The look on Trenton’s face was one I couldn’t quite read. “A few years. What?” he said. I had looked down and chuckled, and Trenton tucked his chin, forcing me to make eye contact.
“Contrary to popular belief, I am capable of being a one-woman man. Just has to be the right woman.”
My mouth pulled to the side in a half-smile. “Why didn’t I know about this? Seems like the whole campus would have been talking about it.”
I thought for a moment, and then my eyes widened. “Was it Mackenzie?”
“For about forty-eight hours,” Trenton said. His eyes lost focus, and then they snapped back to mine. He leaned in and gave me a soft peck on the mouth. “See you later?” he asked.
I nodded, rolled up my window, and then backed out of the parking lot, and pulled into the Red parking lot fifteen minutes later. The roads weren’t getting better, and I wondered if the Red would be just as dead as Skin Deep.
Everyone’s vehicles except Jorie’s were parked side by side, leaving one space open between the employees’ cars and Hank’s. I ran into the side entrance and rubbed my hands together as I hurried to my stool at the east bar. Hank and Jorie were standing on the other side together, hugging and kissing more than usual.
Gruber and Kody were sitting together, and Raegan sat on the other side of me. Immediately I sensed that she was being quiet but didn’t dare ask when Kody was nearby.
“I thought you weren’t here, Jorie,” I said. “I didn’t see your car.”
“I rode with Hank,” she said with a mischievous smile. “Car-pooling is definitely a plus for shacking up.”
My eyebrows shot up. “Yeah?” I said, standing up, opening my arms wide. “She said yes? You moved in together?”
“Yeah!” they both said in unison. They both leaned over the bar and hugged me.
“Yay! Congratulations!” I said, squeezing them. My head was between both of theirs, and even though I considered the employees of the Red my work family, they felt more like the real thing than my own family did lately.
Everyone else hugged and offered their congratulations. They must have been waiting for me to get there before they announced it so they could tell all of us at the same time.
Hank pulled out several bottles of wine—the good stuff from his personal stash—and began to pour glasses. We were all celebrating. Everyone but Raegan. I sat next to her after a while, and nudged her arm.
“Thanks,” I said, turning to the side, showing my tiny nose ring. “Got this, too.”
“Wow. Your dad’s going to shit a wildcat.”
She sighed. “I’m sorry. I don’t want to ruin the party.”
“It’s happening again,” she said, her shoulders sagging. “Brazil’s getting busy. He’s made it pretty clear that he’d rather be with his frat brothers and at football parties than with me. He had that Abby chick’s birthday party at his apartment last month and didn’t even invite me. I found out about it from Kendra Collins last night. I mean . . . really? We got into it bad today. He said almost all the things he said last time.”
She nodded and looked down at her hands in her lap, and then, for less than a second, glanced over at Kody. She laughed once, without humor. “Daddy loves Brazil. All I hear about at the house is”—her eyebrows pulled together and her voice deepened to emulate her father—“Jason Brazil would be accepted into the Naval Academy in a heartbeat. Jason Brazil would be a contender for the SEAL program . . . blah, blah, blah. Daddy thinks Jason would make a good soldier.”
“I wouldn’t let that cloud your judgment. Sounds like sending him off to the Naval Academy is a good way to get rid of him.”
Raegan began to laugh, but then a tear fell down her cheek, and she leaned into my shoulder. I put my arm around her, and the celebration half a bar away instantly died down. Kody appeared on Raegan’s other side.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, genuine concern in his eyes.
“Nothing,” she said, wiping her eyes quickly.
Kody looked wounded. “You can tell me, you know. I still care if you’re hurting.”
“I can’t talk to you about it,” she said, her face crumpling.
Kody put his thumb under Raegan’s chin and lifted her eyes to meet his. “I just want you to be happy. That’s all I care about.”
Raegan looked up at his big green eyes, and then threw her arms around his chest. He pulled her against him, cupping the back of her hair with his huge hand. He kissed her temple, and just held her, not saying a word.
I stood up and joined everyone else while Kody and Raegan had their moment.
“Cheesus Crust, does this mean they’re back together?” Blia asked.
“Kody’s such a good guy,” Jorie said. “She’ll figure it out eventually.”
My cell phone buzzed. It was Trenton.
“The f**king Intrepid won’t start. I don’t guess you could pick me up from work?”
“You’re just now finishing up?” I asked, looking at my watch.
“Yeah . . . I have to run home to change for work tonight, though . . .” The line got quiet. “Trenton?”
“Yeah? I mean, yes. Sorry, I’m just f**king pissed. It has one of those two-point-seven-liter engines so I knew it was gonna . . . you have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”
I smiled, even though he couldn’t see me. “No. But I’ll be there in fifteen.”
“Sweet. Thanks, baby. Take your time. The roads are getting worse.”
I looked down at the phone gripped in my fingers after I hung up. I loved the way he spoke to me. The little nicknames. The texts. His grin with that amazing dimple in his left cheek.
Jorie winked at me. “Must have been a guy on the phone.”
“Sorry, I have to go. I’ll see you all tonight.”
Everyone waved and said their good-byes to me, and I jogged out to the Smurf, nearly busting my ass when I tried to stop. The tall security lights were on, breaking up the darkness. Freezing rain stung where it touched my skin and made tiny tapping noises against the parked vehicles. No wonder Trenton said the roads were worse. I couldn’t remember when we’d had this much wintery precipitation so early in the season.
The Smurf resisted for a few moments before starting up, but within minutes of Trenton’s call, I was driving carefully back to Skin Deep. Trenton was waiting outside in his puffy blue coat, his arms crossed over his chest. He walked to my side and waited, watching me expectantly.
He shook his head. “C’mon, Cami. You know I’m weird about that.”
“I have to drive,” he said, shivering.