his eyes are bloodshot, his face is pale, there’s a few days of stubble on his chin—and despite all that, he’s still the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.
Looking anywhere else just isn’t possible.
Drew is staring too. his gaze is unwavering—drinking me in—burning me up.
We stand like that for a minute. And then he walks toward me. his steps are purposeful and focused, like he’s marching into a business meeting with his entire career on the line.
he stops just a few feet away.
But it feels like much farther.
And everything I’d planned on saying to him in New York flies right out of my head. So instead, I start off easy. “how did you know I was here?”
“I went to the diner first, saw your mom in the kitchen. She said she didn’t know where you were. And she was looking at me like she wanted to chop my dick off and put it on the Specials Menu. So I went out front—ran into Warren. he told me you’d probably be here.”
Of course Billy would know where I was. Just like he knew I would want him to send Drew to me.
“Did he do that to your face?” I’m talking about the fist-sized welt on his left cheek. It looks fresh—just starting to bruise.
he touches it gingerly. “No. Delores was with him.”
No surprise there. Although I don’t think her heart was really in it. If Dee Dee seriously wanted to do Drew damage? She wouldn’t have wasted her time with his face—it would have been straight to the crotch.
“What do you want, Drew?”
he lets out a short bark of laughter, but there’s no humor behind it. “There’s a loaded question.” Then he looks off into the horizon. “I didn’t think you’d leave New York.”
I lift a brow, questioning, “After your little show? What did you think I would do?”
“I thought you’d curse me out, maybe smack me. I thought you’d choose me . . . even if it was just to keep someone else from having me.”
Jealousy. Drew’s weapon of choice. he used it when he thought I wanted to win Billy back, remember?
“Well, you were wrong.”
he nods grimly. “So it seems.” his eyes meet mine for a long moment. And his brow wrinkles just a little. “Were you . . .
happy . . . with me, Kate? Because I was really happy. And I thought you were too.”
I can’t help the small smile that comes to my lips. Because I remember. “Yes, I was happy.”
“Then tell me why? You owe me that much.”
My words come out slow, hushed sadness weighing down every syllable. “I didn’t plan it, Drew. You have to know that I didn’t mean for it to happen. But it did. And people change. The things we want . . .
change. And right now, you and I want two very different things.”
he takes a step toward me. “Maybe not.”
I’m trying hard not to read into the fact that he’s here. I don’t want to hope. Because hope really does float, like a piece of wood on a wave. But if it turns out to be unfounded?
It smashes against the rocks—breaking you into a thousand pieces.
“What does that mean?”
his words are careful. Planned. “I’m here to renegotiate the terms of our relationship.”
“I’ve given it a lot of thought. You went right from Warren to me, jumped in with both feet. You’ve never just . . . screwed around. Played the field. So . . . if you want to hook up with other people”—his jaw tightens, like the words are trying to stay in, and he has to force them out—“I’m okay with that.”
My face pinches with confusion. “You came all this way, to tell me you want us to . . . see other people?”
he swallows hard. “Yeah. You know—as long as I still get to be in the rotation.”
Sex has always been a top priority for Drew. That’s what this is about, right? he doesn’t want the baby—but he doesn’t want to stop sleeping with me either? having his cake and all that. No strings attached.
It’s like an episode of Jerry Springer.
“how would that work exactly, Drew? A quick f**k on our lunch break? A midnight booty call? No talking allowed—no questions asked?”
he looks ill. “If that’s what you want.”
And I’m so . . . disappointed. Disgusted.
“Go home, Drew. You’re wasting your time. I have no desire to play the field at this particular point in my life.”
That takes him by surprise. “But . . . why not? I thought . . .”
he trails off. And then his eyes harden. “Is this about him? Are you seriously f**king telling me he means that much to you?”
I don’t appreciate his tone. It’s derogatory, mocking. Did I say I was a butterfly before? Nope. I’m a f**king lioness.
“he means everything to me.” I point my finger. “And I won’t let you make me feel bad about it.” he flinches, like I’ve Tasered him with a stun gun. Five thousand volts straight to the chest. But then he recovers. And he folds his arms obstinately. Completely unapologetic. “I don’t care. It doesn’t frigging matter.”
If you fill a tire with too much air, push it past its limit, do you know happens?
“how can you say that! What the f**k is wrong with you?”
he comes right back at me. “Are you serious? What the hell is wrong with you? Are you on drugs? Do you have some split-fucking-personality disorder that I haven’t picked up on?
Two years, Kate! For two goddamn years I’ve given you everything . . . and you . . . you’re just so f**king eager to throw it away!”
“Don’t you dare say that! The last two years have meant everything to me!”
“Then act like it! Fucking Christ Almighty!”
“how am I supposed to act, Drew? What do you want from me?”
he yells, “I want any part of you that you’re willing to give me!”
We both fall quiet.
Staring each other down.
And his voice drops low. Defeated. “I’ll take anything, Kate.
Just . . . don’t tell me it’s over. I won’t accept that.”
I fold my arms across my chest, and sarcasm crackles in the air like static. “You didn’t seem to have a problem accepting it when your tongue was down that stripper’s throat.”
“hypocrisy really isn’t a good look for you, Kate. You gutted me. I think you deserved a taste of your own f**ked-up medicine.”