you were still f**king there.”

There’s never going to be a good time to say it. Lying or not telling him isn’t a possibility.

“Billy and I kissed.”

his hands grip my hips tighter. The words hang in the air, like a heavy stench.

When he doesn’t respond, I insist, “It didn’t mean anything.”

Drew smirks bitterly. “Sure, it didn’t.”

“I was hurt. And confused. It was only a few seconds. And it wasn’t about desire or attraction. It was just . . . comfort.”

Drew moves me to the side and stands up. Then he starts to pace sharply. Every muscle in his body is drawn tight and contracted. “I told you this would happen. All this time, I f**king told you. That f**kface has just been waiting for the opportunity to sneak his way into your pants again.”

“It’s not like that, Drew. It was innocent.”

The image of Drew’s salacious kiss with the stripper slams to the forefront of my thoughts. And my anger is right behind it. “It wasn’t anything like what you did. What I had to watch you do.”

“And that’s supposed to make me feel better?”

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“I’m not trying to make you feel better! I’m trying to explain what happened. So we can put it behind us and move on. That’s what you want, isn’t it ? Isn’t it?”

The desperation in my voice must have gotten through to him.

Because he stops pacing and looks at me for several moments.

his blue eyes show warring emotions of indignation and begrudging understanding. With the desire to give in to a fury that will serve no purpose—a fury that Drew must know he has no right to feel.

he blows out a breath and sits back on the bed. “Yes, that’s what I want.”

I smile sadly. “Me too.”

he doesn’t look at me, but stares straight at my bedroom door.

“It was just a kiss?”

“Yes.”

“No second base? No sliding into third?”

I roll my eyes. “No.”

Tensely, he nods. “Okay . . . okay. That evens things out, I guess.” he’s quiet for a moment. Then he says firmly, “I don’t want you talking to him again. Ever.”

“Drew—”

“I mean it, Kate. I don’t want him calling the apartment or emailing you. I don’t want you meeting him for a goddamn lunch date or girls’ night out.” his eyes burn into mine as he pleads, “I want Billy Warren out of our life. Permanently.”

I close my eyes. Because I knew this was coming. And don’t think I don’t understand how Drew feels. Maybe you even agree with him.

But choosing between Billy and Drew isn’t an option. Maybe it’s selfish, but I need them both. Drew is my lover, the love of my life, the father of my child. But Billy is my best friend—right up there with Dee Dee.

“he’s my friend.” My expression is stoic, telling him without words that I won’t give in. Not about this, not this time.

his jaw clenches. “how can you ask me to do this? how can you f**king expect me to see him and watch you talk to him and not obliterate him?”

I take Drew’s hands in mine, holding them tight. “If you and I decided to not be together anymore, I still wouldn’t be with Billy again. Ever. And he wouldn’t want to be with me.

“And when I first came here, I believed you didn’t want this baby. And I didn’t think I could have it alone. Billy made me see that I could. And more importantly, he helped me realize that I wanted to.”

Drew turns away.

I cup his face in my hands and bring him back to me. “If Billy hadn’t been here for me, there’s an excellent chance I would’ve had an abortion before you came. Think about that. Think about what we would’ve lost, Drew. And that I never would have been able to forgive myself—or you. I owe him for that. We owe him for that.”

he closes his eyes tightly. I don’t really expect him to agree with me. It’s a hard pill for any man to swallow, especially a man like Drew. But he listened. And I can only hope that he’ll think about what I said and realize that my life—our life—is better with a friend like Billy in it.

The fact that he’s not actively disagreeing with me is enough for now.

he rubs his eyes wearily with the palms of his hands. When they drop, he asks me a question. And there’s despondent curiosity in every syllable. “Why didn’t you just tell me, Kate? When you first thought you could be pregnant. Why didn’t you say anything?”

It’s something you’ve been wondering about too, isn’t it? None of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t kept my suspicions to myself.

If Woody would’ve gone right to the police . . .

“I was . . . stunned. Scared. I didn’t even know how I felt about the possibility of being pregnant and . . . I wasn’t sure how you would feel about it. I needed time to process it. To accept it.

To—eventually—be excited about it. And I was. After my appointment with Bobbie, I was happy. I was coming home to tell you . . .

but . . . it was too late.”

Drew tells me, “I tried so goddamn hard not to jump to conclusions. Again. When I saw a guy’s name in your calendar and then you lied about where you were going . . . I was really pissed.

But then I cooled off and I thought, maybe it was good thing.

Maybe you were going to buy me something, or plan a surprise.”

“And instead of asking me, or waiting to see what the surprise was, you followed me?”

“I couldn’t just sit there. I had to do something. And then I saw you, in the parking lot, looking so happy to see that son of a bitch.

I never thought you’d cheat on me. I didn’t want to believe it, but it was right there in front of me.”

“My grandmother used to say, ‘Don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.’ ”

Drew snorts. “She was f**king genius.”

I’m willing to accept the part I played in the situation, but I don’t have a martyr complex. So I ask, “If you thought I was cheating on you, why couldn’t you react like a normal guy? Punch a wall or get drunk. Why do you have to come up with these diabolical schemes, like some super-villain from Batman?”

he shakes his head and touches my hair. “When I thought I saw what I saw . . . it was a nightmare. It was hell. Nothing God or Satan could ever dream up would come close to feeling as awful as that.”