Made for You Page 39

“I’m sorry,” I whisper.

She gasps. “Why?”

“You wouldn’t be stuck with Dad if—”

“Hush, you.” She leans forward to see my face. “I loved your father. I still do. I didn’t mean to trap him, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I have you and him. This was exactly what I wanted then—and still is. The only thing I might’ve changed was how young I was.” My expression must be as disbelieving as I feel because she adds, “I love you, Eva. I’m lousy at being a mother. I try, but you just never seem to need me. I’m not sure you ever did. You always seemed to know what you wanted, and no matter what I said or did, you marched off to do whatever you felt like doing. When you were little, you and Nathaniel—”

“Nate,” I interject.

“You and Nate,” she continues, “were such little hellions. I swear you sweated mud. I’d buy you the perfect little dresses that I loved as a girl, and you’d go outside and wallow in the mud like a piglet. It made me so crazy. I didn’t understand you.” She laughs a little. “I probably still don’t. I never knew what you needed, so I listened to what Daddy and the Reverend suggested. Even when their advice was in opposition to each other, I tried to listen. I didn’t want to mess up at this. I try not to push you, but I’m not sure I can keep this distance between us. Knowing you were in the hospital and I couldn’t get there . . .”

She’d finished the braid at some point while she was speaking, and now her hands slide over my hair in a caress.

“I knew you couldn’t get there, and I was okay,” I promised.

“You’re always okay. It makes it hard to know when you need me.” My mother sniffles, and it’s so out of character that I turn to look at her. The impeccable Elizabeth Cooper-Tilling looks heartbroken. Instead of grabbing a tissue to dab at her perfectly made-up eyes, she swipes the back of her hand across her face, and then wraps her arms around me. I lean back against my mother and close my eyes as she hugs me and sobs.

“I’ll do better.” She’s not hugging me so tightly that it hurts, but she’s not letting go. “Maybe I can ask Grace’s mother. You like her, right?”

“Ask her . . . ?”

“How to be a good mother,” she clarifies, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “I bet she has ideas. She could be my mentor.”

I smother a laugh, but I know she’s not joking. She has the tone that I’ve always associated with one of her volunteer projects. If her new focus is motherhood, I’m not sure what that will mean for me—especially if we get confirmation that my accident was not random.

“I’ll have her over for tea, and we’ll get started.” My mother settles the hat on my head and drapes the veil over my face. In an instant, the world is dimmed by black gauze, and her fingers arrange it so it looks artful and natural.

When she holds a hand mirror in front of me, I don’t feel like looking away. The veil hides the cuts and yellowed bruises. I smile before murmuring, “Thank you.”

“This is just the start, Eva. I’m going to be a new mother. I’ll do everything right,” she promises. She smiles at me for a moment, and then she adds, “I need my planner. We’ll need a schedule for meetings with Mrs. Yeung, and then mother-daughter events.” She pauses, clearly thinking of the lists in her mind already. “We should have a brainstorming session to figure out what I can do better, and what activities we should set up. Maybe Grace could help too. She’s so smart and outspoken. I’ll see what day works for the four of us to get together this week.”

And then she’s off, and I’m left sitting in my room a little alarmed, but also a little amused. The idea of my mother and Mrs. Yeung together should terrify me. Mostly, though, I feel happier than I have in a while—at least until I think about going to a funeral . . . and the murderer who waits somewhere out there. Fear fills me, and I can’t help feeling overwhelmed.

When my mother goes downstairs to wait for Nate, I debate telling someone about my hallucinations. Despite only being back in touch with Nate for a little over a week, I’m tempted to tell him. The problem there is telling him that I imagined his murder. I’m not sure how I feel about that. It isn’t the sort of thing that sounds sane or like a reason to become closer friends. I don’t want to tell my parents or the doctors though. They’d overreact, and I’d end up with a bunch of tests or back at Mercy Hospital. I’m still thinking about what to do when I hear his voice downstairs.

I smile as I listen to him and my mother talk. I feel a little like a creeper, but luckily, Grace arrives while Nate is still going over my mother’s undoubtedly copious notes on taking care of me. Unlike Nate, she doesn’t stay downstairs with my parents.

When she walks into my room, she gasps, “What are you wearing?”

“A dress.”

“On your head, Eva.” She walks closer, gently closing the door behind her.

I flip the veil up to bare my face. “I like it. I’m not ready for the stares.”

She reaches out to brush my cheek, and that’s all it takes. I fall into what looks like a continuation of the same hallucination of Grace I had before.

The streetlight I parked under is out, but there are no other cars nearby so I feel comfortable walking across the parking lot. All of these articles I’ve been skimming have made me jumpy. No one knows what I’m here researching, but too much time with my thoughts makes me nervous.

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