“You want to go straight to dinner, then? That burger place again, maybe?”
She turned toward him and grabbed his knee. Man, he loved it every time she touched him. Yeah, they could definitely keep this thing going for a while longer.
“Yes, and can we get that Tater Tot casserole this time? I can’t promise to eat it all, but it looked amazing.”
Apparently, many people had had the same idea for dinner that night. They stood together at the bar while they waited for a table, drinking beer and talking about everything and nothing.
He didn’t talk about Jack. He’d already texted her that the test results had come back positive, and he didn’t want to bring both of them down. She didn’t bring up her program, and he didn’t ask, although he was dying to know whether she was going to talk to her sister about it.
Instead, he told her about the kid who kept throwing things across the exam room and giggling, and how he had to step out in the hallway to laugh. She told him about the naked protestors who kept following the mayor around. As they laughed, the tense look on her face relaxed. Maybe it was the beer, but he hoped it was being with him.
Just as he was about to ask her if she wanted another beer, he heard his name. He turned and saw his friends Robin and Lucy walking toward him.
“Hey!” He hugged them both, then turned to introduce Alexa to them.
“Hey guys, this is my . . . this is Alexa. Alexa, meet Lucy and Robin.” He’d almost slipped and called her his girlfriend. How the hell had that happened?
No one had seemed to notice his flub, and Alexa was chatting away with Lucy, so he turned to Robin.
“You going to Heather’s party on Sunday?”
Just as he nodded, the hostess called his name, so they said their good-byes and followed her to the table.
This is my . . . What was he going to say? What was going to be the end of that sentence? Alexa guessed it didn’t matter, because he hadn’t finished it, so whatever he’d been about to say, he hadn’t really meant. Still, she spent the entire time they were at dinner with that sentence fragment running through her head.
Okay, maybe not the entire time. The rest of the time, she compared herself and the dowdy navy blue sheath dress she’d worn to work that day to Lucy and Robin in their cute little sundresses. And her didn’t-look-good-in-a-cute-little-sundress-anyway figure to their nonexistent hips and thighs. And the salads on their table to her Tater Tot casserole.
Good God, she was a disaster. Why would she even think that he would finish that sentence the way she wanted him to?
“Monroe, is everything okay? You look worried about something.” Drew leaned over and smoothed out the furrow between her eyebrows with his thumb. She couldn’t help but smile when he did that.
She almost asked him all of the questions in her head but decided against it. It wasn’t the right time. She’d been stressed all week; she needed to relax tonight.
Plus, what would happen if all of his answers were the wrong ones? She’d spend the rest of the weekend miserable and pretending to smile?
“It’s fine. I mean, I’m fine. I was just trying to decide between another beer or a glass of wine.”
They woke up the next morning wrapped around each other, the cool ocean breeze blowing in on them from his open window. She must have stirred, because his hand moved from her hip to her breast.
“Good morning,” he said against her ear. He caressed her body and she sighed in response.
“Mmm, she likes that. Weird, I thought I heard someone say she couldn’t take it anymore just a few hours ago.”
She held his hand in place when he tried to move it.
“If you heard that, and I’m not confirming that you did, whoever said that probably said ‘until morning’ at the end there but it was muffled somehow. In a pillow, maybe.”
He laughed and kissed her ear, her cheek, her neck, as his fingers kept moving. Okay, he definitely enjoyed some things about her body, whether it was built for little sundresses or not.
“Coffee?” she said into the pillow a while later.
He turned her over and smiled down at her, his eyes roaming over her from her waist to the top of her head. She pulled his head down to hers and kissed him along his jawline.
“How about”—he turned his head and returned the kiss—“while I make coffee, you get ready so we can go to breakfast?”
His hand was on her hip, his thumb drawing figure eights on her hip bone, and his eyes were locked on hers. Between all of that, she was powerless to say no to anything he asked.
After breakfast at Drew’s favorite diner, they stumbled back into his apartment and collapsed on the couch.
“Good Lord, why have you never taken me to that place before?” Alexa asked him. “I’ve never had pancakes that good.”
“I knew you’d like the pancakes, even though the biscuits are my favorite.”
He pulled out her ponytail so he could run his fingers through her hair, and she sighed and rested her head against his shoulder.
She turned and smiled at him, but she looked anxious again, like she had the night before.
Maybe she needed to get work done? Yeah, that was probably it. She always needed to get work done.
“I was maybe going to go for a run. Did you . . . is that cool? You’ll be okay here for a while, right?”
She turned away from him and sat up.
“Yeah, that’s fine. I can get some work done while you’re gone.”
Yeah, he’d figured. He kissed her again as he stood up to go change into his running clothes. When he came back into the living room, her laptop was on her lap and she had that worried look on her face again. Still.
She jumped at the sound of his face and looked up.
“Oh . . . yeah, fine. Just checking my email.”
He didn’t quite believe that. He wanted to sit down next to her and ask more questions, find out what was really upsetting her. Or was it that she would rather email with her buddy Theo than talk to him? But her eyes were back on her screen, not him. He’d been dismissed.
“Okay. I’ll be back in an hour or so.”
“Okay.” She didn’t look up as he shut the door.
Had he wanted her to go running with him? And had he changed his mind once he looked at her? Did he want to say that they should both go running after eating all that food but decided that would hurt her feelings? Why had she been so filled with hope when he said “Monroe?” like that? What did she think he was going to say?
Was she going to drive herself insane asking herself questions like this all weekend? Signs point to yes.
She took a shower to clear her head, pulled on a tank top and yoga pants, and got back on the couch to check her email for real.
Forty-five minutes later, he burst through the front door, his face pink, his shirt sticking to his chest, and holy shit, she wanted to pull his clothes off immediately.
“How was your run?” she asked him.
He tugged his shirt off and wiped his face with it. Now she really couldn’t stop staring at him.
“You changed.” His chest was glistening, and his dark brown chest hairs stuck to his body. And those shorts . . . Did he have anything on under those shorts? She put her laptop on the coffee table.
“Mmmhmm, I took a shower.”
He kicked his shoes into the corner of the room and took a step toward her.
“If you keep looking at me that way, I’m going to pull you into the shower with me in about thirty seconds flat.”
With him closer to her now, her head was just about even with his waist.
She hooked her thumbs around his waistband and pulled his shorts down.
It took closer to fifteen seconds, but only because she stopped to throw off her clothes before he turned on the water. Thank goodness she’d packed her blow-dryer.
“So who all is going to be at this party?” Alexa asked him on Sunday as they ate a late breakfast on the couch. She’d convinced him to make her pancakes this time. And not to toot his own horn, but they turned out pretty great.
“A bunch of people you’ve probably heard me talk about—the guys from my basketball league; Carlos; Robin and Lucy, those girls you met last night; lots of other people I don’t know.” He paused. “Some of the dudes from my basketball league who’ll be there are black. FYI.”