Her gaze returns to me, her chin lifting. “I came over to check on you. You never miss church because you’re not feeling well, and I was worried.”

“Oh, geez,” I groan as I slap my hands over my face. I split my fingers a tiny bit to peek out at my mom. “I’m so sorry I lied. I didn’t think you’d come here.”

Now, my mother knows I’m not a virgin because we had the “sex” talk when I was in high school, which opened transparency between us as I got older. She’s seen me have serious relationships—even two where my boyfriends had moved in with me. But I’ve never had my mom walk in on me while with a man, especially not after I’d lied about why I wasn’t going to church.

“You should have just said you were busy,” my mom replies drolly, then smiles at Benjamin. “Hello.”

“Hello,” Benjamin says, and I want to smack him. I can hear the humor in his voice. When I risk a glance at him… I can tell by the expression on his face he’s not embarrassed in the slightest.

There’s an awkward silence that follows before my mom finally turns her attention to me. “Aren’t you going to formally introduce us? Or is it too much for a girl to want her mother to meet the man who is occupying her bed?”

“Mamá,” I exclaim.

She merely crosses her arms, giving me a stubborn look.

Relenting, I wave to the man beside me. “This is Benjamin. Benjamin… that’s my mother, Irma Costieri.”

Benjamin pushes himself up in bed, keeping a hold of the sheet at his waist. He sticks a hand out. “Pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Costieri.”

My mom isn’t charmed by him in the slightest. Her upper lip curls a bit in a sneer, and she refuses to shake his hand. She does at least give him a slight nod before turning back to me.

“So this is more important than church? Some man you had over last night? Someone who doesn’t mean anything to you—”

I cut her off. “We’ve been seeing each other for over a month, Mamá. He’s not just some man.”

She sniffs in disbelief because this is not something I would do… hide a potential love interest. But my mom doesn’t know how disenchanted I’ve become with love. How I’ve only been engaging in meaningless sex before Benjamin.

She’s not buying it, and her disapproval rolls off her in waves. The daughter she knew, raised, and loved is not about to accept I’d keep a man secret from her for a month.

While I can’t tell her how we met or even the why of it, because she’d never understand, I can distract her from her current ire.

“Benjamin’s a neurosurgeon, Mamá.”

And there it is… her inner mother who has only ever wanted the absolute best for her daughter comes out. A smile splits her face, and she studies Benjamin with newfound appreciation.

Her hand shoots out and she takes his, giving him a hearty welcome-to-the-family shake. “Benjamin… so very nice to meet you.”

She then mouths ever so obviously, “A neurosurgeon?”

“Yes, Mamá,” I reply with a smile, thinking she’ll now forgive me for skipping church because I bagged someone good.

To my horror, though, she sits on Benjamin’s side of the bed, right near his hip, and pats his leg. “Now, Benjamin… tell me all about yourself. Where are you from? How did you meet my Elena? And wow… a neurosurgeon. That’s just so impressive.”

“Mother,” I practically screech as I sit up straight, holding the sheet to me for dear life. I point to the door. “Now is not the time for conversation. As you can see, we’re um… well, we need… what I mean to say is…”

“Now isn’t the best time,” Benjamin intones, cutting over my prattle. “Maybe we can get dressed, then I can take you ladies out to breakfast or something.”

God love that man, but I really could kiss him right about now as realization sweeps over my mom’s face that she has overstepped her bounds.

She blushes clear up to the roots of her hair, then jumps off the bed as she stammers an apology. “Oh, where in the world are my manners?”

Benjamin chuckles, and I give him an elbow to the ribs.

My mom bobs her head. “You want to spend some time with your new man. I’ll just get out of here and head to church.”

“Okay, Mamá,” I murmur, blowing her a kiss.

She turns sharp eyes to Benjamin. Points at him. “Next time… you come to church with Elena, okay? And after, you come to my house for tamales.”

Benjamin inclines his head and gives her a warm smile, which my mom takes as an acceptance of her invitation. But I know that’s not the case. Benjamin might be up for Mom’s tamales—although it does seem to be a little soon to be introducing him to family—but no way in hell he’d go to church with us.

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