“Mom,” I said, throwing my arms around her shoulders and pulling her into a tight hug as soon as I could. The doctors said she might not be able to make new memories anytime soon, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t. “You made it.”
She wrapped her arms around me and laughed into my chest. “I did, Sweetheart. All those tears were for nothing,” she said, but there wasn’t such reassurance in her words. I didn’t want to tell her I had lost faith in her recovery or her ability to withstand another surgery, so I slapped my lips closed and just enjoyed our moment together.
This is what I’d do from now on. No more Mason telling me when I can and cannot see her. No more Mason holding me back from spending all the damn time I could with Mom. She was mine and I wasn’t going to let her go.
“Melissa is here,” Mom said, nodding over to the window. Her eyes landed on James who stood outside, tilting his hat toward her. She broke out into a big smile, then turned back to me. “You should go talk to her.”
Though I really didn’t want to talk to her at the moment, I kissed Mom’s forehead and walked out of the room, holding the door open for James. Almost immediately, I could hear Mom’s laugh and everything felt so much better. She might not remember today or tomorrow or the next few months--which hurt--but at least she was happy.
My gaze met Melissa’s for a brief moment, and I nodded toward the waiting room because there were far too many people here. I didn’t know what I was going to say to her, but I wanted to let her know that this wasn’t how it was supposed to be and that she shouldn’t date Mason. Mom wanted me to make things right with her and I would at least try.
When I reached the waiting room, I sat in an empty corner--wanting our conversation to be private. Well, as private as it could. I could see Michael from across the room, watching us intently. I had been too caught up in all of my problems that I never once thought about him and how this fight must’ve torn him to pieces.
His daughter and… me fighting. He couldn’t choose one or the other, and I wouldn’t let him choose. I wanted Melissa to have a good relationship with her father because I never could have one and her mother seemed like a big asshole.
“Hey,” Melissa said softly, sitting next to me.
I swallowed hard and glanced over at her. “Hey.”
In my heart, I knew that we needed to talk. And now that Mom’s surgery was over, I could breathe for a few moments. But… I didn’t know what to say to her. That I was fucking her dad and that I loved him? That Mason was a total asshole?
But I had to say something, so I turned to her at the same time she turned to me.
“I need to--”
“Don’t see Mas--”
We both paused at the same time, then she urged me to go on. I took a deep breath. I didn’t know how serious she was about Mason, but I needed to warn her before something bad happened to her. Michael had cut her off, for a good reason--to teach her responsibility and respect--but she was susceptible to the same abuse that I was.
“Don’t see Mason unless you’re serious about him. I didn’t tell you how bad he abused me because… because I didn’t see it at the time. Don’t let him control your money. Don’t just let things go when you know something is up. He’s… not a good guy. He’ll gaslight. He’ll get jealous. He’ll try to hurt you with words. If you need anything, just ask Micha--your father.”
“He cut me off,” she said, her words coming out harsher than I wanted them to. I knew that I was the reason he cut her off, but I wanted her to grow up too. She couldn’t party for the rest of her life at frats with men who didn’t give a fuck about her.
“Your father will still help you if you change and realize your mistakes.”
Her lip twitched into a menacing frown. “Don’t try to be my mom, Mia. You’re my friend,” she said with so much distaste.
I parted my lips to argue with her, then pressed them back together. Both those titles seemed off right now. I wasn’t her mom and I wasn’t trying to be her mom, but I also wasn’t her friend. I didn’t know if our friendship could recover from this.
“I’m not trying to be your mother. I just want you to know that he loves you no matter what,” I said. “You should appreciate what he’s done for you because not just any father or mother can or would do that.”
“He kicked me out,” she said again through clenched teeth.
“Well, you need to grow up, Melissa,” I said, getting angry. “You can’t live off of his money for the rest of your life.” The words felt wrong coming from me because I had used Mason for his money for years, but I had also worked while staying with him. I chipped in when I could. I paid for Mom’s piling hospital bills. I did it all even thought I should’ve been focusing on school. But Mom deserved it. “It’ll be good for you and you’ll add experience to your resume when you apply to jobs in the future.”
She stayed quiet for a long time, with her arms crossed over her chest and her gaze fixed on the floor. “How long have you been fucking my dad?” she asked. The question came out quietly and with so much spite, yet I knew Michael heard it from across the room.
“It happened a month ago, maybe a bit longer.” I frowned. “I never meant for this thing between me and him to be anything more than physical,” I said, staring her right in the eye. I promised Mom that I wouldn’t take any shit from anyone anymore and I didn’t plan on letting myself feel bad over my feelings toward Michael because they were so fucking beautiful and not anything I had ever experienced before. “It started as something to help blow off steam.”
Melissa’s nose scrunched up, and she looked away, staying quiet for more than a few moments. Then she blew a deep breath from her nose. “I can’t believe you’re fucking my fucking father.”
“I can’t believe that you fucked my boyfriend,” I said, tired of this argument only being one-sided. I took the blame, yes, but she wasn’t innocent either and she needed to understand that what she did was wrong too.
“It’s not the same.”
“No, it’s not.” I crossed my arms over my chest. “But it still happened.”
She frowned at me and shook her head. So many emotions crossed her face--betrayal, hurt, envy, and shame. Yet I didn’t know what to say to her to make it better--nor did I know if I wanted to make this better or to try to slavish our relationship. After another moment, she stood and walked over to the elevators, disappearing into one.
I sighed through my nose and glanced up at Selena who stood in front of me. She sat in the seat Melissa had and frowned. “Do you think you’ll ever be able to be friends again?”
My heart hurt. I wouldn’t be able to trust her for a long time and honestly I didn’t know if she’d be able to trust me. We both fucked up big time. And I didn’t want to be hurt again. I shrugged and glanced at Michael who was talking to James now.
For his sake, I’d try my hardest to be friends with her eventually--but I couldn’t promise that anything would come of it. Our friendship hadn’t ever been broken this badly before.
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!)