He’d refused to let her drive him to the airport that morning. He’d insisted it was too early and she should get some of the sleep that he’d robbed her of. She hadn’t gotten any of that sleep—she’d jumped in the shower as soon as they’d kissed good-bye at her front door—but she’d loved him for saying so.
She sank into her desk chair and barely managed to avoid spilling her coffee as that thought sank in.
Loved him? Wait, no, that’s not what she’d meant. She couldn’t feel that way about him. That way was surely headed for heartbreak with a guy like Drew.
But he clearly cared about her, right? He jumped on a plane to come see her for less than twelve hours; he had to feel something for her. Or was she just trying to believe he felt something for her because, despite what she was trying to tell herself, she felt something for him?
Damn it, this wasn’t what was supposed to happen. This thing was supposed to be easy and fun and light. Maybe she could ignore these feelings and hope they went away?
Should she try to talk to Drew about how she felt? She shook her head. The only time she’d tried to talk about their relationship to Drew it had been an unmitigated disaster. She didn’t want to go through that again. Plus, she’d almost certainly scared him away after all of that race talk the night before. White men hated it when you reminded them of their privilege, she knew that all too well.
But what was she supposed to do with all of these feelings now?
Bury them in a corner, drink her damn coffee, and stop having major life crises at eight a.m., that’s what.
She managed to distract herself with work for most of the day, but by five thirty she gave up and called Maddie. She knew Maddie would tell her what to do.
Drew walked into the hospital straight from the airport, thankful he’d had an extra shirt in his gym bag so he didn’t have to stop at home. Now that he was away from Alexa, he felt stupid about dropping everything to go see her, even though it had felt great in the moment. Good God, he was an adult, he’d been a doctor for four years, and yet he got bad news about one of his patients and flew five hundred miles just to hug one woman?
He was getting in too deep. It was going to hurt way too much when it ended. It was going to hurt even more when she hated him. Like Molly had.
He never should have flown up there. The whole thing . . . it had been too much. Too intimate.
Part of him wanted to flee, never answer her text messages again, never see her again, forget he’d ever known her.
But the thought of never seeing Alexa again made his stomach clench. He’d only left her this morning, and he still couldn’t wait to see her this weekend.
Of course the first person he saw when he stepped off the elevator was Carlos.
“Hey, man, you look like shit,” was Carlos’s friendly greeting. He paused and his smile fell. “Oh wait. I heard about Jack. That sucks. I’m sorry.”
Drew shrugged. What was he supposed to say? That’s okay? It wasn’t, really, and Carlos knew that. So he said nothing.
“Where were you last night?” Carlos followed him into his office. “I called you, but your phone was off.”
He thought about lying, but he knew Carlos would find out eventually. He was like that.
“I went up to Berkeley.”
Carlos stopped halfway into the chair. Damn it, he should have lied; he knew Carlos would make this into a bigger deal than it was.
“Oh? Hard day, you needed a hug from your girl?” He settled into the chair and looked up at Drew with a smug expression. Drew was too tired and irritable for this.
“Whatever, that wasn’t it.” He shrugged and smirked. “I just needed some stress relief that I couldn’t get from basketball. You know how it is.”
Carlos laughed, and for a minute, Drew thought Carlos would let it go.
“That’s how you’re going to play it? It was just a booty call, right? Give me a break, you like this girl. You flew to the other end of the state to see her! Don’t get me wrong—she’s great, and I approve completely, but . . .”
Drew cut him off before he went too far.
“Okay, I knew you’d do this. Calm down. It was just an hour flight. I’ve driven to the Valley to get laid before, same difference.”
Carlos rolled his eyes. Why was he friends with this guy again?
“First of all, no, you haven’t.”
Okay, fine, he was right. Not that Drew was going to let him know that.
“Second, there’s nothing wrong with going to hang out with your girl when you’re upset. I’m glad she was there for you, man.” Carlos took a sip of his coffee.
Drew shook his head.
“That’s not how it was.” That was exactly how it was. “I don’t know why you keep acting like this thing with Alexa is some big deal, anyway. It’s probably not going to last all that much longer.”
Carlos stared at him.
“Why wouldn’t it? What did you do?”
Drew resisted the urge to flip him off, but only because a nurse walked by his open door.
“I didn’t do anything! It’s just . . . it’s been going on for a while; we’ve had a good run. Better to end things while they’re still good.”
Carlos’s phone buzzed and he glanced at it, then back up at Drew.
“No offense, man, but don’t be such a fucking idiot. I’ve seen the way you look at this girl. I’ve never seen you look at anyone or anything like you look at her. And you’re just going to throw all of that away for some bullshit reason? Because you’re too scared for something real?”
Carlos checked his phone again and stood up.
“I gotta go. But dude, stop being the idiot you always have been.”
Maddie was borrowing her car for the weekend, so she drove Alexa to the airport on Friday night.
“How’re you feeling?” Maddie asked.
Could she even describe how she felt about seeing Drew this weekend? Excited to see him, on edge about what the weekend could bring, relaxed at just the thought of being around him . . .
She had to talk to him. She had to know what was going on and how he felt before it was too late. Though she was afraid that ship had sailed.
“It was a lot easier when I wasn’t overthinking this.”
Maddie turned to her at the stoplight.
“Didn’t we both know that that could only last a weekend with you? Maybe a long weekend, maximum.”
They both laughed.
“Do you want a pep talk, or do you want to talk about something else?” Maddie asked her.
She thought for a second. A pep talk would just hype her up too much.
“Something else, please. Tell me about what’s-her-name, your crazy new client.”
“Oh my God, Alexa. Did I tell you what she wanted the other day? She needed cute exercise clothes, because she always runs into people she knows at the gym, right? But instead of Lululemon, she wanted exercise clothes that no one else has, so I had to dive into the world of $500 yoga pants and $200 sports bras, and let me tell you, that is a crazy world.”
They gossiped the rest of the way to the airport, and Maddie hugged her when she got out of the car.
“Good luck this weekend, Lex. Thanks for letting me use your car, and have a great trip.”
She hugged Maddie back.
“Anytime, Mads, you know that. And thanks.”
Drew left straight from the hospital to pick Alexa up at the airport. Carlos high-fived him as he walked down the hall toward the elevator.
“You’ll be at Heather’s 4th of July party on Sunday, right?”
Drew nodded as he got in the elevator.
“See you there.”
Alexa walked out of the terminal just as he drove up, and he jumped out of the car to kiss her. Okay, maybe he was being hasty about ending things. Maybe Carlos was right. He’d just been overtired and still upset about Jack on Wednesday morning. They could keep this going a little longer.
He squeezed her hand as he got on the freeway toward his house. Did she look tense? She looked tense. Should he ask why?
“Hungry?” That was an easier question.
She shrugged off her cardigan. She was still in business mode, wearing one of those conservative dresses that he secretly loved. “Starving. I barely had time for lunch, and I’ve depleted all of my office snacks this week.”
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