He actually takes a moment to consider the question. But doesn’t get it.
“Why would it be weird? We’re friends.”
And I’m forced to point out the obvious. “Friends who have sex!”
Wild, sweaty, unforgettable sex that leaves me exhaustedly, wonderfully sore. Sex we could be having at this very moment . . . if an envelope hadn’t arrived that shot it all to shit.
Rubbing the towel across his ridged torso, he agrees. “Exactly. We’re friends who fuck—that’s nothing like what me and Jenn are.”
The breath is knocked from my lungs—but he doesn’t notice. And I want to punch him in his stupid boy mouth, so he can’t say any more stupid words.
But it’s his expression that stops me from doing it. Innocent, bewildered curiosity shines in his wide green eyes, making him look young and guiltless. Sherman gave me the same look after he mauled a pair of six-hundred-dollar shoes.
A look that says: Huh? What I’d do?
I switch tactics. “I can’t possibly take off from work. My schedule’s packed.”
He doesn’t believe me, because he knows my schedule as well as his own.
He steps closer, grabbing my cell phone off the table behind me. “What’s your code?”
I tighten my lips deliberately.
He just rolls his eyes and punches in a few numbers. He gets it on the first try.
“Your birthday?” he says with a mocking snort. “You should take your security more seriously.”
He accesses my calendar. “You don’t have any court dates. You have one deposition and one client consultation. Brent and Jake could cover those for you.”
Stay strong, Sofia.
“I don’t want them to cover for me.”
Stanton changes tactics too. “You grew up in Chicago, went to school in Boston, and now you live in DC—you’ve never been to the country, never been to the South. You’ll love it—it’ll be like a vacation.”
I snort. “Mississippi in June? It’ll be like a vacation in hell.” Before he can counter, I add, “Besides . . . I don’t fly.”
He wasn’t expecting that. “What do you mean?”
I point to my right side, where the jagged scar adorns my rib cage. “The plane crash, when I was a child? No one in my family has stepped foot in a plane since.”
He gazes off to my left with squinting eyes, reevaluating his plan, and hopefully my role in it. Then his jaw clenches with conviction. “We’ll drive. We’ll get there in two days—later than I’d wanted, but still enough time. And hey, you can drive the Porsche! I’ll be able to make good on that bet: two birds, one stone.”
All out of excuses, I tell him softly, “I think me coming home with you is a really, really bad idea.”
Stanton holds my stare for a moment . . . then he lowers his chin, breathing deep. And he looks . . . defeated. Sad. Completely not like himself.
And there’s a pull—the desire to put my arms around him and tell him it’ll all be all right. To see him smile that beautiful smile again. The part of me that really is his friend wants to help him.
Unfortunately, the part of me that wants to keep being his lover votes to drop-kick her on her ass.
“I know I’m asking a huge favor,” he says in a low, scratchy voice. “But I’m only asking because this is hugely fucking important to me. And you’re the only one who can help. Please, Sofia. I need you.”
Three words. Again. The only ones he really needed to say.
This time I lower my head with a defeated sigh.
Some ideas hit you like a flash of lightning—a quick shock of brilliance. Like that story in grade school of how gravity first occurred to Sir Isaac Newton—with a knock to the head by an apple. Other ideas aren’t as obvious or immediate. They stew in the back of your mind, simmering slowly, then eventually boil to the forefront. And when the proverbial lightbulb goes off, you wonder why it took you so long to see it.
I went for a run to burn off the frustration of my conversation with Jenny. And somewhere along the path in front of the Lincoln Memorial it occurred to me what going home would entail. Clients would need to be passed off to other attorneys at the firm, extensions might have to be requested, Jake could take care of the apartment . . . and Sofia would be back here. In DC. Without me. Surrounded by a whole town of Richard Amsterdams who would swarm her like bears on an unclaimed honey pot.