I thought about Penny, as much as I didn’t want to think about her, I couldn’t avoid it. I thought about our pedicures and manicures. I thought about all of the clothes that she had bought me. I thought about our endless days on the beach. Penny understood me. Penny took time out of her grief to help me handle my own grief. I still couldn’t believe that Mama and Penny were lovers. Why hadn’t I seen it before?
My stomach eventually won the battle and I pulled into the parking lot of Harley’s Sidewalk Café. It felt weird pulling in alone, but I longed for somewhere familiar. I slid into the booth and pulled out a menu.
“Where is Miss Penny?” Beth the waitress came up, obviously happy to see me.
“She’s not with me today…” I mumbled, pretending to read my menu. “I’ll have a bowl of potato soup and a water.”
Her face dropped. “Coming right up.”
I slid the menu back in its spot without reading it, and stared out the window.
“I’ll have one Surprise Me Special.” I heard a voice from behind me say. I turned around to see a complete stranger. What in the world?
“Coming right up!” Beth grinned and headed off toward the kitchen. I was confused.
She set my potato soup in front of me and smiled politely. “Did I hear someone order a Surprise Special?”
“Oh yes! We added it to the menu in honor of Miss Penny!” Beth pulled the menu out and showed me the big bold lettering. “It has been a huge hit!”
I smiled and nodded. I couldn’t escape Penny no matter how hard I tried. I spooned the soup into my body as quickly as I could and left a generous tip on the table. I wondered how long it would take Penny to find out about the impact she had made on Harley’s Sidewalk Café.
The sun was streaming in through the sunroof as I pulled back onto the road toward home. I couldn’t wait to see Father, which was a feeling that I never expected to experience. I wanted to tell him how sorry I was, and I wanted him to see me happy. I would pretend to be happy for him.
“Addy!” Father was sitting on the front porch when I pulled in. He smiled timidly, probably waiting for me to rush past him and ignore him as I had done so many times before.
“Hi.” He looked like a different man when I looked at him without hate clouding my view. His dark blonde hair had gray around the edges, his handsome face had lines that I hadn’t noticed before, and his eyes still held the sadness from years of being beaten and battered by the women in his life.
“Where is Junior?” Father asked, I had forgotten to come up with an excuse.
“He couldn’t come.” I lied.
“Oh, what a shame. I wanted to meet him.” Father and I headed inside together, still tense from years of not getting along.
“I got your letter…” I started.
“I’m sorry for that. I would have never written it if Julianne hadn’t been so adamant about it.” Father looked ashamed.
“No, I needed to know!” I really did.
“Her letters really made a change in you.” Father noticed, smiling slightly.
“They did. I’m a new girl.” I felt proud that he noticed the change that I had worked so hard to achieve.
“Well then, nice to meet you Adeline.” Father held out his right hand.
“It’s Addy.” I smiled, realizing that no matter how wounded my heart was that there was room in it for him.
Instead of shaking my hand, Father gave me a long lost hug. It had been years since I had accepted his embrace and it felt like home. I didn’t hate him anymore, but in the back of my mind I had the sneaky suspicion that I had found a new place for my hate. I hated Penny, someone who had done more for me in the last month than I could ever repay. She was now the unlucky recipient of Adeline Bank’s poisonous hate, but at least it made way for Father to finally have my love.