I pinched the bridge of my nose and cleared my throat. “Are you always like this?”
I got Tucker’s paw prints on my shoulder blade, and beneath it, I added the words powerful moments. Grace added the same words beneath her angel wings.
She didn’t have a clue how much comfort she’d brought me that afternoon. She didn’t have a clue how much comfort she’d brought me over the past few weeks.
“Okay. Now what?” I asked, kissing her forehead after we finished everything up.
She smiled ear to ear, and her grin made me find my own. “Ice cream, but first I’m going to run to the bathroom.”
“Sounds good. I’ll meet you up front.”
As she left, Alex smiled my way and shook his head back and forth. “What?” I asked.
“Nothing. It just looks good on you, that’s all.”
“What looks good on me?”
“You have to choose, Grace,” Jackson told me sternly. “I know this is really hard for you, but you have to do it. In the next thirty seconds, you have to make a choice.”
“But…” I bit my lip as I stood in line at the ice cream shop, staring at the menu. “I don’t know. What are you getting?”
“There’s no way I’m telling you what I’m getting because then you’ll just get the same thing.”
“That’s not true!”
He cocked his eyebrow.
Okay, that was true. Even though I’d discovered how I liked my eggs, I was still learning other things I enjoyed on my own without the influence of the people around me.
“Fine, fine. Okay, I can do this.” I took a deep breath, and when we made it to the counter, I told Jackson to order first, but he wasn’t falling into my trap. I looked at Mary Sue, the cashier, and gave her a big smile. “Hey, Mary, I’ll have the peanut butter swirl sundae, please.”
“For sure, and what can I get for you?” she asked Jackson, and I saw it in her eyes—the way she drooled while looking at his face.
While the men were saying rude things about Jackson Emery, many women secretly yearned for him.
“I’ll have the same,” he told her.
“What?! You just got what I was getting!” I hollered.
“That’s what he gets every time,” Mary Sue said, smiling at Jackson with her flirty eyes. Gross. “Are these together or separate?” she asked.
“Separate,” I said quickly.
“Together,” Jackson replied, handing her his credit card.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I know.” He gave me a small smile before taking his card back. “I’m gonna run to the bathroom. I’ll be back.”
I moved to go grab a table, but Mary Sue called out to me. “Grace! Grace.”
She bit her bottom lip and placed her hands on her hips. “Not to pry, but are you and Jackson on a date right now?”
“What? No. We aren’t—we don’t—we’re not…we don’t date. We’re just…” My words faded away. “We’re not seeing each other.”
“Oh good!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands together. “Well, I know this might be too forward of me to ask, but as I’m sure you know, Peter and I recently broke up, and Lord knows I’m heartbroken over it. So, I was just hoping maybe you could put in a good word for me? I just feel like if I got a chance with the fixer, I might be able to get Peter back into my life.”
What a screwy little town we lived in.
“Oh, uh, well, I don’t know, Mary Sue. I think maybe that’s something you should do for yourself.”
“Oh, please, Grace! You know how shy I get. I just couldn’t face him and ask him to hang out with me for a little while.”
“Well, okay. I’ll see what I can do.”
Not a chance in hell will I help her.
“Thank you! You’re such a sweet little peach! It truly means a lot to me. Also, do you think maybe we could keep this between us girls? I don’t want to be a part of any rumors.”
“Trust me, Mary Sue, your secret is safe with me.”
She thanked me again then handed me the two sundaes. I walked over to an available table and sat down.
It might’ve been the most uncomfortable conversation I’d ever had in all my time in Chester, Georgia. Mary Sue was asking me to be her wing-woman to help her snag the man I was sleeping with.
“Why the weird expression?” Jackson asked, walking over to me.
“Mary Sue wants to sleep with you,” I told him flatly.
“Who the hell is Mary Sue?”
I gestured toward the cashier, who was staring our way, smiling brightly. She gave Jackson a nervous wave before blushing and turning away.
“Why does she want to sleep with me?”
“To fix her relationship.”
“Oh,” he said, sitting down. He began to eat his ice cream. “Not interested.”
Those two words brought me more comfort than I’d thought they would. “But why not? She’s pretty, and well, I’ll be heading back to Atlanta soon enough.”