“This weekend.” He tried and failed to hold back a grin. “Flying up there for the long weekend.”
Carlos patted him on the shoulder.
“Finally. Good job, dude. Proud of you.”
Drew shook Carlos’s hand off his shoulder and opened his car door. Oh great, now Carlos was smug because he got him to text Alexa in the first place. He never would have done it if he’d known he was in for this.
Okay, never mind that, yes, he would have.
“Proud of me for what, asshole?”
“Oh, you’ll see. Tell Alexa I say hi.”
“Is he sleeping with anyone else?” Maddie asked as she sipped her second margarita.
Alexa paused, her own drink halfway to her mouth. That hadn’t occurred to her. Why hadn’t it occurred to her?
“I don’t know.” Because she hadn’t wanted to think about him with anyone else, that was why. “Why do you ask?”
“You said he isn’t really one for commitment, so I wondered,” Maddie said. “Are you going to ask him?”
Alexa took a sip of her drink. This wasn’t what she’d expected from margarita night with Maddie. Taco Tuesday was not supposed to be stressful. She didn’t want the third degree about Drew; she just wanted some uncomplicated applause.
At least she’d gotten that from Theo.
“I hadn’t thought about it.”
“Okay. So I guess asking if you guys are dating now is going to get the same non-answer, isn’t it?”
Alexa set her drink down.
“What happened to ‘Don’t overthink everything, Alexa’?”
“I guess sometimes you do listen to me. But that was different! And even now, I’m not saying you need to overthink things . . . just don’t under-think them.”
“Great, perfect thinking balance, that doesn’t sound hard at all. Why didn’t I think of that? Now can we talk about you instead? Who was the client who pissed you off this week?”
Maddie’s styling business was thriving, which meant she always had great stories. Alexa laughed throughout the tale of graduation dress shopping for a whole family, ages seventy, fifty-five, eighteen, and nine.
Unfortunately, now that she’d been given permission to start thinking more about the Drew situation, it was all she could think about.
“Should I ask him?” Alexa asked, midway through her second drink.
“I guess that depends on how much you want to know the answer,” Maddie said.
Wednesday afternoon, Drew’s phone buzzed in his pocket while he was in the middle of an appointment with Jack and Abby. He grinned, almost certain of who had just texted him. He and Alexa had been texting each other all week, both in innocent and creative ways, though she’d been strangely silent today. He fought the urge to pull his phone out of his pocket and concentrated on Jack.
When Abby and Jack were walking out the door, she stopped and turned around.
“Your friend Alexa’s been so helpful. She’s gotten me in touch with help that I didn’t even know existed. Please thank her for me.”
Alexa hadn’t even told him she’d been in touch with Abby.
“I’m sure she’ll be happy to hear that,” he said. Jack high-fived him with his good arm as they left.
He ducked into his office in between patients to text her. But then he saw the text that had come in during his appointment.
Are you sleeping with anyone else?
Whoa, wait, what had prompted that? He responded before he stopped to think.
Not at the moment, I’m at work.
Why did he never stop to think?
I see. What about after work, will I get a different answer?
Maybe another joke would help.
No, tonight is basketball night.
There was a knock on his office door, and he looked up.
“Dr. Nichols? Your one thirty is in the exam room.”
“I’ll be right there!” he said, and looked back down at his phone.
How about this: now you have the weekend free so neither work nor basketball nor I will get in the way.
What the fuck? How did that escalate so quickly? And why the fuck had she brought this up right now in the middle of the day? In a text message?
Come on, can you just calm down about this? I was just joking.
He sat down on the edge of his desk, ignoring the files that fell onto the floor.
Hahahahaha so funny.
Somehow, he didn’t think those were genuine hahahahas. While he was still thinking about what to say to her, his phone buzzed again.
Look, Drew, I’m too busy to deal with this. I don’t think this is a good idea.
Drew barely caught himself from cursing out loud, and luckily remembered that there were small children and their parents just outside the door.
“Dr. Nichols?” The knock on his door was louder. Shit, he was running even later than usual.
Come on, Alexa. What the hell?
He slammed his phone down onto his desk and opened his office door hard enough for it to bang into the wall. Why the fuck did women have to do things like this?
“Everything okay there, Dr. Nichols?” the nurse asked.
“Fine. Who’s next?”
He raged through his next four patients. He forced himself to smile at the kids, but he was particularly curt to one of the moms, and he knew he’d hear about that later.
Carlos came into his office at the end of the day when he was getting ready to go.
“Why are you still in those clothes?” Carlos dribbled an imaginary basketball on his office floor. “Basketball tonight!”
He flashed back to the text he’d sent Alexa that day and cringed.
“Gotta bail, sorry.” His general plan was to go home and drink all of the beer in his fridge.
“Why, gotta call your girl?” Carlos asked. “You really going to ditch us for her? Though, I have to say, she is really . . .”
He didn’t want to hear the end of that sentence.
“She’s not my girl.” He threw his bag over his shoulder and walked out the door. Carlos, of course, followed him. Still talking.
“Yeah, yeah, of course you’ll say that. I know how you are. But anyone who sees you together knows the truth.”
“She’s. Not. My. Girl.” Drew got in the elevator, not looking at Carlos, but he could feel his scrutiny.
“Okay. What happened?” Carlos pressed the button for the lobby, still staring at him. Of all people, he did not want to talk to Carlos about this. He’d make it a whole big thing, and it wasn’t a big thing. It had just been two fucking weekends, it was over, and he didn’t want to deal with it or think about it anymore.
“Nothing.” They rode down the whole way in silence. Carlos followed him across the street to the parking garage and got in the elevator with him there.
“Are you going to tell me now?” Carlos got off the elevator with him and walked with him toward his car.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be? Why are you following me? Go play basketball.”
Carlos gestured to the left, and Drew saw his gleaming red BMW. “I parked two cars away from you this morning, jackass. I’m not following you.” He leaned against Drew’s much more battered car and studied him. “Though, that is a good idea. You realize that I do have a key to your house, right? If you don’t tell me what got you in this mood, you know I’m just going to follow you home until you do. And I know it’s about Alexa, so don’t try to bullshit me.”
Drew sighed. As much as he’d fought it, he’d known it was inevitable.
“Fine, follow me home, but you’d better stop to get us food on the way. And you’re paying.”
Twenty minutes later, Carlos walked into his apartment carrying two In-N-Out bags. Drew ripped them open, bit into a Double-Double, and washed that down with his second beer. Then he flipped to Alexa’s text messages and tossed his phone to Carlos.
“You might as well just read what happened today, so I don’t have to tell you. Scroll down.”
Drew watched Carlos’s face as he read. In seconds it went from puzzlement to amusement, to outrage, and finally landed on exasperation. He set the phone down in the center of the table, popped open a beer, took a long sip, and sat back against the couch cushions. Finally, he looked at Drew.