Revel (Second Chance Romance #1)(7)

By: Alison Ryan

“Don’t let your daddy hear that,” Anna said. “He’ll stop donating.”

A breeze whipped by the porch, making the Spanish moss that hung from the live oaks in their yard sway. It was a perfect moment and Declan couldn’t help but be moved at the beauty surrounding him. That included his mother.

Declan adored his mother and was in many ways the only person who seemed to understand her. Despite the privilege and the money, his mother was like a character out of a Tennessee Williams play. There was a darkness and melancholy to her under the charming socialite disposition. Particularly in the last few years; Anna DeGraff was sneaking a lot of gin into her tea lately and Declan had found more pill bottles than a CVS in her bathroom when searching for her hidden bourbon stash.

He’d confronted her immediately, “Momma. Why do you have so many prescriptions? Why do you need painkillers? And all the benzos… I mean, you have more meds than what any one person should ever need in a lifetime.”

Declan had seen many of his fraternity brothers playing around with heavy prescription pills and it never led to anything good. It alarmed him that his mother had any of this stuff in the house. Not that Declan was against the occasional recreational partaking of an illegal substance, but this scared the shit out of him. And most of the bottles only had half the prescription amount in them, so it was clear she was taking them.

Anna had become uncharacteristically angry at Declan, “You need to mind your own damn business, son. What are you doing going through my things?”

“Does Dad know about this?” Declan asked, his voice cold. “Does he have any idea?”

Anna’s eyes filled with tears, “There you go judging me. You don’t know what I go through every day. The painkillers help the kind of pain that can’t heal or get fixed. They help me get through the pain of living! And my benzos help me sleep. So don’t you accuse and judge and persecute me, Declan Seamus DeGraff. Jesus says don’t throw stones.”

Declan sighed, “I don’t remember Jesus saying that it was okay to be a junkie.”

For the first time ever, Anna slapped him. She’d never laid a hand on him, not in the entirety of his life, but she’d smacked him hard across the cheek in that moment.

And then swiftly burst into tears.

“I’m sorry,” she cried. “It’s just so much harder than people know. If only people knew what happens in my head every day… They’d leave me be.”

Declan was in shock. The sting of her slap wasn’t what hurt him. Seeing her vulnerable and sobbing in front of him is what truly killed him.

They had never spoken again about that day. She’d promised to try to be better about her pills and booze, but assured Declan she wasn’t addicted to anything and that she could stop at any time, if she wanted to.

“I just never want to,” she admitted. “They keep me happy. And don’t you know how important it is to your daddy that I appear happy at all times?”

Declan was the only one that knew this side of his mother. She had her bad days, but also, like that day on the porch, she had many great days. That’s what he tried to focus on.

“Well,” Declan said. “I think I’m going for a run.”

Anna sipped her tea, “Antonia just set up lunch. Aren’t you hungry?”

Declan leaned down and kissed his mother on the head, “I’ll eat after. I won’t be gone too long. It’s just a gorgeous day and I haven’t run the bridge in a while.”

The Ravenel Bridge was a large white beacon of hope that crossed over from Charleston to Mt Pleasant. It had a runner’s path and Declan tried to jog it every other day or so.

“It’s so hot, baby. Take some water. I don’t want you passing out,” Anna said.

“I’ll be fine,” Declan said. “I run it all the time. I need to do some thinking. Decide how to plan my summer without the Sullivan’s house.”

Anna laughed, “Oh! To have such dilemmas! Okay, sweet baby. You run and I’ll sit here and enjoy this day, this tea, and a sandwich.”

Declan nodded, “You do that.”

He walked back to his room to change into his running shorts and a t-shirt. Part of him thought about not doing the run, it really was hot.

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