Pulled (Page 70)

Author: A.L. Jackson

Daniel helped me into my jacket before we stepped into the chilly night. He started the car and drove back toward the city. I couldn’t wait to get back to his apartment, knowing the only thing better than fal ing asleep in Daniel’s arms was going to be waking up in them.

Chapter 22

“Okay, see you tomorrow. Bye.”

I hung up with Mom, ringing my hands together, trying to calm myself as it sank in that the day had nearly arrived. The past three weeks had been nothing short of amazing. I had spent every minute I could with Daniel, but I wasn’t blind; I knew it was starting to wear on him. It seemed as if he held me a little tighter and kissed me a longer each time we said goodbye. I took comfort in knowing it was almost over. I’d decided to leave as soon as Mom left after her visit for Thanksgiving.

It had given me the time I needed to put a closure on my previous life and afforded me a week with Mom, one without interruptions, a time when she and I could get to know each other again.

Even though I was incredibly excited to see Mom, I was nervous and unsure of how to handle things with her. I still carried resentment, even more so now that I’d learned Daniel had gone to Dal as and she’d never let me know.

But I was going to do everything in my power to see past all of it and repair our relationship. I knew it was going to be hard dredging up old issues and memories, though it was necessary if we were ever going to get past this. We both needed forgiveness, and we both needed to give it. I knew it wouldn’t be easy on either account.

I spent the rest of the day transforming the downstairs den into a second guestroom for my mother.

Until that moment, I hadn’t really even considered the fact that I’d be sleeping apart from Nicholas while Mom was here. If this didn’t give her a clue that my marriage was on the eve of its demise, then nothing short of tel ing her would, and I wasn’t planning to do that until the day she left.

I figured we’d have the beginning of the week just to, I don’t know—talk—maybe reminisce a little about my childhood? I felt like we had to reestablish our connection, reform our mother-daughter bond, and build a belief in our love for each other. Otherwise, I would never trust her enough to go back to our past issues and just ask her why.

She could never take back what she had done, but at least she could explain why, apologize, and take some responsibility for what she had done. Then maybe, just maybe, I could trust her enough to tel her about Daniel.

I spent the night in a fitful sleep, nodding off only to jolt upright in bed, my body in constant upheaval. I’d study the clock to find only minutes had passed between each unwelcome arousal, and I was never able to settle into comfort. I’d hoped to sleep away most of the morning, or else I’d be pacing the floors, waiting her arrival. Finally, I gave up and hauled myself out of bed at six-fifteen. The sky was still dark, the roads still silent on this early Sunday morning. I wrapped myself in my satin robe. Thanks to the lack of sleep and my frayed nerves, I was all too eager for my morning pot of coffee. It was going to be a very long day.

After Nicholas left to play golf, I busied myself with smal chores around the house. I organized my office desk and sifted through e-mails. I cleaned out the refrigerator and cooked a little—anything to keep my hands busy. My eyes constantly watched the clock, willing it to move faster. I hated feeling so agitated. I mean, my mother was coming to visit; I should be thril ed, not filled with so much worry and apprehension, which only grew as afternoon approached. I just couldn’t help it; there was too much riding on this visit.

At just after four-thirty, the doorbel rang. I raced across the living room, only to stop in front of the door, giving myself an internal pep talk. “It’s going to be okay.

She wants this as much as you. She’s your mother.” My hand trembled against the knob. “Open the damn door, Melanie!” I screamed at myself. I inhaled deeply, finding enough strength to turn the knob, and stood back to all ow the door to swing open. I stifled a sob that had gathered in my throat when I saw her. My feet were frozen, unable to move as her gaze met mine.

Mom. I had missed her more than I ever understood until this very moment. She stood in front of me, her hair piled on top of her head and streaked with gray, her waist noticeably thicker, and her eyes sad.

“Melanie, sweetheart,” she whispered. I could feel her eyes probing, penetrating through my exterior, searching me. There was a peculiar expression on her face as she drank me in.


That was all it took for her to drop the luggage she had in each hand, throw her arms around me, and hug me to her. Her hands held my cheeks while her thumbs wiped away my tears produced by the sudden onslaught of affection; affection I’d craved, missed, needed. The affection in my mother’s touch I would never outgrow. Her words sounded heavy and penitent as she told me over and over, “I missed you…I missed you.”

“I missed you so much, Mom.” I hugged her back hard, clinging to her.

“Sweetheart, I’m so sorry.”

I pulled back, shaking my head as I squeezed her hands in mine. “Not yet. I know we need to talk, and we wil before you go, but can we just please just enjoy each other for a while?”

She nodded and pulled me to her again.

“Whatever you need. But I’m not leaving here untillyou and I are okay.”

I laughed through my tears, nodding, thankful she was here for the same reason I wanted her to be.

“Here, let’s get you settled.” I gathered her bags, handing her one, slinging the other over my shoulder, and pulling the large suitcase behind me.

“Are you tired? I can go and start dinner while you take a little nap.”

“Yeah, that sounds great. Are you sure you don’t need help with dinner?”

I shook my head. “No, just get some rest. I’ll come get you when it’s ready.” I gave her another quick hug, and I left her in the room, closing the door behind me and going into the kitchen to finish dinner. I’d made meatbal s during my day of mania, now only needing to make sauce and noodles for the spaghetti I’d planned. I figured I’d let the sauce simmer for a while to give Mom enough time to recuperate from the long flight.

I found myself at ease in the kitchen, my unrest settled the moment I’d seen Mom. Every worry I’d all owed to work me into a frenzy had been soothed by her very presence and the promise she would stay until we worked things out.

I felt my phone vibrate in the back pocket of my jeans. I smiled because I already knew who it was, his sweet words asking if I was okay.