Where We Meet Again (Arrow Creek 1)

Page 40

I thought I wasn’t ready for this, dealing with my daughter and boys. Maybe it’s Law’s reappearance or the fact I’m normally an emotional mess, but I found talking about love and boys with her to be ridiculously cathartic.
I text both Law and Nathan as soon as appropriate to tell them all is well in our world. The way Evelyn screamed into the night would have scared most into believing something horrible had happened. I don’t know where I stand with either of these men, but I don’t want them thinking the worst.
Law responds with good to hear. Nathan says, appreciate you letting me know you girls are all right. Get some ice on that foot and go to sleep. See you tomorrow.
ht. And. Day.
A giant scoop of salted caramel gelato balances on my spoon in front of my mouth. Evelyn and I are eating it straight from the carton. Teaching her to eat her emotions isn’t the best idea, but when she wouldn’t stop crying about this Dean boy I hadn’t heard of before today, I panicked.
“So, when you go to school tomorrow, don’t even give Dean a second of your attention.” I circle the spoon wide between us, and the ice cream slides across my spoon. “I mean, don’t even look at him. Be cool. No, wait. What I mean is be yourself. Don’t make a big scene.”
Don’t do exactly what I did when Law broke my heart. I wish I could tell her that in detail. Someday, I’ll tell her everything. When she hears my story, she’ll have to hear all the gory details, including the identity of her actual father. I can hardly admit it to myself.
“Mom.” She sighs and drops her spoon with a thud into the carton. “Dean’s not even the reason I’m so upset. I mean, he is since he said yes to being my boyfriend but then dumped me the next day. But he’s not the whole reason. It’s that Casey betrayed me. How can my best friend leave me for the boy she knew I had a crush on?” Her face crumbles as she goes on, and my heart damn near breaks all over again.
“I thought Maggie was your best friend?”
“No, I haven’t been best friends with Maggie since the summer ended and she started hanging out with Kate.” The attitude I know so well peeks out.
“Ah, I remember now.” I shove another spoonful in my mouth. So, maybe I’m not so good at this stuff. Good or not, it feels great to have this conversation with my daughter. With it being just the two of us, I’ve made it my mission to be as open and honest with her as I can be, and to keep her open and honest with me.
I swallow the cold deliciousness, and after licking my spoon clean, I set it on the coffee table. Leaning forward, I take each of Evelyn’s hands in mine.
“I know it sucks, baby. Even more so because it’s a part of life. You’re going to encounter many people who only care about themselves and will push others out of the way to get what they want. It doesn’t sound like Casey was thinking about your friendship very much, and for that, I’m sorry. I hope the next time someone lets you down so deeply, it doesn’t hurt as bad as this.”
“And when you see her tomorrow, you have a couple options. One, you can confront her. That is your right to let her know she hurt you, and that she wasn’t being a very good friend. Or, number two, you can smile when she walks passed you, and not let her know that she made you sad. Many people think standing up for yourself means using your words. I don’t think that’s true. Sometimes, we can stand up to our enemies by showing them they didn’t hurt us like they’d hoped. Anyone can speak the truth, but it takes a lot of strength to use our actions to show people we are okay.”
Evelyn pulls her hands away and scrubs at her eye. “I know you’re right, but I really want to make her feel bad like she made me feel bad.”
“I’m sure you do. However, two wrongs-?
“Don’t make a right. Yeah, I know.”
Needing to reassure her, I gather her into my arms and kiss the hair at the top of her head. “You’re going to be just fine, sweetheart. I wish I could tell you this would never happen again, but it will. And it doesn’t get easier. You get stronger.”
“Someday, I’ll be as strong as you.”
My throat suddenly goes dry. I swallow hard and rest my cheek against her head.
“You’ll be stronger,” I murmur.
Two things I learned from hobbling around on crutches for a week. One: it’s impossible to drive.
Nathan wrangled one of our coworkers to help him drop my car off. Even though I’m on paid leave and stuck at home, Evelyn needed to go to sports and school. Having my car back tempted me to rely on my independence. The very next morning after my accident, I maneuvered myself so my left foot could do all the pedal work, which only squished my right foot painfully up against the center console. I made it as far as the stop sign at the end of the street before I turned the car back around.
As soon as I limped back inside, I called my friend Lori, the mom of Evelyn’s friend Maggie, and arranged for her to pick up and drop off Evelyn until I was back on both feet. That woman has been a lifesaver. Ever since our girls first started school, and I struggled to get childcare for Evelyn with my strange work hours, Lori stepped up to cover where Kiersten couldn’t and has been doing so ever since.
I made a mental note to add another gift card to her Christmas basket I put together every year.
The second thing I learned is that I cannot stand being cooped up in the house with nothing to do. Not only that, but when there is something that needs to be done and I can’t do it, I feel straight up crazy.
Evelyn is a great help taking care of the laundry and dishes. Those have been her chores for a couple years now, so I haven’t had to put up with any extra attitude.
No, what drives me insane is that the day I took my jog, and subsequent fall, down by the river, I hadn’t finished all the winter prep I needed to do outside. Snow still hasn’t fallen, which means there’s still time, even if that time is running exceptionally slim. I need to clean my gutters and change out my window screens, but I can’t climb a ladder with one foot. I also need to winterize my lawn mower and weed whipper, and swap the summer supplies out for my shovel and snow blower. I only hope the snow holds off until I’m healed and can get it done.
Wednesday following my accident means the date-that-isn’t-a-date with Nathan has arrived.