I wave my arms. “Graduate, shmazuate”
He laughs. “You’re drunk.” He motions the bartender for some water.
Gasping, I respond, “I am not. What comes next?” and glance around for the sommelier.
“Bed I hope.” Reed motions for our bartender. “Can we get the check?”
“Absolutely not, Reed! You must have dessert. Is Dahlia here tonight?” Brance asks the bartender. His handsome face is flushed with wine. Actually, his lips are purple. I almost tell him he should switch to white.
“She is. Shall I tell her you guys are here?” Brance nods and fills up his glass with more red wine.
“So, Logan?” I lean over, trying to make him like me. “Brance says you grew up here?” My voice is a little loud. After all, I have to talk over Brance’s head and all the other people in here.
He shrugs but keeps his voice low. “My parents live in Tustin, California. They are both teachers. I’m an only child.”
“That is so noble. I thought about being a teacher.” Reed and Brance look at me like I’m insane.
“What? I did for a moment.”
Reed shakes his head, pulling me close so he can kiss me.
“Brance mentioned you were studying Greek classics and French?”
“Um, yes, I’m still figuring out what I want to do.”
“Tess is majoring in Reed Saddington.” Brance laughs at himself.
Logan frowns and hands him my water. “Here, drink this. How are you going to function in the morning?”
“Logan, lighten up. We are celebrating,” Brance snips.
“We need the check.” Reed stands up, his arm still locked around my belly. I sway with his every movement.
“Reed, please sit. I have something important to tell you.”
My eyes get big. “Oh my God.”
“Not that important, Tess.” Brance motions for the bartender to refill his wine.
“What is it, man? Tess is fading fast. Drink your water, Kitten.” Reed brings the crystal water glass to my mouth.
“So, Logan has been going to Malawi in Africa every year. He helps teach English, builds houses and schools.”
Brance takes a breath and smiles scooting closer to Logan. “Now, I know you two are going to think I’m crazy, but being with this incredible man has made me want to be a better person.”
“Meaning?” Reed sips his Hendrick’s and tonic the bartender brought over a few minutes ago.
“That I have money. I have decided to join Logan. We’re going to build houses, schools. They need electricity, clean water, vaccinations. You name it, we are going to do it.”
Both Reed and I must look shocked because Logan puts his hand on Brance’s as if for support.
“I’m sorry, did you say you are going to one of the poorest areas in the world to help?” Reed looks at Brance like he has horns growing out of his head.
He lifts his glass to drink, setting it down with a dramatic flair. “I know it’s hard to believe, but I’m actually excited.” He and Logan share a tender glance. I almost don’t recognize him.
“But you hate dirt. And being dirty and—”
Reed cuts me off. “He needs your support, not pointing out his dislikes,” he whispers in my ear.
“That is amazing, man. Tess and I want to donate. Let me know how much and it’s yours.” Reed sounds genuinely happy even if I’m struggling.
Logan has tears in his eyes. “You have no idea how many lives you will be saving.”
I stare, astounded and uncomfortable. Logan is a saint! I shift in between Reed’s legs suddenly feeling inferior.
“You okay, Pretty Girl?” I look into my best friend’s eyes and see complete understanding.
I clear my throat and take a sip of water. “I’m surprised, that’s all, and… I feel slightly guilty.”
“Yes.” Logan sighs dramatically. “This dinner.” He indicates with his finger. “This alone could probably feed ten families for a month.”
Now I definitely feel guilty. Talk about a buzzkill.
Brance rubs his back. “Easy, Tiger, they only met you a couple hours ago.”
An uncomfortable silence falls over the four of us even with the loud music and people laughing on all sides of us.
“Logan is very passionate about saving the world.” Brance gives us a tight smile.
Reed’s grip on my stomach tightens. “So, we’re done. Ready for the check?”
Brance stops the bartender. “Don’t be ridiculous. We haven’t even had the Butterscotch Budino.
“Brance, I’m stuffed and slightly drunk. We should be going.” My eyes plead with him.
“No… I’m not leaving until we have dessert!”
Great, he’s drunker than I am and starting to get mean. Glancing up, I notice Reed is silently assessing the situation.
Logan sniffs. “Look, I don’t know you people. I’m sorry if the truth hurts. I grew up with pretty much nothing. But people are starving all over the world, including in our own country.” He keeps preaching.
Reed’s jaw is clenched. “Logan, I have already said we want to donate. Do not think because we are wealthy that we are ignorant. Or that we don’t care. My mother donates to so many charities, I think even you would be speechless.”