Thursday, January 19, 2017

November 16

Well, Mom insisted I visit her already. I was surprised the standoff lasted only one day. I figured she’d sulk for at least two.

When Kini commed, I was more than ready to say no way. I was still in a place of rejecting everything about her. Each time I looked at Anrel and thought about what Mom said, the cold in my heart returned. She had no right to be my baby’s mimi.

I was especially reluctant to return to Mom’s bedside so soon when Kini admitted she still exhibited no contrite behavior. “She’s demanding, but not hostile,” he hurried to explain. “She says it’s time to clear the air between the two of you once and for all.”

“I did that yesterday,” I answered. “If she’s going to call Anrel names, I’m through with her.”

Kini reasoned. He cajoled. He pleaded. “Listen to whatever she has to say. If she starts being abusive, walk out. In that case, we’ll keep you away for a week. That will assure her that such behavior has serious consequences.”

I had to hand it to that man. As much shit as Mom had given him since she emerged from stasis, he still made her recovery his priority. It was his dedication that swayed me in the end. However, I made it a point to tell him, “If she makes one ugly statement about my child or future children, I won’t stay away for a week. It will be for good. I mean that.”

So with Clan Aslada in tow and Anrel left in her manny Snoy’s care, I went to see Mom against my better judgment.

It did not start off well. The instant we entered her room with Kini, she shook her head, her expression set. “Not them. Not those men. Just you, Shalia. This is between us.”

I rolled my eyes. I was pretty sure the discussion was going to go south in a hurry from there, but Clan Aslada has no real stake in my relationship with Mom. If she wanted to end things privately, that was fine with me.

I turned to the guys and shrugged. “I guess you’re excused.”

Kini touched my arm. “I’ll be right outside the door if you need me.”

The other three men nodded to me with significant looks. Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon would be there as well. Not that it mattered. How much support did I need to break up with my mother?

They left the room. I went closer to Mom’s bed, where she gave me a look that wasn’t quite a glare but wasn’t ‘here’s my lovely daughter’ either. She sized me up, probably wondering how much crap I would let her get away with.

She finally spoke. “What the hell are you doing with your life?”

I folded my arms over my chest and gave her a level gaze. “Living it. Taking care of my daughter. Making myself happy.”

Mom snorted. “What do you know of happiness? People like us weren’t meant to be happy.”

“I disagree.”

“Will living with three alien men make you happy? Being at their beck and call? Servicing them when they decide they need some pussy?”

I drew a breath. “If it was that way, no. That would not make me happy. But having a loving relationship with three men who care about me and my daughter will. That’s what I’m working towards.”

She snorted. “Men won’t give you anything worthwhile. Alien men can’t begin to understand what an Earther woman needs.”

“I haven’t found that to be true. Most of the Kalquorian men I’ve had relationships with work hard to figure things out.”

She wouldn’t be convinced. “Until they’ve gotten what they want from you. Then it’s a whole other story.”

“Your relationships are not anything like the ones I’ve had. It’s too bad you haven’t had men in your life that cared for you. I’ve been lucky in that respect.”

“How many of those damned Kalqs have you screwed?”

“None of your business. As far as I’m concerned, only one might have been a mistake. Since he may have fathered Anrel, I refuse to regret him.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You’re sleeping with that clan Dr. Meyso is in. You’re giving them the milk without them buying the cow.”

I felt tired, dealing with her and her judgments. “I am exploring compatibility. Emotional, romantic, and yes, sexual. It’s all part of finding who I belong with.”

“You’re not property, Shalia.”

“I said belong with, not belong to.”

She scowled. “Is that what you want for Anrel? To have to take care of three men’s needs? To have to answer to that many?”

I crooked a brow at her. “You have no idea how Kalquorian men operate. They’re more focused on the woman’s needs than their own. And if you think Matara Elwa answers to her clanmates rather than their relationship being balanced, you should have her explain it to you.”

Mom was quiet for a moment, digesting that idea. At last she said, “It’s not normal for us. I don’t like it.”

“I don’t care. It’s my life.”

Mom shook her head. “Which you’re ruining. But I don’t want you to keep Anrel from me. I don’t see her as a half-breed or anything but a beautiful child who deserves only the best. I guess I’ll have to bite my lip and keep my opinions to myself if I’m to remain in her life.”

I felt something inside me relax. “You can’t talk garbage about Kalquorians around her. Her father is one. She’ll live her life on Kalquor. Putting part of her heritage down is the same as insulting her.”

Her lips thinned. “I would never insult my grandchild. Your faults and her father’s – whoever he is – are not hers.”

“Fine. As long as you remember that, you can continue to see her.”

I was still more in the mood to have done with the rollercoaster of Mom. But if she could behave herself around Anrel, I didn’t want to deny my child contact with her one biological grandparent. It was a shaky truce, but one I could live with. For now.

Mom’s rehab interrupted any further conversation that might have derailed our precarious détente. I was relieved to have an excuse to get the hell out of there. I didn’t have parental approval, but at least I could hope Anrel wouldn’t suffer one way or the other from our disagreement.

Kini applauded me. “It’s something,” he reassured. “As Matara Eve progresses with her behavioral control, it will get even better. I’m sure of it.”

Well, at least someone is optimistic. I seem to have run out of that quality where my mother is concerned.

Clan Aslada took me to a fancy brunch to celebrate me getting through yet another bump in the road with Mom’s recovery. I didn’t have much appetite to start with after my conversation. However, the open-air hilltop restaurant was so pretty, sitting high enough that I imagined I could put my hand up and touch one of the fluffy cottonball clouds overhead. It’s hard to be angsty surrounded by rolling lands covered in rainbows of wildflowers.

And when you have three men doting on you like you’re God’s gift to Kalquor…well, that’s not a bad thing either.

The restaurant was set up like the world’s most extravagant picnic. We lounged on billowy seating cushions scattered on the lush grass. I was curled in the middle of the shelter of Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon, who held me and jockeyed to feed me the food that the attentive waitstaff brought us. Two men wandered amongst the diners, playing soft bell-like music with instruments I’d never seen before. Aslada tipped them heavily to play a Plasian love song. It was romance with a capital R, the kind of thing that only happens in teenage fantasy.

Between stuffing my face with delicious delicacies, Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon stroked my hair and back, dropped gentle kisses on my face at the least opportunity, and whispered things both naughty and sweet in my ears. There were at least two dozen other groups sitting on that hilltop, some of whom had hailed their governor when we’d arrived. Clan Aslada seemed to have no worries about the public display of affection they showered on me, though a lot of it was super mushy. Even Jaon made no bones about being caring as he petted and tended to me.

I nearly forgot about my issues with Mom, only feeling a moment’s sadness that she’d never known the devoted attention I was receiving. I couldn’t dwell much on that however, not with Aslada, Meyso, and Jaon making such a fuss over me. I sank into the sweetness of the attention, feeling very much the cherished woman I wanted to be.

Mom may not approve, but I sure do. All may not be right in my world, but I still get happy moments that I appreciate. She can’t take that away from me. I won’t let anyone steal the bright future I’m sure is possible.

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