Of Blood and Bone (Page 13)

Of Blood and Bone (The Minaldi Legacy #1)(13)
Author: Courtney Cole

“If I do, I’ll call you,” I assure her.  “Go.  You deserve a break.”

She nods and slips away and I decide to just get this over with.

I find my mother curled on her side on a sofa.  She is partially covered with a cashmere throw and her dark eyes are fixed in front of her, staring at nothing.  She is small and slight, and the only things I have inherited from her are her dark eyes.  My father’s were green.

I sit down in the chair next to her.

“Mother, how are you feeling today?”

I have to force the words.  I honestly have no wish to speak with her.

She doesn’t answer and at first, I am hopeful that I can simply sit here in silence with her and then slip out unnoticed.

I have no such luck.

Her dark eyes turn toward me, slowly and eerily.  I fight the shivers that ripple up my spine.  She is a small woman, this woman who gave birth to me.  There is no need to feel such trepidation around her.  Yet, I do.  When she looks at me, she sees through me, to the very depths of me.  No one else can do that and it shakes the hell out of me.

“You came back.”

Her words are throaty and simple.

“I always do, mother,” I tell her.  I start to reach for her hand, but change my mind.  I am safer over here. I don’t want to feel her skin.  She will feel like ice, as she always does.

She turns her head more and now she is looking at me squarely.  Her eyes are lucid and clear today and I wonder at what she is thinking.

I do not have to wonder for long.

“You left me here with that bitch.  You don’t love me.”

I sigh.  My mother doesn’t have Alzheimer’s.  But she does have a wretched form of dementia that causes her to be cruel.

“She’s not a bitch, mother.  Sophia is good to you.  You should be nicer to her.”

My mother sniffs and then delicately sits up, her dark hair tumbling over her shoulders.  I eye her warily. She could fly into motion at any time.

She watches my hesitation and her mouth stretches into a grotesque smile.

“You are afraid of me?” she asks.  And her voice is ragged and edgy in this quiet room, this giant room that feels so much like a mausoleum.  “Little Lukey, are you afraid of your mother?”

I steel myself against her and I can’t help but resent her.  She sometimes called me Lukey as a boy.  Sometimes it was lovingly and sometimes it was mockingly.  Even back then, you never knew what you were going to get with her. One moment she was kind and the very next, she was bitter and cold. The constant was that she was always detached.  She never wanted to get that close to me, which might be exactly the reason why I do not feel close to her now.   

“No.  I’m not afraid of you, mother.  Is there a reason why I should be?”

As soon as I ask the question, as soon as the words pass my lips, I know it was a mistake.  A light ignites in her eyes, an eerie, unnatural light, and I unconsciously lean away from her.

“Why, yes,” she answers.  “Yes, there is, Lukey.  You should always fear me because I know what you are.”

And then she opens her mouth and begins to scream and twist and rock in her seat and I grit my teeth.  This is the mother that I know now, the one who may or may not be feigning insanity.  This is my life and she is but a piece of it.  I close my eyes and let her scream.

Chapter Seven


What should I wear?

I ask myself this question as I look into my small closet.  It’s not that big of a question, because it’s not that big of a closet.  I didn’t bring a lot of clothing.  I choose a simple pair of khaki shorts, a black button up shirt and a pair of black slip-ons.  I pull my hair into a low ponytail and slide on some lip-gloss.  When in doubt, always go with a classic look.  It’s something my mother taught me and it’s always held true.

I check the time.  6:55.  Adrian should be here any moment.

For some reason, I feel a little nervous.  It’s silly, but true.  I haven’t had time for dates in so long, first because of medical school, then because of my residency.  My personal life took a hard hit, I’ll be the first to admit it.  And even though I’m not truly interested in Adrian, at least not long term, it will still be nice to sit down with someone charming for a dinner.  And that makes me nervous because I’m out of practice.  I’ll have to make an effort not to psycho-analyze him.  Men tend to dislike that, if my memory serves me correctly.

There is a knock at the door and I glance at the clock.  6:59.  He’s right on time, early in fact.

I open the door and Adrian is smiling at me already.

“Hi,” he says easily.  And he hands me a bouquet of wildflowers. I laugh, because I recognize them from my own lawn.

“These look familiar,” I tell him.  “So you have good taste.”

He laughs too because he knows he’s been caught.  “It’s the thought that counts, right?” he tells me.  “I’m sorry.  I just left work.  I wanted to stop and get you flowers, but I didn’t want to be late.”

“Now that is a quandary,” I agree.  “Just a second, let me put these in water.”

“You look lovely,” he calls from behind me as I turn and leave the room.

“Thank you,” I call back over my shoulder.

I grab a tall glass because I can’t find a vase and I fill it with water, then set the flowers on the table.

“I’m ready,” I tell him as I grab my purse.

“After you,” he bows low at the door, exaggerated and gentlemanly.  I have to laugh again.  There is something about Adrian’s easy manner that is just so likeable.  We laugh and chat all the way to Marianne’s and when we walk through the door, she greets us with a warm smile.

“Mia bella,” she says as she kisses my cheeks.  “I see you’ve met our resident rogue!” And then she kisses Adrian’s cheeks too.

“Don’t listen to Marianne,” Adrian tells me in an exaggerated stage-like whisper. “It’s all unfounded rumor. I am no such thing.”

“Pish,” she tells him.  “You’ve left more broken hearts behind you than a street-sweeper.  You had better not hurt my new little friend.”

“Me?” And Adrian looks completely offended and puzzled.  “I would never.  And besides.  Since when does a street-sweeper break hearts?”