Ten Seconds to Fall

Lucy doesn't know what to do with herself after graduation. That is, until she stumbles upon The 10 Second Fiesta.

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6. Several Days Later

I was in an awkward spot.

Seriously, super weird.

I was now in a serious relationship with my boss, who was a good portion of time older than I was. I mean, by my calculations, he'd been alive about thirty percent longer than I had.

Also, my dad was on to me. I was coming home later in the evenings. Actually, that was a trend that had started on graduation day, but that's beside the point. He was asking questions. And I had never had it in me to keep things from my dad. It's just, there was now this big weird thing about my mom.

She was sick. Not, like, terminally ill. She was mentally ill. Call it a really bad childhood catching up to her the moment my older brother moved out. The doctors call it a borderline personality disorder. She'd been able to mask it for years, but she was losing grasp on reality more and more. She lies, but thinks she's telling the truth. Mixes fact with fiction. Says outright hurtful things.

I know she doesn't mean anything by it. I love her. But, I don't exactly want to bring Jude over for dinner and say, "Hey, here's my gene pool. We're gonna have a blast in twenty years!"

Not that he'd be that shallow, anyway.

But, again, dad was asking. And I blabbed. And, so I walked into work with a new mission, which was to invite my boyfriend to have lunch with my father.

"Sounds good," he was always so frustratingly chill. "When?"

"Today," I said and saw him swallow. "At that pub down the road."

"No time like the present," he smiled and kissed my forehead.

So, at noon we left Jasey to man the store and trekked down to the pub. My dad was already sitting in a booth by himself. He stood when he saw us and put out his hand to shake Jude's. I could tell they were sizing each other up a bit. My dad may have used a little too much strength in his handshake, and Jude may have let it show a bit in his expression.

We all sat down.

"So, Jude," my father started the conversation. "What got you into the coffee business?"

Jude smiled, "My parents took me to a coffee farm in Hawaii when I was a kid. We were on a family trip, and my mom loved coffee. It made sense to them. That was the first time I'd ever had a taste of the stuff in my life. And that was it. I was smitten with the beverage. I got a job with a coffee catering company right out of high school. Then, I decided I wanted to open up my own cafe."

My dad nodded, "Very good. It's nice to see a young person with some passion for something."

That remark was aimed at me. Good, solid hit to the gut.

"Can I ask," Jude asked later, after we'd taken a few bites of our food, "Where's Mrs. Caldwell? She not interested in meeting me?"

I know that he meant to be comical with the mock personal injury, but the joke fell flat and my dad looked sullen. He was ultra defensive of my mom's condition.

"You didn't tell him, Lucy?" dad asked.

"Jude," I sighed. "My mom isn't well."

"I'm meeting you here for lunch as a precursor, to make sure she'll be able to handle your company," my father explained as if he was explaining the formula to solve an equation. "Which, I think will be fine."

Jude looked a little ruffled.

"Alright, what's the plan, there?" Jude turned to me.

"I don't know yet."

And, I didn't. And, the walk back to the cafe was awkward when we'd parted ways with my dad.

"Jude, are we okay?" I asked later, having never seen him get upset before.

"I felt a little ambushed," he admitted as he opened the blender and added some ice to it. "I get it, I do. I just wish you'd told me instead of your dad, whom I'd literally just met."

"I'm sorry," I looked down at my feet. "It's just, it's almost like a secret, still. Not even her friends know what's wrong. I mean, they know something's wrong. But, it's not something we share. And, you're my first boyfriend..."

"Wait a minute," he interrupted me with a toothy grin and stopped adding things into the blender. "I'm your first boyfriend?"

I pulled up a seat at the bar and folded my arms on the surface, "Yes."

He leaned on the bar directly across from me.

"Was I your first kiss?" he asked.

"No," I answered and he frowned. "And, I'm sorry. I just didn't know how to tell you."

"It's okay," he said. "I'm sorry, too. I'm glad you trust me enough to tell me at all. I guess it means you want to keep me around."

"Maybe," I said.

"Maybe?" he asked in mock surprise. "Well, I'm sticking, whether you like it or not. Only for the make out sessions, though."

"Oh, really?" I asked and grabbed his collar.

"What do you think you're doing to my shirt?" he asked.

I answered him by kissing him firmly on the mouth. When I let him go, he pretended to be dizzy and got back to making his drink.

"You guys are disgusting," Lew said from the day's perch.

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