The Edge of Always (The Edge of Never #2)(7)

by J.A. Redmerski

He nods. “Awesome,” he says and takes another bite, all the while sitting casually with his arms resting on the bar around his bowl. “What would you like to do?” He points at me. “Note the important keyword in that question: like.”

I think on it a moment, pursing my lips in contemplation.

“Well, I like to clean, so maybe I could get a job at a hotel,” I begin. “Or it might be nice to work at Starbucks or something.”

He shakes his head. “I doubt you’ll like cleaning rooms,” he says. “My mom used to do that before my dad started his business. People leave nasty shit in those rooms.”

I cringe. “Well, I’ll figure something out. As soon as we get to Raleigh, I’ll look for a job.”

Andrew’s spoon pauses just above his bowl. “So your decision is to move back home, then?”

Andrew

5

I didn’t mean to cause her face go all stiff like that. I move my bowl out of the way and pull her toward me, sliding her across the bar top. I rest my arms across the tops of her bare legs and look at her with the most sincere smile.

“I’m really OK with it, babe.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Definitely.” I lean over and kiss the top of her left thigh and then the other. “We’ll go for the baby shower this weekend, come back here and start packing.”

She grabs my hands. “But after we move, we’ll definitely have to come back here in February for the shower your mom is planning.”

My smile widens. “Sounds like a plan,” I say, not surprised, though, that she’s taking my mom’s feelings into consideration, too. “So then it’s settled. Raleigh will be our new home. At least until we get tired of it.”

Camryn, happier now than she was when she first greeted me at the door, reaches out and grabs me around the neck. I stand up and lift her back into my arms, her cute butt propped in my hands.

“Sorry about the cereal,” she says.

“Huh?”

She lowers her eyes, embarrassed. “I bet when you dreamed about being married you pictured your wife cooking man-meals that’d make Gordon Ramsay’s toes curl.”

I throw my head back and laugh.

“No, I never really thought about stuff like that,” I say, our faces just inches apart. “Now the toe-curling stuff, trust me, you’ve got that down pat.”

She squeezes her thighs around my waist, her face getting redder. I kiss her on the nose and then look into her beautiful blue eyes. I close my eyes and feel the minty warmth of her breath close in on me. Her tongue gently touches my bottom lip, urging my mouth to part for hers. I give in so easily, touching the edge of her tongue to mine before I kiss her forcefully, squeezing her body in my arms. I carry her off to our bedroom, never breaking the kiss, and I have my way with her for the next hour before we head out to Houston to play.

* * *

We arrive at the airport in North Carolina midday Friday, and already I see the spark in Camryn’s eyes. It’s only her second time back here in four months. We get our bags and head outside in the sunshine to find Natalie and Blake waiting to pick us up. And just like the first time I met her, I brace myself to stand face-to-face with Camryn’s hyena of a best friend.

“I missed you so much, Cam!” Natalie engulfs her in a hug.

Blake—I might start calling him Blondie for the hell of it—stands tall behind Natalie with his hands buried deep in his pockets, his shoulders slumped over, and a big goofy smile on his tanned face. I can tell which one of those two is the master of their domain. That guy is whipped hardcore. I laugh it off inside. More power to him. Hell, I can’t say anything…

“Andrew!” Natalie moves toward me next, and I put up my invisible crazy shield as I return her unsolicited hug.

OK, the truth is I don’t like Natalie much. I don’t hate her, but she’s the kind of girl I wouldn’t think twice about talking to without Camryn being in the mix. And what she did to Camryn before Camryn got on that bus left a bad f**king taste in my mouth. I’m all for forgiveness, but just that Natalie could do something like that to begin with is cause for caution around her all of the time. It was hard for me to take it upon myself to call her up that day two weeks ago and tell her about Camryn’s ultrasound date and all that. But I was doing it for Camryn, and that’s all that matters to me.

“Good to see you again, Blake,” Camryn says, pulling him into a friendly hug.

I know everything about Blake, too, about how he was interested in Camryn first before later hooking up with Natalie. And regardless of his attraction to Camryn before we met, he’s all right in my book.

He and I shake hands.

“Oh my God, let me see!” Natalie says. She lifts up Camryn’s shirt, places both hands carefully over her stomach, and beams up at her. A tiny squeal-like sound reverberates through Natalie’s throat, and I find myself wondering how a human body can make such noises.

“I can be Aunt Natalie, or Godmother Natalie!”

Ummm, how about no?

Camryn’s smiling head nods rapidly, and I just make sure I’m not putting off any negative energy that she can detect. The last thing I want to do is ruin this homecoming for her by letting her know I tolerate her best friend only for her sake.

Camryn

6

North Carolina

The baby shower my mom and Natalie threw turned out great. I ended up with a brand-new baby bed, a walker, a swing, a high chair, two baby bathtubs—one pink and one blue, just in case—about 984 diapers—well, it seems like a lot of diapers—multiple bottles of baby shampoo and powder, and something called Anti Monkey Butt and Butt Paste, which is really disturbing, and… I can’t remember all of this stuff and some of it I have absolutely no idea what it is.

After a while of sitting in the room surrounded by everyone, I start to feel overwhelmed, but I’m ready to tone this get-together down and soak in a long, hot bath.

Two more hours drag by and everyone has left except for Natalie, who finds me soaking in that much-needed bath, surrounded by frothy bubbles.

“Cam?” I hear Natalie’s voice on the other side of the bathroom door. She knocks softly a few times.

“Come on in,” I say.

The door creeps open and Natalie peeks around the side. Wouldn’t be the first time she saw me naked.