Midway through their enjoyable dinner, Jeff brought up the one subject she wanted to avoid. When Jeff mentioned Shannon’s name, Taryn looked down at her plate and loaded her fork with tiny pieces of chicken that had fallen out of her soft taco.
“I thought the other night went well. Wasn’t it good to see Shannon the other day, Liv?”
“I guess,” the little girl replied. Taryn gave Olivia a sideways glance. Olivia picked at her food. No one wanted this conversation except Jeff.
“It’s good that you have a chance to get to know your mom. It’s like Dr. Baker said. You can take your time and ask her questions.”
“I don’t have any questions.”
Olivia shrugged and picked a shred of cheese off her plate and rolled it into a little ball.
“She did say that she could come to the zoo with us as soon as we know when. That should be fun.”
“I guess,” Olivia mumbled again.
Taryn widened her eyes at Jeff, willing him to change the subject.
“Is she going to be coming over every weekend?”
“Most weekends. She wants to spend time with you,” Jeff replied.
“Why?” Olivia questioned with a pout.
“She’s missed a lot, and she wants to catch up,” Jeff answered.
“I don’t know,” Olivia sighed. “She’s just around all of a sudden.”
“She would have liked to be here before, but she was sick, and she had to go away.”
“Do you understand that, Olivia?” Taryn asked. “Do you understand that she stayed away because of her own problems? It didn’t have anything to do with you or anything that you did?”
“I guess,” Olivia said, rolling another tiny cheese ball. “I would never stay away from my kid if I had one.”
Jeff reached over and tussled Olivia’s curls. “I’m sure you wouldn’t, Liv. But some people are stronger than others. Some people have more help and are more able to deal with life than others. Your mom didn’t have a family growing up like you have. Things have always been harder for her.”
Taryn pressed her lips together to keep from contradicting Jeff in front of his daughter. That all sounded like excuses to her and probably to Olivia as well.
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