The Soul Mate Page 21

Chapter Eighteen


I swallowed hard, shifting the bag in my hands carefully before knocking on the door.

To be fair, I didn’t know if she was home—she hadn’t answered my text, and in light of my new discovery, I thought it was best not to send another. Instead, I opted to go straight to the source, readying to make things as right as I could.

If only Bren would let me.

A moment passed and I knocked again. I waited as I heard the muffled creak of floorboards and then, finally, met Bren’s gaze as she opened the door. Her hair was covered by a fluffy white towel and she wore nothing but a silky robe that clung to her wet skin so that I could see the pert outlines of her nipples.

The look of her alone sent my mind reeling back to yesterday as she writhed in my arms.

Clearing my throat, I forced myself to focus, thrusting the bag in my hand toward her.

“Look, I think I messed up and I get it if you’re not ready to talk, but I wanted you to know that I’m sorry. I was moving too fast and with everything else…I can see why it would have freaked you out.”

She was quiet, her gaze locked on my outstretched hand, and she cocked her head.

“What’s this?” she asked, then took the bag from me.

“It’s candy.”

“Did you rob a convenience store?” She rustled the bag, dipped in a hand and pulled out three different kinds of chocolate bars.

“I didn’t know what you liked or if you were allergic to anything, so I just got everything and figured your favorite would be in there.”

She fished through, taking her time, finally pulling out a package of Twizzlers. “You were right.”

“Not a chocolate girl?”

She shook her head. “I mean, I like it, but not if there’s licorice in the room. Uh”—she scrubbed a hand over the back of her neck as she stepped to the side—“did you want to come in?”

“I would love that.” I entered her little foyer, then glanced around. The layout of her apartment was actually similar to my own, even if her little loft favored exposed brick to wide glass windows.

She closed the door behind me and led me to the khaki-colored sofa. Her lips tilted into a strained smile as she handed me the remote. “Turn on whatever you want. I’m going to put on some pants.”

Part of me—the part I needed to keep a tight rein on—wanted to tell her not to. To ask her to stay here until she was ready for me to peel away that robe again. But instead I nodded and reached in my pocket, waiting until she had left the room to look at the envelope in my hands.

This, too, had been part of my plan. Maybe if the uncertainty of the baby was eliminated from the picture, we would be able to move forward like two rational adults. We would know how serious to be—how fast to move.

Maybe it had all been a dumb idea in the first place.

I ran over in my mind what I wanted to say, but then Bren reappeared and the words died in my throat. Even in gray yoga pants and a baggy T-shirt, she made my blood run hot, and I had to tear my gaze away. I couldn’t even help the way my gaze traveled to her abdomen, struggling to see the tiniest hint of a bump.

“You didn’t turn the TV on,” she said.

“No,” I said. “Look, I’ve been thinking and there are some things I want to tell you.”

She crossed her arms over her tiny frame, her face wary again.


Exactly the opposite of what I’d been going for here.

“Like what?” she asked.

“All we’ve got is this one life and mistakes are inevitable. We’re going to fall short, we’re going to fall flat on our ass sometimes, but the thing I don’t want to do is be too afraid to say yes to something that makes me happy.” I reached for the envelope again. “I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I know I messed up, but I don’t want us to just walk away from each other like that and I think the real problem here is that we don’t know how seriously to take any of this.”

“So what do you think we should do?” she asked, her tone tentative.

“I think we should know, really know, whether you’re pregnant or not.”

For a long moment, she didn’t say anything, and then she sighed and sank into a seat opposite me. “I’ve been thinking too. I flipped out when I shouldn’t have. The whole…intimacy thing can get to me sometimes. And I have to admit, I don’t like the uncertainty with regard to the baby question.”

“Then let’s take the uncertainty away. Let’s open the envelope.”

She looked from the envelope to me, then gave me one quick nod. “Yeah, you’re probably right. We should know.”

“Okay.” I nodded.

“But maybe first, let’s make it special or something.”

She walked toward the mantel and snagged a large multicolored candle and a book of matches, then lit the match and made the candle glow. Taking the remote from me, she switched the channel to an indie folk station that hummed gently behind us.

“I should probably wear a dress in case we have to tell this story to our child one day, but I’m not going to change again,” she said, running a self-conscious hand over her T-shirt.

“You look great just the way you are,” I told her, and in the soft glow of the candle I could see her blush. “Okay,” I said. “Let’s find out.”

I started to swipe my thumb under the flap, but she held out her hand, panic in her eyes.

“Over here, over near the candle. And…can you hold my hand?”

I ripped open the envelope, then moved toward her, closing my eyes as I took her hand. She squeezed so tight, I nearly let out a low whistle, marveling at her strength.

“Come on, already!” she whispered harshly.

With my free hand, I gripped the paper inside the envelope.

“Okay. We’re—”

“Wait! Stop!” Bren practically screeched, and I turned to look at her, my heart thundering.

“Jesus, what? What’s wrong?”

“I’m not ready. I don’t want to know.” She shook her head. “You were right. This whole time. You were right. We need to give this a chance regardless of the baby and without fear holding me back.”

A slight smile tugged on my lips. “But the uncertainty. You said—”

“I know what I said, but first tell me, what are we? Are we together?”

I nodded. “That would be my choice.”

She swallowed hard, not meeting my gaze as she spoke. “Mine too.”

“So we are,” I said simply. “We’re together.” I folded the envelope, tucked it back in my pocket, and then leaned down to cup Bren’s chin. “I’ll follow your lead with this baby and you let me know when you change your mind, okay?”

She nodded, and then I closed my lips over hers, savoring the rush of pure need that flooded my body whenever I touched her.

“You make me happy, Bren. Being with you makes me happy,” I whispered. She rose on tiptoe to kiss me again, softer this time, and she stroked my jaw as she moved, brushing my stubble with her palm.

“You make me happy too,” she whispered, and I kissed her again, weaving my fingers through her hair until she sighed against my mouth, letting my tongue slip between her lips to tease her.

Gently I stroked her tongue, coaxing another little moan from her as I wrapped my other hand around her waist and pulled her closer to me, until her body was flush with my own and she could feel the hard length of my need.

With every passing moment, every deep breath of her sweet, sweet perfume, that need grew stronger, until it threatened to gallop out of control. Even in the space of an instant, I found myself aching to be with her again, throbbing with the need to feel her tight and warm around me.

But first, I needed to show her exactly how happy she made me.

“Where’s the bedroom?” I groaned.

She pulled away for a moment, her eyes hazy, and she pointed to the door on the far side of the room. “Do you have a condom?” she asked.

I nodded. I always kept one in my wallet for emergencies. “I have one. Just in case,” I said, and then I took her hand and led her into the small, cluttered bedroom. Once inside, she wasted no time in stripping off her clothes, ripping her shirt over her head with so much force it sent her hair cascading down her back.

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