Aunt Caroline let out a hearty laugh, “You have no idea. Your uncle was quite surprised to find a fuzzball next to his face this morning! Which one is it, the one with the spot on his back?”
I smiled with her. “That must’ve been Taylor, she woke me up too. Did Uncle Stewart go off to work already?”
She nodded. “Mmhm, just a few minutes ago.”
Hunter put a plate in front of me, with scrambled eggs and slices of bacon. My stomach grumbled its approval loudly.
“Breakfast’s served,” he said, with a small wink just for me.
Then he turned to my aunt. “Would you like some more food, Ms. Perkins?”
She waved him off, patting her stomach for emphasis. “I’m way too full. Please, have the rest yourself.”
Hunter shrugged and plated himself a mountain of food. I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed what he was wearing over his t-shirt. I hadn’t noticed it earlier when his back was turned, but now it was hard not to laugh at his tattooed arms poking out of Aunt Caroline’s frilly apron. I raised an eyebrow at him.
Hunter joined us at the table and looked at me confused for a second before his eyes lit up in realization. “Oh yeah, your aunt insisted that I wear it. She didn’t want me messing up my clothes.”
I shook my head slowly in disbelief. It was quite the amusing image.
My aunt chimed in. “Hunter even drove out this morning to get some eggs when we ran out. Isn’t he the sweetest thing?”
I looked to Hunter, only to see his cheeks stuffed full of food. He chewed and gulped it all down first. “Aw, it’s no big deal, Mrs. Perkins. You’re letting me stay here, it’s the least I could do.”
He was certainly making a good impression on my aunt. That gave me one less thing to worry about. Hopefully he was doing the same with Uncle Stewart.
Hunter seemed to want to talk, but he didn’t say anything with my aunt there. We ate in silence for a while, as Aunt Caroline sat there sipping her coffee at the table with us.
A little while later, the phone rang. Aunt Caroline put her mug down and walked over to the other side of the kitchen.
“Hello?” she said and then paused. “Oh of course! Yes, she’s right here!”
My aunt turned to me. “It’s Daniela, she wants to talk to you.”
Daniela and I hadn’t spoken since a couple of days after I got to my aunt’s place. I had filled her in on the whole fiasco with Hunter’s fight, but she didn’t know that Hunter had come all the way to Indiana to try to patch things up with me.
I had just barely picked up the phone when Daniela voice came through loud and clear. “Oh my god, Lorrie. Did he show? Is he there right now?”
I winced and held the phone an inch away from my ear.
“What? Who?” I asked.
“Who?! Are you kidding me? Who else? Hunter!”
I looked at him, hoping that he couldn’t hear Daniela’s voice from across the kitchen, but he was chatting with my aunt.
“Yeah, he’s here. Why am I starting to get the impression that I’m always the last person to get the full story?”
“Two days ago he came to find me. At first I was ready to kick his ass for you, but then he kept saying how sorry he was and how he wanted to fix things up. He seemed sincere, so I gave him your aunt’s address. He said he was going to surprise you and made me promise to not call you until today.”
Another piece of the puzzle clicked into place. So that’s how Hunter had found me. I looked over at him again. I was happy to see that he had finally taken the apron off, folded it neatly, and placed it on an empty seat.
“Lorrie, don’t leave me hanging! Should I have kicked him to the curb? He was practically delirious when he came to me and I thought you said you tried to talk to him but couldn’t and?”
I sighed. “It’s fine.”
“Are you okay? Did I make a mistake telling him where you are? Because I swear, if that guy hurts you again . . . ”
I looked over at my aunt and Hunter. They were still deep in conversation.
“I’m feeling better Daniela, a lot better. Everything isn’t perfect yet, but we’re working things out. Um . . . Can I talk to you later? I’ll tell you everything, I promise.”
I didn’t exactly want to be airing all of this dirty laundry with Aunt Caroline and Hunter sitting right there in the kitchen with me.
“Okay,” she said. “Pinky swear.”
I nodded, even though I knew she couldn’t see me. “Pinky swear. Thanks for checking up on me.”
“Bye girl, take care of yourself.”
When I rejoined Hunter and my aunt at the table, they were talking about tattoos. Hunter’s plate of food was completely empty already, and I couldn’t help but smile to myself. Aunt Caroline was right: he could eat.
I worked at my own breakfast slowly and zoned out while they talked. After we were done, Hunter grabbed both of our plates and washed them in the sink.
“Ms. Perkins, I’m gonna go work on the dining room floor if that’s alright,” he said. “I’ll chat with you and Lorrie later.”
He looked at me as he said my name. Yes, that would be nice. There was still a lot for us to talk about, but it would have to wait.
“Of course dear,” my aunt replied. “Thanks for cleaning up.”
He left for his home improvement duties, leaving me and my aunt at the kitchen table. Even if I had to wait to continue my talk with Hunter, I was finally alone with my aunt. Maybe I could finally get some answers from her at least.
“Aunt Caroline,” I started, “I’m starting to wonder why you and Uncle Stewart are being so nice to Hunter.”
She looked at me innocently. “What are you talking about?”
“Come on, why did you invite him to stay over with us? It’s not that I don’t like it but I just don’t get it.”
My aunt squinted and smiled bemusedly to herself. “Lorrie, I remember how everything was going between you and Hunter when you were still at Arrowhart. With you taking another leave from school and everything, your uncle and I think it would be good for you if you have something stable in your life.”
I looked at her but didn’t say anything. Stable? Me and Hunter?
“We want you to be happy Lorrie,” she added. “Whatever it takes.”
I guess it did make me feel better to have Hunter around, even with everything that had happened between us. He could have just stayed in a motel and visited me, but maybe it was better this way. My aunt and uncle must’ve been really worried about me if they were willing to go to such lengths for my happiness. Aunt Caroline might have liked having Hunter around, but I had my doubts about how Uncle Stewart felt about it.