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Authors: Meg Jolie

Holding On (37 page)

BOOK: Holding On
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“You’re still not talking to him?”

Why did he sound so surprised?

“Why would I?” I wondered.

“Britta,” he said quietly, “he’s your dad. Whatever happened with him and your mom, it doesn’t have anything to do with you.”

“How can you say that?” I asked. My voice was louder than I meant for it to be. I threw my hands up in the air in frustration. “Of course it had to do with me! I’m the one that found him out! If I hadn’t…” I cringed at the thought. “Who knows what would be happening right now. He might still be doing the same thing and my mom would never know!”

“But that shouldn’t affect
relationship with him,” Tristan said. He finally stepped away from my door. “People make mistakes. If he’s trying to talk to you…trying to spend time with you, he obviously still cares about you. I mean, of course he does. He’s your

“Why does everyone keep saying that?!”

“Probably because it’s true,” he firmly replied. “I didn’t realize that you still weren’t talking to him.”

“I talk to him. Some. When I have to.” After putting him off for months, I’d finally had to give in and have lunch with him. But that had been weeks ago.

“And how does that go?” Tristan wondered. “When you do talk to him?”

“It doesn’t go all that well,” I admitted. “I have a hard enough time talking to him on the phone. I don’t like thinking about him. Let alone looking at him.”

Our last lunch had been strained. It seemed like he was putting in an effort. Almost
much of an effort. It was annoying. Too many questions. Too much of an attempt at carefree banter. But I hadn’t wanted to be there so it’s possible
he said might have annoyed me. I felt like I was betraying my mom by just sitting across the booth from him. I had nothing to say to him. Nothing I wanted to share with him. He’d asked though. He wanted to know all about my life. Or at least he’d pretended like he had. Or maybe he really did. I felt like I didn’t know him at all anymore. I didn’t know what was real and what was a lie. Regardless, I just didn’t feel like he had the right to pry into my life.

He’d given that up the day he walked out.

So I’d given him the shortest answers possible. I’d ordered a side salad, the smallest item on the menu and I’d eaten it as quickly as I could. Then I’d manufactured an excuse for leaving immediately.

That had been nearly a month ago. Since then, I’d started avoiding his calls completely. I didn’t want to accidentally end up with another scheduled lunch date.

I’d had a hard time sitting there. Just thinking about him made the nausea roll in. Sitting across from him, seeing his face was even worse. I’d been so blown-away that day when I’d walked in on him. I’d been hysterical. The memory forever burned into my subconscious. I’d been terrified of what I’d have to tell my mom. I’d been devastated knowing that what I had thought was my happy, stable family was all a lie. In the end, I didn’t have to tell my mom anything.

He’d confessed everything. But obviously, only because the conversation was inevitable at that point.

I hadn’t realized that just thinking about it was upsetting me so much. My eyes were burning and my skin was prickling. My chest was heaving and my breaths were coming a little too quickly. I fought the urge to burst into tears.

Tristan put his hands on my shoulders. “Britta,” he said softly, “take a deep breath. You’re going to start to hyperventilate or something.”

“You don’t understand,” I said as tears started flooding my eyes. I blinked them away.

“Okay,” he admitted, “maybe I don’t.”

Willow was right. He had grown over the past year. Quite a lot. I had to tilt my head to look up at him. He looked older, too. Not so much like a kid anymore. Actually, not at all like a kid anymore. He’d grown his hair out. It wasn’t in the nice, neat cut it had always been in. It was longer and bit floppy across his forehead. I…liked it.

I pushed those realizations away and brought myself back to the real issue.

“Nobody gets it!” I complained.
Why can’t I just be mad at him? What was so wrong with that?
I wondered. “
gets it!” I repeated. My voice was full of frustration.

“Maybe not,” Tristan said as his hands slid off my shoulders. “But do you really want to spend the rest of your life being mad at him?”

I wanted to say that yes, yes I did. I realized how childish that would sound so I said nothing.

“Look, Britta, all I’m saying is that you and your dad used to seem so close. He’s obviously trying. He must want to fix things. I do get that it must be hard…But you must miss him a little bit, don’t you?” he demanded. His dark brown eyes were scrutinizing.

I turned away from him because he was right and I didn’t want to admit it. I straightened a stack of books that I had on my desk. I was sure even if I didn’t deny it; he’d see it written all over my face. I did miss him. I didn’t
to. But I did. It was frustrating to have such conflicted feelings. I wanted to hate him. A lot of the time, I thought I did. Then there were the days that I didn’t.

And those days, I felt guilty for it.

“So why were you and your mom talking about it? If you don’t mind that I ask,” he tacked on. “Doesn’t she want you to see him?”

“No,” I said as I turned back around. “Just the opposite, actually. She thinks I should go. She hadn’t realized that I’ve been avoiding him. But he was so pushy the last time we got together. He was just…too happy or something. And he asked too many questions. I felt like he was trying too hard to pretend like nothing was wrong. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Since then,” I said with a helpless shrug, “I just haven’t wanted to see him. It all just felt like it was too much. Too fake. But I hadn’t told my mom so she just found out tonight. She wasn’t happy about it.”

“So she wants you to have a relationship with your dad?” he carefully asked.

My shoulders heaved in a resigned sigh. “She says she does.” Or possibly, she was just saying that because she thought it was the right thing to do. And unlike my dad, my mom usually tried hard to do the right thing.

“Then she probably does,” he decided.

“Maybe,” I muttered.

“Not that you want my opinion,” he began, “but I think you should talk to him. Or at least, try to talk to him. The sooner you do that…maybe things can get back to normal for you. Maybe you can get past the awkwardness. I really think you’d be happier.” He paused before adding, “I mean…you couldn’t be
happier about the situation at this point. Could you?”

“Probably not,” I admitted.

“So really, you don’t have anything to lose,” he pointed out.

The only thing I was losing was this argument.

And Tristan wasn’t even finished yet. “Just think about it. You don’t really think you’re going to be mad at him
, do you?” The thought, though unrealistic had crossed my mind. “So that means you’re going to have to have to forgive him sometime. And since you’re pretty miserable about it right now, why not just do it and get it over with?”

“Why do you always have to be so reasonable?” I demanded.

He grinned back and shrugged. “Can’t help it.”

I didn’t have anything to say to that. My room became oddly quiet. I had been fidgeting with one of the bags on my bed but when I glanced at Tristan, he let out a sigh. “You know what I said earlier, about the dance? Can we maybe just forget I even brought it up? You’ve got enough going on in your life. I don’t want to make anything weird between us. Okay?”

That answered that. He had definitely withdrawn the semi-invite. This was a good thing, I tried to tell myself.

“Okay,” I said. “But just so you know, I thought the offer was really sweet.”

A slow smile spread across his face. “Yeah? Sweet enough that you might actually want to go with me?”

I opened my mouth to respond but he cut me off.

“I’m kidding.  Forget I said that. I might not want to hear your actual answer. I’m just going to pretend that you might have said yes,” he told me in a teasing tone. Then he turned to leave. “See you later, Britta.”

And out my door he went.




























BOOK: Holding On
6.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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