“If I remember correctly, you weren’t the best influence on him. You always drank a bit too much and became the jerk that egged on the people who always ended up beating up my husband.”
“Truth. I’m not the nicest person when I have one too many drinks, but Steven understood that. Damn. I miss the asshole.” He sighed. We stopped laughing, my eyes growing heavy. His eyes grew heavy, too, and we sat silent, missing him together.
“Well,” Tanner said, changing the subject. “The landscape around this place looks like complete shit. I can come by and cut the grass for you if you want. And maybe toss up the fence to keep the place a bit more private.”
“Oh no. Actually, I think I’m going to take care of it all. I’m only working part-time, so it will give me something to do until I find more steady work.”
“Have you thought about getting back into interior design?”
The question of the week. I shrugged. “I haven’t really thought much about anything for the past year.”
“Completely understandable. Are you sure you don’t want a hand around this place? It’s no big deal for me to help you out.”
“Yeah, I’m sure. There comes a point when I have to start doing things for myself, you know?”
“I hear ya. But I think you should stop by my shop on Sunday. I have something I want to give you.”
I smiled. “A gift?”
“Something like that.”
Nudging him in the shoulder, I told him we could meet up on Thursday night if Emma could join us.
He nodded, then lowered his voice, staring my way. “What’s the hardest part?”
That was a very easy question for me to answer. “There are times when Emma does the funniest thing, and I’ll call into the other room for Steven to come see her. Then I pause, and remember.” The hardest part about losing someone you love is the fact that you also lose yourself. I placed my thumb between my teeth and chewed on my nail. “Enough depressing stuff. What about you? Still dating Patty?”
He cringed. “We don’t really talk anymore.”
I wasn’t surprised. Tanner was as into commitment as Faye was.
“Well, aren’t we just two sad, single peas in a pod.”
With a laugh, he lifted the bottle of tequila, pouring us another shot. “Here’s to us.”
The rest of the night kind of faded together. I remembered laughing at things that probably weren’t funny, crying over things that weren’t even sad, and having the best night I’d had in quite some time. When I woke up the next morning, I was lying in my bed, not exactly sure how I got there. I hadn’t slept in the bed since the accident. I reached for Steven’s pillow and hugged it to my body. With a deep inhale of the cotton pillow case, my eyes faded closed. Even if I didn’t feel it yet, there was no denying the fact that this was home. This was my new normal.
Sam stopped by to change out the locks around the house later that week. I knew Faye called him creepy, but there was something so easy and friendly about him. He had blond hair that he spiked and rectangle glasses that somewhat hid his sweet, brown stare. His voice was always low when he spoke to me, and so sweet. If he thought he offended me—which he never did—he always kind of backtracked and apologized with a bit of a stutter.
“Some of these locks are extremely crappy, but others are in pretty great shape, actually, Elizabeth. Are you sure you want to change them all up?” he asked. “Sorry, that was a stupid question. You wouldn’t have asked me here if you didn’t need them changed. So sorry,” he apologized.
“No, it’s fine.” I smiled. “I just want a completely new start, that’s all.”
He pushed his glasses up his nose and nodded. “Of course. Well, I can be done here in a few hours or so.”
“Oh! Also, let me show you something.” He ran to his car and came back with a tiny thing in his hand. “My dad also just got a new security camera bundle deal if you’re interested. The cameras are this small and could easily be hidden out of sight. A few cameras could go up around the place for extra security. I know if I was a pretty woman living alone with my daughter, I would want the extra protection.”
I smiled, this time warily. “I think I’ll hold off on that for a while. Thanks again, Sam.”
“No problem at all.” He laughed. “The only person to buy these so far was Tanner, so I doubt they will be big sellers like my dad hoped for.”
He worked fast and was good at what he did. Before I knew it, all of the locks in the house were brand spanking new. “Anything else I can help ya with?” he asked.
“Nope! That’s it. I better get going actually. I have to be at the café in about ten minutes, and my car pretty much gave up on life, so I have to walk there.”
“No way. I’ll give you a ride.”
“No, no. I can walk.”
“It’s already starting to drizzle with rain. You don’t want to get caught in that. It’s really no big deal.”
My nose scrunched up. “Are you sure?”
“Of course.” He held the passenger door of his truck open. “No problem at all.”
As we drove into town, Sam asked me why I thought Faye didn’t like him¸ but I tried my best to explain that Faye hardly liked anyone at first. “Give her some time, you’ll grow on her.”
“She said I have all the characteristics of a psychopath,” he joked.