Home > Only Him (One and Only #2)(12)

Only Him (One and Only #2)(12)
Author: Melanie Harlow

Dallas shook his head. “I don’t remember. I think someone’s uncle had a farm? God, that was hilarious.”

“Poor little piggies. I felt sorry for them, being painted-on and then chased all around school.”

“It was non-toxic paint. I promise you, no pigs or humans were harmed in that prank.”

“Unlike the Slip’N Slide episode at the end of junior year.” In order to “claim” the senior hallway as their own, Dallas and his friends had turned it into a giant Slip’N Slide.

The crooked grin broke out on his face. “Oh yeah, Hagerman broke his nose, that asshole. It was his own fault. No one told him to dive face first toward the lockers. He overshot the tarp by a mile.”

“And how about parking your car in the school courtyard?”

He held up one finger. “That was in protest over them denying us parking passes senior year. It was us exercising our right to free speech.”

I rolled my eyes. “They denied you parking passes because of all the shit you guys had pulled the year before.”

“Whatever, that one wasn’t even my idea, but I got all the blame for it.”

“Because it was your car! I told you that you were going to get blamed for it.”

“I know. Holy fuck, you were mad about that.” He was laughing again. “You didn’t have sex with me for a week.”

“I didn’t talk to you for a week.”

He cocked his head. “You didn’t?” But his foot nudged mine under the table, so I knew he was joking.

I leaned my elbows on the table. “And then, of course, there was the letter.”

He sighed, the smile sliding off his face. “Yeah, I know.”

Shortly after the parking incident, Dallas and his friends had written a letter on school letterhead from the principal to all the new freshmen that the school was implementing mandatory “penis inspections.” While several senior guys had been behind the prank, Dallas had taken full blame for the idea and its execution, resulting in a long-term suspension, which his parents viewed as the final straw. They sent him to boarding school right before our one-year anniversary.

But of course, I hadn’t realized that until after he was gone.

“What can I say?” he asked. “It seemed funny at the time.”

“It was kind of funny,” I admitted. “But you had promised me you weren’t going to get in any more trouble.”

“Did I promise that?”

“Among other things.”

Dallas looked at me like he had something more to say, but a second later Jason came through the door with a tray carrying our drinks. He set them down and asked if we were ready to order, and I had to admit I hadn’t even looked at the menu yet.

“Just give me a minute,” I said, opening it up and scanning it quickly for something I’d like. Only the steaks had descriptions that included the name of the farm where they came from, but I wasn’t sure I felt like steak tonight. I bit my bottom lip as I read through the entrees, wondering if the rest of their meat was organic.

“Let me know if I can help,” Jason said.

“I have a few questions,” Dallas said. “The roasted half chicken. Is it organic? Locally sourced? Cage-free? Was the chicken joyful while he was alive? I can’t eat a sad chicken.”

“Um …” Jason looked a little uncomfortable. “I’m not exactly sure where the chickens come from.”

Laughing, I kicked Dallas under the table and said, “I’ll have the lobster spaghetti.”

“And I’ll have the New York strip. Medium rare.” Dallas handed the menu over to Jason with a grin. “Sorry, man. Didn’t mean to give you a hard time.”

The waiter smiled. “No problem. I’ll put this right in.”

When we were alone again, I picked up my wine glass and stuck out my tongue at him. “Meanie.”

“Sorry. Couldn’t help it. I felt like I knew what you were thinking. Was I right?” He took a sip of his drink.

I looked off to one side, took a drink of wine. “Maybe.” When I looked back at him, the crooked grin was on his face, and my heart was zinging around in my chest like a pinball.

I wondered if he knew what I was thinking then.

Two glasses of wine, one bowl of lobster spaghetti, and half a slice of butterscotch peanut butter pie later, I was pleasantly tipsy, overly stuffed, and not at all ready for the night to end. Two hours had flown by. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed so much on a date.

“You mentioned you like taking road trips,” I said, setting my fork down and picking up my cup of tea. “Where have you been?”

“Lots of places.”

“What are some of your favorites?”

He ate another bite of pie and thought as he chewed. “Zion National Park. Zephyr Cove. Big Sky. The skiing is amazing there.”

“I’ve never been skiing.”

“What?” He finished the last of the pie and set down his fork. “What the hell do you do during winter?”

“Fly somewhere warm for a yoga retreat, like Bali.”

“I do like beaches. Can’t say I’ve ever been to Bali, though.”

“You should go sometime, it’s so beautiful. Put it on your bucket list.”

“I don’t really have a bucket list.” He picked up his cocktail.

“No? Nothing you want to make sure you do before you leave this life and move on to the next?”

He thought for a second. “You believe there’s a next life?”

I shrugged. “Sure. I don’t know what it looks like or how we get there, but I like the Buddhist belief in karma.”

“Oh yeah? Tell me about it.”

“Well, I’m not an expert, but my understanding is that Buddhists believe our minds are totally separate from our bodies, and when we die, our consciousness continues to a deeper level. But our minds sort of save up positive actions, which sow the seeds of future happiness when you’re reborn. Negative actions sow the seeds of future suffering.” I shrugged. “That’s karma.”

“Guess that means I’m fucked in the next life, huh?”

I rolled my eyes. “Stop it. You’re a good person. You might have made some questionable decisions in this life, but that’s not the same as being cruel.”

“Maybe we’ll meet again in the next life.”

My pulse quickened. “Or maybe we’ve met before.”

“It would explain a lot of things, wouldn’t it?” He sipped his drink. “So what’s on your bucket list?”

“Lots of things. Ride a camel in the desert. Stand next to the Sphinx. Dive off a yacht into the sea.”

“Which sea?”

“I don’t know, I’m not too picky about that. Let’s say the Aegean.”

“Aegean it is.”

“But those are more superficial things. I’d really like to make a difference in people’s lives.” I looked down at the tablecloth. “That sounds trite and silly, but I really do want to help people. I teach free yoga classes for seniors at my studio, and I’ve done free programs for kids at low-income schools and in rural areas, but I wish there was something I could do on a broader scale.” I looked up and saw him smiling at me, but it wasn’t patronizing. It was genuine.

“I bet you’ve helped more people than you realize.”

Holding my tea in both hands, I shivered. “Got a little chilly up here all of a sudden, didn’t it?”

Immediately, he set down his glass and took off his jacket. Rising to his feet, he moved behind me and draped it over my shoulders. “Here. Can’t let my prom date be cold.”

I laughed and set the cup down, pulling the jacket tighter around me. It was warm and smelled like him. I sniffed the collar. “What is this?” I inhaled it again, and all my nether regions tingled. It was subtle and woodsy, manly but not overpowering. “I like it.”

“It’s called He Wood,” he said with a grin as he sat down again.

“Of course it is.” I looked down at the corsage on my wrist. “I still can’t get over all this, Dallas.”

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