“Wow! You’re even dressed. I’m surprised.” Jean gives me a catty smile as she sets a pan of quiche onto a trivet on the table and sits down beside my dad. The fact that she can cook sets her marginally ahead of her predecessors.

My dad has the newspaper up, reading the stocks. “Ladies, I haven’t even finished my coffee. Let’s try and have a nice day.” Dad rustles the paper before folding the section and setting it onto the table. “What are your plans for the day, Lia?” His hair has gone grey at the temples and started to recede a bit in front, but he still looks like the dad I remember from before graduating art school and trying to make my mark on the world.

I serve myself a piece of the quiche, barely avoiding wrinkling my nose at the bits of mushroom and pepper. If Jean sees that I don’t like something she’s prepared, I’ll find those ingredients in everything for the rest of the week.

“I’m going to Tasha’s to work on a sculpture.” Doing my best to ignore Jean’s scowl and exaggerated sigh, I continue, “I submitted my résumé and application to all the places you asked me to. I also applied to a few others that were just looking for seasonal help. A job is a job right now.” Any job to get her off my back would be a gift, plus I could start paying off my loan to Dad.

“It’s only been a week, Lia, give it time.” Dad ate his quiche in a few bites and went back to the paper. “You know this is your home and always will be.”

It’s an effort to not smile around my own breakfast while Jean’s face falls. “I know, Daddy.” I don’t have to see him to know that he is smiling; calling him “Daddy” has never failed to earn me a grin.

“We have company tonight for supper. Will you be home by then?” Jean has the tone of voice that balances on the line between me being uninvited but expected.

“I don’t know. It depends on how far I get on my project. I want to keep my portfolio current in case I can get into the downtown gallery’s next show.” Really, I’m hoping to see Tasha’s dad and don’t want to deny myself the chance. He’s been busy at work since I got home, and I haven’t been able to see if he’s still the stuff erotic dreams are made of.

“I can make myself scarce and grab a sandwich so I don’t interrupt your dinner party,” I offer.

My dad makes sure I know that I have a standing invitation to their dinner gathering. After we finish eating, Dad asks me, “Do you want to take my car, or are you walking over?”

It is a gorgeous day for the season, and the walk is under a mile, so I don’t mind the fresh air. “I can walk, Dad. That way you aren’t down to just one car or stuck here waiting on me. Besides, we can’t have me being lazy, can we?” I say sweetly before quickly getting up and clearing my dishes.

Despite it being my third time over to work in their garage, Tasha continues to stare at me as if I might disappear at any moment. It would be freaky from anyone else, but from Tasha it is almost endearing. It also makes me sad. She and her dad were there for me after we lost my mom; I repaid the favor by escaping town at my first chance and did not look back until I had no other choice.

“I’m not going to vanish, Tasha,” I chide while taking off my jacket. I am warm from working with metal, but I don’t want to chance ruining the fabric with the dirt and oil on the cement floor. Working on the ground between sawhorses is not glamourous work, but it is the best I can do for the moment if I want to finish this sculpture. I miss my more portable welding stick, but these will do the job. Selling my welding tools had gotten me through a quarter of tuition, rent, and my food. While still near the art school, I could use theirs. Living here doesn’t provide that luxury, but I do have the ability to work. I can’t afford to be choosey in what tools I use if I can still get the desired effect.

“I’m glad your dad has this creeper board for playing around with his truck. It’s perfect for letting me slide around.” Teenaged me had spent many a Sunday afternoon sitting on the workbench, watching her dad, Beck, change his oil and do minor repairs. I even masturbated under his truck, almost hoping he would walk into the garage and catch me with my fingers inside my shorts. I wasn’t thinking of legality, only that I was a horny teen and he was hot. He was better looking than most of the men in the heartthrob teen magazines.

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