Georgie scooted closer to the table. “Okay, so a little bit of everything in one bite?”
Rosie nodded. “Correct. This would be the house dish. At my restaurant,” she said, some shyness creeping into her tone. “I’d serve these three components together.”
Bethany’s face warmed with a smile. “Those words sound good on you.”
Her cheeks heated. “Thanks.” She waved her hands. “Okay. The time has come. Build your bite.”
“Ooh.” Georgie straightened. “Build your bite. Have you thought of putting that somewhere on your menu?”
“I am now,” Rosie murmured, repeating the phrase under her breath. “Build your bite. Maybe we’ll do appetizer combos and—” She cut herself off. “We’ll talk about it later. Eat.”
She held her breath as she watched Bethany and Georgie carve off small pieces of asado, moving it to their plates before adding the chimichurri and a forkful of salad. Georgie shoved the bite into her mouth first, closing her eyes and sighing dramatically. “Okay. Oh my . . . Lord. How am I supposed to think straight when my taste buds are having a straight-up orgasm?” She hummed. “This flavor journey is taking me to a busy street. It’s nighttime. Music is playing. People are dancing and making out in the alleys. There are lights strung overhead . . .”
Bethany popped in her own bite and groaned, her eyelids drooping. “Totally. I can totally see that. But I’m being transported to a backyard barbeque. I’m suntanned and half-drunk and there are bracelets clinking on my wrist and I’m so happy. This food just makes me happy.”
Moisture—happy in its nature—sprung to Rosie’s eyes. “Wow. Both of those scenes are perfect,” she murmured. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
“This is it,” Georgie said, already carving another bite of asado. “This is your signature dish. I think your only problem is going to be convincing people to order anything else.”
“Do I smell food?”
Travis strolled into the kitchen, shirtless, with a baseball bat slung over his shoulder. He looked so indecently male that Rosie had to look up at the ceiling.
“Uh, yeah . . . grab a fork. Let’s get the male perspective.”
“No way. No.” Georgie shook her head. “If he eats this, he’ll be forever unsatisfied with my cooking. Begone, fiancé. Forget what you witnessed this day.”
“Ah, come on, baby girl.” He laid a noisy kiss on her cheek. “No matter what, you’ll always be my favorite meal.”
“Oh, come on.” Bethany shoved her future brother-in-law away. “I’m hanging on to my appetite by a thread here.”
“Let him have one bite,” Rosie cajoled, winking at Travis and cutting him off a slice of meat, preparing him a forkful, and handing it over. When his eyes widened at the taste and he staggered back a step, Rosie knew he was playing up his reaction and didn’t mind in the slightest. “What do you think?”
“I think I’ll have no problem convincing some of the Bombers players to make the trek to Long Island on opening night.” He nodded at Rosie and set the fork down. “Once people taste your food, you won’t need the extra help. But it won’t hurt having a little star power on opening night, whenever you get to that point.”
“Wow.” Rosie searched for the right words and couldn’t find them around the obstruction in her throat. “Thank you. I don’t know what to say.”
Hand on her throat, Georgie gave Travis a serious look over her shoulder. “You should be scared of how hard you’re going to get laid tonight.”
His laughter trailed behind him as he left the kitchen.
Bethany went to the fridge and took out three bottled beers, uncapping the brews and handing them out before falling back into her seat. “Totally unrelated to my little sister getting more action than a twenty-one-year-old on spring break in Cancun, I’m getting to the point where porn and my vibrator are losing their luster and I’m beginning to desire male company again.” She took a brisk sip of her beer. “And, God, that’s annoying.”
Rosie drained half of her beer. “Amen to that.”
Georgie visibly battled her smugness. “Sounds like things are . . . interesting . . . in the reconciliation department.”
“You could say that.” Rosie twisted her bottle on the table. “He’s trying. Like, really, honestly trying to communicate better and that makes me hopeful. I’m hopeful. That’s way more than I had two weeks ago. I think we might have a chance.”
Bethany reached across the table and squeezed her wrist. “That’s fantastic.”
“Yeah. It is.” Rosie wet her lips. “I can’t help but feel like he’s holding so much of himself back, though. I have this unsettled feeling in my belly sometimes, like I’m missing the bigger picture. The situation can’t fix itself overnight, no matter how much I would like it to, you know? I have to keep reminding myself of that.” She looked into the empathetic faces of her friends and decided to keep her paranoia to herself for now—the nitty-gritty was between her and Dominic. They’d pick it apart tomorrow in therapy. She’d just nailed down her signature dish and she wanted to enjoy that fact a little longer, so she searched for a way to lighten the mood without avoiding the topic of her husband completely. “Meanwhile, when Dominic and I are together, I can’t go ten seconds without wanting to . . . to . . .”
Georgie waggled her eyebrows. “To what?”
“Yes, I need some specific imagery.” Bethany clapped. “I’ve literally reached the end of internet porn. Spoiler, the only prize you win is shame.”
“Fine.” Rosie covered her face and lowered her voice to a whisper. “I want him to tie my hands behind my back while I . . . um . . . ride his face and tongue? You know that move?”
Bethany and Georgie stared at her in stunned silence, before Bethany drained her beer and rose to her feet. “Looks like I’m going back to the beginning of porn.” She pushed out through the kitchen door. “I’ll try and recover by the time Georgie’s wedding rolls around.”
In the wake of her sister’s exit, Georgie shifted in her seat.
Rosie pressed her hands to her hot cheeks. “Go find your fiancé. I’ll put this in Tupperware and head out.”
“Thank you,” she squeaked. “So see you at the next meeting . . . ?”
A laugh snuck out of Rosie’s mouth. “Go.”
Rosie and Dominic sat side by side on the couch in Armie’s office. There was something in the air. Something that had been hanging in the atmosphere like sticky dewdrops since she’d arrived at the session, but Rosie couldn’t quite put her finger on it. She only knew there was tension coiled between her shoulder blades and a sense of foreboding lingering in her belly. The first two sessions had been cathartic. They’d made progress, too. Hadn’t they? So why did the issues between her and Dominic still feel totally unresolved?
“We’ve been presented with the river of Rosie’s needs and we’ve crossed to the other side, as much as we can in our accelerated time together,” Armie said, hopping up onto the edge of his desk. “We’ll be using this session to discuss what Dominic needs.”
Rosie’s serene expression felt frozen on her face.
Armie had mentioned in passing during their first session that she and Dominic expressed appreciation and love in different ways. Rosie needed words to feel appreciated—that had now been established. She should have seen this moment coming. After all, she wasn’t the only member of this marriage. Of course Dominic had needs as well. Wasn’t that what Tuesday nights had been about?
An uncomfortable burn started in Rosie’s sternum and traveled down to her belly, spreading. Tuesday nights hadn’t been just for her husband. They’d been for her, too. In fact, Dominic was almost hyperfocused on her satisfaction when they had sex. None of this was relevant, anyway, because hadn’t part of her reason for leaving been that their sex life had turned empty?
“Rosie?” Armie prompted. “You’re quiet. Doing okay over there?”
“Yes,” she rasped. “I think so.”
“We don’t need to do this,” Dominic said, and she could feel him watching her intently. “She works all day, standing on her feet. Always makes sure I’ve got something homemade to heat up for dinner.”
That unease in Rosie’s stomach thinned the lining even more, and she could taste acid. When she’d walked into the office, she’d had the upper hand, and now it was slipping. The very fact that she’d wanted to have an upper hand when they were trying to get even footing increased her discomfort. Something didn’t feel right, but she couldn’t put a name to it yet.
“I think this is important, Dominic. The way you protect Rosie is a positive thing, but in this case, I think . . .” Armie’s smile tightened. “I think you might need to quell that protective urge for the purposes of this discussion.”
Dominic was silent for a few beats. “I don’t know if I can.”