“Would you like her to move back here?” he asks, point blank.
No. I don’t say it, because it’s impulsive and colored by this evening. If I had a chance to sleep on it, to recover from this horrible episode of doubt I’m currently experiencing, I don’t know what I’d say. There was a time I wanted Mia to move back here—but with Vince. With her boyfriend. Not unattached, when I’m ballooning out like a pregnant whale, and my fiancé is giving her bedroom eyes on the dance floor.
Jesus Christ, what is this life?
“What if I don’t?” I challenge, holding his gaze.
He shrugs, as if it doesn’t matter. His gaze slides away from mine, his handsome face the very picture of casual acceptance. “Then I’ll get her an apartment in the city, somewhere near campus.”
Why does that make me feel worse?
It brings to mind Victorian mistresses, kept in townhouses, lavished with gifts, visited by the married men who fuck them on the side. I don’t want him to get Mia her own place, where he has access to her anytime he wants and I would never even know.
Manufacturing a playful smile, I toss out, “Would you visit her there?”
“I imagine she’d visit us here, like she does now,” he replies, intentionally misunderstanding.
Oh, my god. Is this what normal women feel like? Is this jealousy?
Since I’m frowning off at nothing, Mateo takes hold of my shoulders, bringing my attention back to him. “You’re being weird tonight.”
I feel sad. Insecure. Ew.
Shaking my head, trying to keep those icky, unattractive feelings off my face, I lean into him, resting my head on his shoulder. “I love you, Mateo.”
That’s weird, so it takes him a minute to put his arms around me and answer, “I love you, too.”
“Please don’t make me regret trusting you.”
He tenses when I say this. I know it’s a ballsy thing to say to him—in so many ways. He’s not a man you want to challenge. He’s not a man you tell what to do. He’s also not an idiot, so he knows why I’m saying it.
Finally, as if I’m somehow the one in the wrong, he says, “You love Mia.”
It doesn’t feel like a statement, but a question. He wants to know why I’m acting like such a head case, when I’m usually the cool one. He wants to know if I still love Mia, or if his renewed interest in her has shifted my feelings. The thing is, I’m not sure myself. I don’t know what he’s warming me up for, and I don’t know what page she’s on. It’s actually the last thing I want to do right now, but I’m going to have to meet Mia for lunch tomorrow to see if she’s still behaving suspiciously, then go from there.
Instead of answering his question, I pull back and offer a light, breezy smile. “So do you.”
Since my tone is casual and I haven’t said this like a shrill, suspicious fish wife, he cautiously nods. “Yes.”
That’s probably good. He’s not lying. It’s worse if they lie, right? If he got defensive and angry, started denying and gas lighting me? At least, that’s what Rodney used to do when he was guilty. But Rodney was a coward who couldn’t take responsibility for his actions. Mateo isn’t.
Does Mateo Morelli experience guilt the same way? Does he experience it at all?
If he does, I can’t tell.
He drops this topic like an item of clothing as he undresses, gathering his discarded items and placing them on a chair for someone else to deal with tomorrow.
I grab a sleep shirt and slip it on. As soon as I do, I wish I would’ve grabbed something sexier, but I’m not feeling sexy. I know logically that’s when I should step it up, not sink into it, but I’m also feeling annoyed by the baby bump. It didn’t pop so fast with Lily, so I thought I’d stay slim longer. Maybe I’ll make Mia meet me for a walk instead. We can go to the mall. I’ll buy the bitch some shoes.
God, I’m grumpy.
I need to get some sleep. I do feel completely exhausted. Just existing while pregnant is hard enough, and today with the wedding and the weird feelings… I need to just call this day and start fresh tomorrow. Get my shit in order.
I’m allowed to have an off night. That’s all this was, for all of us.
Just an off night.
Everything is fine.
Mateo shuts off the lights and I climb into bed. I watch the moonlight on his bare chest as he comes around to his side and climbs in beside me. He’s so beautiful. He still makes my stomach do somersaults.
Once he’s lying beside me in bed, tenderness sweeps over me. Memories of all the nights we’ve spent here, of the nights spent reading to the girls, of the nights spent making this baby—we’ve had a lot of good times in this bed. I’m lucky. And I love him. I love him so much. And he loves me.