“And she never told you anything about your dad?”
“She told me that he left when I was a baby. That was it. Every time I would try to ask anything else, she would avoid the question and flip it back on me. To her, me asking showed that I was ungrateful to her for raising me on her own.”
Sounds like her mom had something to hide. But I don’t say that. Although Avery may not beclosewith her mother, that’s still her mom. I don’t want to overstep any boundaries here.
Instead, I ask, “What makes you think that what she told you wasn’t true?”
She raises an eyebrow at me. “Besides the fact that he gave me a house?”
“He could have done that after feeling guilty for leaving you and your mom.”
She points her finger at me. “That was what I thought too when Clyde Abernathy showed up to tell me all of this. But then I get here, and I see a picture downstairs of my dad holding me when I was at least a few years old. That doesn’t fit with the story that she told me at all.”
I wish I could say something that could make it all better, but I’ve got nothing. Maybe it’s a good time for a change of subject.
“Tell me about your life in Boston,” I prompt.
“What do you want to know?”
“Whatever you want to tell me.”
She thinks for a minute while chewing on a piece of popcorn. “I don’t know that there’s much to tell. I’m a bit of a workaholic. When I first started the publishing business, it took up every ounce of time that I had. I ate, slept, and breathed it — always at the office. After it became a bit more self-sustaining, I had no scrap of a social life left.”
She shakes her head. “Not really. I sometimes would go have a drink with people from work, but that’s about it.”
I seem to just keep asking stuff that gives her a sad look on her face. A few minutes ago, she looked like a kid on Christmas, and somehow, I’ve turned her into looking like one who lost her puppy.
I want to offer some words of comfort, but I’m not exactly the warm and fuzzy type. I suck at trying to make people feel better.
I may not be good at the sweet stuff, but I know for sure there is something that I’m good at. So, when we’re done eating, I move the tray of food onto the floor and join Avery back on the bed. Time to get her naked and get a smile back on that gorgeous face.
“Avery,youreadytogo?” Duke calls from downstairs.
”Yeah, be right there!”
I do a little twirl in the mirror. To go to dinner with Duke, I picked a yellow sundress with little pink flowers on it. I look a little more plump than I would like, but it’s wicked hot outside, and wearing jeans makes me sweat like a hooker in church.
So, a sundress it is.
Duke went home to change clothes—after a long day of working in the kitchen. I’m sure he still looks fine as hell, though. He always does. Even in the sweltering heat, he looks like he belongs on the cover of a romance novel. I look like a literal pig baking in the sun.
And as I come downstairs, I see that I’m absolutely right. Holy cow, he cleans up nice. His dark blue jeans hug his body just right, and his black button-up collared shirt is tucked in while his sleeves are rolled up.
How does he always look so good?
His eyes fall on me as I get to the bottom half of the stairs.
“Damn, woman, look at you.”
When I hit the floor, he grabs my hand and spins me around.