Home > From This Moment(8)

From This Moment(8)
Author: Melanie Harlow

“Yes.” I poured some more wine for myself. “Can I get you anything? A glass of wine? Some pasta? Are you hungry? Have you eaten?” Whoa, Hannah. Whoa.

“I’d love some pasta. It smells delicious.”

“Nothing fancy, just some tomato basil sauce.” I pulled the leftovers from the fridge, glad to have something to do.

“We growed the basil!” Abby climbed into her chair at the table. “And Mommy let me pick it.”

“She did? I bet you’re a great helper in the garden.” He set his bag on the table and sat down next to Abby.

He chose Drew’s chair. That’s Drew’s chair.

Squelching the urge to ask him to sit somewhere else, I stuck a bowl of pasta in the microwave. Don’t be ridiculous. Many people have sat in that chair since Drew died. And it’s not his chair anymore, because he’s gone.

“We don’t really have a garden,” I said, trying to keep my tone natural. “Just some pots in the yard. But I’d like to plant one.” It’s on my list of Things Drew And I Wanted To Do Together But Now I’ll Have To Do Alone. “Would you like a glass of wine?”

He glanced at the wineglass in my hand. “Sure, thanks.”

I poured him a glass of pinot noir and prepared a salad for him while he shared the gifts he’d brought for Abby from Africa—a hand-made musical instrument, a stuffed elephant, a bright yellow dress, and a children’s book about African animals. Abby loved it all and wanted to put the dress on right away.

“I hope it’s the right size.” He watched her run out of the kitchen with it, and a moment later I heard her feet on the stairs.

“I’m sure it’s fine.” I set the pasta and salad in front of him, placed a napkin and fork on the table, and took the chair across from his.

“Wow. This looks great. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

He dug in, and I sipped my wine. For the first time since he’d arrived, I allowed myself to really look at him. He wore jeans and a white collared shirt that set off his golden skin, and his hair was closely cropped on the sides and back, just like Drew’s had been, and a little longer on the top where brown curls traitorously beckoned my fingers. I wanted to touch it.

Would it feel like Drew’s? Were his curls the same soft texture? Would they cling to my fingers as I ran a hand through them?

Jesus. Stop it. You can’t touch his hair.

I looked out the window, lifted my glass to my lips.

“This is delicious, Hannah.” He wound a huge mound of pasta around his fork. His wrists and forearms were nice and thick—a little thicker than Drew’s, and the slight difference pleased me. If I could focus on the differences, I’d cope better.

“Thanks. I got the tomatoes from work. Everything we serve there is grown on their farm.”

“That’s right. My mom mentioned you’ve been working at Valentini Farms.”

“At the new bed and breakfast, yes. Although we serve dinner now, too. But sometimes I work over at the farm if they need extra help with something.”

“I’ll have to check it out. I’d like to catch up with Pete. It’s been a while. Sounds like they’re doing really well with the new business.”

I nodded. “They are. Summer has been really busy there. And it’s completely booked this weekend.”

“High season up here. Things will seem quiet next week.” He set down his fork and picked up his wine. “So you’re enjoying the job? I remember how good your baking was.”

“Thanks.”

“And everything is good with the house?”

“Yes. I’ve had a crash course in things like mortgages and taxes and insurance in the last year and a half. Your dad has helped me a lot.”

“Good. I’m always happy to help you out, too. Don’t ever hesitate to ask.” He paused with his glass halfway to his mouth. Was his top lip a little fuller than Drew’s? Maybe it was that he wore his scruff a little shorter than Drew had. “I feel bad that I haven’t been here for you, Hannah.”

“Don’t. Really, don’t.” I met his eyes, and we exchanged a look that felt like a conversation. I couldn’t have handled your being here anyway. I can barely handle it now.

But I feel guilty.

There’s nothing you can do.

There must be. Tell me what it is. I’ll do it.

“It fits!” Abby came bounding down the stairs and into the kitchen.

Glad for the intrusion, I focused on my daughter, who twirled happily in her new dress, which was ruched with elastic across the bodice and halter style, but the straps were hanging down. “Come here, let me tie it.”

“I want Uncle Wes to do it.” She stood next to his chair, presented her back and lifted her hair off her neck.

He looked at me, eyebrows raised, as if to ask permission.

I shrugged. “She’s all yours, Uncle Wes.”

He smiled back and set his glass down before reaching for the straps. His fingers looked big and masculine as they gently worked the straps into a bow. I almost laughed at how hard he appeared to be concentrating on the task.

“There,” he said. “How did I do?”

“Good.” She twirled around again.

“What do you say, Abby?” I prompted.

“Thank you.” She beamed at him. “I love it.”

“You’re welcome.” He picked up his fork again. “I’m so glad it fits.”

“Can we go for ice cream now, Mommy?”

I looked at Wes. “She wants to walk into town for ice cream. It’s no problem if you don’t have time.”

“Of course I have time.”

“Abby, let Uncle Wes finish his dinner, and then we’ll go, okay?”

“Okay. Can I go back outside?”

“You can go in the backyard. Not the front.”

“Kay.” She went out the back door, leaving us alone again.

“She’s so cute, Hannah.”

“Thanks.”

“How is she doing with…everything?”

“Pretty well, I guess.” I sighed, lifting my shoulders. “She was so young, you know? And sometimes I’m torn between hoping she remembers everything about him and how much he loved her, and other times I’m glad she probably doesn’t. I don’t want her to have the pain of missing him the way I do.”

He nodded. “I get that.”

“She doesn’t talk about him a lot,” I confessed. “At least not with me. Her therapist thinks it’s probably because she thinks it will make me sad, not because she doesn’t want to remember him.”

“Makes sense.”

“So each night at bedtime, she’ll ask me something about him, or I’ll tell her a story.”

“That’s a good idea.” He picked up his wine. “I could tell her some, too, if you’d like.”

“She’d love that. In fact, she just asked me last night what Drew looked like at her age. I told her maybe Nana had a picture at her house.”

“Definitely. Albums full of them. And she loves looking through them. Why don’t you bring Abby over tomorrow? Mom would love to see you both.”

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