The Good Luck Charm Page 53

“I’m not sure I know how to do that.”

“You put aside your own needs. You do what you’re doing—you give her the space she’s asking for.”

“That’s not easy.”

He chuckles. “No, but you’ll do it because you love her and you want to keep her in your life, like she wants to keep you in hers. For as strong as she is, she’s afraid of being let down again.”

“You’re really close to her, aren’t you?” I’m almost jealous of their relationship, because I’ve never been that close to my dad. This year has changed that to a certain extent. I’d always felt as if his disapproval over my career choice made it impossible to get close to him, that if I’d gone into medicine like he’d anticipated, we might’ve been closer. Or maybe not. Maybe this is just our time.

“She might not be my blood, but she grew up in this house, and she’s like a daughter. Lilah’s always been a big part of all of our lives, but as much as we love her, I don’t think she’s ever felt like she truly belongs anywhere.”

“She belongs with me.”

My dad laughs, his smile full of a knowledge that only comes from life experience and observation. “So I guess you need to make sure she understands that she’s the other half of your soul, and that you need her because you love her, and no other reason.”

chapter twenty




How much longer are you going to make me do this?” Carmen asks as we toss our yoga mats into the trunk of her car. Tonight I walked to yoga for some extra fresh air, but I’m happy to catch a ride home.

“No one is forcing you to come to yoga with me.”

“Someone has to keep you from moping all the time.”

I give her a look from over the hood and wait for her to unlock the doors. “I haven’t been moping.”

“You’ve been replacing sex with exercise, and that’s almost as bad. I’m constantly sore, and not in a ridden-hard, bent-into-a-pretzel, and highly satisfied kind of way.”

“Well, it’s not my fault you’ve made yourself available. You can always opt to hang out with me after I’m done with the yoga.”

“What kind of sister would I be if I didn’t come with you and then complain about it?”

“I feel so honored by your sisterly dedication.” I adjust the seat so I’m not eating the dashboard and buckle myself in. She keeps it close to the dash so Barkley won’t try to sit in the front seat with her, since he’s huge and can be a distraction.

Another reason I’m so intent on all these yoga classes is to keep myself occupied and not focused on Ethan and the playoffs outside of work and exam prep.

His away games have been easier to manage than the home ones in some ways. In others, they’ve been more of a challenge. Missing the game that secured their place in the playoffs was difficult but necessary. As much as I wanted to be there to support him, my own life needs my attention. The time has paid off. I’ve managed to earn exemplary marks on the last three assignments, and my grades are up as a result. I’ll be in a much better place going into this exam than I was when everything blew up between Ethan and me.

He’s currently in LA, and tomorrow they play the second away game of the series. Minnesota lost the first game two to one. That they’re playing against the team he used to be part of when he was first drafted makes his anxiety worse. The opposing team was chippy last game, and they’ll have inflated egos from the previous win, so hopefully Minnesota can use that to their advantage. Ethan flies back later this week, and they’ll have home ice advantage for the next two games. They’re getting so close to securing a place in the finals. I want this so much for him, so he can see how good he is, with or without me.

“You know what would be nice?” Carmen asks.

“What’s that?”

“If you’d figure out what you’re going to do before the season is over—like, it’d be great if we could go to some of these playoff games.”

“You’ve never been into hockey.”

“I’m not. It’s the players I’m into. Those boys are in seriously good shape. And those playoff beards. Sweet lord. How good does that feel between your thighs?”

I can’t answer that question because I haven’t had Ethan’s beard between my legs. I’d like to say I’ll have that experience before he shaves it off at the end of the season, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen.

“I can get you tickets if you want them.”

“Not if you’re not coming with me.”

“I can’t go.”

“What’s one game, Lilah?”

“It doesn’t send the right message.”

“What message are you looking to send? What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know yet.” I truly wish I knew what the right decision is. In these weeks of separation, I’ve come to see how much I’ve allowed this relationship to take over every single part of my life. I don’t know if I’m capable of finding balance with Ethan.

When I get home, I find a small box on my front porch. It doesn’t have a return address, and it was sent Priority Mail. I drop my keys on the side table and absently pat Merk on the head. He’s been for a walk already, so I cross through the house and let him run around in the backyard while I open the box.

Inside is a bag of Hot Lips and an envelope. I pluck the envelope from the bottom of the box. It’s lumpy, something hard sliding around inside. I flip it open to find a card inside, and as I slip it free, something silver falls to the floor. I bend to pick it up, and a lump forms in my throat that’s hard to swallow around.

It’s a set of dog tags. Ethan’s dog tags, to be specific. The ones I gave him all those years ago when we started dating. He doesn’t go anywhere without them. They’re either hanging from the rearview mirror of his truck or tucked into the pocket of his jeans. In all the time he’s had them, he’s only misplaced them a couple of times, at least that I’m aware of. He tore apart his room to find them both times.

I finger the smooth, worn metal and press them to my lips. They smell faintly of his cologne, or maybe that’s in my head. That they’re here with me and not with him on the other side of the country seems incredibly significant.

The card clutched in my other hand reads Good Luck!

I flip it open and smile at his messy scrawl.


You got this, baby. I just want you to know I’m thinking about you tomorrow while you’re kicking stats ass, wishing I were there to cheer you on like you’ve always done for me.

I love you,


It’s been weeks since I asked for a break. Ethan hasn’t pushed at all, but he’s been constant in his quest to show me that he’s thinking about me. Groceries magically appear in my fridge twice a week, along with prepared meals so I don’t have to cook. He’ll stop by in the afternoon when he’s not at away games and take Merk for a long walk so I can focus on studying. He’s never there when I get home, but he leaves notes and flowers.

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