Monique slid into the chair across from Mia’s desk.
“Okay, spill,” Monique said.
“The front end of the interview was fine. We talked about my early life, my education, my motivation for starting the company. I was enthusiastic and on point about MHC. I killed it there.”
“Okay, that’s awesome. Tell me the downside.”
“She got into my personal life, asked questions about who I was dating.”
Monique wrinkled her nose. “I hate that. It’s so intrusive. What the hell does that have to do with you and MHC?”
“Nothing. I told her there was no special guy in my life right now. I wanted to take the words back as soon as I said them.”
“I see. You’re upset that you indirectly dissed Nathan.”
“Honey, the interviewer put you on the spot. Don’t worry about it. He won’t take offense. Besides, you’ve been keeping this relationship on the down low. Neither one of you wants it in the spotlight.”
She sighed. “I know. But still, I feel like I insulted him, like he doesn’t matter to me.”
“And he does matter to you.”
“Yes. He’s my friend.”
Monique cocked her head to the side. “He’s more than that, though, isn’t he?”
“Yes.” She rubbed her temple, already feeling the headache starting to form.
“Have you talked to him about how you feel?”
“No. I’ve been trying to avoid talking to him about how I feel.”
“I don’t know. I’m still afraid of upsetting the status quo between us.”
“Which is ridiculous. You two are getting along great. The sex hasn’t changed anything between you, right?”
“I guess not.”
“So what’s worrying you?”
“I don’t know. Some gut feeling that what’s happening between us is going to end. That our friendship will end. I always feel like I’m standing on a cliff just waiting to fall over, and when I do, I’ll be falling by myself. Does that even make any sense?”
Monique looked at her. “It does to you and that’s all that matters. Talk to Nathan. Tell him how you feel.”
“I don’t want to talk to Nathan. There’s not even anything to talk about. Things are going well between us, so why upset that?”
Monique went over to the mini fridge and grabbed a green tea, holding it up for Mia, who nodded, so she grabbed two. She came over and handed one to Mia, then took her seat, unscrewed the lid and took a sip. “So you’re going to live in denial?”
“That’s preferable, yes.”
“You realize you can’t live in denial land forever.”
“Why not? It’s nice here.”
Monique laughed. “You’re the most realistic person I’ve ever known, Mia. And you’ve never been afraid to face anything head-on. So maybe whatever it is you’re feeling for Nathan that has you running scared might be love.”
Mia wrinkled her nose. “I can’t be in love. I don’t want to be in love. Love will ruin us.”
Monique rolled her eyes. “How will love ruin you?”
“If I thought sex was bad for our friendship? Falling in love could destroy us.”
“Sometimes your sense of logic is utterly mind-boggling. Falling in love might be the best thing that could ever happen to you and Nathan.”
She shook her head, gripping the bottle of tea she had yet to open. “I don’t see it that way.”
“Maybe you should think about it. And for God’s sake, talk to Nathan instead of keeping your thoughts to yourself.”
“I’ll . . . think about it.”
Instead, when she went home after work that night, she changed into shorts and a tank top, grabbed a glass of wine, got her planner out and made herself comfortable on the sofa to work on her Pros and Cons list.
Love versus Friendship
The Friendship list was easy. On the Pro side, she listed fun, trust, sharing all her secrets, being able to keep him as her best friend and no emotional attachments. But if she moved him back over to the Friendship side, she’d pull sex out of the equation. That’s just how it would have to be. So the con of friendship would be no more sex.
She leaned back on the sofa and thought about the no more sex thing. In college they’d had sex one time before she’d crossed it off the list. This time it was different. They’d been sexing it up on a pretty regular basis. She had to admit she’d grown accustomed to his body, to his touch, to occasionally sleeping with his body wrapped around hers.
She’d miss that. With sex came intimacy, and being closer to Nathan these past couple of months had been everything.
Enough to risk losing Nathan’s friendship, though?
No. She’d live without the sex before she’d lose Nathan.
She moved over to the Love side.
She listed warmth, tenderness, emotional gratification, his touch, the way he looked at her and the way he touched her. Definitely the sex, too, which had been growing in intensity every time they were together. It was passionate, definitely, but there was a depth to their lovemaking now that hadn’t been there before.
She wanted to be with Nathan more and more. She felt part of him, so she added that to the Love side.
On the Con side of Love was commitment. Not that commitment was a con. But she didn’t think either of them was ready for that big a step in their relationship. They were both early in their careers. Having fun was one thing. Sex was one thing. Falling in love? That was a big deal.
She also added risk to the Con list. Their friendship was solid and always had been. But with love came risk and if it didn’t work out, it could end them forever. That scared her. She would never want to put her friendship with Nathan at risk.
In addition, she still didn’t know how Nathan felt about her. He might still think of their relationship as all fun and games. So what if she threw the Love card out there and he didn’t love her back?
She didn’t even want to think about that.
She put her planner to the side and laid her head back against the sofa.
Everything had been much simpler when they were just friends. Why were sex and love so confusing?
Her doorbell rang. She closed her planner and went to the door, looking out the peephole to see Nathan.
She was surprised since she wasn’t expecting him. She opened the door to see him holding a bag.
“I brought Thai food. I hope you’re hungry.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Bringing you dinner. Are you gonna let me in?”
“Sorry. Yes, of course.” She pulled the door all the way open and he walked in. She shut the door behind him and followed him into the kitchen.
“I suppose you still don’t have paper plates.”
She opened the cabinet and pulled out plates. “No. These are fine.”
She was happy to see he’d brought crab Rangoon and chicken satay, along with pad Thai chicken and Thai fried rice. She spooned out a little of everything onto her plate.
She hadn’t thought she was hungry, but the food smelled delicious. She fixed large ice waters for both of them and they sat in the living room to eat while they watched a movie on TV.
Though she wasn’t really focused on the movie. Her thoughts kept straying to the pro/con list she’d been working on before Nathan showed up.
Which, by the way . . .
“So, it was a surprise to see you at my door.”
He scooped up a forkful of rice, chewed, then swallowed. “Monique texted me.”
Mia arched a brow. “She did? Why?”
He shrugged. “She said you needed me.”
Leave it to her friends to think she needed rescuing when she didn’t.
She glanced over at him. “Not really.”
“She said you had a shit day. Did the interview with the magazine go badly?”
“No, it was fine. Though I might have said something that will piss you off.”
“In the interview?” He laid his fork down.
“Yes. Everything was going well when we were talking business. Then all of a sudden the interview shifted to my personal life.”