She pulled back first.
“I shouldn’t miss my flight.”
He let go of her but didn’t get back in his car yet.
“Right, okay. See you next weekend?”
Her smile almost knocked him down. She nodded.
“Yeah. See you next weekend.”
Alexa drove herself home from the Oakland airport, still in the combined mood of euphoria and confusion that she’d been in since getting out of Drew’s car at LAX. He’d kept making little references to the future all weekend, from saying that they’d go to the doughnut shop “next time,” to asking about Theo “for future reference.” The whole time, she had been too afraid of destroying the mood to ask him what he meant by all that.
But then when they were almost at LAX, damn it, he’d gone and said that he’d come up to Berkeley next weekend. What was she supposed to have done then? Quiz him on his intentions in the drop-off line at LAX? It’s not like she thought this relationship was going anywhere significant. Drew had made it very clear in the elevator that he wasn’t that kind of guy.
So instead, she’d just said okay. She wasn’t overthinking this, remember?
But she couldn’t sleep that night. Her mind cycled around thoughts of Drew, her boss, her memo and what was probably wrong with it, the weekend and how much fun she’d had, Drew, work the next day, his text asking her to text him when she was home and his increasingly dirty texts after that, the new policy director she was going to have to hire, Drew, the way he’d looked at her when they were in bed. Finally she got up and made a cup of chamomile tea and washed it down with half a Tylenol PM, which gave her about four hours of too-deep sleep.
She woke up groggy but in a much better mood than the night before. She was on her way to the job that she loved, she’d spent all weekend having sex with a hot doctor, and if she was a betting woman, she would bet that Theo would bring doughnuts in that morning.
Sure enough, she ran into him on her way into the building, a pink box in his hand.
“My hero!” she said as she handed him the coffee she’d bought him.
“How did you know I was going to bring doughnuts?” He eyed his coffee and the grin on her face.
“I had a hunch.” She popped open the box and took out hers. “Just what I needed.”
He tested his coffee for temperature, not taking a sip yet.
“We all know you got lucky this weekend. Do you need to flaunt it?”
She just grinned and took a big bite of her doughnut as he followed her into her office.
“Before I forget, did you hear anything? Normally, I wouldn’t have even had to ask, but with you gone this weekend . . .” His voice trailed away as she shook her head. He sat down in one of the chairs in front of her desk.
“Okay, we’ll talk about that in a minute. First: the weekend went well, I’m guessing?” He sipped his coffee and reached for his own doughnut.
“It did, thank you.” She pushed all of her anxieties from the night before away and grinned at him.
He leaned back in his seat as she sat down and turned on her computer.
“Excellent. Are you going to see him again?”
“He’s going to come up here this weekend.”
He toasted her with his coffee cup.
“Good job, Lex. I’m glad one of us is having fun with something that isn’t work related.”
“Me, too. Now, about my program—when do you think the boss will give me a yea or nay? Or even a maybe or nay?”
Theo took a long sip of his coffee and sat back in the chair.
“Well, either he read it over the weekend and will come in with questions for you today . . . or he didn’t even glance at it over the weekend and you’ll have to remind him about it today. We’ll know that soon, at least.”
But she heard nothing from the mayor about her project all morning, even though she sat through two meetings at his side. The third of the day was their biweekly meeting with the city attorney. After the city attorney ran through the list of current lawsuits against the city (protestors, slip-and-fall cases, employment matters, something about a clown) and pending settlement offers, the mayor looked up from the doodles on his notepad.
“Great. Now that we’re done with all of that, Alexa has an idea to run by you. It’s not a legal problem, but I want to make crystal clear that there are no liability issues before we bring this to the council, got it?”
Thanks, boss, for springing this on me. She didn’t even have her notes with her. Luckily, she could recite this from memory.
“Yes, sir. Susan, here’s my proposal.”
She floated back into her office. She hadn’t won yet, and there was a long fight ahead, but at least the mayor was with her now. She walked into Theo’s office to shout the news at him. But it was empty.
“He’s having coffee with a reporter,” Theo’s assistant called out to her.
She needed to share this joy with someone. When she pulled her phone out to text Maddie, she saw a text from Drew.
How’s your Monday? Any word from your boss about your idea?
Huh. After their not-quite-fight about it on Sunday, she was surprised he’d brought it up again. She was so excited that she wanted to text him with about forty exclamation points, but she tempered her impulse.
Just talked to him. He’s in! Good start to the week.
Fine, one exclamation point, so sue her.
Great news! What did he say?
She made a mental note to reward him for giving her an exclamation point back.
Hardly said anything, sprung it on me during a meeting with the city atty.
She plopped down at her desk, slid off her shoes, and twirled around in her office chair. By the time her rotation slowed, she had another text.
Great work, I’m happy for you.
She spun her chair again and beamed down at her phone.
I’m happy for me too!!
She couldn’t hold back on the exclamation points that time, because it was true. She was happy about her project, happy that she had Drew to tell about this battle she’d fought, happy that he was happy for her. She was so busy smiling and spinning and looking at her phone that she didn’t even notice Theo come into her office.
“You were looking for me?”
She jumped up, almost knocking over her chair in the process.
“Theo! Listen to what just happened.”
Just as she finished telling him the whole story, her phone buzzed again.
We’ll have something good to celebrate this weekend.
She beamed at her phone again. Theo’s eyebrows shot up.
“You told him?”
She shook her head. “What do you . . . I didn’t . . . How did you . . .” She sighed and gave up.
“I knew because I know you. Okay, we have to plan this out. Coffee in an hour?”
She nodded and waved him out the door. Maybe all of her middle-of-the-night anxieties—about everything—had been for nothing.
Carlos had been so busy on Monday he’d barely nodded at Drew, and he’d gotten to their basketball league at the last minute. Drew hoped that meant he’d managed to escape the Carlos brand of humor about Alexa.
But he heard a shout after the game when he was almost at his car.
“I liked her, you know.”
Drew turned around to find Carlos jogging toward him, a broad grin on his face.
“I noticed. You sure seemed to want to spend extra time with her.”
Carlos caught up with him.
“How long did it take for you to jump her after I walked out the door?”
Drew flashed back to Friday night. They’d barely stopped to take off their clothes. He shook his head.
“None of your business.”
“That fast, huh? I thought you’d throw me out the window if I was there for another minute.”
Drew unlocked his car and tossed his bag in the trunk.
“If you had stayed another minute, we might have tested that theory.”
Carlos wiggled his eyebrows.
“Soooo, when are you going to see her again? You are going to see her again, right?”
Yeah, he was going to see her again.