An excerpt for the holidays from my fall release Second Chances…I love exploring family dynamics in my books, often with flawed characters like in the upcoming Lucid Dreaming. ‘Family’ doesn’t always come easyBut Dawn Banks is blessed that way. In this scene, Dawn is having a heart to heart with her ‘rock’, her ‘mum’… hope you’ll enjoy!
“Hello dear,” my mother said, as I flung the front door open and fell into her arms. She smelt of talcum powder and her usual lily perfume that was a constant over the years. Hugging her felt like home.
Dressed in caramel floating cotton slacks, and a crisp white shirt, with a hint of golden accessories, mum looked like she always did, groomed yet comfortable. She was someone who took pride in her appearance, but without the pride. I smiled, pulling away and meeting her gaze.
“You look wonderful, dear. How are things?”
“OK,”I said. It was an understatement seeing I was positively glowing from all that had transpired in the last twenty-four hours, but nevertheless I didn’t exactly want to blow mum’s mind. She was just getting used to my single status, to the move, having us all back within easy reach, even Claudia had got a flat nearby for when she was in town. My parents lived about a twenty minute drive away, and were loving the proximity to the grand-kids.
“You look more than OK, sweetheart! Good news at work?”
“No news per say, but everyone has been really supportive,” I said, taking the paper parcel from mum’s hands. It smelt like her speciality, coconut macaroons. I shot her a knowing glance.
“You said tea, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did, but that didn’t translate to you having to bake.”
“In your mind maybe, but where I come from things are different.”
I chuckled, following mum into the kitchen and placing the still warm parcel on the center island, while I delved underneath in search of a plate. Mum meanwhile had taken out the teapot and was busy rummaging through my tea collection.
“Where’s the Earl Grey? I mean, I see every kinda of exotic option, but the staples my child!” My mother teased with a shake of her head.
“It’s at the back on the right.”
Bypassing my considerable yoga tea selection and other herbal concoctions, she sighed when her hand landed on the familiar box of Twinings.
I smiled, reaching for two mugs, before remembering and heading for the cup and saucers on the third shelf. The fine cutlery only really ever got a showing when mum was around. To me, drinking tea from a mug or a cup and saucer was neither here nor there. Mum, on the other hand, believed in doing things properly. Where’s your sense of occasion, was her favorite one-liner.
“So, how are you doing?”
My body warmed, as I turned to face her. I wondered if she’d notice. Mum was known for her radar, but she wasn’t even entertaining the possibility of me having met someone, understandably so.
“I’m actually really well mum. No really,” I answered her raised eyebrow.
“Well, I hope so. How was it this weekend?”
“Fun. I ended up having a girly shopping spree with Anya on Saturday, and the night out was a blast. We couldn’t watch here ’cause the cable needs fixing,” I explained, as the kettle clicked and mum poured the boiling water into the teapot, before bringing it over to the center island and pulling up a stool.
“That’s wonderful, honey! Your father was on my case about watching the game with him last night, and you know what? Half-way through the first half, he was asleep, snoring next to me like no tomorrow, but I’d gotten so caught up in it, I ended up watching right to the end! You can believe that?”
I grinned. They were so cute. My parents had been together for so long, they were like salt and pepper, or honey and lemon…some blends just worked well, enhanced things, made the other half better, sweeter, more palatable. They were the kind of couple, who knew what the other was thinking before the question was asked, finishing each others sentences and knowing each others limits. It was a high-bar for any relationship, but I couldn’t deny that secretly I always wanted to find their special kind of spice. If only because I knew it existed. I’d lived it through them.
I thought I’d found it with Keith, but then…
“What you thinking ’bout?” Mum asked, pouring out the tea.
“Awww…nothing,” I smiled.
“Dawn, let me tell you something. Trying to fool me with a scrunched-up forehead, has never worked and will never work. Come on, out with it? Did Keith call?”
“I’m really doing fine mum. But, yes, he called. Had a brief conversation on Sunday. He sounded tired, grueling tour, was missing the kids that kind of thing,” my voice trailed, as I released a sigh. No matter how much I tried to fight it. Keith still felt part of me, like he was enmeshed with my DNA. Who was I kidding? Sean or no Sean, it would take a long time to relinquish that.
“And you? Was he missing you?”
“He mentioned something to that effect.”
Gladys Banks harrumphed, as she brought the porcelain cup to her lips. “The problem with that man is he’s too immature. He wouldn’t know commitment if it bit him on the ass.”
“Mum! He’s not that bad. He’s more than done well for himself. It’s just a very different lifestyle to what you’re used to.”
“Different huh? No, honey, I disagree. Where children are concerned, this drifting, arty-farty nonsense needs to be contained. Don’t you think I sacrificed? Don’t you think your father did? It’s not just about following a dream, or the money. It’s also about being there. Seeing the moments when they happen, rather than in reported speech!”
A certain part of me knew mum was right. But another part of me wanted to defend Keith! He was more than good at what he did, and he had always done a great job in supporting his family. Besides, the lack of a firm commitment, like what my mother described, a firm marriage, was as much my fault as it was his. In all fairness, Keith had proposed several times over the years, and presented me with ring after ring, each one more glorious than the one before. Still, I’d stalled.
A part of me wanted to claim him as mine, while another part of me was chicken-shit scared about what that meant. I would’ve been the wife, the object of his female fan’s attention, and scorn. I hated the whole groupie culture, but I was happy to live with it for as long as I had the feeling of independence knowing I could walk away. If truth be told, I guess it was my own defence mechanism, I’d built up over the years.
“You’re right mum, but I also respect the band, their achievements, and to be fair, he was there as much as he could be. And when he was, he was truly present. He loves his kids mum.”
“I know that, love. If only he wasn’t so…selfish.”
“Many creative people just are. And, it’s not because he intends to be. He’s just possessed by something bigger than him, something…”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t believe I’m hearing this bullshit spill from your pretty mouth! He cheated on you, honey? And allowed you to walk away with his kids without sufficient apology. You have to entertain the possibility that you were wrong about him. Were in too deep. Couldn’t see the wood from the trees…”
“Alright, alright, I get it,” I sighed. “Maybe, but I’m wiser now, getting happier too. And, I’ve made a promise to myself to not make those kind of ‘doormat‘ mistakes again. I’m looking for a partnership from now on mum. Like you and dad. The real deal.”
“Now, that’s my girl,” Gladys beamed.