Several weeks went by before an opportunity to head to Dodge City arose again. Not having a car was a huge disadvantage but one that Dean carefully manipulated, refusing to let me buy my own vehicle.
I had stared down at Sevin’s number almost every day, wanting to call but not knowing what to say. We’d left things on a very strange note, but in a sense, he’d left it up to me to make further contact. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. I wondered if he told Addy where I was working and if she was disappointed in me.
Emily had made me promise to come see her, so a visit to my parent’s house was long overdue. When Dean announced that he was taking off for a guys’ trip over the weekend, the wheels in my head began to turn.
“So, where exactly are you guys going?”
“Not sure if they decided yet.”
“You said Nelson is going to pick you up?”
“That means you’re leaving the truck. Can I use it?”
“You can use it to go to work, but that’s it.”
“Why not? I was gonna take a couple of nights off and go to Dodge City for the weekend to see my parents.”
“No. The truck needs new struts. You can’t drive it far until I fix it.”
“I can fix it myself for crying out loud.”
“You think I’m gonna let you touch my truck, Evie? There’s enough shit for you to do around the house anyway. You’ve been slacking this week. I don’t need to be worrying about you while I’m away.”
“I want to go home.”
“This is your home.”
No. It’s not.
“Are you forgetting that you’d run away from that place when I found you? If it weren’t for me, you’d be out on the street. Where was your fucking family then, huh? They wouldn’t even want anything to do with you if they knew about your whorish ways. I’m the only reason you’re straightened out. Now, you want to visit them on weekends all of a sudden? What a crock of shit, Evie…”
Evie. He was the only person to ever call me that. I hated it. It reminded me of evil.
“I have a right to see my parents and my sister.”
“Well, it’s not gonna be this weekend.”
It was rare that Dean went away. I couldn’t waste the opportunity and had to figure out a way to get back home.
Since there were no easy bus routes to Dodge City from Wichita, one of my co-workers, Liz, came through, letting me borrow her SUV for the weekend.
Dean’s friend picked him up at 8AM. Nelson had brought over glazed donuts and boxed coffee from Wally’s. I joined them in the kitchen, trying my best to act nonchalant. Dean thought I’d be spending the day catching up on laundry.
Fifteen minutes after they left, I walked the mile to Liz’s and took off in her car down Route 54.
After three hours of driving, I finally arrived at my parents’ property.
My relationship with Daddy was still strained, although at least he was talking to me.
Emily, our parents and I sat at the dining room table for lunch. Emily tried to lighten the mood by taking over the conversation, talking about her pursuit to convince my father to let her apply to a couple of out of state colleges. It didn’t take long before Daddy began to interrogate me.
“I thought you said the next time you set foot in this house, you would bring that husband of yours.”
I would have never promised that.
He will NEVER be coming here.
“I don’t plan to bring him here, Daddy.”
“You mind telling me why not?”
“Because you wouldn’t approve of him, and I don’t want to disrespect you.”
“Since when do you care about respecting our opinion?”
My mother put her hand on my father’s arm. “Lance, please. We’re trying to have a nice lunch.”
The rest of the meal was spent eating in silence with nothing but the sound of silverware clinking. I’d come to expect this as the new normal, feeling like an outcast among my own family. I suppose I was lucky that Daddy even let me back into the house after my disappearing act. It would have been unreasonable to expect a warm reception on top of that.
I couldn’t help but ask, “How is Sevin doing?”
When my parents didn’t answer, Emily chimed in, “Probably hanging out with that girlfriend of his. She’s been coming around a lot. I see her car parked outside the guesthouse all the time.”
My food felt like it was coming up on me. “Girlfriend?”
“Well, he says she’s not, but I think he’s just trying to be respectful of our feelings…because of Elle.”
“Who is she?”
Emily finished her sip of water before she said, “Name’s Nancy. That’s all I know.”
Forget Evie; Nancy was my new least favorite name in the world.
Even though I had no right to this jealousy, my heart was clamoring in protest.
“Does she drive a Toyota?”
“Yeah. Beige. That’s the one.”
A lump formed in my throat at the realization that it was the same woman I met the day I showed up at his door. That was a while ago, which meant they’d been seeing each other for some time.
My mother had turned mine and Elle’s old bedrooms into guest suites. The plan was for me to spend the night in my old room.
On the way down the hall, I stopped into Elle’s.