Here is another sneak peak at “Our Legacy” which is book 12 in the Family by Choice series. The name is not totally set in stone, yet.
Mike and Jade pulled up to the senior residence where his mom lived and he ran in, panicked at the ambulances and worried something horrible had happened. Jade followed and prayed everything was okay. They got in the elevator and went to the third floor.
“Mom?” Mike called out when they got to her room. They walked in and the medics were trying to reason with her.
“Michael, tell these fine young gentlemen that I don’t need to go to the hospital. I’m fine. This is too much fuss over nothing.”
“Where did you fall? Did you hit your head? Are you okay?” Mike knelt down next to the chair his mother was sitting on and took her hand.
“I didn’t hit anything. I went to sit on the side of my bed and missed the edge so I fell on my behind and I couldn’t get up. I pulled the help cord like you made me promise to do and they called all of the nice and handsome young men to come and help pick me up.”
Mike exhaled, confident she was okay. He turned and saw Jade speaking with the paramedics. He saw his mother eye her as well and before he could say anything, she called out.
“Excuse me young lady, do we know each other?”
Jade smiled and walked up to her.
Mike looked between them.
“This is my mother, Elaine Stein.”
“Hi Mrs. Stein. My name is Jade Sored,” she held out her hand and the older woman took it.
“Sored?” she asked and her eyes filled with tears as she stared at Jade and patted her hand.
Jade nodded and Mike was confused.
“Do you know each other?”
“No, but I wonder if you ever actually paid attention in Hebrew school. Sored means survivor in Hebrew,” his mother said.
“It was a long time ago.”
Jade was stunned Mike’s mom picked up on her name so quickly. She never had anyone realize the connection.
“We need a signature and we’ll be out of your hair,” one of the medics said.
Mike signed and saw the medic smile at Jade.
“We miss you at the hospital. I really hope you’re back soon. I want to take that lunch you promised me,” he smiled at her and Mike saw her blush. He walked closer to Jade and realized why.
He was jealous. He was so jealous.
Jade smiled politely and seemed oblivious to the medic’s obvious flirting. Mike closed the door when he let them out and he walked back to sit with them, but his mom stopped him.
“Michael, will you run and get us some food? I’m hungry and I want to talk to Jade without you here,” his mother said, never one to keep anything back. I also could use a hand in the bathroom, and I don’t want you to do it.”
“Mom, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Jade is tired and she is still getting over being sick.”
“Are you okay dear?”
“I’m okay. I would love to help you.”
Mike shook his head, nervous for what his mother would say, and he didn’t want Jade to always have to do something for others. He looked at them and knew he wasn’t going to win this one, so he left.
Jade helped Elaine into the bathroom and waited before she helped her change and they made their way back into the main room. Jade sat down next to her and smiled.
“So tell me how you and Michael found each other,” Elaine said.
“He is my friend and he has helped me out a lot recently. He is a very nice man.”
Elaine looked at her.
“Where are your parents?”
“I’m an orphan. I don’t have any parents,” she said softly.
“I see,” Elaine said. “Mike said you were sick. Was it serious?”
Jade wasn’t sure how much to say.
“I ate some bad rice,” she said.
“Right, and I’m the Easter bunny,” Elaine said and they both laughed. “What happened? You can tell me.”
“I was poisoned, but I’m going to be fine.”
“Poisoned? Oy Vey. Who would poison you? Was it on purpose?”
“I don’t think it’s important, really. Mike helped me and I owe him a great deal. He saved my life.”
“So you aren’t in love with him?” Elaine asked point blank.
“What? Why would you say that?” She began to panic. Had she been acting like a fool? Had she been embarrassing herself?
“Because he is in love with you,” Elaine said softly. “It’s all over his face.”
Jade shook her head.
“No, Ma’am, you’re wrong. Mike is grieving over his marriage and I hope one day he finds love like he deserves, but it isn’t with me.”
“His marriage? Rebecca is a tramp who never deserved my Michael. He didn’t love her and she preyed upon his need to do the right thing. He was so focused on his obligation to his Country and his father that he couldn’t see what she was doing. He wanted to have a love like I had with my Jim, but Rebecca wasn’t it.
“He was married to her. He had to feel something for her.”
Elaine smiled at her.
“He did. He was comfortable. He wanted to make me happy,” Elaine became choked up. “Michael has always done what he felt he was supposed to do. I think a lot of that is my fault. I should have been more up front with him. I should have helped him. Now he has suffered the most horrific loss of his boy. I don’t think I will ever forgive myself for that.”
Jade shook her head and took the woman’s hands in her own.
“What Rebecca did is not on you. I have never met someone as giving as Mike. He is gentle and caring and funny and strong. He knows the value of family and faith and all of that is because of you. You have raised an amazing son and you should be so proud.”
Elaine reached up and patted Jade’s cheek.
“My Michael deserves someone like you.”
Jade blinked and her tears fell as she shook her head.
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Why not? Why are you so certain?”
Jade tucked her hair behind her ear and shrugged.
“I’m not really a prize. I have a lot of baggage and Mike has been through so much already. He deserves someone who can be his equal.”
“Oh, my bubeleh. You have such a shayna punim. You look at yourself in a way that breaks my heart. You are a beautiful girl and Michael would be lucky to have you.”
“But I’m not skinny and I don’t want him to feel like he settled,” she whispered, not understanding why she felt so comfortable talking to her about this. It was as if she had longed for a mother figure for so long, she just couldn’t stop herself.
Elaine smiled at her.
“I’m going to let you in on a little secret,” she began. “Being thin is overrated.” She smiled and Jade laughed. “When I say you are beautiful, I wasn’t simply talking about your figure, although you have curves in all the right places. Beauty is a presence, a way you carry yourself, a mix of the outside and the inside. My Jim loved me, rolls and all. He looked at me as beautiful, because he didn’t see my love handles, he saw me.”
Jade wiped her eyes and sighed.
“And just so you know, men aren’t perfect. Jim had quite an attribute that took some time to get used to. In fact, I think Michael takes after his father in some ways, but that’s not for me to talk about,” she laughed and Jade blushed.
“Rebecca was thin and she was a bitch who ripped his heart out. Michael isn’t looking for perfection according to what is on our TV. He is looking to give his heart to someone and have them care for it the way it deserves.”
“Thank you,” Jade said softly.
“Besides, Rebecca hated that Mike was in the Army. She would never have worn his shirt,” Elaine smiled.
Jade looked down and realized she was wearing Mike’s sweatshirt. Jade hugged her and Elaine rubbed her back.
“My child. I’m sorry you have had such a tough life. You have a sadness behind your eyes that doesn’t need to be there. I hope you find what you’re looking for, somewhere, and learn your value.”
Mike walked back in and Jade sat back, wiping her eyes. Elaine smiled at her son.
“I’m tired. You should go home.”
Mike raised his eyebrows.
“But I brought dinner. Didn’t you tell me to get dinner?”
“Are you arguing with your mother? I wanted to speak with your friend and I did. Now leave me to my thoughts and take this wonderful girl home.”
Mike looked at Jade who hadn’t said anything. He was worried maybe his mother had overstepped.
“Do you mind if I use the bathroom before we go?” Jade asked Elaine.
“Of course not,” she smiled and Jade walked into the room.
Mike looked at his mother.
“What did you talk about? Why does she look exhausted?”
“She is a lost soul, Michael. She should be treated with care and cherished.”
Mike crossed his arms and nodded.
“I wish I knew how to help her.”
“You do, but only if you want to. Just don’t hurt her,” she smiled. “Now come here so I can give you a kiss.”
Mike leaned over and she kissed his cheek as Jade walked out.
“Are you ready?”
“I am. Thank you again for the wonderful talk, Mrs. Stein.”
“Elaine, please, and I hope you will come by again for a visit.”
“I would like that.”
Mike watched them and felt a strange sensation. Something he had never felt when Rebecca was there. He felt like his mom was as happy as he was.