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Did I Mention I Miss You (The DIMILY Trilogy #3)(9)
Author: Estelle Maskame

“Where are you right now?” she immediately asks, unusually abrupt.

“Uh, the Refinery,” I answer, a little unsurely.

“Can you come over?” Quickly, she adds, “Don’t worry, your father’s at work.”

I furrow my eyebrows as I twirl my earphones around my fingers, making for the door and slipping out onto the sidewalk. “Aren’t you at work?”

“I’m working on a brief,” she says and, without a moment’s pause, asks, “How fast can you get here?”

“Like, twenty minutes.” As I’m turning the corner onto Fifth Street, I end up frowning, confused. Ella usually calls me to ask what I want for dinner, or if I need cash, or to check up on how I’m doing. This time is different. She never usually calls like this, asking me over to the house that I hate going to, so I’m slightly concerned. “Is everything alright?”

“Everything’s fine,” she says, but something shaky in her voice tells me otherwise. “Just be quick.”

When she ends the call, I immediately set off again, earphones in, music up, pace faster than usual. The house is over two miles away, so at best I’ll get there in fifteen minutes. Ella really doesn’t sound like she wants to be kept waiting, and as I carefully weave my way through the people on the sidewalks, I find myself mentally listing possible reasons for why she needs me so urgently. None of them seem probable, though, so I give up trying to guess and focus instead on running even faster. The quicker I get there, the sooner I’ll find out.

With that mentality, I end up back at the house in just over fifteen minutes. I wipe my brow with the back of my hand, breathing heavily as I approach the front door. It’s the first time I’ve been here since I left on Friday night. I haven’t spoken to Dad at all since then either.

The house is silent when I walk into the hall. No Jamie, no Chase, no Dad. Only Ella, dressed smartly in a fitted skirt and a blouse. I only notice her after I hear her faint footsteps at the top of the stairs. I gaze up at her and run a hand over my sweaty forehead as she peers down at me. My breathing is still a little uneven, and I try to bring it under control as I wait for her to tell me what it is that she so desperately needs me for.

However, there’s no explaining, only an anxious frown as she nods behind her and quietly says, “Can you come up here for a second?”

If I wasn’t worried before, then I certainly am now. I’m suddenly afraid that if I go upstairs, I’ll find my bedroom empty and converted into a guest room with whatever belongings I’d left here packed into cardboard boxes. That’s it, I think. She’s kicking me out. Not that I actually mind that much.

Blowing out a breath, my entire body fatigued and aching, I force myself up the staircase, trying my best not to make too much eye contact with Ella. I’ll bet it was Dad’s idea to never let me stay here again, not hers. She’s just the one who has to break the news to me. Like, I’m sorry, Eden, but you’re too despicable and disgusting and dangerously reckless to stay in this house for a second longer.

“Where’s Jamie? Chase?” I ask, glancing down the hall out of the corner of my eye to see if I can spot any boxes. There are none. I fix my full attention back on Ella, but she only turns around and walks through to her office, the room next door to mine. I follow.

“Jamie’s taking Jen into the city for the day,” Ella says nonchalantly over her shoulder as her heels click against the floor, “and Chase is at the beach.”

I stop a few feet into the room, not because it’s Ella’s private workspace, which none of us are usually allowed in for confidentiality reasons, but because this room hasn’t always been an office. It’s only been this way for half a year. Although the walls have been repainted ivory, I can still see the navy shining through from Dad’s crap painting skills. The old carpet was also pulled up and replaced with hardwood flooring. But other than a missing second coat of paint providing a reminder, it’s sometimes easy to forget that once upon a time this was a bedroom.

“So Jamie isn’t grounded?” I want to roll my eyes. Incredible, really, that Jamie can come home drunk, throwing up all over the lawn, and be let off the hook.

“He is,” Ella says, then pauses as she turns around to look straight at me, her blue eyes intense yet soft at the exact same time. “But today I didn’t want him in the house.”

“Oh.” I press my lips together and tuck some strands of hair that have strayed from my messy bun behind my ear. Curious, I cast a quick glance over Ella’s desk and the stacks of paperwork that cover it. All cases she’s working on, all client information. I glance back at her before she can notice me looking. “Why don’t you want him here?”

“Because I haven’t told him yet,” she says slowly. It’s not quite the answer I expected and, in fact, it surprises me. She swallows and places a hand on the back of her chair, and as though she can see how puzzled I am, she adds, “I haven’t told any of you yet. Especially not your dad.”

Oh my God. The reason I’m here suddenly becomes so clear that I find myself blinking in disbelief, reaching for the door handle in order to support myself before I pass out, or hurl, or both.

“You’re pregnant?” I splutter.

“God, Eden.” Ella shakes her head fast and her cheeks flush with color. She presses her hand to her chest, composes herself, and clears her throat before saying, “Definitely not.” A little awkwardly, she gives me a small smile while she tries not to laugh.

My rapid heartbeat slows as my chest relaxes and my shoulders sink with relief. I couldn’t imagine Dad doing the whole father thing again. He’s yet to be good at it. Slightly embarrassed at myself for jumping to conclusions, I bite at my lower lip and shrug, still as confused and as worried as I was before. “Then what are you talking about?”

Ella takes a deep breath and exhales slowly, the entire house silent. My patience starts to wear thin. I don’t like this. I hate not knowing what’s really going on or why I’m here. Maybe she’s about to tell us that they’re moving across the country. Maybe she’s quitting her job. Maybe she’s planning to file for a divorce. But the latter is my wishful thinking, for her sake.

Yet she remains silent, her lips moving only slightly, as though she’s trying to form words but doesn’t know what to say. After a few seconds, she doesn’t have to say anything at all. Her eyes say it for her.

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