I stopped on the sidewalk and looked at the small, simple house in front of me. In fifteen years, I’d never been here before. My own father’s house, and I’d never been to it before. That seemed messed up to me, now. I’d been talking to Anna and her kids for years, but always at my house or the park or somewhere.
Did I really want to go inside? Huy Casillas had never been interested in me. Why should I reach out to him? Because I have to know. I had to know if he was really the man I’d always thought. If he might be worth knowing. I had to know, for certain, who my father was.
I took a deep breath and walked up to the door and rang the bell.
A few heartbeats later, Anna opened the door. Her eyes widened in surprise. “Loralee! What a nice surprise. What are you doing here?”
“Um, well, I was actually thinking I’d talk to Dad.”
Her brows arched up to her hairline. “You want to see Huy?” She smiled and waved me inside. “Come on in. He’s in the living room.”
I followed Anna into the main room. Huy looked up from the TV as we came in. He looked even more surprised to see me than Anna. “Loralee. Hi. How are you?” He sounded confused, but at least sort of happy to see me.
“Hi, Dad” I sat down awkwardly. “I’m good. I, um, had a geometry test yesterday.”
“Yeah? How do you think you did?”
“Good, I think. Mom is, um, really good at that, so she’ll help me on the homework sometimes.” I probably shouldn’t have mentioned Mom.
Anna beamed at us. “Are you thirsty? I’m going to get you some juice.”
As she bustled off into the kitchen, I wanted to call her back. Wait, no, I’m not ready to be alone with him.
Huy cleared his throat. “So, you’ve got a boyfriend, huh? Guess that means you’re not like your mother, huh. That’s good.”
I bit my tongue to keep myself from responding to that. I was trying to talk, not fight, I reminded myself. “Yeah, Tommy.”
“What’s he like?”
Anna came back with a glass of orange juice which I accepted gratefully. “He’s nice. He works for his dad doing construction. Mr. Smithson is the foreman on the new library project in Newcrest.”
“That’s a good job. Honest work. Is there good money in that?”
From what I knew about their financial situation? I’d say no. Instead, I answered, “I don’t know. We try not to talk about money.” Which was the truth. We tried to avoid that subject now.
“Loralee,” Anna started cheerfully, “Would you like to stay for dinner? It’ll be ready soon.”
“Oh, I can’t, Anna. I actually have a date tonight.” When Anna looked disappointed, I found myself saying, “But maybe I could come over next Sunday and have dinner?” Why. Why am I doing this.
Anna beamed. “What a wonderful idea, Loralee! Doesn’t that sound wonderful, Huy?”
He grunted. “Oh, yeah. Ought to be good.”
I left a few minutes later and sucked in great pulls of cold December air. That had been terrible and awkward, and yet I’d signed myself up for another night of it.
I called a cab and walked down the street to wait. Why on earth had I decided I needed to know Huy for myself? This was an awful idea. But I would still be back on Sunday. Because I had to finish this.
Tommy and I met at Simmie’s again. Despite the awkward encounter here before, I think this is going to be my favorite coffee spot.
“Hey, beautiful,” Tommy smiled as I sat down at the table.
I smiled and kissed him. “Hey, there.”
“How was your day? Did you invent a new dish?”
“No. Actually, I went over to my dad’s.” And it was exhausting.
His brows arched. “Your dad’s? Why?”
“I don’t really even know. I got to thinking about how I’d never really known him. I’d always kind of dislike him since I was a kid, you know. He tried to get custody and take me away from Mom and mama, but otherwise, he never showed any interest in me. And I just started thinking that maybe I should make the effort to get to know him. So that I’ll at least know, for real, if he’s worth my time. Does that make any sense?”
Tommy took my hand and squeezed. “Yeah, it does. I really hope he’s worth your time, Loralee. Because you’re definitely worth his.”