Heath held up a hand. "Wait a
"I know this is difficult for you to understand."
"Not really. You want me to tell my son he has to text back
to girls he's not interested in because they might otherwise get
sad, is that about it?"
A steady pounding started over Serena's eyes. The headache came
screeching in right about the time his attitude kicked up. "Well,
"And he's supposed to do this thing he doesn’t want
to do because his English teacher said so? Like it's part of his
grade or something."
Her request sounded ridiculous when he said it like that. "This
has to do with the man you want Nate to be."
Serena rubbed her hands together hard enough to draw blood. "And
he has the power to hurt a little girl."
Heath leaned down with his fists on the edge of her desk and a
knowing smile tugging on the corner of his mouth. "Are we talking
about Nate or are we talking about something else?"
"I don’t know what you’re referring to."
Oh, but she did. She moved away for a few years, got
married only to get divorced when her idiot husband cheated, and
then eleven months ago came back to Glen Ridge, the cozy bedroom
community just outside of Washington, D.C., to rebuild her life
near her sister. But she never forgot Heath. The same handsome senior
who had lived across the street and who she dreamed about marrying
in that way only a sophomore girl lost in the confusing space between
infatuation and true love could do.
All these years later she still blushed when she thought about
the awkward fifteen year old version of herself and the way she
threw herself at him. Despite the shyness, she made a pass and offered
him something precious and special...and he laughed at her.
"You sure we're not dealing with something else here?"
he asked, his mouth twitching as if he wanted to laugh at her again.
The adult in her had survived all sorts of heartbreak. With all
her accomplishments she should have been immune to the insecurities.
If the tumbling in her stomach were any indication, she wasn't.
"We were talking about Nate," she said.
"You sure this isn’t about you?" Heath leaned
in closer. "Us?"
At this brief distance she could smell the crisp coolness of the
outdoors on him. That was enough for her to push back in her chair.
If she wanted the scent of sunshine and changing seasons she could
walk outside and take in a big whiff of October. Inhaling the air
around this man could only lead to trouble.
"There is no us," she said, ignoring the old sadness
that descended over her heart when dealing with that reality.
"Serena, come on."
"I'm a grown woman."
His gaze never left her face. "Obviously, but according to
you these things wreck girls and cause all sorts of problems for
years to come."
"Well, they can. Yes."
He slid his thigh on the edge of her desk and let his hand wander
closer to her locked palms. "So, is this about Nate or is this