Secrets & Lies (Roughshod Rollers MC 3)

Page 77

“Sure,” he says. “I’d offer you a beer, but you’ve got work and I have to pick Lily up from school later. Want some coffee instead?”
“Maybe a soda?” I ask. I’m not sure I can stomach a hot caffeinated drink right now.
Ethan fishes out two cans of soda and we sit at his table. I fiddle with the tab before I open it, not sure how to s
“When Polly left me, I was so angry,” Ethan says suddenly.
I look up, startled.
“I couldn’t figure out what had happened,” he says. He isn’t looking at me. “One moment we seemed to be happy. Then she was gone. No note. Her things disappeared. Eventually I realized that she hadn’t just turned her phone off, she changed her number. At first I thought there was some mistake or she was trying to prove some sort of point; she was always an idiot who took things too far, which should have been my first clue. I waited a few days, but she never replied to my messages and I couldn’t phone her. So I tried to contact her family and friends. But they were cagey. None of them wanted to tell me what was going on. Her parents almost did.” He snorts. “I know they know where she is. They still visit, because Lily is their granddaughter, and they love her. But we never talk about Polly. They don’t bring her up and I never ask. I don’t want to know. Ten years ago, she abandoned us. I know we were young and stupid. Lily was an accident because we weren’t careful enough. But to just disappear like that? No, that’s something I’ll never forgive. I wasn’t any more ready to handle parenthood then her, and I stuck it out.”
The amount of bitterness in his voice is surprising, though it shouldn’t be. Ethan has every right to be bitter, after all. What Polly did to Ethan was way worse than anything I went through, and I feel a little guilty for bringing up all these awful memories for him.
“Don’t,” Ethan says with a half smile, probably guessing what thoughts were flashing through my mind from the look on my face. “I wouldn’t have said anything if I didn’t want to, you know. I just want you to know that I do understand, no matter what you do. I know Kyle and Allison and Georgia are all hoping that you and Jessica get your happy ending. But what do you want?”
Funny… It’s the first time someone has asked me that. As it stands, even the date happened because I wanted to try again for Owen’s sake. Maybe that’s the difference? Maybe I didn’t actually want the date to happen, but I pushed myself through it anyway.
Maybe it was too soon. I don’t know. I still don’t really have any clue how to decipher my own thoughts, right now. I don’t know what I want.
“What do I do?” I ask Ethan tiredly.
“Can’t tell you that,” Ethan points out, and I groan.
“I came here for advice,” I say with a sigh.
“And I’m giving it to you,” he says patiently. “I’m telling you that you need to figure it out, man. You need to figure out what you want.”
“I don’t know what I want,” I complain.
I’m dangerously close to whining. But, damn it all, haven’t I earnt the right to complain a little?
“Okay, let’s put it this way,” Ethan says. “Imagine going on another date with her. Do you think you’d be happy with that?”
“Maybe,” I venture. Then I pause. “How did you know we went on a date?”
Ethan snorts. “You haven’t noticed? Allison has turned Kyle into the worst gossip. He told me as soon as Allison told him.”
“Right,” I say, deadpan.
“Anyway, that isn’t the point,” Ethan says, “So, you don’t know if you’d be happy going on another date with her. Were you happy last night?”
“Yes…” I say slowly.
Eating burgers with Jessica… Sitting close in the cinema… Riding my bike with her… It had all been very nice. It was only when I woke up this morning after a very pleasant night that I realized anything was wrong.
I can’t afford to have that pain and misery descend on me all at once anymore.
“Alright,” Ethan says. He frowns. “What about cutting Jessica out of your life. How do you feel about that?”
“I couldn’t cut her out of my life, even if I wanted to,” I point out. “I need to see her so that I can see Owen.”
“Then forget Owen for a moment,” Ethan says, rolling his eyes. “Pretend that you never had a child again, but you still ran into Jessica after three years. Now you have the choice to allow her into your life, or cut her out completely. How does it feel to imagine that she won’t be there anymore?”
I try to think about this. It isn’t hard.
“She was gone for three years,” I say quietly. “It isn’t difficult to imagine a time when she’s gone.”