I'm shaking a little and I'm pretty sure it's only partly
because of the chill in the air. My breathing is coming out short
and sharp, making me feel light headed but I can't seem to stop.
I jump a little when Tom wraps his hand around mine. I blink up
at him. He can sense my distress, I can see it in his eyes.
"Ready?" he asks. I nod. He takes a steadying breath and knocks on my mum's front door. Before she answers, I drop Tom's hand.
The door swings open and my mum looks surprised to see us. Surprised. That's an emotion I can work with. After the initial shock of seeing us both on her doorstep, she smiles.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?" she says, leaning against the doorframe and folding her arms across her chest.
"Hey mum." I smile.
She smiles back and turns to Tom. He gives her a pleasant nod. "Sharon."
"Just here to say hello? Because it looks to me like you both have something on your mind."
Tom looks at me as if to say, 'do you want me to tell her?' I shake my head an turn back to my mum who is looking back at me expectantly.
"I bumped into dad," I start.
Her light eyebrow arches. "Oh?"
"Yeah. We went out for a meal."
"We as in, the both of you?" She gestures to Tom.
"Yeah, Tom came too."
Her eyebrows lift. "Oh wow."
"Yeah," I laugh awkwardly. "It was okay. We just didn't mention…y'know?"
"That Tom and I dated before he snatched you up?"
There was nothing unpleasant in her tone but it still made me shudder.
"And I see why. That would be an awkward conversation."
"He wants to see you too, mum. He wants us all to go out for a meal together." I glance at Tom. He's just stood with a casual smile.
She looks at me curiously. "Why the hell would he want to do that?"
"Because he misses you, Sharon."
We both turn to Tom. He shows a wry smile. "Like I always knew he did."
My mum's eyes soften as she inspects Tom's face. I don't like it. It looks too familiar. Like the way she always looked at him when they were together. "What?" she asks.
"There is unfinished business between you two. I always knew it. He misses you, Sharon, just like you miss him."
I feel awkward. Part of me wants to leave. Why do I feel like the third wheel here?
My mum sighs a laugh. "And you think if we have a meal together it'll sort everything out? Like I would just forgive him for choosing to leave me and my daughter alone while he went off to build up his business?"
My skin tingles when Tom slots his fingers between mine. I squeeze his hand a little but his eyes are still on my mum. "We're saying it could be a start."
My mum looks to both of us, clearly unconvinced.
"And what about you?" She looks back to Tom. "How am I supposed to try and rebuild my train wreck of a marriage if my ex has a ringside seat?"
"We were hoping you wouldn't mention that bit," says Tom politely.
"But it's bound to come up. I know Joe's had people spying on me. They are not all that subtle. If things all work out, he's going to find out eventually. I think he even knows your name."
"Tom is a common name," I rush.
My mum glances at me.
"We can cross that bridge when we come to it." Tom shows an optimistic smile.
My mum sighs and rolls her eyes. "So, when is this meal then?"
"Tomorrow night," I say. "Does that mean you're coming?"
"Why not? It'll be good to know why Joe felt the need to go through all this trouble to see me when he could have just picked up a phone and called."
"Great." I grin. "I'll text you the time and place."
"Great." She smiles. "I'll see you two tomorrow then."
Tom nods with a smile. "It was nice to see you, Sharon."
"You too." My mum almost blushes. "Bye."
"Bye mum," I say before she closes the door.
Tom and I head down the driveway. "See, that wasn't so bad," he says.
"Let's hope tomorrow runs as smoothly," I reply with a growing knot in my stomach.
"I have a question," says Trish after I explain what's
going to happen tonight. I assort the glasses behind the bar
while she pretends to wipe down the laminated menus.
"Are you out of your mind?"
I laugh and turn so I'm facing her. Her emerald eyes are wide and on me. "It's a serious question. That is an awful idea. You know that, right?"
I shrug helplessly. She huffs and throws her cloth dramatically onto the bar.
"You, Tom, your mum and your dad sat round a table making small talk? How could that possibly work?"
I cringe at the thought. "I just want to help my dad."
"Screw him. He left you and your mum. Let him wallow in self-pity."
"What?" She places her hand on her hip and starts waggling her finger at me. She's on a roll. "I was there by your side when he left. I was there to pick up the pieces. I know what him leaving did to you, Eb. I know you try to convince yourself that it was for the best but he is your dad and he put you and your mum second. That's not right. I know I said that you shouldn't be mad at him but that doesn't mean that I can't be. The guy's a dick."
Everything she said was true. My dad really hurt me. Hurt us both. But what person doesn't want their mum and dad get back together? Sure, if he was abusive I'd tell her to run a mile but my dad is a decent guy. He just made the wrong choice.
Forgive and forget. That's my new motto.
"I just want my mum to be happy," I say in a small voice and turn back to the glasses.
"With your dad?"
"So that you can stop feeling guilty about stealing Tom from her?"
My heart plummets. I spin round to her. "What?"
She lifts her palms up to me, surrendering. "I'm just saying. It's true, isn't it? I've known you long enough to know what you're thinking."
The back of my eyes start to burn. I gulp and look down when I can tell that my eyes are reddening. "I just want us to be a family again."
"I know you do, hun. And I honestly hope it all goes well for you. You're my best friend and I love you."
I laugh lightly. "I love you too."