"No, Mom, after that." She closed her eyes and tried to think of nothing at all. That seemed logical. Taddy wanted to hear her mother say it again, just one more time. Please, Mom, just say it like you mean it, please.
Silence. There was nothing but Warner's heavy breathing to be heard among them. He squeezed her hand tight for her to open her eyes and so she did.
"Sorry, Tabitha Adelaide. I don't know what else I can say or do to make it up to you." Her mother glared at her. Irma's loss for words and frozen face confirmed Taddy's suspicion. The thing that ticked Taddy off the most was that Irma didn't have a clue as to how ruthless she sounded.
The chill between them grew.
Taddy let go of Warner and slipped her hands under her legs and sat on them, thanking her lucky stars Lex and Vive hadn't come with her. If her best friends had heard Irma, Lex would've grabbed Irma's freshwater-pearl-adorned neck and snapped her in half. Lex had one thing in common with Birdie, the girl loved to throw a good punch. And vile, terse words would've spewed from Vive.
Speechless, Warner sat in silence. Taddy doubted he'd be familiar with parental extortion. But from what he'd told her about his ex-fiancee, maybe he understood that some people put money first.
She wanted to maintain composure, but she needed to ask. She had to find out why. "Were you there when I needed you?"
"When you were a child, yes I was."
"I was a child when you dropped me off." Her words nearly choked her.
"Avon Porter kept you fed and educated," her mother defended. "You were in the top private boarding school in the country! I wouldn't call that neglected."
A heaviness centered in her chest. Her mother would never see it Taddy's way. Irma mothered in a different style, one where nannies breastfed someone else's children. "You left me, Mother. You never came back." Taddy promised herself she wouldn't cry. But it was too late. The tears fell down her cheeks as she relived the pain.
For a moment, she was back in the study on the blue chair being told she'd be sent away. A pulsing knot inside her made it impossible to hold the hurt inside. She had to let it go. Her lips had waited too long to relieve her of this rejection. "Do you have any clue how much you and Dad f.u.c.ked with my head?" Anger spurted through her. Lifting her fingers, she wiped back her tears and choked on a sob. "I've never been the same since."
Warner held her tight, letting Taddy know he was there. He didn't stop her from speaking her mind.
For years, Taddy had imagined what it would be like to have parents who loved her. The only example she had of that was Blake's family who'd accepted him and his h.o.m.os.e.xuality as a teen. They were the closest thing to normal she'd known.
The Morgans did simple things, which Blake would share with her. Sending him homemade sugar cookies with notes telling him how much they missed him. Taddy
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