“Okay.” She heard the resignation in his voice. “I’m jumping in the shower. We have reservations in Denver for dinner at five so I won’t be here when you get back.”
She heard the door to the bathroom close and the first tear spilled.
Then at the sound of the door opening again, she swiped quickly at her face.
“Maddie.” He waited until she turned to look at him. He knew she was hiding tears—it read all over his face as he leaned against the doorframe. “I also really want you to know each other.”
The weight in her chest loosened. “You do?”
“Yeah. I do.”
“Then do I get to meet her?”
The relief she’d felt a moment before was replaced with bone-deep hurt. Another tear trailed down her face, her voice gruff. “So what do you want me to do? Pretend I don’t know you? Do I need to get another hotel room?”
“No!” He crossed to her and wrapped her in his embrace. “No, I want you with me.”
His arms made her feel better. She could feel in his touch what he couldn’t say—that he was torn, that he didn’t know how to handle the situation any more than she did.
He pressed his lips to her forehead before tilting her chin up so their eyes would meet. “And I don’t want you to pretend anything. I can barely handle restraining myself on set. But my mother…it is big. For me. And I just thought we could maybe take it the way we’ve been taking everything else. See how things go. Maybe we can do breakfast tomorrow.”
“Okay.” She smiled. Surprisingly, a genuine smile. “We’ll see how things go. If breakfast happens, it happens. If not, I won’t take it personally. As long as I still get to sleep here tonight.”
“If you don’t, I’ll come find you and molest you in your sleep.”
He kissed her deeply. When he broke away he said, “What do you think?”
“I think I need to be going.” She reached her hand around to fondle his ass. “And you need to get in the shower before I’m tempted to be late.”
They lingered a few more minutes in each other’s arms before saying their goodbyes. By the time Maddie stepped out in the hall, she felt better. A lot better. Even though she longed for Micah to be certain about them, as certain as she was becoming, she couldn’t expect him to be there yet. Not after less than three weeks. Not when he was so relationship-phobic to begin with.
She met Fudge in the lobby and together they walked down to the car he’d rented for Micah. He opened the passenger door for her like the gentleman he was, and she wondered if the photographer that she spotted sitting across from the hotel assumed she was hooking up with Micah’s bodyguard. She came and left the hotel more with Fudge than she ever did with Micah. And there were always photographers.
“Sounds like you have a busy day off,” Maddie said as Fudge strapped himself into his seat.
“Day off, my ass. My days off are when Micah’s on set. Days away from set, he turns me into his driver, his errand boy, his personal shopper. So annoying.” But he smiled and Maddie knew his complaining was mostly talk. “You’re still not going tonight?”
“No.” She still had doubts about her decision to stay behind, but she’d made up her mind.
As if the conversation had cued it to go off, her phone buzzed with a text.
I want pics of u in that dress!
Maddie grimaced as she typed her reply to Bree. Not going. Bree was going to be pissed. She’d believed she was doing the crew a favor getting them invites to the shin-dig.
I’m calling u.
Her phone rang before she’d even finished reading her text. “Sorry about this,” she said to Fudge. Then she answered her call. “I hate Beaumont. Why would I go?”
“Free drinks.” What had she expected from Bree? She had always been the quintessential party girl—had always believed life was better with liquor.
“The free drinks is a good draw,” Fudge agreed. Leave it to Bree to talk so loudly that Fudge could hear her.
“I don’t want to go,” Maddie said firmly to both of them. “And Micah doesn’t want me there.”
Bree gasped. “Then that’s exactly why you have to go!”
“Your friend has a point,” Fudge added. “You can’t let Micah get away with acting like chickenshit.”
“Exactly,” said Bree. “Who is that awesome advice coming from anyway?”
“Fudge. Micah’s bodyguard. I told you about him.” Realizing she was going to be ganged up on whether she wanted it or not, she put her phone on speaker. “Bree this is Fudge. Fudge, this annoying voice is Bree. My whacko best friend.”
“Hello, Bree,” Fudge said.
Instead of exchanging a greeting, Bree said, “Don’t you think Maddie should go, Fudge?”
“I don’t know. I can see benefits to both options.”
“Fudge, don’t say any more unless it’s to agree with me.”
Maddie gave Fudge her best I’m-sorry-about-my-friend look. She’d perfected it over the years of knowing Bree.
“But his mother will be there,” Maddie said, back on topic. “I really won’t be able to talk to Micah at all. It’ll be awkward and not any fun.”
Fudge nodded. “Well, that might be true.”
At the same time Bree said, “No, it will be highly informative and you need to go.”
“What do you mean by informative?”
“His mom, Maddie.”
“He’s not ready to introduce me to his mom, Bree. We’ve barely been dating.”
“He doesn’t have to introduce you as the love of his life or anything. But just being there and seeing her—you’ll find out stuff.”
“Meeting Lulu could actually be a real trip,” Fudge said. “She’s made a big impact on his relationship mumbo-jumbo shit.”
“Thank you, Fudge,” Bree said. “Listen to him, Maddie. Fudge knows. And also, Maddie, you’ve only ever been with Micah in one setting, and it’s not a permanent one. There’s so much more to his life than that. Not your life, but his.”
“Uh, thanks.” But that wasn’t far off from the truth. Maddie’s life was always working on a film. There was no press, no big celebrity events, no fans. There were wrap parties, of course, but that wasn’t the same as big charity fundraisers or award show receptions.