Isla and the Happily Ever After Page 2

I wish he would look at me the way that he looks at his subjects. Because then he’d see there’s more to me than shy, just like I see there’s more to him than slacker.

My cheeks burn again – as if he could hear my thoughts – but then I realize…he is studying me. Have I overstayed my welcome? His expression grows concerned, and I frown. Josh nods towards the table. His sketchbook is already before me.

I laugh. He does, too, though it’s tinged with confusion.

His book is still open to the work in progress. A thrill runs through me. On one page, Abe’s face stares with boredom at the sketchbook’s spine. Even the rings in his septum, eyebrows and ears seem dull and annoyed. On the opposite page, Josh has perfectly captured the middle-aged couple’s studious, gentle frowns.

I touch a corner, one without ink, oh so lightly. To prove to myself that this moment is real. My voice turns reverent. “These are amazing. Is the whole thing filled with portraits like this?”

Josh closes the sketchbook and slides it back towards himself. Its pages are thick with use. On the cover is a blue sticker shaped like America. A single word has been handwritten across it: WELCOME. I don’t know what that means, but I like it.

“Thanks.” He gives me another smile. “It’s for whatever, but yeah. Mainly portraits.”

“And you’re allowed to do that?”

His brow creases. “Do what?”

“Like, you don’t need their permission?”

“To draw them?” he asks. I nod, and he continues. “Nah. I’m not using these for anything special. This isn’t even my good sketchbook. See? I can’t remove the pages.”

“Do you do this a lot? Draw strangers?”

“Sure.” He reaches for his coffee cup with an index finger. There’s a splotch of black ink near his nail. “To be good at anything you have to practise.”

“Do you wanna practise on me?” I ask.

Pink blossoms across Josh’s cheeks as Abe slaps down two dishes. “Chicken broth and cheesecake,” Abe says to me. “That’s all we had.”

“Merci,” I say.

“De nada.” Abe rolls his eyes and walks away.

“What’s with that guy?” I ask, shovelling in the cheesecake. “Ohmygod, sogood.” I mumble this through a full mouth. “Youwannabite?”

“Uh. No, thanks.” Josh seems flustered. “You look hungry.”

I begin happily devouring the rest.

“So you live close by?” he asks, after a few moments.

I swallow. “Two minutes away.”

“Me too. Ten minutes.”

I must look surprised, because he continues. “I know. Weird, right?”

“That’s cool.” I glug my broth. “Ohmygod. This is incredible.”

He watches me quietly for another minute. “So…you were serious? You wouldn’t mind if I sketched you?”

“Yeah, I’d love that.” I love youuuuuuuuu. “What should I do?”

“Don’t worry about it. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

“Ha! You’ll draw me eating like a horse. No. A pig. I meant pig. Do I mean a pig or a horse?”

Josh shakes his head in amusement. He opens the sketchbook to a new page and looks up. His eyes lock on to mine. I’m dumbstruck.


The word adds itself to my internal list of Facts About Josh. Sometimes his eyes had seemed green, sometimes brown. Now I know why.

Hazel. Josh’s eyes are hazel.

I float into a green-brown fog. The scritch of his pen mingles with the scratch of an old folk song coming from the speakers. Their combined tune is yearning and turmoil and anguish and love. Outside, storm clouds burst. Rain and wind join the score, and I hum along. My head clunks against a window.

I sit up, startled. My bowl and plate are empty. “How long have I been here?”

“A while.” Josh smiles. “So. Those drugs you’re on. Good stuff, huh?”

I moan. “Tell me I wasn’t drooling.”

“No drool. You look happy.”

“I am happy,” I say. Because…I am. My eyes dim.

“Isla,” he whispers. “It’s time to go.”

I lift my head from the table. When did it get there?

“Kismet is closing.”

“What’s Kismet?”

“Fate,” he says.


“The name of this café.”

“Oh. Okay.” I follow him outside and into the night. It’s still raining. The drops are fat and warm. I cover my head with my bare hands as Josh stuffs his sketchbook underneath his shirt. I catch a glimpse of his abdomen. Yummy. “Yummy tummy.”

He startles. “What?”


A smile plays in the corners of his lips. I want to kiss them, one kiss in each corner.

“Okay, Loopy.” He shakes his head. “Which way?”

“Which way to what?”

“To your place.”

“You’re coming over?” I’m delighted.

“I’m walking you home. It’s late. And it’s pouring.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” I say. “You’re nice.”

The traffic lights glow yellow on the wet asphalt. I point the way, and we run across Amsterdam Avenue. The rain pours harder. “Up there!” I say, and we duck underneath a city block covered in scaffolding. Weighty raindrops clang against the aluminium like a pinball machine.

“Isla, wait!”

But it’s too late.

Scaffolding is generally ideal for escaping bad weather, but occasionally the bars will cross together to create a funnel, which can collect water and soak a person completely. I am soaked. Completely. My hair clings to my face, my sundress clings to my figure, and water squishes between my sandals and the soles of my feet.

“Ha-ha.” I’m not sure it’s real laughter.

“Are you okay?” Josh stoops under the scaffolding, swerves around the waterfall, and then stoops back in beside me.

I am laughing. I clutch my stomach. “Hurts…mouth…to laugh. My mouth. My mouth and my stomach. And my mouth.”

He laughs, too, but it’s distracted. His eyes suddenly, pointedly move up to my face, and I realize he’d been looking elsewhere. My smile widens. Thank you, slutty funnel.

Read Daily Updated Light Novel, Web Novel, Chinese Novel, Japanese And Korean Novel Online: NovelFull
Prev page Next page