“So, mom, Jack, what was the wedding like?” I begin conversation by saying.
“It was so magical. I sent you an invitation but I suppose you were busy. You would have made the most beautiful maid of honor. There was dancing and music, all on a beach,” my mom explains, glowing from my interest in her life. In honesty, I don’t care; I’m trying to stay in her good books and be polite for Matt. “How’s school? Meet any cute boys?” Matt coughs a little and we all look over to him.
“She is not meeting anyone anymore,” he grunts out. Our mom furrows her eyebrows.
“Anymore? What do you mean?” she says, looking to me.
“We had... an incident, with my ex-boyfriend,” I say, staring at my food awkwardly. I hear Scott scoff again and I turn my glare to him.
The boy is asking for a fist in his face.
“An incident?” my mom exclaims, “Matt?”
“It’s fine, everything is fine now,” Matt says.
“What was the incident?” Jack asks firmly.
“He’s in jail, now,” I mutter and I watch Scott suddenly doubt what happened in his mind. The others grow concerned.
“Jail?” Jack cries. “For what?”
“He hit me,” I confess quickly. I feel Kai’s hand grab mine under the table in show of support. My mom searches for a way to answer, as does Jackson. “It’s in the past now.”
“What did your father do?” my mom says, concerned.
“He was out working when it happened,” I reply instantly, “Matt and Kai just got back from a football match. Speaking of which, they are incredible. Matt’s the captain.” I change the subject and they all agreed to leave it for now.
“Really, Alex told me you wanted money for college. Which colleges were you thinking of?” she questions Matt.
“I got early acceptance from Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth.” Her eyes grow wide in shock.
“You did? That’s excellent. I’m so proud,” she exclaims, almost jumping out of her chair.
I feel Kai’s hand move to rest on my thigh, running up my leg. I give him a warning glare but his look assures me he won't try anything at the table in front of everyone. I'm trying to keep myself together here. It's hard enough with simply his touch.
Conversations die down and we head out of the dining room once we all finish. Mom offers to help me unpack, as does Lisa, and I accept politely.
“He hit you?” mom asks as I hang some clothes in my closet.
“We can just leave it, you know,” I reply, trying to avoid the Axel subject.
“Honey, sit down and talk to us. Come on, sit.” Remember, for Matt. For Matt.
I sit on the bed with both of them and stare at them. Bringing up Axel, it's rather painful for me now. What he put me through is still raw, and particularly what I tried to do to him. I'm so grateful that Kai stopped me, even if Axel deserved it.
“I know you’ve got the two boys, but you can’t talk to them like you can talk to us. Who was he?” My mom barely knows me and she makes it seem like we're 'best friend' sort of mother daughter relationship.
But, for Matt.
I sigh, giving in. I need to share to make her feel a part of our lives. Then it’s a necessity for her to help us financially.
“His name was Axel,” I begin. “I met him in Arizona in high school when I was a freshman and he was a senior.”
“He’s older than your brother?” Lisa exclaims.
“Yeah. After it was just me and dad, I didn’t really have anyone and Axel preyed on that. He started manipulating me, forcing me to take drugs and drink, telling me it would take my pain away. He would hit me when I didn’t obey him. He forced me to do other things too. He made me an addict, to the drugs and alcohol and to him. He practically owned me but he convinced me I loved him. He was obsessed with me. But dad and I moved to live with Matt and I never saw Axel again.
"That was until he came to my birthday party. We were only back together a few weeks. He said he was clean and wanted me back. But he wasn’t, he just hid it. Eventually he started getting sloppy. I could taste the marijuana and the alcohol. And he would tell me the same things he was saying before. When I accused him, he snapped, and punch me. Then we called the police.”
Silence follows my explanation. Not surprising though. I told her so bluntly without any sugar-coating. But perhaps that is necessary to make her feel sympathetic toward me and thus toward both her children.
“This was because of me? Because I caused you pain?” mom asks, frowning.
“No, I was just lonely, and he filled the hole,” I tell them. “But I’m okay now.” I get up to finish unpacking and they join me in silence.
Going to bed, I text Kai a goodnight. He replies with a few hearts and I smile. I never thought he could be so supportive. Although I love it, we need to be careful, particularly with more people in the house who could catch us.
Hiding it from Matt is hard enough, but from all these people who could be around any corner, it will be extremely difficult. Perhaps we should tell him and rip the band-aid off now, if we're that serious about each other. Which I am.
I hear a knock at the door, and I hope it’s him, despite everything I just thought. When I see Scott, I frown a little, dejected, but try to hide it as I gesture for him to enter.
“I just wanted to make sure you were alright after dinner,” he says, his features more relaxed.
What's with the change in attitude?
“Yes, I’m fine, thanks,” I reply, looking around the room.
“So you’re not just a preppy cheerleader?”
“Well, I’m a preppy naive cheerleader actually.” He frowns but I smile, taking away his frown again. “I should get some sleep.”
“Yeah, sorry, I’ll go. Goodnight,” he rambles, leaving the room.
It’s morning and I wake up hours before my new family. Matt is still asleep but Kai joins me for breakfast. We are used to getting up early for my dad. We kiss a little before getting coffee and talking.
“You like them?” Kai asks.
“Jack seems nice, and Lisa is welcoming. Tommy is cute and Scott is just playing the tough act. A bit like you,” I reply, grinning.
“Are you saying I’m pretending to be tough?” Kai whispers, leaning closer to my face and putting his hands on my waist. The teasing smirk is etched on his face, tempting me.
“Maybe,” I breathe out, and he catches my lips in a rough kiss, moving his lips against mine with deep fervor.
When he breaks away, he whispers, “is that tough enough, or do you need another reminder?”
“I might need a reminder,” I whisper back and he slams his lips into mine again, this time with more power.
We hear footsteps suddenly, and back away from each other with a little jump. I fix my look, splashing my face with water so that I don't appear too flushed from the heated kiss.
“Morning, darling. Morning, Kai,” my mom greets, rubbing her eyes and looking up at us before getting a mug of coffee.
Great idea. Although I need some ice poured on me after that.
“Morning,” Kai says, “how did you sleep?”
“Very well,” my mom answers with a bright smile to Kai. It’s good she likes him. “Tell me more about you, Kai. I didn’t hear much yesterday.”
“Oh, there’s nothing much to tell. My parents just left me to live on my own in LA, and I met Matt who was also living alone. We moved in together as we were mates at school,” Kai replies, charming my mom. I can’t help but be grateful he is mine.