THE REUNION is the 5th part of The Dream Catchers Series. It acts as a direct sequel to “Take Me Home“, following the storyline of music mogul Cami Woods and Yankee short-stop Drew Ashton. Enjoy this sneak peek…
“Cami, Matt Porter is on line one,” my new assistant said, the excitement in her voice evident.
“Thanks, Jeannie,” I said, rolling my eyes when she turned away.
I thought rock star groupies were bad enough. My first client was Tortured, and with me being in love with the lead singer, Jordan, in the beginning, I hated all of their female fans. And then, I decided to get involved with the band’s drummer, Danny, and the line between jealous girlfriend/wife and encouraging music manager became very fine.
Now, I manage a few different pop acts, and I have decided teenyboppers are way worse than rock groupies. Grown women turn into bumbling idiots around these guys and it amuses me. But I will admit, I am a groupie when it comes to something—the Yankees. I’d known Drew Ashton since he was a kid, but when he put on those pinstripes, he became a man to me. Don’t get me wrong, with or without the baseball uniform, I’d love Drew, but whenever he’s in uniform, I want to tear it off of him.
“Porter, what do you want?” I picked up the phone.
“I’m sorry, are you too busy to talk to your favorite client?” Matt asked, teasingly.
I laughed, “Is this actually a business call?”
Matt Porter is part of Sound Wave, a boy band that has defied time, and lasted over twenty years. Matt is also one of my best friends.
“Well, no. But my wife is making me call to find out if you’re registered yet.”
I laughed, “We just got engaged a week ago.”
“I know, but you know Laura, she’s excited.”
“I am too,” I gushed.
“I’m happy for you, Cam.”
“Thanks Matty. Tell Laura as soon as I register, I’ll let her know. I have to get going though. Danny should be dropping off Ben any minute.”
“All right, tell Danny he’s an ass and give Ben a hug for me.”
“Will do,” I laughed before hanging up.
My ex-husband, Danny, is one of those guys most people—correction, most women love. However, he is so hotheaded sometimes that he makes enemies easily.
I whirled around in my chair to see my four-year-old son running toward me. I swooped him up into my arms.
“Benny Boy, I’ve missed you!” I smooched his face and he giggled.
I love my little boy’s laugh. It does something inside my heart that I can’t explain. I looked up at Danny and he smiled.
“Who’s the new chick?” he nodded toward the reception desk.
I gave him a look of warning as I stood up with Ben in my arms.
“Come on, don’t be jealous,” he smirked as his six-three frame towered over me.
“I am not jealous. I’m engaged.”
“Right,” he rolled his eyes. “Young Andrew couldn’t even give you a ring?” he asked, grabbing my left hand.
He loved to remind me of Drew’s age.
I rolled my eyes, “Can you just please be happy for me?”
“Happy for you and Drew?” he asked with a scoff.
“Mama, I miss Drew!” Ben yelled.
I could see the pain on Danny’s face. In spite of myself, I felt bad for him.
“You’ll see him tomorrow, Ben,” I told him, before setting him down, and he took off running toward a bin of toys I kept in my office for him on days I had to take him to work with me.
“Do you know how often he talks about him?” Danny asked, letting out a sigh, once Ben was immersed in his toys.
I placed a hand on each one of Danny’s biceps, turning him toward me and staring into his vulnerable blue eyes.
“Ben is your son. No one will ever replace you.”
“With you or with Ben?”
I pulled my hands away from his arms and stared up at him. Danny’s eyes looked even sadder. I hated when he had that sweet and sensitive look. He was so much easier to deal with when he was being a jerk.
“We’ve been through this, Danny. I will always love you, but we never had… we aren’t right for each other. You know that.”
He nodded, “It’s just hard, you know? I mean, we get divorced and you’re thriving. Shit, you look incredible and you’re getting married…”
“What happened with you and Vanessa?” I asked, with a sigh, glancing over at Ben. “Did you cheat on her?”
Danny didn’t answer the question.
“All she did was nag me.”
I shook my head. “Right. Well, I’m sure you’ll find a woman who’s not a nag and will tolerate your temper, your drinking, and your infidelity. Maybe try an open relationship,” I laughed, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Forget it, Cami,” he waved me off. “I thought we were friends and you just want to kick me when I’m down. Buddy, I’m leaving, give me a hug,” he called to Ben and crouched down.
Ben ran over to Danny and hugged him.
“I love you, Daddy. Thanks for the drums,” he said, holding Danny tightly.
My heart melted, and once again I felt bad for my ex-husband who made his own bed and is lying in it—alone for the time being, which I’m sure will be very brief.
“D,” I said, but he just waved me off and walked out the door.
Sighing, I closed the office door and looked down at my son.
“Daddy got you drums?”
“Uh huh, and he said I can bang on ‘em really loud,” he giggled.
I laughed, “I’m sure his neighbors will love that.”
Around three a.m. that night, I woke up to Drew sliding into bed naked. He had been on the road for several days for the first few games of the American League Championship against the Baltimore Orioles. I was sad I didn’t get to attend any of the games due to work and Ben, but I was hoping to attend some of the home games coming up if there would be more than one.
I wanted to be there for the Yankees to sweep the championship and move on to the World Series! I wasn’t sure if that was possible though. I already couldn’t attend the next game.
I wrapped my arms around Drew as he kissed me.
“Great game tonight,” I said, nuzzling his neck.
“Sorry I woke you.”
“I’m not,” I said, reaching over and turning on the light.
I wanted to see Drew’s gorgeous face, even though it took my eyes a moment to adjust to the light.
“Why do you have clothes on?”
I laughed as I kissed his chin and looked up at him.
“My son is in the next room.”
“Benvy,” Drew smiled genuinely. “I’ve missed him.”
“He missed you too. His daddy is kind of jealous.”
Drew was quiet for a moment as he lay back against the pillows and I hovered over him, wrapping an arm around his firm, bare torso.
“Will Danny ever not hate me?”
“Drew, don’t let it bother you.”
He looked sad and vulnerable laying there naked and contemplative.
“It does bother me. Danny used to be like a brother to me…” he sighed. “Jordan and I hung out with him all the time. Now, it’s like…” he shook his head. “Forget it.”
He reached out and caressed my arm as I stared at him. It wasn’t like Danny and Drew were at each other’s throats, but they were far from friends anymore. I felt like it was all my fault.
“I’m sorry,” I sighed.
“Cami, you’re not to blame,” he said, warningly.
“Then whose fault is it?”
I rolled my eyes and lay down in his arms. Drew had the best arms—strong, muscular, but not obnoxious like those steroid-pumped body builder types.
“Right. Danny pushed us together,” I said sarcastically.
Drew chuckled, the vibration in his chest going through my body.
“No regrets, Cam. I would lose Danny’s friendship again as long as it meant I get to keep you.”
I bit my lip as I smiled. He looked down at me and pulled my chin up so he could look into my eyes. He loved when I was bashful; something that I wasn’t often. Drew leaned down and kissed me, making my toes curl. I melted into him and my hand drifted under the blanket to his erection. Drew’s lips traveled down to my neck and his hands began lifting my shirt.
The next morning, I could hear Ben’s footsteps running down the hallway. I quickly got out of bed and slipped on my robe just in time for Ben to burst into my bedroom in his favorite Despicable Me pajamas.
“Drew!” Ben yelled just as I scooped him up into my arms.
“Shh, let Drew sleep,” I whispered, carrying him out of the room.
“Mama,” Ben pouted as I shut the door behind me. “I want to see him.”
“I know, baby boy, but you know Drew works hard. He needs his sleep.”
“You shouldn’t keep him up screaming then,” he said, as I set him down.
I was mortified, but wanted to laugh at the same time. The great thing about your boyfriend being gone for days at a time is you somehow make more time for sex when he comes home. I had no idea how to respond to my son, so I didn’t.
“What do you want for breakfast?”
“Eggs Benny,” he said, running down the hall toward the kitchen.
I laughed, “You know only Drew can make it the right way.”
Ben couldn’t pronounce “Benedict” and Drew decided to call it “Eggs Benny” and let him think it was named after him. It was pretty adorable.
“Did I hear someone order Eggs Benny?”
Drew’s morning voice was deep and raspy. Ben gasped, turned around and charged back down the hallway. I peered around the corner of the kitchen in time to see my son practically disappear into my fiancé’s arms. The sight of them embraced my heart.
Drew walked down the hallway, still holding Ben.
“Sorry Mama kept you up with her screaming,” Ben sighed. “Girls.”
Drew couldn’t contain his laughter as I smacked my hand over my face.
“I know, right? Girls are so weird,” Drew said to Ben before grinning at me in such a way that made his dimples more defined.
“She probably watched a scary movie before bed,” Ben shrugged his shoulders.
“Yup, that was it,” I quickly said. “I learned my lesson.”
Drew had a stupid smirk on his face now as he tried not to laugh again and placed Ben down.
“Alright, who’s hungry?” he changed the subject.
Ben and I both raised our hands and Drew smiled, clapped his hands together and headed into the kitchen. He knew his way around it much more than I did, though I did learn some things from him over the years.
“I have to get ready,” I pouted.
“Tell work you’re sick,” Ben winked at me, a gesture his father taught him.
I put my hands on my hips and scoffed at him.
“That would be a lie, mister.”
He shrugged, “You’re the boss. You can’t get in trouble.”
“Where do you get these things from?”
“You, Mommy. Remember?”
Drew chuckled as he got the eggs out of the refrigerator along with a cylinder of biscuits to pop in the oven.
“I believe you have used those words.”
“Ugh, I never thought he would remember them.”
“Benvy, it’s just you, me and Uncle Jordan today,” Drew said, pointing an egg toward him.
“Yes! Just us boys!” Ben yelled.
I smiled and then wrapped my arms around Drew and kissed below his ear.
Drew sighed, “Jordan already did. He said he was busy.”
I nodded, wishing there was a way I could make things right between them. Danny was incredibly stubborn though, and I wasn’t sure he could ever let something like this go. His pride was hurt, and the fact that our son loves Drew so much was just a salty reminder to the old wound.
As I was about to walk down the hallway, Drew called out to me.
“Are you coming to the game tomorrow?”
“I can’t, remember?” I asked, stopping and looking at his back as he grabbed a skillet.
“No, of course I don’t remember,” he laughed. “I can barely keep track of my own schedule, and yours is even crazier than mine.”
“That’s an exaggeration,” I shook my head. “The Video Music Awards are tomorrow. I have three clients performing and six of them attending.”
“Oh right, Jordan did say something about Tortured closing the show. I wish I could go with you guys,” he sighed.
It wasn’t often that Drew showed any resentment toward his career, but in certain moments, I could tell it frustrated him. It frustrated Jordan just as much when he had to miss attending Yankees games due to his career. I truly think if Drew weren’t a ball player, he’d travel on tour with Tortured. And if Jordan weren’t the lead singer of Tortured, he’d travel to every away game with his brother. Their relationship was sweet, and their loyalty to one another was admirable.
I was thankful to have both of these men in my life. There were plenty of rough patches between Jordan and me, and Danny and me, but looking back, we fought like family because that’s exactly what we are.
After I was finished getting ready for work, I walked back into the kitchen where Drew and Ben were finishing up breakfast.
Drew had a plate of Eggs Benedict, spinach and a biscuit set aside for me. He ran a hand over my ass, pulling me into a kiss.
“Girl, you look so good I want to sop you up with this biscuit,” he said, in a silly voice as he grinned at me.
I laughed and smacked him away. Ben giggled too. I ate quickly, wishing I did have the day off to spend with my boys. After breakfast, I dressed Ben for the day as Drew showered. The doorbell rang and I hurried over to open it. As soon as I did, this puppy bounded into my apartment.
“Holy shit,” I jumped as Ben cheered, totally oblivious to the slip-up of my bad language. I looked at Jordan who apologized and scooped the golden retriever into his arms. “Whose dog is this?”
“Mine,” Jordan grinned, patting the dog that lapped at his chin as Ben fussed to get his hands on the puppy. “I figured she could come to the park with us.”
“You got a dog?”
I was okay with dogs from a distance—grown and calm dogs that didn’t drool or shed or need to be walked. This puppy with large paws, panting tongue, and seemingly unruly behavior did not appeal to me. I was somewhat surprised it appealed to Jordan.
“What’s his name?” Ben asked.
“It’s a girl, buddy,” Jordan knelt down so Ben could pet her. “Her name is Tilly.”
“”That’s a silly name,” Ben giggled.
“Well, she is a silly dog.”
“When did you get her?” I wondered.
“And Haley’s okay with this?”
“Well, I don’t think she was too keen on it considering she would get stuck taking care of her when I go on the road, but I went to that ASPCA event with Aylin, and this little pup was there and needed a good home, and A and I fell in love.”
I rolled my eyes, “I would punch Drew if he adopted a dog for me to take care of.”
Jordan laughed, “You pretend to be indifferent to this face, but I know you’re just jealous,” he said before holding Tilly’s chin up to me. “Besides, Haley already went out and bought a collection of toys for Tilly. I knew she’d love her. I also offered to take Tilly on the road with us.”
I gasped, “What?! Jordan, you are not bringing that mutt on the road with us.”
“Watch me,” he said, just stern enough to let me know he means business, but still with a small smile on his face to also let me know he didn’t want it to turn into a fight.
“Mama, can we get a puppy?” Ben asked, petting Tilly who licked his cheek.
Gross! I am so going to have to disinfect my son later!
“Not unless you walk her and feed her,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest and glaring at Jordan for inspiring this want for a dog in my son.
“Okay!” Ben agreed to my conditions.
“Hold it, can you go outside by yourself?”
Ben pouted, “Not yet.”
“Well, until you’re old enough to go outside by yourself, you can’t have a dog.”
Ben’s pouty lips started to tremble and I knew what was about to happen. He was a perfect angel until he didn’t get his way. Then, the tantrums were embarrassing at best and irritating at the very least. I was usually on the receiving end of these tantrums while everyone else always gave him his way. I am the lone bad guy to my son and it aggravates me to no end. Danny never disciplined him. Drew bargained with him in a way that left Ben content. But Mommy was the witch who always told him no, even though my dog argument was completely valid, and could be renegotiated at a later date. I’d still say no then, but he didn’t know that!
“I hate you!” Ben yelled, breaking into a fit of cries.
Jordan looked surprised by the outburst and I glared at him.
“Thank you very much, Uncle J. You can deal with this, I’m going to be late,” I sighed, grabbing my purse and jacket.
“Ben, calm down, you can come over and play with Tilly anytime,” Jordan tried to quiet him as he placed the dog down and pulled my son onto his fur-covered knee.
“Promise?” Ben sniffled.
“Yes. Now, be nice to Mommy.”
Ben furrowed his dark eyebrows over his crystal blue eyes and looked at me with a “humph”.
“We’ll talk more about getting a dog later, okay?” I offered. “But it’s a big boy talk, so no crying, okay?”
“Okay, Mama. I don’t hate you,” he mumbled.
“Can I have a kiss to prove it?” I asked.
Ben slid off Jordan’s knee and I knelt down to offer my cheek. He wrapped his small arms around my neck and he kissed my cheek before hugging me. Just then, I felt something slobbery on my cheek. Yuck. I turned my head and Tilly was panting as she stared at me and wagged her tail.
“She loves you too, Mama,” Ben giggled.
“Great,” I forced a smile and shot Jordan another aggravated look as he held in a laugh. “Tell my fiancé goodbye for me and to not get any ideas,” I nodded toward Tilly.
“Have a good day, Cami,” Jordan waved me off.
While riding the elevator from the penthouse down to the lobby, I wiped my cheek with a baby wipe. My phone rang as soon as the elevator doors opened. I sighed and reached into my purse for it as I heard the doorman, Gary, greet me.
I put the phone to my ear and waved to Gary as I gave my attention to the call. I knew I came off as a rich snob to most people who didn’t know me, and maybe even to those who did. I didn’t waste much time on chitchat and when I wasn’t working, I was spending time with my son, boyfriend and close friends. My life didn’t have room for much else. Besides, I was used to not letting people into my world. I was protective of those I loved and cautious of whom I let into my life.
How I ended up with Andrew Ashton who talked to strangers on the regular is kind of funny. We are definitely more opposite than alike, but I think that’s why we work.
“Cami, we need to push back Rad’s album.”
These are the last words I wanted to hear, especially first thing in the morning. Rad Trick is a huge pop star that is one of my clients. He’s made me a ton of money, but he also makes all of my employees at Out Of The Woods Entertainment and me work frustratingly hard for it.
“Bobby, I don’t get why you guys can’t get it together before the new year. Rad finished recording the album months ago,” I huffed as I hailed a taxi.
“The record label is laying off practically the entire publicity department and getting new people in.”
I got into the taxi and recited the address of my office to the driver.
I sighed into the phone, “So? Are you hiring incompetent people who can’t jump on and promote the shit out of an album?”
I heard Bobby groan and I knew ultimately this was the label’s decision. I also knew if we pushed the album back, we’d be competing with Bex Moore’s new album. While Rad was Bex’s direct competition, he won’t outsell him. As Rad’s manager, I know that sounds terrible, but I’m also looking out for the best interest of everyone involved. While competing pop stars can spike up sales, it can also hurt the hype in the long run.
“Look Bobby, you’ll be screwing this album over.”
“Cami, the album is screwed if we release it in November. Publicity wise, we don’t have enough time or plans. February will work better.”
“Let me talk to Rad and I’ll get back to you,” I said hanging up abruptly.
I immediately called Rad Trick, knowing he wouldn’t answer. I hung up and sent him a text reminding him about our meeting today. The entire ride to the office, I thought of marketing schemes to help amp the album up and if we could still release the album as scheduled. Suddenly, a light bulb went off just as the taxi came to a stop. I almost ran out of the cab without paying. I told the driver to keep the change before hurrying off to the building. I bypassed security and got into the crowded elevator.
I barely noticed one guy trying to talk to me with his eyes until he began actually making small talk with his mouth.
“I’m sorry, what?” I looked over at him.
Couldn’t he see the brilliant idea floating above my head? I didn’t have time for his useless flirting.
“Are you a model?”
I laughed as I buried my nose into the iPhone in my hand, “Yeah, a very short one.”
I could see his smile from the corner of my eye.
“Well, you’re beautiful.”
“Thank you,” I said, glancing over at him.
He was kind of cute and looked somewhat familiar. I have probably passed him before, but had no intention of getting to know him just so he could continue to shower me with uncomfortable compliments and I could shut him down with the fact that I am engaged.
“I’m Chris,” he said, holding his hand out to me.
Just then, the elevator door opened and several people stepped off.
“Cami,” I said, shaking his hand, but immediately pulling away, not wanting to encourage this guy dressed in an expensive suit and tie.
“Nice to meet you,” he said as the elevator started moving.
“Yeah,” I nodded, watching the lighted floor numbers change.
“Running late?” he laughed.
“Oh, no… just eager to work,” I shrugged, realizing I sounded lame, but not really caring. I loved my job.
“That makes one of us,” Chris said. “I’m guessing you’re not a lawyer.”
“Not quite,” I laughed and just then the elevator stopped at my floor. “This is me,” I said, stepping out of the elevator.
“Wait, have we met somewhere before?” he asked, holding the door, causing the rest of the elevator patrons to groan.
I rolled my eyes, “You need a new line and someone else to use it on.”
Now would be a good time to have an engagement ring on, but Drew and I have been so busy that we haven’t picked one out yet.
An hour later, I was trying to pull some major strings to make my plan work. I called J.J. into my office. J.J. worked for me and handled Rad’s day-to-day business. I knew he was crucial to get Rad to agree to my idea. They were practically best friends.
“What’s up?” J.J. asked, sitting down and folding his hands behind his head.
“The label wants to push Rad’s album back to February.”
“February 11th,” I nodded.
“That’s crap. Bex Moore’s album comes out the same day!”
“I know. And you and I both know that Bex will get all of the T.V. spots because he has a better track record.”
Rad Trick, while having just as big of a fan base as Bex Moore, was considered the bad boy of pop. He was in and out of rehab, late for appearances, and was known to throw in a random cuss word on live National television.
J.J. sighed, “Can you talk them out of the push back? I mean, we risk losing interest if we wait.”
“I think we should stick with the push back and tell the fans that we’re adding another song to the album—a duet.”
“Duet? With who?”
I smiled widely and J.J. looked scared.
“What?” J.J. freaked out.
“Come on, it’ll be so shocking… a duet with bad boy Rad and angelic Bex! Fans will go insane and it’s a win for both artists,” I said, proudly.
J.J. scratched his chin.
“So you’re saying both albums will be released the same day?”
“Yes, and both albums will have the duet on it. Leading up to the release, we’ll drop a single from Rad and about a week before the album comes out, we’ll release the duet along with the announcement of some joint promotional tour dates.”
“Cami, you are a genius,” J.J. said in awe. “How did you get Bex’s people to agree?”
“Well, I happen to know that Bex was trying to get his hands on a song written by Matt Porter, his own idol. Matt thought it was a little too edgy for Bex and would work better as a duet. So I pulled all the strings,” I shrugged.
“Wait, so not only did you get this for Rad, you actually will be bringing in tons of writer’s royalties for another client?”
“Of course,” I grinned, too happy with myself.
“I think I just got a boner.”
I rolled my eyes, “Disgusting.”
“Seriously. Drew is a lucky guy,” J.J. said.
“Out of my office, J.J.,” I waved him away.
The meeting with Rad Trick went a little rocky at first. He wasn’t keen on the idea of teaming up with his competition, but he liked the idea of winning over the industry. He had been warned by me that his career would downward spiral quickly if he didn’t clean up his act. I basically had Rad by his pompous pop star balls, and he knew it.
Around four o’clock, I heard a commotion throughout the office. I knew that usually meant either Jordan or Sound Wave walked in. I had a fairly professional team of people working at Out Of The Woods Entertainment, however, some of the interns and my receptionist became overly excited on occasion.
I poked my head out of the office and was almost knocked down. The commotion wasn’t just made over Jordan, but him, his MVP brother AKA my fiancé, my son, and the furry bulldozer named Tilly.
“Jordan!” I yelled as the dog jumped on me.
He ran into my office and grabbed Tilly by the collar.
“Down, Tilly!” He yelled.
“Two words for you,” I huffed, brushing my clothes free of dog hair. “Obedience school.”
“Cami, she’s a baby. She’ll learn.”
“I doubt she’ll learn from you. You don’t have time to teach her.”
Jordan wasn’t even listening as he knelt down to play with the dog. Drew came in holding Ben and they were both covered in grass stains. I smiled as Ben was set down and ran to me. I picked him up and kissed his forehead.
“Real men get dirty,” Ben grinned.
“Oh, is that what you’ve learned today?”
“Yup!” Ben said as Drew walked over.
He was always repeating phrases Drew taught him. It was at times adorable, and at other times, I wanted to lecture my fiancé for teaching my son things that I would eventually have to reprimand him for.
I looked up at Drew as he leaned down and kissed me.
“We were hoping you could get out early.”
“Haley wants you all to come over for dinner,” Jordan said from the floor where he was scratching Tilly’s belly.
I looked around my desk and knew I shouldn’t, but also knew I could do work later or stay late tomorrow. Now that the Rad Trick decisions have been made, there was nothing too pressing.
We left about twenty minutes later. As we got into the elevator, there was a middle-aged woman who looked at us with disdain. I couldn’t blame her. My fiancé and son were messy-haired with grass-stained jeans while Jordan was carrying a little feisty beast. As we dropped another floor, a twenty-something woman got on and her eyes lit up. This wasn’t uncommon for Jordan or Drew, but I don’t think she even noticed them. She immediately began petting Tilly.
“So cute!” She cooed. “What’s her name?”
“Tilly,” Jordan said.
It must have been his voice that she recognized as her jaw dropped suddenly and she just stared at him for a few seconds.
“Oh my… wow, you’re…”
“I am,” he laughed, shaking her hand.
The girl couldn’t seem to recover after that and it was quite awkward. I tried to hold back my laughter by burying my head into Drew’s chest.
“Mama, what are you doing?” Ben asked.
The elevator reached the lobby and just as we were about to get off, Chris, the flirty lawyer was getting on. He smiled at me.
“Hi Cami,” he said, but his jaw dropped once he noticed Drew with his arm around me, and then his face paled as he looked at Jordan.
Wow, even smooth Mr. Lawyer was star struck. It gets really old. Jordan and Drew didn’t mind, but I knew they both appreciated normalcy and those moments were rare.
Jordan made eye contact with Chris before looking at the girl.
“It was nice meeting you,” he said to her before giving Chris a nasty look as he got off the elevator.
Drew pulled me along awkwardly, taking Ben’s hand with his free one. As we walked outside of the building, I curiously looked at Drew for answers. Jordan put Tilly down and held her leash as he headed to the subway station. He looked tense suddenly.
“What was that about? Do you know that guy?” I asked, trying to place where I knew him from.
I just figured he had looked familiar from seeing him around the building.
“How do you know him?” Drew turned the question on me.
“I met him in the elevator this morning. He must work for that law firm that just moved into the building.”
“I bet he hit on you, right?” Jordan asked, turning to look at me.
“He was flirting,” I shrugged. “But I wasn’t…” I said quickly, looking up at Drew as if I were in trouble for something.
“That was Christian Eriksson,” Drew said.
My eyes widened and I looked over at Jordan, now understanding the tension. Christian is Jordan and Drew’s cousin who was in love with Haley and who is just an all-around asshole. He was even engaged to Tasha Torres, Haley’s best friend for a bit. I hadn’t hung around him all that much. I do recall him always staring at Haley, though—in that creepy, yearning kind of way.
We swiped our Metro cards and hurried onto the A train that just arrived. The subway ride to Jordan and Haley’s place was kind of coldly silent, except for Ben playing with Tilly as he sat on my lap.
“Yeah?” I asked, looking at Jordan.
“Don’t talk to Christian, okay?”
“Okay,” I nodded.
“He’s just devious and I don’t want him to know anything about my family.”
“I understand,” I said.
Drew took my hand that wasn’t holding onto Ben.
“Are you going to tell Haley?” Drew asked.
“I don’t know. I’m just pissed now I have to run the risk of seeing him anytime I come into my management’s office,” Jordan sighed.
“I’m not too happy you have to run into him now,” Drew said, looking at me.
I rolled my eyes, “It’s not like I’m going to become friends with him. You know I’ll put him in his place.”
Jordan and Drew both laughed.
“She’s right, bro. Cami will completely castrate him if he tries to hit on her,” Jordan said, somewhat excitedly.
Drew smiled, “That’s my girl.”
“Mama, are you sure we can’t get a dog?” Ben asked.
I groaned and shook my head at Jordan as the train came to our stop. He just laughed as he stood up. We got to Haley and Jordan’s brownstone on Riverside Drive, which they had moved into a year ago. The area suited them much more. It was quiet and scenic with Riverside Park close by. Jordan and Haley hated the snooty, rich people that sometimes can inhabit my neighborhood, and they used to live among the crowded Midtown craziness; I’m sure they have some peace of mind in the area now.
Haley came out of the kitchen and Tilly practically knocked her down just as she did me.
“Tilly,” Haley laughed. “Down, girl. Down,” she said, petting her.
“How mad are you about this?” I asked, taking my shoes off at the door.
Haley pushed her blonde hair behind her ears and shrugged.
“It’s nice to have someone keep me company when I’m alone,” she shrugged.
Jordan walked over to her and pushed her while she was still in the squatting position, and she fell over. Tilly began licking her face as Jordan taunted her.
“Please, don’t sound like you’re a prisoner in your big brownstone while I gallivant around the world.”
Jordan just walked over her as she struggled to get off the floor.
“Mr. Sensitive,” Haley laughed, pushing Tilly off her and standing up. She shoved Jordan in the back and he turned around with an easygoing smile, showing he was joking. Haley wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his lips.
Just then, Aylin came down the stairs.
“Hey Uncle Drew, hi Aunt Cam,” she said, hugging us briefly. “Hey Ben,” she messed his hair. “See you guys later.”
“Wait, where are you going?” Jordan asked his nineteen-year-old daughter.
“Out,” she said as Tilly nuzzled her legs.
“Dad, I don’t know. I’ll be out with my friends and we’re playing it by ear.”
“I can’t believe you’re not going to spend time with your favorite uncle,” Drew said, placing a hand over his heart as if he were in pain.
“Sorry, we’ll have lunch soon,” she said, hurrying out the door.
I plopped down on the couch and looked over at Haley and Jordan expectantly.
“We’ll have lunch?” Drew laughed, sitting down next to me and placing a hand on my thigh.
“Welcome to our world,” Haley shook her head. “As soon as she turned eighteen, she became too cool for any of us.”
“Come on, you can’t expect her to always want to be around you guys. She’s a teenager and just wants to spread her wings,” I said, understanding completely.
Haley let out a heavy sigh, “We don’t hold the reins tight, Cami. It’s not like we held her back like my parents did to me.”
She walked into the kitchen and Jordan followed her. I looked at Drew.
“Well then. I wasn’t trying to offend her.”
Drew smiled and caressed my cheek, “I don’t think you did. I think Jordan and Haley are just having a hard time facing the fact that their baby is growing up.”
I looked over at Ben and put my head down on Drew’s shoulder.
“And you want to have a baby knowing we’ll have to let him or her go at some point…” I said, as I kept watching Ben play with Tilly, trying to imagine my life with him as a teenager.
Drew wrapped his arm around me and rubbed it.
“I know what you’re trying to do.”
“Cami, stop expecting the worst.”
I looked at him, “I’m not. I’m being realistic. Drew, I might never get pregnant and you have to accept that.”
“I accept it, but a little bit of hope from you couldn’t hurt.”
“I’m going to see if Haley needs help,” I said, standing up. I kissed Drew deeply. “I love you.”
Drew looked at me with his deep brown eyes.
“Don’t give up, Cami. Not yet.”
I nodded and gave his hand a squeeze before walking into the kitchen. Jordan and Haley were practically having sex on the island in the middle of the kitchen. Haley noticed me first and immediately hopped down, straightening her shirt.
“Sorry to interrupt,” I laughed.
Haley blushed, “My husband has this thing for being inappropriate.”
Jordan chuckled and rubbed her shoulders, “I just know how to get her to relax.”
Haley turned bright red and I found them to be somewhat sickening and adorable all at the same time.
“No need to explain. I am fully aware of the charms the men in this family have. Do you need any help?”
Jordan kissed Haley’s cheek before walking out of the kitchen.
“You want to help me set the table?” Haley asked.
“Sure,” I said, going to the cabinet to grab the plates. “And don’t worry about Aylin. She loves you guys. You remember what it was like to be that age. You always want more freedom and to feel like you don’t have to answer to anyone.”
Haley smiled and nodded, “I knew this parenting thing was too easy all these years.”
“Ben is going to be a terror as a teenager, I just know it. He’s Danny’s son,” I rolled my eyes.
Haley laughed, “Yeah, he’ll be a bit of a bad boy if he’s anything like his dad.”
“Drew wants one with me,” I said, turning around.
She looked at me and smiled, “Does that surprise you?”
“No, but I don’t know if I can give him one. You know how hard it was for me to have Ben.”
She had a sympathetic look on her face and I knew she understood my concern.
“Drew will love you no matter what,” she offered.
It was the perfect thing to say. I felt like I always say the wrong things when trying to cheer up Haley, like before in the living room, but she always knew how to make me feel better. I still don’t know how I was lucky enough to have such compassionate people around me when I sometimes lacked any kind of empathy for others.
I was blessed with a beautiful family. I worried if twenty years from now, though, would I be enough to keep Drew happy? I looked at Haley and Jordan—and all the perfection that is them. I admired their love and hated it all at once. They were the only married couple I knew who had lasted this long, and looked happy, and still desired each other in such a way. I knew Drew looked up to them, and aspired to have what they have. Damn them for setting such a high expectation.
Still, they were my best friends and I am happy to have them, and so incredibly relieved that they’ve come to love Drew and me together. It took some getting used to for them. They seem genuinely excited for Drew and me, and I loved them even more for that.