Chapter Twenty - One
October 22, was a very somber day. At one of the largest funerals in Napa Valley history, they laid to rest one of their own sons. Owen Thomas was a young man of forty-one when his life ended. He knew many people, and had thousands of fans. But only a close few really loved him.
Desiree appeared to be the pillar of strength, but deep down she ached horribly. She sat there in her chair at the gravesite holding her purse close to her heart. Next to her was Cai. He knew he had to be the man now. He had his arm around his mother, and held her free hand. Caron was allowing tears to fall and she gently wiped them from her face not wanting to mess up her makeup. Next to Caron was her grandfather. Richard couldn’t believe that his baby boy was dead. He sat there numb, and stared at the casket. Nadia was hysterical. In her mind, not one person there loved Owen more than she did and she intended to let them know it. Grace did her best to console her, but it wasn’t helping.
James was like his father. He was also numb and unable to move. Odile held her husbands hand trying to get him to feel something. She was quietly crying herself. Isaias was crying hard, but he was quiet. His pain went so deep, it felt like he was walking around with one half of his body missing. Whitney sat quietly holding her husbands hand. She was just wondering why Owen was taken away from his family and friends so young. She worried about how Isaias was going to make it. While the casket was lowered into the ground, everyone began to let their pain show. In the midst of all the tears, Desiree fainted.
As the paramedics were working on Desiree, Richard fainted. One paramedic started working on Richard. In the meantime, the ceremony went on without them. After Owen was in the ground, everyone but family and close friends left. Isaias stood over his friend’s grave and stared into the hole. He thought that maybe Owen would speak to him from beyond, and tell him that it was okay to go on without him, but no voice came to him. As he was standing there, a young man approached him from behind.
“Hello Isaias,” the young man said softly. “Sorry for your loss.”
Isaias turned around to a face that he was sure he’d seen before, but in his line of work, this young man could’ve been anyone. “Thank you. I’m sorry do I know you?”
The young man nodded. “Forgive me. It’s been a very long time. It’s me, Jason.”
Isaias then realized that the face he looked into resembled his own in many ways. “Jason Tyler?”
Jason nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Isaias looked at Jason and couldn’t believe that he was standing there. Looking at Jason, he had a feeling that he’d made a serious mistake. He forgot all about his dead friend only for a moment. “My goodness I haven’t seen you in years. How old are you now?”
Making sure he wasn’t some stranger, though unlikely, Isaias did the math. “Sounds about right. Where’s your mother?”
“She couldn’t make it.”
“She always wanted to make up with everyone she hurt by doing what she did. I tried for years to get her to understand that it was okay to try. She wouldn’t do it. A couple of weeks ago she got up the courage to come back home and see the two of you. But before she could, she heard about the accident. She collapsed that day. I decided to come and pay my respects in her place. She told me how close the three of you were once.”
Thinking briefly about his childhood, Isaias needed Victoria now. “Oh I’m sorry to hear that. How’s your father taking it?”
“Ten years ago.”
“Look Jason. I would love to talk to you some more. Why don’t you come by the house?”
“No, I couldn’t.”
His heart heavy before Jason arrived was momentarily lifted. “Please do. I think there is someone in particular that would like to see you.”
Jason nodded. “All right. If you insist.”
Everyone went back to Owen’s house. The family sat in the entertainment hall, received well-wishers, and mourners alike. Desiree couldn’t stop crying. Every time someone told her something magnificent about Owen, she would politely say thank you, and the tears would start again. Cai and Caron sat on either side of their mother to comfort her.
Three hours later, the guests were all gone. Finally, Owen’s closest friends and family were alone to talk about their feelings. First Isaias had a surprise for all of them. Jason waited in the hallway.
“Everyone, there is someone here that I would like you to see.”
“I thought everyone left.”
When Jason walked in the door, Charlotte recognized him on sight. She walked to him and gave him a hug.
“Welcome home, grandbaby.”
Jason smiled. “Thank you nana.”
Whitney stared at the stranger for a while. Soon afterwards, she realized who he was. “It can’t be.”
Justice was confused. He sat next to his mother wondering who the stranger was. “Can’t be who?” Justice asked.
“I know all of you remember Jason,” Charlotte said.
All were in shock. They hadn’t seen him since he was four years old, and now he stood before them a grown man. Whitney, Desiree, Nadia, and Frederick gave him a hug.
Nadia smiled. “Look at you all grown up.”
“Where’s your mother dear?” Charlotte asked.
“She’s in Chicago.”
“She didn’t take the news well,” Isaias said.
“Poor thing,” Nadia said.
Jason appreciated their words even though he knew they were dealing with a pain of their own. “She’ll be fine.”
“So why are you here?” Charlotte asked.
Isaias answered for him. “Jason has told me that he has a lot to talk to us about. Go ahead Jason.”
“Well first let me start by saying thank you for not sending me away when you found out who I was.”
Charlotte shook her head. “We never faulted you in what happened. You were just a baby.”
“I know. Mother told me the story when I was old enough to understand. I’m sorry that she did such a horrible thing. She was only looking out for my well-being. She has regretted what she did for years. She lost her two best friends she’d ever had in one day. She took it hard.”
Remembering the last time she saw him, Desiree was curious. “Where’s your father?”
“He died ten years ago. After the story got out about what mother had done, grandfather disinherited her. Father decided that we would move to Chicago with his brother. Well my uncle wasn’t exactly your model citizen. My father got involved in some shady dealings with drug dealers and was shot for trying to steal from them. We didn’t have any money then you know.
“Even though they weren’t the happiest couple in the world, when my father died, it almost killed my mother. My grandmother found out what happened, and helped us behind grandfather’s back. We were at least able to get back on our feet. When I turned sixteen, mother told me something else about her past that she never told anyone. I vowed to take her secret to my grave. It wasn’t until she found out that Owen died that she wanted me to tell that secret. She told me to come here and stand in her place. Once she was sure that I would come, she collapsed.”
“So what was it that she wanted you to tell us?” Frederick asked.
“This is hard.”
Whitney already feeling what he was going to say, before he said it, pushed harder. “Please Jason. We’re already going through enough right now.”
Jason told his story. “Twenty years ago, Isaias and my mother were a young couple in love. She was looking forward to becoming his wife one day. Isaias was going off to school, and she didn’t want to be a burden to him. She wanted him to inherit all that his father had left him, so she never told a soul.”
Feeling what was coming, Isaias asked, “Never told me what?”
“A month before you went off to school, she was already pregnant.”
“So she was cheating on me even back then.”
Jason shook his head. “No. She never cheated. She loved you.”
Whitney’s anger and jealousy was dangerously floating at the surface. “So what are you trying to tell us Jason?”
Jason looked at Isaias and replied, “What I’m trying to say is that I’m your son.”
The room was silent, and Isaias broke down in tears. He hugged Jason.
“I knew it. I’ve always known it. Everyone doubted me. But I knew that you were my flesh.”
Whitney didn’t want to believe it. There was no way that after all this time, and everything she’d gone through, Victoria had actually won. “Isaias don’t believe him. He is Victoria’s son. She could have just told him this to secure his future.”
“Are you kidding me? Look at him! Tell me that he doesn’t look just like me!”
Nadia rolled her eyes. “Here we go again.”
“Mother told me that there would be this type of reaction. I’m prepared to take a blood test to prove it.”
Charlotte disagreed. “No test needed. Deep down, I always knew as well.”
Freaked out that her previous two partners in crime were changing there tune, Whitney said, “I’m not convinced. Nothing against you Jason, but your mother did vicious things to us, just to keep us apart. For all I know she’s still at it eighteen years later. Mother, you and Isaias may be convinced, but not me.”
“So what do we do, my dear?”
“I will be happy with blood tests.”
“Since my father is dead, there’s no way to get my father’s blood type.”
Nadia nodded. “Yes there is. The marriage certificate.”
“That’s right,” Isaias agreed. “But there are hundreds of possibilities.”
The genius scientists made their appearance. Three in the room began to speak well above everyone’s head.
“True enough,” Desiree said, “But the right combination of types and RH factors will definitely prove without a doubt that Jason is your son.”
“What does all of this blood type stuff mean, dad?” Justice asked.
“It gets to be a little complicated Justice. So just know that you may be looking at your older brother, and you may not.”
Appalled that her own mother was caught up in the conversation even though she was supposed to be mourning her husband, Caron stood up.
“Shut up! All of you just shut up!”
“Caron Thomas what is wrong with you?” Desiree asked loudly. “That was rude, and you will apologize right now!”
“Have any of you forgotten what has gotten us all in this room in the first place! My father is dead! Who cares about this mystery man! My father is dead and he is not coming back!”
Caron ran from the room in tears. Cai watched his sister leave in pain, and though interested in the current conversation himself, agreed with her.
“Perhaps she’s right.”
Isaias nodded. “Yes. Let’s go home.”
The Reynolds family went home taking Jason with them. Once they arrived home, they all went into the library to continue their conversation with Jason.
“So Jason, what are you doing with yourself now days?” Frederick asked.
“I’ve graduated from Sanford Brown this past spring. I’m going to take a break before I go to graduate school.”
“Medicine?” Isaias asked.
“Actually no. Business,” Jason replied.
Looking forward to having Jason around, Charlotte said, “A graduate degree in business will be a big help to you, Isaias.”
Isaias agreed with his mother. “I was just thinking the same thing.”
Not wanting to give up her own son’s birthright for any reason, Whitney was fighting. “Aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves here?”
Isaias cocked his head sideways and asked, “What do you mean?”
“We don’t know if Jason is your blood for sure, and you’re already letting him in the family business?”
Certain that he was who he said he was, he had to get Whitney to relax. “Calm down woman. Whether Jason is my son or not, he has skills that I look for in my employees. So yes, mother is right. He can help me. I haven’t nor will I take away Justice’s birthright.
“Just as long as we’re clear on that.”
“Maybe I should go,” Jason added. “I didn’t mean to cause any problems.”
Whitney realized that she was being a bitch, and taking her anger out on the wrong person. “No Jason. I’m sorry. I’m taking all of my anger out on you, and that’s not fair.”
Just then, a voice from the past entered the library. They looked up, surprised to see Victoria standing in the doorway.”
“Mother,” Jason said, worried. “Why aren’t you still in the hospital?”
“I’m fine son. I couldn’t stay away. I had to come.”
Isaias’ joy at finally finding out Jason was truly his son, was dampened by the sight of Jason’s mother. “Victoria, this is a surprise.”
“You used to call me Vic.”
“That was a long time ago.”
“Humph. Well I missed the funeral, but I went to the gravesite to pay my respects, and to tell Owen that I was sorry. I regret not being able to tell him that in person.”
Hating her on sight, Whitney said, “It’s been eighteen years, Victoria. Why didn’t you at least try to contact him?”
“I couldn’t. You all hated me then, and you probably still do now. I’m only here to prove one thing. Jason Tyler is your son, Isaias. I have my marriage certificate with me, and I’m prepared to take a blood test today.”
“Victoria dear, it’s not necessary,” Charlotte said.
“Yes Charlotte, it is. Even though deep down you felt Jason was your grandson, you didn’t really believe it. Isaias also felt it, but he didn’t believe it either. There is only one true non-believer among you. And it was that one person that took away my son’s birthright.”
Knowing exactly whom Victoria was talking about, Whitney spoke up. “He didn’t need Isaias’ money. He had yours.”
Victoria nodded. “That’s right he did. But someone was hell bent on sabotaging my life. That ruined any chance for Jason. Jason was a child. He had the right to a childhood like the one I had. But you, Whitney, took that from him.”
Isaias knew he’d better step up to the plate and defend his wife, or there would be hell to pay later. “Victoria, I will not have you coming in my house accusing Whitney of something that she had no control over.”
“She didn’t plot and scheme to break the two of us up, you did.”
Charlotte added, “Don’t forget son. I had a part in it as well.”
Not forgetting how Charlotte also stabbed her in the back. “Yes you did.”
Frederick realized that his fourteen-year-old grandson was in the room listening to very adult conversation. “Come on Justice. Why don’t we go play a video game or something?”
“Oh come on, papa, it’s just getting to the good part. Do I have to play now?”
Isaias turned to his son. “Go with your papa, Justice.”
Justice clicked his teeth. “Yes sir.”
They waited for them to be out of earshot before they continued.
“So Victoria, what is it that you want?” Charlotte asked.
“I only want my son to have what he is entitled to.”
Whitney shook her head. “He is entitled to nothing.”
Isaias took a risk and corrected his wife. “Whitney, if he is my son, yes he is.”
“So Justice has to share his inheritance now.”
Jason waved his hands in front of him, sorry now for even showing up. “Wait, please don’t fight. If this is going to cause you all to bicker over something that happened so long ago, it’s not worth it. I don’t need anyone’s money. What I do need in my life is a father. That’s all I want, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
The room went silent.
“Are you sure?” Isaias asked.
“Yes. I’m sure.”
“Okay. I want to speak to Victoria alone if you all don’t mind. Will you please excuse us?”
Everyone but Victoria left the room.
Isaias began to pace. Anger seethed from his pores. “How dare you show up after all this time and put that boy in my face again.”
“It wasn’t me, it was him.”
“Why now Victoria?”
“Owen’s death was the only reason for me to even come back here. The two of you may have abandoned my friendship all those years ago, but I never gave up hope that one day we’d be friends again.”
Angry with her for giving up. “So you wait until he’s dead to try and make up with us?”
“I don’t know why I waited this long. You’re right it should have been a lot sooner. But I just couldn’t face the fact that you still might hate me.”
Isaias thought back to the pain of his youth. He remembered when she told him goodbye. “You’re absolutely right. I don’t like you right now, and there’s only one reason for it. You didn’t fight. If you knew all along that Jason was my son, why didn’t you fight? Why did you tell Heath that Jason was his son, and you knew damn well that he wasn’t? None of this would have taken place had you just told me the truth in the first place!” Isaias shouted.
“I didn’t want to hold-”
“Bullshit!” Isaias yelled. “That right there is a lie and you know it! Truth of the matter is you didn’t want me to lose my inheritance. You thought that if I didn’t finish school, I would lose everything.”
“That’s what your mother said.”
“She failed to tell you that it didn’t matter when I finished school. So yes Victoria, you could have told me the truth years ago, and we would probably be together right now. It’s too late for that though isn’t it?
“I’m happily married to Whitney, and I have a fourteen year old son I named Justice. I named him Justice, as my way of saying to you, that you got what you deserved. He’s named that because he is my retribution to the world. I love them so much, that I would gladly die for them in an instant. So if you are coming here looking for forgiveness now, it’s too late. It’s too fucking late!”
Victoria watched as Isaias paced the room. She remained calm, because she was determined to get her way. “What’s the matter Isaias? Feeling guilty? I told you that it wasn’t me who wanted to tell you, it was Jason. I explained to him everything that went on all those years ago, but he didn’t care. He only wanted to find out if his real father could possibly love him.”
“Didn’t Heath love him? After all, he thought Jason was his son.”
Victoria took it upon herself to sit down. “After we moved away and Jason started growing up, he started to have doubts.”
“Doubts? Doubts about what?”
“Because Jason started to look more like you everyday. So he forced me to have a blood test done. My blood type is O negative. Heath’s was AB positive. Jason is O negative. There is no way he could be his son. There is only one other man in the world that could be his father, and that man is you. So if things weren’t already bad, they got worse. Heath started drinking more than usual, and well he hit me sometimes.”
Knowing he’d never do anything like that himself, Isaias was surprised. “What?”
“Yeah. But he never hit Jason. He knew Jason wasn’t his, but he couldn’t help but love him anyway. He took out his anger on me.”
“Jason said that when Heath was killed it destroyed you.”
“No. That is what Jason saw, but in truth, I was elated. But I couldn’t let Jason see that. So when he saw me crying, it was because I cheated him out of getting to know his real father. At that time, Jason was still too young to understand. So when he turned sixteen, I told him the whole story. He told me that one day he would come to you and tell you the truth, and hoped that you would believe him. In the meantime, he worked hard in school and managed to get a scholarship to Sanford Brown. Now he’s on his way to graduate school. He did all of this just for you Isaias. He wanted his real father to be proud of him and accept him.”
“I’m sorry that you had to go through that, Victoria.”
Victoria stood. “I’ll be staying with my brother if you want to contact me.”
Victoria left the house, and everyone returned to the library. Isaias’ back was to everyone when they entered the room. He looked over his shoulder and said, “Monday morning we’re going to the hospital to have blood tests done. Whitney, I’m only doing this to make you happy. But from what Victoria has just told me, Jason is definitely my son.”
“What did she say?” Whitney asked.
Isaias turned and faced Jason. “Jason, what is your blood type?”
Isaias looked at his wife. “Whitney you know that mine is O negative as well.”
“Yes. But Heath could be O negative as too.”
“He wasn’t. AB positive.”
“I will do no such thing. Her marriage certificate has his blood type on it. I however will not trust her word or her copy of the certificate. I will go down and get one myself.”
“Isaias let me do that for you honey. You’ve been through enough,” his mother suggested.
“No mother. I have a better idea. Whitney, you go get the copy. That way you will have no doubts in your mind at all when we get the blood tests done on Monday. Whitney, get down to vital records before they close. Jason, you go with her.”
Not wanting to believe something she thought she’d put to bed almost twenty years prior, suddenly woke up, Whitney asked. “What happens if Jason isn’t your son?”
“We go on with life the way we always have. However if he is, we will have some adjustments to make. Now get going.”
Whitney turned and left without a word. Jason followed behind her.
Charlotte walked to her son and put her hand on his shoulder. “Isaias, I’m sorry.”
“No mother it’s okay. I know Jason is my son. Hell he looks just like me. I fussed at Victoria about not fighting harder for me. If she had told me the truth, there is a possibility that I would be married to her right now. I wouldn’t have known Whitney, and Justice wouldn’t exist.”
“Are you having regrets?”
“No mother, nothing like that. I’m glad she didn’t tell me. I know that Whitney and I were destined to be together. Even though I’m a rich white boy, and she’s a black woman from the streets of Philly. If we weren’t supposed to be together, we wouldn’t have stayed married so long. You know, I loved Victoria, but she hurt me. Mother she really hurt me.”
“Everything happens for a reason, son.”
“But just think of what I missed out on because she didn’t tell me.”
“You have that with Justice.”
“I know, but it would’ve been different.” Caught up in the moment, Isaias went to the phone. “You know I think I’ll call Owen and-”
Isaias stopped, closed his eyes, and lowered his head. The tears began to roll down his face. He looked up at his mother.
“I can’t do that can I?”
Shaking her head. “No baby you can’t.”
“Why just him mother? Why not both of us? Why him at all? It’s not fair. It’s not fair!” Isaias yelled, tears running down his face.
Charlotte sighed. “You will see him again son. You will. I promise. Owen is in heaven waiting on you. I’m sure he misses you too.”
Unable to cope, “I’m going for a drive. Call me when Whitney and Jason get back.”
Two hours later, Jason and Whitney returned with the certificate. Whitney knew now that what Victoria said was the truth. If Isaias and Jason both have O negative blood, there was no way that Heath was his father.
Charlotte looked at her daughter in law and asked, “Well?”
Defeated, “No need to go on with the blood test. I believe her.”
“Where’s Isaias?” Jason asked.
“He went for a drive. I’ll call him and let him know you’re back.”
Isaias returned to the house, and walked in still slightly upset about the loss of his other half. But he was anxious to hear the news.
“So what’s the verdict?”
Whitney hung her head, ashamed at her behavior. “Honey, no need to do a blood test. I believe her. But please promise me that I won’t have to be around Victoria for the rest of my life.”
Charlotte walked up to Jason and gave him a hug. She smiled at him, happy to have him back where he belonged, and left the room without anything to say.
Whitney, so desperately wanting to make up with Isaias for her actions, shot him a look to apologize, and left the room behind Charlotte.
Isaias walked up to his son and placed his hand on his shoulder.
“Welcome home, son.”
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Kayresia A. BassWrite a Review