My gut wrenches when I think about who I arrived home with and what I was about to do. “Me too,” I agree. I’m not ashamed. Not by a long shot. But I wonder what it might be like to have a family of my own and one man to come home to. I shake the thought aside. I lay my hand over his. “That guy…” I squeeze my eyes shut tightly and hold my breath, trying to settle my insides. “I just met him. There hasn’t been anyone else for me since…that night.” I look up at him. “Nobody.”
He smiles. “Okay.” He kisses my cheek, lingering ever so briefly.
I want him to tell me that there was no one else for him too, but I don’t feel like I have a right to ask.
“Guess what?” he whispers.
“What?” I whisper back.
“There hasn’t been anyone else for me either.” He kisses the tip of my nose.
My belly flips. “Not even when you went back to see Julia?”
He shakes his head. “Our relationship was over before I ever came here the first time.” He smiles a quirky grin at me. “And I had this tiny little brunette on my mind the whole time I was gone.”
My heart warms.
“So, when are we going on our date?” he asks. He brushes my hair to the side so that it doesn’t tickle his face. His warm breath brushes my neck and goose bumps erupt on my arms. My nipples go hard and I’m suddenly really glad he’s behind me so he can’t see it.
“Whenever I get more flowers,” I say with a laugh I don’t feel. There’s no humor in it at all. None.
He stiffens behind me. “Okay,” he says.
The door to the room we’re in suddenly opens and Wren and Star walk into it. They stop in the doorway and freeze when they see him standing behind me with his chin on my shoulder. I bump him so he’ll step back. He does, and I feel the loss of him right away.
“Everything okay in here?” Star asks. Her eyes skitter from him to me and back.
“Benji’s better,” I chirp. I stare into the crib. “It was just an infection.”
Star smiles. “Oh, thank goodness.” She walks over to the bassinette and looks into it. Suddenly, she covers her mouth. “I think I’m about to throw up,” she says, and she races from the room.
“I’ll go and make sure she’s all right,” Tag says, and follows her out.
Wren stares at me for a beat too long, her eyes full of censure. “What the fuck are you doing, Finny?”
I point into the crib. “He was sick,” I say. “I was just trying to help.”
“That’s not what I mean and you know it.” She jerks a thumb toward the doorway. “You were all but snuggling with my brother just now.”
“I was not,” I protest. But I kind of was. And I liked it. I don’t like that I liked it, though. I blow out a heavy sound of protest through my lips.
She narrows her eyes at me. “I don’t think he’s emotionally available, Finny,” she says quietly.
“Good, because I don’t have emotions.”
She snorts. “Tell that to someone who doesn’t know you, bitch.” She stares at me. “I always wondered what kind of man it would take to get to you.”
I scoff. “He hasn’t gotten to me, hooch.”
“Oh, he has totally gotten to you.”
I can’t tell if she’s joking or not. “What makes you say that?”
“You let him hold you, Finny. You never let anyone hold you.” Her voice gets soft. “Why did you let him hold you if you don’t like him?”
“He didn’t exactly ask!” I blurt out. I point to the kid. “We were just looking at Benji!”
Her voice goes softer. “He wasn’t looking at Benji, Fin. He was looking at you.”
I snort. “He was not.”
“You can lie to yourself. But you can’t lie to me.”
I say nothing, because there’s nothing to say.
“Thank you for taking care of him tonight,” she says. “I don’t think he has had anyone to take care of him in a long time.”
“I didn’t do anything.”
The door opens, and Tag and Star come back into the room. Wren stops her yammering, thank God. “You okay?” I ask Star.
She nods. “Just had to toss my cookies.” She lays a hand on her belly. “Being pregnant is sickening.” She looks at Tag. “Was Julia sick a lot?”
He shrugs. “I don’t know,” he says quietly. “I wasn’t there.”
“Well,” I say, “since everything here is under control, I’m going home.”
Tag’s brow furrows. “Is that guy waiting for you?”
“What guy?” Wren asks. She looks from him to me and back.
“Nobody waits for me,” I quip and force out a laugh. “See you guys later.” I go out the door, and stop to take a breath.
The door opens behind me and Tag runs smack into me. “Sorry,” he says. “I was trying to catch you.” He holds me steady by my elbows.
“Did you need something?”
“I just wanted to tell you…”
I stuff one hand into the pocket of my hoodie. “What?”
“I would totally wait for you,” he says quietly.
I pick at the peeling paint on the wall with my fingernail. “You’re already waiting for your baby mama,” I say, trying to sound flippant.