Jack Dawson has been madly in love with Tan Nguyen since high school. So when his oldest crush walks into his flower shop to place an order, Jack…runs into the closet to hide.
Valentine’s Day is the worst day for florists, especially lonely ones who just want a boyfriend at least a quarter as hot as Tan. Add in Jack having to hand-deliver a special romance basket for Tan’s secret date while wearing a bright red suit and he’s tempted to flee to Canada.
But, to his shock, this is going to be a February Fourteenth that Jack will never forget.
In this excerpt, Jack’s had to deliver a Valentine’s Day package to Tan for what he thinks is a date. But Tan has a big surprise for Jack.
Tan watched my silence contemplatively, tapping his fingers up and down the plastic glass. “I’ve always wanted to tell you that I… I thought you were so brave.”
“Brave?” I sputtered, scrolling back through a history of my regular panic attacks as I made a second home in the bathroom stalls. High school hadn’t been entirely hell, but it had rental property on the river Styx.
“You were you,” Tan said as if that made any sense.
Yes, me. Awkward. Uncomfortable. Quiet. Lonely.
“I wish I’d had your confidence back then,” he whispered to himself while finishing off his glass.
“Are you thinking of a different Jack?” squeaked out of me. I tried to scroll through the rest of our class but could only think of a John that sort of fit.
Tan laughed. “No,” he said, reaching through the space between us to cup his hand over the top of mine. All time stopped as he caressed his talented fingers back and forth against my skin.
I’m dead. I’d been eaten by those cats, or a truck had hit me on the way to a delivery. There was no way on this planet that Tan was beaming his tender eyes at me while holding my hand. A cough of disbelief erupted from my throat because even in the middle of an end-of-life delusion, I had to spoil the moment.
Staring at the half-finished champagne, I thought back to those awkward days of youth. “I wasn’t… I didn’t try to be.” Chewing on my bottom lip, I admitted, “I’m not confident, brave. I was the biggest mess.”
A soft chuckle rolled off his lips, Tan’s fingers that’d been little more than a whisper against mine beginning to glide up and down. “I believed it my job to be what everyone wanted, expected. Thought that everyone was playing the same game. But there was you, Jack.”
“The weirdo no one wanted to talk to?” I snorted, clinging to the sarcasm that helped me survive.
“That’s not true.” Tan, whom everyone adored, didn’t understand. Sure, people’d acknowledged my existence because they weren’t the kind of assholes who’d literally walk over a kid. But no one had wanted to really talk talk to me, to sit and listen to my foolish ramblings about new art supplies, or just hang.
No one but him.
The truth burned on my cheeks as I realized I didn’t simply have a crush on Tan. I’d known the full of it once, which was probably why I gave him the picture I drew. Wanted it to be real, but denying it, pretending it didn’t happen was easier.
“The only reason I was ever able to be me, the only time I could be myself,” I whispered, watching his fingers slide between the channels of my knuckles. Blinking away years of repressive tears, I met his gaze. “Was around you.”
I don’t know why I did it. Exhaustion combined with alcohol and no longer giving a shit? Wanting to break that eternal warning inside of me? Perhaps I really thought I was dead and damned the consequences.
My body slid on the chair, my knees bouncing against his. Tan tried to shift—whether to stop or accommodate me, I couldn’t say. Bouncing on my heels, I rose toward him. With my eyes closed tight, my lips blindly sought out his. It wasn’t an elegant kiss, certainly not one worth bragging about to my future cats. But as his chin bumped mine, my head swerved, and the dread pounding in my heart erupted into glittering butterflies.
God, his lips were softer than I could ever have imagined. He tasted of champagne, of course, but also the gentle kiss of rain while hiding in a bookstore. Of snuggling under a blanket by the crackle of a fire. Of every foolish dream I’d ever tacked to the hope of him liking me in return.
As I pulled back, my lips humming from his body heat and my senses flooded with his existence, the second brick dropped. Who said he liked me? Who said he wanted me? Who said he was even into me?
Chills raced across my skin and my heart clogged with fear. Time slowed to the lifespan of a sequoia. Tan’s eyelids lifted like molasses as his deep brown irises turned to the strange man hovering awkwardly on his haunches above him. The man who had pressed those infernal lips to his without so much as a question. The man who was wondering if someone could survive a six-story drop.
Please don’t hate me.
Tan glided his thumb over his lips, obscuring any hint I could have of a reaction. Was he trying to wipe away the proof that it had happened?
A cramp crawled up my legs, both of them wanting to give out. I bent my knees, prepared to fall back to my chair, roll over its back and make a break for the long drop. Suddenly, Tan launched for me.
He swept his sculpted palm to cup my cheek, digging his fingers through the roots of my hair as he pulled me to his lips. Holy shit! That perfect Cupid’s bow fluttered against my lips, first the top, then the bottom as he tugged my lower lip into his mouth. A soft graze of his teeth sent me reeling.
My hand opened, dooming the champagne to splatter on the concrete. But I barely heard the plink of plastic as I traced my thumb along his chiseled cheekbone, dipping my fingers into the hollow underneath. It was me who parted his soft purse of lips with my tongue, who tasted this man of my dreams while Tan moaned in return.
To hear him groan in ecstasy as I took him in my mouth. To feel his hips bucking against me. To have him hold my hand as he came.
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