For a moment, Victoria looked at her three sons climbing the stairs, and she made a prayer. "Lord, give me the strength to penetrate in Heath's heart once again."
“Mother, are you coming?”
“Yes, Audra, give me just a moment, please.” Victoria entered the living room and looked at his husband’s portrait. “Help me, Tom. Help your son. Oh, darling what did I do?”
During the meal, Heath was uneasy, and his only desire was to stop this family masquerade, to get on his feet and go away. Although his brothers told him that everything will be alright, Heath knew that nothing would ever be the same because now he knew the truth about his stepmother's feeling towards him. So, when Jarrod stood up and invited his two brothers to follow him in the living room to take a drink and a good cigar; Heath was relieved.
"Good idea, Pappy! I see why you're a counselor." Nick said smiling. "Come on, Heath. I bet you that..."
"No, Nick. Go with Jarrod, I…I rather enjoy the calm outside." With that, Heath headed for the frontdoor. “Excuse me, Ma’am.” He said as he passed Victoria.
The tiny woman felt her heart breaking in thousand pieces, and her three children saw tears rolling down her cheeks. Immediately, Audra went to her mother. “Don’t cry, Mother.” Then, she turned to her brothers. “I know we…we deeply hurt him, but do something, please!” Audra sobbed.
“Give him time, Audra.”
“Nick is right, let time do its work, sis.” Jarrod said without really believing in his words.
“I’ll talk to him.” Nick said. “I can’t stay here knowing his emotional state.”
Victoria reached his son’s arm so as to stop him. “No, Nick.”
“Mother, don’t ask me…”
“Nick, it’s up to me to take the first step. I know you want to protect your brother, but let me do the things in my own way, please darling.”
Nick took a deep breath, and nodded. “Of course, Mother. But be careful, Heath is fragile, he’s not the same.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be careful, Nick.” Victoria answered, and without further ado, she left the house in haste.
“Maybe, I should go with her.”
“No, Audra. It’s between Mother and Heath. We must have faith.” Jarrod said, putting his arm around his sister’s shoulder.
In order to settle his nerves, Nick walked to the trolley of liquor and poured himself a drink that he emptied in one gulp.
“Are you better, Brother Nick?” Jarrod asked frowning.
“Don’t, Jarrod.” Nick retorted, but instead of succumbing to the temptation of taking another drink, the rancher replaced the bottle in its place. “Happy?”
In response, Jarrod nodded.
Victoria was certain that Heath went towards the horses, and she went straight to them. Along her way, she decided to talk to him with her heart, but when she arrived, she hesitated to start the conversation. The young man was there close to her, but it was as if she didn't exist. Heath continued to look at the horses without even indicating that he had recognized her presence.
“Oh Heath, please, don’t act like you haven’t noticed me.” Victoria said with her voice full of emotion.
“I saw you, Ma’am.” Heath replied sharply. “You’re not the kind of person who…“ Realizing what he was going to say, the young man hung his head in shame. “I’m sorry; I’ve no right to talk to you like this. Next time I’ll stay in my place.” He whispered.
“Oh sweetheart, I’ve made many mistakes in my life, but the one biggest mistake was what I said to you. I don’t know if I can fix what I did to you, but I’ll make every effort to do it. I…I let you down, I disappointed you and I…I hurt you. I’m sorry, my s… Heath. I hope you could forgive me someday, if you can’t, I will have to accept that somehow. But more than anything, I want you to stay here, where you belong. If we can’t get past this, at least you will have your brothers. They need you as much as you need them. I…I need you too.” Her last words were almost inaudible.
Heath had planned the whole thing out in his mind, now he was torn. He knew what he had to do, there was no way he could ignore the need to set things right. That was tormenting his soul, so he decided to say what he had on his heart. “"I trusted you, and you...it was as if once again I was a nobody, just...just a bastard. Many people insulted me in the past, but I didn't expect that from you. Your words hurt me like hell, and day after day since I left, they have resonated in my ears. They’re still hurting me; I won’t lie to you and tell you that they don’t because it’s not true. I’ve never felt like that before, except after my mother’s dead…I…” Unable to finish his thoughts, Heath turned his head the other side so as not to show her that he was crying.
As soon as Victoria saw Heath’s posture, she put her hand on her son’s back. “Oh, darling, what did I do to you? Lord gives me the strength to regain my son’s heart.” She said aloud.
Her last words came out sounding like a heartfelt plea, and despite his pain, Heath turned his head towards his stepmother and let her see his tears running on his cheeks. "It was difficult for me to trust someone, especially after what I went through. I've opened my heart and my soul to you, and...that will be not easy for me to start again to do it. Jarrod told me that the bad feelings fade with time, and he's probably right about it. And Nick told me that…never mind.”
“Sweetheart, tell me what Nick told you, please?” Victoria begged.
Heath inhaled deeply then let his breath out very slowly. “Nick told me…that you’ve always considered Audra like a princess.”
At that, Victoria nodded. “You know, your father kept saying me that I was wrong about my behavior towards our daughter, and you know what, he was right about it. I don't know if Nick told you what happened between us when he was young, but I can tell you that I was not proud of myself at the time, as I'm not proud of myself right now. Tom kept warning me, and I've...I've repeated my mistake with you." The matriarch took a deep breath, and looked at the young man into his eyes. "Darling..." She swallowed hard her saliva. "Darling, I love you, you're become my son, and...before your arrival, I talked to Audra. From now on, I won't interfere with you or your brothers about your sister; I've learned my lesson in the hard way.”
“All children need a mother, Ma’am, even if they’re adults.” Heath whispered looking down.
Victoria burst into tears when she heard the young man’s confession. “Oh, Heath, I know I’ve no right to ask you to call me Mother, but please don’t call me Ma’am. Maybe you could call me Victoria?”
When he saw the tiny woman in tears, Heath's heart broke in thousand pieces, and he could not hold back his own tears. For one second that seemed an eternity, they looked at each other, and fell into each other's arms.