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Love Redesigned: Chapter 47

Dahlia

“Looks like the reality TV princess finally decided to return to her tequila throne.” Lorenzo drops into the stool beside me and places his whiskey glass on the counter.

“Don’t you have anything better to do with your time than hang out here?” I scan the relatively empty bar.

He shrugs. “Not really.”

“You need a job.”

His brow rises. “At eight p.m. on a Tuesday?”

“How about a hobby, then?”

“Does plotting against my enemies count?”

My brows rise. “You have enemies? In Lake Wisteria?”

He laughs into his glass, although the sound comes off as chilling and haunted rather than warm and hearty.

“What are you doing here?” he asks before I have a chance to follow up.

“Meeting up with my sister.” I check my phone for the third time within the last ten minutes. When I called for an emergency girls’ night, Lily suggested we meet at Last Call after she closed the shop for the night, claiming she was craving their curly fries.

“Lily, right?”

I turn to glare at him. “Why are you asking?”

He ignores my question and asks one of his own. “Is she single?”

My eyes narrow. “No.”

“Hm. Who’s the guy?”

“Jesus, so don’t bother hitting on her.”

“She wants to become a nun?”

“Close. Virgin until marriage.” I swallow back a giggle before it gives me away.

Lorenzo’s upper lip curls with disgust. “Great.”

I wave Henry over and order two seltzers.

A few minutes later, the door to the bar slams open, and my sister barrels inside wearing my favorite winter coat and stolen designer boots. She shrugs it off with a shiver, revealing another one of my outfits.

“I could kill her.”

Lorenzo’s eyes darken as they trail down my sister’s body.

I swat the back of his head. “Stop checking out my sister!”

He drains the rest of his whiskey before raising his hand to request another.

My eyes roll as I slide off the barstool and drag Lily to the other side of the bar, far away from Lorenzo’s burning gaze.

“Since when are you friends with Lorenzo?” she asks with a frown.

“You know him?”

“Not really.” Her nose twitches. “He passes by the shop every Friday to pick up two custom bouquets.”

“And?”

She shrugs. “I don’t have a good feeling about him.”

Maybe Julian was right about Lorenzo after all, and it’s best for us to stay far away.

At least Lily doesn’t seem interested in him.

Lily shimmies into the booth across from me. “So, what was this emergency meeting for?”

I pass the unopened vodka seltzer can. “I’m having a dilemma.”

She laughs to herself. “You’re quite famous for them.”

“I’m being serious.”

My sister takes a sip of her drink after opening it. “All right. What’s going on?”

“I got an offer for a new show I pitched.”

“Congrats!” She taps her can against mine before locking eyes. “Or not?”

I slump against the table. “It’s in San Francisco.”

“That’s far.”

My shoulders slump. “Julian says he is willing to move…”

“But you don’t believe him?”

I fidget with my jacket’s zipper. “More like I’m afraid he will follow through with his promise.”

Her head tilts. “Now I’m confused. Shouldn’t that make you happy?”

“I don’t want him to change his whole life for me.” He could come to regret his decision and resent me in the process, and I don’t know if I would overcome that kind of heartbreak a second time.

Lily reaches for my hand. “Have you considered that he might not only be doing this for you but also for himself?”

I stay quiet, and Lily fills the silence with another shocking revelation. “Julian has been saying he wants to scale back on his job for years, but he never made a move to do so, despite how obvious it was to everyone around him that he should.”

I blink a few times. “Really?”

“Yes. So imagine how surprised we all were when he suddenly began working on a project with you, started visiting his construction sites more often, and can’t stop smiling when he speaks about working on new houses with you—something he hasn’t done in at least two years.”

A lump forms in my tight throat. “He… I…”

Lily gives my hand a reassuring squeeze. “And don’t get me started on the carpentry thing. Everyone in town won’t stop talking about how he was so jealous that he gave a guy a promotion to keep him away from you.”

We both break out into laughter.

“How did they find out?” I ask.

“That carpenter he promoted loves chisme more than Josefina.”

I take a long sip from my seltzer can. “I didn’t ask Julian to do all that.”

“That’s my point. He decided to do those things because they made him happy, so why are you going to start doubting him and his choices now?”

My gaze drops to the table. “Because I’m afraid he will come to regret them in the long run, once the honeymoon phase ends and reality comes knocking.”

“What if he doesn’t?” She leans back. “No offense, but I’m more concerned about you making the wrong one if you decide to push him away.”

My brows rise. “What?”

“Men like Julian don’t come often, so you should be thanking your lucky stars that he stayed in this small town, because if he had moved away, someone would have surely snatched him up by now. That much I know.”

The idea of him being with someone else makes me physically ill.

That’s because you love him.

But if my love wasn’t enough to save a doomed relationship before, what makes this time any different?

Falling in love with Julian was easy, but forgiving myself and moving on from a past that still haunts me?

Damn near impossible.


Instead of going home, I drive over to Rafa’s house. I’m not sure who is more surprised by my visit—me or him—although he welcomes me inside without making a big deal of it.

Nico and I spend five minutes catching up before Rafa orders him back to bed.

“Love you!” Nico throws his arms around me for one last hug before running to his room.

“I’m sorry to stop by unannounced like this,” I blurt out as Rafa steers me toward the living room.

“It made Nico happy, so it’s fine, but don’t make a habit of it.”

I laugh. “Wouldn’t dare.”

“Can I get you something to drink? We’ve got water, aguas frescas, and alcohol.”

“I’m good.”

“Suit yourself.” He drops onto the comfy leather seat across from the couch and pulls out his phone for the second time tonight.

I take a seat, my posture stiff, while he taps at the screen before swapping it for a beer.

“Thanks again for not shooing me away or something.”

“Not sure you would have left regardless.” He lifts his beer in a mock toast. “So, what’s going on?”

“I don’t know how to ask this without being rude—”

“We’re practically family, so I’m still obligated to forgive you regardless.”

“Fair point.”

“Does your visit have something to do with my cousin?” he asks.

I blink a few times. “Sort of.”

“I thought as much.”

“But it’s also about…you know…the thing I told you…” I stammer.

“About not being able to have kids of your own?”

I let out a sigh of relief. “Yes.”

“What about it?” His tone remains nonchalant.

“I’ve been struggling with the news.”

“Understandable. I had trouble coming to terms with a similar thing when Nico was diagnosed with his eye condition.”

“After finding out about Nico, did you…” I struggle to finish the sentence.

“Think about not wanting kids again?”

My shoulders slump. “Yes.”

“Yup. It was impossible not to after learning my son is going blind because of a condition he inherited from my screwed-up family.”

“There was no way you could have known about some uncle having the same condition.”

He takes a long sip of his drink. “I know that, but parents have a tendency to feel guilty for whatever happens to their kids, whether it’s our fault or not.”

My gaze drops. “I can only imagine.”

“But to answer your original question, I made the choice to get a vasectomy after I found out about Nico’s condition.”

My brows rise. “Really?”

“It felt like the responsible thing to do. If I ever want another child—big emphasis on the if—I’ll pay it forward and adopt.”

“That would make Josefina happy.”

“She would be happy with any grandchild. She’s been hounding me for years about giving Nico a sibling, and yes, before you ask, she knows about my inability to have kids of my own anymore.” Rafa’s piercing stare makes me feel like I’m being picked apart.

I gather some courage to ask my second question. “Do you think Julian would care in the long run about not having his own child?”

He takes so long to speak that I worry he won’t bother answering me.

I speak up again. “I’m not sure if he has talked to you about wanting kids of his own or if—”

“Isn’t this something you should be asking him?”

“I have.”

His eyes flicker over my face. “But you don’t trust him?”

“I don’t trust myself, so it’s nothing personal.”

His grip on the beer bottle tightens. “My cousin has his faults, but he is a man of his word, so if he told you he doesn’t care about having biological kids, then he means it.”

My throat dries up.

“But I do remember him mentioning something along those lines a few times over the years.”

“He did?”

“Yeah. He and I don’t open up about our feelings often, but I know enough about his life before I came along to be comfortable saying it was rough.”

My fingers turn white from the way I clasp my hands together. “I was too young to understand how much everything impacted him.”

“Julian is great at channeling his emotions into other things.”

“So I’m learning,” I mutter under my breath.

“I know you don’t believe him, and I don’t blame you. People like you and me…we’re not the trusting type anymore, after being hurt the way we were.” He stares off into the distance.

Watching him battle his demons is like staring at my reflection for the first time.

Goose bumps spread across my skin, and the hair on the back of my neck rises as I come to grips with my biggest fault.

I love Rafa, but I don’t want to end up like him, blaming myself for a failed relationship years later while struggling with trust issues.

God no.

Heavy pounding in the distance startles me.

“Are you expecting someone else?”

Rafa stands. “No, but you are.”


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