Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The air in her mother's backyard was sticky for early September. "I wrote you a poem," Kristin's mother, Doris, said. Kristin's nerves, shaky at best when she was near her mother, ramped into overdrive.Doris' poems were lumps of her mother's morality of iambic pentameter. They all followed the theme that she feared Kristin, the daughter she labored for eight hours to give birth to, then raised alone, would be going straight to hell, unless she followed Doris' dictums on how to live her life.
Kristin scanned the lines her mother wrote, bracing herself. Titled "Shifting Winds," Doris compared the twists and turns of life to soft, gusting and steady winds.How it was best to stay on a good path and not let raging winds divert you from your goals. All in all, not as judgmental as others had been - and Kristin shared little with her mother about her love life or lack thereof. What her mom didn't know, was that she was a card carrying member of KinkLink.com and that she planned to attend an event that night.
Kristin took a deep, calming breath, calling to mind her therapist's and minister's words - that love, not hate,motivated her mother. She was only trying to do what she thought was best for her daughter. She had to be both mother and father -good cop and bad cop, but lately mostly bad cop.
She quickly decided to change the subject, "I did a DNA test; I got one for Jessa for her birthday and they were on sale so I got one for myself." Doris loved her a good sale.
All Kristin knew about her father was that he was a Marine. When the 9/11 attack happened, he was deployed to Iraq. He married her mother when he came home on leave. After his deployment ended, her mother said he had become distant and cold after the war. When she caught him cheating on her, she divorced him and cut contact"for their own good."
Unlike her best friend's Jessa's absent father, her father, John Rinehart, paid child support. Her mother looked pissed which only made Kristin's anger simmer. She had a right to know where she came from. Besides, it was the thing, everybody was doing it. She finished her Rob Roy too fast and gave herself a brain freeze. Her mother's lips were pressed tightly together. A few stray gray strands of her mom's salt and pepper hair framed her face; she had few wrinkles which was amazing for all she'd been through.
Kristin had inherited Doris' high cheekbones and aquiline nose, but not her mother's fair skin or blue eyes. Kristin stood six inches taller than her mother, and also unlike her mom she tanned easily due to her olive skin tone. Her dark brown eyes, face and mouth were fuller than her mother's, too. They looked similar but different if that made any sense.
Doris was busy braiding her straight hair into two braids, which meant she would get busy with her garden,and meant it was Kristin's cue to leave. "I'm going to go, Momma, let you do battle in your garden." Kristin kissed her cheek, surprised when her mother hugged her hard and didn't let go.
Stunned, Kristin hugged her back, "Is everything okay, Mom?" Kristin's voice sounded small and needy. Her mother released her and patted her cheek. "Of course it is. There's blueberry pound cake, if you want.It's in the dish with the pink lid."
Kristin studied her mother's face, stoic as always, her bad-ass teacher face, the terror of the English department at Westover High School. "School starts next week, huh?" Kristin asked, sliding her phone into her purse."Next week," her mother replied.
As she turned to leave, her mother called her name.
"Let me know how the DNA thing works out."
"Talk soon," Kristin said."Of course," Doris said, turning to her prized rosebush. Kristin grabbed the pound cake and tried to push away thoughts of Ryan Boynton, the hot private investigator she couldn't stop thinking about. No luck.
On cue, butterflies that came to life each time she thought of him were flapping around in her stomach. Pathetic, since she hadn't seen or really talked to him in months, not since her best friend Jessa married his twin brother Reece.
Three little words. Ryan muttered them after she commanded him to do the chicken dance at Reece and Jessa's wedding. "We could switch."