“Not even a little?” My voice cracks, and I feel so damn guilty for my lack of faith that I hide my face in his chest.
“Nope.” He smiles sweetly then lowers his mouth to my ear. “What’s the worst that can happen? We discover we’re poorly suited roommates? Surely we can tough that out for a few years. Personally, I’m looking forward to waking up next to you every day.”
“Marston Rowe’s back in town.” I spit the words out before I can convince myself to hide them instead. “I saw him at Smithy’s last night. Then again at my office this morning.”
“Marston the ex? The one you ran into in Vegas?” He releases me and grabs the coffee pot to fill it with water.
I busy myself with grinding the beans. “Yeah.”
“What brings him to town?”
Julian flashes me a smile then looks me over slowly. “No doubt. What did he say when he found out you were getting married?”
I press the button on the grinder, and the room fills with a loud whirring. When I release it, I breathe deeply. Funny how the smell of a stimulant can be so relaxing. “He’s not happy about it.” I’m such a coward. Just spit it out. Rip off the Band-Aid.
Julian makes a noncommittal hum, but I already know he doesn’t like Marston. It’s just jealousy, but that’s ridiculous when I’m marrying him.
I take the now-full pot of water from him and pour it into the machine.
After I position it under the drip spout, Julian takes me by the hips and turns me to face him. “How did it feel to see him again? This was the first time since your escapades in Vegas, wasn’t it?”
“Confusing.” I wince. This is all so unfair to Julian, but if we have anything right between us, it’s honesty. I don’t want to change that now. “I panicked when I woke up in his room in Vegas, and that ring . . .” I let my gaze drop.
I keep thinking about what it was like to wake up with Marston’s ring—the thrill of it and the dire realization that we’d never work together. I can’t take back the decision I made in his Vegas hotel room when I decided to walk away, and I can’t change the reasons it was the right choice, yet I feel myself second-guessing it anyway.
Julian squeezes my hips, drawing them forward until our bodies are flush. He leans down, touching his forehead to mine. “The what-ifs in life can be brutal.”
“Get out of my head,” I say, laughing.
“Don’t let him spook you.” His dark eyes search mine. “Okay?”
I wrap my arms around his waist and nod. “I’ll try.”
“I thought I’d make dinner tonight, since Cami has dance. What do you say? Maybe your favorite lasagna, and we can share a bottle of wine.”
I force a laugh. “My trainer wouldn’t approve of this plan.”
He grunts and slides his hands around to squeeze my ass. “I don’t approve of your trainer. Can’t he see you’re already perfect?”
“Hardly.” The coffee pot beeps, and I nudge Julian away so I can pour myself a cup, knowing even as I do that I won’t enjoy it. Trainer Matt, thief of joy, has made me swear off half-and-half as well as all the fun carbs. I forced myself to toss Marston’s butterscotch latte into the trash after he left—just to prove to myself that I do still want to look my best at my wedding in two months.
“Is that a no?” Julian asks. I don’t miss the worry in his voice, and I want to reassure him that seeing Marston meant nothing but again, honesty matters.
“It’s a no to the wine and lasagna, but a yes to dinner.” I take a sip of my un-doctored, utterly disappointing black coffee, and face my fiancé. “I can make myself a salad.”
He grins. “It’s a date.”
“I’ll put it on my schedule.” Easy. Steady. Rock-solid. This could be a good life.
“I need to get back to work,” Julian says, taking my coffee from my hands and setting it on the counter. “But first . . .” When he lowers his mouth to mine, I do everything I can to turn off my brain. I don’t want to think about Marston right now. I don’t want to think about my friends’ warnings that my reluctance to plan this wedding has some greater significance. I want to lose myself in Julian’s lips and the sweep of his tongue across mine.
I try, and little by little, it works.
By the time Julian pulls away, we’re both breathless.
“Before you leave . . .” I place a hand on his forearm so he won’t go too far. “I have more I need to talk about. Marston’s return complicates things.”
Julian’s face falls, and he takes a step back. I wonder if he even realizes he’s retreating. I would too. Run. Run fast from this disaster you’re about to marry.