Initiation – a ritual to gain acceptance in a family, often accompanied by menial tasks
Ihesitate before I knock on the door of Mr. and Mrs. West. What if Lilac is here? What if she figures out I’m trying to bribe her mother into helping me? What if this whole thing is a set up?
It sounds plausible. Why else would Maverick message me and suggest I meet with Mrs. West to get her on my side? Immediately following his message, Lyric sent me a dispensation form to drive my car in Winter Falls, although I don’t need a dispensation form since I drove my own electric car today.
This is crazy. I step back from the door intent on leaving when it opens.
“I thought you might chicken out,” a woman says.
“Chicken out? Were you expecting me?” This whole thing is a setup.
Not exactly? What does ‘not exactly’ mean?
She holds out her hand. “I’m Ruby West. I’m Lilac’s mother.”
Aha! She was expecting me. Why else would she say she’s Lilac’s mother immediately upon meeting me?
I study her as we shake hands. Lilac doesn’t resemble her in any way I can tell. She’s short to Lilac’s tall. She has blonde hair and blue eyes, whereas Lilac’s hair is brown, and her eyes are the color of my favorite whiskey. She’s also short and curvy. Lilac is tall and slender.
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. West.”
“It’s Ruby. Only the students at the high school refer to me as Mrs. West.”
“Are you a teacher?” Lilac’s mother is a teacher? I realize I know almost nothing about the family of the woman I love.
“I’m the principal.” Her eyes twinkle with mischief. I bet she gives her students hell and enjoys every second of it.
“Come on.” She steps onto the porch and shuts the door behind her.
“Where are we going?”
“Oh wait. I forgot.” She whirls around and opens the door before grabbing a box. She hands me the box before shutting the door again.
“What’s this?” I ask before I realize the box is full of packages of condoms. I want to throw the box back at her and run away, but I hold my ground. “Why are you giving me a box of condoms?”
“It’s important to use prophylactics when having sexual intercourse.”
I’m well aware of the need to use protection when having sex. I’m a thirty-eight-year-old man, not a teenager. Except when I think back on my night with Lilac, I realize we didn’t use protection. Shit. Is Lilac pregnant? Is that why she ran out of the meeting yesterday?
No. It can’t be. This is Lilac after all. She probably diagrams her monthly cycle.
Ruby pokes me in the chest. “Your look right now is why I insist on giving all of my girls’ boyfriends condoms.”
My look? I gulp. Can she tell I’ve had sex with her daughter and didn’t protect her?
She rolls her eyes. “Of course, I know you’ve had sexual relations with my daughter.”
“Can you read my mind?” I ask before I can think better of the question.
She giggles. “No, but the way you nearly swallowed your tongue when I said boyfriend and condoms in one sentence gave you away.”
“You don’t let the high school students get away with a thing, do you?”