Secrets & Lies (Roughshod Rollers MC 3)

Page 34

“Come on, we have fish,” Jessica says, holding out her hand.
Owen runs to her and grabs her palm without hesitation. Envy floods through me at the sight. The relationship between Jessica and Owen is so loving and trusting. I want that with him too, more than anything.
Then Jessica looks at me. She still looks tired, but there’s an openness about her expression that wasn’t there before. A small smile creeps onto her face.
“I hope you’re staying for dinner,” she says. “I made extra for everyone.”
I recognize it as the peace offering it is. It isn’t quite an apology, but it is Jessica reminding me that I’m welcome to stay for as long as I want, even if it encroaches on dinner
time. Even if she’s uncomfortable sitting at the same table with me, she’ll endure it for Owen’s sake.
“Yeah, Daddy, stay for dinner!” Owen beseeches before I can reply.
I can’t say no to that. Hearing Owen say “Daddy” gives me a jolt each time, and I know it will be a while before I’ll be able to resist him for anything when he says it.
“Sure,” I say, then glance at Jessica. “Thanks.”
Her smile grows just a little bit. “It’s no problem. Allison is still here, too.”
As terrible as it is, that fact makes me relieved. Dinner with just Allison and Owen would have been incredibly awkward, because I wouldn’t know what to say or how to act. I’m grateful Allison is staying and, from the look on Jessica’s face, she is too. Neither of us wants to be alone with each other, especially after what happened the last few times we were together in the same room.
Allison is in the kitchen as we walk in, and she smiles over at all of us.
“Have fun?” she asks Owen and me, though there’s a teasing glint in her eyes as she glances at me.
I suddenly wonder how many pictures she’s snuck of me playing with Owen to show Kyle later. Shit, I’m never going to hear the end of it, am I?
“Yeah, we had fun,” I tell her, refusing to rise to the bait. “Jessica said you’re staying for dinner?”
“It got late and I’m hungry,” she says with a laugh, winking at me.
I can tell it isn’t the only reason she’s decided to stay, so I give her a small smile. It surprises me that Allison can be so cheerful around me; I’ve been worried that she was upset about me using her to get Jessica’s address and phone number. While I never actually lied to her, and I definitely didn’t correct her when she jumped to the wrong conclusion.
What does she think about everything? Either Kyle or Jessica would have told her the story by now. She doesn’t seem to think anything less of either of us, but that doesn’t surprise me. As headstrong as Allison is, she also cares deeply about the people around her, and I already know that neither Jessica nor I would lose her friendship over this. Somehow, she’s managing to balance it all, I’m okay with that as long as she doesn’t feel badly toward me.
“Anything I can do?” I offer.
“Can you get some plates out?” Jessica asks, gesturing to a cupboard.
It’s oddly awkward to be opening Jessica’s cupboard and looking at the plates and cups in there. A long time ago, Jessica and I used to host people for dinner all the time, and I was always the one to set the table. Now, though, it feels like I’m a stranger trying to step into my past self’s shoes, as though I don’t belong in Jessica’s kitchen, rummaging through her cupboard for plates.
I shake the feeling away. After everything that’s happened, looking for plates shouldn’t be the most awkward thing.
I grab three china plates and find a plastic plate that doubtlessly belongs to Owen. He’s already scrambled up into a chair and is making two toy cars, the green one and a red one, crash into each other over and over again. He isn’t paying any attention to the adults in the kitchen.
“We’ve got some potatoes and salad,” Jessica says to me. “That okay?”
“That’s fine,” I assure her.
Allison carries the salad bowl over the table, and I turn away, busying myself with getting some cups out and filling them with water. Strangely, the room feels a little more cramped now that it’s just Jessica and me, and I try to ignore her.
“Can you take this plate over to the table?” she asks suddenly.
“Sure,” I say, taking the plate of hot potatoes and fleeing the room. I pass Allison, who gives me a sympathetic smile.
Owen looks up as I approach and grins.
“Look!” he says proudly, holding up the battered green car. “Green won!”