Made for You Page 68

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For a moment, Nate stares at her with the sort of expression on his face that makes it hard not to laugh. He recovers quickly though. “We hadn’t made any plans.”

“LeeAnn is coming by to cook, so if you want, you could have a faux restaurant date,” Mom offers.

I make a shooing gesture at her. “Go work on . . . whatever it is you do.”

She laughs. “Organizing my schedule and your father’s next month, so we can maximize our time at home to actively parent.”

I groan and lower my head to the table. “You’re going to kill Dad and me too, Mom. Relax.”

“Eva Elizabeth Tilling, you do not get to say that!”

At the sound of her voice, I look back up at her.

“You could have died. I’m allowed to be overinvolved for a while. The article I read about parenting after traumatic events is very clear.” She folds her arms over her chest. “We need to be here for you. You could have nightmares, stomachaches, depression, or a plethora of other things. We have to be attentive to you so we notice changes. Shared meals and a healthy diet are important, but listening is crucial.”

My mother looks like she might start crying, and I realize that I’m staring at her open-mouthed. I’m not sure how to deal with this new version of my mother. I know my accident scared her; it scared me too. We’re staring at each other, but not speaking.

After a few moments, Nate’s voice interrupts the tense silence. “I’m going to go look for a movie on demand. Maybe we can have a movie date.”

“Check the collection in the media room first,” Mom suggests.

Once he leaves, my mother flops into a chair. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to embarrass you.”

“You didn’t,” I promise. “I’m scared too, you know? The murderer is killing my friends, and he sent flowers to me. He carved my name on Amy. I get being scared. Really, I do.”

My mother folds her hands together on the table in front of her, and I reach over and put my hand on top of hers. We sit in silence for a few moments before she says, “Jessup is supposed to be a safe town. Your grandfather is coming home in two days, and I know it’s silly, but I want to be able to tell him we’re doing everything right. I want him to know we’re keeping you safe.”

“You are.”

My mother nods. “You’re not suicidal, are you?”

“No.”

“Stomachaches?”

“No.”

“Nightmares?”

“No.” I smile at her. “I’m okay. I’m scared, and I wish I hadn’t seen those pictures of Amy. I wish I knew why the killer is targeting my friends . . . and me. I’m safe here though. I’m coping fine with this and with the accident. Grandfather Cooper has nothing to complain about. He’s probably worried about you as much as me.”

“I know. He’s just hard to please.” She looks a little guilty as she adds, “One of the things I love about your father is that he doesn’t doubt me when I say I can handle something, and he’s always thought you were capable—more so than your grandfather thinks I am even now.”

“You knew what to do yesterday when the sicko sent a package to me. You knew to have someone here with me, and you’re trying to make sure I’m safe without being totally trapped at home bored. I know it’s not just my crutches that made you hire Nate.”

My mother nods. “They’ll catch the killer. Detective Grant is good at her job.”

Neither of us mention how long it could be until they do catch him or how many people might die before then.

“I’m going to work in the den for a while. Why don’t you go visit with Nate?” She pauses awkwardly and then in a whisper, she asks, “Do I need to worry about what you’re doing with him when we’re not home?”

“Mom!”

“Parents talk, Eva. I’ve heard enough to know that Nate has run wild since his father left.”

My face feels like it’s on fire, but I don’t look away from her.

“Are you still taking your birth control pills?” she asks.

“I am.”

“Good.” She nods. “I’ve never regretted being a mother, but it’s not something to do young. Nathaniel should see his doctor, too. There are a lot more diseases than I knew about when I was your age.”

She leans in and kisses the top of my head. “I’m going to get a bit of work done in the den then. Do you need help into the room?”

I shake my head. I’m perfectly capable on my crutches now, and even if I wasn’t, I don’t know that I could bear walking into the room with my mother and seeing Nate just now. She’s always been very practical about sex. Maybe it’s because she became a mother so young, but she made sure I was on birth control when I started dating Robert seriously, and she gave me such a frank sex talk that I’m surprised I’m not still blushing several years later.

After she leaves the kitchen, I stand and tuck my crutches under my arms. Life after my accident is weirder than I could’ve ever expected. In only a few weeks, everything I thought I knew has changed. When I woke up and saw my face, I thought that my scars would be the biggest challenge. I thought I would have to be okay with Robert ignoring me because no one else would want me. I thought I would have to handle everything on my own because my parents didn’t want to be bothered. I was wrong about so much.

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