But Drew had immediately believed her. Why did a little thing like that touch her so much? She reached for his hand.
“No, it was okay, I handled it. Just . . . come over if you see him cornering me again?”
He squeezed her hand and smiled.
“Absolutely. Here, let’s go talk to some better people.”
He introduced her to his friend Luke, another doctor at his hospital, and Luke’s husband, Brendan, one of the aforementioned dudes from his basketball league.
“Ahh, you’re the reason for Drew’s mysterious trips up to the Bay Area as of late,” Luke said. “So nice to meet you.”
Did . . . Was Drew blushing? It could just be sunburn, but she hadn’t noticed his cheeks that color pink five minutes ago.
“Nice to meet you, too, Luke, Brendan.”
Brendan gestured at her drink.
“Is that the sangria? How is it?”
She took another sip and realized she was almost halfway through this glass.
“It’s great, but be forewarned, it has more of a kick to it than I expected. If Drew has to carry me out of here in a few hours, it’s because I had more than two glasses of this stuff.”
“Uh-oh,” Drew said. “Should I go get us some food to soak up all of that alcohol? There are burgers, hot dogs, sausages . . .”
“Definitely a hot dog,” Alexa said. “It’s the 4th of July. It’s un-American not to have a hot dog!”
Luke’s eyebrows went up and he opened his mouth. Brendan kicked him and he closed it.
“I saw that,” Alexa said, and all four of them laughed.
“I don’t know you quite well enough for a sausage joke yet, so pretend you didn’t see that.” Luke paused. “I can tell it after you’ve had that third sangria.”
“Oh no, I’m scared to leave you with these two now. God only knows what they’re going to do or say.”
Alexa waved Drew away.
“Go on, get me my hot dog, I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces as I eat it and they have to hold their jokes in. Maybe for dessert there will be popsicles?”
After all four of them ate hot dogs—with most of the jokes at Drew’s expense—Alexa excused herself to both refresh her sangria and go to the bathroom. Coming out of the bathroom, she ran into Heather and Emma, along with Lucy and Robin from the night before.
“Hey, Alexa!” Heather said. “Having fun? I was just taking this crew to the kitchen for some of the white sangria, I haven’t put it out yet. Do you want to try it?”
Never one to say no to an offer like that, Alexa followed the other women into the kitchen.
“So Alexa,” Heather said as she poured the sangria, “do you live here in Santa Monica?”
Alexa glanced around the room to see if the others were all looking at her. Not yet, at least. How long ago had Heather and Drew dated? She wondered if the ranks were going to close against her like with Molly’s bridesmaids at the wedding.
“No, just here for the weekend. I live up in Berkeley, actually.”
Lucy’s eyes shot to her face. What had she said?
“Are you from there? What do you do up there?” Lucy took a sip of her own sangria without her eyes leaving Alexa’s face.
“Yeah. I mean, yeah, I’m from the Bay Area. I work for the mayor of Berkeley.”
The other three women burst out laughing. She looked around at the four of them with raised eyebrows.
“What did I say?” Was this going to be like junior high, where people would corner you and laugh in your face?
Robin took a sip of her sangria and grinned.
“Oh, we’re just laughing because we know Lucy isn’t going to leave your side for the rest of the night.”
Lucy rolled her eyes.
“Don’t worry, they’re making fun of me, not you. See, I keep talking about quitting my job as a teacher and going to law school, and the law school at Berkeley is supposed to be great for the kind of law I want to do. But just because you work for the mayor and live there doesn’t mean you’re an expert on the law school . . . does it?”
Alexa held her glass out to Heather for a refill.
“Maybe not an expert, but I did graduate from Berkeley Law School, so . . .”
Lucy crossed the room so fast she almost knocked into Heather.
“Tell me everything.”
After Alexa went inside, Drew got his share of teasing from Luke and Brendan.
“Good God, you should see the way you look at her,” Luke said. “It’s like me when I’m looking at . . .”
“A really fat sausage?” Brendan suggested.
“Oh, shut up, both of you,” Drew said, after Luke and Brendan recovered from their peals of laughter.
“No, no, but it’s cute,” Brendan said. “Look at you—you keep glancing toward the house to see if she’s coming back and trying to pretend that you’re just looking at your drink.”
Drew shifted his eyes back in their direction. Okay, fine, they caught him looking for her. He was just trying to make sure she made it back outside okay. No, that excuse didn’t even work in his own head.
Eventually, Kat, another doctor at the hospital, came over to them.
“Hey, Drew,” she said. “Did I see you running on the beach yesterday? I shouted to you, but if it was you, you didn’t answer.” Kat lived not far from him, and they went running together sometimes.
“Around noon? Yeah, that was me. I guess I was preoccupied. Sorry I didn’t say hi.” He glanced toward the house again.
“Huh, what could you have been preoccupied with this weekend?” Brendan said, between bites of hot dog. “Or should I say, who?”
“You two are such assholes,” Drew said. He didn’t know if they heard him through their laughter.
“Enough law school talk,” Heather ordered. By this time, they were all sitting around the kitchen table. “Let’s talk about something more interesting. Alexa, how did you meet Drew?”
Hmm, which story was she supposed to tell? They hadn’t really discussed that.
“We met at a wedding.” She took another sip. Oh well, if Drew didn’t want her to tell the truth, he should have told her their cover story before she’d had all of this sangria. “Sort of. In the elevator a few days before his ex-girlfriend’s wedding, actually. He needed a date, and I was free that night, so . . .”
The whole table cracked up, Alexa included.
“Oh, that’s such a Drew story,” Robin said. “Meets a girl in an elevator, convinces her to go with him to a wedding that night.”
“It wasn’t that night. It was . . .”
Emma broke in.
“Was this that wedding in May? Oh man, I was supposed to go with him to that wedding, but my dad had surgery so I couldn’t go.”
Wait, this was that Emma? Had everyone at this table dated Drew?
“Has everyone at this table dated Drew?” Shit, she probably shouldn’t have said that out loud. But at least now she’d get an answer.
“Not me!” Lucy said. But Heather, Emma, and Robin all rose their hands. Huh.
“He’s a sweetheart,” Robin said. “We had a great time while it lasted.”
Everyone else at the table nodded.
“How long did . . . Why did it end?” Alexa asked them. What was she supposed to do, not ask these women who had all dated Drew that, when she was both tipsy and had been thinking about that very topic for days? She did not have that much willpower.
Heather was the one who answered her.
“At least for me, it was when it was going really well. I was starting to think . . . well, whatever, I’ve been over it for a while. But after about two months, he came over one night and gave me a little speech about how it was best to end things when we—”
“Were still friends?” Emma jumped in. “Yeah, I got that same speech. He was really sweet about it, though. Even sent me flowers afterward, to make sure there were no hard feelings.”
“I got the same speech, also after about two months, but no flowers. The flowers must be new.”