Why am I so nervous?
The bathrooms are at the rear of the restaurant. You have to make a turn behind a partition to find the hallway. Graham has already disappeared around the corner, so I pause before I make the turn. I put my hand on my chest, hoping it will somehow calm what’s happening inside of it. And then I blow out a quick breath and walk into the hallway.
Graham is leaning casually against a wall, his hand in the pocket of his suit. The sight of him both excites me and comforts me, but I’m also nervous because I feel bad for never calling him.
Graham smiles his lazy half smile at me. “Hello, Quinn.” His eyes still frown a little with his smile and I’m happy to see that. I don’t know why. I like that he always looks to be battling some inner perpetual turmoil.
“Hey.” I stand awkwardly a few feet away from him.
“Graham,” he says, touching his chest. “In case you forgot.”
I shake my head. “I didn’t. It’s kind of hard to forget every detail of the worst day of your life.”
My comment makes him smile. He pushes off the wall and takes a step closer to me. “You never called.”
I shrug like I haven’t given his phone number much thought. But in reality, I look at it every day. It’s still stuck to the wall where he left it. “You said to call you after my rebound guy. I’m just now getting around to the rebound guy.”
“Is that who you’re with tonight?”
I nod. He takes a step closer, leaving only two feet between us. But it feels like he’s suffocating me.
“What about you?” I ask. “Are you with your rebound girl?”
“My rebound was two girls ago.”
I hate that answer. I hate it enough to be done with this conversation. “Well . . . congratulations. She’s pretty.”
Graham narrows his eyes as if he’s trying to read all the things I’m not saying. I take a step toward the women’s restroom and put my hand on the door. “It was good to see you, Graham.”
His eyes are still narrowed and he tilts his head a little. I’m not sure what else to say. I walk into the women’s restroom and allow the door to swing shut behind me. I let out a huge sigh. That was intense.
Why was that so intense?
I walk over to the sink and turn on the water. My hands are shaking, so I wash them in warm water, hoping the lavender soap helps calm my nerves. I dry them and then look at them in the mirror, trying to convince myself I wasn’t that affected by Graham. But I was. They’re still shaking.
For six months I’ve wanted to call him, but for six months I’ve talked myself out of it. And now, knowing he’s moved on and he’s with someone else, I might have blown my chance. Not that I wanted one. I still hold fast to the belief that he would remind me too much of what happened. If I do decide to start something up with someone, I’d want it to be someone brand-new. Someone completely unrelated to the worst days of my life.
Someone like Jason, maybe?
“Jason,” I whisper. I should get back to my date.
When I open the door, Graham is still in the same spot. Still looking at me with his head tilted. I stop short and the door hits me in the back when it swings shut, pushing me forward a step.
I glance toward the end of the hallway and then look back at Graham. “Were we not finished?”
He inhales a slow breath as he takes a step toward me. He stops only a foot from me this time, sliding both hands back into his pockets. “How are you?” His voice is quiet, like it’s hard for him to get it out. The way his eyes are searching mine makes it obvious he’s referring to everything I’ve been through with the breakup. Calling off the wedding.
I like the sincerity in his question. I’m feeling all the same comfort his presence brought me that night six months ago. “Good,” I say, nodding a little. “A few residual trust issues, but other than that I can’t complain.”
He looks relieved. “Good.”
“What about you?”
He stares at me a moment, but I don’t see what I’m hoping to see in his eyes. Instead, I see regret. Sadness. Like maybe he still hasn’t recovered from losing Sasha. He shrugs, but doesn’t answer with words.
I try not to let my pity show, but I think it does. “Maybe this new girl will be better than Sasha. And you’ll finally be able to get over her.”
Graham laughs a little. “I’m over Sasha,” he says with conviction. “Pretty sure I was over Sasha the moment I met you.”
He gives me absolutely zero time to absorb his words before he throws more of them at me. “We better get back to our dates, Quinn.” He turns and walks out of the hallway.
I stand still, dumbfounded by his words. “Pretty sure I was over Sasha the moment I met you.”
I can’t believe he just said that to me. He can’t say something like that and then just walk away! I stalk after him, but he’s already halfway to his table. I catch Jason’s eye and he smiles when he sees me, standing up. I try to compose myself, but it’s hard as I watch Graham lean down and give his date a quick kiss on the side of her head before he takes his seat across from her again.
Is he trying to make me jealous? If he is, it’s not working. I don’t have time for frustrating men. I barely have time for boring men like Jason.
Jason has walked around the table to pull out my chair for me. Before I take my seat, Graham makes eye contact with me again. I swear I can see him smirk a little. I don’t know why I stoop to his level, but I lean over and give Jason a quick kiss on the mouth.
Then I sit.
I have a clear shot of Graham as Jason walks back around to his side of the table. Graham is no longer smirking.
But I am.
“I’m ready to get out of here,” I say.
* * *
Ava and I talked on the phone almost every day when she lived in Connecticut, but now that she’s halfway across the world, we seem to talk even more. Sometimes twice a day, even with the time difference.
“I have to tell you something.”
There’s a trepidation in her voice. I close my front door and walk my things to the kitchen counter. “Are you okay?” I set down my purse, pull the phone from between my shoulder and ear, and grip the phone in my hand.
“Yes,” she says. “I’m fine. It’s nothing like that.”
“Well, what is it? You’re scaring me, so it’s obviously bad news.”
“It’s not. It’s . . . good news actually.”
I sink to the living room sofa. If it’s good news, why does she sound so unhappy?
And then it clicks. She doesn’t even have to say it. “You’re pregnant?” There’s a pause. It’s so quiet on her end of the phone, I look down at mine to make sure we’re still connected. “Ava?”
“I’m pregnant,” she confirms.
Now I’m the quiet one. I put my hand against my chest, feeling the remnant pounding of my heart. For a moment, I feared the worst. But now that I know she’s not dying, I can’t help but wonder why she doesn’t sound happy. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” she says. “It’s unexpected of course. Especially finding out so soon after moving here. But we’ve had a couple of days to let it sink in now. We’re actually excited.”
My eyes well up with tears but I’m not sure why I feel like crying. This is good. She’s excited. “Ava,” I whisper. “That’s . . . wow.”
“I know. You’re going to be an aunt. I mean, I know you already are because of Graham’s sister’s children, but I just never thought you’d be an aunt because of me.”
I force a smile but realize it isn’t enough, so I force a laugh. “Your mother is going to be a grandma.”
“That’s the craziest part,” she says. “She didn’t know how to take the news. She’s either drowning in martinis today or out shopping for baby clothes.”
I swallow down the immediate envy, knowing my mother knew before I did. “You . . . you told her already?”
Ava releases a sigh full of regret. “Yesterday. I would have told you first but . . . I wanted Mom’s advice. On how to tell you.”