I approach her bed slowly, afraid to touch her, afraid to even look at her. “You okay, Mom?”
“Just sore. Very sore.” She nods, winces and closes her eyes. “I feel like I’ve been run over.”
“You sort of were.” I touch her arm gently, just to make contact. She’s warm and smells the same, some perfume she’s been wearing since forever. “Did the guy who did this to you get hurt?”
“Yes. He’s in the hospital too. I hear his injuries are more severe than mine.” She shakes her head. “Such a terrible accident.”
“Was he drunk?” I’m angry just thinking about it. He better hope he wasn’t drunk. I might want to go kick his ass.
“I don’t know. I’m sure we’ll find out more details later.” She remains still, her eyes remaining closed, the grimace on her face. “I have good news. The doctor says I didn’t break my hip. I just dislocated it.”
Relief floods me. “That’s good, right?”
“It is good, but I fractured my ankle. So that’s bad. I’m going to have to wear a cast for the next six to eight weeks.”
“Which ankle?” Not that it matters, I guess, I’m just curious.
“The left one.”
“Still better than a broken hip,” I point out.
“True. But I wish I’d never been in this accident at all.” She cracks open her eyes and her smile is strained. “But I can’t change it, so I’ll just have to deal.”
“What about your head?”
“What about it?”
“It’s wrapped up like a mummy’s.”
“Oh. I banged it up. I’m all banged up. I hear I have a couple of shiners.”
“That you do.” I don’t want to tell her how bad she looks, so I keep my opinion to myself. “How long are they keeping you in the hospital?”
“Just overnight for observation. They want to make sure I have no internal bleeding.” Hearing those words strikes fear in my heart, and she must see it written all over my face. “They don’t think that’ll be a problem, but it’s a precautionary thing. I’ll be here for twenty-four hours, then they’ll release me.”
“I came as soon as I could. Got caught in the morning commute, so the traffic was hell,” I tell her as I find a chair and pull it up to the side of her bed.
“You’re so far now, though I guess I shouldn’t complain. At least you’re not in Denver.” She’s referring to Owen, which reminds me…
“I saw him. Owen. And Chelsea. They came to visit Fable and Drew for the next few days. They got here yesterday.”
“Aw, is he still there?”
“Yeah. But I needed to leave and come see you.” I take her hand and hold it loosely, running my index finger over hers. The same familiar ring is on her middle finger, one that my grandma gave her when she turned sixteen. There’s another on her ring finger, though, one I don’t recognize. It’s new and beautiful, with a red center stone surrounded by tiny diamonds.
It looks expensive. Who could that be from?
I won’t question her now. Instead, I study her hand, which is slender and dry, a little more wrinkled than the last time I really paid attention to her. I’ve missed her. Been so wrapped up in my own world that I’ve neglected her, even those last two years at college when we were living in the same damn town, I didn’t talk to her much. Too caught up in my own life to worry about hers, I guess.
Well, that changes now.
“I’m so glad you came to see me, Wade. It does my heart good to look at your pretty face. I’ve missed it.” I roll my eyes at her mentioning my pretty face. She’s as bad as my friends. “But you don’t have to stay the night or anything. I’ll be fine.”
Wait. “What? Why do you say that?” My gaze meets hers, confusion slipping through me.
“I’ve been keeping secrets from you, son, and I’m sorry.” She sighs then makes a face, like it hurt her. “I’ve been seeing someone.”
She nods. “Yes. He’s a real nice man. He works at the bank I go to. When I went in there over a fraud case and had to get a new debit card, he was the one who helped me. We started flirting and before I left with my new card, he asked me out for coffee.”
I’m in shock. “When did this happen?” I vaguely remember her telling me about a debit card issue, but that feels like a long time ago.
“Almost two years ago.”
“What? Are you serious?”
“Yes. Richard is very nice. I think you’ll like him.”
“But why didn’t you tell me about him?” I’m kind of hurt. Scratch that—I’m really hurt. Why did she keep this from me? And for two years? That’s a long-ass time. It makes no sense.
“Well, at first I didn’t think it would go anywhere, so why bother bringing him into our lives, you know? Let alone mentioning him. We were just friends, but then it grew into something more and now…now we’re in love. And a few weeks ago, he asked me to marry him.”
“What?” I keep saying that word, but she keeps dropping these bombs on me, so I can’t help it. That’s where the ring came from. It’s an engagement ring.
“Yes. Married. We’re just engaged, so there’s no rush. And now with the accident, I’m sure I’ll have to wait a little longer. But that’s okay. We have all the time in the world.”