I wrapped my arms around his large frame as best I could. “Happy Thanksgiving, buddy.”
Kody began texting the moment he walked away.
“Nope,” he called back. “It’s Trenton. He wanted me to text him after I dropped you off at your Jeep.”
I smiled as I hopped up into the driver’s seat, wishing I was on my way to see him.
When I got back to Bo and Sarah’s, the windows were glowing. They had all waited up for me. I hopped down out of the Jeep and slammed the door. I’d nearly made it to the front door when a car pulled up to the curb. I froze. It wasn’t a car I recognized.
“Oh, God,” I said, puffing out the breath I’d been holding. “You scared the shit out of me.”
I shrugged. “A little. How did you know where I was?”
T.J.’s eyes softened. “I can’t stay long. I just wanted to . . . I don’t really know why I’m here. I just needed to see you.” When I didn’t respond, he continued. “I’ve been thinking about us a lot. Some days I think we can make it work, but then I put those thoughts away when reality sets in.”
I furrowed my brow. “What do you want from me, T.J.?”
“You want the honest truth?” he asked. I nodded, and he continued, “I’m a selfish bastard, and want you all to myself . . . even though I know I don’t have time to spend with you. I don’t want you with him. I don’t want you with anyone. I’m trying to be an adult about this, but I’m sick of holding everything in, Cami. I’m sick of being the bigger person. Maybe if you moved to California? I don’t know.”
“We wouldn’t see each other even then. Look at the last weekend I spent there. I’m not your priority.” He didn’t argue. He didn’t respond at all. But I needed to hear him say it. “I’m not, am I?”
He lifted his chin, the softness in his eyes disappeared. “No, you’re not. You never have been, and you know that. But that’s not because I don’t love you. It just is what it is.”
I sighed. “Remember when I came to California, and I mentioned that feeling that doesn’t go away? It just did.”
T.J. nodded, his eyes floating around as he processed my words. He reached for me, kissed the corner of my mouth, and then walked back to his car, driving away. As the taillights disappeared when he turned the corner, I waited for a feeling of emptiness, or tears, or something to hurt. Nothing happened. It was possible that it just hadn’t hit me, yet. Or maybe I hadn’t been in love with him for a long time. Maybe I was falling in love with someone else.
Raegan opened the door before I knocked, and she handed me a bottle of beer.
“It’s Black Friday!” Sarah said from the couch, smiling. Bo held up his beer, welcoming me inside.
“Less than five weeks to Christmas,” I said, holding up the beer to greet Raegan and Bo. The thought of a Christmas alone made me feel sick to my stomach. Hank would close the Red, so I wouldn’t even have the option of working. I wondered how Felix would explain that away to the boys. Maybe he wouldn’t get the chance. Maybe Mom would kick him out, and the dust would settle enough by then that I could come home.
We sat in the living room chatting for a while, and then Raegan and I crawled into her pink, frilly bed. Posters of Zac Efron and Adam Levine still covered the walls. After we changed into sweats, we lay on our backs and propped our feet on the wall above her headboard, crossing our sock-covered feet at the ankle. Raegan clinked her beer bottle to mine.
“Happy Thanksgiving, roomie,” she said, tucking her chin to take a drink.
My cell phone pinged. It was Trenton, wondering if I’d made it home yet.
I tapped in the words “Staying w Raegan at her parents tonight.”
He replied, “Good. Huge relief. I’ve been worrying about you all day.”
I sent back a wink face, not sure what else to say, and then let the phone fall to the mattress next to my head.
“God, when you say it that way, it sounds awful.”
“I happen to know the situation. Who was it?”
“Are you worried about T.J. being in town at all?”
“This is so awkward. I keep waiting for him to text me that he’s heard all the dirty details about Trent and me.”
“I’m hoping whatever brought him here is keeping him too busy to talk to anyone.”
Raegan touched her bottle to mine again. “To impossibilities.”
“Thanks,” I said, drinking the rest in a few swallows.
“It’s not like there are that many dirty details anyway, right?”
I cringed. Trenton wasn’t exactly a virgin or insecure, so admittedly I was more than surprised that not one of the nights he’d spent in my bed did he try to undress me.
“Maybe you should tell him you have glow-in-the-dark condoms in your nightstand from Audra’s bachelorette party,” she said, taking a swig. “That is always a good icebreaker.”
“Oh, right. The Magnums. For T.J.’s tree trunk.”
We both burst out laughing. I giggled until my sides hurt, and then my entire body relaxed. I let out one last sigh, and then flipped around and rested my head on the pillow. Raegan did the same, but instead of lying on her side, she was resting on her belly with her hands tucked beneath her chest.
She looked around the room. “I’ve missed talking about boys in here.”
Raegan narrowed her eyes at me and smiled, curious. “What is what like?”
“Having that kind of childhood. I can’t imagine wishing I could go back. Not even for one day.”
Raegan’s mouth pulled to the side. “It makes me sad to hear you say that.”
“I know,” she said. “You deserve it, you know. Stop thinking you don’t.”
“T.J. should let you tell. It’s not fair to put this burden on you. Especially now.”
IN THE EARLY HOURS OF SATURDAY MORNING, TRENTON shot me a text that he was at my door, so I hopped up from the love seat and opened it.
“I have a doorbell, you know,” I said.
He frowned, pulling his coat off and hanging it on the closest barstool. “What are we? In 1997?” He grabbed me and flipped us both over the back of the love seat, landing on his back with me on top of him.
“Smooth,” I said, my eyes falling to his lips.
He leaned up and kissed me, and then looked up. “Where’s Ray?”
“With Brazil. They’re on a date. That’s why she left early from work tonight.”
Trenton shook his head. “Am I nuts, or was she happier with Kody?”