I feel fuzzy and unsure. And the longer I sit here, the more uncertain I become. A childhood marriage proposal is crazy right? That's just some stupid thing kids say—it doesn't mean anything. Does it? Mia seems to believe it does. She'd shown up here, just months after her birthday. My heart pounds faster when I think about that fact.

Colton asks about Tatianna again, and that's just not a topic I'm ready to discuss.

“I honestly don’t see why you’re still with her, bro,” Pace says.

“Seriously man, if she doesn’t make you happy—break up with her,” Colton adds.

I lift my glass to my lips, like more liquor will help me figure out what to do. Leaning back in my chair, I close my eyes and let the alcohol warm me. I allow myself to picture what my life would be like with Mia in it. Dangerous to be sure. I see kids running around with her auburn hair and green eyes, Sundays on the yacht, my home filled with laughter and love. I’m warmed by the idea. Or maybe that warm tingly sensation is the alcohol. Either way, I think it’s time to go home.

Pace gives me a ride and drops me off at my front door. The house is dark and quiet with Tatianna gone and Mia likely in bed by now. I head to my bedroom and get a text on my phone.

It’s Mia.

Are you home?

Yes.

Where were you?

Brothers.

I don’t know what else to say, because it’s strange knowing that I spent the whole evening talking with them about the two women in my life and still don’t know where I stand.

Sounds like fun.

I was trying to figure out some shit with my life.

We don’t have to text, she's not here. Meet you in the kitchen? We can eat the peanut butter directly from the jar like old times and talk about it.

My heart slams against my ribs. Tatianna’s not home, as Mia pointed out. And the idea of seeing Mia right now fills me with longing. But I’m drunk. And even through the alcohol haze, I know it’s a piss poor idea.

I don’t trust myself.

With the peanut butter?

With you.

Her reply takes several minutes to come through.

Oh.

We need to talk tomorrow when I'm sober.

Okay.

***

When I wake in the morning, it feels like a dead rat crawled down my throat and set up shop. I blink against the harsh light and curse at myself for drinking so much last night. I vaguely recall Pace dropping me off at home, and then texting with Mia.

Mia.

I told her we would talk about things today.

With a deep sigh, I force myself out of bed, shower and dress. It’s Saturday, which means I should be going to kickboxing, but with the amount of alcohol I consumed last night, that’s not happening.

I make my way downstairs, in desperate need of coffee, and find Tatianna in the kitchen. “Oh, you’re back.” With everything on my mind lately, I’d forgotten she texted me about her change in travel plans.

She lifts up on her toes and kisses my cheek. “I told you I’d be back today.”

While I start the coffee, she fills me in on her trip. Apparently, the photographer was difficult to work with. No surprise there. Tatianna finds most people difficult to work with.

Twisting the cap off a bottle of water, Tatianna turns to me. “So what did you and Mia do while I was gone? Anything exciting?”

“No.” My voice comes out harsh. I feel bad that I haven’t made the time to show her around LA. I know she’d love the farmer’s market, or a visit to the beach.

Tatianna and I sit down side by side at the breakfast table—me immersed in an earnings report on my tablet and her filing her nails into little ovals.

I check my calendar for the week ahead and remind Tatianna about our upcoming trip. “We leave for Paris on Monday.”

She turns to me suddenly. “I can’t go. I have a shoot in New York on Monday and Tuesday.”

“What are you talking about? We’ve had this trip planned for three months.” I’ve been courting an international investor and would be meeting him face to face in Paris where Tatianna and I were supposed to be entertaining him and his wife all week.

“Sorry, but there’s no way I’m canceling,” she says. “I’ve wanted to work with this designer ever since I saw his adorable line of fuzzy boots last fall.”

“You wouldn’t have to cancel it if you hadn’t booked over our trip in the first place.”

She huffs in frustration.

“I need to be able to count on you,” I say.

“And I need you to support my modeling career,” she bites back.

“When have I not supported you?”

She glares at me, her eyes searching mine, but doesn’t respond.

Our conversation is far from over, but I need to get my emotions under control before I do something hasty.

Chapter Ten

Mia

Yesterday’s drinking combined with my inability to sleep last night makes sleeping in all morning sound like a great option. I lie with my eyes closed in the overstuffed bed. It’s like lying in a cloud. I stretch my arms and legs, letting the smooth sheets caress my skin. No matter how far I stretch in any direction, I can’t reach the edge of the bed. Such an expanse of luxury shouldn’t make for a rough night’s sleep.

The words “rough night” doesn’t even begin to cover the rollercoaster of emotions I experienced last night. My eyes blink open as I remember the cause of the unrest. This morning Collins said we would talk. I can only assume we’re finally going to have a conversation about our twenty-year marriage proposal.

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