“Let’s do it a dozen more.”
“Fuck you. It’s not your ass that’s getting bruised.” I stand and plant my hands on my hips as I glare at him. This is why he’s the best. He’s so fucking stubborn, he’ll hammer this over and over again until I stick it, just the same way he’ll do with Starla.
“You’re fine. Let’s do it again.”
“I need a break.” I walk to the desk and guzzle some water as I check my phone. There’s a text from Mark.
Can’t meet this morning. Trouble at job site. Will pick you up tonight.
Great. I’m already in a pissy mood, and I was looking forward to seeing Mark. I saw him twenty-four hours ago, but I miss him.
“Yeah, my ass hurts.” I scowl at Jax and type a message to Mark.
No worries. See you later.
“God you’re whiny today,” Jax says and resets the music. “Let’s do this.”
We move through the routine again. It’s an excellent routine. Fun to dance, but when we get to the lift and the throw, I fall again.
“Mother fucker!” I yell and pound the floor with my fist.
“Okay, you’re overthinking it. Let’s run through it one more time without the lift and call it good.”
I nod and take a deep breath, then dance the routine with Jax, satisfied that besides that evil lift, we’re ready for LA next week.
When we’re done, there’s a knock on the glass door. I whip around, hopeful that it’s Mark, but it’s Nic, Matt Montgomery’s girlfriend, standing at the door with a wide smile. I jog over and open the door.
“That was amazing,” she says and steps inside. “I was at a Starla concert a couple years ago and remember seeing you guys.”
“Thanks,” I reply and glance down at the white box with red bow in her hands. “What can we do for you?”
“Oh! Mark called me this morning and said that he was supposed to bring you coffee but he can’t make it, so he asked if I’d bring you some cupcakes instead. I own Succulent Sweets, the bakery just a few blocks over.”
“I’m in love with you,” Jax informs her and takes the box from her hands. “Of course, these will go straight to my hips.”
“Whatever.” I wave him off and roll my eyes. “He never gains a pound. This is Jax, my partner.”
“Nic,” she says and shakes his hand. “Jules was right. You are hot.”
“I love Jules already,” Jax says with a wink and salivates over the cupcakes. “There are some with M&M’s on them!”
“Yeah, Mark asked me to make those today’s special.” She rubs her hands on her thighs as if she’s nervous of what we’ll think of them. “Jax is going to be a great addition to girls night out,” Nic says with a laugh. “I have to get back to the shop. Oh! Mark included a card.” She pulls a white envelope out of her back pocket. “See you soon!”
She waves and leaves and I open the card.
Miss you. Sorry I had to cancel.
“Oh my God, these are amazing.” Jax hands me a cupcake with M&M’s on the top. I sigh as I glance up at him.
“Okay, I feel better.”
“Cupcakes make you feel better?”
“No, Mark makes me feel better.”
“You are in trouble, sugar baby.”
“You have no idea.”
“I’m going to put Keaton down for a nap,” Natalie says and kisses the baby’s head where he’s resting in my arms.
“He’s fine here¸” I offer, enjoying the feel of the baby in my arms. He’s growing so fast.
“He’ll sleep longer in his crib, and you guys can talk,” she replies easily and takes the baby from my arms. “Come on, Livie, we’ll put Keaton to bed and I’ll read you a story.”
“Ferdinand!” Livie exclaims as she holds her mom’s finger and walks with her out of the room.
“Liv’s on a Ferdinand kick,” Luke informs me. “I think Nat’s going to redecorate her room based on the book.”
“That’s fascinating,” I reply, ribbing my brother. “What other tid-bits do you have to share?”
“You’re an ass.” Luke laughs. “This is my life, man. Nap times and fictional bulls and the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen.”
“Nat’s great,” I reply seriously. “You couldn’t have done better than marrying her.”
“You’re damn right. If she ever tries to leave me, I’m going with her. This life doesn’t work without her.”
When his words sink in, I cover my mouth and try not to laugh too loudly, afraid of waking the baby. “’If she ever tries to leave me, I’m going with her.’ That’s awesome.”
“And completely true.” Luke offers me some pineapple from a bowl, and I take a slice, the juice reminding me of Mer’s pussy.
God, I fucking love her pussy. So sweet, so addictive.
“How are things with Meredith?” he asks, as if he can read my mind.
“Good.” I shrug like it’s no big deal.
“What’s on your mind?”
He chews on a slice of pineapple. “You don’t show up at my house in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday for no reason.”
I chew the pineapple slowly, trying to verbalize the words that keep floating around in the back of my head.
“Spill it, for fuck’s sake,” Luke says with exasperation.
“Things with Mer are great…”
“If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.”
Luke grows quiet. I glance up to find him watching me thoughtfully with narrowed eyes. “Do you think it’s too good to be true?”
“I think it’s happening fast, but I can’t seem to slow it down.”
“You’ve been in love with her since you were sixteen, man.”
“She’s not the same girl she was when she was sixteen, and I’m not the same either.”
“So you’re getting to know each other, and learn what’s changed, but at the heart of it, you’re still fundamentally the same people. Trust yourself. Trust your girl.” Luke shrugs as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. “I’m not saying be stupid about it. Keep your eyes and ears open, but you’ve found each other again after more than ten years apart. If it’s what you want, enjoy it.”