Almost Married(7)

By: Kylie Gilmore


Chris sat across from him and watched him eat. “You know we’re having manicotti and cake in two hours.”

“If the boy wants to eat, let him eat,” Nonna said as she covered the leftover food with aluminum foil.

“Where do you put it all?” Chris asked. “You're always thin.”

He chewed for a moment. “I run.”

She scoffed. “I run too. If I just look at pasta, I gain five pounds.”

“High metabolism?”

“You suck.”

He pointed his fork at her. “You suck, King Dave.”

She snorted.

“It wouldn't hurt you to put a little meat on your bones, Christina Marie,” Nonna said. “Men like curves.”

“I got curves,” Chris said. “I don't need love handles.”

“More to love,” Dave quipped.

He finished the meal, thanked his grandmother, and pulled out his car keys. “Let's go.”

Chris slid into the passenger side of his Ford Fusion Hybrid—he loved its fuel efficiency—and promptly changed the radio to a top-forty station. He didn't even change it back to National Public Radio (though NPR was doing a fascinating segment on game theory as it applied to online algorithms). Nothing could spoil his mood now that he was in love with someone that loved him back.

“I met someone,” he told her.

“Seriously?”

He glanced at her. It shouldn't have been that shocking. He wasn’t an ogre.

“Yes, seriously,” he said. “Her name is Stephanie Moore. She's a fifth grade teacher. I'm crazy about her. I'm thinking of proposing.”

“Whoa, slow down there. How long have you been dating?”

“Six weeks. I love her. She said she loves me too.”

“Six weeks isn't very long. How well do you know her?”

He stopped at a stop sign and gestured to some kids to cross the street. “I'm thirty years old. I know what I want. I know she's the one. Do you think the Diamond District is open today?” It was Sunday, but some of the shops might be open. New York City was hopping every day of the week.

“It's too soon to shop for diamonds! You're rushing things. Just because you sleep with someone doesn't mean you have to run out and buy them a ring. I sure never got that.”

He didn't comment on the sleeping-together thing. They'd get there. Maybe tonight. Or tomorrow since they both were off for Columbus Day. As for the ring, Chris might be right. He didn't want to scare Steph off. On the other hand, Chris was still bitter about her ex divorcing her to marry his pregnant girlfriend, so she was probably not the best person to ask for diamond-ring advice.

He turned down a street that went past his old elementary school. “Okay, I’ll skip the Diamond District. I'll research diamonds online, just in case.”

“I'm telling you—too soon.”

He thought of last night, how Steph had said she loved him. How she’d said “I love you” a second time before she fell asleep. He found himself smiling.

“Are you sure she'll say yes?” Chris asked quietly.

He grinned. “Yes.”

“Well, now I've got to meet her. She must be something awfully special.”

“She is, she really is.” Then he proceeded to tell her all of Steph Moore's many virtues.

~ ~ ~

Steph made sure to ask for a back booth for lunch with Dave at Garner's Sports Bar & Grill the next day. Last night he’d called when he got home from Brooklyn, but she’d already been in her pajamas, exhausted from the previous night’s partying. Knowing she needed to have their big talk, she’d put him off until today. She wanted this relationship to work, wanted to see where things could go. She was rusty on relationships, but she knew Jaz was right—honesty was the most important thing. She’d spent the morning going over possible ways to break the news, but there really was no good way to tell your steady boyfriend that you still had a husband. That was probably why she made it through the entire lunch without a peep about Griffin.

“You're awfully quiet,” Dave said. “Everything okay?” He pushed the last sliver of their shared dessert of apple pie toward her. “Let’s split it. Pi divided by two means you’re the one.” He grinned and waggled his brows.

Another math joke. He meant the number pi divided by two equaled one. She shook her head, a smile tugging at her lips. “Those pi jokes never get old.”

He smiled. “That’s why I always order it.”

“I'm full. You eat it.”

She watched him eat and tried to calm the jitters in her stomach. She just had to say it. Dave would understand. Hopefully.

She took a deep breath. “Dave, we need to talk.”

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