Carlos shook his head and took a handful of fries.

“His mom was crying this time, too.”


Drew banged the beer down on the table, making it almost overflow.

“Just because I told her if she had been paying attention to her child, he wouldn’t have gotten injured like that, now I’m the bad guy?” He turned to Carlos, whose mouth was wide open.

Drew finished his beer and sighed.

“Fine, I am the bad guy. Get me another beer.”

Carlos passed him his own untouched beer and stood up to get more.

“Just tell me what happened,” he said when he got back to the couch. “It might make you feel better. I assume this is about Alexa, since you’re all sweaty from a run on the beach on Friday night and not from . . .”

Drew kicked Carlos and he laughed.

“What, you told me yourself that when the two of you get together, it’s all—”

Drew threw a French fry at him.

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“Do you want to hear this fucking story, or are you going to keep sitting there making jokes about my girlfriend?” He sighed. “Forget I said that; she’s not my girlfriend. She was never my girlfriend.”

Carlos grabbed a handful of French fries.

“Did you . . . want her to be your girlfriend?”

Drew gulped the third beer.

“I don’t know. Maybe. It doesn’t matter, though. She hates me now.”

Carlos raised his eyebrows.

“Do you not have eyes? Because that’s some bullshit right there. You forget, I’ve seen the two of you together. I’ve seen the way she looks at you. Unless you did something terrible that I don’t know about . . .”

Drew shook his head. Yeah, maybe she had looked at him like that, but that was before.

“I’ll tell you the whole story, then you’ll see.” Apparently the answer to Carlos’s earlier question was: “Three beers.”

It took him another beer to get all the way to the text message from Monday morning. Why did it hurt so much to tell Carlos what happened?

“See? I should have ended this a long time ago, before she could hate me.”

Carlos looked at the phone for a few seconds, and then up at Drew.

“No, you shouldn’t have ended it a long time ago. What the fuck is wrong with you? You know, I always thought you were kind of an idiot, but I never knew you were this fucking stupid.”

Drew stood up and kicked the table. Ketchup flew across the floor.

“I bare my fucking soul to you, tell you how a girl left me asleep and naked in my bed, and this is what I get? Fuck you. Why don’t you spend time dealing with your own fucked-up life, instead of worrying about mine?”

Carlos looked up at him from the couch with a blank expression on his face. He didn’t budge.

Drew put his head in his hands and shook his head. What was wrong with him? Carlos didn’t deserve that.

“Sorry. That was a shitty thing to say.”

Carlos nodded.

“It was. Sit down.”

Drew looked at him, looked at the mess on the floor, then at Carlos again. He sat back down on the couch.

Carlos sighed and leaned back against the couch cushions.

“Okay, look. I wasn’t sure whether to tell you this, but after what happened, I think I have to.”

Drew lunged for him.

“Did you actually hit on her? You fucking asshole, I never really thought—”

Carlos pushed him back down on the couch.

“Relax, dude, of course not. Come on, you know me better than that.”

Drew leaned back against the couch cushions and sighed.

“I do. I’m sorry. I’m a jackass. What terrible thing are you going to tell me now?”

Carlos stood up and dragged the coffee table back in place.

“It’s something Emma told me after you guys left the party. She said she was feeling kind of bad, because when she and Heather and Robin and Lucy were all in the kitchen with Alexa, they started talking about you.”

Drew slumped down and reached for a bottle, but they were all empty. Carlos went to the kitchen for more beer for both of them.

“This must be bad if you’re bringing me more beer. What did they say?”

Carlos opened both bottles and sighed.

“Well, I guess Alexa asked a few questions about you . . . and then they all ended up telling their, um, strikingly similar, I guess, stories of how you broke up with them.”

Shit. Drew dropped his head in his hands. That was why Alexa had been so upset all of a sudden. Carlos kept talking.

“She didn’t tell me exactly what they said, and she said Alexa didn’t seem upset about it, but . . .”

Drew lifted his head.

“She does a great fake smile. It fools most people.”

“But not you?” Carlos asked, sliding him his beer. Drew pushed it away.

“But not me.” He sighed. “She didn’t tell you what they said?”

Carlos took a handful of fries.

“No, but I can guess.” He raised his eyebrows, and Drew waved at him to continue. Better to get this over with. “I mean, I’ve seen your pattern. After a month or two, when things are going well, you give them the ‘Let’s be friends’ speech. Maybe she thought that was about to happen to her?”

He closed his eyes. Of course she’d thought that.

Carlos patted him on the shoulder.

“It’s okay, man. I think you can fix this.” He paused. “If you want to fix it?”

He couldn’t remember ever wanting something more.

“Of course I want to fix it, just like I want my med school loans to be magically wiped out, and every sick kid in our hospital to be well, and my knee to stop hurting when I run more than ten miles, but I know all of that is impossible, too.” He sat back against the couch cushions, taking his beer with him.

Carlos put down his food and stood up.

“So you’re just going to give up? You’re not even going to try to get her back?”

“What good would it do?” He sighed. “Plus, it’s not like I know how to have a real relationship. Even if it did work, I’d just fuck it up again.”

Carlos sat back down in the corner of the couch. The asshole was in Alexa’s spot.

“Did you tell her how you felt about her? How you really feel?”

He’d tried, but . . . He shrugged.

“Forget whether she hates you—she doesn’ t—or if you’d fuck things up again—you would, but you’d figure it out.” Carlos pushed a burger in his direction. He ignored it. “The real question is: how do you feel about Alexa? Because if you can’t answer that question—honestly, and in a way that satisfies her—there’s no real point in even trying to fix this.”

Drew closed his eyes. He pictured Alexa laughing up at him in the elevator, Alexa dancing with him at the wedding, Alexa smiling at him from their pilfered towel in Dolores Park, Alexa eating tacos on his couch, Alexa frowning at her computer screen, oblivious to him, Alexa whispering “coffee” in his ear early in the morning, Alexa pulling his head down onto her shoulder when he’d flown to her side, Alexa tucked inside the curve of his arms in his bed.

He opened his mouth. But the words stuck in his throat.

Carlos shook his head.

“It’s okay, man. You don’t have to tell me. But you’ve got to tell her.”

Drew put his head in his hands.

“I don’t know if I can do this.”

Carlos leaned back against the couch cushions and propped his feet up on an empty spot on the coffee table.

“There’s only one way to find out.”

Alexa woke up on Saturday morning, determined that this would be the day that she called Olivia.

Wednesday, she’d decided for sure to talk to her sister. But she hadn’t wanted to do it when either one of them was at work, because that wasn’t a conversation she wanted to have inside her office when she might be overheard.

Thursday, she decided to call her when she got home after work, since it would only be around nine or ten New York time and Olivia would still be awake. But by the time she got home that night, it was seven thirty and she decided that was too late.

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