One thing she’d said at the party had kept ringing in his ears: “In real life, I’m nothing to you.” Was that how she really felt? Was that how he’d made her feel? Because now he realized how far from the truth that was. She meant more to him than he could say. Than he knew how to say.

The whole way up the stairs to his apartment, he prayed that she’d kept her promise and was still there. He tiptoed into his bedroom, hoping she was there, not sure what to do if she was. He’d been rehearsing what to say the whole drive home, but now everything that he’d thought of seemed stupid and inadequate.

He stopped in the doorway of his bedroom and sighed in relief. All of his lights were on, and Alexa was asleep in that way that was so familiar to him now, curled up on her side in his bed, the covers pulled up to her chin, her iPad resting on her face.

He turned the lights off and undressed in the dark. He moved the iPad to the bedside table and crawled in next to her.

He’d always loved getting in bed with her. It was one of his favorite things about her, the way she would melt into his arms every time he put his arms around her. But this time, she stiffened at his touch. It broke his heart.

He tightened his arms around her and kissed her neck, her hair, the side of her face. After a few seconds, he felt her relax. He reached up and stroked her hair.

“Alexa, please. Please, can we talk?”

She turned in his arms and rested her head against his chest but didn’t say anything.

“I’m sorry about what I said earlier. I got frustrated, and I didn’t mean it. Please, forgive me, sweetheart?”

Her face was hidden in his chest, so at first, he only heard her irregular breathing and didn’t realize the cause. But when he reached down to stroke her face and tilt it up toward his, he felt the tears on her face.

“Oh no, Alexa. Oh, please no, don’t cry.” He kissed her forehead and pulled her closer to his chest, but she only cried harder.

“I can’t do this, Drew.” He could barely understand her through her sobs. “This is too . . . It hurts too much. We can’t do this anymore.”

“No!” He hoped that he’d heard her wrong, but he knew that wasn’t the case. “No, that’s not . . . Please don’t do this. Don’t do this to me. To us. Alexa, please. I want this more than anything. You make me so happy. We make me so happy.”

She shook her head and sobbed harder.

“Oh, Drew, you’re so . . . Please don’t make this even . . .”

He bent down to kiss her wet face, cutting her off before she could finish talking. She kissed him back hard, still hiccupping as her hands roamed his body. He caressed her breasts as he kissed her. He cut off the kiss just long enough to pull her tank top over her head and moved down her body. She dug her fingernails into his shoulders, and he hissed, but she didn’t stop. He didn’t want her to stop.

He moved farther down her body, knowing by her slightest twist and moan and gasp where he should linger. Her hands were tight in his hair, and he felt the tug on his scalp just before he heard her gasp and felt her contract around him. He lifted his head and looked down at her. Her eyes were closed, but the tears were once again running down her cheeks. He kissed them away.

She opened her eyes when she heard the crinkle of the condom wrapper opening. He was kneeling between her thighs, looking at her in that way he’d looked at her since the beginning, like he couldn’t wait to touch her, like he couldn’t wait for her to touch him. She couldn’t wait, either.

She ran her hands up and down his warm chest. He picked up her hands and kissed them. He pinned them above her head, holding on to her wrists with one hand.

He bent closer to her until his mouth was almost on hers, his body inches away, but he didn’t close the short distance. She moved to meet him, but he moved away, a faint smile dancing around his lips.

“You know what I want,” he said. “Tell me. Tell me what you want.”

She looked at him, all warm and golden and strong above her. She said what was in her heart.

“You. I want you.”

He pushed her legs wide open and slid inside of her. Their twin moans echoed around the room. Too quickly, her whole body tensed and she exploded, tears once again streaming from her eyes, words she knew she would be embarrassed about later coming from her mouth.

He quickened his pace and came, collapsing on top of her when the tremors throughout his body finally stopped.

“You have me,” he said in her ear, so low she wasn’t sure if she’d heard him right.

When Drew woke up the next morning, she was gone. He turned over in bed and reached for her, but her side of the bed was empty and cold. He sat up and looked around the room. The floor was bare in that corner where he’d been tripping over her suitcase all weekend.

“Goddamn it!” He got out of bed and looked around the apartment, but all evidence of her was gone. He looked for his phone and found it sitting in the middle of the coffee table. Waiting for him.

I’m sorry about how I acted at the party. You and I both know this is over. I had a great time with you, Drew.

That was it? That was motherfucking it? “I had a great time with you”??? He’d told her how he felt last night, and then she fucking disappeared in the morning like he was some one-night stand she couldn’t wait to get away from?

He lay flat on his back on the sofa, still naked.

How fucking perfect that the first time he’d really cared about a woman in years she’d fled the scene without even saying good-bye. He should tell Molly about this; she’d get a good laugh out of it.

He sat up and grabbed his phone. He was going to text Alexa back, tell her to get back here, that he wanted to talk to her, this was more than just a great time, why the fuck had she left before they had a chance to talk? He typed out the text to her in a flurry.

Right before he was about to hit send, he dropped the phone. He tucked it under the couch cushions and sat on it for good measure.

He flopped onto his back again and covered his head with a couch cushion. Why was he being so fucking emotional? He’d ended things with girls lots of times. Was this how they all felt when he did it?

He hoped not, otherwise he would feel like an asshole.

He felt his ass vibrate, sat bolt upright, and fished the phone from underneath it. Maybe she was at the airport and had second thoughts and was texting him to say that she was on her way back. Maybe she was right outside and was texting him to say she was about to knock on the door.

It was Carlos. Not Alexa.

Hey man, everything cool with you and Alexa? You disappeared from Heather’s last night.

Oh, fuck. On top of everything else, he had to apologize to Carlos.

Hey. Sorry I was an asshole last night.

He stood up to go flick the switch on the coffeepot, glad that he’d set it up yesterday afternoon.

We’re cool. I don’t think I’m the one you have to worry about, though.

He stared at his coffeepot, now brewing twice as much coffee as he would need.

Tell me about it.

He shook his head. Fuck Alexa. She wasn’t worth all of this. Fuck this emotional bullshit. He was going for a run. Maybe he’d run into Kat.

Alexa sat on the airplane at LAX and buckled her seat belt. She hoped this damn plane would take off soon so she wouldn’t grab her bag and run back to Drew’s. She’d been sitting at the airport for the past two hours, unshowered, her hair in a messy topknot, no makeup on. And the whole time she’d resisted the temptation to turn around and jump back under his covers and next to his warm, sleeping body before he even realized she was gone.

Last night before she’d gone to sleep, she’d planned on having an adult conversation with Drew. She wasn’t going to tell him how strong her feelings were for him, because he didn’t need to know that. The last thing she wanted was his pity.

She’d planned to tell him it was nothing against him, but she knew how he felt about relationships, and she couldn’t do this anymore. She would have just blamed the distance making it tough, and how she couldn’t keep flying up and down the state anymore, how this had been fun for a couple of months, but they both knew it couldn’t last much longer.

All of that had the benefit of being the truth. It just wasn’t the whole truth.

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