“I don’t really drink,” Shannon informed him.
She dreaded telling people that she didn’t drink and answering the inevitable follow up questions.
“Oh. May I ask why?”
Shannon took a deep breath. “I had some drug problems. Some recovering addicts I know will drink alcohol occasionally, but I don’t.”
Jonah kept his eyes straight on the road in front of them.
“Oh. Does it bother you to be around drinking? We can go somewhere else,” he suggested.
“No,” Shannon exclaimed quickly. “I’m fine if others drink. And I suppose I could have a drink every once in a while, but I don’t want to risk falling into old habits, I guess.”
Jonah glanced at her. “That makes sense.”
They fell into an uncomfortable silence. Shannon could tell he had a thousand questions.
“You can ask me anything you want,” she chuckled.
Still, his next question deflated her confidence.
“I’ve been wondering why your daughter lives with your ex-husband. Is this why?”
The news that she didn’t have custody of her daughter often raised eyebrows. People tend think that women always have custody unless they’re a total mess. Shannon supposed she had been exactly that.
“Do you think you’ll ever get custody back?”
“No. I’m not trying to. You see,” Shannon paused for another breath, “I left Jeff before Olivia was even two years old, and I didn’t see her again until earlier this year. Living with Jeff is all she knows. I wouldn’t take that away from her. I’m working to get more extended visitation than I do now, but that’s it.”
Shannon watched Jonah’s grip on the steering wheel tighten up, and her shoulders slumped. She could hold back and not tell him so much, but at this stage, Shannon wanted to see if he could take it. Better to find out now that he couldn’t before she got in any deeper.
“That must be difficult.”
“It gets easier as time goes by. Olivia and I are starting to bond. I never thought I’d have that chance.” The wistfulness in her voice sounded pathetic even to her own ears. The hot date she anticipated started to swirl down the toilet. “I’m sorry. This is pretty heavy for a first date.”
“Don’t worry about it. I don’t think we should consider this a normal first date,” Jonah replied, reaching over to squeeze her knee.
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