Two weeks went by and I began seeing Johnny less and less. It made me worried that his mother was continuing to sabotage our relationship from behind the scenes. He reassured me that he was just busy with work and family stuff but still the bad feeling I had didn’t go away. Plus it didn’t help that my mom was completely stressing me out about us finding a new place to live together. I didn’t want to tell her yet but I was planning to finally branch out on my own…with or without Johnny.
“There’s a bachelor party and the new girl called in sick! What am I going to do?” Mom whined when I stopped by to see what was so urgent about the last text she’d sent me. “Look, you can’t text me and say it’s an emergency about any and every little thing.” I sighed and shook my head. “I actually worry about you. Sometimes.” I added. “Anyways…just get out there and do the show alone, you’re more than enough woman for any guy.” I snickered. “Normally that would work but these guys requested someone young. I’m all that’s here tonight. You could help me though.” She turned to me with pleading eyes. “No. Not happening.” I refused immediately. “Please, Val. Just this once. We need the money to move. I can’t do this without you.” Then to my surprise, she actually broke down and started to cry. “I’m getting too old for this shit.” She sniffled. I took a deep breath and instantly regretted the words that flowed from my mouth. “You better not EVER ask me to do this again. And I’m not doing full nude.” She glanced up at me with a grateful smile. “Do whatever you’re comfortable with, babygirl.”
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.” I mumbled into my hands and gave my mom’s reflection a hard stare in the vanity mirror. We had about five minutes to finish getting ready. “I’ll owe you one, Val. You don’t know how much this means to me.” She twirled one of my curls with her finger. “You’re such a good daughter. I wish I was more like you. Strong-willed and smart. You’ve always deserved better than me.” She whispered then laughed and dabbed at her eyes. “Crap, I’m going to ruin my makeup.” I was touched though. It was rare that we ever had a genuine moment like that.
A booming voice echoed throughout the room then. “I’d now like to present to you The Amazing Grace!’ Mom flung her trench coat to the floor. “It’s showtime, babygirl.” She winked at me then flounced through the red curtains that lead to the stage. “And now I’d like you all to welcome a very special newcomer! Grace’s daughter…The Goddess, Athena!” I walked out and gripped the cool metal pole in my hands then I looked out into the audience. There were only a few people in the crowd but sitting directly in front of the stage was Johnny and right next to him was Malcolm. A mischievous grin spread across Malcolm’s face when he recognized me. “Brother…isn’t that your girlfriend?”