He’s felt pretty frustrated for the past year or so.
Stuck, in a way. Even though he isn’t. His mum keeps telling him how fortunate he is and how much money he has to start out with – she’s right, he just needs to talk to Jean for a bit to feel ashamed of his whining – and how she’ll transfer the ownership of the family bakery to him in just a few years.
That will definitely give him something to do, which should take care of at least a few of his worries about the future. Except Atticus isn’t sure it will, because he’s not all that concerned about having an occupation, really. Sure, he needs something to do and he needs to make a living but running his own bakery seems like such hard work. Not something he dreams about.
August had been so passionate about starting his own shop and Juno is so obsessed with her teaching that Atticus had more or less thought he’d just have to wait for the same kind of knowledge to sort of crash down on him. And it hasn’t.
He’s still not sure what he dreams about. Or well, not in the job department, at least.
In the other world, the most important one that isn’t about work, he wants a girlfriend.
He’s been dating a bit all through the winter. Sharon, who studies architecture at Uni and makes lots of hilarious jokes about things that makes Atticus feel really smart himself, even if he isn’t because he gets her humor and he kind of loves that.
She reminds him of Jean in some ways. He can’t tell if that’s a good sign or bad sign or maybe a little bit of both.
Because Jean has been there, too, recently. Or not just recently perhaps, it feels like she’s always been there some days when he thinks about her. Like she’s always been part of his thoughts. Not that strange considering her long history with August, but it’s more than that. Or more complex than that, at least. Jean’s sort of been a crush for him since before he’s even had a concept of such things – an ideal, maybe, the thought of her somehow always in the outskirts of his mind.
And now they’ve ended up in bed together. Just once. Once and they had both avoided eye contact afterwards, scrambling to their feet and getting dressed quickly. She hasn’t spoken to him since, just sent a brief text telling him she’ll be coming over to talk next weekend.
So she does.
And they talk.
It had felt, even as they were doing it, like a mistake. Not the worst kind of mistake but definitely a mistake. Something they mostly did because they were drunk and possibly a bit lonely. Not that he is lonely, but maybe Jean is?
That’s at least what she tells him.
“We shouldn’t make any more of this,” she says. “Just accept that it happened and move on.”
Atticus wouldn’t have believed this a few years ago – heck, a few months ago even – but he agrees with her.
If nothing else, August would probably hate them forever if they ever became a couple, and Atticus has to admit he finds it kind of creepy to imagine dating his brother’s ex. Almost like he’s dating his brother, in some ways.
Instead, he tries to look elsewhere for what he’s decided that he wants.
He goes out a couple of times with Lindsay, another student – computer science, she claims to be the hugest tech geek in all of Barchester – he meets one night at a club in town. They’ve only ever talked so far, held hands a few times and Atticus isn’t sure if the feelings he’s beginning to have are passion or infatuation of a bit of both. But they really get along and he even invites her over for some Sunday dinner with his mom.
She’s ambitious, but not extreme and she seems to like him for who he is, even if he’ll never have a fancy degree or impress someone with his knowledge of anything.
It even seems as if Martha likes her and she’s usually a good judge of character.
Atticus doesn’t know a lot right now but he does know that he wants to try this dating thing for a while yet. Test the grounds, get a sense of what he likes and what he’s looking for in a relationship before he dives in.
And he hopes Lindsay is the right woman to try these things with.