Mia and I were at the hospital at 3:30am, an hour and half before her mother’s scheduled surgery on Friday morning. She couldn’t sleep all last night, was tossing and turning in my arms over and over again. And when she told me about her fears with her mom the other night, I wanted to tell her what we had talked about, but I promised her mother that I wouldn’t say a word.
Instead I held her tightly and promised her that I’d take care of her no matter what.
She kissed me on the lips in front of everyone here already--Serena, Victor, and Damien--and disappeared into the hallway to be with her mother. I wanted to follow her because I knew she would hurt but I let them have some bonding time for the hour or so they had left.
My stomach was in knots as I sat next to Serena and sipped on my coffee. I didn’t think her mother would make it out alive. I wanted to think it, but I couldn’t. The way she sounded the other night… it made me less optimistic than Mia.
The elevator doors opened, and I glanced up from the ground to see Melissa walk into the waiting room. I blew out a deep breath and stood up before she could cause any trouble. I caught her wrist in my hand and pulled her into the hallway. “You shouldn’t be here, Melissa. What are you doing?”
Melissa paused for a long moment, tears in her eyes. “I’m not here to talk to you. I’m here for Mia.”
I glanced toward the direction of Mia’s mother’s room. “Do you think she wants to see you now? This might be the last time she sees her mother. She doesn’t need this extra drama right now.”
Melissa’s eyes softened. “The doctors think she won’t survive?” Her voice was soft, and I could tell that this wasn’t a front. She actually cared about Mia’s mother, like her own. “Did they tell you that?”
“Don’t tell Mia,” I said quietly, hoping to God that she’d listen to me for once. But… I didn’t want to hide it from her. Melissa used to escape me and her mother’s constant fighting by going over to Mia’s house all the time. Mia’s mother was like a second Mom to Melissa, and I couldn’t have been more thankful. But it only made this hurt all that much worse. “I talked with her mother the other night and she doesn’t think she’s going to make it.”
Melissa doubled over, burying her face into my chest and letting out a quiet sob. “No,” she said to herself. “No, she can’t.” She shook her head. “God, I’ve been such a shitty friend to Mia. I didn’t think that this was this serious. I-I-I should’ve paid more attention. I should’ve loved her more.” She wrapped her arms around me, and I hesitantly hugged her back.
I stood there, holding my daughter as her tears stained my shirt. “Listen to me,” I said to Melissa. “If her mother doesn’t survive this, Mia won’t have anyone left. She doesn’t have her father. She doesn’t have Mason anymore. She was worried about losing you once you found out about us… You either need to talk to her when this is all over or not talk to her again. Acting how you did with her boyfriend and then turning this around on her was immature of you. We should’ve told you sooner, I agree, but Mia didn’t want to for this reason. She knew you’d take it badly. She didn’t want to hurt your friendship.”
“But she did,” she said. “I feel so betrayed.”
“So does Mia,” I said. “Knowing that you slept with her boyfriend for months behind her back when she told you how terrible he was to her. We’re all in the wrong, Melissa, you can blame only her and me.”
Melissa wiped some tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand. “I know. I just… she never loved Mason and Mason never loved her.”
“That doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t make it right that you tried to force her to sleep with Victor to make it even.” I shook my head and stared down at my daughter. She didn’t say anything for a long time, just pressed her lips together and frowned at me. “Now, please tell me that you’re not dating that loser,” I said, hoping that she understood her mistake. It had only been a couple days but I had faith in her. “He’s going to cheat on you.”
Melissa grimaced. “I can’t tell you that.” She took a deep breath. “But I took your advice and I applied for a couple jobs down in the city. They aren’t what I’d prefer to do but it’s something.” She glanced down at her feet. “I know I screwed up, but do you understand how I felt when I found out that you were sleeping with my best friend?”
I paused for a long moment. “I’m truly sorry for not thinking about you before I slept with her, but…” I blew a deep breath through my nose. I did feel bad about this whole thing. I hadn’t heard from Melissa for a couple days, which was weird for me, and I didn’t like it. But she needed to know that Mia wasn’t just going to go away. “I’m serious about her.”
“Dad,” she said, voice soft. “She’s my age. How would you feel if I slept with her father?”
“I would feel like a shitty father,” I admitted, a heap of guilt washing over me. If I was in her position, I’d be angry too. “But I also feel like a shitty father knowing that you’re with Mason. You deserve more than anything he could give you.”
Melissa’s frown deepened. “I guess that we won’t see eye-to-eye on this.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “If you’re going to see Mia, I have the right to see whoever I want to see too.”
I sighed deeply through my mouth. I didn’t know how to get her to see that Mason was bad for her. Maybe she needed the heartbreak to understand what it felt like to value someone like Victor or her friends. I didn’t know. But I would keep pushing her to see that Mason wasn’t the one for her. She was an adult. She had to make this decision for herself.
“Sit down,” I said, nodding to the waiting room. “Mia should be out soon.”
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!)