He nods as I turn and walk briskly around the villa, almost running into Celeste as she’s arriving for the day.
“Oh! Hi, Alecia.”
“You’re leaving?” She raises a brow. “Is everything okay?”
“Yes,” I lie. “I have some business to see to. Can you please pass the message on to Dominic? I won’t be back until tomorrow.”
Coward, my mind taunts me.
“Sure, I’ll let him know. Have a good day.” She waves and disappears inside, and I make a hasty retreat, immediately regretting leaving, but unable to turn around.
Four hours later, I’m pacing my living room. I’ve talked myself in and out of pursuing a physical relationship with Dominic six times.
I’m sick of myself.
I scoop up my phone, and before I know it, it’s pressed to my ear and ringing.
“So, you do remember that I exist,” Blake’s dry voice comes through the speaker and I want to cry. I bite my lip and stare out my window at the boats floating on the blue water of the sound and concentrate on breathing. “Hello?”
“What’s wrong?” he asks, immediately concerned, and that makes me want to cry too. “Damn it, Leash, talk to me.”
“I’m an idiot.”
“Sometimes,” he agrees, and then chuckles, and I take a deep breath. “Why this time?”
“You’re not helping.”
“Start at the beginning. What’s up?”
“I slept with him.” I walk numbly to the glass and lean my forehead against it. The cold feels good on my warm skin. “And I liked it.”
“I hope you liked it. If not, what in the hell is the point?”
“Who, exactly, did you sleep with?”
“Dominic Salvatore.” I swallow and close my eyes. “I slept with him last night, and again this morning, and then I ran out of there and came home. I’m an idiot.”
I can hear Blake shuffling around and then his chair creaks as he leans back in it. “Why is sleeping with Dominic a bad thing? He’s a good guy.”
“That’s just it. He is a good guy. And he’s sexy and hot and the best sex I’ve ever had.”
“Oh, stop it.” I roll my eyes and pace back toward the kitchen.
“So I’ll ask again. What’s the problem?”
“This isn’t just a fuck buddy situation, Blake. I’m way too…” I wave my arm about, trying to come up with the right words.
“Beautiful? Amazing? Wonderful?”
“I was going to say incapable of having a real relationship.” I bite my lip and then feel myself grin. “But thanks for the compliments.”
“I don’t know what the fuck Jonathan did to you, but I do know that he did a number on your view of relationships. Leash, of course you’re capable of having a relationship. You and I have been in one for more than three years.”
“That started as sex, and now we’re just friends. And I love you, but not in that way.”
“And you think you could love Dom in that way?”
Much to my distress, tears fill my eyes. “I like him.”
“Do you think he likes you back, or is he just looking to get laid?”
You make me lose my English.
“He likes me.”
“He’d be stupid not to.” Blake chuckles ruefully. “Alecia, you are a sexy, beautiful, smart woman. Not all romantic relationships work, but some do.”
“Not for me.”
“Shut up for a minute. Jesus, you’re fucking stubborn.”
“Did you just tell me to shut up?”
“Yes, and you’re not good at taking orders, obviously.”
Come, Alecia. I’m good at taking orders from Dominic.
“Just take a deep breath, Leash. You’re over-thinking this. I know you. You had a good time, and it scared you, and now you’re doing the girl thing, over-analyzing it all.”
“I am a girl.”
“I’m aware,” he says with a chuckle. “I love you, kiddo. You’re the best friend I ever had. You’re still the best sex I ever had.”
“You deserve to be happy. Just be happy, Leash.”
“I want to be happy too,” I choke out.
“So, just do that. Be happy. Fuck him senseless. Laugh with him. Let him teach you about wines and all that other fun shit, and don’t worry about the rest of it.”
“How did you get so smart?”
“I was in love with you for a long time, and you couldn’t love me back.” My heart stumbles to a stop as my eyes widen and my jaw drops. “I’m lucky just to have you in my life. I got over it, and now I think of you more like a sister, but don’t shut Dom out the way you did me. Not if you think it could work out between you.”
“I mean it. Go back out there.”
“I’m going to go help Emily out tonight at the Haverland wedding.” I’m still stuck like stupid on I was in love with you for a long time. “Blake, I didn’t know.”
“You weren’t in a good place then, kiddo. You’re good now. I’m okay.”
“We will be if you go back to the vineyard tonight. Emily doesn’t need your help. The Haverland wedding is tiny, and she has it handled.”
“It’s my business. I should be there.”
“It’s your business, and you’ve hired good people. You’re being stubborn again.”
“I love you too, you know.”
“I know. Go to the vineyard.”
“I’ll give you a thousand bucks.”
“I don’t need it.” I giggle and flop down on my couch, feeling more relaxed than I have since this morning when I was in Dom’s arms. “You’re bossy.”
“Fine. Do what you want.” He sighs dramatically. “What do I care if Salvatore gets laid?”
“He already got laid today. He’s fine.”
“I don’t want to know this.”
I chuckle again and then take a deep, cleansing breath. “So, I overreacted.”
“Probably. What’s up with women? Why can’t y’all just fuck like rabbits and then get on with your day? Why do you have to sketch out a three-year plan and talk it to death? Just enjoy the sex, for Christ sakes.”