanted to stay." I kept my tone even and calm, not wanting him to know how angry and hurt I felt.
A pained expression crosses his face. "You know why I had to stay."
"I do, and I respect that." And I really did. I knew how important family was to him, and I knew how much sorrow he felt over thinking he lost them for good.
"But?" His eyebrow quirks.
"But nothing. I'm not going to hate you for choosing to stay behind for your family."
"But you do hate me?" He probes.
I open and close my mouth several times, not really sure what to say.
But… I love you B.
I wince at the memory, its reammergence making my eyes sting.
"Riley?" He asks, reaching across the table to place his hand over mine. I instinctively pull my hand back, and the gutted expression that crosses over his features pits in my stomach.
"I should be the one apologizing, not you." He responds.
I hear the beginning guitar riff of "Should I Stay Or Should Go" and I glance over at one of the large speakers, giving a small scoff of amusement.
"What?" Gray gives me a small grin.
"Nothing." I direct my gaze back to him. Because of course this song would start playing during this awkward conversation.
He bites his full bottom lip, studying me, clearly wanting to say something but not really sure if he wants to.
"We should probably address the elephant in the room right?"
"What, and make this conversation even more awkward?" I tease.
"Glad to see you haven't lost your sense of humor." He grumbles.
I cock an eyebrow at him. "Well, it was one of the things you said you liked about me. Or was that a lie as well?"
He gives me a puzzled expression. "I never lied to you."
I chuckle lightly at his response. Oh how I wish that were true.
"Last time I checked Grayson. When you tell someone you love them you don't follow up with that by dropping off the face of the earth." There was a slight bite to my tone, causing him to drop his gaze and squeeze his eyes shut.
"You think I lied to you when I told you I loved you?"
I shrug my shoulders. "How else am I supposed to feel?"
A pained expression crosses his face, his eyes glossy with almost tears. The sight should have made me feel, I don't know, sorry? But instead it just made me angry. Why the hell was he looking at me like I just gutted him? If anything I should be the one feeling that way.
"I never lied about how I felt about you." He stated firmly, his voice giving a little wobble.
"Then what the hell Gray!" I hiss at just above a whisper, not wanting to draw attention to our table.
"You don't understand, Riley." He shakes his head.
"Help me to understand then." I challenge.
He's silent for a little bit, tapping one of his calloused fingers on his coffee mug.
"You deserve better than this." He whispers.
I shake my head, giving him an incredulous look. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"Better than this Riley." He makes a wide gesture. "Better than this worn torn city, better than having to worry about me all the way from Bakersfield, better than… Me."
I furrow my eyebrows, frustration setting in and becoming clear when I speak.
"Don't you think that's up for me to decide?" I argue.
"Exactly," I cut him off. "You didn't even give me a chance to decide for myself. You just decided for the both of us." I fold my arms across my chest and lean back in my chair, shaking my head. "Y'know, for someone who has their PhD you sure are a moron." My breathing picks up, my temper holding on to the last thread of self control I have left.
"Okay, I deserved that." He resigns.
"Ya think?" I narrow my eyes at him. “I was willing to stay behind with you Gray, willing to throw everything away for you, and you just threw it all away.”
He nods his head in defeat, glancing down at the table to avert his gaze.
“I know.” He whispers.
Something didn’t add up though, I didn’t fully believe his reasoning for going silent on me for the better part of a year. He wasn’t telling me something, and I shouldn’t have cared, but I did. The fact that I felt like he wasn’t telling me everything made an uneasiness unfurl in my gut. Gray and I had always been able to talk to each other, always knew what the other was thinking. It’s why our relationship worked so well the first go around. So what was he hiding?
“You’re not telling me everything.” I accuse.
His eyes go wide, and that right there was how I knew I had struck gold, how I knew I was right.
“What do you mean?” He tries to feign innocence.
I cock an eyebrow at him. “That’s how you're gonna go about this? Make me drag it out of you?”
“Drag what out of me?” I can tell his temper is starting to flare, but I didn’t care. Maybe if I pushed his buttons enough he would open up to me.
“I know you Gray and you know me. You know that the distance wouldn’t have been an issue for me, and yes I’ll admit, I would have worried about you but guess what? I still worried about you, and that only made it worse by you not returning my calls. So, come clean. Because if you don’t, I’m gonna stand up and walk out of this coffee shop and you’ll never see me again.” It was cutthroat and a little ballsy I’ll admit. But he needed to know that I was serious, and he needed to know that his actions and withholding information from me had consequences. Especially when it came to our relationship-no, not relationship, friendship maybe.
His eyes widened and a fearful expression crossed his features which absolutely gutted me. I hated having to use the fear tactic on him, but I was so desperate to have all the answers that it seemed to be the only logical move.
“I was looking for Gabby.” He grumbled, not keeping eye contact with me.
A confused look split across my features. Why was he looking for Gabby? She had died four years ago. At least that’s what he told me, and the dead don’t usually go missing, they usually stay right where you leave them.
“I thought she died?” I asked.
“That’s what Griff told me. But what he didn’t tell me was that they never found a body.”
Was he assuming what I thought he was?
“You think that she didn’t really die?” I question softly.
He shook his head. “Thought. I came to the harsh realization about five months after looking and investigating that she really was gone.” His eyes slowly became glassy at what only I could assume was a bad memory, but no tears came about.
It made sense to me now. His reasoning about him not wanting to pursue a relationship with me while he was here may have been true, but he was also mourning the loss of his sister. Even though she had died four years ago, and he found out just last year, he had held onto hope that she really wasn’t gone only to lose her all over again six months ago. He was grieving, and the idea of him going through that alone made my heart ache and shatter into a thousand pieces.
“Oh Gray.” Even though I was still upset with him, still didn’t really trust him, I reached across the table and grabbed his large, warm hand in mine.
“I’m sorry Riley, I shouldn’t have disappeared on you like that.” He replied softly with a sniff.
“No, you shouldn’t have. But I understand now why you did it.” My eyes began to sting slightly at the emotions swirling around our little table. “I’m sorry that you had to go through that alone.” I admit.
He shrugs his shoulders. “I wasn’t completely alone, I had Griff. Even though he urged me not to put myself through that grief, I pursued it anyway. I didn’t want to believe she was really gone, she was my baby sister ya know? My best friend.”
I nodded my head and squeezed his hand tighter. “I know.” And I really did. I saw it in the way he would talk about her, like any other loving, older brother would. His face would always light up whenever he told me stories about him and her; picking on Griff and causing him grief, or how they would ride Gray’s bike down to the beach with Gabby on the handlebars. He had a lot of good memories with his sister.
“Can I ask you something?” Gray looked at me with those glassy brown eyes, and I was putty in his hands.
“Of course.” I nod my head shortly.
“Do you still love me?” He asks with a hopeful look in his eyes.
The question hit me like a ton of bricks and made my breath catch. I didn’t know what to say. If you would have asked me before I sat down at this table with him, I might have said no, which was a lie.
Now, with this new information on hand, I was at a loss for words. On a deep level I still loved him, I always would. Though the only issue was that I didn’t know if I trust him, and you couldn’t exactly have love without trust.
I opened and closed my mouth several times, my tongue feeling weighed down by words that couldn’t escape.
“I-” Riley was just about to tell me something, something that I could only hope was how he felt, when there was a loud explosion. The force of which was so strong that it shattered the windows of the cafe and had people screaming and dropping to the floor.
I reacted quickly, grabbing Riley by the front of his jacket and throwing him to the floor, landing on top of him with my heavy weight.
I waited for the initial onslaught of bullets, or maybe more explosions, both of which never came. I looked into Riley’s eyes, which were wide and full of shock.
“Are you okay?” I ask, cupping his face in my hands and checking him over.
“Yeah-yeah I’m fine. What the hell was that?”
I climb off of him and crouch low to the ground peering just barely over the table, enough to see across the square and see the cause of the blast. My blood turns ice cold and my heartbeat picks up at the sight of smoke billowing out of every open orifice of the Capitol building.
I bound over the table and jump through the now shattered window, sprinting towards the building, towards my brother.
“Gray!” I hear Riley shout from behind me. But I couldn’t be bothered, my focus solely on getting inside the building and finding Griff.
I'm almost to the steps of the Capitol when I feel a pair of arms wrap around me. I struggle against them, fighting, squirming, trying to break free. My brother was in there, and whoever was holding me back was stopping me from saving him.
“Let go of me!” I yell, but the person doesn’t, only strengthens their hold on me.
Riley? Why was he holding me back? He should be helping me get in there, help me get Griff out.
The situation reminds me of when I held Gabby back from running into the inferno that was our home after the earthquake. I had held onto her while she screamed for our parents, who died in that same fire.
I gasp for air that doesn't seem to want to come, and my body begins to shudder as I start to sob. My legs start to feel like jello, and I sink to the cobblestone ground, Riley going down with me.
"I got you, I got you." He coos in my ear, his grip around my chest never faltering in strength.
I reach up and grab his hand, squeezing it so tight that I was sure I was cutting off circulation. If I was Riley wasn't saying anything, only speaking reassuring things in my ear that I wasn't quiet hearing.
My world felt like it was crumbling, just like the spire from the capitol, falling into the depths of the building and being engulfed by flames that spread rapidly.
"What the hell happened?" A familiar voice shouts, causing me to jerk my head in its direction.
It was him, approaching from the left, being flanked by Diaz and a team of guardsmen.
"Griff!" The sight of him leaves me feeling elated as I spring up to my feet and hurl myself toward him. I feel my world start to right itself as I wrap him up in the tightest, bone crushing hug.
"Gray." He groans against the pressure, but I couldn't care less because he was alive.
"I thought you were in there."
"No… I was down at the docks… Managing another… Shipment." He responds as he struggles to get out my grip.
I finally release him and he gives me an annoyed look.
"I thought you were dead."
He scoffs. "C'mon hermano, it's gonna take a lot more than a little explosion to kill me."
I gesture around the square and its surrounding buildings, which were littered with pieces of debris from the explosion and glass from shattered windows.
"Does this look like a little explosion to you?"
At the moment Liv makes her way into the square with a squad of Doctors and Nurses, carrying medical bags and stretches.
"Triage the injured! Red only for emergent cases!"
Griff's gaze settles on her and the stiffness in his shoulders immediately settles. He begins making his way toward her and she spots him, her expression that of relief.
"Oh thank god." She sighs and pulls him into a hug.
"I'm okay, I was down at the docks." Griff reassures her.
Watching their interaction makes me glance over at Riley, who was standing about five feet away from me and also watching their loving exchange. His gaze meets mine and the look in his eyes is hard to place. For a second I thought I saw a glimmer of what looked like want, and need, my own feelings reflecting back to me through his eyes.
"Let's get this fire out!" Diaz yells. He and the guardsman begin to move but Griff throws up a hand causing them to halt.
"Let it go."
"But sir-" One of the guardsmen speaks up but Griff silences him with a calm look, his hand still raised.
"It's long gone, we'll never be able to put it out." He looks at the Capitol, the flames dancing off the hurt behind his eyes. He turns back to Liv, who is watching him with a confused expression, and gives her a quick kiss before straightening his posture and turning back towards his men. He was officially in Commander mode now.
"We'll watch the fire and make sure it doesn't spread to any surrounding buildings. I want fire hoses on the North, South, East, and West sides of the building. If the fire jumps, we'll catch it before it's too late." And with that they dispersed, even some US and Republic soldiers went with them, eager to help in any way.
He turns back to Liv, who is watching him with a steamy look in her eyes. "I gotta go with them, help keep this thing contained."
"Of course, go babe. Be safe."
"Always am." He gives her a cheesy grin then a kiss. "Love you."
"Love you too."
Griff and Diaz trot off, following the other men who were heading towards the old fire station for supplies. Liv begins fanning herself with the tablet she's carrying and turns her posture towards me.
"God it's so hot when he takes charge like that."
My face pinches in disgust. "Liv, ew." The last thing I want to think about is my brother in that way.
"What?" She chuckles.
"Kind of reminds me of someone else I know." Riley speaks up, a small grin tugging at his lips which sent a state of arousal right to my groin. I could feel my cock start to get hard at the thought that Riley might like to be dominated.
"He just came back to you, and not even really came back to you. He never gave you an answer to your question."
The thought alone left an emptiness in my gut and any sense of arousal I had was immediately snuffed out. Riley didn't get a chance to answer my question. Did he still love me?
Of course I couldn't blame him if he didn't. What I had done to him was pretty shitty, and if we did end up getting back together then I was going to be spending a lot of time making it up to him. Not to mention that who knows if he even wants to get back together. If the roles were reversed would I be so forgiving?
"Monroe!" I hear a familiar voice shout. I look over to see Jack, the man I had run into yesterday, flanked by two people I didn't recognize and Jon Stavros. Was he a part of the team now? I thought he worked in shipping back at Fort Bakersfield?
I see an uneasiness cross over Riley's features as he approaches the group. Huh, did he sneak off to meet up with me?
"I'm sorry for leaving the barracks by myself, it won't happen again." Riley apologizes.
A confused expression crosses my face. Why was Riley apologizing to a member of his team? Wasn't he CO? He didn't need permission to do something as trivial as have coffee with me.
Jack's brows furrow at that. "Nevermind that. What the hell happened?" He gestures at the Capitol building.
"There was an explosion." Riley replies flatly.
Russo rolls his eyes, clearly annoyed by Riley's response. I couldn't help but smile at the fact that even though it seemed Riley had changed, his sarcastic side was still alive and well.
"No shit sherlock.” He pinches the bridge of his nose. “Where were you when this happened?”
“Across the square in the coffee shop.”
“Why were you over there?” A puzzled expression crosses over his face.
Riley stood there, the look on his face saying that he didn’t exactly know how to respond.
“He was there with me.” I interject, stepping forward.
Riley and Jack both look at me, Jack’s eyes going slightly wide as he instantly recognizes me, and Riley gives me a look that says “What the hell are you doing?”. It was funny how he could convey so much in just one look.
Now came the part where I threw myself under the bus, to take the heat off Riley and put it on myself instead. However I didn’t care, I would gladly take the heat for him.
“I used to be on the team, we were catching up.”
Jack holds up a hand, a surprised expression crossing his face. “Wait. You're that Gray Torres?”
A sinking feeling settles in my stomach at his realization, I was afraid of this happening, but it was only a matter of time before I was faced with scrutiny over my past. It was also exactly what I was looking for to pull the heat off Riley.
Riley meanwhile was shooting a confused look between the two of us. “You guys have met?”
“Something like that.” Jack replies and I can’t quite gauge his tone. Was he disappointed? Angry? Indifferent? It was hard to tell with him. What I did know though, was the glare I got from one of his other teammates. She looked like she was one step away from pulling her sidearm on me, the man who deserted, the traitor.
I was used to it though, I seemed to get that reaction from a lot of Republic soldiers, even my own people. But they don’t know my story, they don’t know why I did what I did, they don’t know that I had a role in bringing the secrets of San Francisco to light. To them I was just some coward who couldn’t hash it in one of the most elite teams in the Republic, the thought of that alone makes me want to laugh.
“Is what they say true? You deserted because you're a traitor?” He narrows his eyes at me. I was shocked, no one had ever asked me that before, people where always quick to assume.
“No.” Riley shook his head. “He’s not a traitor.”
He was defending me? Something warm settles in my chest at the realization that maybe Riley did still care.
“What do you call deserting your team and your country then?” The woman who was glaring at me speaks up.
A growl escapes Riley’s throat and his fists ball up. I grab his elbow and give it a squeeze, hoping that my touch will calm him. He shoots me a stare, fire and brimstone dancing behind his eyes, and I give my head a slight shake. The fire slowly dissipates behind his eyes and his fists unclench, followed by his body as he relaxes into my touch.
Meanwhile Jack is watching our exchange with curiosity, something that resembled need crosses over his eyes for a split second. Was he?
“I would like to hear the reasoning for you deserting over a round sometime. That is if Monroe doesn’t have a problem with that?” He shoots Riley a look that conveys permission, and Riley just nods in a nervous manner. I wasn’t nervous though, I could care less if these people hated me, just as long as Riley didn’t.
“You can’t be serious?” The woman scoffs.
“Kasper, enough.” Jack barks. She rolls her eyes and mutters something under her breath. Something told me she wasn’t exactly the most agreeable person.
Jack claps his hands, rubbing them together. “A’ight guys, we got work to do. Let’s see if they need help with this fire.”
I doubted it. Assuming by the large number of soldiers, citizens, and guardsmen that were already bustling around here and there, they wouldn’t need any help. Riley steps in front of me, having to gaze up slightly as I havr a few inches of height on him.
“I’ll text you.”
“Yeah?” I give him a small grin.
He matches my grin and his eyes twinkle, doing things to my insides that I wish I could keep there forever.
“Monroe, lets go dude!” The other guy from his team yells.
“Coming!” Riley shouts back, his gaze never leaving mine.
“What?” I give a nervous chuckle.
His eyes dart around slightly, as if trying to take in all of me at once. “There’s something different about you.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
He shakes his head, swallowing hard. “No.” He whispers.
Was he getting closer? I felt like he was getting closer because I could feel the heat from his body. I could smell that soap and shampoo he used, and that woodsy cologne he always wore that twisted up my insides and left me with a feeling of wanting.
His gaze drops to the cobblestone beneath our feet and lets out a gust of air, taking a step back. “I’ll text you later.”
I nod my head, trying to hide the fact that I desperately wanted to kiss him, to pull him into me and never let him go. But he had work to do, and now that I think about it, so do I. If this was an explosion, then who better to identify the explosive but me?
I watch as Riley turns around and follows his team, who are already halfway across the square at this point, and a piece of my heart goes with him. He looks back at me over his shoulder and my stomach gives a little flip.