Chapter 29 

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QUICK NOTE AS THERE SEEMS TO BE MUCH CONFUSION. For some reason, yesterday, chapter 28 was duplicated as chapter 29. I corrected it. And then for some reason, today,  chapter 28 duplicated chapter 29. A glitch, I suppose.

It has all been corrected now. Chapter 28 has been corrected and is not a duplicate of chapter 29 (if you go back and check chapter 28). Confusing, I know!

Chapter 28 has this opening line: Saturday morning was awkward.

Chapter 29 has this opening line: Did I call him?

If you see anything else, try refreshing the app.

Hopefully, this stays sorted out and doesn't revert back again. I'll keep my eyes on it.



Did I call him? But what would I say? I considered texting him, but that seemed like the coward's way out. Instead I waited for Genie to come home, Zach's note still tucked away in my pocket. To keep myself busy, I compulsively cleaned, even though the weekly housekeeper was due Wednesday. I told Zach and Genie on multiple occasions that it wasn't necessary to have a housekeeper, that I was capable of doing the cleaning if they didn't want to, but I was always met with passive opposition. As I dusted the floorboards, these thoughts occupied my mind. Anything to get my mind off of what threatened to make me become unhinged.

I'd made it to the end of the hall when Genie came through the door. She hung up her jacket and dropped her purse on the ground.

I scrambled to my feet and when I got to her, her face was flushed and a small frown formed when she looked at me.

"I guess he's told you?" she said.

"Did you know?"

"When I got home earlier he was packing."

"Why didn't you stop him?"

Her eyes narrowed in confusion. "I'm supposed to do that? Why didn't you? I don't want to sound like a bitch, but you have the power to get him back. Pick up the phone and get him back here."

I stepped away from her and the air from my lungs left me. I'd never seen Genie so ticked off before. "I can't do that. He'll want too much."

Genie shook her head. "I don't get you. You want him here, but on your terms? Emma, that's not fair."

Genie was getting frustrated, I could see by the color rising on her cheeks, but she was keeping her annoyance in check and I had to give her credit for that.

"I know, but this isn't easy for me. I'm hurting too."

She put her hands on my shoulders. "Look, I know. It was gross, I am pissed at him too, but you can't keep this going on forever. You need to be straight with him."

"I need a little time. Is that so wrong?" I was fighting the tears filling my eyes.

Genie smiled sympathetically. "No, but I think you should tell him that. I can't speak for him, but I'm pretty sure the reason he's left is because it's hard being here with you. Can you blame him for that?"

"No," I said, my voice cracking.

"Talk to him. Keep communication open. That's my advice."

She wandered off to her room and I went back to my cleaning. I was formulating a speech in my head, something to tell Zach when my phone chimed. I ran for it, hoping it would be Zach, but saw Dad's number instead.

"Hey, Kiddo," he said.

"Hi, Dad. I was going to call you later."

"How did it go with your mom?"

"Meredith?" Had I told him? Yes, I had. I'd forgotten about that. I'd told him in a text message.

"It was nice. She's okay. She wasn't what I expected."

"I'm in town doing some deliveries. I thought I'd come by later?"

"Why don't I meet you?" The thought of explaining Zach's absence wasn't something that interested me, and I didn't want Genie to spill the beans before I was ready to tell Dad.

"Oh, sure," Dad said. He clearly was a little suspicious. "Give me an hour? Where should we go?"

"There's a burger joint near me. Bob's Burger Barn."

I gave him the directions and we said our goodbyes. Did I tell Dad about Zach or wait? In the meantime, I called Zach, my heart pounding in my chest. If I didn't call him now, I'd back out and never do it. I waited and after four rings it went to voicemail. I didn't wait to hear his voice. I hung up and decided to try again later . . . maybe.


"What's going on?" Dad asked as we settled into our booth. He'd been making small talk with me up until the server had sat us down.

"Nothing. I'm fine." I said it too quickly and one corner of his mouth lifted into a smirk.

"You know I can see through all that. Does it have to do with your mom?"

I let out a squeak of relief. Yes, I could use Meredith to get out of this one. "Well, you know, it was a bit weird, but not horrible. We talked and I invited her to Pine Falls for Christmas. I don't know when she'll come, but she said yes."

Dad's face instantly brightened. "You did?"

I had him off whatever scent he was on. "Yeah, I think I owe it to her to get to know her. I hope you're not expecting a big happy family."

Dad grinned, his blue eyes coming alive. "I can hope, can't I?"

The server took our orders and we talked about school, but then he brought the conversation back to Christmas. "Will Zach be joining us too? We could have a nice dinner. Maybe invite all the Walkers."

I kept telling myself to act casual. "I think they are pretty busy. Zach's family does a thing, or something. Some charitable event. Pretty sure Zach will be busy too."

"That's funny. When I asked Zach a few weeks back, he seemed happy about coming out to Pine Falls for the holidays."

"His parents really want him at this thing. It's a big deal." I was babbling and not making such sense. Luckily the server arrived with our food.

"Why aren't you going?"

"It's not my kind of thing."

"You sure everything is okay?" Dad asked.

"It's been a long week. Finishing up school, Meredith. You know."

He let it go and we finished up dinner. Dad, who usually had a voracious appetite, had barely eaten half his burger.

"Should I be wondering if everything is okay with you?" I asked, pointing to his burger.

"Late lunch," he said, then smiled.

"Why the smile?"

"I had lunch with a friend."

It made sense to me now. "A lady friend?"

Dad blushed just a little. "Yes, but not what you're thinking."

"Is she pretty?" I asked, happy to finally have the topic of conversation diverted away.

"Very pretty, but it's nothing. I promise." He paused, as if he wanted to add more, but stopped. "So let's drop it."

It was getting dark out and I didn't want Dad doing too much highway driving at night.

"I'll see you before I know it," he said as we made it out to his car. I led him to believe I had Zach's truck because I didn't want Dad offering me a ride home.

"You bet."

He gave me a hug and I watched him drive away. Now back to my home and the sad reality that awaited me.

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