“I record audiobooks.” I hold up one finger. “I’m allergic to cherries.” I put another finger up. “I was engaged at the beginning of last week and now I’m not. I’m also not looking for anything serious.” I realized I actually gave him four things. But it’s too late to change it now.
I watch as his jaw gives a small tick. Is he jealous? I like that entirely too much. I smile, taking a giant swallow of my root beer float. He’s the one that’s got a girlfriend. Okay, she might not be his girlfriend, but she’s interested in him. It makes me feel a little bad that I’m here having dinner with him. Even if it is against my will.
“Why did you end it?”
“Cheater.” My eyes burn with tears thinking about it. I try not to sniffle. It’s not because I’m upset. I’m mad because I wasted time. I was a fool for not seeing what was right in front of me. I knew that it wasn’t the right fit, but I wanted my happily ever after. A house full of kids and white picket fence. The family that I never had. I read too many romance books.
“You’re still in love with him.” I let out a humorless laugh, shaking my head no. I was never in love with Derrick. I thought it might grow with time, but it didn’t. “You’re about to cry. That means you care.”
“It’s not him that makes me want to cry. It’s my mom. The woman he cheated on me with.” Dane lets out a string of curses that have me sitting up straighter. A few people turn to look our way. I can feel the anger coming off him. Still he softens his voice. His hands reach out to lie over mine. His thumb drifts back and forth against my skin.
“I’m sorry about that, sugar.”
“She did me a favor really. I didn’t want to marry Derrick to begin with. She’d talked me into it.” I roll my eyes, not understanding why she encouraged me to be with him if she was sleeping with him. My friend, Nova, always said my mom had some weird unspoken competition with me and that’s what this was.
“She talked you into marrying a man that she was sleeping with?”
“It gave me a reason to call it all off. I got my stuff and got the heck out of town. I didn’t want to hear what either one of them had to say.” I never want to hear from either of them again. I’d left all that crap behind.
Why am I telling him all of this stuff? He tricked me. Again. I find myself wanting to tell him things, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I barely know him. What I do know is he’s extra bossy.
“You don’t need those kinds of people in your life.”
“That we agree on.” I start to slip my hand out from under his, but he grabs it, stopping me. His eyes lock with mine. My stomach flutters at the intense look he’s giving me. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me like that. He lets go of my hand. I feel the loss immediately, but I pull it back, putting it in my lap.
“You can keep on pulling away, but I’ll keep on pulling you right back in.” He leans back, taking a sip of his coffee.
“Why couldn’t you have asked me on a date like a normal person?”
“You wouldn’t have said yes.”
“Maybe not, but how do you know that for sure?”
He shrugs. “Just do.”
I look to the door when the bell over it goes off. I see Connie coming our way. Her eyes bounce between Dane and me. She’s all dressed up today. She’s got her hair down and curled. Her makeup looks flawless. I don’t remember her being this tall yesterday, but the woman is all legs. She really is beautiful.
“Hey you two.” She gives me a small smile before dropping down into the booth next to Dane.
Even though it kills me to leave him with her, I excuse myself after a few moments now that she’s blocking Dane and talking a mile a minute. Dane gives me a look but I ignore it before making my escape.
“Connie, what are you doing?”
Ren’s sister gives me a wide-eyed I don’t know what you’re talking about look. “Delivering pie like I always do.”
Because she’s Ren’s sister and I’ve known her all my life, I choose my words carefully. “You’re a beautiful woman, Connie, and you’re going to make some Smithville man very happy, but that man is not going to be me. It wasn’t going to be me before Khloe came and it isn’t going to be me now.”
“How can you say that? You’ve never given me a chance. In fact, you’ve never given the slightest hint to anyone that you were interested in dating. Why her?”