It had been about a week now since Darren had gotten to Emily’s house. He ate with her about every night so far. So far she seemed to like his company way more than Emma did.
It helped being around Emily at first. Being around her and working. Darren could almost picture himself here. Having a relationship with Emily, working away in the barn until she got him for dinner.
He worked away, sometimes late into the night. Tonight was one of those nights. With his music blaring, and the heat causing him to constantly wipe his brow off, Darren didn’t notice Emily enter the barn.
“These are really quite beautiful.“Emily exclaimed over the music. Darren jumped at the sound of her voice. He had been deep in thought of Emma, he wanted desperately to have a reason to go back to town, just to maybe catch a glimpse of her again. Turning the music off, Darren turned to Emily.
“Thanks. I will probably be done a lot sooner than I thought,” Darren stood back and admired his handy work. He was already close to having half of the cabinets done. The wood she had choose was a dark cherry and would match her kitchen beautifully. “I’m sorry I can’t install them for you.”
“It’s fine, I mean i certainly have enjoyed having you here, I almost wish the work could take longer.” Emily sighed and handed Darren a mug of coffee. It had to be at least 11:30 at night. He took in Emily's appearance as he took the coffee. Her curly black hair was messily tied up away from her face, and good god she barely had any clothes on. If her shorts were any shorter they would be underwear, and her tank was small and tight. Her cleavage pushed dangerously out of the top while her perfectly flat stomach was exposed. Emily watched his gaze drift over her and blushed, while Darren was noticing she had no bra on.
“Thanks, I needed this,” Darren pondered over Emily’s words for a moment. He honestly didn’t want to lead her on, she never let up though. “Look, Emily, you are so beautiful, and I can’t lead you on. I-I don’t have a girlfriend, but it wouldn’t be fair to you to start anything, well because, my heart belongs to somebody else. I’m sorry.” Darren looked away from Emily at these words as he rubbed a rough hand on his neck. He didn’t want to see whatever emotion crossed her face from this.
“Well, A for effort for me right?” With a sigh Emily turned and left the barn. Darren knew that sigh all to well. It was the same sigh every woman gave him after he let them go. It broke his heart each time for them, but they would hurt more if he continued anything without returning their feelings. Darren turned his music back on and worked away until the sun came up. As the sun rose Darren climbed the ladder in the barn to the loft and crawled into the bed.
Darren had his usually fitful sleep, dreaming of Emma. When he awoke and checked his phone he immediately dialed his home phone. He had 16 missed calls. Getting no answer at his house he began calling his parents cell phones. The only thing running threw his mind was what could possibly be wrong.
“Darren, finally. We having been trying to reach you all day.” It was his mother that answered and her voice sounded off. Sad almost.
“Mom, what’s wrong? What happened, is dad alright? Is it the store?” Darren manically asked. The worst of the worst was running threw his mind.
“I think you should come home Darren,” Still his mother sounded sad even more sad then before. “It’s Emma honey, she needs you,” This was the call he never thought he would get. “it’s her father Darren, he’s gone.” Darren lost all his senses in that moment. Mr. Smithart was gone. He passed. Emma must be broken right now. That must be where she was gone all that time the day he left. With her father.
“I’m on my way.” Darren hung up before his mother could utter another word and after packing his things and the last few pieces he needed to finish this job in his truck, he strode towards Emily’s back door.
Emily met him outside right before he had gotten to the door. She must have been watching for him, or seen him coming.
“I have to go, I’m sorry. I have everything I need to finish the job in my truck, i only have a couple cabinets left to do. I can manage it from my workshop in the store. I can either deliver them to you or you can come pick them up. But I really do need to go.” Darren tried his best to sound apologetic.
“It’s because I won’t stop hitting on you isn’t it?,” Emily sighed and ran a hand threw her hair. “I’m sorry ok, it won’t happen anymore I promise, i got the message loud and clear last night.” Emily reached out to touch his arm and Darren backed up.
“It honestly has nothing to do with you. Someone very important to me needs me. She lost her father. I just, I gotta be there for her ok?” Darren pleaded with Emily to understand with his eyes.
“It’s her isn’t it? The one who has your heart?,” When Darren gave a stiff nod Emily sighed. “Well, she sure is lucky. I hope she knows how lucky she is. Just let me know when they are done and I will take care of the pick up. When they are picked up you will have your payment for them in full.” Emily sighed again watching Darren as he left.
As Darren raced his way home, all thoughts of Emily and her cabinets left his mind. There was nothing but Emma now. He knew she was probably locked up in her room, not coming out. Her and her father were close. Always were. He cursed himself for not being there, he cursed himself for feeling like he should just leave town until she had gone. He felt selfish and terrible. He should have been there the moment she lost him. He should have been the one to hold her as she cried for her father and pick her up and let her know everything would be just fine.
It took Darren almost three hours, but he was finally pulling into town. With his heart pounding he drove right to Emma’s parents house. The driveway was filled with cars and more were lined down the street. Darren parked at his house and briskly made his way to where he felt he should have been this whole time.
As Darren walked threw the front door, he was bombarded with people and different smells. Every space there used to be in the kitchen was filled with different casseroles and meals. People seemed to fill every room, all equally mourning Mr. Smithart. Finally Darren’s eyes landed on Emma’s mom. She sat on the couch clutching one of Mr. Smithart’s shirts crying, while his own mother held her and rocked her.
“I’m so sorry Mrs. Smithart.” Darren said as he gently rubbed her shoulder.
“We knew it was coming, we knew.” She let out between sobs. As she looked up at him, Darren sat next to her and held her as she let it out.
“It doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. I know. I’m so sorry. He was taken too soon.” Darren sat and held Emma’s mother for what felt like an hour or two before his mother took over consoling her again.
“She’s upstairs. In her old room. She hasn’t left her room since we got back. Go to her Darren, she needs you right now.” Emma’s mom told him, and swiftly he pushed threw the crowd to Emma’s room on the second floor. Gently he knocked on the door and getting no answer he pushed it open.
Emma was there, lying in a ball on her bed clutching a teddy bear Darren knew her father had given her. Tears steadily rolled down her cheeks. He walked over to her bed and placed his hand on her back and began gently rubbing it.
“Darren, you’re here.” Emma said with the most sadness he had ever heard in her voice.
“Yes, Em, I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere.” Before Darren could get all the words out, Emma launched herself into his lap. He held onto her tight, as she let the tears spill.