“This is true,” he agreed as she giggled.
He felt like a teenager, fumbling for things to say.
“Did your aunt send your stuff back?”
She sat up suddenly and smacked the table. “Let me tell you what that old biddy did! She said she didn’t take my things! That it was all hers! Can you believe that?”
Jordan shook his head as she went on, “My mom is going to get my stuff back from her, but, for goodness’ sake, what is my aunt thinking!”
Jordan couldn’t stop laughing. She was so animated, so pretty, as her arms flew through the air.
“My favorite gym shorts are in that suitcase, and I haven’t been able to run the same since I got home without them. She’s impossible,” Aynslee said, shaking her head too.
He was glad she wasn’t offended by his question. It was just that her body seemed too lush and feminine to be that of a runner.
“Yup. I have a love affair going on with food, and if I want to keep eating like I do, I have to keep running.”
His mouth pulled into a grin as he nodded. “Same thing with me. I run too, mostly to keep my knee in shape, though.”
“Your knee?” she asked looking up at him. “Shouldn’t you be worried about both knees?”
He chuckled. “Yeah, but I tore the meniscus in my left knee about two years ago; I keep messing it up, I’m still recovering from it.”
She nodded as she said, “Ouch.”
“Yes, it sucked, but I’m doing much better.”
“That’s good,” Aynslee said before leaning toward him. “Since you are an only child, does that mean your mom was going crazy taking care of you?”
“Yeah, she came over from South Carolina and didn’t leave for three months. It was horrible.”
“I bet. With me being from a large family, you’d think my mom wouldn’t have time to baby me, but when I broke my ankle, she came and stayed with me in my little bitty dorm room for two weeks. She carried my books to class and everything. My mom is the best.”
“Wow, she sounds great.”
“Yeah, I love my mom and my dad. They are nuts, and my family is huge and loud and over the top, but they are mine, you know?”
Jordan couldn’t agree more. “Yeah, my mom and dad are a handful, but I wouldn’t change them for the world.”
As he took a drink of his coffee, Jordan recognized the song that was playing: Hunter Hayes’s “Somebody’s Heartbreak.” It was one of his favorite country songs right now, and as he looked across the table at Aynslee, he couldn’t help but want her to be his heartbreak. He just didn’t want to be hers, and that was why nothing could ever come of this. It didn’t matter if he was insanely attracted to her, or that they both had the same values when it came to family, or that she’d made him laugh more in the last twenty minutes than he had in the last two years. None of that mattered, because he couldn’t hurt her.
“So I have to tell you something,” she said softly.
Jordan gazed at her beautiful face. He wished he could reach over, take her hand in his, and kiss her knuckles before smothering her mouth with his. She had the most kissable lips he had ever seen. He could tell by the way she looked at him that she wanted it too, but he knew he couldn’t chance it. Because if their lips met, he wasn’t going to be able to stop.
“I Googled you.”
He raised an eyebrow as he asked, “You Googled me?”
“Yup, and before you think I’m a complete stalker, I’m not … yet.”
“Yet?” he said with a chuckle.
“Before I saw you today, I was planning to show up at your practice next week.”
“You stalker, you,” he teased with a grin.
She laughed, and he watched her face turn red. He loved when she blushed. She was so beautiful. It made him feel good that she wanted to see him again, because he wanted the same thing, but, again, that was bad, very bad. He needed to walk away, to tell her that nothing could ever come of this, but she would smile, and for some reason he would forget the reasons why he couldn’t ask her out. Good God, it wasn’t as if they were going to get married. What was wrong with him? They could date, have fun, and when he knew what his future was, he’d leave. It could just be for fun.
But when she met his gaze, he knew it wouldn’t be that easy.
“Anyways,” she said, hiding behind her coffee cup, “you’re a hockey player, huh?”
He paused. She gave him a nervous smile, and he nodded his head. “Yup.”
“That’s cool. I went to my first game last night.”
His heart fell as he looked down at his cup. If she was at the game, she’d seen him on the bench.
“It was fun—confusing, but fun. I saw you. I even waved, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t see me.”
He shook his head. He had searched for her and still missed her. That sucked—but not as much as it sucked that she saw him warming the bench.
“Sorry, I didn’t,” he said, picking at the paper sleeve around his cup. “I don’t play much.”
When he looked up at her, she nodded. “Your knee, right?”
“Yeah,” he said quietly.
Jordan felt like a loser. Suddenly the great time they were having was dimmed by his bitter mood. He hated feeling this way. He wanted to be a man who was worthy of her, but he wasn’t. He was a washed-up goalie who was begging teams to take a chance on him. Aynslee deserved someone better.