I lied to my mom.
The first lie was when I told her I had to leave so I wouldn’t be late. What I really meant was that if I didn’t leave right then I wouldn’t be half an hour early.
She was so worried about this, I went out of my way to make this dinner sound very casual and not any big deal – just food with another person in a public restaurant.
That was the second lie.
I recognized Chris’s old pickup as soon as it pulled into the parking lot. How was that thing still on the road? It was ancient when we were dating! But Chris was pretty handy, learning from his dad how to fix nearly everything, so that truck would end up outliving us all.
We hadn’t seen each other in more than five years. A lot had happened in that time. I wasn’t sure what to expect – or what he was expecting. I smoothed my crazy curls and straightened my blouse. Why were my palms so sweaty? I scrubbed them on my pants and waited.
I hated to admit that my heart skipped a beat – or two – when Chris finally climbed out of the truck. That face held so many good memories for me. The blond curls were still there, although cropped a little shorter. I watched him lick his lips once. Twice. Three times -before he had even locked the door. A nervous tick of his that I was honestly glad to see he hadn’t lost. He was wearing jeans and cowboy boots with a button-down pink shirt, the sleeves rolled up just above his wrists. Everything about him looked the same and a wave of old feelings washed over me.
This was going to be harder than I thought.
Leaning back in my chair, I watched in amusement as Chris stopped outside the restaurant, checking his reflection in the window. He tweaked a couple of curls, straightened his shirt, and checked his teeth. In the window directly opposite me.
God, he was adorable.
His eyes found me as soon as he stepped through the door and a big grin split his face. I stood when he started toward the table, clenching my hands in front of me to keep them from shaking. When he reached the table, he stopped abruptly.
He was the only one I let call me that name.
We stood there drowning in awkwardness. I could sense the tension in him, and it matched mine. We were holding our breath, unsure whether we should hug or shake hands or just sit down. He finally chuckled and pulled me into his arms, kissing my cheek. He wasn’t much taller than I was, but my nose landed in the crook of his neck and I instinctively took a deep breath. Amazing. Just soap, a tiny splash of some nondescript cologne, mixed with his natural scent. And it was intoxicating.
Pulling back, he slid his hands down my arms until he had grasped my hands, giving them a quick squeeze. His green eyes searched my face and his smile grew even wider.
“You look fantastic. Even better than I remembered.”
He held my chair for me before sitting, himself. Head tilted to the side, a smile playing around his soft lips.
“I’m so glad you reached out, Lexi. It’s been too long.”
Our eyes locked and those damn butterflies in my stomach started their enthusiastic romping.
That was the exact moment I knew I was in trouble.