I wake up in the afternoon once again. Truthfully, Charls and I did wake up earlier, but we wore ourselves out with our romantic “liaisons” as Lizzie would say, that we feel right back asleep.
I look over at Charls who is sleeping so peacefully that I don’t want to wake him. I give him a kiss on his forehead and then make my side of the bed.
I then go into the bathroom and fill my tub with hot bath water. Slipping inside, I sigh with satisfaction. It has been a long time since I have actually taken a long soak. Boy have I missed it.
I enjoy soaking for twenty minutes before noticing my fingers starting to prune. I definitely can’t have that. I quickly step out and dry off.
I touch up myself in front of the mirror and then run a brush through my gold locks. Although I decided to give myself a country girl kind of look for this fall, I am thinking about changing it up a bit for this quarter. Now that I am going to be a sorority leader for the Beta Gamma Kappas, I think it might be time to spice myself up a bit. Perhaps a day of shopping was in order.
I run into my mother as I enter the kitchen. She is all dressed up for a day at home instead of work.
“Hey mom, no work today?”
She shakes her head. “Nope. Today is my day off. What do you think about doing some Christmas shopping? You think your future hubby will mind staying at home for the day?”
“Mom! Stop calling him that! One step at a time! Goodness!”
I grab a plate of waffles from the fridge and then take a seat at the counter. “That does sound nice though. I was thinking about doing a little shopping anyway. Do you mind if Lizzie and her mom come along? We haven’t done a girl’s day out shopping trip in a while.”
My mother hesitates, but then nods. “Sure. I guess I don’t see why not.”
I thank her and then finish my waffles, before washing my plate and giving Lizzie a call.
Lizzie doesn’t answer, so I decide I will give her another call later. While my mom eats her brunch, I head into the living room to continue painting. I hum to myself softly as I stroke my brush across the page.
My mother then calls to me, saying she needs to run a quick errand and will be back in a couple hours for us to go shopping. Not that I really paid too much attention to her, or the time she was gone. I get so into my painting that I barely notice the time fly by. The sun slowly beings to set and I continue to sweep different colors of paint across my canvas.
I am so in the zone that I jump when my mother suddenly calls my name from behind.
“It’s just me Abby, geez!” She says with a little chuckle. “You really zone out when you’re painting.”
I shrug. “What can I say, I am one with my art.”
“All right miss Van Gogh,” she says with a grin, “I think we should go before it gets too late. Did you call Lizzie and ask if she wants to join us?”
“Oh!” I quickly put away my painting supplies and then whip out my cell phone. I send Lizzie a text hoping this time she answers. Sure enough, she texts back a couple minutes later saying she and her mother will join us.
“We’re a go!” I say to my mom and then head out into the hallway.
I see Charls sitting in the dining room and wave to him.
“Evening sleepyhead,” I say with a grin.
“Evening Babe. Where are you two off to?”
“Girl’s day out Christmas shopping. Will you be okay till I get back?”
Charls laughs. “I think I will manage.”
“Good. See you soon!”
My mom and I then leave through the front door and make our way to the sidewalk. We get into the car and wait by the Drake’s driveway for fifteen minutes before my mom gives me a confused look.
“They did say they were coming, right?”
“That’s what she texted me,” I say, glancing at my phone again. I have no message from Lizzie. I then look over and see Mrs. Drake waving to us from the front door.
“We’re coming!” she calls. She and Lizzie then leave the house and walk over to Lizzie’s white Audi. They then pull out of the driveway and follow behind us on our way downtown.
When we get downtown, we park our cars along the sidewalks (we don’t have to pay to park after five) and then head downtown.
We spend the next couple of hours going from store to store shopping. I even pick up something nice for Tommy and Charls. Over the summer, I noticed that Tommy had started doing sketches in his notebooks and surprisingly, he was pretty good! I think we may have another artist in the family. Any case, I decided to get him a sketchpad for Christmas. The gift for Charls, I know is going to annoy him. It’s a sports watch with a…compass. Lizzie was very confused with what the meaning was, but when I told her about him getting lost, she couldn’t stop laughing. I do have another romantic meaning for it, which I will share with him after I see the look on his face when he opens it.
Finally, we reach our final store, the Fashion Bug. Lizzie heads in and I follow behind her.
Our mother’s linger behind a little bit, so it gives us some time to shop for them together. I spot a scarf that I know she is going to love, and quickly purchase it before she enters the store.
Lizzie wonders off to another clothes rack and grabs what looks like a blue sweater for her mother. I move away from her as well, for I want to get her something from here. I always get her writing utensils, but I think that it would be nice to get her something different this year.
Thirty minutes later, we meet up in the hallway by the staircase.
“I found a nice scarf for my mom,” I say showing her.
Lizzie grins. “She is going to love that. I hope my mom likes the sweater I found for her.”
“I’m sure she will. She looks good in anything blue.”
Lizzie laughs. “You’re right, she does.”
I smile at her. “You know, you seem a lot more relaxed than you were on Thursday. What was going on?”
Lizzie sighs. “It’s a long story.”
“Does it have to do with Michael?”
Lizzie looks at me surprised. “How did you guess?”
“Because I know you. Also, I saw you two at the party. He kind of left in a hurry after talking to you about something. You also looked kind of out of it as well. What, did he like propose or something?”
Lizzie laughs. “No, of course not. He did tell me that he loved me though.”
I grin. “Really? That’s wonderful! Not that I am surprised. I think it’s been pretty obvious that he is in love with you. I sensed it back last year at that party at club R.E.D. The one where…you know…”
We are both quiet for a minute, and then Lizzie shakes her head. “We had only know each other for a few months. How could you have sensed it then?”
“Hey, it didn’t take me long to fall for Charls. It’s possible. Besides, I really think you two are meant to be.”
Lizzie blushes. “Thanks. I think the same of you and Charls.”
“So does my mom. She keeps calling him my future husband. Pressure much?”
Lizzie laughs. “Definitely!”
“But wait,” I frown. “If Michael said that he loved you, then why were you two acting so weird that night?”
Lizzie looks down. “Because…I-I didn’t say it back.”
My eyes widened. “What? How could you not say it back! You love Michael! Don’t you?”
Lizzie nods. “Yes, I do, but I guess I was just caught off guard when he said it. And then all these thoughts started rolling around in my head and I don’t know. I just got scared. I started to think, “What if it doesn’t work out between us?” It’s why I didn’t invite him to come home with me.”
I smile. “I understand. I felt the same way about getting involved with Charls. That’s why I took things slow with him at first. That, and I wanted to be completely over Brad. But then, I just realized that if I ever wanted us to go forward, I had to stop being afraid. And guess what? It’s one of the smartest decisions I have ever made. I am really happy with him.”
“Better than you were with Brad?”
“A hundred times better than I was with Brad. I only wish I had waited to meet him first.” We both laugh.
Lizzie picks up her phone and then glances at it. “I left a message with him apologizing for everything. I even invited him to the Christmas Potluck. I only wish he would call me back.”
“Just give him some space. You don’t know what is going on with him over there. He might be busy with family. I’m sure he will call you when he gets the message.”
Lizzie bites her lip. “I hope so.”
Lizzie then gestures to the staircase. “Well, we should head upstairs. I saw our mom’s go up there and they were looking pretty bored.”
I laugh. “You think we wore them out?”
We both then hurry up the stairs to the second floor.
When we get upstairs, I see our moms sitting at one of the tables toward the back of the room. My mom is dressed in her clothes for work, which confuses me. When did she change? And I thought she was off today?
I decide to get something from the café and walk over to the counter. Lucky for me, the pumpkin spice and eggnog lattes are back until January. I order a venti size and then sip up the warm liquid with a smile.
“So good!” I look over to see Lizzie standing in line smiling at me. “What?” I protest, “It’s good!”
“What do you mean starting a sorority?” We hear someone exclaim just then. Lizzie and I both look back in surprise.
Mrs. Drake is staring at my mother with a shocked look on her face. Although we are pretty far from them, Lizzie and I can both hear them clearly. Maybe because we are the only people upstairs.
“I mean that Abby is starting her own sorority for the school,” my mom beams. “I am so proud of her taking the initiative. My little girl, a sorority president.”
Mrs. Drake shakes her head. “Wow. Well I’m happy for your daughter if that’s what she wants, though I guess I am not that surprised.”
My mother frowns. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, that I never truly believed she had given up her interest in being a sorority girl. So this isn’t unexpected. However, I am a bit surprised she would want to be one after the events of last year.”
“Carolina, it was not my daughter’s fault that Lizzie got herself drugged last year. It was her mistake and she should have known better than to leave a drink unattended and come back to it. Anyone could have done something to it. Maybe if she wasn’t so sheltered she would know that.”
I swallow nervously and look at Lizzie. She sighs and then walks over to the café counter. I feel even worse. I really wish my mother would stop bringing that up. It wasn’t really something Lizzie or I liked to think about. We had come so far since that time, but it felt that whenever my mother opened her mouth about it, that night came rushing back to us. What made it worse, is that my mother seems to blame Lizzie for what happened instead of me. I know she is trying to defend me, but I wish she would stop. It was my fault and I accept that. It was because of me that the Tri-Fruhms targeted Lizzie, it was because of me that she came to the party, and it was because of me that her drink got spiked. Yes, I didn’t spike the drink, but…I was going to. I just hesitated and Clare did it for me. I tried to stop it at the last minute, but Lizzie would have never been in that situation if it weren’t for me.
I don’t know why, but my mother cannot seem to accept that. She insists that it wasn’t my fault and was furious with me for apologizing to Lizzie and her mother for it, during the summer. I don’t know what it is, but I think there is some weird, almost competition-like thing going on between her and Mrs. Drake; more on my mom’s side than hers. It has gotten worse since last year. I am really starting to think that our mothers are becoming fr-enemies.
Mrs. Drake sighs. “Rose, I don’t want to start this with you again, but I will say this. My daughter is not sheltered. I taught her everything she needed to know, including, avoiding parties like the one she attended. She only went because your daughter begged her to. All the while, she and her sorority sisters were planning on drugging her. It wouldn’t have mattered whether she drank from that glass or not. You and I both know they would have found another way to get those drugs into her system. It was a horrible thing that they did, your daughter included. I am just grateful Lizzie was drinking club soda that night. ” She waves her hand. “But you know what, Abby apologized and made amends, so Lizzie forgave her and so did I.”
“Because you guilted her into it!” my mother snaps. “She didn’t need to apologize just becaus-”
“Yes, she did.” Carolina stares at my mother firmly and I feel my stomach churning. This conversation was really making me sick. “Your daughter did something awful to Lizzie and she did need to apologize for it. I’m amazed that you can really sit there and actually defend her actions.” She shakes her head. “But then again, maybe I can. You have always been this way, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why.”
Lizzie then clears her throat very loudly and they both look over.
Mrs. Drake breaks into a smile. “Girls, I didn’t see you come up.” She and my mother both rise to their feet and walk over. “Did you get all your shopping done?”
I nod through a sip of my latte. My stomach is still in knots and I feel speechless. What was there to say after you just witnessed your best friend’s mother and yours arguing in a café shop? Nothing.
“Well, Abby and I should head off. I got a call from work and they want me to take over a co-worker’s shift. You ready to go Abby?”
I am still unable to talk so I just nod stupidly and get up from my seat.
I give Lizzie a quick hug and then follow after my mother. “I’ll call you later, okay?”
“Sure thing,” Lizzie says, awkwardly, and she takes a seat at the table I had just vacated.
It’s a quiet drive home, all the while I am just trying to focus on the road. It has started snowing and the ground is covered in a blanket of white.
I am relieved when I finally get home and my mom takes off for work. Charls and I get the whole house to ourselves for once. I cook some macaroni and cheese for us for dinner and then take a seat next to him to eat.
“So, how was the shopping day?” he asks.
I shake my head. “Well, it started fine and actually went pretty well until the end.”
“Why? What happened?”
“My mother.” I roll my eyes. “She was talking with Lizzie’s mom about the whole sorority thing and then the conversation somehow turned into an argument about whose fault the thing that happened to Lizzie was.”
Charls frowns. “What thing?”
“The incident at the club party last year. You know, when the Tri-Fruhms made me spike her drink.”
“Yes that.” I sigh. “I didn’t really need that brought up again, and I’m pretty sure Lizzie didn’t either. My mom was just going on and on about how it was Lizzie’s own fault for not knowing better, and I just felt so awful. I really wish she would stop.”
“She’s probably just trying to defend you.”
“But it was my fault Charls! I accept that, but it is making it hard for me that my mom doesn’t see it that way. Every time she defends me, I feel even worse.” I shake my head. “The way things are going with her and Mrs. Drake, I don’t even know if their friendship is going to be the same again. It sucks! It’s like I ruined everything.”
Charls shakes his head. “Yah, you make a mistake, but you made amends for it. And Abby, you can’t take the blame for the way your mother thinks or behaves. If she and Lizzie’s mother don’t stay friends, that’s on her, not you.”
Charls was right. There was really only so much I could do about my mother. If she wanted to keep this up, it was her business. I didn’t have to be a part of it.
I exhale deeply feeling a little better. “Thanks, you always know what to say.”
“I’m just great that way.”
I laugh and give him a shove. “Don’t ruin it,” I say and then take a bite of my Mac and cheese.