“You knew we were friends.”
“Not that good of friends.” Neo shook his head. “She’s the reason you told me sex with a friend was so good, isn’t she?”
“Have you been with anyone else sexually since you began your relationship with Piper?”
“Do you really think that is any of your business?”
“Probably not, but answer anyway,” Neo insisted.
“Once, before I realized the first time wasn’t going to be a single shot.”
“And that did not tell you anything?”
“What? I like intimacy with Piper. I am too busy with our company to expend energy on other women.”
Neo’s lips twisted in a mocking frown. “How long has your head been in the dark place?”
Zephyr remembered accusing Neo of having his head up his ass once, in regard to Cass. Apparently this was payback. “It’s not. We both knew what we had and what we did not have.”
“And now she may be pregnant with my child.”
“So, that changes everything?” Neo asked.
“You can ask?” After the way they had both grown up, he would expect Neo to be the first to understand.
“You are not taking my point,” Neo said with exasperation. “Don’t you see that she is bound to think you are only wanting marriage because of the baby?”
“That is the only reason. I would not have considered it otherwise.”
“Why the hell not?”
“She deserves better.”
For the second time in less than twenty-four hours, Neo looked absolutely gobsmacked. “You are the best.”
“You are prejudiced.” But the belligerent certainty in his friend’s voice was surprisingly nice to hear.
“I am your brother, Cass says so. That means I’m allowed.”
Zephyr felt warmth he hadn’t known in decades, but he didn’t let it show on his face. He was no pushover despite these weird emotional twinges he was experiencing. “So, step outside your personal bias and look at this from Piper’s perspective.”
“I do not see the distinction here.” Neo’s eyes filled with something far too close to pity for Zephyr’s comfort. “You’re a good man, Zephyr.”
“I did not say I wasn’t.” Merely that Piper deserved better than what he had to offer her.
“So, what is the problem?”
“She wants to be in love with her next husband,” Zephyr explained grimly. “Like she was with Art.”
“And you do not love her?”
Zephyr shook his head. “Love doesn’t work for everybody.” At least on that truth, he was one hundred percent convinced. And he was one of those people.
Neo sighed. “You’re right, but giving up before you even try isn’t like you.”
“Sometimes trying is the stupidest thing of all to do.”
“That does not sound like you.”
“And you sound like a broken record,” Zephyr retorted.
“So, say something that makes me understand this defeatist attitude of yours.”
“She left last night.”
“When you wanted her to stay.” Neo knew him so well, he did not even have to make it a question.
“She said she was sorry.” Just like his mother had done, over and over again—first when leaving him behind and then when she refused to bring his little sister back to visit.
In situations like this, sorry didn’t mean anything.
“She also said she would call you, ne?”
“So, trust her to do it.”
“When?” Zephyr snapped.
“When she is ready.”
“You were not this complacent with Cass.”
“I was in love with Cassandra.” Neo’s look challenged Zephyr.
Apparently, if he was not in love, he had no right to be worried, cautious or impatient. Like hell. “So, because I’m not playing the romantic hero, I have to wait and wonder if my lover carries my child?”
“You have to wait because she will call when she is ready and not before.”
“I am well aware of that.” And it was doing nothing for his mood, which he was sure was obvious, even to Neo.
Neo looked at him like he was a newly discovered species. “I still cannot believe you had a lover for almost a year and I did not know it.”
“I did not consider her my lover.”
An unholy light gleamed in Neo’s eyes. “My friend, this just gets better and better. When did that change?”
“That trip had a pretty big impact even before the missing birth control patch was discovered.”