I’ve acquired a new skill recently: translator. I’ve become rather adept at translating teenage body language, single syllable replies and eye rolls. And I like to remind my daughter daily that yes, I do in fact have her number and she better step up her game if she wants to take me on. As luck would have it, my husband and I have also descended into the “inability to communicate effectively” phase. Perhaps it’s because we just moved last week and I told my husband he severely underestimated the amount of stuff we own and he argued that I have too much stuff (although he might’ve been more creative in his word choice for stuff). We’ve had more than a few conversations in the last week that’ve begun with: I heard you say, what I meant to say and I heard you, but sorry I wasn’t really listening, well, at all. And I have to admit, I laugh every time my husband admits he heard me talking, but didn’t listen to a word I said. It’s refreshing to know I’m not the only one guilty of that particular flaw.
Good communication takes practice. A lot of practice and even then, it still goes haywire between couples, families, and friends. In my July release, The Charm Offensive, my heroine, Sophie Callahan has stopped believing in empty words and has put her in faith in actions. For all too often, Sophie has been left to deal with the fall-out from her family’s broken promises.
Here’s a teaser from The Charm Offensive. Once again, Sophie’s sister has gone back on her promise to return home and Sophie is the one left to make everything better for her young niece. Unfortunately for Sophie, words aren’t enough to alleviate the pain and disappointment.
“Do you think Mother will like it?” Ella asked.
Sophie’s heart stalled as if clogged by those extra cotton balls. “She’ll love it.”
“After we add the clouds and I finish the rainbow, you’ll help me write ‘welcome home,’ right?” Ella ran her hands over the rainbow arc she’d formed with thin, flexible wax strips.
The joy in Ella’s tone stole Sophie’s heart, and her throat swelled, feeling stuffed by another bunch of cotton balls. “Whenever you’re ready.”
“She’ll be home in nineteen days,” Ella said. “So I need to be ready soon.”
“About that.” Sophie sat on the bed. “I talked to your mother today.”
Ella’s hands stilled on her picture. “Is she excited to come home?”
A guardedness tightened Ella’s voice as if to protect the joy. Sophie swallowed her scream of anger. Her niece didn’t deserve this amount of pain. “She’s excited to see you.” Sophie hugged Ella, wanting the contact to be more comfort than her empty words, but knew it’d never be enough. “But she needs to stay a little while longer.”
“Then she isn’t excited to see me.” Ella dismantled her rainbow and her joy.
“Oh, sweetie, she wants to see you,” Sophie said. “She wants to be home, but she needs to finish her therapy.”
“She could do her therapy here.” Ella twisted the wax strips in her fingers.
Sophie resented that small kernel of hope in Ella’s voice. Sophie had had that same hope bubble when she was Ella’s age. Her grandmother would pop it with the harsh truth. Over the years, Sophie’s hope bubbles had shrunk in size until they were small enough for Sophie to hide in places her grandmother couldn’t poke.
Ella rushed on. “They have yoga here. I heard Taylor’s mom talking to another mom about their afternoon yoga class over on Market.”
She hated that she’d stomp on Ella’s hope now. She’d never wanted that for this precious girl. “It isn’t the same.”
How Sophie wanted it to be the same. To be that simple.
“It’s better.” Ella smashed the purple modeling clay in her fist. “Her family is here. I’m here. You’re here. There’s yoga here.”
And there was nothing else Sophie could say. She couldn’t promise Ella that Tessa would be home soon. Tessa always found a reason to delay. She’d tell Ella that her mother loved her as usual, but Sophie was too mad at her sister to spend the time to convince Ella it was true. Mothers weren’t supposed to break their daughters’ hearts. Her chest ached and her stomach tightened into knots no Yogi master could release. She’d tried to soften the hurt every time, but the pain was always there. “I’ll go get those cotton balls.”
“There’s no rush.” Ella pushed her drawing across the bed and picked up her headphones. “I’m going to finish my book.”
Ella rolled over onto her side, away from Sophie. Sophie ached. Ella ached, too. Yet no tears dampened either of their faces. But Sophie always dried Ella’s tears and teased away the disappointment. The tissues she’d shoved into her pocket before talking to Ella remained untouched. When had they stopped caring? Ella could see the truth better than most people with twenty-twenty vision. She could see better than her own mother. Sophie’s ache spread like a poison vine, strangling every bone, every vein, consuming her.
Until next time, may all your conversations be easy and uncomplicated.
THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by Cari Lynn Webb will be out in July. Pre-Order today!
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2sqFG0j
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