Run, Girl (If You Can) - Chapter 224 - Go To Sleep, Aaron

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 19:16:05]
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Keeley happily consumed her tacos after a rough day. The few days before and after the anniversary of her mom\'s and Kaleb\'s deaths were always rough but this year was a little worse than usual because she was worrying about her dad.

He had been isolating himself lately—she noticed that his usual work friends he spent time with on Fridays and Saturdays were posting pictures without him on social media. Over the years she had tried to convince him to date a few times with no success.

The last time she tried was before she went off to NYU, saying that now that she was moving out he didn\'t have to worry about her anymore and should focus on himself. He gave her a sad little half smile and said "You\'re the only girl I need" before asking her to drop it.

Should she try again? It had been nearly seven years.

Keeley decided to make something with onions for dinner to cover the fact that she had been crying on the subway home. She didn\'t want Aaron asking about it because she was certain she would cry all over again if anyone showed her concern.

She wasn\'t the one who needed to be worried about—it was her dad. No one in this world but Keeley worried about him anymore. He only saw his daughter once a week. Aside from that, he was completely alone.

She had already made up her mind to visit him a day early and stay the whole weekend with him instead of just Sunday. She was sure Aaron would feed Molly for her.

Speaking of Aaron…he was looking a little green around the gills. She narrowed her eyes at him. "Did you seriously get food poisoning?!"

"…I\'m not used to greasy food."

Keeley looked down at her taco. He thought this was greasy? Seriously? This was nothing! Then again, the one time she convinced him to eat pizza with her in college he used approximately 50 napkins to blot the grease and still said it was too much. What a sissy.

She sighed. "You should have said something sooner. I would\'ve gotten you a bowl of cereal. Are you going to puke?"

"I don\'t think so but I should probably go lie down. My stomach is killing me."

He politely excused himself and curled up on the couch with a pained expression. Guilt gnawed at her. It was her fault he felt sick.

"Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?"

"I\'ll get back to you on that."

She put the leftovers away still burdened with guilt. More for her later.

Ugh, he looked so pitiful over there! There had to be something she could do. For now it might be best to leave him alone though.

An hour later Keeley came back into the room and Aaron still felt sick, lying there on the couch. A thin sheen of sweat was on his forehead.

"You need to go to bed. You\'ll probably be more comfortable there."

He groaned. "I don\'t think I can move."

She sighed and offered her hand. "Come on, I\'ll help you up."

She heaved him to his feet and he clutched his stomach in agony. "…it was better when I was lying on my side."

"We\'re almost there, just hang on a little longer."

Keeley made him go change into his pajamas and crawl into bed. He looked even more pitiful under the covers somehow when she came back to check on him. A weight settled on her heart. She wished she could make him feel better.

"Is there anything I can do for you? Can I get you some water or something?"

Aaron\'s muffled voice was oddly subdued. She didn\'t manage to hear what he said. "What? Can you repeat that?"

"The only thing that might make me feel a little better is if I could hold you for a bit," he mumbled.

She frowned. He couldn\'t be serious. This was shamelessly taking advantage of the situation. Was that what he considered owing her big time for the food poisoning?

Then again…wasn\'t there a big research study everyone fussed about that would come out in a few years about how hugging was beneficial for your health? It wasn\'t just the placebo effect; hugging stimulated the production of oxytocin, which had a variety of benefits. It would be weird but it was the least she could do.

"Fine. I\'ll be back."

Keeley didn\'t want to be in bed wearing jeans. She switched them out for a pair of soft cotton shorts and pulled out her bra. If she got stuck there she did not want to be stabbed by underwire or clasps.

When she crawled into bed next to him and let him wrap his arms around her side she made one thing very clear. "I\'m only doing this because it\'s my fault you got sick. Don\'t get any weird ideas."

"I won\'t," he sighed and tightened his hold. "Haven\'t you heard that hugging is good for your health?"

Was he a mind reader now? "I have heard that. If I hadn\'t, I would have said no. It is a pretty ridiculous thing to ask of your ex-wife."

Aaron buried his face in her hair. "We never officially got divorced."

"So what? That marriage certificate still ceased to exist when we were both reborn. We were once married and now we\'re not. So I\'m your ex-wife," she reasoned.

"I don\'t think that counts."

Keeley rolled her eyes. "Til death do us part, Aaron. I died."

Come to think of it…he must have died too. She never thought about that part. "How did you die?"

"Heart attack from overworking. I was fifty-eight."

"That\'s still fairly young to have a fatal heart attack…you must have been under a lot of stress."

"I was but I think it was more a matter of not having anything else to live for. I had someone to hand my company off to and I was tired of being alone. I guess my body just gave up," he said wearily, wincing in pain as his stomach acted up again.

Geez. Talk about depressing. Had he really been that affected by her death? She always assumed he didn\'t care but that was before realizing he actually did love her back then.

So Aaron was like her dad is now. Monica Hall had been dead for twelve years come Sunday. That was less than half of the time Aaron spent alone.

Would her dad feel like he had nothing to live for too? No, he couldn\'t. He still had Keeley. She had to be there for him more so he wouldn\'t get to that point. Having grandchildren might help too. Too bad that was still a few years off at minimum.

"Go to sleep, Aaron," Keeley said, not knowing how else to respond to his declaration. For a compulsive liar he had been way too honest lately. It was weird.

He buried his face in her hair. "Okay."