Abby wiped the tears out of her eyes and smiled at him.
“She said that to us, too, but it’s good that wasn’t just what she says to parents. Thanks for telling me that. I know doctors tell one another the real story.”
He touched Jack’s head, careful not to wake him up.
“No problem. I was . . . I was pretty worried about him. I was very relieved when I talked to Dr. Sullivan, though—”
Abby closed her book and tucked it in her purse.
“I know, there are no guarantees. Thanks, regardless.” She looked at his hand, still on Jack’s head. “How’s your friend Alexa?”
He sighed. He should have anticipated that Abby would bring up Alexa.
“That bad, huh?” Abby said, as he looked for a way to answer. “Can I assume that she is . . . or was . . . more than a friend?”
He made a face at her, and she laughed.
“Like you didn’t already know that.” He sighed. “This is not a normal doctor-patient conversation, but . . . we hit a roadblock. Time will tell if it’s a bump in the road or more of a brick wall.”
She sat back in her chair and folded her hands.
“I’m guessing from the look on your face that you want it to be the former?”
He moved his hand from Jack’s head and looked her in the eye.
“More than anything. I just don’t quite know how to make that happen.”
She smiled at him.
“Oh, that’s easy. What does she want more than anything, even if she hasn’t told you? Do that for her.”
He let out a bark of laughter, checked to make sure he hadn’t woken Jack up, and kept laughing more quietly.
“That’s easy? Good Lord, what’s hard to you?” He glanced back at Jack. “Oh.”
Now Abby laughed.
“I wasn’t even going to play the kid-with-cancer card, but you did it for me. Look, if you want to be with her, which from the look on your face you do, find a way to be with her. It’s really as simple as that, once you clear away everything else.”
He laughed again.
“Well, when you put it that way . . .” Actually, when she put it that way, it really was that simple.
He closed his eyes and nodded. Now he knew what he had to do. What he wanted to do. He just hoped this was what Alexa wanted, too. Or else he’d look like a real idiot.
“When you put it that way, you might be right.” He stood up. “Thanks, Abby. I hope you’ve solved my problem for me.”
She smiled at him and ran her hand over Jack’s head.
“I hope so, too. Keep me posted, will you?”
He saluted her on his way out of the room.
He went straight to his office. He had a phone call to make.
Alexa was at work by seven in the morning on the day of the city council meeting, even though it didn’t start until six that night. At this point, being at work was easier than being at home. At work there was something for her to do, she felt needed, she felt important. At home she was alone with her thoughts and with reminders of Drew. They’d known each other for two months, and he’d only been to her house a handful of times, so why did she see him everywhere there?
At some point, she hoped that would fade. Maybe after the council meeting and she had her ritual fire of everything Drew related.
She was only kidding about that ritual fire. Sort of.
She was in her office on her third run through of her city council presentation when Sloane carried in two big pink bakery boxes.
“Delivery for you, Alexa, but if this is what I think it is, you’d better share.”
Alexa perched on the corner of her desk and opened both boxes. They were overflowing with doughnuts of every variety. Four pink frosted doughnuts with sprinkles were in the center of each box.
“Where did this come from? I was going to bring doughnuts this morning but had too much to carry on my way in to pick these up. Who got these, Theo?”
Sloane flipped one of the boxes closed and pointed to the note on top that Alexa had overlooked.
“Look and see.”
She pulled the folded white envelope from the top of the box and opened it.
Alexa—Good luck today! Drew
She hadn’t heard from him since she left his bed at dawn almost two weeks ago, and he’d sent her doughnuts? And he’d remembered when the city council meeting was? Was this the Alexa version of Emma’s breakup flowers?
She tucked the card back in its envelope and slid it into her purse anyway.
“Can you put these in the kitchen, Sloane? And send out an email to everyone to let them know there are doughnuts? Wait, hold on a second.” She plucked two of the pink frosted ones out of one of the boxes. “Okay, now you can take them away.”
Sloane picked up both boxes and turned to leave.
“You’re going to kill it today, boss.”
Alexa put her doughnuts on a napkin.
“Thanks, Sloane. I hope so. I told you to order pizza for everyone’s lunch, right?”
“Already done,” Sloane called out from the doorway.
The day dragged, as days with something important at the end of them always did, but finally the clock hit five, her signal to close her office door and change into her lucky suit and heels. She opened her door when she was done to find Theo standing behind it.
“Armor on?” he asked. “Are we ready to go?”
She grinned at him, suddenly full of adrenaline.
“You know it. Let’s go kick some city council ass.”
Drew slipped through the doorway of the city council chambers right at six. He’d wanted to get there early, but he didn’t want Alexa to see him before the meeting started. She hadn’t acknowledged the doughnuts, but he knew she’d gotten them; he’d followed the delivery guy to her office to make sure.
He found one of the only empty seats in the back of the council chamber, next to a black woman with lots of curly hair who looked vaguely familiar. She looked up and smiled at him for a second before looking back down her phone, her thumbs flying across the screen.
He saw Alexa up at the front of the room, sitting next to Theo and behind a white-haired man he assumed was the mayor. Damn, it felt so good to see her again, even from across the room. She was sitting there, intent on the proceedings, in one of those suits he loved, looking like she was in her element. She was in her element.
Maybe she was relieved to not have him taking up her time anymore. Maybe Theo had already pounced—see, right there, he’d put his hand on her shoulder—and they were as happy as could be together. Had he flown up here for nothing?
He took a deep breath. He couldn’t back out now—both Abby and Carlos would kill him, among other things. Hell with it, he didn’t want to back out now; he had to know for sure.
He saw on the agenda that there was some business to get through first, so he pulled his phone out to pass the time.
“What are you here for?” the woman next to him whispered.
“Oh, the teen arts thing.” He smiled and gestured to the front of the room. “My . . . A friend of mine works for the mayor, so I wanted to be here for her.”
Her eyes narrowed.
“Oh? Who’s your friend?”
He hesitated before he answered, but she was looking at him so intently that he had to.
“Alexa Monroe, she’s the mayor’s chief of staff.” He couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he said her name.
The woman dropped her phone into her purse and turned to him with a wide smile. Why was he reminded of a wolf?
“You must be Drew,” she said.
At that, everything clicked. Boy, did he feel like an idiot for not figuring this out sooner. He sat up straight.
“And you must be Olivia?” That’s why she looked familiar; he’d seen pictures of her around Alexa’s house.
She nodded and reached out her hand. He hadn’t been so nervous about a handshake since his med school interviews.
“I was under the impression that you and my sister were no longer . . . friends?” She still had that smile on her face.
He nodded, then shook his head. Words, Drew, it was time for words.
“I hope . . . There have been some problems, but my hope is that we’re still friends.” He laughed under his breath. “No, that’s not what I want. I don’t want to be friends with your sister—I want a lot more.”