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Throughout dinner I listen to Maddi, Fawn, and Courtney talk. I chime in every once in a while, but mostly I try to block out what they are talking about because they seem to spend most of dinner talking about the boy Maddi has a crush on. When dinner is done, we have the apple pie Courtney brought with her. Before long, Fawn says she has to get home and grade some papers for school in the morning. She gives Maddi and Courtney hugs before she heads across the hall to the apartment she shares with my brother—an apartment they will be moving out of soon, since Fawn is pregnant and they’ll need a bigger place. Fawn doesn’t know I know she’s pregnant. Levi was supposed to keep things quiet for a few more weeks, but he was too excited to keep the news to himself. I’m happy for him and Fawn. They’re good together, and they are going to be great parents.

Once I usher Maddi into the shower, I head to the kitchen. Courtney is cleaning up the rest of the dishes. I wrap my arms around her waist and rest my chin on her shoulder.

“Fawn loves you,” I say.

She turns her head to look at me. “She’s really sweet.”

“She is,” I agree, turning my head to kiss her neck. I feel her shiver. “You’re sweeter.” I lick her neck lightly, and she laughs. “I want you to meet my parents and have dinner with us. They will be here Friday when Maddi gets off school. Then they’ll take her back to Connecticut Saturday.”

“I don’t know if I can. Lorie is supposed to be coming into town. I told her I’d have dinner with her.”

“You can invite her,” I say, but her body gets tight.

“Lorie is Tom’s mom . . . I don’t think that would be wise.”

“Is Tom going to be in town, too?” I try to keep the annoyance out of my voice, but it’s hard to do.

“No, just her. I . . . Maybe I can see if we can have lunch instead of dinner.”

“I’d like that,” I agree. She relaxes back against me, and I kiss along her neck.

“I don’t really want to see her.” Her quiet words give me pause.


“Lorie. I don’t want to see her. I mean, I do want to see her, but at the same time I don’t. It’s different now. I don’t want to hurt her, but I feel like there is no way not to.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s the only mother figure that I have ever known, but she’s Tom’s mom, and we’re not together anymore. I love her, but I don’t want to talk about Tom. It’s inevitable he’ll come up, because he’s her son.”

“I get that.”

“She loves him,” she says, turning to face me. “I know she’s worried about him and what he’s going through. I used to be the person that she always shared those worries with, but I’m just not that person anymore. The last time we spoke she started to tell me about what Tom is doing now, but I told her I didn’t want to hear about him. She hung up without saying goodbye. She wasn’t rude or mean, but I know she was upset.”

“It’s going to take you both time to figure out how to navigate your new relationship.”

“I don’t know if we can have a relationship anymore, and that hurts, because I love her.”

“Just give it time. Be honest with her. If you’re uncomfortable and she’s not understanding of that, then you’ll have to reevaluate things. Until then, just be patient.”

“You’re pretty awesome, Lucas Fremont.” She smiles up at me.

“You are, too.” I gather her closer and start to kiss her.

“Courtney, I’m ready for bed!” Maddi yells before I can hit my target.

I smile.

“Coming, sweetheart,” Courtney shouts back while turning to look over her shoulder at Maddi, who grins before disappearing into her bedroom. Courtney’s eyes return to me. “I love her.”

“She loves you, too,” I tell her, and her expression softens. “Go on, read to her.” I start to let her go, but before I can she wraps her arms around my neck and tugs me down for a kiss.

When she pulls away, her eyes search mine for a long moment before she shakes her head and lets go. I finish washing the last few dishes, then go over to my drawing table and start to work again. When Courtney comes out of Maddi’s room a half hour later, she looks exhausted. I want to demand that she spends the night, but instead I order her a cab and make her promise to call when she’s home. I walk her downstairs and leave her at the door with a kiss, hating that I won’t see her again until tomorrow night.

Chapter 12

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