Marcus DeLuca could have that effect on a girl.
The second I reached the front door, a familiar voice stopped me in my tracks. “Mia, is that you?” Turning on the heels of my feet, I saw Theresa DeLuca leaving the kitchen and heading toward me.
I hadn’t seen or spoken to Marcus’s mother in almost a month. The problem was I had thought that everyone in his family knew about our breakup, but Marcus had been secretive as usual. Theresa reached out to me with a relieved expression on her face as she pulled me into a tight embrace. “Oh my God, I’ve missed you so much. How are you, honey?”
“I’m good, thank you. I’ve missed you too. How are you?”
Stepping back to inspect me at arm’s length, her eyes glistened. My heart ached. From the moment I’d met Theresa, she was filled with so much joy, and her presence radiated nothing but positive vibes. Even if you were in the gloomiest mood, the clouds hanging overhead disappeared when she walked in the room. Though, from the look of Theresa standing in front of me now, I could tell there was definitely something wrong. I could feel it.
“Are you okay?”
She sniffed back tears and forced a smile, showing just the slightest dimple. “Yes, I’m just so happy to see you. I’ve missed our weekly catch-up lunches.”
How could I have been so selfish? I leaned back in for a hug and held her tightly as tears sprung from my eyes. Theresa loved me as much as I loved her and the entire DeLuca family. I had allowed my issues with Marcus to affect my relationship with all of them. “I’m so sorry, Theresa. I just couldn’t . . .”
“No, no need to explain. I know.”
I brought my stare back at her. “You knew? About . . .”
Nodding, she responded, “I know my boys. I figured it out. I never mentioned it to Marcus, but he wasn’t the same the past few weeks, well, not the same as he was when he was with you. He went back to the way he used to be, before you.” Waving her hand dismissively, she added, “I’m just happy you’re here.”
Ashamed, I looked down. I didn’t know how to respond. I felt I had to make up for lost time, so I blurted, “Lunch on Wednesday? I would love to catch up, Theresa.”
Nodding, she sniffed and reached to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. “I would love that honey. Our usual spot?”
I nodded, gave her one last tight hug, and left.
After parking my car, I strolled along the wet cobblestone pavement toward my apartment building. The afternoon breeze was slightly chilly, but, nonetheless, it was a beautiful day. Breathing in the cool air, I admired how quiet and beautiful my neighborhood in Cambridge was. Trees lined the sidewalk along the park. Vehicles parked on the side of the street, in front of the brick townhomes. I was lucky and grateful to have had the opportunity to invest in a building in this neighborhood.
Spotting both Megan’s and Jeremy’s vehicles, I felt a slight burst of excitement rush through me. I couldn’t wait to tell them that Marcus and I were giving it another try. I walked through the front door and saw Ms. Connor standing in the hallway with her evil pug, Gypsy. “Good evening.” I nodded as I passed her and headed up the stairs.
“Oh, Ms. Sullivan.” She exclaimed in a high-pitched annoying tone. I needed to take a few calming breaths before turning to face her.
“Yes, Ms. Connor?” I managed a slight smile.
“These past four nights, a gentleman was sleeping in front of your door.” She waited for me to respond, and when she realized that I wasn’t going to say anything, she continued. “I thought you should know, and I felt very uncomfortable with the entire situation.”
I gently nodded, “Not to worry, Ms. Connor, it won’t happen again. Is that all?”
With a smug look, she lifted Gypsy into her arms then turned to exit the building after saying, “I suppose that is all.” God! She managed to crawl under my skin every time.
I dropped my keys on the side table by the door after entering my apartment. It was completely dark except for the TV screen casting light from the movie being shown. I approached the couch and saw both Jeremy and Megan cuddled up together, with a bowl of popcorn between their laps. Jeremy’s aqua blue eyes shot back at me as he smiled. “Hey, Mia, just in time, we were getting ready to watch Dirty Dancing.” His tone was tinged with sarcasm as he rolled “dancing” off his tongue and he waved his hand in the air mockingly.
Biting back a laugh, I made my way around and sank on the couch beside him. “Yeah, Mia, you should so watch it with us.” Megan said excitedly.
“Since when do you watch romance movies?” I questioned Jeremy. Also, taking notice of the time, I added, “And what happened with your date last night? You’re usually sunk between a pair of legs around this time. Aww, did she send you home early?”
He cringed before answering. “Ugh, did you have to go there? Worst date ever. And Missy over here,” he nudged his head toward Megan, “forced me to watch it. She swears my day will get better.”
Flinging my shoes and jacket off, I made myself comfortable beside him and grabbed a handful of popcorn. I leaned back against the armrest, “That bad, huh?”
“Mia, it was worse than bad; it was excruciating.”
Megan rolled her eyes, clearly not wanting to hear the story again. Reaching for the remote, she paused the movie. Adjusting in his seat to fully face me, he began his story. “First off, let me start by saying that I went out of my way to take her out to dinner.” He raised an eyebrow, waiting for me to respond. Shoving popcorn into my mouth, I nodded.
“Okay, it was a pizza joint, but that’s the not the point. Everything was going great. I picked her up and gave her my best Jeremy charm.” He flashed a grin. “She was going for it. Then we got to the restaurant. Wasn’t the best place, whatever, we’re seated in a booth, but she wanted to sit next to me?” He spread his arms and widened both of his eyes as if the act were illegal.
Confused, I raised a brow, and with a mouth full of popcorn, I asked, “And . . . what’s wrong with that exactly?”
He tilted his head and stared at me as if it was obvious. “Mia. No elbow room.”
I shot him a puzzled expression. “What?”
“You know elbow room.” Jeremy waved his bent arms. “Dude, she hovered over my shoulder, breathing heavily on my neck, while I tried to look at the menu. Then she snuggled close while I was trying to eat.” Sighing, he shook his head in disbelief. “You know how much I love my food.”