TWO YEARS AGO - Christmas Eve
When my hand reaches around the door handle, I already know something is wrong. Just from the feeling in my fucking gut.
“What the fuck is this?” I ask when I see my dad’s bags near the door.
Our usual babysitter is here. She’s young, maybe in her twenties. She looks my way but doesn’t say anything. Her red hair falls over her face and she turns her attention to Ellie when she sees my dad.
My father emerges from the hallway and heads towards the bags without a word. His broad shoulders are tense and he doesn’t make eye contact. He’s tall, dark and handsome but a complete asshole.
“You’re just fucking leaving?” I spit.
He looks at me and his face says it all. He’s leaving and I know exactly why. I know he’s been cheating on mom, I fucking know it. I just didn’t want to believe it.
I know their marriage hasn’t been great. Far from it. All the fighting leading to not talking at all, I should have seen it coming. I did see it coming but not now, “On Christmas fucking eve,” I grit my teeth in anger.
“As good a time as any,” he says without even blinking.
“What about your family?” I fume.
He shrugs as if it means nothing to him and if we mean nothing to him. He probably has another family, only if they knew what a piece of shit he really is.
“Daddy, will you come back?” Ellie asks, watching him intensively.
“No,” he answers and continues towards the door without glancing at Ellie. I watch her face fall, her small green eyes glisten and my hands shake. I place my hand on my dad’s shoulder and he turns to face me.
I feel my fist collide with his face and he pushes me back. I stagger, but rage is radiating through me.
I regain my balance and punch him again. Over and over. He’s not fighting back, he’s letting me hit him and I do. Taking all my anger out because this fucking prick deserves it. All the memories come flooding back to me. All the business trips that he takes, I’m sure a different woman accompanies him every time.
“That’s enough, Ace,” Logan tells me, I’m not sure when he came here but I can’t stop. My fist keeps colliding with his pathetic face and I can’t fucking stop.
Logan pulls me off the ground and pushes me against the wall. His eyes dart from me to Ellie. Not fucking here, not in front of her, he’s telling me with his eyes.
Logan is my best friend, we’ve been friends since we were kids. He knows me more than anyone. Theo and Josh don’t like Logan, they are adamant that he’s bad fucking news. But they don’t know him like I do, they don’t know he’s just a fucked up as I am.
My piece of shit of a father stands up, flattening his suit with his hand wiping the blood off his face with the back of his hand. He looks at me, nothing but shame in his eyes.
“You’re pathetic,” he tells me, “A stupid party boy with no future. You’re no son of mine.”
My eyes are on him and all I want to do is keep beating the fuck out of him. His words not having any effect on me anymore because he said it that many times.
The relationship changed overnight between my dad and I. One day we were eating ice-cream near his cabin, the one mom still doesn’t know about and the next he had me by the throat against the wall because I told him I didn’t want to be a fucking lawyer like him. This was four years ago.
“Let’s get out of here, you need to cool off,” Logan tells me and pushes me towards the door.
We go back to Logan’s place and his house is filled with people. His parents have gone away and return tomorrow so Logan’s brothers have decided to do what they do best. Throw a house party with no thought to the consequences they will be facing when the most expensive house on the street is trashed.
Logan hands me a bottle of whiskey and I drink. I drink until I can feel the burn in my throat. Half an hour passes and we’re miserably sitting in the garage passing the bottle of rum.
“You knew this was coming,” he tells me. Logan was the one to tell me that he saw my dad in the city one day when Logan was visiting his aunt. Dad was meant to be on a business trip, instead he was fucking someone in the back of his Porsche. I told Logan he was delusional, he didn’t know what he was talking about. But I knew the truth all along.
“I fucking know,” I snap.
He doesn’t reply.
Logan senses my mood and does the only thing he can think of. He hands me the keys to his dad’s beloved Chevrolet Corvette, “Let’s take it for a spin.”
Logan knows he will get in so much shit from his dad but he’s willing to do that for me. I had my eye on this car since his dad bought it, six months ago.
She fucking knows and she’s going to hate me.
I want her to. I need her to hate me but it’s going to destroy me. And I fucking deserve it. I’m ready to face the consequences that I’ve been running from for the last two years.
I lean with my elbows on the kitchen counter and just fucking breathe. I have the urge to hit something. Anything. But I can’t, not with Ellie here. I stay in the same spot for three fucking hours just so I don’t lose my shit.
When my mom comes home from work at two in the morning, my body instantly shoots up.
“I have to go,” I say and head towards the door, grabbing my keys from the table near the entryway.
“Ace is everything okay?” she asks, her eyes wide with concern and confusion. She knows when something is wrong and I know she can see right through my bullshit but she’ll drop it until I’m ready to talk about it.
“Fine, mom,” I say and keep going. I don’t have time to explain anything.
It’s the early hours of the morning and I would usually stay until the next day. I have a room here, the room that I lived in before I moved in with Liv and Zach.
This is the house my mom bought after dad just fucking disappeared. No one could find him, no one could reach him. He just disappeared off the fucking planet. Selfish prick. Left my mom without a cent, struggling to provide for Ellie and me.
I’m on my bike and driving towards the house in an instant. I push the speed past eighty miles per hour the whole way there. My concentration on the road but my mind keeps racing from one spectrum to the other.
I should have been the one to tell her. I had plenty of opportunities but I couldn’t get the fucking words out. How do you tell someone something like that?
I should have never got close to her.
I should have just stayed the fuck away like I planned to. Like I did the last two years, watching her from afar, keeping an eye on her. I fucked everything. I fucked her whole life and I’ve been living with it, living with the guilt.
I do a once over of the house and I know she isn’t here, even though her car is. I sprint to the dock, my eyes scanning for her. Nothing.
Fuck! Where the fuck is she?
I kick the ground and I run my hands through my hair, tugging on it roughly. I love it when her hands run through my hair, I love it when she just fucking looks at me.
She asked me once if I believed in love at first sight and I told her that I believe in hating anyone that does. But I’ve been in love with her since I first fucking saw her, I just didn’t know it then.
My mind races a million miles per hour trying to think of where she could go. Where she could be.
I roughly know where she lives. It’s not far from here and I sprint towards her house.
I pound on the door, “Calla!”
Nothing. I stand back and check, making sure the house is indeed Mia’s. The weird fucking tree at the front tells me that it is.
I knock on the door again. Louder.
After a few seconds of silence, I lift my hand up to knock again but before I have the time to, the door swings open and my face falls.
“What the fuck, Ace? It’s three in the morning!” Mia answers, her hands crossed over her chest. She doesn’t look thrilled to see me, her face is scrunched up and her eyes are narrow.
“Is she here?”
“She is, isn’t she?” I ask irritated.
“No, Ace,” she replies but I know she is. I look up towards the bedroom window but I can’t see shit.
I try to push past her quickly but she blocks me. Her small arms leaning against both sides of the doorway. I could easily lift her out of my way but I doubt it will go down that easy. I can see the fire in her eyes, she is ready to rip my head off like a little vixen. Fuck.
“Ace. Don’t fuck with me,” she warns me. Her face is serious and I know she knows too. Calla must have told her.
“Did she tell you?” I ask anyway.
“You need to leave. Now. She’ll talk to you when she’s ready.”
“And what if she won’t?”
And she has every right not to talk to me ever again but I need to hear her voice.
“Then she’s not ready,” she says and shuts the door in my face.
What the fuck.
I lift my hand to knock on the door again but it suddenly opens and Mia glares at my hand, “I wouldn’t do that if I was you, Ace Blackwell,” she says her eyes piercing through mine and she shuts the door in my face again.
“FUCK!” I yell, letting my anger out and drive my first through the stupid fucking tree at the front. I swear I heard a crack; the sound of my knuckles shattering, but I felt nothing.