Today, I heard the wheels of the stroller before I saw Max headed toward me.
“Morning, Mrs. Sumner-Bergstrom,” he said, stopping in front of me. And despite my current annoyance with Will, my stomach did a little flip at the sound of my married name.
“Morning.” My cheeks warmed as I shifted blankets around and bent to kiss the adorable baby strapped into the elaborate running stroller. “And good morning to you, Miss Anna. How is the prettiest girl in New York? How is she?”
Annabel giggled, reaching for the loose ends of my hair and tugging to bring me closer.
“Well rested,” Max said. “Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the rest of us in the house.”
I let out a dramatic gasp. “Did you wake the hungover adult up, sweet baby?” I asked her, pretending to gobble up her little foot.
Max groaned. “Up at the ruddy crack of dawn and then slept the whole way here. Happy as a clam now.”
“Well wouldn’t you be?” I said, standing. Attempting to make some sense of my hair, I smoothed the tangled strands back with my fingers and used an elastic from around my wrist to secure them on the top of my head. “She’s got someone pushing her around Central Park and catering to her every whim. We should all be so lucky.”
“I’ll agree with you there. Though I imagine William would do the same for you if you asked nicely enough.”
“Ha.” I looked to the side, out at the seemingly endless stretch of trees.
“Speaking of . . . where is your Will today?” he asked, following my gaze out into the park.
“Oh . . . he’s . . . still sleeping,” I said, making a show of dusting off my knees and turning toward the trail. I didn’t miss the edge in my voice . . . I’m sure Max didn’t, either. Will was still asleep because I wanted a chance to run without fighting the urge to push him into the reservoir. I definitely wouldn’t be mentioning that to Max.
“Still asleep,” Max repeated, clearly pleased. It didn’t take a genius to know that later today he’d be either congratulating Will or giving him epic shit.
“Ready to go?” I asked, and Max nodded, polite enough to ignore my weirdness.
We started at the USS Maine statue—Max and Anna at my side—heading down the path that led to the main loop. The trail went from a downward slope to a steady climb up Cat Hill, and I concentrated on the pounding of my feet on the ground, the whir of the stroller’s tires on the pavement next to me, all the while preparing for Harlem Hill.
Harlem Hill had always been a good barometer of the kind of day I was having. On a decent morning I could make it to the top and still manage a few curse words along the way—just enough to make Will laugh. If my week had been particularly rough, I’d push on with barely a word, brain empty of all but one thought: Run yourself into the ground.
Will knew me well enough to gauge my moods, and apparently so did Max.
“Whoa, whoa. Slow down there, Bolt,” he said from just behind me.
I’d been running—flat-out sprinting along the trail—and poor Max was struggling to stay next to me.
“Sorry,” I mumbled, slowing to a walk and waiting for him to catch up. “I sort of forgot you were here. And pushing a stroller. God, I’m an asshole.”
Max waved me off and we fell into step beside each other again to cool down. “I may not be in as good of shape as whatshisname, but, Jesus, Hanna, you were running like your arse was on fire. What’s wrong?”
“I got a little lost in my head,” I said, and it was only once we slowed that I noticed the way my quads were burning, the churning of my stomach. “Ugh, I feel like I’m going to barf.”
“Feeling a little rough this morning, I take it?” Max asked, laughing lightly.
“And would this be from the tequila or the husband?”
He made a sympathetic sound in the back of his throat.
Anna started to fuss and Max reached down, adjusting her blankets. “Sounds like there’s a story there.”
“I’m not used to being annoyed with Will. We never fight, so maybe that’s why I’m a bit . . . unsettled by it.”
“That’s understandable,” he said, moving off to the side and smiling at another man running past us. “Though if I’m being honest, what I heard last night didn’t sound much like a fight to me.”
“We get along so well and I’m absolutely not used to him being annoyed with me. My brain misfires when there’s a hiccup like that.”
“Hanna, getting married is huge. Finding a new job is huge. Moving is fucking huge. Doing them all together might make you certifiably insane. Give yourselves a break, right?”
Nodding, I kicked a rock near my shoe. “I know. It’s just weird when we don’t handle everything easily.”
Max shook his head. “I never thought I’d find a couple who fit in such an odd fucking way as Bennett and Chloe . . . but you and Will just might have them beat. Though it is possible you two could be robots. Looking into it, actually.”
“Very funny,” I said, and slugged him in the shoulder. “I can’t believe Will thinks I should take a job without any research component,” I added. “Doesn’t he know that I love the lab? Doesn’t he know it’s been my dream my whole life to run a lab?”
“Well, he’s arse over tits for you, and being in love turns even the smartest man into an idiot. No doubt you all have some scientific jargon to back that up.” He glanced over at me and barked out a laugh. “You do, don’t you?”