Authors: Maria Murnane
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Text copyright ©2011 Maria Murnane
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by AmazonEncore
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140
This book is dedicated to anyone who is still trying to figure
it all out. (If you succeed, please give me a call.)
And to the munchkins who make life so much fun: Brookie,
Jordo, Ryan (Bud), Lauren, Bellesters, and Jake. I love
being your Auntie Ria.
Time was quickly running out. What was I going to say? How could I explain last night? I squeezed the steering wheel and tried to think of something that would make sense to him. And to me.
I’m really sorry, Jake. I don’t know what happened.
Jake, I’m so glad you came to see me, and I…I apologize for the way I reacted last night.
I suck, Jake.
His words snapped me out of my thoughts.
“Waverly, wasn’t that the exit?”
I looked up and saw the airport signs in my rearview mirror.
“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry, Jake. You’re okay on time, right?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Are
fine?” He put his hand on my arm, and I swooned a little bit. God, he was attractive. And smart. And so nice to me, always. Even when I got nervous and acted like a lunatic.
“Yeah, sure, I’m good, just spaced out for a minute.” I hoped he couldn’t tell how rattled I was. What was wrong with me?
I took the next exit and looped around, and before I knew it we were pulling up to the terminal.
I still had no idea what to say.
I stopped the car in front of American Airlines and popped the trunk. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come inside?” I looked at him and forced a smile. “I’m more than happy to.”
He shook his head. “Two minutes after I get in there I’ll be going through security, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
I laughed. “Nothing I do these days seems to make a whole lot of sense.” We both knew I was referring to more than just accompanying him into the airport.
He smiled and opened the passenger door without responding.
Good lord, I truly do suck.
I got out of the car. He set his bag on the sidewalk and shut the trunk.
This is your last chance, Waverly.
I swallowed. “Thanks for coming.”
“It was my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.” He leaned down to hug me, then whispered into my ear. “It was great to see you, Waverly.” His scent was intoxicating.
I held him tight, willing myself to explain—something, anything!—about my erratic behavior and the mixed messages I knew I was sending.
I took a deep breath.
Say something to let him know you care.
Nothing came out.
After a few moments of awkward silence, he let go of me and stood up straight. I gazed into his blue eyes and felt that pull I’d never felt before…even with Aaron.
I quickly looked at the ground.
He’s amazing, Waverly. Stop being so scared!
“It was nice seeing you too,” I finally whispered, keeping my eyes down, but I wasn’t sure he heard me.
He brushed a strand of hair away from my forehead. His touch was warm and soft, just like I’d dreamed it would be last night. “Well, I guess I’d better get going.”
“Okay, have a great flight home,” I said softly.
“I’ll call you, okay?”
I nodded and forced another smile. “You’d better.”
I wanted him to know what was going through my head. I wanted him to know that I already missed him, that I didn’t want our first weekend together to end like this.
My heart was aching, but my stupid brain overruled it.
I said nothing and got back in the car.
Please don’t let this be over.
Two days to go.
It was only Wednesday, but I was already having trouble sleeping. For weeks I’d been counting down the days, just like little kids do with Christmas Eve, only sweeter. But also scarier, because Santa Claus can’t break your heart.
I put on my black wool coat and headed out into the chilly November night to meet my friends a few blocks away at Dino’s Pizza. On my way from my white Victorian apartment building, nestled on tree-lined Sacramento between Fillmore and Steiner, in Pacific Heights, the quaint San Francisco neighborhood I’d lived in for years, I admired the festive holiday decorations adorning the houses and shops. I smiled and thought for the millionth time how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
Dino’s was decked out in white lights and filled with the aroma of hot, freshly made pizza dough. Andie and McKenna weren’t there yet, so I sat at a table in the back and picked up the menu to ponder my options. Despite the fact that I’d eaten at Dino’s approximately ten thousand times, not to mention the countless nights I’d ordered for delivery, I studied the menu every single time I went in there. I have no explanation for this behavior since I always ordered the same thing, but what can I say? I find comfort in tradition.
“Hey, lady, you waiting for us?”
As my friends approached the table, I rose to give them each a quick hug, standing on my tiptoes to reach the six-foot McKenna, then hunching over to embrace the five-foot-two Andie. As they settled into the chairs around me, Andie flagged the waiter and ordered three frosted mugs and a cold pitcher of Bud Light. It was one of our favorite Dino’s rituals, perhaps even
“It’s good to see you, Wave.” McKenna put her hand on my arm. “It seems like forever.”
“That’s what happens when you get married and move across the city. Darn that cute husband of yours, snatching you from us,” I said.
“Oh please. Nob Hill is barely a mile away from here. It’s just a fifteen-minute walk.”
Andie poured us each a beer. “That’s fifteen minutes too many. You know how I feel about exercise.”
“You two are ridiculous,” McKenna said.
“True, but it was more fun when you lived around the corner. It’s not the same without you here,” I said.
She reached over and squeezed my hand. “I know.”
?” Andie said to me. “Jake lives in Atlanta. That might as well be a million miles away from here. If you leave, I’ll be the only one left.”
I coughed. “
We just started dating. Long distance, I might add.”
“So? He’s a major hottie. If he asked you to move to Atlanta, would you go?”
I took a sip of my beer.
“I’m sorry, did you say something?”
Andie gave me a look. “Waverly…”
pretty cute,” McKenna said.
“Yeah…he is.” I could feel myself smile as I pictured his blue eyes.
“So Friday’s the big trip?” McKenna said.
“It is indeed.”
“Excellent. How long are you going to be there?”
“This will be the first time you’ve seen him in person since my wedding, right?”
I nodded and took a sip of my beer.
“Are you super excited?” Andie pushed her short blonde hair behind her ears and playfully bumped me with her knee.
I bit my lip and thought of our awkward goodbye at the airport. “Actually, I think I’m more nervous than excited.”
“Why would you be nervous? You guys have such great chemistry,” Andie said.
“I think that’s
why I’m nervous.”
“Understandable,” McKenna said.
Andie patted the table with her hands. “Please. You shouldn’t be thinking about nerves, my dear. You should be thinking about how much action you’re going to get in those seventy-two hours.”
“Andie…” McKenna said.
“Well? Aren’t I right?”
I blushed. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
“Wait a minute, back up.” Andie moved a virtual stick shift into reverse. “What do you mean,
. Haven’t you slept with him yet?”
I shook my head.
“Really? Why not?”
“Have you ever noticed that you ask a lot of personal questions?”
She rolled her eyes. “Please, this is nothing. Now spill.”
“Well, we’ve only spent the night together once, after Mackie’s wedding.” I swallowed and looked at my hands.
“And?” she said.
“And?” McKenna said.
“And…well, the thing is…” I kept staring at my hands.
“The thing is
?” they said simultaneously.
“Nothing happened,” I said softly, looking up.
They said nothing.
“We had this amazing chemistry that had been building up ever since I met him at that trade show last year, but when we were finally in a position to act on it, I…I sort of…choked.”
They both raised their eyebrows, sensing I had more to say.
“I’m not sure what happened, but once we were alone in the hotel room, I got really scared…and I froze.”
“Ouch,” Andie said.
“It was pretty bad…I barely even kissed him. He was really nice about it…but I think…I think I hurt his feelings.”
McKenna squeezed my shoulder. “Oh sweetie, I’m sure he understands.”
“I hope so.”
“Why do you think you got so scared?” Andie asked.
“Honestly,” my voice cracked a little bit as it turned into a whisper, “I think it was because I really…like him.”
McKenna smiled. “But that’s a good thing, Wave. It’s been so long since you’ve really liked
“I know it has, but I’m having a hard time with it. I mean, even on the phone, I get flustered…and sometimes I think I end up coming across a bit…standoffish.”
Andie sipped her beer. “That’s totally understandable, given what you’ve been through.”
“Having real feelings for someone again is much harder than I expected. I didn’t think it would be so hard,” I said.
“Have you told Jake about Aaron?” McKenna asked.
I scratched my neck. “He knows the basics. But I didn’t go into the details.”
“Then I’m sure he understands. I mean, he has a history too, right? We all do.”
“I think he gets it. I mean, I hope he does…but…” My voice trailed off.
“But what?” Andie said.
“But what he doesn’t know…is how afraid I am to let myself really fall for him. That if I do, he’ll leave me like Aaron did.”
McKenna shook her head. “You can’t think that way.”
I tried to smile and could feel a few tears welling up in my eyes. “I know I’m being ridiculous—Jake is
Aaron. But I’m finding it really hard to open up to him because I keep imagining the day when he tells me he doesn’t want me anymore, then goes and marries someone else.”
“McKenna’s right. You can’t think like that,” Andie said.
“I just don’t want to be…vulnerable again,” I said softly. “Being vulnerable makes me feel…
McKenna shook her head again. “Waverly, caring about someone does
mean you’re weak. That’s ridiculous.”
I looked at her. “But if I let myself care about him, he can hurt me. And I don’t think I can take being hurt again.”
“So you’re just going to go through life not caring about
?” she said. “
your master plan?”
“I care about you two,” I said.
McKenna sighed. “Okay, I know this may sound harsh, but that may be the dumbest thing you’ve ever said. Do you realize how dumb you sound right now?”
Andie laughed and looked at her. “Wow, that
sort of harsh. That totally sounded like something I would say, not you.”
McKenna laughed too and narrowed her eyes at me. “Do you see what you’ve done to me? Do you see?”
“Just for the record, my exact words probably would have been, ‘Suck it up and open the kimono,’” Andie said. “Just for the record.”
“So noted,” McKenna said.
I frowned at them. “Okay, fine, I’m being ridiculous. I admit it. It’s just that I finally got to a place where I was happy being single, and BOOM, now my life is all complicated again.” I spread my fingers in front of me.
Andie refilled our beers. “Look at it this way. If your life
complicated, it would be pretty boring. And that would make
“Thanks for the pep talk. I think.”
She turned to McKenna. “Hey, speaking of hooking up at your wedding, did I ever tell you I made out with one of Hunter’s groomsmen?”
McKenna smiled. “Excellent. Which one?”
Andie shrugged. “God knows. It was an open bar. And get this—toward the end of the night, when it was clear I was going to end up with him, it dawned on me that I was wearing Spanx under my bridesmaid dress. Spanx, and only Spanx.”
“Nothing else?” I said.
“Yikes. So what did you do?”
“I went to the ladies’ room, took them off, and hid them in my pashmina.”
“No way.” McKenna laughed and covered her mouth with her hand.
“Way. I figured it was better to let him to think I’d gone commando than to let him see me in an enormous pair of flesh-colored spandex underwear. So from now on, if there is even a
chance of hooking up, I will be wearing a thong underneath my Spanx.”
“Thanks for that visual,” I said.
“You’re very welcome. So back to you and this weekend. Now
would sleep with a babe like Jake in a heartbeat, but you’ve got to do what’s right for you.”
“Thanks. I’ll try to remember that.”
“I’m sure you’ll have a great time,” McKenna said. “Just make it crystal clear that you’re attracted to him. Guys need reassurance in that area, even more than we do.”
Andie nodded. “This is true. Even hotties like Jake.”
I crossed my arms. “At this point, I’m just hoping to get through the weekend without any embarrassing Waverly moments. Now that I’m thirty, I’m determined to reduce the number of those in my life.”
“Good luck with that,” Andie said. “Watch you trip on the sidewalk the
we walk out of this place.”