Brooke sighed. One year. If she could hold out till then she would be better
prepared to make her
next move. The next time she would think it through. Until then, she
would do her best to be the
wife his mother wanted.
Mother, I would like to introduce my
house unless it was in Jakes room or at the end of the hallway.
Returning to her room, Brooke sat at the edge of her bed. There was a
new frame on her dresser.
It was a photo of Jake.
Brooke had seen her leaving the house with something.
never entered her mind.
This is not something she thought through when she agreed to marry Jake.
While he was of
living with his fantasy woman behind his overbearing mothers back, she
was on the frontline,
the face of the marriage and she had to k
but hope and love. All she had left was the picture. Touching it, she smiled
and said a prayer as
she did every time.
Now she was closer to feeling at home.
Enrolling her son in his new school, Brooke realized she should have done
Have some coffee, he offered. Brooke nodded and grabbed a mug on
the counter, poured
coffee and sat across from Jake. Looking more relaxed than she had
anticipated, Jake just stared
and drank his coffee.
Brooke sipped the black brew and didnt feel the
once you get past her bitterness, she loves her family and Jake really
upset her when he didnt get
Maybe he didnt have a choice? Brooke didnt know enough about Jakes
mother, or even Jake,
to know why mother and son didnt get along. Brook
morning turned into early afternoon. Declaring it lunchtime, she decided
not to wait any longer.
Brooke made sandwiches while MJ happily changed into play clothes. They
ate and drank
lemonade at the kitchen island. Covered in mustard, MJ waited to be
main house. Brooke was glad she was sitting outside. She was not
interested in the fury his
mother was going to unleash on Jake.
Voices carried from the open doors and Brooke tried not to listen, but the
voices got louder and
she caught a few of the ar
I dont want to get in the way of family, she explained and Brookes only
friendly member of
the house left her to deal with a scenario she didnt anticipate.
Jake came down from his room at the top of the steps dressed in dark
pants and a sweater vest
Im just looking after my son, his mother said calmly. From the corner of
her eye, Brooke saw
Jake cringe, but he didnt dare get in the middle of their battle.
So am I, and I dont appreciate you meddling in our affairs, Brooke
replied meeting his
Reminding herself that at one time she had been loved and respected,
Brooke had peaceful
The next morning, Brooke visited her mother and didnt mention the
argument with Jakes
mother. Looking better than ever, her mother talked animatedly
Good, he said, not asking how it went when his new wife met his
mother. Brooke didnt want
to complain. This was part of their arrangement.
Ill be there in a few weeks, he said loudly. If you need anything, Mrs.
Hurligan can help you.
You have my cell n
Jake finally voiced his anger.
I cant win with her, he surmised. I knew it would be like this, so its
good to get it over
Brooke turned to him and raised her eyebrow.
You could have warned me! she whispered, surprised by his confession.
She didnt have to wait long. The door opened and Brooke started to
Brooke, Jakes voice said softly. My mother wants to see you at the
Without saying good-bye, Jake left. Waiting a few minutes, Brooke stood
and walked slowly
through the house
if she could come in so they could get to know each other.
Squinting, Jakes mother looked like she was going to slam the door in her
face. Instead, she
opened the door and stood in the entryway with her arms crossed over
her elegant sweater. Not
Well make an appointment with a specialist and hell be ready for the
school year, she said
Sounds good to me, Brooke agreed and after filling out paperwork,
Brooke took her son home
in his wagon.
Looking into the eyes he inherited
example for MJ.
Placing the salad on the table and a bowl at each setting, Brooke served
the salad while Jake
poured the wine. They had already discussed the seating plan and Brooke
gratefully sat next to
her son and across from an empty chair. Jake sat n
mother out without guilt. Without Jakes contribution, there was no way
Brooke could have
afforded the resort-style facility.
When they moved her mother, it was a good day and they took a walk
while MJ played in the
childrens center. Marveling at how nice
not finished scolding the old woman.
That was one of the happiest moments in my life before a stupid accident
took him away at the
age of 32, Brooke said, grasping for words and air. That picture was
before he left me, my son
and our home. Am I using
returned to her own room and shut the door. Resting on her bed, Brooke
was very angry with
herself for how she treated Jakes mother, but she would not allow the
woman to insult her family
no matter what was in their agreement.
There was a clause stati
That doesnt make any sense, she said in disbelief.
Jake didnt respond and MJ came in asking for dinner.
In a minute, honey, she said, still holding Jakes stare. Breaking eye
contact, Jake stood and
left without acknowledging MJ.
After making dinner for th
Jakes mother was in the kitchen when Brooke arrived, helping Mrs.
Hurligan get dinner ready.
Taking off her jacket and hanging up her purse, Brooke hugged her
animated son and he told her
all about his day.
Dinner was put on the island and they bowed thei
Sitting on her white couch, Jakes mother waited for Brooke to confront
her. Pictures of Jake and
his mother and a gentleman who was most likely Mr. Parker were all over
the walls and in frames
on tables and shelves.
The mother-in-laws house was more up
must have been very sophisticated, but it was old and Brooke didnt feel
Turning off the lights, Brooke went to her room and prepared for her next
steps. She had to get
MJ enrolled in his new school and find a nearby care facility for her mothe
pain in Brooke. She did not sign up for this.
Glaring at the angry, bitter old woman, Brooke stood.
MJ, go to your room and play, she commanded.
Im not finished with my pudding, he whined.
You can have more later, just go to your room, she comma
It never happened.
Sitting and staring, she eventually just fell asleep on top of the covers in
the clothes she had worn
MJ woke her early in the morning and they went to the park, played in the
backyard, had lunch,
dinner, bath time,
new father, MJ was sure to ask her why he didnt call him dad and she
didnt want to explain he
already had a dad.
Tears threatened to blur her vision, so she wiped them away as they drove
up to the house.
Joining MJ in the backyard, Brooke sat on the l
talking to Brooke again.
How could she have handled it differently?
Guilt and anger mingled in an emotion Brooke couldnt decipher. Sitting at
the park, Brooke
called Melinda and tried not to cry as she told her the story of the failed
out onto the grass. Jakes mother was horrified. Brooke was horrified. Her
anger stretched far
beyond the photograph. The old woman was trying to steal a memory,
make her forget. It was all
Brooke had left and she wasnt leaving without it.
Brooke grabbed t
MJ enjoy the party. No expense was spared for this childrens party.
Youre Mrs. Parker? one woman asked and a dozen were suddenly
surrounding her. Brooke
just nodded. It sounded so weird. She wasnt Mrs. Sandstrom to the world
anymore. She was