Ian looked different. His hair wasn't even the same color. It was still a shock to Lola that someone could grow up so quickly. Maybe she'd never noticed until now.
He wasn't nearly as easy going as she remembered back home. Sure, he was always ready to drive Josie anywhere. He was always prepared to be everyone's best friend. Ian the nice guy.
She still thought he was nice. But his eyes were much more serious now. Oh so serious.
"You're over thinking it." Lola told him over tea, even if it was well after midnight.
"What do you mean?" He winced.
"You, always wanted everyone to think that nothing was wrong with your life, but I know it must have been hard for you. Especially, after your mum died. Still, your brothers love you. Your step Mom. Your Dad. They want to see you happy." Lola found herself saying. "The thing is, you have to let yourself be happy."
She'd learned that. Yes, she'd hurt Crosby. She knew that. She couldn't change the fact. Even a thousand apologies wouldn't help.
Ian said nothing. She suspected he would.
"So you know... everything about Jama. She knows everything about you." Lola thought that would be the deal breaker between her and Ash. She was waiting for him to tell her how many lost loves he'd had, but there was no one. Then she was certain he would be rude about Ian, at least. Possibly, Crosby.
But he didn't budge. It didn't really matter. He trusted her. She'd learned to trust him.
"I didn't tell her I'd had a boyfriend." Ian finally let slip. "I mean, she knows all about Josie. She was never with that Marco from Paris. I mean, I wouldn't hold it against her. Just Jules." He nursed his bottom lip. "Its just, I would never do the things to her that Jules did to her." He shook his head. "It wasn't abuse, exactly. But he really did play up on her psyche. You know, making her feel terrible about nothing. Usually. Like it was OK for him to see others ..how would she say it..slappers. And he'd call her one too. Degrading, pretty much." He cradled his steaming mug of tea. "I always thought, I could do better, you know. I mean, if I'd been her boyfriend back then, I'd never say such mean things. I'd respect her. I'd take care of her, but you know, I was just a kid. She hardly knew I was even there."
"Maybe chivalry isn't dead." Lola smiled. She reached for his hand. "Maybe this was meant to be, after all."
Ian only nodded.
"I think Josie's happy." Lola finally said. "I mean, Dean is not you, but he doesn't let her have her way with things..quite the way you used too. But he's sweet."
Ian kept quiet. She drank her tea.
"You're gonna be a good husband. You'll be a good dad." She nodded. She could see now... what he really wanted was his own family.