Pippa rested an arm against the back of the couch as she listened, expression delighted. “I bet you did okay, Jensen Bergstrom, esquire.”
I lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I’d give you more detail on my argument if I remembered even a word of it.”
“Yeah. There was a lot of awkward clinging to each other and terrified yelps that we might fall to our death, but we finally managed to navigate the three-foot crevasse between the balconies. Now that I think of it, Will actually saw her for a few weeks after that . . . Huh, maybe that was part of the settlement?” Scratching my shoulder, I smiled at her. “Anyway, enough reminiscing.”
“Absolutely not. I’m here to forget the Wanker. You’re doing a great job.” Pippa looked up at me and then motioned toward Ziggy. “Don’t make me ask Hanna. I bet there are loads of stories I could get out of her, and it wouldn’t take more than a glass or two. A bit of a lightweight, that one.”
Looking up, she let out an amused snort. I followed her gaze to where Will was standing next to my sister, refilling her glass and—if my guess was correct—talking to her boobs.
It didn’t matter how often they were like that or how many times I’d walked in on them, it was still gross. I groaned.
“Though by the looks of it,” Pippa said, tilting her head, “Will has her monopolized at the moment.”
“They’re eternal newlyweds,” I explained, lacing my words with a hint of playful disgust. “But I think Will is volunteering to be the designated driver tonight, and trying to get her a little drunk. My sister is hilarious when she’s had a few.”
“Is that strange at all? Baby sister married to your best mate?”
“I’m not going to lie, it was at first. But when I thought about it and realized I was the one who suggested they reconnect in the first place . . .”
“You set them up?” she asked, smiling over the top of her glass. “Most men wouldn’t encourage their best friend to date their sister.”
“I didn’t realize that was what I’d done,” I said, and drained the rest of my wine. I set the glass down on the table and reached for another olive. “In hindsight, yeah, I told her to call Will. But at the time, she was a workaholic dork. It never occurred to me that he would look at her—at Ziggy, the lab rat—and see anything but my nerdy little sister.” I watched them for another few seconds. Will said something that made Ziggy burst into laughter, leaning into his chest. He bent, kissing the top of her head. “But he’s good for her—she’s good for him, too,” I added quickly. “And I’ve never seen either of them so happy.”
Pippa nodded in agreement and looked over at the rest of our group. “I felt the same way about Niall and my Ruby. She’d been in love with him for ages and he had no idea she was alive.”
“That’s right,” I said. “You used to work together.”
“It alternated between being hilarious and excruciating to watch, but I couldn’t be happier for them now.” Pausing, she added, “Even if I do want to turn the hose on them at times.”
I let out a wry laugh; I knew exactly how she felt.
She leaned back in her seat. “I’m sure I sound like an old spinster saying it, but come on now, leave a little snogging for the rest of us.”
Straightening, I motioned for the server and was met with Ziggy’s wide, hopeful eyes.
The server poured us each another hefty tasting.
Pippa took her glass, holding it aloft. “To old maids?” she asked, and I considered.
“To a little snogging for the rest of us,” I said instead.
Pippa beamed and lifted the glass to her lips. “I will definitely drink to that.”
“He reminds me of this boy I went to uni with,” I murmured, staring at Jensen across the room as I absently licked a drop of wine from the rim of my glass. “Danny. Daniel Charles Ashworth. I mean, are you kidding me with that name? Fucking unreal.” I shook my head. “Fucking beautiful, too. Smart, and kind. He was funny and charming . . . and he never dated a soul.”
Ruby followed my gaze. “Was Danny shy or something?” We both watched for a few seconds as Jensen, Niall, and Will chatted amiably with the owner of the winery. “Jensen sure isn’t.”
I’d lost count of how many tastes I’d had, and given up and ordered a full pour of the delicious petite sirah. Ruby was halfway into her generous pour of a viognier, and we were both perched rather crookedly on our stools at the wine bar while the men debated which—and how many—bottles they wanted to buy to bring home.
“Not shy,” I told her, blinking and turning my attention back to her. “Just incredibly picky.” I shook my head to clear it, reaching for an almond from the dish before us. “Danny admitted to me one night—totally pissed on tequila—that he didn’t like to have sex with lots of women. Didn’t like it,” I repeated. “Said he loved sex, of course, but it was too intimate to do with a stranger.”
Ruby popped an almond into her mouth, staring blankly at me. “Huh.”
“Isn’t that sort of lovely?” I asked, thinking about the sight of Mark’s thrusting bum, of the way I didn’t—and wouldn’t ever—know the name of the woman beneath him. The way I felt like he’d ended our relationship so easily, without any fear that he’d miss it. “Isn’t it sort of lovely to have it mean so much that, even when you’re nineteen, you don’t want to do it with just anyone? No one is like that anymore.”