Sugar Free Page 20

So I say it. “You’re not my mother. Now, if you’ll please leave.”

She stares at me a moment, and I might have considered her potentially part human if she’d have at least the moral grace to look as if I hurt her feelings. Instead, her eyes go cold and she squares her shoulders. “I’ll have a talk with your father about this.”

I turn from her and open the door. “You go right ahead and do that, Helen.”

I have to literally bite down on my tongue not to throw JT in her face. I want to say, “You go right ahead, Mother, and talk to Dad about all of this. Ask him about JT too. You want to know why he’s so upset, ask him about JT and what he really means to him.”

But I don’t.

The minute I said I was done with her, I meant it.

I’m done.

My heart aches for Beck.

For many things and in many ways.

But hearing him tell his mother he was done brings about a sadness that feels like a heavy, suffocating blanket upon me. I can’t imagine, because my mother was wonderful and there’s not a day that goes by I don’t think of her and wish I had her back. To think that Beck’s maternal experiences were so horrific over his lifetime, that it would be a relief to cut that poison from his life, is almost too unbearable to even consider.

I leave the sanctity of the bedroom behind once I hear the door shut behind his mother and find Beck in the kitchen. The oven door is open and he’s checking the chicken.

“I think it’s done,” he says, sensing my presence behind him.

“Let me see,” I say as I walk up, put a gentle hand on his back, and peer in the door beside him.

It looks about done, but I won’t know for sure until we cut those puppies open and see if they’re cooked through. Beck grabs two pot holders and nudges me aside with his hip, pulling out the pan of baked chicken. It smells delicious and I’m starved, even though the events of the last few minutes have left a sour taste in the back of my mouth.

I pull a fork and knife from the cutlery drawer and cut into one of the breasts. As I pull it apart to look at it, Beck says, “So…back to our original discussion…what else did you and Caroline talk about at lunch today other than going to the police, which I’m assuming is a subject that’s been thoroughly discussed and won’t be discussed again?”

My jaw drops slightly and I turn to look at him. “Don’t you want to talk about what just happened with your mother?”

Beck tilts his head to the side and gives me a sympathetic smile. “Poor Sela,” he says with gentle mockery that’s not meant to hurt but to let me know he finds me silly in my concern. “Wanting to romanticize a nonexistent mother-son relationship.”

I huff out a curse and swat him on the chest. “I’m being serious.”

“So am I, babe,” he says before leaning in for a quick kiss. His eyes are somber but his tone is oddly light. “You saw me do something I should have done a long time ago. I cut the poison out, and frankly, I feel better for it.”

My skeptical look rings through loud and clear, but I give him some concession. “If you’re sure, then fine. But if you want to talk about it, lay it on me. I’ve got loads of advice and sweet sentiments to get you through.”

“You are a silly girl,” he says, and turns to the cupboard to grab two plates. “But seriously…what did you and Caroline talk about?”

“God, you’re like a dog with a bone,” I grumble as I take a plate from him and put a chicken breast on it. I set that down on the counter and take the other. “But if you must know, we skirted around the edges of our respective rapes. I think we’ll probably discuss details in the future with each other.”

“Go on,” he says as I hand him another plate with the second chicken breast. He turns and puts a few pieces of tomato and mozzarella, which still need to be finished off with basil and balsamic, onto both plates.

“What do you mean, go on?” I ask evasively, as I go to the fridge and grab the fresh basil. Like a coordinated team, Beck grabs the balsamic sitting beside the stove top.

“I mean, tell me what was said about me,” he says in exasperation. “And don’t try to pretend I wasn’t discussed.”

I shrug and begin shredding basil by hand over the tomato and mozzarella while Beck drizzles balsamic. “She wanted to know how you were holding up. I told her you were fine.”

“You lied to her.”

“Because I know you’re not,” I affirm. “But she doesn’t need to know that.”

Beck nods but remains silent. We grab the plates, forks and knives, and head into the dining room, Beck pausing to grab two bottles of water from the fridge. We sit and start on our meals. I’m beyond famished and know the way I’ll shovel the food in will not be pretty.

As he cuts into his chicken, Beck says, “There’s an awful lot of lying going on.”

I look up at him, a bite of mozzarella halfway to my mouth. I lower my fork. “What do you mean?”

“You told Caroline I’m fine when I’m not—”

“To protect her,” I point out.

He nods understandingly. “Yes, I get it. But it’s made me think about all of the deception that’s been going on…for fuck’s sake, for most of my life. My parents lying to the outside world that we were a happy family. Covering up Caroline’s rape. Not acknowledging Ally. My dad and JT. All of that…”

“Not telling the police what really happened with JT,” I add softly.

He ignores that. “Covering up JT’s death aside, because that ship’s already sailed, I’m just tired of all of it, so when you saw me cut my mother out, that was the first step in correcting some of that shit.”

“I can understand that,” I say neutrally, because I don’t really think he’s telling me this to justify his actions with his mother.

“I think I was disloyal to Caroline,” he says quietly.

And there it is. I knew there was something else driving this.

“How?” I ask simply.

“By still having a relationship with my parents after what they did to her,” he murmurs, laying his knife and fork down. His eyes are so sad when they look at me. “I should have cut them out then. I should have chosen Caroline and Ally completely. I should have made my stand for what was right, and by not doing it, I was just as complicit in their rotten ways.”

Source: www_Novel22_Net

Prev Next