Dale and Trey were talking about the kids when they returned to the table. Max discreetly moved his chair closer to Aria. Putting his hand on her knee, he leaned in close, listening to Trey talking about his kid’s development. He wasn’t paying attention at all. What he wanted was for every other guy in the room to know she was taken.
“Aria, you’re getting checked out,” Molly said.
Max tensed up, looking over his shoulder, and sure enough, a guy with way too much chest showing was staring at her.
No. Not happening.
“Let’s dance, Aria.”
He didn’t give her any chance to object. Taking hold of her hand, he lifted her to her feet, and walked her to the small dance floor where other couples were dancing.
Putting a hand on her hip, he drew her close, and he heard her sigh.
“I think you’re overreacting right now. They were just pointing someone out. It doesn’t mean I’m going to run off with the guy.”
“I don’t like anyone else looking at you.”
“Why? It’s not a bad thing, you know.” She smiled up at him.
The rest of the bar faded away for him as he stared down at her. “I don’t like it.”
“Women look at you all the time, and I’m not overreacting. I think you need to trust me a little. I’m not going to cheat on you. Is it cheating?”
“It would be cheating.”
“But we’re not in a relationship.”
“We have an agreement. You’d be breaking it. Like cheating.”
“For a guy who has never been in a relationship before, you seem to have a high expectation for it.”
“Do you want to make this a relationship?” he asked.
“No. I’m not ready for something like that.”
“My tests came back clean. I’ve got them in the car.”
“Yes. Not that I doubted it. Your man here is one hundred percent clean. Have you been taking your pill?”
bsp; “Yes, I have.”
“What are your plans tomorrow?” he asked.
“You know I’ve got to work at the bakery.”
“I’ll walk you there, but tonight, you’re coming to my place. I’ve got a change of clothes for you.”
“How do you have a change of clothes for me?” she asked.
“Easy, I stole them out of your apartment.”
“Max, this isn’t fair. I don’t own all that much in the first place.”
“I know, which is why it was easy to pick the clothes.” Max tugged her close so they were body to body. “Don’t dance with anyone else tonight.”
“I can only handle so much, and our friends trying to get you to go out on a date with a stranger is testing my control.”
The song came to an end.
Max wanted to dance with her all night but knew there was no chance of that. As he kissed the top of her head, Aria chuckled, and together, hand in hand, they walked back to the table. Max pretended to be the perfect gentleman by escorting her to her seat for all to see.
After making sure she was seated, he went to the bathroom. There wasn’t a queue like there was for the women. Entering the room, he went straight to the sink, gripping the edge and staring at his reflection. He had to get a fucking grip.
Of course Aria wasn’t ready for a relationship.
Who the fuck really was?
He’d never been ready, and he was older than she was. Just by a couple of years, but still. Relationships were permanent. They set roots, and were scary, and he wasn’t ready for that.
Then why wasn’t he shitting himself at the prospect of only ever having Aria to himself? Any chick that he even thought could get attached, he ran in the opposite direction.
With Aria, he wasn’t doing that. He’d slept with her, all night in the same bed. They shared food, and a whole lot of other personal things as well. He’d watched her fucking sleep.
Man, he was really starting to fucking lose it.
The door to the bathroom opened, and he saw the guy who’d been checking her out enter.
Ignoring him, Max switched on the tap, allowing the water to run cold before splashing some on his face.
His friends were perceptive, and he had to get his shit together before he headed on out there.
For himself and for Aria.
Later that night, June watched as Max and Aria left together. She saw how close they’d gotten all night. Max wasn’t so clever at trying to wriggle closer to Aria, and the way he’d been glaring at every single guy who even looked in Aria’s direction.
Max turned back one last time to give them a wave before closing the door behind him.
“Max and Aria are sleeping together,” June said.
“You don’t know that,” Dale said.
“Actually, did you see the way he was all night?” This was from Molly.
Trey laughed. “Are you trying to be a matchmaker, babe?”