Home > All Your Perfects(7)

All Your Perfects(7)
Author: Colleen Hoover

She will occasionally do things for Ava and me that we’re both very grateful for. She paid off our vehicles for Christmas last year. And when I graduated college before meeting Graham, she helped me find an apartment and paid the first month’s rent. But mostly, she spends her money on us in ways that benefit her. She’ll buy us clothes she thinks we should wear because she doesn’t like the ones we buy ourselves. She’ll buy us spa days for our birthday and force us to spend it with her. She’ll visit our homes and complain about our furniture and two days after she leaves, a delivery person will show up with all new furniture she picked out herself.

Graham absolutely hates it when she does this. He says a gift is a nice gesture, but an entire couch is an insult.

I’m not ungrateful for the things she does for me. I just know that I have to make my own way in life because even though money surrounds me, it doesn’t line my pockets.

One of the things I’ve always been grateful for is our weekly lunches. Without fail, Ava and I join her for lunch at the country club near her house. I absolutely hate the place, but I enjoy time with Ava and we tolerate our mother enough to be able to look forward to our weekly lunches.

However, I have a feeling all that is going to change now that Ava is moving to Europe. She’ll be preparing to move for the next week, which makes this our last lunch. The fullness that was just added to her life has made mine feel even emptier.

“Can’t you fly home for lunch every week?” I ask Ava. “How am I supposed to entertain your mother all by myself?” We always refer to our mom as your mother when we’re discussing her. It started as a joke in high school, but now we say it so often, we have to watch ourselves in front of her so that we don’t slip up.

“Bring an iPad and Skype me in,” she says.

I laugh. “Don’t tempt me.”

Ava picks up her phone and perks up when she reads a message. “I have an interview!”

“That was fast. What’s the job?”

“It’s for an English tutor at a local high school there. Doesn’t pay shit but if I get the job, I’ll learn how to cuss in French and Italian a lot faster.”

Reid makes enough money that Ava doesn’t have to work, but she’s always had a job. She says the housewife role isn’t a fit for her and I think that’s what drew Reid to her. Neither of them want kids and Ava has always liked staying busy, so it works for them.

There are moments I envy her lack of desire for children. So many issues in my life and marriage would be nonexistent if I didn’t feel so incomplete without a child.

“It’s going to feel so weird without you, Ava,” my mother says, claiming her seat at the table. I ordered her usual, a martini with extra olives. She sets her purse down in the chair next to her and pulls an olive from the toothpick. “I didn’t think your move would bother me this much,” my mother continues. “When are you coming home to visit?”

“I haven’t even left yet,” Ava says.

My mother sighs and picks up her menu. “I can’t believe you’re leaving us. At least you don’t have kids. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if you whisked grandchildren away from me.”

I laugh under my breath. My mother is the most dramatic person I know. She hardly wanted to be a mother when Ava and I were little and I know for a fact she’s in no hurry to be a grandmother. That’s one aspect of her personality I’m able to find relief in. She doesn’t nag me about having a baby. She only prays I never adopt.

Ava brought up adoption at one of our lunches with my mother two years ago. My mother actually scoffed at the idea. “Quinn, please tell me you aren’t pondering the idea of raising someone else’s child,” she said. “It could have . . . issues.”

Ava just looked at me and rolled her eyes, then texted me under the table. Yes, because biological children never have issues. Your mother needs to take a look in the mirror.

I’m going to miss her so much.

I already miss you so much, I text her.

Still here.

“Honestly, girls, do neither of you know table etiquette by now?”

I look up and my mother is glaring at our phones. I lock mine and shove it in my purse.

“How is Graham?” my mother asks. She only asks out of courtesy. Even though Graham and I have been married for over seven years, she still wishes he were anyone else. He’s never been good enough for me in her eyes, but not because she wants the best for me. If it were up to my mother, Graham would be Ethan and I’d be living in a house as big as hers and she’d be able to brag to all her friends about how much richer her daughter is than Evelyn Bradbury.

“He’s great,” I say, without elaborating. Because honestly, I’m only assuming Graham is great. I can’t tell anymore what he’s feeling or thinking or if he’s great or good or miserable. “Really great.”

“Are you feeling okay?”

“I feel fine. Why?”

“I don’t know,” she says, giving me the once-over. “You just look . . . tired. Are you getting enough sleep?”

“Wow,” Ava mutters.

I roll my eyes and pick up my menu. My mother has always had a knack for direct insults. It never bothers me much because she jabs both Ava and me an even amount. Probably because we look so much alike. Ava is only two years older than me. We both have the same straight brown hair that reaches just past our shoulders. We have the same eyes that are identical in color to our hair. And according to our mother, we both look tired a lot.

We order our food and make small talk until it arrives. Lunch is almost in the bag when someone approaches our table. “Avril?”

Ava and I both look up as Eleanor Watts adjusts her baby blue Hermès bag from one shoulder to the other. She tries to make it appear subtle, but she might as well hit us over the head with it while screaming, “Look at me! I can afford a fifteen-thousand-dollar purse!”

“Eleanor!” my mother exclaims. She stands and they air kiss and I force a smile when Eleanor looks at us.

“Quinn and Ava! Ladies, you are as beautiful as ever!” I have half a mind to ask her if I look tired. She takes an empty seat and cradles her arms around her bag. “How are you, Avril? I haven’t seen you since . . .” She pauses.

“Quinn’s engagement party to Ethan Van Kemp,” my mother finishes.

Eleanor shakes her head. “I can’t believe it’s been that long. Look at us, we’re grandparents now! How did that even happen?”

My mother picks up her martini glass and sips from it. “I’m not a grandmother yet,” she says, almost as if she’s bragging about it. “Ava is moving to Europe with her husband. Children interfere with their wanderlust,” she says, waving her hand flippantly toward Ava.

Eleanor turns to me, her eyes scanning my wedding ring before they move back to my face. “And what about you, Quinn? You’ve been married a while now.” She says this with ignorant laughter.

My cheeks burn, even though I should be used to this conversation by now. I know people don’t mean to be insensitive but the intention doesn’t make the comments hurt any less.

“When are you and Graham going to have a baby?”

“Do you not want children?”

“Keep trying, it’ll happen!”

I clear my throat and pick up my glass of water. “We’re working on it,” I say, right before taking a sip. I want that to be the end of it, but my mother ensures it isn’t. She leans in toward Eleanor like I’m not even here.

“Quinn is struggling with infertility,” my mother says, as if it’s anyone’s business other than mine and Graham’s.

Eleanor tilts her head and looks at me with pity. “Oh, honey,” she says, placing her hand over mine. “I’m so sorry to hear that. Have the two of you considered IVF? My niece and her husband couldn’t conceive naturally, but they’re expecting twins any day now.”

Have we considered IVF? Is she serious right now? I should probably just smile and tell her that’s a great idea, but I’m suddenly aware that I have a limit and it was just reached. “Yes, Eleanor,” I say, pulling my hand from hers. “We’ve been through three unsuccessful rounds, actually. It drained our savings account and we had to take out a second mortgage on our home.”

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