After my incredibly embarrassing trip to the hospital, everyone was walking on eggshells around me.
It annoyed me, if I was being honest. I’m not some broken soul who needs to be taken care of.
“Babe, do you need anything?” Eric asked, making his way into the kitchen.
“I’m fine.” I mumbled.
“Are you okay? You seem on edge lately.” I heard Brody ask from behind as he came down the hallway.
“Yeah, sweetie, are you feeling alright?” My mom chimed in from the kitchen where Eric was.
“Seriously, can you people just stop asking me if I’m okay? I’m fine! There’s nothing wrong with me other than the fact that I can’t go two minutes without someone trying to check up on me!”
I didn’t mean to come off as rude, but there was no nicer way to put it.
“Geeze, who pissed in your cheerios?” Brody mumbled as he sat in the recliner next to the couch.
“Brody!” My mom warned from the kitchen.
“Apparently everyone pissed in her cheerios.” Eric said, fist bumping my little brother as he passed him, and then sitting on the couch next to me.
“Cute, real cute.” I said as I got up from the couch, and made my way to the front door.
“Where are you going?” Eric asked, looking up from his bagel.
“I’m going outside on the porch. Would you like to come out and place a soft cushion on the swing so I don’t injure my precious bottom?” I asked sarcastically.
Eric just rolled his eyes as he continued to eat his blueberry bagel.
I did, however, earn a chuckle from my mom.
I closed the front door behind me, and walked out onto the porch.
As soon as I sat down on the porch swing, I felt a presence.
“Cecilia?” I heard from next to me.
I jumped a little and whipped my head around.
You have got to be kidding me.
“What are you doing here?” I spat out.
“I just wanted to... apologize for the other day in the store.”
“You do realize that if my mom sees you out here, she’s going to lose her shit, right?” I asked.
“Yes. I’m actually here to see her as well, and Brody too, if that’s at all possible.”
I couldn’t believe this. This man, the same man who has made no effort at all in any of our lives, is suddenly back here and trying to reconcile?
There had to be a catch.
“I just realized over time that I had made a huge mistake. I never meant to leave and not call or write. It just sort of... happened.” He said, staring down at his feet.
“I’m sorry, this whole thing just doesn’t sit right with me.” I shook my head.
“I know you’re confused and I know you’re hurt. I know you’re not used to any of this. I apologize for that. I really do.”
I could feel the liquid start to sting my eyes, so I quickly jumped up and walked inside, leaving him standing by the porch swing alone.
“Honey, everything alright?” My mom asked, who was now sitting on the couch alone.
“Why don’t you go outside and see for yourself?” I simply replied, making my way into my bedroom.
I could hear my mom get up from the couch and open the front door. It immediately closed and I couldn’t help but wonder what she was going to say to him.
I quickly left my bedroom and went outback, walking around to the side of the house slowly. I made my way next to the porch, so I still couldn’t be seen.
Eric must’ve been in Brody’s room playing x-box.
“What the hell are you doing here, Michael?”
“Renee, I’m sorry...”
“Do you know the damage you have caused those kids? Brody kept asking ‘where’s daddy?’ all the way up until he was six! Not to mention the toll it’s taken on Cecilia. The poor girl can’t go an entire week without almost having a panic attack!”
I could see tears starting to build in my mom’s eyes and I felt so bad for her. This not only affected Brody and me, but it also affected her. She lost the love of her life and the father of her children all in one day. Having to raise us all by herself couldn’t have been easy. In fact, I knew it wasn’t easy.
I took a step closer so that I could hear better.
“Renee, please. This isn’t easy for me either.”
“Are you kidding me? I’m so sorry that making an appearance in your children’s lives isn’t easy, Michael.” My mom replied harshly.
“Renee! Can you stop talking down to me? I get it, I’m a fuck up! I was a fuck up back then, and I’m a fuck up now! I just wanted to see all three of you and tell you all how sorry I am for everything that I put you through. I just wanted to try and have a relationship with my kids.”
Michael looked as though he wanted to cry as well.
My mom took in a few deep breaths before speaking again.
“First, they are my children. Second, if you really want to have them in your life, then you need to prove that this isn’t just some ‘hi and bye’ thing and that you are actually going to stick around this time. I will not let you come into their lives, only to leave again with no explanation. Do you hear me?”
I had to give my mom major props for standing her ground and not folding. I remember growing up, she used to have such a soft spot for Michael. She would let him get away with anything and a simple, “sorry babe”, would make it all better. Not this time though. She was stronger and more independent now.
“I promise. I’ll prove it to you all.” He said, before finally walking away and into the distance.
I watched my mom as she let a few tears fall, then she quickly composed herself and walked back inside.
Knowing she was going to come straight to my room, I raced back into the backdoor and made it to my room before she could see me.
“Honey...” I heard her say from outside of my door. After a few light knocks, she let herself in.
“Cecilia, are you okay?”
“I’m fine mom.” I mumbled from underneath my blanket.
“Do you want to talk about anything?” She asked, now sitting at the edge of my bed with her hand on my back.
I turned over and sat up, now facing her.
“Why is he here?” I asked.
“Honestly... I have no idea. He said he wants to be a part of our life.”
“But why now? It’s just so random.” I replied, looking down at my hands that were now fidgeting.
“I know, trust me. I couldn’t believe it either when Eric told me the other night at the hospital.”
“I just don’t get it. He never even wrote a letter, nothing. Now he’s here to claim us... it just doesn’t smell right.” I said, more so to myself than to her.
“Well, all we can do is see for ourselves if he is genuine or not. Trust me, I’ll make sure to find out what he’s really doing here if there’s a catch. You don’t have to worry about that.”
She leaned over and gave me a hug. As she tried to pull away, I gripped her harder.
“I will not let him hurt you again.”
I look up and into the eyes of my mother, nodding at her words.
After a while, she kissed the top of my head, and then left my bedroom.
I sat there for a few minutes, before Eric came in.
“I’m not going to ask if you’re okay, I’m just going to sit here, alright?” He said, walking towards the edge of my bed.
I had no idea what came over me, I just knew that I needed Eric’s touch. I wanted it to consume me over everything else.
I got up and walked over to my bedroom door, locking it.
I then slowly walked towards Eric, who was still sitting on the edge of my bed.
I slowly sat down on his lap, straddling him.
I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him in for a kiss.
He instantly wrapped his arms around my waist without a second thought, as his lips crashed against mine, asking for entrance.
I allowed it, deepening the kiss before pushing him down on the bed, and laying on top of him.
His hands never left my sides as he slowly pulled my shirt off and threw it on the floor next to us. I did the same to him and I shivered at the bare contact.
Normally I’m self-conscious of my body, but right now, I wasn’t giving it a second thought.
I kissed him harder as he ran his hands through my hair, slightly tugging on it, causing me to moan against his lips.
I smiled and reached down to his belt, slowly unhooking it.
He stopped kissing me and looked at me with caution. I slowly nodded and rejoined our lips. The feeling of being this close to Eric made me feel safe. I felt protected. I knew that nothing bad could ever get to me as long as he was there.
I slowly pulled his belt off and threw it beside our shirts that were now resting on the floor. I went to unbutton his pants, when he suddenly stopped me.
I looked at him with confused eyes, and he gave me a short smile, before sitting up and setting me down next to him on the bed. Why was he stopping?
“I’m sorry.” He said while looking down at his hands as he caught his breath.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I just can’t. Not yet.” He quickly got up off the bed and went for his shirt and belt, leaving me there in nothing but my pants and bra.
I quickly grabbed a blanket and covered up, now aware of my self-conscious and very exposed body.
I furrowed my eyebrows and got up myself, grabbing my shirt and pulling it on.
We sat there in complete silence for a few minutes, before he spoke up again.
“I’ll see you later.” He jumped up and placed a kiss on my forehead, before leaving my room and leaving my house.
I sat there dumbfounded. I basically threw myself at him and he rejected me.
Was I not good enough for him? Did he not like my body?
What’s wrong with me?
Angry, I quickly picked up my phone and called Layla.
After a few short rings, she answered.
“Hey there pretty lady!”
“Come over. Now.”
“Snacks and boy talk?”
“You want your snickers?”
“Help is on the way, dear!” She said, mimicking Mrs. Doubtfire. After that, the call ended.
“So he just stopped you, got up, got dressed and said ‘see ya later’?” Layla asked, stuffing a Twix candy bar into her mouth.
“Yep, pretty much.” I replied, unwrapping my Snickers.
“Wow. What an asshole.”
“You’re tellin’ me.”
“That’s like, the one thing you don’t do to a girl.”
“That’s what I said!”
“Ugh, boys.” She scoffed, pulling out a Yoo-Hoo from the Circle-K bag.
“Does he ever talk to you about me?” I asked, feeling stupid for even asking.
“No. I mean occasionally he’ll ask me advice on something, but he usually keeps his thoughts to himself. He tries not to talk to me about you since we’re friends and that would be a little weird.”
“Yeah, you’re right.” I said, pulling out a Yoo-Hoo for myself. I love this stuff.
“On the plus side, I know he loves you.”
I almost chocked on my chocolate drink.
“Loves you!” She cooed, giving me grin.
“You couldn’t possibly know that.” I said, looking down at my hands.
“Don’t get all shy on me now, Collins.”
“When did he say that?” I asked, now incredibly curious.
“Well... he didn’t exactly say it out loud, but I know what he’s thinking ninety-nine percent of the time.” She said matter-of-factly.
I just gave her a look.
“I’m sure he doesn’t love me.” I finally said, playing with the straw connected to my drink.
“If he did, he wouldn’t have stopped me and basically rejected me.” I added. My cheeks instantly turned red and I looked up at Layla who was now grinning from ear to ear.
I nervously bit my lip, and then we both burst out laughing.
“I can’t believe you were going to shag my brother!”
“Ew, Layla! Don’t say shag! You make it sound so weird!” I breathed, trying to control my laughter.
“Are you a... Virgin?” She asked, now with a serious look on her face.
“Yes...” I looked down again, feeling flustered.
“So you were going to shag my brother, giving him your V-card?” Another grin landed on her lips.
“Will you stop saying shag? And yes, I was going to give him my V-card.”
“I know... does that make me look... easy? Oh God it does! Is that why he stopped?” I was now in a panic as my eyes widened.
I took a drink of my Yoo-Hoo, causing Layla to start laughing again.
“Will you stop? That’s not why he stopped you. There’s got to be another reason.”
“But we’ve only been dating a little over a month and that quick I was ready to give it up.”
“That’s because you’re in love girl!” She said with a smile.
A smile of my own slowly made its way onto my lips.
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure he comes and talks to you.” She reassured, giving me a side hug.
I rested my head on her shoulder as we stared at the Netflix on my computer.
“You’re the best, Layla.”