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[personal profile] argyle_princess

Hannah doesn't see her dad at all the weekend she gets home; he calls Sunday to tell her he's very sorry but something's come up and he'll have to cancel their dinner. Hannah lies in bed that night and tells herself she's overreacting, that her father is a busy person, that things come up. But she's not good at ignoring red flags, not where her dad is concerned, because where there was smoke in the past there was also definitely fire.

So early Monday morning she gets up and drives over to his house, to catch him before he goes in to work, just to make sure everything's all right.

His car is not in the garage. But someone's is . . . and it's in Hannah's spot.

She parks behind it, and lets herself into her father's house.

"Tom," a woman's voice calls, "that you? Wow, that was fas--" she stops as she comes into the living room and finds Hannah. "Who the hell are you?"

There are good ways to meet your father's new girlfriend, and there are bad ones, and this was one of the latter. The woman is, Hannah would guess, about 35, for all she's trying to look younger, and not a natural blonde. She's wearing a rather ridiculous red robe, and, probably, not much else.

"I live here," Hannah says. "Who the hell are you?"

"You live here?" the woman asks, like she doesn't believe her.

Hannah picks up the framed copy of her senior picture that sits on her father's desk and hands it to the woman.

"Oh," she says. "You're the kid." Not Hannah or even Tom's kid, but the kid.

It's possible that, if they had met under other circumstance, Hannah would have liked this woman, at least a little bit. Possible. But not likely.

Hannah doesn't get to respond to this, however, because her father returns, his absence explained by the Starbucks cups and bakery bag in his hands. "Hannah, honey, hi," he says. "I wasn't expecting you till this evening."

Hannah looks from him to the mystery woman and decides that if she's the kid, she's under no obligation to be the mature one for the moment.

"Obviously," she tells him and, leaving him stammering some sort of explanation, goes back to her mother's house.

When she doesn't show up at her dad's in time for dinner (as indicated on The Schedule), Tom shows up at Steph's -- always awkward -- and asks to see Hannah.

"Hey. I thought we were having dinner, Hannah," he says, from the doorway of her room.

"I figure'd you'd cancel. Don't you have plans with Past Her Prime Barbie?"

"Monica," her father corrects, coming into her room. "And that was really not how I wanted the two of you to meet."

"Is she the reason you didn't pick me up? And canceled on me last night?"

"Hannah," he says, voice very calm and logical and, she thinks, a bit condescending, "your flight was six hours late. I had made plans for later in the evening, yes."

"And canceling them was not an option?" And notices, though the doesn't mention, that he didn't address the question of dinner on Sunday.

Tom frowns. "Let me take you to dinner, and let's talk about this."

"Monica isn't free tonight?" she asks. "How long have you been seeing her, anyway?"

"About three months."

"Three months?" Hannah says. "Daddy, we talk on the phone or e-mail every day. Hell, I was home for a week last month. How did you not mention that you have a girlfriend?"

"I wanted to make sure I told you the right way," Tom says.

"Bang up job there, Daddy."

"Look, Hannah, I know you two got off to a bad start, but . . . Monica is my girlfriend, and you need to accept that."

Hannah's eyes narrow. "She better not be there on Christmas," she says, and the unspoken addendum is or else I won't be.

"Christmas will be just us. I promise. Come on, dinner. It's been a long day, I'm hungry, and I want to hear all about your trip and what you've been up to and everything."

Hannah considers not letting this go, and then decides to. For the moment.


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Hannah Griffith

June 2009

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