He nods his head. “Yes, I was thinking of that.” He puts his hands in the pockets of his white lab coat. “Son, you need to stop this.”
I lean back in my chair. “What is that?”
“Staying here till it’s dark, coming in on Sunday just so you aren’t home. If you hate that house, sell it.”
“I love that house,” I tell him, and I really, really mean it. “It’s my dream home.”
“Then start living in it,” he tells me. “Stop making it her house and make it your house.”
“Dad, it’s been two weeks,” I tell him. “What would you do if it was Mom?”
“I’d chase her down and drag her ass back,” he tells me. “Did you ever stop to wonder why you didn’t chase after her?”
“Dad, she left me at the fucking altar. I’m pretty sure she was done with me.”
He rolls his eyes at me, literally rolls his eyes at me. “But you never went after her. Doesn’t that tell you something?”
“Yeah,” I agree with him, “that I’m not a fucking doormat.”
“Bullshit. If you loved her, like really loved her … loved her so much your heart would stop beating if she was gone. Like you didn’t think you could breathe without knowing you are going to wake up next to her every single morning. Loved her so much you would have followed her and fought her every step of the way, then we wouldn’t be here.” I don’t say anything. “That is love, and if you felt that, you wouldn’t just let her walk away.” He nods at me. “Don’t stay too late.” He turns and walks out the door, leaving me with my thoughts.
“I love her,” I tell the wall, but I think about what he just said, and then I think about the love he shares with my mother. There is no way he would have let her get far without putting up a fight. He would fight for her with his last dying breath. I think about Brody and Darla. If she left, he would basically go fucking caveman on her and literally build an island she wouldn’t be able to escape from.
I stack the charts together, locking up and make my way outside to my truck. Not a car in sight in the deserted parking lot.
I look over at Walker Construction, which is just next door, and see the glow of the red sign. Not one car in their parking lot either. I make my way through the town where I grew up. I take in the shops and the hustle of town for almost seven p.m. on a Friday. I pick up my cell phone and call Walker.
“Have you eaten?” I ask him when he answers.
“It’s seven o’clock, and I have a four-year-old. I ate at five like a senior citizen.” He laughs at the last part.
“Okay. Mind if I swing by?” I ask him even though I know I don’t have to. I can just show up, and he wouldn’t even care. It’s always been like that.
“Like you have to ask.” He chuckles. “I have to go. I just heard Mila ask why bubbles are coming over the bathtub.”
He disconnects as I make my way over there. I open the door and head straight to the kitchen for a beer. I check out to see what leftovers he has and score big time when I find warm lasagna on the stove.
“Uncle Gabe!” Mila says, running out of the bathroom naked. “Daddy is lost in bubbles,” she yells and then runs back in the bathroom. I follow her to see the bubbles everywhere.
“What?” I ask, seeing Walker try to swat the bubbles down. “I think you put too much.”
“This is your fault,” he huffs. “While I was talking to you, she emptied the whole jug of bubble bath into the bath.” He looks at Mila, who shrugs and then bends to pick up the bubbles in her hands and blow them in the air. I watch him try to contain the bubbles for twenty minutes, and he finally plops Mila down inside the tub. I turn, going back to my lasagna while he bathes Mila.
Mila comes to kiss me goodnight while I flip through the channels on the television. Walker comes out ten minutes later and heads straight to the kitchen for a beer. He comes back to lie on the couch.
“You think if I really loved Bethany, I would have gone after her when she left me?” I ask him. He eyes me sideways, knowing I’m asking out of curiosity and not because I’m moping. “Dad said if I really truly loved her, I would have chased her down.”
“Well, I mean …” he says, taking a pull of his beer.
“So would that mean you didn’t love Julia with everything that you have?”