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|Moonlight on Nightingale Way(On Dublin Street #6)(69) by Samantha Young|
She bit her lip, the cockiness she was picking up from dear old Dad suddenly disappearing. “I couldn’t sleep. I was worried about you.”
I immediately stopped pretending to be annoyed at her. “Maia, you don’t need to worry about me, sweetheart. I can take care of myself.”
“But can you?”
I slid onto the stool beside her. “What does that mean?”
As she stared at me with those violet eyes of hers, I realized that they were so similar to her father’s and yet so different. There was a tinge of darkness in her eyes, but they hadn’t yet grown the hardness that Logan’s had. It was a hardness that melted whenever someone made him laugh, and I shook off the disturbing realization that although his laughter was rare, it was less so with me.
Maia sighed wearily, the gesture so much older than her years. “I know you care about Dad. I just don’t know why you’re making this so hard for him.”
“There are things you don’t know, Maia.” I didn’t want to tell her that Logan had hurt me. I didn’t want her to ever think badly of him.
“I’m not stupid. I know he’s not perfect,” she insisted. “If he hurt your feelings, then I know he’s sorry.”
“Maia, please…” I buried my head in my hands, suddenly feeling the urge to cry. “I can’t talk about this with you.”
There was silence, and for an awful moment I feared I’d hurt her feelings.
At the tightness in her voice, I lifted my head to look at her. The tinge of darkness in her eyes had spread until there was a whole lot of black in among the violet. An unwelcome shiver rippled over me in reaction.
“Do you remember when I first got here and you asked me what I’d been through?”
Mostly Logan and I got Maia the same way every day – funny, sarcastic, and warm. But there were days when she’d brood alone in her room or cry for no good reason at all. I chalked it up to being a teenager and the drastic change of direction her life had taken. I chalked it up to the fact that her mother had abandoned her.
I’d been waiting for Maia to open up about it.
Now I wasn’t so sure I could handle the truth.
“I know you’re worried about what happened to me when I lived with my mum.”
I nodded again, a choking sensation developing in my throat.
Maia stared me straight in the eyes, her own glistening. “It wasn’t good, Grace. But it wasn’t as bad as you think. Mostly she just wasn’t there for me. For ages it didn’t matter because she was my mum, and when you’re wee, you love your mum no matter what.”
I nodded, remembering that unconditional love I felt for my mother when I was a child. Day by day as the years passed my mother had chipped away at that love until I was only clinging to the idea of it.
“She would lock me in my room for hours when she had a guy over.” Maia’s haunted eyes made me reach for her hand and hold on tight. “I’d have to sit in there listening to them having sex, and then he’d leave and Maryanne would get high or drunk and forget about me. I’d need the toilet or I was hungry and I’d bang on my door, but she was out of it and I’d be stuck in there.” Tears slipped down her cheeks, and my own eyes stung in answer to them. “Afterward I wouldn’t talk to her because I was hurt, and she’d feel really bad and she’d take me out for lunch and buy me something. She’d sit with me the whole day making me laugh, and I’d start loving her all over again.” Maia brushed impatiently at her tears. “But she’d just repeat it.”
“Oh, Maia.” I squeezed her hand, not knowing what to say because I knew there were no words to soothe this kind of wound.
“She messed around with these really dodgy guys, Grace. They treated her badly. They spoke to her like she was nothing, and sometimes they hit her. For years she protected me from that. That’s why she’d lock me in my room, so they either didn’t know about me or they couldn’t get to me. But I heard it all. Heard her crying out in pain sometimes…” She grew silent in reflection.
I stared at her, willing the rising anger inside of me down.
I wanted to punish her mother for doing this to her.
I closed my eyes, more tears falling as I realized Maia would carry this pain for the rest of her life.
She would always, always feel like an unloved, abandoned child whenever she thought of her mother.
“Grace.” Maia’s grip on my hand tightened, and I opened my eyes. More tears sprang to her eyes when she saw how upset I was, and this little sob burst out between her lips. “Grace.”
In answer I got up and pulled her off the stool and into my arms, and I held her while she cried, her tears soaking my bathrobe.
Eventually she pulled away from me and wiped at her cheeks. She looked at the floor, her dark eyelashes glistening. Heaving a shaky sigh, she shook her head. “I didn’t tell you to upset you. I was trying to tell you why you should be with Dad.”
I touched her chin, gently lifting it so I could see her eyes. “Tell me.”
The sudden determination in her gaze reminded me so much of Logan. “I didn’t just decide to leave Maryanne. She stopped protecting me. She stopped pretending to love me. That guy… the junkie that was in the flat with her.”
Fear knotted my stomach. “Yes?”
“That’s her boyfriend Dom. He’s been her boyfriend for a while now. He… He tried to touch me when Maryanne was out of it.”