Cameron stared at the table; he didn’t want to look at her. She looked so nice, he wasn’t sure he could fight off her kindness if he actually had to look at her. He saw her hand move across the table towards his, his nerves rising hoping she wouldn’t actually have the nerve to try and touch him. He breathed a sigh of relief when her hand stopped mid way across the table.
“How have you been?”
He glanced up at her ever so briefly then fixed his eyes back on the table. “I thought you were going to be the one talking.”
He heard her sigh and waited, though he didn’t have to wait long.
“Okay,” she sighed again and he braced himself to hear what he’d waited so long to hear. “I’m afraid I can’t give you an unselfish reason about my absence. I wasn’t put into the witness relocation program or recruited into the CIA.”
Looking up at her he gestured flippantly with his hand and then flopped it down, palm up on the table. “I don’t care about the possibilities; I just want to know the real reason!”
She nodded, a small smile still plastered to her face. “I understand that, this just isn’t very easy for me.”
He almost wished he could feel sorry for her, but he couldn’t find an ounce of sympathy in himself at that moment.
“I wasn’t ready to be a mother. I didn’t even know how to be a mother. It seemed I woke up one day and found myself with a husband and child. I was eighteen when I got married. I wanted badly just to get out of my parents house I was willing to do anything to accomplish it.” She sighed and sat back a little bit hugging her arms against her waist. “I loved your father and I loved you, but I had this constant yearning, a void, that wouldn’t let me be happy.”
Cameron furrowed his brow; he didn’t understand how she could love someone and leave them just like that. In his life he could only ever remember of loving one person, a person he had just met a few weeks earlier, Cole, and already he could not imagine leaving him. It didn’t matter about any voids, love, as far as he could tell should fill any void a person has. Cole had certainly filled the void in his life.
“I didn’t want to be a housewife. I could see that being my entire future if I stayed. I wanted to see the world. I didn’t want this town to be the extent of my world.”
He could understand that a little bit. He wanted to see the world too. Yet he pictured when he went off to find a bluer horizon Cole would be by his side. He wouldn’t be abandoning anyone to go chasing his dreams.
Not wanting to hear how he wasn’t enough for her anymore he looked up at her sharply. “Did you find it?”
She narrowed her eyes in confusion and shook her head ever so slightly. “What?”
“What you were looking for? Whatever it was that would make you happy? Is that why you came back? You’ve gone and gotten happy and now you want to come back and do what you should have done 12 years ago?”
Sighing deeply she leaned forward again brushing her blonde hair off her forehead then resting her elbows down on the table. “Not really. I had fun yes, I saw a lot of places and tried to find that ultimate happiness. Still though, something was missing.” She reached across the table towards his hand, which he quickly removed and put under the table on his thigh, causing her to retract her hand. “I should never have left you; my dreams weren’t out in the world. Even though I would have liked to wait and get married and have kids, I didn’t. And once I had you, nothing else in the great wide world was going to satisfy me because I couldn’t forget what I’d left behind.”
“So even though you left, you were still miserable just because I existed?” He wasn’t sure if he had it right, but he couldn’t deny the fact that her words were hurting.
“I was miserable because I left you.”
He looked up from the table and looked her directly in the eye. “It took you twelve years to figure that out?” He watched as she nodded ever so slightly, the look on her face telling him that she did have regrets about leaving. ‘Damn I knew I shouldn’t have looked at her’ he thought and quickly looked back down at the table.
“It took me a long time yes. I always had the feeling; it just took me a long time to figure out exactly what that feeling was. I’m so sorry it took so long. And I know you have every right to hate me, but I wish with all my heart that you’ll give me a second chance.”
He looked down at his hands in his lap, he was mad, that feeling he was sure of. But other feelings were floating around inside him too. Feelings that were telling him he should give that second chance. He was mad at her for not being there. Now she was here. He didn’t want it to be his fault now that he didn’t have a mother. He’d wanted her around so badly over the past years he just couldn’t bring himself to tell her to go away now that she actually wanted to be around. He looked back up at her studying her face. Looking for any reason he should tell her to buzz off. She looked so kind, so sincere he wanted to know her better.
“What exactly is your plan? I mean how do you plan on being back in my life?”
“That’s completely up to you Cameron. I have no right to barge in on your life and suddenly try to be your mom. I’d love to be your mom, don’t get me wrong. But I know what I did is basically….” She slowly tilted her head from side to side looking for the right word. “Unforgivable.”
He bit his tongue to not yell out ‘YOU GOT THAT RIGHT!’ He knew he should be pissed as hell. Knew he did not owe her anything. But the more he sat there and listed to her, the more he thought. She owed him! He had nothing to lose; he now had the opportunity to get what he had so long craved for. If he got pissed off and told her to buzz off it would only make him lose it all over again. It wasn’t like he had gone begging her to come back. She had come back on her own, therefore she must want this. He looked up at her across the table seeing what sure looked to him like hope in her eyes. He figured that had to be hope that he would want her to stick around.
“I still don’t know your plan.”
She leaned forward again; clasping her hands together she set them on the table between them and looked into his eyes which caused Cameron to look away. “I want us to get to know each other again. The speed at which we do it is up to you. Why don’t you tell me what is good for you?”
Before he could stop it his mouth opened up and he said. “What would be good for me is if you never left in the first place. And dad too for that matter!” Once the gate opened he didn’t even have time to think enough to stop it. “Didn’t you have any idea how much he loved you? Didn’t you love him back at all?”
He was surprised to see her slowly shake her head. “No I didn’t. I told you I got married just to get out of my parents house. I took the first guy that came along and wanted me.”
His shoulders sagged. He hadn’t expected that answer and didn’t know how to respond to it. “Didn’t you like your parents?”
“They weren’t bad parents Cameron. Just a little too strict for me.”
Cameron nodded thinking he’d almost have preferred strict parents then no parents at all. Just living with Mr. Harris, he realized he could follow rules. He wondered though if he’d always lived in that type of environment if he’d want to get out as well. He didn’t want to leave the Harris’s, but he’d only been there a few weeks. He wasn’t so sure he’d feel the same way if he had lived there eighteen years.
He looked up as the night manager called out his name from behind the register where he was tallying up the night’s receipts.
“You guys got about twenty more minutes.”
Cameron nodded then glanced at the clock his heart jumped in his throat as he realized his extra fifteen minutes that he’d given himself with Mr. Harris was up. As though to prove that fact Mr. Harris himself walked through the door. His eyes fell on Cameron and he made his way to their table his eyes narrowing more and more and as he studied the back of the head of the person across from Cameron.
Once he got to the table his eyes widened in surprise as well as recognition. Cameron looked from his mother to Mr. Harris having no doubt they knew each other. This didn’t surprise him. He was pretty sure they had both grown up right there.
“Carol.” He said giving her a precise nod.
“Ken.” His mother returned just as shortly.
Ken Harris looked down at Cameron who looked down at the table when the man’s eyes fell on him. He wasn’t so worried about him making him see his mom anymore. He’d decided over the last twenty minutes that he actually did want to see her. He just couldn’t stand being under the man’s scrutinizing gaze, and for some reason he felt guilty about sitting there with his mother.
“Come on Cameron it’s time to go home.”
He looked up ready to argue he wasn’t about to leave yet.
“He lives with you?” his mother said the word like it had acid dripping off it.
Ken looked at her. “Yes he does.” Though it had surprised him he could tell Cameron didn’t want to leave. And though it was against his better judgment he came to a decision. “You can follow us home. I have a feeling you guys have a lot of talking to do, and a closing restaurant isn’t a good place to do it.”
Carol looked from him to her son. “Why do you live with him?”
“We can discuss that at the house.” Ken said leaving no room for argument. “Follow us, come on Cameron.”
Glad at least that he would still be able to talk to her, Cameron didn’t argue. He stood up and followed Mr. Harris checking out of the corner of his eye every few steps to make sure she was still following. Outside she got into her car while he got into the SUV with Mr. Harris.
Mr. Harris started the car and backed it out of the parking space. “Was tonight the first time you’ve seen her?” he asked.
“Yes sir.” Still he felt like he’d done something wrongs and couldn’t shake the feeling that the man was disappointed in him.
“Is that why you called and told me to pick you up late?”
He cringed remembering he had done something wrong. “Yes sir.”
“How come you didn’t just tell me?”
“I thought you’d make me see her, after tonight, if you knew she was back in town. I didn’t think I’d want to.”
Ken looked over at the boy the street lights illuminating his face enough to see his expression, an expression he felt was genuine. “You think you do want to?” he asked in surprise.
Cameron really didn’t want to answer. He didn’t want to tie himself down to any commitment. He knew at that moment he wanted to know his mom better, but that could change. If he told Mr. Harris now that he wanted to he could see the man coming up with some rigid visitation schedule and making him stick to it. “I really don’t know yet.” He saw the man nod out of the corner of his eye, and was incredibly surprised when he didn’t say anything else until they pulled into the Harris’s driveway.
“I want to talk to you’re mom and you together first before I leave you alone. Just to explain to her why you are staying with us okay?”
Cameron nodded actually a little glad of that as he really didn’t feel like explaining it all himself. Another thought struck him as he started to open the door and he paused turning back to the man. “Will you try not to make me sound too bad?” he was surprised as hell to see him grin.
“As far as you and your parents are concerned, in my mind Cameron, you are the least bad out of all three of you.”
Cameron nodded, a little dumbstruck, he wasn’t sure if he should that as a compliment or not! Not wanting to sit there and question it, he opened his door and got out. His mother was already out of her car, which he noted was a pretty nice one, met up with him and they followed Mr. Harris into the house.
“Why don’t you go down to the study? I’m just going to tell my wife where I’ll be.”
Cameron led his mother down the hallway to his least favorite room in the house. He sat in one chair in front of the desk while his mother sat down in the other.
She looked over at him after setting her purse on the floor by her feet. “You’re going to tell me why you are living with him?”
“He’s going to tell you that.” He said, staring at his hands that were in his lap.
“How long have you been living with him?”
Figuring that was a non-evasive enough question he decided to answer. “Just a few weeks.” He looked up as Mr. Harris passed by him and watched him sit down behind his desk. He looked at Cameron then at Carol.
“You didn’t know he wasn’t living with your ex husband?”
Carol shook her head.
“Where did you think he was staying, since your ex is in the hospital?”
“Doug is in the hospital?”
Ken narrowed his eyes in disbelief. “You didn’t know that either?”
“No.” she answered shortly sensing his disbelief.
“So you’re showing up here today has nothing to do with the accident, or Cameron having a lack of a better place to stay?”
“I thought he was still living with Doug. I had no idea about any accident.”
“How did you know he worked at the restaurant if you didn’t even know where he was living?”
“I went to the school. I followed him here after school, figuring he was just spending the afternoon with your son, and then followed him to work.” She said quickly, annoyed with the third degree, but putting up with it since she knew she had a lot of questions to answer. She hoped that not too many of them would have to be asked by Ken Harris though. “So he’s living here while Doug is in the hospital?”
“No, he’s living here permanently. Doug kicked him out a month or so ago. Since that time Doug and his new family were in an accident. Doug was the only survivor.”
Cameron sat there gnawing on his lower lip getting his first glimpse of just how little use Mr. Harris had for his father. Every time the man said his name it was just so obvious that he despised his father. Something he had, had absolutely no clue about up until that very minute.
Carol looked over at Cameron her eyes moist. “Why did he kick you out?”
Before Cameron could even think about answering Ken spoke up again.
“Doug Jamison stopped being Cameron’s father the moment you left. Cameron spent a lot of time growing up here. His own father was too busy looking after his new family and completely ignoring his first child. Obviously growing up with no guidance and no positive role model Cameron got himself into a bit of trouble out with some friends one night. His father didn’t want him back at that point.”
Carol picked up her purse and set it in her lap. She pulled out a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. “I had no idea.” She cried. “I thought he’d be a good father, if not anything else, at least a good father.”
Cameron wrung his hands together not having had any idea this situation would make him so terribly uncomfortable. Sure he wanted his mother to feel bad. He just didn’t figure what seeing it would do to him. He wanted to disappear or do anything not to be in that room at that moment. He looked up as Mr. Harris started talking again.
“I don’t know what your intentions are now Carol, but at this point Cameron is under my supervision. He’s a part of our family. I must say I’m more then a little unnerved that you showed up after all these years. But I’ll be the first to say family is more important then anything. I know I wouldn’t have a legal leg to stand on if custody of Cameron should ever go to court. But believe me when I say that if you hurt him again you will have me to answer to.” He stopped talking and stared at her for a moment to let his words sink in before he leaned back in his chair, and then eventually stood up.
“So I’ll leave you to talk. Before you leave I’d like it if you left your number, I think after I have a talk with Cameron, probably tomorrow, you and I should have a long talk.”
Before Carol could say anything he left the room closing the door gently behind him leaving Cameron baffled, at not only what he had said, but also the fact he was actually going to give them privacy.
He felt his mother’s hand rest down on his thigh and quickly pulled it away. Talking to his mother was one thing, but he sure wasn’t ready for her to be touching him.
She withdrew her hand and held it against her chest. “I’m so sorry Cameron. If I had, had any idea your father wasn’t going to be good to you I would have rethought my decision to leave.”
He looked at her his eyes suddenly hard and cold. “Rethought? You mean you wouldn’t have just stayed? You would just rethink about it?”
She shook her head wishing she could say something better but truth was she didn’t know. “I was so selfish back then. It’s impossible for me to give a definite answer of what I would have done. And I’m not going to lie to you now just because it’s easier to say or easier for you to hear.”
Cameron looked down at his hands and nodded. He had to admire her for that. At least she was honest.
“Do you like living here?”
He nodded. “It’s much better then home was.” He cringed realizing he hadn’t really wanted to say that. He didn’t want to spend this time bitching. “Mr. Harris is pretty strict, but he cares about me and that’s good.” He hadn’t been sure of that last bit until five minutes earlier, but hearing the man’s speech he figured he had to care at least enough to make that speech.
“Did your father really totally ignore you?”
He nodded slightly. “I really don’t want to talk about him.”
She nodded as well reaching out her hand to touch him again but rethought it and held it back up against her chest.
“Where are you staying?” he asked looking up at her.
“A motel for the moment; I wasn’t sure you’d want me around. I didn’t want to get a place until I knew for sure.” When he didn’t say anything she added. “Should I get a place Cameron?”
He looked away from her for a moment and stared at a spot on the wall, he still wasn’t sure about giving any definite answers, but he did know he didn’t want her to go completely away. He really didn’t like being put on the spot like that, but considered just admitting he wanted her around and having her be around in town was better then the alternative.
He looked back at her very briefly and gave a slight nod, hoping she wouldn’t ask him to verbalize it. He just wasn’t ready to do that yet, wasn’t sure if he ever would be, but certainly wanted to give it a try.
He looked at her long enough to see a big smile fill her face, his own heart warmed at seeing it. She sure looked like she cared.
“I’ll go out and find a place tomorrow.” She said the happiness heavy in her voice. “Soon as I find a place I’ll call you and let you know where it is. I want you to drop by Cameron, a lot! But I understand if you want to take it slowly at first, but please believe that there is no such thing as dropping by too much for me. I’d also like to call you. Would that be alright?”
He found himself nodding. “I work some nights though. I don’t always know which ones until the Sunday before.”
“That’s okay, I’m sure Ken would be happy to inform me you aren’t here.” He saw her grinning and grinned himself.
“You guys don’t seem to like each other.”
She half smiled and moved her head from side to side. “Well it goes way back to high school, for me anyways. For him I imagine he just hates me because I walked out on you. I think he has a right there don’t you?”
Not knowing quite how to answer that Cameron just shrugged, having to feel a little happy that someone would dislike someone just on account of him, that made him feel pretty good.
Cameron could hardly keep his eyes open during his study hall in the library the next day. His mother had stayed until nearly midnight the night before, and even when he had finally gone to bed he had laid awake until well after three just thinking. Wondering if he was doing the right thing, wondering if she was going to end up hurting him again, but mostly just happy that she had come back no matter how much he tried to fight it.
As tired as he was his whole body seemed to invigorate itself as Cole walked into the room. Just seeing him made his lips spread into a wide smile and his heart race just a little bit faster. The only smile that would even come close to matching it was the smile Cole had on his face as he walked over and sat down across from him.
Not wanting to just sit there and talk Cameron leaned forward. “I’m gonna go the bathroom. That private-ish one downstairs, meet there in a few minutes okay?”
Cole’s face lit up, his eyes sparkling as he nodded and watched Cameron stand up and leave the room.
Cameron was in the bathroom no more then two minutes when Cole walked in. Not able to control himself Cameron crossed the room in two steps and took Cole tightly into his arms. He held him close as he pressed his lips firmly into Cole’s tasting they’re sweet goodness and inhaling his intoxicating scent.
Cole’s arms swept up around Cameron pressing them even more closely together as their lips parted and their tongues danced inside each other’s mouths. After a few minutes they pulled away breathlessly their smiles even bigger then they had been in the library if that were even possible.
Red faced and still breathing heavy Cole tilted his head to one side. “Did you miss me?” he asked teasingly.
Cameron chuckled and nodded firmly. “Yeah, just a little bit. What’s it been a week?”
Chuckling himself Cole stepped forward and squeezed his arms around Cameron again. “It sure seems like it. This not seeing each other, other then in school sucks! Friday’s don’t come fast enough.” He stepped back and looked Cameron in the eye. “You can still come on Friday right?”
“Oh yeah!” He said quickly wanting to dissolve any doubt in Cole’s mind and happy as hell that Cole seemed to want him there so badly. “I didn’t just want you to come down here to make out though.” He stepped back and leaned against the sink, he wasn’t so sure he should be laying his worries out on Cole, but he had been so great with his last problem he figured he’d be the best person to go to this time.
“My mother showed up yesterday.”
Cole’s mouth dropped open as he walked over and leaned back against the seat by Cameron. He took his hand and held it in his own. “Did you talk to her?”
“Yeah, most of the night last night actually.”
Cameron looked at him. “Should I have?”
Cole studied him for a moment. “That’s totally up to you. What do you want to do? I just figured you’d be real mad at her; that you wouldn’t want to see her.”
“Well I didn’t. I told her that yesterday when she called, but then she showed up at work. And, well it was a lot harder to tell her to go away in person.” He squeezed his hand tighter around Cole’s. “She was so nice. I couldn’t be mean to her. She’s going to move back here. I just am worried she’s going to leave again, but I’m thinking I want to take that risk. I mean I dreamed of her coming back so many times when I was a kid. Now she has. I don’t want her to leave again on my account.”
“From talking to her last night did you get any indication she wasn’t being sincere about why she came back or her intentions?”
“I didn’t see any, but I’m not good at reading people. I really don’t know.”
Cole nodded rubbing his free hand up and down Cameron’s back. “I guess there is no way to know for sure. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. But I think you are doing the right thing. If you tell her to go, you won’t have a chance at all. If she stays you could have your mom back, if you’re sure you want her.”
Cameron nodded he leaned over and kissed Cole on the cheek. “You always make such good sense.”
Grinning Cole leaned up against him. “You do want her back then, you’re sure?”