“Of course you’re not,” he quickly recovered. “I’m sorry I made you feel that way. The truth is, I love hanging out with you. You’re fun as shit, and we have great sex. I know you’re not going to deny that.”
“Well, no,” I murmured weakly.
“I’d like you to come on the trip with me because I think it would be good for both of us.”
“We’ll see.” I wanted to be sure that I was protecting myself and could handle an entire week with him.
“Well, think about it.” He rose to his feet and, to my complete surprise, left the apartment without saying good-bye. What the hell? His wineglass sat untouched on the coffee table where he’d left it. Was he trying to give me space to think, or was this some kind of test?
The entire week passed without a single word from Braydon. I hadn’t texted or called him either, but he was the guy, he was supposed to chase me, right? I knew he was leaving for Hawaii in two days—I found out from Emmy. And I hated myself for it, but I went ahead and inquired about the time off with my boss. She’d said it was totally fine and probably long overdue. Which only frustrated me more. I could have the time off if I wanted it. I just didn’t want to give in so easily. Braydon hadn’t clarified if he’d be paying my way, if we’d share a hotel room, or what sort of rules would apply to this part of our arrangement. I had enough money in my savings to cover the flight and hotel, but still—I hated all these questions swirling in my brain. I wished there were a guidebook for this. If you’re invited on vacation to be someone’s f**k buddy, what are the expectations?
My cell phone rang and I sprinted across my apartment, lunging for it. “Hello?”
“Hey, Ells,” Emmy said.
She laughed. “Geez, nice to hear from you, too.”
“Sorry, I just, thought it might be . . . never mind.”
She sighed. “You guys still aren’t talking?”
She grumbled something unintelligible into the phone. “Sheesh, you two are more stubborn than Ben and I ever were.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I picked at a hangnail on my thumb.
“It means you both want each other, yet you’re too damn stubborn to admit it and take what you want.”
“So what should I do?”
“Suck it up and call him. Tell him you want to go to Hawaii.”
“I can’t do that, Emmy.”
“Why the hell not? Are you insane? Piña coladas on the beach . . . warm sand . . . sun . . . me . . . hello? It’s gonna be awesome.”
I laughed at her enthusiasm. “It does sound nice. Let me think about it.”
“Don’t think for too long. We leave the day after tomorrow.”
“Trust me, I’m well aware.” I paced my apartment, trying to figure out what to do. Things between me and Braydon were totally in the gray, but I wanted to go to Hawaii with my best friend and our two men. And I had the time off work. Why the f**k not?
“I need a bikini wax and a pedicure,” I mumbled into the phone.
Emmy squealed. “Oh hush. That’s what razors are for, and we’ll get a pedicure together at the hotel. I’m sure there’s a spa nearby.”
Gosh, her life was easy. “Okay,” I said with a nod. “I better pack then.”
“Hop to it, girlie!”
“Will do. And hey, don’t mention anything to Ben or Braydon yet, okay?”
“Sure thing, babe,” Emmy said, though sounding skeptical.
As I hung up the phone, a little plan hatched in my head. Surprising Braydon on the airplane . . . initiating our membership into the mile-high club just after ascent. I giggled devilishly and skipped to my bedroom to pack. Maybe I just needed to give him a bit more time to develop the feelings I already had. This was new territory for him, and it was a big step that he’d invited me to travel with him, and I needed to accept the invitation in the spirit it was given. My confidence increased as I gave myself a little pep talk. Things would work themselves out.
Heaping mountains of clothes on my bed, I had all the major travel groups accounted for: bathing suits, sundresses, shorts, tanks, sandals, a pair of heels, a cocktail dress in case we did anything upscale, and a sweatshirt since it got so cold on planes. After it was all shoved into my largest suitcase, I settled on the couch with my laptop to purchase my airfare. I texted Emmy to find out which flight they were on, and while I waited for her to respond, I emailed my boss, letting her know that I was taking her up on that offer for a week off after all. My stomach was a mess of nervous energy, and I felt like bouncing off the walls of my tiny apartment. I hadn’t felt so happy and alive in a long time. Braydon and the newness of our affair had that effect on me. It certainly was good for the libido. I just hadn’t decided if he was good for the rest of me—namely, my heart.
My phone chimed a second later and Emmy’s response burst my bubble. Crap. She, Ben, and Braydon were all seated in first class.
Me: Shit, I can’t afford first class. Looks like I’ll be sitting all by my lonesome.
Emmy: Oh hush! Tell Braydon and he’ll pay for your ticket. Stop being stubborn, remember??
I considered her words. But I wasn’t being stubborn. Not this time. This time, I wanted to stand on my own two feet and show him I was committed to being there and taking him up on his offer, despite everything we’d been through over the past week. It wasn’t every day a man invited me to join him on vacation. And I’d all but snubbed him. He’d left quietly without a word. And now it’d been utter silence. I remembered something my mom told me once: Men are more sensitive than you’d think. I wondered if I’d hurt his feelings by refusing his offer. It was a big step for him to invite me to Hawaii. I would make this right. I had to—I needed to see where things were going between us.
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