Rae left her sister, who had joined the men outside, and went upstairs to check on Kat. She’d been up there for a long time, and Rae was worried about her. Rae knocked lightly on the door, hoping she wasn’t intruding, but Kat didn’t answer. Rae opened the door to the room, which was a mess like usual.
Rae sighed and picked up the clothes strewn on the floor by the hamper and threw them in. She noticed a pair of men’s underwear on the desk, and heat flushed her cheeks. “Who do these belong to? Rick?”
“Huh?” Kat asked, looking up from her computer. Her hair was in a messy bun, and she wore a sundress with no shoes. Tiny freckles covered her feet that Rae had never noticed before.
“These underwear.” Rae pointed to the offending garment.
“Yeah, I guess Rick left them the last time he spent the night.” Kat’s jaw clenched.
“What happened?” Rae asked, glancing at Kat. “And you better not pull that ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ crap because I can tell you’re upset.”
“Well.” Kat paused, her voice low. “When he came by while you were eating brunch, Rick told me he wanted to have a threesome with me.”
Rae’s eyes widened. “Are you kidding me right now?”
“No, Rick even found someone else to join us at a party he wanted me to attend, and I can only imagine it was for swingers. He said he knew someone named Naomi who was into women and wanted to join us.” Kat averted her eyes, and her skin was red like a strawberry, full of raw heat. “But I wasn’t into the idea. So we fought, and he left.”
It seemed like Kat was leaving something out with the way she paused and looked away, but maybe she was just embarrassed.
Rae stared. “Did you tell him where to shove it?”
“Yeah, I did.” Kat closed her laptop. “But I’m still upset about it.”
“Oh, honey, I’m sorry.” Rae rushed to her friend’s side and hugged her tight.
Kat took a deep breath and closed her eyes. “I didn’t want to fight with him and missed him so much. And now I don’t know what I want.”
Rae shook her head, petting Kat’s warm hand. “I know, sweetie. I know how much you care about him.”
“I don’t know what to do. Rick is nice, and he’s so freaking hot. He wants to have sex all the time, which isn’t bad, but I want more. I always want more than he can give me. And it’s so hard to say no to him because of our chemistry.” Kat fidgeted with her hair.
“Well, it’s good that you said no. I mean, it’s a little weird that Rick asked you for a three-way while we were eating brunch.”
Kat rolled her eyes. “Yup, it was quite an awkward moment.”
Rae pulled out a chair near the desk and sat in front of Kat. “So, what’s going on with you and Ferrix?”
Kat leaned back in her chair and sighed. “I like him a lot, and I don’t know how to sort this out in my head.”
“I think you should go to him. You need to take it as it comes. I mean, I know it’s hard with a sexy-looking guy like him to know what to do, but maybe the universe is trying to tell you something. Rick isn’t ever going to settle down, and you have to decide if you’re okay with that or not.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Kat was staring at the wall. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. What about you and Nin?”
Rae grinned. “I threw myself at him, and we had hot alien sex for about two days straight. I’m still sore from our pair bonding.”
Kat giggled. “I’m glad you guys found each other.”
“I am, too. I never expected to be this happy, and I figured a happily ever after wasn’t in the cards for me after my divorce.”
“I’ve always been jealous of you,” Kat admitted, fidgeting with a pen on the desk. She was constantly fiddling with something. “I mean, for everything, not just for Nin. I wanted to be you. You’re way more on point, organized, and strong. You’re the one who always took care of me through college. You’re the one who found a nice husband and who got the amazing marriage and the beautiful house. I wanted to have someone in my life, but I never got past a few months of dating. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.”
“Oh, Kat. You deserve all of those things.”
Kat blinked back her tears. “It’s my fault I didn’t see the red flags with Rick. I wanted someone to love me, and I convinced myself I wanted a man like him. He’s confident, which is sexy. I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”
Rae pulled her into another hug. “Don’t cry. Everything will work out. You’ll see!”
“Thanks.” Kat was sniffling and wiping her eyes.
“When I left my ex, I never dreamed of meeting someone like Nin. I mean, he’s the hottest guy in the universe and the most amazing man I’ve ever met.” Rae tried to lighten the mood. “And he’s a prince on Erion.”
“I know. Nin is like Adonis.” Kat’s voice had a dreamy quality.
She’d always been into mythology, but Kat was right. Nin was hot and sexy, but most of all, he was just plain kind. Rae never thought she could be happy with a man like him, but maybe she’d never really been in love before. Rae settled for stoic and thought it meant strong. She had been dead wrong about what she wanted in a man. Nin was the real deal; she loved him with all her heart.
Rae glanced out the window at the spaceship. Nin, Ferrix, and Xavi were still working on it. Nin and Ferrix appeared deep in conversation, and Xavi was hanging onto every word out of Caprice’s mouth. Her gaze returned to Nin. “I’ve only known him for a few days, but it feels much longer. I feel like he knows me better than anyone, and I know him better than anyone too.”
“It’s because you’re pair bonded. I can see it on your face. You’re calm, you’re so happy, and you’re glowing. I want what you have.”
“I don’t want to push you toward anything you’re not ready for when I tell you that I think Ferrix could be good for you.”
Kat smiled. “You’re not. I want someone who cares about me. I want that, but it’s not an easy decision. It would mean leaving everything I’ve ever known, and I would have to give up on what I have with Rick. And I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that. But I’m going to miss you like crazy once you’re gone, and I know that you have to go with Nin now that you’re bonded.”
“Oh, sweetie.” Rae pulled her in for another squeeze. “I know you want this. You have to trust your gut and go for it. You already know Rick won’t commit, and I think Ferrix could be good for you.”
Kat shook her head. “I don’t know. I’m sorry I’m so messed up, and I’m not ready to make any decisions.”
“That’s okay. You don’t have to decide anything right this minute. I’m here for you, no matter what you decide.”
“Thanks, Rae. You’re the best,” Kat whispered.
“I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know deep down.”
Kat smiled. “You always give the best advice.”
Rae stood and stretched. “It’s getting late.”
Kat nodded. “Yeah.”
“I love you, Kat.” Rae kissed. her forehead. “You’re like a sister to me.”
“I love you too, Rae.” Kat smiled, and it couldn’t be contained, spreading with the force of a wildfire as the corners of her mouth lifted upward. It was infectious, and Rae couldn’t help but return the grin. “I’ll miss you so much when you leave for Erion.”
Rae’s eyes twinkled. “Then come with me!”
“You’re crazy. I would be an awful wife, and I’m barely domesticated. You’ve seen my room.” Kat laughed and gestured to the mess surrounding her.
Rae rolled her eyes. “It’s not that bad. You need a little bit of organization, and you could use some shelves and a pegboard, maybe. But it’s not like you’re a slob or anything.”
“You’re a terrible liar.” Kat picked up the socks on the floor next to her bed and tossed them in the hamper.
Rae didn’t argue because Kat had always surrounded herself with chaos, whether in her room or in relationships. When they’d been roommates in the dorm the first year, Rae seriously wondered how Kat managed to keep track of anything. It felt like a million lightyears ago, but not much changed. “I think you’re just scared. You’re scared of what you want. You have to trust yourself.”Kat’s eyes flickered. They were a universe, the darkness of the soul, with two slits of reflected light and a pinprick blackness. It was as if an unwanted thought had entered her mind, and Kat couldn’t protect herself from it. She glanced away before Rae could ask her what she was thinking. “Thanks, Rae. Come on, let’s go see what the guys are doing.”