“I just . . . I don’t need one. I don’t know, it feels weird. And why do you need a two-bedroom?”
Trenton shrugged. “You said you needed your space. That room is for whatever you want it to be.”
I wanted to hug him and tell him yes and make him happy, but I didn’t want to move in with my boyfriend. Not yet, and if I did, it would be a natural progression, not this ambushing bullshit. “No.”
“To everything. I’m not taking a key. I’m not moving in. I’m not getting gauges. Just . . . no!”
I stormed out, running past Libby, down the stairs, and back to the Intrepid. Trenton didn’t make me stand in the cold long. He slid in next to me and started the car. As it warmed up, he sighed. “I picked a bad week to quit smoking.”
BUSY WITH PACKING AND MOVING, TRENTON WASN’T around much for the next week. I helped him when I could, but things were awkward. Trenton was more than a little disappointed about me not moving in. He couldn’t hide his feelings any better than I could, which wasn’t always a good thing.
Saturday night, Raegan was sitting on our love seat, flipping channels in a show-stopping cocktail dress. The single shoulder strap looked like shimmering diamonds, and the rest was curve-hugging red satin. The sweetheart neckline made it that much sexier. Her silver heels were sky-high, and her hair was straight, shiny, and half up, half down.
“I wish Blia were here. This moment definitely calls for one of her customized phrases. You are flawless.”
Her buff lip gloss glistened against her brilliant smile. “Thanks, Cami. What are your plans tonight?”
“Trenton was going to unpack for a little while after he left Skin Deep, but he said he’d be here by seven. Travis is having a rough time lately, so he’s going to check on him and then come over.”
“Brazil is picking me up at seven thirty.”
“You don’t look all that happy about it.”
I walked into my bedroom, and slid open my closet doors. The left one was hanging off the track, so I had to be careful. My clothes were carefully categorized by type and subtype, and then by color. Sweaters were hanging on the far left, various shirts, denim, and then dresses on the right. I didn’t have very many—I was more focused on paying bills than padding my wardrobe, and Raegan let me borrow a lot of her stuff, anyway. Trenton was taking me to some fancy Italian restaurant in town, and then we were going to have a few drinks at the Red. It was supposed to be a laid-back evening. His card and present were sitting in a red gift sack on top of my dresser. It was fairly lame, but I knew he would appreciate the gesture.
I pulled out the only thing that was close to appropriate: a black crocheted dress with a white liner and three-quarter-length sleeves. With a modest scoop neckline, it was the one dress I owned that didn’t accentuate my cle**age and wouldn’t draw attention at a nice restaurant. I slipped on a pair of red heels and matching red necklace and earrings, and called it good.
There was a knock on the door just before seven, and I jogged across the floor. “Don’t get up. It’s probably Trent.”
But it wasn’t. It was Brazil. He looked at his watch. “Sorry I’m so early. I was just sitting around the house and . . .”
Raegan stood up, and Brazil was speechless for a moment. His mouth pulled to the side. “You look nice.”
I frowned. Raegan looked like a million bucks, and I could tell Brazil was intentionally acting unimpressed. He wasn’t being mean about it, but there was a hint of regret in his eyes. Raegan didn’t even complain about his nonreaction, she just mirrored his expression, and then picked up her purse from the breakfast bar.
I opened the front closet and handed her black dress coat to her. She offered a small smile in thanks, and then they closed the door behind them.
I returned to my room and finished my hair. Seven came and went, and so did seven thirty. At eight, I picked up my phone and turned it over. Nothing. I tried calling, but it went straight to voicemail.
At fifteen ’til nine, I was sitting on the love seat, playing a stupid bird game on my cell phone. It didn’t help my already building anger that Trenton hadn’t called to explain his lateness.
Someone knocked on the door, and I leaped to my feet. I opened the door to find Trenton, or part of him, because he was hidden behind a vase full of several dozen dark red roses.
I gasped and covered my mouth. “Holy hell, are those for me?” I asked.
Trenton walked in and set the vase on the bar. He was in the same clothes he wore to work, and suddenly I felt overdressed.
When he turned, he wasn’t smiling.
“His bike was parked at Ugly Fixer Liquor’s, so probably not.”
I hugged him tight. “Thank you for the flowers.” When I realized his hands were still at his sides, I pulled away.
Trenton was clearly working to keep his face smooth. “They were delivered to the shop late, after you left. They’re not from me.”
He pointed to the vase. “There’s a card.”
I walked over and plucked the miniature red envelope from its plastic holder. When I pulled the card out, my lips moved but nothing came out as I quickly read the words.
I talked myself out of this several times this week, but I had to.
I closed my eyes. “Damn it.” I laid the card upside down and flat on the light-green Formica and held it there, glancing at Trenton. “I know what you’re thinking.”
“I am not talking to him. We haven’t spoken in weeks.”
“So it was T.J.,” Trenton said, his face and neck turning three shades of red.
“Yes, but I don’t even think he knows why he sent them. Let’s just . . .” I reached for him, but he pulled away. “Let’s just forget about them,” I said, gesturing dismissively toward the roses, “and have a good time tonight.” Trenton shoved his hands in his pockets, his lips pressed together in a hard line. “Please?” I begged.
“He sent them to f**k with your head. And mine.”
“Don’t defend him! This is bullshit!” he said as he turned for the door, and then turned back to face me. “I’ve been sitting at work this whole time, staring at those f**king things. I wanted to calm down before I got here, but this is just . . . it’s f**king disrespectful, is what it is! I bust my ass trying to prove to you that I’m better for you than he ever was. But he keeps pulling this shit, and showing up, and . . . I can’t compete with some rich college boy from California. I’m barely getting by, with no degree, and up until a few days ago I still lived with my dad. But I am so f**king in love you, Cami,” he said, reaching for me. “I have been since we were kids. The first time I saw you on the playground, I knew what beauty was. The first time you ignored me was my first broken heart. I thought I was playing this right, from the moment I sat down at your table at the Red. No one has ever wanted someone as much as I want you. For years I . . .” He was breathing hard, and he clenched his jaw. “When I heard about your dad, I wanted to rescue you,” he said, chuckling, but not out of humor. “And that night at your apartment, I thought I’d finally gotten something right.” He pointed to the ground. “That my purpose in life was to love you and keep you safe . . . but I didn’t prepare for having to share you.”