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Smart, Sexy and Secretive(5)

By:Tammy Falkner

I’ll see you later.

I doubt it, he says. But he’s still grinning that goofy smile. I want to go and hug her, but I guess you get first dibs.

And last dibs. And all the dibs in between.

He waves to her and signs the word later.

She nods, throws him a kiss with the tips of her fingers, and then starts toward me. Her boots leave footprints in the snow, and I force myself to stay still. I tuck my hands in my jeans pockets to keep from grabbing her.

Hi, she signs.

I can’t stand it any longer. I reach for her so quickly that she startles, but she’s reaching for me, too. I haul her against me, needing to feel her heart beating against mine.

Her breath brushes my ear and fucking tears sting my eyes. I tuck my face into her neck and breathe in the scent that is uniquely hers. She wraps her arms around my waist, and her hands slide into my back pockets. We stand there in the snow like that until I feel dampness on my shirt. I tilt her face up to mine so I can look at her.

“I’m so glad you’re home.” I use my voice because I don’t want to take my hands off her.

“Me, too,” she says. A lone tear tracks down her cheek. I wipe it away with the pad of my thumb.

“You’re back?” I ask.

She nods, turning her head to kiss my palm.

“For how long?”

“Always.” She smiles. God, she can undo me with that smile.

“Promise?” My heart is pounding in my chest.

She nods and draws a cross over her chest. “I swear it.”

“What about your father?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t want to talk about my father right now.”

“I’ll never survive it if you leave me again.” I swallow the lump in my throat.

“Can you come home with me?” she asks.

If I take her home right now, we won’t get to talk at all because I’ll be all over her. “Let’s go get some pie,” I say instead.

Her face falls. “You’re mad at me.”

“I love you like crazy, girl. How could I be mad at you?” I drink her in from the curve of her lips to the way her eyes look almost black in the darkness of the night.

She squeezes my hands. “Is Matt all right?”

I nod. “Thanks to you, yes.”

She exhales, and it’s like a balloon has been emptied inside her. “What do we do now?” she asks.

“Pie,” we both say at the same time. I take her hand in mine and lead her to the diner where we had our first meal together. Pie is safe. Pie is good. Pie will buy me enough time to be sure she still loves me as much as I love her.


“I guess I don’t have to ask you if you ate today,” Logan jokes. When we first met, he felt the need to feed me all the time. Food was scarce, but I always made do.

“I’ve been too nervous to eat today,” I admit, laying a hand on my stomach, which is suddenly growling. I’m glad he can’t hear it.

“Why nervous?” he asks as he slides into a booth. Sometimes Logan forgets that he’s not signing and uses the minimum number of words possible. It doesn’t bother me.

I open my mouth to tell him how scared I was that he hated me when Annie, the waitress, comes to the table and asks, “Do you need a menu?”

Logan shakes his head and motions to me. He’ll have what I’m having. “Two pieces of apple pie and two root beers.” I say.

She nods and cracks her gum at me. “You look awfully familiar,” she says, her eyes narrowing at me.

Logan takes a napkin and pulls a Sharpie from his pocket. He’s never without something to write with. He very slowly writes the words my girlfriend. It’s slow enough and the letters are spaced far enough apart that I can read them. Then he points to me.

Annie’s eyebrows lift. She twists her mouth into a look of incredulity, but then she shrugs and walks away.

“Why didn’t you talk to her?” I ask. “You do have a voice.”

“I don’t talk to everyone.”

“Mmm hmm,” I hum. “Sometimes I think you like your silent world.”

“I like it just fine as long as you’re in it.” He takes my hand in his and swipes his thumb across my skin. He flips my arm over and looks closely at my tattoo. He looks up at me. “You already knew you were going to leave when you got this.”

I knew these questions were coming. And they have to be answered. “I had already called my Dad and told him I would come home if he would take care of Matt. Yes.”

He drags his finger from my wrist to my inner elbow, and the hairs on my arms stand up as he traces the letters of his name. It’s not a dainty tattoo. It takes up my entire inner forearm. “You called your dad from the hospital that day when they said there was no hope for Matt.”