The next few days passed uneventfully except for what was going on with Andrew. He had been arrested and charged with breaking the temporary restraining order, breaking and entering, stalking, and aggravated assault. A pretty hefty list and with the judge declaring him a flight risk for his case of MIA the past few days, he was not allowed out on bond. That made me feel pretty good and so I was able to sail through the rest of the week without any plaguing nightmares. Except for the one when I was awake; Alex’s mother.
I tried to smile and be happy whenever I was around her, but it was getting just a little bit harder each time. If it wasn’t the looks, it was her snide little comments she’d mutter under her breath. For some reason I just could not figure out, she did not like me and wasn’t even going to try to. I don’t know if Alex knew what was going on, for she could pretend better than anyone; the woman deserved an Oscar. If he did, he didn’t act it and never brought it up. Just like he never brought up the conversation we’d had in my house following Andrew’s arrest. And I was confident that was the one piece of information he hadn’t told his mom, because Lord knows he tells her everything else. It was as if the conversation had never taken place.
It put me a position I wasn’t sure I liked. Did I just keep on pretending like Denise and I were the best of chums, or did I face up to the fact that she couldn’t stand the sight of me? I didn’t want to create any ripples between mother and son, but I didn’t know how long I could keep quiet for. It did help that with Andrew in jail, I could return to my own home, which I promptly did. And I busied myself with work. The end of June was sneaking up on us faster than we realized and I was still in the top two of the contest. Each week it varied between Dixon and Anna for the other spot. Looked like it was going to be a tight finish.
“Baby, can you pass me the hot sauce?”
It was Saturday evening and I was seated on Alex’s patio with him and Denise, enjoying a meal of freshly grilled chicken, potato salad and baked beans. I had put off this dinner for two days now, hoping Alex would finally let it drop, but he didn’t. And so I was wrangled into spending Saturday evening with his mother, who I’m sure was enjoying it as much as myself.
“Sure, hon.” I reached for the thin bottle and passed it over to my boyfriend.
“Thank you.” He grinned at me then began pouring an ungodly amount atop of his already seasoned chicken. Remind me not to kiss him later. Returning to my own plate, things were quiet for a few moments before his mother decided to speak up.
“So, I have some news.”
We both looked over to her, our curiosity peaked.
She watched between the two of us before giving a wide grin and reaching for her water glass. “I’m going to be staying another week! Isn’t that wonderful?”
I nearly dropped my fork, quickly recovering and shoving the bite of salad on it into my mouth, the less I had to say the better.
“Mom, that’s great!” Alex beamed at her then leaned and kissed her cheek. “What brought this on?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she reached over and patted his leg, “I was just thinking about how I don’t get to see you very often and thought one more week won’t hurt anything.”
“No, that’s great.” He looked over to me then back to his mother. “Maybe Morgan can take some time off that week and we can all three go out of town together somewhere.”
“Oh, I…don’t know if I can,” the words spilled from my mouth before I even realized it.
Two sets of eyes met mine. “Why not?” My boyfriend questioned with a crease in his forehead.
I quickly grabbed at straws. “Well, you know that it’s the last few weeks of the contest and I have such a huge work load. I’ve really taken on a lot of clients these last few days and I just don’t think I can take any time off. When real estate’s moving, you gotta get in there and get what you can.”
“Well, that’s alright,” Denise spoke up from across from me. “You and I can go, Alex. I’m not too busy to take a few days and go on a trip with my son.” She smiled warmly at him then looked back to me, causing a chill to run down my spine at the expression in her gaze. “It’s such a shame really that people can get so involved in their work they forget about what they have at home.” Then she turned back to her food, her tone sounding somewhat casual. “Alex tells me the people in your office are pretty tight knit.”
I blinked, trying to register what had just happened. Was she taking digs at me? Glancing to my boyfriend, I saw he hadn’t seemed to pick up on any of that. “Actually, we are.”
“Oh yeah? You go out with them a lot?”
I shrugged, eyeing her carefully and wondering where she was taking this. “Sometimes.”
“Alex,” she turned to look at her son, “have you ever joined them?”
He shook his head, taking a sip from his water glass before setting it back on the table. “I haven’t. But I did go out with one of her girlfriends from the office and her husband. He’s a pretty cool guy.”
I smiled at him, feeling all warm inside. He was so precious.
“Heh, that’s kinda weird. Don’t you think?” This time she cast her eyes back my way. “You two have been dating awhile now and yet, you haven’t joined Morgan when she’s been out with her work buddies.”
I hadn’t touched my food again since Denise had started this….charade, or whatever the hell it was she was doing. “How is that weird? I don’t go out with them very often.”
But she brushed me off. “Didn’t you say there was a guy that was vying for that contest spot…what was his name again?”
When had she heard me talk about that? Must have been one evening when I was telling Alex about my day. “Dixon,” I supplied her, eying her like I knew she was up to something.
“That’s right, Dixon!” She snapped her fingers. “So, if you win this contest, you and Dixon will jet off to Hawaii together for the weekend, huh?”
And suddenly I knew what the little trick up her sleeve and been. “Actually, that’s only if he wins.” Then I smirked at her. “And if I win, I plan on taking Alex with me.” Score one for the girlfriend.
“Oh, right of course. And then will you leave him at the hotel while you go out on the town with your coworker?” She arched a brow at me.
“Mom!” Alex frowned over at his mother.
“I’m sorry, dear,” she patted his arm, “but I just don’t think its right that Morgan hasn’t accepted you into all aspects of her life.”
“She has let me into all aspects of her life. So what she doesn’t bring me along when she hangs out with her coworkers, that’s her thing and I don’t mind it one bit.”
I could have leaned over and planted one on my boyfriend. Instead, I just smirked over in his mom’s direction.
“Good, I’m glad, dear.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I’m glad you’re so accepting of that. I know some wouldn’t be.”
“You know, Mrs. Solis,” I started as I gathered my plate and glass, rising from the table, “you are being incredibly rude to me.” Then I turned and headed through the open French doors and into the house.
Alex joined me in the kitchen a moment later while I was rinsing my plate and loading it into the dishwasher.
“What’s going on with you and my mom?”
I turned to see him standing at the island, his hands flat on the counter. “Your mom hates me.”
“What?” He looked genuinely confused. “She doesn’t hate you.”
“Yes, she does.” I annunciated each word, ending with a slam as I lifted the front of the dishwasher and shut it rather hard. Inside, the dishes rattled, but I didn’t care.
“Morgan, she doesn’t hate you.” He moved around the counter towards me.
I met his gaze. “Yes, she does. Have you been paying attention to what she’s saying to me?” I waved a hand towards the patio.
He shrugged. “She’s just asking questions, getting to know you.”
“No, if she were asking questions to get to know me she’d be saying; so, what kind of books do you read, where do you like to go on vacation? What are your biggest pet peeves? Instead, she’s out there trying to make me look like a bad girlfriend!” I waved my hands wildly about as I spoke, not realizing my voice was growing louder with each word.
“Whoa, okay, baby, okay…let’s take a breath and calm down.” He moved to me and took my hand, rubbing it with both of his. “It’s gonna be okay.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Hey,” he reached and lifted my chin so our eyes met, “yes, it is. You’re getting yourself all worked up over nothing.”
I blinked. “Over nothing?” I pulled my hand from his grasp. “Your mom is out there insulting me, taking digs at me and you call that nothing.”
“Baby, no, that’s not what I’m saying.” He reached for me again.
“I think it is.” I glanced around then moved and grabbed my handbag from where I’d set it when I’d first arrived. “I hope you and your mom enjoy your dinner. I’m out.” Then I stalked for the front door.
“Morgan!” He called after me, but I ignored him and strode to the entry way and my escape.
I made it out onto the porch then to the drive and into my car. Slamming the door, I dropped my purse into the passenger seat and jammed the keys into the ignition. Anger was coursing through my veins and I was grateful that he hadn’t tried to stop me from leaving. I needed to just get away and make some space, take a breather and try to calm myself down. But that was going to be hard to do because all that kept replaying through my head was his voice telling me it was nothing.
With a frustrated growl, I turned around and pulled out of his drive, barely giving the gates at the entrance time to open. I had no idea where I was going to go; I didn’t want to go home and I didn’t want to go unload my problems onto one of my friends. So I would just drive.
And that’s what I did. I started out on the expressway then ended up along the coastline, just cruising along with the windows down and the breeze blowing through my hair. I tried not to think about what had gone down between Alex and me, but I couldn’t help it. That had been our first fight; if one could call it that. We’ve never been angry with each other before and I didn’t like it. No, scratch that, he’d gotten angry at me in Connecticut. This time, he was more shocked and confused. I was the one that was angry.
I hadn’t meant to let it out that way. But at least it’s out there now. I wondered if he’d say anything to his mom. I wondered what he would tell his mom about my taking off. Then my hands gripped the wheel tighter as I thought about how satisfied she would be with that and herself. That nearly sent me in the other direction and back to his place. I needed to figure out how to not let her get to me. A way so we could both coexist in his life peacefully. I would be willing to try, but she had to be as well.
Finally, when the skies had darkened and the air grew chilly, I rolled up the windows and headed back to L.A. and home.
It was late when I pulled into the drive, and after parking the car and gathering my things, I slipped from behind the wheel and headed for the front door.
The figure on the porch caused me to jerk back, a scream dying in my throat when I recognized my boyfriend.
“Hey.” He rose from the chair.
“You scared the crap out of me.” I fumbled with my key ring until I had the house key in my hand. I could feel my heartbeat trying to return back to normal as it pounded against my chest.
“I’m sorry. I was just waiting for you.” He moved back as I approached to let me unlock the front door and get it open.
“Obviously.” It came out sharper then I had intended, but I didn’t apologize. Instead, I just headed into the house and dropped my belongings onto the table there by the door. I had tried to let all the anger seep out of me in the car, but I guess I hadn’t gotten it all out.
Alex ignored that and followed me into the house, closing the door securely behind us. “We need to talk.”
I slipped my shoes off and strode for the living room. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to talk quite yet.
“Morgan!” He followed me, stepping down into the living room and placing his hands on his sides.
I looked to him. “I left your place because I didn’t want to talk anymore.”
“Well, I came over here because I do.”
I struggled with relenting or replying with some smart ass comment. Finally, I did neither and just sank down onto the couch.
“Baby,” he joined me and took my hand, sitting with one leg tucked under the other and facing me, “what’s going on?”
The snappy reply was on the tip of my tongue, but the minute I met those soul stirring eyes watching me with such concern, love and worry, it died away. “I don’t think your mom likes me,” I heard my voice tremble some and bit my bottom lip to keep myself in check.
“What makes you say that?”
I used my free hand to rub my forehead. “You can’t get all mad or upset or offended with what I tell you, okay?”
He just gave a nod, holding my hand against his cheek and watching me.
“Good.” Wetting my bottom lip, I continued, “That day I picked her up from the airport, she was nothing but short, snappy and rude to me. The entire way to your place all she talked about was how I was going to break your heart, how we weren’t going to last, that I wasn’t the one for you. Then she started going on about how you always get like this with girls and then it never works out. And that you’ve broken hearts, but had yours broken and she’s always been the only one you can trust.” I took a second to gauge his reactions, but he was just watching me and letting me get it out.
So I did. “Then she told me that you have serious commitment issues and that you let yourself get close and things are great for awhile, but then suddenly it’s over. I asked her why she was telling me this and she just said that she thought it was time she spoke up. She’d seen it happening too many times and wanted to let me know what I was getting myself in to.” I tilted my head. “And she said that sometimes it’s hard to talk to you about it.”
Alex gave a sigh after I’d finished. He shifted so he was sitting correctly on the couch and leaned forward, resting his forearms onto his legs.
Hesitantly, I reached over and smoothed my hand over his back.
He was quiet for a moment before turning his head to look at me. “She really said all that?”
I gave a nod then leaned over and pressed a kiss to his shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault, baby.” He leaned back and took my hands again. “I appreciate that you told me this.”
“I didn’t want to hide it from you, but I didn’t want to cause any problems between you and your mom.”
“I know.” He kissed my palms then leaned forward and brushed his lips softly over mine.
I leaned into his touch with a sigh, nibbling at his lips and just savoring his taste.
We kissed for a few moments, slow and intoxicating kisses that made your heart race and blood boil. Finally, before either of us could forget the conversation at hand, I pulled back and touched his cheek. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
I smiled and took his hand, pressing my lips to his knuckles then holding his hand to my cheek.
“I’m sorry my mom talked to you like that,” he spoke after a moment. “She really is trying to look out for me. For a long time it was just the two of us.”
“I know, baby, and I get that. But it just seemed like she has no faith in you that you can handle your own relationships.”
“Maybe that’s because I haven’t always been able to.” He blew a puff of air from his lips and sat back from me. “I really have chosen the wrong women to date over the years and she’s so used to that, that whenever she meets someone new she goes into protective mode automatically. I think time is going to be the only thing to prove to her that what we have is real.”
I watched him. “So, until she comes to her senses and sees that I’m not going anywhere and that we’re both happy, she’s going to behave this way?”
“I’ll talk to her. I’ll tell her that she really can’t talk to you that way and that you’re not the women of my past, but it’s just going to be the time that shows her that.”
“That sucks.” I frowned and sank back into the couch.
“I know, and I’m so sorry.” He reached out and pulled me to him. “But she’s going to see how wonderful you are and how good you are for me in no time. It won’t take her long to come around.”
I guess it wouldn’t be so bad to be around her if he talked to her and it helped. “Alright, and I’m sorry for blowing up at you earlier. I just don’t like it when someone judges me or us. No one else knows what’s going on with us or what is good or not, or how long we’re going to last.”
“I get that, and I agree. We’re the only ones that know exactly how well our relationship is working.”
I nodded and peeked to him. “And you have to quit telling her every little detail.”
Alex blinked. “What?”
“About us. She knows about like…everything.” I sat back some to see his face better.
“We just talk. I’m just telling her what’s going on in my life.”
“I know, but …it just makes me uncomfortable to know that she knows that we were thinking about living together, and why we decided not to, or how many times a week we make love.”
“Baby,” he chuckled and grabbed at the hand I was motioning with, “I don’t tell my mom how often I have sex. And she only knows about the other stuff because sometimes she’s my sounding board. I bounce ideas off her and get her opinions.”
Oh boy. “And she thought it was a good idea to move in together.”
He chuckled again and lifted my wrist to his mouth, placing soft kisses along the skin. “I didn’t say I listened to her.”
“What was her reasoning for not moving in together?” Cuz I was sure it didn’t have anything to do with me being ready for it.
“That I didn’t know you well enough. You might turn out to be some crazed psycho.” He spoke against my skin so I couldn’t see his mouth, but his eyes were twinkling with amusement.
“Oh yeah?” Slowly, I withdrew my arm and took a hold of his shirt, drawing him to me. “And what if you turned out to be the crazed psycho?”
“Baby, I’m just crazed about you.” He closed the distance between us with a searing, mind blowing kiss.
“And,” he announced after he’d finally pulled back and stood from the couch, scooping me up into his arms. “I’m going to stay here tonight and show you just how crazed for you I am, even if it takes me all night to do.”
I giggled at that and kissed his ear, wrapping my arms around his neck. “I love you.”
He grinned at me then kissed my forehead and started for the stairs. “I love you, too.”