I nodded sadly. “I have to go back to school in a few weeks you know.”
“And you really don’t want to live in South Bend, Indiana. Trust me. There’s nothing in the town around Notre Dame.”
“It’s not that bad, but you’re right. I don’t want to live there.”
“I don’t know what we can do, Lincoln.”
“I do.” He reached into his coat and pulled out a small box. My heart started hammering in my chest, my breath coming fast. “Go ahead. Take it.”
I reached out and took it from him. He smiled and I slowly unwrapped the ribbon and pulled open the lid. Inside was a piece of paper folded neatly into a tight square. I took it out and unfolded it, and realized that it was actually two pieces of paper.
I stared at what it said and couldn’t help but break out into happy laughter.
“You like it?” he asked.
“It’s everything a girl could ask for.”
They were one-way tickets for me and Lincoln to Chicago for the day I was leaving to go back to school. Chicago was only two hours away from Notre Dame.
“I’m going to move there, at least for as long as you’re in school. After that, who knows?”
I pulled him close. “You’re doing the driving,” I said.
He laughed. “Yeah, I figured. Two hours is fucking nothing.”
We held each other like that for a few minutes. I loved the feel of his strong chest, his deep breath, and his smell. Two hours really was nothing. I could spend weekends in the city, or he could come spend a day or two during the week with me. We were going to make it work. No more bullshit long distance. He could finally meet my friends, even though they were going to have to wrap their heads around the ex-stepbrother thing. He could see the campus and see where I lived and worked.
He could be an everyday part of my life. A flesh and blood part of it, not just pixels on a screen.
“I thought that was a ring for a second,” I said softly.
He pulled back and looked at me. “It will be one day. I fucking love you, you know that, right?”
“I love you too.”
I had loved him for a long, long time. He didn’t need to say it, but finally hearing the words in person did something to me. Something shifted, and suddenly my world permanently included one more person.
It wasn’t the last kiss or the first kiss, and I knew there were many more to come. But in that moment, it was the perfect kiss, because it meant that there would be a future.
A future with Lincoln Carter.
Nothing could be more exciting.