Tangled Page 69

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“Yeah—I get that a lot.”

Through the entire meal, our conversation flows easily. Comfortably. I keep the topics safe. We talk about her new client, Matthew and Delores’s burgeoning relationship, and the never-ending political antics going on in DC.

For dessert, I serve strawberries and whipped cream. Strawberries are Kate’s favorite. I knew that from our Lost Weekend. Originally, I was going for strawberry shortcake. But you don’t want to know how the pudding turned out. I don’t think even Matthew would’ve eaten it. When Martha said stir constantly, she wasn’t screwing around.

While we enjoy our last course, I mention Mackenzie’s impending Christmas present.

Kate laughs. Unbelieving. “You’re not really going to buy her a pony, are you?”

“Of course I am. She’s a little girl. Every girl should have a pony.”

She sips her wine. We’re halfway through our second bottle.

“And I’m going to get one of those carts like the horses in Central Park. That way they can train it to take her to school.”

“This is New York City, Drew. Where are they going to keep it?”

“They have a five-bedroom condo. Two of the rooms are filled with Alexandra’s useless shit. I figure they can clean one out and make it the pony’s room.”

She looks at me straight-faced. “The pony’s room?”

“Yeah. Why not?”

“How are they going to get it to their floor?”

“Freight elevator. All the older buildings have one.”

She sits back in her chair. “Well, you’ve thought of everything haven’t you?”

I take a drink. “I always do.”

“Have you thought about what method your sister will use to kill you?”

“I’m sure she’ll surprise me. Will you defend me when she tries?”

She fingers her wine glass and glances up at me through those insanely long lashes. “No way, Pony Boy. She’s bigger than me. You’re on your own.”

I put my hand over my heart. “I’m crushed.”

She’s not buying it. “You’ll get over it.”

Our laughter fades into relaxed smiles. And I’m content to just watch her for a moment. She’s staring at me too.

Then she clears her throat and looks away. “This is a good CD.”

She’s talking about the music that’s been playing in the background for the last few hours.

“I can’t take all the credit. The guys helped me burn it.”

On cue, “I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls pours from the speakers.

“Jack picked that one.”

Kate laughs, and I stand up and press the button on the CD player, changing the song.

“And since I most likely only have a few weeks to live—” I hold my hand out to Kate “—may I have this dance?”

A new song fills the room: “Then” by Brad Paisley. I’m not really into country music, but Brad’s pretty cool. He’s a guy’s guy, even for a singer.

She takes my hand and stands up. Her arms go around my neck. And my hands rest at her waist—trying not to squeeze. Gently, we start to sway.

I swallow hard as her round, dark eyes look up at me without frustration or anger or hurt. They’re all warmth, like liquid chocolate. And my f**king knees go weak. I trail my hand up her spine to the back of her head. She turns her cheek and lays her head on my chest. And I pull her against me even closer—tighter.

I’d like to tell you what it feels like. To hold her again. To have my arms wrapped around her, at last, and her body pressed against mine.

I’d like to, but I can’t.

Because there aren’t words—in English or any other language—that could even come close to describing it.

I inhale the sweet flowery scent of her hair. If the poison in the gas chamber smelled like Kate?

Every Death Row inmate would die with a smile on his face.

She doesn’t lift her head as she whispers, “Drew?”

“Mmmm?”

“I want you to know…I forgive you…for what you said that day in your office. I believe you, that you didn’t mean it.”

“Thank you.”

“And, in hindsight, I realize that I didn’t help the situation. I could’ve said something, given you…reassurance about how I felt…before I went to talk to Billy. I’m sorry that I didn’t.”

“I appreciate that.”

And then her voice changes—becomes lower.

Mournful.

“But it doesn’t change anything.”

My thumb sweeps back and forth across the bare skin of her neck. “Of course it does. It changes everything.”

She raises her head. “I can’t do this with you, Drew.”

“Yes, you can.”

She stares at my chest as she tries to explain. “I have goals. Aspirations. That I’ve worked hard for—sacrificed for.”

“And I want to watch you meet those goals, Kate. I want to help make your dreams come true. Every goddamn one.”

She looks up. And her eyes are begging now—for understanding. For mercy.

“When Billy broke up with me, I was sad. It hurt. But I was able to keep going. I didn’t miss a beat. This thing with you…it’s different. It’s…more. And I’m not too proud to admit that if it doesn’t work out, I’m not going to be able to just pick myself up and move on. You can…You could break me, Drew.”

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