I fell in love with a man who thinks he’s so broken he can’t love another person. “Wow, do I know how to pick ’em,” I say and fall into bed. The darkness comes for me easily, and the next day, when I roll out of bed, my whole body aches.
I walk to the coffeepot, and my phone rings, showing me it’s Blake. I press connect to start the FaceTime.
“Did I dream that you came here last night?” he says. I look at him, and his face is rough this morning. I laugh at his one eye open and the other eye closed.
“Would it freak you out if I said it was a dream and you thought you were going crazy?” I laugh at him as he groans.
“I can’t believe you came and just left,” he says as he lays his head on his arm. “I woke up looking for you.”
I shake my head, placing the phone down while I start the coffee. “It was a rough day yesterday,” he says softly, and I go back to the phone. “It’s been so long, yet it feels like it just happened.”
“I guess when it’s that day, the memories of what you did that day just suddenly surface, right? I mean, I can never smell lemon again without thinking of Eric.”
“Yeah. I asked her to marry me the day she died,” he says, and my heart breaks for him again. “She said no.” He shakes his head. “Every single year, it’s the only memory I have.”
I look at him, not sure what I should say. Not sure there are any words out there to say. “Anyway, thank you for bringing Hailey’s letter. I’m going to visit her tomorrow when I get off my shift.”
“That should be relaxing. You can detox all that whiskey from your body,” I tell him, winking at him as the doorbell rings. “Okay, mom duty time.” I hang up and go to the door, opening it for the girls.
Lizzie comes in and doesn’t say anything but just goes upstairs. I watch her and then turn and look at Elliot. “What is wrong with Lizzie?”
“I guess she just didn’t sleep well,” he says, dumping their bags at the front door without making eye contact. “Um, I guess I’ll see them around,” he says and walks out. The whole encounter is so fucking weird.
I look at Daisy. “What in the world?” I ask, and she looks at me. “I don’t want to live with Grandma and Grandpa either,” she says, and then I call Lizzie right away.
“Come here please,” I say, and she comes down the stairs with tears running down her face. “What in the world?” I take her in my arms, and she sobs. Her hands squeeze me so hard when my arms go around her. “What in …?” I whisper, and she finally lets me go.
“I don’t want to go live with Grandma and Grandpa,” she finally says out loud.
“Why would you think that?” I look at Daisy and then Lizzie.
“Uncle Elliot wanted to know if we would like to go live there instead of here,” Lizzie says, and my heart stops and then beats faster. “When I got mad, he said it was just a question.”
“I don’t know why he asked you this,” I tell them both, “but there is no way I would let you live with them when your home is right here. Now, let’s unpack the bags, and we can have movie day on the couch.” I smile, and they walk with the bags to the laundry room. I pick up my phone and call Elliot and it goes to voicemail. I call him back again and leave him a message. “Elliot, you need to call me back.”
I hang up the phone, but my stomach never settles, even after we watch two movies and the girls return to normal. That night, I text Elliot when he doesn’t call me back, and he doesn’t answer that one either.
I toss and turn all night long, my hands shaking with nerves, and the next morning when I get back home from dropping off the kids, my phone rings, and I jump at it, expecting it to be Elliot, but it’s Blake.
“Hey,” he says, and I sigh. “What’s up?”
“I’m waiting for Elliot to call me back,” I say. Sitting down, I feel my legs shaking with nerves. “He asked the kids if they wanted to go live with my in-laws.”
“What?” he asks, and I suddenly hear he is in his truck.
“Yeah, Lizzie came into the house pissed and stormed upstairs. He gave me this horse shit excuse about her not sleeping. Daisy is the one who said she wasn’t going to live with them.”
“Why would he ask that?” he asks the question that no one has the answer to.