“Don’t be snippy!” she said. “You just look… motherly with that haircut.”
“Well I guess it’s good that I’m about to be a mother then,” I said.
“It will be, when you can get that cheap bastard of an ex-boss of yours to pay up.”
She was team Jason on that point although there was no love lost there either. “Mom, are you not even a little bit happy that we’re having an addition to the family?” I asked her. I knew she wouldn’t be happy about a baby. She wasn’t the grandmotherly type… or the motherly one.
She frowned and said, “You’re broke and unmarried. I’m too young to be anyone’s grandmother. What is there really to be happy about, Vicki? I’ll be happy if that bastard pays you what he owes you… unlike your father who got away Scott free.”
She was hopeless. My father and the men she danced for and now served had ruined her outlook on family and love a long time ago. We ordered our lunches and when I asked for the club with avocado on sour dough she frowned again. At least I’m assuming the face she kept making was frowning. She’d had so much Botox that it was hard to tell. “What’s wrong now, mother?” I asked.
“I’m just hoping you know that weight’s not going to drop off by itself when you have that kid. I was out of work for six months after I had you just trying to get my figure back.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’ve gained ten pounds mom and I’m more than halfway through my pregnancy. Besides, I’m not a pole dancer.”
“Ten pounds can make all the difference,” she said, taking a sip of her lemon water.
With a sigh I almost asked her, “What difference?” but I didn’t. I knew it would have something to do with me catching a man who could “support” me. She was an independent businesswoman… albeit the owner of a strip club. She should understand that all women do not want to be “taken care of.” No matter how good she looked or how hard she tried, she’d never achieved it even at almost fifty. I simply said, “Thanks mom, I’ll keep it in mind,” as I did with so many other things.
“I have a client who is looking for a housekeeper if you’re still looking for a job.”
That got my attention. I definitely needed a job. I’d spent so much money on this lawsuit that I wasn’t even certain that I wanted to pursue any longer that I was having trouble paying my own bills. It was one thing I had to be grateful to Jason for… at least I had a roof over my head and food in my belly. I’d feel so much better though if I were contributing to that. Plus, my lawyer wasn’t going to take my I.O.U. much longer. But this was one of mother’s “clients.” I was a little concerned about that. “Someone you know well?” I asked her.
She shrugged and said, “We had a brief affair a few years ago but then his wife found out…”
“Yeah, thanks Mom, but no thanks,” I said. I’d met a few of her “clients” over the years. I’d fought off advances from a few of them as well. Not upstanding citizens in the least. She just rolled her eyes at me. “I found out that I’m having a boy,” I told her, trying to change the subject and hoping to get some kind of emotion out of her about the baby.
“Hmm,” she said. The waitress had just brought our lunch and left. She had taken one bite of her salad. “This salad dressing tastes like it’s loaded with calories. I don’t think that porky waitress gave me the light stuff…” And that was how the rest of our meal together went. I left there with most of the happiness I’d had when I left Liz’s house gone.
I left the diner and went to the one place I’d always felt good, Seal Beach, to the pier. I browsed through a few of the small shops, but mostly I just stood on the edge of the pier and looked out at the ocean. The sea was an unbroken, calm underneath the gentle sun. The small ripples of water that lay across it were sprinkled with millions of light fragments; each one tiny, but together they were intense and beautiful. I slipped out of my shoes and stood there like I did when I was a kid, with the feel of the rough wood underneath my bare feet and began to feel nostalgic. My life had never been much to be excited over but it had never seemed as lonely as it had since Alexander turned his back on me. I know that we never had a real relationship, but before that day we spent in the basement, I was able to look forward to at least one smile or one kind word from him almost every day. He was never anything but kind and respectful and I missed that. Jason wasn’t mean or abusive, but I always get the feeling that he’s never harbored much respect for me either. When we were together before any of this happened with the pregnancy he was always quicker to point out my flaws than he was to say anything kind. Usually, he just said nothing at all and he touched me even less, that’s what led me to believe maybe there was another woman in the picture. Maybe I’m wrong… either way; I was beginning to quickly recognize that moving back in with him had been a mistake.
The sun was beginning to get low in the sky and I still had some things I needed to do before nightfall. I turned and began heading back down the pier towards the lot where I parked my car and in the distance I saw the shadow of a man who looked very familiar. He was strolling along slowly, dropping pieces of sourdough for the pigeons and seagulls and every so often stopping to look at something that had caught his eye out in the water. It was Alex. The direction he was facing put his eyes looking directly into the sun. I hoped that also kept him from being able to see me. As much as I wanted to see him, I was sure he wasn’t interested in running into me. I put my head down and walked quickly on the far side of the pier, I passed him and continued to head for my car. I was almost to the end of the pier when I felt a strong hand on my shoulder. I knew it was his before I turned around.
I stopped walking and took a deep breath in before turning around to face him. Alex was looking at me with those intensely sexy hazel eyes and his brown hair was blowing in the breeze. I watched as his eyes traveled down to the bulge in my belly and back up to my face. His expression didn’t give away what he was thinking, but I would have given a million dollars to find out what it was. He was dressed casually in a white cotton shirt that buttoned up the front and rippled across the muscles in his chest and arms in the wind. He had on blue jeans,
which was unusual, but he wore them well.
“Hi,” I said, not knowing where else to start.
“Hello, Vicki.” I loved the way he said my name… still. God, what is wrong with me? This man fired me. He’s suing me. Why does he still give me that warm, tingly feeling all over?
I needed to not be here, with him standing here looking at me. It didn’t help my thought processes at all. It only made me want to kiss him although I should be kicking him instead. “I was just leaving…”
“Please don’t go,” he said. I felt a pain in my chest. I’m not sure if it was fear or excitement. Either way, I was screwed because I knew that I wouldn’t leave. “Sit with me for a few minutes. I’d like to talk to you.” Damn it! My lawyer has strongly advised me against this. I’m positive that his had too. The way that my stomach felt and the pounding in my chest were probably good reasons why. I was already willing to forgive and forget and he’d barely said hello.