A breeze tossed the lightly curled strands of her hair about. Once upon a time, reaching out to touch her had been second nature. Now, she wielded an invisible electric fence that threatened decapitation.
They’d had several months of bliss until she realized that he was purposefully keeping their relationship a secret. When she asked him about it, he’d lied, which was the worst thing he could have possibly done in that moment.
He’d told her that it had to do with football or life or something—it was hard to remember the bullshit excuse. In reality, the issue was complicated. He wanted to be the man she saw inside him. The man she brought out of him. However, another version of him, dark and pessimistic and brooding, kicked that man’s ass and beat him into the ground. Daily. As long as it was a fight he continued to lose, he would never be the man Delilah needed him to be. Not when, one day, she’d be his wife.
“You excited about Johns Hopkins?” Miguel redirected.
The corner of Delilah’s mouth twitched, and another smile touched her mauve-tinted lips. “Excited and nervous. I can’t mess this up.”
She looked at him as though he’d asked the question in Ancient Sumerian. “Guel, it’s been my dream since forever, and my entire family’s counting on me.”
“We’re all counting on you to do well, but not being perfect and failing are two different things.”
“Miguel Reyes, always looking on the bright side until the bright side shows him a mirror.”
“Was that a compliment?”
On the outside, he was a pillar of optimism. One of the calmest, most easygoing personalities in professional sports. To see Miguel Reyes without a smile on his face was about as likely as seeing Miguel Reyes standing over a campfire, warming his hands next to a Chupacabra. No one knew, including the people closest to him, that his everlasting joy hid among flocks and wore thick layers of wool to hide the lethal predator that lurked underneath.
He poked her stomach, needing a reason to touch her. “Can I come see you in Baltimore? I can fly out, spend some time with my girl.”
She poked him back. “I’m not your girl anymore. Besides, what would you fly all the way up from Charlotte to do with a stressed-out med student?”
“Come inside you.”