“A little over three hours,” I said, wiping under my eyes.
“I didn’t even know I was tired,” Trenton said.
Brazil smiled. “I didn’t know you were dating the bartender. Kyle and Brad will be disappointed.”
I frowned at him. I didn’t even know who Kyle and Brad were.
“They can cheer up. We’re just friends,” Trenton said.
“Really?” Brazil said, watching us both for signs of a joke.
“I told you,” Raegan said, standing up. Her tank top came away from her teeny-tiny pink-and-white-striped boxers as she stretched. “Brazil has a game at four thirty. You guys up for some Bulldog Football?”
“I’m watching Olive,” Trenton said. “We were going to ask Cami to come with us to Chicken Joe’s.”
“Olive might like football,” Brazil said.
“Jason . . .” Trenton said, shaking his head. “Chicken Joe’s outdoes a football game by like . . . a thousand cool points.”
“How do you know unless you take her to one?”
“I have. She still hasn’t let me live it down.”
“Is she your baby cousin or something?” Brazil asked. “Why is she with you all the time?”
Trenton shrugged. “She had an older brother. He would have been fourteen today. She worshipped him. He was hit by a car on his bike a few months before they moved next door. Olive sat next to him while he took his last breath. I’m just trying to fill the shoes.”
“That’s rough, man, but . . . and I mean no offense . . . but, you’re a Maddox.”
“I know you’re a good guy, but you’re a tatted-up, whiskey-drinking, foul-mouthed hothead. Her parents just let her get in the car with you?”
“But . . . why is she your responsibility?” Brazil said. “I don’t get it.”
Trenton looked down at Olive, who was still sound asleep. He brushed a wispy ash-blond strand from her eyes, and then shrugged. “Why not?”
I smiled at his simple show of affection. “Chicken Joe’s it is. But I’ll have to cut out early to get ready for work.”
“Deal,” Trenton said with a smile, as if it were the easiest thing in the world.
“Well, I have errands to run,” Raegan said.
“I’ve got to grab some carbs and head to the field house,” Brazil said. When he stood, he patted Raegan’s backside, leaned over to kiss her, and then grabbed his wallet, phone, and keys before slamming the door behind him.
“Yay!” Trenton said. “She’s awake! Now we can EAT HER!” He leaned over and pretended to bite her belly while tickling her.
She giggled hysterically. “Nooooo. I have to peeeee!”
“Whoa!” Trenton said, holding up his hands.
“This way,” I said, leading Olive by the hand to the bathroom in the hall. Her bare feet padded against the tile floor. “TP, soap, hand towel,” I said, pointing to the various items.
“Got it,” she said. She looked so tiny standing in the middle of the bathroom. She raised her eyebrows. “Are you going to stay?”
“Oh! No. I’m sorry,” I said, backing out and closing the door.
I turned and walked over to Trenton, who was standing in the walk space between the breakfast bar and the love seat.
“Yeah.” We stared a quiet moment, just watching each other and smiling, and then a familiar feeling came over me, a tingling in my gut, and a warmth on my lips. I focused on his mouth, and he took a step toward me.
He shook his head, leaned in, and closed his eyes. I did the same, waiting to feel his lips on mine.
The toilet flushed, and we both pulled away. The air between us was suddenly thick and tense. As the anticipation of what we were about to do melted away, an overwhelming awkwardness replaced it.
Olive stood in the hallway, staring at us. She itched her elbow, and then her nose. “Lunch?”
I offered an apologetic half smile. “I need to make a grocery run.”
“Good plan,” Trenton said, clapping his hands and then rubbing them together. “Supermarket?”
Olive grinned from one ear to the other. “Can I sit in the basket that’s also a cawr?”
Trenton looked to me, while helping Olive with her coat.
“Sure!” I said, realizing now why Trenton was so dedicated to making her happy. Making her smile was addictive.
Olive did a little dance, and then Trenton began to dance. He looked absolutely ridiculous, so I joined in, too.
We danced all the way out to the parking lot, with no music at all. Trent pointed to his Intrepid, but I stopped at my Jeep.
“You always drive. I’ll drive this time. I have more trunk space for groceries, anyway.”
Trenton shook his head. “I . . . have a thing. About riding with girls.”
“Is that because of Mackenzie, or is that a sexist remark?”
I nodded. “Okay, then. But you’re going to let me reimburse you for gas.”
“You can pitch in for dinner,” he said.
“Rock on,” I said, then I bent my elbow and held my fist in the air, lifting my index finger and pinky.
Olive looked at her own hand and tried to do the same. “Wok on!” she said, once she mastered it.
We drove to the store, and while we walked down the aisles, I felt very domestic, and it was a little exciting. Not that I wanted kids of my own or anything—yet—but doing something so mundane with Trenton was oddly exhilarating. But the feeling didn’t last long. T.J. and I had never done anything like this, and now this simple grocery trip made me feel shame. Even though it made no sense whatsoever, a flash of resentment burned through my veins. I couldn’t be happy with T.J., and now he was robbing me of happiness when he wasn’t around, too. Of course it wasn’t his fault, but it was easier to blame him than to acknowledge my own shortcomings.
Nothing made sense anymore: why we were still together, why I was spending so much time with Trenton, or why I stayed in a barely-there relationship when I had someone who liked me—and who I liked—two feet away, just waiting for a green light.
Most people would just give up, but they didn’t have T.J. He had come into the Red one night, asked for my number an hour later, and in a few days we went on our first date. I didn’t even have to think about it. Being with him just made sense. T.J. pretty much spent the next week and a half at my apartment, and then for the next three months, he flew home every other weekend. After that, his project began, and I’d only seen him a handful of times. I stopped in the aisle, pretending to look over the soups, but I was really frozen, wondering why I was so committed to T.J., when I wasn’t even sure if we were in a real relationship at this point.
T.J. hadn’t texted me in three days. Before, I reasoned that he was busy with work. But suddenly, realizing what it was like to spend so much time with someone—and loving it—the sporadic texts, phone calls, and the hope of seeing each other one day wasn’t enough. Not even close.