It was only a week before Christmas when I got an email from Dad telling me there had been a change in vacation plans. I would no longer be able to visit them for Christmas. The Stepmother’s parents wanted to go to Italy, so the four of them and my toddler half-sister, Sarah, were going. The vacation was to be longer than my school holidays, so it didn’t make sense for me to come.
I’d spent the year telling myself I hated Dad just as much as I hated The Stepmother, but when it came down to it, he was my father. Despite having terrible taste in wives, he had continued to raise me and take care of me even when my mom left in my infancy.
In spite of everything, I’d been looking forward to seeing him. I’d been hoping we could be a family again—the way we were before he remarried.
I shut my laptop and slid it back into my bag, tightening my scarf around my neck.
It was fine. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t anything I didn’t expect, anyway.
“Cami?” Will stood beside the bench, hands in his coat pockets. He looked down at me with concern.
“Hi,” I said, trying to smile. My lips, chapped from the winter air, trembled.
“Are you all right?”
“I’m—” But I couldn’t get out the words. My eyes welled up, but before I could properly summon any tears, his arms were around me.
And with that simple action, I couldn’t seem to stop. My shoulders shook, and I kept my face in his chest. He smelled earthy and fresh, a smell that immediately came to represent home.ns 18.104.22.168da2