“Betty, you need to understand that Ryann feels attacked. She feels victimized all over again. Raymond should not be in New York........well, I know you didn’t.......No, Ryann doesn’t think you had anything to do with Ray showing up........Betty, I’m not sure what you want me to say.”
Leaning against the door frame of the spare bedroom, I easily eavesdrop on the conversation. After defiling Alex’s desk, Ryann and I sneaked back into our bedroom for a second round. Only to be woken by Teresa....well, me. Ryann is still passed out, snoring. I swear, that woman could sleep through an earthquake.
But now, I can’t walk away. Teresa is sitting on the bed facing the window that looks out to the Hudson River. I can’t see her face, but her tone is aggravated as she talks with Ryann’s mom. Though, I’m not sure who called who. From the sounds of it, Betty doesn’t seem to know that Teresa is in New York and at the condo. From the sounds of it, Teresa is playing it off that she’s only talked with Ryann by phone.
“No, I didn’t know.......If I knew, do you think Max would still be alive? Wait.....she had a what?” Knocking on the side of the door frame, Teresa swivels her head to look at me. Creepily, she somehow manages to turn her head like an owl and waves me in. “You can’t force Ry to talk if she doesn’t want to. You, of all people, know that. She’ll talk when she’s ready.....Well, she was probably pissed.......No, no, do not do that. If she feels like you are attacking her, she’ll shut down. After what happened today, you’re going to be lucky if she leaves the condo. Hell, if I were Thomas, I keep her locked away until Max is out of the damn state.....Can you blame him? Erm....well, no, I haven’t met him.......”
Hmm....if Teresa is this convincing of a liar, I wonder what else she’s lied about. Or the secrets she’s keeping for Ryann and hiding from Betty.
“Wait, please don’t tell me you’re visiting him?” There is a long pause as I watch Teresa stare out of the window, “Jen broke her hand?” She looks to me, and all I manage to do is shrug a shoulder. I was wondering if she did something to her hand after that punch. “Well, can you blame her? Did he at least sign the papers?”
Bored with the one-way phone conversation, I pull my phone from my pocket and see a slew of missed calls from my grandma and a few texts from Grandpa asking if everything is alright. Shit, I should have called them this morning to let them know everything is ok. Not to mention, we’re supposed to meet them tomorrow for dinner before they fly back out to Cali. Grandma is so excited to get back to Tennessee that she’s ready to start packing.
Hmm....maybe we can have dinner here at the condo instead. Hopefully, Ryann will be up for visitors. Urgh, probably not. If she is, I’m gonna have to set strict ground rules. Give them a list of what they can and can’t ask. Although with my grandma, she’ll just crumple up the rules and throw them out. She’ll do whatever she wants because she’s set in her ways.
Deciding a text message will suffice for now:
I’m fine.....Ryann is ok. I’ll talk to her about dinner tomorrow and get back with you guys. Is there anything you guys want to do today?”
Hitting send, my attention is drawn back to Teresa’s one-sided conversation. “Betty, I can’t tell you that, and you know it. If I betrayed Ryann’s trust, she won’t come to me when she needs to. I warned you from the beginning. Unless I believe Ry’s life is in danger, will I break our confidentiality.....Ya, well, I warned you I didn’t trust Max.”
I’m sorry, what? My glare is burning a hole into Teresa’s shoulder. So much so it causes her to turn my way slowly. And by the look on her face, she’s not amused by my annoyance.
“Betty, maybe you should talk to a therapist or someone when you get home. It might do you and Jen good. I’d say take Raymond with you, but I think that’s a lost cause........When are you flying back home?....... Try calling Thomas if she doesn’t answer, but Betty, I can’t guarantee Ryann will want to see you off. She’s gonna need her space, and we all know how long that can take.....Ray may not be there. But she may not be ready to face her family after admitting to having a miscarriage. She kept it a secret for a reason. Just like she kept hers and Thomas’s relationship a secret.”
Rolling my eyes, I look down at my phone to see Grandpa has replied.
She wanted to see a show on Broadway, but unfortunately, they’re sold out.
Smiling, I can change that.
Send me the show you want to see, and I’ll make arrangements for you guys. Don’t tell Grandma. This can be her early birthday present.
Five months early. But I owe her so much more than prime sitting at whatever show she’s wanting to see. As soon as my grandpa replies back to me, I send a text off to Val to see if she can make arrangements for my grandparents. Car, tickets, and dinner. All expenses paid. Which means I’ll get an ear full from Grandma like usual. She hates it when I spend any type of money on them.
“So, Thomas,” My attention is immediately snapped to Teresa, who is off the phone and sitting on the bed studying me. Her two-toned grey hair is now piled high on top of her head. Some of the strands spilling out from her bun. “How long were you and Ryann expecting?”
Arching a brow at her daring question, “Didn’t Ryann tell you?”
“No, not exactly.”
Rolling my neck from side to side, “And why should I tell you an aspect of our private lives?”
“You called me remembered?”
Eyeing her, “I called you to help Ryann. I didn’t know Max and the whole shit show with her father was going to go down yesterday. If I did, we wouldn’t have been out in public.”
Teresa slowly cocks her head to the side, “Well, according to Betty, Ryann didn’t even know.” How the fuck would she know that information. No one in her family knew about Sloane. They still don’t. The Andersons have no clue we gave our baby a name. “That you two didn’t find out until after the miscarriage.” And she can stop addressing Sloane as a fucking miscarriage anytime now. “Is that true? Or are the rumor mills incorrect?”
Leaning against the dresser, I cross my arms. Not interested in answering Teresa in the slightest bit.
Teresa sighs, “I’m sorry,” She finally says. “You have to understand that all of this information is heavy for all of us.”
“Heavy for you? You aren’t the ones going through it.”
“Aren’t we, though? Everyone who is in your family and circle of friends they’re grieving. All carrying that weight you feel.” I can’t help but scoff at her bold statement. “You disagree?”
I disagree they feel the same weighted grief that Ryann and I are feeling. I disagree that they are carrying the same weight as us. In the end, it is us who lost our child. We go on in life wondering if things could have been different and knowing we could have been parents. Our grief is different than those around us.
“Have you ever lost a child?”
Teresa shakes her head, “No, I haven’t. Ryann is the closest thing I have to a daughter.”
“Then you don’t understand what we’re going through. You may feel grief, but it’s not the same.”
Teresa hums, “Maybe, maybe not.” She pauses for a moment, bringing her lip between her teeth before releasing it. “Has it ever crossed your mind that someone within your inner circle could have also had a miscarriage and knows what you’re going through?”
My eyes narrow. “And you know this how?”
She shakes her head, “Again, I don’t. But I have my suspicions.”
“And you’re not going to tell me?” Again she shakes her head, “And then what’s the point of this conversation?”
She shrugs her shoulders, frustrating the hell out of me. “You tell me? You’re the one standing in the bedroom and eavesdropping on my phone call.”
“What did you mean you warned Betty?”
“Never said warned. I told her I didn’t trust him and does it really matter?” The challenging tone is a defiant one, reminding me of Ryann.
“Considering everything that has happened, yes it does.”
I watch Teresa’s shoulders rise as she sits up straight before slouching forward, “Are we just going to play this asshole game of stubbornness?” Considering I feel like we’re more alike than what meets the eye, and unless one of us caves first, which won’t be me. Yes, we are. “I suspected Max was a two-faced liar about a year into Ryann using. It wasn’t until I got a call from Betty about Ryann overdosing that I had my suspicions confirmed. I overheard Max on the phone with, who I’m assuming was Jamie. He was giving him an update on her condition.”
“And you didn’t call him out on it?”
“Ohh, no, I did. He covered his ass and told me he was talking to a mutual friend. Someone named Kevin. Anyway, I didn’t believe him and demanded that he showed me his phone. And in the recent calls, was a Kevin. Several missed and incoming calls by this Kevin guy. Max probably changed Jamie’s info to cover his damn ass. Anyway, I warned Betty what I suspected at that point. And I had been warning Ryann to be very leery of Max before that point. But you know Ry, she’s very stubborn at times.”
Ha, ain’t that the truth. Once Ryann’s mind is made up, it’s made up. I can only imagine the racing thoughts and conflicting decisions a teenage Ryann thought she needed to make, to make her life easier. So many fucking people coming at her from every damn direction. Each one demanding something different from her. No wonder she turned to drugs to escape. If only she could have seen where that decision would have taken her.
We all make mistakes in our lives, and Ryann has found the courage to own up to her mistakes. To get clean and stay sober and to live a life she wants. Ryann is not the same person she was all those years ago, and I can’t help but keep falling in love over and over again as I watch her continue to grow into an even stronger woman.
Running a hand through my hair, with Teresa sharing, I guess it’s my turn. “I didn’t learn of Sloane until after the accident. And when the doctor gave me the news, it felt like my heart was ripped out of my chest. I thought for sure Ryann had no clue that this would be news to her too. Only......” I pause, closing my eyes as the flashback of Val in the hospital breaking the news to me that Ryann suspected. “Only, Ryann suspected. She was going to sneak off to Val’s room to take a test.”
“Oh, dear God. Thomas, I’m so sorry.”
Giving her a tight smile, “I’m not sure what’s worst. Hearing the news that you lost a child or having to break the news to the woman who deserves everything she wants in life and watching her heart shattered.”
I watch Teresa’s eyes light up, “You really do love her, don’t you?”
Again, I eye her. “If it’s not obvious. I’m not sure what else I can do....”
Teresa shakes her head, “No, I’m just still shocked. That’s all. I mean, I’ve heard stories about you, Thomas. And I’m not talking about media reports. But stories from friends in the area. Playboy alcoholic only looking for a quick fuck. I wasn’t worried about Ryann taking the job with you. I knew she’d tell you off. And either she’d stay on, or she’d get fired within the first forty days.” I think Ryann made it to the sixty-day mark before Pearl tried to fire her. “But I wanted her out of Indiana and as far away from Max and Raymond as possible. But what I didn’t count on was for her to fall in love with you.”
And neither did I.
“If I would have known.....”
Cutting her off, “What? That I was the man in the alleyway, you wouldn’t have set Ryann up with the job?”
Teresa shrugs a shoulder, “More or less.”
“Why?” Because I don’t understand why she was fine with Ryann having employment with me but not falling in love with me. Teresa’s eyes turn into a soft greyish color as I watch her chew on her lip. Growing impatient, “Were you working against our relationship from the start?” Maybe calling Teresa here was a mistake. The last thing I want or need is someone who is going to sabotage our relationship.
“Tell him,” Ryann’s soft voice draws our attention to the doorway. Ryann’s hair is now piled high onto the top of her head, and she’s in flowy cotton black shorts and a teal tank top. “Tell him why Teresa.”
Teresa lets out a deep sigh, “Because I didn’t want Ry to fall in love with another addict. It didn’t work out for me, and I didn’t want the same fate for her.” Ryann walks up to me, wrapping her arms around my waist. My arms immediately wrap around her as I feel this overwhelming and welcoming calming take hold of my body. “But I was wrong. And wipe that smile off your face, Ryann Marie.”
This must not be something Teresa openly admits. And it’s clear by the mom look on Teresa’s face, Ryann is finding way too much enjoyment out of this, “I don’t think I heard you? Can you say that one more time?”
Teresa rolls her eyes, “Anyway, like I was saying. I’m happy that she never listens to me.”
Ryann giggles before pulling out my hold and jumps onto the bed, colliding into Teresa’s side. “I listen when I need to.”
I can’t help my smile at the sight of these two together. Ryann loves her mom, and I know their bond is thick, but Ryann’s relationship is different with Teresa. It’s like a relationship every mother could dream of because Teresa is a friend, a mother, and a confidant. She’s everything to Ryann.
And even though we’ve had some shit luck with the people in our lives, this, this right here is what I love to see. Ryann laughing and enjoying the loved ones in her life.