The Good Luck Charm Page 24


“I promise you won’t regret it.” His smile pops his dimple. “I’m still super fun to hang out with.”

I laugh. I don’t doubt that in the least, and if I’m honest with myself, I want to know the man in front of me just as much as he seems to want to know me, no matter how much it scares me.


My phone rings as I finish up with the cashier at the grocery store on Thursday afternoon. It’s likely one of two people, my sister or Ethan—I’m betting on the latter. I answer on the second ring.

“Hey, beautiful, what’re you doing?”

“Currently I’m leaving the grocery store.”

“I mean tonight. Did you stock up on snack food? We should have a movie marathon. And FYI, carrot sticks and hummus don’t qualify.”

I laugh, but there are nerves under the humor. A movie marathon with Ethan would be both fun and dangerous—hours snuggling in the dark is something I’m not sure I’m quite prepared for. “It’s a weeknight. I can’t do a movie marathon.”

It’s been two weeks since I agreed to spend time with Ethan. While we haven’t gone a day without speaking, we’ve only been out a few times beyond my stopping by his parents’ place. Last week we went on a walk-through of the Hoffman house. They accepted his offer and he’ll take possession next month. This time I stayed far away from the wine cellar, but we spent quite a while in the master bedroom, Ethan making jokes about wanting them to include the art hanging opposite the bed in the sale.

A few days ago Ethan showed up at my house unannounced, with flowers, to suggest going for a run with me and Merk, likely because he knows I’ve been reluctant to be alone with him unless there’s some activity that takes us out of the house.

Coffee dates are safe because other people are around. Ethan in my house is another story. Any kind of cuddling opportunities will most definitely lead to other activities, the kind that might result in missing clothes. Every time he touches me, an arc of electric need passes between us. It’s becoming more difficult to resist the pull. I’m afraid I’m not strong enough to keep my emotions locked down if I give in to that need. So my super mature strategy so far has been avoidance.

“Okay. No midweek movie marathon. What about dinner?”

“The professor just posted the syllabus for my stats course that starts on Monday. I want to get started on the first assignment.”

“That’s almost as bad as telling me you’re washing your hair.”

“It’s been a long time since I took stats and it was never my favorite. I want to stay on top of things.”

“Feeding your body feeds your brain, Lilah. You can’t learn effectively on an empty stomach. There are studies to support that.”

“I just bought all these groceries. I have loads of food.”

“Please? I won’t keep you long. Have dinner with me. Spend some time with me. Exhibition games start soon and I want to get in as much time as I can with you between then and now.”

I sigh. I want to bend for him. I want the time, as well, and that worries me. Exhibition games signal the beginning of the regular season, and that will mean more travel and less time.

“I know that sigh, Lilah.” I can hear his smile.

“It’ll be casual? I don’t need to dress up?”

“Not unless you want to. Maybe I can help you study after dinner.”

“I’m not taking human anatomy, FYI.” Back when we were young, half the time studying was a euphemism.

“I’ll pick you up in an hour.” He ends the call before I can come up with a sassy retort.

I slip my phone in my purse and head toward my car, both excited and nervous about this date with Ethan. As I’m loading groceries into my trunk, I note movement in my peripheral vision. I adjust the cart so it’s not in the way but freeze when I look up to find my ex-husband standing in front of me, holding hands with a girl—I’m not sure she’s old enough to actually be classified as a woman.

“Delilah.” He looks me over while my gaze bounces between him and his new girlfriend, or maybe he’s become a Big Brother recently.

“Hi.” The word draws out, the i extending so long it becomes awkward.

A pang makes my chest ache momentarily, sadness over the failure of our relationship, maybe a hint of jealousy over being traded in for a coed. I’m pretty sure she’s not wearing a bra. Her bright yellow tank top screams YOLO across her chest. It’s paired with cutoffs so short the pockets hang out of the bottom.

“Angelica, this is Delilah, my ex-wife. Delilah, this is my girlfriend, Angelica.” Avery gives me a tight, questioning smile.

I can be pleasant. Civil in the face of this awkwardness. Conversation between Avery and me had been limited to ironing out the legal aspects of the divorce and nothing else. Papers have been signed, assets were long ago divided. It’s not this girl’s fault that any of this has happened.

I drop the final bag into my trunk and extend a hand. Angelica takes it, smiling uncertainly. “It’s uh … I’ve heard lots about you.”

“I’m sure you have.” I smile wryly. I wonder what awful things Avery has said about me.

“Why don’t you go on inside. I’ll be in in a minute.” Avery gives her hand a reassuring squeeze and presses his lips to her temple, whispering something that dissolves the worry on Angelica’s face.

“Okay. It was nice meeting you.” She still sounds a little uncertain as to whether that’s true or not, but she lifts her hand in a wave and flounces to the entrance.

I glance over my shoulder, noting that her shorts barely cover her butt, before I turn back to Avery with one brow raised. “Can she vote?”

“Be nice, Delilah.” Avery’s smile is dry, though.

“It’s a legitimate question. How old is she?”

“She’s of legal drinking age.”

“So you can do body shots at the night club—that’s fun.”

His lips flatten in a thin line. “She’s sweet and uncomplicated, which is what I need right now.”

I feel the sharpness of that statement cut across my heart. Our relationship was a huge, difficult complication in both of our lives near the end—and maybe before that. “I’m sorry—that was petty and uncalled for.”

“It is, especially considering.” He looks away, maybe to hide his own hurt.

“Considering what?”

“Come on, Delilah—it’s all over the local papers.” Avery’s exasperation is something I’m all too familiar with.

“What’re you talking about?”

“You and Ethan Kase. It’s not like there’s any real news in this town for people to focus on. There’ve been all kinds of pictures of the two of you together since he moved back.”

“I’ve been helping him with his father. Martin had a stroke.” I’d forgotten how little there is to pay attention to in this town.

Avery gives me a sad smile. “I don’t know why you think you need to lie to me about this, but I hope whatever is going on between you works out this time, because Christ knows no matter what I did, I couldn’t ever compete with him.”

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