She was scared. She had never left Matty in anyone else’s care before. She hated to be away from her son for any length of time. She had never been away from him.
This was a first. But Trent’s mother had promised to remain at the shelter with Matt. She trusted her to keep that promise. Still, she was afraid that someone would take off with Matt and she would be alone. And she couldn’t handle alone.
Trent appeared at one minute after five and parked long enough to help her into the car. He smiled reassuringly. “No Matthew?”
She looked down. “Your mother offered to sit with him.” She looked up, the fear in her eyes plain as day. “I am not used to being without him.”
He took her hand. “Don’t worry, he is in good hands. She will stay here at the shelter with him until you come back. He is in good hands.” He smiled and kissed her hand. “And so are you. Don’t worry. Nothing is going to happen.”
She relaxed. She trusted him. She hoped for the best. She didn’t need any more surprises.
He looked over at her and smiled as he drove. She looked absolutely radiant. He couldn’t help but love her. He admired her, too. She was an amazing mother. He had watched her with Matthew.
But tonight was just going to be for them. They both needed this alone time. It was meant for them to get to know each other. Nothing more.
He had no preconceptions. He had no motives. All he wanted was to show her that not everyone would hurt her. What happened beyond that would be up to her.
They had both expressed their love to each other. Now they had to get closer. They needed to know more about each other. Yes, they needed to be fully honest with each other.
He turned to her. “French or drive-in?”
She looked over at him. “Let’s go to a diner.”
He grinned. “OK, diner it is.”
He pulled into the parking lot of the nearest diner.. Getting out, he helped her out of the car and opened the door of the diner for her. Tonight, he would open himself up to her. He only hoped that she would do the same.
Shasta was now a sophomore in college. She had graduated a year early from high school and had went straight to college that following fall. She had met Dan Webster when she was a Freshman and had fallen in love with him immediately. But at seventeen, she was still a minor, and they took things slow. Now, at nineteen, and Dan at 21, They had agreed that college came first.
They had returned home, first to his parents, then to hers, and declared their love for each other. their announcement of their engagement had brought tears to the eyes of everyone. Shasta wished that Nattie had been there to hear. But Natalia was nowhere to be found.
Momma had mourned Nattie since they found out about what had really happened the night Nattie got pregnant. They had pushed her out without so much as an inkling of understanding. Their haste had hurt Nattie, turning her pain into shame without need. In the process, they had lost her.
Now, she was somewhere out there on the streets. Shasta knew it. She wanted to find her. Tell her how sorry everyone was. Hold her and comfort her. But that was a pipe dream at best.
Dan touched her arm, bringing her out of her thoughts. “Something wrong?”
She nodded, a tear welling up in her eye. “I can’t help think about Nattie. How different things would have been if Momma and Daddy had listened to her. She would have finished school and been in college. But they thought she had tempted Tobias. When the truth came out that he had planned what he did, down to the littlest detail, it was already too late. She was gone.”
He smiled at her. “We’ll find her, Honey. And you will be able to do everything you dream of. Especially the part about letting her know that everyone wants her to forgive them for wronging her. But she has to want to be found, first.”
She nodded. “True. Still, I wish we had listened to her. Hell. The clues were all there. The torn dress. The bruises. The blood. And no one took it serious. They thought it was all staged. Until Stacy was done the same way. Then, everyone sat up and took notice. And that bastard went off to war rather than face the court system for what he did.”
He looked down. “I agree that all that was done was wrong. But you cannot change that. Nor can you take away all of her pain. Especially not the pain inflicted by Toby’s father and mother. Not even they can remove that. She has to forgive when she is ready. But she has to start with herself.”
She smiled. Therapist Trent always knew what to say. “You’re right, damn you, you’re always right.” She giggled, then threw her arms around him kissing him passionately. “And that is why I love you so much. You help me see when I cannot do so clearly on my own.”
He smiled slyly. “I do what I must.” He winked and wrapped her in his arms. “And I love you simply because you are you.”
She looked up into his eyes. “And you are who you are. Therapist Trent is only one of the many pieces to your puzzle.”
He chuckled. “What about the other five million pieces?”
She smiled seductively up at him. “I’ll begin putting those back together after we’re married, Dearest Trent.”
He shivered, jokingly, as if a chill or a tingle had gone down his back. “Oooo. Now I’m all excited.”
She play-slapped his chest. “Oh, you. What am I ever going to do with you? You think everything is a joke. well–” She began tickling his ribs.
He danced around for a bit. “Alright, Alright. That’ll be enough of that. He picked her up in a bear hug and gently, lovingly, swung her around , He bent low and kissed her lips.