A/N: This is my very first story that I am putting out into the world. The last time I wrote anything I was 15, now I'm in my 30s, craziness. Quite a few details in it are close to my heart. I don't have a posting schedule decided yet.
Thanks to my beta, MeteorOnAMoonlessNight, and for all you other help!
Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I own lots of leopard print items.
I sat down in my recliner with a heavy sigh, thankful that my son, Riley, was finally asleep for the night. I had never imagined that this was where my life would have taken me. I had just turned 33 a week before, and it felt like I had nothing to show for it yet.
I met James Hunter in a chat room when I was 22 years old. When we first began chatting I lived in New York, on Long Island, with my parents. He lived in the state of Washington, in a town called Port Angeles. The time difference should have proven difficult, but it was perfect for me. I was always somewhat of a night owl, and having someone to chat with at 2 in the morning was exactly what I needed. Eventually, our relationship grew and we started venturing to talking on the phone and the occasional Skype session. After a few months, we started to develop feelings for each other and decided we needed to meet. We wanted a future together, so we needed to know how we worked together in the real world. It couldn't have gone better than it had.
A year later we were married and decided that we would make our home out in Washington. James had a job waiting for him there, and living expenses were just so much less than in New York. Uprooting myself, changing everything I had ever known wasn't easy, but with James there, it always felt worth it. We grew as a couple and we felt stable in where we were. A little over 2 years into our marriage we started talking about wanting to try for a baby.
After 9 months of trying, we finally succeeded in getting pregnant. Even though we had been trying, James was nervous to become a father. I was so thrilled and excited at the thought of being a mommy. My mom, Renee, and I always had a close connection. I couldn't wait to bond with my baby and show them the love that I had been shown as a child.
Riley was born in December. Two weeks before he was born, my mom suddenly passed away. No one had expected it, especially me. I had a new baby, a heart full of grief, and no idea how to move forward. Every day felt like a struggle just to get up and get dressed. James was amazing with Riley and myself. He did everything he could possibly do to make it easier on me. He took the night feedings, he put Riley back to sleep when he fussed, he made it so that I only had to function while he was at work. He was an amazing husband and father.
As the months went on, I noticed that Riley was meeting some milestones at the right time, but many of them were very late. By the time Riley was a year old, he had yet to say his first word. I put it in the back of my mind, knowing that, like everyone says, all children are different. He eventually started to say a few words around 14 months. When he was around 18 months, Riley still wasn't walking. James and I spoke about it and decided to speak to his pediatrician. We were told that we should have him evaluated with Early Intervention. He was probably just delayed, but would catch up. He finally walked when he was 22 months old.
Things continued on about the same for the next couple of years, with Riley being delayed in most of his milestones. I tried as hard as I could with him everyday, but I had never really gotten past my mom's death. I put as much effort as I could into him, though it never felt like enough. It took all my strength just to get started most days, never mind concentrating on constantly working with Riley to reach his goals.
The house was constantly a mess; dishes always piled in the sink, laundry never done. I felt like the world was caving in on me. James still did everything he could to help, however, at times he was starting to seem much more hostile and frustrated with my lack of energy. We fought more often than we ever had. It seemed like he couldn't understand why I wouldn't just choose to be better.
When Riley was four, one word changed everything for us. Autism. Riley was diagnosed with autism. It explained so many things. The late milestones made sense, like how he never really interacted with other children. All the little 'quirks' he had, just made sense to me now. Somehow, it didn't make sense to James. His child couldn't have autism. He couldn't handle any more on his plate. He was done. He didn't have the desire to put in even more effort than he had already. Between me and Riley, he just didn't want to try and continue to fail.
He wanted a divorce. I didn't fight it. I had no fight left in me, or so I thought.
A year later when the divorce was final, I decided to move back to New York with Riley. I had family there. My dad, Charlie, was retired and still living on Long Island, as was my sister Rosalie with her husband Emmett, along with all of our aunts and cousins. Rosalie and I had never really been close because we were just so different. I loved her, but we didn't have that 'sister bond' you hear about. We didn't share secrets. We didn't go shopping, or really do much of anything together. But we were still sisters, so when I needed help, she was there. She offered for me and Riley to stay with them until I could find a job and a place of our own. I was thankful to her for that.
I put the feet up on the recliner and looked over to the small twin bed at my son. After two months of living with my sister and her husband, I had finally found the perfect job. It was as the secretary to Mr. Cullen, the principal of Riley's new school. I was able to bring Riley to before care at school in the morning, and pick him up from after care in the evening. Like I said, perfect.
When I found out that I had gotten the job, I couldn't believe it, especially with how the interview had gone. When I had lived in Washington with James, we had decided that I wouldn't need to work. I hadn't held down a job in over eight years. My resume was lacking, all I had to show were a handful of assistant preschool teacher positions from years prior. Also, to say that I was out of practice when it came to interviews was a severe understatement. I was starting tomorrow, and I wasn't sure how I was going to get through the day without embarrassing myself. Even when I thought about it now, I couldn't help but blush.