“Where’s Sam?” Mia asked.
“He has a friend who lives next door to us that he doesn’t get to see all that often,” Tara said. “So he’s hanging out with him and having dinner at his house tonight.”
“How fun for him.”
“Yes. He hates to lose any time with Nathan, but he does enjoy playing with Dexter.”
“I’m a novelty,” Nathan said. “An hour or so with me and then he’d much rather hang out with kids his own age.”
“I’m sure most of us would prefer to hang out with kids our own age,” Tara said. “Though I do enjoy seeing both of you.”
“Ditto,” Mia said. “How’s the business, Tara?”
“Great. I was telling Nathan earlier we’ve outgrown our space, so we’re going to shop for a bigger location and hire a couple of new consultants.”
“That’s incredible. Congratulations.”
The waitress brought their drinks, so they paused in conversation. “Thank you,” Tara said. “I’m very excited. More importantly, how’s your new business?”
“It’s wonderful. I was so nervous—still am, actually. But we’ve picked up several clients already, have a few more that we’re presenting to. Everything is running smoothly so far.”
Tara nodded. “I know what that’s like. My business took off right away, too. We almost had too much business at first. Which wasn’t a bad thing, just a little overwhelming.”
“Yes. Overwhelmed. That’s exactly how I feel. But in a good way.”
“It’s because you know what you’re doing,” Nathan said. “You have a solid team, and people know that. They trust you.”
She sighed, then smiled at Nathan. “Thanks for your faith in me.”
“Why aren’t you with Mia’s company?” Mick asked.
Nathan paused mid drink. “I don’t know. We’ve talked about it. It almost feels like a conflict of interest because Mia and I are—”
Mia waited, hoping like hell Nathan said the right thing.
She exhaled. That was the right thing to say. They were more than that, maybe. Maybe not. After last weekend she felt more confused than ever. They hadn’t laid down the ground rules since last weekend, because she’d been slammed with work and they hadn’t had a minute to talk to each other. Hopefully soon they could have some clarification.
“Of course you’re friends,” Tara said. “But friendship is one thing and business is another.”
Mick took a sip of his soda, then leaned back in his chair. “Yeah, I can see how you wouldn’t want to muddy those waters, though. Something goes wrong with the business side of things—” He paused to look at Mia. “And I’m not saying they would, but if it did, it could end your friendship.”
“Exactly,” Nathan said. “And I wouldn’t want that to happen.”
“Neither would I.” Mia gave Nathan a pointed look. “Though I do think MHC is the best management company for Nathan. So I’m a bit torn, as you can tell.” She ended on a laugh.
“I might let MHC give me a presentation, hear them out and see if what they’re saying is worth the risk.” Nathan looked at his parents. “You’re both welcome to sit in on that if you’d like.”
Mick shook his head. “This is your career to manage as you see fit, Nathan. You don’t need your mother and I to hold your hand and walk you through it.”
“I agree,” Tara said. “Whatever you think is best for your long-term future is what you should do. Your dad and I will always be here if you want to bounce ideas off of us, but you’re an adult now. You make the decisions.”
“Thanks. I’ll think about it.”
Mia loved the confidence Nathan’s parents had in him. They reminded her so much of her own parents.
There was nothing like having people on your side who fully believed in you.
They started looking at the menu and discussed what they were going to order. Of course, the menu was fluid, one of the things she liked most about Ninety-Two.
“This pasta with shrimp and spinach looks amazing,” Tara said. “I think that’s what I want. What about you, Mia?”
“I’m looking at the salmon. Or maybe the broiled chicken breasts.”
“I think tuna for me,” Nathan said.
“I’m having the filet.”
Tara smiled at Mick. “I’m not surprised since I’ve never known you to pass up a good steak. And the steaks here are very good.”
Mick grinned. “I know. Amelia makes one hell of a good steak.”
“I’ll be sure to tell her you said that.”
Mia looked up to see her brother standing over her. He put his hands on her shoulders. “Hey, brat.”
“What’s up, dumbass?”
Mick grinned. “Seeing you two together is just like me with my family. Now I miss them.”
“Oh, please,” Tara said. “We just had dinner at Gavin and Liz’s house last week.”
Mick slanted a look at Tara. “I was going for dramatic effect, Tara.”
Mia laughed. “I sometimes miss my siblings. But not all that often.”
Flynn looked down at her. “I’m deeply offended.”
“No you’re not.”
“Okay, I’m not.”
“Can you have dinner with us, Flynn?” Tara asked.
“I don’t want to intrude.”
“You’re not,” Nathan said. “We’d like you to join us.”
“Well, I am hungry . . .”
Mia rolled her eyes. “You’re always hungry.”
“Now that you’ve insulted me, of course I’d be happy to have dinner with you. Thanks.”
Flynn grabbed an extra chair and brought it to the table. Mia noticed Nathan scooted closer to her to make room for Flynn. She wasn’t sure if it was because he wanted to sit beside Flynn, or because he wanted to sit closer to her.
Either way, she was fine with it, especially when he smiled at her and gave her thigh a light squeeze before turning his attention to Flynn. It wasn’t much, but it was enough considering they were dining with his parents.
God, just his touch set her off.
Things really had changed. They had to talk and soon.
“So what have you decided?”
She flipped her attention to Tara, who’d asked the question.
“Oh. The salmon, definitely. Amelia makes an amazing béarnaise sauce to go with it. Plus I know Nathan will want a bite of it.”
Tara laughed. “He used to do that with my food, too. He’d order whatever I didn’t so he could taste my food.”
“Some things never change, do they?”
When the waitress showed up to take their order, Nathan turned to face her. “What are you ordering?”
“Oh, good. I’ll have the tuna, then.”
Mia laughed, and Tara shook her head.
Nathan looked at both of them. “What?”
“Nothing,” Tara said. “Other than you’re predictable.”
Nathan frowned. “Don’t know what that means, but I don’t like it.” He paused, staring at both of them for a few seconds. “Are you two talking about me?”
“Yes,” Mia said.
His frown stayed planted on his face. “Mom, what are you saying to her?”
Tara shook her head. “I didn’t say anything. Honest. We’re only talking about food.”
He gave them both a look of disbelief, then grudgingly turned his attention back to Flynn and Mick.
Mia leaned toward Tara. “I don’t think he believed you.”
Tara’s lips curved into a smile. “He’ll get over it.”
Mia chatted with Tara about her work. She was fascinated by the event planning business, and they talked about the expansion. Since Tara had built her business from the ground up, Mia picked her brain about how she started it and what problems she’d encountered along the way. They’d been so engrossed in conversation, before she knew it, their dinner had arrived.