Anderson couldn’t believe he blew it again with Evelyn. He was so surprised by her reaction to him asking for them to get back together; he hadn’t run after her again. If he didn’t get himself figured out, he would lose Evelyn for good. He had a feeling if he screwed up for the third time, there would be no more chances to be with her. Waving the waiter over, he paid for their meal and headed home. On the way, he called his dad.
“Anderson is everything all right?” his dad asked as he answered the phone.
“No. I blew it tonight with Evvy. Can we find time to sit down and talk about everything that happened with Mom?” he asked, knowing he needed to learn everything that happened with his mom. He didn’t like feeling panic take over his body every time he thought about getting Evelyn pregnant or being around pregnant women.
“Sure, why now though?” his dad asked.
“Some things have come up in my life that I want to work through. It is hard to explain over the phone,” he told his dad.
“Okay. I am off tomorrow if you want to meet for lunch?” his dad offered, and Anderson relaxed.
“Sounds good, want to come to my apartment?”
“Sure, do you want me to bring anything?”
“Perfect. I’ll bring our favorite local microbrew. See you around noon,” his dad said, hanging up. Anderson sighed and drove back to his apartment. Step one complete, he was finally going to talk to his dad about everything that happened to his mother. If he knew what happened maybe he could prepare himself for possibly becoming a father one day.
He parked his car in his parking spot and stepped out to look at his gloomy surroundings. Taking a minute he squared his shoulders and decided it was time for him to move into a home. He wanted a house; he needed to show Evelyn he could care for her and that he loved her.
Ring, ring, ring.
He answered his phone without looking.
“Anderson, you idiot!” Roxie’s angry voice yelled through the phone. He jerked it away from his phone, her voice hurting his ears.
“I know,” he replied with a sigh and heard Roxie take a deep breath to yell at him again.
“How could you tell her that your tiger needs her? That is the worst way to get her back,” Roxie explained, he walked into his apartment and tossed his keys onto the counter.
“I know,” he replied and again she geared up to yell at him some more.
“You have to tell her you love her too, not just your tiger is unhappy and to make him happy you are going to ask for her to come back.
“Roxie I know!” he yelled back finally losing his patience with his sister.
“Good. What are you going to do to fix this?” Roxie demanded and he paused to think about it.
“I am going to talk to Dad about my mom and then I’ll figure something out. I don’t think I am going to get another chance with Evelyn if I screw up for the third time,” he explained and heard her humph at him.
“Good. Let me know if you need any help. She deserves to be happy and you do too. I love you both Anderson,” she told him and he dropped onto the couch.
“I will let you know. Can you do me a favor?”
“Anything for you dear brother,” she replied.
“Can you keep me posted about Evelyn? She seemed off today, and it wasn’t just because I was an idiot,” he shared.
“I know, life has been difficult for her since you two stopped being together physically. I think she is going through withdrawal like your tiger. She just isn’t a shifter and can’t feel the same as you do,” she explained.
“Then why did she say no?” he demanded.
“Because a woman wants to be romanced and be told she is wanted by the man more than the beast he has inside,” Roxie explained and Anderson huffed.
“How do I do that?”
“You’ll think of a way. Think of all the things you know about Evvy and what she likes. You’ll come up with something,” Roxie replied.
“When I come up with an idea, will you let me run it by you?” he asked.
“I’d be delighted to help you. Let me know what you come up with. I need to get Bentley. He is crying again. He’s been teething and unhappy whenever one of us puts him down,” she told him and he chuckled. Inside his heart clenched, he didn’t realize how much telling himself he couldn’t have a child had hurt him.
“Have a good night. I hope he feels better soon.” He hung up and went to take a shower, hoping it would give him some clarity on not screwing up the next time he spoke with Evvy.
The following afternoon Anderson was quickly throwing together a lunch of deli sandwiches and chips. His heartbeat frantically as he thought about how he would bring up such a painful subject with his dad. They never spoke about his mom other than saying she died after giving birth to him.
Knock, knock. Anderson opened the door and there stood his dad holding onto a six-pack of beer.
“Hey Dad, come on in. I made us sandwiches and there is a baseball game on the television,” he announced motioning for his dad to come in.
“You look rough Anderson, did you not get any sleep last night?” his dad asked walking into the apartment and setting the beer on the counter.
“No. I blew it with Evvy last night,” he shared, handing his dad a plate with his lunch on it.
“How?” He took the plate and grabbed a beer settling onto the couch to watch a baseball game with his son.
“I told her I wanted to get back together because my tiger was depressed. She did not take it well,” he explained and his dad laughed.
“Of course she didn’t. Your mother never told me about her tiger until we were engaged. She did not want me to make my choice of being with her just because her tiger said we were mates.” He stared at his dad in surprise, he never talked about his mom.
“Can you tell me about Mom?” he asked wanting to know more about his mom, maybe it was time for them both to heal from her passing.
“Lila was the most beautiful woman I’d ever laid eyes on. She had your coloring and you remind me of her all the time. She and I met in college, she was a freshman and I a senior when we joined the same pottery class. I needed the class as my art credit, she was an artist. That is where you get your love of art. Anyway, I saw her and thought she was the most beautiful girl in the class. I quickly noticed she was the best and pretended to be so bad that she had to help me or I would fail the class. It took me the entire semester to work up the nerve to ask her out. Then the last day of class she asked me out. I remember her saying, are you going to ask me out or not? I’ve been waiting all semester.” Anderson could see the love for his mom in his dad’s eyes.
“When did you ask her to marry you? Or did she ask you?” Anderson joked, there was so much he didn’t know about his mom.
“I asked her when she graduated. We’d been together for three years, and I felt it was time to finally ask her to marry me. She then revealed her tiger and was scared I’d be angry she hid it from me. To be honest, I had an inkling she was a shifter because of certain sounds coming from her chest when we made love. It took eight long months to plan the wedding, and on our wedding night, we conceived you. After she went to the doctor to confirm she was pregnant with you she fell ill. We saw specialist after specialist, and finally, someone discovered her brain tumor. Because she was pregnant with you she refused to do chemo until after you were born.” His dad took a deep breath and Anderson knew this would be hard for him to talk about. He could feel the sorrow radiating off his father and reached out to pat his arm.
“How did Mom die?” Anderson whispered, a tear slipped down his dad’s cheek and Anderson continued to hold his hand.
“Her brain tumor was very aggressive. Once you were born, she tried chemo, but it was too late. She died three days after you were born, the day we were set to go home with you. There you were, a three-day-old baby with a dad who knew nothing about raising children and a mom who sacrificed herself to bring you into the world. Before you ask, I never once blamed you. We made the decision together not to abort you.” Anderson pulled his dad in for a hug, his dad fell apart in his arms. Anderson bet he hadn’t had proper time to mourn his mother’s passing because he had to raise Anderson.
“So it wasn’t because she gave birth to me she died?”
“No! Have you been thinking that all this time?” His dad pulled back to look him in the eye, and Anderson nodded.
“Anderson, I am so sorry, had I known I would have shared this story a long time ago. Is that why you didn’t want to be with Evvy?”
“Yes, I’ve been scared to get anyone pregnant because I thought they would die,” he answered.
“There is always a risk, but this is the twenty-first century Anderson. Medicine is at its most advanced,” his dad replied and Anderson found his first smile.
“Thanks, Dad. You have no idea how much I needed this and I feel like an idiot for not asking you about Mom’s death a long time ago. It would have saved me a huge headache and almost a year of chasing after a woman I was afraid to love.” His dad laughed and wiped away his tears.
“Can you tell me how you proposed?” Anderson asked, settling back to eat his sandwich and watch the football game.
“I broke into her apartment actually, setting up a delicious dinner I cooked myself. I was a hopeless cook, but I tried. She ate every bite without complaining, and I know the food was burnt. After dinner, I sat her down on the couch and poured out my heart to her. I told her how much I loved her and didn’t want to spend another minute without knowing she was going to be mine forever. I didn’t know forever was going to be less than a year, but I wouldn’t trade the time I had with her for the world.”
“Did you love Meredith?”
“Not as much as I did your mom, but yes I loved her once. She wasn’t content to be with an accountant who didn’t want to live in New York. This is where Lila wanted to live, and I couldn’t move away. I never told Meredith, but I wasn’t leaving this town for anything.”
“What about my grandparents?”
“Her parents were angry she was marrying a non-shifter and never spoke to us. My parents were dead before you were born.” Anderson flicked the channel to a sports talk show and thought about it.
“Do you know who they are?” he asked wondering if they were still alive. His dad shook his head and said,
“I never met them.” Anderson deflated, he wished he knew more about his mom but would have to be content with what his dad was willing to tell him.
“So Mom was an artist?” His dad nodded and sipped his beer.
“Then why were you so against Roxie being an artist?”
“I wasn’t, her mother was. Meredith wanted one of the girls to marry into New York society so she would have a reason to step back into that world. Her parents disowned her when she failed out of college. She moved here because she couldn’t afford to live closer to D.C. She was working as a secretary for my office and I thought she was pretty. I asked her out and well the rest is history and now we are divorced and she is inflicting her craziness on Jenner Kingsly. Last I heard her parents still wouldn’t talk to her after what she did to Roxie.” Anderson laughed at karma doing what karma did best.
“I feel bad for her. She is constantly chasing something that will never come to her.” His dad nodded, and they fell into a comfortable silence watching sports news.
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