After dinner, I can’t help but become completely overwhelmed with the fact that my mom is dating Ethan’s illegitimate uncle. I mean, he was adopted so it’s not like it’s some family thing, but still. Ethan considers him family.
When we shower and get in bed, I go on asking Ethan multiple questions about his uncle. He makes the effort to try to dodge them, but he should know by now that I can’t just drop something like this. When it comes to my mother, I need to know the facts about a man she’s seeing and because Ethan is technically related to him, he’s my source whether he likes it or not.
“Is he nice?”
“What do you mean by alright? He either is or isn’t.”
Ethan rolls his eyes as he slides down under the covers.
“Yes, he’s nice.”
“Okay. Tell me about his past relationships. How did they start and end?”
“Oh my God, Thea, can you just drop it? If your mom trusts him then that’s all that matters.”
“My mom is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t dated in years. And when she did date, they were assholes who she swore up and down were nice. They all ended up being jerks.”
“He’s a good guy, Thea. He’s never been in any trouble in his life. He’s great. His kids are great. His wife was great.”
“How did they meet?”
“Who?” He asks, playing dumb.
“His wife. Duh”
“They met while he was living in California.”
“What was she like?”
“She was great. Now can we move on?” He begins to sound irritated, but I overlook it.
“How’d she die?” I ask, remembering my mother saying that he’s a widower.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Immediately, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Anything Ethan doesn’t want to talk about something that means it’s bad. He didn’t want to talk about the club and look at how that played out. He didn’t want to talk about his ex and that ended up being a horror story and now this. I know by now that if Ethan doesn’t want to talk about something then he must feel strongly about it. I don’t want to push it, but I need to know for the sake of my mom.
“Please, Ethan. I swear I won’t ask anything else tonight.”
“Just tonight?” He scoffs.
He gives me a side-eye and I huff.
“Fine. No more questions about your uncle UNLESS it’s something important. Deal?”
Ethan thinks about it for a moment before sighing.
I try not to get excited about winning because I’m sure this story is going to be gloomy.
“Nine years ago, Drew and his wife Elaine left New York to go to California. They had a house up in the mountains that they owned. Well, at the time there were a shit ton of forest fires going on so they figured just to be on the safe side, they’d go tend to the house.”
Ethan pauses for a moment and my eyes already start to water. I don’t even think I want to know the rest of this story.
“The fires kept dodging their area, so they thought they were in the clear until one nice an intense storm hit. The winds caused a fire to shift and move towards them. Drew said they’d only been asleep an hour before their house was completely engulfed all around. They woke up to the smoke alarms blaring. They rushed to get out, but the smoke was so thick they could barely see in front of them. They were about 10 feet from the front door when they passed out. Thankfully, one of their neighbors is a retired firefighter. When we didn’t see them outside, he burst in and found them. Dragged them out to safety. They both suffered some ugly burns, but doctors thought they would live. Unfortunately, Elaine body just couldn’t handle the burns and smoke inhalation. She died two days later.”
Tears streaming down my face, just stare down at the bed. I can’t imagine doing through something so physically painful only to be crush emotionally.
“I’m so sorry Ethan.”
“The sad part about it was that even with everything that happened, my parents and grandparents still held a grudge against him. Everyone but me. I flew down there and stayed with him why he recovered. After that, he became a little more distant with the family and now that over the years they’ve passed, he just has me. His kids decided to live closer to their biological grandparents, but his son is moving here to take the law firm. He spent the summer here last year and fell in love with the city.”
“Any more questions?”
I shake my head.
“Good. Come here.” He holds his arms open and I flop down on the bed to cuddle with him.
“I’m sorry I asked.” I mumble and he kissed my forehead.
“Me too. I don’t like to think about bad things. I’ve had to accept death a lot and it’s not something I like to relive.”
“I know. I just want my mom to be happy.”
“I want Drew to be happy. I think your mom will be good for him. She’s something different.”
“Tell me about it.” I snort.
Some moments later, Ethan falls asleep and I lie away just thinking about how much sadness he’s had to go through and yet he still finds room to love. It just makes me love him more if that’s even capable.
The next day with Ethan’s permission, I go to to my mom’s after work to let her know about Drew. Like any other time I’ve had to tell someone about their beau, I arrive with a bottle of wine.
When I arrive, I knock on the door, but I don’t get an answer. It strikes me as odd seeing as she told me she would be home when I spoke to her at work. I knock a few more times and decide to use the spare key she gave me. I balance the wine, cheese, and crackers in my hand as I unlock the door. When I get it open, I immediately hear a loud thud coming from one of the rooms. I don’t know what to assume so I set everything on the sofa and rush back.
You’d think as an adult, I would run all the possibilities through my mind as to why thudding would be coming to the bedroom, but the idiot in me doesn’t. I naively open the bedroom door to find my mother, naked, head back, riding Drew like she’s trying to win the Kentucky Derby.
“Oh, God!” I shout and turn away from the door.
My mother yelps and I hear shuffling.
“Thea, oh shit, I forgot you were coming over. Um, just wait for me in the living room. I’ll be out in a minute.”
“Only a minute! I don’t want to think about my mother only needing one more minute with a man.” I yell as I slam the door, marching back to the kitchen, completely embarrassed. Not waiting any time, I pop open the wine and begin downing it straight from the bottle.
I’m going to need therapy for this.