The Edge of Always (The Edge of Never #2)(15)

by J.A. Redmerski

Her cheeks deflate with air. “Fair enough,” she says and grabs her purse from the table. “But I was only saying that because I’m worried how she might feel if she knew I came to you, not because I’m worried she’ll be pissed at me for doing it.”

I nod. I admit, I believe her this time.

* * *

I’m hanging out in the den watching TV when Camryn and her mom come home from the birth control appointment. I find myself sitting up straighter, feeling awkward being in her mom’s house and all. I set the TV remote down on the oak coffee table and get up to meet Camryn halfway.

“So, how’d everything go?” Awkward posture. Awkward filler questions. Awkward everything. I hate awkward. We need to get our own place soon. Or a hotel room.

Camryn’s eyes soften as she comes up to me.

“It went fine,” she answers and pecks me on the cheek. “I got what I needed. What did you do today? I bet you looked all sexy driving around in that New Age chick car all day, huh?” The left side of her mouth lifts into a grin.

My face feels a little flush.

Her mom smiles faintly at me behind Camryn’s back as she passes and heads into the kitchen area. It’s the same kind of “quiet smile” Camryn was talking about this morning, the one that screams She’s so fragile and I feel so bad for both of you. I’m starting to understand why Camryn hates it so much.

“Well, I didn’t do much, but I did endure a fifteen minute face-to-face conversation with Shenzi at Starbucks.”

“Shenzi?”

I shake my head, smiling and say, “Never mind. Natalie. She wanted to meet me to talk about you. She’s just really worried.”

Camryn, annoyed, starts to walk toward the hallway leading to her bedroom. I follow.

“I can only imagine what she told you,” she says as she rounds the corner into her room. She sets her purse and a shopping bag on her bed. “And it pisses me off she’d call you behind my back.”

“I probably shouldn’t have met up with her,” I say, standing near the doorway. “But she was persistent and, honestly, I wanted to hear what she had to say.”

She turns to face me. “And what did you get out of it?”

The faint trace of discontent lacing her tone stings me a little.

“Just that you’ve been through a lot and—”

Camryn puts up her hand and shakes her head scoldingly at me. “Andrew, seriously. Listen to me, OK?” She steps right up and takes my hands into hers. “Right now, the only thing that’s causing me any added misery is everybody worrying about me all the time. Think about it—we basically had this conversation just this morning. Now look at me.”

I look at her, not that I wasn’t already.

“Am I moping around?” No, you’re not. “How many times have you seen me smile in the past week?” Many times, actually. “Have you once heard me say anything to indicate I’m hurting more than I’m letting on?” No, not really, I guess.

She tilts her beautiful blonde head gently to the side and reaches up, brushing the side of my face with her soft fingertips. “I want you to promise me something.”

Normally I’d say “anything” without hesitation, but this time I hesitate.

She tilts her head to the other side, and her hand falls away from my face.

Finally, I say with reluctance, “It depends on what it is.”

She doesn’t fight it, but I see the disappointment in her expression.

“Promise me we’ll get back to normal. That’s all I ask, Andrew. I miss the way we were before. I miss our crazy times together and our crazy sex and your crazy dimples and your crazy, vibrant, life-loving attitude.”

“Do you miss the road?” I ask, and the light snaps out of her face as if I’ve said something horribly wrong.

Her eyes stray from mine and she seems lost in some deep, dark moment.

“Camryn… do you miss the road?” I need the answer to this question now more than I did seconds ago, because of her unexpected reaction to it.

After a long, silent moment she looks at me again and I feel lost in her eyes, though in an uncomfortable way.

She doesn’t answer. It’s like… she can’t.

Not knowing what’s going on inside of her head and eager to find out, I finally say, “We can do it now.” I place my hands on her upper arms. “Maybe that’s exactly what you… I mean, we need.” As the idea comes together on my tongue, I get more excited by the second just thinking about it. Camryn and me. On the open road. Living free and in the moment like we had planned to do. I realize I’m smiling hugely, my face lit up with excitement. Holy shit! Yes, this is what we need to do. Why didn’t I think of this before?

“No,” she says flatly, and her answer snaps me right out of that blissful, dreamlike state.

“No?” I can hardly believe it, or understand it.

“No.”

“But… why not?” I ask and she walks away from me casually. “There’s no reason we have to wait anymore.”

I understand in this very second the reason behind her answer. But I don’t have to be the one to bring it up because she does it for me.

“Andrew,” she says, her expression soft with regret, “if we did that it would always linger in the back of my mind that it was something we were putting off because of the baby. It wouldn’t feel right to do it now. Not for a while. A long while.”

“OK,” I say and step up to her. I nod and smile warmly, hoping to make her understand that no matter what she wants to do, or not do, I’m behind her all the way.

“So, what level of bipolar did Natalie make me out to be today?” She laughs under her breath and goes over to the shopping bag she brought with her and reaches inside.

I laugh too and lie horizontally across her bed, my legs hanging over one side, bent at the knees.

“Level yellow,” I say. “Lowest level possible. But she made herself out to be a level red.” I tilt my head sideways to see her. “But I’m sure you already knew that.”

She smiles back at me and pulls a stack of panties out of the bag and starts peeling the sticker labels from the fabric.

“Well, I’m sure she filled your head full of stuff about how I went through a depression phase and all about the ‘shitty hand’ ”—she quotes with her fingers—“I was dealt.” She points at me, squinting one eye. “But that’s just it. It was a phase. I got over it. And besides, who doesn’t go through deaths in the family, divorces, and bad breakups? It’s ridiculous that—”