“I’m going to ask Mia to join me in Paris,” I say.
“I don’t have anything to worry about with her, do I?” Tatianna asks, her eyes narrowing on mine.
I shake my head, unable to put into words all that’s running through my brain.
Tatianna rises from the bed and steps closer. “We’re good together, Collins. You know we are.” She reaches down and grabs onto my crotch, rubbing lightly. My dick doesn’t respond.
“Don’t,” I warn.
She shakes her head. “Take this week, and think things over if you want. But I will be here when you get back.” Her hand curls around my cock, squeezing lightly. “And don’t let her lay a finger on this.”
I rise from the bed and stand there, unsure if there’s anything more to say.
Tatianna plays with the long tresses of her hair, and the stack of diamond bangles I bought her clink together on her forearm. She doesn’t seem the least bit upset.
“I need to go talk to Mia,” I say and head for the door.
Other than the airfare and the cab ride to Collins’ house, I haven’t purchased a thing since I got here. So why won’t my goddamn bag close? I put both my forearms on the top of my suitcase and lean all my weight on it, but there are still several inches between the zipper’s teeth. I’ll never get this thing closed.
“Shoot,” I say aloud and lean back to flip the case open again.
Right on top is my old scrapbook. It’s thick, bursting with photos, clippings and other keepsakes. I plop down next to my bag on the bed and leaf through it. It’s filled with mementos from my childhood. I’d never meant for it to be a history of my friendship with Collins, but now I see that it is. We were best friends for so long that I guess it makes sense.
Photos of Collins and me goofing off at the county fair, age six.
Collins and me laughing our butts off in his parents’ pool, age eight.
Ticket stubs from our first live concert, which he purchased for my thirteenth birthday.
The picture of the lavender wedding dress. I pause at the photo. Such an elegant dress, silk with just a hint of lace.
Now, none of this matters. An entire history wiped away because Collins doesn’t have the time to talk to me. He can’t even get through breakfast without running off to screw his supermodel girlfriend. He obviously doesn’t care, so why should I?
I slam the book closed and hurl the stupid thing at the door, but miss. It strikes the wall with a whap, then falls to the floor. The bedroom door bursts open, and Collins pokes his head in, looking worried. “Mia?” he says. “Sorry, I was just outside and I heard a loud noise.” He opens the door all the way and looks at me.
My arms are folded as I sit on the bed and glare at the scrapbook lying on the floor. He follows my gaze down, then looks back at me and takes a step inside the room.
“What’s wrong?” He looks past me at my suitcase. “Are you leaving?”
I bite my lip, knowing that I don’t have any right to be mad at him. Yet I am. “Did you have fun with Tatianna?” I ask, realizing I sound like a crazy chick, but not caring. Because he’s the one who said we should talk. So now I’m ready. Let’s put it all out there. Let’s talk.
He looks thoughtful for a moment. “What are you…? Mia, do you think I just … with Tatianna?” He can’t bring himself to say it, but he doesn’t have to.
I see in his eyes that he knows what I was thinking. I can also tell from the look on his face that he did not just have sex with Tatianna. I go from feeling angry to feeling like an idiot and a jerk.
I cover my face with my hands. “Collins, I’m sorry. I’m a freaking mess.”
He picks up my discarded scrapbook and carries it over, sitting next to me on the bed. “Silly Gremlin.” He nudges me with his shoulder. “Always letting your imagination run wild.”
I cross my legs and turn to face him on the bed. “I can’t help it. Whenever we’re together, I guess I get a little carried away.”
He chuckles and takes my hand. The touch sends warmth all the way up my arm. “You aren’t the only one affected when we’re together.” He glances at my mouth, then meets my gaze. I lick my lips. He’s just inches away, and I think he’s about to kiss me. I want him to lean down and close the distance, but he forces his eyes closed and takes a deep breath. When he opens them, he moves a bit away from me, but doesn’t let go of my hand, squeezing it instead.
He waits a beat before he continues. “I’m sorry I kissed you in the water that day.”
“Why?” I ask, even though I know.
“It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the kiss.” His voice goes low, and I wonder if he’s reliving the moment. “I just don’t think it was fair to you. I’m with Tatianna.”
I feel a stab of pain as his words hit me. “I see.” I nod and let go of his hand. “You’ve got Tatianna now. I’m no supermodel, and if you want that, I can’t compete with her.” I stand up and begin to refold my clothes. It’s definitely time to go.
“Hey, stop packing.” He puts his hands over mine to stop me. “Where are you going?”
“I don’t know,” I say. But I stop packing.
“As for my relationship with Tatianna, I’m not sure if she and I still want the same things. We just had a talk about where things were heading with us.” He runs his hand along the back of his neck. “I need to take some time and think things through.”
I feel a glimmer of hope at his words. The idea of Collins breaking it off with Tatianna, of him being single, should be exciting. But as I search his eyes I see that this is hard for him. It could be that he’s not ready to leave her, or that he’s just frustrated because he’s not sure what he wants. Either way, his unhappy state doesn’t allow me to take pleasure in this news. At least not a lot.
“But about our promise.” His brow furrows and I hold my breath wanting to know, but also terrified. “I’m just not sure…” He trails off. But I don’t need him to finish the sentence. I know what he’s saying.
“Then why even bring it up again?” I ask. “What is there to talk about?”
He scoots closer and reaches for my hand, but thinks better of it. “You being here, Mia, suddenly back in my life. It’s a lot to process. And marriage…” He makes a cursing sound under his breath.