“I can’t believe you have to work on Friday,” Calla said. Since Shepherd was out for break, she was back home, and had joined our Sunday breakfast.
Roxy frowned. “We have to work.”
“I’m working,” Katie added, twirling her fork. “Working on the pole, oh yeah.”
“That’s because we work at a bar and you at a strip club,” Calla explained. “I always thought normal jobs closed on Friday.”
I finished chewing my mouthful of pancake. “He has most of the office out for the day, but they have this big project they’re working on.” The project was opening the academy in Martinsburg by September of next year, and they were meeting the county boards again the first week of December. “So I’m just in there to help get everything typed up.”
Roxy offered me a slice of bacon. “Does that mean you get to spend Thanksgiving with Nickie Nick?”
I raised a shoulder. “I don’t know. I hope so.”
Calla has been told via Roxy or Katie or maybe even Jax that I was a pregnant, so I wasn’t surprised that she forked over her sausage link to me. I don’t know if they really thought I needed to eat all this extra food, but I wasn’t complaining.
“Why wouldn’t you have Thanksgiving with him?” Calla asked, and when I didn’t respond right away, she added, “Isn’t it just him and his grandfather?”
I stabbed the sausage. “You know about his grandfather?”
She glanced at Roxy, who also nodded. “Yeah. I know he’s sick. I mean, obviously, Nick doesn’t give us a lot of details about anything,” Roxy said. “But I know it’s just those two.”
Sitting back, I wished I hadn’t decided to wear jeans today. The button was now killing me. “I would like to have Thanksgiving with him, but I don’t think he wants me around his grandfather. And I don’t mean that in a bad way,” I said as Calla’s eyes narrowed. “I think he just doesn’t want me to have to worry with what’s going on.”
“You can handle whatever,” Katie said, waving her hand dismissively. “You will handle whatever.”
An odd chill snaked down my spine. You’re going to break his heart.
“Look, I might be nuttier than a Payday bar, but here’s my advice. You want to spend Thanksgiving with him, then you spend it with him,” she continued, and well, that was actually good advice. “It’s as simple as that.”
I almost didn’t say anything, but these girls . . . they were my girls now. “I just . . . I don’t know how he feels.”
Roxy’s brows shut up over the rim of her glasses. “What in the hell does that mean? I think it’s pretty obvious how he feels. Ever since I’ve known him, he’s never been with a girl for longer than one night.”
“Yeah, but . . . but I’m pregnant.”
Katie arched a brow. “No shit, Sherlock.”
I shot her a look. “The thing is, I don’t know if he would be with me if I hadn’t gotten pregnant, and if he really cares about me and not just the baby.” Saying that fear out loud was like rolling around on ice. “I’m so incredibly happy and lucky that he’s on board with this baby.” I patted my stomach, which was more food baby than real baby. “And that he’s excited and everything, but if he doesn’t really care about me deeper than being there for me, this . . . this isn’t going to last.”
“What makes you think that he doesn’t?” Calla asked.
I looked at each of them. “He hasn’t said anything that would make me think that he does, and all the plans we make center around the baby, you know? I know that sounds like a crazy thing to complain about, but I want . . .”
“You want to know that he actually wants to be with you, with or without the baby,” Roxy finished for me. “That’s understandable. I totally get it. If I became pregnant before Reece and I got serious, I would wonder the same thing. I think it’s a very normal concern, but how do you feel about him?”
My heart tripped over itself in its eagerness to gush nonstop about all my feelings. “I . . . I care about him a lot.”
“She loves him,” Katie quipped. “She totally loves him.”
I stared at her.
“Is that true?” Calla asked.
Taking a deep breath, I nodded.
“Then talk to him,” Roxy advised quietly. “Just talk to him.”
I did talk to Nick later that night, when we went out to dinner, about Thanksgiving with his grandfather. At first he wasn’t too keen on the idea, and it was a struggle to keep my disappointment and paranoia at bay.
“I don’t know,” he said, the low light of the restaurant casting shadows along the hollows of his cheeks. “There’s no guarantee that he’s going to be doing okay that day.”
“I know that.”
His lashes lowered, shielding his eyes. “I don’t want you to go to a lot of trouble and then have it get ruined.”
I reached across the table, poking his hand. “We don’t have to go to a lot of trouble. We don’t even have to do a turkey or any of the stuff. We could do the anti-Thanksgiving dinner. Keep it simple and sweet just in case the day doesn’t go as planned.”
“Yeah.” I grinned. “We could make spaghetti or hamburgers.” My gaze flipped to the menu as my stomach grumbled. “Mmm. Hamburgers. My vote is for hamburgers.”
I nodded eagerly. “I could always go for fries or tater tots.”
Nick laughed. “Tater tots? Are you ten?”
“Shut up.” I picked up the napkin and tossed it at him. “You are never too old for tater tots, especially the crispy kind, and if you think you are, then you’re just a lame doofus.”
“Wow.” Sitting back against his seat, he grinned at me. “Tater tots? Doofus? I feel like we’ve regressed.”
“Okay. How about I like to eat cylinder-shaped potatoes, so go fuck yourself?” I signed and sealed that with a bright smile.
Nick’s laughter was warmth. “That’s so much better.”
“You’re welcome.” I paused. “So what do you think? I come over to your house, meet your grandfather if he’s up for it, and we make hamburgers and fries? Maybe even cylinder-shaped potatoes, too.”
His grin was lopsided. “That’s hard to refuse.”
“There better not be a ‘but’ attached to that statement, because I might get offended if there is.”
Nick’s gaze flew to mine. “Why would you get offended?”
“Um, maybe because I haven’t met your grandfather or been to your house yet,” I pointed out. “I don’t even know where you live. Just a general idea.”
He shook his head. “It’s nothing . . . personal. I want you to understand that. I would love for you to meet my grandfather, but there are days when it’s not . . . easy to be around him. Some days he sleeps most of the time. Other days, not so much, and it’s not a walk in the park. It’s a lot to handle and—”
“I’m not your ex-girlfriend.”