My father steps forward. “Those are—”
“Stop!” I yell at my father, cutting him off. I know he’s about to claim them, but he isn’t sober enough to realize what that could do to his career.
Trey laughs again, and I’m honestly sick of hearing that noise. “Anyway,” he says, “if she needs an escort home, she has me for that.”
He slams the pills down on the hood. “So, which one of you belongs to these?”
My father looks at me. I can see the struggle in his eyes because he doesn’t know what to say. I don’t give him the chance.
I close my eyes and I think about Auburn, because this moment and Trey’s indirect threat to stay away from her is about to take away whatever chance we might have had.
My cheek meets the cold metal of the hood.
“You have the right to remain silent . . .”
My hands are pulled behind me, and the cuffs are snapped into place.
It’s been twenty-eight days since Owen was sentenced to ninety days in jail. A lot can happen in twenty-eight days.
I tuck the blanket tighter around his body and lean in to kiss AJ on the forehead. “I’ll see you after school tomorrow, okay?”
AJ smiles at me, and like every time he does, my heart melts. He looks just like Adam. Other than having a red tint to his mostly brown hair, everything about him is Adam, right down to his mannerisms. “Are you coming over to eat with us?”
I nod and give him another hug. Saying good-bye to him, knowing he’s not sleeping in a bed in my home, is the hardest part for me. I should be tucking him into bed in a home we share together.
However, whatever Trey said to Lydia worked, because I’ve been coming over more nights during the week and she hasn’t said a single negative thing to me.
“Ready?” Trey says from behind me.
“Good night, AJ. I’ll love you forever.”
He smiles. “Good night, Mom. I’ll love you forever.”
I flip the light switch off as I exit the room and pull the door shut. Trey reaches for my hand and slides his fingers through mine as we walk toward the living room. I look down at our hands, linked together, and feel nothing but guilt. I’ve tried for the past few weeks to reciprocate the feelings he has for me, but so far it hasn’t worked out like I’d hoped.
We make our way through the living room, and Lydia is seated on the sofa. Her eyes immediately fall to our hands. She smiles briefly, and I’m not sure what that smile means. Trey said she didn’t really have a reaction when he told her he was taking me on our first official date last week, but I know she has to have an opinion about it. I’d almost think she would be happy, because having me linked to her through Trey in a positive way means there’s less of a threat of me taking my son and moving back to Portland.
“Do you work tonight?” she asks Trey.
He nods as he releases my hand and reaches for the key that unlocks the entryway closet. “I’m on night shift for the next three weeks,” he says. He inserts the key into the door and retrieves his gun from the case.
My attention moves from Trey to a picture of Adam hanging on the living room wall. He can’t be more than fourteen in the picture. Every time I come here I do my best to avoid looking at it, but I’m shocked at how much AJ looks like his father. The older AJ gets, the more of Adam’s features I see in him. But knowing that Adam never made it beyond the age of sixteen makes me wonder what he would have looked like as an adult. If he were alive now, would he look like Trey? Will AJ look like Trey?
Trey’s voice is so close, it makes me jump. When I look at him, he cuts his eyes briefly to the picture of Adam and then turns toward the front door. He looks disappointed that I was standing here staring at the picture, and it makes me feel somewhat guilty. It has to be hard for him, knowing I felt so much for his brother. I know it would be even harder for him if he knew how much I still felt for his brother.
“Good night, Lydia,” I say as I make my way toward the front door.
She smiles, but there’s something about her smile that’s always been a bit off to me. Almost as if there’s blame behind it. That could be my own conscience, but I’ve never gotten over the fact that I feel she resents me for the time I spent with Adam before he passed away. I don’t think she liked how Adam felt about me, and I certainly know she didn’t like the amount of time he wanted to spend with me.
And that worries me to an extent, because as much as she seems in support of Trey and me being in a relationship, I worry about what will happen if things don’t work out between us. Which is exactly why I haven’t made things official, because once I do, I need to be prepared for what could happen with AJ if Trey and I don’t last as a couple.
Trey walks me to my front door, like he’s done almost every night for the past week. I know he’s still waiting for me to invite him in, but I’m just not there yet. I’m not sure when I will be, but I did finally allow him to kiss me last night, which wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. He just sort of did it. I had unlocked my door and turned to face him and his lips were on mine before I could agree or object. And I wish I could say I enjoyed it, but I mostly felt uncomfortable, for a number of reasons.
I still feel uneasy about the fact that I used to be in love with his brother. I might still be in love with his brother, and that may never go away. I’m also uneasy about the fact that his brother is the only person I’ve ever had sex with. I’m also disturbed that AJ has known Trey as his uncle his whole life, and I don’t want it to confuse him if it gets serious between us.
There’s also the whole attraction thing. Trey is definitely a good-looking guy. He’s confident and has a great career. But there’s something about him that goes deeper than his muscular build or his perfectly groomed, dark hair. Something that is completely opposite from Adam. Something that actually turns me off.
There was a goodness about Adam. A calmness. When I was with him, I felt safe.
I got the same sense from Owen, which I think is why I was drawn to him. He had a lot of the same qualities that Adam had.
So far, I don’t get that from Trey. I try not to think about the fact that I could be making a commitment to someone I’m afraid may not be a good person. But I’ve associated Trey with Lydia for as long as I’ve known him, so it may not be a question of Trey’s character. I may have judged him unfairly, simply because I feel that his mother isn’t a good person.
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