She looked away.
“Shit, I’m sorry.”
“For what? Stating the obvious? I’ve told you many times I know he’s not faithful.”
“Does that matter to you? Him being faithful?”
She went to say yes, but stopped. “It’s complicated.”
“I’d say you didn’t care. I’ve seen the way you’ve been with Bishop, which makes one wonder if you do care that he’s with other women.”
“It’s complicated because I don’t know what my feelings are for Bishop. I’ve told you before I love him. I guess I’ve never seen him as mine, and … I think if Bishop was mine, and I loved him and we were in a normal relationship, I wouldn’t want him to be with anyone else. I’d want him to stay with me. I know it’s not a given in this world.”
“You never know what could happen,” he said.
“I’m not going to hold my breath. It is what it is, and I accept it. There’s nothing else I can do but hope we can make each other happy.”
Their food was brought out, and she talked about his sketches. She asked if she could see some of his artwork. He denied her, but she was determined to see if he was any good. Just because he said he was, it didn’t make it so, but she wanted him to share a part of himself he’d never had with another woman, or anyone else.
His artwork was personal to him.
After their food, she looked onto the dance floor. Some of the couples had gotten up to dance.
“You ever danced?”
“Like a crazy person all around our house. You know that, right?”
“Ah, yes, always dancing around. I remember. You trashed one of my vases a few years back with your and Bishop’s dancing.”
Preacher stood, holding out his hand.
“Dance with me. It’s your birthday. A lady should have the right to dance on her day.”
She didn’t see a reason to deny him. Taking his hand, she followed him onto the dance floor. Her heart raced as she put her hand on his shoulder and his other went to her waist.
“Relax, I won’t hurt you.”
“I know. I’m not afraid.” The music was a classical piece, slow, sexy.
Preacher pulled her close, and she tilted her head back to look at him.
“This is nice,” she said.
They didn’t move fast, swaying from side to side.
“Good. I hope I’ve improved your day.”
“You really have.”
The restaurant fell away as she looked into Preacher’s eyes. She knew firsthand this man was a monster. He’d terrified her growing up, but he’d been nothing but tender and kind to her.
Their time together had been tainted by what Milly had done.
“Thank you,” she said.
“For making this a really good birthday. I was only going to light a candle and make a wish.”
“I know you only got to spend it with an old-timer like me, but I tried my best.”
“You’re not that old.” She giggled. “Stop putting yourself down. You’re fine. I really enjoyed myself. Besides, shouldn’t I be worried about how immature I am? You’re surrounded by women of experience, and I’m not. They know your life and understand it. I’m on the sidelines. I’m Bear’s daughter. You could be having a really bad time.”
“Those other women mean nothing. They are nothing to me. They’re club pussy. Every single guy has slept with them. Even my son has had his fair share of the women. They don’t matter. They’re there for pleasure, nothing more. I enjoy your company. You’re different. You’re sweet.”
“What if I don’t want to be sweet all the time?”
What the hell are you doing, Robin?
Are you flirting with him?
Stop being a crazy woman.
She quickly pulled her hands away.
“Dessert?” Preacher asked.
“Yes, I’d love some.”
She’d also like some distance between her and Preacher.
Crazy, crazy, crazy. What the heck is with you?
Sitting back in her seat, she stared out at the dance floor and figured it would be best if she and Preacher didn’t dance again. It messed with her head.
Preacher returned to the table carrying a single cupcake with a candle already lit.
“Don’t forget to make a wish,” he said.
She looked at the cupcake and then at Preacher. “Did you ever sleep with Milly?”
“Is that your wish?”
“No, I just want to know the answer.”
“To if I screwed Milly?”
“Haven’t we covered this already?
“I don’t know.”
“No, I’ve never been with Milly. I never wanted to be with Milly. Why?”
“I … I don’t know.”
She blew out the candle and made one simple wish, she wanted to be happy.
“Are you being serious right now?” Robin asked.
“I’ve got to go and do a couple of things. Dad will be by to be with you.”
“You promised me you’d be with me for this one. I’ve been looking forward to us hanging out.”
Bishop gripped the back of his neck. Guilt filled him as he made no end of excuses to her. His dad had already yelled at him and gotten him to do some of the worst jobs for a club prospect. He wanted to earn his patch, and he’d been put on toilet duty at a couple of the clubs.