Soaring (Magdalene #2)
Author:Kristen Ashley

I would have bought him his heart’s desire, even if that were a Porsche or a Mercedes.

 

Conrad would have attempted to educate me about the fact that if we gave everything to our children, they would become spoiled and wouldn’t know how to work for things themselves.

 

Conrad would have been right.

 

I still would have bought Auden the car he wanted, brand new with all the bells and whistles. And if Conrad and I had still been married, I’d have done it without thought, without discussion, giving it to Auden so Conrad would have had two choices: be the bad guy and take it away or give in and let him have it.

 

Now that I didn’t have that say in my son’s life, at three thirty on that Friday, that car drove up and parked in my drive.

 

A red Honda Civic.

 

I stood in my open front door and watched my children alight from it.

 

They didn’t look at the house. They didn’t look at me.

 

Auden and Olympia Moss just grabbed small bags from the trunk of the car and trudged up to the house like they were walking into a classroom at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning to take their SATs.

 

I watched them approach me.

 

Auden looked like his dad, tall with a straight nose, light brown eyes and rich brown hair that had a subtle reddish cast to it. My son was bulkier than his father, maybe an inch or two shorter, but he was still growing.

 

As if our lives were golden and the fates shined their smiles on us and gave us the perfect family, Auden got his looks from his father, but Olympia was just like me, petite but slightly curvy (or in Pippa’s case, her curves were filling out). Brunette hair that was several shades darker than her brother’s and father’s, with no reddish cast, but it had a natural shine that said someone up there liked my baby girl and me. She also had my hazel eyes that popped due to the darkness of our hair.

 

My boy was already handsome, like Conrad.

 

My girl was far, far prettier than me.

 

When they got close, my throat feeling clogged, I forced out, “Hey, honeys.”

 

Auden looked up. My beautiful boy who got all I loved from his dad (and then some), his eyes on me emotionless, my throat completely closed.

 

My fourteen-year-old daughter, Pippa, flinched at the sound of my voice.

 

That slashed through me.

 

I took that cut and it sliced deep as I moved out of their way and they walked by me, Auden averting his eyes, Pippa never even looking at me.

 

I followed them in and closed the door, seeing they’d stopped and were taking in the view.

 

Hoping they liked what they were seeing, I moved to their sides, wanting to hug them, touch them, kiss their cheeks, draw in their scents. I hadn’t seen them in weeks.

 

But I’d learned affection from me was not wanted.

 

Not anymore.

 

So I didn’t do this.

 

I stood not far, not close, and said, “This is it, kiddos. Our new place.”

 

Auden had a curl in his lip.

 

Olympia looked bored.

 

That cut deep as well but I forged ahead.

 

The new me.

 

The new us.

 

No matter the wounds they inflicted, I had to keep going. Never fall back. Never retreat. I couldn’t allow any of my weaknesses to delay me in restarting my family.

 

“Your rooms are that way.” I pointed to the opposite end of the living area from where the kitchen was. “I had the movers put your furniture in the two rooms that had sea views. If you want different—”

 

“Whatever,” Auden muttered, talking over me and starting the way I indicated. “It’ll work.”

 

Olympia followed him silently.

 

I did the same, not silently, instead calling, “I haven’t unpacked your stuff. I had an idea. I thought…new house, fresh start. You two might want to have a look at your things. Decide what you want to keep. What you don’t. We can get rid of what you don’t, go out and get you new. You can decora—”

 

“Only got two years with this crap, not worth the bother,” Auden cut me off to say.

 

Pippa said nothing. She just followed Auden around the lip of the sunken living room and into the hall that, opposite to the one on the other side of the house, had stretches of straight and steps that led down the cliff rather than up.

 

I chose the front sea view room for Pippa and thinking Auden, as a boy, would want more privacy, the back room for him.

 

I considered putting him in the room that ran the length of the far end, which was large and could be anything, a den, a family room, an office. I decided against it because the two front rooms had their own baths and the back room only had a half-bath.

 

The two bedrooms opposite shared a Jack and Jill. I wanted my kids to see the ocean, to have access to the deck right from their rooms. But I also thought they were too old to share a Jack and Jill.

 

I stood at the mouth of the hall as they moved down it and said, “You can drop your bags in your room. Then I’ll give you a full tour.”

 

“We can look around,” Auden replied as he stopped and looked into the first room then kept going and disappeared in the second.

 

Pippa looked in the first room and walked in, out of sight.

 

I stood there, waiting, thinking this wasn’t going well but knowing it wouldn’t.

 

Patience.