I arrived at Wells a day earlier. Excitement and nervousness lance through me. My steps falter as I rush up the front of Amelia’s house with my bundle of joy. Mace’s pacifier keeps him from making a sound. So far, he has been compliant, but I know he will go on his knees the first chance he gets. Now that he can crawl, no one or nothing can stop him from exploring.
The door opens, and Ashley smiles. The rat nest on her head is a testament of the toll this journey has taken on all of us involved. Lucky me never have to worry about hair. All it takes is a brush through it and I’m good.
“At this point, you deserve a key,” she says.
I laugh it off. Pushing my way in without an invitation, my eyes scan the dim place. The living room is empty. Jason must be in Amelia’s room. Ashley pads in after me. She makes a funny face at Mace, and my son giggles around his pacifier. I turn around to face her.
“Do you want to c
CALUMMusic explodes in my ears. My foot bounces on the same spot and my knuckles drum against my knee. I cross my forearms on my forehead, immersed in the sound of my voice. The sound I share with the world. My music. Music. It’s the only thing that matters right now, and maybe weed. The boys would love for me to try and mingle, but I haven’t been able to get far. Kissing or trying to be intimate with another woman feels like cheating on Cathy, which doesn’t make sense since she moved on. I should do the same. Maybe after this tour. A nudge on my knee causes my forearms to separate. Sam. Lucas. Scott. I straighten up.The boys wave. Their frowns rub me off the wrong way, and my annoyance is a tad evident in the way I say, “What’s up?”This had better not be another intervention to stop staying indoors or quit the weed. I have reduced my intake. Now, I only smoke when I’m mostly nervous or bored or trying to stay alive. Lucas throws himself on a couch. His lips move but I don’t he
The burial was quiet and private. I don’t recall most of it. Maybe I do. But I don’t want to be flooded with images of my best friend being lowered to the ground. Losing Mr Dissick hurts but it’s nothing compared to this. He’s alive and she isn’t. I may see him again but Amelia is gone forever. A cry from somewhere in the house breaks through my thoughts. The pillow in my hands drops. We used to play with this pillow, sleep in this room. I wipe my nose that’s red from excess crying. We buried her today. Taylor and Rose are downstairs entertaining the guests. I hate this idea of the bereaved family serving visitors. They just lost their child, they should be given a break. I hurry to the bathroom and splash water on my face before heading out to check on Mace. Mace is with his grandpa. I may or may not have been the best mother to him. I make sure my face has no evidence of crying as I near the bottom of the stairs. Staying in Amelia’s room gives me courage to go an extra day. It’s
CALUM“Mr Dissick,” Cathy breathes out.I shove my hands into my pockets to stop myself from drawing her into a hug. Our last encounter is still fresh in my memory. I look around for her protective bodyguard. I’ve imagined this moment too many times to count but it was nothing like this.“Really?” I tease. “Why so formal?”The scowl on Cathy’s lips wipes the smile lingering on mine. My mouth shapes into an O. She cut her hair. Why? Since when? Cathy crosses her arms under her boobs. The white gown she’s wearing hugs her upper body, tightens around her midriff, then flows downward to her knees. She’s as pretty as ever, maybe prettier with age.Prettier but sad.I want to pull her into a hug, if only this one time to remind her she’s not alone. But we are not the same Calum and Cathy anymore.“Very funny.” Cathy wedges herself
“Your father is an asshole,” I tell Mace. He giggles. “No, don’t laugh, Macey. Let’s hate him together.”Someone clears their throat behind me. I jump and hide Mace from their view. It’s Dad. Walking around Mace’s crib, I try to smile at my father. He leans on the door, watching me like I would watch Mace.“I didn’t mean that,” I state to diffuse the tension. “Well, maybe. Only a little bit.”“Are you okay?” he asks from the door of the guest room in his London house. He might not have understood why I asked us to leave Wells but he drove us back to his house. I suspect Calum will check mine.“Why wouldn’t I be?” I reply.“Cathy.”“I’m fine,” I whisper. I just buried my best friend, and my baby daddy walked back into my life. Of course I’m okay, I’m cool. “I&
CALUMNerves. I’m a bundle of nerves and anger. Anger that hasn’t fully manifested. I ring the door again but it’s the same response. Silence. I look over my shoulder to the car waiting out front. Jason dropped me off. He insisted on waiting till I was safely inside.I may have treated him like shit but he’s exactly how Amelia described him in her letter. Plus, he took care of my babies.My babies. I have a son. Saying that to myself has no effect on me. Maybe it will when I see the blue eyed miniature of me.The knob twists as I’m about to knock again and the door opens. Unfortunately, it’s not the woman I want to see. I step back.“Pete.”“Calum,” he responds.It’s an awkward family reunion. I rock on my heels, feeling like the twenty-one year old kid he took into his home. What should I say?“Hi.”&ldq
Dad is quiet. I need him to say something, give me hell for threatening someone—my baby daddy on his property, but he doesn’t do any of that. I stop pacing and kneel beside Mace’s rocking chair. I should have let him see his son.What the hell is wrong with me? “What will you do?” Dad asks.“I don’t know,” I reply.Mace blinks at me. I rock his foot until his eyes fall close and his breathing evens out. We need to leave. I checked an hour ago, Jason’s car is gone and Dad volunteered to drive me home.“You should make up your mind,” Dad says behind me. I scoop Mace out of his chair. Dad is being too gentle with me. I know it’s the guilt. I also know I shouldn’t put him in this situation, but I can’t help it. “Whatever happens, he deserves to see his son.”“I know.” I close my eyes and my chest sags.
CALUMI didn’t think Pete would call me but he did to let me know they were in Cathy’s house. He wanted me to stay with her while he sorted out some things. That might have been the best thing he ever did because she was a mess when I came in. I could hear her voice from outside. It hurt then, even now, with her in my arms, it still hurts.Cathy whines in her sleep. Her hand blindly reaches for me as if to ensure I’m still here. There’s no respite for her in her sleep, she’s still scared. I plant another kiss on her temple. There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s perfect. I stare at her until my eyes can’t handle it any longer. I should check on Mace but I’m afraid she will wake up to see the bed empty and panic.A knock echoes from behind the door. Pete pushes the door open and his head pokes in. “Come in,” I tell him. He walks in holding Mace. There’s a crib beside the bed. I try t
7 am comes faster than I expected. I’ve hardly fed Mace when I hear the knocks from downstairs. We glance at each other, and I get out of bed sluggishly. I need to eat or I may slump. But I have no appetite. Since Mace can crawl, I let him down on the floor once we are downstairs and skip to the door. Calum is all smiles when I open up. “Hey.”“Hey,” I reply. I step back for him to enter. “He crawls?” he asks, his voice laced with excitement. I nod, but he’s already gone to his son. Squatting before Mace, he says, “Hey.” A spell of dizziness hits me as I stagger to them. Calum lifts Mace off the floor, coming to stand beside me. “Hey, are you okay?” “Yeah. I’m fine. Did you drive here?” He looks suspicious. “Yes. Have you eaten?” I don’t think I’ve had anything to eat in two days. If I have, I don’t remember. Whatever the case, I don’t have much of an appetite.“Yeah,” I reply. “You should sit down,” he murmurs. I don’t want to argue in front of Mace so I follow him to the couc