Seven(4)

By: Claire Kent



Owen stood up and shook hands with Wes. Then he gave Amy a kiss on the lips and said he was going to pay for their meals.

Amy frowned as he walked away. He’d only met Wes a couple of times, and he’d never seemed to like him.

Wes grinned at her. “So you’re still going out with him? Doesn’t he move back home pretty soon?”

“Next month,” she said, swallowing hard as her eyes rested on Owen’s back, strong and smooth beneath his gray shirt.

“So what are you all going to do? Try to do a long-distance thing?”

“Oh. No.” Amy’s eyes returned to Wes. “It will be over then. We decided that from the beginning. We’re just having fun. Nothing serious.”

“You’ve been going out a long time for it not to be serious.”

“It’s not about the length of time. It’s about the intentions. There’s just no future for us. His whole life is back in London, and I’ve worked too hard to build my career here to just pick up and move.”

“Yeah. It would be hard, I guess.” Wes was studying her face. “Maybe he could stay here.”

Owen was a rising star in corporate finance, and his company worked him like an indentured servant. It was understood—by him and everyone he worked with—that he was only in Baltimore for a year.

There was no way in the world Amy could let herself think about any other possibilities. Those dreams would destroy any hope she had of staying in control of her life. “But why would he? I’m telling you, we set ground rules from the beginning. No feelings allowed.”

Wes gave her a characteristic half-smile. “How’s that working out for you?”

“Just fine.” She stuck out her chin to show she wasn’t happy about the implications. “Women are just as capable of keeping their feelings under control as men.”

He chuckled. “I’m not talking about women. I’m talking about you. I know you pretty well, remember? And it’s obvious to me that you’re crazy about this guy.”

She sighed and glanced away. “I’m not crazy about him. Even if I were, it would be an exercise in futility.”

“Maybe he feels the same way about you.”

Occasionally, she was tempted to daydream about that, but she always stopped herself. In her years of dating and all the sensible advice she’d ever heard—from her mother, from her friends, from best-selling dating books—she’d learned one thing for sure. If a man was interested in more, he would make it clear to you.

If Owen wanted a deeper, more emotional relationship with her, she would have known it by now.

“No, he doesn’t. I would have seen some sign, if he did. He’s planning to leave twenty-eight days from now, without looking back.”

“Well, maybe you could float the idea past him, just to see his reaction.”

“Why are you assuming I even want to? I’m a practical woman, remember? He’s fun-for-six-months material. He’s not husband material.”

She mentally clarified that he wasn’t husband material for her. She had no doubt he’d be an amazing husband. She was just not the kind of woman a man like Owen would ever marry.

“If you say so,” Wes murmured.

She’d been watching Owen as he paid for their food and turned around, but now she turned to give Wes a dirty look for his snide tone.

When she looked back at Owen, he didn’t appear as charming and relaxed as normal. In fact, he was frowning as he started back toward them.

“I’m just saying that, if you want to act like a grown-up and admit to him that feelings have developed, that wouldn’t be entirely out of line,” Wes added.

Amy scowled again at her friend, which just made him laugh. He leaned over and gave her a friendly kiss on the cheek as he said goodbye.

Owen completely ignored Wes’s farewell and put his hand on Amy’s back to urge her out of the restaurant.

She was annoyed by his high-handedness and his rudeness both. “What the hell is your problem?” she demanded, when they started down the block toward Amy’s apartment building, where they were spending the weekend.

Owen raised his eyebrows. “My problem with what?”

“With Wes or whatever that was back there.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

She peered at his face, and it didn’t look anything but neutral and questioning. Maybe he hadn’t been as bad-tempered as she’d imagined back there. “I don’t know. It just seemed like you were kind of rude to Wes. He’s a good friend of mine, you know.”

“I am aware of that. You’ve mentioned it any number of times.”

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