I woke up to an empty house and after showering got up to whip up some oatmeal for breakfast with some fruit I brought home. When Brock had been in town, I'd been spending my nights with him so when he left, I headed home and discovered that there was no food.
So I'd gone out grocery shopping like I often did when my mother had just taken off with Dirk or someone else. My dream the other night unsettled me when my life became quiet but I forced it out of my mind. I didn't want to think about that, I had to get to work and put in a longer day to sort out a bunch of new inventory.
I mixed up some coffee and sat down to eat my breakfast. I had checked my phone but there hadn't been any texts let alone nasty ones. I had talked to Brock before I went to bed and he was still coming home just before the dance. He seemed busy but he stayed on the phone a while asking me about how my life was going.
Tiffany would be treating me to lunch after she did some errands for her mother. It had gotten cooler and it looked like it might even rain this week. So I packed an umbrella.
My mom hadn't called but then it wasn't typical for her to do that only when she remembered. She and Dirk had probably hit the strip doing some gambling, with him losing her money and seeing the shows. That was fine, I liked it much better when they were gone, leaving me alone. I was used to it after all and I could sleep at night and never worry.
I finished breakfast and then headed out to the car to head to work.
After I spent three hours sorting annuals by the box load, I went to the drink machine to get some ice cold sweet tea. Melanie hadn't been as much of a pain in the ass as usual but I had found out soon enough that when it came to Brock, she was on Team Caroline.
"You know he's a handsome guy," she said, "but once Caroline sets foot back in town…"
I guess she hadn't gotten the memo which it said she might be staying in London. But I said nothing; I guess she knew I'd been seeing her friend's boyfriend. I wonder if Caroline knew as Brock hadn't given any indication to me that she'd found out about us.
"Yeah…they might be apart now but I think Brock's finally getting serious about settling down."
News to me but it didn't matter really as I'd be back to school anyway when Caroline returned. Brock had just been a summer thing…a hot summer thing but after I was back in school, I'd be busy with my own life and he'd be busy with his own…and Caroline. A part of me had felt a pang that it had to be that way but wait a minute that had been the way I'd wanted it. I'd be okay once I'd left town to head back to my regular life.
"So I heard you were going with him to the midsummer dance…"
I looked up. News traveled fast but then realized it shouldn't surprise me.
"You are, aren't you?"
I nodded returning to my plants.
"Well, it's not entirely your fault. Brock's always had one on the side in the summer and Caroline knows that. She'll forgive him."
Curiosity got the better of me.
"Yeah she does and she'll deal with it when she returns. She's a very pretty, very with it type of woman and it's hard for anyone to compare to her."
I shrugged, not my interest at all.
"That's fine…look yeah I'm seeing him but I've got a life too and by the time she returns, I'll be gone."
"Good thing because she's not very happy about it…"
"Then she needs to take that up with Brock not with me."
"Oh she'll handle herself really well," Melanie said, "They've been together for a while now and she thinks it's time to get serious."
That didn't interest me at all. In fact I wished that she'd just go away and do something to earn her high paycheck.
"Maybe she'll tell him it's time to think about getting married."
Something jolted inside of me. I could only imagine what would happen if she broached that topic with Brock.
"I don't know if that'll work," I said, "If a man wants to marry a woman, doesn't he propose?"
Melanie's face darkened.
"He'll…he'll do that…Caroline's the best he could ever hope for…not that he loves her…I don't think he loves anyone."
Then why bother getting married, I asked myself but didn't say it out loud.
"Well he did fall in love once…but that was ages ago."
I knew he'd been married and that it hadn't lasted long. He hadn't gotten married since but then he'd been so busy building his career. Not everyone wanted to focus on family life; I know I didn't want to dwell on mine.
"I think that didn't end well for him," Melanie continued, "Maybe made him a little bitter."
I just looked at her.
"I don't find him bitter at all," I said, "He's nice and I enjoy spending time with him."
She shot me a look.
"I bet…well all I'm saying is that don't think he's going to be serious about you," she said, "Whoever burned him did a good job."
I had no idea what she was talking about, all I knew was that the marriage had been years ago when he'd been not much older than me and that he'd once been tight with Devlin…and with Gloria. Now not so much but time didn't always tighten friendships, it whittled away at them too. Sometimes so gradually you'd not notice it until one day whatever tied you to a person was gone. That'd happened to most of my friends I'd had when I was younger…even though we all lived in the same small town. Most people I'd grown up didn't want to spend their lives here. A few had gotten away as quickly as they could manage, the others dreamed about leaving.
Tiffany and I ate some French Dip platters at the sandwich shop. She'd been at the general store buying stationary and picking up a major printing job for her mom.
"God I can't wait until this dance is over but then my mom will pick up another social improvement project soon enough."
I couldn't argue with that. Gloria always kept herself busy, but then if it weren't for her, the town wouldn't have so many dances and picnics. But she still managed to be there when Tiffany needed her…it must be really something to have a mother like that.
"I thought you were looking forward to going."
Tiffany sipped her cola.
"I am…and Lars is even getting into it too," she said, "We're going to stick around for a while and then take off…he's got a suite."
"That sounds like a plan."
"Yeah but she goes overboard sometimes."
"At least she has time for you," I said, "I haven't seen my mom this week."
Tiffany picked up her sandwich.
"Sometimes I wish my mom would take off…both my parents but it probably wouldn't be together."
I didn't have much to say to that. I hadn't heard from Devlin lately but I hadn't gone looking for him either.
"Sometimes I wish I'd told my mother…"
"About your dad…and Megan…?"
"Yeah…he's being such a skank and she doesn't deserve that…but it'd probably hurt her."
"You're right Tiffany…I wouldn't tell her," I said, "Besides I'm sure your father got the message when you confronted him."
I knew that to be a lie because a man liked Devlin never learned. He didn't care that he hurt people including his own daughter; he'd just be more careful next time. After all, it hadn't stopped him from trying to get into my pants after I told him no.
But then I'd hurt Tiffany more than she'd ever been hurt maybe and she still didn't know. She couldn't ever know.
"So Brock's coming back in time for sure?"
"He's almost done," I said, "but it's not the same without him."
"You're getting soft for him…"
I narrowed my eyes.
"No I'm not…it's just that I got used to him," I said, "and being with him is really great…"
"So you miss the action?"
My skin flushed a little.
"Yeah I do but I miss talking with him too," I said, "Hanging out."
Her brows arched.
"Hah, I knew you'd grown soft on him…nothing wrong with that but you got to know Caroline's coming back."
"Yeah…Melanie reminded me of that this morning."
"Well she's always been a busy body but she's right," Tiffany said, "and Caroline's probably going to take him back even though she'll know what he'd done."
"Maybe she's screwing around on him over there."
"She should be," Tiffany said, "Lots of good looking guys there. But Brock's for fun during the summer isn't he? You'll be ready to let him go when it's time to head back to school right?"
"Yeah I will…I'm not worried about that."
"Good because there's a lot of hot guys at school too and now that you've got some experience…"
I knew what she said was true, made a lot of sense but I also knew though I'd never tell her or anyone this that I'd miss him…at least a little bit.
I wondered not for the first time if he'd miss me too.