Present Day (2020)
"They truly kicked you out for that?"
"Yeah" I grab my coffee mug and go to the table to sit with Derek.
"Where did you go? What did you do?"
"I stayed with Jamie until I could move into an apartment by the college down here. It was only a couple of weeks so it wasn't bad. My parents told me I needed to move away so I didn't tarnish their reputation."
"That's so wrong to say to your child."
"You know that my parents and I were never really that close, and they weren't very affectionate. They were more interested in their work and my grades than parenting. So anyway, I started college out here and fell in love with the area, I doubled up on my classes when I could so I'd finish quicker. I had a little two bedroom apartment with a small nursery for Jax. Your dad helped me put it together. He flew out because he was afraid I would fall off the ladder if I tried to do anything myself." I smile at the memory, I still can't believe he won't be here to see his grandson grow up.
"I miss my father so much, being in that house without him feels so wrong."
"When I flew out to arrange the funeral I stayed in your house and it was so strange. It was so quiet, very eerie. Jax did not like the house."
"How come you never told me you were pregnant?"
"I found out after you left for the military training. So I wouldn't have been able to get ahold of you then. So I planned to tell you at the brunch before our wedding but I didn't feel like we needed to discuss it in front of Aubrey, congratulations on your engagement by the way." We would never have had anything solved if she had gotten involved with the conversation."
"Are you serious? Why didn't you tell me after that?"
"You told Aubrey that we had never been together and I didn't want to make you out to be a liar. Especially since you were looking at me to back you up. So I did, I backed you up." He looks so disgusted with himself, like he's finally seeing that weekend for what it was. He never tried to contact me after that, and I never tried to contact him. "Don't be so hard on yourself. I never told you and you couldn't have known. I was going to give you an option."
"What do you mean? What options?"
"When I planned to tell you that I was pregnant, I thought out what I would say and how I would say it. I was going to tell you that I couldn't bring myself to end the pregnancy, and that if you didn't want to be a father yet, you did not have to. I wasn't going to force you. I just wanted you to know. You've always wanted to be a father, when the time was right of course, so I knew you would have wanted the option."
"You just raised Jaxon all by yourself?" He sounds heartbroken.
"Well no, I hired a nanny, Jessie, for when I'm working. I work 12 hour shifts at the hospital so there is a lot of time that Jessie is here with him. We've always joked around that she was my real 'baby-daddy'."
"Are you still single? Does he have a father figure?"
"No, he doesn't have a father figure, although Jessie's husband loves to take him to his t-ball games. He wasn't blessed to have boys, he has five daughters, and not a single one likes sports." I laugh just thinking about the looks on their faces when he suggest they go play outside and get dirty like regular kids. "I never wanted you to find out like this. I was hoping that you would contact me to check up or something and I could ask you to meet with me and we could discuss it, I don't think I would have been able to have this conversation over the phone."
"Why didn't my father say anything?"
"I asked him not too, he was the only helpful person in my life with the baby before I met Jessie. Jamie was there for support but she knew less about babies than I did and with my parents not even returning my calls to let them know that the baby was healthy I couldn't rely on them. I didn't want him to spill the beans and then you forbid him to come anywhere near me." I take a deep breath and dry my eyes. I didn't think this conversation would be this emotional.
"I'm so sorry I wasn't there."
"You didn't know. Also, where does Aubrey think you are, because I know she wouldn't just allow you to come here if she knew where you were headed."
"I didn't tell her, I made it like I was going into the shop for work and I went straight to the airport. I found the manilla folder yesterday and I tried calling, I couldn't reach you. So I did the next best thing. I came here."
"How are you holding up? I know this is a shock."
"It kind of makes sense now. Looking back, I see how desperate you were to get me alone so we could discuss Jaxon. My dad was pissed that I allowed Aubrey to get into my head, she convinced me that you only wanted to see me alone because you wanted to be together and that you were trying to ruin our relationship. I'm sorry I believed her."
"I made peace with this situation long ago. Jax knows that it's just me and him forever. He thinks that's the best thing ever. When Jessie had her youngest six months ago, her older children were feeling left out and they told Jaxon that when a mommy has a new baby she doesn't love the older babies anymore. So he believes that I won't love him anymore if I have a new baby."
"Have you been with anyone since me?"
"No, I was waiting for your graduation ceremony to try to get you back and I was hoping that we would be a happy little family. I was so naïve back then. I wanted Jax to have two parents so bad that I didn't stop to think about the logistics of us not actually being together. In my perfect little fantasy world, you were happy that I was pregnant, we had a real marriage, we got a house, a dog and Jax and we would live happily ever after. But like I said that was my perfect little fantasy world."
"I don't know what to say. That's a very extreme solution to the pregnancy."
"It wasn't just a solution for the pregnancy. I loved you and I wanted to be with you. I would have wanted to be with you even if I hadn't fallen pregnant. The house and marriage and the dog just came sooner in my fantasy world because of it. Your options still stand you know."
"You would allow me to be in Jaxon's life?"
"Yeah, why not? He asks about you all the time, and I know that you'd be a good father, the distance might be a little difficult but we could find a way to make it work, if you wanted to figure it out. I can see it now, you two kicking a soccer ball on the front lawn of your fathers house." He smiles at the thought, then frowns almost as if the daydream was crushed.
"Aubrey is selling the house."
"Of course she is. Did she say why?"
"It's not big enough. Four bedrooms and three baths and it's not big enough. She doesn't even want kids, she thinks they are a waste of her young years."
"So you don't want to sell the house?"
"No, but I'd do anything to see her happy."
"That's sickening, considering she doesn't care about your happiness. But I haven't signed divorce papers and the house is in our names, like together, so you might not want to let her go any further with that."
"What do you mean? Why both of our names?"
"When your father wrote his will he wanted to leave the house to Jaxon, and I told him absolutely not, that it would eventually come to light that he existed, and I didn't like that it was going to come from a lawyer and not me. So he asked if he wrote my name down, would I eventually give it to Jaxon since he is the only grandchild. I told him yes I would. Wait, did you even read the divorce papers?"
"Yeah okay, well anyway in the divorce paper its notes that you get all of the house, vehicles and everything on that property. I couldn't take that from you. However I still haven't signed the divorce papers so It's ours, and it says both of our names on the deed."
"Why haven't you signed?"
"I was waiting for you to agree or disagree to a visit facilitated by the lawyer to discuss all this stuff. He's sent 6 letters and received no reply. He thinks they are being intercepted by Aubrey. If I didn't hear from you Friday of next week I was going to sign and send them in. It didn't feel right to me anymore that you didn't know. He started asking questions about his father and I didn't really know what to tell him. So I told him the truth. I told him that we met in high school and we were best friends and we were blessed with a baby, but you left for the military before I could tell you and the military has kept us apart since. He asked to see pictures and I told him I didn't have any."
"Can I meet him?"
"Have you decided what you want? I'm not going to allow you to meet him if you're going to walk out of his life, he looks up to you even though he doesn't know you. He thinks you are a hero, saving lives and fighting wars. I don't think he could understand you walking away. If you don't want any part of this that is fine to, I'll keep up the lie that the military keeps you away but you have to stay away, you can't come back in 5 years and just decide you want to be a daddy."
"I don't know what I want. Aubrey doesn't want children, so I don't think she would let me bring him to my house."
"Let's say Aubrey doesn't exist in the equation, what else is holding you back?"
"Do you want to choose a life with Aubrey? Living in a big house, working 70 hours a week to keep up with her lifestyle, paying off her credit card debt, no children to fill the bedrooms?"
"No, I can't live like that."
"Then why are you marrying her? Why are you subjecting yourself to being miserable?"
"Because I love her."
"Yeah, I don't think you do, she definitely doesn't love you. I don't think she knows what love is. I didn't until Jaxon came. You don't have to decide right now what you want to do, you can have a couple of weeks. But you definitely need to get her to stop trying to sell the house, that will blow this whole thing up, and we've hidden it for over six years."
"I'm going to find a hotel in the city and take a couple of days to think about it."
"Okay you know where to find me, come during school hours or after 8 pm make sure you see me before you leave town."
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