“I’m so sorry. Time got away from me.” Hurrying into the house I felt like an ass for leaving my child alone for an afternoon rendezvous with Logan.
Chelsea just smiled at me, “No, I should be the one sorry. I tried to keep Brandt from texting, but he started to get worried. You know how he gets. And here I wanted to give you two some more time...” She smirked at me looking for details as my eyes widened in surprise.
“What? What are you talking about?”
Chelsea placed her arm around my shoulder and giggled, “You don’t need to cover it up. Please. I noticed the way you two were looking at each other all week.” She knew?
“Are both adults. And for the record, I think you two would be perfect for each other.” She thought we became involved recently not knowing we had a past. Although I didn’t want her to think we hooked up while I was in town, the alternative was worse. She was only half correct and I didn’t feel there was any reason to tell her the truth.
“I think it is cute. Logan made excuses to come and see you all week. He was never here that much when we had the whole house security redone last year, although I knew why he kept coming around this time.” Her eyes danced in delight as I sat there stunned. So much for keeping it a secret. Well, at least from her.
“Does, ah... Brandt know?”
She chuckled and shook her head, “Brandt doesn’t want to think you are seeing anyone. You are his little sister. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t tell him if he asked. I can’t keep any secrets from him, and neither should you.” She poured me a glass of wine to match her own and we walked out to the deck where the kids were swimming in the cooler night air.
“It isn’t a secret it is just, well, I have too much at stake.” Following my gaze to Lena splashing in the shallow end of the pool, she gave me a sympathetic half smile.
Brandt noticed my return, “Hey sis, you get lost or something?”
I smiled and nodded, “Kind of. Time got away from me.”
Leaving his post as lifeguard, he came over and wrapped his arms around his wife giving her a kiss on the cheek. ”Aww, it was fine. The kids were wearing off all their sugar consumption in the pool. You deserve some time for yourself to shop and get away before you leave tomorrow.”
Feeling guilty and a little relieved he didn’t catch on; I sipped my wine slowing unable to meet his gaze. In a way, I enjoyed feeling like shit. Actually, I’d gotten accustomed to it over the years but coming clean now seemed counterproductive. The passion and tenderness I shared with Logan was a figment of my undersexed imagination. Logan wanted to fuck. I wanted more. I wanted the old Logan, but he didn’t think of me in that way anymore so there was no reason to pursue this further.
“Speaking of which, I should get the kids out of the pool.” Chelsea put her wine on the outdoor table when Brandt stopped her.
“No, you just finished cleaning.” The thought made my guilt worsen. I should have been here to help. Cleaning was Chelsea’s thing but really it was my kid’s birthday party. “Let me get them ready for bed.”
“Thanks.” She kissed him briefly on the lips tenderly. Tears formed behind my eyes as I realized I wanted the type of love they shared. They had been in love with each other since meeting in Wisconsin and theirs was a forever kind of love. I thought I had that with Logan, but I was wrong.
As Brandt wrangled up the kids and toweled them off to push them inside to dress, Chelsea noticed my somber mood, “So what happened between the two of you?”
Not wanting to break a confidence I hesitated telling Chelsea, but I also knew she was the closest person to a sister I had and would be a worthy confidant. It wasn’t like she didn’t figure it out on her own anyway. “I fell in love. He fell in lust. Not a good way to start a relationship.”
Putting her arm around my shoulders she gave me a brief squeeze, “Oh, I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Logan is such a nice guy too.”
“What about me?” Turning around from my view of the ocean, I looked into his eyes. My brain was slow to comprehend. Logan? Here? Why?
Chelsea only laughed, “Logan I keep forgetting you know your way around our security system. Come in.” Smiling she got up to greet him but her look of welcome soon turned dark. Logan’s furrowed brow and tense jaw seemed so out of place here at her house.
Before I had a chance to answer him, he all but pounced on me, “Don’t tell me you finally told someone about us?”
Glancing at the door to make sure the kids were inside as well as Brandt, I brought my voice down. “Logan, why are you here? I thought... I thought we settled this earlier.” Nervously I motioned to Chelsea. She may know about us, but there was a houseful of people who didn’t and I planned on keeping it that way.
“Earlier didn’t exactly go as planned. You weren’t supposed to leave like you did. I was supposed to throw you out.” His words sliced through me. He didn’t want me? Why the hell did he incessantly hound me this whole week? Unless of course he knew he didn’t have any feelings for me and was just playing me.
Anger rose inside of me matching his, “Why did you pursue me so fucking hard this week? What was that in the hotel? Was I just a revenge fuck?”
Of course, Brandt chose that moment to walk onto the deck. He looked between the two of us and then at Chelsea.
Logan squared his stance, his anger still seething underneath the surface. “Yes you were. You were supposed to be the ultimate revenge fuck. I wanted to crush your heart like you did mine.”
Brandt closed the distance confused but ready to step in if needed. “Logan, I think you should leave. I’m not sure you are welcomed here anymore tonight.”
Still reeling from his words, tears produce pinpricks to the back of my eyes. This whole week I thought there might be a chance but instead I was made a fool. And now I had to explain this to my big brother making the situation all the worse.
The pain of his words settled inside me and I choked up, “Well it worked. You made a mockery of what we shared. You hurt me more than you would ever know.” I let a tear fall but quickly wiped it away. All I thought about was how I fell for him both earlier and now. Then a vision of Lena popped into my head and it hurt all the more. If we were to reconcile, Lena could have had her family.
Logan addressed Brandt but didn’t tear his eyes away from me, “I won’t be leaving. I need more answers first.”
His irritation seemed undermined by my tears and he softened, but Brandt didn’t back down from his original request. “Well, I’m not sure either of us wants you here right now.” He was being a big brother. Always protective of me and although I loved him for it, I know I shouldn’t hide behind him either.
“No Brandt. It’s okay. I’ll answer Logan’s questions.” Turning to Logan I showed my defeat, “What do you want to know? How much I cared about you before you squashed all my hopes? How much I’ve been pining for you after all this time? The reason why I couldn’t even date anyone since being with you all those years ago?” He hurt me. He hurt me bad but I hurt him first, so didn’t I deserve it?
Brandt’s look of confusion deepened as he studied me first and then Logan. It was matched with Chelsea’s but I didn’t care anymore. I was no longer a scared young girl, and we needed to get this out in the open. I was finished with the secrets of our past. Besides, Logan sensed my defeat and softened noticeably making a more amicable discussion feasible.
“I... I...” My words must have struck a chord as he stuttered his reply. “I thought about you just as much.” He thought about me too? His steel blue eyes showed a tinge of pain and I sensed the old Logan was still in there. As if by force field, his blue eyes widened causing unease to surface. “Something you said earlier made me think and...” He was talking through his thoughts. “Seven years?” His expression changed to one of alarm. All at once, I feared his next question.
“Who is Lena’s father?” Panic gripped me to the point I couldn’t breathe. I knew I wanted everything out in the open, but I hadn’t been prepared for this. When I didn’t reply he came closer striking a response from Brandt to do the same, “Who is Lena’s father Rea? Tell me.” The forceful words struck me, and a slew of new tears flushed my eyes.
My body started shaking. This was the moment of truth, but I feared the retributions from it. He came up quickly grabbing my shoulders forcing me to look him in the eyes, “Who is Lena’s father Rea!”
“Get your hands off her.” Brandt noticed my panic and went to remove his arms from me forcing a confrontation between them if I didn’t do something.
“You are!” Screaming it at him, my voice lowered considerably after the first sentence. “You are her father. I haven’t been with anyone since. I fell in love with you that summer and I have been in love with you ever since.” The force of my declaration caused his grip to soften. His shock dwindled into confusion before turning docile. He guessed Lena was his daughter but until I confirmed it, he wasn’t committed.
Letting me go, he stumbled until his legs hit the back of a deck chair and he collapsed down into the cushions. His eyes left mine and now firmly planted into the deck boards in front of him in search of something. The rush of adrenaline had left his body with the blow of my words and his newfound fatherhood. No one was moving. Silence spread around us all except for my whimpered tears as I fought to stay sane.
"Momma?” Lena walked out on the deck and noticed the tears falling from my face. She tilted her head in concern and bewilderment knowing something was going on.
Looking at her now, I realized she deserved to know too. “Come here baby.” Motioning her to my side, I took her little hand and walked her over to where Logan was seated. Logan studied her in a way he hadn’t before, noticing the resemblance so easy to mistake when you weren’t privy to the truth.
Kneeling down, I got to her level after drying my face. I never let her see me cry much and I didn’t want her scared. “Baby, I did a horrible thing. I screwed up. I hope you can forgive me.”
“What momma?” Her eyes grew large and I wanted to get through this before she became anymore concerned than she already was.
“I, ah... I kept your daddy from you. I didn’t know where he was for a while, but I should have told you about him when I found him.”
Her big blue eyes, so much like Logan’s eyes, bored into me while I swallowed down the lump in my throat. “Did you find him momma?”
I nodded, “And I just told him about you too, so he is a little shocked just like you are. He may need some time to figure things out as well. Maybe you could help each other?” Glancing up at Uncle Brandt and then at Chelsea she finally returned back to me and nodded.
Turning her around, I introduced her to her father. Logan still had that stunned look on his face but something inside him softened when she was near. “Logan is your daddy.”
Lena’s smile started off small and blossomed until it appeared half the size of her face. I think she would have chosen him anyway and relief flooded me in the form of fresh tears. When she looked back down, I addressed her father, “Logan, this is your daughter.”
Dropping my hand, she inched closer to him when his large arms circled her and drew her into his embrace. Wrapping her little arms around his large neck, she hugged him with enthusiasm. “Hi daddy!” He laughed but was too overcome with emotion to say anything.
Logan didn’t want to let her go but when she started to struggle, he relented. She walked back over to me, “Can my new daddy tuck me in tonight? I want him to read me my new pirate book.”
“Yes, of course, that is if he wants to.” The look Logan gave me said it all. He wanted more than to tuck her in. He wanted to be a part of her life and a new fear seized me.
“Of course I do. Why don’t we go now?” Standing up slowly, he engulfed her little hand in his and smiled down at her so tender I had to turn away. They left the deck through the patio doors, but I knew the conversation was far from over.
Chelsea dried her eyes and squeezed my shoulder before nodding at Brandt. “I’ll get the rest of the kids in bed and give you two time to talk.” She grabbed my hand lending me her strength before turning to the house. Brandt’s look of shock started to fade which was good because right now I just needed my big brother.
Fresh tears fell faster as he enveloped me into his arms. Sobbing until I couldn’t cry anymore, he kept me in his embrace but it did nothing to calm my fears. “I scr... screwed up Brandt.”
He shushed in my ear to calm me, but I knew I messed up again. Made the wrong decision. I was so sick of disappointing everyone. “Why Rebecca?” It didn’t come out as an accusation, just him trying to understand.
“He was going away to the army. It was his dream. I couldn’t... I couldn’t crush that.”
Squeezing me harder, he rested his chin on my head, “You were the girl from Iowa.”
He chuckled, “Logan came to me right before the end of the tour. He told me he wanted to give up the army for a girl. I told him not to.” He sighed before going on, “I wish you would have told me.” My brother even told him to follow his dream. I shook my head. So many secrets that hurt so many people. We should have come clean seven years ago.
“Don’t worry Rea. This will pass. You and Logan will find a way around this.”
Brandt’s grip on me loosened as I nodded and backed up. “We need to talk. Work things out between the two of us. Figure out a system to look after... after...” More tears but this time with the knowledge I would lose my daughter. Things would be different from now on.
“Let things settle before deciding on anything.” Breaking away from his safe embrace, I let him dry my tears with the palm of his hand.
“Can you let him know I went to the pool house? I don’t think he will leave tonight until we have something set up though.” Brandt nodded and kissed my forehead. I left him and made my way to the pool house pondering what he said, but still feeling like I not only lost the best thing in my life but lost the best two things in my life.