Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle

But right now? She looked numb. I definitely preferred seeing her all fired up the way she had been earlier. I suppose the emotion of it all had combined to wear her out, and now she was just flat.

“Do you want to go back to the hotel?” I asked when she still didn’t respond.

Sara shook her head. “If I do that, I might never get up the guts to speak to her again.”

“Are you ready to go in, then?”

A moment passed before she let out a pent-up breath and gave a decisive nod. “Let’s get it fucking over with before I make myself sick.”

I shut off the car and got out, then made my way around to open her door. She took my hand to steady herself as she climbed out, and I used the brief moment while her skirt was pulled up slightly to steal a peek at her shoes. The color matched her dress, but they had peekaboo toes and a complicated ribbon system that went up her calves and tied below her knees. Her toenails were painted in a fire-engine red that made my engine purr.

When she let her skirt drop, I raised my gaze to meet hers, only to find her glaring at me. “You’d fucking better not be thinking about sexytimes when I’m about to go in there to deal with my fucking mother.”

I shrugged, hoping this might at least ease some of her tension before we went inside. “You know what your shoes do to me, baby.”

She dropped her grip on my hand, slugged my shoulder, and marched toward the front door to the coffee shop without me.

I rubbed my shoulder—she’d been a fast learner in terms of the self-defense I’d been teaching her—and hurried along so I could get there first and open the door for her. She sailed through it only to stop short almost as soon as she was inside. Her mother had found a small table in a quiet corner, and that was exactly where Sara was now staring. I settled my hand on the small of her back to get her moving again, nudging her toward her mother.

That was all it took—a brief moment of encouragement from me, even though I hadn’t said a word—and she was moving again. She took the empty seat across from Dina, and they both eyed each other warily.

“Can I get you something, Dina?” I asked. She hadn’t bought herself a drink yet, even though she’d probably been sitting in here for at least five to ten minutes while Sara debated whether she wanted to come in or not.

“A tall iced decaf?” she replied.

I took off to place an order before she could pull her wallet out of her purse. A minute later, I came back with her iced coffee and a Hazelnut Frappuccino for Sara, in case it would help to soothe her frayed nerves. They stopped talking when I walked up with the drinks, which meant that they had already started up a conversation. That was good. I set their cups on the table and walked away to find somewhere out of hearing distance but with a good sightline to sit and wait with my own drink. This needed to be between the two of them. I just wanted to be close enough to break things up if Sara looked like she was going to fly off the handle. I’d never known her to attempt to hit anyone but me, but I just wanted to be sure she didn’t change that now.

I sat back in my chair and pulled my phone out of my pocket so I could go through everything I’d missed while it had been turned off for the wedding. The first text message was from my sister Chloe. Well, it wasn’t really a message—just an image. She’d taken a picture of her left hand, highlighting the diamond ring she was wearing. I supposed that meant Dylan had popped the question and she’d accepted.

I’d known it was coming; Dylan had come to me a couple of weeks ago to officially ask for my approval, which I’d readily given him now that I’d gotten to know him some.

After I sent her a message congratulating them, I glanced up to make sure Sara and Dina were still doing all right. The fact that I hadn’t heard raised voices was definitely a good sign. At the moment Sara was crying, but she looked reasonably calm despite the tears. Her mother got up, grabbed some napkins from the counter, and brought them back to the table. Sara used one of them to blow her nose, grabbing a second before she’d finished with the first. There was no reason for me to get involved right now.

I went back to my phone, trying not to let Sara’s tears get to me. All I wanted to do any time she cried was pull her on my lap and hold her until it passed, but now wasn’t the time for that.

There were other messages from my mom and from my youngest sister, Cadence—both about Dylan and Chloe’s engagement and how romantic and sweet the proposal had been. One text was from Burnzie, a blanket message he’d sent out to all the boys who’d been at the wedding, letting us know that he’d made sure Nicky got back to his hotel all right and would hopefully stay there. The last one I looked at was from Scotty.

Dina told me she’s there. How’s Sara? Does she hate me now?

There wasn’t a chance in hell that Sara would ever hate her father. She might not be too thrilled with him at the moment, and it would probably take her some time to forgive him for cutting her mother out of her life, despite whatever reasons he may have had for doing so…but he was still her father. Her Daddy. She was nuts about him.

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