He liked her fresh outlook on life, the way she saw things and wasn’t afraid to speak about them.
“My mom always said that working made her a better mom.” He’d finally fixed the leaking valve and not before time. His fingers were frozen. “So I wouldn’t worry about working, or the fact that you need time to yourself.”
“She worked? What did she do?”
“She still works. She’s an orthopedic surgeon.”
“Whoa.” Roxy stepped back, eyes wide. “So she actually cuts into people. With a knife.”
“Scalpel. And obviously they’re asleep when she does it.”
“The word you’re looking for is anesthetized. I learned it a few weeks ago. A general anesthetic puts you out, like wham. You might as well be dead, except that you’re alive, unless someone gets it wrong. And then there’s a local anesthetic. Which numbs feeling.”
“Right.” He wished someone would do something to numb his feelings because they were starting to give him a problem.
“I bet you grew up in a house just like this one.” Oblivious to his struggle, she stared up at the impressive brownstone they were tending.
“You think I’m privileged.”
“I know you’re privileged, but not because of the house. I bet your parents read you a bedtime story every night when you were little, and when you were at school I bet they asked how your day went.”
“Well there’s your privilege, right there.” The wistfulness in her tone made his heart ache.
She’d never told him much about her childhood, but she’d told him enough.
“Your mom never asked how your day went?”
“She wasn’t home much, and when she was she didn’t care. She was too focused on surviving being around my dad. And anyway, what would I have told her? Yeah, my day was great. I cut out of school, went to the park. So what else did your mom do with you when you were little? I want to know every detail.”
“Why? So that you can make yourself feel bad?”
“No!” She looked startled. “Because I want to do the same for Mia, you great oaf. I can’t get her the big stuff like a fancy brownstone, but I can give her the small stuff like reading. I want to buy her every book you ever read as a kid. Will you write me a list? And I can do “how was your day.” And it’s not just the asking, is it? You’ve got to listen to the answer. And not explode, or judge. You’re good at that. Listening, I mean. I have to work on it because I tend to talk and talk.”
“Don’t be cheeky.” She punched his arm gently. “I have a lot to say and all these new words to use. So what else did you do with your mom?”
She wanted to know it all so that she could do it with Mia.
Comments like that were the reason she’d sneaked under his guard and found her way into his heart.
“I don’t know. We ate at the table and everyone talked about their day.”
“I do that.” She squared her shoulders proudly. “Not that Mia tells me much about her day right now. More often she has a tantrum, squirms in the chair and flings that fluffy puffin Frankie gave her across the room, but I’m trying. Are you proud of me?”
Yes, he was proud of her. And he was a lot of other things, too, but mostly he was in love.
So deeply in love he couldn’t see straight.
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