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Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me. Whoever coined that phrase is a bald-faced liar. Words are often the sharpest weapon of all, triggering some of the most powerful emotions a human can experience. “You’re pregnant.” “It’s a boy.” “Your son needs a heart transplant.” Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me. Lies. Syllables and letters may not be tangible, but they can still destroy your entire life faster than a bullet from a gun. Two words—that was all it took to extinguish the sun from my sky. “He’s gone.” For ten years, the darkness consumed me. In the end, it was four deep, gravelly words that gave me hope of another sunrise. “Hi. I’m Porter Reese.”
Porter: Did you make it home safely?
Me: I did. I just got into bed actually.
Porter: Funny you should mention that…how do you feel about tacos?
Me: In bed?
Porter: What? No! We’ve been on two dates. Do I look easy to you?
Me: You just said “Funny you should mention that…how do you feel about tacos?” After I said I just got into bed.
Porter: Ohhhh…see I thought you said, “I just got a burrito actually.”
Me: Uh…I typed it. I didn’t say it.
Porter: Fine! I didn’t have a good transition from bed to see if you wanted to go have tacos with me tomorrow.
I laughed and rolled to my side, kicking the covers off to combat the new warmth coursing through my veins.
Me: I don’t know. If you count the Spring Fling, that’s like four dates in two days.
Porter: I know. You can’t get enough of me. Don’t worry. I find it endearing.
Me: Well, that’s a relief.
Porter: Okay. Okay. You don’t need to beg. Yes, I’ll have tacos with you tomorrow at noon. I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who can get us reservations at Taco Bell.
I smiled so wide I feared it would split my face.
Me: I knew dating a restaurateur would have its perks.
Porter: What can I say? I’m quite a catch. Now, say yes to lunch.
Me: Why are you always trying to force me into having meals with you?
Porter: Because if I left our dates up to you, we’d be eating tacos in bed. That’s at least a sixth-date kind of activity. Slow down there, Mills.
My laugh echoed off the bare walls of my bedroom. Closing my eyes, I sucked in a breath and sank deep into my bed.
Me: You’re right. My mind was clearly in the Mexican gutter. My deepest heartfelt apologies.
Porter: Forgiven. Listen, I just got a text from my guy who knows a guy who knows a guy and unfortunately Taco Bell is fully booked for tomorrow. However, he was able to get us a table for two at Antojitos.
Antojitos wasn’t your average restaurant—it was an experience. The whole place was decorated like a quaint road in Mexico, and waiters wandered around dressed as street vendors offering a plethora of authentic Mexican fare. Every day, the menu was different, but people raved about it. It was always delicious. They didn’t take reservations, so there was usually a line wrapped around the block.
Me: That’s not fair. You can’t tease a girl with Taco Bell and then try to use Antojitos as a sad second choice.
Porter: I know. I know. And to make it up to you, I’d be willing to eat your tacos in bed on our FIFTH date.
Porter: Also…I JUST realized how filthy that sounded. I swear I didn’t mean it like that.
I barked a laugh and paused my fingers over my keyboard when I saw the text bubble pop up. He was typing again.
Porter: I mean…unless you did. In which case, we can do tacos in bed any time you’d like.
Porter: Unless you were talking about real tacos, in which case the crumbs sound like a nightmare.
Porter: Actually, can you do me a favor and delete the last four messages from me without reading them? M’kay thanks.
Tears—actual tears—were in my eyes. I was laughing that hard.
Porter: Christ. Why aren’t you responding now?
Me: Because it’s more fun to watch you sweat.
Porter: Are you laughing?
Porter: That makes it almost worth the embarrassment.
Yeah. Okay. We were talking about eating tacos in bed (which was only slightly less horrifying than sitting on the same side of the booth), but I’ll be damned if that warmth didn’t fill me again.
Me: Antojitos sounds amazing. I have to swing by my office in the morning, so I’ll meet you there at noon.
Porter: Sounds good. Sleep tight.
Me: You too.
I sighed all dreamy-like and started to put my phone down on the nightstand, but the text bubble showed up again. I waited. And waited some more. Boring holes into my phone for at least three minutes until finally his message appeared.
Porter: Confession: I wish I would have kissed you tonight.
My heart stopped and my stomach dipped as I read it three times before finding the courage to reply.
Me: You did.
Porter: No. Not like that. I’m talking about one where you’d spend the rest of your night touching your bruised lips, and I’d spend the rest of mine desperately trying to memorize the way you tasted.
My whole body came alive with a hum, from the tips of my fingers to my peaked nipples and everything in between. The sweet ache of arousal. I threw my head back against the pillow and stared up at the ceiling. I’d been with men over the years. After all, sex was just as much about biology as it was about emotion. But, when the orgasm faded, so did my interest in the other person. Looking back on those encounters, I remembered the release—the brief moments when I’d allowed myself to let go and actually feel something with another person. But not once in ten years had I remembered being kissed. I’m positive it had happened, but it hadn’t been enough to trigger a memory.
Yet there I was, staring at a text describing a kiss that hadn’t happened, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt I’d never forget it.
Me: Confession: I wish you would have done that too.
Porter: Tomorrow, Charlotte.
It was a promise.
One I had every intention of letting him keep.
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Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her four young children. Never one to take herself too seriously, she enjoys cheap wine, mystery leggings, and baked feta. It should be known, however, that she hates pizza and ice cream, almost as much as writing her bio in the third person. She passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a super-sized tumbler of wine by her side.