“He won’t tell me what happened.” This surprises me. I didn’t expect Zack to give Seth a blow-by-blow, but I thought for sure he’d have told him about the baby. “But I know he’s sorry. We worked really hard last week to show you how sorry.”
“You were both very nice to me last week,” I assure him and, unable to hold back any longer, I pull Seth into my arms and hug him tightly. “I loved having you at my house after school and you’re welcome to come by anytime you want. You don’t even have to shovel or anything.”
He wraps his arms around my middle and holds on with all of his strength. “I love you, Jill. You’re the best mom I’ve ever had.”
Oh dear sweet Jesus, how am I going to live through this?
“Seth, no matter what happens between me and your dad, I’m always going to be your friend. No matter what you need, you can count on me, do you hear me? No matter what.”
He nods and sniffs and we stand like this for a long minute, crying and comforting each other.
As he pulls out of my arms, he glances outside and frowns. “What is she doing here?”
“Who?” I turn and follow his gaze and then feel my entire body burst into the flames of a thousand fires with the fury that races through my veins. “Stay here,” I instruct Seth and step out on the porch and march down the steps to the driveway below.
“Well, Jillian Sullivan,” Kensie sneers and approaches me. She looks . . . old. She’s my age, but she looks at least ten years older. Tired. Her hair and nails are done perfectly, and her clothes are two sizes too small.
She looks cheap.
“What do you want, Kensie?”
“I want to see Seth. I haven’t seen him in months.”
“You’re not going to see him today either.”
“Oh?” She tilts her head to the side and narrows her eyes. “Who’s going to stop me?”
“I am.” I brace my hands on my hips and face her square on. She’s a good five inches taller than me, and outweighs me by about twenty-five pounds, but I can take her easily if I need to.
“But I miss him so much.” Tears miraculously form in her eyes and her lower lip wobbles, and I know it’s a big, fat act.
“Wow, you’re good at that.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” She sniffs delicately and wipes an imaginary tear from her cheek. “It’s been months and months since I’ve hugged my little pumpkin.”
“Really? I heard the last time you saw him, you dumped him off right about where you’re standing and drove away without a backward glance, so I’m going to make it very easy for you, Kensie. Get back in your car and drive away. Seth doesn’t want to see you.”
“I am his mother,” she insists, still pretending to cry. “I have rights!”
“You gave up any rights you had when you abandoned him here.”
She sobers and stares at me, realizing that she’s not manipulating me the way she wants to.
“I’ll see him,” she says and takes a step closer to me. “And there’s nothing you or anyone else can do about it.”
“Oh, yes there is. You are such a pitiful excuse for a mother. For a woman,” I growl. “You let those motherfuckers you were fucking lay their hands on your child. They hit him!”
“He was fine,” she scoffs. “He makes it sound way more dramatic than it was. What, are you fucking Zack now? Is he still as great of a lay as he used to be? That’s the only thing he was ever good for.” She smirks. “Don’t tell me you’re in love with him? Do you think you can take my place in my family?”
“Don’t you touch her!” Seth yells from the top of the stairs, then clambers down them and shoves me behind him, protecting me. “Don’t touch Jill.”
“Hi, sweetie.” Kensie sends him a fake smile. “Did you miss your mommy?”
“No. Go away.”
“Now, that’s no way to say hello to me. Come here, give me a hug.”
“No.” He shakes his head frantically and I take his shoulders in my hands and pull him against my side.
“Seth, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.” I hear tires on the driveway, but my gaze doesn’t leave the bitch before me.
Kensie snarls and reaches for Seth’s arm, trying to pull him from my grasp. Seth cries out in pain and Kensie lets go, but laughs. “God, you’re still a pussy.”
I’ve had enough. I push Seth behind me, pull my fist back, and plant it right in her fucking smug mouth. She stumbles back and cries out, but I advance on her and punch her again, harder this time, knocking her flat on her ass.
“I fucking hate you,” I grind out between my teeth. “You’ll never lay your hands on that boy ever again. Do you hear me? Never. Again.”
Strong hands grip my arms but I shake them off and push my face in Kensie’s. “If you ever even think his name again, I’ll rip you apart.”
Her lip is bleeding, she’s panting, and her eyes are wide. “Zack! Are you going to let her treat me like this?” she shrieks.
“Absolutely,” he replies softly. “Get the fuck out of here, Kensie.”
“He’s my son!” she yells and begins kicking and punching the snow like a four-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. “He’s mine!”
“No,” I yell and pull her up by her coat and shove her toward her car. “He’s mine. Get the fuck off this property and don’t come back. If you have a problem with that, call a fucking lawyer.”
“You heard her. Get the fuck off my property.”
I spin around, searching for Seth, and see him standing next to the steps of the porch, his eyes wide and haunted. I run to him and pull him into my arms, kiss his head, and rock us both back and forth. “Are you okay?”
“She was going to hurt you,” he sobs.
“No, she wasn’t,” I reply and cup his face in my hands, trapping his hazel gaze in my own. “She wasn’t. And she won’t hurt you ever again either.”
He hugs me tight and then suddenly we’re both in Zack’s strong arms, being held and kissed, and for a brief moment I soak up his strength, and then the anger comes back full force.
“Seth, go inside now while I talk to your dad.”
“No, I want to—”
“She’s right. Go inside, buddy. Thor’s crying for you.”