Becca walked into Gray’s with Abby and immediately felt better. The stress from the day eased when they found a table near the front window. They’d been there before and Becca enjoyed the place. It was a nice change from the diner, and Becca loved the chance to have a girlfriend.
“Are you going to tell me the story?” Abby asked once they’d gotten their drinks and ordered dinner.
Becca shrugged and glanced around the restaurant. A bar area with a few tables was in the center with a seating area surrounding it. Becca saw tables of people laughing, talking, even kissing, all around her. She was surrounded by people, but as usual she felt alone.
“The summer after my sophomore year in high school my brother had just graduated. Jeff and Charles were best friends. They went out one night and Jeff was drinking. Charles drove them home, but he was tired. He fell asleep at the wheel. Jeff was thrown from the truck in the accident. Charles was in a coma for a week. By the time he woke up we’d buried Jeff, but none of us knew what happened. When Charles told us about the accident…”
“Ah, honey. I’m sorry you had to go through that,” Abby said, covering Becca’s hand with hers. “How long has it been since you’ve seen him?”
“A long time. I told him I hated him for killing my brother and told him to never show his face around us again. He left.”
“You’ve never healed, have you?”
Becca shook her head. “My parents had a hard time looking at Charles, even though he’d been almost like another son for them. He left town and never looked back. I had no idea he was here.”
“Do you still blame him?”
Becca shrugged. “I don’t know. Seeing him brought back so much pain. I adored him when I was a kid. Seriously worshipped him.”
“Do you still feel the same way?”
“It’s all jumbled. I’m a lot older now, so the teenage hero worship has changed. I look at him and it’s a mix of anger and pain and affection and concern and… so many things.”
“What would you say to him if he walked in here right now?”
Becca glanced around the place, trying to imagine what she would say to the man who’d changed her life, in more ways than one.
“I don’t know, Abby. I really don’t.”
“Well, you might want to come up with something because he’s right over there,” Abby said, pointing behind Becca.
Becca turned and saw him watching her. And broke into a cold sweat.