Family Bonds-Duke & Hadley…Prologue

Prologue

“I’m sorry about Eddie.”

Hadley Breaton sighed into the phone. She sniffled a little too. “I know, Mom.”

“It’s got to be heartbreaking for you. When are the services so your father and I can attend?”

“I’m not sure yet,” she said.

No way she was telling her parents she only found out about her ex’s death because a friend texted her. Her parents didn’t even know Eddie was an ex. She hadn’t had the heart to tell them that they’d split a month ago.

They’d only dated about five months. The first month, he was so charming and full of life. Something she’d never been.

Charming or full of life.

She’d always kept to herself and was kind of quiet. A coworker set her up with Eddie, and as uncomfortable as she was at first with his outgoing personality, she started to feel so alive around him.

He was the life of the party, doing everything to excess though. Drinking. Smoking. Drugs. Anything to give him a thrill.

The smoking and the drugs bothered her, but he said the pot was to help him sleep at night because he went a hundred miles an hour during the day.

Pot was legal in many states, so though it was a drug accepted by many, it just wasn’t for her.

She let it go though because of how he made her feel.

Then his accident happened when he was goofing off with friends. She’d told him he needed to slow down multiple times, but he’d always said not to be a stick in the mud.  That life was meant to be lived not watched from the sidelines.

He’d asked for her help in his recovery and she’d gladly done it because…that was what she always did.

She’d been called a doormat in the past and now it was just stepped on all over again with muddy shoes.

A people pleaser she’d always been and she was pretty sure she always would be too. She’d never learn.

“Let us know when you find out,” her mother said. “You shouldn’t be alone right now.”

“I’m fine,” she said. She was pretty sure she wasn’t going to be allowed to go to his service. She’d been told Eddie’s family was going to have it be small and private. Almost like an invitation only. 

That meant no ex-girlfriend regardless of everything she’d done for him and how soul crushingly hurt she was in the end.

“Hadley. You and Eddie dated for almost six months. You’ve been through so much with him. Then to have this happen. I know his lifestyle bothered you at times…”

“He lived his life his way,” she said. “I should have realized that in the beginning.” 

“I know that he made you feel like a person you always wanted to be.” Thinking back, at the time she thought she wanted to be that outgoing person, but her true self came out and she learned she couldn’t be someone she wasn’t.

Now she was just trying to pick her life up and move on.

Somehow…someway.

“He did make me feel that way,” she said. “But it’s not who I am.” She didn’t want to talk about this and start crying again. She hated to feel like such a fool and not only had it happened with her heart, but now her life in general was a big old hot mess. “How is the restaurant doing?”

“You know how it is,” her mother said. “Your father and I are considering selling it. But you don’t want to hear about that right now. Maybe Dad and I should come be with you.”

“I need some time alone,” she said. “Talking about your life takes my mind off of mine. It’s been your and Dad’s dream since you retired. Why would you sell it?”

Her parents were both retired from the Plymouth school district. Her mother had been a principal, her father a superintendent. There’d been a small two-bedroom cottage in their family on Amore Island that went to her father and that was where they moved to when they retired.

Having grown up in Plymouth, it wasn’t that far and she’d spent a lot of time on the island as a kid herself. It was just never a place she wanted to be but wasn’t shocked when her parents said that was going to be their retirement home.

Her mother sighed on the other end and she knew she’d get her way and have the distraction of talking about something other than her foolishness. “It’s been three years,” her mother said. “You know we are struggling. We’ve got our pensions to live off of. It’s not a big deal. The goal had been to just break even and provide jobs to the area. Have some fun. I don’t know what we were thinking.”

“You were thinking that you were young when you both retired and weren’t ready,” she said. “There isn’t anything wrong with that.”

Her parents wanted to experience life too. Just like she was trying to do with Eddie.

“No,” her mother said. “And if things were still breaking even, I think we’d continue, but the truth is, this last winter was harsh on us. We didn’t have enough put away from the summer to get us through. It’s just a thought, nothing you need to worry about. You’ve got other things on your mind.”

Yeah, and that just added to it. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could stay here with everything looming over her.

She could barely make ends meet right now and the debt from being with Eddie was floating around her like an ominous fog making her want to run for shelter.

Shelter was going to be home with her parents, as much as she didn’t want to feel like she couldn’t handle her own life.

She’d had plans to return home—which meant the island now—and see if she could find a job there. She’d thought she could help out at the restaurant because she knew her parents would need it and it’d give her some spending money to figure out her next move without having so many living expenses on her own.

But if her parents were selling the restaurant, that was going to put a wrinkle in her plans. She’d figure it out on her own like she always did.

“It’s fine,” she said. “I just had no idea you were thinking of selling.”

“Just talks,” her mother said. “Don’t concern yourself with it. We always thought maybe you’d want to take it over, but if it’s not turning a profit, there is no reason to be saddled with it. It’s a lot of work and you don’t want to be here either. We know.”

Hadley let out another sigh. No reason to talk about this now. They said it was just a thought. “Keep me posted if you decide,” she said.

“We will,” her mother said. “And let us know when the services are, please. Your father and I can take the day and come be there for you. It’s not that far.”

She was three hours away in Portland, Maine. She’d come here for college and never left. She wasn’t in love with the area, but she didn’t hate it either. 

“Sure,” she said. “I’ll do that.”

She hated to lie but the truth was, she had no idea what was going on with Eddie’s services and she didn’t think she’d find out until after the fact anyway.

She hung up with her mother after that and sat down in her tiny apartment. She was positive she couldn’t stay here much longer unless she could find another job. Or at least a second job.  Eddie had a lot of medical bills, and like every other time in her life, when people asked her for something, she did it without thought.

She was the one left with little to no savings and a ton of credit card debt because she’d been giving Eddie money for his expenses. A month ago when she asked if he’d be able to give her some of it back, he started being a jerk. Like a person she’d never seen before. She bit her tongue because it always seemed she did and chalked it up to him being under stress himself.

Once again in her life, she was sitting here wondering what the heck she was going to do and all her options were slowly swirling down the toilet.

She put her head in her hands and started to cry. It’s not like it would solve any problems or even make her feel better, but she didn’t know what else to do.

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