I paced the length of the hall, worrying my lower lip between my teeth. Mama was downstairs in her office working on Witchly VI. Mom would be home any minute. And today was the day. I had to tell them.
My stomach roiled at the very thought.
I had put this conversation off for as long as I possibly could. In just seven days, Tommy would land at Newcrest Airport and come to stay with us. Asking my parents if he could stay here while he found his own place had been easy; telling them that I’d be leaving with him was much, much more challenging.
You’ve just got to spit it out. Yeah, well, easier said than done. I’d been saying that to myself since my nineteenth birthday in February, yet look how much progress I’d made.
I paced back to the landing just in time to hear the front door open. Okay, Lor, nut up or shut up. I swallowed hard and walked down the stairs, forcing a smile through my nerves. “Hey, how was lunch?
“Good.” She smiled. “Caleb is so adorable. Hads never stopped raving about him.”
I shifted my weight nervously on my feet. “Mom, I need to talk to you and Mama. Could we sit down upstairs?”
A frown creased her face. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I just – I just need to talk to you guys, okay?”
“Are you sure nothing’s wrong?”
I nodded firmly. “Yeah. I’m just going to get Mama, okay?” I turned and practically ran to her office. Now that I’d started this, I just wanted to get it over with.
I knocked on the door before stepping inside. “Mama?”
She turned away from her work, smiling at me. “Hey, baby. What’s up?”
“I need to talk to you and Mom. Will you come upstairs with me?”
She started on the same “what’s wrong?” questions Mom had asked, only she was more tenacious. It was at least ten more minutes before I finally had the both of them seated on the sofa upstairs.
Now or never.
“Okay, so…” I shifted back on forth on my feet. “You know how Tommy is coming. And I think I told you how he wants to move to Oasis Springs.”
Mama frowned deeply. “Yes, of course. What’s that got to do with anything?”
I swallowed hard. “Well, when I was in Windenburg, he asked me to go with him. And I said yes. Tommy and I are going to move in together. In Oasis Springs.”
For a single heartbeat, they both simply stared at me in shock. Then the levee broke and Mama burst up from the couch, her eyes blazing. “You are doing no such thing!”
Immediately, I went on the defensive, my spine going ramrod straight as I squared my shoulders. “Yes, I am.”
“No, you’re not. Because I forbid it! You’re not moving to Oasis Springs. You’re only nineteen years old, Loralee! Just barely out of high school. There is no way I’m letting you do this.”
“Camille,” Mom started in a conciliatory tone. “You can’t forbid her. She’s an adult now. This is her decision to make.”
Mom paced around the landing. “Fine! Then I’ll cut her off.” She rounded on me. “If you do this, don’t expect any help from us. No money, no car, nothing.”
Though tears of anger and hurt burned my eyes, I refused to let them fall and just glared at her. “I don’t need your money! Tommy and I both have money saved. And he’s going to be a cop, and I’m already looking for restaurant jobs. I’ll be just fine without you!”
“It’s not as easy as you think to make it alone, Loralee Jeanne Casillas Thoreau. You’ll beg to move back home inside a year.”
“Camille.” Mom stood up and took her wife’s arm. “We aren’t cutting her off. You can’t punish her for wanting to live her own life.”
Mama threw her hands up. “I can’t talk to either of you. This is a mistake, Loralee.” She stormed off, disappearing down the stairs.
Mom sighed softly. “I’ll talk to her. You know she doesn’t mean any of that.” When I just shrugged, she sighed again. “I have to ask, are you sure about this? Have you really thought it through?”
“Yes, I have! I didn’t just rush into this. I’ve thought about it a lot. I’ve been saving more and reading about Oasis Springs. This is what I want.”
Mom walked over and hugged me. “Then you’ve got me behind you.” She gave me a firm squeeze. “Now, I’m going to go talk to your mother. She’ll see sense soon.”
I wasn’t so sure of that, but I didn’t say anything as Mom headed down the stairs. I walked off to my room. I’d show Mama. Tommy and I were going to be just fine on our own.
I paced the confines of my office. As soon as I’d shut the door after myself, all of my anger had evaporated, giving way to fear and even hurt.
I knew I was being an enormous bitch. I don’t think I’d ever spoken to my daughter like that before in all nineteen years of her life. I knew I’d overreacted.
But, really, what on Earth was she thinking? Moving in with a boy at nineteen in a strange city! When I’d moved to Newcrest, I was coming from a difficult home. My own mother had never really been there. I’d been fending for myself since I was a teenager. I’d planned my move for years – I hadn’t just up and done it on a whim. And I sure as hell hadn’t done it for a boy. Loralee just wasn’t mature enough for this.
I sighed and dropped down onto the ratty old couch, running my hands through my hair. I wasn’t being entirely fair, was I? It wasn’t just Loralee. It was me, too. How could I possibly let her go? She was my baby. This was her home. I’d hoped she’d want to stay here, raise her own family here. Oasis Springs was so far. If she was going to move out, why couldn’t she stay in Newcrest?
I looked up to find Shirley looking down at me. I hadn’t even heard her come in. “I really don’t want to talk right now.”
My wife sat down and slid her arm around my waist. “Tough.” She kissed my shoulder.
I sighed, leaning back against the couch. “I know, I know. I’m a raging bitchmonster from hell.”
She smiled and stroked my hair back. “Yeah, but I know you didn’t mean it. I don’t want her to leave, either.”
“Why can’t she just stay little and cute forever? Luc, too.”
“Because, unfortunately, life goes on.”
I leaned my head on her shoulder. “I didn’t think this day was going to come so fast. She’s so young, Shirley. She’s just a baby.”
“She’s not a baby anymore, Camille. We’ve got to let her do this. And we’ve got to support her. Cutting her off, forbidding her – all that’s going to do is drive her further away.”
I sighed deeply and rubbed the bridge of my nose. “I know. Logically, I know that. But I don’t want her to go. I want her to stay here forever.” Most parents wanted their children to spread their wings and fly or whatever, but I’d be perfectly happy if Loralee and Luc lived here forever. It wasn’t like we didn’t have the space.
“Me too. But she wants to go.”
I turned into my wife and held her tightly. “I just don’t want her to get hurt. She’s rushing into this, I know she is. She doesn’t know what it’s really like to be on her own.”
“I know. I’m worried for her too. We can’t control her, though. If she’s going to make a mistake, we have to let her. We can’t protect her from everything.” She smiled gently. “And, who knows? This might work out.”
“You’re entirely too optimistic. What on earth do I even see in you?” I smiled, leaning away as she dug her elbow into my side. “I guess I need to go apologize to her.”
“Think so, yeah.”
I sighed and got up. “Watcher help me if Luc decides to run off to Bridgeport.”