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Chapter 4

When we got to the sidewalk Donovan was already gone, probably on his way to the airport. I sighed in relief that the lie worked, and I wouldn’t have to explain my little escape plan to him, since it probably wasn’t the best way to start this relationship. Not that I wanted a relationship with that man, but I was determined to make this situation work, for Jameson’s sake.

Jack helped me get Jay in the car, before giving me one last hug and holding my door open while I climbed in the car. All three of us had tears in our eyes as I drove away. Wiping my tears away, I looked at my brother in the mirror and I tried my best to give him a reassuring smile.

“We’ll see dad soon, baby. He’s gonna come visit us at our new house. And we’re going to be okay, I promise.” As I said that I wondered if I was trying to convince Jameson or myself.

The rest of the ride back to the house was quiet, but my mind was very loud. All sorts of crazy plans to run away kept popping in my head, and every time I pushed them away, reminding myself that Jay deserved better than that.

After parking the car on the driveway, I got all the bags out of the trunk and brought them inside the house. I didn’t know how long it was going to be until the car came to pick us up, so I couldn’t leave our things outside.

Jameson ran in and plopped down on the couch to watch TV. My nerves wouldn’t allow me to sit still, so I started walking around the house, scanning the rooms to make sure I didn’t forget to pack anything. Every time I walked past Lucy’s room, I debated whether or not I should go in to say goodbye. But after the way she talked to me this morning, I decided it was better not, so I just texted her sister Jenna to make sure she was coming to get her.

It was weird to think that I wasn’t going to live in the same house as Lucy anymore. I was 8 years old when they got married and she came to live with us. Most people would say Lucy was a nasty, bitter person, but my mom always said that she could see a side of Lucy that no one else did, a happy and funny side. The two of them were absolutely crazy about one another, always stealing kisses when they walked by and holding hands whenever they could. It was like they didn’t want to let go of each other.

Lucy didn’t like kids, but she would do anything for my mom, so she tolerated me and Jameson. She never mistreated us, my mother would never allow that, but we were also never close. We mostly ignored each other’s existence.

When we came home from the hospital after the car accident and Lucy hid herself in her room, I kept trying to talk to her and help her, but every time I went in there she would get mad and tell me to leave. She would say that looking at me was like seeing my mother’s ghost. Eventually I gave up and started to just go in, put her food on her nightstand, and get out, all without saying a word.

The sound of the doorbell made me jump, snapping me out of my memories. I opened the front door to see a short man wearing a suit. “Miss Amelia?” He asked, and I nodded in agreement. “Good afternoon Miss, I’m Paul, Mr. Bryant sent me to take you and your brother to the airport. Are these your bags?” He asked, pointing to the suitcases next to the door. I nodded again and he smiled and quickly started carrying them to the black town car parked in the driveway.

I called Jameson and told him it was time to leave. His little feet raced through the living room until he reached me at the door. We both took one last look at the house, thinking about all the memories we made there, then I finally gathered the courage to step outside and close the door behind us. When Paul was done with the bags, he opened the backseat door, waited for us to get inside, then gently closed it.

The ride to the airport wasn’t long, but as we approached it, I got very confused. I thought we were going into the general terminal, but the way Paul was going was leading us in a different direction. Reading the road signs on the way, I realized we were going to the private hangars, which didn’t make me any less confused.

As he pulled the car to a stop in front of a gate, Paul rolled down his window and said something to the security guard, who let us through. When the car finally came to a full stop inside a hangar, I spotted Donovan standing next to a private jet, talking to a man who seemed to be the pilot. This was crazy. Jack had told me that Donovan came from a wealthy family, but I didn’t think the man would have his on plane.

Paul jumped out of his seat and opened the back door for me. I unbuckled Jameson and got out of the car, carrying our backpacks. My brother jumped out behind me and grabbed my hand, just before Donovan saw us. He smiled, and walked toward us.

“Just in time, Amelia. The pilot is ready for takeoff, let’s get into the plane.” His voice was controlled and the way he talked to me was careful and soothing, like a trainer trying to calm down a wild animal. I guess he didn’t know how to talk and act around me anymore than I did around him.

Donovan thanked Paul and then turned to look at a male flight attendant that was standing close by, pointed to the trunk of the car and asked him to take our bags. Finally, Donovan ushered me and Jameson into the plane and told us to sit wherever we liked.

Me and Jay had never been inside a plane before, let alone a private jet, so we were both in awe. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said our jaws dropped to the floor as we went inside. Everything was decorated in neutral colors, with eight grey chairs across from each other with black tables in the middle. Further back, a white couch was against the wall on one side and a black cabinet that had a flat screen TV on top was on the other.

Jay looked at me as if asking my permission to go in, so I grabbed his hand again and led him to the chairs, where we sat next to each other, putting our backpacks on the floor. Donovan slowly followed and took a sit on the chair across from us, carefully watching me, as if he thought I was gonna tell him to get away. I felt uncomfortable but didn’t say anything.

A few minutes after we took off, Donovan’s phone rang, and he went to sit on the couch to take the call. Jay fell asleep right after takeoff, so I laid his chair back and put a blanket over him. I was too nervous to sleep, so I just sat there, overthinking everything and letting my mind run wild with various horrible scenarios that could happen once we got to Donovan’s house.

Apparently, Donovan has a wife and a 21-year-old stepson, but Jack couldn’t tell me anything about them other than their names, Katherine and Sebastian. All that I knew about Donovan I found out from Jack. He said that Donovan had spent the last 12 years looking for me and never gave up, even after he got married again.

My mother ran away with me when I was 5 years old, but she never fully explained to me why she did it or told me anything about our life before that. Every time I asked about my father, all she would say was “Donovan and his family wanted to take you away from me and I couldn’t let that happen”, so eventually I stopped asking. After a while, most of the memories I had from the first five years of my life faded away and I could barely even remember my father’s face.

So here I was, going to live with a man who was basically a stranger to me, except for our genetic connection, and his new family. I didn’t know any of them and had no idea how me and my brother would be treated once we got there, which made me scared and anxious. I just wanted a better life for Jameson, and I hoped Donovan would help me get that.

“Amelia?” Donovan’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts, and I looked at him. “Could you come over here, please?” He asked.

I nodded and got up, walking over to where he was. Donovan was sitting on one end of the couch, so I sat on the other end, as far as I could. After settling down, I grabbed a pillow and held it in my lap, thankful that I had something to do with my hands other than anxiously squirming my fingers.

“I wanted to tell you that Katherine is really excited to meet you and Jameson. She wanted to come with me to get you, but I thought it would be too much.” Donovan started.

“That’s very nice of her.” I said quietly, not trusting my voice to be louder.

“I wanted to say that I’m sorry.” Donovan said, which shocked me. I was not expecting him to say that. My head shot up and I looked him in the eyes.

“What are you sorry for?” I asked confused.

“For everything. For not being able to find you before, for your mother dying, for you having to spend six months taking care of everyone by yourself.” He stopped himself and took a deep breath. I could see some tears in his eyes.

“None of that is your fault. You didn’t find me because my mother didn’t want you to. And her dying and me being alone were out of your control.” I said, surprising both of us.

I didn’t know why I felt the need to comfort Donovan. But seeing him sitting in front of me, his eyes welled up with tears, his face filled with guilt, I knew I had to say something to make him feel better.

“Thank you.” He said with a sad smile. “I know this is hard, but can we talk about your mother? Jack wouldn’t tell me anything.”

Just like an angel sent from heaven to rescue me from that conversation, the pilot started talking through the speakers, announcing we were approaching LAX. He instructed us to take a sit on the chairs and buckle our seatbelts, so Donovan told me we would continue our conversation later, and we got up from the couch. I took a sit next to Jameson and Donovan sat on the other side by the window.

While the plane landed, I watched my brother sleep. His pale skin, chubby cheeks and blonde reddish hair made him look like an angel, and that’s exactly what he is. My little angel.

My mom adopted Jay right after he was born. His biological mother was only 15 and one of my mother’s high school students. She begged my mom for help, because she came from a strict religious family, who would never accept her having a child at such a young age without being married. She managed to hide the pregnancy from them and when she gave birth, she asked the hospital to call my mother and convinced her to adopt him.

The day my mother came home with that little baby was the happiest day of my life. She explained to us what had happened and then she let me hold him. Lucy, on the other hand, wasn’t happy, and they got into a huge fight. I barely even heard their argument because I was so smitten by the bundle of joy in my arms. But the fight didn’t last long. Lucy would do anything for my mother, so she eventually agreed to keep the baby, but she never acted like a mother. After they stopped fighting, my mom sat next to me on the couch.

“What’s his name, mom?” I asked her.

“He doesn’t have one, sweetie. I wanted to let you choose it.” She said smiling at me.

“Jameson.” I decided, choosing my mom’s middle name. “Do you like it?”

My mom smiled with tears in her eyes and nodded. We both sat there for a long time, just staring at Jay’s chubby face while his tiny hand held my finger. From that day on, my little brother became the most important thing in the world to me.

When the plane came to a stop, I shook my head, coming back to reality. I looked at the door and then back at Jay, trying to decide what to do. I didn’t want to wake him up, but we had to go and couldn’t carry him and our backpacks down the plane’s stairs.

“I can carry him.” Donovan said, as if he read my thoughts.

I nodded and whispered a rushed thank you, as I unbuckled Jay and stood up, grabbing our backpacks from the floor. When Donovan lifted Jameson, he started to wake up.

“Shhh… It’s okay Jay, go back to sleep.” I said as I rubbed his face and my brother laid his head on Donovan’s shoulder and closed his eyes. When I turned, I saw Donovan looking at me with a hint of paternal pride in his eyes.

Walking down the steps, I realized we were again in a private hangar. Another black town car was parked close by, and Donovan walked straight to the back door, which he opened to reveal what seemed like a brand-new car seat correctly installed on the black leather seat. Donovan carefully placed Jameson in the seat and buckled him, all without waking him up. I was impressed.

For the entire ride, I looked out the window in amazement. Los Angeles is beautiful. The tall trees, the expensive stores, the beach, everything was new to me and I loved it. I was so distracted by the view that I didn’t notice we had arrived until I felt someone pulling on my shirt. Turning my head, I saw that Jay was already out of his car seat and trying to get me out of the car.

I grabbed our backpacks and got out, walking toward the front door, but stopped in my tracks at the sight of the gigantic house in front of me. Actually, calling it a house wasn’t fair. This was a mansion.

The two-story building looked like one of those places you see on a magazine. It was all white, with shiny silver handlebars on the front door, and so many windows. The entrance was surrounded by tall pillars and the front door appeared to be large enough to be the garage door. The second floor had almost an entire glass wall, which at that moment reflected the orange sky, making me imagine how wonderful it would be to sit up there wrapped in a blanket just to watch the sunset.

After a few seconds of staring at the house with my jaw dropped, I turned around to try to organize my thoughts, just to get another shock. I hadn’t noticed that the limo was parked in the circular driveway, so when I turned around thinking I would see the street, I ended up facing the colorful front yard. I had never seen such a well-kept garden before. Each bush and flower seemed to have been meticulously designed to be in harmony with the tall palm trees and the fountain. They had a fountain, for God’s sake! Who has a fountain spouting water up in front of their house?

Taking a deep breath, I slowly turned back around to find Donovan standing with his hand on the door and staring at me like he was waiting for me to have a breakdown. “Not yet, but it might be coming”, I thought to myself. I gave him a half-smile to show I was okay, and he opened the door.

When I tried to walk, I felt someone holding my leg and looked down to see Jay grabbing on to me for dear life, his eyes wide in shock and his mouth hanging open. I guess I wasn’t the only one overwhelmed by the house. Removing his arms from my leg, I grabbed his hand and gently pulled him inside.

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