Until Ashlyn Page 16

“Hey.” He lifts his hand and slides his fingers softly across my forehead as his eyes follow the path of his touch.

“Hey,” I reply softly, studying him. He doesn’t look angry anymore; he looks apprehensive, making me wonder what he’s thinking. Scooting back, his hand drops to rest on the bed near my hip, and his eyes scan my face before meeting my gaze once more.

“I didn’t know about your parents. I’m really sorry for being insensitive,” I whisper, and his face softens.

“You weren’t being insensitive. You didn’t know, and I don’t talk about them often… to anyone,” he confesses gently and I nod, chewing the inside of my cheek.

“Will you tell me about them?” I question delicately when he doesn’t say more. His face softens further, and he kicks off his shoes and climbs up next to me on the bed, tucking me into his side.

“My moms name was Lacey and my dad was Paul, they met at summer camp when my mom was fourteen and my dad was sixteen. They disliked each other from the moment they met. My mom was outgoing, happy, and the center of attention, while my dad was uptight, high-strung, and slightly antisocial.” I hear the smile in his tone, and I smile a little myself, thinking they sound a lot like us. “Both their parents sent them back to the same camp every summer, and every summer, the animosity between my mom and dad grew a little more.”

“And then they fell in love?” I tilt my head back and look at him, and he shakes his head.

“No, they eventually got too old for summer camp and forgot about each other.”

“Oh,” I mutter, thinking that’s a total letdown. His arms give me a squeeze and I hear him chuckle before his lips touch the top of my head.

“When my mom was twenty-two and my dad was twenty-four, they met again at a party. My mom was going to Wellesley, and my dad was going to Harvard, when they ran into each other. Mom was drunk and spilt her drink on him,” he says, and I giggle, pressing my forehead to his chest, picturing his dad’s face and imagining it looked a lot like Dillon’s. “My dad hadn’t changed at all. He was pissed and demanded my mom pay for his shirt to be dry-cleaned.”

“Did she tell him where to shove it?” I smile.

“Yeah.” He laughs, running his hand over the top of my head. “That did not go over well with my dad. He left the party and went back to his dorm. The next day, he took his shirt to the dry-cleaners then tracked down my mom’s address and sent her the bill.”

“Oh, Lord, I see where you get your personality from,” I murmur, feeling his chest shake under my cheek.

“The day she got the bill in the mail, she went to his dorm.”

“Go Mom.” I whisper, tucking my hand under my cheek. “They had a blowout fight in the middle of campus. My dad, hating the attention, gave in and told her just to leave, that he didn’t want her money. She did leave. She took off, only she didn’t go back to her school right away. Instead, she went to the dry-cleaners and picked up his shirt.”

“Your mom was awesome.”

“She was,” he agrees softly, running his fingers through my hair. “When my dad went to get his shirt, he found out it had already been picked up, and he knew it was her. He thought she was insane.”

“But he liked her, didn’t he?”

“He didn’t know how he felt about her until the fall, when my mom graduated from Wellesley and started at Harvard Law School, and they ran into each other again. My dad swore my mom did everything within her power to annoy him. She would always stop to talk to him, always do crazy things to get his attention or bug him.”

“And he fell in love with her.”

“He did, but my mom was having none of it. She gave him a run for his money. It took a year for him to catch her. She wasn’t exactly easy to hold onto, but my dad persevered and one thing led to another. They started dating then moved in together, got married, graduated college, and had Parker and me.”

“Parker’s your brother?”

“Yeah, you’ll meet him.” He squeezes me again and my stomach fills with butterflies. “He’s five years older than me and lives in Chicago with his wife and sons. He was a doctor, but after he and his wife had twins, he decided to stay home, and his wife, who is a plastic surgeon, works.”

“What about your dad? Your mom was in law. What was he?”

“My dad was a dentist.”

“Is that why you wanted to be a dentist?” I ask, tilting my head back catching his smile.

“No.” He chuckles. “I wanted to be a lawyer.”

“I could see you as a lawyer.” He smiles, and I question, “So why did you become a dentist then?”

“After he and my mom passed, I got into Harvard. I decided law wasn’t for me, so I followed in Dad’s footsteps instead.”

“I’m sure both of them would be proud of you.”

“I’m sure they would too,” he mutters, dropping a kiss to the top of my head.

“Can I ask what happened to them?” I question after a moment, and his hold on me tightens.

“They were coming home from a New Years Eve party. My father had been drinking and insisted he was sober enough to drive. He wasn’t, or maybe he was. Their car hit a patch of black ice, went off the side of the road, and rolled down a ravine. They both died instantly.” Hearing that, I wonder how much that changed who he was. I can’t imagine how a tragedy like that would affect someone.

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