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He had forgotten he’d told Angie about that. Damn it, why did she have to tell Jessie everything?

He shook his head.

“Oh no, that’s not this weekend. She must have heard me wrong. That’s in a few weeks.”

Would she buy that?

“I always know when you’re lying; you know that, right? I refuse to let you miss out on your best friend’s engagement party. I’ll be fine. I have Jon here, and Angie is fifteen minutes away, and my mom and your mom and God knows how many doctors. You can’t hover over me like this for the rest of my pregnancy.”

There was no way he could go; she knew that.

“Jessie. Come on. I can’t leave now; you know that.”

She set her mouth in that stubborn way she’d been doing ever since she was a toddler.

“No, I don’t know that. As a matter of fact, here’s what I do know: if you try to come over this weekend, I’m not even going to let you in my house. So you might as well go to Berkeley because you’re not going to see me if you’re here.”

He turned to Jon, hoping he would talk some sense into her.

“You know she’ll do it,” Jon said.

Unfortunately, he did know.

“Fine.” He shook his finger at her. “But I swear to God, Jessie, you had better text me if anything happens. Promise me.”

She rolled her eyes at him.

“I promise. Are we done with that?”

He nodded.

“Now!” She pointed to the cupcake bag, just out of reach. “What’s in the pink bag?” He sighed and pushed it toward her. Leave it to Jessie to keep her mind on her presents.

“Oooh, it’s heavy. Hmmm, what place did my hipster cousin discover?”

“I’m not a hipster!” he yelled. This is what he got for his pains.

“Carlos. You hang out in Silver Lake. Come on.”

“I have a perfectly normal haircut! I don’t have a beard or Warby Parker glasses! I never wear a hat.”

She laughed harder and looked at Jon.

“I love doing this to him. He gets so mad every time!” She pulled the cupcake box out of the bag and opened it. “Oooooh. Red velvet cupcakes! And . . . is that Funfetti? Gourmet Funfetti cupcakes?” She took a cupcake from the box and took a bite. “Oh my God. If this is what hipsters eat, I’ve changed my mind about them; I want you to be the hipsterest hipster in all of Los Angeles if you’re going to bring me baked goods like this. Jon, you’ve got to try one.”

He grinned at the look on her face and at the frosting on her nose. He was so glad he’d been able to make her happy, even though he was still furious at her. The cupcake store had clearly been a good idea. Another thing to thank Nik for.

“So I heard you picked up a girl by using my story. You’re welcome.”

Angela really told Jessie everything.

“I did not ‘pick up a girl.’ I just helped someone out of a difficult situation, that’s all.”

Jessie took another bite of her cupcake.

“Mmmmhmm. Just one question: have you seen this girl since you helped her out of that one difficult situation?”

Thirty minutes ago, and I was this close to pushing her up against a wall to kiss the hell out of her until you texted me and interrupted us, he didn’t say.

He picked up one of the spicy cupcakes to play for time. After one bite, he had no idea why Courtney had warned him about the chili powder.

“As I’m sure you already know from my chatty little sister, I met up with her for dinner a few days later, but it was no big deal.”

When should he text Nik about going out for drinks? He’d said “next week” so he should probably wait until then to ask. But he could text her tonight about what a hit the books and the cupcakes were.

Jessie pursed her lips at him.

“You always say things are no big deal, but I don’t believe you anymore.”

How had their conversation become all about him? Time to turn this back to Jessie.

“Do you know what IS a big deal? Preeclampsia, that’s what’s a big deal.”

Jessie and Jon both went into peals of laughter. He glared at them.

Wait. There was the chili powder. Oh wow, it kind of snuck up on you, didn’t it? He mentally apologized to Courtney for doubting her.

“Oh, Carlos, thank you for that. I haven’t laughed so hard in at least a week.”

He made a face at her.

“Hah hah hah, I’m glad that you found that amusing, but seriously, Jessie . . .”

She held up a hand to stop him.

“Seriously, Carlos. I love you, but you are not my doctor. You’re not even an OB. I know what I’m supposed to be looking out for here. Please relax so that I can relax. Go on your trip. Celebrate with your friends. Drink lots of champagne, since I can’t. And chill out.”

He didn’t think he was going to be able to relax until she’d safely delivered the baby, but he figured telling her that at this point was probably not a good idea.

“Fine. Can I make you some dinner, then?”

As soon as he got home from Jessie’s, he called Drew.

“Hey, man, how’s it going?” Drew asked when he answered the phone. “Ready for the party?”

“Very. I always told you that you crazy kids would make it.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Drew said. “You told me so, I know. I’m never going to be able to ignore your advice again in my life, am I? Anytime I try, it’s going to be ‘Hey, Drew, remember that time you almost let Alexa—you know, the love of your life—get away from you?’ and I’m going to have to give in. What a nightmare.”

Carlos laughed.

“Yes indeed, your life seems like a total nightmare. I feel so bad for you.”

“You should,” Drew said. “You absolutely should. I had to make pancakes this morning. Me! Making pancakes! I spent hours on the couch afterward to recover.”

“What a tough life.”

“It’s terrible and I love it. Speaking of, what’s going on with you? Any women I should know about?”

He flashed back to that moment with Nik in the bakery.

“If you’re trying to get me to settle down like you, dude, it’s not happening. You know that’s not me. But are you at home? Do you have a second?”

Drew’s voice got serious.

“What’s up? Something wrong?”

Carlos walked into his kitchen to see if he had any beer in his fridge.

“You remember my cousin Jessie, right?”

Oh thank God, there were two bottles in the back.

“Yeah, of course. Is something wrong with the baby?”

Drew knew him too well.

“Jessie has preeclampsia.”

“Oh.” Drew paused. “How far along is she? When did they find out?”

“Twenty-eight weeks, and just a few days ago. Her doctor isn’t that worried, and she’s on bed rest, but . . .”

They went over the details of Jessie’s case, like they’d done together about other patients hundreds of times, back when they worked together and would bounce questions and ideas off each other. Turning Jessie into a patient, and not his cousin, gave him some of the distance he needed.

“Okay. I feel a little better. Thanks.” He wished Drew still lived in L.A.

“No problem, man. Let me know if there’s anything I can do. We’ll miss you this weekend, but I totally understand that you can’t leave Jessie now.”

Carlos opened his second beer.

“Oh no, you’re stuck with me. Jessie refuses to let me stay in L.A. this weekend. She said if I don’t go up there and go to the party, she won’t allow me in her house. Thank God I already told you I’d cook stuff for your party. I’m going to need to keep busy the whole time.”

Drew laughed.

“That sounds like your family. We can go to the store after I pick you up from the airport tomorrow morning.”

He already had some snacks in mind to make for the party. Fancy pigs in a blanket would keep him occupied for a while, for starters.

“Perfect. Hey, on a different topic: did you see the thing about that failed proposal at Dodger Stadium last weekend?”


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