Second(10)By: Chantal Fernando
That comment sobers me up. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, Dean. I’m just dealing with the cards I’ve been dealt in the best way possible.”
“I get that,” he says, grabbing his very full glass of wine and taking a sip. I stare at the tattoos that run up his right arm—a full sleeve. “Look, if you ever need anyone, I’m here, all right? My line’s always open. You need me, I’ll be here.”
My expression softens. “Thanks, Dean,” I say, pushing my hair back behind my ear. “And right back at you. I never asked you how you’ve been doing with everything.”
How much of a shit person am I? I’ve made this the Sabina show, but Dean lost his blood relation.
“I’ve been keeping busy,” he says, smiling sadly. Even though I can see the sadness in his eyes, his dimples still pop up, contradicting his feelings. This time, I do what I’ve been wanting to and reach my index finger up, touching the one on his left cheek.
“Did you just poke my cheek?” he asks, blinking slowly. He reaches out and touches my forehead. “I think you got too much sun today, Sabina. Especially after being locked away all this time. We should have broken you in slowly instead of letting you lie in the sun all afternoon.”
I smirk and look down into my wine, which is half gone now. “You have the cutest dimples is all. I’ve heard women talking about them.”
“Is that what they talk about? My dimples?” he asks, his voice taking on a playful note. “Not my voice, or my abs, just my dimples?”
“Your abs?” I ask, eyes going wide. “Do you think you’re a fitness model or something now, Dean?”
He probably could be one, but that’s not the point.
He chuckles and starts to cut up some chicken. “You saw me at the beach today, what do you think?”
For the first time since I lost my husband, I laugh. I mean a true laugh, one that starts in your stomach and works its way outwards. I don’t know if it’s the wine, or if it’s me losing my mind, but I laugh.
And my soul feels lighter for it.
“Did Tara tell you that this was my favourite meal of all time?” I ask him after I swallow my first mouthful.
“No,” he says, putting his phone down and giving me his full attention. “I remember. We went on family holidays together, Sabina. Everyone knows you’re a huge fan of any Asian food, fried rice in particular.”
“Oh,” I say, eyes widening. “You’re pretty observant, aren’t you?”
“No,” he says, smirking. “It’s something obvious. You don’t have to be observant, you just have to be paying a small amount of attention to you.”
I replay his last line in my head.
I put my fork down, thinking of the time we had a couples’ games night here at the house. Ben was asked what my favourite food was, and he answered with pasta, which I also love, but it wasn’t right.
He didn’t know what my favourite food was. He didn’t pay attention. So Dean can deny being observant all he wants, but he is.
“Yours is fish and chips,” I tell him, pushing away the thoughts of Ben. “You order it every time we go somewhere. The same thing, over and over.”
“It’s a safe option,” he defends, eyes gentling. “At least I always know I’ll get something that I like. You can’t really fuck up fish and chips that bad. If it doesn’t taste that great you just smother it in sauce and it becomes great.”
I shake my head at his reasoning. “Or you could, I don’t know, try something new. Live a little, maybe.”
“Oh, I live,” he says, his voice going slightly huskier than usual.
When he says nothing else, I prod. “That’s all you’re going to say? You can’t say that line like that and then not elaborate.”
He just laughs, but gives me nothing.
Is he referring to his sex life? It must be insane, and he could have the choice of any woman he wants. According to the tabloids, he’s been doing a lot of living. Meanwhile, I’ve only been with one man my entire life, and I don’t think I’ll be changing that anytime soon. Such different lives we’ve led.
“You’re staying here, right?” I ask him, making sure.
He nods. “If that’s okay.”
“More than okay.”
“Good,” he says, lip twitching.
We finish the meal, chatting and joking with each other, and then I clean up because he cooked, even though he offers to help.
We watch a movie, and I fall asleep halfway through it, so he carries me to my bed.
“Goodnight,” I mumble sleepily as he leaves my bedroom.