A/N: A little warning for a bit of offensive language.
“You can’t seriously be okay with letting your daughter live with that woman,” I hounded Huy as we went down the stairs. “How many times have you told me what a terrible mother she was?”
At the bottom of the stairs, Huy rounded on me. “Lay off, Octavia! What I do with my daughter is none of your damned business.”
“Except you’re not doing anything with her,” I said nastily. “Loralee – Watcher, what an awful name – needs to be here with her father and her aunt and uncle. Connor can take care of her when we’re at work.”
Huy snorted and went into the kitchen. “I’m positive he would love that. For your information, I don’t want Loralee living with Camille.”
“So then we need to get her back!” Loralee was my niece. It was bad enough that half of her came from Camille. I had to hope that, if we got to her early enough, she wouldn’t turn out completely useless.
He rolled his eyes at me. “You spent months planning how to break Camille and I up, but you can’t put forth the same effort here?” He poured himself a glass of juice from the fridge. “It’s a good thing one of us has a plan.”
I walked with my date, Anna, into the Blue Velvet. Once again, I bemoaned the lack of choice in Willow Creek. I hated coming back to this nightclub – part of me even still hated Octavia for the set up she’d put on here – but I had to make do. I wasn’t going out of my way to Oasis Springs and nobody would catch me dead in Newcrest.
“Is something wrong?” Anna asked in her sweet voice.
I did my best to push away thoughts of the past and smiled at her. She was such a classically pretty woman. What had I ever wanted with Camille? I should’ve known from day one that she was a dyke just from her hair. Anna was so much prettier. I hoped her personality would match her exterior; we’d only seen each other a couple of times, so I was still getting to know her. “Everything is great. Why don’t we get ourselves some drinks?”
I ordered us each a drink and then herded her to one of the tables, but my thoughts were drawn back to the fight with Octavia. She had no idea how important it was to me to get custody of Loralee. She was my kid, after all! I knew I was the better parent, but there were steps I needed to take to prove that to others. Octavia didn’t understand that and neither did Chastity. Ever since she’d gotten married and had a kid, she thought she knew better than me. She thought Loralee should be with Camille. Anger started to simmer under my skin at the very thought. My own sister!
“Huy?” Anna was looking at me with concern.
“I’m sorry. I’m just thinking about my daughter.” I took a sip of my drink. “I think I mentioned to you that I was married before.” When she nodded, I continued. “We have a daughter together; her name is Loralee. She’s just recently turned three.” I hadn’t been there for her birthday, but I’d sent her a toy and a card. Camille hadn’t invited me, and she made me jump through so many hoops just to be able to get an “appointment” to see my own daughter. I shouldn’t need an appointment!
“Oh, Loralee is a lovely name. Do you see her often?”
I glowered into my drink. “No. Camille hardly ever lets me see her.”
Anna’s mouth turned down in a frown. “That’s terrible!”
Her sympathy made me smile. She understood. “I know, but I’m working hard to get my life in order so I can get custody of my daughter. I’m going to be getting a new place soon.” I hadn’t told Connor or Octavia that. I doubted Connor would care as long as Octavia stayed in the house to keep paying the bills. Octavia, on the other hand, would probably be pissed that I wasn’t planning to live with the two of them.
“That’s good.” She smiled softly. “I know it’s not ‘cool’ now, but I’ve always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I don’t understand how any mother could want to spend her days away from her children.”
I looked at Anna with an appraising eye. Perfect. “I couldn’t agree more.”