Chapter Two continued…
Lydia was unusually silent in the truck’s passenger seat. Luke glanced at her several times, trying to gauge what she might be thinking. “Pumpkin—”
“Did you really kiss the bookstore lady?”
Crud. Was that what she was thinking about? “I did. We were very young.”
“What about Mommy?”
“I hadn’t even met your mommy yet.”
Luke waited a few more minutes. “Does that bother you?”
“No…well, do you like her now? Allie, I mean.”
“I know who you mean, Lyddie. And I don’t know her now. I didn’t really know her then.”
“But you kissed her.”
“Well, yeah. She was wearing this white fluffy hat and her cheeks were pink and she skated like a pro.” Good Lord, he couldn’t believe he was having this conversation with his daughter. He put on the turn signal, concentrating on steering into the driveway, remembering suddenly that Allie had worn her unruly cinnamon hair long back then, and it had been braided down her back, tied with a thin, blue ribbon. Lydia remained silent beside him. “Sometimes teenage boys can be stupid like that,” he said. “When you’re a teenager, I want you to promise me you won’t let any boy kiss you, okay?”
“Yuk,” said Lydia, shooting a glance at him before she turned her gaze out the window. “I like Allie.”
“That’s good,” Luke responded, uncertain where his daughter was headed with that comment.
“She told me she ran away once when she was little.”
“She ran away with her brother, so she said it wasn’t as scary as being alone. She said they got as far as the bridge over Morgan Creek—do you know where that is, Dad?”
“I think so,” he said.
“And then something bad almost happened to them. She didn’t say what it was, but she told me I must never, ever run away again.”
Would that Lydia’s behavior might actually cease on a word from a stranger. But he understood the issues behind it were too deeply entrenched to be rooted out by a simple story. Still, one could hope.
“She asked me where I thought I was going when I started out. I told her I didn’t know. Why do I do that, Dad? I can’t walk all the way to California. I know it’s far away. And I don’t want to. That would be stupid.”
“Wanting to see your mother isn’t stupid, honey,” he said, reaching over to pat her hand. She let him for a moment and then pulled her fingers away, tucking them into her lap. She got like that, sometimes. Not wanting to be touched, as if she were afraid of being vulnerable.
“But she doesn’t want to see me, does she?”
This was as close as Lyddie ever came to the pain she carried inside. Luke held his breath for a second. He knew he should be honest with his daughter, but he couldn’t bear it. Besides, he didn’t know the truth. Not really. Not enough to dash all hope. “Sure she does. Just give her time.”
“What did I do?”
Anger colored Luke’s vision for a moment as he steered through people carrying wrapped trees to their cars. He headed toward the house. “Nothing, Lyddie. You did nothing wrong. If you don’t believe anything else, believe that.”
In silence, Lydia picked at a ball of lint on her coat. Even after Luke parked the truck, she continued to pluck her garment hem. Despite the topic between them and his daughter’s withdrawal, Luke’s thoughts were stirred by a vague optimism. He’d always been told things happened for a reason. Although Lydia’s running away again, managing to make it into town, was both disheartening and frightening, maybe her ending up at the bookstore had been a blessing in disguise. She’d listened to Allie. Really listened, and spoke in her turn. Perhaps the wound had at last been exposed to a little healing balm.
One excerpt of Winter Light to go. I do so hope you’re enjoying what you’ve read so far. Stop on back tomorrow for Excerpt #5.