We were on the sofa. She pulled up her shoulders, then they dropped and she sighed. She took a sip of her wine and pulled her shoulders up again.
I hadn't wanted to pry, but I couldn't deny being curious after she had told me only her dad would be attending our dinner.
"My mom passed away when I was thirteen," she said and I opened my mouth to say something of comfort, but she pressed her finger to my lips.
"I love you, but I know how people feel when they hear that," she said. "I've heard every variation of responses people could possibly have to that statement for the past seven years. There's more to the story than just that."
What was I going to say, anyway? I didn't know. So, I kissed her finger instead and she continued.
"She had left us months before she died," she said and took another sip. "She had met a man online, who, I guess, made her feel more special than my dad had. I don't know. Letting yourself get bored with your life is dangerous, I guess."
I didn't entirely understand what she meant, but I thought about how she had been in Japan all alone. How she pulled me into karaoke without knowing who I was. How she met me without hesitation who she got home. How she pulled me into a kiss upon seeing me. How she heartily agreed to live by my side. She often seemed determined not to be bored.
"My dad filed a missing person's report because he knew something was wrong, even though she made it clear she was leaving on her own volition," she continued. "She had gotten into drugs. The guy was some kind of dealer. Apparently, he gave her all kinds of jewelry and kept her high. The police found her a few months later during a raid on the guy's house. She had overdosed on cocaine."
She sighed again, her breath shuddering as she exhaled.
"I made a promise to my father that I would never be dishonest with him, and he promised to do the same," she started to cry. "We said we wouldn't hold each other back, we would encourage each other, and we would always be able to come to each other with the truth."
I placed my hands on her shoulders and said. "You didn't lie to him."
"But, I didn't tell him the truth, either," she started to sob.
"Harley, hey, it's okay," I pulled her against my chest and tried to calm her down. "Listen to me. He's hurt, and surprised I'm sure, but he will forgive you. You did not do anything close to what your mom did."
An image of a younger version of Harley mourning her mother was conjured in my mind. How much pain she must have went through. How much she felt for her father.
"I ran away with a strange man and I kept it from him," she said.
"Am I that strange?" I asked.
She shook her head and pulled away so that she could look at me.
"You confronted your father with the truth, tonight," I said seriously. "You reached out to bring him closer. He's mad. Sure, because you kept it from him initially. But, I'm sure he's more concerned that he thinks you made a mistake. He's afraid you'll get hurt."
She took in a deep breath and asked, "You think so?"
I nodded earnestly.
She leaned into my chest and I put my arms around her.
"Thank you for listening," she whispered.
"Thank you for telling me," I said and kissed the top of her head.
I respected her father more than I could have previously. He had raised her through difficult years and helped her to be strong and brave. She was already the most honest person I knew, always speaking nearly every thought that popped into her head.
"I want ice cream," she stood up and went into the kitchen, rummaging through drawers to find the ice cream scoop.
"It's in the dishwasher," I smiled.