Only with You (The Best Mistake #1) - Page 34

“What? They have something important going on? They have a good reason? Well, so do I.”

Her mother’s nostrils fluttered. “Sophie, please don’t be petulant. It’s unattractive.”

Marnie turned on the heel of her designer pump and marched back into the kitchen.

Confusion temporarily dampened Sophie’s anger as she absorbed the blunt truth that her own parents seemed to think she didn’t matter.

Were they really still that mad at her for not finishing law school? Was that what all of this was about? Was having a daughter they could brag about at the country club really more important than said daughter’s happiness?

Sophie knew that they loved her, of course. She could always count on them to come help her out if she got a flat tire, or needed help moving, or nearly chopped her fingers off while cutting parsley. But caring was no longer enough for Sophie.

She wandered into the kitchen and poured herself a generous glass of wine. Her family was deep in a riveting conversation about “the club’s” upcoming tennis tournament. Sophie started to tune out, but their ignoring her was like Miracle-Gro on her little seed of anger.

The four of them had used to all play tennis together. And the real kicker was that Sophie was better than all of them. Something they’d conveniently forgotten since she didn’t play at “the club.”

“Do you guys need another person?” she blurted out.

Three pairs of startled eyes fell on her. Their confused expressions burned into her and gave her courage. “What? I’m pretty sure my backhand still beats all of yours.”

“Sophie, hon, you have to be a member to play,” her dad said gently.

“Oh.” She’d forgotten that part. “Is that like really expensive or something?”

She already knew that a membership to their country club was out of the question. Especially since she was now unemployed. “Well, it’d be nice to be included as a guest once in a while,” she said softly.

“Sure, you can come with me anytime,” Brynn said smoothly. “I didn’t realize you still played.”

Probably because you’ve never bothered to ask.

“Where’s Will?” Marnie asked, setting a platter of avocado crostini in front of them. “These are his favorite. He’s usually here by now.”

Sophie snagged a piece of bread and got ready to drop her bomb. “Will moved to Boston.”

The reaction to this announcement would have been comical had she not been so annoyed with the lot of them. Marnie’s salad tongs were frozen in midair. Her father’s crostini seemed stuck halfway to his mouth. Brynn’s crystal wineglass was now in a million pieces at her feet.

“What do you mean, he’s moved to Boston?” Chris said as Marnie rushed to help Brynn clean up. “We just saw him last Sunday and he didn’t say a word about it.”

To me either, Sophie thought.

Will had come by last night to say good-bye, catching Sophie completely off guard. Her best friend was moving across the country and hadn’t breathed a word about it. In the span of a week he’d put his town house on the market, sold his car, hired movers, and signed a lease on an apartment in downtown Boston that he’d never even seen.

But it had taken about five seconds to see that this wasn’t a careless move.

Spontaneous, yes. Slightly insane, sure. But she knew Will better than anyone, and if he was making a move like this, it was for good reason. It had stung that he hadn’t been able to share that reason, but Sophie hadn’t pushed. She hadn’t exactly been spilling her guts to him lately either. Even the best of friends were allowed their secrets.

“He’s sorry he didn’t say good-bye,” Sophie said to her still-stunned family.

That Will hadn’t been able to stick around to say good-bye to her family still confused her. The Daltons were the only family Will had. She’d begged him to postpone his flight by a day to say good-bye in person, but he’d insisted he had to get to Boston immediately.

“Well, that’s just…just…I don’t know what to say,” her mother sputtered, speechless for once.

“He said he’ll be back someday, Mom,” Sophie said gently. “And I’m sure he’ll come visit.”

Marnie just shook her head and went back to dressing her salad with a shell-shocked expression. Chris returned to watching his baseball game with a forlorn look. Nobody else in the family could tolerate his reciting of sports stats like Will could.

Brynn was washing spilled wine off her hands. Or at least that’s what she was

supposed to be doing. It looked a lot like staring out the window looking ready to puke while letting the water run.

“You okay, Brynny?” Sophie asked.

“What? Oh, sure. Did Will say why?”

Sophie shook her head. “Nope. Maybe he just wanted a fresh start.”

Her sister remained silent.

“Brynn, the water?” her mother said.

“Oh, right,” she muttered, returning to the task of washing her hands.

Marnie and Sophie exchanged a puzzled look. What was that all about? If anything, Brynn should be happy to get Will out of her life. It’s not like there was any love lost between those two. Sophie shrugged at her mom. She’d pester Brynn about it later. And from the wrinkles on Brynn’s normally perfectly smooth forehead, whatever was eating at her was going to be juicy.

Without Will’s easy, carefree presence to diffuse the usual Dalton stuffiness, the evening had a strained, stilted vibe. Marnie seemed to be still miffed with Sophie, although Sophie wasn’t sure it was for being tardy, the hole in her jeans, or the fact that she’d defended herself instead of apologizing.

Brynn continued to do the strange moody thing that really didn’t look good on her.

These were the types of evenings that the old Sophie would take charge of, sprinkling little bits of false cheer.

But not tonight. She didn’t have it in her. No matter how many times she told herself not to think about Gray (at least fourteen times every minute), she kept seeing the blank look in his silver eyes when she’d walked away from him.

She also kept seeing herself as she’d spent the weekend, wearing her baggiest pink sweats, eating nothing but corn chips and waiting for the phone to ring. It hadn’t.

The four of them shoveled food in robotic silence, until uncharacteristically, it was Sophie’s dad who finally tried to break the icy silence.

“Excellent roast, Marn,” he said as he sawed furiously at the dry piece of meat. Sophie rolled her eyes. The roast wasn’t even close to excellent. Sophie missed the days when her mother had worked full-time and they’d had a housekeeper who put perfectly passable casseroles in the oven. But since retirement had left Marnie feeling useless, she’d filled the void by buying a library’s worth of cookbooks.

Money would have been better spent on cooking lessons on how to actually use said cookbooks.

Sophie poked at an underseasoned potato and wished Brynn would bring one of her perfect boyfriends over more often. At least then Marnie tried to cook something other than a massive chunk of meat left to dry out in the oven for hours.

But Brynn hadn’t brought anyone over since that disastrous dinner with Gray.

Just look how that had turned out.

“Sophie, about your new job…” Chris said when Marnie failed to preen over his dinner praise. “I’ve been thinking, I bet a company like that would help pay to put you through business school. Then you could actually be one of the big guns instead of just working for them.”

As her father’s words penetrated her brain, Sophie let out a hysterical little laugh that had all three family members staring at her warily.

“I don’t think so, Dad.”

Chris looked disappointed, but not surprised. Marnie’s lips pressed into a thin line. Sophie waited patiently for a follow-up question she knew wouldn’t come.

So you like your job, then?

What about the other areas of your life?

How’s Gray? What’s going on there?

As expected, nobody spared her a second thought once they’d established she wasn’t angling to be CEO, and conversation turned to Brynn’s latest patient, who had an entire extra set of teeth.

Sophie quietly watched her family, feeling as though she was viewing them from a great distance.

There was her mother with her composed “interested” face as she listened to her successful older daughter discuss maxillary lateral incisors. And here was Sophie’s dad, nodding knowledgeably, even though Sophie was pretty sure he’d never had to get near a maxillary whatever during his days of sewing up appendices and ruptured spleens.

Last, Sophie studied Brynn, whose placid smile didn’t reach her eyes as she recited words Sophie didn’t know. None of the words were fewer than fifteen letters.

This can’t possibly be what Brynn wants out of her life, Sophie thought. It’s certainly not what I want.

Sophie’s fork clattered noisily to her plate, startling everyone into silence.

“Sophie, that’s expensive china,” her mother said with an exasperated look.

“And it’s fine, Mother. Even if it weren’t

fine, this is the most predictable pattern in all of yuppie America and it’s a plate. It’s replaceable.”

Marnie’s mouth dropped open slightly, but Sophie was already moving on to her next target.

“And Brynn? Noooobody cares about the incline of Tiffany so-and-so’s molars. I mean, do you even care?”

Finally, she turned to her father. “Dad, no daughter wants to disappoint her father, and I’m tired of doing it over and over, so let’s just have it out once and for all. I’m never going to be a lawyer. Or a doctor, or some high-level executive. I appreciate that you gave me the opportunities and education to make those things possible, but it’s just not the path for me.”

“Soph, you say that now, but…”

“I’m almost twenty-eight, Dad. Still young, but hardly some dewy college student trying to figure out what to do with my life.”

“And what are you doing with your life, Sophie?” her mother asked. “Serving cocktails? Now you’re spending your days making copies and fetching coffee…”

Sophie held up one finger. “Actually, that last bit isn’t quite true any longer. I quit.”

The number of stunned silences at this lovely family dinner was starting to get comical, and Sophie almost smiled.

“But why?” her father asked. “It’s only been a few months…”

Sophie shrugged. “Because I was shagging my boss and it got complicated.”

Another of those silences. “You and Gray?” Marnie mused. “I never would have thought…”

“That he’d be interested in me?” Sophie finished for her mother. “Yeah, me neither. Turns out we were both right.”

Sophie’s righteous fury had been briefly exhilarating, but saying Gray’s name out loud had taken the wind out of her sails and she felt her anger slip away to reveal what it had been hiding all along. Pain.

“That’s not what I meant,” Marnie said, her voice uncharacteristically gentle. “I didn’t think you’d ever be interested in someone like him. He was so…formal.”

“Not so much,” Sophie whispered. “Not underneath.”

Brynn came around to Sophie’s side and knelt by her chair, wrapping a comforting arm around her waist. “I’m sorry, Soph. What happened?”

Sophie scanned her sister’s face. “Aren’t you upset? I mean, I slept with your ex. That’s a sibling no-no.”

Brynn rolled her eyes. “Please. The only reason I was even remotely upset when we broke up was because it was an inconvenience. And I think I knew on some level that you two had…well, something.”

Sophie’s eyes watered at the unexpected acceptance. “You’re a better person than me.”

“Never,” Brynn said, squeezing her hand. “Now tell us what happened.”

“About what you’d expect. He just saw me as a temporary toy.”

“And you? How’d you feel about him?”

Sophie rolled her eyes up to look at the ceiling in an effort to keep the tears from falling. “Oh, you know. True love, and all that nonsense.”

The dishes rattled as Chris pushed back roughly from the table. “Where does this guy live? Nobody makes my Sophie cry.”

Sophie let out a watery laugh. “Thanks, Dad, but it wasn’t his fault. Just one of those things that didn’t work out.”

She tried to take another bite, but let her fork drop again. “You know, I think I’m going to go home. Sorry to ruin dinner.”

Her parents nodded, looking uncomfortably out of their depth. She didn’t blame them, not really. The Dalton family didn’t communicate in scenes and tears. But before she let them off the hook, she had one more thing to say.

“You know, getting rejected by a guy who doesn’t think I’m good enough is one thing. I can move on from that. Eventually. But you guys are my family. I shouldn’t have to try so hard to be good enough. It should be enough for you guys that I’m happy, even if I’m not impressive.”

“Sophie, you know we love you,” her mom said, looking on the verge of tears.

“Yeah, I know, Mom. But I need that love to stop being so judgmental.”

“I’m not—”

“Yeah, you are. If it’s not my jeans, it’s my hair, or my job, or my friends, or my hobbies. I’m never going to be Brynn. Stop trying to make me.”