I’m blown away.
And impressed. And angry. Really angry.
And, also, the tiniest bit grateful. Celia is to credit for my relationship with Alayna, after all. I’m smart enough to know I would never have gone after the woman who enamored me if my old friend hadn’t pushed me to it.
It doesn’t redeem her. But it eases an ache of sorts. She’d always said I’d saved her by introducing her to my world—was that true or part of her scheme? Whether it was or not, now she’s saved me. She’s given me this life with Alayna.
Perhaps nobody won this game after all. Maybe we’re simply, finally, even.
She spins on her heels, leaving me reeling from my revelation. Of course, she delivers parting words, thrown flippantly over her shoulder. “Take care, Hudson. If you ever decide to rejoin the game, you know where to find me.”
My mind spins all the way to my parents’ place. After turning over my keys to the valet, I stand in the lobby and attempt to gather myself before going upstairs. It’s difficult to set aside the events of the afternoon, but I focus on Mirabelle and all I owe her. Then I step in the elevator and head up.
I’m the last one to arrive for this intervention, even though I’ve gotten here early. The whole family is present, as well as Adam. Madge Werner is here too. She must not blame my mother for Celia’s night with my father ten years ago, though she does carefully avoid any eye contact with Jack. She doesn’t seem to be too happy with me either. I suppose my participation in the lie is enough to make her dislike me. She’s uncomfortable, yet she’s still here in support of Sophia. It’s admirable.
It goes as well as any of these types of things can. There’s lots of crying, mostly from my mother, who sits on the sofa clutching Madge with silent tears streaming down her otherwise stone face. Everyone speaks. Chandler says he wants a mother he can bring a girlfriend home to. Adam talks a lot about the kind of environment he wants to raise his baby in. Madge reminisces about an earlier time in their friendship when neither of them touched alcohol.
Mirabelle gives the heaviest ultimatum. “Be sober or don’t be in my life.”
It’s after this that Sophia agrees to go to rehab. She’ll do anything for that grandchild.
But even with her acquiescence, there are two of us left to talk, and we will not be skipped. Jack goes first. “I know the man you married disappeared a long time ago with the woman you once were. If I’m asking you to be her again, then it’s only fair that I find him again as well. You’ve always been the love of my life, Sophia, even though the life I created for you—for us—was a shitty one. But, hell, we’re still young. There’s no reason we can’t start a better life together now.”
My mother doesn’t say a word, but she pats the cushion on the other side of her after Jack’s speech. He moves to her immediately and wraps her in his arms. It’s now that she crumbles, her face buried in his chest. Mirabelle and I exchange a stunned glance. We’ve never seen such affection between our parents. It’s quite moving.
I go last. Careful not to include Celia’s involvement—Madge is here, and this isn’t the place to unearth more secrets that aren’t mine—I share the nature of my relationship with Alayna. How I became involved with her. How I fell in love and betrayed her. It’s shocking and disappointing, and I can feel the anguish in the room grow heavier, and for a short second, I wonder how shocked and disappointed they would all feel to know that Celia had done the same to me.
God, I still can’t believe it.
But I can’t go there because then I have to reveal the whole story behind Celia and me, which is neither here nor there at the moment.
So I stick to Alayna.
It’s a short confession. This isn’t my intervention, after all, but my tale is relevant.
She doesn’t look at me, but I end directly addressing Sophia. “I no longer know what came first, Mother—your drinking or my emotional withdrawal. It’s like trying to answer the age-old question of the chicken or the egg. While blame is not important, I do know that our behaviors are directly correlated. That I’ve contributed to your addiction. That you’ve contributed to mine. With that in mind, I think that if I get well and you get well too, then both of us will have a better shot.”
My mother shifts, raising her eyes to mine.
I feel my throat tighten, but I talk through it. “We’ve both been hiding our flaws behind these crutches. It’s time we face them. I’m back in therapy. I don’t want to be that person anymore, and I vow that I’m going to change. For myself. For Alayna. For you. Will you change too? For all of us? For me? For you?”
It’s a simple nod that she gives, but it’s everything. We’ll never be able to repair our past. I know this. We will always be strained and awkward and, perhaps, even cruel toward one another. But we will forever have this one moment where I asked her for her love, and she gave it. It’s enough to last a lifetime.
It’s the day after my mother’s intervention, and already that seems like a lifetime ago. I’m sitting in the dressing room of Mirabelle’s Boutique, wallowing. I hadn’t planned to come to the reopening—I’d promised I wouldn’t, in fact.
But I was convinced otherwise. By Jack, of all people.
We’d just gotten to the addiction center to drop off my mother when my father handed me the keys. “I’ve called for a ride for me and Chandler. Take the car, go to Mira’s and fight.”
So I did.
And then I lost.
I put everything on the line, and Alayna still turned me away. I’m not giving up, but I haven’t quite gotten the strength to figure out my next move yet. Maybe I’m waiting for direction. Which is why I’m still here when my sister bangs on the door, nearly an hour after Alayna’s left. Frankly, I’m surprised she hasn’t shown up earlier. I suppose her grand reopening celebration kept her occupied. I knew she’d find me eventually.
Mirabelle enters without invitation, peering first around the door—looking for Alayna, I assume—before shutting it behind her.
I rise from the bench I was sitting on and scratch the back of my neck. “She left. I’m sorry.” I’m pretty sure Alayna was done with her part of the show, though, so I don’t really feel that bad.
Mirabelle walks up to me, places her small hands on my chest and shoves. “What the hell, Hudson? You weren’t supposed to be here.” She shoves me again for good measure.