I spend another night with Noah before going back home to get ready for the workweek. When I left I was a little afraid Noah would ghost me again and that I forgave him too easily, but there’s already a text from him when I get home.
Noah 💗: I hope you got home safely. I just want you to know I won’t ghost you again. I’m done letting Kendra and her shit get in the way of my happiness and you make me happy.
I smile at the text and my heart squeezes in a way it never did when I was with Rich. I guess maybe that tells me more about my relationship with him than the cheating.
The week goes by with Noah and I texting almost constantly throughout the day and talking to each other on the phone each night before bed. I never did this with Rich either. We didn’t talk all day because I was always afraid we would run out of things to talk about if we did. With Noah, though, it’s like there’s so much to learn about each other that it never gets boring or repetitive.
Everything is going great until Thursday when I get a call from my mom asking if I can come over to Harper’s house for a family dinner tonight after work. This will mean an interrogation about my life the last six months because I purposely didn’t talk to either my mom or my sister much while I was wallowing.
I step out of my car and look up at the large house my sister and her husband owns. It’s one of those houses that people buy purely to let other people know that they have the money to do it. I brought a bottle of wine I bought at the gas station on the way here when I was filling up my car and stand waiting for Harper to answer after I ring the doorbell.
Instead of my sister, it’s my mom. Both she and Harper are a lot taller than me and they have tame straight hair instead of my wild curly hair. I have my dad’s features while Harper has Mom’s.
It made me so proud to be so much like my dad in looks and hobbies. We were so close when he died, leaving me seeming like an outsider in my own family. He was my best friend then my mom didn’t make it any easier on me.
“You look… presentable,” Mom says, looking me up and down like she’s some kind of queen looking at a peasant.
We weren’t even very well off growing up. We were solidly middle class and my dad was happy there. Mom always wanted more. She was so happy when Harper married up, so now she can act like some kind of aristocrat.
I thought she’d be happy when I started dating Rich. He comes from an independently wealthy family, just like Harper’s husband. She never liked Rich, and in hindsight, for good reason. It just added to the fact that anything I ever do is not good enough for her, even when I think it’s exactly what she wants.
I look down at what I’m wearing. It’s the same dress I wore on my first date with Noah and I still have my Converse, which is something my mom hates. I look a million times better than I have in the previous six months, but Mom would have needed to see me in that time to know what an improvement this is.
“Thanks,” I mutter, walking into the house.
Harper exits her kitchen to greet me in the entryway. She’s pregnant and looks close to popping, but I think she’s still months away from that. She’s carrying my niece or nephew. They didn’t learn the sex, saying they wanted the surprise. I think that was Harper trying to be extra, though.
“Hey, Avery. Nice to see you after so long. Seems like someone didn’t want to talk to us,” Harper says, doing the pretentious air kisses with a fake laugh.
“You guys could have called me or, I don’t know, visited me maybe,” I reply with a shrug.
Both Mom and Harper act like I didn’t speak as I follow them into the kitchen where Harper’s husband, Drew, is sitting at the bar on his laptop. He looks up when we enter and gives me a genuine smile. I give him one in return and walk over to where he’s getting up from the barstool. He gives me a big hug.
I actually really like Drew. He reminds me of Noah; I think. I didn’t know before last weekend that Noah came from a ridiculously wealthy family because he doesn’t come across even an iota of an entitled jerk Rich did. Drew is a lot like that. I don’t understand how he’s married to someone as high maintenance as Harper, but whatever. I’m happy to call him my brother-in-law.
“How’s it going, Aves?” Drew asks when he pulls back.
“You know, the last six months have been rough, but it’s looking up now,” I reply with a smile.
“Have you seriously been moping about all this time?” Mom asks.
“It was a hard break up, but I’m good now,” I state dryly.
Drew throws me a look like he understands what I’m thinking. I flash him a smile as I thrust the cheap wine I brought into my mom’s hands. It’ll probably end up in the trash, but at least they can’t say I didn’t bring anything.
“Oh, thank you,” Mom says, eyeing the label before setting it gingerly on the table.
“Are you not going to open it?” I ask, feigning innocence.
“Er, that’s okay. Harper’s already opened up a bottle,” Mom says.
“Please, Lorna, open it. I’d love to try it,” Drew says, giving me a brotherly nudge as he walks past me to get glasses for us all.
“All right,” Mom replies uncertainly, picking up the corkscrew. Little does she know it’s a twisty top!
I hide my smile as I take a seat at the dining room table. Mom pours half glasses of the wine for everyone but Harper. Drew brings my glass and sits next to me. He smiles warmly at me.
“So, what’s going on in Averyland?” he asks.
“A lot, I guess. Or maybe not. I haven’t gotten dressed or went anywhere pretty much since Rich dumped me. I was a little depressed,” I start.
“Fair enough. You were together a long time,” Drew says.
“Well, Rachel and Holly sort of forced me into a blind date a few weeks ago.”
“Oh, yeah? How was that?”
“Sort of perfect, actually. We got stuck at his house during that stay in place advisory when Janice hit,” I say.
“Ooo, scandalous. What’s his name?”
“Noah. He’s a music producer but also, like, a really talented musician. He’s got this music room filled with all these different instruments he can play. We had a really nice time together.”
I smile. Drew’s been married to Harper since I was about eighteen, so he was around before my relationship with Rich and now after. He knows me; he gets me like I’d imagine an older brother would.
“He sort of ghosted me for two weeks.”
“Why? Did he have a reason or is he just a dick?”
“His last girlfriend fucked him up real bad. They were together for thirteen years, then he found out she was cheating on him the entire time with his friend,” I explain.
“How old is he?”
“Almost twenty-six. They started dating their freshman year in high school.”
“So what? He got scared?”
“Yes, exactly! I can’t really blame him, but he felt happy, and it made him wary when I wasn’t right in front of him. He just didn’t want to get hurt again. I can relate,” I say with a sigh.
“Did you make up?”
“We did last weekend. I really like him, Drew. We get each other on this totally different level. He’s so nice. I met his friends and they are just amazing too,” I gush.
“His friends local?” Drew asks.
“Nah. Two of them are married and live in New York. The other two live in L.A.”
“I’m glad you’re getting back out there, Aves. You deserve to be happy. You should bring him over for dinner next time you come. We missed you,” he says, giving me a warm smile.
“Well, I missed you. You’re the only sane one in this family,” he relents with a whisper.
I laugh with him just as Mom and Harper place the food in front of us. We all sit in silence as we plate food and pass it around. I notice Mom’s wine is back to whatever she was drinking before but Drew clinks his glass with mine sharing a conspiratory smile with me.
“Did I hear you say you’ve got a boyfriend already, Avery?” Mom says.
“So first six months is too long to be moping around and now it’s not long enough to have moved on?” I question.
“Answer the question,” Mom replies, clearly exasperated.
“I don’t know if he’s my boyfriend or now. We haven’t really had that conversation yet.”
“Have you slept with him?” Harper asks.
“I don’t really see how that’s any of your business, Harper.”
“So you did. Interesting.”
“Bring him to dinner the weekend after next. I want to meet him. What did you say his name was?” Mom says.
“Perfect, bring Noah home to meet the family. Let’s hope he’s better than Rich,” Mom replies.
“I’ll ask him if he’s free,” I say picking at my food no longer hungry.
“If he’s going to continue to sleep with you, we need to meet him.”
“Still don’t see why that’s your business,” I mutter.
Great! My family is sure to scare Noah off before we’ve really even had a chance to decide where our relationship is going.