“Monroe, stop apologizing. I had a great time with you. Hanging out on the couch together was fine. I know you have a lot going on. I’m glad you didn’t want me to cancel my trip in the first place.”
She put her hand on top of his and held it in place. No matter how much work she had, it had never occurred to her to ask him to cancel.
“I just wish I hadn’t been on my laptop or on the phone with Theo half the time you were here.” Was he mad about that? He hadn’t seemed mad, but a few times when Theo had called and she’d picked up, he’d left the room.
He turned his hand over and interlaced his fingers with hers.
“It’s okay. We’ll have next time. It sucks that we can’t do next weekend, though.”
She had community meetings both Saturday and Sunday, and he was on call, so he couldn’t fly up. It was for the best, anyway; her cousin Becca’s engagement party was on Friday night, and it wasn’t like she could bring him along with her to that. They had a sex-up-against-her-bedroom-wall kind of relationship, not a come-meet-my-family kind of relationship.
But she was really sad about not being able to see him for two weeks. She felt a little panicky about how sad she was.
And even though he seemed like he was sad about it, too, she still had “as long as we’re doing this thing” echoing in her head.
She moved her hand back to the steering wheel.
“I don’t know how you’re going to survive without me for two whole weeks. Maybe Carlos will make fun of how much sugar you put in your coffee and how you can’t handle spicy food, just to keep you on your toes.”
He laughed and moved his hand off her knee. Hmmm. Just because she’d let go of his hand didn’t mean she wanted him to move it.
“You and Carlos have only met each other twice. How is it that you’re so in tune? He’ll do that without any prompting. Don’t worry about it.”
He kissed her hard when she pulled up at the curb.
“See you in two weeks?” he asked, as his fingers stroked her cheek.
When he looked into her eyes like that, she would say yes to anything he asked her. Do you want to rob a Vegas casino with me, I promise it’s for a good cause? Let’s go skydiving! Tell me all of your deepest and darkest secrets. She’d have said yes to it all.
Drew took a picture of the cheese and cracker plate he’d bought at the airport and texted it to Alexa when he got on the plane.
Don’t you wish you were sharing this with me?
He’d had such a good time with Alexa that weekend. This thing obviously couldn’t last that much longer, but why mess with a good thing? Ever since they’d gotten back together, being with her had been so relaxed and fun. It felt so comfortable. Maybe a little too comfortable?
Perhaps it was good that he wasn’t going to see her for two weeks. It made everything easier. More low-key. This was why she was the perfect person for him to date—she lived on the opposite end of the state, she had a super busy job, and they couldn’t see each other that often. And when they did see each other, it was great. See, perfect.
He laughed when the flight landed and a text from her lit up his screen.
You ate me out of house and home this weekend, Nichols . . . and cheese and crackers.
Accompanying the text was a picture of three open and empty cracker boxes and a cheese rind.
He put his phone back in his pocket, still smiling.
He ignored the weight in his chest at the thought of not seeing her smile for fourteen days. It was probably just all of that cheese.
Theo narrowed his eyes at her when she walked in on Monday morning.
“Coffee. Let’s go.” He had her outside before she could even put her purse down.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, as soon as they were far enough away from the building so they wouldn’t be overheard. “Were things bad this weekend? Was Drew an ass about you needing to work?”
She sighed. Had her poker face gotten that bad or did Theo know her that well?
“No, he was great. He was great about everything. It’s just . . . we’re both busy next weekend, so it’s going to be a little while before we see each other again, that’s all.”
There were too many people they knew inside the coffee shop, so after they’d gotten their coffee, he steered her in the opposite direction of City Hall.
“You’ve been seeing each other every weekend, right?” Theo asked her.
“Yeah. I mean, we hadn’t planned on it that way. It just sort of happened.” She avoided his eyes.
He tore off a piece of his pastry and handed it to her.
“This thing seems to be getting kind of serious. Have you guys talked about what’s going on between you two?”
She shook her head. All she wanted was coffee. Why did she have to get the third degree? She was irritated with Theo for bringing this up, irritated with herself that tears had popped into her eyes. She blew into her coffee cup so Theo couldn’t see them.
“Nah, it’s just fun. It’s not like it can go anywhere. He doesn’t really do serious. Plus, I don’t think either of us can keep up this kind of travel schedule for too long. My finances certainly aren’t up to many more plane tickets. I’m just going to enjoy it while it lasts.”
Theo was still looking at her. She took a sip of too-hot coffee to brace herself and winced. She looked back up at him with what she hoped looked like a genuine smile.
“Okay.” He stopped on the corner, forcing her to stop, too. “If you say so. I’m just worried that—”
She hadn’t meant to snap at him. She never snapped at Theo. But she couldn’t handle this conversation anymore. She didn’t want to think about this, let alone talk about it. She shook her head.
“Sorry, Teddy, I’m sorry. I just can’t do this right now, okay?”
He threw an arm around her shoulder and pulled her into a side hug.
“It’s okay. But you know, if you ever want to talk . . .”
She leaned into the hug.
“I know. Now, let’s go get our TARP off the ground.”
Theo groaned. She laughed.
“Oh, don’t you worry, I’m going to make so many jokes like that in the next few weeks. It’s going to be great.”
“You’ve sure been in a shitty mood this week,” Carlos said as they walked to their cars after basketball on Wednesday night. “I can’t wait for you to see Alexa this weekend so you stop knocking people down on the court.”
Drew threw his gym bag in the trunk of his car.
“I didn’t knock that guy down! I dove for the ball, and he happened to be in the way.”
Carlos laughed at him and leaned against Drew’s car, which prevented him from driving away in a huff. He could still do it; he’d just maybe back over his best friend. Which, given the way Carlos had been annoying him this week . . .
“You going up there this weekend or is she coming down? If she’s coming here, you should bring her to Angie’s party. It’ll be a blast.”
He should definitely back over him.
“Neither.” He opened his door and waited for Carlos to take the hint and get in his own car.
“What do you mean, neither? Neither what?”
Drew sighed. Now Carlos was going to make a big deal about this.
“Neither going up nor coming down, is what I mean. We’re not seeing each other this weekend. Other commitments.”
There, that was easy, right? He got in the car, but before he could shut the door, Carlos grabbed it.
“That’s why you’re so crabby this week! You’re not seeing your girl this weekend.”
Drew shook his head.
Carlos shut the door on him, but he could hear Carlos yelling anyway.
“And don’t even try to say she’s not your girl!”
She missed Drew even more that week than she’d thought she would. It was weird to miss him so much on a Wednesday. They never saw each other on Wednesdays. But somehow just knowing that it would be another full week and a half before she saw him made it that much harder to be alone on her couch that night.