I got up and showered, my mind and body awake and ready for the day ahead of me. I woke up today feeling refreshed, relaxed, and content, something I was normally never used to. I don’t remember going to bed last night, I woke up in my clothes from yesterday and that didn’t really seem normal for me, considering I only woke up in my clothes from the night before when I was at college and too drunk off my ass to care to change before bed. I remembered putting the boys to bed, going into my room after I had called the club with the intent to talk to Bennu, but she wasn’t there. I remember being on the computer and also Lana calling me, but I couldn’t remember what we had talked about.. Sometimes, though a little rare, she would call me and let me say goodnight to Lucy, but only because Lucy would make her. Did Lana call because Lucy wanted to talk to me? Did I tell her goodnight? I don’t know why I couldn’t focus enough to remember though.. I held Gareth in the rocking chair, trying to get him to sleep for his nap like Gibson was, but he was being fussy as usual.
I stood from the rocking chair and walked over to his crib, looking to Gareth and he was still pretty awake and deciding against putting him in his crib since I knew he would only cry the moment I put him down. I heard the doorbell ring and I wondered who it could be; everyone I knew that was close to me knew the combination to the gate and could get in, so it had to be someone trying to sell something.. I sighed and looked to Gareth again, “Wanna see who’s at the door with me?” I asked and Gareth wiggled in my arms, “I’ll fix you a bottle while we’re downstairs too, maybe that will get you to sleep, huh?” I coaxed and walked towards the door, exiting out and going downstairs.
The bell rang once more and I was growing just as impatient as they were, “Alrighttttt, alright..” I said out loud, getting to the intercom and pressing the button to talk, “Sorry, whatever you’re selling I’m not interested,” I say into the panel, then holding down the listening button.
“Oh, I’m not selling anything, Mr. Duboys.. My name is Reed Grander, I’m a detective at the Bridgeport Police Department. Do you mind if I come in and ask you a few questions?” The man asked and I grew confused, wondering what he could be doing here.
I pressed the talk button once more, “Oh.. Um, sure.. I’ll open the gate and you can park your car,” I replied and pressed the button to open the gate for him.
I peaked out one of the large windows in the foyer and saw a well built man walking towards the door, though he didn’t wear the typical black or blue uniforms I was so used to seeing on cops. As he grew closer to the door, I unlocked it and opened it, ready for him to come in and for whatever reason he was here, I wanted to come off as polite as possible; I was never a fan of cops, hated them, actually.
He reached the door and came in, shutting it behind him and giving me a warm smile as he removed his sunglasses. He was an older man, I’d guess maybe in his mid to late 30’s, “Hello, Mr. Duboys.. Again, I’m Detective Reed Grander from the department and I was wondering if I could get a minute of your time,” he introduced himself once more and I grew a little irritated by how he was pronouncing my name.
“It’s pronounced Doobwah, actually..” I corrected him.
“Ahh, a Frenchman, my apologies.”
“Don’t worry about it.. Just curious, do you mind if I see your badge?” I asked, wanting to make sure I didn’t just let a random stranger into my home claiming to be someone else.
“Oh, of course, of course..” Reed answers, reaching into his back pocket and flashing me his credentials. Seeing the badge in the flesh made my nerves increase a bit, the golden emblem shining at me and even through all of my wild college days, you’d think I’d be used to seeing it by now, but no.. It still made me cringe at his authority.
“Thank you.. Now, what can I help you with?” I wondered.
“Cute kid,” he replied, not answering my question and I looked down to Gareth.
“Thanks..” I answered, looking back up to him.
“He yours or are you baby sitting for someone?” He asked next and I raised my brow.
“He’s mine,” I replied somewhat protectively.
“Hmm, how old are you?” His next question came and I gave a gentle grimace.
“So young still to be having children, but congrats. What’s this little ones name?” He asked next and I was already growing tired of him wanting to know my life story; why was he so interested in me in particular?
“His name’s Gareth, his twin brother Gibson is sleeping upstairs,” I answered, my patience growing thin for this man already.
“Wow, twins? Must be a handful,” he added.
“Well, yeah, any newborn is. They’re only a few months old, too,” I continued and I watched him keep him smile the whole time and he then nodded.
“Wonderful.. I have a few kids as well. Though, it’s a pretty big age gap,” he replied. I didn’t like this small talk, it seemed forced with him and for some reason I felt like he was lying that he had children, I don’t know why.. Was he stalling until I did something about Gareth? Why is he even here?
“I’m sorry, but I’m trying to get this little guy to nap. I’m going to make him a bottle and put him upstairs, you can make yourself at home if you’d like,” I offered and turned around, making my way towards the kitchen.
“Thank you, I will,” he replied with a polite tone and I heard his footsteps slowly walking behind me as I went to the kitchen.
I made Gareth his bottle and fed him, watching as his eyes wandered around the room as he drank and this was always my favorite time with Gareth; he was awake, but not fussing since he couldn’t with his mouth full. I chuckled a little as he hiccuped when the bottle was almost done and his eyelids were getting heavy as well, just what I wanted to happen. I had to admit, it was a little difficult being with the boys alone for weeks at a time like this without Faline, she was so good with them and especially Gareth; if he needed to sleep but was being stubborn, all I would usually need to do was give him to Faline and she could get him to sleep in no time. I had more luck with Gibson. Gibson loved both of us, but Gareth tended to be more calm and ‘alive’ when Faline was around.
I brought Gareth upstairs after feeding him and he went right to sleep, then making my way back downstairs and I approached Reed and stood just passed the doorway, standing in the small library Faline had established over the short period of time she had been here; in one year she had almost filled every single shelf with books that she’s had her whole life, as well as plenty of new additions to her collection. Personally, I hate books, it always reminded me of school, and of course I hated school, but having this library to walk through every day to get to the kitchen or the living room was nice; I liked the smell of all the leather bounds and paper, as weird as it may sound.
“Nice library.. Yours?” He asked.
“No, my girlfriend’s.” I answered, hating that we were back to small talk once more when I was extremely curious as to why he was even here in the first place.
“She the mother of the twins?” I scowled at his question, trying to figure out if there was any hidden meaning behind it, but I answered regardless.
“..Not that it should matter, nor is it any of your business, but yes, she is,” I said confidently, which is more than I could say for Lana.
“And where is she?”
“Do you plan on marrying her anytime soon? Maybe when she graduates?” Reed asked and I grew a little nervous.. I never really thought about marrying Faline, at least it had never crossed my mind until now. I wasn’t really the marrying type, but then again, I had asked Bennu out of the blue before, so maybe I was? I don’t even know..
“Maybe,” is all I could say and I watched him nod at my response, but still didn’t look towards me.
“Do you always keep pictures of your ex’s in the books?” Reed asked and it caught me off guard.
“This book, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, great book by the way.. There’s a picture of you and Lana Hughes. You look around the age of your late teens, you looked happy,” he added and my eyes widened in surprise, yet I glared at him quickly with a grimace.
It astonished me that out of all the books in the entire collection, he had picked the one book where I had put a picture of Lana and I together. He was right, I was 18 and she was 17 in the picture he mentioned, it was just after she had told me she was pregnant with Lucy. Was he that good, or just that lucky to find that photo? “What about it,” I said with a short tone.
“Just an interesting book to choose to hide a picture,” he replied and I was confused; exactly what is he trying to get at? What is he trying to figure out?
“Who said I was hiding it?” I retorted, though it sounded stupid coming out of my mouth. I was hiding it, but only so Faline wouldn’t see it and I could keep it to remember a time in my life where Lana and I actually got along. I can’t even remember the last time I was happy with her like I was in that picture.
“Uh-huh.. Shall we sit?” He continued, ignoring my question once again and we made our way to the lounge area Faline had set up when she decorated her library.
“So, Mr. Duboys-”
“It’s Doobwah, and just call me Jason..” I answered, cutting him off before he could continue. Was he saying my name like that on purpose to piss me off or something? Because it was working.
“Well, Jason.. How many children do you have?”
“There’s just Gareth and Gibson, my boys.”
“No others?” He questioned as if he didn’t believe me.
“Well, I was led to believe that Lana had a daughter with me, Lucille, but I actually found out a little while ago that she wasn’t mine, so.. It’s.. Just the boys,” I repeated myself, hating that it seemed as if he was trying to stir up some kind of emotion from me by asking such questions.
“I have a boy and a girl.. Ryan is almost 11 now, and Jayda is 8,” he added. Why did this feel so weird? So.. Familiar? It took a moment for me to realize that he was talking to me exactly how Lana’s mom used to talk to me when I was a kid and I first started going to her for help, yet his way was more.. Intimidating. “You’re a good father, Jason, at least from all that I’ve seen and heard,” he added.
“..What do you mean, heard?”
“You and Lana Hughes were close, yes?” He asked, once again, ignoring my question to him; it was starting to really irk me.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what you’re trying to get at.. You obviously know who Lana is, and it seems you know more about me than I’m comfortable with.. Though, I don’t think you’re grasping our relationship.. You’re guessing that we were close, knowing full well that we had-” I paused, catching myself at my own words and stopping when I was about to say that Lucy was mine, “Well, it seems to me that you know about Lucy, too, but to answer your question regardless, yes.. We were close.. Ever since we were kids, actually.”
“Do you have any reason to believe that someone would want to cause harm to her?” He asked and I raised a brow in more confusion.
“Well.. No, not really.. I mean, she might be a little hard to get along with sometimes, but I don’t think anyone ‘has it out for her’ or anything like that. She’s a difficult woman, to say the least, but no..”
“Not even you?” He continued and I glared at him, “Finding out that Lucy wasn’t yours must’ve really made you resent her.”
I was beginning to get worried a little, and also very angered at the way he worded things, what was he getting at? From the way he was making everything sound, it seemed like something happened to her, that or she was just being stubborn again and I then began to feel as if he came here to give me a restraining order. Does she really not want me around Lucy to the point she would go this far though? I haven’t done anything bad to her that I could recall that would make her take such wild actions. “Of course I resent her a little, anyone would.. Wouldn’t you resent your wife if she told you Ryan and Jayda weren’t yours after you put in all the time, effort and money? Hearing them call you ‘dad’ ever since they could talk? Giving them everything and sacrificing so much just to see them happy?” I asked in return and his expression didn’t seem to waver. “But no, I wouldn’t do anything to her.. It would only risk me completely losing Lucy, she’d take her away from me and I don’t want that to happen, so thankfully we’re still on good terms.. Well, the best terms that we can be, I suppose, after hearing news such as that..” I reply. Reed didn’t say anything for a few long seconds, his expression barely changed and he hardly blinked as he stared at me after my answer.
Reed then went back on the subject of Lucy, something I was finding somewhat hard to talk about, “Lucy is a very beautiful girl, she has a lot of her mother’s features.. I’ve also met with Matthew Hamming today, she looks a lot like him as well,” my heart sank to his words and I sighed.
“Would you mind telling me why you’re here, Detective Grander? I’d like to know that instead of you reminding me over and over that the daughter I thought was mine isn’t.. It’s beginning to upset me,” I suggested strongly and he leaned back a little in the chair, relaxing more.
“Of course, my apologies, Jason.. I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” he said with a smile, changing the subject once more, “Well, under better circumstances, I’d be happy to be meeting all of you today, but I will get to the point, like you’ve asked,” he replied and I was thankful that he finally stopped prying into my business.
“Jason.. There’s been an incident. Lana Hughes was found dead early this morning.. It appears that she had fell off of her balcony over the railing,” he continued and I was shocked and in disbelief.
“W-w-what?! H-how?” I asked in a panic.
“Well.. We found alcohol in her system and there was a radio that was still on blasting music upon the balcony. We’ve come to believe that she was drunk, maybe dancing, and judging by the heels she was wearing, she might’ve lost her footing and she fell over the railing, landing 30 stories down on the road below.. The surveillance video shows us nothing because the building was being worked on, and the cameras within the lobby and elevator weren’t working, so we have no evidence if someone had come up there and pushed her off and there was no sign of a struggle, thus ruling it as just an accidental fall. The neighbors, too, couldn’t tell us anything, they were either asleep or could only hear her music outside from their windows being open, but nothing more, Lucy was asleep as well.. I’m.. Sorry, for your loss,” he concluded and I was at a loss for words.. I didn’t know what to say.
I slowly stood to my feet, avoiding eye contact with him as I held my twisting emotions inside, “Please excuse me for a moment..”
“Of course, take all the time you need, Jason,” Reed answered and I could tell in his tone he was genuinely sorry for me. I nodded gently and walked towards the kitchen, not knowing how I was going to express myself from the news once I got out of the sight of the detective.
I entered the kitchen and tears began to fall instantly. I couldn’t think. I could barely breathe as I thought of Lana, gone, dead, I’m never going to see her again. I’m never going to touch the warmth of her skin again or see the fire of anger and lust in her eyes when she looks at me.. Ever. The mother of my illegitimate child was now dead, a friend since I was a little kid, someone who’s been in my life for so, so long; gone..
I staggered over to the counter and put my hand upon it to catch myself from losing balance. I turned around and my knees finally buckled, dragging my back down the side of the counter and I sat on the floor, crossing my foot over the other as I continued to weep. As rough as Lana was towards me, and as much as I didn’t want her to be in my life anymore, I was so torn that she was gone.. I had gotten what I wanted. But, now with it being real, she was actually gone.. I didn’t know what to feel anymore. Now, all I could think about then was Lucy. Jesus.. Does she know? Did they tell her? Where was she, who was she with right now? Was I going to have to tell her what happened to Lana? Do I have to tell my baby girl that her mother is dead..? How will I be able to do that..
I was in the kitchen for about ten minutes to myself, forgetting completely that Detective Grander was there and I heard footsteps approaching the kitchen. I could see out of the corner of my eye him entering the room and he stopped by the doorway, “Are you alright?” He asked.
I shut my eyes and sat there silent for a moment, not knowing how to respond to him. How could I? He gave me only ten minutes to grieve and I still had so much to think about, to miss, to let everything out, but I suppose now was not the time.
“I’m sorry.. I don’t mean to interrupt your mourning, but there are still a few matters we must discuss, Jason,” he continued, my sobbing beginning to let up and I eventually nodded.
I was able to get back to my feet, but it was still hard to stand. I didn’t face the detective, I wanted my tears to get until control before I could actually talk to him. It was like an ongoing cycle that I was afraid wouldn’t stop; one tear fell, I would wipe it away, another would fall, again, I’d wipe it away. It seemed to never want to stop.
“I’m sorry, I wish I could leave and give you time to yourself and leave you with your sons, but we need to talk about Lucille,” he continued and caught my attention. Was Matt going to take her, or were they going to let Lucy decide who she wanted to be with?
I finally managed to control my tears, wanting to discuss Lucy as well and I eventually turned around and walked closer to Reed, “Well.. Does she know what happened to Lana?” I asked.
“Yeah, she knows.. Matt actually told her, because she wouldn’t talk to the social worker. We felt it was better to tell her sooner rather than later.. She would only get scared or worried for Lana,” he replied and I was a little angered that they had made that call, but also relieved that I didn’t have to tell her.
“How did she react? Is she alright?”
“Well, at first she didn’t quite understand, but once Matt finally arrived, someone she knew and was comfortable with, he was able to explain it and she grasped it better. She cried for a long time, wouldn’t really talk to anyone, demanded for Lana even when she knew she couldn’t see her, but.. I’d like to believe that she’s a little better now. Still emotional, yes, but she’s finally stopped crying.. She asked for her dad, which we assumed was Matt, but even after he came she still demanded for him, I can only assume she was referring to you now,” he answered and I wanted to tear up all over again but I managed to hold it in.
“W-Where is she now?” I asked after that, wanting to see her now more than ever.
“She’s outside actually, with the social worker, who also happens to be my wife, Janelle,” he replied and I went to go outside, but he put his hand to my chest, pushing me back to my place, “Please, there’s still something I need to discuss,” he insisted and I stopped, waiting for him to continue.
“I need to ask where you stand on Lucy’s housing situation.. I’ve talked with Matt and he said he would be open to taking Lucy.. He does have the right to take her from you, since he is her biological father,” I felt my body go numb and I didn’t know what to think.. I wanted Lucy so bad, I don’t know what I would do if Matt took over custody. “However, with him being married, he mentioned that his wife wouldn’t be too happy bringing home a child that wasn’t hers. He’s trying to keep his and Lana’s relationship secret, so he told me to offer you custody. If you agree, then you may have full custody, if you don’t, then Matt will still take her. Either way, she will have a home. So, should I tell Matt that he needs to take her? Or-”
“No, no, no! I want her, please! I want her, I want custody..” I answered quickly, cutting him off from saying anything else.
I watched as Reed soon smiled and nodded, “I’d expect no other answer from you than that.. Lucy clearly prefers you and cares for you, and you’ve been there for her. I’m sure she would be a lot happier here, too,” he replied and I let out a huge sigh of relief. I was so happy, even despite learning of Lana’s demise. I had always wanted Lucy, I’ve always wanted this, and although I wish Lana was still alive but me have custody of Lucy instead, I was still happy that she was finally all mine. “Well, she’s outside, let’s go get her, huh?” He continued and I nodded, following him out of the house and I couldn’t wait to see Lucy, but at the same time, I knew she was going to cry again over Lana once she saw me, and I hated seeing her cry. It was going to take the both of us a long time to get over this.
As we walked outside, I felt so nervous for some reason. Maybe it’s because I’ve never needed to comfort Lucy this much, I wasn’t ready for her to be so upset.. What was it going to be like now for her knowing she would never see her mother again? Reed knocked me out of my thoughts as I followed him outside, “We’re going to need you to sign some papers before we leave, they’re just papers saying that you’re taking responsibility for Lucy, and Matt has requested that you let him still be able to visit Lucy every once in a while.. Also, my wife will need to come back here a few times, just to make sure she’s being taken care of. I know you won’t disappoint her whenever she needs to visit, but it’s just mandatory.. You’re technically adopting her, so her visits will most likely only be a few times within the next year, then if she passes you, you have her officially.”
His words confused me a little and I grew more nervous, “Wait, so even after signing these papers, there’s still a risk of her getting taken away from me?” I asked.
“Well, yes, there’s a possibility.. But, if my wife comes over and sees that Lucy isn’t being taken care of, which is something I doubt will happen, considering your background, income, and good housing, you have nothing to worry about.”
“Oh, of course.. Yes, she’ll be well taken care of, I can promise that,” I replied with determinatin and he looked to me.
“I know that,” he reassured me and I appreciated his confidence in me.
We walk to the driveway and I see a blonde woman, around the same age as the detective and I assumed it was his wife he had been referring to. She held Lucy and she turned around to face us when she heard us coming, Lucy then lifting her head from the woman’s shoulder and looking to me. I was so happy to see her, though the moment she looked at me, her eyes watered within mere seconds and so did mine. She struggled to find words as she reached for me and I went to her, pulling her into my arms as quick as I could and she sobbed into my neck. There wasn’t anything that I could think of to say to her at that moment; she had just found out she had lost her mother, and I my childhood friend.. I wanted to tell her it would be okay, to stop crying, to let her know that we’ll get passed it eventually and things will be better, but I couldn’t; she wouldn’t understand, and I also didn’t want to lie to her.
Reed and his wife gave us both a moment to reunite and to calm down and I soon looked to them after wiping the rest of my tears away that I wasn’t able to hold in from seeing Lucy so upset. Reed’s wife reminded me of my mother a little, except my mother’s hair was longer and more vibrant, and she had blue eyes instead of Mrs. Grander’s teal green. I sighed softly as I thought of her for a moment, but Reed caught my attention once more, “This is my wife, Janelle, the social worker I mentioned, she’ll be visiting you a few times within the next year, like I had told you.. And this is Jason,” Reed introduced us both.
“It’s wonderful to meet you Jason.. Although my check-up’s may seem like a bother or a waist of time, I still need to do it, though I think I’ll have nothing to worry about every time I visit,” she said with a smile as she looked to Lucy.
I was happy by her words, nodding and accepting the conditions.
After signing the necessary papers outside with Reed, they left and we came inside. I checked on the boys before taking Lucy to her room and I spent the whole rest of the day with her. As much as I had done it before, it felt different this time, I felt more at ease with the situation since I didn’t have to worry about getting her home in time to Lana, nor did I have to worry about getting into another fight with her when I drop Lucy off.. I’d never have to worry about something like that again. It felt so.. Weird and wrong to think that way, to think positively of the situation, but then again, I was happy Lucy was all mine now.
It was rough handling 3 children now, especially on my own.. I couldn’t wait for Faline to come visit this weekend, maybe then I could get a breather and stop having to be on my toes going back and forth between the three of them. I fed the twins and Lucy and managed to put them all to bed when it was getting late. The twins were a little hard to handle tonight, since I was juggling with giving them attention now that Lucy was there and I wanted to pay a little more attention to her, just from what she’s been through all day. I wanted to make her day as easy as possible. I let out a long, lazy sigh as I waited for Lucy to fall asleep before leaving her room.
I was so exhausted from today, my eyes burned from crying and wiping away the tears so much. After coming downstairs from Lucy’s room, I checked on the boys one last time before going to my room where I laid down lazily on the sofa. I started to think of Faline and I wondered how she would react to all of this. I felt as if how I pictured her response was pretty accurate; first she would probably be happy that I got Lucy after all of this time, she’d probably be happy that Lana was out of my life for good, too, but she would also show me sympathy that she was dead instead of simply ‘gone’. I wished she was only gone; packing her bags and moving away.. I still wasn’t that ready to accept that she was gone forever, just knowing I’d never see her alive again only made me want to see her more, talk to her, call her, hold her..
I sat up slowly upon the couch, crossing my arms and holding myself as my core became weak and fragile. Tears formed in my eyes for what seemed like the millionth time today but I didn’t bother stopping them, feeling them trickle down my cheeks and landing on my knees. I needed comfort, I needed someone to tell me everything was going to be okay. I missed Faline so much, I hated and dreaded the nights that I had to sleep alone and with no one to hold on to and no one to hold on to me. But, I couldn’t call Faline just yet, I didn’t want her to be distracted while she was at college and if I had told her what happened and told her how upset I was, she would probably skip school and come home, but I couldn’t let her do that. Detective Grander’s question ran through my mind once more; “Do you plan on marrying her anytime soon?” Saying ‘maybe’ to his question had gotten me thinking though, and I wondered if it was the right time for this..? I couldn’t take losing anyone else, being married to Faline instead of her being just my girlfriend would probably make her think twice if she ever did want to leave me.. I knew Bennu always turned me down, but she was the only other woman I’d marry before Faline and she had already said no to that question; I didn’t even know where the hell she was.. But, I had children with Faline, I lived with her, I knew she loved me without ever needing to say it, but would I be marrying her for the same reasons? I let out a gentle chuckle as I thought of a few times in our relationship where I knew she wanted to hear those three little words, but I could never bring myself to do it. She never did either, which made me wonder if she was waiting for me to say them first and I wondered if she would even agree to marrying me without either of us ever saying those words.. I guess that’s something I’m just going to need to find out for myself.