As I helped clean the dining room by bringing the plates into the kitchen I knew I needed to talk to my mother about her inviting Brian. I needed to know what she was up to.
She was acting sweet and innocent but I knew better.
My mother stood at the sink, rinsing dish after dish. I sidled up next to her , leaning my hip against the counter.
She turned her head to look at me, her eyes traveled the length of my body “Cassandra, really?”
“What?” I asked biting the inside of my cheek knowing she was going to now release her opinions on my outfit.
She scoffed, “You couldn’t have thrown on a dress or something? Just anything better than those" she said eyeing my leggings.
I rolled my eyes at her remark. Sometimes the woman drove me crazy. I loved her, but she could be a real pain the butt. “Mother, I had an appointment today. I didn’t have time to run home and change”
“You couldn’t have brought an outfit with you to your appointment and changed there?” She asked not letting it go.
Crossing my arms across my chest I sighed drawing her judgmental eyes back to me, “No I couldn’t have. Besides I’m comfortable, the last dinner I came to I dress up and I was so uncomfortable.”
She gave me a sly smile, “Beauty is pain dear”
I dropped the subject, I wasn’t going to fight her on it. It was useless. Next time I would just wear a dress. She knew she’d won the battle, the little curve of her lips in the corner of her mouth said so.
“Mother” I started, she turned off the faucet and looked at me, “Why did you invite Brian?”
She looked confused for a moment, “Why not? I thought you two were friends again?”
“We are but...”
“So then what’s the problem?” She asked drying her hands on the kitchen towel.
I gave her skeptical look and shifted on my feet with irritation “You knew Alec was coming home early today” the look on her face answered my question, it was a guilty look I’d seen only a time or two but it was indeed there “You invited Brian to get a rise out of either me or Alec. Which is it?”
She let out a long sigh, placing the towel on the counter “I.... Cas... I” she stumbled over her words and I wondered for a moment if she’d tell me the truth or lie. “I wanted to get a reaction out of all of you. I wanted to clear things up between you three and the only way to do that was to get you all in one room.”
I shook my head in disbelief “mom” I said , I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that she was stirring the pot. She was adding fuel to the already enflamed fire. “I know you don’t like Alec and I together. I know that the actions we took to get together bother you. But the thing between us has been brewing since high school. Had Sarah not been in the way we would have gone about things correctly, we wouldn’t have snuck around but unfortunately he’d been pulled into an arrangement he didn’t want, and he did it for his family. I’m not asking for you to accept him mother because that’s unfair but I am asking that you quit meddling and play nice.” I let out a long breath as I said everything I’d needed to say.
She stared back at me seeming astonished, “Cas... I wasn’t... ” she stopped herself. We both knew she was going to deny she’d been meddling but we also both knew she had been. “Fine” she conceded. “But Cas, are you sure Alec is who you really want? Brian is a good choice too. You wouldn’t have half of the problems you have with Alec”
Gritting my teeth I pushed myself to remain calm, reminding myself that she just wanted to help. “Alec is who I want. Brian is my friend, nothing more. Yes, things would probably be easier if I was with Brian but nobody said love is easy. You have to fight for it and that’s what I’m doing. Every relationship has some kind of obstacle and We’re working at ours”
My mother smiled softly with a new light of happiness in her eyes “if this is what you want, I will support you Cas. One hundred percent”
I blinked at her almost in disbelief. “You won’t make anymore digs at him or judge our relationship?”
She laughed and pulled me into a hug “I can’t promise you that, because I’ll always have my own opinion but i will promise to try and keep it to myself and only let it out when necessary”
I nodded my head and hugged her back. I could handle that. With the dishes cleaned and the table cleared, we left the kitchen and settled into the livingroom with the men.
Mrs. Swade was smiling brightly at her son. I could tell she missed him a lot. There was an obvious love and adoration for her son that shined brightly in her eyes as she looked at him. Alec seemed to be enjoying her company as well, he was explaining his trip to her and I could tell with the excitement that laced thickly in his face he thoroughly enjoyed what he did.
Brian sat with my father and Mr. Swade each of them once again hooked onto the game on the television.
“It’s so nice” my mother said standing next to me, glancing at the guests in her living room.
“What is?” I asked catching Alec’s eyes. He smiled, his eyes darkened with warmth and I wanted to cuddle up in his arms.
“Having people over for dinner again”
I laughed and turned my head to look at her “Mom it’s only been like a little over a month since you’ve been without guests”
A sad heavy sigh escaped her, “I know. I hated it. I felt so alone”
I couldn’t help but laugh, “Alone? Mom, you had Dad”
She scoffed before a small unladylike snort came from her, “Your father prefers to sit in silence and eat those nasty five minute instant meals. He likes to sit in his chair and watch his games and occasionally his vulgar wrestling shows. I can’t discuss things with him as I did with my friends.” She laugh at the absurdity of it.
Now I understood. I understood completely as I didn’t have that either, well atleast I hadn’t until Brian and I made up. I found it easy to talk to him, as if we’d been friend all our lives.
“Anyway, I appreciate you coming over Cas, but I believe you and Alec should be going.” I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of the notion. She was kicking me out of her house.
“Yes, I believe we should” I said unable to keep from grinning. I couldn’t believe she was actually booting me from her home!
I looked over at Alec to tell him it was time to go only to find him staring back at me with a ferocity that made my knees weak and my legs tremble. My breath caught in my throat as I watched him excuse himself from his mother, making a quick stand from the couch and heading my way. He stopped just short of me and my mother grinned as she passed by.
Sometimes I really believed she was crazy.
Alec held out his hand to me. A simple gesture and yet it meant so much more.
I slipped my hand into his and we equally said or goodbyes before slipping out of the house, leaving behind the gossip and the game. He opened my car door and I graciously slid into the passenger seat, swiftly buckling.
He walked around the front of the car before sliding into the drivers seat. He glanced at me, warmth settled in the pit of my stomach and I had the sudden urge to pull him close and kiss him and never let go. “I can’t say it enough, I’ve missed you more than I thought was possible”
A satisfied smile curved my lips, “I’ve missed you to” the line was so overused but necessary.
We drove away from my mothers and for the first time in almost a month I felt relaxed. I let the stress slip away. Alec was my rock and I had taken that for granted. “So I assume you finally got the deal you’d been sent to get?” I asked.
He nodded, “Yes. It took more schmoozing than what deals like that normally take but eventually he caved and signed over his business to us”
“I bet your bosses are pleased”
“Oh yeah. Very pleased. They’ve been trying to settle that deal for awhile now” he glanced at me, an excited look in his eyes “They’re throwing a party for the closing of the deal in my honor and I’d like it if you would come with me”
Dread settled across my skin like a thin layer of cold sweat. If I went, I would have to deal with that viper. Trish Greene. She was a serpent intent on sinking her fangs into my jugular. She wanted blood, my blood.
My obvious hesitation caused him to frown, “Cas... what’s wrong?”
Again I hesitated. I couldn’t keep bottling everything in. I couldn’t keep placing a fake smile on face and shuffling threw the pain of having his old affairs thrown in my face.
“Cassandra” his voice was stern and demanding. He was worried and I didn’t blame him seeing as I was frozen in a state of dread, staring out the window as we neared my house. I blinked several times bringing myself out of the stupor and looked over at him, flushing with embarrassment.
I was certain I was cherry red, “Sorry... it’s just... well, I...” I took a deep breath and closed my eyes praying this discussion went better than how they usually went. “I hated the last party and honestly, I don’t really want to go to the next one”
“Can I ask why?” He didn’t sound or look angry which made it a little easier.
I nodded, twiddling my fingers nervously in my lap I watched as we parked in the driveway. He turned the car off and turned to look at me, I swallowed thickly, “I don’t really want to run into your ex or whatever she was” at his look of confusion I elaborated, “Trish Greene. She had no problem claiming you as hers and seeing as my life isn’t exactly singular right now, I’d prefer to keep out of harms way. She strikes me as the person who would have no problem slipping something into someone’s drink.” I couldn’t hold back a shudder of disgust. That vile woman would have no second thoughts on giving me something that would cost me my baby.
He nodded, “She’s not one to be taken lightly. She’s been a leech, hoping from business man to business man for awhile.”
“And yet you slept with her” disgust was evident in the way I said it.
He sighed and ran a hand threw his hair, “Yes”
He chuckled before his smile faded and he looked at me with a serious expression “Cassandra I won’t force you to go with me. I’d like you to come with me. I want to show you off to the world, to tell everyone in that room that I finally have the family I’ve wanted but I won’t force you especially if you’re uncomfortable with it. I can’t guarantee Trish won’t be there. She thrives on social events and becuase it’s for me, she will undoubtedly make an appearance. She’ll want to know if you and I are still together. But if you did happen to change your mind and want to come with I promise on my life I will not leave you alone, I won’t let her near you”
I let that sink in. Alec would protect me I had no doubt but deep down even as much as I didn’t want to go, I also knew I had to. I had to show Trish she couldn’t walk all over me. That I wasn’t just a flavor. That she wasn’t the flavor and that she would never be in Alec’s life again.
I could do this. I had to do this.
I leaned across the console of the car, letting my forearm hold my weight as I pressed my lips to his “Ok I’ll go”
His hands came up to cage my face as his lips pressed against mine, more demanding and urgent. “I’ll always protect you” he said setting his forehead on mine.
I nodded slightly “I know”
His grin was wide and toothy. He was happy and that made me happy as well. His happiness had become mine and I knew mine had become his.
Alec pulled back, releasing me before opening his door and stepping out. He came around the car, opening my door and helping me out. “My lady” he said gallantly.
I let out a small little laugh, “thank you kind sir” I said playing along.
I was thrown off balance as he quickly and efficiently tugged me forward. I landed against his chest, the feel of his hard body on mind surged my entire being to life. It had been to long since we’d indulged in each other. He gripped my wrists in his hands, his head bending down, his cheek sliding across mine as he whispered in my ear “I’m going to make love to you Cas”
Awareness courses threw my body. My skin prickled, the hairs on my body stood on end and my lungs burned. Oh yes. My breasts were pressed against his chest and I could feel the hard ridge of his arousal against my thigh.
I looked up at him and despite the evening sunset I could see him perfectly. So handsome. I had never imagined I’d actually be his one day. It felt right. “Please” the plea came out breathless and I was powerless to stop it “make love to me”