Forever (This)(7)

By: J.B. McGee



“The only thing that’d make it more beautiful is if I were watching you watch the sun go down.”

“Joe…”

“Sorry. It’s true, though.”

We’re dancing a very dangerous tango, but apparently we don’t know any other dance. “I gotta go.”

“No, you don’t.” He breathes into the phone. “You’re just running away from whatever this is.”

I wrap my arms around my waist. “I have to study. Then I have to go do my shift.”

“Okay. Bye.”

“Bye, Joe.”

I hang up, but I already miss his voice. I miss the way it makes my lips curve into a smile. I miss whatever it is he does that makes me get that rush of adrenaline surging through my veins. Even if it’s danger. Even if it’s forbidden because I’m dating his brother. Even if it’s wrong. I’ll never act on it, and eventually, he’ll move on. This has to be a case of Joe wanting what he can’t have, but what his brother has. Like they’re five and I’m the toy they’re fighting over. I’d be lying to say it doesn’t feel good to be fought over.

Grabbing one of my books, I bury myself back in my work. There’s barely enough time for one guy in my life, let alone two. I glance at the clock. There’s one hour left until I need to get ready.

Nissen Fundoplication, I write on the front of the white index card, then flip it over and write the number one.

On a second card, I write, surgical procedure sometimes referred to as a wrap because the top of the stomach is wrapped around the bottom of the esophagus in cases where the lower esophageal sphincter is not working properly. This procedure is done in severe cases of reflux where symptoms are found to be life-threatening. Complications can include dumping syndrome, swelling at the wrap site, and damage to the Vagus nerve. Then, I flip it over to the back and write the number one again. So many people do front and back flash cards, but this works better for me. I grab another card and proceed to write another term and definition. Fifteen cards later, my cell rings. My eyes wander to the clock. Ten minutes left until I need to get ready. The ringing volume increases, so I drop my pen and notecards and pick it up. Joe’s handsome smirk flashes before my screen. Why’s he calling back?

I tap the green button to answer. “I’m beginning to think you’re like a needy teenage boy.”

“Ouch.”

“Seriously. You’re breaking your records for most phone calls in a day.”

“Two phone calls makes me needy and breaks my record?”

I laugh. “Well, technically you texted me this morning. So, this is three times in one day. Two of which are in the last hour.”

“You don’t like my texts?”

“I didn’t say that.” Since the wedding, I get random conversation starter texts from Joe. Something like, “Did you know people who easily blush are more likely to be good lovers?” Most of the time they are worded so they are innocent because he could send them to anyone, but they always make me do just that. Blush. It’s like it’s his way of letting me know he’s thinking about me. And I can never ignore them. “They’re always interesting facts. Most of which I’ll never use again unless I plan to audition for Jeopardy.”

“I bet you could rock Jeopardy.” He grunts. “Damn.”

“What?”

“Nothing. Just thinking about you dressed up, standing in front of that podium with a clicker in your hand and your chin high, giving answers in the form of a question.”

“And…”

Silence.

“Joe…”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“Since when do you ask if you can ask? One of the things I love about you is you speak your mind. Sometimes to an uncomfortable point, but still…” My blood rushes to my brain, making me light-headed, then heats and radiates through my body like I’m a heating coil that’s been plugged into an electrical socket. The surge is almost too much—almost enough to flip the breaker.

“I don’t want to beat a dead horse.”

“Okay…” I glance at the clock. Time is ticking, and I compute the amount of time I can sacrifice from getting ready to stay on the phone with him.

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