Twenty minutes later, the four of them were seated inside the Estate’s restaurant for a champagne brunch. Gigi looked supremely uncomfortable. Andrea downed her first glass of champagne in two point five seconds and had already requested another one. Chris just kept looking up at Clay and snickering under his breath.
Yeah, this was his doing. And he had to admit…he was a total idiot.
This was not going at all how he wanted it to go.
“So…should I address the elephant in the room?” Clay asked.
Gigi and Andrea both looked up at him with strained eyes. Chris looked like he was trying not to laugh still.
“Did you and Chris fuck?”
“Oh my God!” Gigi cried. She buried her head in her hands.
Andrea swatted at him. “Ass.”
Chris actually did burst out laughing. “Why am I not surprised?”
“But come on! Everyone is wondering it,” Clay said. He waved his hands between them. “She said she stayed in your room. You guys hung out all night. Just tell us.”
“You are such an insufferable ass,” Gigi cried. This time, she smacked him on the arm. “I cannot believe you brought that up.”
“Really?” he asked, honestly surprised.
“Okay, no, I can. But thank you for one of the most awkward weekends of my life.”
“Anytime, De Rosa.” He grinned at her, and she just shook her head.
“Well, I’m glad we can all agree on something,” Andrea said airily to the table.
“That Clay is an idiot?” Chris joked.
It was his turn to be affronted. “Hey! I was just trying to break the mood. You two looked like you were either going to gouge each other’s eyes out with forks or never make eye contact with anyone else again. If it takes a few laughs at my expense, it seems worth it.”
Chris grinned. “That’s the spirit.”
“And, anyway, you guys should probably get used to hanging out together,” Clay said, “my best friend and my girl.”
“Which one is which?” Andrea said under her breath.
He gave her a long, level look. Then, he reached for her hand and kissed it. “You know the answer to that.”
“You’re right,” she said with a sigh.
“I’m the best friend, in case anyone was wondering,” Gigi said.
Chris chuckled. Clay looked relieved. Andrea seemed unconvinced.
“Yeah. I guess I still can’t get over you coming downstairs in his boxers at his townhouse,” Andrea said. “Sue me.”
Chris’s eyes rounded as he looked between Clay and Gigi.
“That’s actually what we do,” Gigi said with her own tentative smile.
Andrea cracked up. “True.”
“But really…that wasn’t what it looked like. We didn’t have sex and never have.” She shuddered. “I still feel really bad that you assumed otherwise.”
Andrea gave her a curt nod.
“Man, Clay,” Chris said, cutting the tension, “you sure know how to keep things interesting.”
“I do what I can. Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way, do you think we could eat?” Clay asked.
“Food would be excellent,” Chris agreed. “Though I don’t mind more awkward conversations, if that’s necessary.”
Both girls rolled their eyes at the same time. Then, when they realized the other had done it, they burst out into laughter.
“Men!” Gigi said.
Andrea nodded. “Right?”
Clay didn’t understand it, but at least they were getting along. That was all that mattered to him.
Two weeks later, Clay and Andrea landed at LaGuardia Airport in New York City. Clay had managed to get the weekend off and had this whole vacation planned out.
After the wedding weekend, he and Andrea had been on good terms. It wasn’t exactly like everything was suddenly all better. They weren’t living together again. She stayed at her apartment. He stayed at his townhouse. Their house in the suburbs was basically abandoned. He hated her absence when he didn’t get to see her, and even more so because they’d had endless sex the wedding weekend and that had since come to a standstill.
She had been more selective of her time and body with him since coming home and returning to reality. He didn’t like it. He had every intention of changing her mind. At least, that was the plan this weekend.
They spent the better part of the next two days relearning how to be a couple. In so many ways, it felt the same as it always had. They had always been good together. They’d traveled together so often that it was easy to slip into a simple routine. But still, it was as if Clay had this awareness of her that he couldn’t even explain.
He’d reach out his hands to keep people from drawing near her. He’d open car doors for her, pulling her in for kisses before letting her sit down. They’d enjoy wine and whiskey together—not to numb the pain, but to remember the taste with the other. In some ways, it was just incredible, being with her and remembering all the things about her that he’d fallen in love with in the first place.
They’d just left the Metropolitan Museum of Art after spending several hours observing the paintings. A display had recently come in from The Louvre, and they’d spent so much time in there, discussing the pieces that Andrea adored. She’d been an art history major at Yale, much to her father’s chagrin—not that she had ever needed his approval for anything.
He’d made a reservation at Tavern on the Green, a historical Central Park fixture, so after the museum, they sat outside under the Chinese lanterns in the gardens, enjoying a decadent dinner and polishing off their second bottle of wine. An excellent vintage.
His head felt as light as the clouds, and a lazy smile rested upon his face. Andrea looked quite as relaxed as he felt. All in all, he thought the evening had been a success. And it wasn’t over yet.
Clay paid the tab and then took Andrea’s arm.
“A walk through the park?” she asked when he drew her away from the open cul-de-sac where the cab had dropped them off at the restaurant. “Isn’t it a bit too late for that?”
He kissed her hand but kept walking away from the restaurant. She didn’t protest, even in the mile-high heels she always wore. He was looking forward to fucking her in just the heels later tonight.