It wasn’t like Theo to be nervous.
But for the last week he hadn’t been himself. The usual easy-going and care-free Theo seemed to be long gone.
He was currently sitting at the table along with Gracie, who was begging for food beside him, something he failed to notice. He was all but avoiding his breakfast I had just made him.
Waffles had been Theo’s recent favorite, which is why I had woken up early to make them. I had done so in hopes of distracting him from all his recent troubles, but in my mission I had failed.
I watched from the kitchen with my mug of coffee in my hands and my eyes remained on his leg as it continued to rattle about. It was a consistent habit that came out of nowhere and I now couldn’t remember a time without it inhabiting our apartment.
Theo’s behavior was due to one event. An event that had so much tension built up behind it, but we all had known it was something that Theo desperately wanted to happen.
His mother finally told him who his biological father was.
Camilla resisted at first, out of what I assumed was embarrassment and all of her remaining guilt. Theo had considered finding out the answer on his own, but didn’t want to go behind his mother’s back since they were finally on good terms.
It had been a whole two years since Theo had found out about his true lineage and so much had happened. I had finished my first and second year in college and Theo his second and third. Now we were both working towards our succeeding years in school.
Theo was determined to finish college before heading off to a further career in football. He was finally in his senior year and with his successful time in the NCAA he was guaranteed a spot in the NFL.
Everything was going well for us. Theo’s dream career was becoming a reality, I was almost done with college, and we still had our perfect apartment and Gracie.
Life was going smoothly and Theo hadn’t really thought much about finding his dad. That was until his mother’s divorce was finalized.
After a lengthy and difficult battle, the Thompsons were officially and lawfully over. Camilla Thompson no longer existed. She returned to her maiden name which made her Camilla Gonzales.
Mr. Thompson wanted his cars, his company, and majority of the money. Camilla just wanted the house and her beloved red Aston Martin, which she immediately received.
Mr. Thompson practically scoffed at her demands since they were so minor, but let her have both. Her lawyer was sure to get her everything she wanted and due to her prenup she also ran into a mountain load of cash.
Well a mountain load to me at least. It was a mere molehill to her. But with that money she assisted my father further into his rehabilitation like she promised Theo she would.
My father was now as healthy as ever and came to visit me as often as he could.
Both my parents were a little upset with the fact that Theo and I were sharing an apartment all along. It had been something I had kept from them both during the rough times, but after dad was finally in the clear, health-wise, which was about May of my freshman year, Theo and I flew down to Louisiana to confess.
They were upset with me for about a month, but as time progressed they finally came around. I remember how supportive Theo was during the time my parents were upset with me.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was devastated with how my parents reacted to us telling them the truth that I had just been burrowed myself up in my favorite blankets on the couch with Gracie to keep me company.
Annalee had visited and tried to get me to go outside, much to no avail. Then Tucker attempted to convince me into going shopping with him but again, I denied. The whole time Theo tried to cheer me up but nothing would. I had disappointed my parents, something I seldom did, but when I did, it always broke me down. After all my parents had done for me, I hated being a disappointment.
Theo had comforted and supported me throughout the whole thing. He was always there when I needed him.
During the last day of my self-imprisonment, Theo and I were laying on the couch which was the new usual, Theo suddenly muted our Harry Potter marathon.
“Hey! What are you doing?!” I exclaimed.
Ron and Hermione were about to share their first kiss and he had completely ruined the moment.
“Something I should’ve done weeks ago.” He stood up from the sofa and looked down at me. “Amaya, you are the sweetest person I have ever met and so beautiful, kind, and intelligent,” I smiled at his compliments feeling a rush of self assurance.
“But damn it! You are being so stupid right now.”
My smile fell off my face immediately and I pulled myself off the couch in a flash. I crossed my arms in front of myself. “Excuse me?”
“You heard me.” He challenged back.
“What the hell’s wrong with you? Where is this even coming from?” I shouted back at him.
“You’ve been moping around this apartment ever since we told your parents. You act like it’s the end of the world.”
“You know I don’t like disappointing people.” I shoved him and walked to my room.
Unfortunately, he followed. What is up with him? Why was he behaving like this so out of nowhere?
I flopped on my bed. “Just leave me alone, Theo.”
“No. I’m not finished talking to you.”
“I don’t care. I don’t wanna hear it.” I turned away from him.
“Well I want you to hear it.” He crouched down in front of me.
I kept my eyes on him but didn’t respond.
“Listen. I don’t think you’re stupid. I shouldn’t have said that.”
“Yeah well you did.” I quirked an eyebrow at him, biting my lip to keep the nasty comments within.
“I meant to say you’re acting stupid. Why do you care so much what other people think? If you’re happy then you shouldn’t let other people tear you down. You let them get into your head and bring you down. I’m sorry, but I just can’t take seeing the girl I love mope around on the couch when she should’ve been out celebrating how she just finished her freshman year of college.”
“They’re not just people. They’re my parents.” I added.
He walked over to the window and stared out as he talked to me.
“Yeah which is why you should know that they’re going to love you no matter what. Your parents love you, Mya. They just need a little time and you need to stop blaming yourself. You aren’t in this alone.” He admitted.
I sighed and sat up. He was right. I always had a problem with trying to please everyone when the only person I should be trying to make happy is myself. It was time to tell Theo something I never wanted to say. Something a opinionated person like myself hated to say.
“I guess you’re right.” I muttered.
He whipped away from the window and looked at me with a quizzical glance.
“Did I just hear you right? Did you say I was right?” He smirked.
“Yes!” I said exasperatedly. “Don’t make me say it again.”
From knowing him as long as I had I knew by his face that he was very confident right then but for my sake he pushed his ego aside.
He turned away from the window and walked to me. His hand grazed my cheek and wrapped itself into my hair. His chocolatey and piercing eyes struck mine. His plump, pink lips tipped up into a tight and sideways smile. “I won’t make you say it again.”
I grinned back at him and wrapped my arms around him, bringing him in a sudden embrace that I felt I needed more than anything at that moment. He rested his forehead on mine.
He was so perfect in all ways. He was always there for me and never let me down. He cared for me and always showed his love. Theo, in all ways, was my better half. I am so lucky he chose my ad...and more importantly me.
“I love you.”
He smiled upon hearing that. “And I love you.”
He reached out and swiped away the small tear that I had randomly shed. With that he brought our lips together and throughout the whole kiss I was grinning like a fool.
A couple days later my parents showed up unexpectedly and after a couple hours everything was like it was before. I had my parents back and I was more happy than ever.
Although when Theo had just taken Gracie out for her walk y dad even had a few words to say. My mom must’ve known my dad wanted to talk because she randomly decided to tag along on the dog walk so it was just my father and me in the apartment.
Together we were doing dishes and cleaning up after the dinner and dessert we had just finished.
“You know, bug, I never wanted you to be living with another man until you were married.” He admitted as he handed me another dish to dry.
“Dad please don’t. I thought we just cleared all of this up.” I said setting my dish towel down and propping a hand on my hip.
“Calm down there. You didn’t even let me finish, sweetheart.”
“Sorry.” I shook my head as I picked up another dish to dry. “Go on.”
He chuckled that laugh that I heard my whole life. A sound of purity and heartiness I was so happy to have back with us. “I was going to say I never wanted you to live with anyone until you were married. Key word being ‘wanted.’ I thought like that because I hardly ever hear of such young relationships being successful which is why I had such a hard time accepting that you kept something like this from your mother and I for so long.”
“I’m sorry, dad. Again. I really didn’t want to tell you until we knew you were better, so when your doctor finally cleared everything I wanted to get it off my chest. I’m really really sorry. I really am.” I hadn’t even noticed I was crying until I felt the hot tears slipping down my cheeks.
With my eyes closed as I violently wiped at my freshly wet cheeks, I felt my dad pull me close and envelope me in a tight hug. I had missed him and his hugs awfully. After nearly a year without him, I had almost forgotten what simple things about him felt like.
What his strong arms felt like around me that had always made me feel so safe and protected was nearly a distant memory. The familiar scent of his clean, earthy cologne that always surrounded my nostrils was nearly a ghost to my senses. Two simple things about a person had always made me feel at home, and the fact that they were slipping away from me was terrifying, to say the least.
Losing such simple things meant I was losing pieces of my dad little by little. During his health battles, I had missed my dad more than words could convey and with our disagreement separating us it felt like I had lost him all over again.
“I really missed you.” I mumbled into his shoulder.
He was silent for a moment but then he spoke. “I missed you too, bug.”
Within his words I heard his voice crack which only made me hold onto him tighter, never wanting to let go.
He pulled back and I looked up to his face. My dad’s face now had his own set of gleaming tears. “I’ll never leave you again, bug. You’re stuck with me forever now. Hope you’re cool with that.”
I chuckled and let out a little sniffle. “Of course I am.”
After we finished the dishes we made ourselves two steaming cups of hot cocoa, a drink my dad and I had always loved to share no matter the time of year, we sat at the table. Dad had insisted I tell him every detail of all the big events he had missed.
High school graduation. Getting accepted to college. Move-in day. Meeting Theo. Adopting Gracie.
It was hard to miss the sadness on his eyes but he insisted I continue because he wanted to know everything even if it hurt knowing he had missed such big events in his daughter’s life.
We sat there and talked for what felt like forever. It was so good to be back to our old ways. Talks with him were something I hadn’t realized I missed so much. But in all truth I just missed my dad. Just missed being around him and his cheesy jokes.
I was just so happy to have him back in my life.
Theo had helped me through so much in my life. He was truly a heaven-sent and now it was my turn to help him.
I set my cup down on the island and moved across the kitchen until I was sitting beside him. I reached out to grab his hand which surprised him and made his eyes lock on me.
It always surprised how much Theo changed in just a week. His usual beautiful, sparkling brown eyes were now dull and lacking their usual luster. There were deep, nearly black circles rimming underneath from insufficient amounts of sleep.
I reached out to touch his cheek and my hand was met with Theo’s newly grown whiskers. Although Theo had an enthralling semblance with any kind of look, I knew his newly grown facial hair was from his lack of self grooming.
Every day for the last week Theo has found something to worry about.
What he was going to wear? Was his father one of those guys who hated football players? Did he looked anything like his father or was his mother lying about this one too?
I tried to convince Theo to hold off on meeting his biological father until he was truly ready, but Theo resisted saying how he just wanted to get it done and over with.
And today was that day.
Theo’s father was the CEO of a large and extremely successful company. He was a self-made man and very well-off. He was also a very busy man which made it extremely difficult for Theo to get an appointment with him.
But after going through countless levels of authority, Theo had booked himself a time slot with his own father for today at noon.
At first I thought it was odd for Theo to book an appointment with his own father rather than just call and tell him. But Theo had told me he wanted to meet him for the first time face to face.
Camilla had admitted to us that she still hadn’t told Theo’s biological father the truth out of embarrassment. She had refused to go along with us to meet with him until she randomly called Theo yesterday saying she owed it to both him and his true father to explain everything.
So here we are today nearly four hours away from the meeting and Theo looked nowhere near ready. Physically or mentally.
“Hey.” He gave me a short and fake smile.
“You gonna eat your breakfast?” I ask.
Theo shakes his head. “I’m sorry. I know how you woke up early to make them. I’m just too nervous.”
He must’ve felt me get out of bed this morning. “That’s okay. Listen to me, Theo. You have nothing to worry about. He’s your father. He’s going to love you no matter what.”
He took my hand off his face and held it in his own and looked me in the eyes. “And what if he doesn’t?”
You could see the layers of anxiety building up and settling on Theo’s slumped shoulders. There wasn’t even a speck of humor in his eyes.
The father Theo had for the majority of his life had always been condescending and overbearing. The first and main male role model of his life was supposed to be understanding and to teach him everything he needed to know whereas he had received the exact opposite.
Deep down I knew that Theo was worried that his biological father would treat him like Mr. Thompson had. As someone he would put on the back burner at all times and never cared.
“If he doesn’t then he is the stupidest man on the face of the earth.” I stood from my chair. “Theo, you are the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me. You’re so kindhearted and compassionate. You always work hard for what you want and you’re so dedicated. So if he doesn’t see all of that in you then screw him. He doesn’t deserve you and you don’t need his negativity in your life.”
Theo closed his eyes and leaned into my hand. His left hand came up to cup the one resting on his face and he kissed the inside of my wrist. “I don’t know how I got so lucky. I love you so much, Mya.”
“I love you too.” I leaned down and left a quick peck on his lips. “Now eat your damn waffles.”
He chuckled but turned and did as I told him to. After he was done, I practically forced him into the bathroom to get ready. Reluctantly he did as I said, and after he’d brushed his teeth for the third time this morning, I had him sit down on the edge of the bathtub. I started trimming his hair to give him a cleaner, more groomed look before moving onto his beard.
Holding the razor in my hand and looking at his face intently I tried to decide what to do.
“What are you thinking about?” He questioned.
“I think you should leave the beard.” I admitted my thoughts as I ran my fingers along his jawline which was now covered with scruff.
“Oh, yeah?” He smirked and wrapped his arms around my waist to pull me closer to him. “And why’s that?”
I grinned down to him. “Because you’ll be going in to the NFL soon and it might be fun to try something new.”
“Oh that’s all?” He quirked an eyebrow up to me.
“And also I think it’s super hot.” Saying something like that, even after two years of being with Theo still made my face burn with embarrassment.
“Well if the lady thinks so then it stays.” He winked up at me.
I was glad to see his common demeanor of being a jokester was coming back to him. It felt like it had been so long since I saw this side of him and I wasn’t letting him go this time.
“Good. Just let me trim it up a bit and then you’ll be good to go.” I tried to back up but Theo grip remained on my waist like a corset.
“You’re gonna have to let me go if you want me to get you all spiffied up.” I told him with a chuckle.
“Nuh-uh.” He shook his head childishly as his smirk slithered further up his mischievous face.
“Fine.” I bent down and straddled him. Without having to even ask him his hands held me up to support me and I was secure. “Wasn’t expecting that, were you?”
“Not at all. Just figured you’d fight me on it and eventually get your way, but I much prefer this way.” His eyes gleamed a bit at that line and I chuckled.
“Too bad. This is a one and only kinda thing.”
“Aww. Come on.” He pouted and I just laugh at his child-like attitude as I flicked on the razor and began trimming up the edges of Theo’s facial hair.
I was focused on that task so much that I didn’t even notice Theo’s eyes glued on my face the whole time. After a while I noticed how he watched as I determinedly and strategically shaved his beard. When I caught his eye he just smiled up to me and I just went back to work.
Just as I was about to finish tidying up Theo’s face, a piece of my hair fell from my pony tail and it wasn’t long before I felt his long fingers reach up and tuck the strands behind my ear.
I grinned at the small gesture but continued my works until I was finally done.
“Finished!” I sighed in relief as I smiled at my work and checked Theo over for any mistakes.
“All done?” He questioned as if he hadn’t heard me the first time.
“Yeah. I just said that. You never listen, do you?” I scoffed dramatically to let him know I was just joking.
“I’m sorry baby. I was just so distracted by your never-ending beauty.” He exclaimed just as dramatically.
I just laughed at his response, left a quick peck on his lips before I had him let me up. He stood up after me and walked over to the mirror. I watched as he ran his hand along his beard and examine his fresh shave.
“Did I do alright?” I asked, slightly nervous. I only ever shaved Theo and that was only when he asked and when he was bare-faced so for all I know it could be horrible in his eyes.
“Perfect.” He smiled over to me before turning back to the mirror to check himself out.
“Can you stop checking yourself out and go get dressed?” I chuckled as I leaned against the doorway.
He flexed a couple more times in the mirror just to spite me before he walked towards the door and past me but not before leaving a kiss on my cheek.
I smiled as I watched him walk to his room. I felt confident that my Theo was slowly but surely making his way back to me.
After battling over which outfit to wear, Theo finally decided on a crisp, gray suit with a white button-down underneath.
He looked like a completely new man. I guess I was slightly biased since I hardly ever saw him in anything other than his athletic gear.
“How do I look?” He questioned as he spun around once.
“As handsome as ever.” I smiled at him before I walked up to fix his collar that was slightly out of place.
“You think I should wear a tie?” He asked looking around as his eyes began to frantically scan the room for one.
“Well I don’t think—”
“Because with his job and everything I just think he’d want someone who looks professional and all. What do you think?” He blurted out and he paused for my answer.
“Theo, he’s your dad I think he’ll—”
“Yeah, you’re right. I should definitely wear a tie.” He sighed like he should’ve known that already.
I watched on quietly as he started digging through piles of clothes and through his desk drawers. I knew that whether or not Theo wore a tie wouldn’t make or break the day, but if that’s how he wanted to rationalize his worries then I would let him.
After he finally found his tie under a pile of books he started to worry about whether his socks were the right color or if his shoes were right for this event. Then he fretted over his hair for a straight fifteen minutes.
He was picking himself apart little by little and it was breaking my heart.
He was rambling on about how he should pick up a fancy coffee on the way because it was rumored his father enjoyed them when I had finally had enough.
He was surprised at my outburst but all his attention was on me.
“You shouldn’t be running around changing everything about yourself just to please your dad. Okay? If he’s as smart as people make him out to be then he’ll love you for the way you are. And if he doesn’t, screw him. You have my loyalty and all the love I can possibly give. You have your mom supporting you. You have Danny and Annalee behind you. All your football buddies are rooting for you. Will, Cecilia, and your little niece love you. You even have Tucker’s approval. You have so many people there for you, ready to catch you, and think you’re perfect the way you are. So why not believe all of them?”
Theo was speechless and said nothing. So I stepped closer to him and wrapped my fingers around the hastily made tie. I unknotted it and began from the beginning.
As I fixed his tie, Theo’s hands reached up and stopped me. “This suit looks better without the tie anyways.”
With his eyes trained on me, he took the tie off and tossed it across his room, not caring where it landed. “You’re right, Mya. He shouldn’t have the power to control how I feel. I have so many positive people in my life and I’ll be happy to welcome him in, but if he’s doesn’t want in I’m not going to let that bring me down. I have everything I need right here.”
With that he bent down and captured my lips with his. His soft lips moved in sync with mine and I could just feel the everlasting sparks and love immediately radiating around us.
It was definite now. There was no doubts in my mind that I had Theo back.
The sound of the front door opening and shutting broke the two of us apart immediately. Together we rushed out of Theo’s room and into the living room. Camilla was standing in the center of the room, bent over and cooing sweet words to Gracie.
“Who’s a sweet girl? Yes you are!” Camilla said in a baby voice.
Theo and I silently laughed at the scene we were currently watching from afar, but much to my dismay, Theo decided to end our enjoyment by clearing his throat, proving our presence.
Camilla shot up immediately, brushed down her elegantly chic business outfit of a white button-down blouse and a black and vaguely printed pencil skirt. “Took you two long enough. Are you ready to go?”
I looked down at my outfit horrified. It hadn’t even crossed my mind how much time had passed. I still had to get ready!
“I haven’t even started getting ready!” I said nervously before running to the bathroom.
“Take your time! We still don’t have to leave for another thirty minutes!” Camilla shouted after me.
Luckily, I had already showered and my hair had been dried, which would cut down on the time, but I still had to decide on an outfit.
I decided to leave my hair natural, not having much time to mess with it. I also opted out on makeup since I didn’t want to take any longer than needed. This was Theo’s day so I was going to use my time efficiently.
After searching my closet relentlessly, I decided on the most business-like outfit I had in my closet. A pair of dusty rose wide-legged and straight pants. I matched them with a white loose-fitting, long-sleeved, and airy blouse.
After second thought, I decided to tie my hair in a high pony tail, further playing into the neat look I was going for. I added a gold necklace, some pearl earrings that Theo had gotten me for Christmas and some blush-colored Louboutin heels that Camilla insisted she had accidentally bought in my size and refused to return.
The whole outfit made me look so prim and proper. Almost like I was heading into a business meeting. I took one last look in the mirror and smiled at what I had pulled together in such a short amount of time.
I grabbed my purse and rushed out to Camilla and Theo.
“Done with five minutes to spare,” Theo nodded as he checked his watch. “And you look as beautiful as ever.”
I smiled at his comment. “And you look as handsome as ever.”
“And I’m about as sick of this conversation as ever.” Camilla admitted as she started walking towards the front door.
We watched her go out into the hallways and could hear her impatiently clicking the elevator button. Theo wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me closer. “Mom’s a little on edge.”
“Oh, really? I would have never noticed.” I said sarcastically which made Theo chuckle in return.
“Shh. Seriously. I don’t want her changing her mind on me last minute. I’ve never seen her like this but she’s kind of flighty so let’s not upset her today.”
I nodded in understanding and we all walked in silence to the elevator and all the way to the car. The driver was standing by the door waiting on us, but as soon as he saw us he opened it and greeted us kindly.
“Thank you.” I smiled to him as I climbed in.
He tipped his chauffeur hat to me and just gave me a curt “Mam.”
The drive to our destination was lengthy, quiet and full of tension. I kept thinking of something to say but all my topics just seemed ill-timed.
When we finally arrived in front of the building I just gazed up at it, frozen. Although I’d seen tons of skyscrapers in my lifetime, mainly on tv, but this one just seemed to be all the more ominous as it stood in the looming distance.
Not a single one of us moved an inch. We all just sat there, each of us equally petrified into our seats as we stared up at the building. We all were nervous, each for varying and different reasons, but none the less we were.
Theo debated whether or not his father would accept him. Camilla held a silent terror of how Theo’s father would react to years of her own deceit. I was was nervous of how it all would play out. Of course, I only wanted the best for Theo and Camilla. They were family to me now, but the man we were about to meet with accepting the terms and the all the lies immediately and loving Theo unconditionally as soon as they met seemed like a total dreamland experience.
So sitting in the car and seeing Theo and his mother’s fearful faces, I decided to make the best of the situation and only bring positivity.
“Come on, guys! We don’t want to miss our appointment.” I urged them both.
Our scheduled time was approaching quickly and I didn’t want to miss it. Both of them sat still for another minute before they collectively sighed and opened their doors.
It was a sunny day but there were dark, pitch-black storm clouds emerging in the distance. Just as we were about to go through the automatic doors, a crack of thunder whipped across the sky.
“Just our luck.” Theo mumbled from beside me.
Looking up to see his face, you could instantly notice his anxiousness was returning. I wanted to hug him and tell him everything was going to be alright. But in truth, I didn’t want to do so because I myself didn’t know if it was going to be “alright.”
So instead I just slipped my hand in his and smiled up to him. He grinned back, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. Noticing that, I only squeezed his hand tighter.
We walked up to the desk where a young secretary was clacking away steadily on her keyboard.
“How may I help you?” She questioned without even looking up from her monitor.
I spoke up before either of my company could. “Hi! I’m Amaya Dawson and I have an appointment with Mr. De Luca.”
She typed away on her keys and thankfully she found my time slot. “Here’s your pass. You’re going to take this elevator behind me up to the 56th floor and talk to Mr. De Luca’s secretary.”
Without even saying anything she just kept typing and thankfully didn’t question why I had two guests along with me. Knowing we got lucky, the three of us quickly scampered onto the elevator behind her and hoped she wouldn’t suddenly turn around. The security guard skeptically watched us, but I just smiled and showed off my lanyard with a special ‘guest’ access card attached.
When the elevator doors finally shut behind us, we all audibly sighed in relief that we had made it this far.
“That was close.” I admitted.
“Yeah it was.” Camilla agreed. “If anyone had caught mine or Theo’s name, he’d have us all thrown out in a heartbeat.”
Apparently, according to Camilla, Theo’s biological father was not happy when she had broken things off with her and had vowed never to see her or anyone associated with her again. Hence the reason why the appointment was in my name.
I had feigned an interest in becoming Mr. De Luca’s assistant and had scored an interview today exclusively with him, mainly thanks to all the strings Camilla’s ‘associated networks,’ as she called them, had pulled.
Little did know that he wouldn’t be getting an interview with the straight A student he had been promised, but he would be getting the reunion of a lifetime.
After patiently waiting for nearly twenty minutes and sitting in the slightly too comfortable waiting room chairs, my leg began to bounce again. It was something I had held off on for hours, but with my fate so near the habit started up all over again. My eyes darted all over the room in attempts to find something to calm myself down but I found nothing.
Mya must’ve noticed because she immediately set down her magazine and placed her hand on my knee to stop me. “It’s all going to be fine. Trust me, okay?”
“Okay.” I shakily breathed.
I kept my responses short and simple out of fear I would break down right in this waiting room. I had never went through anything like this and I had never felt this nervous to see a person in my life.
A person I knew nothing about. I had almost searched all about him on my phone but decided against it. I limited myself on all information about him. I didn’t even know his first name! If I was going to meet my real father I wanted to get my own opinion about him, not immediately follow someone else’s.
“Amaya Dawson.” The secretary called out.
Mya gave me a reassuring smile as she walked up to the desk to fill out some more paperwork. When she returned to her seat, Mya said everything was ready.
“That lady told me she is eight months pregnant. She’s gonna have to use the restroom very soon by the way she keeps fidgeting like that, so as soon as she goes we’re gonna boot into his office. Sound good?” She asked both my mom and I to which we both answered with a understanding nod.
It was now or never.
Like we all expected the woman had to use the restroom exactly two minutes after I had predicted it. But as luck would have it, before she made a break for the bathroom she had told me that Mr. De Luca was ready for me.
I was slightly thankful since this would overall make us look less suspicious. So as soon as the bathroom door shut behind her, my entourage bolted for Mr. De Luca’s office.
It was at the end of a hallway so we made haste in getting there. As soon as we were at the door we all screeched to a halting stop and caught our breath. After a minute and we had all calmed down I asked “Everyone ready?”
The two beside me nodded, but in truth I knew none of us were. Despite that, I pulled on the handle to open the door anyways.
At the very last minute, Camilla grabbed my hand but stayed glued to her spot outside the door with a look of pure panic on her face.
“I can’t do it.” She admitted to both Theo and me.
“What do you mean you can’t do it? It’s a little too late to back out now!” Theo whisper yelled to his mother.
I watched as Camilla’s face remained filled with terror as she was fearing what would happen next. “I can’t face him. I just can’t.”
For the first time in my lifetime I saw Camilla begin to fidget. She nervously played with her hair and was nearly shaking.
“It’s okay, Theo. We’ve got this.” I assured him.
“No we don’t! We need her in there or else he won’t—”
I grabbed a hold of his face and made him look at me. “Do you trust me, Theo?”
Theo was shocked by my sudden antics but silently nodded.
“Good. Now let’s get in there.”
Theo didn’t say another word but followed along with me.
We walked into what had to be the largest office I had ever seen. In the center of the room was a wooden desk domineering the room with its masculinity. Sitting behind it was a tall, black office chair which was currently empty. In front of it all were two comfortable looking black arm chairs.
To the left of the room there was almost a mini library with books bound in various colors. Along with all the literature you could also see countless awards lining the shelves.
In front of the book shelf was a sort of lounge area, accommodating with a long black sofa, a glass coffee table, and accompanying furniture all sitting upon a dark grey area rug.
On the other side of the room was a large plasma screen tv with a fireplace built into the wall below. The television was set to a channel talking about the stock market, something I had never learned about and never planed to.
Just as I was about to survey the room some more, a voice came from behind me and Theo.
“Ms. Amaya Dawson, I assume?” A strong and deep voice questioned as he began to walk around us and to his seat behind the desk.
I was speechless but by how quickly he was walking I knew this man meant business. I grabbed Theo’s hand and sat us both in front of his desk as efficiently as I could. Mr. De Luca seemed to be looking over my resume I had sent in, which didn’t have much but it just seemed wrong to come empty-handed.
But as I watched him reading, I noticed how much Theo had in common with him. Their jawlines were nearly a perfect matchup, both sharp and defining. Both men’s skin tones were a perfect tan with an olive undertone. Theo’s biological father also had the same long eyelashes that seemed to go on for miles. Their noses were even identical!
I looked over to Theo and caught his nervous gaze. I just wanted him to know I was there for him and how we were going to make it through this.
“I love you.” I mouthed to him.
He just smiled to me and reached out to grab my hand. We sat there and waited hand-in-hand as Mr. De Luca was looking over my crappy resume that probably couldn’t get me a job no matter how hard I tried.
“Excuse me, Ms. Dawson?” He questioned, breaking me out of our little love bubble.
“I thought this was an interview. Most applicants don’t bring their boyfriends to this kind of thing.” He said looking between the two of us, but his eyes gravitated more towards Theo.
I honestly didn’t know how to respond to that. He wasn’t wrong. In reality, I would never bring Theo to a job interview but I wasn’t technically applying. It was all plotted so he could meet his son. But I wasn’t going to say that just yet. The last thing I wanted was to get kicked out without achieving the one goal we all had coming into this.
“Well, you see, Mr. De Luca, he’s just um—”
I was truly at a blank for words as Mr. De Luca watched me closely.
“I’m a very busy man, Ms. Dawson, so if you aren’t going to take this interview seriously then we can just end it here.” He told me but his eyes still remained on Theo.
“Yes, of course you are, sir. But I just um...” I looked to Theo for help but by this point he was just sitting there motionless, almost statuesque.
“What’s your name? And how old are you?” Mr. De Luca couldn’t help himself as the questions just kept spilling out to Theo.
“Theo, and I’m uh...22. Almost 23?” Theo said simply.
I looked back to Mr. De Luca and knew know that he hadn’t been listening to a single word I had said. “Hold that thought. I need to,” He coughed and straightened his tie. “I need to um...make a call.”
He pulled out his new, advanced smart phone and started dialing a random number. “Damien? Yeah. I know. Get me all the info you have on Camilla Gonzales.”
He seemed to listen to something on the other end and I watched as his face contorted with anger and frustration. “No! I don’t give a shit. Just do it, now!”
With that he hung up the phone and bolted out of the room even quicker than he had bolted into it.
“Are you okay?” I asked him as I held onto his arm.
He stayed silent for a minute. “Yeah..I’m fine. Is he crazy or is it just me?”
“Well Theo I think he just pieced together that he has a son, so I think he’s allowed to be a little crazy.” I chuckled trying to lighten the mood.
“Yeah I guess you’re right. What do you think about him?” He asked, his eyes pleading for an answer.
“Well I haven’t had enough time to get to know him, but I think he’s very work-oriented and he seems respectable.”
Theo nodded as he listened to me.
“Also, you two look so alike that it’s scary.” I chuckled.
“We do, don’t we?” Theo cracked a smile.
His smile slipped when we heard footsteps coming back to the room and the door opening. But instead of Mr. De Luca’s quick and effective tread, we heard the clickity-clacking of no other than Camilla herself. She hurried around the office until she was standing beside us.
“So? How did it go?” The words hurriedly tumbled out of her mouth.
“We didn’t even get a chance to tell him.” Theo admitted.
“What do you mean? You were just supposed to say it and get out of here. You let him leave without knowing?!” She asked astonished.
“Seriously, Camilla?” I asked standing up to her. “You’re the one who ditched us!”
“I had to! He can’t see me!” She yelled in a whisper.
“Why are you whispering now?” Theo asked confused.
“I don’t want anyone to hear me. I snuck in here after tipping off the security guard.” She admitted.
“Typical.” Theo muttered.
“Well what happened then?” She asked.
“Well everything was going okay, but then he just kind of zoned in on Theo and before you know it he was on the phone with a ‘Damien’ asking for all the information on a Camilla Gonzales, aka you.”
“Shit!” Camilla shouted. “You sure he said Damien?”
“Yes. Definitely.” I told her.
“Ugh. That’s like his right-hand man. He’s in charge of his security detail and can scrounge up any information so quickly it’ll make your head spin.” Camilla began to pace across the crisply waxed floors of the office.
“Well isn’t that what we came here for? To tell him the truth?” Theo asked.
“Yes.” She answered curtly.
“Camilla?” I was beginning to get worried of her.
“It’s just this is all just becoming so real. It didn’t hit me until now. I’ve put this off for literal decades. Decades! I haven’t seen this man for so long and he’s going to hate me forever after this.” She admitted as she walked over to the couch and plopped down in defeat.
You could see the grim solemnity gathering in her features and her usual witty eyes were now the opposite.
I was just about to reassure her that everything would be alright when the door to the room flung open in haste. In walked Mr. De Luca with his eyes invested on the manilla folder resting between his hands.
He didn’t even look up to see either of us before he sat down at his desk. I quickly looked over to Camilla she was frozen to her spot and her eyes were the size of saucers.
“Theodore Thompson. Born to Camilla Thompson...in Manhattan, New York...played college football and moving onto the NFL...for the New York Jets. Dating Amaya Dawson, drive a Mercedes, and have a dog named Gracie.” Mr. De Luca rattled off so much information about Theo’s life that it was slightly creepy. Where had they even received all this information? Even our dog’s name??
“How the hell you know all that? You were gone for half an hour!” Theo exclaimed.
“I have very reliable sources. Now are either of you going to tell me what the hell is going on?” He pointed his finger between the two of us. “Or am I going to have to —”
Within saying his next few words his eyes had drifted off to the left, right in Camilla’s direction. All words had dried up in his mouth as he realized just who was sitting on the other side of his office.
He was speechless and the two shared what could only be described as a spark.
“Camilla?” He questioned as he cleared his throat.
“Hello, Graham.” I watched as Camilla smiled with ease, almost like her breakdown earlier had never happened.
How could she just act like it was another regular day and gloss over how she really was feeling deep down: terrified.
She carefully untangled her legs and stood up. I watched as she carefully strode to be by Theo’s side as she placed a hand on her son’s shoulder.
Hold up! Did she just say Graham?!
He stood from his desk, flattened his tie and squared his broad shoulders towards her. “Camilla, it’s been a long time.”
“It truly has.”
How were they keeping such a composure between the two of them? They were acting like they were just good old friends talking over a cup of coffee. Not like he had just found out she’d been lying that he had a son for the last 23 years.
Just then...all hell broke lose.
“You want to tell me what the fuck is going on here?! How did you manage to turn a simple interview into this? You probably orchestrated all of this didn’t you? Typical Camilla with all her evil little schemes!” He shouted at her as his eyes were locked on hers and hers on his.
This was only just getting started.
“Evil scheme?! Forgive me if I wanted you to finally know that you have a son!”
“Me?! A son? Yeah right! this is that Thompson dousche bag’s kid! Not mine.”
“You can’t seriously believe that he’s not yours! Look at him. He looks just like you!” Camilla scoffed as she crossed her arms in disbelief.
“How can I possibly believe you? You left me for that guy. Why should I son believe you?! You could be playing me right this veg second and I wouldn’t know it. You always had some sketchy trick tucked up your sleeve and I’m not falling for it this time. Oh, hell no!”
Watching this battle take place between the two of them made me uncomfortable. I didn’t belong in this, which only made me feel for Theo. He was watching as these two battled over his true paternity. No way that wouldn’t be weird for him.
“I think Theo and I are just going to take a walk while you two work this out.” I broke our silence.
Without another word I grabbed Theo’s arm and pulled him out of the room as fast as I could. I watched as Graham and Camilla’s faces watched on in guilt but as soon as the door shut behind us their yells fired up once again.
As I slumped into one of the now empty chairs. I let out a sigh as the two left, me not failing to notice Theo’s sagging and tired shoulders.
“Graham De Luca. Always the shining star of acting his age.” I said in a sarcastic tone.
I watched as his eyes darted from the door and back to me. He sprung around from his desk and stood, towering over my chair. “Maybe you shouldn’t have threw this whole thing on me out of nowhere! How did you expect me to act?!”
“Can you stop yelling? Damn it, you’re giving me a headache.”
“It’s hard not to. I’m angry. Angry because you come in here throwing your child’s parentage at me!”
I stood from my chair in an instant. “You are his father. His biological father. You look exactly alike!”
“Lots of people look alike. That doesn’t mean they’re related.” He scoffed.
“He was literally born nine months after we—” I stopped myself.
“Nine months after we what, Camilla? Had sex? So what? You also had a husband at the time so it could very well be his.” He said in a condescending voice.
“My husband was off cheating on me! You know that, you asshole. I came to you all the time. The time frame lines up and I had a paternity test taken when Theo was two! He didn’t match up with Thompson’s DNA.” I admitted.
Graham leaned in closer to me. His face was nearly touching mine and his eyes were stone cold and serious. It was so hard not to just lean up and kiss him right now. He’d be lying if he didn’t say he felt something when we saw each other again. After so long it still feels like there’s something between us. “You’re lying.”
He whipped back around and sat at his desk. I was so blindsided by his sudden return to his office chair that I had almost missed what he had said.
“I am not!”
“There could’ve been a third guy.” He shrugged as he looked over the documents in his hands again.
“There wasn’t!” I exclaimed but he didn’t even look up at my outburst.
I rounded his desk and stood at his side. “If you don’t believe me why don’t you just get a test done? Then it’ll all be crystal clear for you.”
“I don’t need a test. I’m not his father.” He said once again.
“Have you even look at the folder enough?!” I tore the folder from his hands and shuffled through the pages until I found the right one. Graham’s eyes were on me but he still had a look of disbelief. “Theodore Graham Thompson! His middle name is Graham for God’s sakes! After you!”
I watched as Graham’s face softened upon watching me and he slowly stood from his seat and walked towards me. Almost like he was stepping into unknown territory.
“I always had a gut feeling he was yours and when he was born he was so perfect. So so perfect.” My eyes began to water at remembering the day Theo was born. “I was afraid of messing him up, so I named him after you. Because you never messed up. You were always perfect. I just hoped he’d take after you.”
Unexpectedly, Graham’s arms surrounded me and I was captured against his solid chest.
“It’s all going to be okay, Cam.” I sniffled upon hearing his old nickname for me.
“No it’s not.” I cried. “I kept him from you. I’m so sorry, Graham. I’m so sorry. If I could go back I would!”
He ran his hands down my hair continuously smoothing it down in attempts to calm me down. “It’s alright, Cam. What’s done is done. All that matters is that I know now.”
“You’re going to love him, aren’t you?” I asked as he kept his embrace on me tightly.
“Of course I will. He’s half you and half me. What’s not to love?”
After three hours of sitting in a nearby coffee shop, Theo and I were running out of things to talk about. Usually we’d have an endless list of topics, but Theo’s mind was still stuck back at the office. I knew but his disinterest in everything that he could focus.
“You hear me, Theo?” I ask as I reach out to touch his hand.
“Huh? Sorry?” He asked, surprised.
“I said maybe we should just head home. I can text your mom. I’m sure she’d understand.” I offer.
“Maybe just a little longer?” He pleaded, silently wanting a miracle to happen.
With the way Camilla and Graham were yelling it would take one. But I didn’t let on that there was a slim possibility of that happening. I just smiled and reached across the table to hold his hand.
“Okay. We’ll wait.”
After another half hour, there were still no texts or calls from Camilla and Theo was getting more and more anxious.
“I’m gonna call her one more time.” He said as he picked up his phone and dialed her number once more.
From across the table I could hear it ringing through the speaker, but once again she never picked up.
Theo let out a disappointed sigh and leaned back in his chair.
“I’m sorry, Theo.”
“It’s fine. Let’s just get out of here.” He pulled out his wallet and laid a tip on the table.
I checked my own phone for any communication from Camilla, only to notice I was swarmed with texts and missed calls from other people.
Will (2 Texts)
Let Theo know we’re wishing him good luck today!
Also Ellie sends her love (Attachment: Picture)
I smiled at seeing the picture of Theo’s little niece who called me recently started calling me Aunt MyMy.
I scrolled through to the next texts.
Cecilia (2 Texts)
Are you guys still coming to Ellie’s birthday party on Saturday?
Good luck today! Will, Ellie, and I hope everything goes great today!
Annalee (3 Texts)
Hey, would you & Theo be willing to help me move out of Tuck’s apartment next week sometime? Danny finally found us a place!!
^^Sorry about that. I meant to send it yesterday. I know you guys are super busy today so just let me know whenever you can!
Danny’s literally so nervous about Theo meeting his dad. He’s literally brought it up 6 times this morning alone. Hope all goes well. We love you guys no matter what!! <3
Danny (2 Texts)
Hey! Can you please let Theo know I’m rooting for him? Love that dude
If needed, I have a knock-knock joke on hand at all times!!!
With the texts from Danny I had almost hoped that there’d be texts from Marcus, Joey, Josh, or Blake, but upon further looking there were none. Nothing had happened between the boys, just life. Joey and Mark had transferred to different colleges making it hard to see them. Josh had quit the football team to focus more solely on his studies. And Blake...oh, Blake. Blake had been expelled after accidentally burning down his frat house during a Greek-themed toga party.
So like I said, nothing bad had happened between the guys, they all had just drifted apart. Slowly but surely. I was grateful Danny had remained close to Theo. Everyone needs at least one good friend by his side at all times.
Tucker (1 Text)
You have gotta help me get Annalee outta here ASAP! All her Danny-lovey talk is driving me crazyy
Ethel (1 Text)
Can yoiu leet Theo no that I caan make him a big dinnere tomorrow night to cheer him upp if needed! Camilla wants to have hiim over more anyways becuz we always miss him
Surry 4 all the mistypingg this new phone is so muchh harder to work than my old flip phone LOL
I chuckled at all the mistyping Ethel had on the new phone Theo had gotten her for Christmas. I texted everyone back with all the information I could and got up to leave with Theo.
But before we could even take two steps towards the door. Camilla and Graham started making their way towards us.
“Leaving without me?” Camilla questioned.
“Mom? What are you doing here?” Theo asked skeptically.
“Come on, Theo. Let’s sit.” She gestured towards the table we had just been sitting at.
He looked confused but did so anyways. Graham and Camilla on one side and Theo and I on the other.
“So what’s going on?” Theo asked as we all got comfortable.
“Well, Theo. I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Graham De Luca, and I’m your father. I know we just met, but how would you and your girlfriend like to come over for dinner tonight? I can have my chef make something. Anything you want. We can get to know each other. What do you say?”
A huge grin smeared across Theo’s face and just seeing his smile made me happy. It felt like it had been so long since I’d seen his perfect and pearly whites in a genuine smile.
But it wasn’t long before his smile fell again. “I thought you guys were fighting. You didn’t even think I was really yours. What changed?” Theo asked curiously.
“Well, actually as soon as I saw you I knew. I looked almost identical to you when I was your age. I guess I was denying it because I was lashing out at your mother. To be honest, we didn’t actually have a nice break up. We still have a lot to catch up on and talk through, but we definitely are both here for you, Theo.”
Theo’s smile returned, as did mine. I leaned over and placed a sweet miss on his cheek, making him grin even more. This would always be a moment to remember.
Theo was finally seeing his parents together and acting appropriately, for the first time in his lifetime. He finally had all the pieces to the puzzle laying right in front of him and now all that was left to do was to put it together.