Fifty-Eight

Leah

"Oh, mother!" I shouted as I entered her dark room. It took my vision a minute to adjust to the darkness. Because my mom works various shifts ranging from morning to night, she has these black out curtains that quite literally keep the sunlight out. If I held my hand out in front of me, there's no way I would be able to see it. Almost as if it isn't there.

I heard her groan slightly in frustration.

One thing about my mom is that she loves her sleep and hates when anyone disturbs her. Honestly, I see where I get if from now. It was definitely one of the things that my parents were the opposites on. My dad loved waking up bright and early in the morning. He was the one to get up at 5am, go out for a walk and take his camera for the early morning sunrise. He loved seeing the array of colors and the transition from the dark night sky to the early morning hues of orange, yellow and hints of red.

He always tried to get my mom to go, but as you can see there was no way she was moving from the comfort of her bed. I think my dad may have gotten her up early less than five times in their many years of marriage. Even that was pushing it.

Sometimes, I would hear muffled voices arguing and clattering of items on the floor early in the morning. Probably a pillow tossed at my dad. She was feisty first thing in the morning. My dad knew that and loved to get her all riled up.

"Mom." I said inching closer to her bed. I had to go off of my memory of the room, envision it in my mind to know where to go. I held my hands out to feel around for the edge of the bed. When I felt the softness of the mattress, I crawled onto the bed until I felt the warmness of her body and laid right next to her.

"Leah, I just worked an eighteen hour shift. So whatever you want better be good." She grumbled out pulling the blanket closer to her chin. She was always like a kid when she wanted to sleep.

I reached over to the nightstand and pulled the chain on the lamp to turn it on. It brighten up the room, but not enough to fully take the darkness away. I turned to face her, she had her eye mask on. She was serious about the 'no light' policy. "I just wanted to come and spend some time with you. I haven't seen you in days."

That part was true. I haven't seen her in a few days because of our schedules. Her pulling those extra shifts always put us on the opposite ends of the day. Plus, I'm not rude. I let her sleep in.

"You've been sleeping for eight hours. I think I gave you enough time." I added.

She yanked off the eye mask and glared at me with her dark eyes. "You are so lucky I love you."

I chuckled softly. "I love you too." I capture her in a tight hug squeezing with all my might. Her once tense posture relaxed completely from my gesture.

"Alright." She let out a soft laugh. "What is it that you really want?" Her attention turning fully to me.

I looked at her with wide innocent eyes trying to stray her away from the mere thought that I could possibly want something.

Which I did. But I couldn't let her know that.

"I just wanted to spend some time with you." I answered. "Especially, since Dad's birthday is coming up." His birthday was a week away and every year around this time I would feel the overwhelming sense of sadness.

Her dark eyes softened. She took the blanket that she was covering with and toss half of it over me. I welcomed the warmness as the room was a bit cold. I snuggled into the blanket as she pulled me into her embrace.

"How about a Hallmark movie marathon?" She asked grabbing the remote off the nightstand and turning on the TV.

"You know my answer is yes. I love those predictable romance movies." I told her adjusting the pillow behind me. As predictable as those movies are, we couldn't help but love them. Cheesy and romantic, knowing that at the end the girl always ends up with the guy and they live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, real life is not so fortunate as a romance movie.

We watched a movie and a half, when our stomachs started to growl with hunger. "I'll go get us something to eat." I offered about to slide off the bed.

My mom stopped me and reached over opening the drawer to her nightstand. She pulled out a huge bag of chips and a bag of chocolate plopping them onto the bed in front of us.

I quirked a brow and she just shrugged her shoulders. Now you see where I get my foodie habits from.

We chomped away at some chips as we watched the movie. "Your dad loved these lazy days." My mom spoke up as I was about to place a chip in my mouth. I looked over to see her eyes filled with sadness as she reminisced on the memories. She truly missed him, every single day. "There's not a day that goes by where I don't think about him."

I knew his death was tough on her. She lost her husband, her love and her best friend. When it first happened, just like all parents, she tried to mask her emotions and put on a brave face for me. Even as a child, I could still pick up on underlying sadness.

"He loved my snack drawer, loved the snacks, but hated the crumbs. He would always complain about the crumbs." She chuckled softly.

My lips filled with a smile. My dad hated a mess.

"I miss him too." I whispered softly. "I'm sure he would have downed this whole bag of chips before I got a chance."

My mom laughed. "Oh yes, he would and the chocolate too."

We fell into a comfortable silence as the TV played in the background. Our minds on one person. "Mom." I called out.

"Mhm." She hummed.

"How was dad in college?" I asked. This seemed like a good segway into his high school days. At least I hoped. I felt guilt starting to settle in the center of my chest. I really didn't want to bring up old memories that may make her upset. But the lingering thought of Dominic DeLuca slightly ate away at my guilt. My parents spoke about their college days on and off, but nothing ever really stood out.

"Outspoken, riveting, hot." She listed out and I scrunched my face at the mention of 'hot'. No one wants to hear someone call their dad hot. She caught sight of my face and chuckled. "He was just another guy on campus, but yet he wasn't. We had the same art class together our sophomore year. Always late to class, but his attention was always fully captured by the lessons when he was there. Always being the first answering the questions and the one to put up an argument when he felt like something wasn't right. We sat a few seats away from each other and every now and again we would make eye contact. Again nothing special, until he displayed all his different artworks. From eye capturing paintings to flawless sculptures. Once everyone caught sight of what he could do, he became the hot topic on campus. I never understood why girls flaunt over guys like that." She popped a few chips in her mouth.

"Until?" I teased her. Did she become one of those girls?

"Until." She drawl and gave me a knowing look. "I was working on my midterm art assignment in the empty classroom late one evening. It was the only time I could get to finish it after the loads of classes I was taking. I was trying to sculp a flower, but the petals were too heavy and kept falling. I was so focused on the project that I didn't noticed when James entered. Until he was right next to my table scaring the living daylight out of me. He stepped up and tried to give some pointers on how to make the petals lighter. I'll never forget the love in his eyes when he looked at art. It was his passion. He helped me out and I offered him a chocolate chip cookie that I had in my backpack as a token of my appreciation. He took it, but also asked for a date. I said yes of course because who wouldn't? And well, the rest is history." A sad smile filled her lips.

I held her hand in my own as a comforting gesture and returned her smile. "Sounds like a romance from a movie."

She chuckled softly. "Something like that. But his true passion was photography and that's what he took up the most. You know his dream was to see one of his pieces displayed."

I nodded. "An impossible dream that was just out of reach." Only if. "Did dad ever talk about high school? I know we've met some of his friends a long time ago."

My mom looked thoughtful for a moment. "Honestly, not as much as you would think. Matthew was the only one your father really kept close and in touch with." She was referring to Mr. Rylan.

"Did he ever mentioned any other friends? Maybe ones he wasn't as close to?" I inquired.

Her face flashed with fluster for a mere a second. If I had blink in that moment I would have missed it. What was that?

She shook her head. "Maybe one or two friends, but no one in particular."

She was lying. I could tell by the slight arch of her brow. The same habit that I inherited from her.

I decided this was not the time to push. If I did, she would get suspicious. "Okay." I told her. "Just curious about dad. I wanted to relive some of his memories." I popped a piece of chocolate into my mouth.

She nodded with a smile. "We can talk about your dad whenever you want. To keep his memory alive."

"Thanks, mom." I returned the smile as we turned our attention back to the movie.

As much as I wanted to fully enjoy the time with mom. I keep thinking about the look on her face when I mentioned my father's other friends.

She's hiding something.

But what is so important to keep it such a secret?

***

Hello loves!

Hope you all enjoyed this chapter! We get some interaction between Leah and her mom. I felt like we needed just bit more of her 😊

Next chapter will be Jace's POV. I hope you all are ready for that!

What do we think Leah's mom is hiding? Is she really hiding something? 👀

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Lisa S.