|Conversations Between Mothers
Author: Rae325 PM
The last thing Charlotte King ever thought she would be was someone's mother.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Family - Charlotte K. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 7,638 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 06-25-12 - Published: 06-18-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8232666
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Here's the last chapter. Charlotte, Cooper, and Mason take a trip to Akron for Thanksgiving.
Thanks to everyone who read, and an extra big thanks to those of you who reviewed. Your feedback is very much appreciated!
Leah Freedman wakes up to the sounds of giggling coming from her living room. It's been a long time since she's had a child living in her house, but the noise transports her back immediately. She glances at the clock on her bedside table – 4: 38 a.m. As she's gotten older, Leah's begun waking at increasingly early hours. She's learned that there's no point staying in bed – all it will accomplish is waking her husband as well.
Leah wraps herself in her robe and walks out to the living room where she finds her daughter-in-law and her grandson sitting on the couch. There's some ridiculous infomercial on the television, and Charlotte seems to have muted the sound and begun adding her own lines over the picture. Charlotte's arm is wrapped around Mason, who is smiling for the first time since arriving in Akron the previous day.
Charlotte hears footsteps and turns slightly to see Cooper's mother walking into the room. "Did we wake you? We were trying to be quiet."
"Oh, no. I'm a very early riser these days. I did hear all the laughing though," she says turning to Mason. "I wanted to see what all the excitement was."
Mason just shrugs, and Charlotte looks at her mother-in-law apologetically. Mason had told Charlotte when he'd woken her a couple hours ago after a nightmare, that he was having a hard time spending his first Thanksgiving without Erica with so many new family members that he barely knew. Charlotte had felt awful that she hadn't pressed Mason harder when he'd told her and Cooper that it was fine if they spent the holiday in Ohio.
Leah can see that she's making her grandson uncomfortable, so she decides to leave the room and give Charlotte and Mason more time alone. "I'm going to make a pot of coffee. Mason, do you want anything to drink? Your dad used to love my cocoa."
"No, thank you." Mason tells her.
Mason lets out a yawn as he puts his head down on Charlotte's shoulder. "Are you getting tired, honey?" Charlotte asks. They've been awake since 3 a.m., and Charlotte would like Mason to get a little sleep before the big Thanksgiving celebration tomorrow.
"I don't want to go back to bed. Can you stay with me a little longer? Please." When Mason looks at Charlotte, he seems young and fragile and like he is just begging her to make it all ok.
Mason had been doing well in the past few months. The family had settled into their new home, and Mason had started forth grade uneventfully. Overall, he had been getting back to being a happy, funny little boy. But he still has days when he is sad or angry, and when Charlotte and Cooper's hearts break with their inability to make everything better for their son.
"Of course, Mase," Charlotte tells him, grabbing a pillow. "Why don't you lie down?" She coaxes Mason, laying the pillow on her lap. Mason lies down on his side so he's facing Charlotte. She runs her fingers through his hair softly.
"Thanks for staying up with me. I'm sorry you're going to be tired tomorrow." Charlotte is still impressed by what a sweet and considerate kid Mason is.
"You don't ever need to thank me, ya hear? I'm your momma. I'm always going to take care of you, sweetheart."
"I know that."
"Good." Charlotte leans down and kisses Mason's forehead. Charlotte grabs the throw blanket from the back of the couch and covers Mason. She rubs her hand up and down Mason's arm trying to soothe him.
"I love you, Momma." Mason tells Charlotte a minute later, sounding half asleep already.
"I love you too Mason." Charlotte keeps caressing Mason's arm gently, reminding him that she's there as he closes his eyes and finally lets himself sleep.
Leah doesn't approve of eavesdropping. Not at all. But she tells herself that she has a responsibility as a good mother and as a good grandmother to make sure that Charlotte is taking proper care of Cooper and Mason. As she watches the scene in front of her though she has to admit that Charlotte seems like a good mother. It's easy to see that Charlotte adores Mason, and that he loves and trusts her.
Leah walks back into the living room and sits down on the lounge chair next to where Charlotte is sitting. "Would you like a cup of coffee?" she whispers.
Charlotte looks at Mason. His breathing is deep and even, and she knows that moving won't wake him. "That sounds great," Charlotte tells Leah as Charlotte gets up and lays Mason's head on the pillow on the couch. Charlotte can't go back to bed when she's promised Mason that she would stay with him, and there's no way she'll get any quality sleep on the couch. She might as well get some caffeine in her and try to work on her relationship with her mother-in-law.
Charlotte follows Leah into the kitchen. "Mason sleeps like a rock, huh?" the older woman asks.
"Just like Coop," Charlotte tells her.
"I always thought that was my gift for surviving colic with him as a baby." Charlotte smiles. She has to admit, it would be nice to have a mother-in-law she was friendly enough with that she could get the dirt on Cooper. Right now, Cooper has the upper hand. Charlotte's brothers like Cooper and have no qualms about sharing embarrassing stories about their big sister.
"How do you take your coffee?" Leah asks, filling a mug for Charlotte.
"Black's fine. Thank you."
"What time did Mason wake you?"
Charlotte takes a sip of the coffee. It's strong and bitter and extremely necessary right now. "Three."
"Did he have a bad dream?" Leah asks. Cooper's told her so many great things about Mason, but unfortunately both times she'd met Mason he'd been upset and withdrawn.
"Yeah," Charlotte tells her, taking another long gulp of her coffee. "I think the holidays are going to be a rough time for him."
"It was nice to hear him laugh before."
"Yeah," Charlotte replies sadly. She loves the sound of Mason's laugh, and it breaks her heart to need to work so hard to get a giggle from him. She reminds herself that this will pass, that things will continue to get better for Mason.
Leah can tell that Charlotte is hurting. It's written all over her face. "You're doing a good job with him." Charlotte looks up from her coffee, shocked. "Mason obviously loves you and feels safe with you, Charlotte. He thinks of you as his mother. That should tell you that you're doing the right thing for him."
Charlotte is touched by Leah's compliment. "Thank you." They settle into silence for a moment. Charlotte feels slightly more at ease with her mother-in-law now, so she figures she should try to give the apology that she couldn't quite manage to articulate during the short time she had spent with Cooper's parents before her wedding. "Mrs. Freedman," she starts. They don't feel close enough to use first names, and Charlotte's parents had taught her to address her elders either by their last names or as sir or ma'am. "I know that the two of us didn't get off to a good start."
Leah won't deny this. Despite offering her daughter-in-law reassurance about her parenting of Mason, Leah maintains her skepticism about her son's choice of wife. "But I want you to know," Charlotte continues, "that I love Cooper and Mason more than I can say, and I will never do anything to intentionally hurt them."
"You've hurt Cooper before," Leah reminds the younger woman.
"I know, and I am grateful everyday that Cooper forgave me and that I have him. I understand why it's hard for you to trust me, but I hope that we can try to start over, because whether you like it or not, we're family. What I want most in the world is to make Cooper and Mason happy, and that's what I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to do." Charlotte wouldn't normally do this – open herself up to a near stranger (or really most anyone besides Cooper) – but she knows how much it means to Cooper that his family like her.
Leah considers what Charlotte's said. Cooper's phone calls since he'd gotten married had left Leah with the sense that her son was extremely happy. Plus, Leah thinks, Charlotte has embraced Cooper's child. Leah's not sure how she would react if her husband surprised her with a kid from a one-night stand. Charlotte seems sincere, and watching her and Cooper together makes Leah feel pretty sure that the couple is incredibly in love. "Call me Leah," she tells Charlotte finally.
Charlotte nods and smiles. Small steps, she figures.
"I've been meaning to dig through my old photo albums. Want to help me?" Leah asks.
A mother-in-law who doesn't hate her and a chance to see adorably embarrassing pictures of her husband as a child: not bad progress for a morning.
Charlotte is watching Mason and the other kids play on the swing set in the Freedmans' yard following dinner. Mason looks happy. He's helping his baby cousin down the slide. Sometimes, when Charlotte stops and thinks about her life, she can't believe they've gotten here. She can't believe that Mason thinks of her as his momma. She can't believe how much she loves this child, can't believe that she is a mother.
When she really thinks back, she can't believe that she and Coop are where they are. A man she'd hated but accidentally agreed to meet for kinky sex six years ago had become the love of her life. In the past few years they'd been through a lot, but Charlotte is proud of the fact that in the end, it had only brought them closer together.
So, here she was, in this life she'd never envisioned for herself, and loving it.
Cooper sits down next to Charlotte, studying the content look on her face. He wraps his arm around her shoulders, and she leans into him. "You certainly won my mother over," Cooper tells his wife.
"It takes all the Freedmans a little while to warm up to me."
Charlotte goes back to watching Mason play, enjoying the feel of Cooper holding her tightly. "I've been thinking about something," she tells Cooper. "But you have to promise me that if I tell you that you won't laugh or say 'I told you so.'"
Cooper looks almost giddy at the chance to hear Charlotte admit something that will earn him an 'I told you so.' "What is it?" he asks.
"Promise first: no laughing."
"Okay. I promise. What is it?" He has that mischievous, childish look on his face that Charlotte can't help but find cute.
"I can't stop thinking about Mason being an older brother." Charlotte watches as Cooper's face changes, and his smile becomes one of pure joy and love. His eyes are welling with tears.
Cooper hadn't thought too much about babies recently, but he certainly still wanted them. He was so grateful that Charlotte loved Mason, that she had enthusiastically taken on the job of being a parent. Cooper had a family he adored, and if his wife didn't want to have any more children then he would have accepted that. He wasn't planning to push Charlotte on it. But here she was telling him that she wanted another child. That was too good to be true.
"You want to have another kid?" Cooper confirms with Charlotte.
"Not right now. I think Mason needs more time having all our attention. But, yeah, I want to have another child with you."
Cooper pulls Charlotte to him for a kiss. When he finally pulls away, he announces, "I cannot wait to knock you up."
Charlotte rewards him with a hearty laugh, and they both wonder: How the hell did life get so good?