“I know,” I say, hiccupping through the tears. “But that doesn’t make what she said okay.”
“No,” he says, “it doesn’t. But Thomas and I have become pretty good acquaintances over the last year, and I know he’s a good man. Even if he is on the other side of my legal battle. It’s not his fault. I signed it.”
He hands me a tissue and I take it. “Thanks, Dad.”
“You should go,” he says. “You’ve been working hard to help me, and you deserve a break. Besides, that dress is far too beautiful not to be worn.”
I lean back, and he hugs me around the shoulder. “I’m sorry it’s not working better, Dad.”
He sighs. “If it isn’t, it’s my own fault. I dug myself into this mess, and if you can’t dig me out then I made my own bed.”
“You know I’m still going to try, right?”
“I know,” he says. “Now go get ready.”
I wipe my eyes and take a few deep breaths, calming down. “Okay.”
I grab the box and take it into my bedroom, and then I take out my phone.
Pick me up in an hour.
I’m already standing outside when Thomas pulls up. My hair is done, I’m wearing the dress he sent—with matching shoes that I didn’t even notice until I put the dress on. Thomas has impeccable taste. I love the way this dress looks and feels on me. I don’t think I could have picked a better one if I had gone shopping for it myself.
He gets out of the car in an amazing dark suit. He’s not wearing a tie, and the top button of his shirt is undone which gives him a carefree, sexy look. He never takes his eyes off me as he walks up the driveway. They’re roving up and down my body—he’s consuming me with his eyes the way he consumed me with his mouth last night. As requested, I wore plain, boring underwear under this dress. It’s probably a good thing because I can already feel myself getting wet in anticipation, and I’m almost certain that this set of panties will be ruined by the end of the night.
Thomas doesn’t say hello, just sweeps me into his arms and into a kiss. I could kiss him forever, the way my stomach goes into free-fall and I feel like I’m flying. “Hi,” I say when we break apart to breathe.
“You look amazing,” he says. “Perfect.”
“You have good taste,” I say.
He smirks. “In clothes and in women.” Taking my hand, he leads me to the car.
“Where are we going?” I ask.
Thomas smiles. “Heron’s Nest.”
“How did I know?”
“Well, you’re a very smart woman,” he says as he opens the door for me.
I slide into the car and a heaviness settles on me. Even though I’m excited, happy to be going out with Thomas, the words of both Samuel and Fiona are still weighing on me. I can feel them on my chest.
Thomas turns on some soft music and I get lost in my thoughts. Soon enough we’re at Heron’s Nest. It’s not quite as far across town as his apartment.
There are couples dressed to the nines waiting, but we don’t wait at all. As soon as the maître d’ sees us, she waves us through and we’re seated at a private table in the back with a beautiful view of the city. The sun is setting and it’s picture perfect. The waiter appears almost immediately. It’s not hard to order. Heron’s Nest is one of those restaurants with a limited menu, so all it takes is a glance to see which one of their options you want.
“Are you all right?” Thomas asks after the waiter disappears.
“Yeah, I’m okay,” I say. “Why?”
He smiles, “You haven’t said anything since we got in the car. I don’t mind silence, but you seem down.”
“Oh.” I really must be in my own head. “My sister and I…we had a fight.”
“About what?” He looks concerned.
I’m not sure how much I should say, but I already got into one fight today because of a lie. I don’t want to get into another. “You.”
Thomas’ eyebrows rise into his hairline. “Me? Why?”
I cringe. “How familiar are you with the end of Sam and Fiona’s relationship?”
“Not overly. He’s always said that he made a big mistake, and that’s what ended it.”
“It was prom night,” I say. “Where I went when we were…you know. He cheated on Fiona at the prom. I had to drive there with my learner’s permit to pick her up. I’ve never seen my sister so…broken. She was devastated. We made a pact never to have anything to do with your family again, which is why I was…less than friendly to you that first day. But that was ten years ago, and you’re not what I had thought.”
Thomas’s face goes pale. “I didn’t know that happened.”