My keys clatter to the side, announcing my arrival.
Mom appears at the top of the stairs, coffee mug in hand, her bleary eyes assessing me in the way only Mom can.
“Where have you been? I was worried.”
Sorry, I was fucking Kurt’s dad.
“I was at Kurt's.”
Mom sighs, sipping her morning nectar gratefully.
I hesitate, and she leaps on it in seconds.
Kiki barks, demanding her attention. I walk into the kitchen with a groan, flicking the switch on the kettle.
I’m still sore from last night, the ache between my thighs reminding me that only Lincoln can soothe the stinging he created.
Mom follows me into the kitchen, sliding onto a kitchen stool with wide eyes.
I watch the water boil, reaching boiling point in rapid time before clicking off.
I reached boiling point, and I turned off.
“I think it’s over.”
Mom almost drops her coffee, but instead of looking delighted, she has tears in her eyes.
“Oh no, I’m so sorry.”
Mom wraps her arms around me from behind, resting her chin on my shoulder. Her perfume comforts me.
I wait for the tears to come, but they don’t show. Maybe I’ve cried enough.
“You’re not.” I smile, turning my head to hers.
“I’m sorry for you.”
That I can believe.
I focus on making coffee, toying with what to tell my mother.
The woman who met her husband and fell in love at sweet sixteen.
“We cheated on each other.”
Mom drops her hands, her mouth opening in disbelief.
I turn, resting against the counter.
Mom frowns, shaking her head at me.
“You wouldn’t! Him, obviously,” she scoffs. “ But you? I don’t believe it.”
Chewing on my cheek I shrug.
“I guess it was in retaliation.”
There’s silence, and I watch my mother absorb my words. I can see the faint disgust in her eyes, the maternal love pushing it away as she clears her throat.
“Well, did you enjoy it? Being with someone else?”
I grin, nodding.
“Very much so.”
This seems to please her.
“Okay, you seem sure about that!”
Mom laughs, turning back to her coffee.
“Does Kurt know?”
“He deserved it.”
“No one deserves that,” I counter, frowning.
“An eye for an eye, love.” Mom shrugs, throwing me a wink. “Who was it?”
I drop my gaze, shaking my head.
“It doesn’t matter.”
Mom gapes at me, her blonde hair falling in her eyes as she does.
My mother is a firm believer in sex meaning something.
Which I believe too, truth be known.
I know if I tell my mom everything she’ll die.
She’s known Lincoln Derby for years; she’s even swooned over him when Dad wasn’t looking.
I can’t tell her he had me in his bed.
“Well, it does, but I can’t tell you who it was.”
Mom nods, accepting my answer.
“Was he older?”
I nod, smiling stupidly.
“Ali…” Mom swallows, checking the hallway before leaving forward. “I know him, don’t I?”
I hold her gaze and nod slowly.
“That’s it, nothing else,” I say firmly, sitting opposite her.
Mom’s eyes hold mine, then she leans forward, wrapping her hand around mine.
“I don’t give a shit who it is. I just want you to be treated right.”
Tears prick my eyes, and for the millionth time today, I want to be with Lincoln.
I want to bury my head in his neck, inhale his scent until I can’t breathe.
His behavior this morning screamed maturity and respect; two things Kurt lacks massively.
“Don’t go back to him, you know this isn’t the first time if he’s done it at all.”
Her words prove her wisdom; look at Lincoln’s confession last night.
Kurt did this before.
Mom looks surprised.
I drag my fingers down my coffee mug, allowing myself to breathe without the guilt.
“But the person I cheated on him with...he knows him.”
Mom studies me.
“Ouch. That’s messy.”
That’s an understatement.
“Yeah. He wants us to try again, but I’m done, Mom.”
Mom reaches forward, squeezing my hand.
“There’s my strong girl. Kick his ass to the curb.”
“But I do love him, so it’s hard.”
“Of course it is. Talk to him if you need to, only you know how to handle him. But my advice is this; do what you want, you’re an intelligent woman, Ali, and Kurt isn’t on your level.”
“I might go and view that house today,” I muse, gazing out of the window.
“Want me to come?”
I shake my head, knowing exactly who I want to come.
I finish my coffee and call Kiki for a walk.
I don’t even have his number. I said it was a one-off, so why would I call him to look at a potential house?!
Because he’s a professional.
Chewing my lip, I search for Lincoln Derby, my heart thudding in my chest when his business comes up on Google.
Construction, building houses.
His mobile number is there for all to see, so there’s no harm in calling him, right?
I exhale, trying to calm my shaking fingers as I select the ‘call now’ button.
It’s ringing, and my stomach is churning.
What the fuck am I doing?!
His gruff tone sends shivers through my body, and I try to speak, only a breath of wordless air leaving my body.
“Hello?” Lincoln demands, and I know I have to speak right now.
“Hi, it’s Alison.”
What if he tells me to fuck off?
“Hey, give me a second. Kurt, just gotta take this. Work.”
Oh my god, he’s with Kurt.
Of course he is.
“Are you alright, sweetheart?” Lincoln mutters down the phone, clearly keeping his voice down.
“Yeah, I’m sorry to call you...I just…”
I suck in a breath.
“Will you come and look at the house with me? I’d really appreciate it.”
I close my eyes, pinching the bridge of my nose, hard.
“Uh, yeah, sure. What time?”
“Four. Are you sure you don’t mind?”
Lincoln chuckles, and it makes my ovaries scream.
“You need a professional opinion, right?”
“Well, yes, but…”
“But?” Lincoln seems to hold his breath, and I swallow awkwardly.
“You know…” I cringe, feeling like a fourteen-year-old girl.
“I do, love. Is this your number? I’ll text you from my phone. This is my work one.”
“I’ll meet you at the house, yeah? Send me the address.”
“Thank you,” I whisper. “And I’m sorry about Kurt this morning…”
“He made his bed, he’ll have to lie in it. But he’s still my son, and I need to be his father, you know?”
I bow my head, wishing the ground would swallow me up.
Of course he’s being there for his son; as if I’d come before him.
“I understand if you want to stay with Kurt.”
“See you at four.”