The Best Thing - Page 106



Even though it broke my heart.

Chapter 22

Subject: Please


Lenny DeMaio:

Wed 4/29/2019 1:29 p.m.

to Jonah Collins


I’m about to give up on you.


Please. Just call me back.

“Somebody’s distracted.”

I blinked up from the salad I’d been poking at for the last few minutes. “Yeah. I’ve got my mind on some things,” I told her, stabbing at a falafel before shoving the whole thing into my mouth.

I was distracted. Mainly by a six-foot-five man who weighed two hundred and fifty pounds year-round, was too handsome for words, and had a heart of fucking gold. A person I enjoyed being around. A person that I loved.

The guy who’d put a ring on it before leaving.

The guy who’d video messaged me every day over the last two weeks since he’d left. Who had sent me multiple texts every day with pictures of what he was doing, what he was eating, of his teammates, the hotel room he was living out of. The man I missed the shit out of, mostly because I knew how far away he was.

I’d bet anyone would be distracted with that over their head.

And heart.

And fucking soul.

Luna frowned over at me as she slowly chewed part of the huge grilled chicken salad she had put together not even fifteen minutes ago when we’d met up at our favorite salad buffet place for lunch. She was still frowning a moment later when she swallowed what she’d been eating and asked in a way that was way too careful for how long we’d known each other, “Want to talk about it?”

There was my Luna. Always there and never too into prying.

That thought felt like a tiny little sliver off my heart as I thought—again—about me leaving everything and everyone behind. Including her. The best best friend with boobs I’d ever had.

“I can keep a secret,” she kept going. “I’ll only tell Rip. Promise.”

That almost made me snicker. But not even her being herself was enough to ease my heartache… and confusion… and how torn I was about going with him to Japan.

Leave my job.

Leave Grandpa Gus.

Leave Peter.

Leave Luna.

Leave Luna’s family.

Leave Maio House.

Leave our house in the Heights.

Leave… everything behind except for Mo and Jonah with a little j.

Was I really considering it?

And did I have to feel like such a fucking traitor for thinking about it as much as I had?

The thing that got under my skin the most though was that the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t exactly feel scared when I contemplated leaving.

The biggest problem was that I couldn’t imagine my fucking life without Grandpa Gus and Peter.

And how could I just leave Maio House months after I’d taken it over?

How the hell was I supposed to choose between the loves of my life?

Something soft landed on my shoulder, giving it a squeeze. “You look so sad, Lenny. What is it?”

I glanced up at Luna and raised my eyebrows as I gave her a brittle smile, dropping my fork into the huge metal bowl. I wasn’t that hungry. I couldn’t remember there ever being a time, other than when I was getting over being sick, where I wasn’t hungry. If that wasn’t a huge fucking sign that there was something wrong with me, I didn’t know what else would be.

“I’m not sad,” I told her. “Just… conflicted.”

She fucking took it. “Because of Jonah?”

I nodded.

“Because you miss him a lot?”

She’d known all about him leaving; we had seen each other the day after he’d flown to Japan. Plus, we’d kept up our lunches even while he’d still been in Houston. She knew everything. Except for his invitation. I hadn’t told anyone about that.

I rubbed a hand over my chest as I glanced down at my salad.

I had known my entire life that Maio House was going to be my place.

How was I supposed to leave it? Leave everything? I had a place here. Responsibilities. My fucking loved ones.

But there was Jonah. And Mo. Mo who lit up every time she was around her dad. She’d cried the whole way home after we’d left him at the airport. I doubted it had been my imagination that she’d been fussier than normal, especially at night, since he’d left. And I had liked Japan. I had lived there for three months years ago; I’d been back twice since then.

What the hell was I supposed to do?

Not be a whiny little bitch, that was what.

I looked up, grabbed my fork again and stabbed at a cherry tomato before popping it back into my mouth. When I was done, I focused on my friend who looked so worried it made me feel bad. We barely got to see each other in the first place, and here I was being a vibe kill.

Luna scooted forward on the bench she was sitting in, a frown over that face that hadn’t gotten any less pretty over the last decade. “You look so sad, Len. I can tell by your eyes.”

If I couldn’t talk about this with Luna, who could I talk with? This was what friends were for anyway, wasn’t it? She would be the last person to ever give me a hard time for loving someone and wanting to be with them. Fuck it. “I’m not sad,” I answered. “But yeah, I do miss him a lot more than I thought I would.” I thought about it. “A lot more.”

She sat up and aimed bright green eyes at me, thinking. “So then go be with him,” she said, like she was giving me an address to meet her at.

I opened my mouth to tell her something but realized I didn’t know what to say.

“Or not. But if he’s going to be gone for, what did you say? Two years? And you’re going to miss him, go too. I’m sure he’d love it if you went. I’ve seen the way he looks at you. He looked so happy at the courthouse, Len, like you made his whole freaking life. And I’ve seen the way you look at him. I’ve never seen you smile so much. Not even close.” Her smile was tighter than normal but just barely, just noticeable only because I knew her so well. “Do it, Len. Go.”

Do it, Len?

“He did ask me to go. A few weeks ago,” I admitted, feeling just a little bad that I hadn’t told her that from the beginning.

She lifted her hands palm up. “See?”

This wasn’t exactly what I’d been expecting, and I couldn’t keep the surprise out of my voice. “Go with him? That’s your advice?”

She nodded. “Yeah.”

I blinked. “But it’s not that simple.” Was it?

Luna smiled and it wasn’t tight at all anymore. It reminded me of that eighteen-year-old version of herself who had beamed at me from across the mats at the original Maio House, like she’d known exactly how much I was going to need her in my life. “What’s so hard about it? You quit your job. You go.”

“Quit my job? It’s Maio House. It isn’t like I’m quitting the retirement home again. My last name is outside. Grandpa Gus—”

“It is just a job,” she told me seriously, her smile gone. “And if you say something dumb like but I don’t want to leave you either, you’re going to hurt my feelings. Because you’re always going to be my best friend, even if we see each other a little less and have to talk on the phone more to make up for it.”


Tags: Mariana Zapata Romance
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