UNTIL NOW... by Denise Skelton
Terry Meyers' life seems to be falling apart. Her husband left her and their 2 sons for a woman 10 years her junior, she has a mortgage that she can't afford, a car that stays broken more than it works and a son who's going through puberty and seems set to drive her crazy in the process. Add to that the desire to go into business with her cousin, who is adamant that that will never happen and Terry believes her life could not get much worse.
But as things seem to go from bad, to worse, Terry decides it's time to take stock in her life. First on the list, handle her deadbeat future ex-husband. Second, find a new career. Third, swear off men, what's the point, she always chooses the wrong one, always ends up being used or hurt. Until Now...
Wade Nelson has moved back to Chicago to work as the new English teacher at Jefferson high. His strained relationship with his father has kept him away for many years. What his family doesn't know is that Wade has another agenda for being back in Chicago.
When Wade meets feisty Terry Meyers, the last thing he's thinking about is being in a relationship with anyone, let alone a woman who has two children, but Terry has a way of finding herself in rather strange situations and he just happened to be the one there to bail her out. With a past that he has never put to rest, Wade, by no means, considered the idea of settling down. Until Now...
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Terry glanced to her left. She definitely didn’t remember extending an invitation to share her bed. "You can’t come creeping in here in the middle of the night."
Keith leaned across the small space towards her. "But-"
"Woo hoo, that morning breath," Terry howled, covered her nose, and pushed him back.
He grinned at her. "I didn’t even brush my teeth yet."
"No smooches until you brush those stank teeth," Terry said fanning a hand in front of her face.
"Okay Mommy," six-year-old Keith Wilkerson said before sliding from the bed and racing from the room.
Glancing at the clock, Terry saw that it was 6:40 am. Grimacing, she pushed back the covers, crawled from the bed and headed to the bathroom for a quick shower before leaving for work. Damn she thought, she should have skipped that last margarita. When she entered the bathroom she switched on the light, the almost blinding glare illuminating from the light bulb made her wince, and she quickly switched it off. Groaning again, the thought came to her that, if she was lucky, she’d slip, fall, and drown in the shower, thus relieving her hangover.
Twenty-five minutes later, Terry walked from her bedroom dressed in a crisp white blouse, pleated gray slacks and black loafers. She wore her dark brown hair pulled back into a loose ponytail and her chestnut complexion was void of any makeup. She banged on her eldest son, DJ’s bedroom door.
"Breakfast in five minutes," Terry called as she walked past, and then paused. Grinning she took three steps backwards and quickly opened the door. "Didn’t you hear me?"
At fourteen, DJ was already just over five and a half feet tall, five inches taller than his mother, and close to a hundred and fifty pounds. He jumped, hearing the door open, and quickly pulled his pants up, tumbling and almost falling to the floor. "Mom!"
Terry laughed and snorted at the same time. "Boy, you ain’t got nothing there that I haven’t seen. I said breakfast would be ready in five minutes."
Closing the door, she grinned and headed down to the kitchen with a little more bounce in her step. When she entered the kitchen, Keith was already there, sitting at the counter watching Arthur. Terry picked up the television remote, turning the channel to the morning news.
"Mommy, I was watching that."
"Yesterday was your day, tomorrow is DJ’s, and today is mine. You know the rules. We all take turns watching what we want in the morning."
Terry took three bowls from the cabinet, filled them with Cheerios, and plucked up a banana.
"But, it’s so boring," Keith whined.
"Boy, you’re not old enough to be bored."
"Please, Mommy!" Keith whined again.
Pealing the banana, she cut it into very thin slices, putting five slices over each of the bowls of cereal. She poured milk into each, and was setting the bowls on the counter when DJ entered the kitchen.
"Mom, can we have sausage and eggs this morning?" DJ asked sliding into the stool next to his younger brother.
"You know we can only have sausage and eggs on Sundays. Right now, it’s not in the budget."
"We didn’t have sausage and eggs this past Sunday."
"Well then, we’ll just have extra sausage next time." I hope.
"Mommy, these are nasty. I hate Cheerios, " Keith mumbled.
"So do I," Terry said, sniffing the spoonful of cereal she was about to put in her mouth, and then scrunched up her nose. "But, it can’t be helped; this is what’s in the budget."
Actually, it was a generic brand, and they tasted so bad that Terry was surprised that the grocery store didn’t offer customers a dollar a bag just to take them off their hands. She had to agree with Keith; they were nasty, but it was better than nothing.
Keith looked at the bowl Terry had placed in front of him with disdain. "You can tell Daddy, tell him we don’t like Cheerios."
"No, she can’t," DJ glared at his brother.
"DJ," Terry warned.
Sure, she could tell their father that his sons were tired of eating repulsive generic cereal every morning and hotdogs three nights a week. But, he already knew that they were in financial trouble. He knew their situation; he just didn’t seem to care. But she didn’t want to tell Keith that. At first, when his father left, Terry had told Keith that his daddy had gone on a business trip; and she’d stuck to that story for two weeks. Eventually she had to tell him the truth. He had been devastated; he didn’t understand why his daddy wanted to live with a stranger and not them. Terry could tell him that his father didn’t give a damn about living with his children, and that he could care less if they ate at all, but why make Keith suffer more then he already was?
"Well you can’t," DJ said to his mother, and then, dropping his eyes, he stabbed his spoon in his bowl. "He doesn’t care about us eating Cheerios every day; he doesn’t care if we eat at all."
"He does too!" Keith immediately said, defending his father.
"DJ," Terry warned again.
"Tell him, Mommy!" Keith said, looking at his mother for confirmation.
"I bet Shareese doesn’t have to eat Cheerios every day," DJ complained.
"Okay, that’s enough," Terry said, rose, and gathered the bowls from the counter. Crossing the kitchen, she ran the cereal down the drain, clicked on the garbage disposal, and rinsed the bowls. "Go get your things together. We’ll stop by McDonald’s and grab you guys a sausage biscuit."
"Yippee!" Keith yelled as he jumped from the counter and rushed from the kitchen.
DJ followed at a much slower pace. "Sorry, Mom."
Terry sighed, stroking his cheek as he passed her. "Don’t worry about it, buddy."
Twenty-two months ago, their lives had changed. They went instantly from a happy family of four to a confused and struggling family of three. Twenty-two months since her ex-husband had come home from work and told her that he wasn’t in love with her anymore. That he had met someone else, and she was going to have his baby. Five years before that day, Terry would have chased him from their home with a baseball bat, and she would have made both of them rue the day they had crossed her. But, she’d changed, she’d grown, she’d evolved…for the most part.
Now it was just her and her boys. She had a mortgage for a house that she couldn’t afford, a car that stayed broken almost as
much as it worked, and a teenage son who had shot up five inches in six months. David had promised to pay half of the mortgage, but hadn’t paid his share in almost a year. He hadn’t paid her the agreed amount of child support in the last few months. Things had been hard, and it didn’t look like it would be getting any easier any time soon. The hours at her job as a customer service representative at the mall were being cut because of the economy, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. For the past six months, she’d borrowed half the money for the mortgage payment from her cousin Dee. She didn’t complain about it, and Terry promised herself that she’d pay back every cent; but, it seemed that all she was doing was getting deeper and deeper in debt. She didn’t want to sell the house, the boys had had a hard enough time with their father abandoning them, they didn’t need to lose their home too, but she was running out of options.
Digging inside her purse, she pulled out her wallet, checking her cash. "Seven dollars and thirty-five cents; great," she sighed.
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