Chapter Thirty-Two

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I made a ko-fi...which is a platform where supporters (like you) can donate to creators (like me). If you like what I do consider donating. I spend lots of time writing and editing and posting and know that it would mean a lot to me. ❤️ The link is in my bio.

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The rest of our camping trip was wonderfully uneventful. Just lots of intimate moments between me and Trace and lots of walks and hikes through the forest terrain. It was a peaceful and a nice romantic weekend between the two of us that I was sad to see end.

The drive back to the city also meant a drive back to real life. I had to put in my two weeks at work the next day and start apartment hunting because I had a special lease with the landlord that gave me reduced rent as long as I worked at the bakery. So, I had a lot to do when I got back to Toronto. And I had to worry about meeting Trace's parents, too. And asking my parents to meet Trace...

Fuck. This was a lot of change.

"Hey, how's your baking channel going?" Trace's low, smooth voice drew me out of my thoughts and I stilled.

I blinked in surprise. "Oh yeah, that thing. I should check up on it." But then we pulled up to my apartment and Trace helped me lug my stuff into my apartment and came up for a small lunch.

I'd made lasagna before we left for the weekend and I heated it up in the oven. It was quiet as I prepared our meal and Trace wordlessly piled all my used clothes from our trip into my laundry bin. I should have been embarrassed as he moved around my apartment easily, and hummed to himself as if he belonged right there. With his dark hair knotted in a low bun at the base of his neck and his pretty voice and the sound of his foot and his prosthetic clacking against the floorboards as he walked. It was weird and it was right but I didn't know why I found it so embarrassing.

Maybe because I wanted it. Suddenly, I was overcome with what it would be like to  wake up next to Trace, and to just have him always there. My heart beat hard and slow. It would be so nice.

Trace was watching me for a moment before he took down the whiteboard from my kitchen fridge. "Why don't you make a list of all the things you have to do in order of what's most time sensitive? I can sit with you if you want."

We sat at my dining table and I stared blankly at the white board. The world started to swim and I had to remind myself to breathe.

Trace's voice was soft, "Okay, how about number one: accept the job offer?" He stretched his hand out and patted the back of my hand, before rubbing a slow, lazy circle on my palm that was doing something funny to my heartbeat.

I exhaled slowly. "That seems like a good place to start." I started writing and started to talk aloud as I added to the list. "Think of a nice outfit to wear when I meet your parents. Put in my two weeks at the bakery. Talk to the landlord about breaking my lease. Go apartment hunting. Put up a new video for my channel and— tell my parents you're coming to Thanksgiving. Uh— I think that's it."

Trace moved and kissed me on the cheek and for a moment I could feel the heat of his body wash over me and smell something citrusy in his hair. I wanted to turn into the kiss and have his mouth on mine instead but I stayed still. Mostly.

"That's good," he said, "so, those are all the things you have to do. It's seven manageable things. Why don't you put a time line for when you want to get things done by? And I can talk to my sister if you want to stay with us for a bit until you find a good place."

I flushed, thinking of sharing a bed with Trace. He'd kick me in his sleep but I wouldn't mind because then those warm, muscular legs would be up against me all night and his hair would tickle me when we spooned and those intense dark eyes would be on me when I woke up.

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