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  It had been years. A total of two years since he'd been to his mother's house. It seemed smaller, Holden had thought, reminiscing of the days he'd run the narrow halls from his room to the living room, the nights he'd snuck one night stands in and out of his room. Valerie Pierce looked full in the petite house. It wasn't much, but it's what she'd been able to give him, to give Scarlett on a grocery store salary, it was all she'd had since Jonathan Pierce's passing. It wasn't much, but it was enough, it had been then, and it still was.

 Holden who'd been sitting by the kitchen table released a breath, Valerie paused, she'd been shuffling through the cupboards, she'd insisted she'd whip him up a cup of tea. He'd seen the glimmer in her eyes when she'd pulled the door open to find him on her porch. He hadn't come for tea. "I've been talking to Anna," Holden told her. Silence, the kind of silence that wailed. He cleared his throat. "I told her about that night." Valerie emitted a strangled noise, a cross between a sigh and a grumble. She wasn't pleased. He hadn't come for her opinion.

"It wasn't your place." She came around, standing firm before her son. She saw him and she saw Jonathan, it went farther than looks, Holden was a carbon-copy of his father, but it ran deeper than the similar eyes and jawline, the similarities ran through Holden's bones, and bloomed in his personality. Jonathan Pierce was never one to keep anything a secret. "Did you take a moment to think about how it's going to affect her now? Did you think things would go back to the way they were before that night?" He shook his head. Yes, his heart screamed. He wanted her to grow past this, to not feel like she was being lied to, to live with her truth.

"She's an adult, Valerie, she deserves to know this, we've all been lying to her, I couldn't bear it anymore." She huffed. Too many years had passed, Holden wasn't going to take that lie to the grave, he wasn't like that. "I tried, keeping it in, I'm not that kind of person." He ran his hands over his face, breathing. Valerie joined him by the table. 

"I hope you don't think you can have anything with that girl?" There was a way she referred to Jackie that left him unsettled. He could remember a time when Valerie had taken Jackie as a daughter, a second daughter, there was a love in her eyes whenever Jackie came over, it was gone. It seemed when a girl was abused, it wasn't just her that felt the pain, but those that loved her as well.

"I'm not going to give up on what we had, Mother," Holden frowned. Did Valerie expect him to have forgotten? Granted, ten years had breezed past, but nothing from that night had changed. Rather, everything had trudged back into his life with her the moment she'd wondered into Handy's for the first time. 

"Why not? She's broken, no one loves a broken person," There was a sadness in her eyes that accompanied her words. He shook his head. Startled that she would think this way. 

"You're pretty messed up, I haven't stopped loving you, Scarlett hasn't." Holden shot back. She sighed. He wasn't going to give up on her, no matter how many times she tried to leave him, he wasn't going to give Valerie the opportunity.

"You know, she hasn't called me since she left me here." Valerie lamented referring to her daughter, a tear running down her cheek. "Look around, Holden, I'm so alone, what exactly am I still living for?" 

"Shut up!" Holden rose to his feet. How could she ask such a question? She was living for her children, her grandchildren, granted she hardly got to see them, it wasn't enough of a reason to die. Did she think she would join Jonathan? That he would welcome her with open arms knowing she chickened out of raising the family he left behind? "You're living for me, for Scarlett, and for her two sons, because we need you, damn it!" He paced the petite kitchen. She'd gotten this far, raised two children that were building a future for themselves, why couldn't she hold on for them?

 "Scarlett hasn't called, she has two kids, a husband and a job, she barely calls me." He paused. "I should be calling you, coming to see you, but I'm just so fucked up, I would rather spend my time with some whore instead," Holden sat. He didn't mean to refer to Beverly as a cheap whore, she was more than that, he just couldn't see her as anything more than a night of pleasure. A night of no commitments, a night to play out his darkest sexual fantasies and forget his deepest fears. 

He looked up at Valerie. She said nothing. "I'm going to try, I'm going to call, and if I don't, please, call me, Mother, you don't have to wait for me, for us." She nodded. His eyes fluttered shut. He thought of Jackie, not surprisingly, he'd wondered just how she'd been faring with what he'd dumped on her two days ago. She hadn't reached out to him, but he'd promised himself, he would give her space, time, what she needed, and then, he would check up on her, because he'd done this for her, he'd wanted her to heal, he wasn't ready to let her go. "And please, don't hate Anna, you once thought of her as a daughter, that doesn't need to change." Holden wanted Anna in his future, in his forever, and for that, he would need Valerie to open her heart to the girl with the beach in her hair and caramel in her eyes.

 Holden didn't understand that Valerie never once stopped seeing Anastasia Grey as a daughter, it's the reason her accident had hurt that much more, it's the reason Valerie drew away from the chirpy little girl.

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