“You say that to all the girls.”
“But I mean it with you, baby.”
Rosie pressed her lips together to subdue her smile. “Are you celebrating something with your six margaritas?”
“Nope. Yes.” Georgie hiccupped. “Eh. Just needed a little liquid courage.”
“Care to share your conversation with the class, ladies?” Bethany called with a mock-stern expression, everyone laughing at her halfhearted reprimand.
“It’s now or never, I guess. I have something.” Georgie put her hand up, then seemed to realize that hand was holding a sloshing margarita on the rocks and lowered it. “Me and Travis picked a wedding venue.”
“What?” Bethany dropped her dry-erase marker and didn’t bother to pick it up. “Excuse me, Georgette Castle, why was I not brought along as a consultant?”
“I didn’t want to play referee. You would have disagreed with all of Travis’s choices just to exasperate him.”
Bethany waved that off. “Ah, come on. I’ve stopped needling him so much.” She slumped. “Hard to hate the guy who proposed to you live on the air.”
“With several adoring high school kids in tow,” Rosie added, patting Georgie on the shoulder. “The man has flair.”
“Damn right, Ro. And I’m sorry we ruined your fun, Bethany,” Georgie said, taking a long sip of her drink. “But we decided on Oheka Castle—”
Gasps all around the room.
“—and we’re going with kind of an unusual theme. It’s called ‘famous baseball player turned famous announcer marries local clown and everyone thinks he’s crazy.’ Or has that theme been overdone?”
Sensing a deeper layer to Georgie’s flippancy, Rosie sent Bethany a look and noticed she was concerned, too. Actually, the silence in the room said everyone was concerned. They’d witnessed Georgie and Travis fall in love and watched his proposal during a Just Us League meeting. Everyone had skin in the game.
“I’m kind of freaking out,” Georgie said, sweeping the room with wide eyes. “When we were looking at churches, I just kept thinking about how everyone is going to be staring a-and comparing me to who he dated before. And how I never dated anyone before because I was like, this total scrub.”
Rosie put an arm around Georgie’s shoulders. “It’s okay to be nervous. Everyone gets nervous when they’re about to take a huge step,” Rosie said, squeezing her. “Except Travis. Travis would have already married you six times, because the man is crazy in love with you.”
Georgie started to respond, but the front door of Bethany’s house blew open and the object of their conversation stood outlined in the frame, all six foot three inches of the rangy ex–baseball player.
Someone yelled, “Intruder!”
Travis ignored them. “Where’s my girl?”
Everyone pointed at Georgie, who turned on the couch to face her fiancé. “Oh, hi, Travis. What are you doing here?”
Eyes narrowing, he took his cell phone out of his back pocket and held it up. “You’re being weird in your text messages.”
“No, I’m not,” Georgie sputtered. “Weird how?”
“I asked what flavor of ice cream I should pick up at the store. Your answer was . . .” He looked down at his phone and read from the screen. “‘What if we pick a flavor now and want something totally different down the road? It’s too risky picking just one. Sometimes vanilla is great, but what if people expected to see you with rocky road? They’ll wonder if you regretted it and it’ll be too late to dress up vanilla. Toppings don’t count.’” He lowered his phone and raised an eyebrow at Georgie. “And then you sent a GIF of a cat licking ice cream and getting brain freeze.”
Georgie pursed her lips. “Still waiting for the weird part.”
“All right, listen up.” Travis advanced on the couch, and women scattered out of his way. Rosie scooted sideways, thinking Travis would want to sit beside her, but he knelt at Georgie’s feet instead, taking her hands in his. “Today was the best day of my life. Seeing the place where I’m going to marry you. Talking about it made it real, you know?” He brought her hands to his mouth. “Do not freak out on me, baby girl. Please. I was scared enough you made a huge mistake picking me, but you made me believe I deserve you. Now I’m demanding you stand by that decision.” An exhale rushed out of him. “I just really, really need you to keep believing I’m not a mistake.”
“H-how could you think that’s why I’m freaking out?” She shook her head slowly. “I’m just . . . the place we picked . . . it’s so big. It’s too big,” she blurted. “You’re famous and everyone knows you and the venue should reflect that, right? But it feels too grand and foofy compared to me, and I wondered if maybe that’s what you want—”
“Jesus. Okay.” He let go of her hands and dropped his head straight into her lap. “First of all, Georgie, I would marry you in a fucking shed. I can give you a big, foofy wedding, so I thought I should. If you don’t want that, we’ll get married in your parents’ backyard or—”
“Yes.” He lifted his head and searched her face. “Did I fix this? Please tell me it was that easy. I just want to marry you any way possible.”
“Oh God,” Bethany groaned dramatically across the room. “You’ve gone from tolerable to lovable. Every belief I hold dear has to be reevaluated now.”
“You fixed it,” Georgie said on a watery laugh. “I’m sorry about brain-freeze cat. I’ve had like fifty margaritas. I love you so much.”
He slid a hand around the back of her neck and pulled her in for a kiss. It started as an innocent peck. It did. But Rosie coughed into her fist and had to look away when Travis slipped Georgie the tongue and she curled her hands in his collar, pulling him closer. It made her think of Dominic and how he used to reassure her with touches and words when she got overwhelmed. Or vice versa. And it opened a pit of yearning right in the center of her stomach. It might have been the tequila warming her blood, but she couldn’t help aching for the feel of her husband’s mouth against hers, taking, giving.
“Take your time. I’ll be outside in the car,” Travis murmured to Georgie, loud enough for the dead-silent room to hear, nuzzling their noses together. “Ah, baby girl. You just wait until I get you home tonight.”
No one said anything for a full minute after Travis left, but several women fanned themselves and at least half freshened their glasses of wine—filling them straight to the brim.
“Well,” Rosie said, clearing the rust from her throat. “We definitely have to talk about sex now.”
“Seconded.” Bethany sighed, finally picking up her dropped marker and placing it on the silver tray of the Positivity Board. “We’re all thinking about it.”
“Not all of us are allowed to have it, though.” The words were out of Rosie’s mouth before they’d fully formed in her head. Heat climbed her neck and cheeks as every head swiveled in her direction—and she had zero choice but to elaborate. “Dominic and I are in couples therapy and we’ve been given homework. And rules. One of them is no sex.”
“This is the best meeting yet,” someone whispered at the edge of the room.
“So let me get this straight,” one of the older members said, moseying forward. “You’re so active in the bedroom that you need a rule against sex . . . and you still need therapy?”
Rosie tucked a curl behind her ear. “It’s complicated.”
Georgie handed Rosie her margarita, and Rosie drank half before handing it back. “He wrote me a letter,” she said, smiling as Bethany picked up the marker and wrote “love letter” on the board with a flourish. “He told me this old memory. About us. And I . . . I don’t know, it made me remember myself somehow. I feel like me today, even if things aren’t perfect.”
“And what does Rosie want?” Bethany encompassed the room with a sweep of her arm. “That’s what this club was founded on, right? Going after what we want?”
“I want to make an appointment with the realtor,” she breathed. “To tour that restaurant space on Cove Street.”
“The old diner?”
A beat passed.
“Well, let’s make the call,” Georgie said, sitting forward, her face still flushed from Travis’s kiss. “There’s no better time to take the leap than when you’re surrounded by all this support. Someone grab Rosie’s phone. She keeps it charging by the coffeemaker.” Georgie bounced, bumping Rosie with her hip. “Restaurant! Restaurant!”
Everyone joined in the chant, but they quieted down when Rosie dialed the number she’d been keeping stored in her phone for a month. Her heart was going a million miles an hour . . . and somewhere around the third ring, she got the sinking feeling that something was missing. No, not something. Someone. She was in a room full of people she adored, but there was only one person whom she needed to hold her hand. And so, while she wanted to be ecstatic as she made the viewing appointment and everyone cheered, a sense of wrongness continued to eat at her.