Twice in a Blue Moon

Page 82

“Will you still see your dad for Christmas?” She smooths one my shirts on the bedspread, folds it into perfect thirds, and places it on top of the stack.

I pick at the hem of my sweatpants. “We left the farm as if everything was okay but . . . I don’t think so.”

She gives me a sad smile. “I’m sorry, hon.”

With a groan, I fall back against one of the pillows. The cotton is cool against the back of my neck. “I don’t really know why I’m surprised.”

“Because he’s your dad. He should be better than that.”

I shrug, feeling oddly numb. “Yeah, but he’s always shown me exactly who he is, and I just never want to believe it.” I give myself to the count of ten to feel sorry for myself before I sit up, crossing my legs. “I might have a shitty dad, but I have a fantastic freaking mom. Some people don’t even get that. I’m not complaining.”

Mom gives me a sweet little grin and leans forward to press a quick kiss to my forehead. “If I hadn’t met him, there wouldn’t be a you. It’s hard to regret it, but I’m sorry that you have to deal with the same egotistical jackass I left all those years ago. Heaven forbid he grow up a little.” Straightening again, she reaches for another shirt. “Have you talked to Nana?”

Oof. Guilt shimmers through me, and I shake my head. “I’m worried she’s going to give me a mountain of I-told-you-so’s and a prolonged silent treatment.”

“I don’t think so. I think she’s worried about you, but in typical Mom fashion, she hasn’t wanted to talk much about it because you know as well as I do that she isn’t one to relish the I-told-you-so’s.”

I know Mom is right that Nana doesn’t relish it, per se, but it would still be first thing on her tongue. She barely forgave me for London. Her disapproval was as quiet as Nana herself, but it’s always been there—in the slight angle away from me when my career comes up or the long exhale and slowly raised coffee cup to her lips when a trailer for one of Dad’s films comes on the television.

“This is going to make a mess for her, too,” I say, and then groan, falling back against the pillow again. “People are going to come into the café again and ask her for pictures. There’s nothing Nana hates more than covert iPhone pictures people take of her in the café.”

Mom laughs at the image of this. “Well, she needs to retire anyway.” Mom nudges me off the bed. “She came down here to see you, so go talk to her. And go eat something,” she calls after me. “Life goes on.”

Charlie is sitting on my kitchen counter, eating a piece of the blackberry pie Nana brought down from Guerneville. Other than the iPhone near Charlie’s hip, it is an image so immediately familiar it’s almost easy to forget that we’re thirty-two and not sixteen.

I look out the window with a view of the long, immaculate driveway. The entrance is blocked by a fifteen-foot-tall iron gate, and surrounded by trees and shrubbery, but I can still see a few photographers pacing just on the other side. I count four of them. One looks like he’s eating an apple. Another is telling a story, gesticulating wildly. They’re chatting so casually; they’re more like coworkers hanging out in a break room than paparazzi stalking me.

“They still out there?” Nana asks from the kitchen table. I glance over just as she straightens the already-neat rows of playing cards in front of her.

“They’ll hover for days.” Charlie groans around a bite of pie.

I shake my head, wanting to refute this, but my words come out thin and reedy. “I bet they’ll get bored and leave soon.”

Nana peers at me over the tops of thick glasses as if to say, Do you think I was born yesterday?

Sensing the tension, Charlie hops off the counter. “I’m gonna shower.” She plugs in her phone, flipping it facedown. It occurs to me she’s been glaring at it off and on. Whatever she’s seeing, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. “Let me know if something happens,” she says on her way out.

Reaching for the kettle, I fill it with water and turn on the stove. “Nana, do you want some tea?”

“I’ll have tea if you’ll stay away from that window and come sit down.”

I take the seat next to her.

“Where’s your mom?” she asks.

“She was doing laundry,” I say. “Most of it’s already washed, but you know how she is.”

Nana scoops the cards together and shuffles them between her hands. These are the hands that taught me how to make pies, that put on Band-Aids after I fell, and helped me learn to tie my shoes. They look so different now than they did then. Her hands used to be smooth, strong, and capable. Now her joints are swollen with arthritis, her skin marked by age.

“She does like her laundry,” Nana says, “but mostly I think she likes to keep busy.”

I grin at her. “Sounds like someone else I know.”

She laughs as she continues to shuffle the cards. “I don’t know. I’ve learned to enjoy the quiet times. Definitely not up making pies at four in the morning like I used to be.”

I’m grateful that Nana and Mom have an apprentice of sorts—a younger woman named Kathy and her cousin Sissy—taking over much of the responsibility of the café. But mention of the nana I grew up with knocks the words loose inside me. “I’m sorry about all this,” I say. “About what’s happening outside . . . and before.”

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