I tear up, my throat catching. She knows what the soft, squishy part of my heart wants again someday.
But right now? It’s still too tender.
“Hey. Would you be okay if our girls’ night is just girls? No looking for guys or dates or anything?”
“Of course. Whatever you want.”
“I don’t know that I’m up for it this weekend. I might be dated out for the week.”
She laughs softly. “And now dated out is a thing.”
“I suppose it is.” I stand, stretch. “I think I’m going to spend the rest of the night with my dog. Thanks for listening.”
“Anytime, sweetie,” she says as she heads to her kitchen to clean up Chaucer’s latest carnage.
I return home, and Ms. Pac-Man is so excited to see me that I give her a kiss on her wet snout. She licks my cheek, a big, sloppy dog kiss, and I love it. “Maybe you’re my person.”
She whimpers her yes.
She loves me unconditionally, and I love her the same.
I pat the side of my leg, her cue to trot along with me as we head into my bedroom and over to the closet. “Let’s look at clothes for tomorrow’s shoot, shall we?”
She sits as I survey my wardrobe, watching me, her tail still wagging. I can’t resist. I bend down to pet her once more. My dog is the definition of loyal. I don’t need anything more.
Except I still want to know what it’s like to feel this kind of adored . . . by a person.
“Thank you all for attending. We’re incredibly grateful for the support of so many business owners and San Francisco icons.” The words from the head of the San Francisco Children’s Hospital echo across the ballroom as the benefit luncheon draws to a close.
I clap, stand, then say goodbye to our tablemates as I stroll out of the hotel ballroom with Cooper.
“Saw the bit you posted yesterday,” he says.
“Stalking me again on social media? You can’t get enough of me.”
“I know, I know. It’s like you’re irresistible.” He pauses. “Not.”
“And yet you watch me.”
“Hey, you watch me too,” he points out.
“That’s different. I have to if I want to watch the Renegades, and I do root for the local team in spite of its ugly-as-sin quarterback. You, however, choose to watch me because, admit it, I’m awesome.”
He cracks up. “Your modesty knows no bounds. And to think I was going to wish you luck at staying unentangled.”
I furrow my brow. “Why would you wish me luck after seeing the bit I posted?”
“You looked like you brought your girlfriend onto the show.”
“Seriously?” This is news to me. “Why the hell would you say that?”
“Have you seen how you two are together?”
“Then watch a segment, man. You just act like you’re, I dunno, a couple.”
He claps my shoulder. “It’s funny when you can’t see what’s right in front of you. But yes, it’s obvious there’s a little something cooking between you two. Bet all your viewers picked up on it. The question now is, what are you going to do about it?”
I sigh heavily.
“Ah, hell. You already did something. You dog.”
“It was just a kiss.”
He wiggles his eyebrows. “You’re into her. You should bring her to karaoke night the next time we all go. Because clearly you have it bad for her.”
I shoot him my best skeptical look to avoid the complete and utter truth of his statement. “Please.”
“Just admit it. It’s obvious. Are you going to ignore it and adhere to your rules? Or are you going to throw a pass under pressure?”
I level with him. “You’re in the pocket. The line is coming at you. What do you do?”
He doesn’t need time to consider his options. He only has mere seconds—no, split seconds—when he’s on the field to make a call. Decisions come quickly to a quarterback. “If I see an opening, I go for it. Always go for it.”
I nod, considering his sports wisdom, searching for a way to make it fit my game plan.
Trouble is, he’s talking about a high-stakes game played in front of millions every Sunday. He has to go for it.
The rules of my world are different.
At least, I think they are.
Cooper is right.
The viewers aren’t the only ones who see something. Bruce does too. He’s all grins when he pokes his head into the studio as we record our segment Saturday morning.
“Vince in San Diego wants to know how to tell the difference between a lie and the truth.” I toss the question to the dating expert.
McKenna makes a yikes face. “Bring a lie detector with you. Carry it in a murse. It’s the only way to be certain.”
I laugh but soldier on. “Seriously though. He asks: ‘Does a cancellation, a phone call from a friend, or a mention that she has someplace to be after coffee or drinks mean she’s not into you?’”