Gemma had a hard time hearing Louis over the car speaker. The wind outside seemed to be picking up to an alarming degree. A large branch flew in front of her windshield, startling her enough that she gripped the wheel.
"Gemma? What do you think?" Louis asked now. "Do you want me to fly down? I can hop on a jet and be by your side so you don't have to face her by yourself."
Gemma was tempted enough by the offer that she hesitated before answering him. She had to do this on her own. "It's okay. I think she'll handle it better if I'm alone when I tell her."
She heard him exhale a deep breath. "You certainly have a point there. I know I'm not her favorite person at the moment."
He wasn't. That was no fault of his own. Ma was just stubborn and unreasonable about her new son-in-law. She couldn't see what a catch Louis would be considered by most other parents. She only saw the distraction he caused Gemma when it came to pursuing her ambitions as a musician.
Only, over the years, they'd gradually become less Gemma's dreams and more her mother's.
"Don't worry. I can handle my mom alone," she reassured him. "I learned at a young age." She'd had to as an only child. While her father had the distraction of his many businesses, Gemma had been Ma's primary focus. In many ways, she still was.
A gust of wind blew strong enough to shake the car and rattle her windows.
"What was that?" Louis asked, concern tingeing his voice.
"It's rather windy here," she answered. "I'd forgotten how temperamental New England weather could be."
"Maybe you shouldn't be driving in that, Gemma."
She was touched by the level of worry in his tone. This was a new experience. Of course, she'd dated through college and in her early adult years, but the violin had taken up all her time and most of her focus. None of those dates had led to anything serious. Having a man concerned about her well-being was an alien but pleasing feeling.
"It is getting rather treacherous with all the debris flying about…"
She could tell he was on edge. "If it will make you feel better, I'll pull off the road and find a place to stop until the wind dies down."
She heard his deep sigh of relief. "That would definitely make me feel better. Promise?"
Gemma hung up once they'd said their goodbyes and took the next exit off the expressway. If memory served, there was a strip mall with a charming café about three miles down the road.
A violently loud cracking sound suddenly tore through the car. Gemma could barely process what was happening as she saw the large trunk of a tree barreling toward her.
Then the world went blank.
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