When You Were Mine
“OMG I couldn’t put this one down. It was just that good… Definitely a tear jerker… Touched my heart so deeply and will affect me on some level for many years to come.” ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐Blue Moon Blogger
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Single mother Beth loves her seven-year-old son Dylan with all her heart. He’s her world. But life with Dylan isn’t easy—and his emotional issues push Beth to her very limit.
When a misunderstanding leads Dylan to be taken into foster care, she is determined to do whatever she can to get him back.
Mother of two, Ally has always dreamed of fostering—it feels like her chance to give back when she has been so lucky in life. But when Dylan joins their family, Ally finds herself struggling to balance his needs with those of her own children and husband—something Beth can’t help but witness when she visits.
Beth wants nothing more than to find a way to bring her beloved child home. But where is the right home for Dylan? Is it with the mother he was born to? Or is a new mother the greatest gift Beth could give her son?
A beautiful, powerful and ultimately hopeful story of the heartbreaking power of a mother’s love, for fans of Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes.
Praise for When You Were Mine:
" To say this story is a five-star read is an understatement. There are not enough stars in the world to show how much this book has touched me. It is sad, thrilling, gripping and completely pulls on your heart strings. Beautifully written." Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"With this heartwarming and at times heart-wrenching drama Kate is hot on the heels of the likes of Jodi Picoult and Kelly Rimmer… A fantastic addition to my bookshelf. Kate Hewitt is one to watch with her passionate and tearjerking narratives and could easily give Diane Chamberlain and Jill Childs a run for their money." Rachel M Writer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
" Five solid glowing stars, hands down!… Kate Hewitt has such a talent at creating stories and characters that completely engulf you right from page one and keep you captivated page after page after page until you reach the very last page… I loved reading this book… I highly recommend this book and this author!" Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
"Kate Hewitt does a brilliant job portraying the best and hardest moments of being a mother… Sure to touch your heart, make you reach for Kleenex, and bring you insurmountable joy… Will resonate within your soul long after you finish reading it… One of those books that you never forget!" The Reading Snug ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
" This author just gets better and better, a great read which I just loved from the very first page until the last… So sensitively written… Thoroughly recommend this book." NetGalley reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
" A beautiful heart rending read that will tug at your heartstrings long after you have read it!… humbling and heartbreaking at the same time, a really emotional read that I would highly recommend." Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
" Could not put this book down. So emotional… so true to life… Kate Hewitt has the knack to tackle everyday problems in wonderful stories. I enjoy her books so much. Highly recommend." Goodreads reviewer ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Release date: October 19, 2020
Print pages: 368
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When You Were Mine
I’m about to lose my son over a pack of Twizzlers. Of course, that’s not the whole story. It can’t be. But in the moment when Susan, a kindly-looking woman I’ve learned not to trust, took Dylan away as he kicked and screamed for me, that’s how it felt. A lousy pack of Twizzlers.
But this is how it really happened—I was in the system, and once you’re in the system, with calls logged and visits made, with notes in the margins about how messy your house is or how tired you look, you’re screwed. That’s the unfortunate truth.
So when Dylan lost it in the middle of a CVS because I wouldn’t buy him a second pack of Twizzlers, and a woman in the next aisle poked her head around all suspiciously, eyes narrowed as she watched Dylan throw himself onto the floor and start banging his head against it—I realized this was going to be bad.
I’ve tried not to take Dylan out very much, for exactly this reason. We make do with the places he knows and loves—the park, the library, Whole Foods when it’s not busy. When he does melt down, and that happens fairly often, I try to get him out of the situation as quickly and safely as possible. I try, and sometimes I fail, and the guilt I feel is the worst part of it all. No one feels as bad about losing my temper as I do.
So that’s what happened in CVS. I told Dylan he couldn’t have the Twizzlers because I’d come out with a five-dollar bill and I’d already spent it. We’d been having a tough morning already, because Dylan woke up at three and didn’t go back to sleep till seven, and the only reason I was at CVS at all was because I needed tampons.
So there I was—tired, crampy, emotional, and wishing Dylan hadn’t seen the Twizzlers. He doesn’t even eat them, he just likes to play with them like they’re pipe cleaners or bendy straws, and he makes some pretty awesome creations out of them.
But today I didn’t have the money for two packs, and after promising him we could get them later—a concept that, at only just seven years old, he doesn’t fully appreciate—I lost my cool when he started screaming—a high-pitched, single-note shriek that I know people think is weird, and makes me feel anxious—that people are staring, that he won’t stop, that I can’t control this situation.
I shouldn’t have lost my temper. I know that. Of course I know that. But I did, just a little bit—even though all I did was shout his name, and grab his arm to pull him up from the floor, and then, before I knew it, there was a woman calling the hotline for DCF. That’s Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, if you don’t know. I do.
Of course, nothing happens the minute someone makes that call. It took the store manager getting involved, and then the police had to come, and we ended up being taken by police car to the station on Raymond Road, with a paunchy officer telling everyone to calm down, although the only one who was upset was Dylan, and he wasn’t listening to the policeman’s advice.
I had my arm around my son, and he was both punching me and burrowing into me at the same time, and I stayed silent because I know by now saying anything in this type of situation is not a good idea. I just wanted to sit through the inevitable questions and comments, give the right answers and then go home, with DCF off my back, because that’s what happened before.
But this time it didn’t.
It didn’t because I was already on DCF’s radar, which I know sounds suspect. Even the most laid-back liberal person starts to look a little prim when they hear that DCF is involved. Their eyes narrow and their mouths purse and they say, well, what really happened? in a tone that suggests anything you say won’t be reason enough for someone’s child to be taken away, because only monsters have that happen to them.
So here it is: the first time DCF was called, it was by Dylan’s father, Marco. Dylan was two years old and he’d started to demonstrate symptoms—of what, we didn’t know and still don’t. Back then he was too young for most diagnoses—autism, ADHD, the nebulous PDD, or pervasive development disorder, when they can’t decide what’s wrong. The pediatrician, when I took Dylan at eighteen months old, told us to wait and see, and I was happy to do that, relieved to kick that particular can further down the road. But Marco had had enough of the sleepless nights, the tantrums that started for no good reason and sometimes didn’t end for hours, the terror of many household things that led to the aforementioned shrieking, the constant clinging to me—and one night, in boozed-up desperation, he called DCF and said he wanted to commit “voluntary relinquishment.” He’d looked it up on the internet; it’s basically where you give up your own child.
Fortunately, because I certainly didn’t want to give him up, and in any case, thankfully, it doesn’t actually work like that, no one took Dylan away. Still, DCF had a duty to get involved, and so we received a couple of visits. Our home, a shabby little duplex in Elmwood, was inspected, and we were referred to a pediatric psychiatrist all the way in Middletown, because none of the ones near us in West Hartford who accepted HUSKY—Connecticut’s Medicaid program for children—had room on their waiting lists.
I went to that first appointment, even though I was dreading it. Dylan didn’t do well on the bus—Marco said he had to take the car to work, even though he’d known about the appointment—and then the hour-long wait, even with all the toys and books available, strung us both out even more until Dylan was clinging to me like a monkey and burying his head in my shoulder. By the time we arrived in the examining room, he was about two minutes away from a meltdown.
And that’s just what he did, flinging himself on the floor while the psychiatrist, a stern-looking woman with permed hair and deep frown lines, looked on and wrote notes; the scratch of her pen made my own anxiety skyrocket. What was she writing—about what a terrible mother I was?
“I don’t think this is going to work,” I said, as I both tried to catch Dylan’s arms to keep him from hurting himself and sound reasonable.
“This isn’t about Dylan being on his best behavior,” she told me in a teacherish voice. She leaned forward, her expression intent as she spoke calmly. “Dylan, I see that you’re upset and tired. Maybe you’re frightened because of this new situation. But you cannot kick and hurt people, even when you feel that way.”
Dylan didn’t listen to a word she said, not that he would have understood, at just two and a half years old. It was undoubtedly all straight out of a parenting manual, or Psychology 101, and basically useless when it comes to the actual moment, such as it was.
I didn’t go back. DCF called and asked why I’d missed the next appointment, and then they visited us at home, and fortunately Dylan was having a good day, so they finally left us alone. For a while.
The second and last time we came onto DCF’s radar was when Dylan was five. By that time we were completely off the grid when it came to parenting—the playgroups, the story times, the Mommy and Me sessions that most parents seemed to go to, their worlds revolving around each other and their kids—cut-up carrot sticks, picnics in the park, wine o’clock for the mommies. I saw it from a distance, but we passed it all by, existing in our solitary bubble, because that was what worked.
I’d stopped with the yearly well checks at the pediatrician’s too, because they were too difficult, and Dylan had managed only two mornings of preschool, with me sitting next to him the whole time, talking to him quietly, before I realized that wasn’t going to work, either.
Marco had left us when Dylan was three, making do with sporadic visits that tapered off to basically nothing within a year, and Dylan and I didn’t go out at all, except for the library and the park, the occasional necessary shopping, and basically it sometimes felt as if, to the rest of the world, we had simply ceased to exist.
Which was why it was a surprise when DCF called eighteen months ago, because I hadn’t registered Dylan for kindergarten. Those two mornings at preschool had left enough of a footprint for them to check up on us, presumably since we were already written up in their notes somewhere.
I was annoyed, and afraid, and frankly totally fed up. I mean, you read about these cases of kids being killed by their parents, locked in cupboards or chained to a table, covered in cigarette burns and bruises, and somehow DCF leaves them alone but comes after me, when anyone can see I am trying my best. They come after me, and instead of actually helping me, they just pretend to, tsk-tsking under their breath while they smile and ask their questions.
That was the first time I met Susan and her kindly smile. She came to my door and she looked so compassionate and I felt so alone in that moment that I let my guard down. She made me a cup of tea while I sat at my kitchen table and sobbed. I hadn’t meant to; I hadn’t even realized I needed to. I thought, for the most part, that I was fine. Dylan and I both were.
But she asked me how I was doing in a way that made me think she cared about my answer, and then she murmured soothing things about how hard it had to be, and somehow it all came spilling out. Marco leaving. Trying to work from home because childcare simply wasn’t an option. Dylan’s needs—mainly his need for me, the way he always clung, the way he worried about everything, the fears he had that knit us together as if we were fused at the bone. And while I couldn’t have imagined it any other way and I’m not even sure I would have even wanted it any other way, sometimes, only once in a while, it felt too hard.
“It just never ends,” I remember saying, trying to hiccup back my sobs. “There’s never any break.”
Susan asked gentle questions about support, and I had to confess I didn’t have any. My mother lives in New Hampshire with her second husband, who runs some kind of organic farm shop, and has no time for me, never mind Dylan. My father still lives in the house I grew up in, in Bloomfield, but isn’t interested and never will be. Friends? I lost them a long time ago, what ones I had. Work colleagues? I make cheap jewelry and sell it on Shopify, squeezing in my hours when Dylan is occupied or asleep. I don’t have any work colleagues.
“What about neighbors?” Susan asked with her oh-so-sympathetic smile. I live in a duplex that has been divided into three apartments; Dylan and I are on the ground floor. I told Susan about Angela, the well-meaning elderly lady upstairs who has Alzheimer’s. She’s invited us in once or twice over the years, but her apartment is full of fussy little knickknacks and I don’t want Dylan to break anything by accident.
My neighbor on the top floor is a man who drinks a lot of beer, judging from the recycling bin full of cans on our shared drive, and plays a lot of violent video games, judging from the noise that filters down through the ceiling. I don’t know what else he does, if anything.
So, I explained to Susan, there was basically no one, and I know most everyone has trouble understanding that, how absolutely alone you can be when there are people all around you, when most normal people have parents and siblings, relatives and friends, a whole spiderweb of support that has been completely and utterly beyond me. But really that’s how it was, how it’s always been, at least since I was eighteen. No one.
So Susan comforted me and then she told me she thought I needed some support, and she suggested a group that met at the community center in Elmwood, for parents and caregivers of autistic children. Except Dylan wasn’t autistic; I knew he wasn’t. I’d looked up the symptoms and they definitely weren’t his. He made eye contact; he didn’t have “sensory sensitivity”; he didn’t engage in soothing, repetitive activity, unless I counted building with Lego or doing jigsaws. Although he was often silent, it wasn’t from lack of ability. He could speak, but he chose not to.
Still, I knew, to the average observer, he could seem autistic, just because he was different, and shy, and a bit high-strung. I was sure Susan meant well, even if she didn’t understand us at all.
I couldn’t take Dylan to a support group, not even one with people who would be understanding, with lots of soft toys and a soothing atmosphere and all the rest of it. Dylan gets nervous in crowds; he sticks to me like glue at the best of times, even when we’re alone. We only go to the park or library when they’re virtually empty, which means showing up right at opening or right before closing.
Neither could I go to a support group without him, because nobody has taken care of him besides me since Marco left. Marco stopped visiting years ago, even though he also lives in Bloomfield, the next town over. Susan asked about that arrangement too, and I told her that Marco wasn’t involved beyond visits once or twice a year, although he did put some money in my bank account once in a while.
So, for the last four years it has been Dylan and me for every single minute of every single day—and mostly, that’s fine. I like his company. He likes mine. Most of the time, we’re very happy together. I love my son, and I’ve figured out a routine that works for us both. Mostly.
So when Susan gave all her well-meaning and totally improbable suggestions, I just smiled and murmured something vaguely affirmative, all the while knowing she wasn’t going to be able to help me at all.
And she didn’t. She just put us back on the hamster wheel of appointments with therapists and psychologists that were impossible to get to. I tried once, at least. I took Dylan to the pediatrician for a well visit, since he hadn’t been since he was two. He was seen by a junior associate who had never met him before, which could have been horrendous but actually wasn’t.
The doctor was young and friendly, and fortunately seemed unfazed by Dylan’s behavior—sitting on my lap the whole time, not saying a word, and burrowing his head in my chest whenever the doctor tried to talk to him.
But, amazingly, Dylan still passed all the usual checks—his hearing and eyesight were perfect, he could point to an object or arrange things in order, and in the end the doctor said he didn’t see any cause for concern regarding developmental delay—code word for autism—and he sent us on our way with some ridiculous but well-meant advice on children developing at different rates in terms of social behavior.
It was enough, thank goodness, for Susan to leave us alone, saying she’d check up on us in six months.
Sure enough, she came back six months later, when Dylan had just turned six.
I hadn’t taken him to any other appointments, of course, which she already knew, and she walked around the apartment and made little notes and ticks on her clipboard which made me want to scream. What did she see? What was so wrong?
“You share a bedroom?” she asked in a neutral tone that didn’t feel neutral at all.
“There’s only one bedroom in the apartment.” I didn’t think it was as weird as it might have seemed—the only way Dylan went to sleep is if I was lying next to him. So yes, we slept in the same bed. It’s easier. And anyway, what about all those people in the Middle Ages who slept, like, six to a bed? That wasn’t weird, was it?
Susan came into the kitchen, which was messy, I knew. I usually saved doing the dishes till the end of the day, when Dylan was asleep. I cringed at the way she looked at everything—the dirty dishes piled in the sink, the spilled cereal on the table. All of it made me feel so guilty, but surely I wasn’t the only mom in the world whose kitchen wasn’t sparkling?
“How is your work going?” she asked in a kindly voice, and I said it was fine, even though it was hard to find the time to make beaded bangles and whatnot when Dylan so often needed my attention.
“And you’re homeschooling Dylan?” she continued in that same neutral tone as she came back into the living room, which was also messy. Dylan had got a puzzle out and was putting it together by himself, which I hoped counted for something. He loved puzzles, and fortunately I could usually pick them up for cheap at tag sales.
“Yes, I am.” Which I thought she must already know, because I’d filed an intent to homeschool with the education authority right after her last visit. Not that I actually was homeschooling. Dylan was only six and I figured puzzles and books were enough to occupy him at that age. He knew some letters, and he could write his name. I read him stories and sometimes we colored pictures together. What more did a little boy need?
Susan nodded slowly. She talked a bit about the missed appointments, and encouraged me to go to that support group, and then she smiled at Dylan and said that, despite some challenges, he seemed happy. And then, thank goodness, she left.
That was a year ago. And now I’m sitting in a stale-smelling little room at the police station, the kind of room reserved for suspected criminals, with Dylan asleep on my lap because this whole situation has completely exhausted him. At least he’s not screaming anymore. I’ve seen the side-eye the desk sergeant gave me, that silent, judgmental look which I have become so used to. Usually I get it when Dylan melts down in public, and people assume I’m some lame, lax parent who has no sense of discipline, but getting it from a police officer in the station feels a whole lot worse.
He gave me a look like he thought I beat my child, or neglected him in some awful way, when nothing could be further from the truth. My entire life revolves around Dylan. Whether that’s a good or bad thing might be up for debate, but the truth is I’d do anything for my son, and I’ve sacrificed my whole life for his happiness—gladly.
Because, actually, I wasn’t always like this. A lifetime ago—well, about ten years—I was your normal teenaged girl, from a middle-class family—well, almost—planning to go to Connecticut State, working weekends at the Gap in West Farms Mall, being all cute and chirpy as I folded sweaters. I was a quiet girl, not as shy as Dylan, but definitely not the life of any party, but I had a few friends, and a family, and life felt normal.
How I got from that to this is another story, a pointless one since it happened and some of it was my fault and there is nothing I can do about it now.
Now I just want to get through this and go home with Dylan. I want to curl up on the sofa with him, his head on my shoulder, my arm around him, and read Dinosaurs Before Dark to him three times in a row. And the longer I wait here, the more I’m afraid that isn’t going to happen, at least not anytime soon.
I’ve been waiting in the room for about half an hour when Susan comes in, with her kindly smile and a cup of tea for me. She even remembers how I like it, milky and sweet. I tense automatically, because this all feels just a little too sympathetic, like she’s bringing bad news.
“So, Beth,” she says, and her voice is full of compassionate sorrow.
I don’t reply, because I feel like anything I say could and would be used against me, but as it turns out, I don’t need to reply, because Susan just shakes her head and says, “As I’m sure you realize, this isn’t working.”
And I don’t ask what she means, because of course I know it already. She means me. Me and Dylan. We’re not working, and for the first time, it seems like DCF is going to actually do something, and I can’t stand the thought, even as I feel a treacherous little flicker of relief. Finally, finally someone is going to help me.
Little did I know.
Three weeks after we finish our training to become foster parents, the checks and references finally complete, we get our first call.
I am standing at the kitchen island, gazing out at the backyard, which is full of burgeoning autumn color—russets and scarlets and gold. It is a beautiful, crisp fall day in mid-October, the kind of day where the air looks crystalline and feels drinkable. I spent the morning working from home, and then I had lunch with a friend, and in twenty minutes I am due to pick Josh up from cross-country practice. I’m feeling benevolent and contented, even though I am missing Emma, who started college in Boston just six weeks ago. Her absence continues to give me a certain, melancholy restlessness.
This is a similar feeling—in fact, I was standing in the exact same place—to when I first broached the idea of becoming foster parents to Nick, back in April. He was on the sofa, kicking back with a glass of wine, and Josh and Emma were upstairs in their rooms, working or socializing via their phones, probably both. They had the uncanny ability to simultaneously write an essay and take a Snapchat selfie approximately every three seconds. It boggled my mind, but I couldn’t complain, because they were both straight-A students and Emma had just been accepted to Harvard, something that Nick and I were absolutely thrilled about but felt we had to downplay. You can’t go running around to your neighbors boasting about your kid being accepted to the best college in the country, at least not in West Hartford, where everyone is politely cutthroat about college admissions. We’d been saying she was going to Boston for college instead, but weighing the word Boston with a mysteriously significant emphasis. Sometimes people asked, sometimes they just looked a bit miffed, because they already knew.
Perhaps it was because I knew Emma would be leaving soon, and at sixteen Josh didn’t seem to need us at all, except to drive him places, that I thought of fostering in the first place. I’d seen a documentary on my laptop, a few minutes of a clip on Facebook about the foster care crisis in America, and I listened to how there are almost half a million children in care in the United States, many of them waiting for placements or adoption.
It was the kind of thing that was meant to tug at your heartstrings, with traumatized, teary-eyed children looking straight at the camera, and it worked. I looked around our house, with the gleaming granite kitchen we’d renovated and expanded a couple of years ago, a pottery jug of tulips unfurling their blossoms in the middle of the island, the photos on the walls of our happy family hiking in the Berkshires, taking the inevitable trip to Orlando, in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon, and of course the ubiquitous portrait of us all in white T-shirts and jeans, goofing around self-consciously for the camera.
We were so lucky. Hashtag blessed, and I didn’t even mean it ironically. I knew it, and I thanked something—God, maybe, or perhaps a more comfortably nebulous idea of fate—for how much we had. Wasn’t it time to pay it forward? Wouldn’t that be a good use of my extra time, now that Emma was leaving home, and I was only working twenty hours a week?
I was only forty-six, young for an almost empty-nester, at least in this part of Connecticut. Most of my friends with children Emma’s age were well into their fifties. I felt young, and Emma’s leaving felt like a new chapter not just for her, but for all of us. I wanted to do something different and meaningful with my life.
So I broached the idea to Nick, who looked startled and a bit nonplussed, which was understandable since I’d never once mentioned it before in our twenty-two years of marriage.
“Foster? But we’re finally getting our lives back.” He spoke jokingly, but I knew he was serious, at least somewhat.
“We’ve had our lives back for years,” I returned lightly. “It’s not as if Josh and Emma are toddlers.” They’d not been needing us since they were thirteen, more or less, except as a taxi service and a listening ear for the occasional emotional outburst from Emma.
“Yeah, but… with Emma gone, and Josh sixteen… we could go away on our own.” He waggled his eyebrows enticingly. “A romantic weekend in New York…”
“I can’t really see us leaving Josh at home.” I trusted him, but not quite that much. “And the placements don’t last forever.”
“I don’t know, Ally…” Nick’s gaze flickered towards the television, which he’d muted when I first spoke.
“All I’m asking is that you think about it, Nick. We have so much, and there are kids out there who are in desperate situations.” My throat closed a little at the memory of some of the harrowing stories I’d seen on that clip. Kids who had nothing but Twinkies for breakfast or wore clothes three sizes too small, never mind the truly horrific cases of abuse that I couldn’t bear to think about.
“Yes, but…” He paused, his wine glass halfway to his lips. “They’re all really difficult, aren’t they?”
I drew back a little at that; I didn’t think he meant to sound so selfish. “You’d be difficult too if you’d grown up the way those kids did.” Admittedly, it might have seemed as if I’d positioned myself as an expert after watching something on Facebook for five minutes, but actually I’d done some more research than that. The ad had led me to the website for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, and I’d read numerous articles on fostering, the training you did, the references you needed, how rewarding it all was. I didn’t know much, not yet, but I knew something.
“I know, I know,” Nick assured me. “That’s what I’m saying. They all have issues. And I don’t really think we’re equipped to deal with that sort of thing.”
“Equipped? How are we not equipped?” I looked pointedly around our spacious kitchen, the French windows we’d had put in a couple of years ago leading out to a cedarwood deck with a huge, gleaming grill. Our house wasn’t enormous, but it worked, and I loved it for all it represented, all the memories it had promised and then contained.
A couple of years ago, Nick had floated the idea of moving to one of those big brick monstrosities on Mountain Road, but I couldn’t stomach the idea. We’d bought our 1920s four-bedroom house off Farmington Avenue fifteen years ago, and then done it up slowly until we’d got it exactly the way we liked. We’d fallen in love with the street, which looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting or an episode of Leave it to Beaver—porches with window boxes and rocking chairs, kids riding bikes down the sidewalk or playing kick-the-can on summer nights as the fireflies come out like low-lying stars. It was exactly the sort of childhood I’d wanted for my kids, and we gave it to them. Why not offer it to someone else, even if just for a short time, if we could?
“We’re plenty equipped,” I said when Nick seemed as if he wasn’t going to answer me. “We’ve raised two children successfully”—Emma’s Harvard admission seemed to hover purposefully in the air—“and I work from home part-time. So do you, some of the time.” Last year, he’d redone the bonus room over the garage as a home office, complete with skylight and Nespresso machine. “We could do this.” But not if Nick wasn’t as committed as I was, although I was sure he could be, given time and a little carefully applied pressure.
“Where did this even come from?” he asked. “Because this is the first I’ve ever heard about it. You’re talking as if this is the tenth time we’ve had this discussion. What’s going on, Ally?”
I ducked my head, a bit abashed, because it was out of the blue. Last week, I’d been talking about renting a house in Provence for the summer, after seeing a magazine spread of fields of lavender and sunflowers, the sea an azure sparkle in the distance.
I’m a bit like that—I get seized by an idea and then I can’t help but run away with it, at least in my mind. Nick tethers me to earth, grounds me in reality. Sometimes it feels like a wet blanket, and other times it’s a relief.
Yet right then, watching him sip his wine and glance at the baseball game on TV, just as he did every other night, thinking how easy our lives had become, it didn’t feel like either. It felt like a disappointment. I wanted him to want it. I wanted his eyes to light up as he leaned forward, the Red Sox forgotten for a second, and say, You know what, Al? That sounds like a wonderful idea. In fact, I’ve b. . .
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