“What did you do?” Kerry finally managed. “What did you say?”
“You mean before or after we went inside and had the world’s best make-up sex?” Colleen laughed, loudly enough that several other people in the coffee shop looked over and smiled at them. “I told him I’d never stopped loving him either.” Colleen held out her hand, and Kerry finally saw the engagement ring. “We’re going to Vegas tonight to get married.”
Oh God, how could Kerry possibly talk her sister out of getting married when she had only a matter of hours?
“Sorry, sis,” Colleen said with a shrug. “I know you probably want to throw us one of your fancy weddings, but that’s never been my speed.” And it was true that even as kids, her sister had never been the least bit interested in their mother’s wedding business. “One of those Elvis-themed chapels is going to be perfect.”
Kerry knew she had to be careful how she approached this situation, even more careful than she’d been before. “Are you sure you want to move so quickly? Maybe you could see how the next few weeks or months go, and then—”
“The way I feel about him isn’t going to change.” Colleen looked absolutely certain. “I’ve loved him from the first day. I’ll love him until the last. So why should we wait?”
Because he doesn’t seem to love you the same way!
It took all of Kerry’s self-control not to blurt out the words that would, without a doubt, rip her sister away from her forever.
The chocolate cake came, and Colleen took a huge bite. “Got to get back some of those calories I burned last night. All night long, thank you very much. God, he’s such an amazing lover. Better than ever before, actually, now that we’re back together.” She gestured to Kerry’s fork. “You should eat some before I mow through the whole thing.”
Kerry made herself pick up her fork, if for no other reason than to buy herself some time to figure out what to say. There had to be a way to get through to Colleen.
But before she could come up with any way to approach it that wouldn’t have her sister throwing her fork at her and storming out of the café, Colleen said, “So, how’s the hunk?”
Kerry froze again, this time with her fork halfway into the cake. “The hunk?”
Colleen rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on, don’t play dumb with me and act like you don’t know who I’m talking about.”
If they were still as close as they’d once been when they were little girls, Kerry would have already told her sister all about Adam. About how happy he made her. About how he was teaching her how much fun it could be to actually have fun. And about how sometimes...sometimes she found herself wanting more than just an arrangement of friends getting some sexy benefits with each other in a hotel once a week.
But ever since Colleen had first started dating Payton, her sister had pulled away, and it had been a long time since they’d shared secrets.
Knowing it was by only the barest luck that her sister had been too self-involved to ask about the hunk before now, Kerry said, “Adam’s fine.”
“Fine?” Colleen took another huge bite of cake. “He looked a hell of a lot better than fine those two times I saw him. Just a few little details between sisters, that’s all I’m asking for.”
Knowing Colleen wouldn’t stop pushing until she got something out of her, Kerry said, “We have fun together.”
“Multiple-times-a-night fun, I hope. I mean, when a guy looks like he does.”
Kerry knew the color taking over her cheeks was giving away just how true that was, even as she tried to shift directions by saying, “We’re friends.”
Her sister gave her a knowing look. “Friends who are clearly having slamming-hot sex.” Colleen looked even more pleased when Kerry’s blush confirmed it. “Good for you, finally letting go for once in your life. And with one of the hottest guys I’ve ever seen while you’re at it!”
On the nights when Colleen had been drunk and said these kinds of things, Kerry had been able to blame it on the alcohol. But at noon on a Thursday in the middle of a crowded downtown café, she finally had to admit that Colleen truly thought she was uptight and boring.
“Now that you’ve hooked him in the sack,” her sister continued, “we just have to figure out how to get him to declare his undying love for you and give you that ring I know you’re longing for.”
“I’m not longing for a ring!” Kerry shot back before she could moderate her tone. “I told you, we’re just friends. The fact that we’re having sex doesn’t mean anything.”
Colleen’s eyebrows went up in surprise. “Wow, look who finally got a backbone.”
Kerry had to grit her teeth to keep from snarling.
“Look,” Colleen said in a soothing tone, “I can see that you believe what you’re saying, but the truth is—sex always means something. It’s why I was so upset with Payton when he cheated on me. And it’s also why I never slept with any of the guys at those bars.”
Just as quickly as she’d fired up, Kerry felt herself deflate. She hadn’t been surprised by all the talk about hot sex, but hearing this wisdom coming from her sister, who had been falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole these past few months? Honestly, it was almost as unexpected as Colleen’s take on the importance of sex.
And then her sister surprised her yet again by putting her hand over Kerry’s. “You’re so in love with Adam. Anyone can see it in the dreamy expression on your face when you’re talking about him. Anyone can hear it in the way you say his name, like it’s the most beautiful word in the world.” Colleen squeezed her hand. “Why won’t you just admit it?”
Admit that she’d fallen in love with Adam?
Panic gripped Kerry like a vise, wrapping so tightly around her chest that she could barely breathe. “I’m not...I’m not in…”
She couldn’t bring herself even to say the word love. Not when even that felt like too much of an admission.
“It’s not a crime to fall in love, you know,” Colleen said. “No matter what Mom always said. Just because her relationship with our father was bad doesn’t mean that we should have to settle for boring sticks in the mud just to try to keep ourselves safe from heartache.” Colleen looked into Kerry’s eyes. “Forget what you’ve always been told. Forget what you’ve always thought you needed to do, the person you’ve always thought you needed to be. What do you want?”
“I just want to be happy.”
“And does Adam make you happy?”
“He does.” So happy. “But—”
“You’re overthinking it all,” Colleen said with a disappointed shake of her head. “Just can’t get Mom’s voice out of your head, can you?”
“It’s not just Mom,” Kerry said. How could she just leap and not worry about the fall? How could anyone? “I mean, you were so upset these past months, too.”
“I know my relationship with Payton isn’t perfect,” Colleen admitted, “but I still love him, so of course I want to take him back and try again. And, honestly, I’ve never felt so happy in all my life. Don’t you want to feel this good? Like you could fly? Like anything is possible? Like nothing could ever bring you down again?”