“You hung out with that Delores chick?” he asks.

I nod. And test the waters. “Her, Kate, and Billy.”


He shakes his head. “That guy licks ass.”

Mackenzie walks over to us and holds up the Bad Word Jar—Alexandra’s invention—to keep us in check around her kid. It’s simultaneously a bane of my existence and completely f**king hysterical.

“He’s not so bad.”

Drew says, “Idiots annoy me.” And he loses another dollar.

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I think he does it on purpose—actually curses more than he would if the jar didn’t exist. Like a twisted sort of reverse psychology, just to buck the system and show his sister that he won’t be controlled.

And maybe you’re wondering why I haven’t told him about Billy and Kate’s breakup? The answer is simple: Guys don’t f**king gossip. We don’t talk about shit like that—other people’s relationship issues. We barely talk about our own relationship issues. It’s just that simple.

Plus, Drew would be on Kate like white on rice, if he knew she got dumped. Because everyone knows dumped chicks are low-hanging fruit. Easy pickings. I think it would give him an unfair advantage in their little battle of the sexes. One he doesn’t need.

Lastly, people break up all the time . . . only to get back together the very next day. Despite what Dee said, Billy seemed pretty devastated over Kate. I have a feeling he’s going to try for one more at bat before that particular game gets called.

There’s no point in getting Drew’s hopes up in the meantime.

“So what’s the deal with you and Delores?” he asks.

I smile. And keep it simple. “We’re hanging out. She’s cool.”

“I’m assuming you’ve nailed her?”

I frown. Because even though I know he doesn’t mean to be disrespectful, Dee’s not just some random chick. Hearing him talk about her like she is feels disrespectful. So I set him straight. “It’s not like that, Drew.”

Now he’s confused. “Then what’s it like, Matthew? You haven’t hung out in over two weeks. I can understand you being too pu**y-whipped to come out if you’re getting some. But if not, what’s the deal?”

I wait for Mackenzie to approach us with the Bad Word Jar . . . but she doesn’t. Guess she didn’t hear that one.

Then I try to get Drew to understand, but since he’s never been in love with anyone except himself, I really don’t know if he can. “She’s just . . . different. It’s hard to explain. We talk, you know? And I’m always kind of thinking about her. It’s like the minute I drop her off, I can’t wait to see her again. She just . . . amazes me. I wish you knew what I meant.”

He warns me. “You’re in dangerous territory, man. You see what Steven goes through. This path leads to the Dark Side. We always said we wouldn’t go there. You sure about this?”

I just keep smiling. And in my best Darth Vader voice I tell him, “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side.”

This Thanksgiving dinner is definitely one for the record books. Or the scrapbooks. If I’d had my camera handy, I totally would have documented the entire hilarious, horrifying debacle. It was stupid of me to think the all-hearing Mackenzie didn’t pick up on Drew calling me “pussy-whipped.” She heard, all right. The reason she didn’t charge him was because she didn’t know it was a “bad word.”

After she repeated it at the Thanksgiving Day dinner table? Then she knew. And all hell broke loose.

I can’t help but chuckle again. Her asking Steven, “ ‘Wha’s pu**y-whipped, Daddy?’ ” will forever live in my brain as the funniest f**king thing I’ve ever heard. I was so shocked, I spit out the black olive in my mouth and almost blinded Steven when it hit him right in the eye. Drew’s father practically choked to death on his turkey and my mother knocked over her glass of wine—leaving a permanent reminder on Anne Evans’s lace table cloth.

Good times.

Alexandra was rightly and truly pissed. Of course, if her ire was directed at me, I probably wouldn’t find it so awesomely amusing. But it’s aimed squarely at Drew, so I laugh over Mackenzie’s parody and its aftershocks the entire ride home.

I only wish Delores had been with me to see it. Speaking of Dee, before I get back to the city, I stop for gas and call her to see how her day went.

“Better than expected,” she says. “But, can I stay at your place tonight? My cousin is channeling his feelings into his music. And while I love listening to him sing, if I have to hear one more f**king song about his heart breaking, I’m going to make our food poisoning episode look like a hiccup.”

And my life just got a whole lot more perfect. I know when things first started with Dee and I, she said she wasn’t into relationships. And I know she’s had her moments of insecurity—but look at us now. She’s coming to me, asking to stay at my place. That’s a huge tell. It means she wants the same things I do. That we’re on the same page. That she’s invested—interested in a future—with me.

I chuckle against the cell phone. “Sure, I’ll be at my apartment in thirty minutes. Come on over, baby.”

It’s always darkest before the dawn. It’s a common saying. What’s less common, but equally true is, Pride comes before the fall.

Remember a while back I told you that women needed to stop playing the victim card? Stop reading into a guy’s actions, thinking they mean something more than they do, and just accept what a man is telling them, straight up? I was so into Dee, so eager to take what we had and run with it all the way into the end zone, I ignored my own advice.

Ever heard of the myth of Icarus?

You probably weren’t expecting a Greek mythology lesson, but indulge me anyway—this is important. Icarus was the son of a master craftsman. His father made him a pair of wings out of feathers and wax and warned him, before he took off, to stay on the flight path. Not to fly too high. Icarus agreed.

But once he was airborne, he was so caught up in how amazing it felt—the beauty and warmth of the sun—he forgot all about the warning. He ignored the signs that were right in front of him because he was positive he knew where he was going, thought he had everything under control.

You can guess what happened next. Yep, Icarus got burned. His wings fell apart and he came crashing back to earth.

Unfortunately . . . I can relate to that.

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