“Good! Happy! You?” I picture her at some fancy locale, her blonde hair cut in a sleek, modern bob that swings against her high cheekbones. She’s a beautiful woman in her mid forties. We aren’t close, like Sawyer was to his granny, like Serena is with her family. I recall snippets of her, mostly on her way out of town.
I’m headed to the beach with my friends, darling.
There’s a gala I can’t miss, sweetheart. Hope you win your game.
Give me a kiss and go ask your father, dear.
When I was a kid, I used to cling to the dream that my parents would magically fall back in love, but that dream died the day my dad packed his bags for Malibu after my brother’s funeral. He asked me to come with him, but it was my senior year. I had college scouts coming to every game that fall and transferring to another school would have screwed up my choices. I didn’t want him to leave, but he did. Their divorce came six months later. He wanted to erase Montgomery from his mind, to forget the pain of losing Myles—but he forgot about me too.
“I’m good. You missed my first game.”
She sighs. “Yeah, sorry. I had to be in Paris for their Autumn Festival, but I’m back in the States.” She pauses. “I know how important it is that you’re getting to shine.” Her voice lowers. “Look, I can’t chat long. I’m at a spa in Little Rock with someone…” There’s a rustling, and I hear her talking to a person in the room, My son, yeah. A male tone replies.
“We’ll be at LSU soon,” I say. “Little Rock isn’t that far away.” It’s several hours, but still…
“I wish I could, darling.”
I think about Sinclair’s mom, wearing his jersey and dancing in the stands. I squash those feelings down. This is Mom’s usual. Why am I even asking?
I exhale. “Maybe Thanksgiving? Might be easier if you came here since I’ll have a game that weekend. We could hit a restaurant if you want, somewhere nice, maybe spend the night in Memphis—”
She speaks to the guy in the room, her words muffled, then comes back. “Wait. Dillon, I’m on the yacht to the Virgin Islands for Thanksgiving. Theo reminded me. I should have checked with you first, but, well, it came up and we invited some friends. Can you make it?”
No, Mom. I can’t jump on a plane to get on a yacht. I have a game. “Theo?”
A long sigh comes from her, more rustling, as if she’s walking. “I wanted to tell you in person, but there doesn’t seem to be a good time. I’m engaged!”
I sit down on my bed. She goes through men like shoes. Last Christmas, it was a Major League Baseball player. The year before that, it was a Greek millionaire.
“To this Theo?”
“You haven’t met him.”
“Don’t be like that. Theo’s wonderful. Age-appropriate.” She laughs. “We’re planning the wedding, no date yet, but soon. We’ll come see you, um, let’s see, Christmas? I like the hotel idea. I’ll call the Peabody in Memphis today and reserve two suites.”
The holidays with my mom and her new fiancé? I sigh. “I haven’t even met this guy and we’re gonna sing Christmas carols?”
She sighs heavily. “You’ll like him. Don’t be mad. I just…fell in love fast. You know how it is.”
“How’s your father?”
“He texted last week. He’s going to New York with Brianna’s family for Christmas. He asked me to come…” My voice trails off. Brianna is dad’s new wife, ten years younger than him and his former personal assistant. I passed on his invite. I’d be a stranger to Brianna’s family, and deep down, my dad doesn’t want me around.
“Maybe next time, you can come on the yacht with us…” She details the particulars of her planned trip, the islands they’ll be stopping at, and I respond in the right places, saying what she needs to hear. When we hang up, I lie back on my bed and stare up at the ceiling, wanting to erase the ache in my chest.
I’m an afterthought to my mom and my dad has a new family. Loneliness creeps in, snaking over me, and I exhale. Being alone is a feeling I’m accustomed to since Myles died. He was always my little buddy, needing me. I miss him. I scrub my face, my head tumbling. People think I have it all. What a joke.
Sawyer pops his head in and says they’re ready to go. I get up and grab my keys. I may not have a real family, but I have Sawyer. I have my team.She walks into Cadillac’s at eight on the nose and my body buzzes, a long breath coming from me. I feel her pull, that little something about her that makes my skin hum. This, this is how I know she never came within my vicinity in the past three years, because if she had, I would have known.