Loving With A Heavy Heart Chapter 61
60 A Starry Sky
A few hours later Elle and het father were finally finishing up their visits. They were now at her father's older brother's home. It was perhaps the only visit Elle didn't mind making. Elle's aunt would ask about how Elle was doing, just like everybody else, but she was the only one who actually seemed to care about the answer.
Tonight her aunt had made a nice large dinner, so they all sat around the table eating. Elle got to enjoy her meal in peace, and quietly listened in on the conversation as everyone else spoke.
"How is Elle's work going?" Her aunt finally asked.
"It's going well." Elle replied.
"Her marketing department did really well on a recent project. They broke our old sales record." Her father said. Elle looked up in surprise. She thought she had heard it in his voice, she wasn't sure, but when she looked at his face she saw it clear as day. Pride. He was proud of her.
"Is that true?" Her uncle asked. "Good work Elle."
"Thank you." Elle said modestly.
Her father reached over and ruffled her hair, as he often did before the marriage. "It really is. I was so busy I didn't have a chance to see the report until yesterday. You should have told me; I would have taken you out to celebrate on Friday."
"That's okay." Elle said, unsure of what to feel. Pride was an emotion she rarely saw from him, even before the marriage. "I went out to celebrate with a friend."
"Is that so?"
Just then Elle felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. The conversation at the dinner table continued, but Elle was no longer paying attention. Adam had just texted her.
"Where are you? Have you left work?"
"I didn't go in today. I'm at my uncle's home." She replied.
"Having fun?" Adam asked.
Elle paused for a moment, looking over at her dad. It's true that things were different now, and that she didn't particularly like the way they were, but tonight she didn't hate him so much. Today she might even be having fun with him, joking around like they used to.
"I think I am." She wrote back.
Elle smiled, it was only a text message but she could hear the teasing in his words even through the screen.
"I'm so full it's hard to tell." She wrote back. "I need to go for a walk tonight to burn off all this food."
"When will you get home?" Adam asked.
Elle glanced at the time. It was already past seven at night. Knowing her father there was no way he would stay past eight.
"Probably in an hour." She said.
"Let me know when you get back. I'll come pick you up."
Elle looked at the words in surprise. "Pick me up for what?"
"For that walk. You shouldn't walk alone so late at night."
Elle was about to tell him that there was no need, that she had only been joking, but something made her hesitate. Instead she sent back a single word.
Sure enough, just before eight, her father announced that they should be leaving. Everyone said their goodbyes before getting in the car and driving back home.
"So how was it?" Her father asked. "Was it every bit as awful as you thought it would be?"
"Not really. It wasn't so bad." Elle said lightly.
"I suppose not, but you have to admit that soup your cousin made for lunch was dreadful."
Elle couldn't help herself, she let out a laugh. "It wasn't as bad as that one time you made cookies and accidentally put in salt instead of sugar."
"You were five. How long are you going to remember that for?" Her father grumbled.
"Forever." Elle announced happily. "I thought that sort of thing only happened in comics. You should consider it a great achievement to have made such an error."
Elle was still teasing her father as they walked into their house.
"Father." Jacob's voice called out suddenly. "There you are. I was trying to get a hold of you earlier."
And there it was. In that one second, with that one word, Elle's heart froze over. What right did this stranger have to call her father his? But what would have usually upset her only mildly irritated her tonight. Because she was already used to this. It also didn't hurt that across the street Adam was already waiting for her.
"Hey," Elle's father called out to her. "Why don't we open some wine to celebrate your project tonight?"
"Maybe tomorrow." Elle said with a smile. "I'm going to go out on a walk with a friend tonight."
"Okay tomorrow then."
Elle quickly rushed out to meet Adam. He drove her to the same quite park that he had taken her to the night before MK's event. They had made light conversation in the car, but Adam seemed even less talkative than usual. Which was okay because it suited Elle just fine tonight. At the park Adam barely said a work, he just quietly walked by her side.
He only spoke once. Elle was lost in thought and had fallen a few steps behind Adam. When he noticed he turned around and waited for her, pinching her red cheeks as she caught up.
"Your face is cold." He murmured.
Elle didn't say anything, she just pulled her coat tighter around her. It was true, she did feel a kind of cold, but it was a coldness in her heart.
"It's already late December, the nights are cold." Elle mumbled.
"That's true." Adam said, tilting his head up towards the sky. "But the cold, crisp air makes the stars shine brighter don't you think?"
Elle looked up at the sky as well, sure enough a million stars were glittering in the sky.
"It does." Elle agreed softly. A genuine smile snuck its way onto her face.