Where We Meet Again (Arrow Creek 1)

Page 39

“Keep it on until you get inside. I’ll get it tomorrow.”
I drop the key into his palm. “Okay. Thanks again. I’ll see you before your shift.”
Nathan leans in to kiss my cheek, and for some unknown reason, I swing my gaze to Law. He presses his lips together before releasing them and sinks his teeth into his full bottom lip.
Just as Nathan’s breath warms my cheek, the door to my house flies open with a bang.
Three adults jump, and all eyes swing in that direction. Evelyn stands on the porch in a pair of fuzzy gray sweats and a purple tank top. Her hair is a mess on the top of her head, and she isn’t wearing any socks or shoes. Panic creases her forehead.
“You haven’t been answering your phone for hours, and I needed you!” She bursts into tears, and the screen door slams shut as she runs back into the house.
My stomach drops to my toes. Guilt and fear override any other emotion as I switch to mom mode. I try to run but trip, having forgotten my injury. “Ugh damn crutches!” I chuck them one at a time to the ground. Three solid hops are all I manage before someone scoops me into their arms and break into a job. Twice in one day someone’s picked me up against my will. Not a streak I want to keep breaking.
My foot aches with every bounce, but I grit my teeth through it. Evelyn is my sole focus. Her emotions rarely swing to the point of a breakdown. The outburst fills me with concern.
“Get your daughter and figure out what’s wrong.” Law rumbles in my ear.
I wiggle in his grip. “Stop playing these goddamned games and put me down!”
He shifts my weight higher and climbs the steps of my porch. Once there, he jiggles the handle to my front door, opening it with ease. He sets me down just inside the foyer.
I’m torn between hobbling after Evelyn and asking Law to wait. The brighter light coming from my house highlights the bags under his eyes and the deeper creases in his forehead. His face is weary and tired, and that reminds me he had a reason for waiting in my driveway.
“Why are you here?” I ask a second too late. He’s already jogging back down the steps. He strides over to where we were standing, and my heart climbs into my throat.
Please don’t be stupid. Please don’t punch Nathan, I chant in my head.
I can’t see Law’s face from my position, but I can see Nathan’s. His eyes hold a challenge I’m sure reflects the other man’s. I should leave the big boys to figure it out themselves and go inside, but something tells me to wait.
Law bends down to pick up my crutches. Without a word, he darts back to the house.
Thank God. We’ve had enough emotions and injuries for one day.
Once I settle the crutches beneath my arms, he continues to puncture the bubble I built for myself in Arrow Creek.
“Got news I lost my dad. I’ll be gone for a few days, heading back to Logansville for the service.” He directs his gaze behind me, into my house, but by the haziness in his eyes, I can tell he’s lost in his thoughts.
My stomach twists into knots, and bile immediately rushes into my throat. Those aren’t words I ever expected Law to say to me, and the effect of them has me fighting the urge to double over. Sweat beads and trickles down my spine.
“I’ve been fucked up a long time, Cami. Working through that has been a lot harder than I thought. I’ve been pissed for a lot of years and dealt with that anger by being a dick. It’s not right to throw my issues at you repeatedly. I’m sorry for that.” He runs a hand through his hair. “Was going to ask if you were up to coming with, but I can see now you’re all taken care of here.” He shifts his body to throw a glance at Nathan.
“Law… I… The timing…” I glance down the hall to where I know Evelyn waits, upset about something that needs my attention. And right now, I think seeing her will bring more comfort to me than her.
He jerks his head. “She needs you. Take care of yourself, and maybe we’ll run into one another when I’m back in town.”
Seconds tick by as I hesitate in the doorway, balancing on crutches with one hand on the doorknob. Law removes the final decision for me when he jogs back down my steps.
“Goodbye, Law,” I whisper to myself as the front door closes with a concluding bang. Then I shuffle to the living room, where I know my daughter waits buried beneath a mountain of blankets.
Everything hurts. From my head to my toes, I’m a cramped, achy mess. Evelyn and I have laughed and cried so many times I’ve lost count. Law’s news conjured every emotion in the book. Sadness, anger, hurt, pain, relief, fear, weariness. And when I look at my daughter, the tears well up all over again.
While I was getting my foot checked out, my poor child experienced her first taste of that all-consuming heartbreak when someone leaves.
Or in the case of a fourteen-year-old, her first real crush breaking her heart.