“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you.”
“Do you know when you’re going back?”[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
Faith sighed. “No. I’m thinking the weekend. I’ll let you know what I decide. Today, I’ll probably go over to my parents’ house.”
“Guess you’ll be having that conversation with your mom sooner rather than later.”
“Yeah.” And she wasn’t looking forward to the confrontation. She climbed out of the car, retrieved her luggage and waved. “I’ll call you.”
“Okay. Let me know how it goes with your mom.”
Faith nodded. She unlocked her door, stepped inside her condo and released a deep breath, happy to be home. She glanced around to make sure everything was in its place and smiled.
She made her way to her bedroom, left the suitcase and tote by the door, and flopped down on the bed. “My bed.” She sighed heavily. She’d missed being in her own space. Faith allowed herself a few more minutes of relaxation, then scooted off the bed and started the task of unpacking and doing laundry.
While her clothes were in the wash, she went through the huge stack of mail that had accumulated in her absence and paid her bills. Once she finished putting away the clothes, she took a quick shower and set out for her parents’ house. She had put off talking to her mother for almost a month, but now it was time.
Twenty minutes later, Faith parked behind her mother’s car in the driveway. Part of her had hoped they weren’t home. She drew in a fortifying breath and got out. The front door opened before she made it halfway up the walk and her stepfather rushed to meet her with his arms spread wide. Though he stood only five-nine, his slim build and ramrod spine made him seem taller.
“Hey, baby girl. You’re back.”
“Hi, Daddy,” she said, moving into his embrace.
He eased back and studied her critically. “How are you doing? Anything still bothering you from the accident?”
She shook her head. “No. I’m good as new.”
He released her and they continued up the walkway. “When did you get back?”
He held the door open. “You should’ve called. I would’ve picked you up.”
Faith smiled. “I know. Kathi offered to come get me.” She followed him to the living room, steeling herself for her mother’s response.
“Francis, look who’s back,” her stepfather said.
Faith’s mother slowly closed the book she had been reading. “Hello, Faith.” She smoothed a hand over her shoulder-length dark hair. She’d added a few more strands of gray hair since Faith had seen her a month ago.
“Hi, Mom.” She perched on the edge of the sofa and her father claimed his favorite recliner. Her mother looked tired.
After several seconds, her mother asked, “How was your trip?”
“Enlightening.” Her mother fiddled with the bookmark and Faith glanced over at her father.
He sighed, shook his head and stood. “Faith, I hope you’ll stay for dinner. I’m doing some pork chops on the grill,” he added, knowing she would never turn down anything he cooked.
A smile curved her lips. “You know I will.”
Faith and her mother sat in strained silence for a few moments.
“You seem to have recovered from the accident. I’m glad.”
She nodded. “I have.”
“Did you meet him?” her mother asked softly.
“Yes. He’s a very nice man and I enjoyed talking to him.”
“So, what does that mean for…for us?”
Faith frowned. “I don’t understand.”
Her mother looked away.
Finally, it dawned on her. “Are you talking about you and Daddy?”
She nodded hesitantly.
“Mom, nothing has changed. You’re still my parents and I love you.” She came and hunkered next to her mother. “But Thad is my father and I want to know him, too.”
Her mother swiped at a tear and whispered brokenly, “I know he hates me for what I’ve done.”
“He doesn’t hate you.” Faith thought about her and Thad’s conversation. She still marveled at his ability to let go. “He did say he was angry for a long time and I’m sure you can understand why. But he has forgiven you and said we can only move forward.”