Goddammit, I needed to talk to Wes. Get his opinion, see if he knew the famous doctor personally and whether he’d heard anything. Of course, I couldn’t do that because I hadn’t heard from him in two weeks. Didn’t know where he was, when he’d be back, just that Judi had said he left overnight one day. Told her he wouldn’t be back for a two to three weeks and to tell me he’d call. That was all she had for me. I’d received a scratchy voicemail from him that broke up so bad I couldn’t hear much of anything. Be home soon and that he loved me. Outside of that, nothing.
Of course, there was a whole new issue of figuring out how I was going to come up with two hundred thousand dollars or a way to get Blaine to give me more time.
“Hopefully, Pops will be out of the woods soon. Don’t make any cancellations on the October job until you hear from me. I’ll try not to be so unavailable, but it’s hard right now, Millie. There’s also some family shit I need to talk to you about. Serious stuff that has to do with Mom.”
“Have you heard from Meryl?” Her voice went as low as a whisper, so much so that I had to press the cell harder against my ear.
Shaking my head at the ridiculousness of that question confirmed that I did not want to get into this. Pops was here, fighting for his life. Our mother, Millie’s sister, and the whopping bad choices she’d made for the last three decades didn’t get to take center stage. The last thing I wanted to deal with was Mom and her secrets. “No, I haven’t. Just some stuff came up. When Pops is in the clear, I’ll call you, okay?”
Millie sighed through the line. “Is…uh…he going to be okay?”
An annoyed snort-chuckle slipped from my mouth. “Don’t act like you give a damn what happens to my father. You’ve always hated him, resented him for not bringing us to California when Mom up and left us in the lurch. He did the best he could.”
Her own disbelieving grunt came through the line. “The best would have been actually giving you a life. When my sister was there, you were all happy. He couldn’t keep anything together when she left.” Her voice was icy and chilled me to the bone.
A deep defensiveness for Pops swirled heavily in my gut. My aunt or not, she was poking the bear and needed to be set back in her place. “At least he didn’t leave. That was your sister. The woman you miss so much walked away from her ten-year-old and five-year-old daughters, but I guess that’s okay, huh? Wasn’t the first time she left a family hanging. Hell, for all we know, she’s got a whole slew of them around the nation. I probably have a handful of other siblings I don’t know about.”
Millie sniffed, and her voice shook. “Your mother was never well, dollface. You know that. Deep down, you know that she was never meant to be saddled with children and married life. Her spirit needed to roam free or she would feel imprisoned within her own life.”
“You’re making excuses for her?”
“Mia, she loved you.”
I huffed. “Is that what you call it? Up and leave your daughters? Love. She didn’t know the meaning of love.” Now that I had Wes, I knew that for a fact. When you loved someone that much, you cared more about their happiness than your own. You made sacrifices that benefitted them, not yourself. Sure, there was give and take, but it was all part of sharing your life, of having a family. “Mom didn’t know the meaning of love, Millie,” I repeated.
“Don’t say that. Meryl just wasn’t all there in the head all of the time. It has been that way since she was little.”
Right then and there, I decided she needed a fat dose of reality about her dear sister. “I’ve heard enough. Do yourself a favor. Why don’t you go look up the name Maxwell Cunningham one more time?”