“Where the hell have you been?” Heather asks, frantically pacing in the kitchen. “I’m sorry, Nikki.” She sighs, “I got caught up with work. I called Carrie thinking she would be the one picking you up, but when she said she was in Salt Lake, I panicked. How did you get home? Did Ben or Lexie come get you?”
I see Joe smile, and I am extremely grateful that he doesn’t smart off with some inappropriate joke. “A therapist offered to give me a ride.” I glare in Joe’s direction.
“Well, that was thoughtful.”
“Yes, it was,” Joe agrees.
This is going to be difficult, especially if anything does happen to grow between Ethan and me.
Heather thankfully has calmed, knowing I’m safe. “Are you hungry?”
I am always done with therapy around eleven, but after hanging out with Ethan in the park, it’s already two o’clock. I haven’t eaten anything for lunch, “I’m famished.” I watch Heather put a salad together while I fade in and out of daydreams about Ethan and his incredible kissing.
“… so what do you think?”
“Haven’t you been listening to me?”
“I … uh,” I stutter.
“I said, let’s go look at the computers that Lexie was telling us about. Her graduation is this weekend, and you said you wanted to get her a new laptop for a graduation present.”
“Oh yeah, that would be great. Are you sure you don’t mind running along with me?”
“It’s not a problem at all, and I kind of owe you one for ditching you today.” She has no clue that her ditching me today lead to something rather pleasant. “… and I want to get her something too. I’m so proud of Lexie—especially after that horrible incident during her sophomore year.”
My sister is right. We all had thought Lexie would never be able to pull herself out of her depression after her best friend killed herself. That was so hard on her. It was an awful time for everyone … but she did it. It took a good year, but Lexie pulled herself out of the ashes, and now she has blossomed into a beautiful young woman.
Ethan has me on cloud nine. The memories of his words, “you’re so beautiful,” keep echoing in my mind. Even shopping with the worst shopper in history, my sister, has been pleasant. He has somehow swooped in and magically erased some of my pain. The pain that has been increasing in size a little every day, at least for right now—I’m happy.
Heather helps me finish up the last bit of wrapping when I hear Joe arguing with a male voice at the front door. My insides cringe. I know that voice.