He walks away, muttering something about raising me better than acting like a douchebag.
“MY HANDSOME BOY!” MY MOTHER screams when I walk in the door. She slams herself into me and gives me a hug tight enough to knock the wind out of me. Then she follows it up with a slap on the side of my head that rivals my father’s in pain.
“Dammit, Ma!” I exclaim and move away from her vicious hands before she can get another slap in.
“I heard every word, you silly boy. How could you even think that?” She jabs her fist on her slim hips and gives me a hard look. “I can’t even imagine what she’s feeling right now. Not after the day she had.”
“What does that mean?” I ask.
“Oh no, you don’t. She’s fine where she is. For now, you’re going to tell me how in the world you could even think that she had been unfaithful.”
Jesus. Where do I even start?
I follow my parents into the kitchen, where Mom starts a pot of coffee. Thirty minutes later I have it all laid out.
My rush to get home, the exhaustion that months of stress and worry had placed on my shoulders, and the feelings that seeing her with another man had rushed to the surface.
“I snapped. There isn’t an excuse, but fuck. I let my jealousy get the best of me.”
“Not an excuse, but it’s forgivable, Cohen. It couldn’t have been easy being away when you knew that you’re needed at home. I get what you’re saying, but that still doesn’t explain how you rushed to the thought that she was with another man,” Mom says with a sigh. “It wasn’t right, but given everything you’ve been through, I understand.”
“You need to talk to her, son. Don’t let this fester,” Dad adds when she finishes talking.
“I know. I know.”
It’s been four hours since I walked in and assumed the worst. The fact that I’m about to be a father hasn’t even settled in now that the relief that I was horribly wrong is still fresh in my system.
“Do you want to talk about it, son? How you’re feeling? I know it’s a lot to take in.”
I look over at my dad and sigh. Not for the first time, I realize just how lucky I am that he found my mom and, in turn, found me. He’s been my rock since I was three—my hero—and the man I’ve always hoped I could just be half as good as.
“I’m going to be a father,” I gasp, holding on to the countertop with a white-knuckled grip. “Holy shit,” I breathe.
Dad laughs, and Mom smiles. It isn’t lost on me that they’re excited about this news.
“Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?” I question.
Dad opens his mouth to respond, but Mom beats him to it. “I talked to Izzy about it last week and she said that Dani had refused to find out. She said that she didn’t want to know unless you were right there with her to find out at the same time. She held strong on that she didn’t want to know until you were home—or obviously if she went into labor. Izzy said that Dani believed that you were going to be missing so much that she didn’t want to take that away from you.” Mom smiles and leans against my dad’s side.
“Shit,” I puff, once again feeling the extremes of my rushed judgment.
Even through everything she’s been going through alone, she still put me and my feelings ahead of her own. I’m sure she wants to know what we’re having, and that she wanted me there badly enough to wait for something that huge is humbling. And it makes me feel like an even bigger jackass for even thinking that she had been with another man. The girl saved herself for me for almost twenty-two years.
“I think I need to go to my girl,” I state. “Shit. What if she’s so pissed she isn’t even willing to hear me out?”
“Son, the one thing I know from experience is there is no problem too big for true love to conquer. Just take a look around you. Everyone you know has been faced with a challenge in their relationships. Challenges that, even at the time, felt unbeatable, but if what you had—for however brief before you left—gave you even a sliver of promise that I think it did, then you don’t stop until you fix what’s broken.”
When I don’t speak, Mom picks up where he left off. “You’ve been pushing her away for years, my sweet boy. I know you struggled with how you felt for her, so it was no shock for me when I found out that you two had finally come together. I hurt for you—so badly—when you had to leave before you two even got started, but I knew, I just knew, that you two had that ‘staying power’ kind of love that I felt when I met your dad. Nothing—and I mean nothing—can change that. You’re going to screw up—that’s a promise—but all that matters is that you work your hardest to fix it.” She walks over and wraps her arms around me. Standing on her toes, she kisses me on my stubbled cheek. “You, my darling boy, need to stop thinking that you aren’t allowed to feel the way you do for the woman you love. It was only a shock to her hardheaded father, but according to Izzy, he’s admitted how to-the-moon happy he is that his baby girl has found a man he truly thinks is worthy of her love.”