Duke's Redemption

Page 59

With a smile, she asks if I will come with her to the kitchen so I can help her carry the glasses back. I’m a little weary of being alone with her, but I agree anyway.
When we are in the kitchen, she gets out four glasses and fills them with ice before pouring lemonade into each. As she does all of this, she begins to speak.
“I didn’t mean to corner you in here or anything. I just wanted to talk to you for a minute.”
Oh lord, here we go.
Immediately, my defenses go up as I prepare myself to tell my boyfriend’s mother exactly where she can take her intrusion and shove it.
But she surprises me when she says, “I’m sure Duke has told you about the rocky relationship that he and I have had.”
“Uhhh,” is all I can get out before she continues.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to try to defend myself or turn you against him. I realize I haven’t always been the perfect mother. A good man and a whole lot of therapy has helped me to realize my mistakes. Duke’s brothers are a whole lot quicker to let me try to make amends, but I know it will be a lot harder with Duke. His wounds are probably the deepest.”
I still don’t quite like where this is heading. “Tammy, I have to ask—what is it that you want from me? Are you wanting me to try to get Duke to forgive you or something?”
“No, Darlin’. My son will forgive me only when and if he’s ready. I’m sorry. This is probably coming out all wrong.” She thinks for a moment to choose her next words. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen my son look at anyone the way he looks at you. I’ve seen him smile more today than I think I’ve seen him smile in the past ten years. I know I’m a big factor in why he hasn’t, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Please just try to keep that smile on his face. I’m no expert on love even if I’ve been in it about a million times—or at least I thought I was. All I ask of you is that you’re there for him. Duke is a man with armor around his heart as thick as steel. Just don’t give up on him.”
I could take this time to tell her how Duke is in therapy to deal with his issues or that I’ve already proven that I’ll be here for him, even when he’s a stubborn asshole.
But I don’t say any of that. I will keep my word and keep things between Duke and me exactly that… between him and I.
All I say is, “I’ll be there for him. No matter what.”
In the moment, it may appear that I’m just saying it to get this woman off my back, but in all actuality, I’ve never meant anything more.
Chapter 25
Myeyeskeepdartingto the kitchen, wondering what on Earth my mother is saying to Avery. I shouldn't have let my girl walk into the lion's den. What was I thinking?
Rob sits across from me. As much as I wanted to hate this man, I’m having trouble finding something to put my finger on that I dislike. The guys that my mom has previously dated have always had some sort of glaring red flag, or flags, which made it easy for me to want them gone. Most of the time, it all boiled down to how they treated my mother or my brothers and I.
But Rob seems to actually care about my mom. Maybe he’s just putting on a good act in front of me.
An awkward silence hangs between us, as neither of us quite knows what to say.
Hurry up, and come back, Avery.
Rob starts talking. It’s been so quiet that his voice almost startles me.
“It makes your momma happy that you’re here.”
I’m not entirely sure how to respond to that. I could be a dick and tell him not to get used to it.
Instead, I just give a weird nod and pray that he doesn’t keep talking. But the lord must not be listening because Rob goes on.
“She’s awfully proud of you, even if she doesn’t always show it.”
Here we go.
I don’t need anyone apologizing for my mother’s actions. As good as I’m sure Rob’s intentions are, he doesn’t need to stick his nose in where it doesn’t belong.
I’m about to tell this to him, but Mom and Avery come walking in, each of them holding two glasses of lemonade.
Avery hands me one before sitting down next to me. She must sense my anxiety because she sets her hand on my thigh and leans over to kiss my cheek.