I release the breath I was holding before shutting the door behind me and going down the stairs. No reason to walk dad up yet when he must have had a long night. I pass the living room and go straight to the kitchen to start a large pot of coffee. I have just enough time to run back upstairs and put something presentable on before the coffee is done brewing. I’m pouring myself some into an ice-filled cup as I hear Mara burst through the door, announcing herself to the whole household. I have to quiet her from the kitchen, letting her know that dad is still asleep upstairs in his office.
She’s always been comfortable with us. Her parents have always had issues, so whenever they were having a bad night, she would sneak away and come to stay with us. The guest bedroom upstairs might as well be hers. She’s used it enough times that this is more than a second home to her; it’s more of a home than where her parents live. Instead of having a sleepover, she would spend a week at a time with us and love every minute. It helped fill the emptiness in the house when mom left whenever she was over.
She walks into the kitchen, smiling at me and gives me a big hug. I have to push her away a little; she wasn’t only making my head hurt, but making it difficult to breathe.
“There you are!” She says in her excited voice. She already has her jacket, gloves, and shoes off – probably laid them on the couch. “Sorry for making so much noise, your dad usually isn’t still asleep. Is he on a difficult case or something?” She’s always felt comfortable and will always see dad as a father figure, but she’s always said she won’t call him dad. I never understood why and she couldn’t explain it to me, but it never bothered me. I like being my dad’s only child anyway.
“No, he was just up reading some paperwork, I guess.” I say to her. “As far as I know, he’s in between cases. He always lets me know when he’s going to be busy working on one and hasn’t said anything to me.”
“Weird. How has he been taking all of this?” She talks while she grabs a mug from the cupboard and pours herself a cup of coffee.
“Pretty well actually.” She finishes putting creamer and sugar in her cup and we move into the living room and sit on the couch. We sit on opposite ends, but we have our feet up and we’re facing each other. “Well, I guess it’s complicated. He was really distracted and upset about something that happened between him and Paulette at the office yesterday.”
“What? What happened? You know I always thought they had something going on the side, but I didn’t want to believe it. I never liked his secretary.” She whispers that last statement so that only I can hear her, just in case dad had woken up.
“Well, I guess you were right.”
“WHAT! Oh my god, what did you see?” She leans over and puts a hand on my foot, while she has her hot mug of coffee in the other.
“Nothing really. I got to his office and they were talking to each other. She tried to kiss him and he brushed her off so I guess she still wants a relationship but he doesn’t. He said something about needing to be there for me, I think. I can’t remember all the details.”
“Well that’s good. It sucks he would do that to your mom, but at least he’s doing his best now to be there for you.” She leans back against the arm rest again.
“Yeah I’m happy about that. I was worried though, he bought us McDonald’s for dinner last night, so whatever else Paulette had said before I got there must have hit him hard.”
“Wow, not the fast food diet again. That was horrible.”
“So, what happened last night then?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Dad said he was going to the office to get some papers he needed to look at for tomorrow and he left. I fell asleep while he was gone. I got woken up by whoever broke into our house. I went into dad’s office thinking it was him coming home, but I just got hit in the head with the butt of the gun and I’m waking up with a cop in my face.”
Mara gasps at the appropriate times, making my story sound more dramatic than I felt it was. I tell her about sitting outside with the blood on my hands and how I didn’t really feel much until I woke up this morning. She heard every detail I could remember and she wasn’t even afraid or squeamish. She only showed worry for me. She was glad I was okay.
“Then yesterday I woke up still feeling dizzy,” I continue. “I could barely sit up. It was really weird. Dad made me breakfast, though.”
“Really? Wow, he hasn’t done that in a year or so, right?”
“Yeah it’s definitely been awhile. It was nice though.”
“I bet. Chances like that don’t come around very often.” She smiles at me, happy that dad did something to try and make me feel better.
“For sure. That isn’t even the exciting part about the whole weekend.”
“Nothing is juicier than finding out your dad was having affair with his secretary.”
“Nah, I’ve got something better.”
“Well, if you think you can top it then spill!” She gently kicks my foot with hers, egging me to go on with my story.
“Well…remember that kid I was talking to you about on Friday?”
“The new guy, Eli? Yeah, of course.”
“He came over yesterday.”
“Holy crap! Why did you not tell me this before?!” The joy and shock on her face was worth the wait. She is glowing and I can tell she needs to hear more.
“Well, he came over but wasn’t here for long. He lives across the street now, and I guess he was the one who called the cops last night.”
“His family moved into the Turner house? You are one lucky bitch!”
“Yeah, but get this. He brought me over a mix CD of songs for me.”
“I’m serious; it’s still in my computer upstairs.”
“Is it filled with love songs?” She draws out the word ‘love’ to try and poke fun of me. It makes me blush and I have to try to hide a smile.
“No, actually and I’m kind of relieved.”
“Why? I would LOVE to get a CD with romantic songs on it from a boy.”
“He just moved to a new town and we just met. We hadn’t even talked until he came over yesterday so it would be weird if he was giving me a CD of love songs.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Everyone I would want CD’s from I’ve known for our entire high school career. Less fun.”
“I like him though. He’s coming over later to watch Supernatural with me.”
“That’s awesome! You got up the courage to ask him out?! Who are you and what have you done with Nora?” We laugh and I blush more.
“I didn’t really ask him out; we’re just hanging out and watching some TV.”
“Yeah, while watching your favorite show! When is he coming over?!”
“I’m not sure; he just said he would come over sometime this afternoon.”
“You’ll text me as soon as he leaves and tell me every single detail of what happened with him, right?”
I laugh before saying, “Yes, of course I will, Mara. Nothing is going to happen though; we’re just friends right now. I don’t even know him.”
“Sure,” she said with a laugh and another push with her foot. I hear a door open upstairs and hear dad yawning as he comes down the stairs.
“Well, good morning, Mara!” He says. “Pleasure seeing you here this morning.”
“Of course, Mr. W. If Nora can’t come out for coffee, you know I’ll come to her.” She says laughing. She’s always so cheerful, and I love that about her.
“Well, I’m glad, she needs a friend right now so thank you for being there for her.”
“No problem, Mr. W.” She smiles at him.
He goes to the kitchen and pours himself a cup of coffee. Mara talks to me about kids from school to make sure dad isn’t snooping in on our girl time. He takes his time getting his coffee and then bringing his cup upstairs to get dressed. We hear him shower and go into his bedroom, briefly, before coming back downstairs with a jacket on. He must have left his coffee cup upstairs because he’s not holding it now.
“Okay girls, I’m heading to the office for a few hours. Nora, call me if you need anything, okay?” I nod and he winks at me, affectionately. He puts his shoes on and waves to Mara before going through the kitchen and into the garage. We hear the garage door open, and the car start up before it backs out of the garage. The door shuts and I hear the car drive down the street where the engine fades to nothing. Mara stops in the middle of telling me about some party the cheer-leading team had on Friday and continues with our private conversation.
“So what is he like, then?”
“Wait, what? Who?” Sometimes I have a hard time keeping up with her. Since I don’t care much about our peers, I will zone out once in a while when she talks about them. This time she just didn’t give me any indication she had switched topics.
“Oh…there’s not much to say. He seems sweet, and nice, and confident.” I shrug. “There isn’t much to say, we’ve only been around each other a short amount of time, Mara.”
“You’re killing me! I need juicy details!” She dramatically leans back against the arm of the couch to make it looks like she’s dying and in pain. I laugh.
“You need to chill out. I just met the guy. He might not even have any feelings for me, and I’ve only just gained a new friend. It’s too soon to tell, so stop worrying so much.”
“I can’t help it. We don’t get new people in town very often that doesn’t talk to anyone besides my antisocial best friend!” It’s my turn to kick her.
“Maybe he just doesn’t want to get involved in the drama at school like me.”
“Then he’s definitely perfect for you.”
“Oh, shut up.” I got annoyed this time. I didn’t want to get my hopes up over something that may not happen. We have a connection but I had no way of telling what kind of connection it is. I don’t want to assume it’s romantic when he may have a girlfriend waiting for him in the town he left. I couldn’t let myself get worked up.
There is silence between us. She knows I’m upset and wants to make it better, she just doesn’t know how. She takes a sip of her coffee and I do the same. We’ve had arguments before, and had differing opinions, but she’s always known what to say when that happened. She’s never been silent or unsure of what to say. I guess this was an entirely new situation for the both of us, I hope it won’t wedge us apart.