Deidre is delighted when Eoin arrives. When she discovers his injuries, she insists that he stay the night.
“I’ve not shocked you?” His head popped up in surprise.
“You’d be surprised what it takes to shock me.”
“I might have something,” Aiden said. Vanessa had made him copies of the letter and the picture. He slid them across the table to his mother. “One reason Wendy came back, was to tell me about this.”
Deirdre read the letter twice before looking at the picture. She burst into tears, touching the photo reverently. “She’s beautiful! She looks—so much!” Gasping, she clutched the picture to her heart. “Oh, my darling, I’m so sorry you’ll never have the joy of watching her grow.”
Aiden’s eyes brimmed with tears. If he’d anticipated a reaction from his mother, it wasn’t this one. Anger, yes. Disappointment, surely. But never calm acceptance and love. Taking her hand, he kissed her fingertips. She squeezed his, gazing once more at the photograph.
“I thought you’d be mad.”
“I didn’t get upset about you sleeping with her, why would this make me angry?”
“Some parents….” Eoin interjected. “Well, specifically mine, would be furious with me.”
“You’ll find that our mother isn’t like most parents,” Corin said proudly. “She’s cool. With limitations.” He winked at his mother.
“I’m a grandmother!” She started crying again, fanning herself with the letter. “I wish we could be part of her life, but I understand completely, why not. Don’t do this again, too soon,” she commanded, pointing an accusing finger at Aiden.
“Mom, I don’t even have a girlfriend,” he said in a patient tone.
“Just saying. So it’s out there. You can’t have another until I’m fifty.”
“So, another twenty years, eh?” Eoin teased, winking at her.
“You always had a silver tongue. None from you, either. Or you two,” she pointed the Burl and Corin.
“That would require actual contact with a female, Mom,” Burl said. “Thus far, not in the cards.”
“Keep it that way a while longer. I can’t worry about all my chicks at once.” She took the photo of Rowan and put it in a magnetized frame on the refrigerator. Aiden had made it when he was in kindergarten. She slid it over his picture, kissing it.
“How’s Dad gonna react?” Aiden said.
“I expect he’ll be shocked,” she said, putting her hand on the photo. “But he’ll get over it. He’s a big boy, he knows how things work.” She turned, smiling. “Now, out, all of you. I’ve dinner to finish. Eoin, you’re staying the night in the guest room. No arguments. Corin, find a toothbrush.”
“What if I have to work?”
“You’re the weekend headliner. It’s Wednesday.” She wouldn’t entertain an argument.
He didn’t have to work, but he didn’t want to impose. She would coddle and mother him for a few hours, it was easier to let her. Truth be told, he didn’t much want to be home on his own. His ribs hurt, his arms ached. Even simple things like dressing and preparing a meal, were painful. Driving wasn’t in this skill set either. Being taken care of was an almost foreign concept to him. He couldn’t remember the last time his own mother had cared enough about his welfare, to call.
Dinner was delicious and much complimented. The boys, minus Eoin, cleaned up. He volunteered, but Deirdre wouldn’t let him. Her mother hen instincts had kicked into high gear. He was obviously in pain.
“Do you have anything for the discomfort?” she asked.
“Been taking Tylenol. I don’t dare take anything stronger. Mum’s a junkie. When I moved here, I had a drug problem. Wendy—” He sniffed loudly, not wanting to cry anymore. “She helped me kick it. Got me involved in other things, took my mind off my own, self-inflicted misery. I was a loathsome git when I first arrived.” He chuckled. “Aiden can tell you, a wretched bastard. Two weeks around Wendy, I learned to smile. And you lot, you helped, too.”
“Thanksgiving that year,” Aiden said. “Your host family vacationed without you.”
“Rotten buggers. The company tries to connect you with a family like your own. Way too much like my family back home. Lush for a father, screaming harpy of a mother. The second one was better, I liked them. They helped me get my papers.”
Deirdre knew both families and wasn’t surprised to hear his summation of the first family. “Wasn’t their daughter, Fonda, on the golf team?” she didn’t ask directly, more to herself.
Aiden got very alert, squaring his shoulders and standing straighter. His back to her, she didn’t notice, too wrapped up in her own thoughts.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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