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.”Jayce shrugged.“I can talk.Just works better with the bar between us.”“It does, doesn’t it?”“Yeah.So…let’s go over there.”Kellen started to laugh at him and tell him it was completely unnecessary, but then he realized he wanted his friend’s company this morning.He showered in the gym locker room and dressed and then drove to Jayce’s bar, which wasn’t open yet.But Jayce led him in through the back and then stood behind the counter while Kellen sat on a stool.“Whiskey?” Jayce asked.“It’s nine in the morning.”“Mimosa?”Kellen laughed.The great thing about Jayce the bartender was he always knew the right drink to serve.He was mixing something even as he was joking about Mimosas.He poured two Tom Collins and handed one to Kellen, who took a drink and then sighed.“I cried actual tears the night we ended it.”Jayce didn’t say anything.“I don’t know how I got so hooked so fast.It’s like all or nothing with her.”“Some chicks are like that.”“She just…needs you so intensely, but then at the same time she’s shoving you away.I can’t live like that.I don’t want to.”“Then don’t.”Kellen nodded and drank.“Wish I didn’t miss her, is all.Wish we hadn’t had those few insanely memorable moments together.”“Sex good?”Kellen looked at him and shook his head.“There are no words.”Jayce pressed his lips together in a semblance of a smile.“Well you can throw darts at her face if you want.”“I thought she took that picture down.”“Someone put it up again.”Kellen chuckled.“I’m not angry with her.I’m just—confused…and hurt.”Jayce took another drink.“You ever call Rick’s sister? Beverly, right?”“Yeah, Beverly.No, I never called her.” Now hardly seemed the time to be thinking about another woman.“Faster you fuck someone else, the faster you’ll be past the pain.”Kellen narrowed his eyes at Jayce.“You’re not even over your high school crush and you’ve been with dozens of women.”Jayce shrugged.“It’s just standard advice, man.”“Yeah, well, what do you think I should do? I don’t want standard advice, I want you to tell me what you think of me and Zoey.”He shrugged again.“I think it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”“That’s all? Me and Zoey don’t make sense?”“I don’t know, man.What do you want me to say? You’ve been seeing each other less than a month, you fell hard and fast—it’s surprising is all.Doesn’t mean it can’t work.It’s just—unexpected.”“Well, would it be ridiculous of me to try and make it work? Or would I just be prolonging the pain?”“Oh, there’ll definitely be pain.”Kellen laughed and shook his head.“Yeah, all right.But, like you said, this has been less than a month.Is there enough there to try and salvage?”“One fight and it’s over—sounds pretty weak.”Kellen took a drink and thought about it.“Yeah.I mean, if it falls apart that easily, there’s probably just not enough there to fix.”“No, I mean you.You sound pretty weak if you clock out after one fight.I’ve never actually witnessed this for myself, but I hear tell there’s such of a thing as a healthy, long-term relationship, and that those couples actually work through their problems.”“So you think I should work at this?”Jayce shrugged.“Depends on the nature of the problem.There’s some things that can’t be fixed, and you have to decide whether you can live with that.Like, maybe Zoey will grow up a little and quit throwing public temper tantrums—but she’s always gonna have a temper.Can you live with that?”Kellen frowned.“And, she’s always gonna have a mother she loves and wants to take care of.Maybe she’ll change on that, but you have to be prepared to live with it.Can you?”“Hmm.”“She’ll learn to think before she reacts, but she’s always going to say things that are hurtful and then have to apologize for them.Can you live with that?”Kellen blew out a breath.“I’ve met Beverly.She doesn’t seem like the kind to lose her temper.”Jayce drained his drink.“Yeah, Beverly probably doesn’t have any intolerable flaws.Best call her.”“What’s with the tone?”Jayce just gave him an inscrutable look.Kellen finished his drink.As usual, not a lot of help from Jayce.He was a good listener and supporter but definitely hit-and-miss in the advice department.CHAPTER THIRTYZoey had only been to Kellen’s cabin that once, but she had no trouble finding it again.She parked and slammed her car door shut, hoping to announce her presence.She made it halfway up the brick path toward the door before Sophie came flying out.“Aunt Zoey!”“Yay! Sophie, girl, I’ve missed you!” She lifted the five-year-old into her arms and spun her around.Matthew came out a second later and gave her a side hug.“Hey, Aunt Zoey.”“Hey, stud.”She looked up and saw Maya standing in the doorway, smiling sweetly.Her bruises were barely visible, just faint discolorations.Zoey put Sophie down and went into Maya’s open arms.“I’m so sorry,” Zoey apologized.“You didn’t do anything to me.We just wanted you to have some space.”“And you wanted to get your kids away from the crazy Odell women.”Maya laughed.“That too.Come in.Kellen went to the gym.And I think the grocery store, too.We don’t have much food at the moment.”Kellen’s being gone was both a relief and a disappointment.Zoey followed Maya and the kids inside.The place was gorgeous.Her last time there she’d been hurried upstairs to his bed.Now she got a chance to look around.The floor plan was open.They walked past the living room on their right and a set of stairs on their left that led to a loft.“That’s where Kellen sleeps,” Maya said.Zoey’s eyes drifted upwards and she couldn’t help imagining him up there, sprawled out naked on his big bed.The living room was sunken with two steps, making it feel separated even without walls.Beyond it was the dining room and to the left, the kitchen.To the right of the dining room and living room was a hallway.“The guest rooms are that way,” Maya said.“On the other side of the stairs is a den-slash-office.You wanna see?”“Sure.”She followed Maya into the den.It was a large room with lots of windows.Off to the back were some leather couches, a television, and a game console.Toward the front was Kellen’s desk and next to that, a drafting table.There were photos everywhere, but there, on top of his desk, were the photos he’d taken at her house.The children with their snowmen.“Isn’t that precious?” Maya asked.“He’s going to frame it for me.”Zoey smiled down at it [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]