The disbelief in Fang's voice surprised me, and I couldn't help but notice he seemed stunned in his place, unable to move. After a few awkward moments and a pointed look from his mother, he quickly got up and moved to stand, hovering over me almost as if he was shielding me from his mother's view.
I'd like to say that it didn't bother me, but I have to admit, it stung a bit.
I panicked for a moment, as I analyzed the situation. Was he ashamed of me, or just the awkward and compromising situation she had caught us in? I know this isn't the ideal way to meet the parents but he was acting like he never wanted me to meet his mom.
The tension in the air was so thick you could have cut it with a butter knife.
I thought it a bit odd that he never spoke of his parents, and that he always seemed to be alone. I knew his mother traveled quite often and his father had left but that was all he ever had seemed to offer on the subject.
And his mother's presence didn't seem to invoke a joyous reaction or a celebratory homecoming. In fact, Fang didn't seem happy at all at his mother's return home, and that worried me.
This only reinforced the doubt in my mind that there was more to Fang than he was leading on, and that there was much he was hiding from me.
The seconds ticked by agonizingly slowly as neither of them had made an attempt to speak. As I peaked around Fang's shoulder I was caught in a glaring match between mother and son. I then realized where he got his bone chilling glare from, it was apparently hereditary.
Just as his mother opened her mouth to speak, the front door flung open and in walked an unsuspecting Iggy and Nudge.
That boy really does have impeccable timing.
"Okay you two, cover up and put your clothes back on, we're back! I sure hope there wasn't any baby mak-" he stopped short, as he finally noticed that we were not alone.
"Miss Walker," He stated as his eye's bugged out a bit, "how nice to see you. I didn't know you were back in town. And may I say you are looking dapper as ever. Have you lost weight?" He asked moving to give her an awkward one armed hug, as I assumed he was eating his words from earlier.
If the situation wasn't so awkward I would have laughed.
"I see you haven't changed Iggy," She stated with a small smile on her lips as she returned the hug.
It seemed to be a friendly exchange, that is until Iggy noticed the less than happy expression on his best friend's face.
"Iggy," Fang's voice was low but powerful, demanding everyone in the room's attention, "It's getting late. Please see to it that the girls make it home safely please."
He tone was final, leaving no room for objection or negotiation. I nodded slightly as Nudge shot me a quick glance.
He would tell me when he was ready.
Iggy nodded slightly before turning to us, "Alrighty then. Ready girls?" He asked as he moved to open the door for us, shooting Fang a look that clearly read that they would speak later.
Nudge took the hint and said a quick goodbye as she exited the house quickly. I turned to give Fang a quick peck on the check, giving him an encouraging hug before swiftly exiting the house, Iggy shortly behind me.
As the door shut behind us, I couldn't help but feel a sense of dread as we drove away from Fang's house, leaving Fang alone with his mother.
I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep. I needed to talk to Fang, and I needed him to tell me everything.
She waited until the door made an audible click shut before she spoke, "Was that her? Was that Max? Edie mentioned you had a girl in your life and that you were doing much better. I'm assuming she is responsible for this change?"She left her question open ended, giving me an opportunity to elaborate, but I wasn't giving her the privilege. She didn't deserve to know anything about my life or Max. She gave that up when she so eagerly left me.
"That is none of your business." I spat, glaring at her. She had some nerve.
She narrowed her eyes, glaring right back at me, "Nicolas Anthony Walker, I am your mother, you will speak to me with some respect young man."
I nearly laughed at her words. She was unbelievable.
"You haven't been my mother in two years. I owe you nothing," I spat, the words harsh.
As soon as the words left my mouth I had instantly regretted them. I watched as she visibly flinched, acting as if the words had physically hit her.
"Fang," She whispered, her eyes softening and her head hanging low in shame, " I know I've made a lot of mistakes in the past and I'm sorry for how I acted after-" she faltered, a single tear slipping from her eye and rolling down her cheek.
She cleared her throat and began again, "For how I acted after the accident. I should have handled it better. But you have to understand, it was just too much all at once. I lost my baby Fang, none of us knew how to react to that."
I tensed as she continued to talk, as she began stirring up feelings and memories I had worked so hard to suppress.
"When she died it broke me."
I felt my temper flare and I turned to her harshly, "You think you were the only one affected? We all loved her. We all lost her. None of us were doing fine Mom. You weren't the only one broken, but you sure as hell acted like it. You ignored how we all felt. You lost your daughter, but you gave up your son by choice. Do you know how that made me feel? I didn't just lose my sister, I lost my whole family. My mom, dad and sister all at once. Do you know how that broke me?" My voice cracked on my last word and I turned my head so she wouldn't see my emotions. I wasn't going to allow her in.
"Fang I know that now." She pleaded, moving to place a hand in my shoulder, but I instantly shrugged her off. I didn't want any contact with her. After a moment she continued, " I really do, but when your dad left, it was just too much at once. I couldn't handle it, I needed to get away. So when they offered me the traveling promotion, I jumped at it," Her tears began to fall more freely and I had to turn away from her, "but that wasn't fair to you."
A haunting silence filled the room, the tension thickening.
"I'm sorry I couldn't be the mother you needed Fang."
Her words rang in the air, followed by another powerful silence.
Shaking my head, I turned to walk away from her, moving to retreat up the stairs and retire to my room, but her words stopped me in my tracks.
"It wasn't your fault Fang." She called out quickly, " It never was your fault. We were wrong to blame you, and to make you feel like it was. It wasn't Fang. You couldn't control it. We all know how much you loved Emily. You were more of a parent to her than we were and she looked up to you so much. You have to know that."
I sucked in a breath as her name seemed to ring through the nearly empty house. Her name was considered a taboo in our family, none of us had dared to say it, thinking that it was demolish our already fragile state. If anything, her name was always said in a barely audible whisper, never said loudly.
Yet she had the never to say it.
I heard her choke back a sob, and I could feel my resolution quickly breaking. I needed to get out of there- and fast. I couldn't do this. Not now.
I contorted my face into a stone hard mask, not allowing her to see my emotions as I harshly called over my shoulder, "As nice as this conversation was, it doesn't make up for anything. I can't get those two years of my life back Mom. A lot has changed. Emily is still dead and nothing you can say can change that."
I turned my back to her and swiftly made my way up the stairs, as I avoided her hurt and penetrating stare.
Just as I shut the door to my room behind me, I heard her call out, "Forgive yourself Fang. Forgive yourself so you can move on. This wasn't your fault."
I sucked in a shuttering breath as I slid down the door, hugging my knees to my chest, suppressing a sob.
"Yes it was." I whispered, reaching for a small framed picture of her and clutching it to my chest, "She's dead because of me and I can never forgive myself."
I fell asleep like that, propped against the door and clutching to her photo like it was a life line. Around two in the morning the vibrations of my phone woke me.
Rubbing my tear stained eyes with the back of my hand, I dug deep into my pockets, searching for my phone.
Squinting my eyes at the bright screen, I noticed I hand three unread messages.
I slid my finger across the screen to open the messages from Iggy.
I read the first message,
The girls r home safe &sound. Txt me when ur done w/ ur mom
The next was also from Iggy.
R U alright? Things seemed intense. Seriously dude, call or txt me. NOW
I rolled my eyes at the screen, Iggy may be annoying at times, but he is fiercely loyal. I have to admire that.
Moving to get up and retreat to my bed, I sent him a quick message back.
I'm fine. I'm tired. Talk to you tomorrow.
After hitting send, and crawling into bed, I notice the third message was not from Iggy, but from Max.
Sorry it's so late, I just wanted to stay I had a great night and I love you. Also that I'm here if and when you want to talk. XXX
Smiling to myself, I went to respond when an incoming message from Iggy buzzed in.
Alright bro… get some sleep… but U do kno U have to tell Max now right? And soon?
Yes Iggy I know. Good nite.
Taking a deep breath, I responded to Max's message, no more secrets.
Thx. I had a gr8 time 2. We'll talk soon…. we have a lot to talk about. Good nite XXX
I moved to settle into bed when a final message buzzed in.
Alright. Nite babycakes. Dream of meeee. ;)
Chuckling I responded back.
In ur wet dreams Iggy.
Setting my phone on the night stand by my bed, I quickly was lulled into a deep sleep.