“What can I do? Oh my God.” I grinned. “My nana just handed him an apron.”
I’d been a little nervous when everyone showed up. I hadn’t spent much time with my dad’s family when I was little and had only made a couple trips out to Texas with him after I started at UCSD. Every time I visited with them, the Reyeses had been a bit reserved with me, which made me wonder if I looked too much like the woman they all knew had broken my dad’s heart. They had met my mother once and hadn’t approved, saying my dad was reaching too high and that his love for her wouldn’t end well.
So when my grandmother had marched right up to Gideon the moment she arrived and cupped his face in her hands, I’d held my breath right along with him.
My grandmother had brushed his hair back from his face, turned his head from side to side, and pronounced that she saw a lot of my father in him. Gideon had understood the Spanish and replied in her native tongue—he took her statement as a high compliment. My grandmother had been delighted. She’d been speaking to him in rapid-fire Spanish ever since.
“Trey called me yesterday,” Cary tossed out casually.
I looked at him. “Did he? How’d that go?”
“Did you say something to him, baby girl, to get him to reach out?”
Trying to look innocent, I asked, “Why would you think that?”
He shot me a knowing look, his mouth twisted wryly. “So you did.”
“I just told him you’re not going to wait around forever.”
“Yeah.” He tried looking innocent, too. I had to hope I pulled it off better than he did. “You know I’m not above taking a pity fuck, right? So thanks for hooking me up.”
I gave him a gentle shove on the shoulder. “You’re full of shit.”
Something had shifted for Cary in the last few weeks. He hadn’t turned to his usual self-destructive coping mechanisms and since things were going good for him without them, I was holding out hope that he wouldn’t backslide.
“True.” He flashed his brilliant grin and it was genuine, rather than the cocky fa?ade I knew too well. “Although banging Trey is certainly something tempting to think about. Figure it’s probably tempting for him, too, so I should use that to my advantage.”
“Are you going to see each other?”
He nodded. “He’s going to come with me to the memorial at Stanton’s on Monday.”
“Oh.” I sighed, hurting. Clancy had called Gideon and passed on that information earlier in the morning.
Should I have tried to handle the memorial myself and spare Stanton? I just didn’t know. I was still trying to accept the fact that my mom was really gone. After I’d cried for hours the night before, heavy guilt had settled in. There were so many things I’d said to my mother that I regretted and could no longer take back, so many times I’d thought of her with frustration and disrespect.
Ironic, in retrospect, that her chief fault was loving me too much.
As my stepfather had loved her—inordinately.
“I’ve tried calling Stanton,” I said, “but I just get his voice mail.”
“Me, too.” Cary rubbed at his unshaven jaw. “I hope he’s okay, but I realize he’s probably not.”
“I think it might be a while before any of us are okay.”
We settled into comfortable silence for a moment. Then Cary spoke. “I was talking to your dad this morning, before we headed to the airport, about his plans to move to New York.”
My nose wrinkled. “I would love to have him near, but I can’t help thinking how bizarre it would be if he worked for Gideon.”
He nodded slowly. “You have a point.”
“What do you think?”
He shifted his body to face me. “Well, just the pregnancy part of having a kid has changed my life, right? So, multiply that by twenty-four years in your case, and I’d say a loving parent would do just about anything to make things better for their child.”
Yep, something had definitely shifted for Cary. Sometimes, you just needed a hard jolt to bump you in the right direction. For Cary, that was the thought of being a father. For me, it had been meeting Gideon. And for Gideon, it had been the possibility of losing me.
“Anyway,” Cary went on, “he was saying that Gideon offered him a housing allowance and he was thinking he’d like to stay in the apartment with me.”
“Wow. Okay.” There was a lot to process there. One, my dad was obviously taking the idea of working for Gideon in New York seriously. Two, my best friend was thinking about living separately from me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. “I’d been worried Dad would have a hard time using that room after him and my mom … you know.”
I didn’t think I could stay in the penthouse if I didn’t have Gideon. Too much had happened between us there. I didn’t know if I could handle remembering what I no longer had.