“Why did you invite my mom?” I whisper at Kaleb, furious. “How did you even find her?”
“You mentioned where she worked once or twice. I tracked her down to apologize about last night and I invited her over for dinner.” He answered.
“I don’t want to see her.” I muttered. it wasn’t true, I was hurting from this fight we’d had.
“Please, Lauren, you’re not yourself you love your mom, I know that.” He hugged me and I my eyes got watery. “We can just have diner and then we’ll talk. Does that sound good?”
He kissed me on the forehead. “Why don’t you sit down, I’ll serve.”
I sat down at the table and my mom did the same, sitting in front of me.
“You know, your boyfriend is quite the cook.” She said. “I was surprised.”
“Well, it’s kind of my embarrassing secret, but I collect cooking magazines and books. I just don’t have a lot of practice. It’s hard to cook much more than the basics if you have nothing but a hot plate and tin cans.” He said.
“I wasn’t any good when I was your age.” My mom answered. “But when Lauren was born, I decided to learn, good food was always a high priority in our house, even with our small means. It was a good choice seeing how voracious my little pumpkin can be.”
“Yeah, I’ve seen that.” Kaleb said with a chuckle.
“Hey, I don’t eat that much.” I said pouting.
“Kitten, you eat four meals a day, more when you’re feeling grouchy.” He kissed my forehead and placed a bowl in front of me. “First service; Caldo verde”
“Wait, there’s more than one service?” I asked.
“I might have gotten carried away.” He admitted. “It’ll be nice to have something other than bread, opened tins of baked beans and half-eaten takeout Soba noodles in the fridge. You don’t think you can handle all I made?”
“Pff…” I said. “Bring it on.”
“That’s my girl.” My mom said, making me smile.
He kissed me quickly on the mouth. “You’re smiling, that good.” Before sitting down.
We ate casually, and I admit it was nice, I wasn’t feeling trapped and cornered like I had when I had came in, instead I just enjoyed the food and let the two of them carry the conversation. It was pretty light until Kaleb mentioned he wasn’t going to school, causing my mother to go all mother hen on him. Not going to school was among her list of unforgivable offense that deserved merciless punishment along with smoking, stealing, getting into fights and leaving the bath towel on the floor. To avoid more fire, he served the next round of food.
“Risotto with Chicken Parmesan.” He declared setting it down.
Saying I ate with appetite would be an understatement. I devoured absolutely everything set down in front of me, Kaleb served me seconds and I ate it too.
“For dessert: Strawberry Cheesecake.”
“I thought you said you weren’t good at cooking.”
“I bought it after I failed to make floating islands.” He admitted. “I need more practice on that front.”
I slowly ate the piece he gave me and started thinking about what to say, psyching myself up and doing everything in my power not to make myself on the defensive.
“I have a problem.” I said when they finished eating. They turned toward me and listened. “I think I’m developing an addiction and it’s changing me…” The words were painful to say, but I spoke regardless.
“Tell me what’s wrong, sweetheart.” My mother asked.
“I started drinking blood and it made things so easy. I felt better than ever before but it also makes me aggressive and controlling… At first I thought it was just me coming out of my shell and accepting being a Dhampir, but I spoke with Coil, he told me that the more I drank, the worst it would get…”
I wasn’t sure if it was a good sign, but I was getting emotional, my eyes getting wet and my voice trembling.
“Mom… I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have been like I was last night… But at the same time, I can’t go back to how it was… Even if I could, I don’t think I would because this is the best thing that ever happened to me, but also to worst… Worst because I hurt you and betrayed the trust you had in me… Best because…”
Underneath the table, Kaleb took my hand and gently squeezed it.
“I need help.” I said. “Today, I almost did something stupid, something wrong and I’m not sure I would have been able to come back if I had done it…I don’t know what I want anymore… Part of me urges me to scheme, to make a reputation for myself and take over on day… The other just wants to be safe.”
The both hugged me together and I cried, a lot. I probably cried all the water in my body by the time I was done.
We left the table and sat down on the couch, with me snuggling against Kaleb and him running his hand down my hair.
“Should I stop drinking?” I asked after a moment. “I don’t know if I can continue like this.”
“Your father would sometimes talk to me about how he felt, his relationship with the blood thirst.” My mother began.
“You don’t talk about dad often.”
“Because I wanted to put those days behind us, pumpkin. But now, I don’t think it is a possibility. Your father had problems, he would often go dry for long spells of time and then relapse, after which I would console him.”
“Great, my dad was a bloodoholic…” I muttered. “Did you ever feel threatened?”
“No.” She answered. “Because I knew your father loved me deep down, even if he could be scary at times. What I’m saying, is that this doesn’t make you a bad person Lauren, you did the hardest part and admitted you had a problem, that counts for a lot and you are not beyond redemption, far from it.”
“Thanks mom… for trusting me… even when I fuck up.”
“For you, I’ll always been there.”
“And so will I.” Kaleb whispered in my ear.
“I’m so tired…” I whined. “And thirsty…”
“Why don’t we take a nap?” Kaleb suggested. “It was a big day.”
“Well, I think I’ll go home. It’s getting late.” My mother announced.
“I love you.”
“Me too.” She kissed me goodnight and got her coat, leaving us alone in the loft.
“Want to put a movie?” Kaleb asked. “Show me the one you told me about last time.”
It wasn’t really that late so I opted for it. Dark City was one of my favorite movie and Kaleb had to see it. The rest of the night went by quietly, with movies and lots cuddling, both on the couch and on the bed when it came time to sleep.
I didn’t know what was going to happen from then on, but was it wrong to think I was going to be doing okay even if it was only for a single night?