Page 38

“Oh shit, man, of course I will.”

“Thanks.” Drew let out a deep breath. “I was going to ask when you were up in Berkeley for the engagement party, but you’d just found out about Jessie at that point and there was a lot going on. Just make sure your speech isn’t too wild—my grandma is going to be there.”

Carlos grinned.

“Oh, my speech is going to be fantastic.” Carlos rubbed his hands together and reached for the good salsa. “This is going to be fun. Do you guys have a wedding date yet?”

Drew shook his head.

“Not yet—we’re working on it. Probably sometime next summer. Hell, I’d do it tomorrow if I could. But you’ll be the first to know as soon as we have a date. You better lock down that entire week for me.”

Carlos laughed.

“You got it. I’m just trying to imagine what I would have thought if someone told me at this time last year that you’d be telling me a year later you’d be ready to get married ‘tomorrow.’ I would probably fall over in shock.”

Drew picked up the empty salsa bowl and walked into the kitchen to refill it.

“You probably would have. Hell, I definitely would have. What can I say, sometimes when it hits, it hits.”

At the next commercial break, Drew said—oh so casually—“Hey, so what’s going on with this Dodgers-game girl? What’s she like? We are going to get to meet her tonight, aren’t we?”

Carlos rolled his eyes. Drew was doing that “we” thing that couples always did. Had he turned into one of those people already?

“Yes, ‘we’ are. Lucky for you, she was dying for an excuse to get out of some wedding shower she was supposed to go to, so you’re it.” Well, that was sort of true. Maybe that would stop Drew from trying to turn tonight’s dinner into a whole couples’ thing. “Don’t make this into a big thing. I’m not ready to get married to her tomorrow.”

“Okay, okay, it’s not a big thing, I heard you the first time.”

The smirk on Drew’s face made Carlos pretty sure he hadn’t heard him at all.

* * *

• • •

Dinner with Carlos, his friend, and his friend’s probably perfect fiancée was the last thing Nik wanted to do. The one good thing about Fisher had been that all of his friends were so annoying that she’d made fun of them to their faces constantly without them even realizing it. She probably couldn’t pull that off with Carlos’s friends.

Also, she had no fucking idea what she should wear. Everyone at the shower was in cute little floral dresses, and she hadn’t worn a cute little floral dress since she was seven years old. Her concession had been not wearing black to the shower in the first place. But tonight she wanted to not fit in a little less aggressively.

She stared into her closet for a full five minutes before she gave up and called Dana.

“Okay, I went to that boring shower with you; now you have to pay me back by getting me out of this dinner tonight.”

“Why don’t you want to go?” Dana asked. Nik could tell by her regular breathing that she was running. It was good that she liked Dana so much—otherwise she’d hate her for being able to have a regular conversation during exercise.

“He’s not even my boyfriend. Why do I need to meet his friends? Plus, what if they hate me?”

They probably would hate her. They would think she was too mean or sarcastic or abrasive for Carlos.

“Why’d you tell him you would go, then?” Dana asked. “You usually don’t say yes to things you don’t want to do.”

Maybe she should wear that leather motorcycle jacket again? She liked that jacket. It made her feel like a badass.

It would make her feel like a very sweaty badass tonight; it was well over eighty degrees outside. She put the jacket back in her closet with a sigh.

“That’s not true. I do things I don’t want to do all the time. I went to that stupid shower today with you, didn’t I?”

Dana’s loud huff from a normal person running would have just meant they were out of breath, but not from Dana.

“Courtney and I don’t count. No really, why did you say yes?”

Nik sighed.

“He asked if I was free for dinner—was I supposed to lie? And he’d just . . .” No, she shouldn’t tell Dana about Carlos making her breakfast. She wasn’t Courtney, but she’d still react to that. “Plus, you guys have met him. It felt churlish to say no to meeting his friends.”

“Okay, then you have to go. But they’ll like you! We liked Carlos, didn’t we? And Courtney and I are a pretty tough crowd when it comes to men. Wear that navy blue striped dress you wore to my birthday party. And do not wear those booties I know you’re already thinking about wearing. They look like clown shoes.”

She put the booties back into her closet.

“I hate you. You’re the worst. I’ll wear some sandals or something.”

“I hate you, too,” Dana said. “Now I’ve got to go. I’m about to meet my running partner.”

Nik stopped halfway through picking up her silver sandals. They made her legs look great.

“Haven’t you been running this whole time?”

“Just a mile, running to meet her.” Nik had never said “just” and “a mile” about running in her life. “Okay, talk later! Let me know how it goes!”

Dinner was at Café Stella, one of her favorite restaurants in Silver Lake and one that had the advantage of being so close to her apartment she could walk there, even in her hot silver sandals. She told people she loved it despite how trendy and Instagrammable it was, but she had been known to post a few Instagrams from it herself. She saw Carlos when she walked in, but he was too busy talking to the two people on the other side of the table to notice her walking toward them.

Ugh, why was she so nervous about this?

“Hi,” she said, when she was standing right next to the table.

“Hey!” Carlos jumped out of his chair and kissed her on the cheek. “I didn’t even see you come in.” They sat down, and she did a double take when she saw the woman across the table from her.

“Nik, these are my friends Drew and Alexa. Drew and Alexa, meet Nik.”

Carlos had not told her that Alexa was black. From everything that he’d told her about Drew, mild salsa and all, it would never have occurred to her that he’d be engaged to a black woman.

And . . . judging by the quickly masked look of surprise on Alexa’s face, Alexa hadn’t known she was black. She hadn’t thought to have the “did you tell your friends I’m black?” conversation with Carlos—she assumed that because he was Latino she didn’t have to. Which was probably partly true; she hadn’t been worried that his friends were racist. But if Alexa had been the white woman that she’d expected her to be, that look of surprise on her face would have been a hell of a lot more stressful. Instead, she felt some of her anxiety about this evening drain away.

“It’s so nice to meet you both. I’ve heard a lot about you,” she said. Except that Alexa is black.

“Same here,” Drew said. “I, um, saw your claim to fame on SportsCenter before I even knew Carlos was there.”

Alexa nudged him, none too subtly.

“What Drew meant to say right there was that—”

Nik laughed.

“I appreciate that, but it’s okay. Three weeks ago, bringing that up would have made me ‘accidentally’ spill my drink on anyone who did it, but I’m not as sensitive about it anymore.”

“So, Nik,” Alexa said, “Carlos tells us you’re a writer? What kind of stuff do you write?”

She wasn’t as sensitive about the proposal anymore, but she was still glad Alexa changed the subject.

“A combination of investigative journalism and celebrity profiles. Getting to do a profile of Ivy Robinson in the middle of working on a story about foster kids was a real pick-me-up, let me tell you.”

“The profile in Vanity Fair? You wrote that story?” Nik nodded and Alexa’s eyes lit up. “That was such a fun read! My girlfriends and I kept texting each other quotes from it.”


***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com