“How did you know I was searching for a new place?” Efren pinched his nose, exasperated. How in the world did that woman found out? He hadn’t even signed the contract yet! Had only seen it half an hour ago!
“I want to see you, right now!”
“Mom-?” The phone went dead before he had time to tell her off. He was too dizzy to begin dealing with it now. Although the meds had some effect, they didn’t clear out the fog and he was sure his temperature had to be going up. But with mom on her way, there was no way he could leave it like that. She could tell Steven before he could disappear.
Damn! If she knew, where he wanted to move, there was no way to hiding anyway.
The phone went off again and when he picked up this time, he could hear her ventilating as if she had been running.
“Where are you?” she demanded.
“Home. Mom, look, I-”
“In Steven’s private house? Where is it?”
He frowned. Steven hadn’t told her? Wow! He was actually impressed. He thought the Custer punch shared everything among themselves, but turned out… Oh wait, if he hadn’t told mom until now, then there was no way he could have her come here. He sighed.
“I’ll come to you, where are you?”
He eyed the meds sitting on the kitchen counter. He should take few more if he wanted to have any kind of thinking ability. He counted the hours from the last time he’d taken them while she named few shops, undoubtedly where she’d go while he was on his way, and a cafe near a book shop downtown.
“Give me half an hour.”
With this rate, he was sure to wear this body out. But if he didn’t go, she would without doubt call Steven and tell him about his little plan. He took few painkillers instead, hoping dearly they helped where the cold medicine lacked and gulped down with orange juice. The combo was nasty, the bitterness of the melted medicine worsened when it combined with the bitter aftertaste the oranges white rim left to the orange drink.
He was six minutes late, but mom still managed to be fashionably late. He ordered espresso with glass of water and waited, contemplating if to take chocolate cake with it or not. He kept checking the menu, not letting it be taken away. He set it down after a while, waking to realization that he was actually contempt. Worthy of a reward – a chocolate cake, maybe! With mint layer and cowberry sauce. Like the one Marc made for his birthday. His fingers moved up to his lips and touched them gently when his mind flooded with the sensations of Marc’s lips against his. Way better than chocolate.
“Hey, are you listening?”
Efren blinked and looked up.
She slumped on the seat next to his and suddenly the idea of coming here didn’t look so promising any more. Her perfume was abundant mix of sweet flowers and ripe fruits, which gave her the appeal of a well off lady, but sitting next to her while he was feeling ill, it was only working on his nausea.
“I can’t believe you’d do that! You were always such a good boy and kept to your word no matter what. So why now? Out of all the times possible, why do you want to break it now? Do you…” she paused, hesitating, before continuing. “Did I do something wrong?”
Efren shook his head, but stopped, when he realized he was doing it.
“I thought you liked being on your own!” she pleaded. “Don’t tell me now that I made a mistake, you insisted you were OK and I believed you!”
“It’s not about that, mom.”
“Then what changed?”
As if he could say it out loud! He wanted to groan, she was too close and when he didn’t answer, she grabbed for her fingers, pressing down on them hard. He tried to pull them away, but she yanked them back. He tried again, harder this time. He had to fight, he knew if he’d give in, he’d lose it.
“Why are you suddenly repelling like some teenager? Where is my good son? Have you any idea what situation you’ll put me in? Steven can stop Jed!”
“How? Just marry the poor bastard!”
“I can’t! I love him, Efren! I need you to stay put and play this out until he is sure of it himself! I want to do things right! He deserves that and so do I!”
“Why not? What in hell can he do to stop you? If it’s money, Jed has plenty of that to support you both!”
“It’s not that! Jed needs Steven’s approval!”
“Is he some sort of god? A troll? How can his son take the old man down?”
It was agonizing to see her crooked smile that lit her face for an odd second. “It’s not capital, darling, it’s personal – he needs his son’s approval to make it work! You really have been living a simple life, dear. But you have to believe me, when I tell you Jed can call it off should Steven even flinch and the fact that you decided to break the contract is very ill for me, because he isn’t sure of himself!”
“I don’t care!” Whoa, that came out way easier than he’d thought. “How could you do this to me? You sold me to life in slavery so you could enjoy marriage bliss? The guy is blocking everything in my life, including my friends, and as fun as your little experiment seemed at first, I won’t stand for it!”
“You’re brothers now! You need to sit down and discuss this! That’s what you do in a big family! You don’t run off if something goes wrong – you talk it through and find a solution that works for both! You can still fix this! I’m sure!”