My focus goes to Leighton. Could I have more with her? It’s not just a matter of committing to monogamy. Hell, I’ve done that already. It would merely be about trusting her enough to commit. Am I ready to close that breach of trust created when she left and never bothered to bring me into Sam’s life until she was forced to? It’s a pretty big obstacle to get past.

“What are the plans for tomorrow?” my mother asks, glancing between Leighton and me.

“Maybe you guys can take Sam out to the park for a little bit,” Leighton replies, looking to me for validation. I give her a slight nod to say I’m down with that. “I’m sure he’d love to get some fresh air. It can’t be for long, though. We want to minimize his exposure to other people because of the infection risk—at least for the next few weeks—and he does get tired pretty easily, so it would have to be a short adventure. But I think he would like that. What do you say, Sam?”

Sam’s head pops up from examining his grandpa’s whittling knife. “That would be awesome. Maybe we can get ice cream, too.”

“Sure we can.” My mother beams at her grandson before asking Leighton, “But what about you? Will you come?”

The sincerity in my mom’s voice says she truly means that invitation. Mom is not just being polite. She truly would like Leighton to spend time with them, which tells me that they have already forgiven her transgressions.

Leighton returns my mom’s smile, but she shakes her head. “I would love to, but I can’t tomorrow. My dad and I are going to go look at apartments. We actually have a realtor lined up to take us around.”

This is news to me. I narrow my eyes, laser-like, on her. She keeps her gaze averted, which tells me she had assumed I would not like her revelation. It also tells me she’s thought a lot about this.

I had merely assumed she and Sam would stay here for a while. Like… forever. I mean, he’s still recuperating. And it’s going to be a pain in the ass for them to move. Why would she even think about leaving?

All questions I should be asking her, but it’s my mom who beats me to it. “Oh, Leighton… why would you even leave? I’m sure August doesn’t mind if you stay.”

Exactly what I would say, Mom.

But before I can even agree, Leighton’s setting a firm boundary. “I know, and that’s very sweet.” She gives me a pointed look. “But it’s time I establish my home here. I’m sure Sam will bounce between our places, so I’m looking for something close by.”

What in the fuck is happening?

“Are you staying in Vegas, too?” my dad asks Mike when he comes back to the table with beers.

He hands them out. “I think I’m going to head back to Denver, but I anticipate a lot of visits to Vegas.”

“I’m trying to talk him out of that,” Leighton says with a stern glare leveled on her father. They’ve been arguing about it over the last few days, but Mike doesn’t seem to be budging.

“Yeah, Grandpa,” Sam exclaims. “I don’t want you to go. Please say you’ll stay.”

Sam gives Leighton’s dad the most manipulative, pathetic frown—his lower lip stuck out just right—that I have ever seen.

Mike just snorts. “I’ll think about it, kid. I’m just not sure what’s best for everyone.”

Way to vague it up, Mike.

“It’s best you all stay together,” my mother murmurs, but her words are pretty powerful. She’s making the case that we’re a true family unit—and families stick together.

There’s silence around the table as everyone considers that. My parents probably don’t understand why this is an issue while Sam very much wants us to stay together. Leighton… well, fuck… I have no clue what’s going on in her head.

She’s the one who breaks the spell of possibility my mom had posited. “Like I said… we’ll stay close. But August and I are merely co-parents, so I’m sure he’s anxious to get his life back, just as I am. Hopefully, I’ll be able to land a job soon, then we all can settle into a good routine.”

This starts a conversation between my mom and Leighton about the type of job she’s looking for, and I immediately tune them out.

I’m pissed. I don’t like this idea of hers to run out and get an apartment—not one bit. I don’t like the thought of Sam bouncing between houses. And fuck if I can’t figure out why, but I don’t like the idea of Mike returning to Denver either, which clearly means something since we’ve had a rocky road back to friendship.

Tonight, when I get Leighton alone in my room, we’re going to have this out and make some decisions. I’ll get her to focus on what’s best for Sam, which should do the trick. She’s centered her entire life around his well-being, so a reminder that he’s our priority should do the trick to get her to stay.

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