She watched her daughter cry before her after her husband vanished.
Secrets that had been kept hidden for months were now forced out through the door. She couldn’t believe that had all transpired in front of her.
When it came to love, there had been nothing but terrible luck for Merissa Knoll. Two painful divorces and countless failed dates.
It seemed like she was never going to find a decent man. The only bright spot in her life was her daughter, Krysten. However, everything changed the moment she set eyes on Jacob.
It almost seemed too good to be true. He had a steady job, was responsible at home, and had a great sense of humor.
The final seal of approval came when she saw how kind he was, even with her daughter and the rest of Merissa’s family. In less than a year, they tied the knot.
It was a sunny autumn morning, and Merissa was baking up a storm in her kitchen. That day’s sweet treat was fresh cinnamon rolls – Krysten’s favorite.
Their weekend meetups were important, now more than ever, because her precious little girl had just gone off to college. Jacob was also working many long, late nights.
Seeing her family sitting around the dining room table warmed her heart. These were, after all, the most important people in her life. However, that night, she noticed something off with Krysten.
Not only had she lost weight, but she was complaining of headaches and barely touching her meal. Jacob eyed his stepdaughter closely, then reached for his phone.
“Something going around at school, baby?” Merissa asked. “Maybe,” her daughter muttered. She spent the rest of the time on the table staring blankly at her plate and nodding to the occasional question her mom would throw her way.
The evening was cut short as her daughter shuffled to her bedroom. It was the first falling domino in a cascade of incidences that would test relationships, unearth secrets, and change their family forever.
It was sudden. One of Jacob’s late evenings stretched far longer than usual. Things only got worse when he didn’t pick up when Merissa tried his phone.
Something was wrong. He always picked up. All through the evening she sat on the edge of the sofa, calling over and over again. Where had he disappeared to?
Then, just as suddenly as he had vanished, he walked through the doorway like nothing was wrong. Merissa pulled him into the living room and let her anger and fear pour out.
She had been so worried. His only excuse – something came up with a friend, and his phone had run out of power.
Months passed, and the moment still lingered in Merissa’s mind. Something was off. Her daughter and husband would flash secret looks at each other, thinking she didn’t notice.
When she asked about it, there was nothing but oblivious denial. She couldnt stomach the idea of them hiding things from her. But the answer finally came after three terrible months.
Merissa sat on the sofa, feeling her stomach twist in knots. Across from her, Jacob and Krysten sat together, holding hands.
Her daughter looked terrified, and her husband looked nervous. Whatever they’d been keeping from Merissa was finally coming to light. Horrific pictures swirled around in her head. It felt like she would be sick at any moment.
She finally snapped. “Someone tell me what’s going on!” This had gone on for too long, and she needed to set her mind at peace. She stared the two down, ready to stand before them until they spoke.
Jacob answered, “Just let Krysten say her piece before you say anything.” Stress levels skyrocketed to maximum, and tears formed in the corner of her eyes. This wasn’t happening.
Krysten took a deep breath. She spent the next few seconds mustering up the courage to look Merissa in her eyes. “Mom, I’m pregnant.”
Merissa’s heart stopped, and the air left her lungs. She looked at Jacob and clenched her fists, but her daughter interrupted. “It’s my boyfriend, Ben, from school. We’ve been seeing each other for over a year.”
Merissa sat there, stunned and silent. “What were you doing when you left that night?” she asked Jacob. The answer made her feel so foolish.
It turned out that the moment Krysten had guessed she was pregnant, she had called her stepfather – mostly because she was terrified of Merissa’s reaction. But that wasn’t half of it.
Jacob had rushed to her college to take her to the hospital to double-check. His phone really had died, but he also had promised his stepdaughter that he wouldn’t say anything until she was ready to tell her mother.
She was worried Merissa wouldn’t accept her daughter’s decision to have a baby while still in college.
Merissa’s heart started beating again. The blood rushed right to her cheeks and a heavy dose of guilt pushed down on her soul. She wanted her daughter to be able to tell her everything.
She stood there searching for the right words to say, such news was too monumental to be keot a secret for so long. Did her daughter really fear her that much?
Merissa turned to Jacob, seeing another bridge she’d almost burnt tonight. The guilt flowing within her doubled, and she found herself taking a shaking step back.
“I’m sorry,” she stammered, her throat dry and lungs seemingly devoid of light. “Come here,” she held her hand towards her daughter. “Come, Krysten.”
After a second of seemingly weighing what was happening, Krysten stood and walked to her mom. “You too, Jacob,” Merissa whispered, her eyes blurring with tears.
When he did, she held their hands and kissed each of them. “You two are my world. You are my peace and my happy place. I am sorry for reading the situation wrong.” But her apology didn’t end there.
To Krysten, she apologized for not being a mom she could talk to. Perhaps she’d been too strict with her in her younger days, or maybe she ruled the house with an iron fist.
But this was a new life her daughter was nursing within her. It was the most beautiful thing a person could do with their life. That her daughter had decided to keep it was even more admirable.
Merissa spent that night with Krysten, talking about her pregnancy and how it all felt. She remembered that after her divorce from Krysten’s dad, her own mom had helped her with Krysten.
She had shown Merissa the ropes of motherhood and coached her until Merissa was fluid in the language. Merissa wanted that with Krysten. She wanted to help. But would her daughter forgive her outburst from earlier and what she’d suggested happened between her and her stepdad?
Krysten shared how helpful Jacob had been over the last few weeks. He’d been calling every morning and evening to check on her, ready to drive down to her school if she needed him to take her to the hospital.
He’d also been pushing her to come clean about the pregnancy, insisting that Merissa had the right to know as she was Krysten’s mom. But that’s not all he said.
Jacob also explained how much Merissa had wanted to expand their family. He clarified that if she would be mad about anything, it would be that Krysten was keeping this secret from her.
He also shared words of encouragement each day, ensuring Krysten kept a level head throughout the first few months. Hearing Krysten talk about him made Merissa realize one thing.
Merissa realized that she’d made the right choice with Jacob. He was a good husband and partner and a great dad and friend to Krysten.
She loved that he went out of his way to help her, and although he kept her secret, he still pushed her to come clean about everything. But that wasn’t all.
Jacob understood the sacred bond between mother and daughter. He understood that Krysten and Merissa had a life before him and respected their relationship.
He knew it wasn’t his place to break Krysten’s news to Merissa. But as a dad, he did everything to help. He was also present when Krysten finally came clean. Could Merissa be luckier in a husband?
“Are you okay, mom?” Krysten’s sweet voice pulled Merissa out of her racing mind. She hesitated for a second before nodding. She broke a smile, reaching out for her daughter’s hand.
She squeezed her fingers and brought them up to her lips. With her smile receding, she said, “I was just thinking.” “About?” asked Krysten.
“How lucky I am to have you and Jacob in my life,” Merissa answered in a distant voice. She remembered her painful past and how heartwrenching it had been to go through a divorce.
She recalled that her daughter had been her light through each of those dark moments. She remembered the loneliness of being without a partner and smiled because she had Jacob now. She needed him in this room as well.
Merissa called for Jacob, and he came in a minute later with a grin plastered on his face. He saw that they were sitting on the bed and sat on the edge with his grin holding fast.
“Thank you,” Merissa said to him. “Both of you.” Her eyes were growing teary despite how hard she was willing them to stay dry. What Jackson said next made the tears flow freely.
“None of us would be here if it weren’t for you,” Jacob said. “Oh, mom,” Krysten chuckled as her mom’s tears streamed down her face.
She held her hands around her neck tight, beckoning Jacob to join in. He wrapped his arms around his family, his warmth and scent washing over Merissa. She was glad he was in his life.
The rest of the night was peaceful for Merissa. But although she was happy for her daughter, she wondered if Krysten knew the magnitude of responsibility she was undertaking.
Parenthood is the ultimate responsibility. It has so many moving parts that each requires supervision and constant maintenance. If Krysten weren’t careful, she’d find herself in deep trouble. But would she be open to discussing this matter with Merissa?
Although Krysten had repeatedly proven that she was capable of making mature decisions, taking responsibility and accountability, Merissa feared she’d bitten much more than she could chew.
Of course, she would help her daughter with everything she needed. But she would also have to teach her the power of independence. Merissa was sure to talk to her daughter about this in the morning.
Krysten was in her final year of college, so she’d be out working soon. Merissa would help her get everything organized.
She would show her daughter how to divide her time between her kid, work, and herself. As they talked that morning, Merissa realized one thing. With Jacob and Krysten by her side, she had nothing to fear.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.