The Sweetest Fix

Page 40

“Yes. That.” She slid the pen out from behind her ear and made a notation on the sheet, her handwriting turning to a scribble when he delved between her cheeks, lower, until his touch found her sex. “If you keep distracting me, we’re never going to get through these, let alone have time for our nap.” He rumbled a sound and her breath caught. “Or is it safe to say nap date has become code for something else?”

“Definitely safe to say. And I’m one hundred percent behind that.” He teased her with one more delve of his finger, then pulled her body close, the Fixes forgotten above their heads. “But I don’t want you tired tonight at work because of me. Sleep.”

Their mouths coasted over each other, Reese pulling back to yawn adorably. “I wish I could send my mother a fix. I’d do…maple syrup flavor. Crushed macadamia nuts. She would ooh and ahh over it. Save the packaging.”

“You miss her.”

She nodded, snuggling closer. “Definitely. Just yesterday, I got really homesick. It catches me at the weirdest times. It’s not that I would rather be home than in New York. I just miss all the little familiar things. The junk drawer. My mom’s perfume. Knowing exactly where the light switches are on the walls.”

Leo brushed his hand up and down her back, inundated by the desire to give her those things, right here, right now. Wanting her to be happy at all times. Wanting his place to be full of familiarity for her. “Do you ever think about going back?” he asked, immediately wishing he didn’t ask.

Reese remained silent for the moment. “Sure. I think about it,” she said, haltingly. “I can only dance so long, right? What comes after that?”

With pressure in his chest at the thought of her leaving, he drew her even closer, closing his eyes over the soft warmth of her breath on his neck. “Have you thought of teaching like your mother?”

“Yes.” Wrapping an arm around his middle, she drew a lazy circle between his shoulder blades. “I’d like that. And I adore kids, but I don’t think I’d want to teach them permanently like my mother.” She paused for a moment, seeming to hesitate. “I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to learn the ropes when you’re auditioning for stage shows. I’d love to do prep courses or some kind of advocacy program for aspiring dancers. I would kill…I would have killed for something like that. An affordable one, you know?”

Just when he thought she couldn’t amaze him any more. “You’d be great at that, Reese. The way you give people stories, give them meaning. The way you can read a few lines about people and determine what they like. You’d be good at directing dancers, advising them, knowing where they would make the best fit.”

When the tips of her ears turned pink, he fell in love with her a little more. “Thanks.”

He kissed her forehead. “So you adore kids, huh?”

“Have you ever seen a three-year-old in tap shoes? They’re irresistible.”

Could she hear his heart rapping against his ribcage? “You want some of your own one day, then?”

After a beat, she nodded against his chest. “Do you?”

Having a family had always seemed like something very far in the future. Or something that he could take or leave, not sure he wanted to permanently disturb the solitude he’d built around himself. Solitude seemed pretty overrated now. She’d only been in his apartment twice and he was already dreading the moment she’d have to leave. And that’s when it happened. The image of Reese waddling around his apartment with a baby in her stomach got stuck in his head and wouldn’t budge. “Yeah,” he said gruffly, pulling the comforter up over the both of them and settling her head onto his shoulder. “I do.”

Chapter 18

The week leading up the Valentine’s Day went by way too fast.

If only it was possible to hit pause and savor every second of her time with Leo. Every second of the open calls she attended, showing up first in line and giving it every grain of her effort, living her dream of dancing on Broadway stages, even if it was only for an audition.

There was a sense of being on the verge of something extraordinary. Of having a breakthrough just within her reach. Not only with dancing, but with life in general. She was in love with a man. A kind, thoughtful, wonderful, occasionally grouchy man who never left her guessing, never failing to give her a sense of security. Belonging.

A man who made love to her like a million more times wouldn’t be enough.

Her friendships—with the aspiring dancers she ran into at every open call—sprouted buds and bloomed a little more each day. With Leo knee-deep in crafting the Fixes and her evenings unavailable, thanks to her fake job, they spent afternoons together. Talking, cooking together in his kitchen, thoroughly messing up his sheets every chance they got.

In the evenings, she got to know Cori better, eating cheap from the street carts on the floor of their closet-rooms and listening to K-pop. They walked the city and visited sites from their favorite movies, people watched in Central Park and gave each other back massages when their muscles burned from overuse.

Yes, for a week, she walked around in a near-stupor, but with Valentine’s Day looming, the fissure in her gut widened. With every open call, she came a little closer to reaching the final cut, but never quite got there, always being passed over for someone with more experience. And so on the morning of Valentine’s Day, Reese stood shivering in the cold, waiting to be called into the theater where her favorite musical was performed nightly, one final shot in her pocket. The longest shot of all.

Over the last seven days, she’d lost herself in the experience of being in love, with a man and a city, not allowing herself to reach this point of near-hopelessness. Oh, it was upon her now, though. Her limbs were almost numb with the knowledge that her bags were all but packed, her sublet running out tonight, and it was a very bad time to lose feeling in her joints.

Reese shook out her hands. Stretched her heel up to her butt, listening to the counts through the door, already knowing them by heart. She went over them in her head nonetheless, trying to psych herself up for the biggest moment of her life. This needed her full concentration. Leo’s image continued to demand her attention until she gave up trying to banish it. No way around it, she wasn’t only dancing for herself. This was for them, too.

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