I went to the only place I thought Mia would go: the hospital to see her mother. Since visiting hours were almost over, it was quiet on the inside. The elevator was empty and so was the waiting room. A few nurses passed me and nodded their heads as I headed straight for Mia’s mother’s room. If Mia wasn’t passed out in the waiting room, she’d be with her mother.
After I peered into the window and saw Mia’s mother lying there alone, I frowned. Though the room was dim, I saw her look right over at me and smile. She waved me into the room, and I hesitated. What was I going to say to her? That I lost her daughter and it hadn’t even been an hour since we left her.
“Michael, did you leave something here?” she asked, her voice frail.
I shut the door softly behind me and shook my head. “I’m looking for Mia.”
She furrowed her brows. “Mia? Didn’t she leave with you?”
Again, I hesitated. Well, here goes nothing. What a great start to our relationship, great impression on her mother too. I took a deep breath. “Yes, but…” Do I tell her about what happened between Mason and my daughter? She was going to ask about why I told Mia to leave the house. “I took her back to my home to…”
God, I hadn’t stumbled over my words like this for years.
Her lips curled into a soft smile, and she pushed herself up to a sitting position. “To?”
“I took your daughter home because I care about her,” I said, swallowing my pride and telling her straight up that I had feelings for her daughter. I didn’t play games anymore. I wanted to be with Mia and I wanted to be with her bad. “I wanted her to rest, but her and my daughter got into a fight, so I asked her to leave.”
Her eyes widened. “You asked my daughter to leave? What happened to caring about her?”
The words hurt, and I realized that they came out different than I intended them to. “I asked her to leave so I could discipline my daughter for…”
“Does Melissa know about you and Mia?” she asked, interrupting me. “Is that why they got into a fight?”
I felt so much guilt for Melissa’s actions. I couldn’t believe my own daughter would do something like that to her best friend after what her mother had done to us. It didn’t make sense to me, but I couldn’t hide my daughter’s mistakes. She had to own up to them.
“Yes, she knows. But they got into a fight for a different reason,” I said, shaking my head. “Did Mason cheat on her?” she asked.
I paused for a long moment and stuffed my hands into my pockets. “It’s not really my place to tell you about it. I’d rather you talk to Mia.” There was only so much I could say about it. I couldn’t speak on what Mia went through. Hell, I doubted she wanted to live through Mason’s torture again.
She sighed softly to herself and closed her eyes, a tear falling from her cheek. “My daughter deserves so much better than him.” When she reopened her eyes, she stared directly at me and wiped the tear with the back of her hand. “I don’t love the age-gap between you and her, but I need her to be happy. Are you going to make her happy or is this just some fling between you and her? Because if it is, I’m going to kindly ask you to stop it right now before she gets hurt.”
“This isn’t a fling,” I said, pulling a chair next to her bed and sitting down in it. “I would do anything to see her happy. I told her from day one that she deserves someone better than Mason.”
After a few moments of silence, she nodded. “Good because…” She grabbed my hand and squeezed. “I need to be honest with you…” There was a long pause, and I held my breath, unsure if I’d like this honesty right now. She sounded too weak and too sad for it to be anything good. She frowned. “I don’t know if I’ll survive this round of surgery.”
My gaze fell to the bed. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t know what I’d say to Mia, if something happened to her mother. But I knew that I hurt for her.
Mia’s mother grabbed my chin and made me look back up at her. “Oh, don’t do that. I need you to be strong and to take care of my daughter because I know that I never will. I’ve been getting weaker and weaker. I’ve been trying to be optimistic around Mia but… it’s difficult for me to do the simplest things anymore. If this surgery doesn’t kill me--”
“Don’t say that,” I said, shaking my head. “You’re going to survive and when you do, I’ll send you and Mia on a relaxing vacation somewhere.” It was what they needed after all of this.
She smiled up at me. “Don’t get your hopes up. I’m just being honest with you.” Her voice was quiet. “Save your money and take Mia somewhere nice. Make her happy. She deserves it after what her father and then Mason put her through. I can tell she’s worn out but that you make her happier than I’ve ever seen her. She has that spark in her eyes again.”
I opened my mouth to speak, to deny that she would die during surgery, but she shook her head. “Please don’t argue with me. I don’t have the strength for it. All I ask is that you take care of her. She needs to be loved by a man. All she knows is hurt and betrayal.”
After a couple of moments, I nodded at her. I didn’t believe that she’d die. I didn’t want to believe it, but she was asking for me to love her daughter… something I already did.
“And, Michael, please don’t tell her we had this chat. I don’t want her to worry.”
A/N If you want to read the rest of this trilogy right now, you can find it on Patreon (Click “Support Me” in my bio!)