“Is the fact that she’s still in love with you irrelevant, as well?”
Roth threw his head back in a laugh. “Baby, now you’re being ridiculous. India and I haven’t been a couple in, what, five years.”
“Is she the one who hurt you?”
He eyed her but didn’t respond.
“I thought so. I’ve seen the way she looks at you, Roth. You may be blind to the fact, but she still has a thing for you. I’m a woman. I know the signs, and hers is a flashing big-ass green neon light.”
“And I have a thing for you,” he said, hoping to deviate from this topic. If India still had a thing for him, he didn’t care. Nor was it any of his business. Tressa was his business. The only person’s feelings he could control was his own. And all his feelings were wrapped up in Tressa. “Do the signs show you how much I love you?” He nuzzled her neck. “What color is that big-ass neon sign?”
Still stone-faced, Tressa rolled her eyes at him.
Placing a finger under her chin, he turned her head back to him. “Do you trust me, baby?”
“Yes, but I don’t trust her.”
“And you don’t have to. Your trust should be with me, not her.” He captured her hand and placed it over his beating heart. “Do you feel that, woman?” he asked, his expression serious.
“Yes,” she said, some of the bite gone from her tone.
“Every beat belongs to you and you alone, Tressa Washington. Every woman in this building could strip naked right now and throw themselves at me, and I would throw them all back. Why? Because I’m not going to do shit to jeopardize what we have. You’re the best thing that has ever happened to me, woman. The very best thing.”
Tressa blinked rapidly, but it didn’t keep the tears from falling. For the second time that night, he swiped a thumb across her cheeks.
“You keep messing up my makeup.”
“If it all ran down your face, you’d still be the most beautiful woman in here.”
“Flirt,” she said with a lazy smile.
“Are we okay? Really okay?”
Tressa studied him for a moment, then nodded. “We’re really okay.”
He tilted her head back and kissed her tenderly. “Good.”
Tressa sat alone at one of the two tables inside the nurses’ lounge, forking at the now-wilted lettuce in the bowl in front of her. Pushing the grilled-chicken salad away, she cursed the thoughts that tortured her. Two weeks had passed since she’d learned about Roth and India’s past, and it’d been all she could think about—obsess over, she corrected.
Though she’d told Roth his continuing to play at The Underground didn’t bother her, it did. It bothered her a lot. When in the hell had she become so damn insecure? The answer came quickly—when her ex’s mistress crashed their engagement party, and at the same club owned by Roth’s ex.
A thousand times she’d reminded herself that Roth was absolutely nothing like Cyrus, and she believed it. Still, she couldn’t stop thinking, What if? Yes, she trusted Roth, but this had nothing to do with trust and everything to do with the idea of history repeating itself. Tressa recalled the things Roth had said to her that night in the club and smiled, the memory lightening her heavy thoughts. Roth was a good man. She had nothing to worry about.
Tressa hadn’t asked for any details about his and India’s history—and he hadn’t offered any—but she remembered their conversation from the cabin. They hadn’t been right for each other and she’d cheated on him. He’d never mentioned they’d remained friends.
Then it hit her.
Could her true issue be the fact that Roth hadn’t offered to stop playing at The Underground? She wouldn’t have let him, but shouldn’t he have at least offered?
The door swung open, and Vivian sauntered in. “I am not going to miss these crazy hours,” she said, dropping into the chair opposite Tressa.
Vivian had decided to resign from her position at Tender Hearts Memorial Hospital to focus more of her time on the project her husband, Alonso, was developing downtown geared at helping the homeless and disenfranchised. She was going to miss working with her best friend, but Tressa truly understood and supported Vivian’s decision.