A proud smile lifted Greg’s lips. “Why, thank you!”
“Oh!” Fiona’s eyes lit up. “I have some things I have to run by you.” She winked in Alli’s direction.
“Okay.” Alli pointed to Blake, Heath, and Greg who were all lingering by the island. “Boys in the living room. The girls need to conference.”
Heath rolled his eyes. “Uh-oh.”
Alli hushed him and pushed him off with the others.
As the guys got comfortable in the living room, Alli leaned in and spoke quietly. “So, now that Fiona’s here, we need to plan your bachelorette party. I just need to know if you want us to surprise you or if you have any specific requests.”
“Um, no surprises, I guess. You should invite Simone though.”
“Definitely. She’s on the list. Do you have anything specific you want to do?”
I shrugged. “Not really.”
“Okay, Fiona and I will handle the props.” She started typing some notes into her phone.
“Penis straws, blinking tiaras, that type of stuff.”
I laughed and refilled my wine glass. “You guys are going to send me off in style, aren’t you?”
“Oh, yeah. We’re going all out. This will not be a classy affair, I’m afraid,” Alli said.
I lifted my eyebrows, almost wishing I had opted for the surprise. “Oh God. I hope there aren’t any male strippers. Blake would have a coronary.”
Fiona chuckled. “Whatever. We don’t need his permission.”
“I heard that! And the answer is no fucking way.” Blake called in from the living room.
“Blake! Language!” Catherine shot back before putting oven mitts on her hands and pulling the lasagna out of the oven.
Fiona shook her head and leaned over Alli’s shoulder to see what she was typing. “We’ll figure out a date tonight, and leave the planning—and props—to us. You only get to do this once.”
“Okay, just remember I’d like to still be engaged by the end of it,” I said. Heaven knew I didn’t need Blake barging in on us, having a royal fit about whatever drunken debauchery we were going to get ourselves into.
Catherine rested her hand on my shoulder. “I wouldn’t worry about that. I’m not sure anything could shake that man’s commitment to marry you. I’m shocked he hasn’t whisked you off to Las Vegas yet. You know how he is when he gets a thing in his mind.”
“Yes, I do,” I mumbled under my breath.
She shot me a knowing look and grabbed up some side dishes from the island. “Dinner’s ready!”
We spent the rest of the evening talking about everything—from Heath’s work with some new ventures at Blake’s office to the details of the impending wedding. By the end of the evening, I was stuffed, and all I could think about was what a crazy future I had in store for me with these wonderful loving people.
After they all left, I retreated to the bedroom to start organizing a few outfits to pack for the trip. Blake came in and gave me a hug from behind.
“Alone at last. I thought they’d never leave.”
“I think dinner night here went well. We should do it more often. I had fun.” The wine had dulled some of the upset from my day. I was still tired, but more settled than I had been.
“We’ll need more space soon.”
Our eyes met in the reflection of the mirror.
Blake kissed my cheek. “Eventually Fiona will have someone around and the family will grow. We’ll need a better place to host.”
I let that thought settle over me for a minute. “Oh,” I said softly. Suddenly my body felt too warm.
He released me from his embrace and sat back on the bed. “Have you ever thought about moving?”
“Not really. This place is great. It’s certainly nicer than any place I ever expected to have in the city.” A part of me had wondered what it might be like to have a place that was ours, not just Blake’s, but our lives moved too fast to contemplate it much further. He’d given me so much already. I was in no position to ask for more, especially considering the financial inequity between us.
“Maybe we can start looking for places outside the city.”
I turned to look at him, confused by this topic coming up so suddenly. “But we both work here. Why would we move?”
He shrugged. “Things change. We might want a change of scenery eventually. We love the Vineyard, but obviously it’s too far away for our jobs.”
I stared at him, trying to decide if it was something I really wanted. So much was in flux with my life lately. As soon as one part started to seem sure, somehow everything got turned upside down again.
“It’s just something I’ve been thinking about. We don’t have to talk about it right now though.”
He pulled off his T-shirt and jeans and slipped under the covers. The sight of his beautiful shirtless body effectively deleted any other thoughts from my mind.
“How was your day? You’ve been quiet.” He leaned on his elbow, and the look of concern from earlier softened his expression.
I dropped some clothes into my suitcase on the floor and let my mind return to the less than pleasant run-in with Marie. “I met with Marie for lunch.”
“How did that go?”
“She admitted that she let it slip about Daniel to Richard, but she doesn’t believe he is the one who leaked the information.”
“I know. I’m pretty sure she’s in love with him and can’t fathom that he’d do this to her.” I sighed. “I walked out on our lunch. I feel terrible about it, but I couldn’t listen to her defending him anymore.”
I ran the conversation over in my mind, no less frustrated by her defense of Richard. I changed into a tank top and joined Blake in bed, switching the lamp off beside me. He drew me up against him.
“I’m sorry you had to deal with that. But at least now you know.”
I nodded and rested my head against his chest, skimming my hands down the smooth ridges of his body. “Hopefully she’ll come around and realize he’s not the man she thinks he is.”
I was upset with Marie, but I felt for her too. I knew what it was like to fall hopelessly in love with a man and have that cloud nearly everything else. Without a second thought, I’d defended Blake against every person who’d hurled accusations against his character. Men from his past—Max, Trevor, and even Isaac—had warned me about Blake, trying in vain to sully my vision of the only man I’d ever truly loved. But in the end, no one could shake my belief that he was a good man.