This time, the smile on her face is real, and I don’t think it’s hurting her either. She looks content. Happy even. Despite her being banged up and in the hospital with two black eyes and a broken ankle, I can feel the happiness radiating from her.
And it makes me happy too, despite her secret-keeping.
“I wish you would’ve told me about him,” I say quietly. “Why didn’t you?”
“I don’t know.” She shrugs, then winces. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve never had the best luck with men. Then after a while, when I realized it was real, you were so busy, I didn’t know how to tell you.”
“You should’ve just…told me.”
“I know. And I’m sorry.”
“You don’t need to apologize. Just—don’t keep secrets, okay?”
“Ah, well. We all have secrets, though, don’t we? Like your new girlfriend? The Naughty Nanny?” Mom teases.
Great. I knew she’d hear about it. Why wouldn’t she? Everyone in the world knows, I swear. “Sydney didn’t have an affair with Drew.”
“Oh, I know. I’m just teasing. Drew is too good to his wife to ever do something like that.” She hesitates, her voice going softer. “Is she a nice girl, Wade? This Sydney? Do you like her a lot?”
I’m tempted to tell her the relationship is bogus, but something holds me back. That tiny detail might worry my mom. Or make her ask too many questions I don’t want to answer.
Then I think of Sydney naked in her bed this morning. I think of how she hugged me and rubbed my shoulders and kissed me like she meant it. I think of all those things that make her who she is, and how I like every single one of those little details.
“Yeah. I like her a lot. I think you would too.”
“You need to bring her over then, so I can meet her, and you can show her your hometown. Then you two can meet Richard.”
“You sure you don’t want me to wait two years first?” I ask sarcastically.
“Smartass,” she mutters, shaking her head, making me grin. She sounds like her regular self, and that reassures me. “Maybe in a few weeks we can come watch one of your games, if I’m feeling better.”
“Whenever you want tickets, Mom, I’ll put some aside for you. And whatever money you might need too, I’m here. If things go well this season, you might be able to retire by the end of next year.”
That’s my goal. I want to take care of her so she never has to work again. She’s done so much for me my entire life. Now it’s my turn to do something for her. It’s the least I can do for all the sacrifices she’s made over the years.
“Ah, wouldn’t that be lovely? I hope it comes true. Then when Richard retires, we could travel the world.” She smiles as she closes her eyes. “Thank you for running to my rescue, Wade. It is so good to see you.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” I tell her. “I’ll stay with you here as long as you need me.”
“Until Richard’s off from work, maybe?”
“Sure you want me to meet him?”
“You’re not going to let that go, are you?” she mutters. “Yes. I want you to meet him.”
“Then I’ll stay here as long as you need me. Is Richard taking you home from the hospital?” I ask.
“Yes. He’ll take care of me these next few weeks. Already said he’ll take vacation time if I need him to.” She grabs hold of my hand again, giving it a squeeze. “He’s one of the good ones, Wade. Took me a while, but I finally lucked out and found one. I hope your Sydney is like that. Because once you find a good one, you don’t ever let them go. Trust me.”
“I don’t plan on letting this one go, Mom.” I squeeze her hand in return. “I promise.”
And I mean it.
Couples surround me, yet I’m all alone.
And it totally sucks.
It’s been a lazy Monday, the kind where nothing gets done and no one minds. None of us ever left the house, which made watching the kids a lot easier. They were quiet most of the day, and so was I, because I’m still so tired, I feel like a zombie, shuffling around this giant house all day.
We just ate dinner and we’re all spending time in the family room before Autumn and Jacob go to bed, watching a kids’ movie on the big screen TV. Owen and Chelsea are cozy as they cuddle on the couch, a thick blanket thrown over both of them. Drew and Fable are stretched out on the other couch, Fable leaning against her husband, Drew’s arm wrapped around her shoulders. Even Autumn and Jacob have each other. They’re sitting on a blanket on the floor, the two of them actually being quiet for once as they watch the movie with rapt attention. Everyone has someone else, leaving me completely out of the equation.
I’m stuck in an overstuffed chair by myself, and absolutely miserable. I miss Wade so much it hurts, which is ridiculous, but I can’t help it. He hasn’t even been gone twenty-four hours—he only left early this morning, and I’m acting like a pouty baby who didn’t get her way. Imagine how I’ll be if we’re still together and he starts traveling for out of town games.
A straight up mess, I’m sure.
But yeah, that’s me assuming we’ll still be together. I don’t know if that’s going to happen. Now with him gone and me having much time on my hands today, I can’t stop evaluating our relationship and how it started out as totally fake. Can we really turn what we have into something real? Does he want to? Do I want to? The questions keep running through my head over and over, to the point where I’m doubting myself, along with Wade.