As we were walking in from dinner, the phone was ringing off the hook. Charlie, who was carrying all of the leftovers, stumbled over to the phone. "Hello?" he barked. His face paled and he shot a glance over to me. I furrowed my brows. "I'm not sure if she wants to talk to you."
"Who is it?" I asked.
Charlie covered up the mouthpiece of the phone and sighed. "Your mother."
"You're right. I don't want to talk to her," I said as I picked up my daughter and carried her to my bedroom. I changed Marie into her pajamas and tucked her into my childhood bed. "Sleep tight, little one."
"Love you, Momma," she said as she tugged on her ear.
"I love you more, my sweet girl," I murmured as I kissed her forehead. I flipped on the nightlight and closed the door. Charlie, Sue and Edward were sitting in the family room. "What did the 'She-devil' want?"
"She wants to talk to her 'baby girl,'" Charlie sneered. "Highly unlikely. She probably got dumped by husband number 100 and wants money. She's been calling me on a daily basis. Begging for your phone number. Begging to get in touch with her baby girl."
"Whatever," I shrugged. "She can stay hidden away as far as I care. She may have given birth to me, but she's not my mother."
"Are you listed in Sherryville?" Charlie asked. "Like in the phone book?"
"No," Edward answered. "With Bella being a teacher and my being the head of the ER, we kept our information unlisted. Why?"
"I have a sneaking suspicion that she's going to randomly show up on your doorstep," Charlie said sternly. "And you know that she'll have opinions about…"
"About what?" I spat.
"Bella, relax," Edward said as he rubbed my arm.
"No! About what?"
"Marie," Charlie cringed. "Sue and I understand that she has special needs but Renee will just see it as you being a bad mother. You fed her something and she became autistic."
"Oh, that's rich. She was a fucking teacher," I snarled.
"For a year, Bells," Charlie said. "Her principal told her to resign at the age of twenty-five. She didn't understand students with special needs. She called kindergartners stupid and retarded. She refused to resign and got fired. That was when you were three. She packed up after that to move on to bigger and better things. We were divorced in six months and obviously you stayed with me. I have the dubious honor of being husband number one."