My hands jerk back out of his instinctively. "Wait - what?"
Dad looks down, uncomfortable. He runs his palms back and forth against the tips of the grass. "I mean, I know the apartment would be kinda crowded, but we could make it work--"
"And I'm not the best cook, but I'm learning--"
He looks up. His eyes are hopeful. I break his gaze. "Dad, thanks and all, but I just don't think... I mean..." I push myself up off the step. I suddenly feel claustrophobic in our postage-stamp square of a front yard.
I cannot believe my father is here -- and not just here, but here asking me to move in with him. My father, who said he felt so contained by his life in Fort Myers that he had to break free. My father, who had seemed perfectly content to see me on a few weekends and holidays and no more. Why is he doing this now? Why is he doing this to me?
I lean against the front fence and look out down the street. I had just been so excited and anxious to leave this place, and now I suddenly have a whole new option to consider. Why can't things ever be easy?
Behind me, I can hear Dad stand. "Luce, don't leave me."
His words catch me off guard. I freeze. Don't leave me. Is he serious?
The warm anger that I have been able to keep contained until now begins to trickle through my body. Don't leave me. How could he say that to me?
"Don't leave you? Don't leave you?" I feel the tears threaten to pour over, and it makes me even more angry. "That's impossible, Dad. You already left me."