Look the Part (Page 24)
She nods and whispers, “Night.”
To my disappointment, the kitchen light is on when I arrive home just after midnight.
“You’d sleep better if you drank coffee in the morning instead of at midnight,” I say to my dad as I loosen my tie.
“Ah, the door to your bedroom was shut, but I had a feeling you snuck out. But I have to say, man to man, I’m a little disappointed you’re already home. She turn you down? You’re evicting her … hell, I’d kick your ass to the curb too.”
I fill a glass with water and sit across from him at the kitchen table.
“Your hair’s a mess, so either she dragged your ass to the curb by your hair or she had her fingers in it for other reasons.” He smirks.
“I’m going to call you ‘Mom’ if you keep making such investigatory statements.”
He sips his coffee, eyeing me with an I-told-you-so look. “Your mom and I like her.”
I nod a few times.
“Harrison likes her.”
“You clearly like her … or at least your hair does.”
I give him my best fuck-you look.
“So what’s the problem?”
“I haven’t told Harrison the truth.”
“So tell him.”
I shake my head. “He can’t reason it out. Everything is so black and white with him. He won’t forgive me, and I’ll be stuck for the next six years raising a kid who hates me. Some days I’m at my fucking wit’s end trying to keep us from killing each other as it is.”
Dad unfolds from his chair with the grace of pulling an old wagon up a hill. “Maybe Ellen will wait a decade for Harrison to reach the age of reason.”
His sarcasm doesn’t help. When I’m with her, it’s easy to pretend that I deserve her. It’s easy to imagine allowing her into my life because Harrison likes her. That’s the very reason this feels so wrong. If we don’t work out, he loses her. I took one woman from him. I can’t do it again.
“Stop overthinking it.” He pours the rest of his coffee into the sink and rests his fatherly hand on my shoulder. “Just say fuck it and see what happens. We could all die tomorrow, so thank the big man upstairs that a sexy woman ran her hands through your hair tonight.”
After the last stair whines beneath his weight, I close my eyes and wonder if people living in my special Hell are allowed a fuck-it pass in life.
“You look awful, chipper. How’s your arm?” Dr. Hamilton grins as the elevator doors close.
“It’s all healed. And I’m always chipper.” I watch the digital display as the numbers increase. I feel her eyes on me.
“You’re humming a little louder than you normally do.”
I glance over at her. “You notice me humming?”
She chuckles. “Everyone does. We grumble our way through the day, you hum. You need to tell me what you’re putting in your morning coffee. I could use some.”
I have a shot of Flint in my coffee this morning, but I don’t know how I feel about sharing him.
“That smile is going to break your face. Would it have anything to do with a certain neighbor of mine?”
The elevator doors open and I step off. “You’ll never know.”
As I make my way to my first appointment, a cancer patient going through chemotherapy, I shoot off a text to Flint.
ME: Good morning. : )
Just as I go to open the door to the room, my phone vibrates.
FLINT: Good morning.
I grin, slipping my phone into my pocket. If he regretted last night, he would have ignored my text.
The high from those two words makes my morning breeze by with the exception of Alex calling me twice; both times I let it go to voicemail, but he doesn’t leave a message. I gave him everything, and now I owe him nothing.
As I walk into the office building owned by Flint Hopkins, Attorney at Law, I slow up to see if he’s in this afternoon. Amanda glances up and smiles, but his office is empty behind her. I give her a wave and continue to the elevator, feeling a pang of disappointment that I don’t get to see him.
I unlock my door, disarm the alarm, and flip on the light. “Whoa …” A huge bouquet of flowers sits atop my desk. Dropping my purse on the chair, I sift through the flowers looking for a card that’s not there.
Flint? It has to be. No one else can get in here. I grin, feeling flushed from head to toe. I can’t remember the last time someone sent me flowers. Alex was a lot of things, but he wasn’t a flower-giving guy. At the time that was fine with me because I didn’t think I was the girl who cared if she got flowers. But right now, with this colorful display on my desk, I’m certain flowers are officially my thing.
ME: Thank you.
I stare at the text before sending it, contemplating using a heart emoji or maybe an XO, but I’m not sure if we’re there yet. The last thing I want to do is scare him off with an emoji. I used a lot of heart emojis with Alex; it feels weird using it with Flint. I go with a smiley face and press send.
FLINT: You’re welcome.
It will take a hammer and chisel to remove this grin from my face today.
I look up from the floor, scattered with sheet music I’ve been organizing since my last client left. “Harry, how’s it going?”
“Fine, I guess.” He ambles in like Eeyore.
He sighs, plopping down on the floor across from me with his backpack and guitar case. “Except my dad is being weird.”
Stacking the music in several piles to finish sorting later, I grab my guitar and slide the strap over my head. “What makes him so weird?”
He strums a few chords, staring at his fingers. “I don’t know. He was asking me weird questions.”
“What made them weird?”
“He was talking about girls, and we never talk about girls.”
My fingers mimic his on the strings. “Do you have a girlfriend?”
“No, but I think he’s looking for one.”
My fingers stumble, falling behind for a few beats. “Why do you say that?”
“He wanted to know how I would feel if he met a woman he liked and wanted to invite her to our house.”
Now my heart skips a beat.
“And what did you say?”
He shrugs. “I said whatever.” His nose scrunches as if he just swallowed something bitter. “Well, as long as it’s not one of my teachers or you.”
My heart stops completely as I exhale a nervous laugh. “Has he asked one of your teachers out on a date?”
“I hope not. Simon’s dad has women over for ‘adult time,’ and one time it was one of Simon’s teachers. She got mad at his dad and gave Simon a D in art, which is crazy because Simon had the best pottery design that year. Simon said the D was for his dad, not the art. Whatever that’s supposed to mean.”
“Well, I don’t give you grades, so …” I have no idea where I’m going with this. So what? So I can date your dad?
“Yeah, but you’re too cool for him.”
I laugh. “That’s true. But your dad’s cool too. He’s a lawyer. He played football in college.”
He’s incredibly sexy and I can’t stop thinking about him.
“His job is boring and he got hurt playing football, so he must not have been that great.”
I change the song and wait for Harry to recognize it and catch up. He stops, stares at my hands while bobbing his head a few times, and follows my lead. The kid is so gifted.
“You know, Harry, everyone has greatness in them. Even your boring dad.”
A deep rumble sounds from the door as I look up to Flint, clearing his throat, arms crossed over his suit-clad chest. My heart goes back into its arrhythmia.
I grin. “Hey.”
“Don’t let me interrupt. I’m just the boring dad.”
My smile grows.
“Shhh!” Harry shoots Flint an evil look.
“Ten minutes, Harrison.”
I bite my lips together as Flint shakes his head and leaves the room. I reach for my phone and bring up an app that plays guitar accompaniments. “Find a good match for this.”
He narrows his eyes at the phone, and in the next breath his head bobs and his fingers find the perfect chords.
“I’ll be right back to hear what you come up with.”
He nods or bobs, I’m not sure which one. I take the stairs down to Flint’s office. He’s by the front door to the building talking to someone, I think the optometrist from the office across from his.
I smile at the older gentleman. Flint’s eyes make a slow inspection of me as I take a right turn into his office.
“Elle, I’m going out for dinner and drinks since my husband is taking the kids to a birthday party. I’m meeting a few other girlfriends at the restaurant. You should join us.” Amanda slips on her red jacket.
Flint comes in behind me as Amanda bends over with her back to us to grab her purse out of a bottom file drawer. Goose bumps crest up my arms as his hand purposely brushes mine on his way to his office. “Ms. Rodgers.” He comes close to making me orgasm just by saying my name.