Christmas Season 2018
I tiptoed past my sleeping daughter, her arms still wrapped around Mr. Snuggles, her cheeks flushed from crying, and into the hallway, then down the stairs where my purse still lay in the wingback chair. After pulling out my phone, I called Jackson, then held my breath, wondering if he would bother to answer.
“I’m too tired for round two,” he said as a sleepy hello.
“I’m not calling for that,” I said, keeping my voice low. “I wanted you to know that Sara came home early. She—she um . . . she’s pretty upset. Billy broke up with her today.”
Jackson sighed deeply from the other end. “Oh, man. Did she say why?”
“Something about it being too long between marriage and his degree or some such nonsense. But she—”
When I didn’t finish my thought, he asked, “What? She what?” “Well,” I said, easing back in the chair, “She indicated that—I don’t think anything has, you know, happened between them.”
His groan lasted what felt like a full minute. “Felicia, honestly. Is that all you ever worry about?”
I frowned. Out of the three of us—them and me—which of us was right? Could it be as they’d always said? Had I let my fears get the better of me? Had it tainted my views on everything? “Now you sound like Sara,” I admitted. Or had she sounded like him?
“At least she’s still got her good sense then. And if I know our daughter, like her old man, she’ll pull herself up by her bootstraps and be fine. By this time tomorrow, Billy what’s-his-name will be just that. Nothing but a faint memory.”
Like her old man? “Is that what’s happened with us? Have you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps? Are you fine without us?”
He growled. “Felicia—”
“Jackson, I didn’t call to have a tug of war with words.” I crossed my legs.
“Then why did you call?”
“Because,” I said as though my reasoning should be obvious. “Sara is your daughter too. And I thought you’d want to know.”
“Of course I want to know.”
“And for your information, that is not all I worry about. I just don’t want—”
“What?” he asked. And when I didn’t answer—when I couldn’t answer for the knot forming in my throat—he answered for me. “You don’t want her to end up like you? Pregnant and married? Not because she’s in love and can’t see the raw future for the stars in her eyes but because it’s expected of her? My gosh, Felicia, I thought we’d gotten past all that. I thought we’d built something and built it out of nothing. Those kids of ours didn’t come out of three one-night stands, you know.”
My jaw flexed. “I don’t have to sit here and listen to this, Jackson. I only wanted you to know—”
“Thank you, then. Thank you for telling me. I’ll come by in the morning before work to check on her.”
“I doubt she’ll be awake . . .”
“Then I’ll text her in the morning and see if she wants to meet for lunch.” He waited a breath before adding. “Leesha . . .”
“What,” I whispered.
“Don’t think for one minute that I haven’t been in love with you since senior year. That night—the night after Dad died—may not have been our wisest move, but I don’t regret it. Not for one second.”
I squeezed my eyes shut against his words. Hot tears pushed past my lashes and made their way down my cheeks.
“I can only pray that one day you’ll feel the same way. One thing I’ve learned in all this is that God uses everything, Felicia. Even our mess-ups.”