For Disclaimers see Ch. 1
Author's Note: This chapter came as a rather unexpected surprise. I had no intention of writing another coming out story in this store. I figured the way things were going, it would fit better in the rather vague sequel I've been planning. But one day, while immersed in a rather mundane day of physical labor, I found myself pondering how Luce might have come out to her mother.
My own coming out was rather anticlimactic. My mother knew before I did and basically handled telling the entire family for me. I never really had to tell anyone but my closest friends. But then again my mom is one of the most awesomest people I know. And so I figured, given what I know about our lovely, tall, dark-haired lady, she had a bit of a tumultuous reveal. Turns out, I was more right than I knew.
As always, please read, enjoy and review!Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
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“As much as I enjoy your company, lighteyes, I am afraid I still do not understand why you asked me to come along.”
Luce smiled, looking over at her mother sitting next to her in her car. After her lovely lunch date with Kylie, she'd followed through on her promise to herself, calling a realtor the next day to begin looking for land. She'd gotten a call that very morning, early that morning from said realtor. The woman said she'd found a place that looked perfect and she needed Luce to come see it as soon as possible.
Filled with nervous energy and needing to share her excitement with someone, she'd called her mother and begged her to come along. But she'd been a little vague on the details.
“I told you, Ina , it's a surprise.”
Her mother snorted. “Luce, I love surprises as much as the next person, but I am starting to get the feeling you might have asked me to come all the way out here to help hide a body.”
Luce laughed at that. “ Ina, you and Unchi taught me a long time ago never to bury the bodies, they just stink up the place!”
Her mother snorted loudly, laughing at the well remembered words. “I take it then you are not going to tell me why you have dragged me out into the middle of no where?”
Luce laughed quietly, suddenly very glad that she'd asked her mother to come along. The older woman's wry wit was greatly entertaining.
“I dragged you out here because I've been doing a lot of thinking.”
Her mother's attention sharpened at the somber tone in her daughter's voice. “About what, my bright one?”
Luce sighed. “My job mostly. And how much longer I can stand to do it.”
That comment surprised her mother. “Those are not words I ever expected to hear from you.”
Luce shrugged, still a bit surprised at all of this herself. “I never expected to say them, I can tell you that. Hell, I never really expected to feel this way either. But this latest case, I think it broke something. And now, I'm not sure if I can fix it.” She snorted softly. “Honestly, I'm not even sure I care.”
“All well and good, lighteyes, but what does one have to do with the other?”
Luce took a deep breath, giving her mother a quick, searching look. “I've decided that maybe it's time to make some major changes and I'm hoping that this trip out here is the first step towards those changes. I'm hoping to start up where Tunkaschila left off when he died. I'm going to start breeding horses. Train them from the ground up.”
Her mother was quiet for a moment, thoughtful. “I must say, Luce, when Tunkaschila died, part of me was very glad that you followed your own path. It was important for you to go out into the world and discover who you really were, without the ties of your ancestors holding onto you so tightly.”
Grace shrugged slightly. “All of me is very glad to see you following the dream your Tunkaschila ignited in you.”
Luce smiled broadly. “So am I.”
“Does this explain why we are out here so very early this morning?” Grace's slim hand swept across the countryside.
“Yes, it does. My relator called me and told me she'd found a parcel of land that was exactly what I was looking for. And we're going to look at it, together.”
Her mother looked surprised. “I would have thought you would want to share this moment with Kylie.”
Luce twitched a bit, shifting in her seat slightly. Her mother knew the gesture well. Her darling daughter was feeling a touch guilty.
“She does not know. Lighteyes, why did you not tell her of this momentous decision?”
Luce shrugged, feeling all the world like a kid caught stealing food from the fridge. “I'm going too.” The indignant tone seemed completely out of place coming out of the mouth of a grown woman.
“I should hope so.” Her mother didn't sound completely convinced.
Luce scowled at her mother. “I have every intention of telling her. I was just hoping it would be a surprise.”
Her mother gave a soft snort. “It seems you and I have very different ideas of what is good as a surprise.” She looked at her indignant offspring. “You do not really think something this big is good to spring on the woman you love, do you?”
Luce frowned. “Well when you put it that way you make it sound like I'm hiding a sledge hammer behind my back and I'm just waiting for the right time to hit her in the head with it.”
Grace gave her an incredulous look. “Is that not what you are doing?”
Her frown deepened. “No, not at all.” She paused, thinking about it for a second. “At least it's not what I want to do. I just don't know how to tell her yet.”
Luce slapped the wheel in frustration. “Because it isn't just about me changing jobs and building a new ranch, it's also about building a new home, with her. I could have just as easily looked for and found land with a house and other buildings on it already. There was even an actual horse ranch for sale. But I didn't. Because I want to build this from scratch, with her. Just the two of us, our choices, our decisions, our future.” She sighed. “And I don't know how to tell her that without it sounding like I'm pushing her to move in with me.”
Her mother looked thoughtful for a moment, understanding very well what Luce meant. “Perhaps you should just bring her out here and show her. Share the passion and joy of this idea with her. I think you underestimate how she feels about you.”
Luce wasn't completely convinced. As her mother said, this was kind of big. “Maybe. I'm still terrified she'll say no though.”
Her mother nodded. “Any rational human being would be.”
“She means so much to me, Ina . I'm terrified of losing that.”
Grace reached out for her daughter's hand, squeezing it gently with her own. “I understand, my darling girl. But life is about more than following a path. Sometimes you have to jump off the cliff to find your way; and to truly appreciate the level ground you once had. It is all a matter of faith.”
Luce sighed softly. “This is all happening so fast and I'm not sure I can slow it down. I'm not sure I even want to.” She gave her mother a piercing look. “Sometimes when we're together, it all feels like deja vu. Like we've done all of this before. It's almost like we've known each other forever and are just simply picking up where we left off the last time.”
Her mother chuckled at that. “I always felt like you were an old soul.”
The dry tone made Luce laugh. “Why, because it would explain my stubborn and often cantankerous nature?”
Her mother gave a noncommittal sound. “Your grandparents often bemoaned the fact it was no longer socially acceptable to send you out into the woods to let nature occupy you when you had been...unruly.” Her mother gave her a wry look. “Of course Unchi was also convinced that had you been born in another era, you might have taken over the world.”
Luce chuckled at that, feeling both amused and embarrassed. “I wasn't all that bad, was I?” There was a touch of insecurity in her voice.
Her mother gave her a warm smile and reached out to touch her hand. “You were many things, my darling girl: difficult, strong willed, pig-headed stubborn at times. But never bad. You never lied to us,you never stole, you never did drugs or came home pregnant. You never bullied other children or tried to sneak out of the house or any of a million other things I could name that point to a bad child.” Her mother looked out the window. “And while I will not lie and say it was never difficult, I will say that I was often in awe of you as a child. You threw yourself into the world with a confidence I have never seen before or since and you simply expected it to catch you. There were times I envied you that lack of fear.”
Luce chuckled at that. “And sometimes it came back to bite me on the ass.”
Grace nodded. “True, but you walked away from those moments having learned something. And it has left you with fewer regrets.”
She sobered a bit and shrugged. “I do have one, actually.” Her mother looked at her, puzzled. Luce felt her hands clench on the wheel. “How you found out I was gay.”
Her mother nodded at that, the memory of it drawing a rather long sigh from her. Even after all this time, she could vividly recall that day. In all its rather infamous glory.
It had been right after Luce's 13 th birthday; just that morning they'd been arguing about whether Luce wanted a party or not. Her contrary, loner daughter had been dead set against it. And she'd been just as dead set that her daughter was going to mark the occasion somehow.
She remembered that they'd argued fiercely over it that morning and it'd put her in a rather dark and angry mood. But that mood had vanished the instant she'd heard the phone ring.
Grace walked down the hall, trying to quell the nervousness and anxiety she was feeling. From the moment she picked up the phone to find the principal of Luce's middle school on the other end, she'd felt like she was walking on a tight rope, miles above the ground, without a net on a very windy day. And any moment now she was going to lose her balance and fall to her death.
Or, if fate were kind, she'd simply drop dead of a heart attack long before she ever reached the ground.
She gave herself a small shake at the mental drama and berated herself for jumping to conclusions. Mr. Grant had said Luce was perfectly alright; not even a bruise to speak of. But there had been an incident and he needed her at the school immediately. He wouldn't tell her what had happened over the phone, but made it perfectly clear that something had happened.
Having little choice, she'd gathered her purse and keys and driven herself to the school. The whole way fighting the rising wave of panic and morbid thoughts that this was going to be just like the day she lost Adam. That they were calling her in for a minor issue only to then tell her that Luce had been severely hurt, even killed in some freak accident.
Her hands had almost spasmed on the steering wheel at that, squeezing it so hard she half expected her fingernails to cut right through the vinyl to the steel frame underneath. And they didn't completely relax until she saw the school filling her windshield.
She was waved through the main office by the secretary who mouthed “go on in” to her before returning to her phone call. Grace approached the door to the principal's office, noticing that the door was firmly shut and someone was shouting on the other side. And they were not happy.
She opened the door to a one woman hurricane, delivering a verbal lashing the likes of which she hadn't heard in quite some time.
The rather harried principal was trying to calm her down. “Mrs. Lowell, I really need you to calm down.” The principal voice was firm and soothing as he tried to placate the other mother in front of him.
She was not so easily placated. “I will not calm down. That child is a menace to the decent students inside these walls. She corrupted my daughter.” The woman jabbed her finger angrily in Luce's direction, her face reddening as her temper grew.
Grace heard the principal speak the other mother's name and, with a long mental groan, immediately that nothing about this interaction was going to be pleasant. The woman lived in her neighborhood and had been nothing but a pain in the hind end from the moment they met. They'd had several run ins with each other in the years since Grace and her small family had moved into the neighborhood; and none of them had been pleasant. The woman was religious, racist and down right scary stupid at times. Grace was not looking forward to having to deal with anything that involved her or her beliefs.
She stepped into the room, closing the door behind her as the other woman continued ranting. She locked her eyes on Luce, who seemed to be the source of the problem at the moment and felt her heart breaking at what she saw. Her daughter was standing there, face set in familiar stubborn, rebellious lines, her eyes blazing chips of ice. But the slight quivering of her lip gave it away. And Grace felt her heart clench as she realized that her daughter was near to tears over all of this, whatever it was.
Then, her gaze slid sideways and in that moment, everything clicked with startling clarity. Next to Luce was another girl, the daughter of her neighbor, her face also full of anger and rebellion and even a hint of shame. Putting that together with the ranting of the girl's mother, Grace realized without being told just why she'd been called down to speak with the principal. The two girls had been caught kissing at the very least; though she hoped it was that and not much more.
She took a deep breath, her eyes taking in the hurt and uncertainty in Luce's face once more before turning her focus on the other two adults in the room. In that moment, she'd have done anything, anything she was capable of, to see that look of pain leave her daughter's face. And right then, she didn't care what she had to face to see it done.
She opened her mouth to politely interrupt the other woman's rant, but she never got the chance. The minute she heard the word “pervert” float through the air tied with her daughter's name she was livid. That was about enough for her and she felt her hands clench themselves into fists.
The principal held up his hands, taking a deep breath. “Mrs. Lowell, please, that is no way to talk.”
She wouldn't be mollified or swayed. She just bowled right over him. “The girl is a deviant, Mr. Grant. A deviant and a predator. And I'm quite sure she's the one responsible for this whole mess. She lured my Victoria to some dark corner of the playground and forced herself upon my daughter! She's trying to turn my daughter gay! She must be stopped!”
Grace felt her hands clench even tighter at that particular rant and her eyes blinded by a red haze, she stepped between the angry woman and the two young girls. “Shut your damn mouth!” Her terse statement brought sudden silence to the room. All eyes were locked on her. The principal looked overjoyed at having some back up. Her neighbor looked as if she'd swallowed something sour and it was still stuck in her throat.
She stood there a moment, feeling her hands shaking as she resisted the urge to strangle the woman. She shook her finger at the other woman, enraged at her behavior. “You have no right, no right to talk to my child that way! Or any child, for that matter! How dare you come in here and spew such hatred and stupidity! What must your daughter think of her mother acting like an inbred fool?”
Mrs. Lowell snorted loudly, fired up by the sudden appearance of Luce's mother. “I have every right to protect my child from the spawn of Satan! Your daughter is nothing but a pervert!” Now the angry finger was jabbed in her direction. The words of hatred thrown at her like rocks.
Grace reacted without thinking, doing something she had never ever done before. She smacked the other woman across the face, remembering only at the last minute to open her hand from the fist it had been clenched in. The harsh crack of flesh on flesh was loud in the small room and it shocked everyone, including Grace herself.
The other woman stood there, completely dumbfounded, having gone pale, holding her face as Grace tried to grab a hold of her temper once more. But even that small show of violence did little to quell the rage she was feeling.
She pointed her finger angrily at the other woman. “You are a stupid, ignorant little bitch who should learn to stop casting stones from a glass house. And if you do not stop talking about my daughter in such a disrespectful manner, I will gladly take you outside and kick your sorry white ass!” She stood there, visibly shaking as the other woman stared at her dumbly.
There several tense moments in the office as her words were absorbed. The other woman stood there, her hand still on her cheek, her mouth falling open in disbelief at the livid and violent woman before her, unable or maybe even unwilling to speak.
Finally the principal, regaining some of his senses, took control of the situation once more. He stepped between them, forcing them to back up and put some distance between each other. He held up his hands and looked at them both sternly.
When his eyes met hers, Grace could see the anger in them. For a moment she thought it was directed at her, for hitting Mrs. Lowell. But he gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head and she knew, then, that it wasn't her he was angry with. His anger was directed at the other woman, at the situation she was creating.
She was turning something that should have been simple and innocent into something full of shame and fear. The way she was reacting was showing both girls that what they were feeling was something to be ashamed of and repressed. That it was wrong and somehow dirty. And they were somehow unclean and corrupted by it. She was teaching them shame.
In that moment of shared understanding, she felt a sense of kinship with the man she'd never felt before. It eased the tension inside of her she'd felt from the minute she'd taken his call. And just like that, her rage was just gone.
He looked at them both sternly. “Ladies, please, this is getting completely out of hand. I only wanted to call you down here to tell you how I was addressing this and to be sure you both understood that nothing about this incident will change the punishment.”
That seemed to mollify Mrs. Lowell and she sat down in the chair he directed her towards. Grace eased herself into the neighboring chair noticing that the girls took the empty ones at the back of the office. Mrs. Lowell sat next to her, ramrod straight, almost as if she couldn't wait to hear the man throw the book at Luce.
Mr. Grant took a deep breath before addressing them again. “Now, your girls were caught kissing on school property. The school has a strict policy against public displays of affection. And, as this wasn't the first time we've caught either of them doing this, we have to give them both detention.”
Mrs. Lowell waited a moment, sure he was going to say something more. When he didn't, she gave him an angered look. “That's all? That's not good enough. That heathen has to be punished for touching my Victoria in such a perverted manner.”
Before Grace could speak up and tell her to shut her mouth again, the principal beat her to it. “Mrs. Lowell, I don't know exactly what you think I should do here, but whatever it is, I'm not doing it. They've broken one rule, that's it, and they'll be punished for it accordingly.
“I want this to be crystal clear to everyone, these girls are being punished because they were kissing, on school grounds. Not because they were kissing each other.”
Mrs. Lowell stood, her temper rising with each inch between her and the seat she sat on. “Fine, if you won't punish her, I'll just have to take it up with the school board. They might see things differently than you.”
He nodded. “Feel free to do that. But I have to warn you, if you do, I'll make sure that each member knows exactly what a religious, uptight bigot you really are. Also, I'd keep in mind that while Luce doesn't have a single black mark on her record, your own daughter has several. If you keep threatening her, or somehow convince someone to punish her over this, I'll find a way to make sure your daughter's name is dragged through the mud right along with hers. By the time I'm done, the local homeless shelter won't even touch her.”
That quietly stated threat hit home. Mrs. Lowell simply grabbed her daughter's hand and dragged her from the room, slamming the door behind them.
Watching the young girl go, her eyes scared and round, Grace did not envy the flies on wall in that home that night. Once the noise from the door dissipated, she turned her attention back to the principal.
He reached out and took her hand. “I am very sorry about that.”
Grace shrugged. “That woman has not liked me from the moment we met. She has never been happy about a redskin living in her neighborhood. Must be her Arkansas backroots upbringing.”
The principal cleared his throat. “Well, be that as it may, I can't rescind either girl's punishment. They did, after all, break the rules.”
She shook her head emphatically. “And I am not expecting you to. Luce will serve her detention. And I think, in the future, be a bit more discreet with her actions.”
The principal nodded, standing up. “Then I think I'll give you two a minute to gather yourselves. In light of how it turned out, why don't you take Luce home for the day? I think you both might need to decompress after that.”
He shut his door quietly, leaving mother and daughter staring silently at each other in the room.
Grace moved first, standing up and walking over to her sullen child, she reached out and pulled Luce up before drawing her into a frantic hug. For a moment, Luce's arms stayed down at her sides, then, Grace felt her shudder and wrap her tan, thin arms around her mother.
They stayed that way for several minutes, neither of them speaking or moving. Until Grace was sure she was going to be forced to speak first.
But then, Luce's soft voice floated up to her. “Did I do something wrong?”
Grace felt tears in her eyes at that soft statement. “Oh, lighteyes, of course not.” She pulled back, forcing her stubborn offspring to meet her eyes. “Do you think you did something wrong?”
Luce shrugged, her face sullen and drawn.
Grace cupped her face gently. “Did you like kissing her?”
She blushed slightly and gave a quick nod. It made her mother laugh. Hugging her close again she said. “Then that is all that really matters.” She stood there a moment just holding her daughter, feeling the tension ease out of the girl slowly, glad to feel it leave. She rested her head against Luce's and whispered. “I love you, my darling girl, so much it makes my heart ache to feel it. If you remember nothing else, remember that. And as long as you do, everything will turn out all right with the world.”
She felt Luce shudder a bit at her words and realized that she'd made her normally stoic daughter cry. She pulled back and wiped the tears from her daughter's face, realizing for the first time that Luce had gotten quite a bit taller in the past few months. “Now, how about we get out of here and go get some ice cream?”
Luce smiled at that, sniffling a bit and nodding.
And, Luce remembered, that had been just what they'd done; heading to the nearest ice cream place and spending a very enjoyable time laughing over ice cream sundaes covered with nuts, chocolate sauce and strawberries. It had been one of the first times she could remember actively enjoying her mother's company. And she remembered never wanting that day to end.
That day changed something between them. While Luce was still angry and sullen at the world, even more so when everything came out at school about her detention and the reason for it, her relationship with her mother only got better.
When she was persecuted by a couple of homophobic teachers, it was her mother who went to the school and demanded they be reprimanded and removed. When she came home, near to tears over the bullying, with cuts on her knuckles and sporting new bruises from where she'd defended herself, it was her mother who went to the homes of those children and demanded it stop.
Her coming out could have been so much uglier than it had been. She could have ended up growing up bitter and jaded, addicted to drugs, serving time, or even worse. But she hadn't. Instead, she'd gone on to college, graduating with honors on a full scholarship. And it was her mother's steadfast love and support that allowed that to happen.
Luce gave her mother a rueful glance at the memory. “The only real regret I have is that you were sort of ambushed by it.”
Her mother snorted. “Perhaps, but you gave me an opportunity I might never have had otherwise.”
Luce looked at her in confusion. “What was that?”
Graced smiled smugly. “Smacking that self-righteous, religious bitch right across the face.”
The self satisfied tone of her mother's voice surprised Luce and she found herself laughing loudly. Somewhere in the laughter, her mother reached out and took her hand, giving it a firm squeeze.
“You are exactly who you were meant to be, my darling child. And I do not regret a moment I spent watching you grow into the wonderful person I always knew you would be. So, why then should you?”
Luce found herself fighting tears, suddenly choked up by her mother's frank and loving honesty. Her words unraveled a knot deep inside of Luce she wasn't even aware existed. She smiled at her mother in spite of that. “Not even when I terrorized the squirrels?”
Her mother laughed at that fond memory, shaking her head. “No, not even then. Though I'm sure the squirrels might feel differently.” She said dryly.
Luce chuckled again, blinking her eyes a bit to clear them. “I'm glad you came today.”
Her mother smiled at her warmly. “So am I.” She gave her daughter's hand a firm squeeze. “Now, not to sound like you did on long car rides, but I must ask, are we there yet?”
She nodded, realizing that they were in fact, close to the ranch. And a few moments later, she pulled into the small gravel drive that abutted the land she was hoping to buy.
The realtor was there waiting for them, a petite blonde with a mega watt smile who looked very happy to see them. She shook Luce's hand firmly as the taller woman exited her car. “Good morning.”
“Good morning, Lisa.” She nodded at her mother. “This is my mother, Grace.”
Lisa shook the offered hand, giving her a small nod. Then she turned her attention to Luce, all business. “Ms. Donovan, I must say when you first called me, I expected to spend the next six months looking for what you wanted.”
Luce smiled at that. “Sometimes you get lucky.”
“Indeed. And sometimes you hit the damn jackpot.”
That made Luce and her mother both chuckle.
The realtor held out a folder to Luce. “This place has everything you specified to me yesterday.”
Luce took the folder, scanning it quickly. “Everything?” She couldn't hide her surprise.
Lisa nodded. “Everything, and the owner needs to sell it, fast.” She laughed at Luce's arched brow. “Like I said, you hit the damn jackpot.”
“So it seems.” She started scanning the contents of the folder, glancing at the various reports the realtor had included. And found herself whistling softly to herself. She was right, she had hit the jackpot; and right out of the gate too. It had everything she'd been looking for and more.
She wandered away from Lisa and her mother, setting the report aside as she let the feel of the land fill her senses. It was a beautiful place, parts of it filled with rolling hills and fields of grass. It was so peaceful here and she let her eyes close as it settled over her shoulders, driving out the last of the tension she'd been feeling over her confrontation with Don.
She took a deep breath and felt the land around her answer. The sensation made her smile and she knew this was beyond perfect; this was exactly what she was looking for. And Kylie was going to love it when she brought her here.
She turned, giving Lisa a sharp look. “I'll take it, whatever the owner's asking price is. I want the paperwork drawn up as soon as possible.”
Lisa's smile widened. “Absolutely. I'll be in touch with the details.” She hurried back to her car, her giddy step destroying her carefully crafted professional persona.
As she left, Grace approached Luce. “So, this will be your new ranch.”
Luce nodded looking around again, feeling once again how right all this felt.
Her mother nodded. “I like it.”
“I do too. It feels right.” The wind picked up, ruffling her dark hair. “I think Kylie will love it.”
Her mother stepped up to her. “Yes, I believe she will. I can see you building a home with her here.”
“So can I.” She was thoughtful for a moment. “Am I supposed to be this terrified?”
Her mother laughed. “When I realized that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with your father, I nearly had a panic attack.”
Luce chuckled, surprised by the admission. “Because you weren't ready for it?”
Her mother shook her head. “No, more because I didn't feel like I had done enough good in my life to deserve such a wonderful gift. And I was afraid that somehow, I was going to screw it up.”
Luce nodded; it was something she'd felt often enough herself.
Her mother sighed. “But, when I compared that fear to the anguish I felt at the thought of living without him in my life, I discovered there was no contest. I needed him more than I feared losing him. It was enough to help me move past it.”
Her mother's words were a much needed balm for her soul. Knowing that her mother had been nearly as terrified as she felt at the moment helped to put her emotions in perspective. And she felt the last of her fear fading away in the face of that truth.
“Then I guess there's only one thing left to do.”
Her mother quirked a dark brow. “It is time to come clean.”
Luce nodded sagely. “Yeah.”
Her mother chuckled and headed back to the car. “Have no fear, my bright one. She will love this place.”
Luce followed her mother. “Let's hope so.”
To be continued...
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