Delphine seems to drift off back to sleep. Her expression tightens with unease, like whatever she’s dreaming troubles her. I stick by her side, caressing her in hope it’ll bring some type of peace even if it’s only in her dreams.
Every detail about her I’ve memorized, yet I can’t resist studying as I run my hand along her back. The soft curves of her face all come together to make her who she is, from the way her brows are knitted in her sleep to the fullness of her mouth.
I end by brushing my thumb along the curve of her jaw and placing a kiss on her cheek.
Months ago, Delphine took care of me when I was recovering from Hector Belini’s retaliation. She cooked me my favorite soup. I get up and head into the kitchen figuring I’ll return the favor. I’ll prove I’m just as bad of a cook as she is.
People claim with things like this, it’s the thought that counts.
Creativity has never been one of my strong suits. For Delphine, I decide to give it a shot, whipping up a recipe I find online when I google romantic meals for your girlfriend. She can’t go without food forever. Eventually, she’ll be hungry.
The cats settle in for another live show of my failures in the kitchen. I spear them with a scolding look and tell them not to judge. They blink and meow and swish their tails as if telling me to fuck off.
I grin, twisting on a burner on the stove. I respect their lack of feline fucks to give.
I’m making a sun-dried tomato pasta with baked chicken. The dish is similar to one Grandma CiCi make when I was a boy. The end result is not as incredible as hers, but after taste-testing the sauce, it’s passable.
Only Delphine would have me in the kitchen like this, cooking dinner like I’m some chef-for-hire.
Her slippers scratch against the hardwood floors. The sound makes me look over my shoulder. She emerges in the long T-shirt she’s been sleeping in, curls wild and free. Lids heavy, her lips pouty, she looks beautiful and sexy without even trying, even when she’s at what she’d call a low.
Her eyes light up when she sees the meal I’m prepping.
“Wine,” I say, supplying her with a glass. “Have a seat.”
She does that thing where she almost smiles, but instead shakes her head and nibbles on her bottom lip. A habit of hers since she was fifteen and I first asked her out. She slides into one of my stools as I serve our meal.
Pasta. Wine. Mood lighting. Two nosy cats watching us like we’re their entertainment. I’ve done a damn good job setting the scene.
“Okay, you might be a slightly better cook than me,” she says after a couple bites.
“Are my ears deceiving me? Delphine Rose Adams admitting defeat? The future DA waving the white flag and finally acknowledgingI’mthe better cook?” I joke, hoping to keep the atmosphere light.
I wouldn’t give a fuck about anyone else if they were depressed. Not even Stitches—I’d tell him to suck it the fuck up and put his big girl panties on.
Delphine’s different. She’s always been different.
As we dig into our meal, I find myself actually trying to make things entertaining for her.
Me. Someone who hates most people and couldn’t care less about the dumb shit they obsess over. Yet here I am, trying to make her laugh, trying to make her feel better, searching my brain for ways I can get her to smile.
“I quit my campaign,” she says several minutes later. The fork slips from her grasp and clangs against her plate. The brief reprieve from her glum mood disappears like it never existed. “I called Medjine earlier and told her I’m officially dropping out. It hasn’t been announced yet.”
“Phi, you sure? You’ve worked at the campaign for months. You’ve wanted to be DA as long as I’ve known you. You’re leading in the polls.”
She shrugs, staring into her half-eaten plate of pasta. “I thought it was what I wanted. But now… I’m not so sure.”
“If this is about your father, if you feel like you have to give up your dream because of him—”
“That’s just it. Was it my dream or was it his dream? I don’t know anymore. It’s all so fucked up.” Her shoulders slump and her gaze dims and I see the heartbreak crash down on her all over again.
I set down my knife and fork, my hands itching to reach for her. “What do you think would make you happy?”
Tell me. Tell me so I can make it happen.