My flat in Edinburgh city is being rented at the moment, so there’s no staying there. Eventually I’ll probably sell it. I accepted my position as professor of film studies at the university with a grain of salt and with no real long-term commitment. I’m renting a nice flat in the Marylebone area now, but until I feel like this job is solid and I’m in for the long haul, I’m treating my new life with delicate hands.
“How is Winter?” Lachlan asks me later after I’ve said my goodbyes to my parents and Kayla, and we’re in his Range Rover, lights flashing past on the A-90.
“He’s a handful,” I tell him, tapping my fingers along the edge of the door. “And a right bugger sometimes. And I’m pretty sure my neighbors will file a complaint when he barks again in the middle of the night.”
“He’s not even a year old yet,” Lachlan says. “Give it time. He’s still a puppy.”
“Aye. He’s a shitting machine is what he is.”
Lachlan’s a dog expert and a dog rescuer. When he’s not being a hotshot rugby player, he operates a rescue shelter for dogs, especially pit bulls, and tries to build awareness for them. Kayla works for him, and so far the organization – Ruff Love – has been doing really well. He’s the reason why I adopted Winter to begin with. I found him as a puppy last Christmas during a snowstorm by our grandpa’s house in Aberdeen, hiding out in the neighbor’s barn. When the neighbors wouldn’t claim the dog, it was either I take the white fluff ball in or Lachlan would take him to his shelter. The bloody dog grew on me, I guess, and now he’s a royal pain in the arse who looks like he strolled in off the set of Game of Thrones. Still, life would be pretty boring without him, even though I have to hire a dog walker to deal with his excess energy when I’m at school.
“You know,” Lachlan says quietly after a few moments. “If any of this gets difficult for you…you can just tell me to shut up. I’ll understand.”
I glance at him, his face half-covered by shadows. “If what gets difficult?”
He clears his throat and gives me an expectant look. “You know. Kayla and I. Getting married. I know it can’t be easy…you and Miranda…”
I ignore the icy grip in my chest and try to relax my shoulders. “She’s dead, Lachlan. There is no use pretending otherwise and no point in dancing around it.” I look back out the window, getting lost in the darkness and the beams of passing headlights. “Life is always going to go on, that’s what I’ve learned, and I’m making peace with it. Just because some things ended for me doesn’t mean they end for everyone else. You’re going to marry Kayla, and the wedding is going to be beautiful. After that, I’m sure she’ll pop out some giant beast-like children. In no way am I not going to want to talk about it, be there for you, and enjoy it. Life goes on, and so will I. And so I do. Your life and love and happiness isn’t going to stop because of the things I lost. Neither Miranda or Hamish would have wanted that.”
Silence fills the car, and I can feel him staring at me in that unnerving way of his. I don’t turn my head. I just let my words be.
“But it’s not just that,” he says cautiously. “I can see it in your eyes, Brigs. I always have. You’re haunted. And it’s not by sadness or sorrow. And it’s not by Miranda or Hamish. You’re haunted by yourself. When will you finally tell me…why? What really happened?”
I swallow hard.
Move on, move on.
Headlights. Street lamps. Everything is growing brighter. The airport is close.