“No.” I took a sip of lemonade to wash down the bread. “Order something else.”
“Ellleee,” she whined. “But then it’ll take ages and I’m already SO hungry. Let me split your salad with you.”
“I’ll swap my steak for your burger,” Aaron offered. She perked up at the prospect, and irritation bloomed in my chest.
“Don’t trade her,” I snapped. “She needs to learn to order what she wants.” My gaze flipped to him and I was caught, full-force, in his eye contact. It was similar to when I once drove around a blind curve and encountered a deer. It froze, I inhaled, then I swerved and it ran away.
He knew. I lifted my glass of lemonade and rattled the ice, trying to get a piece in my mouth. He knew that I saw him. It was a sliver of possibility that felt as solid as a knife.
He knew and he knew I knew and what the fuck had I been thinking?
I suddenly felt hot, the sort of rapid overheating that comes right before you faint. I pressed the cold glass to my forehead and closed my eyes, focusing on taking short shallow breaths.
“Are you okay?” Chelsea was suddenly suction-cupped to my side, her breath on my shoulder, her hand biting into my arm. “Elle?”
I lifted my head before she freaked out and tried to smile. “I’m fine. Just hungover.”
Dark melodic tones came from Aaron’s cell, Becca’s ringtone changed by Easton mid-flight into something from Star Wars that meant nothing to me. Aaron sighed and silenced the call. “She’s called me more this weekend than she did all last month.” As soon as Becca got word he was headed to Vegas, she’d gone full-court press in attempting to talk to him. Her ringtone had been an almost constant background noise, the chimes going off in the dinner buffet line, the suite, the limo, and in the strip club. We’d gotten a brief respite after Chelsea had answered, pretended to be a stripper, and then—in a mid-West accent that could curl off wallpaper—proceeded to tell Becca how hawt and dirty her future ex-husband was.
“Just answer it,” Easton urged. “Find out what she wants.”
My husband was too much of a romantic—his love of love battling with his protectiveness toward his best friend. I could see the struggle in him, his advice often warring back and forth. Chelsea and I, on the other hand, were firmly on team Forget That Bitch. Aaron could do better. He deserved better. And as much as I hated the thought of divorce—at least she had filed before they had kids.
Aaron stood and palmed the phone. “I’ll be back.”
My anxiety dialed down as his tall frame walked toward the outdoor patio, his phone to his ear. I had the sudden urge to pull Easton to the side and tell him everything. He would know what to do and how to handle this. Because right now… it felt like I had done something wrong. And if Aaron did know that I knew he was on the balcony, then we were privy to something Easton wasn’t. And that made my stomach knot with guilt.
“Are you constipated?” Chelsea leaned into me, her face pinched with worry. “You have that look on your face you get when you’re constipated.”
“No,” Easton said slowly. “That’s not her constipated face. That face is more of a wide lipped look.” He imitated the face I supposedly make when my bowels are slow and I swore to God—constipation did not happen enough for me to have a dedicated facial expression.
I shoved Chelsea away from me. “Go away. I’m hungover. I told you. Your hovering is not helping.”
“Oh, sir—that’s mine.” Chelsea zeroed in on the tuxedoed waiter right before he put Aaron’s steak down at his empty place. “We switched. Give him the cheeseburger please.”
He hesitated, then followed her instructions.
“I can’t believe you’re taking his steak.”
“Whatever. I’m treating you guys to lunch so I’ll order him another. Sir?” She batted her eyelashes at the waiter. “Can you put in another one for him?”
“Money doesn’t solve everything, you know.” I picked up my fork and stared at my Asian chicken salad, one selected because it was four dollars cheaper than anything else on the lunch menu.
“My, someone’s soaked panties are in a twist this morning,” Chelsea said airily. “You’re in Vegas, dahling. With your deliciously scrumptious husband and lovable best friend. How are you not in a better mood right now? Would it help if all of my non-solvable money treated us both to a massage? I was thinking of getting a hot stone one.”
A massage would help. So would a conversation with Easton, which seemed far more pressing than my slightly wilted salad. I gave Chelsea an apologetic look.
“What do you think she’s saying to him?” Chelsea stuck a piece of steak in her mouth and half rose in her seat, trying to see outside. “I’m going to cut off his balls if he takes her back.”