Instead of heading back to the bar to party, Khiêm shrugs off his jacket and draped it around my shoulders as we make our way to a snack bar down the street. It’s still open, with a few drunk people pigging out on fries in the corner. My stomach rumbles loudly, which causes Khiêm to laugh. He tells me to sit my cute ass down in a boot while he orders for us.
“Jesus,” I breathe when he returns what must be the largest order ever for just two people. There is a huge order of fries, all kinds of snacks, four different types of condiments, and every burger on the menu. I grab a fry and pop it into my mouth, moaning at how good it tastes. I forgot how good junk food tasted in the middle or the night when you’ve been dancing and drinking.
Khiêm sits down next to me, and he starts eating to. We feed each other bites of snacks we like, and soon enough we’re licking mayonnaise off each other’s fingers, eyeing each other suggestively. I’m starved both for him and for food, so this is the perfect combination.
“You look so hot in that dress,” he grunts when I lick more sauce off his fingers before feeding him a fry. “It’s not fair that Jagger and Marcus get to fuck their girlfriends tonight and I don’t.”
“I don’t live in a different state and I didn’t cheat on you,” I remind him. “I’m fairly certain you won the girlfriend lottery, baby.”
“Oh, I know I did,” he agrees, kissing me hungrily. He tastes like fries and ketchup, and I don’t even mind.
When we break apart and get back to our food, I yelp when I realize we’re no longer alone in our booth. Across from us, her arms crossed as she grins at us, is Gracie.
“Well well well…” she says, amused as fuck. “This night just got interesting…
“Ah fuck,” Khiêm growls. “We’re busted.”
Gracie giggles loudly, throwing back her head. “You weren’t fooling anyone anyway,” she says between fits of laughter. “God, you guys are cute together. How long has this been going on?”
“Little over two months,” I reply, not moving away from Khiêm even a little bit. Our cover is blown anyway, so what’s the use of pretending we’re not together? “Please don’t tell Marcus.”
“I’m never talking to that asshole ever again,” she bites out, suddenly sounding vicious. “You don’t have anything to worry about. Now tell me… how did this happen? You’re living together, right? Did you get together before or after moving in together? Who else knows?”
We fill her in the next fifteen minutes, and she squeals as she listens, helping herself to some of our fries and a few bites of Khiêm’s burger. It’s kind of nice so sit here like a real couple, talking about how we got together. It’s a pretty sweet story when you put it all together like this. Gracie sure seems to think so.
“Oh wait, since I promised not to tell Marcus, does that mean I can be a bridesmaid when you guys get married eventually?” she asks, her big blue eyes wide and pleading. “Pretty please? I look great in any color, but not so great that I could ever upstage you in a beautiful white dress. Are you going to make your own wedding dress since you work in a bridal boutique? Ooooh will you make mine if I ever manage to make a guy stick? Not that I will need one anytime soon since Marcus doesn’t want me – not that I wanted to marry him, but I haven’t connected with someone like that since… ever. The guy I met tonight was nice, though. His name was… I don’t know. Robbie? Robert? I honestly don’t remember, but he’s a good kisser. Didn’t go home with him though. Instead, I came in here and saw the two of you trying to eat each other.”
“Damn girl, you ramble like a madwoman,” Khiêm teases her, shoving another burger in her hands. “Eat up. That ought to shut you up.”
“Is that what you do to shut Nia up?” she jokes, giggling. “Shove hot meat into her mouth?”
“Oh my God.” I laugh and go back to eating my fries. “You’re horrible.”
She wiggles her eyebrows. “No, I’m not. I know you’ve been defending me to Marcus and Bee. He said something about that earlier, when he told me to fuck off.”
“What did he do?” Khiêm and I ask at the exact same time, our voices low and menacing.
“So in synch,” Gracie says, eyeing us curiously. “I can’t believe Marcus doesn’t know. How stupid is he? You two are so smitten it’s like there is a neon sign above your heads saying Hey! We’re fucking!”
“We’re not just fucking,” Khiêm replies, smiling at me and squeezing my knee under the table. “I’m in love with this radiant woman.”
“Ahw, you cheeseball,” I reply, leaning in for a kiss. “Love you too.”
“So cute!” Gracie squeals. “God, I’m jealous.”
Right. Trouble with Marcus. Focus, Nia.
“What did my dimwitted brother do this time?” I ask, not liking the way her face falls when she thinks about him.
“I told him that I like him and want to be with him, and he told me to stop pursuing him, because he wants to be with Bee. He told me that I’ve done enough, that I’ve gotten him into a world of trouble with her, and that I need to stop.” She sniffles, and wipes at her eyes. “Fuck. Sorry. I’m so tired. And maybe a little drunk. And sad. Mostly sad.”
This girl is such an open book, so brave, and so sweet. Why would Marcus pick stupid Bee over this beautiful blonde bawling her eyes out over him?
“Tell us what happened,” I tell her, glancing over to see Khiêm looking uncomfortable to have a crying woman sitting across from him. He’s gotten quite good at handling me when I get emotional, but I guess even though he’s a big softie, tears aren’t his thing. He does reach across the table to take her hand in his, and I feel pride and love surge up within me because of that small gesture.
“It’s pretty simple,” she whimpers. “He doesn’t want me.”
“He’s been with Bee for eleven years,” I try to explain. “It’s hard to walk away from that, even if their relationship if toxic.”
“I always do this,” Gracie grunts, looking up at me. “I throw myself into an attraction and then the guy goes back to his ex-girlfriend, or cheats on me, or tells me things are moving too fast. Is there something wrong with me?”
“Of course not,” Khiêm says before I can reply. “You’re great. Rose and Jagger think the world of you, and the way you’re sitting here talking to Nia when you have every reason to never want to see her again proves-”
“Seb was an ass,” she cuts in. “I doubt that was the first time he cheated on me. He lost no sleep over losing me, which tells me all I need to know. He never loved me. I was just an easy lay, fun to be with while it lasted, but not worth being faithful to.” She gives me an apologetic smile. “I shouldn’t have gotten so angry at you. He obviously took advantage of you.”
Khiêm gives me a pointed look, silently telling me not to fight her on this. “He did,” he agrees, his hand finding mine.
“I got myself drunk,” I say, still not willing to put this all on him. It’s not that I’m defending him, but I don’t think it’s fair to act like I didn’t have my part in the whole saga as well. I was out of line. So far out of line that the line was a dot to me. “And it wasn’t just Seb, I went after Jagger when I knew he was with Rose… I’m lucky that you guys aren’t vindictive, because it’s a miracle that I’m still welcome in this group of friends. You’re right, by the way. Seb is an ass. A complete and total ass. Tiny little dick, too.” I’m not sure if that’s true, since I hardly remember what happened in the car, but at least I’m making Gracie laugh.
“Your brother though…” she says, closing her eyes for a moment. “Not so tiny.”
“Please,” Khiêm scoffs. “He’s average at best.” When Gracie and I both give him incredulous looks, he shrugs. “What? He’s been my best friend since high school. You think I’ve never seen his dick? Him and Jagger are both nothing more than average. Me on the other hand…”
I can’t help the giggle bubbling up in me. “Hung like a horse, baby.” He’s not, but I’m not going to say that out loud. I have zero complaints about any part of our sex-life. For some reasons, guys always want to believe they’re the biggest you’ve ever had, even when you tell them you don’t give a shit about that. He’s big enough to feel damn good inside of me, but not so big it hurts. To me, that’s the perfect size. If he wants to believe he’s huge, let him.
“Why are you laughing?” he asks, narrowing his eyes at me.
“No reason.” I appease him with a kiss. “Back to Gracie now… Did you really send Marcus a naked picture?”
“Oh no!” she exclaims, causing the drunks in the corner to glance over at us. “He told you? No no no, did he show you?”
“No, he didn’t.” Khiêm pats her hand awkwardly. “He may be dense, but he’s not a total asshole.”
“Fuuuck,” she breathes, hiding her face behind her hands. “That was so stupid. I was hungover from the night before, and me and some friends went all hair of the dog with tequila shots, and somehow, when I got back to my dorm, it seemed like a great idea to strip naked and take a picture of myself. Once I sobered up and realized what I’d done, I felt so…” She shudders, unable to finish her sentence. “Thank God you can barely see my face because I was doing some coy thing where I hid behind my hair, but still… it’s all of me. On display. For someone who doesn’t even want me.”
And… she’s crying again.
“Forget about Marcus,” I tell her, and I mean it. “Apparently, he wants to waste his life on that stupid cunt of an ex-girlfriend of his.”
Khiêm shoots me one of his patented looks, silently telling me shut up. “He’ll come around,” he says instead. “He told me you guys had a real connection, but you live on the other side of the country, you’ve only seen each other… what? Three times? Four? And you only hooked up once, so it’s hard for him to decide to leave his girlfriend for that, especially since she finally agreed to move in with him, which he’s been wanting for years now.”
“She moved in with him?” I ask, surprised by this. Guess Marcus must really be flipping mad at me if he didn’t even tell me he finally got Bee to agree to live with him. He’s been wanting to move in together since… well, since after high school graduation, really.
“Well, that settles it, I’m done with him,” Gracie grunts, grabbing my soda to take a sip. “I’m back on the market. Guess Robert or Robbie or whatever his name was is getting a text from me tomorrow after all. Why haven’t you told Marcus you’re together, by the way?”
This girl moves a hundred miles an hour. Seriously. I take a deep breath and play with my fries. “He told Khiêm that he doesn’t want us sleeping together, sort of warned him away from me. And then we decided to first see how this would play out, if we truly have something here-”
“Which we do,” Khiêm chimes in.
“Obviously.” I squeeze his hand with a smile. “We wanted to tell him, but he made this whole speech about how amazing it was that Khiêm was looking out for me, and that I finally had someone in my corner who wasn’t trying to get into my pants the whole time.”
Gracie laughs. “Oh boy.”
“The next time we tried to tell him, he’d just been in a fight with Bee,” Khiêm says, grimacing. “About that picture you sent him, actually. She was on his phone when you texted him.”
“Oh God,” she breathes, her cheeks turning bright red. “That’s… I’m so embarrassed.”
“I’ve been in a fight with him ever since, because I told him to dump her ass and pick you,” I explain. “And… here we are. Still hiding our relationship from him, while he’s fucking up his life by sticking with Bee.”
Gracie sighs and grabs a burger, biting into it. “Boys are stupid,” she says with her mouth full. “Maybe I should just become a nun.”
“You can always be my extra arm candy,” Khiêm offers, winking at her.
“Dude!” I exclaim, smacking his arm. “Behave!”
Gracie giggles. “That’s the exact same thing Jagger told me. Guess I have two couples who are okay with me third wheeling them. God, I’m pathetic.”
“No, you’re not,” I say, meaning every word. She’s right. Boys are stupid. I’m beyond lucky to have found such a great one. Which is exactly why I’m never letting him go.