Fake Out: Chapter 26

DAMON

I heave the final box on top of the others and let out a breath. “Done. Finally.”

Maddox stands in the middle of his—no, our—apartment with an adorable scowl on his face.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“What’s up? Oh, I don’t know. How about the fact I have no apartment left? How much crap do you own?” He holds his hands out and turns in a circle. Granted, there are boxes piled up everywhere, and there’s barely a clear path to the bathroom … or kitchen, but it’ll be fine once I find homes for everything.

“Whatever we don’t have room for, I’ll put in a storage unit.”

Maddox falls back on his bed amongst a heap of boxes. There’s just enough room for him to squeeze his lithe body in between them. “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Jaws reference? Really?”

He throws his arm over his eyes.

“Babe, are you freaking out?” My heart pounds, and the same doubts I’ve had since we got together creep in. I’m worried I’m pushing him into something too serious before he’s ready. I thought we were over this, but maybe it’s all too real for him now that it’s actually happening.

“Yes.”

The weight on my chest plummets to my stomach. “About me moving in?”

In a rush, he sits up and stares at me wide-eyed. “What? No. I’m freaking out about not having enough room and practically living on top of each other. Maybe … maybe we should look for somewhere with more space.”

I rub my sore chest in relief. “This is fine for now. If we can endure this for a year—two tops—and put aside what we normally pay for rent, we’ll have a down payment for a place in Jersey or Brooklyn.”

Maddox gasps. “You dare suggest I move to Jersey? You really are a monster.”

“I know. I’m the worst,” I say dryly. “Jersey is not that bad.” But hey, I should be thankful he’s only worried about the Jersey part and not the sharing a mortgage part.

“How can you call yourself a New Yorker?”

I ignore him and lift my shirt to wipe the sweat off my face from lugging boxes all day. When the shirt falls back in place and I lock eyes with Maddox, his tongue darts out and wets his top lip.

“Like what you see?” I mock.

“Mmhmm. You should come over here and share this ginormous bed with lots of space … oh, wait …” He gestures to the crap surrounding him.

I try not to laugh. “Sarcasm isn’t good for you, you know.”

“Lies. Sarcasm is great. You can say anything and pretend you’re joking. People think I’m hilarious when in reality I’m just an asshole.”

“Yeah, but you’re my asshole … That sounded extremely wrong.”

Maddox snorts. “Maybe that should be in our wedding vows.”

His words throw me, and when I take a step backward, my foot gets stuck on the lip of a box and I go crashing to the floor—what’s left of the floor anyway. My hip digs into the corner of a box, and a sharp stabbing pain fills my head. I still occasionally get residual effects from the concussion. Doctors say it should go away soon—along with the daily headaches, thank God.

“Shit.” Maddox is by my side in an instant, hovering over me and cradling my face with his hands. “Are you okay? Is it the concussion? Are you dizzy?”

“I’m fine,” I grumble and sit up. “I tripped over a stupid box because you said wedding vows as if it’s a possibility. You shouldn’t do that to a guy.”

He leans back on his knees in front of me. “Why wouldn’t it be a possibility?”

“Because you’re Maddox.”

“Like that’s a reason?”

“Let’s look at the facts.” I run through the reasons, keeping score with my fingers. “You ran away from your hometown so you didn’t have to marry Chastity. You wouldn’t sit still during her wedding ceremony and admitted to feeling more comfortable in a graveyard than in a church. You could barely get the boyfriend label out of your mouth at first, so I’d hate to see what you’d be like with the word husband. And you practically broke up with me when I suggested we live together.”

“But that was before.”

I shrug. “I just figured being with you meant no wedding in the future, and I’m okay with that. I want a life with you. That doesn’t mean it has to include marriage.”

“I want to marry you, though.”

I replay his words in my head over again, because they don’t make sense. I’m not ready for that, so surely he can’t be. We’ve only been together a couple of months. That’s way too fast, and—

“Fuck, I don’t mean now,” he says with a laugh. “Or soon. Geez, role reversal. You look like you’re going to pass out. I mean for the first time in my life, I see a future with someone and want the possibility of spending the rest of our lives together.”

His words shouldn’t surprise me—Maddox is always changing the expected—but the fact he’s even thought about the long run makes me love him even more.

“I don’t think getting married is necessary,” he continues. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do it. Especially when I know you’d like to get married someday. The operative word being someday. Isn’t marriage the whole point of a relationship? It’s like the end goal or whatever.”

“I never … I …” I don’t know how to get the words out. “I never expected you to change who you are for me. The end goal can be anything we want it to be. House, marriage … kids, if you want them. Or not. We can choose our own future, and it doesn’t have to fit in a box or have a label or match society’s expectations.”

“I thought you liked labels?”

“Maybe you taught me labels don’t matter. What does matter is you. And me. Nothing else.”

Maddox’s eyes fill with awe as if I just gave him the world. I’ll gladly make it my life’s purpose to keep that look on his face. “Nothing else,” he murmurs.

“Except maybe how we can find room to fuck when all these stupid-ass boxes are in the way.”

Maddox tackles me to the ground. We haven’t had sex since the concussion, so he’s a little overeager. My head hits something hard, and I wince at the pain, but I don’t care. I want Maddox’s lips.

Before his mouth meets mine, he pulls back. “Wait. You’re not supposed to have sex with a concussion. No strenuous activity.”

“I just moved a shit ton of boxes.”

“And you have a headache. I can tell by the concentration lines in your forehead.” He trails the lines, and his fingers feel amazing on my skin.

“The headache’s because we haven’t had sex in years.”

He laughs. “Try a week.”

“Feels like years. It’s a mild concussion. I’m good to go. I promise.”

The smile Maddox gives me is innocent while his burning gaze is anything but. He presses his mouth to mine, but there’s only tenderness. And it’s over way too fast. “I’m going to be a good boy and wait until you’re better before I attack you.”

I let out an involuntary whine. I want him now.

He clamps his hand over my mouth. “We have forever, Damon.”

Even though I still want to jump him, his words settle in my chest. I smile up at the guy who’s become everything to me and relent, because how can I complain when he’s promising me something I never thought he’d give me?

“Forever?” I ask.

“Yes, Dik. Forever.”


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