“Thanks,” I said, accepting the mug from Hannah.
“Do you want to spend the night here?” she asked. “You can sleep on the couch.”
“I don’t know,” I sighed, taking a sip of the hot tea. “Maybe I should go back to my own cabin.”
“Is Paddy there?”
“I have no idea.”
“You need to tell him you turned down Osk’s proposal. If you stay out all night, he’ll think you’re with him.”
“I tried calling him a few minutes ago. It went straight to voicemail.”
“I can’t believe Osk did that in front of everyone. Poor Paddy. And poor Silicone Princess.”
“Her name is Dorothy.”
“Dorothy?” Miles repeated before dissolving into a fit of laughter.
“I know,” I said. “It doesn’t suit her at all. And apparently, she told Osk he was in love with me, and encouraged him to tell me. He knew Paddy and I were faking our relationship.”
“How did he find out?” Hannah asked.
“Why am I not surprised?” she sighed, shaking her head.
“She needs to stop eavesdropping.”
“Are you going to get together with Paddy?”
“I don’t know. I’m so confused right now.”
“About your feelings for Paddy?”
“Yeah,” I whispered.
“There’s no way Osk wants to get married,” Miles said.
“He seemed pretty devastated when I turned down his proposal.”
“I didn’t think you guys were that serious.”
“We weren’t. But I thought maybe we were heading that way before he asked Dorothy to be his date for the wedding.”
“Osk doesn’t know what the fuck he wants,” Miles grumbled. “He’s a child. If he needed his girlfriend to point out that he was in love with you, then that should tell you he’s not mature enough to get married.”
“Did you and Paddy get a chance to talk before Osk’s little stunt?” Hannah asked.
“No. Things were really weird and awkward between us all night. I was about to go get a drink when he asked me to dance. We were making out on the dance floor when Osk took the mic. If Osk hadn’t done what he did, we would’ve ended up in bed together again tonight.”
“You can’t keep sleeping with Paddy, Lex,” Hannah lectured. “Not without talking and making sure you’re on the same page about where things are going. You can’t lead him on.”
“I know, I know.” My sister was such a buzzkill sometimes.
“I just got a text from Osk,” Miles said, his eyes scanning his phone screen. “Apparently, he and Paddy met up at the bar and had a few drinks. They went back to Osk’s cabin afterwards.”
“No way,” I whispered. “Paddy hardly ever drinks.”
“I guess he did tonight.” He shook his head when a second text came through. That was Osk. He didn’t like to send long texts. He’d type a few words, send it, then type a few more. “Oh fuck.”
“What?!” I cried. “Is Paddy okay?”
“He’s fine. Osk says he’s sleeping. He saved his BFF from the bird girl. Who the fuck is the bird girl?”
“What was she doing in Osk’s cabin?!” I yelled, pushing up from the sofa. “I’m going over there!”
“I guess Osk and Paddy walked in on her and Dorothy having a girl’s get together,” Miles chuckled.
“Is that the girl from the bird-watching tour, who’s been flirting with Paddy?” Hannah asked.
“Yes,” I fumed, heading for the door.
“I have to go over there, Hannah!”
“At least let us walk with you. It’s the middle of the night.”
“It’s not really dark.”
“We’ll go with you,” Miles offered.
“What did Osk mean by a girl’s get together?” Hannah asked as we trudged through the forest.
“What do you think?” I muttered, rolling my eyes at my sister’s naivety.
“I don’t think they were painting each other’s nails,” Miles chuckled.
“Dorothy is bisexual?” Hannah gasped.
“She came onto me on the bird cruise.”
“What did she do?” she whispered.
“Why are you whispering?” I snapped. “Are you afraid the bears might overhear our conversation?”
“Very funny, Lex. What did she do?”
“She invited me to have a threesome with her and Osk. Then she rubbed my thigh and came very close to touching my pussy.”
“She’s really bisexual?”
“I wonder if Osk knows.”
“That’s probably what attracted Osk to her,” Miles suggested.
“Is Eliza still there?” I asked.
I had no problem kicking that little slut’s scrawny ass. She picked the wrong girl to mess with. I grew up in a tough neighborhood. You don’t survive public school in Gastown by being a wuss. I had no idea how Hannah didn’t get her ass whooped at least once.
“No,” Miles said. “They went back to her room to continue whatever they were doing when the guys walked in.”
Osk’s cabin was dark when we arrived. Miles knocked before pushing open the front door. I followed him inside, my eyes searching the room for Paddy. He was sprawled across the bed on his back, his mouth hanging wide open while he snored loudly.
“Hey,” Osk called out from the couch.
“What happened?” I demanded.
“Your boyfriend got hammered.”
“I can see that, Osk,” I snapped. “What happened with the bird slut?”
“She came onto him, but he was in no shape to fuck her.”
“Nah. He turned her down. But she’s kind of pushy. She got him onto the bed, and uh.” He paused, scratching the back of his head.
“She started undoing his pants. That’s when I stepped in. No way was I gonna let her rape the Paddy Wagon.”
“Unbelievable,” I growled, clenching my fists while I imagined her bloodied face after I rearranged it.
“You’re welcome,” Osk muttered.
“You expect me to thank you for getting Paddy drunk? It’s your fault he was upset enough to drink in the first place.”
“I told you already, I didn’t know the guy was in love with you. Cleo said you were faking to make me jealous.”
“Cleo repeats things she overhears, but she doesn’t always understand what she hears. Sometimes, she gets mixed up.”
“Your sister is smarter than you give her credit for.”
“Alexis,” Paddy called out in his sleep.
I crawled into the bed next to him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “I’m here.”
“Okay,” he mumbled, lifting his arm so it was around my shoulders.
I rested my head on his chest, listening to his heart beat when he drifted off again. The front door closed softly behind Hannah and Miles, leaving me alone with two men who were in love with me. My friends would make fun of me for this. They’d call it a first world problem.
A rich and famous drummer, who’s hung like a horse, wants to marry you.
A rich heir to a successful business, who’s hung like a horse, wants to marry you.
“I didn’t touch her,” Paddy mumbled.
“I love you, Alexis.”
“I know, baby,” I whispered.
“I can’t believe I flew up here on a commercial plane,” I laughed, taking in the luxurious private jet.
The black leather seats looked comfortable enough to fall asleep in. There were two sofas, a table and chairs with platters of fancy finger foods, a bar, and a huge television.
“There’s even a bedroom,” Miles said, waggling his eyebrows at Hannah.
“I hope there’s headphones,” I grumbled, rolling my eyes while my sister and her new husband made googly eyes at each other.
“Did you say bedroom?” Paddy asked. “With a bed?”
“Yes, there’s a bed in the bedroom,” Miles chuckled. “And you look like you need it.”
“You don’t mind if I use it?”
“No. It’s all yours.”
“You have to remain in your seat until we take off,” the stewardess advised.
Paddy was feeling pretty rough. He threw up on the float plane that took us back to Fairbanks. We spent the night at Osk’s before heading back to our cabin to pack up our stuff that morning. He’d barely said two words to me. I had no idea how much he remembered. We’d have to wait until we got back to Vancouver to talk.
We settled into our seats, buckling our belts. I stared out the window at the snow-covered mountains. It seemed like a lifetime ago that we arrived in Alaska. So much had happened in the nine days since we left Vancouver.
Hannah was married, and probably knocked up. I glanced across the aisle at the newlyweds. They were so in love. So sure of what they wanted.
Madeline was reunited with her soulmate. They were sitting in front of Miles and Hannah, holding hands and exchanging loving looks.
Cleo and Lucy were deep in conversation about something. Imagine that. My autistic sister, who could barely carry on a conversation a year ago, had come so far. She was wasting away in our apartment in the city, when all she needed was to be around other people who understood her. My parents loved her, but they did her a great disservice by isolating her.
Paddy leaned his head back, closing his eyes while we taxied out to the runway. What was he thinking about? Did he still want to be with me? Would our friendship ever be the same again?
I had no idea what I wanted. Why did I have to decide right now? I was twenty-five, my entire life ahead of me, with an exciting career opportunity on the horizon.
Paddy was settled. How much longer would he be willing to wait for me? Did I want him to wait? That wasn’t fair to him when there was no guarantee I would ever reach a point where I wanted to get married and have babies.
As soon as the seatbelt light went out, Paddy disappeared into the bedroom, closing the door behind him. I gazed out the window at the shimmering blue lakes below until my eyelids grew heavy.
When I woke up, it was dark outside. The map on the navigation screen indicated we were over northern British Columbia. We’d be landing soon. I decided to go wake Paddy up, surprised to find him sitting on the side of the bed when I opened the door.
“Hey,” I said.
He glanced up at me, his sad eyes triggering a wave of crushing guilt through my chest. “My grandmother passed away,” he said, his voice devoid of any emotion.
“Oh, Paddy. I’m so sorry.”
He shrugged. “I only met her once, years ago when I was sick, and she flew over from London. She never came again. And we never went to visit her. My dad said we couldn’t go overseas because of the business, but that’s a load of crap. We went on family vacations, and they have people to run the funeral homes.”
“That’s sad,” I said. “You never got to know her.”
“Anyways, Mom and Dad are flying out first thing in the morning. I’m going to stay here. The senior director just retired. I can’t leave the country. I need to oversee things while they’re away.”
I sat down next to him on the edge of the bed. “Is there anything I can do?”
He turned to me, his long slow kiss feeling like a goodbye. I swallowed past the lump forming in my throat when I looked into his eyes.
“I’m going to be really busy for the next couple weeks,” he said quietly. “I think we need some time apart to gain some perspective on what happened between us, and figure out where we go from here.”
“What are you saying, Paddy?”
“We can’t go back to the way things were before Alaska.”
“Because it doesn’t work that way, Alexis. We slept together. That can’t be undone.”
“Do you regret it?”
“No,” he whispered, his lips brushing over my forehead while he hugged me tightly. “I’ll never regret you being my first.”
“I need you in my life, Paddy,” I sobbed.
“I’m not going anywhere. I just need some time.”
“Don’t cry,” he murmured. “You have so many exciting things ahead of you. Call that producer as soon as you get home. That’s your dream. This could be your big break. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.”
“I won’t. I promise.”