Monday, November 28, 2016

Chapter 44: Company

Happy Thanksgiving. I suppose that I could go on about what there is to be thankful for -- my health, my job...

Loved ones? What loved ones? What am I to do, call Aunt Geenie and ask to be taken back into the fold? Me! The daughter of that McKenzie whore! Carrier of the Hagan family DNA by default! If only good old H.J. hadn't hooked up with that no-good Dakota McKenzie woman! Ask to be re-instated to that family nightmare? How laughable.

Pardon the sarcasm, readers. But an empty kitchen table stings even now.

My sole guest was going to be Jack, but Mr. Daniels was half-empty and there's no point in drinking to half of a hangover. Jim was my second choice, but I've never been one to stock Mr. Beam. And I couldn't even seek some comfort from the south. The lesson to be learned here, of course, is that there's no danger in my becoming an alcoholic.

So, despite my best intentions, it was a sober Meredith that Greyson found on the other end of the line. "Hey, Merrie, I've been thinking," he said by way of introduction. I didn't mind his forgetting a hollow holiday wish, to be honest. "We're both sitting home alone, and that's really rather stupid of us both. I'm calling to ask you out for the evening. For company, nothing else. Why sit there all alone when we can do that any other evening? It's Thanksgiving, kiddo. Let's celebrate with a pizza and beer somewhere." There are times I appreciate his lack of tact. At least he didn't pretend not to know that I was in a house as empty as his.  Nor did he pretend that romance was part of the equation.

We're sorry ma'am, it looks like he tried to stop.

"Give me a half hour. I'll meet you at Cavatalino's Pizza," I said before I could talk myself out of it.

I didn't think about Liam as I fluffed my short hair and touched up my lipstick. What was there to think about? It was over.

Hours later, Greyson helped me stumble up to my door. I hadn't meant to have quite as much as I did, but I kept thinking too much.

We're sorry ma'am...

Punch lines.

Here was another one. What a joke I was. Meredith Beth Hagan, the girl with a harsh first name and soft second. Rough and gentle. Two sides to me like any good Gemini. Hard with the world, the ice princess. Soft with Liam, silky and buttery and hot. Cold and hot, mercurial.  Greyson sometimes calls me Merrie, a softening of the hard noises that make up my name. How tired I was of being two people. How suddenly tired I was of being independent.

"Do you need any more help, babe?" He asked as my door swung open.

It looks like he tried to stop.