Blurred Lines Page 62

Six months. Maybe a year.

Ben releases me then, leaning forward.

His hands are clasped tightly together, and then he bows his head, squeezing his eyes shut.

Belatedly I realize that I’m not the only one torn up by this news. He loves my mom, too.

I put a hand on his back. Letting him know that I’m here for him, just like he’s here for me.

“She’s strong,” he says. “She’ll fight it.”

“She will,” I say. “I just…God, Ben, I don’t know that I can do it all over again. Watching her hair fall out, and her throwing up, and shrinking and shrinking and so pale.”

“She’ll get through it,” he says, shifting toward me and holding my hands. “She’ll get through it because you’ll be there with her every step of the way. As will your dad. And me. And Lance,” he says, although I suspect this last one is more of an afterthought.

All of my thoughts over the past month bubble up in my chest, and I feel the need to talk.

Because there are things I need to tell Ben.

Things I don’t know how to express, but my heart is full of stuff, both grief for my mom, and myself, but other things, too.

Important things.

Things that I’m just now beginning to understand.

“Ben, there’s something that I should—”

“You should call Lance. He should be here,” Ben says at the exact same time.

He smiles. “Sorry. You first.”

But my courage has failed me. Here I am trying to tell Ben that I think I might—that I have these feelings…and he’s reminding me to call my boyfriend?

The worst part is, he’s right. I should absolutely call my boyfriend. Not only for Lance’s sake, but because I just got Ben back. I can’t risk losing him again with stupid admissions.

And so I do exactly what he says.

I find my phone. I call my boyfriend.

And try very, very hard to bury feelings that will destroy everything.

Chapter 30



Parker and I are back to normal.

She’s still living with Lance, of course, so the roommate element isn’t there anymore.

But everything else is just like it was before we started hooking up.

There’s the joking, the laughter, the easy conversation.

The carpooling. Parker picks me up every morning for work in her hippie car, drops me off every evening, and conversation doesn’t lull the entire time.

Just like before.

The Blantons invited me for Christmas, and I was tempted. Especially given Mrs. Blanton’s cancer treatment.

But, in the end, I’d gone home to Michigan. My first Christmas at home since graduating from college.

It had been an important one.

A chance to make a fresh start, not just by letting go of my reliance on Parker and her family, but also a fresh start with my family.

I think I made progress. Over the holidays I made an effort to get on equal footing with my siblings—to establish that just because I didn’t take the path chosen for me didn’t mean I wasn’t a success.

My mom is still struggling a bit with my decision to eschew law school despite “all her sacrifices,” but I made definite progress with my dad and stepmom. Enough so that I’m actually looking forward to when they come out and visit over Presidents’ Day weekend in February.

All things considered, my life is as good as it’s been in a long time, ignoring, of course, the not-so-minor fact that I have very real, very complicated feelings for my best friend.

Feelings that eat at me when I’m all alone late at night, when the dark loneliness is begging me to tell her how I feel.

But then I see her the next day, and she has some cheerful anecdote about how she tried to make Lance breakfast and exploded avocado smoothie all over the ceiling, and I remind myself that if I care about her—and I do, more than anything—the best thing I can give her is her happiness.

And her happiness is Lance.

Which brings me to the news I’m about to spring on her…

Parker’s already in the driver’s seat when I get to her car after work, tapping away on her phone.

“Hey, karaoke tonight?” she asks as I climb into the car.

“Sure,” I say, fastening my seat belt. “Who’s going?”

“You, me, Lance, of course.”

Of course.

“Plus, Lori and that new guy she’s dating. Lori’s sister. Oh, and this girl from work, Eryn.”

I frown. “I thought we hated Eryn.”

Parker holds up a finger. “We used to hate Eryn. Now we think Eryn maybe just needed a friend.”

“Got it. Well, Eryn’s in luck, because it just so happens I’m an excellent friend.”

“Definitely,” Parker agrees. “You are. Except, of course, when you—”

I put a hand over her face to shut her up, then drop some of the folders I’ve been carrying in her lap.

She glances down. “What’s all this?”

“There’s this cool trick I’ve heard about,” I say. “It’s called…oh, now I’m forgetting…oh yeah, reading.”

She ignores me, already flipping through the assortment of brochures and pamphlets and getting the idea quickly.

Parker glances up. “Business school.”

I lift a shoulder. “I’ve decided it’s time to start embracing the fact that I love my job, and that I want to challenge myself. I was thinking maybe this could be, like, my do-over, since I was pretty average in college. I want to be good at something.”

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