Where We Meet Again (Arrow Creek 1)

Page 12

“Honestly, I don’t know. We used to be close friends.”
“I can see that,” Evelyn says, her voice sounding funny.
“What did you say?”
She raises her head from the card and stretches her hand out to me. Her index finger and thumb pinch a 4x6 photograph. It must have stuck to the inside of the card, and I didn’t see it when I opened it outside. My heart plummets for missing it.
As if time slows, I lean forward and take the picture from my daughter. I close my eyes to steel myself, but deep down I know that seeing a picture from the past will rip open old wounds and make them fresh. Hiding my reaction is impossible as the two closest people to me watch my every move. It kills that the one lie I’ve ever told either of them is this one, and it stares me in the face, forcing me to smile through it. I have to keep it together, because if I don’t, the walls I’ve spent fourteen years building around me will come crashing down and ruin me.
I open my eyes and smile, even though it’s watery.
A sob crawls out of my throat that I force into a laugh. I don’t even have to look at the picture closely to remember that day. I can recall with clarity where we were, the clothes we wore, and who was around us. Law and I had our arms wrapped loosely around each other in the backyard of his childhood home. My head was thrown back, laughing hysterically, because his fingertips were tickling my ribs. While I laughed, he looked over at me with a jovial grin, his grayish-green eyes twinkling.
I had picked out that yellow sundress with the white cardigan sweater specifically for his sixteenth birthday. He wore a nice pair of gray dress pants with a black button-down shirt tucked in and open at the collar. The two of us looked good together. Great, even. Back then, I thought he was too good for me. Now that I can see it through years of maturity, I can see the happiness.
The sound of paper tearing pulls me back to the present. I drop the photograph to the coffee table and look at Evelyn just in time to see her pulling a small book out of a white rectangular box.
“What is it, baby?” I rub at the base of my neck near my collarbone—a nervous habit.
She opens to the first page, scans it, then flips through the other pages quickly. “It’s a journal. Cool!” She clutches it to her chest.
r />
“That’s a thoughtful gift.” I smile softly.
“I just filled my old notebook. You guys go ahead with the movie. I’m going to go write.” She darts down the hall, not needing a response.
The moment her bedroom door clicks shut, Kiersten rounds the coffee table and blocks me in. “You’re going to grab a glass of wine, sit your ass down, and tell me what the hell is going on.” Her subdued voice can’t conceal her annoyance.
“Make it the bourbon and you’re on.”
Her face contorts into a grimace. “Seriously?”
I jam the palms of my hands into my eye sockets. “I’m not going to get plastered. I just need something a little stronger, and I don’t want to dirty a glass.”
I hear her mumbling all the way to the kitchen. If she thought I annoyed her, she has another think coming.
The thunk of the bottle against the table prompts me to raise my head.
“Now talk. And don’t leave out anything, including that hot hunk of a man who left that gift for Evelyn.”
The hefty pull of bourbon chokes me at her words, and tears prick my eyes. The warm liquid burns and sends me into a coughing fit. “What?” I gasp.
“Don’t play stupid. You know who I’m talking about!”
“Not that. I mean, you saw him?”
Kiersten smirks. “I saw the back of him. It was so fine I can only imagine what the front looks like. What I don’t understand is why aren’t you seeing this guy? Very few men can fill out a pair of jeans like that…. Wait. Are you already dating him? Is that why you’ve been acting so weird?”
I pause in wiping the remaining tears from my eyes. “No. If you’d just shut your pie-hole, I could tell you the story.”
After a huff, an eye roll, and her stomping to find a seat on the couch, she snags the bottle of bourbon from the coffee table, takes a long pull, and waves said bottle in the air. “By all means.”
If I wasn’t already freaking out about the things I need to share, I would have laughed at her irritated response. Instead, I give her some side-eye before I precede.
“You know about…” I pause and glance down the hall. I lower my voice. “You know I got pregnant with Evelyn at sixteen and left my hometown. There’s a little more to it than that.”
“Did you get knocked up by the mayor or something?” She hisses an incorrect guess.