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Love Redesigned: Chapter 37

Dahlia

A doorbell chimes in the distance after another round of unbelievable sex. Julian has more stamina than ten triathlon winners, and although I want to keep up with him, my pussy officially tapped out for the night, and no amount of lube or oral sex will change my mind.

“Expecting someone?” I roll off him so he can get up.

“No.” He reaches for his phone and curses.

“What?”

“It’s my mom.”

I jolt upright. “What is she doing here this late?”

Loud banging against the front door has both of us staring at each other with wide eyes.

“My car is outside.”

He nods.

“Do you think she will suspect something?”

“I’m pretty sure she jumped to conclusions the moment she saw that you were here.”

I throw the comforter over my head. “Don’t mind me. I’m going to stay here forever.”

He chuckles as he pulls the comforter down. “I’ll tell her not to make a big deal of it.”

“This is your mother we’re talking about. I’m pretty sure she is already calling the Wisteria Weekly to announce the news.”

“I’ll swear her to secrecy.”

“It’s cold out here!” The doorbell app echoes her shouting from downstairs.

He presses a button on his phone. “I’m coming now.”

“And Dahlia?”

Good luck getting out of seeing her.

“I heard that,” his mother responds, startling me.

I said that out loud?

Julian muffles his laugh with his fist while I glare at his phone screen.

“Be right there.” My attempt at a cheery voice falls flat.

Julian collects our clothes and helps me get dressed in record time before leading me downstairs. I smooth out a wrinkle running down the center of my dress while he opens the front door.

“Ma. What are you doing here?”

“Dahlia!” Josefina brushes past her son and throws her arms around me. “What a nice surprise.”

I give Julian a look.

She holds me at arm’s length. “Are you okay?”

“Sure? Is there a reason I shouldn’t be?”

She shoots her son a terrifying glare. “I saw Rafa’s video.” She turns back to me. “I came here to give Julian a piece of my mind, but I see it’s not necessary.” The grin on her face should come with a warning label.

“Oh, I won’t stop you from giving him hell.” I gesture toward the man standing off to the side with his arms crossed.

“Don’t tempt me.” She plants her hands on her hips. “Luis Julian Lopez Junior, what were you thinking, scaring her like that?”

He doesn’t speak.

I place my hand on her shoulder. “It’s fine, Josefina. Julian and I talked it out.”

She turns toward me with hearts in her eyes. “Did you?”

“Yup.”

“I was wondering why your dress is on inside out…”

“What?” I turn my neck to check for a tag.

“Kidding!”

Ma,” Julian groans.

She shrugs. “What? I wanted to confirm something.”

“The fact that you’re crazy?”

She cackles.

Julian shoots me a look over her shoulder.

“Josefina,” I say.

That seems to sober her. “Yes?”

“Do you mind keeping this between us?”

She winces.

“Who did you tell?” Julian grumbles.

“Rosa.”

I want to get annoyed, but Josefina truly can’t help herself. The woman was born with a big heart and an even bigger mouth.

Julian glares at his mother.

Her arms shoot up to her sides in submission. “That’s it. I swear.”

Julian reaches for the door. “Call Rosa on your way home and tell her not to tell anyone else.”

Her left brow curves into a perfect arch. “Don’t tell anyone what?”

“What you saw.” He kisses the top of her head before yanking the door open.

Josefina walks outside. “And what exactly did I see?” She bats her lashes at her son.

“Too damn much.”

“Don’t—”

Te quiero. Cuídate.” He swings the door shut, closing us off yet again from the outside world.

Just how I like it.


Julian tried his hardest to have me stay over, and I nearly caved to his request, but then I remembered our agreement. If I want to protect myself from getting hurt by him again, I should steer clear of cuddling, late-night pillow talk, and sleepovers.

When I wake up the next morning, I find my mom waiting for me in the kitchen.

Te quiero. Cuídate: Take Care.

Mami?” I rub the sleep from my eyes. “Shouldn’t you be at work?”

“I wanted to be here when you woke up.”

Ah, shit. I knew this conversation was coming once Josefina found me at Julian’s house last night, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon.

I place a coffee pod in my mom’s Nespresso machine before turning around. “I’m sorry you had to find out about everything the way you did.”

“You think I’m upset?”

“Yes?”

“No, mija. I’m worried.”

Unlike my mom’s usual bouts of anxiety, this feels different.

“You came back…so sad. I don’t want to see you like that again.”

I drop a teaspoon of sugar in my cup. “I’m doing better.”

“I know, which is why I worry.”

“This is different.”

“How so?”

“Um…” Yeah, it’s a hard pass on talking about my sex life.

“It’s not too serious yet,” I say.

She makes a noise in the back of her throat.

“We’re seeing how things go,” I add.

She nods. “You’re old enough to make your own decisions.”

I’m stunned into silence. I expected my mom to be rattling off about sex before marriage and rushing to have a church wedding to save my soul, not this.

“That’s it?” I ask.

She rises from her stool and drops a kiss on the top of my head. “That’s it.”

“You’re not going to warn me about getting hurt or being stupid or something?”

“Julian won’t hurt you.”

I rear back. “How do you know?”

“The answer is obvious every time I catch him staring at you.”

My heart misses a beat. “What do you mean?”

“That man would rather hurt himself before putting you in true harm’s way.”

I lock my knees together to stop myself from toppling over. “Mami.”

“It’s been that way since you were kids.”

“Do you…” My voice trails off.

“Do I what?”

Think he could be the one?

Are you serious, Dahlia? You got out of a serious relationship less than five months ago.

I shake my head. “Nothing.”


Lily replays the video of me screaming for the fifth time this afternoon. She has spent our entire lunch together showing everyone who will spare a minute of their day.

At this rate, by five p.m., everyone in town will have seen me losing my shit over a ghost that doesn’t exist and a Halloween lawn decoration Rafa found in Josefina’s garage.

I rise from my seat to the sounds of the waitress and Lily laughing together.

“Hey! Wait up!” Lily calls after me.

“No.” I walk out of the diner.

Lily chases after me. “Stop!” My sister huffs and puffs as she grabs my arm and yanks me away from my car. “What was that about?”

I throw my hands in the air. “I’m sick of seeing that video.”

“Come on. You have to admit it’s kind of funny.”

“It’s embarrassing.”

“I beg to differ. It’s so cute how you cry out for Julian.” She repeats the part where I almost break into tears.

I bite down on my tongue until I taste blood. “I’m going to kill Rafa for sharing that video in the group chat.”

“It would have been a hate crime to keep this gem hidden from us.” Lily shows me the screenshot she saved as her phone’s lock screen.

“I won’t sleep well until I get my revenge.”

She rubs her hands together. “What are we thinking?”

“We?”

“You’re not seriously thinking of doing something fun without me.”

“The fewer the witnesses, the better.”

She winks. “Just how I like it.”

“You want to help?”

“Of course. You and I are partners in crime.”

“Speaking of crime, your friend’s brother is a deputy, right?”

Her smile alone could land her on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. “Yes.”

“Do you think he is the type to willingly arrest someone who isn’t actually guilty of a crime?”

“I’m sure he can be enticed into the idea with a gift card to the town’s bookstore or something like that. Why? What’s the plan?”

“You can’t tell anyone.”

She holds out her pinkie like we did as kids. “Pinkie promise.”

I lock mine with hers. “I’m thinking of waiting until after Thanksgiving so he doesn’t suspect a thing…”


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