“He actually isn’t that bad, just not good enough for our daughters,” Myrna said. “And yes, without Malachi, I wouldn’t have started to hire Daniels’ Security, and wouldn’t have met you and things have a way of working out.”
“One day, when we are both old, we will sit in a nursing home, telling each other stories from our days as spies,” my mother commented.
“Your logic is flawed,” Myrna said. “It works on the supposition we are both going to get old, which I refuse to accept.”
“Good point,” My mom said. The two women chatted for a few moments longer. Aislinn stubbed out her cigarette very quietly on the bottom of her shoe. Neither of us moved, I was afraid to be discovered. I didn’t know if Aislinn felt the same way.
After we heard the utility room door close, Aislinn lit another cigarette.
“Are you okay?” She asked me.
“That was a lot to process and what did your mom do with Josef Borisovich?”
“I do not know,” Aislinn answered.
“Are you okay?” I asked Aislinn.
“Yeah,” she shrugged, and I realized her mom was right. Learning my mom stole a chemical weapon formula was life altering. Learning Aislinn’s mom killed people was no big deal to her.
“I never realized how much alike our mothers are.” I told her, trying to steer the conversation away from the path I was worried it would take.
“It is a touch creepy,” Aislinn agreed. “Remind me to tell Malachi if anything happens to Vlad on his watch, he is liable to have to face both our mothers.”
“I’m just going to go ahead and apologize now in case any Russian mobsters show up in your life.”
“Why?” Aislinn asked me.
“They are a little violent.”
“Seriously?” Aislinn smiled at me, a creepy haunting smile, that would probably cause more nightmares. In the grand scheme of things, it did seem silly that I was worried Russian mobsters might show up in Ace’s life. I should have felt sorry for the mobsters stupid enough to do such a thing.
“Point taken,” I admitted.
“Do you feel better knowing that your mother didn’t have your father murdered?”
“Meh,” it was my turn to shrug. I was still fairly sure that someone had arranged my father’s murder. “Is it bad that I don’t really care?”
“You might be asking the wrong person, Nadine,” Ace said my name like a Russian said it, which was slightly different than Americans said it.
“Fine, I feel better knowing the reason my mom put up with my father for all those years was because it was her job.”
“You might be spending too much time with psychopaths,” Ace told me.
“The whole the ends justify the means thing?” I asked.
“The acceptance seems overly rational, and since psychopaths can rationalize anything,” Ace shrugged.
“The world is far more complicated than that,” I told her.
“On that, you and I agree, completely, which should terrify you,” Ace told me.
“Did any part of that conversation bother you?” I prodded, trying to get some reaction out of her.
“Not really. I know my mother believes she is doing what is best for me, most of the time, even if it is sometimes misguided.” Ace shrugged and flicked cigarette ashes into the little dirt circle. “I think all mothers keep secrets, but some mothers have bigger secrets to keep. Mine and yours seem to be prime examples of the mothers with bigger secrets to keep.”
“What about the mess with Apex?”
“You mean am I mad that she didn’t tell me sooner? Not really, disappointed I think is the better emotion to place on it. It makes me feel like she didn’t think she could trust me with that information. I have always trusted my mother, even when I knew she was lying, because I have always trusted that if she was lying, then to her, there was a good reason for the lie. Remember, neither of my parents ever hid the fact that my father was a psychopath and that his father was a psychopath, or that we came from a long line of psychopaths and sociopaths. So, for whatever reason, in my mother’s mind, when she doesn’t tell me the truth or when she tries to hide something from me, it is done to protect me from something I don’t want to deal with or protect me from things she doesn’t think I should have to deal with.”
“How do I apply that to my own mother?”
“Beats me,” Aislinn said. “I don’t think your mother lies to hurt you, I think she is like my mother. However, your mother is a meddler, look at your wedding. She had to know that you guys weren’t really married when the wedding planning began and yet, she still insisted on following that with more denials. Now, in the long run, I think it was a wise choice by her, because you do have terrible taste in men from what I have seen, and Zeke is good for you, in all ways that count, including the fact that he cooks, puts up with your family and friends, and is willing to have your back with everything.”
“Your mom wouldn’t do something like that,” I told her.
“No, because my mom knows I’m liable to kill a man if I have to live with him and perform marital duties. It would not be in my best interest.” Ace told me. “You can’t always compare yourself to someone else, especially not me.”
“What do you mean?” I asked her.
“I have known you for a while now, and you have always compared yourself to Alex or me or some of Malachi’s other ex-girlfriends, at some point, you have to realize you are a woman of merit on your own, not just in relation to others.”
“You think I have low self-esteem?” I asked her.
“No, I think you lack a sense of self sometimes.” Ace told me. “You fail to realize that you are a strong willed, independent woman, capable of being a strong willed, independent woman. I am not friends with you just because you are Malachi’s ex.” She looked at me for a moment and then continued. “At least, I believe we are friends. I met you because of Malachi, but that certainly isn’t why I have continued to talk to you, exactly the opposite if you must know. And one thing I have noticed is that you struggle with trying to figure out who you are most of the time. And until you figure it out, no one else can either.”
“Oh,” I nodded. “This is kind of like my revelation that I am not really Russian because I have chosen not to be Russian.”
“Mostly, yes.” Ace agreed.
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This book is a work of fiction. Any names, places, characters, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination and are purely fictitious. Any resemblances to any persons, living or dead, are completely coincidental.
Copyright © Hadena James 2016
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