"Interested in showing a poor guy around Santa Monica this weekend?"
My thumb hovered over the keyboard for a few seconds before I even realized that I should ask for Anna's preference. It was really her weekend, after all, and I didn't want Mike overshadowing my time with her.
"Wow, I'm surprised he hit you up after he didn't text you right from the airport," Anna responded. "But yeah, it could be fun."
So I asked Mike what his schedule was like and we ended up making plans to grab lunch the next day. With that, Anna and I collected our things and made our way back to my apartment.
I told Anna about a few of my favorite places for drinks and food so she could choose one. We ended up going to a great Japanese place for dinner and then went down the street for drinks, where Peggy and Shelby met us. This was the first time any of my friends from home were meeting my coworkers, so I was a little nervous. Anna gets along with everyone, though, so I wasn't legitimately concerned.
While things felt a little strange at first, we kept ordering rounds of drinks, making the night a lot of fun. At one point, we convinced Peggy to request Britney Spears and sing it in front of the entire bar. She should have thanked us, because she ended up talking to this pretty cool guy wearing a suit. They seemed to hit it off and he asked for her number before we left.
I woke up feeling slightly groggy and hungover the next morning. Anna was in my kitchen cooking eggs and looking like she was ready to run a marathon. Wasn't she taking shots the night before like everyone else?
"Morning, hostess with the mostest!" She passed me a cup of coffee as I sat down at my small kitchen table.
"Want to do anything this morning?" I asked her as I took a sip. It tasted amazing.
Anna shrugged. "I don't care."
We ended up going to the beach again for a few hours before heading back to get ready to meet Mike. We met at a sandwich place close to where his cousin lived. I still couldn't believe he had a cousin that lived here and it never came up.
I pushed the wooden door of the restaurant open. It only took me a few seconds to see Mike standing there with a tall, lanky guy standing next to him. I immediately noticed he had a tattoo sleeve on his left arm. Mike was so clean cut, so I was surprised to see him with an inked cousin.
Mike greeted me and Anna before introducing us to his cousin, Anthony. Mike pulled me into a hug that lingered a bit longer than I expected. I have to admit, it felt good, though.
We all ordered food at the counter before sitting down at a booth in the back. It was an odd group, but it was easy to fill the time by talking about how Anthony ended up living here, since he was raised on Long Island, as well, and general catching up. When Mike and I were together, him and Anna got along really well, so it was a pretty comfortable environment.
Anthony was having people over his place so he asked Anna and I to come by. I looked at Mike to gauge his reaction. He smiled at me and nodded. He could still read my mind after all these years apart.
Anna and I went back to my apartment to get ready before heading to Anthony's apartment. There were a few other people there when we arrived, but the four of us ended up sitting around in his kitchen for a while, drinking wine from red cups.
Anthony started asking me about things I liked to do around Santa Monica and we talked for a while before he said that we should hang out. He had been in California since college and had a lot more friends than I did. "I know you've been here for about a year, but I'm sure you'd get along great with my friends."
"That sounds great," I sincerely replied. Shelby and Peggy were great, but I definitely didn't have a surplus of friends my any means.
Anthony smiled at me. "Great," he responded. "I'm looking forward to it."
Anthony excused himself to go mingle with a few of the other guests and Anna said she had to go to the bathroom shortly after that. Mike and I were alone for the first time.
"So," I said as I swirled around the liquid in my cup. "Your cousin wants to hang out with me. I guess he thinks I'm pretty cool."
Mike laughed. "Yup," he replied. "Well, you are pretty cool."
I smiled. "I think he was flirting with me a little." I raised my eyebrows at him and took a sip of my drink. I truly only said that to see Mike's reaction.
Mike let out a deep breathe before quickly saying, "well, he's gay, so you're probably right."
I almost spit out my drink before grabbing his arm. "No way," I responded. I mean, it didn't matter either way, but I was totally surprised that Anthony being gay hadn't come up at all during our day together.
Mike nodded and laughed. "Yeah, sorry to ruin your new, budding relationship."
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, please. You know I wouldn't do that to you."
Mike stared at me for a moment and I could tell he was thinking something. I didn't say anything for a moment. I wanted him to be the one to speak.
"I know you wouldn't," he finally landed on. "You're a really great girl, Caroline."
I don't know what it was, but for the first time in a long time, all the amazing parts of our relationship were fresh in my memory. And suddenly, I really wanted him.