Dustin couldn't say if Holly was uncomfortable at the notion of meeting Halie and Gage at the zoo with Alec, or it was the news about her friend that had made her so down. He hadn't seen her all week since he was busy with a class project.
"It isn't the worst thing that could happen." He finally said, as they waited by the statues of gorillas, outside the zoo. There was a chill in the October air that made them huddle together. Before he knew it, she was hugging him and acting like the Holly he knew.
Her open grin was infectious. He kissed her nose out of habit and then her forehead. Honestly, this was the best, hugging in sweater weather.
He was so afraid she would say something like, "It could have been me."
Honestly, he didn't want to have that conversation. Hopefully, they'd be married one day, but it felt a long way off. And there were so many things to get done with his studies. It was nice to be here with her.
It was as if Holly was here to protect him from Halie.
Finally, Gage showed up with Alec in a stroller.
"Where's Halie?" Dustin looked blankly at Gage.
"She had to work." He made it sound as if the library couldn't stay open without her. Even though, Dustin was sure Halie... just didn't want to spend time with them. They'd scheduled this day at the zoo around Halie's schedule.
Dustin pressed his lips tight. Oh, that Halie, he really wanted to hate her, but he knew he never could. Especially, since she was Alec's mother.
Dustin nodded. Holly hugged him tighter.
"Where should we go first?" Holly looked at both of them.
"Alec likes to start with the cat house," Gage said.
"OK, then." Dustin sighed. A smile came. He wouldn't dare let anger get the best of him.