Unexpected Ties

Can't Run From The Past

Lucas had never been one to freak out when something went wrong. He was commonly seen as the voice of reason, the moral compass, amongst his friends. So why was he freaking out about this text? He frowned as he thought things over, walking up the stairs of his apartment building. He reread the message over and over again, becoming increasingly frustrated and confused each time.

U need to come home ASAP, the text had said. It's your father. His father? But... That didn't make any sense. He was still in Texas. It had been close to a year since he had seen his father, and that was just as well, because quite frankly he didn't want to see him.

Had he "forgotten" to pay child support again? Nah, it couldn't have been that. His mom wouldn't have called him home over something trivial like that. But then what was so important that she couldn't wait until he came home by himself? His mind raced. There were so many questions he wanted to ask, but so many answers he had to wait to get. Whatever this is, it's gotta be serious. Mama doesn't usually keep me from hanging out with -


His heart skipped a beat as the angelic voice of his crush reached his ears. He turned, and a pair of chocolate brown eyes met his.

"Wha- Riley?!" he blinked in confusion. "You scared me!" the sentence was almost ridiculous. There was nothing even remotely scary about the fifteen year old girl in front of him. He pushed the thought out of his head as she spoke.

"I just... wanted to know... if... if you were okay," she said in between gulps of air. Had she sprinted the entire way from the bakery? "You were acting kinda.. Not Lucas."

Lucas raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?" he tried not to smile. She genuinely cared about him. He could see it in her eyes. He wished he had the guts to ask her ou- Man, what are you thinking? Something serious is going on and you're wishing you could ask Riley out? Focus, Lucas!

"You never... you never..." Riley looked down shyly, her cheeks turning bright red. It was like she wanted to talk, but no words would leave her mouth. Honestly, it was adorable.

"Leave like that?" Lucas finished for her. "I know. There's... there's something wrong going on."

She looked at him with wide eyes. "What's going on? Is there anything I can help with?"

Lucas closed his eyes, shaking his head. Anything having to do with his father was something he wanted Riley to have nothing to do with. She was too innocent. He wanted to keep her that way. "Everything is fine, Riley," he told her.

She placed her hands on her hips. "Everything is not fine, Lucas. Please, let me help."

"Riley, you can't fix this," he told her, hoping that she would just drop it. He knew she wouldn't, though.

She stared at him with wide, pleading brown eyes. "Lucas, please..." she whispered softly. He let out a sigh.

"No, Riley..." he tried to keep his voice firm, but it faltered as he met her gaze. "I'm.. I.. uh..." he frowned, unable to get the words out.

Riley looked hurt. "I just want to help. I can't do that if you won't talk to me. Please talk to me, Lucas..."

There was no way to convince her to let this go. It was better to just tell her. It would save so much drama.

"It's just that I got a... strange text from my mama," Lucas explained reluctantly. "She wanted me home as soon as possible. Something about my... my.. "

Riley stared at him, curiosity sparkling in her eyes. "Your...?" she eyed him expectantly, bouncing on her toes.

"Father," he choked out the word as if it were foriegn to his lips.

Riley blinked, her eyes reflecting her confusion. "But isn't he...?" her voice trailed off.

Lucas nodded. "Yeah. That's why I left so fast. I don't know what's going on, but it must be urgent..." he trailed off, eyes glazing over with thought for a few moments. He was nervous, really nervous. Things like this never happened, and if it wasn't a problem with child support... then it was something more serious. Could he face that alone?

Riley's here though, he thought, looking up and into her warm, but concerned brown orbs. Would she come with me?

The sheer thought of going anywhere alone with her sent not only a shiver up his spine, but a caused warmth to spread from his neck up into his cheeks, and he knew his face must have been bright red. "Riley..." she blinked at him, awaiting his question, "Willyoucomewithme?"'

Riley blinked. "Um... English please? Sorry."

Lucas blushed, taking a deep breath."Could you please, er, come with me? Now that you're here, I mean. It's okay if you don't want-"

"Shh, Riley hushed, grabbing his hand and squeezing it tightly. "Yes!" she squeaked. "Of course I'll come!" Her eyes widened and she straitened up, clearing her throat. "I mean, uh, sure."

Lucas stifled a laugh, then took a deep breath, becoming more serious. "Let's go." Without waiting for an answer, he turned and began to lead the way up to his floor.

As they came closer to the door, muffled yells reached his ears. He stiffened, recognizing the voices of his mother and... Oh no.

"Lucas?" Riley placed a hand on his shoulder, sensing his discomfort. "I hear yelling. Is everything alright?"

He didn't reply. He pressed his head against the door, straining to listen. His stomach twisted into a knot, and his mind did not want to register what he was hearing.

"... then all of a sudden show up and want a part in his life?!" his mother was saying. "Well listen, Daniel, you can't just barge in here and change things! You can't just expect him to pack up and move again! Not after everything you've done to him!"

Lucas's face paled. Move again? No! I'd never move in with that monster.

"I just want to talk to him!" the voice of his father rumbled, his words slightly slurred. "I have just as much right to talk to him as you do! He's my son, too, whether you like it or not!"

Lucas turned away from the door. "He... He's here.." he told Riley shakily. "In New York. This can't be good." he closed his eyes taking a deep breath.

Riley frowned, her chocolate brown eyes wide. "What's he doing here?" she whispered softly, her voice strained.

Lucas placed his shaking hand on the doorknob, swallowing the lump that rose in his throat. "I guess we'll have to find out."

He turned the knob and pushed open the door. "Mama?" he asked, stepping inside with Riley at his heels. He paused for a moment, staring at the scene in front of him. His mom was behind the counter, glaring at the man in front of the door. He had his back to him, but Lucas knew who he was.

"Dad?" he asked hoarsely. "What are you doing here?"

"Lucas!" the man turned around, a grin a mile wide spreading across his face. "Just the man I wanted to see! And you brought a girl home! That's my boy!"

Your boy? Lucas tried not to raise an eyebrow. You've been pushing me away from you for so long, and now you suddenly come back?

He kept his anger in check, though, faking a smile. "Um, hey, Dad. What are you doing here? I thought you were in Texas..." his voice trailed off.

"Never mind that," his father said. "Let me meet your girlfriend."

Riley shied away from behind him. "G-girlfriend? No, we're, um, just friends, sir. I-I'm Riley." she extended her hand. "Riley Matthews."

Lucas watched his father shake her hand. "Daniel. Daniel... Friar. Nice to meet you." Lucas watched as his father pulled her into a hug.

Lucas grit his teeth. How dare he lie about his last name? He's no Friar. His stomach lurched, but he didn't want to make Riley even more scared than she already was. He made a mental note to talk to her later and explain everything.

"Nice to meet you, sir," Riley mumbled. She glanced up at Lucas with a 'help me' look on her face. He smiled apologetically, shrugging.

"Um, Dad?" he asked.

"Yes, my boy?" Daniel replied, still hugging Riley.

"Daniel, could you let the girl breathe, please?" Lucas's mother called from behind the counter as if she'd read her son's mind. Daniel quickly pulled away from her.

"Thanks..." Riley breathed softly. She gazed into Lucas's eyes, her massage clear. Is everything okay? Would it be okay if I go?

Lucas nodded, not wanting to know what Daniel might do in front of her, what she might see if she stayed much longer. He hadn't thought of that before.

"I think I'd, uh, better get going. I'll see you tomorrow, L-Lucas."

The two of them locked eyes, and he mouthed that he would call her tonight. She nodded and turned to go. Lucas watched her go, then looked at his parents. It had been so long since he'd seen them together, in the same room.

"She seems a little.. Odd," his dad commented thoughtfully, reaching for his son's shoulder. It was all Lucas could do not to flinch away. "But she's a cutie. I like her."

Somehow, hearing those words leave his father's mouth was almost repulsive. Lucas frowned, his ears turning slightly red.

"Yeah," he grumbled. "So do I. But I could care less about what she looks like. Sure she's cute but it's what's on the inside that matters most to me." the words came out harsher than he meant them, but he didn't care.

His father grinned in a way that made Lucas's stomach lurch. "That's my boy. Now come to the living room. We have a lot to catch up on, and I have something to talk to you about."

Lucas obeyed, forcing himself not to scowl as he followed his parents into the living room. He longed for Riley to be their with him, but he knew he couldn't have asked her to stay. It would have been too awkward. Especially if Daniel exposed his true colors. No, he couldn't let Riley see that. He wouldn't.

He just couldn't shake the feeling that something was about to happen, now that his father was here without anyone outside of the family to witness. God, he prayed silently, swallowing hard. Please let this go well...

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