"Mom?" I approached her cautiously as she sat at the kitchen table reading a magazine. She looked up at me and then pulled out the seat beside her, so I sat down and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry about earlier…"

"Asabella, you know I'm not upset with you, right? I'm just worried, hun." She closed the magazine and folded her hands on the table, twisting in her seat to face me. Sometimes she looked like the epitome of a mother.

"You're not upset with me for earlier?" I doubted that, really. I screamed to the whole neighborhood my business with Macen and about my sister's private life.

"I'm not. Of course I was briefly because the whole neighborhood does not need to know our dirty laundry, but it was mostly yours and if you want to share it, that's your prerogative. I am more concerned with the fact that one, you've been keeping things from me which you never do, and two, that you seem to be unnaturally concerned about following the same path as your sister." She paused, but I knew she wasn't done talking yet; she was merely regrouping her thoughts and tactically arranging them. "You are not your sister, Bells. Even if you were, is your sister's life really that bad? Things could be worse than her having a child and constantly falling for the wrong men. A child is a blessing and her taste in men can change. It won't damage her forever; it hasn't."

I sighed and buried my face in my arms on the table. My mother put her hand on my hair and played with a bit, an old ploy she used when I was little to get me to relax. It still worked. "I just don't want to go through that. Even if it gets better in time, it really screwed up a lot of things for her for a while there. Her bad habits in general cost her a lot."

"Do you have her bad habits? Those things aren't hereditary, you know?"

"I do though. I have her bad habits. You heard everything earlier!" I was on the verge of tears again, just thinking about being on the same page as my sister. I loved her, I really did, but that didn't mean I wanted to be her.

"Are you as reckless as your sister? Did you not use protection with Macen?" She looked even more concerned for a moment.

"No, of course I did. Well, he did. I mean I would have made him anyway, but he beat me to it since I was… drunk… and slow." I cleared my throat and sniffled, wiping away some tears that had formed, but they were quickly replaced by fresh ones.

"I see. So why do you think you're so much like your sister? Just because you and Macen slept together? Or did something happen in Boston?" She was so damn psychic. How did mothers just know these things?

"Yeah, something happened in Boston too. With Alex. And things happened in London. And I made out with Macen's best friend Dylan! And Macen – I hate him. How can I sleep with a guy I hate? Then I even had the nerve to get upset when him when he ran off the next morning!" I felt like an even bigger whore as I explained things to my mother. It was like my mother knowing just made everything that much worse.

"So that was why you were so depressed before." It wasn't a question, she knew that too. Psychic, I'm telling you. "I should beat that boy, or get your father to do it. What kind of guy runs away like a pansy after sleeping with a girl?"

I cracked a smile, but it was short lived in my current state. "You love him, don't lie."

"Whether I like him or not the majority of the time, him doing that to my little girl is unacceptable." I looked away, knowing it must be hard for her to comprehend how Macen could do something like that. I knew she liked him a lot and I knew she wished we'd gotten together, but that just wasn't the case.

"He doesn't want a serious relationship. He doesn't want to date me."

"Then why the hell did he sign up for that catalog? Why did he accept the meeting? Why did he keep coming over and making excuses to see you? Why the hell did he constantly get excited whenever talk of you came up with me or your father? What is that boy's problem? Was the whole thing just a joke for him?" I could tell she didn't want it to be, but I was pretty sure it was.

I kept that opinion to myself though. "I think I just scared him off. I wouldn't blame him either. I'm not exactly stable lately."


"Mom, I really like Alex. I know you're not that fond of him, but he's really sweet. Could you just try to give him a chance? Please?" I really hoped she could forget Macen and just embrace Alex. I really wanted her to like him too.

"Of course, I'll try. Honey, if you really like him, I won't protest if I don't see a clear reason. Besides, after what Macen did? I wouldn't want you dating him anyway. I'm happier you've chosen Alex. As long as you really want to pick Alex, then I'm fine with it." She pat my hand and leaned in to kiss my forehead.

"Thanks and again, I'm really sorry for my behavior earlier and recently in general."

"I know, but I don't think I'm the person that needs your apology the most right now. Do you?" She gave me a meaningful look and then nodded toward the living room. I hung my head and then stood up, heading to find my sister.

Next amends.

I slipped into the living room to see Shiloh watching some tv with Riley sleeping on the floor at her feet. I bit my lip and then moved over, standing in the corner of her view until she looked at me. "Shiloh… I… wanted to apologize for earlier. Can we talk?"

She looked at me a moment and I was certain she was going to say no, but then she pat the couch beside her. "Yeah, let's."

I took the proffered seat and started, "I know I had no right to tell Macen your business and it was even worse that I screamed it out for the whole neighborhood to hear. I understand if you're pissed and if you can't forgive me, but I really am sorry."

"Asabella, you know I won't hate you for just that, don't you? It's not like it's the first time you've shouted out my stupidity to the whole neighborhood anyway. We fight all the time. What I'm upset about is that you didn't tell me you were feeling that way that you felt like you were going to turn into me. And I'm a little pissed you seem to think that's such a bad thing. I know I'm not the smartest woman in the world, but I'm a good mother and work hard and my life doesn't suck. It just doesn't include any decent men except my little man – and dad." She was taking it just like mom had. Was I the only one in this family capable of being pissed at other people? Not only capable, but good at it.

"I know. I know it's not that bad. It's just… you didn't get to finish nursing school and you're always lonely. I know you have Riley, but I also know that's not the same for you as having a guy. I know how badly you want the whole family and I do too, that's why I'm so scared to fuck up." I was probably just making things worse, but she wanted me to tell her how I felt, so I was.

She was quiet and then sighed and turned to me, swinging her legs up and sitting crossed-legged on the couch. "I made a bad decision. I fell in love with a man who didn't love me and because I had tried so many times to find a lasting relationship and it always failed, I decided it was time to pull a few tricks to make it last. I got impatient with looking for the right guy. I chose the wrong trick and ended up pregnant and it didn't work. He married me and then when Riley was born and he couldn't handle it, he divorced me in a heartbeat and ran off. It was my decision that landed me there, but you are not me."

"But I-" She cut me off, holding up her hand with a stern, motherly look.

"Instead of worrying about becoming me and stressing yourself out so you do stupid things which make you feel like me, realize you're not me. Realize that you can learn from my mistakes. If you weren't so preoccupied in trying to get mister perfect like I was, you'd realize you have the perfect one for you already. They're not that difficult to find, they're just difficult to notice."

I raised an eyebrow at her, but she didn't say more. "What do you mean?" I coaxed her.

"I'm just saying that you have two guys who like you and that you like and… they both seem like good guys. I don't see why you're not dating one of them because… either seems right. You're too worried trying to make sure your guy is perfect so you last unlike me, but I dated a few perfect guys and they didn't last because I'm not perfect so they weren't right for me. In the end, you just need to choose the guy you can smile with even when you want to cry, not because you have to be perfect in front of him and strong, but because you know if you cried, he'd do everything he could to make you smile." She wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me over, "Okay? Just chill out and go with the flow. It's a lot better than trying to force things to work that simply won't."

I nodded and hugged my sister, extremely grateful my whole family wasn't as pigheadedly stubborn as I was.

"And from now on, you better tell me when you have sex, missy! I'm not getting any, so I need to hear the details from you." She laughed and elbowed me in the side lightly. "Like Macen… how was he?"

"I am definitely not talking to you about him! You were flirting with him earlier!" I laughed, but there was a definite grudge in my tone at the last comment.

"Tsk. I know he's off limits now, but he's so hot. My little sister has such good taste!" She winked and leaned closer, "Seriously though, he was good, right?"

"Oh my god. Really not doing this." I climbed off the couch, but she reached for my arm, trying to pull me back.

"Tell meeee!"

"No!" I broke free and ran off up the stairs, hearing her laugh behind me. Did she not understand that that was the last thing I wanted to recall right now? Well, she didn't know everything that happened, so I suppose she didn't understand. It was definitely something I did not want to think about though.

Instead, I closed myself in my room and went to my closet to think about what to wear the next day when Alex came to visit. Not that that took my mind off of Macen though really. It lessened the amount of time I spent thinking of him though which was better than nothing.