Chapter 52 – Let Her Go

02-09-18_6-11-29 PMBen was on the way to his Mom’s house to pick up Cole after work. On the drive over, he couldn’t stop thinking about the last four months. He wanted to tell Sofia how he felt, or at the very least, move their relationship forward. But he was still afraid of pushing her too much because she had given him zero indication she wanted to be more than good friends. His mom said to go slow, and God knows he had never gone slower in his life.

mem11Sofia’s attorneys had made a deal with Jesse. They had dropped the charges on the condition that Jesse would leave Willow Creek, cease all contact with Sofia and get counseling, validated periodically by her attorney. Jesse had agreed. He asked his employer for a transfer to the Roaring Heights office and promptly left town.

mem10Ben thought the worst was over for her. Sofia had relaxed once she learned Jesse accepted her offer and was moving. She was almost back to the person Ben had known his whole life – funny, eager to learn, and passionate about everything she did.

mem9However, anytime the subject of Jesse came up, she shut it down. He wondered if she might need to talk to someone because she certainly wasn’t talking to him, about Jesse anyway.

Ben and Sofia had been de facto ‘dating’ for the past three months.  Even though they spent a lot of time together, she had friend zoned their relationship. It was back like it was before Jesse attacked her.  The intimacy she had allowed him right after, was gone. They no longer held hands or touched in any intimate ways. Their non-date dates were almost always with Cole. Not that he was complaining. He loved being with the two of them – Playing at Magnolia Park:mem5mem3

Watching movies at Ben’s house . . .mem4mem2

Lounging by his mom’s pool with Cole vying for their attention . . .mem7mem6

Going to festivals and simply being together.mem1

The rest of their time together was spent working on the Rec Center, which was coming along nicely. They should be ready to open in 30 days. mem8

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When Ben pulled into the drive at his mom’s house, he had decided to ask her advice.

02-09-18_6-34-38 PMBen walked into the playroom and Cole ran to him.  “Daddy!” he squealed and held out his little arms to be picked up.

02-09-18_6-42-53 PMHe scooped up his son and hugged and kissed him before turning to his mother. “Mom, can we talk, privately?”

“Sure. Dakota can keep an eye on Cole while we go get coffee.”

02-09-18_6-51-21 PM18-year-old Dakota came into the room looking so grown up. “Sure Mom.  Hi Ben – let me take that little man,” she said cheerfully as she took Cole from his arms.

mem

To Ben, Dakota was still the little girl dressed up in the fairy costume at Halloween, trying to find her place in their family.  But just now, when she called his mother, no, their mother, Mom, and even sounded so much like her, the rest of the puzzle clicked into place. Family is what you make it. And this was his family, including Dakota and Hailey and Leroy.  He yearned for Sofia to be a part of it too. And not just as a friend. He wanted her to be his wife, and for Cole to call her Mom, just like Dakota had just now called her own adopted mother Mom.

As they were leaving he turned back and smiled at Hailey, his 12-year old half sister. “Bye squirt. See you later.”

02-09-18_7-16-37 PM.pngShe looked away from the show she had been watching long enough to flash Ben a smile. “Later Ben.” She was a perfect mix of Leroy and Kaitlin. Such a little doll. He had never paid much attention to her after he went to live with his dad. That was going to change.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

02-09-18_10-53-10 PM.pngWhen Ben and Kaitlin sat down with their coffee, Kaitlin didn’t say anything. She was obviously waiting on him. Ben needed to get some things off his chest before he asked about Sofia. He took a deep breath and filled the silence. “Mom, first I want to apologize for my entire life. I have been ungrateful, jealous, mean and just plain disrespectful. Yet you always came around when I needed you. Why?”

02-09-18_10-54-31 PMBen was overcome at the love reflected back at him in his mother’s eyes, sparkling with unshed tears. “Ben. I love you. There is nothing nothing for you to apologize for,” she said with sweet smile. Then her expression became sorrowful before she continued, “It was my fault. I missed that you needed much more than I was giving you. I truly thought that if you lived with your father….”

02-09-18_10-55-57 PM.pngBen got upset at the mention of his father. “I don’t want to talk about him,” he snarled, interrupting her.

02-09-18_11-16-41 PM.pngKaitlin took a deep breath, apparently shocked at the animosity in his voice. “Ben, I know you were disappointed in your father but he has turned his life around. Do you have any idea how hard that is? If I hadn’t left, he would never have changed. He was escalating. When he attacked Reese, it was the last straw. Next it would have been you or even Maddy. I had to protect the three of you. But I ran with no money and no plan.”

02-09-18_11-10-36 PM.pngKaitlin studied her coffee before looking back up and continuing. “I made a lot of mistakes too. I didn’t have the means to properly care for you three. I was lonely and scared. Reid was nice to you and me, but I had fallen in love with Leroy and didn’t realize it until Hailey was born. We tried to build a relationship but PTSD reared it’s ugly head and threatened everything. I didn’t want you and Reese to know. But Reese saw me breakdown. PTSD was a real problem and I had so many triggers.  Thank god for Leroy insisting on therapy and getting me properly treated. He was there for me, helping me. He still helps me through the occasional bad time – like after Sofia.”

Ben felt like shit hearing how much his mother struggled because she loved her children. Yet he had perceived it as she didn’t care. If he known this 4 months ago, he didn’t know if he would have asked her to talk to Sofia, but knowing her she would have insisted.

02-09-18_10-52-28 PM.png“Mom, you were incredibly brave and selfless. I don’t know how I didn’t see what was going on. I didn’t want to believe Reese when he said Dad hit you. I didn’t know you had PTSD until after Jesse attacked Sofia and Leroy told me. Even as a teenager, I didn’t fully understand. I felt isolated and abandoned. Unlovable. Reese had Brooke and the boys, you had Leroy and the girls.”

02-09-18_11-13-11 PMBen paused thinking about seeing Dakota and Hailey earlier. He smiled at his mother, his voice thick with emotion. “They are so well adjusted. Do you know that Dakota sounds just like you when she talks? She could have been a mess, yet you and Leroy – you loved her unconditionally. Just like you do all of your children and grandchildren. You are an amazing person. So don’t you dare apologize. I see it much more clearly now, but then, I couldn’t see past my own selfishness.”

02-09-18_11-15-20 PM.png“It’s okay Ben. You were 11-years-old and ill equipped to handle what life threw at you. Like I said before, you are here now. We need to let the past be the past. Learn from it, but move forward.”

02-09-18_11-40-00 PMKaitlin relaxed apparently finished talking about unpleasant memories. She looked at her son curiously and smiled. “Why do I think there is more you wanted to talk about?”

02-09-18_11-28-30 PM.pngBen laughed nervously, twisting his wedding band. “It’s Sofia. Mom, I need to tell her how I feel. It’s killing me. She won’t even get close to me anymore.” He stopped, he might as well be totally honest. He continued softly. “That day, when Jesse walked in on us, we were literally two seconds away from a kiss.”

“Oh….” said Kaitlin and her eyebrows shot up.

“Nothing happened Mom,” replied Ben, embarrassed.  Ben was sad thinking about that day. He should never have allowed Sofia to leave with Jesse. “Anyway, after he attacked her, she held my hand and let me hold and comfort her. But once she was free of him, she distanced herself from me physically. Since then, I’ve been afraid to upset her, so I haven’t made any attempt to touch her.” Ben shook his head slowly, begging for an answer with his eyes. “How do I know when it’s okay to take the next step?”

02-09-18_11-40-21 PM.png“Ben, hun. Look at your hand. You still wear your wedding band. If I was in love with a man and he still wore his dead wife’s ring, I would think he wasn’t ready to move on. Are you ready Ben?”

Ben teared up unexpectedly. His right hand automatically went protectively to the wedding ring and he began to twist and rub it, as had become his habit ever since Grace died. It was comforting to have something intimate to help him cope with her loss.

02-09-18_11-58-12 PM.png“I’m sorry Ben. I didn’t mean to be so blunt, to upset you.”

He looked at his hands while he thought about his mom’s question. He was ready. He knew he was. Then why was it so hard?  He continued to look at his hand when he answered. “It’s okay. I am ready. It’s just, if I take it off….”

02-09-18_11-49-01 PM.pngKaitlin watched Ben toy with the ring, compassion evident in her eyes and her voice. “Honey, I can’t pretend to understand the amount of pain you have been through. You are naming a park after Grace. And it was Sofia’s idea. But if you really want to move on, it’s time to let Grace go.”

02-09-18_11-51-22 PM.pngBen swallowed hard and took deep breaths to keep the tears from falling as he slowly took off his ring. He clutched it tightly in the palm of his hand, placing both hands over his racing heart. He held it there for several minutes while he tried to come to terms with the significance of his action.

02-10-18_12-05-09 AM.pngKaitlin watched her son, her own tears silently rolling down her cheeks. “Baby,” she said, her voice gentle and soothing, “you’re not throwing her away, you just letting her go. No matter what happens in the future, Grace will always be an important part of your life. She did something none of the rest of us could.” Kaitlin stopped for a beat, now smiling through her tears. “She made you love yourself enough that you could love others. She will forever hold a special place in your heart, and mine too. It’s okay to feel sad.”

02-10-18_12-18-19 AMBen handed his mother the ring with shaking hands. He was saying goodbye to Grace all over again and it brought back painful memories. A few tears managed to escape as she took it from him. He wiped the tears from his face and took a cleansing breath. “Please, put this in your purse. I don’t want to lose it in my pocket.”

Once his mother had the ring, He could breathe again. It actually began to feel liberating once he worked through the initial pain that came from thinking about what that ring symbolized. It was his last link to Grace. But his mother was right. He needed to let her go in order to fully move on.

02-10-18_12-19-22 AMBen smiled at this amazing woman, his mother, sitting across from him. “How did you get so wise? I will put it with Grace’s wedding rings and give them to Cole when the time is right.”

02-10-18_12-17-58 AMKaitlin smiled brightly and without skipping a beat said, “I bet I know who you are taking out tonight!”

“But, what if it’s too soon?”

“I see how she looks at you when you aren’t looking. I swear, you are the only one that doesn’t see it. She loves you, trust me. And she loves Cole too. Sofia is stronger than you think, and she is not letting what happened control her life.”

02-10-18_12-35-59 AMAt the mention of ‘what happened’, Ben’s mood changed.  “Did she tell you what happened that night?”

“She did, and we have spoken once since then. But we didn’t talk about you and her, just Jesse. She was concerned about dropping the charges. Still, I don’t think it’s too soon.  She’s probably waiting on you to make the first move.” Kaitlin’s face lit up, “Need a sitter for the night?” she asked and waggled her eyebrows.

Ben was mortified. “Mom! Not for the night, just a few hours. I thought I might take her to a nice dinner.”

02-10-18_12-40-43 AM.pngKaitlin laughed. “Are you serious? You never know, Ben. It’s been a long time. Almost 3 years. And Sofia probably needs the closeness of someone that loves her right now. I have a feeling you will have a very romantic evening.”

02-10-18_12-42-54 AM.pngBen felt himself blush. “Stop it Mom, you are embarrassing me. I don’t plan on seducing her.”

Kaitlin grinned at Ben. “I know. But you love each other. It’s time to own up to that. And, well, I know how it was, still is, with me and Leroy.”

“Mom!” He said and stood up to make it stop. He swore she was trying to embarrass him to make up for lost time.

02-10-18_12-48-01 AM.pngKaitlin laughed. “Okay, let’s go. You have a date to make!”

“Yes. And Mom, thanks. I love you.”

“I know sweetheart,” said Kaitlin and kissed him on the cheek. “I love you too.”

02-10-18_12-53-08 AM.pngBen pulled her into a hug and they walked out of the coffee shop with his arm still wrapped around his mother, feeling more hopeful for his future than he had in a long time.

Go to Chapter 53>>>>>>>

Go Back to Chapter 51s

52 thoughts on “Chapter 52 – Let Her Go

  1. *gasps* No!! Don’t end it there! I wanna see the dinner and what happens next!
    When I saw the title I thought you meant it about Sofia but I’m so glad it was meant for Grace! Ben’s mom is right… he has to let her go. It’s time. And speaking of Ben’s mom, it was so nice to see them finally having an honest sweet conversation..! The last part cracked me up though! Don’t let your mom down Ben, lol! 😂
    I’ll be impatiently waiting for the next chapter ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • I couldn’t wait for Ben and his Mom to finally get to this point in their relationship. ❤️ Kaitlin loves Ben very much, but had so many of her own issues, there were a whole ton of them, that she didn’t see the signs that he needed more from her than what she was giving him when he was growing up. They didn’t talk much because he would hole himself up in his room. So she assumed he was fine.

      She’s much healthier now that most of her problems have resolved themselves and she and Leroy are happily married. Ben was really her last hurdle. Everything she did in Starting Over was for her children and grandchildren. Sorry. Kaitlin was the real ‘founder’ for New Beginnings and she has a very special place in my heart. 😊❤️ So to see her finally have the relationship with Ben that she’s always wanted is gratifying for me.

      So….I think everyone is thinking this chapter was about letting Sofia go – not Grace! I honestly didn’t think of that when I titled the chapter and then, someone else said the same thing so I didn’t dispute it. 😈 😂 So sorry to make you wait for the dinner. It will be the next chapter – on Sunday!

      I love the new dynamic between Ben and his mom. You will see more of that in the next chapter. ❤️ She is no prude. She knows what happens with young (and not so young) couples in love. And she wants Ben to be happy more than anything. She adores Sofia too, so that doesn’t hurt.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my goodness! I was freaking out because it looked like Sofia was pulling away from him! I waited for two hours this morning and constantly refreshed the page lol this was a great chapter!

    I’m glad Kaitlyn cleared everything up for Ben and my goodness does Dakota look so grown up! I know it had to be hard for Ben to take the ring off. It meant so much, and why did you have to end it there? I wanna see the romance lol you keep torturing us with how you end the chapters but damn you do a good job at answering some questions!

    (Lol sorry I’m a little hung over from last night)

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are cracking me up! 😂😂 * Refreshes page again* Damn *drinks water and refreshes page*

      Soooo. Sorry to leave everyone hanging…but their dinner date is next – on Sunday! ❤️

      Isn’t Dakota gorgeous! It was important for him to recognize Dakota as his sister and part of his family. The fact that her mannerisms mirrored Kaitlin’s brought it home to him. Just because they are a blended family doesn’t make them any less of a family than if Dakota were his flesh and blood sister. It was a big deal for him to realize that.

      The ring…I actually cried when writing this part. It WAS a big deal for him to remove it. I made the pose especially for this. My first ever. But I wanted to show it because it was a pivotal moment in him moving forward. Grace is his past and If he wants Sofia in his future he has to let go of the past. Kaitlin is so wise.

      I was happy to give them the cute light hearted Mother/Son moments where only your mom can embarrass you when you are grown. But Kaitlin was dead serious. She is so trying to hook up her son. She cracked me up!

      Like

  3. Pingback: Chapter 51 – Move Forward | New Beginnings

  4. Yes, sweet family bonding moment!
    I’m so relieved the title was about Grace. I also thought you must have made the pose with the ring and from the comments it seems I was right. I’m so glad Ben’s mom gave him some sound advice and that she supports him. It is about the time they made amends for good! I remember now how he treated her and didn’t want to pick up the phone. She must have been so heart-broken. Ben is definitely a better man now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Growth! Ben is in a much better place now! He had a long way to go and life events sort of forced it on him. He could have gone totally the other direction and withdrew and become even more bitter, but thanks to people like Lillie May, Cole, Emma, Nick and his mother, he didn’t. ❤ And of course she was heartbroken. Thanks to Leroy for helping her through the hard times.

      I'm so proud of my first ever pose! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you! ❤️ This was such a satisfying chapter write. I looked forward to it so much. His mom is such a sweet lady and loves her kids unconditionally. Ben was the only one of her 5 kids she never really bonded with. She tried but just didn’t understand what he was going through.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was so wonderful. ❤ ❤ ❤ The feels. ❤

    I'm so glad this happened, I just can't even tell you. I'm so glad also that Ben has come to understand that he's not betraying Grace by loving Sofia. It's very smart of his mother to tell him maybe Sofia thought he was the one who wasn't ready because of the ring.

    Wonderful chapter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. Kaitlin just wants her baby to be happy. She’s very ready to let their past be over. And she knows how much he has suffered. He needs his momma right now and she is so happy to be there for him. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Soooo preciouuuussss! I’m so happ he finally talked with his mother about their past! They are finally at the same page. My theory for Sofia is that, like Kate said, she may feel as Ben isn’t ready for this relationship ooor, just as Kate, she could feel as she makes good guys turn bad and hit her, that way she dosent wnat do date Ben so he dosent end up´like that…I reaaaaly hope that isnt the case! On a side note: Ben has growed soooo much since Cole was born ( actually since he started to date Grace)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Chapter 53 – Tiramisu | New Beginnings

  9. This was such a huge moment for Ben! I’m so proud of him. It was so emotional seeing him take that ring off, but it was time. I can’t even imagine how that must feel though. All those mixed emotions… I think you captured it beautifully. And I think Grace would be proud too. She was such a warm and beautiful person. She’d want his happiness, and a mother for Cole. ❤

    Okay, sappiness aside… OMG Kaitlin had me rolling at the end! LMAO! She wants her boy to get some! HAHAHA I understand why though. It has been a long time since he's opened up his heart… and his pants 😉 Time to do both! HEHEHEHE (Wow, I am AWFUL today)

    Liked by 1 person

    • 😂😂😂 Kaitlin definitely wants her baby to be happy. I think he is wanting some too! 😂 It’s nice to see them laugh together for a change.

      Ben and the ring. It was tough for him but his mother had it right. It was time to let her go. I did shed a tear or two writing that. 😢

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Mama Kate 10000/10 advice LOL Go for it Ben!! It’s time to listen to your mama for once!! 😂

    I’m so glad to see Dakota again! Ben thinking about his childhood made me tear up. It was a roller coaster!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. How did I not see this chapter until now? Sorry, for not seeing it sooner.
    I have said this about a million times but it always worth repeating: I LOVE KAITLIN!!!
    She is so wise. I’m not happy for what she had to go through, but if it there can be one positive thing about it it would be that she became stronger and smarter for it.
    I am so proud of Ben. He is far from perfect, but for Sofia he is willing to do anything. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! ❤️ This was a hard chapter for me to write because I had to let her go too! So it was pretty easy to get into his head. I did shed a few tears writing it. 😢

      Like

  12. Ahh! Loving the mom bonding / forgiveness / warm squishy feels ❤️

    Okay, Ben, champ… you can do this man! Go get that woman! /Flail
    #ITSHAPPENING

    Liked by 1 person

  13. yay. Thank you for developing on that PTSD.on how it affected his mother and Ben. She was right. A man keeping his wedding ring on is not avaiable emotionally or anywhere else. Taking it off is a big step.
    reading on to a hopefully happy ending ….

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lol! When your mom tells you to sleep with your crush… xD

    I love chapters that show parents-adult kids relationships. And this one was so sweet c:

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Ohhhh Audrey! That ring moment was so powerful! I love it when another character points out some unconscious thing that another character does and then they have this look of terror on their face lol. Another awesome chapter!

    “Do you need a sitter?”
    *dead*
    😀

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This got me really emotional, especially when he finally took off the wedding ring. I was almost holding my breath.
    And then I laughed a little at Ben’s mom embarrassing him. That’s the kind of parent I want to be one day – as embarrassing as possible!! >:D

    Liked by 1 person

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