Reckless In Love
Page 75

 Bella Andre

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“Miami is such a great fit for you,” she said as her mother led her inside the bright, colorful home near the water. “It was the first thing I thought this morning when we got to the beach. How much you belong here.”
“I do love it here. But not more than I love you, Ashley. I know you’ve said in the past that you didn’t need me to come back to California, but if you’ve change your mind—”
“No!” Ashley’s mother’s eyes widened at the force of her response, and she realized she needed to be more clear. “Of course I want you close by, but Palo Alto never worked for you. I see that now. You need to live where you’re happy.” She took a good look at her mother and felt as though she was really seeing her for the first time. “You’re glowing. Not just your skin, but all of you. I’m glad you’re happy here, Mom.”
“But are you happy, honey?”
“Sometimes it’s like I’ve never been happier in my whole life. But then, other times, I’m just scared.”
Her mother squeezed her hands. “Oh honey, are you in love?”
In that moment, it was as though a dam burst. “He’s a rock star. A really famous one. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I couldn’t resist him. I’ve been in love with his music forever. So maybe that’s where it all started, but when I finally met him, our connection was—” She made a crackling sound and waggled her fingers in the air to mime static electricity. “Instant. Amazing. We ended up sharing so many things with each other, all the things we haven’t been able to tell anyone else, like how much it hurt him when his mom passed away and how difficult it was for me when you and Dad split up. We connect so deeply over music, too. And then he kissed me, and it was amazing so I told him I wanted to be with him. But he had promised Dad that he’d keep me safe.” She put the words in air quotes. “So he thought he needed to do the right thing by keeping his distance from me. Only, neither of us could do it, and we couldn’t keep from sleeping with each other. And even though I had no experience, he made it so wonderful. More wonderful than I ever thought it could be. But now he wants to tell everyone about us, especially Dad, and I just don’t think—”
She had been pacing in front of her mother’s picture window, but she suddenly stopped short as her words ricocheted back through her ears. “Oh my God, I just told you that Drew and I have been having sex.”
Though her mother did look worried, she smiled and said, “I’m glad you feel comfortable enough to talk to me, Ashley. About anything at all. You know I’ll never judge you.”
And it was true—even when her mother had offered to take her shopping or to the makeup counter as a teenager, as soon as Ashley had made it clear that she wasn’t interested, her mother had let her be herself.
Ashley suddenly realized that was why she’d been drawn to her mother’s house—because she must have known her mom would listen the way she used to when she was a little girl and she needed to talk to someone about the playground drama at school. But it had been a long time since Ashley had given her mother a chance to listen, or to help. Ever since things had gotten really bad in her parents’ marriage, it had seemed easier to just shut down and try to block it all out with work. And studying. And, most of all, Drew’s songs.
“Now,” her mother said, “if we could back up for just a second—his name is Drew?”
Her mother’s eyes widened. “I just saw an interview with him on the news this morning. He’s a very handsome young man.”
“I know. Which is one of the reasons it’s crazy that he thinks he’s in love with me.”
“Oh honey.” Her mother pulled her into her arms again. “That’s so wonderful. The two of you are in love.”
“He told me he loved me last night, but I didn’t say it back. I couldn’t, not when I should know better.”
“Know better?” Her mother pulled back and frowned at her. “Is this something your father said to you?”
“No. Like I said, he doesn’t know about me and Drew. Before he was a big rock star, Drew was one of his students at Stanford, and when Dad connected us so that I could go on tour to learn more about the music business, Dad basically told Drew to make sure I came home as pure as I was when I left. But I’m not. Not anymore.”
“Of course you are, Ashley. Just because you’re having sex doesn’t mean your heart isn’t as pure as it has always been. I know your father wants you to stay his little girl forever, but he’s just going to have to accept that you’re a woman now. A beautiful, incredible woman who has her own life to live. Even if that life may not be right there beside him at Stanford the way he’s always wanted it to be. You’re allowed to spread your wings, honey. And I’m not just saying these things because your father and I rarely saw eye to eye. I’m saying them because they’re true.”
“But even if they are,” Ashley said, “things with Drew are still impossible. We’re oil and water. Free and constrained. I’m a good girl and he’s a wild boy. Maybe being with me is fun and different for now, but I’m sure he’ll get tired of our differences soon.”
“How can you even think any of that, Ashley?”
“Because it was just the way you and Dad got tired of each other. Don’t you remember? Those were all the things you used to yell at each other.”