Chapter 21 : Explanations
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I breathed in and out quickly. What was he doing here?! I ran my hands through my hair and slowly backed away from the door. I didn’t want him here; I didn’t want to see him. It screwed everything up.
My heart was pumping and I felt numb. I stared at the door with my mouth opened and ignored the soft knocking at the door. “Larry?” I didn’t respond but just kept staring at the door.
I heard James come out of the bathroom and he asked, “What’s wrong?”
I looked towards him and saw that he had a towel loosely wrapped around his waist, his hair dripping wet. Damn, he looked fine.
No, now was not the time for that!
James looked at me and asked, “Reese?”
I took a deep breath and shook my head to get rid of all thoughts of James in a towel. “My – my dad’s at the door,” I finally said, my voice shaking.
His eyebrows shot up and he said, “Seriously?!” I nodded and he blew out a breath. “What’re you gonna do?”
I shrugged. “Dunno yet.”
“Do you want to talk to him?” James asked after a few moments.
I shook my head. “No, I don’t. But… he’s my dad. I can’t just ignore him – he’s my dad.” James stared at me and suddenly I got mad. “He’s my fucking dad and he didn’t give two shits about me and now he’s come crawling – no I’m not going to talk to him. He can just fuck right off.”
I stormed to the kitchen to grab some food. I angrily stuffed some peanuts in my mouth and whirled around to James. “Is he for real?!” I spat, spraying peanuts everywhere. Yes it wasn’t attractive but right now no part of me was attractive. “I called them and called them and called them and they didn’t even bother responding, but now he wants to talk?! I gave him enough chances; I’m not giving him another one.”
James nodded thoughtfully and then said, “Will he leave then? He can’t really just live at our front door.”
I hesitated. “I don’t know.” James looked at me, hair dripping everywhere and I sidled up to him. “James, would you – would you please tell him to leave?”
He looked at me with an unamused expression. “No,” he said flatly.
“Why not?” I cried.
He gave me the same flat stare. “Because I just can’t tell him to leave. Imagine that conversation, ‘Hi. I knocked up your daughter and now you need to leave because she doesn’t ever want to speak to you again because you’re an idiot. So, bye!’”
I bit my lip to stop me from laughing. “Please, James. I don’t want to see him,” I said in a more serious tone.
He sighed. “Fine, but you owe me.” I smiled and he started walking to the bedroom.
“What are you doing?” I asked confusedly.
“Putting clothes on, I can’t exile your dad when I’m half-naked,” he explained.
I shrugged. “Makes sense.” He winked and walked into the bedroom.
I waited in the kitchen and I heard a tentative knock. I felt bad for a moment but then shut my eyes. He had hurt me; I couldn’t let him just walk back in my life.
James came out and looked at me. “Are you sure you don’t want to speak to him?” I nodded and he sighed. “Fine then.”
He walked towards the door and I heard Dad’s disappointed, “Oh.” I winced and listened to what James said by hiding on the opposite side of the door where he couldn’t see me.
“Reese would appreciate it if you left. She doesn’t want to speak to you,” James said.
“What do you mean?” Dad asked quietly.
James’ hand tightened on the door. “She doesn’t want to speak to you,” he repeated.
“Yes, but why?” he pressed. I got angry, why would I want to speak to him?! He didn’t give two shits about me and we hardly ever talked, I mean I wasn’t going to be all buddy-buddy in a matter of seconds for crying out loud.
James snapped, “Maybe because you were completely rude to her and kicked her out of your house? Or you know, ignoring her for eight years? Or not responding to any of her phone calls? Gee, I wonder why.”
I smiled and silently thanked James. He was one of the best people I knew.
Dad sucked in a breath. “I just want to try and make things right between us,” he pleaded.
“Well you had your chance and you blew it,” James retorted.
Dad laughed humourlessly. “Yeah I did. But I still need to talk to her; I’m her father.”
“You haven’t really been acting like one for the past few years,” James said honestly. I wanted to run up to him and give him a hug.
“I know that,” he snapped. “I just want to make it right. Let me in,” he ordered. I was starting to get really angry with him. He was in my (technically James’) house and he was trying to order us around? Who the hell did he think he was?
Thankfully James stood his ground. “No.”
Dad started to say something but James talked over to him. “This is my property, you can either leave of your own accord or I can force you out. Reese doesn’t want to talk to you. She might want to talk to you later but right now she doesn’t want to see you. Got it?”
Dad sighed sadly and for a small moment I felt guilty. He was my dad; maybe I should hear him out and then judge on what he says to know if I want to ever see him again? “Fine,” he said, “just tell her I’m sorry.”
James nodded, his jaw set and I decided what I was going to do. I nudged James to the side and said, “Dad, wait.”
He turned around and looked at me incredulously. James looked down at me in pride and I gave him a questioning look. He nodded to my dad discreetly and I turned back to him. “Come in, I’ll – I’ll listen to whatever you have to say.”
“Thank you, Larry,” he said gratefully.
“Don’t call me that,” I said forcefully. “Just because I’m hearing you out doesn’t mean I forgive you. It doesn’t mean that you can pretend that the last eight years didn’t happen.” My hands were still shaking slightly and I shoved them in the pockets of my jumper to hide them.
He nodded and I stepped aside to let him in. He walked in and James closed the door behind us.
I folded my arms and waited for him to speak. He, however, stayed quiet. “Well?” I said dangerously, “Are you going to explain yourself?”
“Larissa, I just wanted to apologise,” he started but I laughed coldly.
“Apologise? You’ve had six months to apologise and you never even tried to get in touch with me,” I spat.
He hung his head. “I – I know. It’s just… it was a bit of a shock for me and your mother. We never expected—”
I cut him off again, “You didn’t know me so you couldn’t really have any expectations of me. I bet you don’t know how screwed up I really was.” I set my jaw and glared at him, taking my hands out of my pockets and folding them grumpily.
He rubbed his face tiredly. “Larissa, I didn’t know what to do! Some man came up to us and said you had magical powers and then a month later you were carted off to this strange school where you told us some weirdo tried to massacre people like us! How was I supposed to act?!”
“YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE MY FATHER!” I shrieked. “You were supposed to listen to me and support me and not believe I was going to kill anyone because I—” I broke off, because I didn’t want to say I loved him. I didn’t love my dad and I wasn’t going to lie about it. I could hardly say it to James, whom I actually loved, let alone my arsehole father. “—because you were my family!” I finally said.
“And it hurts that you thought I’d try and kill you. It was like you didn’t even care about me since the day I was born!” I snapped. James placed a comforting hand on the small of my back.
He flinched and I scowled. “And now you don’t even have anything to say. Get out of my house. I don’t ever want to see you again.”
“No,” he said boldly. “I need you to listen to me, Larissa.”
“I’m not talking,” I said through gritted teeth. “I’m waiting for you to say something but you’ve said fuck-all!”
“I’ll talk then,” he said quickly. “Look, your mother and I only ever wanted one child and then you came along and threw everything out of balance. It really changed everything, for better of course,” he added seeing the look on James’ and I’s face. “So we adapted and we were happy. Then some strange man came to tell us you were magical and you could do all these strange things and it frightened us! We’re simple people, you know that! We don’t want people thinking we’re—” he broke off, looking for a word.
“You didn’t want others to think you were freaks?” James said dangerously.
He winced but didn’t disagree. I felt tears prick at my eyes but James seemed to swell up. “Let me tell you something, Mr Rizzo. My dad had his aunt and uncle constantly telling him he was a freak, abnormal and he told us that it was the worst thing of his childhood. He hated living with them and dreamed about running away forever or some very distant relative would save him. And I haven’t personally gone through it but I know that it’s the worst thing in the world when your family treats you like shit.”
I looked at James and he wrapped an arm around my waist, bringing me in close. “I know that it sounds bad, Larissa,” Dad said, “but it was scary. It was scary thinking that you had this – this power. And I now know that it was completely wrong of me. I was just hoping that we could try and—”
“What, Dad? Be a happy family again?” I said, my voice wobbling. “It’s too late for that, Dad. Did you know that I tried killing myself because of the way I was treated?! I’ve been on anti-depressants for nearly three years now! I‘m still on them! I’ll probably have problems for the rest of my life because of you and Mum!” I snapped.
His eyes went wide. “Larissa, I’m so sorry for the way we treated you. It was wrong and I just want to try and mend our relationship. You’re my daughter; I just want to get to know you better.”
The room was silent for a moment and James was rubbing my back slowly. “Do what you want. Don’t feel obligated,” he breathed so only I could hear him.
I thought about it. I bit my lip and leant closer towards James, unsure of what to do. On one hand I wanted to talk to my dad and try and get closer and mend this crappy relationship we had.
On the other hand, I never wanted to see him again. I was so angry at him and I would just love to scream and scream and scream until I have no voice left.
I closed my eyes and pinched my nose with my forefinger and thumb. “Fine. But don’t expect me to trust you for a while,” I said, eventually making the decision to try and restore the relationship between us.
He nodded. “I understand. I’ll get going now.” I nodded and he walked himself to the door. He had his hand on the door handle and said, “Wait, I have something for you.” He searched his pockets and pulled out a small, folded piece of paper. I found it in your room.”
I walked towards him and took the paper tentatively. I unfolded it and felt James looking over my shoulder.
It was my first scan.
“It’s my first scan,” I told James. He nodded and looked at it more curiously. I gave it to him so he could look at it more.
“Thank you, Dad,” I said honestly.
He smiled at me, almost bittersweet. “It was what convinced me to see you.” I was incredibly touched and he gave me another smile before leaving.
The door shut with a click and I turned back to James who was staring at me curiously, the photo forgotten and left on the coffee table. I wrapped my arms around him and said, “Thank you for standing up for me.”
He pressed a kiss to the top of my head. “Don’t worry about it, okay?” I nodded and he asked, “Are you okay?”
I shook my head and started crying. “I just, I don’t know what I want to do,” I sniffled. He rubbed my back comfortingly and I said, “I’m sorry for being such a mess.”
“Reese, you’re allowed to be a mess.” I laughed and felt that twinge in my stomach again. I ignored it and tightened my grip on James.
I kept crying and held onto James like he was my lifeline. I really didn’t know what I’d do without him.
The next day I was on my way to see Blake. I felt drained but I needed to see my brother. I’d seen him briefly but we hadn’t had a nice big catch up.
I knocked on their door and waited. I was exhausted, I mean I caught a bus to get here but I still had to walk up a flight of stairs before getting an elevator.
Pregnancy was not fun.
The door swung open and my brother was standing there, looking very frustrated. “Hey, Larry,” he said, giving me a brief hug.
“Hey, Blake,” I said tiredly. “Can you please explain the whole situation to me? I’m quite confused.”
He nodded and gestured to the couch. “Sit down. Did you want anything?”
“Just water, please,” I said as I sat down, feeling the baby kick me sharply.
He shot me a thumbs up before disappearing into the kitchen to get my water. I closed my eyes and leant my head back. I heard Blake coming back so I opened my eyes and gladly accepted my water.
“Why are you so tired?” he asked curiously.
I sighed. “I’ll tell you later, tell me about the wedding fiasco first and what I need to do.”
He huffed. “Well, Zo and I went to get the cake ordered and the planner was there with us so we said 23rd of November because that’s the fucking date we chose and then the stupid girl says that it’s December and so we’ve organised everything for the 23rd of November but the actual reception and ceremony is on the 23rd of December.”
He scowled but before I could say anything the door swung open with a shrieking Zoe.
“I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO. WE’RE NOT PAYING YOU FOR THIS LOUSY PLANNING THAT YOU’VE DONE BUT YOU JUST GET EVERYTHING MOVED OTHERWISE I WILL SUE YOU FOR TWICE AS MUCH AS THAT BLOODY CASTLE THING COSTS OKAY?! YOU TELL THE FUCKING FLORIST THAT BECAUSE OF YOUR STUPIDITY THEY NEED TO POSTPONE IT FOR AN EXTRA MONTH! YOU TELL THE FUCKING PHOTOGRAPHER THAT BECAUSE OF YOUR STUPIDITY THEY NEED TO POSTPONE IT FOR AN EXTRA MONTH AND SO HELP ME GOD IF THEY CAN’T MAKE IT I WILL BE HAVING YOUR HEAD. GOT IT?!”
She hung up and threw her phone at the wall. It bounced off and she picked it up again and screamed.
I had never seen Zoe lose control like that. She was usually calm and collected and the worst thing she would do was flip someone off.
“You okay, Zo?” Blake asked. Smooth, Blake, smooth. Your fiancée is screaming and stressed out and you ask if she’s okay.
“No. I am not okay! The planners are fucking idiots – oh hey, Reese.” Her tanned cheeks darkened. “Sorry you had to see that.”
I waved it off. “It’s okay. I’m here to help you guys anyway. I have nothing to do so I may as well be useful to someone.”
She gave me a smile. “Thank you so much, really. But I have to go. I just came to get my lunch and then I have to get back to work. I’ll see you soon, yeah?” I nodded and she quickly ran to the kitchen. “Bye, Blake, bye Reese!” She gave Blake a kiss and waved to me before running back out the door.
“She looks stressed,” I observed. Blake sent me a look and I shut up.
“So, are you going to tell me why you’re so tired?” he asked.
I made a face. “Well, one: I’m really fat and it’s hard walking everywhere,” I said grumpily. I hesitated before saying reason number two, though.
“And two?” Blake prompted after I didn’t say anything.
“Dad came over yesterday,” I said quietly.
Blake’s jaw dropped. “What?!”
I nodded. “Yeah, he turned up yesterday and we’re going to try and be nice to each other or something,” I muttered.
Blake whistled. “Shit, I told them to visit you as soon as I came back from Sri Lanka and I gave them your address but they were determined not to go. What changed his mind?”
I rubbed my eyes tiredly. “He found my first scan in my room or something. I don’t know if that was the real reason.”
“At least he came to his senses,” Blake mused, “we’ll just have to wait for Mum. Wait, so what happened?”
I sighed and explained the whole scenario to him. He swore and gasped in all the right places and when I finished, I took a nice, long drink.
“Well,” was all he said.
I waited for him to say more and when he didn’t, I poked him. “Well, what?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know what I want to say. It’s a pretty big thing, isn’t it? When are you going to meet with him?”
I buried my face in my hands and mumbled, “I don’t want to think about that. It’s just going to be awkward silences and small-talk – oh God why did I do this?”
Blake patted my back and said, “It’s probably for the best.” I made a face and he laughed. “Just think, if you and Dad are back to nearly normal, maybe Mum will come around and then—”
“Then what, Blake? We’ll be a happy family? That isn’t going to work! You know the damage they did to me! It’s not gonna be fixed up in a matter of seconds!” I said hysterically. For a moment, I had a tiny amount of sympathy for my brother. He had to deal with a stressed Zoe and a hysterical me.
“It doesn’t have to be,” he said gently. “It might take years but it won’t hurt to hope.”
“I hoped for years, Blake. And where did that land me? In a mental ward with scars all over my body?” I said bluntly.
He looked down and I said softly, “I know it would be easier for you if we all got along but I just can’t Blake. I’m going to try, of course I am but I’ll never be able to forgive them.”
He nodded and said, “I know. It’s just frustrating! They’re so goddamned stubborn! Why can’t they just accept the fact that they were wrong?!”
I shrugged. “I just need you to still like me; otherwise I may go a bit crazy.”
He ruffled my hair. “Don’t worry, I won’t be running away very soon. I’m going to be the favourite uncle.”
I laughed and said, “I’ll make sure of it.”
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