“Getting us out of a ticket.” She pinches her cheeks and bites her lip, making them plumper, rosier.
I smirk. “You think it’s that easy?”
She bats her long-lashed eyes. “Please. Men are the simplest of all creatures. They’re mesmerized by the boobage ’cause they don’t have any. Turns their brains to mush. I’ll have us out of here in five minutes.”
My smirk spreads into a wide, smug grin when I catch sight of the officer of the law before Sofia does. Sofia turns to her left, eyes wide and innocent. “Is there a problem, Off— Oh. Damn.”
The policeman is actually a policewoman.
Step aside, boobage: this is a job for the Jury Charmer.
I lean across the seat, smiling seductively, my voice as smooth and persuasive as The King’s. “Good morning, Officer. What can I do for you?”
• • •
After a sincere apology and my promise to not let my overzealous companion anywhere near the wheel gets us out of the speeding ticket, we spend the next twelve hours making good time on the road. It’s after dark by the time we check into a Motel 6, dusty, dirty, hungry, and tired.
I have every reason to be presumptuous, so I get us one room with a nice king-size bed. Sofia heads straight for the shower, while I venture out to pick up a pizza, a six-pack for me, and a bottle of wine for her.
I walk into the room just as she’s coming out of the bathroom, running a brush through her long, wet hair, a silk dark green nightshirt clinging to her curves. Her face is free of makeup, giving her a more innocent, younger look than I’m used to seeing on her. Protective warmth unfurls low in my stomach.
She lights up when she spots the pizza. “God bless you!”
Three slices later, we sit at the cramped, round table. Nibbling a piece of crust, she asks, “So, what’s the plan? Who am I?”
I swallow a mouthful of beer. “What do you mean?”
“I mean . . . am I the new girlfriend? Your date for the wedding? Have you never seen My Best Friend’s Wedding?”
I scoff. “No, thankfully, I haven’t.”
“Should I be making Jenny jealous? A man is never as attractive as when he’s got his arm around another woman. Or I could flirt with her fiancé. Test his faithfulness. That would give you some serious ammo against him.”
I’m not sure what bothers me more—hearing a man referred to as Jenny’s fiancé, or the thought of Sofia flirting with him. “I don’t like head games. They’re too manipulative. Undignified, you know?”
Sofia shrugs. “If you want to win, sometimes you have to play dirty.”
I shake my head. “I prefer a different kind of dirty.” I drink my beer, then explain why the idea leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. “A few years ago, I was seeing a woman named Rebecca. We met at a conference.”
She chuckles. “Professional conferences are as fertile mating grounds as swinger parties.”
I laugh, agreeing with her. “I didn’t go into details with her about Jenny, but I made it clear we were strictly casual.”
“Of course you did.”
“Anyway, she said she was fine with that. We hooked up twice—and then she started pulling all kinds of sneaky shit. Dropping hints about other guys she was seeing, making plans with me, then breaking them—trying to play hard to get—while at the same time finding excuses to randomly drop by the apartment. She became clingy and her games were annoying. The whole thing just made her seem . . . pathetic. I ended it real quick.”
“Did it bother you that she disrupted the ‘strictly casual’ by falling for you, or that she tried to manipulate you into returning her feelings?” Sofia asks.
“Both, I guess.”
Sofia nods with understanding. “The direct approach it is, then. So I’m there to . . .”
“You’re there to make sure I don’t stick my foot in my mouth or up someone’s ass. To keep me on track. Jenn and I have a long history together, and we have Presley. She said she’s only been seeing James Dean for a few months, so I can’t believe that any feelings she has for him could be anywhere as strong as what she feels for me. I think this whole thing is her cry for help, really.”
“You think she’s feeling neglected?”
“Exactly. So I’ll show her she’s got my attention.”
She takes a long swig of her wine, draining half the glass. “And after that? Do you think you’ll . . . propose to Jenny?”
I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. I rub the back of my neck. “It’s complicated. I don’t want her marrying anyone else, that’s for damn sure. But . . . Presley’s still in school; I don’t know if they’d want to move to DC now. I always pictured Jenny and me getting married . . . later. When we’re older.”