“Manny told me he hopes you and he can become friends,” she said.
“I just said I don’t need friends!” I looked at her. “Think about it. We become friends, and then he sees something online. He gets worried about his sister or decides I’m evil or something. Then we aren’t friends anymore. I’d rather not be friends in the first place than have it end that way.”
“You don’t know for sure what would happen.” She held up her hand. “Let’s get today sorted out first, and then if you still want to talk about the other stuff, we can. I just want to make sure we’re good first.”
I didn’t have a clue whether we were “good” or not. It wasn’t up to me. She was the one I’d bailed on. And the one who’d gotten the phone call from Pat.
“Like I said, I’m going to double-check what restrictions you have as far as working at the shop,” she said. “If there aren’t any, good. If there are, I’ll find something else for you to do. Jim, I’m sorry today went the way it did.”
“Me too,” I mumbled.
“Next time, please don’t run out on me.” She paused. “I was worried. I didn’t know where you’d gone until Manny came into the shop. And even then I wasn’t sure where you ended up until I heard from Pat. How’d you manage to walk so far without freezing?”
“I wasn’t so cold when I was walking.” I tapped my fingers on my legs. “I got cold sitting here, but I don’t have a key.”
“I’ll get you one tomorrow. Should have done it already.” She stood. “I’m going to make cocoa. Do you want some?”
“Sure.” I didn’t, but since she was trying to be nice, it wouldn’t hurt to go along with it.
She went over to the kitchen and took out two mugs. “What did you think of Pat?”
I opened and closed my mouth a couple of times. Pat was Delia’s neighbor, so she probably was friendly with him. I didn’t want to say anything bad about him, but I wasn’t going to lie, either.
“He was kind of weird,” I said finally. “He said a bunch of stuff about history. He was ticked off at me first, because I guess I freaked him out by sitting out here. But then…. You didn’t tell him anything about me, did you?”
Delia shook her head. “Only that you’re a relative who came out from Massachusetts to live with me. I didn’t say anything about why.”
“He sounded like he knew something more.” I bit my lip. “I mean, like I said, he was talking about history, but it was junk about how history doesn’t make you who you are.”
Delia nodded and emptied packets of powdered hot chocolate into the mugs. “Sounds like something he’d say. I don’t know his whole story, and even if I did, I wouldn’t share it. Not my place. I only know a long time ago, he was accused of something. I don’t know what, and I don’t know if it was true or not. It’s taken him decades to come back from it. That’s why he lives alone. I’m the only one he really talks to most of the time.”
“That sucks.” I would probably end up the same way. Living alone in a crappy park, in a crappier trailer, with no one caring if I dropped dead.
The idea should have made me feel bad, but it didn’t. At least if I lived that way, I wouldn’t have to worry about people’s opinions. My name wouldn’t be on the registry forever, but that didn’t mean much. Once something went online, it was there forever.
“Yeah. It does.” Delia put the mugs in the microwave. She didn’t do the whole kettle thing. “Anyway. I accept your apology for scaring the hell out of me the way you took off. Do you accept mine for the way I acted?”
I didn’t have much choice. I couldn’t stay mad at her because I had to live with her. And she hadn’t really done anything wrong. I didn’t blame her a bit for making me get away from the kid at the shop.
“Yeah,” I said.
“Thank you. And you aren’t a monster, so quit saying it. I was looking out for you, not thinking anything bad.”
“Okay.” She could tell me all she wanted that I wasn’t a monster. I wouldn’t believe her.