“W…what?” I stutter despite myself.
He gives me a crooked grin. “All night, I’ve been freezing my ass off out here waiting for you. I didn’t think you were gonna show.”
If his first remark didn’t floor me, the second leaves me utterly confused. “Whoa, slow down, buddy. How do you even know my name?”
Again, he laughs. “Does it really matter? I’m here to talk some sense into you.”
The dimples in his cheeks distract me. He has such a cute smile. But I’m not letting him off that easily. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m done with New York.”
“Really? You could’ve fooled me.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because you should never run from something that scares you.” His hazel eyes catch the moonlight as they bore into mine. “And this time, you won’t be alone. I’ll be with you.”
This whole conversation is getting way too intense. Standing up, I wrap my arms around myself. I have to get out of here. This guy is crazy.
I jump as the front door opens and my ex-boyfriend Tony emerges, giving me a hopeful look. We broke up after our senior year. He understood I wasn’t planning on sticking around, so I set him free. He met someone else over the summer, and I only talked to him once on the phone when I got back. But with the way he’s looking at me now, I can tell he feels sorry for me, and that’s something I won’t tolerate.
Inching closer to the steps, I attempt to play it cool. “Oh hi, Tony. It’s good seeing you. I wish I could stay and chat, but I was just leaving.”
“I don’t think so.”
I whirl around. That’s it. Who does this guy think he is? “Listen, you little…” I begin, but Tony interrupts by grabbing my arm.
“Michelle, calm down. There’s no need to freak out,” Tony says, slowly releasing his grip on me. “Do you remember me telling you about Sal, my roommate at school, the one from New York?” I nod, but I can care less at this moment. “Well, this is his older brother, Connor. I kind of told him all about you, and I thought it’d be a good idea if you two met.”
I shake my head and sigh. “So you made him wait out here alone in the cold?”
I can tell Tony’s nervous. He’s running his fingers through his hair. “I thought you’d bolt otherwise.”
“She nearly did,” Connor chimes in.
Frustrated, I slam my fist on the porch railing. “The both of you just stop it, right now! I knew it was a bad idea to come here. I don’t need some random guy from New York giving me advice on how to live my life.”
Pushing off the swing, Connor gets to his feet. “Well, what are you doing with your life then? What’s plan B?”
Connor closes the gap between us. “I wish I did, but I think you can figure it out. You were brave enough to take on the big, bad city once. Why not try it again under different circumstances?”
Tony clears his throat, and for a moment, I forgot he was there. “Michelle, Connor owns a bar downtown. He thought you could go back and work for him. Give it another go.”
“I’m no bartender,” I retort.
“You sure aren’t,” Connor fires back.
Tony holds up his hands in an attempt to keep the peace. “Just hear him out,
“Fine,” I say glaring up at him.
“Go on, Connor. Tell her about it,” Tony urges, knowing I may flee at any
Connor’s eyes find mine again, but I look away as he starts speaking. “My
For a minute, I stop and consider the possibility. It actually doesn’t sound that bad, and it’d be a welcome change from my original intention of becoming the next film school prodigy. It would be fresh start, and I wouldn’t be alone. But can I really go back there?
“And why do you care about what happens to me?” I ask, raising my eyes to his.
“Because I was there that day, and so were you.”