The next morning Lola is still quite down. By lunchtime her mood has lifted, I think it had to do with Tomàs and I playing with her in the snow. We had way too much fun for her to stay so upset. Honestly, I feel terrible about her mom and can’t imagine how she must have been feeling. I was trying my best to be there for her and by her change in mood, I hoped it was working at least a bit.
Tonight, we were having Thanksgiving dinner as a family. My mom and Noah were doing most of the cooking, but I was helping my mom with dessert. I was currently slicing apples after my mom peeled them. My dad, Noah, and Kyle had gone to the country club for lunch, and Laura and Lola were upstairs playing with Tomás and Tessa. I figured now would be a good time to ask my mom about my dad and his illegal activities.
“Mom, can I ask you something?” I start.
“Sure hun, what is it?” She replies warmly.
“What exactly is it that dad does? I know it’s not completely legal,” I ask her.
“He supports all of us,” She replies switching to a cold tone.
“Yeah, but like what specifically does he do? I’ve heard he sells drugs and people. Is that true?” I ask not wanting another vague response, so I take the direct route this time.
My mom stops peeling apples and turns to look at me, “you don’t need to concern yourself with that. You will never have to be involved; it doesn’t pertain to you.”
“How?” I ask confused.
“You’re not the one taking over the business. And as far as your father’s business dealing you are lucky. Without him, all those drug dealers would still be after you. You should be grateful for his line of work,” she says with finality.
“So, you’re not going to tell me anything more than?” I ask.
“No, Cade. Please don’t bring this up again, especially around your father. It would really upset him,” My mom says with a sad look.
“You’re okay with what he does then? Selling people? Children, and young women so that we can live a lavish life?” I ask getting upset.
“I never said that. Please leave it. Trust me you don’t want to get involved with this. There is nothing you or I can do. It’s better to let it be and not get caught in the crossfire,” my mom says while staring me in the eye.
It seems like she’s tried to stop what he does before and got caught up in his world. I decide to leave this topic alone for now. I can see that my mom isn’t lying, and I know she has my best interest at heart.
I don’t know how I didn’t realize what my dad was doing sooner, well I guess I did I just didn’t bother. The past few years I was so messed up that I didn’t care about anything, especially the immoral actions of my so-called dad.
These past few weeks I had started to wonder about my real father, what he was like, if my mom told the truth, and if he was still alive. Maybe if I couldn’t get answers about Jeffery I could about my real dad.
“Can I ask you about something else?” I ask my mom as we continue to cook.
She lets out a sigh, “ask away but I can’t guarantee I’ll have an answer.”
“What was my real dad like?” I ask with a hushed tone.
“Oh Cade, that’s not any easier than your last question. You know you aren’t supposed to ask about that.” She says while looking around to see if anyone is listening in.
“Well, is what you guys told me even true? Was he some rapist? And is he still alive or did dad kill him or whatever?” I ask.
“This isn’t the time to talk about this, anyone could walk in. Look I’ll tell you this, he’s still alive and you don’t know the whole story. If you want any more information you’ll have to wait until it’s just us at home.” My mom replies with a serious look.
“Okay,” I reply and decide to stop questioning her.
Once the desserts are made I head upstairs and find Lola, Tessa, Tomás, and Laura. We all go outside and make snowmen. As we are putting the finishing touches on them, my dad, Noah, and Kyle pull up. Noah heads inside but Kyle and my dad come over to us. Kyle goes up to Laura and hugs her from behind while she arranges her snowman face.
I look at my dad as he watches us. I noticed that his eyes are on Lola the entire time. Lola either doesn’t notice or doesn’t want him to know she does, she keeps helping Tomás.
“I’m glad to see you’re having a good time,” my dad says while staring at Lola.
“Me too,” she replies and looks at him. Her gaze is intense, and I can tell she wants him to leave her alone.
“Well, I’ll be inside helping with dinner. See you all at 6 o’clock,” He replies and heads inside.
“Oh wow, it’s already 4, I better go inside and start to get ready,” Laura says.
Lola, Tomás, and I quickly finish up and then go inside. We set up a movie for Tomás to watch in the living room so that my mom can keep an eye on him while in the kitchen and then Lola and I head upstairs to get ready.
I lay on the bed while Lola plugs in a curling iron. I watch her get ready in admiration. I still can’t get over the fact that she wants to be with me. In the past girls would only hang out with me for my money or to have a good time. To think such an amazing person would want me for me is strange.
“What are you thinking about?” Lola asks knocking me out of my thoughts.
I watch her curl a piece of hair “You,” I reply with a wink.
“What about me?” She asks with a smirk.
“Why you’d even want to be with me. I mean look at you, you’re smart, like really smart. Somehow you get straight As while raising two humans. And you’re beautiful, God are you ever beautiful. And you are so carrying, I’ve never met someone who cared like you do. You actually put others before yourself, people say they do that, but I’ve never seen it actually happen.” I rant while stirring at her.
“Stop idealizing me Cade, I’m far from perfect,” Lola says with a raised eyebrow.
“Well yeah, but that’s what makes you so amazing. The imperfections, the life you’ve lived. It makes you, you. You’re so complex and unique, I mean compared to you I’m just some rich boy with daddy issues.” I say now looking at the wooden ceiling.
“Well, I appreciate the compliments. But you’re pretty great too. I mean the fact that you listen to me, like actually hear me out. And how you are honest and open with me. And how you respect me and my boundaries. You have no idea how much that means to me,” Lola says and I hear her voice break. “You have come to mean so much to me, I just, I well, I love you and I really mean that,” she says. I watch her and she has a few tears running down her cheeks.
Instead of talking I stand up and go over to her. I hug her and she squeezes me back. I hear her start to laugh.
“I swear I’m not usually like this, sorry for crying,” Lola says.
“Hey, there’s no need to apologize. You have a lot going on and you’re stressed it’s only natural. Plus, I don’t mind being here for you, I’m actually glad to be.” I tell her honestly.
I go back to the bed and watch as Lola keeps getting ready. “I asked my mom about my dad and my real dad today,” I blurt out.
“Yeah, what did she say?” Lola asks.
“She knows about my dad but told me to leave it alone. She gave me no details, but it seemed like she had tried to stop some of the stuff he did in the past and something bad happened. As far as my real dad she said he was still alive and that I didn’t know the whole story. She said she’d tell me more when we are alone back at home,” I tell Lola.
“At least she’s going to tell you about him,” Lola remarks.
“Yeah, I guess, I just wish she was more honest with me. Having to beg for answers really sucks,” I comment.
“Maybe she’s in a position where she can’t tell you. Maybe your dad has threatened her,” Lola replies.
“That’s probably true. I just don’t get why she stays with him,” I say trailing off. We fall into silence as Lola finishes her hair.
At 5:45, I get up and change my clothes for dinner. As I do so I decide to ask what’s been on my mind for a while now, “Do you have any idea why my dad was staring at you?”
I see her stiffen up, “I don’t know, but it was really creepy,” She replies.
“Yeah, I think I’m going to talk to him about it. Make sure you aren’t alone while we are here. I don’t want him to try anything,” I say with worry.
“Cade I’ll be fine, I can handle myself,” Lola replies.
“I’ve watched you almost get raped twice Lola, please just take my advice,” I say wanting to keep her safe.
She looks ready to argue but when she hears my tone she deflates, “Yeah you’re right. I’ll be careful.”
We head down to dinner with a weird feeling lingering in the air I can’t tell if it’s the conversation we had or something else.
Thanksgiving dinner starts off well, everyone was there on time, and no one was mad. Once everyone has their plates full of food my mom speaks up, “So I want us to go around the table and say what we are thankful for before we dig in. I’ll start, I’m thankful that we were able to bring guests this year, I really appreciate you girls and the kids coming. You’ve made this weekend so much happier for me just by being here. Kyle, would you like to go next?”
“Ugh sure, I’m thankful for my family, I know we don’t always get along, but I do love all of you and I am glad that you are all in my life,” Kyle says.
“Let’s go around the table,” My mom says when no one speaks up.
“I guess I’m next, I’m thankful for being invited, this is such a beautiful cabin,” Laura says shyly.
“I’m thankful for the food, even though I had to slave away in the kitchen all day,” Noah says trying to be funny.
“I’m thankful for our guests as well, I think they are adding so much to our family,” My dad says while looking directly at Lola. What the hell is this about, why won’t he leave her alone today?
“Cade it’s your turn,” My mom pipes up.
“Yeah, I don’t want to go,” I say.
“Just go man, I want to eat already,” Noah says.
“No,” I say.
“Why not Cade, there has to be something you’re thankful for, just say something so we can get on with it,” Kyle adds in.
“No, it’s the principle of it,” I say.
“For fuck sakes Cade, you have everything you could ever want, just go,” My dad says beginning to get angry.
“No,” I reply challenging him. There’s no way I’m letting him win this or do anything to Lola. He needs to know where I stand.