Thank you for your patience while my lonely jump drive was stuck in my car during the massive thunderstorm! 🙂 Here, finally is chapter 4 of my Jensen story.
If you haven’t read the other chapters, start here.
Chapter 4 – Bonfire
My eyes were on the dimples in Josh’s cheeks as he opened the gate for me. I’d always been fascinated with dimples because no one in our family had them and I thought they were amazing. I could remember poking my cheeks with the eraser end of pencils trying to make my own dimples as a kid. In all of the years I’d dreamed of him, I’d never seen his dimples, because he hadn’t ever smiled genuinely. Each time I saw him smile though, my heart beat a little faster and I began to wonder if falling for him wouldn’t be so bad.
I realized as he I walked into the yard that there was a tiny adorable French bulldog waking up from a nap next to the chair that Josh had been sitting in. The dog spotted me and came over to sniff my feet and then stood on its hind legs to try and get to me. “Well hello there, you adorable little thing!” I squatted so that the puppy could reach me and I could get a closer look.
The puppy then began licking at my hands furiously and Josh chuckled, “Oh, dude… stop with the licking. I’m so sorry, he’s still a baby and he wants to put his mouth on everything he can find.”
I giggled, “It’s fine. Hi, sweetie… You’re such a pretty boy! You can kiss me all you want.”
“You’re marked now. You belong to him. He’s never going to let you go.”
I smiled at the puppy and blushed, “That’s okay…” I glanced up at Josh, “Can I pick him up?”
I scooped up the dog and held him to my chest as I stood up. I rubbed his belly and he licked the air trying to get to my face. I chuckled again and then looked at Josh with a smile, “Frenchies are my favorite dog ever. I can’t have pets where I live though, so I just live vicariously through YouTube videos and Instagram pictures of other people’s dogs.”
“He’s a handful, but he’s fun. He’s only four months old, so he’s kind of all over the place.”
“I bet…” I said a kept loving on the puppy. I smiled when I saw the personalized tag hanging from his collar. “Krypto, huh?”
Josh smiled, dimples fully visible, and shrugged, “Big Superman fan growing up. I couldn’t resist.”
“I love it.” I rubbed behind Krypto’s ears. One was standing up and the other was still floppy. His grey fur gave way to a snow white chest that was simply adorable and he had gorgeous blue eyes like his owner.
Josh led the way, inviting me to follow, and pointed to the seat near his. “Have a seat. I’ll grab you a plate. I’ve got water, Coke, apple juice, Heineken, although with the pain killers you should avoid the alcohol.”
“Water is fine, thanks…” I sat down with Krypto and kept petting his ridiculously adorable puppy belly. I couldn’t believe I was about to have dinner with the man I’d been dreaming of for ten years. It all felt so surreal. I checked out the view from my seat and decided it was perfect. If I lived there I wouldn’t even need to have to leave my property in order to sit by the river and watch the sun turn it golden. “This is a great view…” I said as Josh returned with a plate, silverware, and two bottles of water. The pizza box and his plate were already sitting on the small table between the two chairs.
“Isn’t it? The inside is cool too, but this yard and the view sold me. Plus I can walk to work so that’s awesome.”
I smiled and nodded, “Yeah, I live over on Maple so I walk to the coffee shop a lot as long as the weather is okay.”
“Oh cool… yeah, I really love this area. Did you grow up in Lansing?”
“Born and raised,” I said with a smile. “You?”
“No, I’m from Minneapolis originally. But I went to Michigan State and did my residency at Riley and fell in love with it there. Once they offered me a job I found this place and I’ve been here ever since. It’ll be three years next month.”
It hit me that for the past three years I’d been walking past his house, sometimes twice a day or more and had never seen him. That just made things even weirder. Why hadn’t I met him before? I cleared my mind and looked back to the now sleeping puppy in my lap, “I love your dog.”
Josh chuckled and I looked at him in time to see his dimples in the light of the fire. I imagined kissing his dimples and felt my face blush all over again. I had to stop having thoughts like that about him, at least while it was still light enough outside for him to see my face change hues. Josh reached over and ran his fingers over Krypto’s belly. I watched his fingers and remembered how they’d felt when he’d been examining my burn. I really needed to stop thinking about his body touching mine. I grabbed some pizza and busied myself with stuffing my mouth so that I wouldn’t say anything stupid. I hadn’t been on a date or anything close to it in at least two years. I had no idea what to do or say considering I was sitting next to the guy who I was apparently destined to fall in love with.
We ate our pizza together silently and then I remembered I needed to take my pain killers and change the dressing on my burn. “Hey, would you mind if I go inside and change my dressing? I usually do it when I get home from work.”
“Not at all, come on in and I’ll show you to the kitchen.”
I looked at Krypto sprawled out on his back in my lap and chuckled, “I don’t want to disturb him.”
Josh took the puppy from me with a smile, “He’s a sound sleeper. I’ll put him in his bed.”
I followed Josh into the house and as promised he put Krypto down in a very cushy doggie bed in the living room. The puppy didn’t even flinch, just rolled over onto his back and kept sleeping. “No, really, I want that dog…” I said with a giggle.
Josh shot me a grin as he put his hand on the small of my back and motioned toward his kitchen, “I’ll let you visit any time you want.”
“That’ll work, I guess…” I teased. I put my bag on the counter once we were in the kitchen and pulled out the supplies I needed for my hand. “I swear, I’m a walking first aid kit lately.” I picked up one of the Jello patches, “These things are freaking amazing though.”
He nodded, “Yes they are… I had a burn once and those things were the only thing that helped.” He washed his hands at the sink then dried them with paper towel before reaching for a pair of rubber gloves from a box near the sink. I smiled watching him and he eventually paused and looked at me, “What?”
I giggled, “I love how you totally went into doctor mode like there was no doubt you were going to be doing this for me.”
I caught a slight blush across his cheeks and he laughed, “Habit. Sorry, you can…”
“No, it’s cool… you can do it. I was just teasing you. You’re way better at it than I am anyway. I always end up wasting tape because it folds in on itself.”
I slid the supplies across the counter toward him and then held my hand out to him. He smiled at me and then flipped back into doctor mode as he put the gloves on. I watched as he very carefully unwrapped the gauze from my hand and then removed the Jello patch. He looked at the burn and nodded, “Looks pretty good.”
I shook my head, “I think it looks horrible. I call it The Ugly. I’m not at all looking forward to seeing what the scar looks like.”
“Actually, I’d be surprised if you get much of a scar. It’s going to look bad while it heals, but after a while you really should be okay. The patches help to prevent scarring too.”
I sighed, “I hope so.” He turned on the sink again and began washing the burned area gently. I tried not to flinch but it still hurt to be touched too much. “How long is it going to be hot like that?”
He studied my skin as he rinsed the soap off and then grabbed a paper towel to pat my hand dry. “It really depends on the person, but I would say probably a week or two.”
I nodded and handed him the jar of medicated cream that was supposed to be put on my burn several times a day. I didn’t think the cream helped at all considering it was supposed to be numbing the pain, but at least it was cool against the heat of my burned skin. Once the cream was applied, Josh reached for the Jello patch and placed it on my hand covering the worst parts of my burn. I sighed at the relief and he chuckled quietly.
I couldn’t help but watch him as he continued to work on my hand. His fingers were so gentle but very sure of their movements; no hesitation. I found myself watching his face as he wrapped my hand in new gauze and secured it with tape. When he was done he continued to hold my hand in his and his eyes met mine. “All set.”
I noticed that the outer rim of his blue eyes was a dark, almost navy, blue. His eyes were amazing. “Th… Thank you,” I stuttered and busied myself with cleaning up the old dressing and wrappers. I didn’t consider myself a shy person by any means but when faced with this man it was like I couldn’t function. I had no idea how to act around him. I silently told myself to calm the hell down and not act like an idiot which then made me giggle inappropriately while I searched for his trash can.
He watched me with a grin and opened up the cupboard below the sink for me before tossing his used rubber gloves in the trash, “Everything okay?”
I laughed even harder and nodded, “My mind works in very strange ways. You’ll get used to it. Random giggling over conversations in my head that you’re not a part of… stuff like that.”
He crossed his arms across his body and leaned back against the counter. He had really great arms. The light green tee shirt that he wore stretched across his biceps and made me wonder what the rest of his body looked like. “So you’re planning to stick around?”
I shrugged, “I have to if I want to see the puppy…”
“Very true… he laughed. “You just love me for my dog.”
I felt the smile on my face hesitate for a slight second as I thought that he had no idea how much I would eventually love him. How much I already loved him. “Mmm hmm… something like that.”
“Well, if you’re going to be hanging out with my kid I’m going to need to know a lot more about you. Right now all I know is that you work at a coffee shop, you love Frenchies, have good taste in pizza toppings, and you apparently walk home from work barefoot.”
I chuckled and looked at my feet. I’d totally forgotten that I didn’t have my shoes on. “All good observations, Dr. Everhart. Anything else you’ve figured out about me?”
He stepped closer to me, close enough that I had to look up at him. He reached for my hand and traced my fingertips with his own sending shivers of awareness through my body. “You have the softest hands I’ve ever felt.”
I blushed, yet again, but managed to keep looking up at him. I nodded and tried to think of something clever to say but couldn’t think of anything. All I could think of was him. His beautiful eyes, his gentle hands, his crazy adorable dimples, and the fact that all I wanted to do was be with him and learn absolutely everything there was to know about him. “Cocoa butter.”
“What?” he asked with a laugh. He stayed close and I really, really wanted him to kiss me.
“My hands… they’re soft because of cocoa butter.”
“And your lips?”
“I don’t use cocoa butter on my lips. That’s gross.”
He laughed again, “I meant are they soft?”
I couldn’t keep my eyes off of his lips, “Uh, yeah? I guess so.” I shook my head trying to clear my thoughts but it didn’t help. “I think that…” His lips were on mine before I could finish speaking, not like I had any idea what I was saying anyway. His hands held my face and I found myself fisting his tee shirt in my hands as I held on him.
When he pulled back from the kiss, that smile was there again as he looked down at me, “Yep… pretty damn soft.”
I laughed nervously but kept hold on his shirt on either side of his waist. I hadn’t been kissed in so long I’d forgotten how great it could be. I looked up at him and shook my head, “I have no idea what to say right now.”
He laughed too, “That’s okay…” He took my hand and led me back toward the back yard. He didn’t release my hand until I’d sat back down. I hadn’t wanted him to let go but it would’ve been weirdly awkward to hold hands across the pizza on the table. If only the table wasn’t sitting in between our chairs.
I stared at the fire for a while and pulled my legs up into the chair with me, covering up my legs with the skirt of my dress. After a moment I looked over to Josh who was watching me silently. I smiled, “Okay. Tell me something about you. Something random.”
He tipped his head to the side slightly as he studied me then spoke quietly, “I’m having the weirdest déjà vu right now. It’s like I already know you, but I’m just meeting you. Like maybe I have been dreaming about you forever and you’re finally here.” He looked down at his hands for a minute and shook his head, “That’s probably ridiculously creepy and I will totally understand if you get up and walk out of here. But I can’t explain it. It’s weird.”
I nodded and watched him until he looked at me. “It’s okay, I know exactly what you mean.”
Our group is small this month, many of the girls are on deadlines for books and Jessica is working on a tiny human. 🙂