The Good Luck Charm Page 59

“You’re thinking too much in extremes. Imagine you achieve your ultimate dream. Like, say I actually had the balls to open up a bakery, which I have no intention of doing incidentally, because it’s the worst investment ever based on the research I’ve done. Only, like, ten percent of bakeries are successful and making a profit after five years.” She must realize she’s rambling, because she flops a hand around. “Anyway, for the sake of argument, let’s say I’m one of the ten percent and I make that happen, but in order to have that dream, I have to give up something equally as important.”

“Which would be margaritas in your case.”

“Ha ha. But yeah. I’d be miserable without my margaritas. Ethan has his bakery and you’re his margarita, and right now he’s not allowed to have margaritas, but”—she lifts a finger signaling for me to keep my mouth shut—“there’s the possibility of getting his margaritas back if he can be patient.”

“That’s the worst analogy ever, Carmen.”

“I thought it was pretty damn good. And you better have more tequila at home or I may just un-sister you.”

“That’s not even allowed to be a thing.” Carmen has been a huge support over these past weeks—un-sistering is not an option.

“But seriously, Lilah, you’re part of the whole of his success. You’re a driving force. He wants to be with you, so he’s willing to give you this time because it’s what you need. Don’t you think it would be better for both of you on an emotional level to just set some boundaries and be together? Hasn’t he proven to both of you that he can play hockey regardless? You don’t need to keep pushing him away anymore, do you?”

“It’s hard to find balance with him,” I admit.

“That’s because you didn’t have as much to balance before. You don’t have to sacrifice doing well at your job or at school or spending time with family to be with Ethan. All of those pieces can fit into your life along with him.”

“But how? I don’t want to lose him again. And I can’t lose me again, either.”

“You can’t live in fear of what-ifs.”

“I don’t ever want to hurt like that again.”

“Love has the potential to cause pain. It’s a risk, and I think this is one worth taking. Don’t you think he loves you enough to want you to be happy? Do you think he’d wait for you for eight years just to bail when you get a case of the nerves?”

“He didn’t wait eight years for me.”

“Really? He hasn’t had one serious relationship since you, even after you married the wrong man. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, but he never found someone he could love as much as he loves you, and you clearly feel the same way. Just own it. I promise it’ll be better for both of you.”

I finger the hockey charm dangling from my wrist. “He’ll be home tomorrow.”

“So you’ll be waiting for him at his house, right?”

“Do you think that’s a good idea?”

“Is bacon dipped in real maple syrup a good idea?”

“Um …”

“The answer is yes, Lilah. Yes, it’s a good idea.”

chapter twenty-two




Success is only as gratifying as the people you get to share it with, so coming home seems rather anticlimactic.

I pull into my driveway, wishing the high I was on last night carried over into this morning. We’re up three to two in the series. Tomorrow night could be the game that puts us in the finals. We could be one step closer to the Cup.

I grab my duffel from the back seat and head up the front steps, not all that excited to walk into an empty house. What I really want is to drive over to Lilah’s. I understand her need for space and I want to respect it, but I miss her. I may not need her to play well, but I need her in other ways. I need her to feel whole.

I drop my bag in front of the laundry room and pull out my phone. Clicking on her contact, I scroll through the messages she left last night after we won the game. They were positive, excited even, but brief. I want to check in and make sure she’s okay. I worry she’s gotten her exam results or something and they weren’t what she wanted them to be.

I hit the Call button and pause halfway to the living room, confused by the echo of the ring, at least until Lilah rounds the corner. “Hi.” She lifts her phone, wearing a small, nervous smile.

I end the call, mouth instantly dry, palms clammy. “This is a surprise.”

Her eyes move over me slowly. She looks tired and possibly like she’s been crying. “I have some things to tell you.”

“Good or bad things?” I cross the foyer and stop when I’m inches from her. I don’t know how to read her beyond the obvious exhaustion, and all I can do is spin hypotheticals.

“A bit of both?” It’s more question than answer, though, as if she’s uncertain herself.

“What happened? Are you okay?” I want to hug her, but I can’t be sure how it will be received.

“I don’t even know where to begin.” She links her fingers with mine and leads me toward the living room. “Come sit with me.”

I drop down beside her on the couch and give in to the urge to touch her. I run my finger along the slope of her nose. “You look tired, baby.”

“I am. I didn’t get much sleep last night.”

“Want to tell me why?” I can’t decide whether her being here means she’s seeking comfort from me or if it’s something else.

Any worry I might’ve had about us is erased as she relays what I’ve missed over the past couple of days. It’s nothing I could’ve ever expected, and certainly nothing she could’ve, either. Seeing her father after twenty years, and learning she’s been treating her half sister all those weeks, would’ve been painfully shocking. “Why didn’t you call me last night?”

She laughs a little. “Because I was up until three in the morning with Carmen and I didn’t want to tell you this over the phone.”

“Is Carmen okay? Are you? I wish you had called me, especially with the whole fainting thing.” I don’t like that she was hurt and I wasn’t here to take care of her.

“It’s a bruise. I’m fine. My doctor was a super thorough pain in my ass about it.”

“You could’ve had a concussion.”

“Dr. Lovely checked for that.”

I nod. She works in a hospital; of course she had excellent medical care. “How do you feel about your dad being here? Will you see him again?”

She props her cheek on her fist and sighs. “I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to try to rebuild that relationship. He walked away from our entire family once. What’s to say he won’t do it again? And I just don’t know if I can find forgiveness for him. I haven’t had much time to get used to the idea, or even consider that it’s a possibility.”

“Do you think you’ll be able to forgive him eventually?”

“I don’t know.” She fiddles with the hockey charm on her bracelet. “I know why this has been so hard for me, though, now.”

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