Home > Only You (One and Only #1)(3)

Only You (One and Only #1)(3)
Author: Melanie Harlow

That said, I didn’t particularly feel like arguing about this. Nate was not going to understand my feelings.

“Well?” he prompted.

“Let’s just say I had a bad day,” I told him as I poured us some wine.

“Don’t tell me—the mother of the groom refuses to wear beige.”

“Very funny.” I handed him his glass. “Are we ever going to have a conversation where you don’t make fun of what I do?”

“I doubt it.” He took a sip. “Thanks. Now what were you trying to burn? And don’t bother lying because you’re horrible at it, and you know I’ll get the truth out of you anyway.”

It was true. I swear, the man could talk the bark off a tree. I steeled myself and gave in. “A wedding invitation.”

A grin tugged at his mouth. “Only you.” This is his favorite thing to say when I get myself into troublesome situations.

“It wasn’t just any wedding invitation,” I said defensively.

“Do go on.”

“It was for Lucy and Richard’s wedding.”

He gasped dramatically. “Lucy the Traitor and Richard the Turd are getting married?”

“Yes! And they had the audacity to invite me!” Thinking about it made me angry all over again. “Talk about rude. They don’t really want me there. They did it to spite me. To shove it in my face.”

“I see. And burning their wedding invitation was going to make you feel better?”

“I don’t know. I just got so mad, I needed to express it somehow. Don’t you ever get that mad?” I asked him, although I knew the answer. Nate could always keep his cool. He probably didn’t even sweat in the sauna.

“Nope. I don’t give anyone that sort of power over me.”

I rolled my eyes. “I know, I know. Feelings are bad.”

“I never said feelings are bad.”

“You just don’t have them,” I prodded.

“I have them. But I’m careful with them—not like some people I know who hand them over at every opportunity.” He gave me a pointed look over the rim of his wine glass.

“I don’t hand them over,” I said in a huff.

“You’re at least buy one, get one free.” He took a drink, enjoying this a little too much.

“Well, how am I supposed to turn it off? When I feel something, I feel it deeply.” I paused and took another drink, then studied the toes of my shoes. “My sister says I’m not balanced, that I lack inner peace.” I peeked up at him. “Do you think that?”

“Normally, I think all that stuff is a bunch of BS.” A smile tugged at his lips as he glanced behind him at the charred rabbit. “But in your case, I think it might be true.”

I bristled. “Sorry I’m not as perfect as you.”

“No one is.” He countered my dirty look with a wink. “Look. Did it ever occur to you that maybe the invitation was sincere? Maybe they thought you’d want to come.”

“Are you being serious right now?”

He shrugged. “You told them you didn’t care about their relationship. You told them you were happy for them.”

“I was lying, Nate! I didn’t want them to see how hurt I felt. How stupid I was.”

“You weren’t stupid, Emme.” Nate shook his head. “You trusted people you shouldn’t have. It happens all the time. Have you seen my car? My flat screen? My wristwatch collection? All paid for with disappointment and broken trust.”

I frowned. “That doesn’t help. I feel like a fool.”

“So you’ve learned a lesson. Don’t be so trusting next time. Don’t get so carried away.”

“I guess.” But somehow his advice didn’t make me feel any better. Why wouldn’t I trust someone who claimed to care about me? Who said he loved me? Who gave me every indication, at least outwardly, that he was happy? How was I supposed to know who to trust and who would disappoint me? My eyes filled with tears. Embarrassed, I tried to blink them away.

Nate tapped me on the nose. “Hey. Cheer up, Calamity. It’s Friday night. Let’s do something fun.” He finished the wine in his glass and set it on the counter.

“No date tonight?” I asked, surprised. Rare was the weekend night Nate wasn’t out on the town with a beautiful woman—or several—on his arm. I’d seen them leaving his apartment the next morning on multiple occasions. He definitely had a type: tall, bombshell brunettes with long legs and big chests. Needless to say, I did not fit the bill, which was just as well. I didn’t want a man who was “careful” with his feelings. I wanted a man who was generous with them. And I liked being different from all those one-nighters. Our friendship felt special.

He shook his head. “Originally, I was going to have dinner with my mother, but she wasn’t feeling well enough to make the drive down.”

“Oh. Nothing serious, I hope.”

“Nothing serious. Anyway, lucky for you, that means my evening is free. Do you want to go out? Or come over and watch a movie? I’ll even watch Skyfall.”

We both loved Bond flicks, but Nate considered every Bond actor other than Sean Connery a personal affront. I happened to prefer Daniel Craig. “That’s big of you.”

“What can I say? I’m that kind of guy. And I don’t like to see you so upset.” He grabbed my head and wobbled it side to side. “So let’s do something to put a smile on that face. Preferably something that does not involve fire.”

I tried to push his hands away, but I was laughing. “That could have happened to anybody.”

“Nope. Only you.” He started for the door, and I trailed at his heels. “Come over whenever.”

“You’re telling me you’ve never started a fire in the kitchen by mistake? Not even a small one?”

Reaching the door, he pulled it open and tossed a rakish grin over his shoulder. “I set my fires in the bedroom, Calamity. And they’re never small.”

My stomach flipped as the door shut behind him, his words setting off a stirring deep inside me. Relax, you silly fool. He’s not flirting with you—he’s bragging.

Back in the kitchen, I got some paper towels and started to clean up the mess on the counter, shoving the thought of Nate in his bedroom from my mind.

But the fluttery feeling in my belly lingered.

Two

Nate

I made sure the door to Emme’s apartment locked behind me. As of yet she had not called me to save her from a masked intruder, but no sense inviting disaster. Emme did that well enough on her own.

Still smiling at the thought of her crawling frantically toward the door to “save” me, I let myself into my apartment across the hall. Like Emme’s, it was open and spacious, lots of dark wood and exposed brick, and nearly an entire wall of old-fashioned, multi-paned windows, arched at the top. Her apartment and mine were actually mirror images of each other, with the kitchen at one end, above which was a loft bedroom, and the rest of the living space open all the way up to the exposed ducts and pipes and beams reminiscent of the building’s industrial history. But other than the bones and layout, our lofts were completely different.

Mine was masculine but sophisticated—leather upholstery, chrome finishes, sturdy-legged tables and chairs with hard edges and straight lines. This was not a frat-boy man cave with fucking futons and bean bags and plastic cup rings on the coffee table. At thirty-five, I was over that shit. This was a classy-as-fuck bachelor pad. I had framed art on the walls, expensive rugs on the floor, and guests drank good booze out of real fucking glasses they could set on stone coasters while they relaxed on deep, comfortable couches.

Emme’s apartment was nice, too, but her style was much more girly and dramatic. A pink velvet sofa. Curvy tables and chairs. Fluffy cream-colored blankets and pillows and rugs. Gold accents. A crystal chandelier over her table. I’d never seen her bedroom, but I imagined it was much the same—a big bed covered by a puffy, ruffled down comforter and heaped with pink and ivory pillows she had to tunnel through to get in. She probably had a crystal chandelier up there, too. I once teased her that her apartment looked like it had been decorated by Marie Antoinette. She punched my shoulder, but secretly I think she took it as a compliment.

   
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