I smile at her. “This is a nice surprise.” I kiss her cheek. “Let’s go sit outside.” I put my hand out to lead the way.
“I figured since I was in the neighborhood, I would stop in,” she says, sitting down at the table we have set up outside. I open the bag, taking in the two meatball subs that she got for us.
“Good thing we came outside. Not sure the boys would be able to sit by while I ate this,” I say, biting off a big piece.
“I figured.” She smiles and takes a bite of her own. “So what’s new?”
I shake my head, grabbing another bite. “Nothing much. Same old, same old.”
She nods her head. “Yeah, I was afraid of that,” she says as we finish eating in silence. “It’s almost her anniversary,” she says, and I nod. In one month, she will be gone seven years.
“Yup, crazy it feels like just yesterday,” I say, thinking that the pain is still there, still lingering on the surface. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her, that I don’t close my eyes and see her face, that I don’t picture her smile.
“She would kick your ass,” Rosanna says. “Kick it from here to wherever if she knew you were living in the past.”
I roll my eyes at her. “I’m not living in the past.”
She crosses her arms over her chest. “Really?” She shoots up an eyebrow. “When was the last time you went on a date? When was the last time you smiled at a woman? When was the last time you …” She doesn’t finish, she just throws out her arms and widens her eyes. “You know”—she leans in—“had sex?”
I throw my head back and laugh. “I don’t like to date, and I also don’t really have time. Plus, I smile every single day. Sometimes at women, and sometimes, I even give them a nod and a chin up.”
She shakes her head, rolling her eyes. “And I’m not answering that last one.” It’s been almost seven years since I made love to someone, since I held someone, since I was with someone. I know hookups can be easy; trust me, I work with enough man whores to know it can be just about sex, but I can’t put myself out there.
“You’re basically a monk, which is sad since you’re so hot.” She pushes away from the table. “I have to go, but we will be revisiting this conversation next month.” She leans up and kisses my cheek. “Stay safe,” she says, turning around and walking to her car. I clean up our mess, tossing everything in the garbage. I jog upstairs to the kitchen and find everyone just lounging around while we wait for a call.
The night goes by quietly with no calls, and most of the guys head off to bed. I grab my phone and go to sit down to watch television, but my phone rings as soon as I sit down. I look at the time and see it’s almost eleven. But that doesn’t shock me as much as the name on the phone. Samantha.
“Hello?” I answer softly and quietly because some of the guys are watching a movie.
“I’m so sorry; are you sleeping?” she asks in a whisper.
“No, I’m at work,” I answer, going into an empty room. “Are you okay?” I ask her at my regular volume.
“I’m fine,” she says, not whispering either.
“Why were you whispering?” I ask her.
“Because you whispered,” she answers, and I laugh.
“Well, then, now we can have a normal voice conversation,” I tell her, “but it’s late. What’s the matter?”
“How did they meet?” I close my eyes and lean my head back. “We were having a girls’ night, and my kids watched Tangled, and the whole time, the only thing that I kept thinking about was how did they meet.”
“I need to know,” she finally says as I hear the rustling of her covers. “I have no family.” She cuts me. “No one.” I don’t even know how to answer her. “I was an orphan, a ward of the state. Never had a father, never had a mother, I never had a family.”
“Samantha,” I hiss out with the need to reach into the phone and hold her.
“So I met Eric while I was waitressing. I fell really quickly; he was everything I wanted in a man. And his family accepted me with open arms.”
“Why wouldn’t they?” I lean back in the chair, seeing her in my head.
“Well, they were my family. They are my family. But…” She stops talking, and when I hear her sniffling, I know she’s crying. “But now I don’t know anymore. It’s just the more I ask them or shoot down Eric, the more they are pushing me away.”
“Assholes,” I hiss, thinking about his brothers and how different it would be for her if she was a part of my family, and I stop in my tracks.