The Best Goodbye(Rosemary Beach #13)(19) by Abbi Glines
“Thought you were quitting,” Captain’s voice called out, and I spun around to see him getting out of his truck. I hadn’t seen him parked there, but I’d been focused on my task at hand.
I held up my resignation letter. “I am. Just came to give you this.” I kept my spine stiff. He had no idea of the hopes and dreams he had shattered. Not just mine but Franny’s. She’d never know her dad now, because I didn’t trust him to be the man she needed.
I couldn’t see his expression behind his sunglasses, but at this point, I didn’t care. I knew how detached and cold he was. He’d probably throw the paper into the trash as soon as he got inside and never think of me again.
“You sure you want to do this?” he asked, surprising me.
I paused. Why was he asking that? He’d been mad at me last night for something I hadn’t done. “You aren’t a fair boss. You don’t like me, and I’m not sure why. I work hard, and I try my best to be as professional as I can. But last night you were—”
“Wrong,” he finished for me. “I was wrong.”
I closed my mouth, then opened it again, before closing it one more time. I didn’t know what to say to that. I’d seen this side of Captain before, when he’d apologized about being hard on me when Franny was sick. But I hadn’t seen it since then.
“Listen, Rose, I’m not going to be here much longer. The place is open now, and I’ll be training the new manager over the next few weeks. We have a rub between us, but you’re a good worker. The place needs you. Just because we don’t . . . work well together, that doesn’t mean you won’t work great with the new guy. Stay. Give it a chance.”
He was leaving soon? What? “Where are you going?” I asked, completely ignoring the fact that he’d just asked me to stay.
He shrugged. “Don’t know yet. Just not here.”
It shouldn’t matter. But somehow it did. Quitting was one thing, but knowing where he was helped. I couldn’t change the fact that I wanted to know that River was safe and OK. I had made it through ten years of not knowing where he was, and every day I worried and hoped that he was happy.
Knowing he had become this man who was so different from the boy I had loved was hard, but at least I knew where he was. That he had family here. I wanted to have that peace. If he left, I’d lose that again. And just because my River had become Captain, that didn’t change the fact that I cared. I would always care, because I would always love River. He was a part of me.
“You look really upset about that, Rose. Any particular reason?” Captain drawled, as if he were amused.
I forced myself to snap out of it and shake my head no. There was no way I could explain it to him. Even if I tried, there was a good chance he’d hate me for having left him without an explanation all those years ago. If he rejected Franny, well, I couldn’t deal with that. So I said nothing.
“Mommy, I need to use the restroom,” Franny’s voice called out, and I turned away from Captain to look back at my daughter. She had stepped out of the car and was looking at me with an apologetic frown.
“OK, yeah.” I turned back to Captain but he wasn’t looking at me. His focus was on Franny. “I need to take her inside to use the restroom. Is that OK?” I asked.
He didn’t reply. Instead, he stood there frozen. I wasn’t even sure he was breathing. Not one muscle of his body moved. His focus was locked on Franny.
She shuffled her feet and watched us. The small smile on her lips as she met my gaze hit me hard. Oh, God. I hadn’t thought about that.
“Please,” she added, waiting for me to answer.
My heart was slamming against my chest, as I felt a mixture of anxiety and fear prickle my skin. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen. Not in front of Franny. Not now.
“I promise I’m not making this up just to see the inside,” Franny added, as she started walking toward me. “I mean, I want to see it, but I really need to go.”
Her blond curls, so like my own natural hair, bounced as she walked, and her smile looked almost identical to my own. Her blue eyes danced with mischief, and all I could do was hope he didn’t see it, too.
Turning back to him, I could see even through the sunglasses he was wearing that he was following her every move. This wasn’t the way a man reacted to seeing a nine-year-old girl he didn’t know. He saw me—his Addy—in her.
Franny’s hand wrapped around mine and squeezed. She smiled up at the silent man watching her. “Hi. I’m Franny. Do you work with Mom like Brad does?” she asked innocently.
There was a flinch at the mention of Brad, and his gaze finally moved from Franny to me. I felt exposed. I needed to cover up or hide. He was seeing too much, and I wasn’t sure if he’d even put it together. Did I want him to?
“Who are you?” He finally spoke, his voice gravelly.
“I’m Ann Frances, but everyone calls me Franny. Who are you?”
The innocence in her answer made my eyes sting and my stomach tighten. This was not how it was supposed to come out. Not like this.
I squeezed Franny’s hand. “Go through those doors right there, and turn right. You’ll see the restroom sign on your left.”
She nodded, before hurrying inside to see exactly what she wanted to see.
Once she was gone, I turned back to look at Captain.
“Who are you, Rose?” he asked.
Who did he think I was? If he saw the similarities between Franny and the girl I once was, then couldn’t he see beyond my hair color, glasses, and mature body to see me, too? “Not sure what you mean,” I replied carefully.