“I know,” she said, nodding. “But I did say I would meet her.”
She looked back down to her shoe, but I knew there was more there. “And?” I asked.
“Aaand,” she said, drawing the word out, “I just wanted a moment to think. You’re the first man I’ve woken up next to other than Mark . . . in a long time.”
Sliding my legs over the side of the bed and pulling the sheet across my lap, I bent, resting my elbows on my thighs and studying her. “Okay.”
“I liked it,” she assured me quietly, looking up at me. “Just doing something I don’t usually do and taking a moment to pace myself.”
I reached forward, taking her hand in mine. It was cold, as if she’d washed her hands under the tap before coming over to put her shoes on.
She chewed her lip, eyes scanning my face. “On a scale of sloth to Woody Allen, what level of freaking out are you?”
Laughing, I said, “I am somewhere between sloth and old lazy dog.”
“Oh.” This seemed to surprise her. “Okay. I can handle that.”
She shifted to her knees, scooting closer. “All right.”
“Let’s just have fun,” I said, staring at our hands. She was pale and smooth against my tanned skin. Tendons and veins wove together along the back of her hand—she was so strong. “We have a week and a half left together,” I said. “You live in London, I’m in Boston. So far, this trip has been . . .”
“Crazy,” she said, smiling up at me. “Good. Different.”
“All of that,” I agreed, nodding. “So let’s just make a deal that we’re partners in this. I want to make your holiday perfect.”
“I want to make yours perfect, too.” She leaned forward, kissing the inside of my wrist.
“And if you decide you just want to be a single woman on a trip . . .” I began.
“I’ll tell you. And same,” she added quickly. She pressed the back of my hand to her cheek. “I like this plan.”
“So are you sure you wouldn’t rather get back in bed?” I pulled her forward between my legs.
But she resisted, even though she took a few seconds to look at my chest, my stomach, my hips. “I should . . . yoga.”
I exhaled slowly. “Right. Where are you meeting?”
“We’ve opted to skip the steam thing, and are yoga-ing it up in the backyard.”
“Have you ever done yoga before?”
She shook her head. “Not once in my life. But it’s bending and putting your legs in the air. How hard can it be?”
“For what it’s worth, Becky is trying,” she said quietly, her expression straightening. “And it’s easier for me, your wife, to respond to it than it is for you.”
“Are you protecting me?” I asked, grinning at her.
My quiet laugh broke free. “Who would have pegged you as the wise peacekeeper?”
She stretched, kissing my chin. “See you at breakfast.”
I pulled on my jeans and a sweater, heading downstairs to grab a cup of coffee from the pot near reception before padding out to the back porch. There was a thick layer of fog hovering over the grass, and it was chilly out, but it was beautiful. Stark greens seemed to explode from behind the thick clouds—in the grass, the trees, the hills in the distance. Just down the broad back steps and to the left of the house a bit, on the flat, smooth lawn, Becky and Pippa stretched out on yoga mats I assumed Becky brought along for her and Cam to use.
Pippa’s general fitness had to be due to genetics and her constant energy and motion rather than a natural proclivity for athletics. Even stretching, she looked unsure of herself and wiggly, dancing and talking.
The screen door creaked behind me, and Ziggy came to sit on the step at my side, her hands cupped around a steaming mug.
“What on earth is she doing?” she asked, voice still scratchy.
“Pippa’s version of it, at least.”
“Wow. And with Becky? She should have told her to get bent.”
I nodded, smiling over the top of my mug. “Apparently she’s true to her word.”
Becky straightened, instructing Pippa on something I couldn’t hear, and then I watched as Pippa bent to touch her toes and stiffly lifted one of her legs behind her. She was about one-eighth as flexible as Becky.
Ziggs snorted. “She’s flipping awesome. She looks like little Annabel doing yoga.”
Becky mimicked what Pippa had done, and then transitioned it into a complicated version of Downward Dog that nearly sent Pippa to the ground.
“I think Becky is onto her,” I said, shaking my head as Pippa collapsed onto the mat in a pile of giggles.
“Pippa said she was really into this fictional British Steam Yoga.”
My sister’s eyes narrowed as she studied them more seriously. “The weird thing is,” she said, “I don’t even worry about Pippa being able to take care of herself out there.”
“No,” she said, laughing. “I mean you guys made up this whole complicated story, and now there’s pretend yoga, but it’s like . . . Pippa is game for anything. I like that about her.”