But I only shook my head, not knowing what to say. Don"t sleep with the boss" If the housekeeping service finds out, they"re going to fire your ass in a second and we"ll be living out of the car again" But these words had been said a thousand times before, so I just put my head down, turned back to my homework and kept my mouth shut.
But Lorena struck gold, literally. One morning when I got up, I found my mom making pancakes in the kitchen of our trailer.
"Honey," she said, "Come take a seat, I made your favorite blueberry flapjacks!"
And I stumbled sleepily to the low bench, plopping myself down on the cheap velour. When had Lorena ever been up before noon" Usually she only took afternoon jobs because her late nights with Mr. Markham were so frequent now that morning bookings were impossible. So to find her puttering around in an apron, happily humming at the crack of dawn was a change.
"Mom, what"s going on"" I asked blearily, rubbing my eyes. "Why are you up""
"Oh honey, I wanted to take care of you, make sure you had a nutritious breakfast before heading to school," she admonished fondly from the griddle. "Besides isn"t blueberry your favorite" Here, and I got your favorite whipped butter too," she said, plunking down a plastic tub of the good stuff in front of me.
But that was when I saw the ring on her hand. A shiny gold band adorned her ring finger, with a big diamond poking off of it.
"Mom," I gasped, my voice trailing off. "What is that""
"What is what"" she asked sweetly, pretending that she didn"t know, looking at me quizzically. But I wasn"t playing games.
"You know!" I said, staring at her hand. "Where is that from" Who gave it to you""
"Oh honey," my mom giggled. "It"s from Mr. Markham, who else" The man that I work for at Markham Estates, you know, the one I"ve been seeing."
I was taken aback. I wasn"t aware that my mom was "seeing" someone, I"d thought it was fly-by-night sex at best, billionaire magnates don"t date their cleaning ladies. So I shook my head slowly at the Cinderella fantasy.
"No seriously Mom, where did you get that"" I asked, my brows lowered. Stealing from clients is a crime. Not many cleaning ladies do it because the risk is too high, losing a steady job isn"t something most of us can afford. So I was worried, really worried, that my mom was off her rocker and had put our livelihood in jeopardy by swiping the client"s stuff.
But my mom was in a good mood and wasn"t going to entertain my grilling.
"Honey, Drake Markham asked me to marry him last night and I said yes!" she trilled. "Aren"t you excited for me""
I shook my head resignedly.
"Mom, this isn"t a joke," I reprimanded. "Where " did " you " get that ring"" I finished in a huff.
But my mom just pooh-poohed at me.
"Cleo, you"re always stuck in the mud," she said. "Drake Markham gave it to me, didn"t I tell you already" We"re getting married," she repeated, and with that, laughed and started dancing around the kitchen, the trailer bouncing on its wheels from her excitement.
"No more scrubbing dishes " no more dirty laundry " no more bowing down " because I"m the boss now!" she squealed.
And I had to laugh too because my mom has had it hard as a maid, most people don"t realize the abuse she puts up with from employers. It goes beyond the pale, I"ve got so many stories of the horrible things that have happened, the insults, the mental abuse, the fact that she was dirt to them. So if it was true that Mr. Markham had asked her to marry him, then I was happy for her.
"Okay, when will the wedding take place then"" I asked, still a little wary. Good news didn"t come our way very often and it wouldn"t be surprising if the engagement dragged on forever, just to be broken off in the end. Clearly, we hadn"t had a lot of luck in our lives so far.
But Lorena surprised me again.
"This weekend," she trilled happily. "We"re just going to have a civil ceremony because you know, this isn"t the most traditional of relationships. So get ready baby, because we"re moving across the railroad tracks to the good side of town!"
And I laughed suddenly, breathless. Lorena"s happy mood was contagious and I felt elated, dizzy almost with the possibilities. After all, her new hubby had unlimited resources, we wouldn"t have to scrimp, save, and work our fingers to the bone in the hopes of a square meal. I hoped against hope that it wasn"t just a dream and that this new guy, Drake Markham, was going to be our savior.