Lex and Lu(5)

By: J. Santiago



“If you’d stop binging on groupies, maybe things wouldn’t get complicated.”

“No, Pops. That’s what keeps it from getting complicated,” he replied with a wink.

“Seriously, Lex,” he said, suddenly changing the mood, “any plans to find a nice girl and settle down?”

Lex eyed his father. “How 1950s of you. Where’s this coming from?”

“I look around you and I know you are successful. You’re driven and ambitious. But don’t you feel like something is missing? Don’t you want to share this with someone?”

“That’s what I have you, Mom, and Pete for,” he answered. “Ready for another?” He pointed at his dad’s empty glass and waved to the bartender, hoping to change the subject.

“Lex, I’m serious. I don’t want you to be alone. I have seen your capacity to love someone—outside of your family.”

Suddenly, completely uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation, Lex ordered another round of drinks. Turning back to his father, he said, “I was a kid and didn’t know any better.” And with that, he left his father sitting at the bar while he went off to flirt with a groupie.

Thinking back on that conversation, the irony was not lost on Lex. He hadn’t been home in almost eight years. When he’d left he’d been caught up in the middle of an emotional nightmare. And now the prodigal son was returning home in the midst of another emotional nightmare. What the fuck? Glancing at the clock, he realized he needed to get moving to make his flight. When his phone rang, he knew without looking that it was his brother.

“What up?” he said without preamble.

“Are you packed? Or does your agent take care of that too after wiping your ass?”

Lex laughed. Leave it to Pete to lighten the mood. “I am trying to get out of bed. Was just thinking about a conversation I had with Dad last time he was here.”

“Ah, yeah, I’ve had a few of those moments today.”

“What are you doing up at this hour?”

“I decided to come home right after I heard. I could have broken up the drive, but when I thought about Mom being here alone, I just felt like I needed to come.”

“Good man. I take it you got my itinerary?”

“Yes sir, Lex. We will send a car to pick up his majesty.”

“You’re such a dickhead,” Lex said, laughing.

“Seriously, I got all of the information. Shouldn’t you get your ass out of bed and in the shower?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m moving.” Lex paused before asking, “How’s she doing?”

“Really, you need to ask? She’s fucking amazing. Was sitting up with Dr. A. and Willa when I got home. Pretty much everything has been arranged.”

“Shit, I haven’t thought about Willa Knight in a long time. How was that for you?”

“Ha. All good. Aside from providing a wake-up call, I wanted to give you a heads-up.”

“About what?” Lex heard the intake of breath on the line, and from across the Atlantic he could tell that what his brother was about to say was going to bother him.

“Lu’s coming home. She’ll be here by the time you land tomorrow. With everything going on and, ya know, proximity, I don’t think you’ll be able to avoid her.”

“Who says I want to avoid her?”

Pete sputtered. “I just assumed.… I mean, you haven’t been home since you left. I thought that was why.”

“Nah. I’m done avoiding Louisa May. We’ll have a conversation, clear the air, and then everyone will be able to relax. Don’t worry, Pete. I’m not looking to make this any more difficult than it already is.”

“Roger that. All right, I’ll see you at the airport. Be safe.”

“Over and out, bro.”

Lex gently placed his phone on the bedside table and fell back on his pillow. Twenty-four hours earlier his life had been proceeding according to plan. Now, he was faced with the death of his father and the prospect of going toe-to-toe with the girl who had broken his heart.





2





Lu grabbed her coffee mug and sneaked out the back door, across the worn path, and to the Pellitteris’ sprawling back deck. She knew that Dr. J. would be sitting in her chair, book in hand, drinking her coffee. When they were younger, any sneaking in and out had to be handled before 6:00 a.m. because Dr. J. would be up, in the same position even then. Wrapped up in a gigantic UPenn fleece, she shuffled up the stairs, across the deck, taking in the powerhouse that was Josephine Pellitteri. Although this time there was no book perched in her lap, taking up all of her concentration. She was gazing out into the early morning light, obviously lost in thought.

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