“Really, Raymond? You’ve really stepped in it this time.” Betty hisses with venom as she runs out of the living room after Travis and Ryann.
I can’t believe this fucker. There is no attachment because we didn’t know Ryann was pregnant. I thought at one point, there may have been hope for Raymond. I thought maybe because he wanted to come out to New York….that he did show up in New York, he wanted to reconnect. To own up and be the father Ryann deserves.
But I was way off fucking base with that theory.
Staring in complete and total numbness, I can’t even possibly fathom what in the hell is going through Raymond’s mind for him to say such hurtful and hateful things. Ryann knew that this could turn ugly, but I don’t think either one of us were mentally prepared for Sloane to be thrown in the mix. I knew Raymond liked to use low blows to win arguments but throwing the miscarriage in our face is…..un-fucking-human.
Getting to my feet, I’m not even sure what more I can say without murdering a certain person. Fucking hell, my head already hurts, and I can feel my veins throbbing. I’m not sure seeing Max in jail today is a wise decision after this disaster. And I’m unsure how to tell Ryann we should forgo the meetup without a fight ensuing. Running a hand through my hair, I find myself stopped in the archway of the living room, looking into the tiny kitchen towards the back door. Hoping by some miracle, Ryann will be standing on the other side of the glass panel.
But she nor Travis are insight.
Turning to face Raymond, his head collapsed in his hands with the realization that he’s lost his daughter completely. I remember Teresa saying Raymond is old fashion. That he doesn’t know the words, I’m sorry or admit fault. But this….this was just pure hatred and loathing and verbal abuse.
Finding my voice, “I love your daughter.” The confidence and assurance in my voice causes Raymond to look up from his hands. “I would never do anything to hurt her. What she’s endured is more than what most people can handle in a lifetime. And us losing our child…..” I have to force myself to pause and swallow the sudden lump forming in my throat. My mind immediately traces back to Ryann shielding her tears moments ago – to pure horror of devastation, anguish, and loss on her face when I had to break the news to her. “Our hearts broke that day, and you…….” I spit the last words between my teeth, “daring to say we have no right to be attached or calling our child a condition is inhuman.”
Raymond gets to his feet, ready to square off, “You’ve no right to come into my house and…..”
Storming up to him, we’re nose to nose, and my hands are clenched into fists at my side, “I’m not done!” I bellow. “You’ll shut up and listen to what I have to say. I will say my peace, and I’ll leave.” Taking a deep breath in in an attempt to calm myself, I take a few steps back and catch Jen moving closer to us. I’m sure she doesn’t want to witness her father getting punched for the second time. “Do you have any idea what the fuck Ryann has been through? Her goal has always been to make you proud of her, and you just continue to deliver blows to keep her pinned. Ryann is not the same woman who left Indiana. She’s stronger, she’s wiser, and she sure as hell doesn’t deserve a father like you. But Ryann is lucky because after all of her years of enduring a shit dad, she’s found someone supportive and loves her like a daughter. How a daughter should be treated by her father.”
And he knows exactly who has taken on the role he so desperately failed in.
“You will not contact Ryann. The only way you’ll have any part of her life is if she allows it. And if you’re the praying type. I suggest you start praying.”
Feeling my phone vibrate in my pocket, I take it as a sign that my time here is up and head out of the house through the kitchen and the back door. Spilling out onto the shaded back deck, I take a seat on the top step and look out onto the property’s backyard. The backyard has to be an acre or two of land. There is an old large red wooden barn near the tree line, the door wide open revealing an old fashion tractor. My guess is that is where Raymond was before Betty called him into the house.
Looking over the land, I realize I’m alone. I don’t see Ryann, Travis, or Betty, and I have no clue where the hell they could be.
Hearing the back door closing, I’m waiting for a blow to be delivered to the back of my head for disrespecting the house of Anderson. Instead, I see Jen take a seat beside me. Her blonde hair pulled up now and into a twisted bun.
“I’m sorry about our father.”
Keeping my eyes locked on the tree line in the distance, I’m not really sure what I’m waiting to happen. Maybe for a magical elf to come dancing out of the small clearing. Something to ease the mood and give me some sort of clue where Ryann is.
“I don’t want your apology for him.” Turning my head towards her, “Ryann didn’t deserve what he said. He doesn’t know us. We loved our child. Sloane’s loss still hurts to this day.”
Jen gives me a tight small smile, “I’m really sorry too. I couldn’t imagine.”
“No, no, you couldn’t.”
Turning my attention back to the tree line, my hand rests over my bracelet as we sit in silence. Each minute that passes, I can slowly feel the tension easing in my body, but I know it won’t fully ease until we’re far, far away from this place.
“Dad doesn’t know how to admit he’s wrong,” Jen suddenly says. “He’s always been this way.”
Slowly, I turn my head towards her and make contact with sad, dark blue eyes. But I’m not interested in giving my pity to her or her reasons behind her father’s behavior. “And you’re what? Expecting my sympathy for his shit behavior? You’re lucky Travis didn’t deck him again.” Because this time, there would be no one holding him back.
Twisting her lips to the side, I watch her stare off into the distance and away from my cold glare. “I told Dad everything. What happened to Ryann in High School, that she covered for me and took the blame for shit she didn’t do when she didn’t have to. I even set up a meeting with Benji for him, so Benji could talk to him too. But he never showed. I don’t know why either. He wouldn’t tell me when I asked. But I think part of it is because he’s ashamed. Embarrassed.”
Rolling my eyes, “Well, he just lost his daughter completely.”
“Do you really think Ryann meant it?”
“Yes.” My voice comes across as cold and harsh. “She meant every damn word she said.”
Jen nods her head, “Her eyes were different this time.” I feel my brows furrow at her statement. “When she spoke to Dad. She normally looks scared and timid. But today, she was different. Does Teresa know?” I’m not really sure what Jen is asking. About us being here? Yes. “About Sloane?”
“Yes. I flew Teresa out to New York to help Ryann when she was having a hard time.”
“Of course you did,” Jen says slowly. “Ryann always confides in her with her deepest secrets.”
“It’s because she can trust her.”
“And she can’t trust Mom?” The pain behind Jen’s voice leads me to believe this has been a topic of discussion between the two. And I don’t really have an answer that neither one of them will like.
Rolling my neck, I get to my feet, done with this conversation and wanting to find Ryann. To hold her in my arms and give her the comfort she’s seeking.
But I have no idea where in the hell they went.
Stepping off the porch, I start walking towards the tree line. I’m not sure why but it seems like a good idea. I can hear the sound of soft footsteps scurrying after me, and suddenly there is a hand on my forearm, urging me to stop.
“I’m sorry. I know Ryann trusts Mom, and I know why she didn’t tell any of us. This is all……when Ryann was in that accident, we thought the worst was over. We never expected her to be……she was on birth control.”
“Ya, well, we rarely use condoms, and it failed. What more would you like to know? A basic sex ed on the birds and the bees?” I ask dryly.
Jen frowns, “No, I know how it works.” She says with offense. “What I mean is…….you guys will be great parents.”
Stopping in my tracks, I look at Jen, slightly surprised by her statement. I wasn’t expecting her to say anything along those lines. And quite honestly, with my assholeness, I was expecting us to go another round with the smart-ass remarks.
“Ryann will be a phenomenal mother. I didn’t exactly have the greatest father to look up to.”
I catch Jen twisting her lips off to the side before a tight smile graces her face. “Just because your father was one way doesn’t mean you’ll be the same way. I’m not going to lie and pretend I don’t know about the car accident.” She may think she knows the full details of the accident reported by the media, buts she doesn’t. “And I feel what I know may not be the full truth by the expression on your face. But what I do know is that I’ve never seen someone so protective over my sister. You care and love her in a way she’s never had. Unlike our dad, I do not care what your past was. All I care about is that you continue to treat my sister the way she deserves. And if you don’t, I’ll hunt you down.”
Is Jen giving me the boyfriend talk? I feel my lips twitch into small, “You’re giving me the warning talk?”
She shrugs a shoulder, “Someone has to. I don’t want my sister to have a repeat. And while I don’t think you will do anything to hurt her, I’ve given you my warning. And you have my approval.”
“Thanks?” It’s not like I needed hers or anyone’s approval. I got the only approval I wanted, and he’s currently with Ryann…..somewhere. “You do know I wasn’t seeking it.”
“I know. But I failed Ryann once. I’m not going to do it again.”
Jen jumps and lets out a little screech at the sound of twigs and branches breaking. Betty walks out of the clearing, brushing away leaves from her face and wiping her hands down the front of her jeans. She looks like a mama bear who’s about to go on a damn rampage, and a part of me is a little nervous her anger will be directed towards me.
Jen and I both watch her take long, determined strides towards us and the house. Her nostrils flaring with each step. “Shit, I’ve never seen Mom this pissed.” I’m not sure I even saw Betty this level of enrage in New York.
Marching directly up to me, “Did you punch my husband?” Betty demands.
Shaking my head, “No ma’am, I didn’t lay a damn finger on him.”
Betty looks to her daughter, “Jennifer, take Thomas to the pond.”
“Wha….Mom, what are you gonna do?”
“Do as you’re told, Jennifer Louise. NOW!”
Jen jumps at the drastic, sudden change in her mom’s voice and takes hold of my arm, pulling me towards the pond. I’m half tempted to put the brakes on and make sure Betty stays safe, but I can tell by the determined deminer that I’d easily be put in my place and sent out of the house if I followed her in.
Instead, I follow Jen into the woods and follow behind her on a small dirt path. I hope the pond is where Ryann is.