“ ‘Not at the moment’? Really?”
Drew thumped his empty beer bottle down on the table.
“It was a joke!”
Carlos unwrapped a burger for himself.
“Oh yeah? Did you think she would think that was funny? Did you think that any woman would think that was funny?”
Drew got up and went into the kitchen for another beer.
“I wasn’t thinking! I wasn’t prepared for that question! Why did she text me that? In the middle of the day? On a WEDNESDAY?”
Carlos squeezed out three ketchup packets onto his hamburger wrapper and grabbed a handful of fries. Ugh, he always took all of the ketchup. Drew should have just gotten his own damn hamburgers and gotten drunk at home alone in peace.
“So, what, a Thursday would have been better?”
He wanted to throw his beer bottle at Carlos’s head. Instead, he drank from it and sat back down in his corner of the couch.
“What?” Carlos asked. “Just making a joke.”
Okay, that was it. He didn’t have to take this shit in his own house.
“Fuck you! Go home.”
Carlos had the audacity to laugh at him.
“No, I mean it, fuck you.”
Carlos stopped laughing at him, but he settled himself and his burger and beer more comfortably on the couch.
“So you’re going to call her, though, right?
Drew slammed his beer bottle on the table. The beer fizzed up and overflowed everywhere.
“No, why would I? I can find another girl. I have before; I will again.”
Carlos didn’t say anything as Drew went back to the kitchen for another beer. Drew sat back on the couch and took a gulp.
“It was going to have to end at some time anyway. Better it end now before she really hates me.”
He looked up and saw Carlos looking at him.
“What do you mean?”
Drew shrugged off the question and reached for the food. When he looked up, Carlos was still staring at him.
“What? What’s wrong with you?” he asked.
Carlos shook his head.
“Nothing, dude. Finish your burger.”
Alexa spent the rest of the afternoon first furious at Drew, then at herself. Why had she decided to text him in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, for God’s sake? Did she have to do this right when she was about to go into three back-to-back meetings where she had to concentrate and be diplomatic and pay attention? Shouldn’t she have waited to talk about this in person?
After the last of her meetings, not only did she have to drive her boss home, but he made her sit in the driveway with him and talk about their transportation plan for fifteen minutes.
She felt like she was going to crawl out of her skin. She was angry that she had gotten so invested in a relationship that had lasted all of thirteen days, angry she’d done all of that for something that wasn’t even a relationship in the first place, angry at Drew for being such a jackass, angry at Drew for being such a great guy for ninety-eight percent of those thirteen days, angry at herself for being on the point of tears for six straight hours when she prided herself on never crying, angry at her boss for still talking about fucking bicycles when she just wanted to go home.
Finally, the mayor’s wife called him from inside the house and told him that unless he came inside in two minutes she was going to eat their dinner without him.
All Alexa wanted to do was go home and wallow, but even that made her angry—how dare she need to wallow after such a short time? She barely even knew him! Why couldn’t she be like one of those women who could sleep with a guy for a few weeks, never see him again, no big deal? She envied those women.
She put on her most comfortable yoga pants when she got home and texted Maddie.
The Drew thing is over, I don’t want to talk about it.
Her phone buzzed a second later.
She dropped her favorite bra on her bedroom floor and shook her head.
I don’t want to talk about it.
Maddie knocked on her door thirty minutes later with two bottles of wine poking out of her purse and a large pepperoni pizza in her hands.
“We don’t have to talk,” she said. “But I’m hungry, and I thought you might be hungry, too. And there’s a marathon of Say Yes to the Dress on right now, so . . .”
Alexa took the pizza out of her hands and turned toward the couch.
“I’ll get the wineglasses.”
Alexa sat in her office the following Tuesday with the door closed. She’d closed it for a conference call, but the call was long over. She needed some time when no one would walk by and pop their head in, time when she wouldn’t have to smile and act professional and interested. Time to studiously not think about what her long weekend would have been like if she hadn’t sent those texts. She put her head down on her desk and closed her eyes.
She wished she could throw herself into work, but the whole day had been super slow because of Memorial Day the day before. Even though she was furiously making lists of who to talk to next and doing more research for her program, it felt like busywork more than anything else. Normally, she enjoyed quiet weeks at work where she could put her head down and clear things off her plate. But this week she needed all of the chaos that she wasn’t getting.
Her phone buzzed, but she ignored it. It was probably Theo, asking if she was free, or Maddie, checking up on her, or her cousin, needing a favor, and she just couldn’t deal with anyone right now.
But even so, she pushed her phone under the curve of her arms and opened one eye to see who it was. Just in case.
Theo. The wave of disappointment hit all over again. It wasn’t like she expected Drew to text her. There had been no word from him for a week, and she hadn’t reached out to him, either. So why was she still hopeful?
She left her office without responding to Theo’s text and walked up two flights of stairs to go to the bathroom. Less of a chance she’d see people that she’d have to talk to on another floor. She splashed cold water on her face, repaired her makeup, and installed a smile on her mouth before she went back down and knocked on Theo’s door.
“You needed me?” She leaned against the doorframe and hoped this was short.
Theo looked up from his computer.
“Yeah, but this isn’t about work. You’re still coming to my birthday thing this weekend, right?”
Shit, she’d totally forgotten about Theo’s birthday. On top of everything else, she was a terrible friend.
“Of course! Wouldn’t miss it!”
Theo narrowed his eyes and beckoned her into his office.
“You forgot, didn’t you?”
She gave up and slumped into a seat in front of his desk.
“Okay, yeah, but I’m sure it’s on my calendar. It’s not like I wasn’t going to come. What’s the plan, again?” She knew she’d talked to Theo about this at some point, but it was all mixed in with her cousin’s engagement party and the grand opening next week of that new bar on Telegraph that the mayor had decided to attend.
“Now I know something is wrong with you. We’re meeting at the Royal Arms in the Mission for drinks.”
She made a face. “I hate that place.”
“Yes, I know, that’s what you said the last time we talked about it. But my buddy Nate is a part owner and is giving us a fat discount.”
“I hate your buddy Nate,” she said without any heat. She’d said that the last time, too; it was all coming back to her.
“I know. Dave will be there. He’s always had a thing for you. Maybe he can pull you out of this funk.”
She thought about denying that she was in a funk, but what was the point?
“I’ll snap out of it at some point. Just stressed about everything with my program, that’s all.” She stood up to go back to her office and stopped in the doorway. “Who all else is coming? Can I bring Maddie?”
“People you like, I swear. I invited the whole crew from the campaign. But yeah, bring Maddie if you want.”
Drew went for two long runs on the beach over Memorial Day weekend. He repeatedly reminded himself that if he’d been up in Berkeley with Alexa, he wouldn’t have been able to do that. He walked back home along the beach, checked out all of the women in bikinis, and tried and failed to make himself hit on one of them.
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