The Good Luck Charm Page 12

I remain silent for long seconds, absorbing this new truth, unsure how I feel about it. Just when I thought I was getting used to having him around again, he turns everything upside down.

“I promised myself I wasn’t going to push myself on you, and here I am doing it anyway,” he says.

“We can try out the friends thing.”

“Yeah?” His tentative smile is a ray of sunshine after a thunderstorm.

I need to lighten this mood, alleviate the tension between us and give myself time to process. “On one condition.”

“Sure. Okay. You name it.”

“You can’t parade around shirtless in front of me.”

His smile becomes more of a smirk. “Too overwhelming?”

I laugh. “Stow the ego, Kase.”

His lips flatten, but his eyes still glint with humor. “Okay. A shirt must be worn at all times. Anything else?”

“Not that I can think of, but I’ll update conditions as they come to me.”

“’Kay.” He stretches his arm across the back of the swing, fingers skimming my shoulder.

I feel a slight tug on my hair and wonder how good I’m going to be at this “friends” deal. I fear I have too many memories wrapped up in this man, and long-dormant feelings are waking up with his return to my world, especially on the heels of this unexpected revelation.

“Can I give you my number?” he asks quietly.


“So we can chat and stuff while I’m in Chicago?” He chews on the inside of his lip.

It’s a nervous habit that he clearly hasn’t lost. I instinctively pinch his bottom lip between two fingers and tug it free from his teeth, something I used to do all the time.

His eyes flare, and I snatch my hand away. “I don’t know why I did that. Sorry.”

His reflexes are far superior to mine, and he latches on to my wrist. “It’s okay. You’re okay.”

I give my head a little shake, trying not to get too caught up in the feel of his skin on mine. This morning has been intense. “Has your number changed?”

“Huh?” His attention is focused on where his fingers wrap around my wrist, thumb smoothing along the pulse point.

“Do you still have the same phone number?” At his blank stare, I prompt. “From high school?”

“Oh yeah. It’s the same. Is yours?”

I nod.

He roots around in his shorts pocket and retrieves his phone. Keying in his password, he scrolls and then types, looking up as my own phone chimes in my pocket.

I don’t know how to feel about the fact that we’ve been a text message away from each other all these years. It never dawned on me how easy it could’ve been.

“Just because I left doesn’t mean I ever forgot you, Lilah.”

My head says I can try to be friends with this man, but my heart isn’t so sure it’s that simple.

chapter six




Hey, what’s up? Are you back in town? Is everything okay with Martin?” It’s Monday evening and I’m in the locker room at work. Ethan took full advantage of our new “friends” status by texting me constantly over the weekend while he was in Chicago. He also sent flowers to his parents’ house, not just for Jeannie, but for me as well, which was unexpected but sweet.

Since I’m alone, I put the call on speaker so I can change out of my scrubs and into the pair of jeans and the T-shirt hanging in my locker.

“I walked in the door half an hour ago. Dad’s fine. Annoyed that he has to use a walker and that he’s not ready to run a marathon this week, but fine otherwise. And Mom is asking if you’re coming by in the morning to make him a smoothie since apparently hers still aren’t good enough.”

I laugh. “There’s no magic in mine. I just press a button.”

“Your fingers were always magic.”

I cough at that.

“Sorry, that was … Did I catch you at a bad time? Do you have a minute?”

“It’s not a bad time, and sure, I have a minute.”

“Okay. Good.”

I wait for more, but there’s silence as I shimmy into my jeans. “Ethan?”


“Is there something you need?”

“What’re you doing right now?”

“Um … leaving work. Why?” I pull the zipper up.

“Are you changing?”


“Are you wearing jeans?”

“What? How—”

“I knew I heard a zipper.” And here I thought he was trying to censor himself.

I quickly pull my shirt over my head, as if he can see me in my bra. I stuff the scrubs in my bag and slam my locker shut, take the phone off speaker and bring it back to my ear. “Did you call to talk about zippers?”

“No, but now I’m wishing I’d come to see you in person.”

“Um, yeah. There’s no way I’d be getting changed in front of you. Friends don’t get naked in front of each other.”

“Untrue. You used to run around naked in my backyard all the time.”

“I was six and I was wearing bathing suit bottoms.”

“I think you were seven, actually. Is partial nudity an acceptable compromise? I’m more than happy for you to run around topless in front of me if you want.”

“I’m going to hang up on you.”

“No! Wait. Sorry. I wanted to talk to you about coffee. About getting coffee. With me. Or whatever kind of beverage you’d like to consume with me. What’s your work schedule like? Do you have a free night this week?”

I don’t expect the question, so I flounder. “I’ll need to check my schedule.” That’s a lie. I typically work the same hours every week, and in a few weeks, I’ll have class on Mondays and Wednesdays in addition to yoga, which I already have on Tuesdays. But the flirty conversation and the coffee feel like more than I’m ready for, especially given how much I seem to like the idea.

“I can wait.”

“Can I get back to you about it?”

“It’s just coffee with a friend, Lilah.”

“I know.”

“Am I pushing you too much?”

“Yes. No. I don’t know. You just caught me off guard.”

“What’re you doing tonight?”

“Carmen and I are going for dinner.”

“And after that?”

“I don’t know. Probably reading a book and going to bed.” The butterflies in my stomach are a problem.

“I could come over and you could read to me. Remember when you used to read chemistry textbooks to me in your phone-sex operator voice? I used to love that—not sure it helped me retain much information, though.”

“Ethan.” It’s a warning.

He sighs. “Okay. When you have a chance, let me know what your schedule is. I missed you while I was in Chicago this weekend.”

I close my eyes and bite back a smile. “You’re too much. I’ll talk to you later.”

We seem to be bypassing friends and heading down a road I’m not sure I’m prepared to travel yet, not with so many loose ends and unsaid things hanging between us. I’m terrified that if I let him back into my life, I’m going to fall for him again and he’s going to break my heart a second time.

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