“Yeah, I get it, alright,” I cut her off. “I’ll be out of your hair by June.”
“That’s not what I meant.” She moved closer, her voice raspy and holding out
her hand as if to stop my thoughts. “You were the gift, Jared. The light. Your father was the hell. I thought I loved him. He was strong, confident, and cocky. I idolized him…” She trailed off, and I swear I could hear her heart breaking as her eyes fell to the ground.
I didn’t want to hear about that asshole, but I knew she needed to talk. And for
some reason I wanted to let her.
“I idolized him for about a month,” she continued. “Long enough to get
pregnant and get stuck with him.” And then she looked at me again. “But I was young and immature. I thought I knew everything. Drinking was my escape, and I abandoned you. You never deserved that. When I saw Tate trying to make you happy that night, I let her. The next morning you weren’t in your room. When I looked out your window, I could see you both passed out in her bed, just sleeping. So I let it be. For years, I knew you were sneaking over there to sleep, and I let it go, because she made you happy when I failed.”
The purest, truest, most perfect thing in my world, and I’d dumped pile upon
pile of shit on top of her for years.
A knot of realization worked its way into my head, and I felt like punching my
fist through a fucking wall.
“Jesus Christ.” I combed my hands through my hair, my eyes squeezing shut as I whispered to myself. “I’ve been so horrible to her.”
My mother, like Mr. Brandt, probably knew nothing of what I’d put Tate through, but she did know that we weren’t friends anymore.
“Honey,” she spoke up, “you’ve been horrible to everyone. Some of us deserved it, some of us not. But Tate loves you. She’s your best friend. She’ll forgive you.”
“I love her.” It was the most honest thing I’d confided in my mother in a long
My father could kiss his own ass, and my mother and I would survive, for better or worse. But Tate? I needed her.
“I know you love her. And I love you,” she said as she reached out and touched
my cheek. “You’re not letting your father or me take anything else from you, do you understand?”
Tears burned my eyes, and I couldn’t hold them back.
“How do I know I’m not going to be like him?” I whispered.
My mother was quiet as she studied me, and then her eyes narrowed.
“Tell her the truth,” she instructed. “Trust her with everything, especially your
heart. Do that, and you’re already not like your father.”