“Well, that just doesn’t make sense.”

“She says that if I hadn’t been so career-focused and”—she made air quotes with her fingers—“‘dominant,’ Mason wouldn’t have been scared off.”

“Screw that. Let your brother see them if he wants. You don’t have to go.”

“You know, I might not.”

He wanted to tell her to come to the island instead so they could canoe. Or ask her to “go to a movie.” But when she hopped out of bed and started gathering her clothes, he stopped himself.

“Anyway, I should get going.”

Stay.

The thought startled him. In these situations, it was usually the reverse. It was him trying to extricate himself from some girl’s bedroom, or trying to figure out how to politely eject her from his.

“The worst part is my mother apparently still thinks Mason and I can patch things up. All I need to do is apologize. Me! Apologize!” She pulled on a pair of gray cigarette pants.

Stay.

“It doesn’t matter how many times I tell her that I’m not looking for a relationship anymore, that Mason actually did me a big favor. She just doesn’t hear it.” She scraped her hair back into a messy twist, securing it with a clip that he wanted to yank out and throw across the room.

Stay.

He bit his tongue. Hard.


The next Wednesday afternoon, Dax had cleared his schedule—things were heating up with financing for the restaurant app, and he and the Boy Geniuses had been pulling long hours producing demos. But he wanted to make sure nothing got in the way of…the movies.

His phone started blaring the Rocky theme song, which Kat had downloaded and assigned to herself.

“Hey,” he said. “How’re my favorite sister and niece?”

“We’re at Mom and Dad’s.” She lowered her voice and stage whispered. “You will die when you hear the news.”

“What?” He started packing his briefcase even though he knew it was pointless. He wasn’t going to get any work done tonight. He grinned.

“Mom asked me to tell you to tell Amy that she won’t need to go out with her tonight.”

Kat’s voice had returned to normal. In fact, it had taken on a singsong quality, like she was performing. Then she dropped the bomb. “Because she and Dad are going to sell the house and move to that Don Mills place she saw a couple weeks ago!”

He sat down with a thud.

His sister lowered her voice again. “And you tell Amy from me that she is my goddamned hero. Again. Dax, is there anything that woman can’t do?”

All he could think about was that if his mother had been won over so easily, this was the end of Wednesday night at the movies. When he didn’t say anything, Kat said, “Dude, hello? This is good news.”

“Right. But the whole point of Mom going out with Amy was to advise her on a new development her company is working on.”

“Yeah, Mom saw right through that. So you’re just going to have to go out with your little girlfriend without your mommy chaperoning.”

“She’s not my girlfriend.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

He listened to Kat blather about logistics—when his mother got an idea in her head, she moved fast. Ripped the proverbial Band-Aid off. He tried to remind himself that Kat was right—this was good news. This was what they’d been aiming for all these years. No more worrying about his dad having a heart attack while shoveling. His mom could have gelato every day. And he personally would be thrilled never to have to mow another lawn.

When he finally extricated himself from the call, he dropped his briefcase back on his desk. It looked like plenty of work was going to get done this evening, after all. Time to man the hell up and stop pouting like a goddamn baby.

Because this couldn’t become emotionally messy. Time to quit while he was ahead.

He made it all the way to the hallway outside his office, planning to head over to Winter Enterprises’ offices to cancel with Amy, before he stopped himself. Better to call. He didn’t know if he’d be able to see her and not…do something stupid.

Allison, he reminded himself. Allison.


“Hi!” Amy picked up her phone, stomach fluttering. She got a little thrill when she looked down and saw Dax’s name on the caller ID. Hello, was she in ninth grade? But still, she didn’t care. She even let herself do a little hop of excitement. It was finally—finally!—Wednesday afternoon. She’d been hoping that, as on the last two outings, Dax would be joining her as she shepherded his mom around. Okay, she’d been assuming he would. Still, she hadn’t been 100 percent sure, given that, once again, she hadn’t heard from him all week. Not that she’d really expected to. The previous two weeks suggested a pattern. If they were going to do this hookup thing, it obviously wasn’t going to be an every night occurrence. But, hey, if a once-a-week movie followed by the most epically spectacular sex she could ever imagine was the best she could do, she wasn’t going to rock the boat.

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