Usually she'd let me sit between the two of them when they cuddled up together on the sofa.
The next morning, mom was at the table crying. "Where's Ross?" I asked.
"Gone to work?"
"No, just gone."
I was angry. I know I hurt her, but I was hurt. "What did you do wrong this time, mom?"
She flinched. "Nothing. He decided to go back to his wife. She went to see him yesterday. Said she wanted to give it one more try. Said their kids missed him a lot. She missed him a lot. I tried to get him to stay. He had told me so many bad stories about her. He said he never would go back with her. but, sometimes you just have to do what you don't want to do. He loves his kids."
"But, he said he loved you and me, too."
"I know. but, it's different. They're married. They're their kids." As soon as she said that, I knew she was sorry. "Honey, I never loved you any less because it was just you and me. You know that. You are my princess." She always called me that. Something I said or did when I was a baby.
I started crying then. I wanted it to work out with Ross. "I really liked Ross."
"Me, too, honey."
After that, she was with a couple of guys, but Jake was the worst of them all. She said she liked having a guy around. Liked having someone around at night when she got home. Maybe she just was trying to find another Ross. Who knew? but, that wasn't Jake. He hit her all the time. And today, he was angry enough to hurt her more than ever.
"Listen, I can't stay around here if I know she's going to talk. I'm not safe. She's one of those do good kids. Always saying, something is not right. Shouldn't' do this. Shouldn't do that. You tell me where she's at, or I'm going to leave you forever. I mean it."
"Hey, don't go. I'll talk to her later. You'll see. She doesn't even know what she saw."
"She saw me coming out of that house and loading up the van with their stuff. She's not that dumb. If you had been around like you were supposed to, you would have seen her coming."
"She could have thought you were helping them move or something."
"Right. And I'm Santa Clause. I mean it. When I head out that door, I'm gone for good." He started walking toward the door.
I prayed. Mom just let him go. He's no good. We'll find another Ross. or, Ross may come back. You never know. His wife could have done something stupid again. You don't need Jake. But I knew it was no good. She'd never let him leave. Instead, she'd wait until Jake left her one day, because she cried too much, whined too much, or wanted him around too much. Just like all the others that she had living here for a couple of months. She'd take the yelling and the hitting, because she didn't like being alone.
I would say to her, "But, mom, you're not alone. You got me." She'd say it was not the same. Being only with me, she was still alone. She loved when we were doing things together, but having a guy here was different. I never understood that. but, I did know that I would never let anyone treat me like Jake did. I'd find a Ross, or I'd live alone.
Lying under that bed, I was scared to death. What would Jake do to me? Mom, please, please. Just let him go. Then he was opening up the door, and my mom, torn between him and me, must have made a stupid mistake.
"What did you just do?"
"Nothing, Jake. Honest."
"You looked down behind you. You shit. She's been here all along. Under the bed."
Jake walked back to the bed, pulled mom out of the way, bent down and yanked me out by my arms.
"He twisted my arm so hard, I knew something had snapped. Listen, kid, you and I are going to have a nice…