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I drive us all to the Historic District down off of Broad and Main Streets, figuring it to be the best place to hang out for a while, since it gives us the most options. I have always loved this part of our town with its variety of shops, the historic buildings, the great restaurants and coffee houses. They make the perfect recipe for a good night.
Alex and my brother seem to be getting along famously. I am not really following their conversation because my mind is elsewhere. I shouldn’t have let my temper get the better of me, but it seems impossible when my Dad is around. I have no idea how I’m going to tell my parents about Liam and the baby.
“Cat. Cat? Earth to Cat, come in Cat.”
I shake myself out of my reverie and see my brother and Alex both giving me strange looks. “Sorry,” I say, “Just a little distracted.”
“I’ll say,” my brother complains. “We’ve been talking to you for the last five minutes. It wasn’t until Alex asked you a question and you didn’t answer that I realized you weren’t listening.”
I look at Alex and he just smiles at me with understanding, which somehow makes me feel worse. I shouldn’t have brought him here. This is so unfair to him. I should have just been a big girl and dealt with this on my own.
“I’m sorry Alex. What did you want to know?” I ask.
“No biggie. You probably need something to eat to get your brain functions going again. You haven’t eaten a thing since breakfast.”
Leave it to Alex to notice such details.
“There’s a cool coffee shop about one block up. We can stop there,” Dillion offers.
“Great idea,” I say and find us some street parking.
“You really shouldn’t let Dad get to you like that, Tiger. You’re usually much cooler under the collar. What’s got you so worked up?”
“I don’t know,” I say, but Alex, who is walking on the opposite side of me from my brother, reaches over and grabs my hand, giving it a squeeze.
I look at him and he’s looking rather poignantly back at me. “Let’s get some coffee and let me get some food in me, then we’ll all chat, together,” I say to my brother. Alex lets go of my hand, but not before I see my brother take note of Alex’s movement.
“Alright then,” Dillion replies, but I know he doesn’t like being left on the outside. We have never kept secrets from one another and I am not about to start now. Besides, another ally in the house couldn’t hurt.
I mourn not being able to drink regular coffee. All the good flavors come caffeinated, but then I remember how Alex had gotten me a decaf Chai and immediately make it my go-to option. We order our drinks and I get myself a chocolate chip scone.
We choose a booth by the side brick wall and I slide in. My brother purposely slides in across from me, obviously curious where Alex will choose to sit. Alex doesn't even hesitate, immediately taking my side. I see my brother’s smirk and want to wipe it off his face.
“Okay, spill it,” Dillion says, taking a sip of his coffee.
Alex shifts a little closer and puts his hand on my leg for encouragement. I’m always amazed by the calming effect his presence has on me. “So do you want the good news or the potentially disastrous news first?”
Dillion pretends to think. “I’m used to disastrous so let's start with good news.”
I grin at him. He isn’t kidding about the disastrous news; as a recovering alcoholic, he’s had more than his share of stories.
“Liam and I broke up,” I announce.
Dillion’s eyes light up and he covers his heart. “Don’t toy with my emotions like this, Tiger. Are you serious? Is it really over? Like the point of no return over?”
“Man, you REALLY don’t like Liam.” Alex points out.
“I would use the word ‘loathe’ really. Yeah, that’s about right. I loathe Liam,” Dillion says.
“Why?” Alex asks.
Dillion shrugs. “I never liked him. You ever have one of those people that you meet and from that very first moment they just rub you the wrong way.”
Alex nods in agreement and I’m surprised, as Alex seems to get along with everyone.
“But then as he continued to date Cat, it became abundantly clear he really didn’t have her best interests at heart. He was too… self-absorbed. Self-important… I guess you could say. I knew how much she cared for him, so I didn’t say… much.”
I giggle at that last statement. Dillion never let an opportunity pass to let me know exactly what his opinion of Liam was, and just like William's warnings, I ignored him.
“So, what finally caused the breakup?” Dillion asks, turning his attention back to me.
I figure I'll start with the easy answer first. “Well, he cheated on me.”
Dillion’s eyes go wide with anger. “That bastard!” he says, a little too loudly. Several of the coffeehouse patrons look our way.
“Keep it to a dull roar, will you! I don't want Alex’s first introduction to our home town to be getting kicked out of a coffeehouse.”
“I swear, Cat. If I ever see his face again, I'm liable to rearrange it,” Dillion says, trying quite unsuccessfully to simmer down.
“Yeah, THAT will be helpful, especially if you go land yourself back in jail,” I tell him. This is going all wrong. I ask Alex to slide out of the booth and he moves for me.