I sit and stare at him and realize that he’s telling me the honest truth, and that he might be as confused by it as I am.
“Well, they’re beautiful. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He grins, as if he’s thinking of an inside joke, and I can’t help but smile back.
“What are you thinking?”
“The sunflowers reminded me of you.”
“Big and yellow?”
“Happy. You have a great smile.”
I exhale loudly and watch him carefully. “You confuse me.”
“We’re on the same page there.”
“You said this is a bad idea, and you’re right. Bad idea is tattooed all over it with huge neon letters.”
He nods. “I know. So, for tonight, I’m going to stay over here and you’re going to stay over there, and we’re just going to enjoy the evening and this wine.”
I watch as he raises a brow and waits for my response.
“When was the last time you sat out on the balcony to watch the sunset?” I ask.
“I haven’t been home before the sunset in years,” he replies honestly.
He shakes his head again and watches a man jog by with a huge black lab on a leash. “I couldn’t say.”
I want to ask him if he can’t or won’t, but instead, I just nod and leave it be for tonight. “It’s a good evening for sitting outside,” I say instead.
“That it is.”
It’s been a hell of a week.
By Friday night, I’m exhausted. Administrative assistants work their asses off. Not that I didn’t already know this; I’ve just never personally worked as one, regardless of what my resume on file in Linda’s office says. I’m ready to take a cool shower and curl up with a good book and a glass of wine.
I make it through the shower and change into sweat shorts and a tank, just as my doorbell rings.
I frown, tempted to ignore it, but when the bell rings for the third time, and then a fist pounds on the wood with a loud, “We know you’re in there!” I walk over and swing open the door.
“Did I forget that we were having dinner?” I ask and watch with a wry grin as Savannah and Declan both push their way inside, stopping to kiss my cheek as they pass, their hands and arms loaded down with bags of food.
“We decided to surprise you.” Declan sets down his bags and pulls me in for a big hug. “We’re gonna sit around and eat fattening food and drink wine. Well, I have to leave after dinner for tonight’s gig, but I’m still having a little wine.”
“Just like the old days,” Savannah adds with a grin. My cheek is pressed to Dec’s chest, listening to his heartbeat, as he rubs his hands up and down my back. I didn’t realize how badly I needed a hug until this very minute.
“You okay?” he asks and plants his lips on my head.
“Yeah.” I don’t pull away, and instead watch Savannah as she pulls white Styrofoam containers out of plastic bags, laying the food out buffet style on my table. She has dark circles under her tired hazel eyes, and she looks way too thin in her jeans and plain black T-shirt.
“You survived your first week,” Van says, as she opens a bottle of wine and pours it into three glasses.
“Did you think I wouldn’t?” I ask with a laugh, as I pull away from Dec and accept a glass.
“No, I just figured we’d use that as an excuse to celebrate,” she replies with a wink. “I brought your favorite: Italian. With fattening Alfredo sauce and lots of extra bread.”
“You do love me.” I offer Van a wide smile and snatch the bread first. “God, I love carbs. Why do I love carbs so much?”
“Because they’re bad for you,” Van replies. “They’re every woman’s kryptonite.”
“I thought that was shoes,” Declan says, as he piles his own plate high with pasta, sauce, and bread.
“No, shoes are a necessity,” I inform him soberly. “Like water.”
“Women are weird,” Dec says with a laugh, and makes himself at home on the floor, his back leaning against my sofa. His long, lean body is relaxed as he eats his dinner, and he reminds me of his older brother. Dec’s just as tall and broad in the shoulders as Eli.
The Boudreaux men are prime examples of the male species.
“I don’t think we’re supposed to fully understand each other,” I reply, and lick sauce off my finger.
“How are you?” Van asks, as she nibbles on a piece of bread. She barely took any food. I eye her plate and then stare her in the eye, but she shakes her head and narrows her eyes at me.
“I’m fine,” I reply.
“No, really,” Dec says, his usually smiling face sober now.
“No, really,” I insist. “I’m fine.”
“When was the divorce final?” Van asks.
“Sixty-four days ago,” I reply before I can catch myself, then wince when they both turn surprised gazes on me, and share a glance with each other.
“You’re counting the days and you’re fine?” Dec asks.
“Heck, yes, I’m counting the days. That divorce was hard won.” I stuff more chicken and pasta in my mouth and point at both of them with my fork. “You know that.”
“You should have let me deck him,” Declan insists. He lowers his fork to his plate, his eyes hot with temper as he glances at me. “Only a lowlife son of a bitch does what he did to you.”
“It might have been satisfying to watch you hit him.” I lick my fork clean as I think of my strong friend kicking my ex-husband’s ass. “Do you still do that Krave Magnus stuff?”
“Krav Maga,” he corrects me with a laugh. “And you should do it too. It’s great self defense.”
“I’ll just add that to my list of things to do.” I tilt my head as I watch Van push her pasta around her plate, lost in thought. “I’m thinking about becoming a lesbian and joining a nudist colony.”
“Now, that, I’d like to see,” Declan declares with a roguish grin, but then follows my gaze and swears under his breath. “She’s not listening.”
“Not even a little bit,” I agree. “Earth to Van.”
“Huh?” She jerks her gaze up and takes another long sip of her wine, then refills her glass.
“Now it’s your turn to talk.”
“We haven’t finished with you,” she says, but I just grin at her.