Chapter Twenty One
“Mom and Dad… our parents. They loved and wanted you.” I turned the book around and slid it across the table. The guard by the door took a step forward and looked down, once he had nodded Ryan placed his handcuffed hands on the book.
“What is this?” He whispered.
“My mother kept journals. This one is mostly about you.”
Ryan looked up at me, his eyes wide. “After what I did… Why do this for me? You should hate me.” he exclaimed without opening the book. I could see by the dark and lost little kid look in his eyes, he hated himself. He didn’t need me to hate him as well and despite everything that had happened, and everything he had done… I wasn’t sure that it was even possible.
We were family. Was it fucked up? Yes. Should I hate him? Probably. Did I? No.
“I don’t think that will help either of us understand this.” I replied. “Hating you would siphon my energy and do more harm than good.”
“But after everything I put you through.” He looked down as he spoke, unable to maintain eye contact any longer. His words were laid thick with self hatred.
“What you did was wrong.” I agreed. “But I’m not the only one who has had to live through trauma. You’ve spent your entire life broken Ryan. I just want to help you pick up some of the pieces.”
I watched his body sag a little, and the hand that lay on top of the journal moved to the edge of the book. He turned the page and opened it. I watched as he read the inscription, the one mom had written for him when she was still pregnant.
Dear my unborn son,
I feel you move as I write this. Your kicking is a constant, yet welcome feeling. I wish I could freeze time so that this would ever have to end, but I know that is not possible. The only thing keeping me going, is thinking of the life another family will be able to give you. One your father and I just cannot. I hope you grow and understand why we did what we did. This book is for you.
I watched Ryan as he read page after page. As tears formed and began to roll down the apples of his cheeks and onto the words my mother had once written. He was unable to stop, and I couldn’t blame him. Years of question had brought him to this, it wasn’t a question of deserving the answers… He needed them.
As he turned the last page and closed the journal he looked up at me, his face still tear stricken.
“I’m so sorry. Everything I did.” He choked on his words and shook his head. “I thought I was nothing to them… I blamed you.”
He lost his ability to speak and let out a deep body shuddering sob, I leaned forward and placed the hand on my non injured arm over his.
“I forgive you. Mom and and Dad would want that. We weren’t there when you needed us, Let me be here for your now.” I paused and took a deep breath. “I’m not saying that it will be easy. But I’m willing to try be your family. Fresh start… Clean slate.”
Ryan’s eyes widened and his mouth opened slightly. As I looked at him, I could see the resemblance more and more. The smile I’d once thought would catch the attention of women was the smile my father had once had. His eyes were the same shade of green as Moms… and while we didn’t look much like one another, we shared similar features. Looking at him probably should have made me angry, but it only made me feel connected to him.
“Fresh start.” He repeated, mulling over the words like he’d never said them before. Maybe he hadn’t. He’d been stuck in a dark place his entire life. Starting over probably was a foreign concept to him. “Okay.” He finally murmured.
I smiled, and although he didn’t smile back there was a light in his eyes now. He slid the book across the table to me and tapped it.
“Thank you for letting me read this.”
I slid it back across and shook my head. “This is yours… and there are others you can read too. I’ll bring them in on my next visit.”
His eyes widened and for the first time a small smile crept upon his face. “You’re not just saying it are you? You really will come back?”
He sounded like a child who’d been left behind one too many times, like he expected the bare minimum connection to those around him.
“I really will come back.”
The guard signaled to let me know that our visiting time needed to draw to a close. I stood up and pushed my chair in. Ryan looked up and nodded as I turned and walked toward the door. As I left the visitors room and followed the guard as he led me to the waiting room where Tobias had been waiting. I walked through the doors and Tobias leapt to his feet, worry was painted all over his face as he walked toward me, his hands reached out for mine before he was even any where near me.
“Are you okay?” He murmured.
I nodded and smiled. “I’m okay, I’d really like to go home and have a bath and watch some tarantino with you though.”
Tobias leaned in and engulfed me in his arms before pressing his lips to mine. I felt warm and loved, and for the first time in a long time, completely at peace.
“It would be my pleasure to make your dreams come true.” He teased, pulling back from the kiss.
The drive home was quiet. Tobias didn’t ask me about what had happened during the visit, and I knew he wouldn’t. He’d let me tell him in my own time. I knew he wouldn’t be happy with my decision to forgive Ryan, but it was out of my hands. I couldn’t help it. I’d talk to him later, right now exhaustion had a hold on me.
Pregnancy and the whole ordeal had taken a lot out of me and my body was still recuperating. The soft hum of the music on the radio infiltrated my ears and lulled me to sleep. It wasn’t until the car was at a stop under the dull lights of the underground car park back at the apartment that my eyes flickered open.
“Hey sleepyhead.” Tobias murmured. “let’s get you upstairs and into the bath.”
“What time is it.” I yawned. “Five?”
“A little closer to six. I’ll draw a bath for you while you pick out a Tarantino.”
Tobias got out of the car and walked around to my car door. He opened it and helped me out. Together we walked across the car park and over to the elevator. I leaned against Tobias as we stood inside the small cubicle, involuntarily my eyes closed and by the time we made it to the top floor, I had almost fallen asleep on my feet. The door opened and almost reluctantly I opened my eyes and walked out into the corridor.
“I don’t think I have the energy for the bath.” I said as we arrived at the door.
My head was swimming with nausea and all I wanted to do was sit down. I closed my eyes and held onto Tobias shoulder to steady myself as he unlocked the apartment door.
“Okay, let’s get you into bed then.” He murmured, unable to hide the concern in his voice. “I’ll call the nurse. We need to get your dressing changed anyway.”
The door swung open and Tobias led me through the apartment and into our room. He pulled back the covers and helped me lie down. The moment my head hit the pillow it felt like it was full of lead. I had the nagging feeling of needing to use the bathroom but felt too weak to get up and walk there. A few minutes later Tobias walked into the room and sat beside me on the bed.
“The nurse is on her way.”
I nodded and closed my eyes. I must have dozed off because when my eyes reopened it wasn’t Tobias’ face looking back at me, it was one of the nurses from the hospital. She frowned as she pulled a thermometer back from my ear.
“103 fahrenheit.” She clicked her tongue. “I’ll take a look at the wound, but I think we may need to take her back in for IV antibiotics.”
I rolled my eyes and attempted to sit up. My body was weak though and I sort of just slumped forward. My skin felt clammy and wet and all I wanted to do was sleep.
Tobias helped sit me up while the nurse began to undo my bandage. She let out a sigh and looked up at Tobias, nodding.
“I’m sorry guys, the wound is showing signs of infection. Nothing major, but given you’re pregnant and your temperature is high. We should err on the side of caution and rule out something more sinister.”
I closed my eyes, too tired to fight it. Tobias began to talk, but I wasn’t really listening. The nurse cleaned the wound and then redressed it before calling the hospital and organising an ambulance. She left to wait for it a few moments after she was done while Tobias sat back down on the bed. His face was white with fear, the concern written all over his face.
“Ruby.” He mumbled. “This is my fault… we did too much, I didn’t make you take things easy.”
“You couldn’t make me not do anything anyway Tobias.” I drawled.
“It’s just a bump in the road. A glitch in the matrix. I’ll be fine.”
Tobias eye narrowed and he tilted his head, the concern disappeared to pave the way for confusion.
“How do you keep your shit together.” he exclaimed in awe.
“I don’t usually.” I chuckled. “It’s just for the first time in my entire life… all the pieces fit.”
I leaned forward slightly and placed my hand over Tobias. “So I’m not about to let some little infection take a hold of me. I’m going to fight it and we’re going to have a baby whose a fighter… just like us.”
I smiled at Tobias and then lay down, too exhausted to keep talking.