Vivian grabbed another piece of pizza. “Tonight, calories don’t count.”
They shared a laugh.
Tressa appreciated what her friend was doing, but it wasn’t necessary. “You don’t have to babysit me, Vi. You’re a married woman. You should be home with your husband.”
“I want to be here. Alonso won’t be home till late. He’s supposed to be meeting Ro—” Vivian stopped abruptly.
“You can say his name. I won’t go ballistic.” Though she might just burst out crying. It truly could go either way.
To think a few weeks ago she’d been the happiest woman alive. Now look at her, wrapped in a blanket on her couch stuffing her face with food. Pitiful. Happiness was clearly reserved for individuals who didn’t let the likes of love get in their way. Love. She growled at the low-down, trifling emotion that had brought her far too much pain.
“You know what’s funny, Vi? I really thought this was it. I really thought I’d get my happy-ever-after. I thought Roth was the one.” Her voice cracked with unintended emotion.
“Roth is the one.”
Did Vivian not recall all the things she’d told her, all the things she’d overheard that night, backstage at the club? How could she still believe in Roth? Tressa blew out a heavy sigh, choosing not to address Vivian’s words. “I’m done.”
Vivian eyed her quizzically. “Done with what?”
“Love, men, relationships. I’m done with it all. Obviously, this is a sign I’m meant to be alone.”
Vivian barked a humorless laugh. “You don’t mean that, Tress.”
Yes, she did. “I trusted him, Vi. I trusted every kiss, every touch, every intimate moment I shared with him. I trusted him.” She shook her head. “I should have known better. I know the games men are capable of playing. I just never thought Roth—” She stopped at the onset of emotions she felt. No way would she cry. No. Damn. Way. Her head tilted back against the cushion. “I’m done.”
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing. From you, of all people. You are the freaking ambassador for all things love.”
“Maybe once. Not anymore.”
Vivian sat up ramrod straight. “When I foolishly wanted to run from Alonso, it was you who gave me a swift kick in the ass and brought me to my senses.”
“And I’m happy for what you and Alonso have, Vi, but I’m beginning to think love is just not meant for me.”
“So you’re just going to give up?”
Tressa folded her arms like a defiant child. “Yes.”
“The Tressa I know wouldn’t just bow down and take it. She would fight for what she loved, who she loved. And trust me, I know you love Roth just as much as he loves you. And another thing, you may be done with love—” she made air quotes “—but love is not done with you.”
Tressa eyed her best friend. Why in the hell was Vivian so distraught? She was the one going through the perils of love.
Tressa ached to stress just how wrong she thought Vivian was. But since Vivian was clearly the new poster child for love, Tressa kept her comments to herself. And just for the record, she wasn’t giving up; she was giving in. Love had taken her through too damn much.
No, she didn’t care what anyone said. She was done with love.
Roth had thrown himself into his work—arriving at the office at the crack of dawn, not leaving until pitch dark. Why? Because designing a new aircraft was the only thing that kept him half-sane and his mind off Tressa. That and playing the sax, but somehow, playing always brought his thoughts back to her.
When his cell phone rang, he tossed a glance at the clock. Eight. Shit. He was late. Taking the call from Alonso, he said, “I lost track of time. I’m on the way.”
Alonso rattled off something about it being packed and he’d go ahead and grab a table. Ending the call, Roth logged off his computer before midnight for the first time in days, gathered his belongings and headed out to meet Alonso—who would undoubtedly spend the evening trying to cheer him up. Why? Because that was what best friends did for each other.
A half hour later Roth sat inside the Flaming Arrow Bar and Grille, nursing a glass of top-shelf bourbon. Conversation swirled around him, people happy and celebrating life. He envied them, because at this moment his life was shit. Without Tressa, his…life…was…shit. He was man enough to admit that.