“OLIVIA, eww, no.”
“I knew that was too much to hope for. My prude of a little sister strikes again.”
Alexa’s hand tightened around her glass. Now she was a prude for not throwing her clothes off for a stranger in an elevator?
“I’m not a prude, but thanks for that.”
This always had to happen, didn’t it? Whenever they got together, her hopes were high, but within the first five minutes either she would manage to say something passive-aggressive to her sister, or Olivia would somehow make her feel inadequate.
Olivia nudged her once and again when Alexa didn’t look up the first time.
“It’s not an insult, Lexie. You know you’ve always been the well-behaved one.”
Olivia hadn’t called her Lexie in a long time. She forced herself to smile.
“Anyway.” Alexa stood up and poured the rest of the champagne into their glasses. The bubbles would cheer her up. “You should get ready. Even though you are in San Francisco, I don’t think you want to show up to dinner in that robe.”
“I bet I could make it the latest style.” Olivia grabbed a dress out of her suitcase and pulled it over her head.
“Zip me up.” Alexa jumped up behind her. “You distracted me with that whole sex-in-the-elevator thing. What’s the rest of the story?”
“Excuse me, I distracted you?”
“Semantics. Continue.” Olivia reached into her purse for a lipstick.
Alexa slid her now-much-emptier purse over her shoulder and her right foot into a shoe.
“To make a long story short: I’m going to be his date to a wedding this weekend.”
Olivia froze in place with lipstick only on her bottom lip.
“Well.” Alexa smiled. “I shocked you now. That’s a first.”
Drew tossed his bag on the hotel bed and grinned at the view from his window. He pulled out his phone and texted his buddy in L.A., Carlos, who had heard everything there was to hear about the saga of this wedding.
Found a date for the wedding.
Thirty seconds later, his phone buzzed.
Didn’t you swear off women? Like, specifically because of this wedding?
Oh right, he had done that, hadn’t he?
Ok yes but this is an exception.
He investigated the sure-to-be-overpriced minibar. What the hell. He opened a beer and sank down on the bed.
Uh-huh. Where’d you find this one, in between SFO and your hotel? Nothing about you should surprise me. And yet.
He knew Carlos would appreciate this.
IN my hotel, if you can believe it. In the elevator.
Drew took a long drink of his beer and pulled off his shirt.
Let me guess, tall, blond, big fake boobs.
Well, this would definitely surprise Carlos.
Short, black, real boobs.
Drew stripped and jumped in the shower, bringing the rest of his beer with him. This morning he had cursed his Friday breakfast meeting in Oakland with his mentor that forced him to get to San Francisco on Thursday night. Now he thanked whichever god had inspired Dr. Davis to schedule that meeting so early in the first place. And also the one that made him follow Alexa onto that elevator.
Even though he was paranoid about running into another member of the Rogers-Allen wedding party, he took a chance and left his room to get a burrito from his favorite San Francisco taqueria. He pulled his hoodie up over his head as he crossed the hotel lobby, though. No need to take too many chances. Luckily, he made it there and back scot-free.
Fate wasn’t as kind to Drew the next morning. As he got off the elevator in the lobby, he almost bumped into none other than Josh Rogers, who was holding a cardboard tray with two big Starbucks cups in one hand and a paper bag in the other.
“Drew! Oh man, it’s so great to see you!” Josh said, a wide smile on his face.
“Yeah, man, same,” Drew lied, happy at least that Josh’s hands were full and they couldn’t do the full bro hug that he could see Josh wanted.
“You just get here? I just got coffee for me and Molly. Come up to the room and say hi? We’re a little crazy with wedding stuff, but I know we’d both love to catch up with you!”
“Oh man, I wish I could.” Josh was so nice and cheerful that lying to him was like lying to a puppy. Easy and mean all at the same time. “I have to run. I’m heading out to have breakfast with Dr. Davis. He’s at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, you know.”
“Wow, that’s great! I’d love to hear more about what you’ re—”
“Sorry, Josh, I don’t want to be late. I’ll catch up with you later?”
“Yeah, yeah, definitely. See you tonight at the rehearsal. Oh, Molly said you RSVP’d with a plus-one? New girlfriend, or . . .?”
“Yeah, new girlfriend. She’ll be there tonight.”
“Awesome, man! I can’t wait to meet her. Do me a favor and text me how to spell her name? For the place cards, you know.” Josh smiled with a dreamy look in his eyes. “Molly’s been asking.”
“Oh right, of course, of course. I’ll let you know. Gotta run. See you tonight!”
Drew was halfway across the Bay Bridge before it hit him. New girlfriend. Shit.
Alexa stumbled into her City Hall office at 7:25 Friday morning, hungover from that bottle of champagne and all the cocktails she and Olivia had had at dinner. As she pushed open her office door, her work phone and cell phone rang simultaneously.
She dropped her bag on the floor, set her full cup of coffee down on her desk, and shook her head. “Not today, Satan. I’m not falling for your tricks today. My coffee hasn’t even had time to cool.”
“Talking to our coffee again?”
Alexa looked up to see Theo, the mayor’s communications director and one of her best friends, standing in her doorway.
“I cannot be expected to talk to anyone except my coffee this early in the morning. I blame you for this.” She blew on her coffee in the futile hope that it would cool faster.
“I know you do. Sorry for the early-morning meeting, but the boss gets on a plane to San Diego at eleven, and we’ve got to . . .”
She waved her hand, stopping him.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. You did bring me doughnuts, didn’t you?”
“I did not bring you doughnuts; I brought doughnuts for your boss, the mayor, who should not eat doughnuts but loves them almost as much as you.”
She pulled a few files out of her bag and grabbed her laptop and the coffee, and they walked toward the conference room.
“Yes, yes, but did you—”
“Yes, I saved a glazed with rainbow sprinkles for you. What are you, a six-year-old girl? You’re the mayor’s chief of staff. You should be eating a chocolate croissant or fresh fruit and granola or something.”
“Six was a wonderful time in my life. I try to keep it alive at all costs, thank you very much,” she said. “Have I ever told you that you look just like a black Clark Kent?”
Theo adjusted his glasses.
“Yes, every time you’re trying to sweet-talk me into being your cheerleader. I’ve got your back during this meeting; no need to butter me up.” He frowned at her. “Today, that is.”
She grinned at him and snagged her doughnut, just as the mayor and his secretary walked into the room.
“Why, exactly, are we here this early, Theodore?” Mayor Emmitt boomed out, before investigating the pink doughnut box.
“You have a trip to San Diego scheduled for the climate change conference this afternoon, and so—”
“Yes, yes, I know, let’s get on with it. Alexa, what’s this thing about delinquent teenagers?”
She locked eyes with Theo, took a long sip of her coffee, and flipped open her laptop.
“Well, sir . . .”
An hour later, she finally managed the second bite of her doughnut as the mayor walked out the door on the way to his next meeting.
“Lex, you know how he is. It’ll take a little time.” Theo handed her the now-lukewarm coffee as they got up to walk to their offices.
She shrugged and tried to smile.
“I know. Thanks for the support in there.”