Better If He Goes (Always You #1) by Allie Everhart

Chapter One





Riley

"Your boyfriend's here," April says as a towel flies over my shoulder into the bin.

"Hey! Those are clean." I grab the towel and turn around to find April checking her lipstick in the mirror.

"Oh, sorry." She turns to me, pointing to her glossy red lips. "What do you think of this color?"

"Too dark." I glance at her as I add the towel to the washer. "You look better in pinks."

She turns back to the mirror. "I wanted to try something different. Wayne's picking me up after work tonight and I want to surprise him."

"I doubt he'll notice," I mutter as I grab a clean towel and start folding.

April walks up to me, her hand on her hip. "Why do you hate Wayne so much?"

"I don't hate him. I just think he's a little old for you."

"He's not that old," she insists, twirling her pink-striped hair around her finger.

"His kids are in high school," I remind her.

"Yeah? So?"

I give her a deadpan stare. "We graduated five years ago. You're barely older than his kids."

She shrugs. "I like being with someone more mature. He knows stuff. And he has money to take me out."

"That's not a reason to date someone." I place the folded towel on the stack and walk over to her. "Do you like him? Like really like him?"

"I don't know. I think I do. I'm just tired of dating immature losers. I feel like I'm running out of options."

"There are plenty of guys out there. Guys our age who would love to go out with you." I point to her lips. "But not with that color. It looks like blood. You'll only attract vampires with that lipstick."

She laughs as she returns to the mirror. "I like it. I'm going to wear it tonight and see what Wayne thinks."

"So what were you talking about when you came in here?"

"Oh!" She whips around to face me. "Your boyfriend's here!"

I give her a funny look. "I don't have a boyfriend."

She smiles and rolls her eyes. "Yeah, whatever."

"Wait, are you talking about—"

The door to the break room swings open and there he is, with his short dark hair and that big wide smile I've missed so much.

"Nate!" I run into his arms, nearly knocking him over.

"Riley," he says with a sigh. It's a sigh of relief, like things are finally right again.

I feel the same way. It never feels right when he's not around.

He holds me in the hug, his arms tightening around me. "I've missed you so much."

"I missed you too." I rest my head on his shoulder, inhaling his familiar scent.

"I'll let you two be alone," April says, winking at me as she goes past us through the door to the salon.

Laughing, I pull back from Nate. "She was teasing me. She said my boyfriend was here."

Nate smiles. "So how've you been?"

"Nate, we talk every day."

"Yeah, I guess you're right." He looks down. "It's just not the same, you know? Being away at college, I really missed you."

"But you're done now. Congratulations!" I lunge at him, hugging him again. "You're a college graduate. How does it feel?"

"Not much different than before. Except now I have a mountain of debt to pay off. I need to start looking for jobs."

Pulling back from him, I see the concern on his face. "Like real jobs? Meaning you're not working at the pool this summer?"

We've worked at the pool for three summers now. The salon lets me adjust my hours so I can work here in the morning, then lifeguard at the pool in the afternoon. I love being outside, being around all the kids, and so does Nate. I knew he'd have to eventually get a real job, but I was hoping we'd have one last summer to lifeguard together.

"I'll still be working at the pool," he says. "I'll look for jobs, but I'm sure it'll take longer than the summer to get one, unless I get lucky and find something."

"In Oklahoma?" I ask, wishing he wouldn't leave the state. We live in a small town, so I know he'll have to move to get a job. I just don't want him to move too far.

"Not sure. But I'm hoping I can stay here." He threads his hand in mine. "And I hope..." His eyes go to mine, but then he drops his head, shaking it. "Never mind."