“I can’t handle it anymore,” Jules announced with a tossing of her Algebra 2 book. I jumped when it landed right in front of where I’d taken residence as I tried to remember which Charles was on throne during the Restoration period.
“Handle what?” I asked as I stretched my arms and yawned.
“Math. I hate math.” She slid off the bed and slipped off her shoes. “I’m going for a run.” She headed to the door and stopped before walking out. “Go on, he’s in the garage.” She rolled her eyes and left. I stood up and moved to the circular window to look out and watched as a streak of white faded into the bare trees. I wondered if we got enough snow, if she could disappear more easily.
I looked at her open bedroom door, my cheeks heating already.
Was I that obvious?
I left my stuff, just grabbing my sweater and slipping it on as I headed down the stairs. I grabbed my shoes by the glass doors before stepping onto the deck. It was brisk, delightfully so. I inhaled the clean air deeply before walking down the steps to the ground. I turned to find the garage door open.
Ezra sat on a bench, knife in hand. He held a piece of wood, no larger than a brick. At his feet was a scattering of wood shavings. He had one earbud in, listening intently to what played on his phone.
“Hey Sophie.” He didn’t look up. One would think I’d get used to being around people who could smell and hear me before I spoke a word.
He looked up, his green eyes meeting mine. “Jules?”
“Out for a run. Algebra made her do it.”
He grinned. “Yeah, I get that.” He shaved off another piece, then another. “I’ve never had anyone watch me before.”
“Oh, sorry, I can go back upstairs…” I took a step back.
“I’ve never really had a girlfriend either.” He jerked his head for me to come in. “You can watch.”
I walked in and stood near the work table. “Can I ask questions?”
He half-smiled. “Yeah.”
“Do you already know what it’s going to be when you start or does the wood speak to you?”
He snorted. “Speak to me?”
I shrugged. “I’ve heard artists say stuff like that.”
I didn’t mind that he was probably laughing at me. He never did it in such a way that I felt embarrassed. In fact, I liked that he thought I was funny. I’d always thought so, but no one else had really seemed to agree.
“I go in with an idea, but it does depend on the grain of the wood.” He patted the empty space on the bench next to him. “Sit with me.”
I tugged my sweater closed and sat down. He continued whittling, pausing once to take the other earbud and offer it to me.
“Thanks.” I scooted closer and put it in. Banjos, but slow and melodic.
I noticed that it (the wood) was beginning to like something. Only I wasn’t sure what it was. It wasn’t an animal, which was primarily what Ezra carved. It was more in the shape of a cylinder by the time he set it on the table and stretched his hands.
“You’re not usually quiet this long,” he said softly before pulling the earbud out of my ear.
“Have good music, getting to watch you do that,” I gestured to the wood. “All pretty absorbing.” He didn’t say anything and my heart tripped. “Are your hands tired?”
“A bit. More just thinking about kissing you.” He turned so he faced me.
“Oh.” It was such a cliché, but my heart did take a quick jump.
He smiled. “You still seem surprised.”
I rolled my eyes. “Imagine if you thought about having a chocolate malt for ages, no idea what it actually tastes like, but you’ve wanted one for nearly four years. Never thinking you’ll get to have one. And then finally, you have one. Wouldn’t you be shocked?”
“Did you just compare me to a chocolate malt?”
“I really like chocolate malts,” I said, feeling sheepish.
His shoulders shook as he laughed. I just grinned at him.
He calmed down, laying one hand on my shoulder and the other lifting my chin slightly. “I always want to kiss you.”
My smile dropped and I felt my breath get sucked right out of my lungs. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. Stop being so shocked by that.” He tapped my nose before kissing me. He took his time, like he was savoring me. I melted (I always did) and he ran his hand from my chin, along my jaw to rest on my shoulder.
He drew back, eyes darkened.
His gaze flickered back to my lips and he let out a heavy breath. “Want me to teach you how to use the wood-burner?”
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