The Good Luck Charm Page 42

Since tomorrow night will be dedicated to Ethan, and likely a high level of nudity and physical activity, I’m spending my lunch break working on yet another assignment. I don’t want it to be on my mind when I’m with him. I also don’t want to think about the midterm results I expect back next week.

Finishing this current assignment shouldn’t be difficult tonight, as long as I can stay awake, which is why I’m getting a head start now.

As I flip through the textbook, searching for the Post-it note I used to mark my page, someone slips into the chair across from me. I hold back the annoyed sigh. I don’t want to be rude, but clearly I’m in the middle of something.

“Are you ignoring me?”

I look up, shocked to see Carmen. “Hey! I didn’t know you were coming by for lunch.”

“I’ve hardly seen you in the past two weeks. I figured this would be a good place to find you, maybe get more than a couple of short text messages from you, especially since the last three have gone unanswered.”

I check my phone, then roll my eyes when I see she sent them three minutes ago. “Seriously?”

“Ethan’s been away for over a week, and I’ve only seen you for yoga. Are you suddenly too good for me now that you’re dating some huge NHL player?”

I motion to the textbook in front of me. “You know I have this course I’m working on. It’s keeping me busy.”

She pops a grape from my Tupperware into her mouth. “What’re you doing tonight?” she asks midchew.

“More of this.” I gesture to the pile of books and papers in front of me.

She taps her nails on the table and frowns. “I get that you’re busy being in love and stuff, but you must have a couple of spare hours.”

I haven’t been a very good sister, not in the past couple of weeks, probably not in the past couple of months. “We could do dinner.”

Her face lights up. “Really? How about Mexican?”

“Um, I’m going to say probably not. Ethan’s coming home tomorrow, so … ”

“Right. No bean bloats. What about Italian?”

“Sure. That works. Can you come to my place, though? We can order takeout.”

“And watch the game?” Carmen asks.

“Is that okay? I also have to finish this assignment. It’s due before the end of the week, and with Ethan coming home …”

“Are things okay there?”

“They’re good. He’s good.” I don’t want to be unsociable, particularly with my sister, whom I have admittedly seen little of lately, but with my current workload and Ethan’s impending return, I need to squeeze in every second of study time I can. Ethan is only in town for four days, two of which he has games, so sleep will be at a premium until he leaves again. Now that video chats are a thing, I’m on the fence as to whether his away games are a help anymore, or if they’ve become a hindrance.

“Good, as in you’re happy and things are awesome and the sex is better than it was when you were teenagers and he could screw until the sun came up, or good as in you’re stressed and juggling all of this is super difficult?”

“Um … both?” I reply honestly.

“Hence the reason I hardly see you these days.” Carmen spins my Tupperware container of grapes between her palms. “He seems pretty invested.”

I shrug. “I hope so. There’s so much history and nostalgia between us. Sometimes I worry I’m …kitschy? It’s like flipping through an old photo album. Remembering all the best things is easy when you can pretend the rest never happened, you know? We have so much of our pasts tied up in each other.”

“I get what you’re saying, but you and Ethan are different. He’s not going to walk away from you again.”

“You can’t know that.”

She gives me a wry grin. “I saw him a couple of times when he came home, just at a bar or a restaurant, and the first thing he always asked about was you. I could tell it hurt him that you were married, that you’d moved on, but he never came out and said it.”

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

“What purpose would it have served? As far as he knew you were happily married. He didn’t want to interrupt your life, Lilah. And that’s exactly what would’ve happened.”

I consider this for a moment. Ethan and I don’t do gray areas very well—that much is clear.

“Leaving you broke him. Maybe coming home to you healed him,” Carmen offers.

“I’m not the reason he’s playing so well.”

“Directly, no. But indirectly, maybe. You were the most important person in his life for more than a decade, and then you were gone. He may have initiated the breakup, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t grieve the loss just like you did.”

In all of my selfish suffering, I hadn’t fully considered the way it affected Ethan. I’d assumed because he broke it off with me that it was somehow easier, that his pain, his loss were in some way diminished as a result. But I can see now that maybe that’s not quite true.

Or maybe I didn’t want it to be.

Loving Ethan was only painful when I lost him.

Loving him now is only painful because of the threat of losing him again.

chapter seventeen




I pick up the stack of files at the nurses’ station and flip through them. The first is a patient with a broken ankle. Scratch that. Broken doesn’t exactly cover it. Her ankle is shattered. At least she has age on her side. Emery Dove-Smith is an eighteen-year-old college student studying at the University of Minnesota.

Her chart indicates that once she’s released, she’ll require weekly checkups to monitor progress on her ankle until the cast comes off. Mercy General is much closer to where she lives, but we have the best orthopedic surgeon in the area, which is probably how she ended up here in the first place. An intensive physiotherapy regime will follow. Before I check on her, I take a quick look at the X-ray. Dear lord, the before and after pictures of that ankle are enough to make my stomach turn. Several pins are holding those bones together.

I knock on the door and peek my head in. “Hi, Emery.”

She looks away from the TV in the corner of the room and gives me a small smile. “Hi.”

“I’m Lilah. I’m your nurse, and I’ll be checking in on you this afternoon while you’re in recovery.”

“Okay.” Her eyes have that postsurgery glassiness about them.

“How’s your pain?”

She lifts a shoulder. “I don’t know. Okay? I feel high. Like I’m floating.”

I laugh. “That’s the morphine. If it makes you feel queasy, let me know and I can speak with the doctor about adjusting the dose.”

“I think I’m good for now.” She nods a little, as if she needs to convince herself.

“Your file indicated this happened during a soccer game. Do you play for the college team?” I make small talk as I take her blood pressure and monitor her vitals, giving her something to focus on other than my poking and prodding.

She nods. “Yeah. I’m on a soccer scholarship at the University of Minnesota.”

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