“Maddie?” Addie sat out on the front steps of the Boston Library, phone to her ear, her heavy hoodie pulled up, letting a big column hide her from the rising sun, from people walking by. They were mostly joggers, this early, but the first of the blue-collar workers were heading into the city and soon the business people would be click-clacking by—all of them dressed in black or gray or navy blue, the women in pumps, the men in shiny duck-tailed shoes. It was bitter cold—too cold for October, it seemed like. She’d been in Massachusetts with Jim for a little over a year and it just…wasn’t home.
It wasn’t what she’d wanted when she’d left her position at the paper, given up her slot as photojournalist for the Morning News, walked away from Afghanistan and bombs and dying babies and Marines with blown-off legs and arms. She’d wanted home and peace and quiet and…Texas. Not here. Not this cold, huge city on the harbor.
Hell, she’d wanted to move back to Hughes Springs, but Jim had found himself a good job at a firm in Boston, had been willing to give up his contract in the Middle East for her, and they’d been together for long enough that she’d felt honor-bound to give the city a chance. Give them a chance. She was beginning to think she was an idiot.
“Sister? Addie? What’s wrong? I know something’s wrong.” Of course Maddie knew. She always knew when something was up. Addie’s twin sister had texted twelve times in two hours, which was crazy. Maddie wasn’t a night owl at all, and it was what? Six-thirty here? So five-thirty at home? That meant Maddie had been texting since damn near three, and she’d have to be up in an hour to feed and work the horses. Addie guessed she was lucky Maddie was home at all. Rodeo finals would be starting soon, and her twin would be on the road a lot. Maddie’d had a damn good year on the barrels—she’d be looking for the big purse in Vegas.
“I-I don’t know what to do.” Addie swallowed hard, hand on her cheek to stave off the brisk autumn winds.
“What did that slimy motherfucker do? I swear to God, I’m going to get Daddy Chris, and I’ll be on a plane in an hour.”
“No!” She sat up, shook her head. “No, Maddie. Please. I just… I thought I was pregnant. I’m not. I wasn’t ever, but Jim saw the pregnancy test and freaked out. Called me a slut, threw me out. Accused me of cheating on him.” Put all her shit on the stoop.
She was never, ever living anywhere that had a stoop again.
“Did he hurt you?”
“I don’t know what to do,” she repeated.
“Oh, fuck a duck sideways. That smarmy little pussy-shoe-wearing fucktard hit you.” Maddie’s voice was like cold steel. Icy. Hard.
“He had a vasectomy. He never said. I just… The rubber broke and I was worried.”
“You’ll start tomorrow. I started today.” Addie was always—always—a day behind. Dad said it was because Maddie was born at eleven-forty-nine on a Friday and she came at twelve-oh-three on a Saturday. The only twins on earth with two dads, different birthdays, and a surrogate mom. “Wait, he didn’t tell you he was fixed?”
“Christ, Addie, y’all are engaged!”
“Were.” The finger where he’d ripped the ring off was swollen, bruised, and she was scared it might be broken.
“Where are you?”
“Steps of the library.”
“In Boston?” Maddie still thought Boston was the biggest, most violent city on earth and couldn’t be convinced that it had its lovely spots. It just wasn’t small town Texas.
“No, Mads, in Bora Bora.”
“They have libraries there?”
They laughed together, sharing the moment. It faded, though, just like the night was fading. “Do you think…? I mean, my car has all the things he let me take.”
“Come home. It’s fall. It’s pretty. I’m fixin’ to be on the road for the push to finals and the dads could use company.” She could see Maddie’s smile in her mind’s eye, tired and fond and knowing. “I have two empty rooms here in my place.”
Daddy Chris had put a modular home on Bill Parker’s plot of land when the man passed, telling Maddie his girls needed a place to be, to stay.
“You sure you want a roommate?”
“Shit, sister, you’re not a roommate. I’ll expect you Thursday?”
Addie nodded. “Maybe Friday. I’m tired. I’ll wait until after rush hour, drive for a few hours and get some sleep.”
“Okay. I’ll tell the dads you’re coming and not to call.”
“Don’t tell them.”
“I won’t. I won’t have to.” Maddie sighed. “At least you weren’t married, huh? I mean, shit, this sucks, but there won’t need to be a lawyer or nothing.”
She nodded, but she was going to start crying again if she spoke. Maddie was right, she guessed. At least there wasn’t a marriage.
Just a screaming match, a slap, one broken finger and most of her shit in the back of a Dodge Charger.
She stood up, wiped her eyes and headed down the steps. Coffee first, then Texas.