Why don’t you have a girlfriend, Matt?” I ask. And I really want to know, because it’s unfathomable to me that he’s single. He’s handsome, and he’s so kind. He shakes a finger at me. “There’s a story there,” he says. I settle into the sofa a little deeper and turn so that my feet are pointed toward him, my legs extended. My toes almost touch his thigh. But then he lifts my feet and slides under them, scooting closer to me. “I was in love with a girl. For a long time.” “What happened to her?” I ask. He starts to tickle across my toes, and then his fingertips drag down the top of my foot. It’s a gentle sweep, and it feels so good that I don’t want him to stop. His fingers play absently as he starts to talk. “When I got the diagnosis,” he says, “she couldn’t deal with it.” “Cancer?” I ask. He nods. His fingers drag up and down my shin, and he slides around to stroke the back of my knee. I don’t stop him when his hand slides beneath my skirt, although I do tense up. He smiles when he finds the top of my thigh-highs, and he unclips the little fastener that attaches them to my garters. He repeats the action on the other side, his hands teasing the sensitive skin of my inner thigh as he frees the stocking and rolls it down. He pulls it all the way over my foot, and does the same with the other side. I am suddenly really glad I shaved my legs this morning. I wiggle my toes at him, and he starts to stroke me again. I don’t ever want him to stop. “This okay?” he asks. But he’s not looking at my face. He’s looking at my legs. “Yeah,” I breathe. “Keep talking. You got diagnosed…” “I got diagnosed, and the prognosis wasn’t good. I went through chemo and got a little better. But then I needed a second round. Things didn’t look good, and we were flat broke. I couldn’t work at the tattoo parlor anymore because my immune system was too weak, so I had no money coming in. I was poor and sick, and she didn’t love me enough to walk the path with me.” He shrugs, but I can tell he’s serious. “She cheated with my best friend.” He shrugs again. “And that’s the end of that sad story.” “You still love her?” I ask. I don’t breathe, waiting for his answer. He shakes his head and looks up. “I did love her for a long time. And I haven’t been looking for a relationship. I haven’t dated anyone since her. But I’m not in love with her anymore. I know that now.” “Why now?” I ask. He looks directly into my eyes and says, “Because I met you, and I feel really hopeful that you’ll want to go after something real with me. I know we just met and all, but I was serious about making you fall in love with me.” He laughs. “Then you hit me in the nose tonight, and I knew it was meant to be.” “What?” I have no idea what he’s talking about. “When my brother Logan met Emily, she punched him in the face. And when Pete and Reagan first started dating, she hit him in the nose.” He reaches up and touches his nose gently. “So, when you hit me tonight, I just knew it was meant to be.” He grins. “I hope you feel the same way, because I really want to see where this thing is going to go.” “So the women your brothers fell in love with, they committed bodily harm to them and that’s how you guys knew it was real?” “We kind of have a rule. If a woman punches you in the face, you have to marry her.” He laughs. “I didn’t punch you.” “Same difference,” he says. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.