“Yes, I did.” He leaned over to me and kissed me, then said, “I’m supposed to work my shift tonight, but I could get Widow to cover for me.”
“No, Rafe. You don’t need to do that. I’m fine. I just need a little time to wrap my head around all this, and it’s best if I do that alone.”
“Absolutely, but thanks for offering.”
“I’m here for you, babe.”
“I know, and it means the world to me.”
Rafe stood as he said, “I’ll be back after my shift. Should be around one.
“Okay, that sounds good.”
I got up and followed him over to the door. He gave me another kiss, long and full of much-needed tenderness, and then said, “This doesn’t change who you are, Marlowe. You’re still the same amazing woman you’ve always been. Don’t forget that.”
After one last peck goodbye, he was gone, leaving me alone with my thoughts. I considered wallowing a bit longer, but the more I sat there thinking things over, the angrier I became. I found myself remembering all the times I was made to feel like an outsider, especially by my mother. All the hugs and kisses she would give to Kate, whereas I rarely received any attention at all unless I practically begged for it, and even then, Mom’s hugs were cold and distant. I could remember one night in particular when I was sick with a virus.
I was only about nine or ten and had gotten sick in the bed. Panicked, I called out for Mom. It was late, well past everyone’s bedtime, and it was clear from the way she staggered into my bedroom that Mom was still half-asleep. “What’s wrong?”
“I got sick.” I motioned my hand over to the soiled spot on the bed as I muttered, “I’m sorry, Momma.”
“Oh, Christ, Marlowe.” She stomped over to me and jerked me out of bed, then quickly started pulling off all the bedding. “Why didn’t you get up and go to the damn bathroom?”
“I tried, momma, but I didn’t make it in time.” I hated seeing her so upset with me and desperately wanted to fix it. “I’m really sorry.”
“You can be sorry all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that you made such a mess.” When she finished removing the sheets, she looked over to me and grumbled. “Change out of those pajamas, and if you feel sick again, go to the damn bathroom.”
With a heavy heart, I watched as my mother, the one person who was supposed to love and take care of me unconditionally, gathered my bedding in her arms and stormed furiously out of the room. I was starting to change my pajamas when my stomach turned sour once again, and I knew I was about to get sick. Not wanting to make another mess, I rushed into the bathroom where I spent the rest of the night alone, dealing with the worst stomach bug I’d ever encountered. The next morning, I awoke with my face pressed against the cool tile of the bathroom floor. My head was pounding, and every muscle in my body ached as I pulled myself up to a sitting position. I considered calling out to Mom for help, but then I remembered how angry she was with me and decided against it.
I finally managed to get back to my room and crawled into bed where I remained for the rest of the day. The only time I laid eyes on my mother was when she came to put the clean sheets on my bed. There were no kind words of encouragement or care. She just made the bed and said, “You need to drink something, Marlie. You don’t want to get dehydrated.”
With that, she left me again and didn’t return. Not even once.
If it had been Kate who was sick, my mother would’ve doted on her all night, making sure she had everything she could possibly need. So yeah, even if it was just some silly stomach bug, it hurt that she’d showed such little feelings for me. Thinking about that night had me reaching for my cell phone. I dialed my mother’s number, and as soon as she answered, I asked, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what, dear?”
“That I was adopted.” The line was suddenly filled with dead air. Her silence was a clear indication she didn’t know Kate had revealed their dirty, little secret. “Kate told me everything. I know you and Dad aren’t my biological parents. What I don’t know is why you never told me.”
“I didn’t see any point in bringing up the matter.”
“You didn’t see any point? Are you kidding me?” I snapped. “You’ve lied to me for years, and for what? So, you could continue to hurt me?”
“I’ve never intentionally tried to hurt you, Marlowe.” She used my full name—a sign she was becoming upset with me. “I did the best I could under the circumstances.”