“You’re going out with him?” On the other end of the phone, Mitch’s voice rose. “How can you go out with him?”
Solara held the phone away from her ear and took a deep breath. Mitch was looking out for her. That was all. Even if it pissed her off, his heart was in the right place.
She sank onto her couch and propped her feet on the coffee table. “If I’d known you were going to act like this, I wouldn’t have told you.”
“He hurt you,” Mitch said more quietly.
“Yeah. In the past.” Solara closed her eyes. If Mitch hadn’t called to invite her to spend the day with him while Hunter was at work, they wouldn’t be having this conversation. Usually when Mitch needed company for the day, she was there. But today, she couldn’t be, and he’d demanded to know why.
She should have known he wouldn’t react well to hearing she was giving Navon a chance.
“Right, and if someone hurts you, they’ll hurt you again.”
“I don’t know that,” Solara said, trying to keep the anger out of her tone. “That’s why I’m spending the day with him. He wants another chance. It’s been fifteen years since he fucked me over. Fifteen years is a long frigging time. People change. I sure as hell have.”
“So what if he’s changed?” Mitch snapped. “What are you going to do, move him in with you?”
“Whoa. Stop right there.” If Mitch didn’t keep his mouth shut, Solara would completely lose her shit. He had no right or reason to be jealous. The couch wasn’t his bed anymore. He had a home with Hunter. A life with Hunter, and Solara hadn’t begrudged him that for a single second. She deserved the same respect from him.
Mitch didn’t say a word, but Solara could hear him breathing heavily. He didn’t do confrontation well. Even though he’d started it, he was probably afraid of what she might say or do to him for standing up to her.
He had guts. She would give him that. A couple of months earlier, he wouldn’t have dared to speak to her this way.
Once she was sure she could sound calm, she said, “You’re trying to protect me. I get it, and I appreciate it. But this is a case where I have to make my own decision. If it bites me in the ass, so be it. I can handle it. What I can’t handle is wondering what if, and that’s something I’ve been wondering for a decade and a half. What if things had gone differently between him and me? This is my chance to find out.”
“He might hurt you again,” Mitch said in a small voice.
“He might. Or I might hurt him again. Or maybe neither of us will hurt the other.” She hesitated. If Mitch was reacting this way just to the news that Solara had a date with Navon, she could only imagine how he would respond to hearing about Navon’s planned move. But that was the reason for the date, and maybe Mitch would understand that.
“He’s thinking about moving out here,” she said. “He doesn’t know anyone else in the city. I want to see if we can at least get along enough to be friends. Maybe more, maybe not, but at least that.”
She stopped again as a realization came to her. Mitch had never been jealous of other men when it came to Solara, and maybe he wasn’t jealous now. Maybe he was afraid she wouldn’t have time for him anymore with Navon in the picture, the same way he always feared she would abandon him like most of the other people in his life.
That fear was something she could address. “And it doesn’t mean you’re going to lose me, boo. No matter what Navon is or isn’t to me, you’re my family, and that isn’t changing.”
“Okay.” Mitch sounded relieved. “You’re my family too. That’s why I want you to be okay.”
“I know.” Solara sighed, wishing again she hadn’t told Mitch what was going on. “Look, I have to go get ready. He’s going to be here in a few minutes. I’ll try to give you a call later, but don’t worry if I don’t. I might not have a chance until tomorrow.”
“Yeah, if you’re naked, I don’t want you calling.”