On Saturday, Lowe’s advice of waiting a week came. And then it passed. With no word from Caroline.
The next morning, the beginning of day eight, that was it. I knew everything was over. Caroline hated me, and I would never be allowed back into her life again.
Miserable, unshaven, and two days without a shower, I lay slumped on my bed, watching Child of Glass on my laptop because she’d left her DVD in my computer.
I hated the stupid movie.
“This has to be the cheesiest fucking thing ever made,” I grumbled aloud to myself. “Awful fucking acting, worst fucking music, and not a single fucking curse word in the entire fucking thing.”
Yet this was probably the third time I’d watched it today. I couldn’t seem to stop watching it.
“Wait!” the movie ghost called out. “Do not go, Alexander. I need your help.”
I snorted. “And that has to be the fakest fucking ghost ever created.”
I turned the volume up to hear the ghost’s accent, the one Caroline had loved so much. “It is a damn cute accent though,” I had to admit on a grumble.
And just like that, agony rippled through me. My chest felt full and raw as if metal claws had raked across my lungs.
Turning my face to the side, I breathed in the scent that was still barely clinging to my pillow.
God, I missed her.
“Hey, Ten.” Quinn knocked on my open doorway and peered in at me with a sympathetic cringe. “Do you want to ride with us to the picnic or drive yourself over?”
I paused the movie and frowned at him. “What picnic?”
“Uh…” Quinn scratched the back of his head before shifting his weight from one foot to the other. “The one at Noel’s…to celebrate Aspen getting her new job at the high school.”
“Gam’s throwing a party?” I said slowly. I pushed the laptop off my lap so I could slide off the bed.
“Yeah…didn’t you get the text invite?”
I stared at him a moment before shrugging. “It must’ve gotten lost in the mail. I think I’ll drive myself over.”
“You mean, he really didn’t—” Ham cut himself off before slicing me a worried glance. “Are you sure that’s a good idea? If he didn’t invite you...”
“What?” I asked. “You don’t think I should crash the party? I think that’s a great idea.” I rummaged through a pile of jeans on the floor, picking a few up and sniff testing them before deciding which was the cleanest. “See you guys there, okay? I’m going to shower first.”
Stalling, Ham kept watching me. “Hey, just…” He glanced toward the doorway and moved closer to me. Lowering his voice, he said, “Please don’t cause a scene or do anything that might upset Zoey. Any emotional distress for her right now—”
I patted his arm. “Don’t worry, Dad. I would never do anything to hurt your baby.”
Hamilton blew out a breath and nodded, but his eyes were still full of worry. And they should be, because I was so in the mood to cause a scene.
Half an hour later, I strolled into Gam’s backyard. Everyone else had already arrived. Most of the woman were gathered around Zwinn and talking baby shit. Blondie cradled her midsection like she did every time I saw her these days, and I noticed Caroline was next to her. Her back was to me as Milk Tits and Buttercup chattered at them, laughing about...fuck, who knew what.
“Ten.” Gamble’s surprised voice made me glance to my left where he was slowly walking my way.
“Hey.” My voice was fairly pleasant for how nastily I glared at him. “Thanks for the invite, asswipe.”
I brushed past him and went to his wife, where she was fretting over the food table. “Shakespeare,” I greeted with a smile. “Congratulations.” I pulled a round block of red wood from my pocket and handed it to her.
“Aww,” she said, taking it. “An apple figurine. Thank you, Ten.”
“And it doubles as a pencil holder.” I pointed out the holes.
She studied it, smiling appreciatively. “That’s so sweet. You didn’t have to get me anything.”
I just shrugged and without my permission, my gaze strayed across the yard.
“Yeah, Ten,” Gamble said from behind me. I whirled back to find him slipping an arm over Shakespeare’s shoulders. “You didn’t have to get her anything, especially if you thought buttering her up would convince her to talk me into doing something I’m not fucking going to do.”
I narrowed my eyes. “I told you I wasn’t asking for your permission.”