Whenever I get Nicole shy or unsure of how to react to a situation it’s funny. Today, however, I don’t think like that. She is meeting my mom, and although I know the latter will love her just as much as I do, Nicole seems worried. Too worried.
“Everything ok?” I ask, lifting her hand to my lips and kissing it’s back.
“Yes,” she whispers. “I wasn’t expecting this.”
The always confident woman I love now seems to crumble with just the mention of one word. Nicole stares out the window and I grow worried. Not that it’s too soon, but it’s my mom. It’s a mother figure she doesn’t have. Since last week I’ve wanted them to meet, seems right, but I also know it will be hard for Nicole. My mother is a very sweet woman, she always makes me feel loved and safe and that’s how I want Nicole to feel.
I explained this to my parents when calling them, that Nicole would be fearful. I also told them I love the woman by my side with every cell in my body.
My mother squealed at that.
“It will be fine.”
The rest of the drive, she stays in silence, occasionally humming to the sound of the beat that comes from the radio. But never maintaining a conversation, not like she uses to do anyway. I park the car in front of my parents’ house. The house where I grew up. The house that holds sweet memories and where I want to make new more.
Memories of a new family, my family, with Nicole. Living the life I want for the both of us, a kid running around and laughing with my parents during Christmas, Sunday lunches, family pictures. I can even predict the fights we will have and how I will lose them.
I want this woman with me forever.
We stare at the house without getting out of the car, Nicole takes a deep breath and nods at me as we open the vehicle doors and step into the night. Summer has ended, Autumn is taking place, and the nights are getting colder. She places her arm around mine, her hand squeezing tight on me, and I walk us both to the front of the house. The sound of the doorbell echoes inside, and I glance at Nicole, who can’t seem to be still.
Footsteps come from inside the house, stopping just in front of the door, and both of us take a deep breath. My father opens the door; he steps outside, hugging me and then when he pulls back his eyes fall on Nicole.
“Pleasured to meet you,” he speaks softly and the grin on my girlfriend’s face big yet nervous.
My mom peeks from behind him. Her long hair swaying as she moves and her arms are thrown around me, so suddenly, I can’t seem to breathe. She whispers sweet words pecking my cheek, and glances at Nicole, then at me again.
“I finally get to know her.”
Nicole smiles at my mom, slightly bowing and my heart feels warm because of it. She is trying.
“I’m happy to be here, Mrs. Miller.”
We step inside, Nicole points at the cute family pictures of me when I was a kid. Teasing me, that is.
“So cute,” she says, winking at me. “Was he a good boy, Mrs. Miller?”
I bite the inside of my cheek with her question, knowing very well the meaning behind it. Even in this situation this girl is trying to have her way.
“Yes, he was.”
My mom’s palm comes to my cheek and she smiles with sweet eyes at me. Nicole observes the scene, tilting her head to the side.
“Now, let’s feed the two of you,” she says turning around and rushing us to the table.
Tension seems to drift as we all gather taking the right seats. My mom starts to put food on the plates and small talk happens. To say my parents are happy that my girlfriend is a psychologist is an understatement.
“But you’re a doctor,” my father says, and I can’t help to chuckle. “You have your own office?”
“I work for another doctor, but the offices are nice, yes.”
“How did you two meet?”
My mother’s question startles me, and I glance at Nicole. Watching as she cleans her mouth before putting the napkin aside and speaking.
“Alexander saw me on social media; he sent a text, and something clicked between us.”
Nicole is perfect through the dinner; she replies to all the questions even when my parents seem to be trying to make the meeting into a consult as a way to know about their issues. My mom doesn’t seem to be able to take her eyes from us. She glances at Nicole then me, always smiling. When we are helping to clean the table my mom leans to whisper.
“I know,” I reply in a low voice glancing outside the kitchen to watch my father in a deep talk with Nicole.
He listens to her speaking, nodding his head and respecting her opinion before saying what he thinks. It’s better than I ever expected, and I can’t help to feel my heart swelling with the sight.
“I want to talk alone with her,” my mom says, and I frown, turning to face her. “I won’t scare her Alexander; I know that she is avoiding being alone with me.”
“She is,” I reply, nodding. “It’s hard for her mom; it took her months to speak about it.”
“All the more reason why I want her to feel I accept her into the family.”
My mother walks ahead of me, and before I can say anything else she whispers at Nicole. My girlfriend’s eyes widen, and she nods at her glancing at me. I smile, watching as both of them walk outside the living room and go into my father’s office. Nicole’s confidence seems shaken, but I know she can deal with this.
She is the strongest person I know.
“So, should I go and grab your mother’s engagement ring?”
I snap my head at my dad, who laughs at me as my eyes double their size.
“The look on your face watching her is the same I had while your mother was walking down the aisle.”
Alexander’s mom sits on the small sofa in the dark wood office. She pats on the seat next to her, and I awkwardly take it. The night was going so well, but from what I know this woman is very straight forward.
Avoiding her didn’t work.
“I won’t bite,” she says, and a sigh leaves my lips.
“I know Mrs. Miller, I’m -”
Her hand falls on top of mine on my lap, and the older woman stares into my eyes. The same gaze her son has and can make me feel comforted without even trying. However right now it doesn’t seem to work.
“I- I didn’t know we were going to meet you tonight. He didn’t tell me.”
“My son is a smart man,” she speaks. “He knows you well enough by now to realize what’s lacking in your life would scare you from meeting me.”
My blood seems to rush to my cheeks as I stare down at my hands.
“You miss her?”
The question makes my heart beat faster until it seems to stop all of a sudden. The feelings I always avoid come all together, and tears threaten to rise. Alexander’s mom cups my face with one of her hands and speaks softly.
“Even if I don’t know you well enough, I see how my son looks at you and how you look at him. He loves you; I know that.” She speaks so softly I can’t help but let the emotions swirling around my heart. “I want to thank you for bringing something into his life that I knew was missing.”
“Mrs. Miller I-”
Words don’t seem to form as I think of how to tell her that it’s the other way around. That he gave me hope and a life I didn’t know I was missing. For so long, I believed I was fine as I was. The single life was perfect for me, the meaningless sex, the late nights at my computer.
I thought love was something only a few people get to experience.
But now, since Alexander walked into my life, I have been happy. Even on my sad days I feel something so powerful between us that makes me smile just by looking at his texts. When he isn’t around I miss him like crazy. When he is around, I can’t get enough of him.
He completes me in every sense of the word.
“I love him.”
The three words fall from my lips, and I realize that besides Alexander no one ever listened to me saying them.
“I know you do,” she says, patting my hands. “No one shares glances like that without being deeply in love with the other.”
“He is a good man Mrs. Miller,” I say, trying to get a hold on my emotions.
She nods at me and stares out the window. Her eyes seem to ponder on the unspoken questions we both have before the woman turns to me again.
“I want you to know Nicole, that you are always welcome at this house. That no matter how bad your day was, you can come here to drink a cup of tea with me anytime.”
She knows, he told her. I won’t get upset because of it; Alexander was probably thinking about what was best for me. He knows me without even trying too hard. Mrs. Miller gives me a tight hug, one that almost makes me break into tears, but I pull myself together.
My eyes may be sparkling, but I won’t cry while she is in front of me.
“No,” she says, putting a strand of hair behind my ear. “Thank you for making Alexander believe in love.”
The night ends sooner than I wanted. Alexander’s parents are just as perfect as he is, and I can’t wait to come back. But like every night that comes to an end we go back to his place, not wanting to be apart from each other. We can’t seem to do it for a long time anymore.
It’s when he is driving back that my phone beeps, and both Alexander and I frown as I show him the screen where the caller ID shows my ex insisting to call.