“Because she’d been after him for a commitment. At that time, he was still finishing up his business degree. She hated that he went to classes early in the morning, studied after that, then handled the business side of O’Riley’s, and then often had to work the pub all night on top of that. When he wasn’t working his ass off on any of those things, he was dead asleep. He was giving everything one hundred percent, even her, but it wasn’t enough. She was bored and lonely, two things that didn’t agree with her.”
Elle slid Willa a look. “You think he’s going to thank you for airing his dirty laundry when he finds out?”
“No, I think he’ll put out a hit on me,” Willa said. “But he’s not going to find out. I’m doing our girl a service here, explaining some things about her man that he’s certainly not going to explain to her.”
“He’s not my man,” Pru said.
“He’s not going to explain,” Willa said to Elle as if Pru hadn’t spoken, “because he thinks the past should stay in the past.”
“He’s not my man,” Pru repeated, holding her stomach, which was killing her now.
“The past should absolutely stay in the past,” Elle said to Willa, something in her voice saying she believed that to the depths of her very soul.
Willa closed her eyes briefly and covered Elle’s hand with her own, the two of them sharing a moment that Pru didn’t understood. They had history. She got that. They were close friends, and clearly there was a lot about them that she didn’t know. Such as what had happened to Elle to make her want her past to stay buried.
Pru didn’t have many people in her life. Her own fault. She didn’t let many in. It didn’t take a shrink to get why. She’d lost her parents early. Her only other living relative often mistook her for devil spawn. There were some school friends she kept in occasional contact with, and she had her coworkers. And Jake.
But it would be really nice to have Willa and Elle as well.
Her stomach cramped painfully again, which she ignored when Willa took her hand.
“I’m trusting you with this, Pru,” she said. “Do you know why?”
Unable to imagine, Pru shook her head.
“Because you’re one of us now,” she said and looked at Elle. “Right?”
Elle turned her head and met Pru’s gaze, studying her solemnly for a long beat before slowly nodding.
Willa smiled. “Look at that.” She looked at Pru again. “Here’s something you might not know. Elle doesn’t like very many people.”
“It’s because she’s scary as shit,” Haley said, drinking the last of her wine.
“Sitting right here,” Elle said calmly, glancing at her nails.
Which were, of course, perfect.
Not appearing scared in the slightest, Willa just smiled. “But one thing about her, she never says anything she doesn’t mean. And once you’re a friend, you’re a friend for life.” She paused and glanced at Elle, brow raised.
Willa gave her a long look.
Elle rolled her eyes but she did smile. “Friends for life,” she said. “Or until you piss me off. Don’t piss me off.”
A new warmth filled Pru and her throat tightened. “Thanks,” she whispered.
Elle narrowed her eyes. “You’re not going to cry, are you? There’s no crying on pizza night.”
“Just got something in my eye,” Pru said with a sniff and swiped under her eyes.
Elle sighed and handed her a napkin. “Look, I know I’m a cold-hearted bitch, but Willa’s right, you’re one of ours now. And we’re yours. This is why we’re trusting you with Finn. Because he’s also one of ours and he means a lot to us.”
“Oh no, you can’t trust me with him,” she said. “I mean—” She shook her head. “It’s just that I’m not—we’re not a real thing.”
“It’s cute you think that.” Willa patted her hand. “But I’ve seen you two together.”
Pru opened her mouth to protest but the dessert they’d ordered arrived—a pan-size homemade cookie topped with ice cream, and then there was no speaking as they stuffed their faces.
When Pru was done, it came up on her suddenly. Her stomach rolled again and this time a queasiness rose up her throat with it.
The good news was that she recognized the problem. The bad news was that she was about to be sick. She searched her brain for what she might have eaten and gasped.