I lift myself against him, and his mouth sinks into the side of my neck as I work at the buttons on his shirt. “In Vail when you carried me down that mountain . . .”
“God, Poppy,” he says. “I spent so much time trying not to want you.” He lifts me off the sink and carries me to the bed.
“And not nearly enough time kissing me,” I say, his laugh rattling against my ear as he lays us down. “How long do we have?”
He kisses the very center of my chest. “We can be late.”
“As late as it takes.”
* * *
• • •
“OH. MY. GOD,” I say as we step out onto the driveway of the midcentury mansion, with its Googie-style swooped roof. “This is amazing. He has this whole place rented out?”
“Did I forget to mention that Tham is Very Fancy?”
“May have,” I say. “Is it too late for me to marry him?”
“Well, there are two days until the wedding and he’s gay,” he says. “So I really don’t see why not.”
I laugh, and he catches my hand, slips it into his own. Somehow walking into a bachelor party holding Alex Nilsen’s hand is more surreal than every surreal thing that just happened at the hotel. It makes me feel buzzy and giddy and intoxicated in the best possible way.
We follow the music up the driveway, each holding one of the bottles of wine we picked out on the way here, and step into the cool dark of the foyer.
Alex said there’d be fifty people. Making our way through the house, I’d guess there are at least a hundred, leaning on walls and sitting on the backs of fabulously gilded furniture. The back wall of the house is entirely glass and overlooks a massive pool, lit up purple and green, with a waterfall flowing into it on one side. People lounge on inflatable flamingos and swans in various states of undress: women and drag queens in full-length, sparkly gowns; men in swim trunks and thongs; people in angel wings and mermaid costumes alongside Assumed Linfield People in suits and peplum dresses.
“Wow,” Alex says. “I haven’t been to a party this out of control since, like, high school.”
“You and I had very different high school experiences,” I say.
Just then an Adonis of a man with a charmingly boyish grin and a mop of golden waves spots us and springs out of the egg-shaped hanging chair where he was sitting.
“Alex! Poppy!” David comes toward us with arms open and a lightly drunk sheen in his hazel eyes. He hugs Alex first, then grabs the sides of my face and plants sloppy kisses on both my cheeks. “I’m so happy you’re—” His eyes fall to our clasped hands and he claps his together. “Holding hands!”
“You’re welcome,” I say, and he chortles, clamps a hand on each of our shoulders.
“You need some water?” Alex asks him, big-brother mode activated.
“No, Dad,” he says. “You need some booze?”
“Yes!” I say, and David waves his hand to a server I had not noticed in the corner largely because she’s spray-painted gold.
“Wow,” Alex says, accepting two flutes of champagne from the faux statue’s tray. “Thanks for . . . Wow.”
She retreats, goes stone-still again.
“So what’s Tham doing tonight?” I ask. “A bonfire of dollar bills on a solid-gold yacht?”
“I really hate to tell you this, Pop,” David says, “but a golden yacht would sink. Trust me. We tried. Do you two want shots?”
“Yes,” I say at the same time Alex says, “No.”
As if by magic, shots are already being handed to us, vodka and Goldschläger, with its little gold shavings floating in the glasses. The three of us clink them together and down the spicy-sweet liquid in one gulp.
Alex coughs. “I hate that.”
David slaps him on the back. “I’m so glad you’re here, dude.”
“Of course I am. Your little brothers only get married . . . three times.”
“And your favorite one only gets married once,” David says. “Fingers crossed.”
“I hear you and Tham are amazing together,” I say. “And that he is Very Fancy.”
“The fanciest,” David agrees. “He’s a director. We met on set.”
“On set!” I cry. “Listen to you!”
“I know,” he says. “I’m an insufferable L.A. person.”
“No, no, definitely not.”
Someone shouts for David then from the pool, and he gives her a one minute signal, then faces us again. “Make yourselves at home—not our home, obviously,” he adds to Alex, “but, like, a super-loud, super-fun, super-gay home with a dance floor out back—which I expect to see you both on shortly.”
“Stop trying to make Poppy fall in love with you,” Alex says.
“Yeah, you really don’t need to waste your time,” I say. “I’m already sold.”
David grabs my head and smooches the side of it again, then does the same thing to Alex and dances over to the girl in the pool pretending to reel him in with an invisible fishing rod.
“Sometimes I worry he takes himself too seriously,” Alex says flatly, and when a laugh rockets out of me, the corner of his mouth twitches in and out of a smile. We stand there grinning for a few more seconds, our locked hands swinging back and forth between us.
“I thought you didn’t like holding hands,” I say.
“And you said you did,” he says.
“So, what? I just get whatever I want now?” I tease.