We were running late. For some unknown reason, neither of our alarms had gone off that morning and I woke up forty-five minutes before work started. My loud cursing awoke Elijah, who elbowed his way past me into the tub. I growled in his direction and had to splash off in the sink since there was no way I would have time for a shower after he finished.
I pulled on my pants with one hand and brushed my teeth with the other. A quick glance in the mirror told me I was presentable enough for work—aside from the sour I overslept-expression on my face that I needed to work on.
While Elijah got dressed and fussed with his hair, I made coffee, fixed a couple sad sandwiches for lunch—PBJ, what are we? Five?—and rushed around in a frenzy trying to find my shoes that seemed to have gone missing since last night. I found them halfway under the couch where I’d kicked them off yesterday after curling up next to Elijah, doing my damnedest not to poop my pants while we watched Stranger Things on Netflix.
As I’d finished pouring coffee for the both of us in travel mugs, Elijah stepped out of the bedroom, looking rosy-cheeked and perky as if he’d had all the time in the world to get ready this morning. Ugh, that man didn’t know the meaning of the word “hurry.” Yet he always managed to be on time somehow, while looking spotless and freaking adorable. If he hadn’t been the love of my life, I would have been annoyed.
“Let’s go.” I hustled us both out the door and kept my pace slightly below jogging as we made our way to work. Elijah walked a few steps behind me, whistling happily, and I swore to God if there’d been roses along the way, he would have stopped and smelled them.
When we came to the fork in the path where we would part ways, I waited for him and handed over the tote bag with his coffee and sandwich. I gave him a little wave, and turned to go as I threw a quick, “See you after work,” over my shoulder.
“Gabe!” he called after me.
I whirled around and hiked up an eyebrow. “What?”
Stepping closer, he coaxed the tote out of my hand and put both of them down on the ground. Then he held out his hand, smiled, and said, “Dance with me.”
“Here? Now?” I squeaked. “I’ll be late for work.”
He didn’t say anything, just waited for me to make up my mind. I really should go. I hated being late, my boss hated when I was late, and the universe was, in general, a better place when everyone was on time.
But I’d never been able to say no to his beautiful brown eyes, and against better judgment, I lay my hand in his, and let myself be pulled close to his body. I threw my arm around his neck as he started humming a melody I didn’t recognize—probably because he was so tone-deaf he couldn’t sing in tune even if his life depended on it—and we waited a heartbeat before taking our first dance steps.
People stared at us where we danced in the middle of a sidewalk, but gave us space to do our thing. I followed his lead as he shuffled us around the imaginary dance floor. My poor stressed heart slowed down, and the frown I’d worn since I woke up disappeared. Soon we were grinning at each other like loons.
After a couple rounds, he tightened his grip on my waist, waggled his eyebrows, and dipped me backward, old Hollywood-style. He held me in place for several seconds, eliciting a happy laugh from me, and his eyes brightened at the sound.
When he straightened me up again, I hugged him. Hard.
Elijah squeezed me before letting me go. He picked up our totes and handed me mine with smiling eyes that melted my heart so badly I feared it would pour out of my body. He gave me a warm kiss on my cheek and whispered, “Have a great day at work, honey.” Then he waved and walked away.
I stayed for another second or two, watching his retreating back before taking the path leading to my workplace. I smiled broadly at everyone while I tried to whistle the tune we’d just danced to.
Today was going to be a fantastic day.