III. Finally Home
“What’d you do?” I joked as I settled into the chair Nolan so graciously pulled out for me.
“Can’t I be romantic without you assuming that it’s a precursor to bad news?” He snickered, taking his seat in front of me and flashing me a breathtaking smile that sent yet another set of wings fluttering against the walls of my stomach.
“I’ll let ya know when I find an instance.” I shot back, picking up my wine glass and taking a tentative sip. Of course, it was delicious—something else to add to this immaculate set up.
The briny sea air mixed with the robust aroma of tomato sauce and the gentle scent of freesia and honeysuckle, a strangely pleasant medley. I couldn’t help but marvel at my surroundings. The amount of intricacy and detail in every bit of the décor was absolutely astounding. Part of me struggled to believe that Nolan had truly done this himself, but the other part knew that he was never one to back down from a challenge—no matter how painstaking. Especially when it came to me.
“This is amazing, Nol. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful.” I cooed, my mouth still hanging wide open in wonder.
“I have to disagree.” He murmured as my eyes fell upon him once more, my cheeks heating under his tender gaze. How did he still manage to make me feel like a lovestruck teenager after all of this time?
We ate in comfortable silence, periodically stealing glances and grinning stupidly at each other. I ran my foot up the outside of his calf all through our meal, just to maintain some type of contact with him, though after this surprise, all I really wanted was to be in his lap.
Across from me, Nolan began fidgeting like crazy—tapping his fingers on the tabletop, shaking his foot, shifting his weight. I didn’t think anything of it at first, until his restless energy became physically palpable and my own chest began to feel tight, bracing for some unknown impact.
I tried to make light conversation to ease the tension, but his ocean eyes still seemed tight with anxiety that I couldn’t understand. Still, he participated, although his responses were almost mechanical. He was still distracted, his thoughts anywhere but here.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.
I leaned forward onto the table and rested my chin on my hand. “Baby, what’s the matter?” God, please don’t let me have been right earlier.
“Nothing,” He said with a reassuring smile, the most genuine expression I’d seen cross his features since we’d started eating, but I still wasn’t convinced.
One of my eyebrows rose of its own accord as I stared at him. I’d seen Nolan anxious before, but this was a whole new level. Whatever he was hiding—it must’ve been paramount—which only sent my heart thrumming even harder inside my ribcage.
Suddenly, he pushed away from the table and stood. I gaped at him as he gazed down at me, a slight smirk playing at the corners of his lips. Maybe this was it—my lovely night going down in flames.
But to my surprise, he held out a hand before me. “Dance with me?”
I swallowed uncomfortably before hesitantly placing my hand in his. He beamed brightly at my acceptance, and quickly pulled me over to where the vintage record player was playing a soft ballad.
He visibly relaxed as I stepped into his embrace. His smile only seemed to grow wider with each passing second and he chuckled to himself, his anxiety seemingly turning into excitement.
I couldn’t help but peer up at him curiously as we began to move.
Nolan Ryan Winslow, what the hell are you up to?