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If There’s No Tomorrow
He then tipped his head back against the wall. “He’s just... I don’t know.” Cody dropped his arm from his head. “He just doesn’t seem into it. Like he’d rather be anywhere but at practice. Couldn’t seem to care less about the upcoming season. When he’s on the field, he’s only half-there. He’s got talent, Lena. The kind of talent he doesn’t even have to work for. I’ve got this feeling he’s going to throw it all away.”
Biting the inside of my cheek, I searched for something to say and finally settled on, “It’s only football.”
Cody stared at me like I’d grown a third hand out of the center of my forehead that then flipped him off. “Only football? You mean it’s only his future.”
“Well, that sounds a little dramatic.”
He raised a brow as he pushed off the wall. “Maybe I’m just imagining things,” he said after a moment.
“Sounds like it,” I replied. “Look, I’ve got to check on your order, so...”
Cody studied me a moment and then gave a little shake of his head. “So, you’re done doing the small-talk thing. Gotcha.”
Heat invaded my cheeks. Was I as transparent as a window?
“I’ll leave you be.” Shoving his hands into his jeans, he pivoted around and walked back to the front of the diner, leaving me standing there, staring after him.
I wiped my oddly damp palms along my apron as I exhaled roughly.
By the time I’d grabbed the food and delivered it to the guys’ table, Abbi and Megan were ready to leave.
“You guys heading out now?” I asked.
“Yep.” Abbi slung her bag over her shoulder. “Friends don’t let friends walk home by themselves. Especially if said friend is likely to take rides with strangers.”
Megan rolled her eyes. “So, I saw Cody come from the back. Were you talking to him?”
I nodded as I picked up the cleaning rag. “He wanted to talk about Sebastian.”
“Uh-huh,” Megan murmured. “You know what I was thinking?”
Abbi’s expression said it was anyone’s guess.
Megan raised both brows and lowered her voice. “I wonder what Sebastian would think if he ever found out his best girl friend totally made out with his best guy friend. Drama.”
I sucked in a sharp breath. Drama llama, indeed. But I was hoping God liked me enough that I never had to cross that bridge.
The girls left and I turned my attention to the book I had stashed behind the counter, choosing not to dwell on what Megan said. If I did, I would probably break out into a cold sweat or something.
I’d made it about a page before I felt my phone vibrate in my back pocket.
I took one glance at it and I was no longer thinking about Sebastian and football or Cody and secrets.
I saw who the text was from.
I didn’t read further.
I deleted it without reading.
CHAPTER FIVE (#u5ea2a9f1-2ef1-567e-9ddc-a86525520662)
Mom was in the kitchen when I finally made my way downstairs after a shower, my hair still damp at the ends. She was at the dull blue counter, pouring coffee into her thermos. Her shoulder-length blond hair was impressively straight, thanks to a flatiron. The white blouse she wore didn’t have a single wrinkle in it.
“Morning, hon.” She turned, a faint smile curving up her lips. “You’re up early.”
“Couldn’t sleep in.” I’d had one of those annoying mornings when I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and thought in detail about everything in the world. Every time I tried to go back to sleep, something else would pop up in my head, from catching the eye of a college scout to what Cody had said Saturday night. If Sebastian didn’t want it, was he really throwing it all away?
“You feeling okay?” she asked.
“Yeah, just some insomnia this morning. I have practice later, so figured I’d just get up.” I walked to the small pantry and opened the door, scanning the shelves. “Pop-Tarts?”
“Out of them. I’ll pick up some on my lunch break. It’s going to be a cereal day for you.”
I grabbed the box of generic corn flakes and went to the fridge. “I can grab some later.”
“I don’t want you doing that.” She eyed me over the rim of the thermos. “I don’t want you to use the money you make on Pop-Tarts. We have money for groceries, hon.”
She gave me a half grin. “Generic Pop-Tarts, though.”
“I know we have money for that, but if you don’t like them—”
“Because they’re literally one of the worst things you could put in your mouth,” she cut in and then paused, her gaze glancing to the ceiling. “Well, there are worse things.”
“Ew. Mom!” I moaned.
“Uh-huh.” Mom moved over to the table but didn’t sit.
She was quiet as I shoved a few spoonfuls of cereal in my mouth before looking up at her.
Mom was staring out the small window over the sink, but I knew she wasn’t seeing the backyard. Not that there was much to see. It was just grass and secondhand patio furniture we rarely used anymore.
When Dad had been here, they would sit out there late at night through the summer and straight up to Halloween, staying up and talking. There used to be a fire pit, but it had fallen apart a few years ago, and Mom had kept it another year before throwing it away.
She kept holding on, even long past the point things were rotten out and decayed.
Lori and I used to sit up on the balcony and eavesdrop, but I think they knew we listened, because they only ever talked about boring stuff. Work. Bills. Vacations planned but never taken. Renovations on the dull blue counters in the kitchen that never happened.
Looking back, though, I could pinpoint the month when things began to change. It had been August, and I was ten. It was when their conversations out on the patio had turned to hushed whispers that ended with Dad storming inside, slamming the screen door shut behind him, and then Mom chasing after him.
Mom was always chasing after Dad.
I liked this Mom better.
Bitter-tasting guilt swallowed me up in one gulp, and I lowered my spoon. It was terrible thinking that, but it was true. This Mom made dinner when she could and asked about school. She joked around and spent the evenings eating ice cream on the couch with me while watching Dance Moms or The Walking Dead. The old Mom was always at dinners with Dad, and when she was home, so was he, so she was with him.
The old Mom had been all about Dad, every second of every day.
Now the grin had faded from her face, and I wondered if she was thinking about Dad, thinking about her life when she wasn’t an insurance agent living paycheck to paycheck, didn’t spend the nights alone.