Home > Did I Mention I Miss You (The DIMILY Trilogy #3)(4)

Did I Mention I Miss You (The DIMILY Trilogy #3)(4)
Author: Estelle Maskame


Once they’re gone, I check my phone for the time. It’s after 9:30. Both the Marina del Rey and Pacific Palisades firework displays are over by now, so there are a lot of people beginning to head home. I pull up Ella’s number and start to call her. Unfortunately, my mom and her boyfriend Jack are both working this evening, so only my dad and my stepmom are out here at the pier to celebrate the Fourth of July. They’re my ride home, so I’ve got no choice but to hunt them down. But what’s even more unfortunate is that it’s Dad’s turn to have me stay with him for the week. That’s the worst part about having divorced parents: being thrown back and forth between different houses. I hate staying at Dad’s place, and he loathes it even more than I do, mostly because it’s unbearably tense and awkward. Like Jamie, Dad only talks to me if it’s absolutely necessary.

Ella’s phone is busy, so the call is directed straight to her voicemail. I don’t leave a message, only hang up as quick as I can. I dread the idea of having to call Dad instead. I scroll through my contacts, pulling up his number and calling it. It starts to ring and I feel myself frowning as I wait for his coarse voice to answer.

Yet as I’m standing on the boardwalk with people milling around me and with my phone pressed to my ear, something catches my attention. It’s my youngest stepbrother, Chase. He’s lingering over by the Bubba Gump restaurant, and he’s alone, when he shouldn’t be. Despite this, he doesn’t look too worried, mostly just bored as he paces slowly back and forth.

I hang up the call to my dad and head over toward Chase. He spots me as I approach and instantly he stops pacing and looks sheepish.

“Where are your friends?” I ask once I reach him. I glance around, searching for a group of soon-to-be-freshmen boys, but I can’t see them.

Chase twirls a thick lock of his blond hair around his index finger. “They took the bus to Venice, but I didn’t go because—”

“Because your mom told you not to leave the pier,” I finish, and he nods. Chase’s friendship circle is prone to getting into trouble often, but he’s smart enough to know when not to break the rules. I’m sure his friends’ parents don’t want their kids sneaking off to Venice on the Fourth of July. It’ll be pretty rowdy over there right now, so I’m glad Chase has chosen to stay behind. “Wanna hang with me?”

“Sure.”

Throwing my arm over his shoulders, I pull him away from the restaurant and head toward Pacific Park. Chase loves the arcade games, but before we’ve even gotten within a twenty-foot radius of the Playland Arcade, I have to stop when my phone starts to ring. Picking up the call, I have to take a second to prepare myself mentally before I can answer when I see that it is Dad calling me.

“What did you want?” is how he greets me, his tone gruff. That’s all it ever is these days.

Angling my body slightly away from Chase, I press my phone closer against my ear and tell him, “Nothing. I was just wondering where you guys were.”

“Well, we’re at the car,” Dad shoots back, as though he expects me to know that already. “Hurry up and meet us here unless you want to ask your brother to give you a ride home instead, which I’m sure he won’t.”

With that, I promptly hang up the call without saying anything more. Most of my phone calls with Dad usually end like this, with one of us hanging up mid-sentence, and most of our conversations face-to-face end with one of us storming off. Admittedly, I’m the one who hangs up the calls. Dad’s the one who storms out.

“Who was that?” Chase asks when I turn back around.

“We’re heading home,” I answer, dodging the question. It’s not that Chase is oblivious to the fact that my dad and I can’t stand each other, it’s just easier to keep the tension to a minimum when it comes to the rest of the family. Whatever our family is. I pull Chase even closer against me as I spin him around once again, this time away from Pacific Park and back toward the city. “No arcade games tonight.”

Chase shrugs under my arm. “I already won a load of tickets earlier.”

“How many?”

Slightly smug, he grins and pats the back pockets of his shorts. They’re both bulging with yellow tickets. “Over seven hundred.”

“No way. What are you saving them for?”

“I’m trying to reach two thousand.”

We talk about the arcade games and the tickets and the Pacific Wheel and the fireworks and Venice as we make our way back down the boardwalk and out onto Ocean Avenue, tracing our steps back to the car. Parking on the Fourth is always incredibly hectic, and after spending a couple minutes disagreeing with Chase over where Dad parked earlier in the evening, I realize I’m the one who’s wrong. We’re not parked north of the freeway like I’d thought, but south of it, down on Pico Boulevard and Third Street. It’s a good half-mile away, so we walk pretty damn fast. Dad doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Ever.

The Lexus is wedged against the sidewalk between two other cars when we reach it ten minutes later, and to my surprise, Dad’s standing outside the car. Arms folded across his chest, foot tapping the ground impatiently, same ugly expression as always.

“Oh, good, you found your brother,” he says sharply, emphasizing that final word. Jamie and Chase are never simply just “Jamie and Chase” anymore. For the past year, Dad has always referred to them as my brothers as though to prove a point. Jamie hates it as much as I do, whereas I don’t think Chase has picked up on it at all.

I keep my cool and instead of growing irritated at Dad’s disdainful tone, I glance over his shoulder, resting my eyes on Ella. She’s in the passenger seat of the car, her body turned away from the window, but I can still see her phone pressed to her ear. Most likely still the same call she was engaged in when I called earlier. I look back at Dad. “Business?”

“Uh-huh.” He leans over and raps his knuckles harshly and quickly against the window, startling Ella to the point where her phone almost flies out of her hand. She spins around in the seat and looks back at Dad through the glass, only for him to nod his head toward Chase and me. Ella nods back, moves her device back to her ear, murmurs something, and then hangs up. That’s when Dad finally tells us to get inside the car.

Chase and I clamber into the backseat, pulling on our seatbelts as Dad slips into the driver’s seat, fixing me with a firm glare in the rearview mirror, which I ignore. As he starts to drive, Ella cranes her neck over the back of the passenger seat.

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