The Soul Mate Page 20

“I know that,” I shot back reflexively.

“Do you?” she challenged me. “Because last I checked, you were still emotionally closed off. You know, just because you love someone doesn’t mean you have to be in constant fear of losing them or that, if you do, you will never be able to grieve and find a new normal again. What happened with your dad—”

“I get your point,” I said. “But I don’t agree with you. It might look that way, maybe, from the outside, but I don’t think that’s the problem. I just don’t like being rushed.”

“Fine, you want to prove you’re not closed off? Let’s take it to the Lady’s Journal.” She whipped her phone out of her pocket and thumbed the screen menacingly.

I raised my eyebrows. “What’s a magazine going to tell us about whether I’m emotionally available? I mean, you’re an amazing friend. You know that I’m there for you emotionally, right? I’m not a person who doesn’t know how to love or something.”

“For me, yes.” Mandy nodded. “But with men, it’s another story, and last month’s personality quiz, ‘Are You an Ice Princess?,’ is going to prove it.”

I tilted my head to the side. “Really? An ice princess?”

“Their words, not mine.”

“Gee, thanks. I’m starting to think you only brought the donuts to soften the blow here.” I dug in the brown bag and pulled out a glazed confection, then closed my eyes to focus on the sugary goodness in the hope of blocking out the carbohydrate carrying torture I’d just invited inside my private sanctuary.

“If I did, then it only goes to show how my master plan is working.” She cleared her throat. “Okay, now, question one. When was the last time you told someone you loved them?” she asked.

“The last time I called my mother. So, a week ago,” I said with not a little triumph.

She gave me the dead eyes and shook her head slowly. “Your mother obviously doesn’t count.”

“Where is that in the question?” I challenged her.

“It goes unspoken. Now, come on, get serious.” Mandy shot back.

“Isn’t this multiple choice?” I groaned.

“Not for you, it isn’t. Stop stalling.”

“What if I told you I love you right now?” I tried, desperate.

Mandy rolled her eyes. “A man, then. When was the last time you told a man you loved him?”

I bit down on my bottom lip. Before he died, I used to tell my father I loved him nearly every day. It had been one of the most important rules of growing up in my family. The world was a crazy place and anything could happen, so before it did, you made sure you told the people you loved that you loved them often and loudly. Before I left the house, whenever I called, whenever I went to bed, I told him. And then, when he’d gotten sick, those words had become a plea.

“I love you, Dad” became “Please don’t go” or “Don’t leave us.”

And for my mother? She could hardly speak without bursting into tears during that time.

My own eyes burned as I shoved the memory away.

“Hello?” Mandy cleared her throat again. “You there?”

“Just thinking. I don’t think this question counts for me. What if I have never been in love?”

Mandy pursed her lips. “Seems like a cop-out.”

“Fine, fine. So, I told a boy in middle school that I loved him. I think that was the last time if you’re not counting, you know, my dad or anything,” I rushed through the second half of my sentence but it didn’t matter—Mandy knew me too well to let it pass unnoticed.

“You haven’t told a man you loved him since before your father died?” She raised her eyebrows.

“Maybe we should move on to the next question.”

“Fine.” Mandy glanced down at her phone, clicked something, then read, “How many dates does it take before you share personal details about your past?”

“I already told Mason about my past. He knows what my favorite childhood toy was and everything.”

“Then he already knows about your mom and dad?” Mandy asked.

“Well, that’s not fair. The specifics of it haven’t really come up.”

“Really? There was never an opening for you to tell him—the man who might be the father of your child—about your family? Not a single moment?”

I focused aggressively on my donut and licked at a bit of the glaze. “I don’t think I like this pushy side of you.”

“I’m your boss.”

“Only at work,” I reminded her. “And I don’t think it’s that important for Mason to know all my baggage so quickly. It’s good to keep a little bit of mystery.”

“Meaning you don’t know any of his?”

I thought back to our night—the way he’d spoken about his mother’s illness, the way some of his dreams had been snatched from him. “I know some of his history. I don’t know that it counts as baggage.”

“Right. So I’m guessing you want to skip this question too?” Mandy asked.

I took another bite of my donut, then washed it down with some latte. “I’m seriously not digging your tone.”

Mandy shrugged. “You’ll live. Now, come on, question three. How comfortable are you with sexual intimacy?”

“What kind of question is that?” I scoffed.

“A good one,” Mandy said. “Now answer it.”

“Well, I’ve already slept with him, so that sort of speaks for itself.”

“It doesn’t say how comfortable are you with sexuality. It says sexual intimacy,” she pointed out.

“You know what? This quiz is stupid. You know me,” I pleaded. “I’m not an ice princess.”

“I see we’ve struck a nerve. Does this have anything to do with why you’re still lying in bed?”

I took a sip of my coffee, opting not to answer.

Again, though, Mandy outsmarted me. “So you got intimate with him again and it was too much for you? Just say it.”

“It wasn’t that,” I said, and the words poured from me like water breaking through a dam. “I told you. He wanted to give me a drawer at his place and after everything that’s happened, it’s just not something I’m ready for. I mean, I might have to get ready to be a mother. I don’t think I can really handle falling in love on top of everything else. There’s too much happening.”

“So you think you’re falling in love?” Mandy asked.

I set my coffee down, then leaned back against my pillows before huffing out a sigh. “That’s not the point. The point is that I’m overwhelmed and he keeps pushing for more. I could have handled myself better but—”

“But you think you’re falling for him?” Mandy asked again.

I leveled her with a stare. “I don’t think. I know.”

“And that scares you?”

“Scares me? It terrifies me.” I shook my head. “But that’s still not the important part. Mandy, what if I really am pregnant? I’ll love my baby more than life itself. And if I love him, too – think about how much that is for someone like me to lose.”

She closed her hand over mine and offered a gentle smile. “Then I’ll remind you again. You’re not your mother. And even if you were? Would it be so bad?”

I picked up my coffee, lost for words. “I’m done with this quiz.”

Yup. Ice Princess it is. I may not admit it to Mandy but I have to admit it to myself. Now I have to figure out what to do with that knowledge.

“Fine,” Mandy said. “But just…remember what we talked about, okay? The next time you see Mason?”

I nodded. “I will.”

If there was a next time, at least. Because I was pretty sure if poor Devon thought I was a psycho, Mason had at least as much reason. If fact, I was starting to wonder if he’d ever want to talk to me again.

But what was even more worrisome was how awful that thought made me feel…

Broken and a little lost inside.

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