Disastrous (Disastrous 1) - Page 53

“Would you like some tea, water?” I asked in the best casual way I could.

Dropping her hand to her side, she masked a tiny smile. “Tea, please.” Following me into the kitchen, Marcus set her at the table and arranged two chairs side by side to sit across from her. Taking my time, I thought of a million ways to start our conversation. The room was silent: the only noise was the steam emanating from the teapot.

Cutting the stove off, I prepared tea for three. Marcus likes his tea with lemon and sugar; I like mine with cream and sugar, but I didn’t know how she would like hers. Uncertain, I placed her mug in front of her along with lemon, cream, sugar, and a spoon, allowing her make her own.

Marcus wrapped his arm securely around my shoulder when I took my seat beside him. Taking small sips, I peeked through my lashes and watched as she prepared her cup: two scoops of sugar and a splash of cream. I should remember that … shouldn’t I? She stirred and lightly tapped the side of the spoon on top of the mug before gently laying it on the table. Biting her lip, she stared at her tea for a moment, not taking a sip, and not saying a word. She just focused on her mug as if something would magically appear.

The unbearable silence was broken when Marcus cleared his throat and shifted impatiently in his chair. My “mother” shot her eyes up at us and moved her shoulders, so she could sit straight up. I looked into her eyes and saw an older reflection of myself. “I’m sorry that this is unexpected and a shock … I don’t know where to start.” Her shoulders gently lifted into a slight shrug.

“How about what you’re doing here?” Marcus blurted. Irritated by his response, I shot him an annoyed look. I knew he was there to support me, but this was hard on me and most definitely hard on her as well. I didn’t need him adding to the tension and awkwardness in the room. He noticed my annoyance and nodded in a way of saying “sorry.” Fixing my gaze back on her, I noticed that she had the softest, sweetest smile I had ever seen. She was clearly not affected by his rudeness.

“I’ve contemplated different ways to approach you. After finally finding you, it took me weeks and several scribbled letters before I worked up the nerve to meet you face-to-face. See at first I was going to leave you alone because Michael refused to let me see you—”

I cut her off at the mention of my brother’s name. “Wait? Did you say Michael didn’t want you to see me?” I didn’t know my brother had contact with her.

“Yes, when I found out your father passed away, I went to the funeral. Michael refused to let me in. He said I didn’t deserve to see him or you. I wanted to help him with you. I wanted to be a part of your lives … I apologized to him a million times … but he said he was going to take care of you and leave Philly. I begged and pleaded, but I didn’t want to make a scene. So I left. A year after your father passed, I found out that he moved to Boston. I mailed several letters to the both of you, but he returned all of them unopened. After a few years of trying, I gave up. I know I shouldn’t have, but I did.”

I was in a daze from everything she was saying. I couldn’t believe Michael kept this from me! Was he trying to protect me from her, afraid that she would leave again? Or was he afraid that I would choose her over him? I knew the second part wouldn’t have crossed his mind, but I had heard him time and time again wishing I had a mother figure to teach and lecture me about things that he couldn’t. I know he gave up his youth to raise me, and for that I would always be grateful, though I wonder if he ever regretted his decision.

I allowed her to continue without interruption. “I hated myself for the woman I was—the one I allowed myself to become, and I cried almost every night since I left your father and my two children. He was the one and only love of my life. I’m not sure if he ever told you the story of how we met?”

I shook my head, and she proceeded. “I was young, very young. He was six years older than me, and now it may not seem that old, but at that time my parents hated it, hated him. I was fifteen, and he was twenty-one. Your father was a rebel: a young handsome man. One day I was walking home after school. I began to walk along a crosswalk when a motorcycle flew by. Frightened about getting hit, I jumped back, lost my balance, and fell to the ground. He was immediately by my side, making sure I was okay, and he repeated numerous times that he didn’t see me.

“The moment I laid eyes on him, I was mesmerized by his perfection. I thought I was dreaming. How could this beautiful man possibly be staring back at me with the same awe-struck impression? We instantly made a connection … he offered me a lift home. Every day after that, he would wait at the crosswalk with his motorcycle parked as he leaned against it, greeting me with a huge smile. He didn’t even ask me out; he would simply walk me home, leaving his cycle behind, asking me numerous questions.

“After a month, he finally asked me on a date. He didn’t know my age at first. He thought I was older than I was. I was afraid if I told him I was only fifteen, he would run away. I lied to my parents and told them I was studying at a friend’s house.” She smiled at her memory.

“After months of lying and sneaking around, I turned up pregnant.” She looked down at her mug and took a small sip. I knew she was young when she had Michael, but I didn’t know she was fifteen. I could only imagine what she’d been through: the fear of being a mother at such a young age.

Finally placing her mug down, she continued. “I tried to hide it from my parents. I was afraid of them. They were very religious and strict. After your father found out about the pregnancy, he demanded that I tell them. I finally worked up the courage, and they kicked me out. Well it was either abort, put my child up for adoption, or get kicked out of the house. When they found out I was pregnant by your father, there wasn’t even an option. It was simply get the hell out. Your father took care of me from the start, though. He signed up for the police academy. Once he was in, we got a tiny apartment, and he took care of me.

“It was hard, very hard at first, but eventually we got through it together. Though I felt like I was missing a part of me, I couldn’t explain it. I had dropped out of school … I didn’t work, just stayed home: a housewife and a mother. I felt like, was this all? Is this what my life was supposed to be? When I had you, I loved you so much, but I wanted more. I know that sounds selfish and cruel, but I felt trapped. My whole life I felt trapped. My parents finally came to their senses and agreed to take me back, and I could help run the family business if I left your father.

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