I had to open the door but I couldn’t move. I was in denial. I wanted to pretend none of my reality was truly happening. Except Greg. But she was right outside my door. Donna… my evil mother-in-law. She made a weak effort to fake it with me. Sometimes. But I could always see through her. She never wanted Dan to marry me. Maybe she was onto something.
“Amy?” Greg’s voice pulled me out of my thoughts. “Do you want me to go?”
I took an anxious breath and looked at him. “Greg… I don’t know.”
He rested a hand on my shoulder. “Honey, answer the door. I’ll wait upstairs.” I nodded to him and he left me.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before reaching for the door.
“Donna. Come in.”
She walked in and stared at me with eyes somehow sad and angry at the same time. I offered her coffee, but she ignored my words. “Amy, are you alright? You look terrible.”
Thanks, Donna. Bitch. “I’m fine. How are you doing? Can I get you anything?”
“No. I don’t want to trouble you.”
“It’s no trouble, Donna.” God, just take a fucking cup of coffee! Oh, I did feel bad that she lost her son. Never would I wish that on anyone. But did she really think I needed her to come into my home and insult me?
Donna sighed dramatically. “Oh, Amy, how could this have happened?” She shook her head and looked away from me. “He was such a wonderful son. So sweet, honest, kind… since he was a little boy.”
I thought I was going to be sick. Sweet? Honest? Kind? She had no idea who Dan really was. I didn’t speak. My eyes focused on my hands resting on the table in front of me.
“Did you know his friend? The woman who was with him?”
Oh, fuck it. “I just met her… when I came home and found her here with Dan.”
“Was she a colleague? I imagine Daniel was on his way home from one of his business meetings. He worked so hard.”
Oh dear God. I really am going to be sick. “Donna, I think you should know…”
“What is it? My goodness, you’re so pale. Are you sure you’re not ill?”
“I’m fine.” You condescending bitch. “Donna, I met Dan’s friend when I walked in on the two of them in a rather compromising position.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
Oh bite me, Donna. You know exactly what I mean. Your precious boy was a cheating bastard. “I think you know what I mean. Our marriage has been in trouble for a long time.”
“Amy, how can you be so cruel? My son just died and you’re accusing him of being unfaithful? I know we’ve never been close, but I never thought you were so heartless.”
“I’m sorry, Donna.” I was not sorry. “I know it’s difficult to hear but it’s the truth. Dan and I were finished and he had already moved on.”
“You must have done something. You must have driven him away.”
I sighed in frustration. And I cried. “I’m so sorry that this happened to Dan. I’m so sorry you’re going through the loss of your son. But I thought you should know the truth… whether you choose to believe it or not.”
“I don’t believe it. And I cannot imagine why I came here thinking you needed me!” I needed her? Her?! “Daniel’s father and I are handling the funeral. If you care to attend.” She pulled something from her bag and tossed it onto the table.
Donna stood and turned to leave. But before she reached the door, her eyes caught two mugs sitting on the counter. She stared at them for a moment and turned back to me. Her harsh, disapproving glare could have cut through glass.
I held my breath until she closed the door behind her. And as soon as she did, my head fell into my hands and I cried. Even as I heard Donna drive away, my tears didn’t stop.
Greg walked into the kitchen and sat at the table near me. He pulled one of my hands from my face. When he locked his fingers with mine, I turned to him.
“She is taking care of the funeral…” I mumbled. I gestured to the paper Donna had tossed to the table on her way out.
“Amy…” His empty hand covered my cheek. “Has she always treated you like that?”
“You heard…” It wasn’t a question. I knew he heard.
“I’m sorry… I got to the top of the stairs and I heard her… and I just couldn’t walk away.”
“It’s okay. And yes… she has always treated me like that.”
“And Dan never stopped her? He never said anything?”
“She’s his mother. What could he have said?”
“How about, ‘Hey, Mom, don’t treat my wife like shit’?”
I sighed softly and smiled. “Greg… thank you.”
“You make me smile. My cheating husband just died. His mother treats me like dirt. And you make me smile.”
“That’s what I’m here for.”
“Really? To make me smile?”
“I think she knew I wasn’t alone.”
“Your horrible mother-in-law?” He smiled at his own words.
“Yeah. I saw her stare at our two mugs over by the sink before she walked out. She really thinks I’m responsible for all of this.”
“Let her lie to herself. You know the truth.”
I nodded to him and watched him lift the page Donna had tossed onto the table. After reading it, he looked back at me.
“Amy, you’re going to the funeral, right? You have to…” He knew I had to be there.
“I don’t know. When is it? I may have plans.” I smiled to him, desperately trying to forget everything Donna said.
“Amy.” He laughed softly at my attempt at humor. “You are adorable.”
I blushed and turned my eyes to the table. “I have to go. I don’t know how I’m going to pretend Dan and I were the happy married couple everyone thought we were. But yes… I have to go.”
“Honey, I am not going to let you be around that woman alone. I am coming with you…”
“You can’t. Greg, I can’t show up to my husband’s funeral with a date.”
“It’s not a date. I don’t want you to be alone.”
“My mom will be there. My sister…”
“Come on. You know what I mean.”
“I do… but…”
“Amy… we’re just friends.”
“Greg. We are not just friends.”
“Does that mean this would be a good time to kiss you?”
“I’m not sure there’s a bad time for that…”
His smile melted my insides but not nearly as much as his kiss. Sweet, warm, beautiful. When his lips left mine, he smiled for me again. When he heard me sigh, he took my hand and stood, pulling me to stand with him. He wrapped me in his arms and kissed my forehead.
“Do you want me to help you pack… so you can get out of here?” His voice was so soft and deep, I almost didn’t comprehend his words.
“Yes.” But I didn’t want to let him go.
“Amy? Remember last night when I invited you over to my place?”
“Of course I do.”
“You said yes…”
“I said yes.”
To be continued…