“Nightmares?” He sounded like he really cared, but she was afraid to place so much hope in him again. What if he was being nice because he felt guilty?
Alicia nodded and rubbed her forehead. “It’s there, but when my eyes are open, I lose it.”
Tony rubbed her arms. “You are thinking too hard. Let’s go get something to eat. I know this small Italian place, very low-key. I like to go and relax there after a long, hard day. The home-cooked food hits the spot.”
She looked up at him. He had his eyes focused on her, but she wanted to know what he was feeling. “You’re being really nice to me, Tony. I haven’t even seen Dee around.” She hated mentioning the blonde’s name.
He frowned at her and she wanted to smooth the wrinkles on his forehead. She wanted his motives to be pure, not because he felt obligated to watch out for her. She’d rather be alone.
“I never do anything I don’t want to do, sweetheart. I missed you. Our argument left a void in my heart.” he said. She could see the sincerity glowing in his eyes. It made her feel better. She had to stop putting John’s sins on every man. Tony had honor.
“Dee finally got the hint and moved on. I am so glad.”
She let out a sigh of relief and nodded.
“Okay. Food sounds good,” she told him. “Let me tell Ray I am going with you.”
He nodded and she went to find her brother. Ray would try to talk her out of it, but she needed to know if she and Tony had any chance at a life together. Hope was stronger than her fear. That was a very frightening feeling, worse than facing Novak again.
Alicia sat with Jasmine and Holly in a booth at her family’s restaurant. She was on a lunch break. She felt good enough to work again. Her face was clear of bruises and she was still slightly achy, but she didn’t want to sit around doing nothing. That left her with too much time to think.
“It’s good to see you back to normal, Alicia,” Holly commented with a smile.
Alicia picked up her glass of water and took a sip. “It feels good to stay busy. Doing nothing gives me too much time to sit around and mope. Novak hasn’t been seen, and that is good and bad.”
“I bet you want it over once and for all,” Holly said with sympathy. “I want Novak behind bars, too. Only then will I feel safe again.”
They all nodded and stayed silent for a few seconds.
Jasmine looked at the pumpkin sitting on the bar and changed the subject. It had a traditional Jack O’Lantern face. “I had so much fun with all of us picking out pumpkins at the farm. We took ours to Eva’s house. Yours looks good, Alicia.”
Alicia smiled, feeling warm with the memories of that day. She loved being around Tony again. It was like before, but better. She knew he desired her. She hoped he also cared for her. “I can’t take credit for it. I bought two pumpkins. Tony carved that one and Ray carved one for our porch at home. It’s a cat and a moon. We didn’t want Carlos to be scared.”
“So what’s going on between you and Tony?” Jasmine asked, looking curious. Holly
didn’t say anything, but she also looked interested. Alicia wasn’t exactly sure how to answer her friends. She felt confused.
“We haven’t talked much about where we stand. You both know I have been in love with him for months now. That is why it hurt so much when I saw him with Dee that night,” she explained sadly. “I just want him to spend time with me because he wants to, not because Noah ordered him to protect me.”
Holly patted her arm in sympathy. Alicia had spent time with Tony in the last few days. They went to the farm and had dinner at his house. Alicia had helped Holly cook. He was a complete gentlemen. He hadn’t even tried to kiss her again. She was very disappointed. They were all very busy working with Noah to find Novak. They had been disappointed he didn’t show up at Janice’s funeral or been seen since.
“I know he was scared of his feelings for me. He has told me that. The problem is, what are those feelings? Friendship or more?” Alicia wondered.
“I’d say more,” Jasmine answered with confidence. Her dark hair was up in a fancy twist that suited her style. “I see how he looks at you, like he wants to eat you up.”
Alicia blushed and then giggled. She never caught that look on him. “He doesn’t make his feelings clear. Most men would have made a pass or tried to get me into bed. He is very…nice.”
“So be bold and make a move on him,” Holly suggested. She was eating a taco salad. “Blow his socks off and show him what he is missing. You have more to offer than Dee and he knows it. Faith gave that advice to me when Matt and I weren’t speaking. I never had the confidence to do it. I wish I had now, but you are more confident than I am, Alicia. Let him know what you want.”
Holly looked at her watch. “I have to go. I promised Hope I would attend her preschool Halloween party. She is a princess. Faith is on bedrest and she feels horrible missing it. She is so ready for this baby to be born.”
“Video-record it so she can watch it later,” Alicia suggested.
“I am. See you all later.” Holly slipped out of the booth and waved good-bye.
Alicia looked at the restaurant. It was a slow time between lunch and dinner. They had hired a new waiter to take Kelly’s place. He was a young college student and was a good worker, but she missed talking to Kelly and Janice both. She hated all the changes and unknowns of life lately.