“Aubrey, I’m sure Nick is way past the relationship we had. We’re friends and really only because of Noah.”
She turns and looks at me. Her eyes are red and bloodshot. It bothers me she thinks I’m anything more to Nick than a friend. I mean it when I say the only reason we talk is because of Noah. I know Liam would prefer Nick to be a nonexistent factor in our lives. At least, until last night, he felt that way.
“My husband—well soon to be ex—won’t leave Beaumont. I hate it here. It’s boring and mundane. I want an adventure, freedom.”
“Aubrey, you should really discuss all of this with Nick. I’m sure if he knew how you felt—”
“He knows. He won’t leave. Won’t let Mack leave.”
“Mack’s in high school. Moving is hard on kids.”
“That’s what Nick says, but I moved a lot when I was younger. My mother homeschooled me. Taught me what it’s like not to have a care in the world. I never had a cell phone or gaming console. I played in the dirt, read books, and helped women tend to their children. I think I turned out pretty well.”
Yes, except you’re trying to uproot your family because you’re bored.
“Nick just wants the best for the kids, Aubrey.”
“How do you know? Did he tell you?”
I shake my head and realize I need to keep my mouth shut. I can really only assume according to the time I spent with him and how he was with Noah. According to my son, Nick is a great father to Mack and Amelia, but the only family thing we do is go to Noah’s football games. I’m about to excuse myself when I see Nick coming toward the shop. Under any other circumstances, I’d be pleased to see him, but not now. Aubrey sees him and then turns to me.
“Right, just friends.” She pushes the door open, and within seconds her finger is in his face. I know I shouldn’t watch, but I can’t turn away. Nick stands there stoically. Aubrey’s voice rises, and I can almost make out what she’s saying. It’s now that I busy myself because Nick doesn’t need a witness.
When the door opens, I peer around the corner and find Nick standing in my shop. “Hey,” I say as I set a bucket of roses down.
“I’m sorry you saw that.”
“I’m sorry for what you’re going through,” I pause and make some random hand motion toward the window, “whatever that is.”
Nick sighs. “I told her that Mack is going with you for the holidays, and she instantly accused me of having an affair and said she was going to tell Liam.”
“Yeah, no matter what I say. I don’t get it. Aubrey’s the one who wants to leave, but I’m the bad guy because I won’t give up my practice, my coaching job, or yank our son from high school. I’m trying to give him a good, stable life, and she’s making me feel like I’ve done something wrong.”
“You haven’t, Nick. At least from what Liam said. I just want you to know that Mack is welcome to stay as long as he needs.”
Nick nods. “Noah and Peyton offered to take him, but that defeats the purpose, ya know.”
“I know. Don’t worry; our door is open.”
Before Nick leaves, he hands me an envelope. I know it’s money, even though we don’t need it. I don’t try to give it back though, sensing that Nick feels like he needs to do this.
The rest of my day goes surprisingly smoothly. When I pull into the driveway, there’s a figure sitting on our front steps.
“Hello, Mrs. Westbury.” Mack is coming toward me. He’s the spitting image of his dad at this age.
“Hi, Mack. What are you doing outside?”
“Mr. Westbury isn’t home, and I didn’t want Paige to get into trouble for having me in the house without an adult.”
Mack looks like he needs a hug. I’m going to have to find some time later to talk with him. I want him to know he can tell me anything, or at least encourage him to call Noah if he doesn’t feel comfortable sharing with me. “That’s very respectful of you.”
“Can I help you with anything?”
I press the button on my fob, and the trunk opens. “I only have a few bags.” Mack takes them both from the trunk and heads toward the house. As I’m about to open the door, Liam’s motorcycle rumbles loudly behind us. I smile at Mack and usher him in, and then I meet Liam in the driveway.
He takes off his helmet and kisses me. “Hey, JoJo.”