Daniel was waiting outside for me with an Uber. After our little rendezvous I texted him asking if he wanted to come with me to see my mom. I was panicking so hard before sending that text my palms were getting clammy, I left fingerprints on my cell from the heat. In all honesty, I didn’t know what I was more nervous for, seeing my mom and her beau and possibly my half-brother after so long, or having my ex-boyfriend—oh wait, scratch that, ex-fiancé—tag along.
I was biting the skin around the rim of my nail, thinking about all the questions I could be bombarded with. I clearly didn’t think this through.
“Relax,” Daniel said to me as we got out of the car. “You’re so edgy. You’re acting like you’re preparing for the Spanish Inquisition.”
“I might as well be.”
He rolled his eyes and gently pushed me from behind. “Come on.”
“I didn’t ask you to come along so you can tow me, you know,” I said.
“So why did you then?”
I paused, wrangling my brain to find an answer. I sighed and rang the doorbell. Daniel smiled, and childishly, I stuck my tongue out just as the door flew open.
“Hiiiiii mom!” I gasped.
She literally scratched her earlobe. “Hello. Come in, come in.” She tucked me in a warm embrace, her arms wrapped around me feeling like a cloud. “It’s been so long, honey.”
“Hi,” I repeated. This time a lot less shrill.
“Daniel!” She leaned in and perched her chin onto his shoulder. “How are you, sweetie?”
“I’m fine, Mrs. Parker. How’s everything?”
“Oh, fine, fine, fine. Well, come in. I’m almost finished setting up.”
Daniel and I plonked on the sofa as my mom dove into the kitchen. I scanned the living room like a stranger assessing their surroundings.
“Looks different,” I muttered.
“You haven’t been here in a while,” Daniel said.
“That’s the third time I’ve heard that today.”
Daniel furrowed his brows. “Me? Your mom? And…?”
I bit my lip. “Janet.” Did I really want to tell him how my mind was overreacting again? Best to leave the crazy at bay as much as I can.
A cluster of picture frames huddled on a table in the corner caught my attention. I walked over and checked each one. I scoffed. “All new frames. All new pictures.”
I pursed my lips. “It’s like she couldn’t wait to get rid of the memory of my dad.”
“Give her a break, will you, Anna?”
“What? It’s not like I’m keeping a grudge.” I glanced at Daniel staring intently, with a lifted brow, back at me. “What?”
He shook his head. “You said it not me.”
“Pretty sure you’re here for moral support.”
“I am. I’m morally supporting your mom,” he laughed.
I cracked a smile and rolled my eyes.
We got called to the dinner table with a feast fit to feed the entire Kardashian family if their asses needed sustenance. My stomach was full from last night but I couldn’t hold back. I figured if I didn’t keep eating I’d have to face my mom and Jim. I believe they call this emotional\stress eating. Jokes.
“So,” my mom darted her eyes between Daniel and I. she finally settled on the easier one. “How are you two doing?”
“Fine,” Daniel nodded. He looked at me. I nodded in agreement. At this point I still hadn’t even glimpsed Jim. He was hard to ignore though, he sat from across me and at times I noticed him looking at me from my peripheral vision. Fun fact (but not really): I used to pronounce ‘peripheral’ like ‘peri-feral’ when I was younger. I guess it was more fun that way.
“So, what do you do in New York?” My mom asked after a long pause.
Daniel started babbling away. My mom stared at him thoughtfully, nodding her head and smiling whenever the appropriate opportunity presented itself. They went back and forth like Jim and I weren’t here. I took one swift look at Jim and he threw up a little smile mid-chew, his food bulging through his cheek. I smiled back, unintentionally half-assed.
“I’m going to use the bathroom,” I said, pushing out my chair.
“Honey,” my called, “use the one upstairs, the one down here has some construction going on.”
I skipped the stairs more rapid fire than a bunny rabbit and used the bathroom. As I was coming back, I noticed a door ajar. My old room. the walls were a neutral yellow. Not the way I left it. I peeked through and saw toys near a box in the corner, a mat on the floor, a changing cot, and crib by the window, it’s curtains fully closed.
My baby brother was sleeping soundly on his back, with his arms raised above his head like he’d been stopped by the police. He’d grown so much. I think. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw him.
This whole time I felt like my mom traded one for the other; her husband for Jim, and me for her newborn son. Words can’t describe the shame that came with the agony I felt. I knew she wasn’t making a trade, that this was just life, it goes on, it moves, it lives, but for some reason, I couldn’t put my selfishness behind me. Every time I saw my mom I’m reminded of the time she didn’t tell me my dad passed away. And every time I felt like it was my fault either way, despite her being a willing scapegoat. I hated that for a long time I hated her, and I hated that for a long time, she allowed me to hate her. No winners.
“He said his first word recently,” Jim said. I jumped around. “Sorry, I didn’t mean—”
“—No, it’s okay.”
He walked to the crib and stood beside me. “He pointed at a chair and said ‘chair’ twice. It was done breathily though so it’s up for debate on whether or not he meant ‘cha-cha’. We think the former,” he joked.
I nodded. “Sounds more plausible.”
I gulped. “I didn’t mean to barge in…”
“Oh, don’t be silly. It’s your house, too.”
“Yeah, well, I think that’s up for debate, too.”
Jim looked down and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Look, uhh, Anna, I, umm, I don’t want you to think we’re pushing you out. More so, that I’m making your mom push you out. I want you to be here with us and be a family and I hope our son grows up with a big sister.”
“That’s nice,” I muttered. It was all I could think to say.
“I know it’s weird sometimes, but I just want you to know that I’m on your side. We both are.” He paused. “Is there anything you want to tell me?”
I narrowed my eyes and thought. “You’ll never replace my dad, you know.”
He smiled, politely. “I don’t intend to. He was a great man.”
“You met him?”
“Oh, yeah. Plenty of times.”
“He is a great man.”
“I can only hope to do such a good job as he did with you.”
I smiled, reminiscing on all the times my dad refused to buy me a Barbie when I nagged incessantly. That, when he brushed and styled my hair when I was younger, I preferred his way as opposed to my mom. I remembered the clunky way he ran as he got older, the drugstore cologne he used, the way he let me score a goal between two posts in the backyard and when I hit a flower bed he consoled me by telling me he would take the blame.
“You will,” I said. “You already are.”
“Yeah? You think so?” he beamed, his grin super wide.
“Yeah. You already are.”
“Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?” Daniel asked as he escorted me to my hotel room. “I mean, after the awkward silences, once you came back from the bathroom it just all got simpler.”
“Yeah, I think it was a good time. Doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a tad bit difficult.”
“But you did good.”
“How’s your tattoo?”
I peered down at the cute little panda. “No regrets.”
He grinned. “I’m glad. Same here.”
“So, I guess this means I’ll see you.”
“You’re going back to New York.”
He smiled. “I had fun. I mean, I loved spending time with you where we didn’t hold resentment for each other for once.”
“Yeah, it was a good run.”
“You know, I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before, but I want to visit you some time.”
“I’ll text you some time about it.”
“I’d like that.” And it was the truth. Before I didn’t feel comfortable with him dropping by because I thought we’d just be angry at each other, but now, I was looking forward to it.
“Okay,” he stepped closer, “I guess I’ll see you.”
I had my back against the wall and could feel the heat from his body. “Yeah,” I breathed, staring at his lips and then lifting my eyes back up.
He smiled and cupped my face. I closed my eyes, awaiting the inevitable.
He pushed his lips onto mine and all my yearning for him exploded. He moved a hand down to my waist and clutched me closer. I felt him hard and it only made me want him more. I turned around and fumbled with my key card as he pulled my hair aside and kissed down my neck.
“Goddamnit,” I hissed.
He chuckled breathily, and the air rapidly hit my neck in flutters, tickling me. I finally got the door opened and I threw my clutch and our jackets onto the floor. We kicked off our shoes, and I undressed him—I unbucked his belt, and got on my knees and slipped him inside of my mouth. I circled the rim of the tip with my tongue and inched him deeper and deeper. He threw his head back momentarily and jutted his hips out for me, gently stroking the side of my face as I bobbed back and forth. I licked up his abs and balled up his shirt as I did until I pulled it over his head.
He lowered his head onto my chest and pushed my breasts up. He stuffed his face and I giggled, unable to catch my breath as he pulled my top down underneath my bra, and the cups of my bra underneath my breasts. He hungrily swirled his tongue over my nipples and clutched one between his lips. He tore my top off and I kicked my jeans away. He picked me up, my legs wrapped around his waist, and tossed me onto the bed. He crawled over me and kissed me once. Twice. Before lowering his head down to my thighs. I wriggled underneath his soft pecks. He pulled my underwear off, and I flinched once I felt his wet lips and tongue between my thighs. He moaned, and I gasped when he slid two fingers in while he sucked my clit.
I rustled his hair with my free hands. He pulled up and towered over me. He kissed my chest before he pushed inside of me. He filled me up in a way I missed. And as his brows furrowed and he peeked down to glance where we connected, I could tell he missed it too. He thrusted in harder and harder. I turned him over onto his back and lifted my hair as I moved my hips back and forth. He slapped my ass and gripped my thighs, leaving red hand marks and sizzles vibrating my skin. Once I felt my toes curl and the blood rush, I came. He flipped me over onto my hands and knees and slapped his hips against my beet-red ass until he grunted and held me tighter when he came, digging his fingertips into my hips.
We panted and crashed onto the pillows where Daniel embraced me all through the night.