Numbers Page 35

He cleared his throat. ’’She informed me that she plans to fly out here today.’’

Dana gawked at him.

’’I know. She\s never visited here before. I got the impression she\s pissed that you didn\ come home when she expected you to.’’

’’I\m not a kid.’’ She thought about how her mother would react to her dating a New Species. ’’Shit. Tell me you talked her out of it.’’

’’I tried.’’

’’Did you tell her that you\ e only allowed one visitor at Homeland at a time? We came up with that lie together so she wouldn\ be tempted come with me, remember?’’

’’I told her that.’’

She blew out a relieved breath. ’’Thanks.’’

’’So she said she\d stay at the local motel a few blocks away.’’

’’No!’’

’’I even pointed out that there are no fancy hotels around this area, and it\s a dive motel. She still insisted on coming. She must really be worried that you\ll decide to move to California to be closer to us. Can you imagine our mother staying in a motel?’’

Dana shook her head. ’’I\m calling her.’’ She slammed down the mug, spilling coffee on the counter, and snatched up Paul\s kitchen phone to dial. It rang four times before the answering machine picked up. She waited for the beep. ’’Mom? It\s Dana. Pick up.’’

She waited but the machine finally cut her off by disconnecting the call. Dana cursed, staring at Paul. ’’She\s not home, or she\s ignoring the call.’’

’’Or she already got on a plane and is headed here.’’

’’Shit!’’ Dana put down the phone and paced. ’’I told her I needed space. She was driving me nuts.’’

’’That probably didn\ help alleviate her fears. She depends on you to be close to her.’’

Dana stopped striding back and forth. ’’I see why you left home right after high school. Do you know what she did last week? She rearranged the furniture in my living room because she didn\ like the way I had it.’’

Paul chuckled.

Dana flipped him off. ’’It\s not funny. I had to move all of it back and told her to never do it again. She acted hurt and complained about it to her friends, who called me to tell me she was upset. What about me? Who walks into someone\s home and does that?’’

’’Our mom.’’

’’Can you tell the NSO not to let her in? Will they stick with our story of saying you can only have one guest at a time?’’

He grimaced. ’’Dana...’’

’’Paul! You know she\s going to raise hell when she finds out about Mourn.’’ Suspicion rose. ’’Did you tell her I was dating him? Did you ask her to come?’’

’’No.’’

She studied him but didn\ see any telling signs of guilt. He was a bad liar. ’’I believe you.’’

’’That\s a shitty thing to accuse me of.’’

’’Sorry.’’

’’You know how she treats Becky. Do you think I want to subject my wife to our mother? She tries to guilt Becky and me into having kids. Becky finally told her she didn\ want to hear it anymore. Mom gave her the cold shoulder. It was the last time we flew to visit her. It was miserable.’’

Dana wasn\ surprised. ’’Poor Becky.’’

’’Yeah. I would love to keep Mom out of Homeland, but how do you explain our mother to New Species? They think mothers are sweet and kind. They don\ know some of them are controlling and pushy.’’

’’She\s going to find out about Mourn and flip her lid. She\ll do or say whatever it takes to get him to stop seeing me so I\ll go home with her.’’

’’I don\ want to involve the NSO in our family issues. What are the chances that she\ll show up at the gates and demand to see us?’’

Dana regarded him with a frown.

Paul\s shoulders sagged. ’’Shit. She\d totally do that.’’

’’I have to warn Mourn.’’

’’I have to warn Becky.’’

’’I\m totally moving in with Mourn if Mom stays with you.’’

’’Does he have a guestroom?’’

’’You\ e not shoving her on him.’’

’’I meant for me and Becky. Mom can stay here on her own. I don\ want to subject my wife to our mother on a rant. You know she\s going to yell when she finds out you\ e getting it on with a New Species.’’ He chuckled.

She flipped him off. ’’I wouldn\ laugh too much, big bro. She\ll turn on you and your wife about those grandbabies you\ve denied her when she\s done with me.’’

His amusement died. ’’Shit.’’

’’Exactly. You\d better talk to someone at the gates and ask them to go along with you having a one-visitor limit.’’

* * * * *

Dana tapped her thigh as she sat next to Mourn at the island. He\d brought pizza for dinner. She just decided to spit it out. ’’I have to leave after we have dinner.’’

His chin jerked up, the large boxes he\d reached to open forgotten. ’’Give me more time before you say you won\ see me anymore. We\ e good together, Dana. I know you enjoyed last night and this morning.’’

’’I did. It\s not that. I want to keep spending time with you. It\s just that my mother is on her way to California. She\s going to check in to a motel that is not far from here at around seven o\clock tonight, and she wants my brother and me to meet her there. I have to go.’’

’’Your mother? Why is she staying in a human motel? Call the gates and tell them to expect her. We can arrange human housing for her if she doesn\ want to stay with Paul too.’’

She inwardly cringed. ’’Um, that\s not a good idea. We kind of told her that it\s against the rules to have more than one family member visit at a time.’’

’’That\s not true.’’

’’I know. I feel a bit guilty about that, but it\s complicated.’’

’’She hates Species?’’

’’No.’’

’’What is the problem?’’

Dana sighed, trying to think of a way to explain her mother to him. ’’I\m just going to be blunt, okay?’’

He nodded.

’’She\s going to be very unhappy when she finds out I\m dating you. It\s not because you\ e New Species. It\s because it means I\ll have to live here if we get serious. She likes me being close to her. She also has it set in her mind that she\ll get to handpick my next husband. Don\ even try to make sense of it. It\s just how she is. She can be extremely rude, and she will be. I don\ want to subject you to her. Trust me. I\m doing you a favor.’’


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