Sweet Sinful Nights(2)

By: Lauren Blakely



“What?” she asked, her voice small.

He nodded, letting the enthusiasm he felt roll off him. Surely, she’d catch it, too. She’d have to be infected with his excitement. Their future was unfurling before them. “I got the job. They offered me a job on the spot. For Late Night Antics. This never happens, Shan. I’ll be the youngest comedy writer in the history of the show, and you know what happens to the youngest writers.”

“They go on to have the biggest careers,” she said, repeating what he’d told her many times before, but she sounded monotone, as if she was merely parroting him.

“This is huge, babe,” he said, keeping the conversation upbeat.

“I know. It is,” she said, sounding hollow.

“What’s wrong?”

“I thought it was for a job in New York. That we were trying to find work together in New York so we could be together. You know, Mr. and Mrs. Nichols, and all,” she said, trying to smile but her lower lip quivered the slightest bit.

He shook his head. “Well, it was. But they loved my work so much they offered me a gig and want me to start next week in time for the new fall season. It’s an amazing opportunity. Top late-night TV show in the country. In the world. And you are looking at the newest writer. And he is looking at his bride-to-be.”

He thought for sure that would return the smile to her face, the kind that made her crinkle her nose, with its constellation of freckles. He loved nothing more than making her smile, making her laugh, especially considering what she and her family had been through that wasn’t the least bit funny whatsoever. “We’re going to L.A.,” he added, because the silence was too much.

But there was no smile. Her eyes were glassy, wet maybe. Then she seemed to draw in that flash of sadness and replace it with a hard fierceness, and a tight line across her lips.

“Brent,” she said carefully. “Did you say we’re going to L.A.?”

He nodded eagerly. “I start next week. We’re moving to L.A. I took the job.”

She stepped away, pushing her hands against him. “You. Took. It?” she repeated, each word needing its own longitude and latitude.

“Hell yeah.”

“You never thought to discuss it with your bride-to-be?” she asked pointedly, holding up her hand and flashing her ring at him—the diamond he’d given her, set in her grandmother’s band that her brother Michael had helped him track down.

“No.” But he was too surprised by her question to even try to figure out why she was asking.

“What about me?”

“What about you? You don’t have a job.”

“But we agreed to look for work in New York. That was our plan. I thought the job you were interviewing for was in New York. That’s what you told me, and that’s the only place I’ve been looking. I turned down an opportunity in Tucson last week because you were worried it was too far away.”

He shot her a look. “Shan, that was with a tiny little dance company.”

Her stare could burn a pinhole through him. “Don’t put it down now. We both know why I said no. Because you said you couldn’t bear to be apart from me. That’s what you said, so don’t act like it would have been the wrong career move for me. I did that for you. You said you weren’t going to find work as a comedian in Tucson. And now you just went and took a job in L.A. without even talking to me,” she said, holding her hands out wide, waiting for his answer.

“I didn’t think I needed to,” he said, raising his chin up, holding his ground. “It’s the perfect gig for me. So I said yes.” He planted his feet wider, as if they were two gunslingers ready to do battle. She crossed her arms, the next move in the dance of their anger. Familiar choreography for the two of them.

“Well, I got a job, too,” she tossed back, arching an eyebrow.

“In L.A.?” he asked, hoping wildly.

She shook her head. “In New York. Like we talked about. Then it goes to London.”

He wrenched back and narrowed his eyes. “You didn’t tell me you were looking for work in London.”

She huffed. Oh, she breathed fire. That woman knew how to be angry with him. She’d mastered it. She pointed a finger at his chest. “No, I didn’t tell you, because there was nothing to tell, and now I am telling you that my modern dance teacher called me today to tell me Lars Branson just lost his assistant choreographer for the West End production of West Side Story and asked did he know anyone who could fill in at a moment’s notice? He mentioned me, since he knew I was looking for work, and the job starts in New York and then moves to London at the end of the summer. I didn’t say yes because I wanted to talk to you about it first. To see if you’d even want to go to London with me.”

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