Font Size:  

“Hola.” I skip over to them. I have grown up with these two women and love them like family. My mother is not an easy woman to work for, so I always make sure they know how much I appreciate them.

“Hola. Happy Birthday, my beautiful girl.” Maria drops the bags on the counter, pulling me into a warm hug.

“Thank you.” Turning, I hug Letty, who hands me a small wrapped present.

I’m touched. “You two shouldn’t have,” and I mean that. I have more than any fifteen-year-old could ever want or need. But this little gift means they care. My eyes well with tears.

“It isn’t much, but we love you and it’s a special day.” Maria winks at me.

A loud gasp fills the room, “Oh… mi amor, these are so magnificent. From Mr. Reed, yes?” Letty praises my flowers, her fingers fluttering over the roses. She loves Reed.

“Yes, Letty, from Reed.” It’s impossible to stop my goofy smile.

“Jesus,” Tilly breathes out. “I don’t think I have ever seen anything that spectacular. Your boyfriend sent you these?”

Starting to feel self-conscious, I wonder, what must this woman think?

“He likes to spoil me.”

“Uh, yeah, he does. They smell amazing.” Her whole face is almost engulfed in them.

Brance chokes on his coffee. “Spoil is a nice way of saying her boyfriend is obsessed, lucky bitch!” He pinches my butt as he walks by, and I squeal. “Come on, my beauties. Let’s go find Momma Bear.”

I smirk at him as he walks by. “You’re fantastic, you know that, right?”

“Undoubtedly. Wait until you see the dress I’ve picked for you tonight. As soon as Reed sees you, he will fall at your feet and pledge his undying love for you.” Placing his hand on his heart, he drops it and dryly demands for me to go take a shower.

“Thank God, I had the good sense to make you get waxed a couple of days ago,” he mumbles.

“Yes, master, or should I call you sir?”

His eyes twinkle. “Oh, I think master is fine. Have you had breakfast yet?”

“Here it is.” Posing, I hold up my cup as if it’s a gourmet meal.

“That will never do.” Pulling out his phone, he starts ordering tons of pastries from the bakery down the street. He knows it’s my favorite. I happily follow Brance into my bedroom, letting him take charge. He hangs up and sighs, hands on his hips as he studies me. “Music, please!”Four hours later, I stare at my mom, and I’m not exaggerating—I might fall to my knees and pledge my undying devotion to Brance and Tilly. They have taken a skinny woman who looks as though she had a stroke and somehow magically taped up her eye so that she looks normal. Tilly’s makeup skills are brag worthy. She went with pretty pastels. My mom appears softer, younger. Brance has straightened her bleached-blond hair stick straight and parted it in the middle.

The last piece of putting my mother together is getting her into the dress.

Brance unzips the garment bag and pulls out a lavender ruffled, skintight ball gown, with a full-length train.

My phone rings. Glancing at my mother, I reach for it. It’s my father calling. I haven’t heard from him in a week or so. Last time we talked, he promised to make it to my party. Then he and my mom had a horrible fight, so I haven’t been holding my breath.

“I will be right back to help you guys,” I say. “Put her in that.” I motion to the couture gown.

“We’ve got it.” Tilly nods. “She does better with us anyway.” It’s the truth. I wince at her easy acceptance of it. A complete stranger has our relationship figured out, right down to the way my mother’s mood swings seesaw up and down when she’s with me.

“Hello,” I say back into the phone, shutting my bedroom door and stepping into the gold hallway. Yes, my mother heard gold was going to be this year’s fall color. Also, she thinks it means royalty. So, gold it is.

“Tess, it’s your father.” His voice is curt, with no affection at all. My heart hurts talking to him.

“Hi, Daddy.” My tone matches his. God. It’s painful dealing with my parents.

“I’m not going to make it tonight… wait hold on a second, Tess.” He starts talking to someone else. Unbelievable! Why do I even care? I have the most self-absorbed parents alive. Staring down at my nails, the urge to start picking at my polish is great. But a quick thought of Brance’s horror squashes that.

I have no idea why my dad keeps up this charade of calling me once a week.

He left! And, obviously he’s not coming back. I used to be close with him—he was my hero. Now I see his number and groan. He hates Reed, and frankly it’s started to wear me out. Ignoring him is so much easier. His negative views about my looks, style, manners, and intelligence are endless. Not to mention his OCD is frightful. The thought that he could have passed that on to me haunts me.

Articles you may like