“I can’t, Riley,” I say, even if I have to reluctantly drag each word out of the depth of my lungs. “I can’t fuck you in the office and then go back to the way things were.”
She squares her shoulders, and I see a small bob making its way down her soft throat. “What do you mean?”
“I was going to ask you to marry me yesterday. I love you. But you’re obviously not ready, and I can’t have half of you.” I’m too damn old to play games.
I stare at her, and a stupid part of me is waiting for her to say something else. To protest what I just said, to disagree, to run to my arms and tell me how much she loves me. But she looks at me, mouth agape, and she steps back to the far side of the elevator.
Ironically, the elevator door opens, and I rush out, not even caring what floor this is. Right now, I’d buy a ticket to a fucking different planet if I could. Even then it wouldn’t be far enough from her.
“Girl,you need to eat something. C’mon, I ordered sushi,” Lily says, using her chopsticks and taking a piece of spicy tuna to her mouth.
I look at the tray of sushi she brought to the couch I’ve been camping on since Friday after work. It’s Saturday evening today. Rhett’s birthday party.
Even though I helped organize it, I won’t be attending. I already contacted the caterer and Cara is replacing me for any last minute questions. This may be unprofessional, but I can’t see him yet. Especially in his home.
The look he gave me when he said he loved me, when he said all those things… still haunts me, I haven’t processed what happened.
He doesn’t want to just sleep with me. He wants a future with me.
Lily takes another piece of sushi to her mouth, then looks at me. “I thought you were supposed to go to that party?”
I look at the sushi, and grab the chopsticks, but don’t do much besides fidgeting with them. “It’s happening now.”
She turns to me, lifting her eyebrow. “Well? Then why are you here?”
I set the chopsticks and the dish aside and sit straighter on the couch. “I broke his heart. I could see it on his face yesterday. He said I’m not ready.” Was he right? I consider myself ready for him. Then again, with him there isn’t nothing I wouldn’t do—if circumstances were different.
I could see a future for us, but how happy would it be, if Alex resented him and we lived in a big circle of regret later on? Warm apprehension surges through me.
Lily exhales. She’s probably done with me moping around the apartment. I told her she could enjoy her day off and not act like my emotional support companion. She is a good friend, though, and she’d never let me mope alone. “Well, isn’t that kind of what you told him?”
“I told him it wasn’t the right time, because damn girl, I don’t want to be responsible for him having this huge fallout with his son. I couldn’t live with myself.”
Lily scoots on the couch and reaches my hand, then squeezes it. “Honey, this is all too complicated. Wasn’t that why you wanted to sleep with his dad at first anyway?”
“I wanted to hurt Alex. I was an idiot. But I never wanted to hurt Rhett or fall in love with him.”
“Well, you failed. Miserably.”
I sigh and disengage my hand from hers. She’s right.
“And also, you got hurt too. Maybe he doesn’t know that. You should have told him that you didn’t want to cause this rift between them. That would have been more honest than letting him think whatever else,” she says.
“It would have been messy if I had. I didn’t want him to worry.”
She waves me off. “He’s in his forties. Let the man make that decision himself.”
Memories of his actual birthday populate in my mind. What wouldn’t I give to be intimate with him again… to kiss him. My heart races. To tell him how I feel. “I know. But now that he’s so wonderful, I’m thinking, what if I’m not? This whole thing started with cheating and lies, and what if I’m not what he deserves?”
“Again, he’s in his forties. Let him decide.”
What if… it’s too late for a decision and his mind is already made?