The Bandbox Hat
Previously: SarahJane arrived back at the Date My Son! house for her meeting with Austin and Linda to ask why they let her go and get some closure. Linda told her she was too sweet and not cut out for life in Hollywood or on a reality show. Austin told SarahJane that her brother Nate was about to propose to Cassie, her friend on the show and asked her if he could call her after the show. She had an epiphany about the men in her life and left the house and called Jesse.
“Thanks, Chip,” I called to the driver as I dashed out of the car and up the steps to my apartment.
“You’re home!” April launched herself at me from the couch.
Rachael reached for the remote and paused their movie.
“I am. But you need to go to bed and Rachael, thanks a bunch, but I need you to leave.”
“What’s going on?” Rachael reached for her purse but April only burrowed her head into my gut.
“I’ve invited someone over for a serious talk about the future.” I couldn’t help the grin spreading across my face.
A quizzical furrow appeared between Rachael’s brows. “Someone from that show? I thought you went to get closure or whatever.”
“Not from the show.” I kicked off my heels and unpeeled April’s arms from around my waist. “But the people there helped me see what I really want and what I deserve. Which is to be in a relationship without someone wondering what I can do for them and their career.”
“I agree.” My sister grinned at me and I flashed back to our years sharing a bedroom. Instead of wondering what she was doing when she sneaked out our window, she was the onlooker. It felt weird. But also right.
A knock sounded.
“That’s our cue, April.” Rachael pulled April down the hall and I heard the bedroom door click as I strode to open the front door.
“We’ve been so stupid.” I drew him into the room and to the couch.
“I know I have but what did you do?” he asked.
“I let you be stupid.”
“I played the martyr at home instead of going away to school like you did. I was scared. Mom and Dad would have supported me.”
“So I spent years resenting you and Rachael both, for getting away.”
“Do you mean you’re not going back to Rosedale?”
The thought silenced me for about half a second. I shook my head. “Rosedale is my home. I see that now. These months in LA have been good, but I miss my home. I miss my brothers. I even miss Anna. But most of all, I miss you. I miss us.”
His eyes widened at that. “Us?”
“Yes. Will you forgive me for giving up on us so easily?”
A grin spread from his lips to his eyes. “Maybe.”
“I know your job is here now and I want to go home to Rosedale, but you know what? I learned that home isn’t just a dot on the map. It’s where your loved ones are.”
He took my hand, twining fingers through mine. “I’ve been thinking this summer, too.”
My heart did a little jump-rope dance and skipped around my chest. “Oh?”
“You’re right. Rosedale is home. I’m ready to go back. I applied for a job with the county. I have an interview next week. And if I don’t get this one, I’ll keep applying until I get one.”
My cheeks warmed. “Are you saying—”
“I’m coming home, too. We belong together and we belong in Rosedale.”
The bedroom door opened with a crash and April barreled down the hall. “Auntie SJ, are you really coming home again?”
I pulled her into a hug. “We’re all going home.”