‘Why wouldn’t I?’ said Ren. ‘I’m not your mom.’

Ben sat up. ‘I don’t know what my mom has to do with it, but come over here.’

Ren sat down beside him and he pulled her legs onto his lap. He looked across at the bookshelves.

‘I don’t read,’ he said. ‘I’d say I’ve read one piece of fiction in my entire life. But I would love to lie on this sofa with you on a Sunday morning, with your legs like this, and your head back, while you’re reading your book. Or else you’re naked. Your call.’

‘We could alternate …’ said Ren.

‘One Sunday on, one Sunday off?’

‘One hour on, one hour off.’

Ben squeezed her legs. ‘Do you know something?’ he said. ‘When I was sixteen years old, my father sat me down, and he told me never, ever to settle for anyone. Never to think that my mother or him expected me to marry, and have kids, or do anything by any age. My father was forty-five years old when he met my mother. He saw her walking down the street, and he stopped her right there and then, and asked her out. He said he knew that she was the woman he was going to marry. His friends had teenage children at that stage of their lives, he was the only single one, but he knew he wouldn’t settle for less than the best. He is eighty years old, my mom is seventy-three, and I swear to God, they look into each other’s eyes like they were still on that sidewalk thirty-five years ago.’

He looked at Ren. ‘You just added forty-five and thirty-five together, didn’t you?’

‘I did,’ said Ren. ‘You got me.’

‘That’s because it was easier than thinking about what I was saying.’

‘Really?’ said Ren.

‘Absolutely,’ said Ben.

Ren laughed. ‘I like you, Ben Rader. I like you a lot.’

‘That’s good,’ said Ben. ‘If you keep going like that, in about ten years, you might catch up with how I feel about you.’

‘How did you ever work undercover?’ said Ren. ‘Saying shit like that?’

‘Wait ’til we’re married …’

Ren laughed. ‘You are nuts.’

‘Is that a yes?’

‘You’re only joking about it because you don’t mean it.’

‘Exactly … I don’t mean it. At all. I’d hate that. It would be a nightmare.’

‘OK, seriously. Stop.’

‘You stop.’

‘You really are eighteen, aren’t you?’ said Ren.

‘Yup. Old enough to marry without my parents’ consent.’ He paused. ‘But they would totally consent to you.’

‘I punched my colleague in the face. I regularly flirt with unemployment. None of that is good.’ I am also nuts. And on drugs.

‘And Ben and Ren would look cool on the wedding invitations.’

‘I have a major problem dating someone with a name that rhymes with mine.’

‘And what about marrying him?’

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