When he'd told her he still loved her, she'd gotten up and walked inside, Buddy at her heels. For a split second he wondered if he was supposed to follow her. Then he heard her shut and lock the door.
He walked to his Jeep and got in and drove to his parents' house, but no one was there. They'd be home fairly soon, so he made himself a plate of snacks and sat in front of the TV.
Apparently he fell asleep, because he was woken up by his sister tapping him on the head.
"Stop!" he said.
"What are you doing here?" Aaliyah asked. "I thought you were a man now and had a place of your own."
He knew she was just teasing, but his meeting with Katie left him in a foul mood.
"This is still my home, too," he said sulkily.
She sat down next to him on the couch. "What's wrong?"
He ran his hand through his hair and sighed. "I talked to Katie today."
"Seriously? She talked to you?"
"Why are you so surprised?" he asked.
"I don't know, I mean, you two fell in love like something out of a Nicholas Sparks's book and then you cheated on her and broke her heart. Why wouldn't I be surprised that she'd want to talk to you again?"
"Thanks. I didn't need a reminder of what happened."
"Did you see her, or just talk on the phone?" she asked.
"I saw her. We sat on her porch swing."
"Her hair looks cute, doesn't it?" Aaliyah asked.
"Wait...you've seen her?"
"Yeah, she came by last night after dinner for ice cream. I think mom invited her."
Of course. His mom loved Katie. Something like their break-up wasn't going to change that, especially since Katie wasn't to blame.
His mother had lost it when he told her what he'd done. She'd never screamed at him like that before. What was the word she kept using? Disappointed. He'd disappointed her. She'd raised him better than to cheat on the most wonderful girl in the world.
He'd moved out soon after. The move was already planned, but it was a lot easier to cut the cord after that fight.
His dad had just stood there shaking his head. He had nothing to add to what his mom had said.
Aaliyah had told him what an idiot he was. She'd contacted Katie and told her she was on her side.
Which was stupid. There were no sides to take. He wouldn't have even been on his own side if there was one.
Aaliyah poked him in the arm. "I just asked you a question."
"Sorry. I've been zoning out a lot lately, thinking about the past. What did you ask?"
"I asked you what you talked to Katie about."
"I told her I was sorry and I told her that the cheating had nothing to do with not loving her enough," he said.
"So you know she thinks you never really loved her," his sister said.
"Yes, I know, but I think I convinced her that she's wrong about that. I told her I still love her."
Aaliyah raised her eyebrows. "How did that go over?"
"She left me alone on the porch and locked her front door."
"She's a strong woman."
Shawn heard the garage door open and a minute later his mom, Karen, walked in with two pizza boxes in her arms. She smiled when she saw her son.
"Shawn! We weren't expecting you. I think I got enough food, though, if you want to stay for dinner."
He did want to stay. In fact, he wanted to stay the night and pretend he was a kid again.
His dad, Manny, got home a bit later and they all sat down to dinner together.
"Shawn's here because he and Katie talked," Aaliyah said.
He kicked her under the table. He wasn't sure he wanted a family meeting about this.
"How did that go?" his mom asked, her face showing she was concerned.
"It was okay."
"How's Katie doing?" Karen asked.
Shawn rolled his eyes. "I know she was just here. You know how she is."
"Don't snap at me because I still care about her."
"I still care about her, too!" he said.
"Watch your tone," Manny warned.
Aaliyah jumped in. "He told her he still loves her."
Karen stood up and started clearing the dishes. "I swear to God, Shawn Peter Raul Mendes, if you hurt that girl again..."
"I'm not going to hurt her."
Manny cleared his throat. "How about we change the subject."
Shawn grabbed his empty plate and brought it to the kitchen. "I'm going for a walk."
He walked out the front door and turned to the left. He started walking with no real route in mind. After about 20 minutes, he wished he'd grabbed his headphones.
He found himself at the elementary school where he and Katie had first kissed. He climbed up on the play structure and sat there.
He took his phone out of his pocket and sent Katie a snap. He knew it was stupid, but he wanted her to know he was there. They'd never disconnected on social media, but this was the first time he ever reached out in any way. He'd probably regret it later, but whatever; it was just one snap.
He sat looking at his phone, scrolling through Twitter and Instagram. He knew he should start the walk back home, but he felt oddly comforted sitting at the playground.
"Hey," he heard a voice say.
He looked down, and there stood Katie below him.
"I got your snap," she said.
She then starting climbing the ladder up to the top where he sat. After considering it for a second, she lowered herself down next to him.
Their thighs were not touching, but he knew her being there was a start.