The one man that refused to let go of our dark past and embrace the potential of our future.
Fuck, he makes me angry as much as he depresses me. The man I love is still an asshole who wants to conveniently lay all the blame for our relationship’s demise on my doorstep. I have never brought up the fact that he’s the one that ultimately turned his back when he wouldn’t respond to my calls or email. I should have thrown that in his face. I should have done it just to see the chagrin and shame that would have mollified me somewhat the last few days.
That’s what I should have done, but honestly, it wouldn’t have made me feel better. Just made Hawke feel shittier, so I let it go.
“Have you heard from him?” my dad asks quietly as he pulls a baking pan from the bottom cupboard.
My head jerks up in surprise. My dad and I haven’t really talked about Hawke since we returned. I didn’t hide the truth of what happened. I told him I laid my heart out there, but Hawke just wasn’t in the same place that I was. I don’t think my father necessarily agreed with the way I just gave up, but he understood how badly I was hurt and thus supported my decision to leave the Cold Fury.
“Well, have you?” he presses.
My face drops back down to the floor so I have time to blink away the threatening tears. “Nope. Not a word.”
“Maybe you should reach out to him,” he suggests gently. “I mean…you two didn’t really talk much about it. You sort of made a unilateral decision to leave.”
“It was the right decision,” I protest angrily. “I can’t be with someone I love who doesn’t love me back.”
My dad’s lips press into a sympathetic smile. His eyes are sad for his daughter. “Yeah, I know. I just thought…well, I just thought you two were it for each other, you know?”
“Yeah, I know,” I agree as I walk up to my dad. I place my hands on his shoulders and look him dead in the eye. “But I’ll be okay. Given time, it will all be fine.”
“Yoo-hoo,” I hear called out from the front of the house as the front door opens.
“Back here, Avery,” I call back. I can hear Piper jump from my bed, her nails clicking on the hardwood and then a distinctive oomph as I imagine Piper just jumped on Avery.
“Damn beast of a dog,” Avery says affectionately, and then she’s walking into the kitchen with Piper hot on her tail. While I don’t question Piper’s loyalty to me, there’s no doubt she loves the woman who fed and cared for her the past few months.
“Hello, hello,” Avery says as she pulls her coat and hat off, throwing them on the butcher-block island. Her gloves follow, then she’s giving me a quick hug before moving on to my dad. With her arms wrapped around him, she says, “How are you, my big teddy bear?”
Dad laughs, squeezes her back, and says, “Got a Christmas tree.”
“So I saw,” Avery says before shooting a wink at me. “It’s so big you could build a tree house in it.”
“We’re having pork roast tonight if you want to come eat with us and help decorate,” my dad offers.
“I can’t,” Avery says. “My parents invited us over for dinner tonight. Oliver and Nina too. My mom said she had a surprise for us, so you know I’m not about to pass that up.”
“She probably just wants to give you her old china set or something,” I remark dryly. Avery’s mom and dad have decided to retire down to Florida after Christmas and they are unloading all of their personal effects on the kids.
“I’ll take it,” Avery says as she opens the refrigerator and roots around, coming out with a Diet Coke. “Rob and I only got enough of our china pattern as wedding presents to feed one and a half of us.”
“Maybe I’ll buy you a piece of china then for Christmas,” my dad muses as he unwraps the pork roast.
“Don’t you dare,” Avery says aghast. “I much prefer jewelry.”
I roll my eyes and dad laughs. “Duly noted, Av.”
My dad opens the oven door and goes to put the roast in. I don’t say a word, but Avery doesn’t hold her tongue. “Dave…you know you have to preheat the oven first, right?”
My dad straightens and looks at her with confusion. “I was just going to turn it on now.”
Avery clucks her tongue, steps forward, and removes the pan from his hands. “Dear, dear Dave…you poor noncooking fool. And you can’t just put that in without seasoning. Let me show you how to do it.”
“And with that,” I say, taking my cue to make myself scarce, “I’m going to take Piper for a walk.”
They both ignore me, Avery already reaching into the spice rack and giving a lecture to Dave on the proper way to prepare a roast.
“Dinner should be ready in about ten minutes,” Oliver’s mom, Carly, calls out from the kitchen. “We’ll eat as soon as Avery, Rob, and Thomas get here.”
The smell of Carly’s poutine râpée tantalizes me and my stomach rumbles. It alone makes this hasty spur-of-the-moment trip to visit well worth the hassle.
“Come on, man,” Oliver says as he gets up from the couch where we were both sipping on beers. His dad doesn’t spare us a glance, preferring to watch TV stretched back in his recliner. Oliver’s wife, Nina, who is very lovely and also a handful, is helping Carly in the kitchen. “I need a smoke.”