I stood half naked in front of my closet, agonizing over what to wear. I’d have a much easier time deciding what to wear on a first date than to dinner with Sidney’s parents. I eventually decided on something and changed before waiting for Sidney to pick me up. Bauer gave me a look like ‘what are you doing?’ and I had no answer.
When he’d called me to tell me that they wanted me to come over to dinner with him the night before he left, I’d been stunned. It was their last night with their son, so why did they want me there? His father didn’t even like me. Sidney had said something about his father suddenly seeming to have a change in heart as far as I was concerned, but I didn’t believe it. What could have possibly changed his mind?
I saw Sidney’s Range Rover pull into my driveway and I walked outside, locking the door behind me. I asked him for probably the thousandth time to tell me why his parents wanted me at dinner. For probably the thousandth time, he didn’t have an answer. Thankfully, he seemed as surprised as I was.
“Sid! Misty!” Taylor called out when we pulled up and got out of the car. I smiled and waved to her.
“Hey, kid,” Sidney greeted her. She rolled her eyes and was about to retort when I punched him in the shoulder.
“Would you stop treating her like she’s 5?” I asked him. Taylor beamed over at me.
“Thank you,” she said. Then she gave him a punch in the shoulder of her own. He gave us both dirty looks as we walked in the house.
“Hey Mom, Dad!” Sidney called out. They came around a corner from the kitchen with smiles on their faces.
“Hi you two. Come on back and grab something to drink,” Trina told us cheerfully.
“Can I help with anything?” I offered after taking a glass of wine that Troy handed me.
“No, no. Everything’s done and cooking. Go on outside with everyone else. I’ll be out in a moment,” she declined.
Wishing that she’d wanted help, I reluctantly stepped outside where Sidney was with Troy and Taylor. I joined in the conversation with the three of them, and strangely never felt the vibe from Troy I’d always gotten from him. Trina was out shortly and we all just sat and talked until dinner was ready.
Once food was on plates, the conversation changed over to the upcoming season. I got quiet like I always did when there was talk about Pittsburgh. Even though Sidney was leaving tomorrow, I still wasn’t ready for him to go. I probably never would have been. The subject dominated the conversation for the rest of the night.
At one point I thought that I was going to lose it, and excused myself to go inside under the guise of getting another glass of wine. I walked into the kitchen and poured myself another glass while fighting back the tears that had started to build. I’d just gotten myself under control when I heard footsteps come in behind me. I turned to see Troy standing behind me.
“Are you okay?” he asked. I put a fake smile on my face and nodded.
“Yeah, good, thanks,” I lied. He smiled over at me and sighed.
“You have feelings for my son, don’t you?” He said it more as a statement than as a question, and it took me by surprise. It took me a while to be able to form any sentence that wouldn’t have sounded ridiculous.
“He’s become my best friend,” I told him.
“That’s not what I meant.” I averted my eyes from his gaze and took a deep breath.
“I care for him, yes.” There was no point in lying to him now. After tonight, I might never see him again.
“Does he know?” I shrugged.
“Honestly, I have no idea. I’ve never told him, but other people have figured it out. I don’t think they’ve said anything, but I can’t be sure.” Troy nodded and leaned back against the counter.
“He has the weight of the world on his shoulders,” Troy sighed. I could tell that the pressure on his son pained him as much as it did Sidney.
“I know that. It’s part of the reason I’ve never told him.” Troy smiled over at me.
“I think I may have misjudged you when we first met. I apologize if I was ever rude.” His apology surprised me, and I’m sure that he could tell.
“Thank you. I’m sorry that you have to be so guarded with everyone that comes into your son’s life. It shouldn’t have to be that way.” He nodded and sighed.
“You’re right. He doesn’t deserve that.” Sidney walked into the kitchen just then and looked at us both oddly.
“You two have been gone a while. Everything okay?” he asked.
Troy and I looked at each other and I felt like we finally understood one another. I knew that he was only doing what he thought was best for his son, and he knew that I wasn’t trying to cash in on him. We both cared for Sidney deeply. Because of that I knew there wouldn’t be any more problems between us.
“Yeah, we were just trying to sneak a look at what your mother made for dessert,” Troy told him, giving me a small smile when Sidney turned away from him to look at me. I nodded and smiled to assure Sidney that everything was fine.
Troy and I followed Sidney back outside. Any tension I had felt before the talk with Troy had vanished, and I was able to try to enjoy the rest of the night. We left pretty late and Sidney drove me back to my house. He pulled in the driveway and then turned to me.
“Do you just want to go in and get Bauer then stay the night at my place?” he asked. I jumped at the chance to spend as much time as possible with him before he left in the morning.
I packed some stuff, grabbed Bauer and got into my car to follow him. When we got to Sidney’s I went upstairs to drop my stuff off. I automatically put it down in his bedroom instead of a guest room. I couldn’t even remember the last time we’d spent the night in the same place and not slept in the same bed. It just seemed to be assumed that we would.
When I got back downstairs I didn’t see Sidney anywhere. As I searched for him, I glanced out a back window and saw him standing at the end of his dock. I left Bauer and Sam inside and made my way out to where he was standing. He turned at the sound of my footsteps and smiled sadly.
“It never gets easier to leave home, does it?” I asked him as we both looked out over the lake.
“No, it never does.”
I took off my sandals and sat down, letting the water lap at my feet. Sidney followed suit. We sat like that in silence for a while. The reflection of the moon shifted and undulated with the waves coming into shore from the light breeze. The sound of a fish coming to the surface resonated around us in the silence.
“How did you like Cole Harbour?” Sidney asked after a while. I thought about how I wanted to answer that for a bit before responding.
“It feels like home,” I answered truthfully.
A tear slid down my cheek when I told him that. I felt him wipe it away and then put an arm around my shoulders. I leaned into him and rested my head on his shoulder as we continued to look out over the lake. I squeezed my eyes closed, resisting the urge to cry. If there had ever been an appropriate moment to do it though, this was it.
“Cole Harbour will still be here next summer,” Sidney whispered, breaking the silence that had fallen over us again. I turned to look at him when I heard that. The tears began to fall then and there was nothing I could do about it. He took my face in his hands and looked into my eyes. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you, too.”
He rested his forehead against mine. We sat like that, foreheads pressed together for a long time. Neither of us seemed willing to pull away and end the moment. Another splash caused us both to jerk back in surprise. It was like we had forgotten that the world existed for a while.
“I need to get to bed. It’s going to be an early morning,” he said, regret lacing his voice. I nodded and allowed him to help me up.
We went inside and got ready for bed. Sidney pulled back the covers and I crawled in beside him in the bed. He wrapped both of his arms around me and I rested my head on his chest. Despite not wanting to sleep so I could savor the last few hours with him, I felt my lids growing heavy. Just as I was about to fall unconscious I thought I felt Sidney place a kiss on the top of my head.
The alarm went off the following morning and I cringed at the sound. Sidney pulled away from me to turn it off and I realized neither of us had moved all night. We both got up and got dressed. We’d disagreed about it, but I wanted to leave before his family got there to drive him to the airport. They deserved to have some time alone with him to say goodbye.
I collected all of my stuff and got Bauer ready to go. I put everything into my car, including Bauer and took another look at Sidney’s house. My eyes fell on his and I tried to smile at him. He did the same and then walked over to give me a hug. We clung to each other for a long time, until he finally pulled back.
“Have a safe trip. Call me when you get to Pittsburgh,” I told him.
“I will. Enjoy your last week here.”
He hugged me one last time before I turned and got into my car. With one last glance at Sidney, and a wave, I backed out of his driveway and drove home. The second I was inside my temporary summer home I slid down to the floor in front of the door and allowed the tears to come. I let the sobs tear through me as I felt like my heart was shattering into a million pieces.