“That’s great, Mom. I hope that’s true, but I have to ask… If he’s the one—for real this time—what’s your hurry? You’ve known him for how long?”

Her expression tells me she’s annoyed but clamps it down. “Actually, we met a couple of months ago.”

Wow. Typically, she falls head over heels in a matter of days. A couple of weeks is a steady relationship for her. A couple of months might as well be an eternity. “That’s great.”

“We met online.” She nods as if she’s proud of herself for her use of technology to expand her dating pool. “A singles’ site for seniors. I saw his picture and reached out. He’s a retired firefighter. Widower. Even-tempered. Funny. So charming. We finally met face to face three weeks ago. We both knew right away. He’s not like the others.”

Frankly, he doesn’t sound like the cheating, sponging douchebags Mom usually marries, but I’m still not getting my hopes up until I meet this guy. “Where does he live?”

“He’s offered to move to LA…but I may move to Colorado with him. Start fresh. It’s just nice that, for once, I have a man who wants to make me happy. Be faithful to me. Love me.” Tears sting her eyes as she reaches for my hand. “I know you think I’ve been irresponsible in the past, and I wasn’t always the mother I should have been. But I didn’t know what love was until Curtis because I realize now I’d never been loved by anyone. Well, except you. You always stood by my side, no matter what. I was too wrapped up in myself and my love life to realize… I’m so sorry.”

Wow, this is a totally different version of my mother. I don’t recognize this empathetic woman with watery blue eyes, looking at me as if she’d do anything for my forgiveness.

I wish I could snap my fingers and just make all the bad memories and heartbreak go away. There’s a part of me that’s still angry with her, and I’m not really sure I trust that this two-dot-zero model of Mom is here to stay. But I would never wish her anything less than sublime happiness.

“I hope Curtis really is everything and that he makes you happy for the rest of your life.” I hug her.

She sniffles and hugs me back with a tentative smile. Maybe she will make more effort going forward. And maybe she’s just being sentimental on her wedding day. Right now, all that matters is that maybe she’s turning over a new leaf, and hopefully, marrying this man won’t be a mistake.

“I don’t want to mess up my makeup.” She dabs at her eyes. “Shall we have some lunch? I made us a reservation.” Then she frowns as she takes in my funeral dress. “Is that what you’re wearing to the wedding?”

Now I feel a little guilty about my silent protest. “Since I work at home, I don’t have many dresses.”

“Feel like fixing that?”

I frown. “I thought we were going to have lunch.”

“We can. I made reservations at that place… It’s on the tip of my tongue. Oh!” She rattles off the name of the restaurant owned by one of my favorite chefs.

“You planned to take me there?” My mother doesn’t share my same interest in creative, upscale food, but this might be the first time she’s listened to my wishes and put them above her own desires. I’m touched. “Really?”

“Of course. I know how much it means to you.” Then she waves her hand at me. “You know what? I don’t care if you’re wearing black. You look lovely, and I’m happy you came. I can’t wait for you to meet Curtis and his kids. They’re coming, too. I haven’t met them, but I’m hoping that after today we can all be one big family.”

“Are you sure? I can tell this wedding is important to you. We can shop if you’d rather.”

My mom shakes her head. “I don’t know how many times we’ll be in Vegas together, where the two of us can do something this special. I don’t want to give that up. My maid of honor wearing black just makes the ceremony more elegant.”

“Maid of honor?” Now I feel somewhere between guilty and sick.

“Well, of course. Nothing is more important than family, and no one is more dear to me than you. Curtis reminded me of that. In fact, his older son is going to be his best man.”

I swallow. “That’s fantastic. But…maybe we should rethink the dress after all.

“And give up what’s-his-name’s spectacular food? Or a good social media opportunity?” She shakes her head and squeezes my hand. “No. But…since we wear the same size shoes, maybe you could swap out your black heels for these?” She holds up a pair of patent cream-colored peep-toes.

“Sure.” I slide them on, then look in the full-length mirror on the back of her door. Surprisingly, the shoes, along with the freshwater pearls around my neck and wrist, make my outfit seem almost spring-like, too.


Tags: Shayla Black Romance
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