“I don’t know.” She shrugs. “Just seemed like something nice to say to someone you’ll never see again.”
“You sure about that?”
Her face tightens in thought. With a twist of her lips, her hand finds her hip. “Yes. I’m sure it’s a nice thing to say.”
Her pissy is still cute even though her anger comes with a side of claws. Fuck me. I can’t afford to get caught up in her again, so I say, “I was talking about the never seeing me part,” and head for the restaurant.
“I’m not worried about that,” she shouts defiantly.
Shaking my head, I know I shouldn’t do it. She’s drunk. She’s talking shit like she knows what the hell she’s talking about. Fuck it. Against my better judgment, I engage. “Out of eight million people, we’ve run into each other three times in recent months. That’s practically a statistical anomaly.” Infuriated, I fling my arms out from my sides and grit my teeth. “Yet here we are, proving those statistics wrong.”
“Technically, the statistics are higher than you think. I researched it.”
“Of course, you did.” I leave that little sarcastic bomb at her feet just to see what happens.
She scoffs, shooing away the possibility that something bigger might be at play, and states, “Years ago, I might have believed you, but fate isn’t based in science for a reason. There’s no proof it exists, so if that’s what you’re using as your baseline, you’re dead wrong.” She ducks into the cab like that tattoo means nothing and slams the door shut.
“It was good seeing you again,” I say tight-lipped with a flick of my wrist. “Good luck.” Fine, I’m being petty by letting her get to me, but what-the fuck-ever. Why do I care?
With the window still down, I hear Ruby squeal, “Again?”
The car pulls away from the curb, but I see Chloe’s eyes following me inside. Because, like her, I couldn’t leave without one last look. The door to Salvation doesn’t have a chance to close before Lola asks, “What’s going on?”
“Ran into an old friend.” The lie fits better than the truth where Lola’s concerned.
“She wasn’t that old by the look of her, and she sure is pretty.” I appreciate the lack of jealousy to her tone. It could have gone either way really.
“Yes, she is very pretty.”
Leaning on the podium, studying me, she whispers, “I heard shouting.”
“It’s just something we do.”
“Can you do it somewhere else next time? A table by the window complained.”
“Then comp them.” I walk through the dining room, thinking about Chloe as I make my way back to the kitchen. Unfortunately, she’s too pretty for me to ignore. But it’s not her looks that have me wanting to see her again. It’s that connection we share that has never gone away.
“What did he mean by ‘seeing you again’?” Ruby is not going to let this go. She’s tipsy, loud, and fixated on me. She also gets the primo seat to this investigation since she’s sitting in the middle of the back-seat bench.
I shrug, hoping she believes it’s no big deal. “He came to the ER a while back, and I treated him. That’s all.”
“As a patient?”
“No, as my ex who’s come back from the dead to haunt me,” I snap. “Of course, as my patient.”
“Why didn’t you tell us? I think seeing Josh Evans is worth a mention.”
My mom starts rubbing her temple, and then says, “I think Ruby’s right, Chloe. Seeing Josh again is a very big deal, considering the past, but to see him twice . . . well, I worry about you. It took you years to get over him. You went to therapy—”
“I also went to therapy because my dad betrayed me.”
She concedes. “That’s understandable, but I want to focus on Josh. He was your first love. Your first everything.” The placating tone does me no favors. It actually does the opposite and riles me up. I’m tempted to tell them this is the third time since we’re all up in this situation—back in the day, we would have calculated that it was our third date . . . How can I remember that small detail and still not remember the accident?
Now I’m rubbing my temple as the beginning of a dull throb joins this party.
I keep the details of Josh and me a secret. They’d blow this up even more, so I need to calm down and keep my wits to avoid an argument that doesn’t need to happen. “I know. You don’t have to remind me.” Scanning the street, I’m tempted to escape the back of this cab, to just open the door and run. Run as far as I can. My feet ache being in these shoes, though, so I say, “I’m fine.”
Ruby sits back. My mom sighs, and then says, “You’re doing so well—great job, steady income. I worry that seeing him again might set you back or throw you off the track you’re on.”