“Calder? What happened?”
Sidney and I have known one another since the fourth grade. She was allergic to peanuts and so was I, so we had to share a lunch table. There was a big sign above the table that declared we had allergies, and it was really embarrassing at the time. So we ended up bonding over it and became best friends.
People always assume we are a couple, and we’ve used that to our advantage. It’s helped me out with social climbers and keeping out of the single spotlight, and it’s helped Sidney keep her sexual orientation from her family. They’re strict Catholics, and having a lesbian for a daughter would be the end of the world to them. So instead, Sidney tells them we’re an item and I just won’t commit. I’m fine with being the asshole to her family and taking all the shit they dish out at the holidays. I’d walk through fire for her, and I know she’d do the same for me.
“Nothing. I’m okay.” I take a deep breath and try to clear my head. Maybe now that I’m not around her, this need will dissipate. “I’m good. Just have work on my mind. Are you staying at Lori’s tonight?”
I try to change the subject to her girlfriend, knowing this will pull her attention away from me.
She sighs and leans back in the seat, and for a second I feel bad about bringing it up.
“No. She told me last week that if I went to another event with you as your girlfriend, then she wanted to break up. I told her that we work together and it’s complicated, but she knows it’s bullshit. She’s asking for something I can’t give her.
I nod, thinking about exactly that—wanting what I can’t have. I look out the window, holding my fist to my mouth as I try to quell the growing desire for Felicity. It’s as if the farther away I get from her, the stronger the urge is.
“Richard, drop me off at my place,” Sidney says, and I look over at her.
“You’re not coming over?”
We’d agreed before the night started that she’d come over and play the new Madden with me. She’s one of my closest friends, but she’s also a badass when it comes to playing football.
She looks over at me and raises an eyebrow. In that one look, I can see everything she’s not saying. That look is telling me I know you’re full of shit and you’re hiding something. I know you need the night to yourself. So unless you want to talk about it, I’m going home.
I nod again and go back to glaring out the window. “You’re right. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The car stops and she leans over, kissing me on the cheek. “Night, Calder.”
I wave to her as she gets out and goes into her building. When the car starts to move again, I lay my head back and put my hands over my eyes. It takes everything in me not to tell Richard to pull the car around and go back to Felicity’s home.
Just one more look. I think if I could see her one more time, that’s all it would take to make this go away.
The distance between us grows, and the lie I keep telling myself falls away. Once with her will never be enough.
“I have a meeting in my office, but I should be done in an hour.” I jump at my father’s words and close my laptop before he can see what’s on my computer screen. My shameful secret.
His eyebrows rise in a question.
“Sorry, you scared me. Just looking up recipes,” I lie. He gives me a half-smirk, seeing right through me. I’m the world’s worst liar. I don’t even know why I try.
“I’m asking my client to join us. Can you make sure there’s enough?”
“Yeah. I’m going to start dinner here in just a second. I’ll make sure there’s plenty.”
He walks into my bedroom and bends and kisses the top of my head. It makes me smile.
“I’m glad you could make it home. Even if it’s just for a few days.” He’s said this every day since I got here, making me feel guilty each time. I almost didn’t come home for the holiday. It was selfish, and when I’d brought it up to my father about not coming home, I took it back immediately when I heard the disappointment in his voice. It was Christmas, and I was a brat for even having the idea. My father and I are all the family either of us have.
All because I didn’t want to run into him. It’s on the tip of my tongue to ask my father who the client is, but I don’t. I’ve never asked something like that before. It’s not uncommon for my father to take meetings in his home office. He works from home even more when I’m here, and I don’t want him to catch onto me. My father is good at catching things like that.