Background: Nate is driving Ally home after she’s cut loose from a disastrous blind date. The conversation veers into dangerous territory when Ally can’t help asking Nate a very personal question:
“You don’t believe in proper, committed relationships, do you?”
He threw her a look as arid as the desert. “If people want to delude themselves, then that’s their problem.”
“And what about Seth and Paige’s wedding? Are you going to try and stop that one, too?”
He clamped his jaw. “No.”
“I see.” Her throat closed up. “I wasn’t good enough for Seth but Paige is.”
“What?” He slowed the car sharply, his face all cut angles in the dimness. “Is that what you think?”
“You can’t deny you tried to break up Seth and me.”
He squeezed the steering wheel. “Okay, I don’t deny that,” he said slowly through gritted teeth. “I thought Seth was crazy to tie himself down to one girl—”
“But I never said you weren’t good enough for him. I told him he was way too young, that he should live a little before—”
“Shackling himself for life?”
He glowered at her, but he didn’t refute her words. “That was then. Seth is a grown man now. He’s old enough to know his own mind and to live by his decisions.”
Her windpipe ached as anger boiled up. “And six years ago you knew enough to make up Seth’s mind for him? Your arrogance is breathtaking. You think you know what’s best for everyone, but you don’t. It may come as a big surprise to you, Nate, but not everyone wants to be like you.”
She halted, breath heaving, appalled at her outburst. Where had all that come from? Nate pulled the car hard onto the shoulder of the road, gravel spitting as he braked. He turned to her, harsh and flinty eyed.
“Is that how you see me?” he snapped.
The confines of the cabin pressed down on them, a cage of glass and steel. Her heart skipped several beats. Why had she gotten so mad at him? Not because of Seth. No, more because of Nate’s opinion of her. She hauled in a breath, appalled by the realization. But it was true—she cared what he thought of her.