Page 33 of Make You Mine

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“You sure? We had a bit of an issue a few weeks back with Isaac’s mate. Got carted off to hospital, and I’m not looking for a repeat.”

Noah reached out and squeezed Will’s shoulder. “Just grass and pollen like the rest of the world, I promise.”

Will seemed a bit dubious at first, but eventually swung the barn door open and led the way inside. It smelled of animal and hay, and though it was probably offensive to some, Noah found it oddly comforting. It was warm in there, and a bit humid, and there were benches along the wall, which Will dragged out.

The goats were happy to bounce around their feet, but after a few pets, they got bored of Noah and hurried off as the pair took seats. “It’s nice in here. Do farm animals like living at the beach?”

Will chuckled. “Goats adore it, and I think Florida has more beach chickens than the Midwest has farms. But I feel like you didn’t come to talk about the sunbathing habits of farm fowl.”

Noah laughed, but it was strained. “Yeah, no. My bakery is closing, and I think I’m freaking out.”

Will blinked in surprise, then sat back. “For good?”

Biting the inside of his cheek, Noah fought back a fresh wave of grief and anxiety as he shook his head. “I think so. It’s been hemorrhaging money for years. I was making ends meet—mostly—when I first took over, but each year just keeps getting worse. When Adam moved out and started the food truck, I realized we were dead in the water.”

Will’s brow dipped into a deep frown. “That’s the thing with him and Talia, is it?”

“Yeah,” Noah said quietly. “He’s so happy, and I didn’t want to rain on his parade, so I took a loan out to help with the shop, but I’m about to default on my first payment, and I don’t want it to end like that.”

Will swallowed. “Mate, I can lend you money. If you need…”

“No! I didn’t come here to borrow money,” Noah said a little harshly, though he didn’t mean to. Dragging a hand down his face, he took a breath. “And it wouldn’t help even if I had. One month, two months—even six more wouldn’t matter. I can’t keep this up. It was on the verge of failing when Bubbe got sick, and I didn’t have the skill to resuscitate it. This was just borrowed time.”

Will looked down at his feet. “I’m sorry, mate.”

With a shrug, Noah leaned forward over his thighs and steeled himself for the rest. “Adriano had an idea. It’s…I don’t want to give you details. But it could work. Not to save the bakery, but to pay off the loan. It’ll be enough that I can walk away and not worry.”

“Is it illegal?” Will pressed.

Noah laughed and rolled his eyes up toward the ceiling. “No. It’s not illegal, but it does…maybe cross some lines I’m not sure I’m ready to cross.”

“Is it a religious thing?” Will asked.

At that, Noah’s lip curled up in a half smile. “A bit? In all honesty, Judaism is so diverse it’s impossible to say yes or no. It’s not the same as other faiths. But I’m not sure I’m brave enough to talk to my rabbi about it.”

“I get that,” Will said with a smile.

“Anyway, my hesitation’s more personal.” Noah paused. “It’s something I’ve been avoiding for years, and Adriano makes me want to branch out, and…I don’t know, find freedom? Not be so damn strict with myself?”

“Is it because of him or because it’s something you want for you?” Will asked.

Noah loved that about his friend, loved that he’d find the nuance in what Noah was struggling with. “Both. I want it for both reasons. I’m lonely.”

Will made a soft noise and shifted a little closer. “You have people who love you, you know.”

“I’m starting to accept that,” Noah admitted softly, “and I’m trying.”

Will set a hand on his shoulder. “I know.”

Noah remained silent a long moment, trying to gather his thoughts. “I’m scared if I abandon everything I know, more things will fall apart. I’m scared Adam will get hurt by this and never speak to me again.” He swallowed past a lump in his throat. “I don’t think I could live with that. He’s all I’ve got left.”


“Iknowit’s irrational. I knew years ago when I was practically on mykneesbegging Hashem to keep Adam safe that it was irrational. But I’ve been doing this for so long now that I don’t know how to stop.” He only realized his hands were in fists when his knuckles began to ache, and he forced himself to uncurl his fingers. “I probably need a therapist. And…and I need to trust that Adam can take care of himself and that he’ll understand the reason why this has to happen.”

“He seems happy, and happy people don’t cut their only living relatives out of their lives. And therapy is good. I had a good one after my divorce. I didn’t go long, just enough time to get my head back on straight.”

Noah glanced over and saw actual kindness in Will’s eyes, not pity. “I’m afraid once Adriano knows what an actual mess I am, he’ll end things. Which is a ridiculous thing to worry about. I mean, I barely know him.”