“I didn’t eat any of Jules’ pizza,” she replies with a pout.
“I would have cut your hand off if you’d tried to steal my pizza,” Jules says.
It’s a beautiful summer night. Not quite dark out yet, warm with a light breeze. Perfect Seattle weather.
“I love nights like this,” I breathe, as the others joke and chat around us. Dominic is walking beside me, slowing his strides to match mine. He kisses my hand, then tucks it in the crook of his elbow, content to let me lean on him as we walk. “Seattle is beautiful in the summer.”
“Seattle is always beautiful,” he replies softly. “Even when it rains.”
“It’s certainly always green,” I reply with a nod. “Not so different from San Francisco.”
“Why didn’t I know that you’re from San Francisco?” he says with a frown.
“I don’t know.” I shrug and laugh when Sam jumps on Leo’s back, making him give her a ride. “It’s not a secret. I guess it never came up.”
“When did you move to Seattle?”
“Right after I left Jonathan.” I lean my head on Dom’s shoulder. “There was really nothing for me there anymore. And I’ve always enjoyed Seattle.”
“It’s lucky for me that you loved it here.”
“Back at you,” I reply sincerely. “What are the odds that we’d both be from opposite sides of the world and end up in the same city?”
“It’s not odds, tesoro, it’s fate.”
I snort and shake my head, but when I glance back up at him I see he’s completely serious.
“You don’t believe in fate?” he asks.
“Not really. I guess I’ve never really thought about it.”
He nods thoughtfully. “I would think that if ever there was a couple fated to be together, it would be you and me. Like you said, we’re from opposite sides of the globe, neither of us started here, and yet, here we are.”
“You two are slow pokes!” Sam calls back to us as Leo walks backwards. “If you trip and fall and drop me, rock star, we are going to have issues.”
“I’m not going to drop you, sunshine.”
“I want a ride too,” Stacy says demandingly to her husband.
“I’ll give you a ride, all right,” Isaac replies with a cocky grin.
“Stop it!” Jules cries, just as Luke stops dead in the center of the sidewalk, pulls his wife into his arms and drops a kiss on her that would make the gods weep. “For the love of Christmas, we’re in public!”
“I don’t give a fuck,” Luke replies calmly, still staring in Nat’s eyes.
“God, you’re gross,” Jules grumbles. “I need cheesecake.”
“We’ll get you some,” Nate replies with a laugh. “Just ignore the PDA. Or join it.” He buries his face in her neck and bites her flesh, making her moan.
“Oh, that doesn’t suck.”
“You’re all a very affectionate group of people,” I observe, as we walk into the pub and score a big table near the back.
“Does that bother you?” Meredith asks.
“No, it’s just unusual.”
We settle in, glance at menus, order drinks and just when I think my comment has been forgotten, Luke continues. “If it does bother you, Alecia, just say so.”
“Hey! I say so all the time and you do it anyway,” Jules complains.
“I’m fine,” I reply with a laugh. “It’s not that it bothers me. I’m just not used to it.”
“Were your parents affectionate?” Nic asks.
“They were with each other,” I say slowly.
“But not with you,” Nic replies.
I shrug and shake my head, as if it’s no big deal.
“My mother hasn’t touched me in six years,” Nic says as the waitress sets a glass of water before her.
“What?” I frown at the beautiful woman, surprised.
“We don’t get along well. Never have really. So all of this affection was new to me too.” Matt kisses her temple gently.
“You’ll get used to it,” Jules adds. “I drink a lot, to dull the grossness.”
Natalie laughs and throws a napkin at her best friend.
“I want hot wings,” Brynna announces.
“I thought you were full?” Caleb says.
“I’m in the mood to suck the fuck out of a bone,” she replies, and my eyebrows climb into my hairline.
“Excuse me?” I ask.
“Oh, just wait,” Sam says with a grin. “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen Brynna suck the fuck out of a bone.”
“But I hate to run,” I whine, as I pull into my parking space and cut the engine.
“Don’t be a pussy,” Blake replies into my ear. “I need a run and I want to talk to you, so I’m picking you up.”
“You’re using me as an excuse because I have the best running trails in my neighborhood.”
“That hurts, Leash,” he says. “It’s true, but it hurts.”
“You’re a smart ass.” I giggle and walk to my building.
“I’m a smart ass who’s almost to your place.”
“What? I’m just getting home.”
“Well, hurry up and change. I just got off the freeway. See you in a few!”
“Damn it, Blake!”
But it’s no use. He’s already hung up. I hurry upstairs, let myself in, and immediately begin shedding clothes. My shoes come off first, tossed just inside the door, then I unzip and shed my skirt, leaving it in a wad by the kitchen.
My blouse and bra are flung next, one ending up on the couch, and I have no idea where the other went.
I’ll pick them up later.
I hurry into a sports bra, tank and yoga shorts, and Blake bursts through my front door, just as I’m lacing up my shoes.
“You’ve gotten messy, Leash.”
“Eff you. You didn’t give me any time.”
“Are you going to pick your clothes up?”
“I will later.” I sigh and wave him off. “I have to take them in to be dry cleaned anyway. Are you really going to make me run?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He winks at me and wraps his arm around my neck, kisses my head with a loud smack, and pushes me away.
“Why do I have to go? Can’t you go running without me and just come back here when you’re done?”