About a week after the very public fight, everyone has finally left New York and returned back home. Betty, Jen, Raymond, and Max have all gone back home. Thank the ever-living God. Along with my grandparents. Luckily, Ryann felt well enough for us to have dinner with them before they left. And it felt like, even for a small second, that everything was back to a somewhat normal life.
Even Val has flown back to Cali with Heather and Jonathan to visit her mother.
According to Val, her mom was starting to get a little worried I was holding her daughter against her will. I wouldn’t put it past Mrs. Knox to send out a damn tactical team to storm the condo to retrieve her daughter. And I’m sure the minor scuffle I got into with Ryann’s family didn’t help matters either. The press was having a field day and running with any title that would make them money.
Val ended up releasing a statement to the press and the public in hopes we could all get some sort of privacy back. I tried to get her to release something along the lines of, fuck off and mind your own damn business, but clearly, I didn’t get my way.
No, instead, she released a very mundane statement that would have made Pearl rethink her career choice. Because with Pearl, she would have written out some nonsensical long-haul statement that gave too much information to the press.
But with Val, the release read as: At this time, we are cooperating with the authorities. Unfortunately, we cannot provide a comment due to the ongoing investigations.
And at this time, there are no ongoing investigations. Well, not in New York, at least. Max dropped all charges only to be greeted with charges in Indiana. He hasn’t been arrested yet, but from what I’ve heard, his first court date is later this month, and it’s not looking good for him.
I’d also like to say Ryann is now talking to her mom and sister since the incident, but I’d be lying. No amount of persuasion from Teresa or me can get Ryann to pick up the phone to talk to her mom or sister. It’s gotten to the point I’m now talking to Betty or Jen as they call for any updates. A part of me is glad Ryann is finally doing something for herself and taking a stand. But the pain and anguish in Betty’s voice, it’s painful to hear a mother wondering what she did to make her daughter give her the silent treatment.
And I don’t think that is Ryann’s intention. I feel like Ryann is scared, though she’ll never admit it. I feel like ever since she screamed our secret out at Max, knowing that her family knows when she wasn’t fully ready to share yet, I think that is what scares her. And I believe that reason is the main cause of her hiding from them. Well, that’s at least her therapist’s conclusion, which went over swimmingly with Ryann.
Looking up from my laptop, I find Ryann laying on the couch in the office with a book held over her face as she reads. A twisted part of me can’t help but laugh out at the thought of the book slipping from her hold. Something that would have happened to me the moment I laid down.
Ryann shifts, her neck craning back to look at me as she lays the book across her chest. “What’s up?”
Shaking my head slightly, “Nothin’. Just wondering how your book is going?”
I watch Ryann’s eyes dart to the cover of the book before closing it and sitting up. “Ehh, could use a little romance.”
I can’t help but chuckle, “You think? Are you trying to hint at something?”
A tiny smile slowly forms across her lips, “Nope, you romance the pants off me every single day.”
Getting to my feet, I watch Ryann squirm in her seat before extending my hand for her to take, “Come on.”
Eyeing me, “Why? Where are we going?”
“It’s a surprise.”
“Do I need to change?”
Ryann could wear a towel, although she wouldn’t make it two steps outside, and she’d still be the best dress in any room.
Pulling her to her feet, I twirl her and listen to the joyous giggles that leave her lips. Then, placing a soft kiss to her lips, “No, you look absolutely beautiful.” Giving me her famous disbelieving look, Ryann looks down the front of her lilac top, which twists into a braided knot at the side and her tight black leggings. “Like I said, beautiful,” I whisper before suddenly sweeping her off her feet.
“Thomas,” she giggles out. “Put me down.”
Walking down the hall and into the living room with her in my arms, Travis is already waiting for us. Ready to escort us to the roof. “Nope.”
“Will you tell me where you’re taking me? I don’t even have my shoes on.”
Chuckling, “You don’t need shoes.”
Wrapping her arms around the nape of my neck, “Hmm, so we aren’t going far?”
“Maybe,” I smirk as we step onto the elevator. Ryann attempts to strain her neck to see the floor Travis just hit, but my fingers dig into the underside of her thigh, causing her to squeal out with laughter.
I catch a slight head shake and chuckle from Travis as he stands in front of us as we patiently wait for the elevator doors to open. But, I will say, it feels like the tension went with the first punch ever since the showdown went down. I don’t feel as wound up, and Travis looks more visibly relaxed. But it feels like the added detail, well, I don’t think it will be needed much longer.
With the sound of the ding, I place Ryann to her feet only to cover her eyes with my hands, “Thomas!” She laughs out. “What are you up to? I know you’re not proposing.”
Well, no. Though, I could propose again and again to her with ease. But I think this surprise, it will....well, Ryann hasn’t sung since the accident. I haven’t heard her once. Not even when she’s sitting alone in the alcove with her headphones in her ear. There is no humming: no soft singing, nothing. I’m worried with everything that has happened this past month, Ryann has decided to deny her talent once again.
Walking out onto the roof, I guide her over to a little area laid out with a patio carpet. Sitting her down on the bench, I lean into her, my lips touching her earlobe. “Keep your eyes closed.”
Removing my hands, I slowly take a seat next to her, in front of the keyboard I was able to borrow, thanks to my grandpa. Unlike me, he’s excellent at keeping in touch with family and placed a call to my cousin. I also repaid the generous borrow with tickets to the New York premiere for Behind Closed Doors. Apparently, they’ve been fans since the beginning. Who knew.
Or maybe I should keep in contact with my extended family a little better. At least, my mom’s side. They’ve always been loving and caring towards me. I was the one who made the decision to essentially cut them out in a sense.
“Okay, open them.” I’m nervous. Super nervous for her to see this setup.
I watch Ryann closely as her eyes widen, and her hands start to twist within themselves before she begins to spin her rings. The easy conclusion would be that I set this up to play for her, but I can tell by the slightly uneasy look in her eyes, she knows I brought her out to sing.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want.” Taking her hand, I place a kiss to the top. “I haven’t heard your voice since before the night of the accident. Not even in private.”
Playing with her necklace, her head drops down as she looks down at Sloane’s name. “I can’t.”
Urging her to look at me, “Babydoll, if I can play, you can sing.”
Her lip twerks slightly before it falls into a frown again. The charms of her necklace, resting against her fingers as she continues to look down at it. Taking my hand from her hold, I flex my fingers before placing them over the keys, and an old familiar melody rings out into the city air. A song I haven’t played in almost fifteen years, and lyrics I haven’t heard in nearly sixteen.
I feel Ryann lean into my side, her head resting on my arm, and I can still make out her holding the charms of her necklace.
Here comes the sun, do, do do
Here comes the sun
And I say, it’s all right
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
My mom used to always sing me this song when I was sick or having a bad day. She would tell me The Beatles created magic within the words of their songs. Mom also taught me how to play most of their music on the piano, and she’d sing along each and every time while I played. Never faltering even if I pressed the wrong key.
Feeling Ryann sit up, I find her hazel eyes wide with astonishment. I may have left out that even though I don’t sing, I can sing. I honestly can’t remember the last time I did sing. It would’ve had to of been before Mom passed. But like Ryann, I enjoyed playing and singing with Mom, and when she died, I stopped. It felt like I couldn’t enjoy the things I once did without Mom beside me. It felt all wrong.
But I don’t want Ryann to lock away her talent again. She sings to express herself when she’s not sure how. When she doesn’t talk to me, she will sing, and I can tell by her singing what she was feeling and how to help her.
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Then my heart swells and flips when I hear harmonization with my voice, and Ryann is singing with me. I can’t help but smile as her voice becomes a strong breathy, angelic tone that can engulf you in a ray of warm light and make you feel her love, heart, and soul.
Slowly, I back off until it’s only Ryann singing. She’s lost in the word’s of the song, adding in her own twist to the words and the melody. And I know, if my mom were still alive, she’d love this version even more. Mom would be sitting next to Ryann and singing with her. If my mom were alive, she’d be beside us every step we take on this journey of healing.
But even though she’s not here, I can still feel her around me...around us.
Playing the song’s last notes, Ryann leans into me, and I immediately wrap an arm around her and place a kiss to the side of her head.
“I didn’t know you sing.” She says softly.
Smiling, “You brought it out of me again, babydoll.”
“Thank you,” Ryann says softly as she hits a key on the keyboard.
Placing a kiss to the side of her head, “Babydoll, you don’t have to thank me.” I watch Ryann press down the C key before doing a glissando. “Do you wanna learn?”
“I tried once before; I don’t have the right coordination.” Whoever told her that wasn’t a good teacher.
“You didn’t have the right teacher to teach you.” Taking her hand, I space out her fingers to line up with the correct keys, “Something simple.”
“Okay!” I can hear the enjoyment and hope returning to her voice.
I can hear Ryann. My Ryann finally returning back to me.