It wasn’t long after that we stood in front of her door, ringing her doorbell. I was still nervous. It wasn’t because of Maureen. Mike was right about her. Being a grandmother changed her totally and completely. She was no longer my dragon-in-law and the two of us got along great. Hell, after I had the baby, she took me on a very expensive shopping spree and bought me a new wardrobe to match the weight gain. She also practically bought every toy in the store for Logan.
It was the real possibility that Corey actually was Mike’s brother. That was ridiculous, right? I mean the chances were one in a million, a trillion, in fact. There was no way that we ran into each other while on a beach with a million people. It was crazy to think that me and his brother would actually meet, much less have a baby together. It was beyond crazy. That shit only happens in fiction.
I started to relax a little.
“Oh, my God! That is the cutest thing I’ve seen all day!” She took Logan from Mike, snuggling him, giving him hugs. “Look at you! You are going to make one hell of a heartbreaker, baby boy!” She laughed, holding him up into the light. “You are just the most adorable thing!” She brought him close, snuggling into his neck. “I’m so hungry, I’m gonna eat you all up!”
He howled in laughter, grabbing her face, ears, hair, and anything else he could get those little grubby hands on. She joined his laughter, snuggling him close to her. Turning, she walked inside talking to Logan.
Mike leaned close to my ear, whispering. “I don’t know who that woman is. I have never seen her before in my life. My mother was a hard woman. Hard on me, my brother, and my father to always do better. She was never this giddy. Ever.”
I nudged him, laughing. “She’s a happy grandmother. They all get this way. You should see my mom around him.”
The dining room table was extremely long and looked as if it could seat twenty people comfortably. Two chandeliers offered enough light for the entire room, which was half the size of a high school gymnasium. However, for tonight, there were four settings close together on just one side and only one of the lights were on. The highchair was off to the side but I knew that he would be pulled in right next to Maureen’s chair. No one was allowed to do anything with that baby when she was around. I didn’t mind. It gave me a break. Hell, grandmothers didn’t even mind changing diapers! Watching the way that she laughed, getting so much happiness just being near my son, it made me realize that what I did, though a serious sin, was a good thing.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I’m not sure who said it, but it was definitely accurate.
We waited for a half hour, just making casual conversation, trying to ignore the empty chair in the room that seemed to scream out its vacancy. Finally, she sighed, looking at the empty chair. I wasn’t a mind reader, but it didn’t take one to see the instant of sadness when she realized that her other son wasn’t coming.
Looking around the table, she offered a fake smile to hide her disappointment. “Well, let’s go ahead and eat. No need letting it get cold.”
Dana, her chef for many years, cooked her famous meatloaf, which was to die for. It was filled with cheese, onions, a mixture of lean ground turkey and hamburger, egg, and green pepper. It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. I have had her meatloaf before. It was going to be hell for me not to eat any. Her mashed potatoes were creamy, topped off with a splash of brown gravy. The side dish was sweet corn on the cob. For desert, she boasted about having made a chocolate cream pie. I could just see the calories adding up on the invisible counter.
She knew I was dieting so she also created a delicious salad filled with raw cauliflower, broccoli, onions, lettuce, carrots, celery, green, yellow, and red peppers. It was topped with a bit of shredded cheese. There was enough for everyone, but it was the only thing I would eat. I could have kissed her for that. The servants put the food on the table and we all sat down to eat.
Maureen put Logan in his highchair with a bib around his neck that he kept pulling on, trying to see what was on it. He was looking at it upside down and wanted to see it right-side up. He was a smart kid! The more she pushed his hands away from them, the more he tried putting it in his mouth. He was at that stage where everything went in his mouth.
Once the food was on the table, Maureen made him a plate and set it on the highchair lid. I opened my mouth to stop her but then stopped. If I did, I would get one of those, “I managed to raise your husband (with help from a governess) just fine without someone telling me what to do. I’m sure I can manage with my grandson” lectures. I heard them too many times before.
Maureen pulled Logan over next to her, putting him at the head of the table and she sat next to the empty seat. Mike sat opposite her and I sat down next to him in front of my imaginary brother-in-law.
Since he was almost five months, he was doing things well ahead of most kids his age. He picked up his spoon, slamming it down on his tray. He tried to spoon his mashed potatoes, but made a mess, flinging it around the room. There was a little on her hutch, a little on the table, some even landed on the crystal chandelier over our heads. The servants were going to have fun cleaning up after him.
Maureen quickly took the plate off his tray. Taking a wipe, she cleaned off his hands before he got it in his hair. “You’re such a messy little man, you are! You’re such a big strong boy!” She cooed at him. “I just love hims to death!” She made funny faces at him, acting goofy as she cleaned him off. He could do no wrong in her eyes.
He laughed, cooing at her. He almost sounded like a pigeon, begging for bread crumbs.
“You missed your Maw-Maw, didn’t you? I need to come and see you more often!”
When the minutes ticked on and this mystery brother didn’t show, I relaxed a little and actually enjoyed myself. Hell, I had all but forgotten about him. Halfway through dinner the doorbell rang, and she motioned to me. “Could you get the door for me, honey?”
I nodded, standing from the table. “Sure.”
Logan banged his little fists on his tray, grunting about me leaving his sight. He didn’t like it when I left him. It was okay if someone took him out of the room and I disappeared, but if I walked away from him, he had a fit.
Laughing at his angry tone, I opened the door. Instantly, I felt the blood drain from my face as I came face to face with my nightmare.