“Where are you going?” Pearl demands.
I really need to confiscate her keys to the house. She’s been making unexpected visits more. It doesn’t make sense for her to stop by at random times. Especially when she knows I’m home. And I know what’s she’s after. She’s not gonna find what she’s looking for when I’m home. Hell, she’s not going to find it even when I’m not home. I know what’s she’s after. She’s been after it since the car crash. I overheard her talking at my dad’s funeral that she was looking for it. That Helena, my mom, wanted her to have it.
I knew that statement was loaded. My mom didn’t like Pearl for more than one reason.
“Trip,” I’m packing only a carry-on bag. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in New York. My stomach is in knots with the aspect that she could turn me away. Tell me to go back home without her, and she wants nothing more to do with me. It would be a rejection that will devastate me. One I’ve never felt before.
Zipping up my bag, I set it on the bench in front of my bed, “New York. They have some press they want me to do for the movie.”
I watch her lips thin, “I don’t remember them....”
Interrupting her, “Valerie finalized it before she left. At my request. Guess it slipped through the cracks.”
“I see,” I watch her finger start to tap against her hip, “And what about Ryann?”
Freezing, “What about her?”
“Have you heard anything? Like when she could be back? Things are really starting to backlog, and we’re going to have to start looking at the bigger picture if she’s to not return. I can start sending out....”
I’m not going to entertain that idea, “Absolutely, not. I’m not replacing Ryann.” That’s not even up for debate, “She’ll be back.” Though, I’m not confident about that.
I talked to Andrew about the idea of me flying out to New York to try and bring Ryann back. He asked me the biggest question going through my own head, am I prepared if she doesn’t want to return?
No, no, I’m not. I’m not sure what I’ll do or how I’ll react if she decides to stay in New York. I’m not sure how to function or continue with my life if she’s not in it. It’s been five weeks almost six weeks now, and the ache is still there. I rub my chest every day, trying to ease the pain, but the only time the ache disappeared for a fraction of time was when I figured out where Ryann was. And then there was hope.
“I just think you may need to think of the long term. She may not return.” She says sweetly. Something she does when she wants her way, or she’ll think it will get me to back down.
It used to work. Now it doesn’t.
Glaring at Pearl, “And I told you, I’m not replacing Ryann. Hire a new assistant for yourself if you want. I’ll just rehire Val under me. And you know you’re not to be in my room.”
Pearl frowns but remains standing just inside the doorway of my bedroom. No one but Ryann has ever been in my bedroom. And no one but Ryann will ever be allowed into my bedroom. It’s my sanctuary, and I only want to share it with her.
“I know how to get to my grandson’s room,” I hear my grandma call from down the hall. I can only envision her swatting Travis away as he assists her. “Just take that to the kitchen. Now, where is Ryann?”
“Mrs. Becker, if I could have you wait for Thomas in the living room....”
“Maeve, Travis. How many times have I told you to call me Maeve?” Grandma queries.
I hear Travis laugh, “At least a thousand and one.”
Deciding Travis has entertained my grandmother long enough, I grab my bag from the bench and practically shove Pearl out of my room before closing the door behind me. I lead the way down the hall as Pearl hides behind me. I know she’s going to try and sneak her way out of the house without grandma making her. Grandma doesn’t care too much for Pearl and has no problem voicing it.
“Ahh, Tommy!” Grandma declares, “Am I catching you at a bad time?”
Shaking my head, “No, I have time before my flight takes off.” I tell her as she embraces me in a hug. I know she’s made Pearl, and I’m waiting for her to strike.
“You look good,” Grandma states as she holds me away to take a better look at me, “Don’t you think, Pearl?”
The clinking on the floor seizes, looking over my shoulder, I see Pearl slowly shrink on the spot as she tries and plastered on a fake smile to her face, “Why Maeve, he’s always looked good.”
If looks could kill, we’d be planning a funeral right now, “It’s Mrs. Becker to you.”
I catch a small chuckle from Travis as Pearl ends up showing her way out like a timid mouse. I’m kind of surprised to hear Travis express amusement while on the job. Normally, he’s emotionless and has a straight poker-face. What the hell was that?
“You okay there?”
He lets out a gruff cough as he attempts to recompose himself, “Sorry. I’ll take your bag out to the car. We’ll need to leave in forty if you want to be at the airport on time.”
“The airport? Where are you going this time, Tommy? Is Ryann going with you?” Grandma is always cheerful and all smiles when she asks about Ryann. It breaks my heart.
I can’t keep lying to her. I know she can sense something is wrong. I can tell by the worry behind her soft green eyes. She stopped by a week after I got back. I wasn’t exactly in the greatest of places. I couldn’t sleep, and I kept staring at liquor bottles. Trying to urge my body to chug the fucker so I could forget Ryann and move on. Only to stop the bottle half-way to my mouth. My thoughts swimming of Ryann. Her words filling my head. If she’d see me, she’d take the bottle and either dump it down the drain or smash it into a million pieces. There wouldn’t be an ounce of judgment in her eyes though, her words would be soft and meaningful until I say something insensitive and stupid to piss her off.
When wasn’t I trying to piss her off? To push her away from me.
“What’s wrong, darlin’?”
Looking at Grandma, I take her hands and guide her to the couch to sit. I’m not really sure how to tell her anything that has happened. Or what I’m feeling. I’m not even sure what I’m feeling, “Grandma, Ryann, she isn’t here.”
“Oh, did she go back home?” She questions.
Shaking my head, “No. Erm...Grandma, I fucked up.” She glares, that warning look of, do I need to wash your mouth out, “Sorry, I messed up.”
She sighs, “What did you do, Tommy?”
“Does this have anything to do with what happened in Georgia?” I knew it was only a matter of time before she saw the headlines.
She whacks my knee, hard. “I told you to straighten up and fly right, boy.”
Rubbing my knee, “I know. I’m sorry.”
“What did you do to that poor girl?”
Sighing, “Didn’t take care of her the way she deserves.” The shame is clear in my tone. I don’t have to elaborate any further.
“So, where are you really going then?”
“New York to go get her back,” I say on a whisper filled with so much hope.
Grandma pats my knees, “Well, Tommy. You better not let that one slip through again. She’s unique, and you’ll never find someone who will openly accept you. All of you.” She says with a smile, “I know she’s seen the bad. I know she’s brought the good in you out again too.” She cups my cheeks with her delicate hands, “I can see the old Tommy again.”
“I don’t know how to explain it. I feel like myself when I’m around her. Like she’s the light that I’ve needed all along. Does that make sense?” Because I’m barely understanding all of this myself.
Grandma smiles as she takes a hand, “Let me tell you somethin’ Thomas. When you lost your mom, our Helena in that crash. I knew a part of you went with her. I’ve been watching you move through the motions of the day for almost fifteen years now. Even findin’ a friend in alcohol.” My eyes nearly bug out of my sockets. I thought her and grandpa had no clue. I thought I hid it well. “Don’t give me that look. We may be old, Tommy. But we aren’t dumb.”
“Sorry,” Is all I can say. I don’t know what else to say.
She gives me a sad smile, “Certain aspects of your life haven’t been easy. And you haven’t surrounded yourself with lovely people exactly.” I can’t deny what she’s saying. But her words become encouraging, “Until Ryann came into your life. Somethin’ sparked again. Me and your grandpa started to see a change in you. And you know what?” She asks. I shake my head. Wondering where she’s going with this. “Helena would have loved her, and I think you know that.”
I can’t help but smile. Because I do know it. I know mom would have approved of Ryann the moment she walked through the door. The moment she told me I was acting like a toddle. The fact that Ryann is fearless even when she’s afraid. She doesn’t let it stop her from doing what is right. She doesn’t cave from pressure. Not from Dax, not from Pearl. This industry is filled with sharks and assholes. And Ryann stands above them all.
“I know mom would have loved her.”
“Now tell me, Tommy, what are ya doin’ different. To get Ryann back?” She asks, her expression stern and serious.
Taking a deep breath. I guess it’s now or never.