Welcome! If you missed last week’s post, it is available here . Thanks so much for stopping by, and I hope you enjoy this excerpt, Home is Where the Heart Is.
“Hi Renny.” I stepped forward and hugged him. It was stiff and awkward. “Sorry about Pop.”
“Thank you. I didn’t know you were coming.”
“I know. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a flight.”
Renny nodded and added in a low voice. “Is it just you?” Translation: is Javier here?
I shook my head. “It’s just me.”
“Okay. Would you like to sit with the family? Pop would want that.”
My heart soared. “Of course, if it’s not too much trouble.”
“No trouble at all.” He turned towards my mother. “Come on, Ma.” I grabbed the boys’ hands and followed behind.
The service and burial was a blur. I clung to my babies, remembering the day we buried Daddy. My heart ached for Renny, and I longed to hold him. But he was cold and distant all day. Following the repast, the boys wanted to ride with me. I promised Renny I would bring them home. After our divorce, Renny sold the house we purchased and moved back into his parents’ home. There were still visitors around so I offered to give the boys a bath and get them ready for bed.
“Mommy, will you be here in the morning when we wake up?” Cameron asked after I tucked them in.
“I’ll be at Granny’s house. Call me as soon as you wake up, and I’ll come get you, okay?”
“Okay. Love you, Mommy.”
“I love you too, baby. Good night.” I kissed my boys and went back downstairs.
Renny was in the kitchen drinking a beer.
“The boys are bathed and in the bed. I told them they can call Momma’s, and I’ll come get them in the morning. Is that okay?”
Renny smirked. “Why wouldn’t it be okay? You are their mother.” He walked out of the back door. I heard him take a seat on the porch. I grabbed my purse and keys out of the family room before heading outside to say good night.
“Well, I’m headed back to Momma’s. Are you sure you’re okay? Do you need anything before I leave?”
Renny just looked at me. “I’m good. Thanks for coming, Elaine. I appreciate it. The boys were glad to see you.”
“You don’t have to thank me, Renny. I loved Pop.”
“He loved you, too. He asked about you all the time. Well, until the dementia.”
“I know.” I took a seat next to him on the porch swing. “I used to go visit whenever I returned to Florida.” Renny fixed me with a look of confusion, and I shrugged. “He told the staff I was his daughter, and I just went with it.” Renny laughed, and it was music to my ears. That opened a small window, and we talked for hours. Reminiscing about the Pop, catching up on the boys, rehashing the exploits of his basketball team. It wasn’t much, but it felt huge, a step in the right direction towards repairing our fractured relationship. The ringing of the house phone brought a conversation to a halt.
“I need to grab that before it wakes up CJ and Cam.” Renny stood and went into the house.
I thought about pulling out my cell to check my messages, but decided against it. Instead, I went into the kitchen to wash dishes and put away the mountain of food. As I begin to transfer leftovers from the counters to the fridge, I overhead snippets of Renny’s conversation from the living room.
“Sorry about that Brandy. My cell is upstairs on the charger.”
“I’m fine. Just tired. About to crash.”
“Yeah, the boys are asleep. Lainey gave them a bath and put them down.”
Renny walked into the kitchen as I started rinsing dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. He mouthed “thank you” as he leaned against the center island. I nodded as I continued with my task, glad to be appreciated.
“That’s Lainey loading the dishwasher.”
“I told you she was here, Brandy.”
“I didn’t say she left after putting the boys down.” I could hear the frustration in his voice.
“She’s CJ’s and Cam’s mother, Brandy.”
I started the dishwasher and began wiping down the counters, pretending to not listen to this one-sided conversation. Renny made no effort to leave the kitchen. I didn’t look in his direction, but I could feel his eyes on me as I busied myself with cleaning.
“I don’t know how long she’ll be here.”
“No, it’s late. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You can meet Elaine some other time.”
“I’m not doing this tonight, Brandy. I’m tired, and it’s been a long day.”
I walked into the laundry room to grab the broom and dustpan. When I returned, Renny stood in the same spot looking at the phone. Sweeping would be my final task before leaving.
Renny looked up when I re-entered the kitchen. He put the phone on the counter, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Sorry about that.”
“No need to apologize. I understand. I’ll just finish up here and head back over to Momma’s.”
Renny nodded. “Alright, but you don’t have to rush off.” He quickly added, “unless you have something you need to do.”
“That’s not it. I just don’t want to cause any problems or overstay my welcome.” I nodded my head towards the phone resting on the counter as I collected trash from the floor.
“You’re not causing any problems or overstaying your welcome.” I put the broom back in the laundry room.
“Are you sure?”
“What did I say, Elaine?”
“I’ll drop it, Courtney.” We laughed, both us undoubtedly remembering how we used our given names to single an end to a discussion during our marriage. “Have you eaten anything today?”
“Yeah, I ate a little at the church.”
“Renny, that was over eight hours ago. You haven’t eaten since then?” He shook his head. “Sit down and let me fix you something.”
I sat at the kitchen table, opposite my ex-husband, and watched him clean his plate. I could finally admit that I missed him, missed us, missed our family. I bowed my head, focused on my hands clasped on the table in front of me. My left hand bear. Leaving Mabrary Springs and abandoning my family was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made in my life. This one failure outweighs all of my successes. I was so engrossed in my own thoughts that I didn’t notice that Renny was done eating until he called my name.
“What are you thinking about, Lainey?”
I flashed my fake smile, the one I’ve perfected over the past few years. “Somebody was hungry.” I stood and rounded the table. “Had enough?” I asked. Renny responded with a nod and a wink. I froze, and my heart soared. Those clear blue eyes always did me in.
I cleared his dishes and took them over to the sink. As the sink filled with water, I took a moment to collect myself.
“So what are your plans for the weekend?” I asked after gaining my bearings, looking over my shoulder with my forced smile. Renny remained at the kitchen table, his chair pushed back and his arms crossed over his chest.
I turned toward the sink, focused on washing and rinsing the dishes. I waited for Renny to respond. After I placed the final dish in the drain, I turned and looked at him. “Well?” He still didn’t respond. Instead, he stood and walked over to me, stopping mere inches away.
Renny grabbed my hand and led me out of the kitchen and upstairs to his bedroom. That night, we shared a bed for the first time in over two years. We laughed, talked, and became reacquainted with one another. The entire experience was bittersweet, reminding me of the intimacy we once shared and what I’d left behind. After our divorce, I forced myself to forget how good we were together.
Exhausted, we fell asleep wrapped around one another. I awoke a few hours later all alone. I heard the shower running, and when I looked over to the bathroom door, I saw Renny’s running attire resting nearby. The entire scene was both comforting and familiar. Renny was fastidious about his exercise regime which included early morning runs 4-5 days a week. On the weekends, I fixed breakfast while he showered. We shared breakfast and coffee at the kitchen table reading the paper until the boys awoke. Memories of those quiet weekends spent with my husband and children caused my heart to break even further, reminding me of all I’d lost.
I jumped out of bed in search of my clothes. I was sitting on the side of the bed, slipping on my shoes when Renny emerged from the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. I looked up at him and froze momentarily; memories of last night came flooding back. He eyed me with the same intensity. Neither of us spoke for a few seconds. Renny walked over to me, grabbing both my hands and pulling into his warm embrace. I wrapped my arms around his waist, allowing myself to become lost in him once again.
“Good morning, Lainey.” Renny greeted with a kiss to my forehead.
“Good morning,” I returned.
“Did you sleep well?” He looked deep into my eyes.
I nodded with a smile. “How about you? How was your run?”
“The best sleep I had in over two years.” Renny admitted, squeezing me even tighter. “My run was great.” I smiled even bigger. “Breakfast?”
I hesitated, torn between what I wanted and what was best. “I would love to, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. We shouldn’t confuse CJ and Cam.”
“You’re right.” Renny released me and headed to the walk-in closet. I immediately missed his touch. “Give me a sec. I’ll walk you out to your car.” I sat on the side of the bed. Renny re-emerged dressed in basketball shorts, a tank, and his slippers. He left the room to go check on the boys.
“The coast is clear. Let’s go.” I followed Renny downstairs, grabbed my purse and my keys, and walked out to the rental car. I got in, started the engine, and rolled down the window. Renny bent down into the open window.
“When are you leaving?”
“I don’t know. I took a leave of absence in case you needed help with the boys.”
Renny moved in closer. “See you later?” It was more of statement than a question.
“Absolutely.” I responded as he kissed my forehead and squeezed my hand.
My response pleased him. “Drive safely.” He stood, and I backed away.
I decided to make the forty-five minute drive to Bianca’s house instead of returning to my mom’s. As I drove along I-85, I contemplated that last twenty-four hours. This trip home had been filled with unexpected surprises, the biggest being the last few hours I spent with Renny, given the state of our relationship over the past couple of years. Up until last night, I was convinced that he hated me. I can’t say for certain that wasn’t still the case.
Copyright Kay Morris Writes 2016