She looked away from him and at the pack of people surrounding them. Most of the people who’d been in the circle around her had melted away. Except for the dude in glasses and the woman in pink; they were both staring at him.
He stood close to her, hoping that the dude in glasses would get the hint. He didn’t. Wait, was Alexa with this guy?
“It’s Theo’s birthday party, and—” The woman in pink elbowed her, not at all subtly, and she laughed again. “Sorry, sorry. Drew, this is Theo, the birthday boy, and this is my friend Maddie. Maddie, Theo: Drew.”
Of course it was fucking Theo. Maddie shifted her drink to her other hand so they could shake hands.
“Maddie, nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.” He turned. “You, too, Theo.”
At least Theo’d had to move his arm away from Alexa’s shoulder to shake Drew’s hand.
Maddie grinned at him, her eyebrows dancing.
“Likewise, Drew. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to freshen up this drink. And I think the birthday boy needs another, don’t you, Theo?” She disappeared in the direction of the bar with her almost-full drink and with an iron grip on Theo’s arm. Drew was pretty sure he was going to like Maddie.
“Hi,” he said, once they were alone. He touched her bare arm and this time didn’t let go. “Can I, um—can we talk for a minute?” Now that he’d seen her, he couldn’t just walk back to his barstool.
She looked in the direction that Theo and Maddie had disappeared in, and then back at him. Shit, was she going to tell him to go away?
“Sure,” she finally said. He grabbed her hand and pulled her deeper into the corner.
“Look, I’m sorry about what I said. In the texts, I mean. I wasn’t thinking,” he said, once the din around them was a little quieter. He wanted to step closer but didn’t want her to back away.
She squeezed his hand.
“No, Drew, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have started all of that. It wasn’t . . . I didn’t want . . .”
He looked down at her. That strapless dress she was wearing . . . he wanted to pull down the neckline and kiss her in that hollow between her breasts.
“I wasn’t,” he blurted out. “I mean, I’m not. I mean . . .” She looked up at him with a question in her eyes, and he realized how incoherent he was being. “What you asked me in that text. I’m not sleeping with anyone else.”
When she met his eyes and smiled, he stepped closer to her. She didn’t move away.
“You look great tonight,” he said. She released his hand, and his heart fell for a second. When he felt her fingers stroke his waistline and pull him against her, he sighed in relief.
“I’m glad you’re here,” she said.
His hand moved from her arm to her waist. He bent down to kiss her just as she reached up to him.
The kiss was familiar and a surprise all at the same time. It was like coming home to kiss her, like sliding naked into a freshly made bed with sheets just from the dryer, warm and sexy and everything he wanted. He cupped her face and kissed her harder.
She bit his lip and he jumped.
“Were you getting me back for something there?” He licked her lip.
She laughed against his mouth, and he laughed with her. How had he even thought about giving her up?
“Just checking to make sure it’s really you. That you’re really here.”
He felt a hand on his back and flinched. He turned his head and shielded Alexa with his body. If this was that Theo . . .
He relaxed when he saw Carlos behind him.
“When you’re done here, there’s pizza up at the bar, and . . . Alexa!” Carlos’s voice lost the stiffness, and he backed away. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was you. Don’t mind me. Good to see you, Alexa.”
“Carlos!” She wiggled out from behind Drew to hug him. “Good to see you, too. It’s my friend Theo’s birthday party. Let me introduce you guys to some people.”
Alexa brought them both to the group around Theo and Maddie and did introductions all around. Theo didn’t quite look thrilled to see him, but at least he didn’t throw him out of the bar, not even when Alexa went off to the bathroom.
Alexa was not at all surprised to find Maddie lying in wait for her outside the bathroom door.
“So that’s Drew, huh?” Maddie said with a wide grin.
Alexa grinned back at her. Damn, had it felt good to flaunt him around the bar. And while he’d looked good every time she’d seen him, he looked especially good tonight, wearing a white button-down shirt with his tie loosened in that way that made her want to pull it all the way off and throw it on her bedroom floor. Or any bedroom floor.
Maddie grabbed her arm as she tried to walk back toward Drew and dragged her over to the bar.
“Is everything okay? Between you two, I mean.”
Alexa smiled and shrugged.
“I think so.”
Maddie raised one eyebrow. Damn, did she hate that Maddie could do that. She’d spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror as a teenager trying to figure out how to do it, with no luck.
The biggest problem with it was whenever Maddie did it to her, it worked.
“Last week . . . we had a fight. I started it—well, we both said stupid things, but I started it. He definitely made it worse, though. Anyway, we made up. And no, he’s not sleeping with anyone else.”
Maddie grinned and took a sip of her weak gin and tonic.
“Excellent. So . . . back together, then?”
“I don’t know if ‘together’ is the right word. How about, I’m back to trying to not overthink things. I’m just . . . happy he’s here right now, Mads. And that he seems happy to be here. With me. I’m going to enjoy being happy for now, okay?”
Maddie handed her a drink and clinked their glasses together.
“I am one hundred percent in favor of you being happy.”
She walked back over to Drew to find him deep in conversation with Nate. She turned to go ask Theo if he needed another drink, but before she could move away, Drew’s arm slid around her waist and secured her to his side. It turned out she didn’t even mind douchey Nate so much when she had Drew’s arm around her and his warm body against hers.
After a few minutes, she saw Maddie whisper something in Theo’s ear. Weird to see Theo and Maddie being friendly; they’d only ever barely tolerated each other before.
“Hey, Nate, what was that bourbon you wanted me to try?” Theo asked a few seconds later.
“Oh, it’s behind the bar. Let me go with you to show you. I brought it back from my trip to Kentucky. There are only a hundred cases of it produced a year. You’re lucky that I . . .” As they walked away, Theo turned back to her and winked.
She turned to Drew to make fun of Nate, but his mind was elsewhere.
“As much as I like your friends,” he said, his fingers stroking her waist, “I haven’t seen you in two weeks, and I’ve missed you. You think we can take off anytime soon?”
She should probably play it cool, right? Not show how much she couldn’t wait to be alone with him, how delighted she was that he’d told her he missed her; not admit how much she’d missed him, too, and that she desperately wanted to be naked in a bed—or out of a bed—with him. Not jump when he said how high. Yes, she absolutely should play it cool.
“Give me thirty seconds to get my jacket and tell Maddie I’m leaving.”
“I like that jacket,” Drew said as they stood outside, after summoning a ride by pressing a button on his phone.
She zipped it up against the frigid San Francisco summer night.
“Thanks, Maddie made me wear it tonight.” The way he was looking at her, she owed Maddie a bottle of wine for forcing her into this outfit. She remembered the bottles Maddie had brought over to her house after she’d sent those ill-fated text messages. Okay, maybe she owed Maddie a few bottles of wine.
“I’d like it even more if you were naked underneath it.” He played with the zipper, running it up and down while his eyes followed his fingers. She shivered.