Generation 4, Chapter 19

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“Okay! Okay, I- I lied about what happened with Jody and August.. And my uncle.. I lied about all of it,” I admitted, my heart racing as I looked at him and I could tell just by looking in his eyes how quickly his anger was rising.

“So, this is why you’ve been so tired.. It’s exhausting work keeping track of so many lies, isn’t it? ..You just can’t stop, can you?” He asked after a long silence.

“W-What..?”

“You’re just a chronic liar, aren’t you? You can’t go a single day without lying,” he pointed out.

“No, I’m not! I just-”

“Just, what?! It’s the truth and you know it! You lied about everything and you’ve been going behind my back for years!”

“I-I just.. I kept the truth from you,” I tried to broaden my reasoning to something just, but he wasn’t having any of it.

“And that makes it better? You can’t be fucking serious,” he asked, somewhat baffled.

“N-No, you’re right, it doesn’t.. I’m sorry.. ”

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“So, what really happened?” He asked and I froze, knowing he was going to ask eventually and I had no idea why I had convinced myself that he wouldn’t.

“What..?”

“I know you can hear me, so stop playing dumb, Oliver! It’s not fucking cute and I’m sick and tired of waiting to hear the truth, which apparently I’ve been waiting, what? Six years to hear it?! Everything that I’m going to ask, I want a truthful answer, and if you lie to me even once, I am going straight upstairs and we’re gone, you hear me?” He threatened again to take the kids and leave and I only felt more tears falling from my eyes, but I nodded in agreement.

“I’ll tell you the truth! I’m sorry.. I promise I will, just please don’t do that,” I replied with a weak voice, acting like a dog with its tail between its legs, but if fully submitting to him kept him and the kids here with me, I didn’t care how weak I looked. Isaiah stared at me with disappointment and anger in his eyes, though I noticed he was trying to calm himself down before speaking with me, something I appreciated him taking the time to do so he could talk to me with as open of a mind as he could.

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“Were you really going to your Uncle Gareth’s house?”

“Yes..”

“Did he really bust his knee and need your help?” He asked and I hesitated a moment.

“..No..” I answered and he shook his head gently in disbelief before continuing.

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“I knew it,” he voiced under his breath, “Was it just you and your uncle there?”

“No.. My uncle was never really there, he just let me borrow his place..”

“And who else was with you? Was Jody there?” He asked next and my bottom lip trembled more, knowing that if he didn’t hate me yet, he probably would after this answer.

“Yes..” I replied and I watched as his expression fluctuated completely, turning away from me before I could read exactly what it meant and I stood from the bed to step closer towards him in a slight panic.

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I wiped my face clean of tears, “I’m sorry, Isaiah, I-”

“You told me you weren’t seeing her behind my back. At the hospital, when I asked, you told me you weren’t,” he spoke as if I had already broken his heart and I turned him around, making him look at me.

“And I wasn’t! You asked if I was seeing her romantically and I said no! That was the truth! I would never cheat on you and I could never look at her like that, not after what she did to me,” I answered.

“Then what did you do with her up there at your uncle’s? You never touched her? You never thought about it?”

“No, I never thought about it.. Not once.. She- She did make me touch her one time, but I didn’t want anything to do with it!” I made known and his eyebrows furrowed.

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“..Was she wearing clothes?” He asked next and I didn’t know what to tell him, Isaiah seeing the answer in my eyes and he reached up to remove my hands from him and he pushed me away.

“Don’t even touch me.. I don’t want you anywhere near me right now,” he continued and I watched him sit down, turning his attention away from me, but I could still see how upset he was.

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I quickly bent down in front of him, persistent in making him see that I didn’t do it on my own free will, “Isaiah, she took my hand and placed it on her all by herself.. When she noticed that it didn’t do anything for me, she made a terrible attempt to kiss me to get me to like it and I didn’t want anything to do with that, either..”

“So now you touched her and kissed her? What’s next? Did she make you have sex with her again?” He assumed angrily and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was calling me a liar for saying she had forced me before..

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My own brow furrowed in slight anger, “Look.. I know you’re angry with me, Isaiah, and you have every right to be, but are you seriously implying that I lied about her forcing me the first time? You really think I’d lie about something like that?” I asked and his eyes seemed to have as much guilt in them as mine did.

“No.. I’m sorry, I take it back, I’m just-”

“Good,” I cut him off, then continued explaining myself, “And no, I didn’t have sex with her and you’re completely missing the point, anyways.. You told me to tell you the truth and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m not making up excuses just so you’re not mad at me, I’m telling you that I pulled away from her instantly and wanted nothing to do with it.. After that, I made sure to not ever be close enough to her to where she could pull something like that again,” I continued to explain and he sighed heavily.. He seemed relieved and so was I, however, his expression went angered again and it seemed as if he found something else to be mad at me for.

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“You still played me for a fool,” he added and my eyes questioned his words, waiting for him to explain, “Back then when you told me you loved me for the first time, that was after you told me you had to go help out your uncle, which was a lie.. You just- You took something as important as that phrase, knowing how important it was for me to hear it from you, and you used it to help me believe your lie that much more.. I knew you were lying to me, too, I knew it all along, yet- You told me you loved me just so I’d get distracted from you lying to me,” he stood to his feet and I did, as well, taking a few steps back and away from him, “That’s it, isn’t it?” He assumed angrily and I shook my head.

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“No, I meant it when I said it-”

“But, even if you did mean it, you still used it! How can I even believe what you’re telling me right now?” He asked.

“Because I told you I’d tell you the truth to anything you asked and I am! I truly did mean it, but you’re right, I’m so sorry for choosing that time in particular to say it because I said it after lies, so it makes it look like a lie, too, but.. It wasn’t, it wasn’t in the slightest, so please believe that,” I nearly begged, though he still held worry in his eyes.

“So, you did love me? You do love me?” He needed confirmation and I nodded indefinitely.

“Yes! Yes, I do.. More than anything..” I replied and he seemed relieved again, though I could tell he was still furious with me.

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“Isaiah-” I tried to reason more, taking a leap of faith and I reached out, caressing his hand with my own, but he quickly ripped it away from me.

Stop trying to touch me at a time like this! Don’t use yourself to an advantage because you know how I feel about you.. It just feels like you’re trying to distract me all over again,” he warned and I hung my head in shame, knowing that it was a bad idea, though I couldn’t help but try, anyways.

“I’m sorry..” I said in a whisper.

“Explain to me what the hell all of this was for, then.. Why did you even bring her up there? Why did your uncle get involved? Why did you do everything behind my back and what was the whole purpose of lying about it? I have so many questions, Oliver, and I don’t even know where to start,” he spoke at a loss and I felt terrible again. He seemed so helpless and confused and still so hurt by what I had done and I was utterly disappointed in myself.

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I felt as if I could barely stand anymore and I stepped backwards, heavily sitting down on the mattress and taking that time to try to calm myself down, “Will you sit down with me..?” I asked, looking back up to him.

No,” he answered sternly, disappointed in his answer, but I took whatever I could get at this point, happy that he was still at least in the same room with me.

“Okay.. Uhm.. I guess it kind of all started back at the condo..”

Mine? Or ours?”

“Ours.. The night you were at work and came home to the condo empty, I was at my uncle’s after luring Jody there. After James and Kat left, I went out to the balcony to get some air and I noticed a blonde woman that had been sitting at the same table in the courtyard ever since I had went out to the balcony in the early morning.. It was Jody, but I didn’t realize that until later that night.. She saw you, she knew I lived with you, she knew your name and-”

“I’m sorry.. Luring? That sounds really awful, Oliver, and a little weird,” he pointed out and I shook my head.. Shit, I didn’t meant say that..

“N-No, that’s not the right word.. I don’t know why I said that, I just- I was trying to get her away from our condo and away from you, that’s all..”

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“Okay, so.. Why did she leave you alone for so long and then randomly show up at our place? What stopped her from harassing you? You told me and the detective that you hadn’t seen her or talked to her in months..”

“She made a deal with me to leave me alone for a while, to stop calling me and texting me and coming up to me at school, and-”

“And this deal you made with her, what did you give her in return?” He asked and my eyes darted to the floor, “Oliver.. When did you two make that deal?” He continued to question and my entire body was shaking.

“Uhm..” My voice cracked, “When I had called you when I was upset, when you came and picked me up from school,” I replied and I heard him chuckle.

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“So, there’s another lie.. It did go all the way back to my condo, not ours.. Wow.. Our entire relationship has been one big lie, hasn’t it?” He asked rhetorically, “And what did you give her in return? You never answered that one and I have to say that I’m very, very curious,” he made known.

“I-I just..” I bit my bottom lip to try to keep it from quivering, “She wanted me to kiss her, so.. I kissed her,” I spoke quietly, but even for how soft I had spoken it, I knew he had heard me. My eyes looked up slowly, seeing a smile on his lips as his brows still dipped low, but I knew he wasn’t happy.. He was covering his rage with anything but sadness and a fake smile for how laughable our relationship was was spread over his lips.

Another lie.. You said you’d never cheat on me, yet you did..”

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I told you to stop fucking lying Oliver and you’re seriously incapable,” he added, no more smile on his lips and my stomach was turning more and more each second this fight went on.. The guilt I felt was almost too much to bare.

“I’m so sorry..”

Isaiah then continued after a long silence, Just a kiss, like a peck? Or more?”

“..Does it really matter?”

“I guess it doesn’t, since you still kissed someone that wasn’t me,” he rubbed in.

“I-I’m so, so sorry, Isaiah.. If it helps in any way, I did that for us.. So she would leave us alo-”

“Save it,” he spat and I stopped talking immediately, “So, let me get this straight.. The night I told you I loved you, you willingly kissed the girl that took advantage of you and didn’t tell me about it when you had the chance to the same day. Then, you let me pour my heart out to you and still don’t have the decency to tell me that you kissed her, even though you were already in the process of apologizing for something else you kept from me that pissed me off in the first place?” He asked with another laugh, “Wow.. Fucking wow, Oliver.. Please, continue- You were about to tell me more about what happened the night she showed up outside of our condo, like the fucking stalker that she is, which you lied about, or, I’m sorry, according to you, it isn’t lying, it’s just ‘keeping the truth from me’.. But, please.. Continue,” he added and I feared that more tears would soon fall from my eyes.

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“It sounds so much worse when you say it out loud like that-”

“Because it is, Oliver! What in the fuck compelled you to think that any of that shit that you did was just? That it was to protect me, or us?! How can you fucking live with yourself after just those few lies, let alone the possible other hundreds that I still don’t know about!?” He continued with a raised voice, worrying that he might wake the boys upstairs.

“Please, Isaiah.. You’re going to wake them up and-”

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“Honestly, I couldn’t give two shits, Oliver. What, are you scared they’ll overhear how much of a fucking liar you are? How you’ve been betraying their father, your fucking husband, for this long? Are you worried they’ll overhear this and think less of you? ..I barely even know who the hell you are anymore, and from what you’ve told me so far, how can they even be sure who the hell you are? How can any of us believe a single thing you say?” He asked and my eyes started to water as he continued.

“I know we agreed to never tell August about Jody because you wanted to spare him ever knowing how horrible his mother was, but from how I see things now, you’re no fucking different than her.. You’re just a bad person for different reasons, but with a more lovable face that you used to your advantage against the one person that loves you the most,” he replied and my eyes widened in disbelief.. I stood from the bed again, the match of anger striking and the irate flame running through my veins at what he had just said to me.

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“Don’t call me that! Do not call me a bad person because everything, every lie that I have ever told you was to help you! To help us! It’s the truth, the complete and absolute truth and if you don’t believe me, then so be it, but it is the truth! I lied to you to protect you from her! You saw first hand what she was capable of, what her brother was capable of and yeah, that was my fault, too, because I had told her that I stopped seeing you to be with her just so that she would leave you alone and she found out that I was lying to her, too! I was trying my absolute hardest to keep you safe from her because even I didn’t know what the hell she could do to you and I didn’t know of any other way to protect you than to keep her as far away from you as possible! She was fucking obsessed with me, Isaiah! She would do anything, and did do everything to make sure that I remained hers, but I was never hers to begin with! I was yours, I am only yours and don’t you ever doubt that!” I fought back.

“And don’t ever compare me to someone so heartless again! I’m nowhere near being that conniving and manipulative and downright disgusting and I would die for our boys and I’d especially die for you.. I’d do anything, Isaiah,” I finished and his eyes were glossy, but he refused to ever let a tear drop down his cheeks.

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“I don’t even think you can fathom how much trust you lost from me,” he answered and I broke, sitting back down on the mattress and I buried my face into my hands, “Six years, Oliver.. Six years of lies and secrets and deceit.. Un-fucking-believable..”

“I-I am so, so, so sorry, Isaiah.. I will literally do anything in the entire world for you to forgive me.. Anything and everything,” I replied and there was a long, painful silence that hung in the air.

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“You can give me time.. A lot of it.. Please, get out,” he requested and I looked up to him quickly, unsure if he wanted me to leave the bedroom or the house.

“W-Where.. Where do you want me t-”

“I don’t care, I don’t want to look at you right now. Just find somewhere else to sleep besides in bed with me,” he answered and I let out a deep, wobbly breath from between my lips.

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I slowly stood from our bed and stepped towards the door, sniffing hard to keep my nose from running as fresh tears still fell from my eyes. Isaiah followed me to the door and I opened it, Isaiah then holding it open for me and before I let him close it behind me, I turned around and made one last attempt at apologizing.

“Isaiah.. I love you so much and I can’t even express how sorry I am..”

“..Happy Birthday, Oliver,” is all he replied with as he began to shut the door.

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He didn’t say it with resentment or anger or to rub it in my face that I had ruined my own birthday, but more so with disappointment that the evening had gone the way it did. I desperately reached out to touch him one last time before he did shut the door all the way, but my hand met wood instead of the warm flesh I wanted and it fully closed in my face before I could say another word.

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..One Month Later..

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Isaiah hasn’t spoken more than a couple words to me in the past month, ever since we had our fight. When we’re alone, he barely says a word, though around the kids, he’ll act like nothing is wrong, or try to.. I know he’s only doing it to avoid telling them that we’re going through a rough patch in our marriage, knowing they wouldn’t fully understand even if we did try to tell them, but faking all of this happiness was grueling and tiresome work.. Then again, I guess that’s why I’ve been so worn out and tired, which Isaiah gladly pointed out to me during our fight.. Apparently to him, I’ve been faking being happy for a long, long time since I had the weight of lies on my shoulders, and although I wanted to challenge those words, the more I thought about it over this painful month, the more it made sense.. It’s been so hard to keep all of these lies behind the bars in my mind, but I just couldn’t take it anymore.. I couldn’t stand being such a fuck up when Isaiah has done nothing but treat me like someone that needed to be worshiped.. I couldn’t let him do that anymore without telling him the truth. It ended up eating me alive in the end and my guilt completely consumed me.

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Isaiah didn’t move out, nor did he take the kids away from me, he just simply- well.. Stopped talking to me. He didn’t kick me out, either, I kicked myself out and I’ve been sleeping in the guest house to give him that much more space.. Before the kids would wake up, I’d sneak back into the house to make it seem like I wasn’t sleeping anywhere else but in Isaiah and I’s bedroom like I should be so the boys wouldn’t get suspicious. I knew he wanted to keep the kids in the dark about what happened between us and I thought we were doing a pretty good job of it, however, lately I’ve been noticing that August has been watching Isaiah and I a lot more, as if studying how we move and how we talk to one another.. It made me wonder if he overheard anything we had discussed loudly the night of my birthday disaster, or if he could just sense that something wasn’t right between Isaiah and I.. Plus, the fact that he knew Isaiah and I always talked and laughed and made physical contact with one another almost on a constant basis probably made him worry since Isaiah and I haven’t been doing those things really at all anymore..

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Every morning, I woke up more lonely than the day before and more lonely than I’ve been in my entire life.. I could get over being without my dad for as much as he worked, I could get over being without both my parents after the fallout, I could get over being without Kat and James after moving out of the townhouse to be with Isaiah, but getting over being alone after everything Isaiah and I have been through? Absolutely impossible. If I thought I was tired and exhausted before Isaiah and I’s fight, I truly had no fucking idea just how tired and exhausted and starved for love I could be, and was.. I missed him more than I could ever express and most mornings I already woke up with tears in my eyes, or I didn’t even sleep at all, sitting up in bed alone all night long and crying as I thought about what I had done to him.. My heart was literally in pain every single time I thought about it and even on some rare occasions, once a week or so, I’d get so upset thinking about it to the point where I’d need to rush to the bathroom to vomit.. I was at an all-time-low, that was for certain.

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Everything was so mundane, so pointless, so depressing without him. As I got dressed, I’d space out the entire time, removing my pajama pants slowly with barely any effort at all and if I dropped them from losing my grip, I wouldn’t waste my time bending down to pick them up.. I didn’t care, I didn’t care about anything.. All that I cared about was Isaiah. Before I’d get out of bed, I’d sometimes manage to be able to stop my crying, but as I changed and even before I could put a new shirt on after securing my jeans, my eyes would be filling with tears again and I’d completely soak the shirt I was going to wear that day from using it as a rag to wipe my face dry. Some days it might even take me a whole hour just to get dressed.

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It was another lonely Saturday by myself.. Waking up alone, getting ready alone, making the bed alone, though it was still all in the guest house inside of the main house where I wanted to be so badly, like it used to be.. I thought it was actually a little funny, as well as pathetic, to think back on when Isaiah and I were first looking at this house and deciding on if we wanted it or not, and how I had thought to myself- what was the point of having a guest house? What was the point to all of this extra space? ..Never did I ever think that I’d have this much use for it down the road.. 

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After washing my face and trying to look less dead than I’ve been looking lately, I left the guesthouse and walked passed the pool and came inside of the main house through the back door, glancing over towards Isaiah and I’s bedroom and I saw the door open, knowing he was either already in the kitchen with the boys or he was upstairs still in the process of getting them ready for breakfast. I stepped up to the doorway, looking into the dark, unlit room with the shades drawn almost shut to keep the sun out.. Was it normal, or was he trying to keep the world out, living in a dark and lonely state like I was in the guesthouse? For as selfish as it sounded, I hoped he was living like I was, missing me as much as I missed him.. I looked to the bed next and all I wanted to do was lie in it, to wrap myself in the blankets and bury my face into the pillows, but I held back, my gaze meeting the floor and I stepped away from our bedroom to go to the kitchen.

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I began making coffee, always making more than I could drink by myself in case Isaiah wanted any and by the time it was done, I could hear Isaiah and the boys coming downstairs. My lips couldn’t help but curl into a smile just from the sound of all of them and August walked in with Luca first with smiles on their faces, then Isaiah followed holding Niko in his arms with a smile on his face, too, though when he saw me in the kitchen, his smile seemed to slowly drop and I quickly looked away from him back towards the coffee I had made.. I didn’t want him to see the fresh tears that threatened to form in my eyes just by witnessing how much I hated how he looked at me with such disappointment.. It made me hate myself so much more every single time and I could never tell whether he enjoyed it, knew he was doing it and didn’t care, or if it hurt him to make me feel like this.. He wasn’t that vindictive, though, so I liked to assume he had no idea he was making me feel like complete shit whenever he looked at me like that.

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“Dad!” August got my attention and he came over to me, taking a quick, deep breath and shaking off how I felt so I could talk to him without him noticing how terrible I was feeling.

“Hey, big guy. Did you sleep well?” I asked, wrapping my arm around him and pulling him against me for a side hug and he hugged me back.

“Yeah. Did you?” He asked in return and a frog formed in my throat, but I cleared it with a swift cough and I nodded towards him.

“Uhm.. Yeah, bud.. You excited to spend the night at Aunt Kat and Uncle James’ place tonight?” I asked, changing the subject as quick as I could.

“Yup. Aunt Kat says we’re going to eat popcorn and watch movies and make Rice Crispy Treats,” he said with a smile.

“Whoa, I’m jealous.. You’ll have to bring some home for me tomorrow, huh?” I implied and he nodded again.

“I will,” he answered and I smirked, hugging him tighter against me, not really wanting to let go of him and he seemed to not want to let go of me, either, something I didn’t mind in the slightest.. It was nice to have this much-needed contact with someone I loved and who loved me back.. August, even without knowing what happened between Isaiah and I, seemed to notice how terrible I’ve looked lately and I’m sure without meaning to, I’ve seemed sad and lonely, and I think he’s caught on to that and has felt the need to put forth an effort to show me love and attention.

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“What are you eating for breakfast?” He asked.

“I was thinking cereal, what do you want?”

“I’ll have that, too.. Are you eating in the dining room again?” He asked next, wondering if he’s also been picking up on how I’ve been trying to give Isaiah some space and how we didn’t eat breakfast together as often as we used to..

I sighed softly, “Yeah, I am..” I replied reluctantly.

“I’ll eat with you, too, then,” he said with a smile and I tousled his hair with a smirk still on my lips.

“Sounds good, bud..”

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“So will we,” I heard Isaiah say to August and I and we both looked back at him.

“You will? Awesome!” August said with a smile and I looked at Isaiah for a long moment, seeing him look at me for a few long seconds, as well, then slowly look away and I was so happy that he wanted to have breakfast with me that I was brought to tears again, facing the coffee maker to hide my expression, though sadly, August noticed.

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“Dad, are you okay? Are you crying?” He wondered and I shook my head.

“No, no, I’m fine, there’s just, uhm.. Something in my eye,” I said with a smile, wiping underneath my eyes to hide any tears that threatened to fall, then looking down at August and a soft smile came over his lips, too.

“Papa and I will get breakfast, go sit down,” he told me and I didn’t bother to fight it, brushing my hand down his hair in appreciation for understanding me and I excused myself from the kitchen with my cup of hot coffee.

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When I got to the dining room, I quickly set down my cup of coffee, almost tipping it over for how desperately I needed to set it down and I put my hand to the table for support as the other came up and covered my mouth. Tears fell from my eyes and I tried my hardest to keep myself from letting out any sobs or whimpers. I hated how just three simple, plain words from Isaiah could make my entire core crumble to pieces after stacking it up so carefully this morning just to have the strength to face him, but I just couldn’t help it.. I was so glad. Happy tears are better than depressed ones, though.

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Thankfully, I had enough time to get out all the crying I needed to, wipe my face clean of tears, and regain some of my elusive composure before they all came into the dining room to eat with me.. Luca ran into the room straight for me and I picked him up instantly, bringing him into my arms and I kissed his cheek repetitively until he started getting ticklish from it, then setting him in my lap. August helped Isaiah bring in food for us, setting it on the table and he took the seat next to me as Isaiah then came in, holding Niko in one hand and food in the other and he set down the food first before placing Niko into a high chair between him and I and Isaiah took the seat across from mine. 

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I couldn’t help but glance at Isaiah constantly as he sat there eating, or feeding Niko, or talking to Luca and August.. There were multiple times where Isaiah would catch me looking at him, not bothering to focus at all on my breakfast, and although I noticed that he tried to ignore me, I knew he couldn’t, just as much as I couldn’t ignore him. I wanted to respect him and be aware of the wall that I knew was still very much there between us, but it was something that I just couldn’t help if my life depended on it.. I loved looking at him, I loved knowing he wanted to be in the dining room with me, and I loved knowing he was slowly, but surely, warming back up to me, and I even dared to believe that I saw forgiveness in my future from him.. What made me the happiest was he still wore his wedding ring every day after our fight.. Never once did I see him without it, never once did I ever take mine off, either, and I adored that he never even wanted to do something as hurtful as to not wear it just to prove something to me.. I knew he was still angry with me, that much was still obvious, but he didn’t do childish things like that just to rub it into my face more.. He was still considerate and so sweet to me, even when he was ignoring me.

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When we were all done eating together, Isaiah stood to clear the table and I picked up Luca from my lap to put him down onto the ground and to quickly detour Isaiah from doing all the work.

D-Don’t, uhm.. Don’t worry about it, I got it..” I expressed and he looked at me for a moment, not replying to me and he let me take care of cleaning up, Isaiah then picking up Niko from his high chair.

“Come on, Luca, let’s go play upstairs,” he spoke sweetly to him, glancing at me briefly one last time before looking to August, “You coming?” He asked.

August shook his head with a smile, “No, I’ll help dad clean up,” he replied and I appreciated that he wanted to stay with me.

“All right.. We’ll be upstairs,” he answered, then left the room holding Niko in one hand and holding Luca’s hand in the other.

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August helped me clear the table and he stacked the dishes next to the sink for me. The rain still poured hard outside as I washed the dishes and August and I didn’t really say anything to one another, just enjoying one another’s company.. Whenever I glanced over towards him, I noticed him smile and it caused me to smile, too, but I was still trying to decipher whether or not he just wanted to spend time with me, or if he thought I needed to spend time with someone.. I loved having him as company, and whatever he was trying to do, I appreciated it more than he knew, but what came out of his mouth as I turned the sink off after finishing the dishes threw me for a loop. 

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“Are you and Papa getting a divorce?” He asked and I froze where I stood.

I then slowly looked over towards August, looking up at me with the same blue puppy-dog-eyes that I had and I swallowed roughly, knowing right then and there how Isaiah felt whenever I gave him that same look, too.. How the hell could you ever ignore those eyes?

Where did you learn that word from?”

“My teacher. She’s getting one. I heard the other teachers talking about her and they said her husband is a bad person and all he does it make her cry, she even cries at school sometimes during recess. She doesn’t think anyone notices, but I saw her doing it a few times.. All that Papa does it make you cry, so are you getting a divorce?” He asked again and I knelt down to his level quickly.

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“Papa isn’t a bad person.. You don’t think that, do you?” I asked, somewhat alarmed at his words since he had compared his teachers husband to Isaiah and he shrugged.

“All he does is ignore you and make you sad and make you cry, so how is he not?” He asked in return and I sighed heavily. 

“Because.. When have you ever known him to be a bad person? You don’t know the details behind your teachers divorce, either.. The guy could call her nasty names, which Papa doesn’t do to me.. Or he could be hurting her, which Papa doesn’t do to me, ether.. Or she could be the one at true fault, but the reason behind tears lies way, way deeper within that person and you have no idea what’s really going on, so you should never assume such things. Papa isn’t the bad one, am,” I admitted and he grew confused.

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“But.. How? Papa doesn’t cry nearly as much as you do,” he pointed out and I grew surprised.

“..He does cry?” I asked and August nodded, noticing his demeanor was slowly getting sadder. 

“Sometimes.. When I come downstairs to get water late at night, I can hear him in your bedroom,” he hesitated a moment, “And I know you’re not in there.. You’re in the other house that’s littler,” he admitted and I sat there in silence for a short moment, unable to think of what to say back.. I never wanted any of the boys to find out about that, but I was worried about something more important.. Isaiah cries, too? Well, I guess it was a no-brainer, of course he would, look at what I did to him.. He’s just such a strong person that it surprised me, I guess.. 

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“So?” He asked.

“So, what?”

“What did you do? You said you were the bad one, so tell me why.”

“..You don’t need to trouble yourself with the details, big guy, just don’t be mad at Papa because he did absolutely nothing wrong, okay?”

“Then why do you cry so much?” He asked next and I reached up to rub the bridge of my nose briefly, trying to hold back more tears, but I was sad for other reasons besides Isaiah now.. I was sad that August concerned himself so much with grownup stuff and I was sad that he was struggling so hard to figure out what was happening between Isaiah and I.. I hated how he felt the need to ask if we were getting a divorce, too, but what scared me the most was not knowing the answer to that question, myself.

“Because I hurt him, I did something very bad and I cry because I regret what I did so, so much because it’s caused him so much pain.. That’s why I cry.. Now, promise me you won’t blame him for any of this, okay? I’m the only one to blame.. Understand?” I asked and he eventually nodded.

“Okay..”

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“August,” Isaiah’s voice called from the kitchen doorway and I quickly stood up, both August and I looking to him and I wondered how long he had been standing there.

“Go upstairs and get ready to go to your aunt and uncle’s place,” he instructed, August looking to me with concern in his eyes, but he did as Isaiah said and left the kitchen to go upstairs. 

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When August was gone, Isaiah looked at me for a long moment and I didn’t know how to read his stare, dropping my gaze away from his and I turned back towards the sink, pulling the plates and glasses from it and setting them out to dry. I could feel his eyes on the back of my head, but I didn’t know what he could possibly want from me.. Should I face him? Should I ask him if he wanted to talk to me about everything that happened between us? I wanted to be able to touch him again, to casually speak with him like we used to, I wanted to fix things so badly with him that it hurt, but not until he was ready to.

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“How are you?” I heard him ask and my bottom lip instantly quivered, chuckling softly as how stupid of a question that was.

“I-I’m, uh..” I started, but stopped, feeling my words catch in my throat and I knew if I talked more, my voice would break, so.. I didn’t continue, and he noticed.. I was just honestly surprised that he finally cared enough today to finally ask how I was doing, and as much as I had rehearsed so many things to tell him whenever he would finally talk to me, I didn’t know what to say to him now.

“..Oliver?” I heard him say my name and tears filled my eyes, but I didn’t let them fall.. It felt amazing hearing him say my name after a month long wait.

“Yeah?” My voice broke and there was a long silence between us, but he didn’t continue with something I knew he wanted to acknowledge, diverting himself from what he originally wanted to say to me..

“..I’m.. I’m just gunna get the boys ready to go..” He replied, giving up on a conversation between the two of us.

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But, I wanted to keep him talking to me, I wanted to keep him close to me and without even thinking about what I was doing, I picked up a knife I had just washed in the sink and slid it quickly across my palm.

“Ahh! Fuck..” I let out, dropping the knife back into the sink and hearing Isaiah stopping himself from walking out of the kitchen.

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“..You okay?” He asked and I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and already I felt myself getting lightheaded knowing I was about to look at my hand bleeding.

“Y-Yeah, I’m fine.. I just..” I looked down and my vision grew blurry, “I c-cu.. Cut..” I tried to continue, but I was losing my balance and my limbs felt weightless.

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“Oliver!” I heard Isaiah call out in worry and I could faintly hear his quick footsteps coming up behind me. I tried to fight for consciousness, but the battle was harder than I thought, feeling Isaiah catching me and slowly lowering me down to the ground and my back rest against the wall.. I guess what I did worked.

“My God, Oliver.. Your hand. What did you do?” Isaiah continued, still unable to see for a few long seconds since everything was still white and my head was spinning, but feeling him touching me and knowing he was there by my side regardless of our situation made me happier than I’ve been in a while.. Happier than I was at breakfast this morning.

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“Just stay right there and don’t look at your hand, I’ll be right back,” he instructed and before I could attempt to nod in acknowledgement, Isaiah was already gone and rushing to get something, most likely some sort of bandage. I felt a little bad for forcing him to interact with me like this, but anything else I could’ve tried just wouldn’t have worked.. Cutting myself was the only way I could get him closer to me before he was ready to.

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Before I could count to ten, Isaiah was already coming back into the kitchen and kneeling down next to me, feeling him grabbing my injured hand and he applied pressure to the cut to get it to stop bleeding. My vision started to return slowly and although I was surprised I hadn’t fainted completely, I was glad I didn’t so I could spend this time so close to Isaiah, which was really my plan from the beginning..

“How did this happen, anyways?” He asked.

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“I.. I don’t know.. I was holding the sponge and I guess I wiped the knife blade-to-palm instead of the other way around,” I lied, though if Isaiah knew I had done it on purpose, he wouldn’t have helped me and he’d only be more angry with me.. Maybe even disappointed at such a pathetic attempt to get his attention.

“Still so clumsy,” he answered and I could’ve sworn I saw the edge of his lips smirk, though my mind could’ve been playing tricks on me.

“I-I just.. I should’ve been paying more attention and shouldn’t have been washing dishes as I talked to you.. I’m sorry..”

“Don’t be sorry, just be more careful,” he replied and I was warmed by his caring words.

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“..How long had you been standing there when August was talking to me?” I wondered and I felt him releasing the pressure on my hand, checking if it was still bleeding and even without looking at it myself, I could feel that it was and he applied pressure again.

“Since he asked why you’ve been crying so much,” he answered, thinking that I was glad he had heard me tell August not to be mad at him for something that I, myself, was responsible for, but I still wished he didn’t hear any of it.. It was a little embarrassing, him knowing that even our son had noticed how much I had been crying lately.

“Oh..”

“Thank you for saying that.. I noticed he hasn’t been the same around me since we fought,” he answered.

“It was the truth..” I replied.

“..Right.. I know it was..” An awkward silence fell around us, knowing he believed what I had told August since I really was the catalyst in all of this, “Well, you gotta start somewhere,” he continued and I knew he wasn’t rubbing it in, though I appreciated he knew I was telling the truth with it and he acknowledged it as such.. At least he saw that I was trying my best to speak nothing but the truth lately instead of all the lies I had built up over the years.. Well, except for the lie I had just told about ‘accidentally’ cutting my hand.

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After a short silence, Isaiah took away some of the pressure from my hand and I could see in his face that it was ready to be wrapped, watching him then grabbing the rolled gauze he had brought with him and he began wrapping my hand. The silence between us wasn’t awkward for me, simply because I loved looking at him and my mind was racing with so many things that I wanted to do to him or talk to him about, while Isaiah sat there rather uncomfortably, fidgeting and trying to avoid eye contact with me since I was sure he was fully aware of how much I was staring at him. I wanted – no – needed to touch him while I had the chance to..

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With my right hand, I reached up and the moment my fingertips touched his jawline, he hesitated in continuing to wrap my hand. 

“What are you doing?” He asked, feeling him then continue to wrap my hand after his brief pause, though more slowly than before, and my fingertips continued to touch his face until my hand cupped his jaw and my thumb caressed his cheek.

“Touching my husband whom I love,” I replied and he sighed softly, “Sorry.. Can’t help myself when you’re this close,” I answered quietly and I could feel the tiniest of goosebumps forming on his skin under my palm.

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“..Please, stop-”

“Why?” I challenged, able to tell by his eyes and his expression that he loved the feeling of me touching him, but he was trying so hard to make it seem like he didn’t.

“Oliver-”

“I miss you,” I continued to cut him off, my voice beginning to shake a little. I never wanted to hear him tell me to stop touching him and I watched as he shut his eyes to my words, as if it both comforted as well as hurt him to hear them.

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I felt him finish wrapping my hand, “Are you all right now?” He wondered, ignoring my words, so I ignored his, “I need to check on the boys,” he continued, reaching up to remove my hand from his face and he stood up and stepped away from me.

“Isaiah,” I tried to stop him, but he continued to leave the kitchen and he was then out of my sight.

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My bottom lip quivered and I felt my eyes watering again, bringing my knees into my chest and I sat there asking myself why the hell I thought any of that would work.. Like he would suddenly just bounce back to his normal, flirty, kind self and completely forget why he was angry with me.. I couldn’t tell if he hated me, I couldn’t tell if he wanted to make things better, I couldn’t tell if he even wanted to have a future with me and all I wanted to do was talk to him about all of this. I wanted to get passed this already, but how much more time did he need? How much longer am I going to have to wait to have a decent conversation with him? How much longer am I going to have to wait to touch my own husband? ..Am I ever going to get to again, or was just now the last time I’d ever be able to?

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I knew Isaiah was with the boys all morning and afternoon and after our conversation earlier, I tried to steer clear of him again.. I wanted to be with my sons, but I couldn’t be in the same room with him, I’d just cry more and I didn’t want any of them to see me like that. I sat alone in the foyer pretty much all day, listening to the heavy rain outside come to a stop as the morning passed and the afternoon began, the sun coming in through the windows and warming the back of my neck. I spaced out thinking of Isaiah all day, like I tended to do lately, until there was a knock on the door and I got up to answer it, letting in Kat and James.

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“Hey, Ollie! How’ve you been?” Kat wondered and my face remained the same, depressed and uncaring.

“Fine..” I answered, going back over to the couch I was sitting on and dropping myself back down on it.

“Ollie, we know your depressed, but you need to work passed it,” she advised and I ignored her, “You don’t act like this around the boys, do you?” Kat continued.

“I stay away from them so they don’t see me like this,” I answered simply.

“What the hell?! You just ignore your sons because you’re a mopey little fuck? Suck it up and be a damn father!” She yelled, “Parker is at home with my mom and I’m grabbing the boys and leaving so I can get back quick, so you better at least say goodbye to them with a fucking smile on your face!” She instructed angrily and James and I watched her leave to go upstairs. James and Kat knew what was going on with Isaiah and I, they just didn’t know all the details.

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“Sorry man, she’s, uh.. Well, the baby’s coming soon, so she’s been a little on edge..”

“She’s right, though..” I answered James, “I haven’t been a father really for a whole month.. I’ve just been depressed and sad and no fun and trying so hard to avoid Isaiah to give him space, but it’s cost me to lose my connection with my children, as well, and it’s not them that I’m sad about or feel like I need to avoid, but.. I’m just.. I’m a bad husband and an even worse father,” I continued and James sighed.

“No, you’re not, Oliver. Don’t talk like that. Anyone would grieve like this if the one they loved was angry and disappointed in them,” he tried to console me.

“I deserve all of this.. And don’t try to convince me that I don’t,” I answered and his expression was consumed with pity for me.

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James and I heard Isaiah, Kat and the boys coming downstairs and I put a fake smile on my lips for their sake, Kat bringing me Luca and Niko and I held Luca in my arms first, for a moment.

“I love you. Have fun, okay? I’ll miss you,” I said as I hugged him.

“Miss you, too, Daddy,” he replied as he hugged me back and my fake smile turned genuine from his response, giving him back to Kat and then taking Nikolai from her to hug and say goodbye to.

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“Love you, little bug. Can you say bye-bye to Daddy?” I asked as I held him up, though all that he did was reach for my face and I brought him closer to me so he could kiss my cheek, or at least try to, since he was oblivious he still had his pacifier in his mouth and I chuckled.

Aww, thank you, my sweet baby boy,” I continued, kissing his cheek in return and Isaiah took him from me so Kat didn’t have her hands full.

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August came down the stairs with his backpack ready and after saying his goodbyes to Isaiah, he came up to me and I picked him up within my arms, hugging him tightly before lecturing him.

“Help your aunt take care of your brothers and your little cousin, understand?” I asked and he nodded.

“I will,” he replied as he hugged me back.

Okay.. Be good, we’ll see you tomorrow.. Love you, big guy,” I continued and he nodded again.

“Love you, too,” he answered and I set him down, August then grabbing his backpack and going outside to wait in the car.

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“I’m putting them in the car now. See you, guys,” Kat said her goodbyes, then went to James and kissed his lips, “See you tomorrow.”

“Bye, baby,” he answered and I grew confused.

“You’re staying?” I asked.

“Uh, yeah.. If you don’t mind some company,” he replied, seeing him look to Isaiah with a smirk, then back to me.. Was Isaiah behind this?

“..No.. I don’t mind..” I replied as if I hadn’t noticed James and Isaiah’s true intent.

“I’m going to work, I’ll walk you out,” Isaiah said to Kat, walking with her and the boys outside.

“All right, see ya, man!” James said happily and I didn’t say anything, Isaiah shutting the front door behind him.

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James then faced me abruptly and grabbed my shoulders, shaking me a little, “Okay, now that I can say this.. Freakin’ snap out of it! You look terrible and you smell! When was the last time you showered, or shaved?” He asked and I was completely blindsided by his behavior.

“Uhm, I-I don’t know.. A few days ago?”

“Well, come on, go take a damn shower so I can actually stand being around you. Come on, come on!” He insisted, pushing me in front of him, then pushing at my back all the way down the hall to Isaiah and I’s bedroom. I knew James would always care for me, he was my best friend, after all, and although I knew he was trying to do the best he could for me, he was quite pushy lately.. Maybe having a kid made him more aware of disobedience and instability, especially with him being a doctor now, too.. He just cared a lot more.

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“Okay, I get it! I can get to the bathroom from here by myself!” I called out and he smiled.

“Good. I’d rather see anger from you than this mopey, depressing shit. Start acting like you still care about yourself and stop being gross.. You ever thought that maybe your hygiene is one of the reasons Isaiah doesn’t want to come near you?” He asked and I furrowed my brow.

“Isaiah likes the way I smell..” I tried to defend and he laughed.

“Well, I like the smell of pickles but you don’t see me wearing it as a cologne, now do you? Because the smell just isn’t for everyone!

“..Do smell like pickles..?”

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“No, just-!” He paused in frustration and I must’ve not understood his point, “Just get in the damn shower already! Start taking better care of yourself! You look terrible. You’re pale and you look skinny, you haven’t been eating, have you?” He asked and I sighed, choosing not to answer him, though he knew that I hadn’t been, “I’m going to the store to get some steaks and some beer, need to fatten you up again.. Doctor’s orders,” he continued.

“Isaiah took the Nissan..”

James threw his hands up, giving himself no choice, “Then I’m taking the Mercedes!”

“No! Don’t take that! He wants it in the garage and-”

“Oliver, I’m sure he won’t mind me borrowing it if he knew the reason for taking it was to get his husband some decent food and some freakin’ calories so you don’t look like a corpse! Get in the shower and stop arguing with me,” he continued, watching him leave and he shut the bedroom door quickly behind him so I couldn’t contest any longer.

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I stayed there for a moment, feeling a little awkward as I stood there in the silence of the room, feeling as if I didn’t belong in here and feeling as if I was invading Isaiah’s space.. Of course, I knew it was still my room, too, but I haven’t been in here for a month since I had grabbed some clothes of mine and brought them to the guesthouse.. It just felt like I had moved out of it and this space was all his now.. 

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After standing there for a few minutes, I finally felt comfortable enough to invade his space more, stepping over to the bathroom and walking in. I noticed it was still just the same as I knew it to be, all of his stuff as well as mine still sitting on the counter top by the two sinks and a smile spread across my lips.. Everything was the exact same and although I knew he wasn’t going to erase my existence from the house, I had to admit that it did cross my mind and it made me nervous to think that he would pack up my stuff just so he didn’t have to look at it and think about me.. But, I was glad that wasn’t the case as I stripped down and got into the shower, liking this shower so much better than the one in the guest house. Even if they were the exact same one, this shower still felt different.. Warmer, more comforting, more like home.

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When I finished my shower, I got out and wrapped a towel around my waist and I stepped up to the sink, removing the bandage on my hand and the cut I had given my palm was already healed since it wasn’t all that deep.. What a pathetic attempt at getting Isaiah’s attention, it wasn’t even worth making myself faint nor was it worth the paper-cut-like pain..

After doing my hair and shaving my chest and torso of the unkempt hair, I looked at my body. James was right, I really was skinny and it seemed as if I had withered away in such a short amount of time.. We only fought a month ago and I already looked so different, I barely even recognized myself.. I haven’t been eating at all really, I haven’t been swimming or going on jogs, I haven’t been running around at the park with the boys, I’ve just been lying in bed all day or sitting in the boys’ room as I watched them play by themselves.. I can’t believe how crappy of a father I’ve been just because Isaiah was angry with me.. I deserved to be ignored by Isaiah for what I did to him, but the boys did nothing to deserve me ignoring them.. I needed to do something about that and whenever they would get home tomorrow is when I would immediately start being there for them more.

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I stepped out of the bathroom and went over to the dresser, looking inside one of the drawers and I noticed he still kept my clothes neatly stacked to one side next to his, the clothes I had left behind and didn’t bring to the guesthouse with me. I still don’t know why I continued the thought of him erasing my existence from the house, but every little thing that proved otherwise helped me that much more and made me a lot happier than I had been in a long time. I tossed the towel in the hamper and put on some new clothes, unable to help my eyes were they wandered and I caught site of our bed, contemplating whether or not I should lie in it like I wanted to earlier..

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As if I knew people would be around, for whatever reason, I checked my surroundings subconsciously just to make sure and once the coast was clear, my stride brought me over to the bed and I crawled onto it. I lie on my side of the bed first, taking a large breath in and as I let it out slowly, I smelled something familiar.. My own cologne. Surely by now my scent wouldn’t be on the bed and I know Isaiah likes to wash the sheets often to keep them fresh, so why was I smelling myself? My heart fluttered and a smile spread across my lips when I then realized that Isaiah must’ve been spritzing a little of my cologne onto my pillows and the sheets, making it feel as if I was still sleeping in bed with him and I couldn’t express how happy that made me. I then scooted over to his side of the bed, burying my face into his pillow and for the first time in the past month, I was able to remind myself what he smelled like since I’ve been deprived of being able to get as close to him as I truly wanted.. I was so happy at this very moment.

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I thought I had shut my eyes for only a second, but when I opened them, I noticed James sitting on our bed, “Hey, you dozed off while I was out, so I let you sleep for a couple hours. When was the last time you got a decent nights sleep?” He asked and I scoffed softly.

“No idea, man..” I replied and I sat up, covering my mouth as I yawned.

“How did sleeping in here feel?” He wondered next and I smirked.

“Pretty good, actually, for only sleeping a couple hours..”

“I figured.. Didn’t feel like shaving?” James pointed out and I chuckled.

“Not really.. I kind of like it like this for the time being..”

“Now that I took a better look at it, you don’t look half bad with a thicker beard. Reminds me of how you wore it in college,” he replied and I smiled, “Well, come on, let’s go put the steaks on the grill and have some beers,” he said with a grin and I nodded, joining him in standing and we went to the kitchen to grab everything and to bring it outside.

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After eating a well seasoned and hardy meal, we sat on the edge of the pool with our beers and once we got talking, it became more serious as it went on and I ended up filling James in on everything that had happened between Isaiah and I, even telling him exactly what I told Isaiah that I had lied about. When I was done explaining it all, he took the information a lot less harshly than Isaiah had, but then again, James wasn’t my husband whom I had lied to for six straight years.. He was my best friend that only wanted to see Isaiah and I happy again and talking about it with someone, especially James, was helping me greatly.

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“Ahh, man.. I don’t really consider a kiss anything to get so hyped up about, especially since you only did it to get that crazy bitch away from you guys so you two could actually start a decent relationship. I mean, I can see why he’d be mad about it, ’cause you could’ve told him the day it happened, but I think he’s just missing the big picture of it all and why you did everything that you did.. He’s too caught up on the lies and stuff that he can’t see past them when he really should be trying to,” he brought up after I was finished explaining myself.

“You think so?”

“Yeah. And, I don’t know about you, but a month of this ignoring bullshit? That just seems mean to me, at this point..”

“Well, I don’t know.. I wouldn’t say it’s mean, he just needs his space to figure stuff out, you know? He still wears his ring, I still see love in his eyes when he looks at me, I even noticed before I fell asleep in our bed today that he puts my cologne on the sheets.. I know he misses me..” I said with a smirk and James smirked too, then he shrugged.

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“Yeah, I guess that’s something.. I understand him wanting space, but this space between you guys isn’t only effecting you two, but your boys, as well. You feel like you can’t be around them if he is and that’s not okay,” he continued.

“..August asked me today if we’re going to get a divorce..” I expressed and James looked to me with surprise in his eyes.

“No shit?” He questioned and I nodded, hearing James then sigh heavily, “Damn.. They’re too young to be wondering if anything’s up with you two, but what’s been going on right in front of them makes it so damn obvious that it makes sense that August knows something’s wrong, but he shouldn’t have to worry about stuff like that.. He should be worrying about school and stuff, not if his dad’s are going to get a divorce. I don’t think it’s healthy for them and I’m actually surprised that Luca hasn’t noticed it yet. But, if it keeps up, he definitely will,” he added and I sighed, not wanting two of the boys, let alone one, worrying about what’s going on with Isaiah and I, but James was right.. It was only a matter of time before they’d start noticing.

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“I don’t know what to do, Jimmy..” I expressed at a loss, my eyes tearing up, “I didn’t even know what answer to give August when he asked,” I continued and I shut my eyes, the tears falling down my cheeks and I reached up to wipe them off my face.

James put his hand on my shoulder, “Hey, hey.. It’s going to be all right, you hear me? You two aren’t going to get divorced, not after everything you two have been through. You guys have been to hell and back, you’ve been to hell and back and something like this isn’t going to make it all count for nothing. I can honestly say I have never in my life seen a couple that love one another as much as you two do. It’s nauseating, actually,” he joked and I couldn’t help but laugh through my tears.

“I like how nauseating we are..” I replied and he laughed in return.

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“You really think everything’s going to be okay?” I asked after drying my face, looking over at James and he smiled with a confident nod.

“Yeah, man, most definitely. You guys got kids together and it’s so obvious that you two are still crazy about one another, it’d be stupid not to stay together,” he advised and although he had no way of knowing the outcome in all of this, it still felt amazing being reassured. 

“Thank you so much, Jimmy.. You always help me out and I really should’ve talked to you sooner about all of this.. It’s making me feel a lot better..”

“No problem. We’re brothers, man, I’ll always help you out with anything,” he replied and I smiled with an accompanied, appreciative nod. 

“Same goes for you,” I replied.

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“Can I ask you something?” He wondered and I nodded again, “So, what happened after all that stuff? Did Jody really have August and then bail, like you said? Or was that a lie, too? And I don’t mean that in an asshole way, I’m just genuinely curious,” he tread lightly on the subject and although I was trying my best lately to get into the habit of telling the truth, this was something I had to keep lying about. I had no choice.

“She bailed.. I don’t know where she is.. I really do believe that her brother’s death hit her pretty hard.. Flipped some kind of switch in her head, I don’t know, because when I went to the hospital to pick up her and August, she wasn’t there and August was left in the nursery. Still haven’t heard from her, but I hope I don’t ever hear from her again,” I replied.

“Yeah, I hope you don’t, either.. It’s just so weird to me, though, because she seemed completely obsessed with you, enough so to try and trap you with her by having a baby, but then she just bails? I dunno, it’s just weird..”

“Yeah, well.. You never know what’s going on in the mind of a psychopath,” I answered and he chuckled.

“Yeah, guess not,” he agreed.

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“Oh, uhm.. I was meaning to ask, but I didn’t remember until now.. Did, uh.. Did Isaiah set this up?” I asked and James chuckled.

“Ahh, you caught us. Of course, not that I don’t like spending time with you, and I’d wish you call me more often-” He playfully punched my arm and I smiled, “But, yeah.. He did. When I told you that you looked terrible before, you really did, and still do. You needed that glow back, though, the healthy glow, and I think you just really needed someone to help you out, someone to be there for you during hard times.. Isaiah thought so, too. He worries about you and he doesn’t like seeing you not taking care of yourself. He understands that your upset and sad and depressed and what-not, but you shouldn’t be neglecting yourself like this and withering away to nothing,” he replied and I knew what he meant.

“You’re right.. I need to stop focusing so hard on being depressed and I should start focusing on the boys more, and working out or something..”

“And actually eating three meals a day,” he added and I rolled my eyes with a smile, feeling a little more like his patient today rather than his friend.

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“All right, I’ll start first thing in the morning.. I think I’m going to try and just get some much needed rest tonight, too. That nap helped earlier, but I think I need a good twelve hours or so,” I spoke and he seemed surprised.

“Already? It’s only eight. Back in college, you usually went to bed at, like, two in the morning every night,” he said with a chuckle.

“Yeah, well.. With how my terrible sleep schedule’s been, I should get as much as I can.. Plus, when you have three kids, a husband ignoring you and some time to actually get some rest, you jump on those opportunities.. Sleeping is being able to temporarily forget what’s happening, too, I guess,” I replied with a smirk and he nodded.

“Touche. Sleep well, man.”

“You, too.. Thanks again for everything, Jimmy, I’ll see you in the morning,” I said with a smile as I removed my feet from within the pool and stood up.

“Don’t mention it,” he added and I picked up my empty beer bottle, bringing it with me on my way towards the guesthouse to throw it out and to get some sleep.

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Isaiah’s POV

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Tonight, which isn’t all that uncommon for a Saturday, I closed the bar around one in the morning and as I wiped down the counter tops, I couldn’t stop thinking about Oliver and James and how things might’ve gone tonight. I wondered why James had stayed over, but I hoped he could help Oliver out of this funk he was in, as well as convince Oliver to start taking care of himself more because he looked unhealthy, malnourished, too skinny and pale, and I felt terrible for being the one to make him feel like that. Was he suffering from depression because of me?  I knew I had every right to be angry with him after what he had done, but over the past month, he’s just gotten worse and worse and I couldn’t help but feel responsible for him fading away like this. I didn’t want to be responsible for it any longer and I was glad that James stayed to talk to him because I wasn’t sure if I could talk to Oliver yet, myself.. Not particularly about our fight on his birthday, but I don’t think I could look at him in his condition and stand there confidently and waiting for an apology from him while knowing that I had caused him almost just as much pain by simply ignoring him as he had caused me by lying.. 

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When he had accidentally cut his hand in the morning and I had helped him clean his wound and wrap it, I couldn’t even look him in the eye.. I feared that if I did, a wave of guilt I knew I shouldn’t feel would’ve washed over me and I might’ve just forgiven him right then and there. I wanted to talk about what had happened between us before I would give him any sort of forgiveness, but I still believed I wasn’t ready to forgive him and I felt he was trying to speed up that process this morning.. So, I refused to look at him, I forced myself to pull away from him when he was touching my face and it was when he had told me he missed me that I knew I had to get away from him before I could let him convince me to stay behind and talk to him. I knew he loved me more than anything and he loved me enough to wait for me, but I feared that he loved me too much to the point where he was killing himself slowly without me.. And I was ashamed of myself for standing here and letting him. 

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I grew enraged with myself, hating that I was responsible for this and I clenched the sponge within my fist, then whipped it down onto the counter top angrily. I put my fingers to my temple to relax myself and I shut my eyes tightly, refusing to let myself cry, but for what I’m doing to him, I deserved to feel this weak and sad. Tears built up in my eyes, but before I let them fall down my cheeks, I wiped my eyes dry and took a deep breath.

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I exhaled slowly from between my lips and I tried to stop thinking about it, stepping out from behind the bar and to the dining deck. I looked towards the starry night and the water that reflected it, taking a few more slow breathes to lose the rest of the irritation and anger I felt. The past month I’ve been without Oliver has been tough, but the view outside the bar always helped in calming me down before facing him and the boys whenever I came home from work. I’ve been taking more care of them lately than Oliver has, but I didn’t hold it against him. I knew he was probably trying to stay away from them to avoid making them sad and to keep them from asking what’s wrong with us, but I missed seeing him play with our sons and I loved watching all of them in the same room. It was better than any movie or television show or any other form of entertainment because it was all mine to look at, so I cherished and loved every second of it. But, I now miss those ‘all-mine’ moments because they simply don’t happen anymore. I wanted them back, but I didn’t know how to do it.

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After I shut off the lights to the bar, I decided to go home before I could bring myself down further than I was. Oliver seemed to have not been using his Nissan lately, neither has he really been going to work and seeing his clients on account of his depression, so I’ve been borrowing his car instead of using mine. I guess I liked the smell of it better since mine still had that ‘new car’ scent and I didn’t much care for it. Then again, I could just be using that as an excuse to hide the fact that I’m still completely infatuated with the man. Hell, I’ve even been wasting his cologne on the bed sheets just to trick myself into thinking that he’s there sleeping next to me.. I suppose I’m really lovesick for him.

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When I got home, the whole house was dark except for the dimly lit foyer and into the kitchen, seeing James sitting at the island counter reading a book and I wondered why he was still awake. I stepped over to the kitchen and stood in the doorway, James then looking over and a smile spread across his lips.

“Hey. How was work?” He asked and I couldn’t help but think about what I had done after closing when I was alone.

“A little rough,” I replied and I could tell he knew what I meant by it given the circumstances, so he didn’t question it, only keeping his smile, “Why aren’t you in bed?” I asked as I stepped closer towards him.

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“Eh, can’t sleep. I’m usually at the hospital around this time of night, so it’s pretty much in-bedded into my brain to be up,” he replied.

“Is Oliver still awake..?”

“Nah, went to bed around eight or so,” he answered and I was surprised he had gone to bed so early.

What are you reading?”

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“Oh, this?” He asked, looking back down at the book in front of him, “Pregnancy book. Kat doesn’t think I read enough about it before Parker was born, so I’m trying to read more before we have our next little girl. Try to help her out as much as I can, ya’know?” He replied and I smirked, stepping over to the island and sitting down next to him.

“Have you two thought of a name for her yet?” I questioned and he shook his head.

“No. Kat’s been thinking of some but none of them have really stuck, or we can’t really come to an agreement on one,” he said with a light chuckle, “I like Adelise. Call her Addy for short, or something..”

“That’s a really pretty name,” I replied with a genuine tone.

“I know, right? Something about it doesn’t sit right with Kat, though, I dunno why,” he replied, shrugging hopelessly, “Maybe I can convince her on it, eventually..”

“Hmm.. I like the name Umiko for a girl,” I replied.

“Umiko..? Yeah, I like that, too. Maybe when you and Oliver have a girl, you can name her that,” he replied and I smiled, enjoying how he used the word ‘when’ instead of ‘if’.

“Yeah, maybe,” I agreed, leaning on the counter and I stared blankly at the book in front of him.

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James seemed to notice how quiet and deep in thought I had become, “So? When are you going to ask instead of make small talk?” James wondered, looking at me with a grin, “I know you wanna know what we talked about, so go ahead and ask already,” he continued and I gave a guilty smirk, James knowing exactly what I was curious about and have been ever since I had left for work.

“Well, just start from the beginning with what happened,” I suggested and he nodded.

“I made him take a shower ’cause he said he hadn’t in a few days. He took a nap in your guys’ bed for a few hours, too, which helped lift his spirits a lot,” he explained and I grew nervous.

“Oh, uh.. Did he, uhm-“

“Yeah, he noticed,” James said with the same grin on his lips, already knowing I was going to ask about his cologne I spray on the sheets on occasion.

“Well, that’s embarrassing,” I replied and James laughed softly.

“Nah, man. He seemed to really enjoy it, actually,” he assured me and I was a little surprised.

“Really?”

“Mm-hmm. He’s also noticed that you still look at him the same, like you still love him, and he’s noticed you still wear your ring. I can see why you do, since you’re still married an’all, but are you meaning to do that, to give him hope or something? Or do you just forget you’re wearing it?” He asked and I looked down at my finger with the silver ring still hugging it securely.

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“I guess I’ve just gotten so used to wearing it that it’s hard to get out of the habit, even if I did want to. Maybe I’m even trying to give myself hope by still wearing it, I don’t know,” I said with a sigh.

“Hope for what? Why do you say it like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like you’re not in control, like someone else is making these decisions for you guys to either be, or not to be, together? Sure, Oliver fucked up, but you’re the one that’s kept you two separated for this long, so why do you make it seem like there’s more than just the two of you involved in this? You’re acting as if you’re being kept apart and as if someone’s preventing you from marching right over to the guesthouse and taking what you want.. As if there’s consequences for wanting to be happy with the one you love,” he replied, having a good point, but I couldn’t do it so easily like that.

I shook my head, “It’s not that simple.”

“It is, actually,” he disagreed with me, “Unless you plan on continuing to punish him by keeping this up, which seems a bit malicious, to me,” he added and I grew a little defensive.

“He lied to me and kept secrets from me for six years and you don’t think he deserves to be punished?” I challenged.

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“No, I do, lying is a shitty thing, but, come on.. Give the guy a break. His dad was barely there when he was a kid, he lost both of his parents at a young age, he was raised by his uncle, the guy that was pretty much responsible for why his parents aren’t here now.. And he was defiled by an evil, conniving psychopath against his own will with the intent to trap him in a toxic relationship that he didn’t want to be in.. Ollie’s been through some real shit. I mean, the guy has been trying to fit in somewhere all of this life and has been trying to be happy, but he didn’t really start trying and pushing for it his hardest until he met you. Going behind your back and lying to you and all that junk wasn’t the right way to go about things, but if you think about it, it’s probably all that he knew or could even think to do because he was barely guided at all as a kid and he doesn’t understand that lying is a really bad thing because no one taught him otherwise. His mom and his uncle, the two people he was raised by the most, are good examples of people who lied a lot. Look, I know being lied to sucks, especially by the one you’re with, but think about it, everything he did was for you. It’s not like he lied because he liked it and I’m not excusing his behavior, but how can you blame the guy when that’s all he’s ever known and that’s all he’s ever been shown growing up? Do you even have any idea how much courage he had to muster up to tell you the truth? He had to have known that you leaving him was a possibility, but to be fair to you, he told you the truth anyways because it was probably killing him inside,” he explained and it did make a lot of sense, though it still all wasn’t sitting right with me.

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“I suppose that makes sense.. However, I still can’t get over the fact that he kissed Jody when he was with me.”

“It doesn’t matter, Isaiah. Look passed it and see that he did it for you.”

“But.. How do you excuse that? I can’t just look passed it,” I stated.

“Yes, you can, if you actually tried..”

“But he kept it from me and lied about it and I don’t know if I should forgive him for that,” I replied and James instantly grew frustrated.

“Oh, for God’s sake-“

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James suddenly stood from his chair and grabbed my face, pulling my lips into his abruptly and I had no idea what to do I was in such shock at what he was doing. James then quickly released me and sat back down and I was completely mortified, wiping my lips off after I had fully realized what he had done.

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“James, what the hell!? Are you trying to piss me off?!”

“No, I’m trying to prove a point!”

What fucking point?!”

“Did you like that?”

“No!”

“Did you want to do that?”

No!

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“Well, neither did Oliver! Oliver did it so you two could start your relationship on the right track without Jody making things worse than she already had! I did it to get a point across and to get results, and so did he! Even though I was the one who initiated it, even though it isn’t your fault at all, do you still feel guilty for letting it happen because you’re with someone else? Because you’re with Oliver?” He asked next and I kept silent for a long moment before answering him, beginning to see his point now.

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“Yeah..”

“Oliver felt the same way when he kissed her.. Is the first thing you’re going to do is run and tell Oliver about it? Or are you uncomfortable with the thought of that and how he might react?” He continued and of course I didn’t want to tell Oliver..

Okay, I get it, James..”

“Good. Point proven, so get over it!” He demanded and my gaze went back towards the counter top, a little ashamed of myself now. I suppose he was right, it was a kiss I knew Oliver didn’t want to do and he did do it for us. I didn’t even want to think about what our lives would’ve been like if he hadn’t done it and Jody had been trying to pry her way into our relationship that whole time. Things might’ve turned out worse than they had, or maybe we wouldn’t have gotten this far together in the first place.. Either way, I didn’t like thinking about it and in the end, I was glad that he had done what he did to get us to where we are now. I don’t know what I would do without Oliver and our boys.

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“I’m sorry I did that,” James added about the kiss and I grew a little embarrassed over the slight awkward silence.

“It’s fine.. You clearly will go above and beyond to help Oliver, just don’t do it again,” I replied and he chuckled.

“I won’t, but.. Had to get the point across somehow, right?” He joked and I gave a quick, fake smirk on my lips for a brief moment before looking away from him again.

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James was right, maybe I should be a little more lenient on Oliver. Although I’ve been in the right this whole time to be mad at him, maybe it was time I finally forgave him and try to move passed all of this. If James was telling the truth, which I knew he was, I guess I really am the only thing that Oliver’s wanted so badly in order to go through all of these great lengths to keep me at his side. He’d do anything for me and I knew that, and he knew that I’d do the same for him. 

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There’s something else you should know, too,” James continued and I grew curious, as well as a little nervous.

“Yeah..?”

“I’m not telling you this so you feel guilty or to speed up your ‘forgiving process’, I just think you should know.. Today, August asked Oliver if you two were getting a divorce,” he said with remorse and I shut my eyes, sighing heavily as I dreaded when something like this would happen and it was my fault that it had.. That must’ve been what they were talking about in the kitchen this morning after breakfast before I walked in.

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“What did Oliver say?” I asked, looking back over to James.

“He didn’t know what to tell him, so he avoided giving him a straight answer,” he replied and I grew worried.

“Does Oliver think we’re going to?” I asked in a slight panic.

“I don’t know. He didn’t know the answer to that question, so I’m sure it’s crossed his mind that it might happen. I tried to help by saying everything was going to be okay and all that, but I had no idea, either, I was just trying to make him happy. We’re all waitin’ on you, because you do realize that you’re the only one that knows the answer to that question, right?” He asked and I stared at him for a moment in silence.

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“Do you want to? ..Would you ever really leave him?” He asked and I felt my heart drop with worry that Oliver thought I ever would. However, I suppose it was normal for him to think that since I’ve been ignoring him like this for so long, “You know what? Don’t answer that, ’cause I don’t even want to know,” James jumped in before I could respond, “Whatever decision you make, tell Oliver yourself, ’cause if it’s the bad answer, I don’t know if I can hide something like that from h-”

“I don’t want to leave him, James,” I told him anyways and he let out a huge sigh.

“Oh, thank God.. I seriously don’t even want to think about what state he’d be in if you did.”

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“Neither do I.. I still don’t really know how to talk to him again, though. He tried to talk to me this morning and I completely blew him off because I had no idea what to say. He cut his hand doing the dishes and when I helped him bandage it up, he tried talking to me, telling me he missed me and I couldn’t even make eye contact. I just feel like such a jackass. The last time we talked for more than a few minutes was during the fight that caused all of this and I was just horrible to him. I told him to keep his hands off me, that I didn’t even want to look at him, and-” I stopped, realizing the worst thing I had done, “Jesus.. I told him that he was no different than Jody. I called him a bad person and he’s not, he’s not at all. Why did I say that?” I asked more towards myself than James.

“You were just mad, no one blames you for that. Whenever you two make up, though, you should tell him how you feel and what you really think of him, give him the reassurance that he isn’t what you said he was. He values your opinion the most out of anyone’s, so he needs to hear it from you, no one else,” James replied and I nodded.

“You’re right, I will, but.. How do I even start talking to him again? I don’t know what to do, James,” I answered at a loss and I heard James chuckle, “What?”

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“I’ve now heard the same thing from both of you, that neither of you know what to do.. Okay, I confess. I told Oliver that you were worried about him and that you were the one that set up him and I hanging out today.”

“But, I didn’t-”

“Yeah, I know, but it made him really happy to hear it. I think a third party needed to step in and help you two, so I volunteered without either of you knowing,” he said with a sly grin and I smirked.

“Maybe you should’ve been a psychiatrist instead of a doctor,” I added and he laughed, “So, you tell Oliver that I did all of this to make him feel better and to get him to take care of himself again, and then, what? What advice are you going to give me?” I somewhat joked, even though I was genuinely curious about what he thought I should do.

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“Well, since I got Oliver to start being healthy again, wait and see the improvement for yourself. See that he’s doing it for himself and for you. It gives you some time, too, to think about what you might want to say to him whenever you think you’re ready. He can handle a few more days, or a week or two more without you. But, not much more than that.. Maybe even smile at him some more every now and then so he can start believing that you still want to be with him instead of him just relying on what told him. He needs to see it for himself,” he said with a soft smile and I nodded.

“All right, the sounds fair.”

“And of course, if all else fails and you still can’t think of how to begin talking to him, just kiss him.. You’d be surprised how much something as simple as a kiss can say,” he added and just the thought of kissing Oliver after not having done so for a month made me smile without realizing. I missed the affection we used to constantly give one another.

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“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you blush before,” James added and I turned away from him.

“I’m not.. Definitely not blushing,” I denied and James chuckled.

“Whatever you wanna tell yourself, man. I’m heading to bed,” he said with a light pat on my back and he stood from his chair, taking the pregnancy book Katalina had given him with him.

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“Hey, James,” I stopped him from walking away and he looked back at me, “Thanks for all of this. I know you have a crazy schedule and a daughter to take care of, and I’m sure Katalina could’ve used your help today with taking care of our boys, but.. You’ve gone above and beyond for us. I don’t even know how to thank you,” I said genuinely and his smile lessened to a slight smirk.

“You can thank me by not leaving Oliver. It’d kill him, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone,” he answered and I didn’t respond as I watched him leave the kitchen to go to the guest house and sleep.

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As I looked at my wedding ring, I was positive now that James was right, he was right about everything. I didn’t want to leave Oliver, but if I did, I couldn’t imagine what he would do. I wasn’t staying with him out of guilt or pity or anything of the sort, I genuinely still wanted to be with him, but thinking about what could happen if I did leave him made my heart race with worry. I didn’t even want to fathom what he might do. I think it’s been long enough of me ignoring him, I think he’s learned his lesson, but I’m still going to take James’ advice and let Oliver show me that he’s changing for the better. I want to witness it for myself and know that he’s capable of self-improvement and that he can still be strong without me. I’ll be watching him closely the next week or two, not that I haven’t been already, but I will a lot more now knowing he’s doing all of this for me. Everything he’s ever done ever since we met has been for me and I wasn’t going to keep punishing him for something like that.

Generation 4, Chapter 18

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I’ve been getting up early the past few days, waiting for the mail to come so I could get it before Isaiah could. My Uncle Gareth told me he was sending me the paperwork that finalized the adoption of August and I needed to get it and hide it somewhere so Isaiah would never find it and question it, knowing then that I had lied about everything I told him. My uncle and I planned on waiting a long while before doing this, August being under his and Aunt Nina’s name to avoid suspicion from the detective that I had anything to do with Jody’s disappearance, or her being pregnant, and now with that time passed, six years after August was born, August was finally under my name and I was now officially his guardian. 

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As I stood anxiously outside, waiting impatiently for the postal worker, I was trying to think of a good spot where I could hide this paper trail of lies. I needed to put it somewhere where Isaiah would never randomly come across it.. I didn’t even want the damn thing in the house so I could avoid that risk completely.. Maybe I could put it in the guesthouse somewhere? We hardly ever go in there.. No, never mind.. With my luck, or lack thereof, he’d go in there for a random, stupid reason and come across it.. I don’t want it in there, either, but.. Where could I put it?

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“Waiting outside again, huh?” The postal carrier spoke and I gave a fake smile.

“Yeah, I’m waiting for something important to come,” I replied and she nodded, looking through her bag and she collected everything that belonged to us.

“Well, here’s your stuff,” she said with a smile, handing me the mail and I took it quickly, looking through the stack immediately, “I hope whatever you’re looking for came in today. Have a good one, Mr. Dubois.”

“Yeah.. Thanks,”  I answered, not bothering to really pay attention to her anymore as I continued through the stack and finally, the last letter in the pile was the one I was looking for.. The one from my Uncle.

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Isaiah was always used to getting the mail in the morning, so I put everything else back into the mailbox for him to get later and so that he wouldn’t question why I had purposely woken up so early to get it myself, wanting to avoid talking about this letter as much as I could. I shut the mailbox door and with a shaky hand, I folded up the letter quickly and shoved it into my front sweat pant pocket, not wanting to risk walking inside with it in my hand just in case Isaiah had gotten up already.

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As I made my way back into the house, I continued to try and come up with a good hiding spot, still not wanting to hide it in the house at all, so I walked down the hallway that led to our room, stepping in slowly and trying to be as quiet as possible so I wouldn’t wake Isaiah. I noticed a decorative box in the corner of the room, something unimportant and I grabbed it, removing the contents within it and leaving the room just as quietly as I had come in.

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After grabbing the box, I went outside to the backyard, finally deciding that burying it was my best option. I walked over to the corner of the house, kneeling down and I opened the envelope after taking it out of my pocket, seeing August’s real birth certificate with my Aunt and Uncle’s name on it, as well as the finalized paperwork that proved August was in my care now and I was his adoptive father. I quickly put the papers back into the envelope, then into the box I had grabbed and dug a hole roughly a foot deep next to the flower bush, putting it into the hole and hastily putting the dirt back over it, making it look as if there had never been a hole there, nor that anyone tampered with the yard.

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I stood to my feet and went back inside the house, going into our bedroom and seeing that Isaiah was still sleeping, then walking to our bathroom and shutting the door quietly behind me. I went straight for the sink and washed all the evidence of dirt off my hands and from under my fingernails, making sure to clean the sink, as well, of any specs of dirt I could’ve left behind. I let out a relived sigh as I shut the faucet off, finally able to forget about all of this and able to go about my mornings like normal again without needing to wake up purposefully just to hide the truth from Isaiah.. But, I still couldn’t rest as easily as I thought I could after successfully hiding the paper trail..

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After I dried my hands, my nerves were still acting up and when I looked at my hands, I noticed they were trembling and I clenched them into fists to try and get them to stop. I’ve been so anxious waiting for that letter from my uncle that even after I had safely hid it and could forget about it, something still stuck with me.. Well, truthfully, I’ve been restless a lot ever since Cybal gave birth to Isaiah and I’s second baby, which was roughly a year and a half ago, and it’s been a little stressful keeping up with August and his little brothers.. That, and I’ve been barely getting any sleep, anyhow, but it wasn’t all the kids’ fault, there were just some nights that I couldn’t sleep and anxiety kept me awake, or I’d have a bad dream where when I woke up, I wouldn’t be able to close my eyes again.. Maybe on my next day off I can finally sleep in and try to rest my guilty conscience so I didn’t look and feel so bad.

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Isaiah’s POV

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I was actually pretty excited to get up today because it’s Sunday, my day off of work, plus, I get to spend it with my whole family because it was Oliver’s birthday. He’s twenty seven today and I’ve arranged for Kat, James, and their daughter Parker to come over and spend the day with us. Oliver has a physical therapy appointment today which meant he’d be gone for a couple hours with his patient, but by the time he’d get home, everyone would be here waiting for him. I wish he didn’t have to work on his birthday, but I suppose it was a good thing since it allowed me to plan some things for him without him knowing.. I’ve noticed he’s been acting a little distant and restless lately, but I hoped today he’d be able to take it easy and be able to relax a little after his work was all done.

“Happy-” I started when I awoke, though I hesitated when I noticed his spot on the bed was empty, “..Birthday..” I continued with a sigh, hating that more and more lately I’ve been seeing his side of the bed absent of life and warmth when I’d wake up.

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I listened to the baby monitor for a moment, though when I didn’t hear anything, I knew he wasn’t in the baby’s room and I got out of bed, ready to go looking for him, but once I was about to leave the bedroom, I heard the bathroom door open and I saw Oliver coming out. 

A smile came to my lips, “Hey, there you are,” I expressed happily.

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I walked over to him and as I looked to his face, my smile slowly dropped and without my glasses, I hadn’t noticed how bad he looked from across the room, but when I got close enough to him, I noticed right away.

Oliver, you don’t look so good.. Are you okay?” I asked, reaching up to caress my thumb over his cheek and his body seemed to be there, but his soul seemed drained.

“Yeah, I’m okay.. Just tired,” he replied, giving me a weak smirk and I pulled him into a hug, wrapping my arms around his neck.

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Oliver returned the hug wholeheartedly, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me close to him, though I could really tell how tired he was when he let his body slouch and it seemed as if it was a little difficult to carry his own weight.

“Maybe you should sleep more..? I want you to be well rested for today,” I said with a slight worry to my tone.

“Why..? What’s special today?” He asked with little interest and I pulled away from him a little to look at his face, feeling him pull his sleepy chin off my shoulder and he looked back at me.

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“Are you serious?” I asked and he made a face as if he still had no idea what I was talking about, “It’s your birthday, Oliver,” I said with a soft chuckle and he didn’t seem to believe me.

“No it’s not, it’s not until next week,” he argued and I smiled.

“Uhm, noooo.. It’s today,” I confirmed and he still seemed confused.

“..Really?” He needed more confirmation and I nodded.

“Yup. Happy Birthday, babe,” I said with another soft laugh and he shook his head in, what I assumed, was disappointment in himself for being so careless.

“Wow.. I’m sorry, I’ve just been completely out of it lately and so tired.. I must’ve lost track of my days,” he answered.

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“It’s all right, you’re with the kids more than I am and I know three of them can be exhausting, you just need more sleep. Why don’t you go back to bed? I’ll turn the baby monitor off, maybe go to the park with the kids or something, allow you to get some proper rest without any distractions. Your appointment with your patient isn’t until one in the afternoon, so that gives you about six more hours of sleep,” I expressed.

“Are you sure? I know August can get ready by himself now, but I should at least help you with Luca and Niko,” he offered.

“No, don’t worry about it, I got it. Just get back into bed and sleep as long as you’d like, you deserve a little time off from always having to keep up with them,” I encouraged and he smiled, letting me take his hand and I brought him back over to our bed.

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I watched as Oliver lie back down and I sat down next to him, “Before you go back to sleep, do you want breakfast in bed or anything? I can put a candle in a muffin for now until I get you a cake,” I asked and he chuckled.

“No, I’m okay.. Thank you..”

“Of course, anything for you,” I answered, “Get some rest, okay? Let me know if you need anything at all and I’ll get it for you. Or, if you need anything else from meI can definitely do it for you,” I implied, moving my hand down his side towards his hip and he raised his eyebrow in intrigue, though before he could answer, we both heard Niko start whining through the baby monitor and he was beginning to wake up.

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“Perfect timing,” Oliver joked and I chuckled.

“I’ll wake you up before your appointment,” I acknowledged and he nodded with a weak, tried smile. I bent down to kiss his lips before standing up and I shut off the baby monitor for him so he could sleep without any distractions, leaving the side of the bed and before I left to go get the boys ready for the day, I changed out of my pajamas and into a comfortable Sunday outfit.

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Compared to living in Oregon, down here in Cali, Oliver has less patients, therefore less appointments, however, he made a lot more money from them rather than from the ones he had up north. It was mostly because of the area that we lived in, it being much nicer than where we used to live, so without busying himself with tons of different appointments to make what he used to, he makes a little more doing a lot less now.. It also gave him a lot more time with the kids and I knew that it was exhausting work, but I also knew that he loved being home with them. I wished that I could be home a lot more, but, I still had the same schedule I did from when we lived up north. However, today was a Sunday and that’s the one day I never worked at the bar, giving me plenty of time to spend with my husband and my children.. I always, always looked forward to Sunday’s.

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When I came upstairs, I went to August’s room first, knocking on the door and he replied without me needing to say anything, “I’m awake!” He called out and I smiled.

“All right, big guy,” I answered, leaving him be and going to Luca and Niko’s room next. 

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I stepped in and noticed Luca sitting up in his crib and he smiled when he saw me.

Hey, good morning, bud. Did Niko wake you up?” I asked and he nodded, letting Niko whine for just a moment longer without me tending to him while I let Luca out of his crib. His full name was Luca Sukai Dubois, his middle name meaning ‘sky’ in Japanese for his bright and clear blue eyes that matched the color of mine.

“Hows my little man, huh?” I asked.

“Good,” he answered, bringing his cheek to my lips and I pecked him for a long moment before setting him on the ground.

I’ll get you dressed in a second, okay? Play with your toys while I get your baby brother.”

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I watched as Luca went straight for his block set, smiling towards him, then making my way over to Nikolai’s crib, seeing him crying with tightly shut eyes and I picked him up into my arms.

“My goodness, calm down, little bug,” I spoke softly, bouncing him gently on my shoulder and just from the contact I gave him, his crying started to subside and after I gave him his pacifier, he cooed soft, quiet baby mumbles and it warmed my heart in indescribable ways.

Niko’s full name was Nikolai Mizu Dubois, and much like Luca’s middle name being Japanese, so was Niko’s, Mizu meaning ‘water’ and it was for his deep blue eyes that were more that obviously from Oliver. Every day I spent with my little boys were the best days of my life and finally, after waiting what seemed like forever, I had the family I always wanted with Oliver. It truly was a dream come true for me.

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After changing Niko into a clean diaper and clothes, I then got Luca dressed, all while still holding Niko in my arms, which was always quite the difficult task since Luca was so active and always loved running around and away from me. I was finally successful at getting him to stay still so I could dress him after about five tries and as we left their room, holding Niko with my one hand and holding Luca’s hand with the other, August came out of his room by himself, already dressed and ready and I smiled at the sight of him. He was such a smart, well behaved little boy and I enjoyed how independent he was already at his young age of six.

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“You look sharp, Augie. Did you want to look good for Daddy’s birthday?” I asked and he nodded.

“Yeah. Did I do good?” He asked and I nodded.

“You did, don’t worry. I’m sure Daddy will appreciate it, too. He’s really tired this morning, though, so we won’t see him much until a little later. You’ll need to help me keep these two quiet so he can rest, think you can do that?” I asked and he smiled.

“Yup, I can help!”

“Good. Thanks, buddy,” I replied, all of us walking to the stairs and August went first, telling him to be careful and to hold the railing and I helped Luca down the stairs by holding tightly to his hand, taking one step at a time with both feet on each step just like he did, and eventually, we made it downstairs together.

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I brought them all to the kitchen for breakfast and put Luca into his high chair, giving him his food first and as a bottle warmed for Niko, I made eggs and bacon for August and myself. Getting them all dressed and ready for the day was always the hardest part, but it got easier as the morning went on with a little help from the morning kid shows on the kitchen television to help distract them. I contemplated making an extra plate for Oliver, but seeing as he had said ‘no’ to breakfast earlier, as well as not wanting to wake him if he was already asleep, I decided against it and I went about the morning trying to focus on the kids instead of the exhausted, overwhelmed birthday boy.

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After breakfast with the boys, I spent the rest of the morning outside with them in the backyard, August and Luca playing in the sandbox, or playing hide and seek, or playing tag together while I spent the whole time sitting in a lounge chair under the shade with Nikolai in my arms. I loved sitting out here now more than ever since I had something to watch and occupy myself with rather than just sitting out here alone and only being able to wish for what I had now.. Even sitting out here with Oliver was a little, well, I don’t want to say boring, but a little uneventful, or maybe just a little too relaxing without the boys to watch.. Oliver relaxed and let the songs of the birds and the sound of the ocean be his muse while I sat out here and longingly waited to fill the yard with noise and laughter from more kids. Now, every day I needed to convince myself that this wasn’t a dream, that this all was actually real and that this all was really happening. Everything that I wanted was right in front of me, and what made me happier was that we still weren’t done making more additions to the family.

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Niko was only a year and a half old and the best choice between each pregnancy was to wait between eighteen to twenty-four months, so we had a few more months to go until Cybal could get pregnant again, but I was still completely ready for her to be. I wanted all of this, and still so, so much more.. I just couldn’t get enough of it as I watched August and Luca playing together while also staring adoringly at Niko looking right back up at me with freckled cheeks and these big, beautiful blue eyes that reminded me of the love of my life.. What’s better than looking into your child’s eyes and seeing everything you fell in love with in the first place inside of them? I was so proud of how far we had come, especially for how much Oliver, himself, had come, and I was excited for so much more with him.

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Around noon, an hour before Oliver’s appointment with his patient, I brought the boys inside and opened our bedroom door, letting Luca and August run in and August helped Luca onto the bed with Oliver, then climbed up himself, which Oliver then wake up and he smiled instantly at the sight of our boys.

“Happy Birthday!” August expressed happily as he sat on the bed.

“Happy Bertday, Daddy,” Luca then followed August’s lead.

“Aw, thanks, you two,” he answered, tousling Luca’s hair and his eyes then met mine, his expression softening as he then looked to our littlest in my arms.

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I approached the bed on Oliver’s side and he welcomed Niko into his arms as I handed him off.

“How’s the little bug doing?” He asked, both of us having the same nickname for him, just like how August was ‘big guy’, since he was the oldest, and Luca was ‘little man’, since he was right in the middle.

“Perfect,” I replied, sitting next to Oliver and joining them all on the bed.

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“Cake, cake!” Luca chanted, hitting Oliver’s leg gently and Oliver and I laughed.

“Not now, Luca,” August said with a smile, disciplining Luca before Oliver or I could.

“August’s right.. Not until I get back from work, little man.. You, especially, don’t need any sugar right now..” Oliver replied and I chuckled.

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“Did you sleep good?” I asked, noticing that the bags under his eyes were gone and the whites of his eyes weren’t as bloodshot as they were before.

“Yeah, actually.. I really needed that, thank you..” He answered and I smiled, glad to have been able to give him some much needed time alone to sleep and he leaned in to kiss me for his thanks.

“You’re welcome. We’ll wait here, go shower or whatever you need to do before your appointment,” I encouraged and he smiled and nodded, handing me back Niko and I held him as Oliver got up and went to the bathroom to shower and get ready.

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When I heard the shower start and I knew Oliver couldn’t hear us talking, I went to the boys for advice, “So, what should we get for Daddy on his birthday?” I asked August and Luca, watching them think for a moment with wildly cocked eyebrows and open mouths, their eyes going around the room as they thought long and hard.

“A puppy!” Luca said excitedly and I laughed.

“Not what you want as a present, what does Daddy want?” I asked again and he seemed displeased by me not saying yes to a puppy.

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“Pool toys!” Luca then suggested, “Daddy likes swimming,” he continued.

“True, he does, but he doesn’t need pool stuff, he’s already a really, really great swimmer.. Good idea, though, Luca.”

“What about sushi?” August then suggested.

“What a great idea, Daddy’s favorite food! We can definitely do that,” I replied and he smiled, proud of himself for thinking of a good idea and I was happy to have figured out dinner.

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When Oliver was done showering and getting ready, he left for his appointment and I brought all the boys back upstairs, laying down Luca and Niko both for naps and August wanted to play in his room, so I took that time, while I had my hands free, to call James and ask him and Katalina to buy dinner on their way here and telling them I’d pay them back when they got here. I was extremely excited for Katalina to get here, especially, because she was bringing my present for Oliver that I was going to give him after the kids were in bed and we could be alone. I really, really hoped that he would like it. 

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Around three in the afternoon, an hour before Oliver was supposed to get home, James, Katalina and their daughter, Parker, who was around Luca’s age, arrived and I took the to-go bag full of sushi from James. I paid them back for grabbing dinner and we brought everything into the dining room, setting the bags down and Katalina set down a cake, something I had completely forgotten about to get Oliver, but even if I had remembered, there wasn’t any way for me to get to the store.. Taking three boys under the age of six, anywhere really, can be quite the nightmare.

“Oh, thank you so much for getting a cake, it completely slipped my mind,” I told Katalina and she smiled.

“You’re welcome. I figured something would get forgotten, you have three boys to worry about and we can’t have a birthday without a cake,” she replied and I nodded.

“Very true,” I answered, coming up to her and giving her a warm hug, then shaking James’ hand after, “How are you two? How’s the baby doing?” I asked, watching as both of their expressions softened and warmed and James wrapped his arm around Kat.

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“She’s doing just fine, actually,” Kat said with confidence as she placed her hand over her growing tummy.

She? You two wanted to know the sex?”

“Yup, another little girl,” James confirmed and I smiled adoringly.

“That’s great. How’s Parker taking it?”

“She’s not too thrilled with the idea of a little sister,” Katalina answered, then lowering her voice, “Which is why she’s being such a little brat lately,” she said quietly as Parker slept on James’ shoulder.

“Oh, I see. Well, that’s too bad,” I replied.

“Eh, what can you do?” James asked rhetorically, “Where are the little monsters of yours?” He asked with a playful grin and I laughed.

“August is upstairs playing in his room, Luca and Niko are napping,” I replied.

“I’m gunna go say ‘hey’ to the little dude,” James said and Katalina and I watched as he brought Parker with him upstairs to go see Augie.

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I grabbed the cake from the table and looked to Katalina, motioning with my head for her to follow me and I set down the cake on the counter in the kitchen, then turning to face Katalina.

“Did you bring it?” I asked her with an eager tone and she smiled.

“Of course I did,” she replied, running to go look through her bag and she came back with a picture frame with a photo in it, handing it to me and I looked at it with an adoring smile on my lips.

“Thank you for doing this, he doesn’t have any pictures like this from when he was young so I thought it might be something he’d like to have,” I said as I admired the photo of Oliver’s mother holding him when he was a little boy.

“You’re welcome. My mom has a lot of my Aunt Hannah’s things in her attic, seeing as my dad doesn’t want to get rid of any of it, but has no room to put it anywhere. I went over to my mom’s and she found a couple photos, but I thought this one was the best,” she answered, stepping up next to me and admiring the photo with me.

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“It really is a nice one. This is my first time seeing Oliver’s mother,” I pointed out and she seemed surprised.

“Really? I would’ve thought you’d have seen a picture of her a long time ago or something,” she pointed out and I shook my head.

“Nope, this is a first. He never really ever talks about her, I don’t know anything about her at all. She’s completely gorgeous, though, you can really tell that he’s her son,” I complimented.

“Yeah, she was really pretty, ’til she was murdered an all,” she spoke casually and I felt my heart drop.

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My eyes widened and I looked to Katalina, “I’m sorry.. What..?” I asked and Katalina made a face as if she was in trouble.

“Shit.. Oliver never told you, did he?”  She asked and I shook my head, “Fuck.. Well, just act like I didn’t say anything. I’m sure there’s a reason why Oliver never told you. He hates when people look down on him, he probably never told you because he didn’t want you to feel sorry for him,” she continued and I sighed heavily, looking at the picture again and now completely regretting this present.

“..Is this a terrible idea now? I don’t want to make him sad on his birthday, nor do I want him to be reminded of what happened..”

“No, it’s a good idea. He’ll like to have it,” she answered.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, positive. He’ll appreciate it and the trouble you went through to get it for him,” she replied and I was only slightly relieved.

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“..What did happen?” I asked, curious now what had happened to his mother. The first time I ever met Oliver, one of the first things he told me was that his mother was dead and he hadn’t seen his father in fourteen years, but after that, even as our relationship progressed and even to this day, he never talked about his mother again.

I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but I just can’t believe he never did tell you, by now at least.. It kind of sucks for me to talk about, too, but.. Oliver’s dad was always working, like, always working, and I guess Oliver’s mom eventually grew tired of it and started seeing someone else behind his back,” Katalina hesitated, but then continued, “She was seeing my dad, actually..” She continued and my eyes widened again.

“Her own husband’s brother?” I asked and she nodded, “Wow.. Talk about how to start a sibling rivalry,” I said in disappointment, “So, Camilla is..?”

“My Aunt Hannah’s and my dad’s daughter, Oliver’s and my half sister,” she answered and I sighed.

“Jesus..”

“Yeah, pretty fucked up.. Apparently Oliver’s dad caught them in the act at his moms bakery that she owned, and for some reason he already had a gun with him. He shot her right here,” Katalina pointed upwards underneath her chin, “Then he shot his brother three times. Once in the right hand, once in the right shoulder, then once in the left knee.. Luckily, he let my dad live, but not without giving him some things to help him remember what ruined their bond,” she finished and the more she explained, the more heartbroken I was for Oliver.

“..Wait, Oliver’s Dad killed her?” I asked with more shock and she rolled her eyes, but only at herself, not me.

“Fuuuck, I just keep spilling more and more, don’t I?” She asked rhetorically, “Yeah.. Oliver’s dad did it.. That’s why he left the family, I don’t think he could face Oliver after what he had done, taking away his and Camilla’s mom like that,” she continued and just thinking about all of this was causing me to get a little depressed, but I was also a little confused.. Oliver said that he had reunited with his father a couple of years ago and he said everything worked out, but I just couldn’t understand how he could forgive his father for doing something as serious as killing his mother. I didn’t believe anyone deserved to die like that, but then again, my opinion didn’t matter in this situation. However Oliver and his father figured things out between them was exactly that, between them.

“Poor Oliver,” I said with remorse oozing out of every pore, but Katalina hit my arm and I looked at her in confusion, “What?

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“Hey, drop that shit right now. He can’t know that you know, and he especially can’t know that I told you.. He’d be so upset with me if he knew I said anything and he’d never talk to me again,” she said with worry.

“I know, I know. Of course, I won’t say anything, but how the hell am I going to give this to him without worry written all over my face as I anticipate a reaction? We can read one another pretty damn well and he’ll know somethings wrong the moment I let my face change,” I said, worry already beginning to build up even though I still had a ton of time before I would give this picture to him.

“Then don’t you dare let it,” she threatened and I grew intimidated by her.

“You’re right, I can’t.. I won’t..”

“Good. Listen, stop thinking about it and go about your day completely normal, just like you always do. Nothing has changed. Just give him the picture with a pretty little smile on your face and let him react however he wants to, understand?” She made clear and I nodded in agreement. 

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“Shit, I think he’s here.. I heard a car door in the driveway,” Katalina announced and we both looked, confirming that Oliver was here when we both saw him walking up to the front door.

“Just stall him or something, I’m gunna go hide this in the bedroom really quick,” I replied and she nodded, walking towards the door as I left the kitchen and went to our bedroom. I shut the door behind me and looked around the room quickly, trying to pick out a spot where he wouldn’t have any reason to look there until I was able to give this to him and I ultimately picked to hide it under my pillow. 

Hey, Ollie! Happy Birthday!” Katalina called out louder than she needed to and I assumed she was trying to let me know that he was in the house now. After shoving the frame under my pillow, I heard footsteps outside in the hallway, then the doorknob turn and I looked up, seeing Oliver open the door and I tried to make it look like I was making the bed.

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“Hey, uh.. How was you appointment?” I asked, finishing fixing up the blanket and I turned to face him. 

“It was okay.. You’re choosing now to make the bed when we have guests?” He questioned and I was frozen for a moment.

“Uh.. Yes?” I said more as a question than I intended and he chuckled.

“Okay.. Well, I promise not to go snooping around for my present, even though I know exactly where it is now,” he called my obvious bluff with a grin and I laughed softly.

“You got me. I’ll give it to you later when everyone’s gone and the kids are asleep,” I answered and by the expression he had given me, as well as his cheeks turning a light shade of pink, he took my words in a different way, “It’s an actual object, not just me being a pervert,” I added and he chuckled again.

“Well, I guess I wouldn’t mind both, if both were an option,” he implied and I raised a rather aroused brow, stepping up to him and wrapping my arms around his neck.

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I spoke quietly near his lips, my gaze bouncing between them and his eyes, “Mmm.. Let’s close the door real quick. I wouldn’t mind giving you a little present now,” I suggested, catching the door with the tip of my foot and I shut it before I leaned in to kiss him. I felt his arms slowly wrapping around my waist, pulling me against him more and I deepened the kiss as I push back against him, pushing him gently up against one of the walls in our room and he let out a soft moan when his back connected with it.

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“Hey, guys! Are we eating dinner, or what?” Katalina called out from the dining area and Oliver and I both reluctantly ended our kiss, though to keep him wanting me, I lifted my leg between his knees and grazed his excitement, hearing a soft hiss of an inhale through his teeth and I grinned as he looked at me.

“So unfair..” He pointed out and I snickered.

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“Think you can wait until tonight?”

“It’ll be extremely difficult,” he answered.

“It’ll be well worth it, I promise,” I replied, leaning in to kiss him briefly before pulling away, “Come on, help me get the boys. The dinner we got for you was their idea,” I continued, taking his hand and I led him out of the room and towards the dining room back where Katalina was.

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James had brought Parker back downstairs and August and her helped Katalina get dinner all set up at the dining table, then Oliver and I each grabbed Luca and Niko and brought them downstairs, as well. August got his own chair next to Parker who sat on Katalina’s lap, James then next to her while Luca sat in his high chair between him and Oliver, and I held Nikolai as he still continued to try and wake up a little more from his nap. The room was buzzing with conversations and laughter and although I didn’t contribute all that much, which wasn’t really like me at all, I simply enjoyed sitting back and admiring everything that I had. How far we had all come still amazed me and we all finally had little families of our own. I was proud of James for finally confessing his love to Katalina and even though she was playing hard to get, or whatever it was she was doing, I was happy that she had finally come around and saw what an amazing guy James was. Now they were married and had a little girl of their own with a second on the way. I was so excited and happy for them.

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I then glanced towards Oliver, each bright smile he gave being contagious and I always felt my lips curling up to a smirk whenever I saw him so happy or every time he laughed with his smile stretching from ear to ear. I couldn’t help it. We had been through so much together and the fact that he was happy now after everything that this poor man has been through made my heart soar and the only thing I wanted in life was to give him more and more of that happiness. He deserved nothing less than that.

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However, when I started to think about what he had been through, especially after what Katalina had told me, I couldn’t help but let my expression fall and the more I looked at him, the more I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.. But, when I felt a sharp kick in my shin from Katalina kicking me under the table, those thoughts were replaced by pain.

“Ow,” I let out softly and I looked up to Katalina, her eyes screaming ‘stop fucking thinking about it!’ and I made a face as if to apologize to her without using words.

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“You okay?” Oliver asked and I looked to him, a smile instantly on my lips and I nodded.

“Yeah, I’m great,” I replied and he smiled back.

“You’ve barely eaten anything, are you not hungry?” He then asked and I hadn’t even really payed attention to the food at all.

“No, no, I just wanted everyone else to eat first, that’s all.”

“Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I am completely full,” James added.

“Same here,” Katalina tossed in.

“Yeah, me too.. The rest is yours,” Oliver offered and I nodded in thanks with a smile on my lips.

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After everyone was done eating, including myself, August hopped down carefully from his chair and came over to Oliver and I, “Can I go upstairs and play?” He asked, though I looked towards Oliver to give August an answer, seeing as it was his birthday and whatever he wanted today, that’s how it went.

“Sure, big guy.. Take Parker and Luca with you, okay?”

“Okay,” he answered, Katalina letting Parker down from her lap and Oliver picked up Luca from his high chair, setting him down on the ground.

“Help them up the stairs, and be careful,” I instructed towards August and he nodded, walking behind Luca and Parker and escorting them upstairs with him to play.

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Katalina, James, Oliver and I sat in the dining room for a long while talking, but once it reached around eight at night, we called the birthday celebration quits since Katalina was a little tired and wanted to take Parker to bed soon. James ran upstairs really quick to grab Parker so they could leave and we wished them goodnight, Oliver giving me Niko to hold as I let him say goodbye to his cousin that was practically his sister, as well as his ‘brother-in-law’, and they left after both giving Oliver long, strong hugs and telling me goodbye, too, and Kat couldn’t resist showering our little bug Nikolai with kisses before finally leaving, as well.

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After they left, Oliver looked to me and stepped up to me, too, looking at Niko and he smiled, “I’ll get the boys to bed, I want to.. I’ll be back downstairs soon.. Then I’m all yours,” he said with a warm smile and I gave an excited expression, nodded happily and I kissed Niko’s cheek before handing him to Oliver and I watched as he left the foyer to head upstairs to wish our boys goodnight. Although I wanted to come along and do the same, I looked at the dining table and knew I needed to clean up before going to the bedroom, so I cleaned while I waited for Oliver.

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I cleared off the dining area and brought everything to the sink in the kitchen to wash, putting away any leftovers, as well. After washing everything and putting the plates and what-not away, I looked to the island counter top and noticed we never filled his cake with candles and he never made a wish.. We never came back into the kitchen.

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Instead of putting it away in the fridge for tomorrow or for leftovers, I left it out, beginning to stack it with candles and I lit them just in time to hear him coming back downstairs and I looked towards the doorway to the kitchen, seeing him standing there with the most beautiful smile.

“They all in bed?” I implied towards our three boys and he nodded, “Good.. Come make a wish, cute-stuff,” I implied and he chuckled with a wide smile, coming into the kitchen and he stepped up to his birthday cake full of candles.

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“I wish that-”

“No, no, you can’t say it out loud without blowing them out first, or it won’t come true. Don’t you know that?” I stopped him and he smiled more, letting him have a short, silent moment to himself and he then blew them all out with one gentle gust of exhaled air and without spoiling me on what he had wished for, “Think it’ll come true?” I asked.

“I hope so..” He implied, watching as his eyes traveled over me and my heart started to race a little. I absolutely adored when he was openly flirty, or openly wanting me and it made me shake with excitement when I knew that was the only one he wanted, even wished for. However, before I gave him the love that I more than obviously knew he wanted, I wanted to give my present to him that I hid under my pillow.

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“Come with me,” I invited, extending my hand to him for him to take and he took it without hesitation, letting me guide him to our bedroom and I shut the door behind us.

Sit down,” I instructed next, locking our bedroom door, for whatever reason, and stepping over to the bed he sat on. I joined him on it, reaching under my pillow and I looked at the picture again before handing it to him, not bothering to hide the fact that it was a photo in a frame, but I knew the real surprise would be the picture, itself.

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God dammit, I was so nervous as I stared at the picture, knowing he still couldn’t see it, but just staring at it made me rethink if I should give it to him or not, even though I was holding it no more than a foot away from him.

“Are you.. Going to give me my gift, or not..?” He joked somewhat and I finally just decided to do what Katalina said.. Just give it to him and let him react to it however he felt he needed to. 

“Uh, yeah, sorry.. Here,” I expressed, finally handing it off towards Oliver and he took it from my hands with an appreciative smile on his lips, though when he looked down at it, his cute smile disappeared almost instantly. I couldn’t look at him anymore, letting my gaze meet the floor and I waited for any sign from him telling me that he liked it or loved it or hated it.

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Shit.. It’s been about fifteen seconds of complete silence so far and I still had no idea what he was thinking..

Thirty more seconds passed, and yes, I was counting.. It was literally painful to sit here in the silence with him as my stomach turned into knots.

“I, uhm.. I just thought you’d like a picture like that. Forgive me if you hate it, I just knew nothing about your mother besides the fact that you miss her, so, I thought giving you a picture of her and yourself would be a nice thing to have, that’s all,” I explained myself after the grueling and painful silence that filled the room for far, far too long. He hasn’t said anything for an entire minute now and I still hadn’t even looked up at him, still a little ashamed of myself for giving it to him because of what Katalina had told me about his mother earlier, but once I finally looked up at Oliver, his expression was exactly what I had feared.

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Oliver’s cheeks were completely wet and glistening with tears, his lips parted just slightly, his eyes refusing to break away from the framed image and immediately, my heart fell into my stomach and I reached for him, rubbing the back of his neck with my thumb.

I’m sorry, I-” I stopped, hating to see him crying on his birthday, but even more-so hating that I was the one that made him do it. It was all my fault.

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Oliver set down the picture frame on the floor and his hands came up to his face, hiding his expression as he sobbed softly within the palms of his hands and I moved as close as I could to him, wrapping my arms around him and holding him tightly.

I’m sorry, Oliver.. I wanted to make you happy, not make you sad,” I didn’t think I could apologize enough in this situation. 

I’m so sorry, babe.. It’s your birthday and I made you cry, I’m such a piece of shit. I’m so sorry,” I continued to apologize, hearing his sobbing breaking my heart more and more as he continued without saying anything back to me, but I was at least glad that he hadn’t pushed me away from him.. That meant something good, right?

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“I-I..” He tried to speak, though he then suddenly wrapped his arms around me tightly and I could feel his tears drenching my shoulder, “T-Thank you,” he forced through his tears and those words made me instantly come out of my rather remorseful and depressing state. For a second there, I thought he hated me, I thought I had given him the worst possible gift that I could and I even hated myself, but I was so, so happy to have been wrong. It still broke my heart that I had made him cry, but at least they were happy tears.

“You’re more than welcome, my love,” I replied, feeling him hold me tighter, “I was so worried you wouldn’t like it, or that you’d hate me for it, but I’m so glad that that wasn’t the case,” I continued and he pulled away from me, watching as he looked up at me as I wiped his face with my thumb to try and clear away his tears.

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“I could never hate you.. Not ever.. Could you?” He asked and I gave a warm smile, his tears and his words making me want to cry, too, but I managed to keep myself from doing so.

“Never. I love you far too much, Oliver, no one could ever make me as happy as you do,” I replied, seeing him smile through his emotional state and I pulled him gently towards me, connecting our lips and his were slick and salty from the tears he had shed. As much as I loved and adored seeing him so happy to the point where I could bring him to tears, I felt his bottom lip beginning to tremble again and I knew he wasn’t done crying yet, but why? 

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I pulled my lips away from his and he pulled away from me completely and abruptly, watching as he faced forward and I grew concerned, “Oliver? Are you okay?” I asked with worry, watching as he hung his head as his tears continued and I touched his back in comfort.

“I-I, uhm.. I can’t do this anymore.. I don’t feel right about this..” He replied and I grew confused and nervous.

“..What’s that mean?”

“You’re so, so good to me and I’m such a terrible person.. I don’t feel right about this anymore, because I can’t keep pretending to be something I’m not.. I can’t live with it, you don’t deserve this.. I don’t deserve you,” he continued and I removed my hand from his back, my brows furrowing in both suspicion as well as concern.

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I could feel my heart constricting in my chest, “Where is this coming from? ..Do you.. Not love me anymore?” I asked and he looked to me immediately, grabbing my hand.

“No, of course I do.. I love you so much that every time I think about you, my heart still beats out of my chest and my stomach turns into knots and I just.. I love you too much to keep lying to you,” he replied and I snatched my hand out from his, “Isaiah, please, let me explain before you get mad at me-”

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“What is it this time? Seeing someone else? Get someone else pregnant and not tell me?” I brought up the past, a shitty thing to do, but I couldn’t help it.

“No, of course not!”

“Did you even go to your appointment today? Or were you with someone else?”

“N-No.. No, I would never cheat on you!”

“Then just spit it out! Because I don’t want to waste any time dancing around the entire subject like you like to do,” I warned, “I fucking hate liars, you know this. I’ve told you to never lie to me again and yet, after all of this, you tell me that you’ve been lying to me about something, and from what I’m guessing, you’ve been keeping it a secret for a while, right? So just say it!” I continued and tears still fell down his cheeks as he looked at me.

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“God dammit, Oliver, that puppy dog face won’t work right now,” I expressed angrily after the cat seemed to have caught his tongue, standing to my feet and I paced around the room a little before facing him again, trying my best to keep calm so I could hear him out, though it was proving to be quite difficult.

You’d better tell me or I swear to God, I’ll go straight upstairs, grab the three of them and leave right now,” I threatened to grab the kids and leave and he threw his hands up, alarmed at the fact.

“No! No.. Please, don’t..” He begged and I could feel my body heating up with anger.

“You have ten seconds, Oliver, and don’t take that time to just think of more lies,” I warned.

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“Okay! Okay, I- I lied about what happened with Jody and August.. And my uncle.. I lied about all of it,” he admitted, tears still steadily falling down his cheeks and I stood there stunned and without any words to give back. He’s been holding this in for over six years.. Six long, difficult, faking-happy years and I felt myself at a complete loss. I thought he was doing good, I thought we were over him keeping things from me and I thought there was nothing in the entire world he felt like he needed to hide anymore, but apparently I was still wrong about him.

 

Next Chapter |

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Author’s Note:

I don’t think I’ve posted August’s stats yet, so I’ll post them here with Luca and Niko’s.

August Bryce Dubois

Current Age: Child (6)
Traits: Insane, Disciplined, No Sense of Humor
Sign: Gemini

Favorites:
Food: Potato and Truffle Torte
Music: Beach Party
Color: Lime

Luca Sukai Dubois

Current Age: Toddler (3 1/4)
Traits: Insane, Athletic
Sign: Gemini

Favorites:
Food: Ceviche
Music: Island Life
Color: Orange

Nikolai Mizu Dubois

Current Age: Toddler (Almost 2)
Traits: Insane, Good
Sign: Aquarius

Favorites:
Food: Grilled Salmon
Music: Latin
Color: Green

Generation 4, Chapter 11, Pt 1/3

Attention: Briefly NSFW.

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Springtime.. The first week of May, to be more accurate. Yesterday was the last day of class for everyone at the campus and summer break had officially started today. Jody had surprisingly kept to her word about keeping her distance from me until the end of the school year, but today I woke up nervous, knowing that she’d call me today since our time apart had came to an end and it was only a matter of time before she’d try to contact me. Lucky for me, I remembered to turn off my phone last night before going to bed so any of her calls or texts this morning wouldn’t wake either Isaiah or I. I felt a little bad about still trying to keep Jody a secret from him even though he knew about her, but I just didn’t want to burden him.

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Isaiah and I have been doing amazing. His bar was doing well, bringing in more and more money each month and we bought our own condo together a few weeks ago. Well, more like he bought the condo, I just kind of tagged along.. He asked if I wanted to live together and I agreed, even offering to move into his old place with him so he could save his money, but he insisted that we get something together, something new and a little bigger than what he had. I felt guilty that he had spent so much money for us, but I guess it wasn’t too bad since he’d make the money back whenever he sold the old condo. He told me he’s been wanting a bigger place, anyways, but I think he was just saying that so I’d feel better about him paying for it.

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We chose a two-level condo closer to the center of town that resided over a coffee shop and every morning I would get up before Isaiah, throw on some clothes and go downstairs to get coffee for the both of us. I had become such a regular customer that the barista’s knew exactly who I was and what two kinds of coffee I always got, making the brews fresh without me even needing to tell them my order and just seeing my face walk through the doors told them exactly what I wanted.

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I wasn’t much of a decorator, I mostly let Isaiah do what he wanted with the whole place, but he coaxed me into doing the hallway when you first enter, as well as the living room to the left of that hallway. Every other room I let him do whatever he wanted, I was just happy to be living with him and getting the chance to see him whenever I got home from school or whenever he got home from work. It took some getting used to, but moving in together really gave us a chance to get a lot closer to one another and I was happy where I was at with my life. Well, I guess it wasn’t too hard to get used to, seeing as I slept over at his old place a lot before officially moving in together.. I was still deciding what to do about my Residency, too, starting in late August, but I wasn’t going to think about that too much today.

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After putting Isaiah’s coffee down onto the nightstand next to his side of the bed, I went to the balcony outside of our bedroom, basking in the perfect weather to drink coffee to in the morning. The sun was bright, but it hadn’t hit the balcony yet, my eyes going from the clear sky to the small courtyard below where people drank coffee and ate their breakfast pastries before going to class or going to work, or even just enjoying the morning on a day off. A blonde woman in a sundress and sunhat sat at one of the tables I could see best, watching her read to herself with her coffee and pastry sitting upon her table and I’m sure she was enjoying today just as much as I was.

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I shut my eyes as I enjoyed the outside, smelling the air that came up from below me and the scent of fresh pastries and ground coffee beans filled my nose and it all made me feel a little euphoric every time I inhaled. I had never mentioned this to Isaiah when we were first looking at the condo with the Realtor, but once I could smell the scent of sweet pastries hit me when I opened the door to the balcony, I was sold on it. The smell brought me back to when I was a little boy, always smelling the sweet delights within my mother’s bakery and I never got tired of the wholesome, sugary scent. Maybe that was the reason for my new fixation with coffee and loving to stand on the balcony every morning drinking it, as well as drinking in the smell of cinnamon buns, croissants and fresh pies being baked directly below me. 

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I heard the door to the balcony being opened and I knew Isaiah was coming out to join me, hearing his footsteps and feeling his hands gently wrapping around my waist from behind, “Good morning,” he spoke softly against my neck and I could feel the hair at my nape standing on end. 

“Morning..” I replied.

I’ll never get tired of waking up to the smell of coffee and seeing you out here on the balcony every morning,” he continued with the same soft tone and a smile ran across my lips as he held me, “Though one of these mornings I’d like to wake up with you still in bed,” he somewhat joked.

“I’m a light sleeper.. Once the sun starts coming out, it lights up the room and wakes me up, so I can’t sleep anymore,” I pointed out.

“Then we should get thicker curtains,” he added and I chuckled softly, turning around within his grasp and facing him.

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Isaiah slowly leaned in, kissing my lips for a long moment before pulling away and I knew the look in his eyes, squinting mine suspiciously towards him.

“..What?” I asked and he grinned.

“Nothing.. I’m just wondering if it’s wrong of me to ask for morning sex on the balcony..?” He questioned innocently and I felt my face get warm. 

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“It’s broad daylight and there’s people outside down there,” I pointed out in a shy manner, but that only seemed to get him to retract half of his statement and I watched as he reached for my cup, taking it out of my hand.

“Fine, then come back to bed.. Let your coffee get cold,” he implied, setting down my coffee on the railing and I couldn’t help but smile more, feeling him then pulling me eagerly back inside to our bedroom.

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We kissed passionately as he undressed me and soon fell onto our bed, Isaiah climbing over me and I adored every length he went to to make me feel comfortable with him every single time. Our first time was when we had first moved in together and as much as that took some getting used to as well as getting used to living together, it soon became an almost-every-day activity, or whenever we had time. But, with it now being summer break for me with classes, we had all morning and all afternoon together before he would leave to open the bar and we practically jumped at each chance we got to spend time together in bed.

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I knew this wasn’t like me, I knew I had moved fast with Isaiah, but I was okay with it.. I wasn’t forced into anything, I chose to do everything that I’ve done with him and he still has never pressured me in any of my decisions. I knew I was different and had changed, but I also knew it was a good thing and I never ignored an opportunity that I felt would only make things better for me.. For us.. In the short morning I had been awake, it had only gotten gradually better with the help of my coffee, the smell of the cafe, the pleasure from Isaiah.. I grew less anxious, less worried and way less tense as I basked in what I had and I learned to let myself get lost in moments like this.. To enjoy them to the fullest extent and Isaiah always helped clear my head whenever I felt like that without him ever even needing to know I was troubled. It felt a little less like lying, at least I didn’t think I was, it felt more like just withholding information that I didn’t want him to worry about.

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After we had forgotten the world around us for a long while, we stayed in bed for a good portion of the morning, relaxing together and we talked about what the day ahead of us held.

“When are James and Katalina coming over?” Isaiah wondered.

“Around two.”

“I have someone coming to see my old place around two-thirty, so I have at least fifteen minutes to hang out before I need to leave, show them the condo, and be on time to open the bar by three,” he answered and I smiled.

“Great, hopefully you can get an offer today,” I hesitated a moment before continuing, “I hope you and Kat get along, too.. She’s hard to deal with at first and I’m sure she’s going to ask you a million questions before you leave, but just bare with it.. If it’s too much and you want to leave earlier than you need to, I’ll understand.. I can cover for you,” I somewhat joked and he laughed softly.

“No need.. I’ll just put on my charm and answer every question she has,” he replied simply and I liked the attitude he had towards meeting someone as difficult as Kat.. He was right though, his charm alone is what drew me to him in the first place, I didn’t see how anyone wouldn’t be able to like him.

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I had told James about Isaiah a few weeks before we had moved in together and he was a little shocked at first, but he got used to the idea and even rejoiced in the fact that I had found someone I could get this close with despite my circumstances with Jody. Isaiah and James had already met once before without Kat, but I knew he would understand and be more accepting than she would at first and they actually hit it off right away.. James was everything I could wish for in a best friend and he was excited to come over to see our place for the first time, but I wasn’t quite sure how Kat would react.. Ever since New Year’s, leaving Kat and James alone together to spend the night with Isaiah paid off and that night James had finally told Kat how he felt about her. They’ve been dating ever since and I was incredibly happy for them, but now that they were a lot closer, I admitted that I took advantage of that fact..

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I asked James to tell Kat about Isaiah for me before she came over.. I knew he would be able to convince her to he nice, maybe even convince her to be open minded for once before she arrived and met the man I was dating and although I was nervous about them coming over, I had faith in James and I knew he would properly prep Kat for this introduction I knew would be awkward.. James, however, understood why I was reluctant to tell Kat and he told me he would try his best to keep her from being rude if she ever felt the need to be.. But, I still couldn’t help but feel nervous, even with James’ help.

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Isaiah’s POV

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Two o-clock came faster than we thought and Oliver and I waited in the hallway together, watching him pace around anxiously as I sat within the small couch.

“Relax, Oliver, I’m sure it’s going to be fine.. From what you’ve told me, I know exactly how to handle her potential criticism.. I’ve dealt with criticism ever since I came out, so I’m ready.. Stop being so nervous,” I tried to calm him down, but it didn’t seem to be much help.

“You don’t know her.. You only know what I’ve told you, but she’s completely different in person.. She’s exactly like my Uncle and.. It’s just.. I don’t know.. That’s not really a good thing.. And I just can’t help it, I’m sorry..” He stressed.

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“Hey,” I called out, but he continued pacing, “Oliver!” I called out louder and he stopped, looking towards me and I smirked slightly as I motioned with my fingers for him to come towards me, “Come here.”

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Oliver slowly stepped up to me, standing between my knees and I slid my hands up to his hips, holding him gingerly as he panicked a little, “It’s going to be fine,” I expressed soothingly as he looked down at me, “She’s going to love me.. Every question she has, I’ll answer with complete honesty and if she doesn’t like it, then we can talk about it roughly in bed later when I get home, so either way, tonight is going to end good,” I implied flirtatiously and I noticed him smile shyly, “So.. Stop being so nervous..” I repeated again and he nodded, watching him take a gentle, deep breath and I could tell he was finally beginning to loosen up a little.

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Was it wrong of me to love how nervous he was? He was so cute as I watched him pace around the condo, but once he felt my hands upon him and I had tried to talk him down from being anxious, he seemed better.. At least a little bit. I had heard a lot about his cousin Katalina from Oliver himself, but I still had yet to meet her and as much as I was a little reluctant to introduce myself solely based on how he portrayed her being difficult, I knew I could persuade her into accepting me as part of his life.

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After a few more minutes, the clock reading just passed two, there was a knock on our door and I kept the optimistic grin on my lips as he nervously approached the door and opened it for his family. From what I had gathered about him and from what little he talked about with me, I didn’t think I’d ever get the chance to meet his Uncle and I knew for a fact I’d never meet his parents, so his cousin and his best friend were his only family in my eyes. I had seen his beautiful sister, Camilla, in my bar before and she was nothing but nice to me as far as letting Oliver and I get closer.. I had never formally met her, but, the fact that Oliver had felt strong enough to introduce me to what family he did have meant more than I could express and I was actually excited to put forth a good impression towards his cousin.

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I stood from the small sofa in the hallway and let my hands slide over my outfit, making sure it laid correctly so I appeared acceptable and I watched the door reveal who stood behind it.

James came in first with all smiles as he greeted Oliver, “Hey! This place is great! It’s right over a cafe, I can smell the croissants from here,” he expressed happily and he then noticed me after he had greeted Oliver, “Hey, great to see you again,” he expressed and I nodded in agreement as his stuck out his hand for me to shake and I obliged respectively. 

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“Likewise, my friend. Glad you could come,” I replied and I looked passed James to see a gorgeous blonde woman following him inside, “Wow.. Good job, Jimmy..” I complimented and James couldn’t help but smile uncontrollably. 

“Tell me about it..” He joked to me quietly and I chuckled as I approached whom I could assume was Katalina.

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Oliver shut the door behind her and I watched as his blue eyes met mine, telling me without words that he was crossing his fingers and I smiled at him as I then approached his cousin. Katalina looked around the condo at first, her vibrant green eyes then looking to me and she still had yet to put even a slight smirk on her lips. She wore a beautiful dress that complimented her body in all the right ways, though a little too revealing for my taste, knowing she was a woman with high standards, seemingly to me the type of girl who always wants to ‘dress to impress’, as well as a sense of egotistical grace in her judgmental stare, yet I knew exactly how to treat her.

“This is Isaiah..” Oliver introduced me and I picked up her hand, kissing the top of it and she seemed rather baffled at how I had already treated her.

“The pleasure is completely mine, I’m sure.. You are absolutely stunning, Katalina, it’s great to meet you finally,” I complimented and already she seemed a little swayed by me, yet I could still feel the vibe from her that she wasn’t one hundred percent sold. 

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“It’s nice to meet you, as well,” she expressed, though I could see her unimpressed green eyes looking to James that stood behind me as if saying ‘now what?’, but I helped in deciding that for her. 

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“Oliver, why don’t you show James around the place? I’m sure he’d love to see it,” I expressed and I could tell just by the expression Oliver gave me that he knew Katalina was in good hands, watching as he nodded and the two of them walked more into the condo towards the living room as Kat and I stayed within the opening hallway, “Can I get you anything? Water, juice, wine, beer?” I asked and she smirked only slightly, but I caught on to it as hard as she tried to hide it.

“James told me you were a bartender, but I never expected you to be doing your job at home,” she replied and I chuckled softly.

“I only wait on people outside of my job that I desperately want to impress, so you should take up my offer while I’m off the clock,” I replied and I watched her grin a little more.

“Wine suits me just fine,” she replied and I nodded, motioning her towards the kitchen and she followed me.

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I pulled out my most expensive wine from our hanging rack and as I uncorked it, Katalina spoke softly behind me as I poured her a glass, “So.. You and Oliver are together, huh?” She questioned and I smirked.

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied simply.

“Are you in love with him?” She asked next and I stood there for a moment, but I then continued on and corked the bottle, placing it back within the rack and I turned towards her, handing Katalina her drink and she took it with a skeptical expression.

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“I am,” I answered, watching her take a sip of her wine and smirk, thinking that she liked my answer, but I was far from correct.

“Doesn’t quite answer my question,” she continued, her expression then falling into a bored and unimpressed way and I grew nervous for the first time tonight, “You can give me a better answer than that, can’t you?” She wondered. I knew now that my charm wasn’t going to suffice when it came to Katalina, she was much more difficult to please, but I would still make an effort to try and persuade her the best I could. 

“Yes, I love him.. He’s my everything, he has been since I met him and I can’t fully express into words how much he means to me. I actually told him on New Year’s Eve that I loved him.. Still do, always will, and if he was by my side for the rest of my life, I’d be perfectly fine with that,” I continued and her expression slowly grew less intimidating, “Now, have I answered your question good enough?” I asked and she smiled genuinely for the first time.

“You have. Thank you for being so specific,” she replied and I bowed my head just slightly towards her as to say ‘you’re welcome’.

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I watched her step closer to me, setting her glass down on the counter and the expression she gave me still made it seem as if she wasn’t done with me yet, “So.. How do you feel about Oliver having a baby with someone else?” She asked and my expression went a little reluctant towards the subject, “He has told you about that, yes?” She asked.

“Yeah.. He has. I’m letting him deal with it however he wants to and whether he decides if he wants it or not, I’m going to support whatever he chooses,” I answered and she seemed pleased enough.

“So, if he ends up wanting the baby, sharing custody, or whatever the case, you’ll help him raise it?” She questioned next and I nodded.

“Yes, ma’am,” I confirmed.

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“Would you marry him?”

“I’d love nothing more.”

“Then why haven’t you?”

“I don’t think Oliver’s quite ready for that..”

“Do you want kids, perhaps a little later on down the road with him?” She questioned next and I chuckled softly.

“I still have yet to discuss that with him, but.. I don’t see why not,” I replied and her expression seemed as if she was out of questions to ask me.

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“Have I met your expectations?”

“You pass.. I’m sure this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways just to be clear. I love Oliver, he’s my family and if you ever hurt him, I’ll cut you open in your sleep and use your intestines for garland over my fireplace,” she spoke with determination and a rather unpleasant look in her eyes. I definitely knew she wasn’t joking..

“You don’t have a fireplace,” I attempted to joke and she stepped up closer towards me, my smirk leaving my lips quickly.

“I’ll install one just for that occasion,” she threatened and I swallowed roughly, regaining a little of my composure and I nodded.

“Point taken,” I replied and she seemed pleased with how our first meeting went. Katalina had proved to be an intimidating, powerful young woman and although I didn’t spook easily, she actually made me a little nervous. Oliver was right, she was difficult to deal with, but now that we had gotten passed the hard part, I felt it was nothing but smooth sailing from here on out. 

_________________________

Oliver’s POV

_________________________

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After I had shown James around the condo, we ended up coming back downstairs and I noticed Isaiah and Kat walking out from the kitchen, assuming they were done talking and I looked to Isaiah anxiously, though I was glad to see that he seemed happy. 

“Well..?” I wondered and Isaiah smiled.

“I got the stamp of approval,” he replied and I let out a relieved sigh, happy now that both James and Kat liked Isaiah, I wish I could stay longer, but sadly, I need to leave and go show someone around my old place, as well as get to the bar by three, so..” Isaiah continued.

“Well, it was great meeting you,” Kat began and Isaiah smiled.

“Likewise, my dear,” he replied, Kat and James then left the hallway to give Isaiah and I some privacy.

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I stepped up to Isaiah after James and Kat had gone into the living room and he still seemed happy, “So..? What kind of questions did she ask you? I hope nothing too personal..” I asked with worry and he shook his head.

“Nothing bad, she just pretty much asked how serious I was about you, then threatened me if I ever hurt you.. Typical protective behavior from a family member, nothing I can’t handle,” he assured me, feeling his arms slowly wrap around my waist, “I gotta go, though.. Have fun with them tonight, I should be home around nine-thirty or so. I love you,” he added and I smiled, feeling him then pull me closer and he kissed me for a long moment before pulling away and leaving.

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Even after all that we’ve been through, I still had never repeated those three words back to him.. I do love him, more than I could ever show, yet I had no idea why I hadn’t said it yet. Maybe I was waiting for the right time, or maybe I was just scared to because once I say it, I can’t ever take it back, but why would I want to do such a thing, anyways? I knew that just before he left, if I had said it then, it wouldn’t mean much and I would most likely completely blindside him, so maybe I really was just waiting for the right moment.. Whenever I got around to doing it, I wanted it to be special and I wanted him to be home and done with work for the day, not right before he left to go somewhere when we wouldn’t see one another for hours.. After I would say it, I’d want to spend the rest of the night in bed with him, maybe I even wanted a little liquid courage in me first, too, just to calm my nerves.. But, either way, it wasn’t the right time yet.

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I eventually walked out of the hallway and into the living room to see Kat standing and James sitting on the couch in front of the television, noticing Kat look at me first, “He’s handsome, he’s very sweet, too, I can see why you like him… He seems pretty serious about you,” Kat began and I was glad that she was already complimenting Isaiah.

“He really is great.. I’m glad you both like him,” I replied.

“See? I knew you would,” James pointed out to Kat and I kept my smile as I watched her roll her eyes.

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“So,” Kat began again, “What’s the whole situation with Jody if you and Isaiah are together?” She brought up and I grew a little nervous, “Since I haven’t been able to talk to you and all the information I’ve been getting is from James, I want to hear what you have to say about it.. How did she take it?” She wondered and I sighed.

“She didn’t..” I replied quietly.

“As in.. You haven’t told her?” Kat asked and I nodded, “Oliver.. To this day, she still thinks you two are as good as can be,” Kat pointed out and James spoke before I could.

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“Because she’s fuckin’ psychotic..” He said under his breath, though both Kat and I heard it.

“What?” Kat demanded and James acted as if he hadn’t said anything.

“N-Nothing..” James replied and I watched as he gave me an expression that told me he was nervous for me.

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I looked to Kat who now faced me, wanting answers, “She doesn’t know because I haven’t told her.. I feel like she would try to ruin whatever Isaiah and I have so I haven’t said anything..”

“Why the hell would she do that? I’m sure she would understand just fine,” Kat argued a little.

“Kat, she’s obsessed with me.. She has been ever since we met and I’ve told her many times already to leave me the hell alone, that I don’t want anything to do with her, but she won’t stop..” I replied.

“Wow, I wonder why, Oliver..” Kat answered sarcastically, “Maybe it’s because she’s carrying your fucking child?”

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“All I wanted was for you to meet Isaiah, to spend time with you two and I wanted tonight to go well, I don’t want to argue about any of this.. It’s no one else’s business but mine, so just back off, all right?” I expressed, turning around and walking towards the kitchen, “I’ll get you two a drink..” I continued, leaving the living room and walking into the kitchen alone. While I stood by the counters, trying to calm down my slight anger towards Kat, I could hear them both harshly whispering in the living room, arguing without me, probably about me, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I knew James was on my side solely because he knew everything about Jody and I’s situation, but I didn’t want to tell Kat in fear that she would overreact or baby me more than she already does. As much as I wouldn’t mind if Kat told Jody off or even beat the shit out of her for what she had done to me, knowing she would if Jody wasn’t pregnant, I wanted to keep Kat away from Jody in fear that she might convince Kat otherwise on what actually happened.. I couldn’t have anyone close to me be on her side through any of this. 

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I poured a fresh glass of wine for Kat and grabbed a beer from the fridge, going back towards the living room and I noticed their whispering had finally come to a stop when I came back. I handed them their drinks and James seemed to hold a remorseful expression while Kat stared at me as I stood in front of them.

“..What is it, Kat?” I finally asked, noticing she was dying to say something and I knew this argument wasn’t going to be over with until she was done with it. 

“Can I please just say one thing before you blow me off like that and we never talk about this again? I barely know anything about this situation and I’m tired of being out of the loop, I want to try and understand all of this, Oliver..” She replied.

“Fine.. Just make it quick,” I answered.

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“What about Jody? Does she have absolutely no say in this? Why did you leave her? You two are having a child together and the first thing you do is leave her side when she needs you now more than ever..? For what, Isaiah..? Did he convince you to do all of this or something?”

“No, of course not!” I got angry right away from her questions, knowing that she didn’t want to put the blame on me and the next person to blame was Isaiah who she knew nothing about.

“Kat, come on..” James tried to butt in, too.

“What? I’m just trying to understand.. I feel like I barely know you anymore! And you haven’t exactly made the best decisions in your life, you usually need help, so I’m just asking if you think you’re doing the right thing by leaving the girl you impregnated for some guy that you just met,” she continued and her words only made me angrier.

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“Just met..?” I repeated with frustration, “And what the hell say in it do you have, Kat? You said that you feel like you barely know me anymore, but did you ever stop and think that maybe I’ve changed? Maybe even for the better? Maybe even the fact that Isaiah has helped me be able to do that? He’s not brainwashing me or anything, so don’t you dare put any of this on him, because that’s not how it is!” I argued back.

“What the fuck are you going to do about Jody? She’s due in two months, how is that going to work out when you’re living with someone else?”

“I don’t give a shit what Jody wants, she forced me into this situation and there was nothing I could do about it. She’s two-faced, Kat! Why do you think I’ve been avoiding her practically since the day we met? I don’t want to be with her, but she’s psychotic and won’t let me go, even after all of this time, and-”

“How could you blame her?! She’s carrying your child!”

“It’s more complicated than that! Why can’t you just be happy for me instead of jumping down my fucking throat about every little thing that I do that you don’t approve of? How many times do I have to tell you that your not my mother, so stop acting like it?!” I yelled back and Kat held her tongue for a moment. I could tell James didn’t want to be in the room with us arguing, but I knew he was only staying so it didn’t get too out of hand.

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“For once, why can’t you just be on my side?” I asked and Kat didn’t say anything, “You know what..? Maybe it’s a good thing that I moved out.. I won’t have to deal with you anymore and you won’t feel like you have to baby me every Goddamn second of the day.. How about you just let me worry about my life and you can just get on with yours? I invited you guys over to show you where I’m choosing to take my life and who I’m choosing to spend it with, why can’t you accept it?”

“I just..” She began, but stopped, bowing her head more and I heard her let out a heavy sigh, “I’ve just felt.. I don’t know.. Responsible for you. I consider myself an older sister to you and I’ve been watching out for you all of our lives. I just don’t want you to not be happy, I don’t ever want you to go through what we had to when we were little and I want you to do better for your child than both our Dad’s did. I want you to have a good education, get a good career, have a stable life for your kid to be raised around, and-”

“And you don’t think I can do that with Isaiah?”

“I’m just saying I think it might be hard on the child.”

“Well, I don’t want joint custody or whatever.. She can have it, so why does it matter so much to you..?”

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“It?” She asked with slight anger, “You’re just calling the baby an it? A baby isn’t just some object you can dump on someone and have it sit in their living room gathering dust until you decide one day you might want it back. What are you going to do if you ever change your mind? Do you really think Jody would be open to that when you pretty much have told her to fuck off already?”

“I don’t think that my decision will change..”

“But you don’t know that.. What if Isaiah, even down the road, would want to be involved in some way with the child of his.. Partner..?”

“I don’t think he would unless would.. It’s not his responsibility to worry about it, nor is it yours, it’s mine,” I replied.

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“Exactly.. It’s your responsibility.. What are you going to tell them when they’re eleven, or sixteen, whenever they might want to know who you are? Are you going to tell them that you didn’t want them?” She asked, her eyes reading as if she was completely shocked by my behavior, “Whenever they show up on your doorstep, are you going to tell them to leave? If you ever found your dad again, would you want to hear that come from his mouth?” She continued and all of her questions hit me harder than I had thought.. I never even thought about the possibilities in the future of what could happen..

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I looked to James and I knew he was more uncomfortable than ever, not looking at either of us and I shied my eyes away towards the ground, “My dad wanted me, this is entirely different..”

“Is it?” She challenged, “Because, from the way I see it.. Your dad left when you were still in grade school, but you’re leaving your child before it’s even born.. What’s worse, Oliver..?” She asked and I didn’t have an answer for her. “What if.. One day, you and Isaiah want a child together, and what if you two decide to have one? Then, later on, your child with Jody wants to get to know their father, so they go in search for him and they come across a happy family with a child of their own. How do you think that’s going to make them feel, seeing their father so happy with someone else that isn’t their mother, happy with a child that isn’t them? Did you ever even think of that..?” Kat continued and every question she was asking was impossible to avoid thinking about.

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I hated to admit it, but she was right.. This whole time I’ve been so focused on trying to find happiness for myself that I wasn’t even thinking of Jody and the fact that she was pregnant.. With my baby.. My responsibility.. I wouldn’t say that I was totally convinced just by what she had said, but I knew now that I had a lot more thinking to do, as well as a lot of things to discuss with Isaiah. I even wondered what my parents would say in this situation I’ve put myself in and I wouldn’t think that abandoning my child, no matter how much I hated the mother, would go well with them.. I guess it wasn’t the kids fault that they’re being forced into a situation like this, but.. That’s just it. Why would I force them into something? Jody was the forceful one, Jody was the one that wanted this type of leverage over me, but I didn’t want to juggle around a child like that.. An innocent child.. I realized that by wanting nothing to do with it’s future, I was already determining their future for myself, and I wasn’t that selfish of a person.. Was I?

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“Just think about it, okay..? I know it might seem to you like I’m just nagging or I’m parenting you or whatever, but I hope you can see why I do this for you. I’m not trying to run your life and I’m not trying to ruin it, either, I’m only looking out for you, and just by the look on your face right now, you haven’t thought about any of what I had said yourself before today, have you?” She asked and I shook my head.

“No..” I admitted.

“Oliver..” She said to get my attention and I looked up to her, “I like Isaiah, okay? Hearing you defend him right off the bat tells me that you care about him deeply and I understand that. I’m sorry if I hit the wrong button with what I had said before, but I wanted to make sure that you felt strongly about the decision you had made.. Promise me, though, that you’ll think about the baby more. I don’t care if you still want nothing to do with Jody, but just be a good dad to your child, okay? Be a better dad than what we had,” she encouraged.

“All right.. I’ll think about it more,” I replied and she gave me a smile as if she was proud of me.

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“So.. Is the arguing all over and done with?” James wondered and both Kat and I looked towards him.

“Yeah, I think we’re all good now,” Kat answered and James let out a relieved sigh.

“Thank God. Let’s forget about all of this for now and start having fun. We still have to celebrate you moving out and into your own place,” he pointed out, watching him stand with us, “I know we didn’t get you a housewarming gift, but our magnificent presence will have to make due for now,” James joked and I couldn’t help but chuckle, “Anyways, congrats on your new home and I wish Isaiah was here to celebrate with us,” he continued, watching as Kat nodded in agreement to James’ statement.

“Thanks, guys,” I replied genuinely.

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James and Kat had dinner with me and after that, we watched a few different shows together on the television, but they left a little after eight and called themselves a cab home. I was left alone to clean up, clearing away the empty beer bottles and tossing them all in the recycling, then cleaning up after dinner and tossing out the bottle of wine that Kat had drank herself. Overall, it was a pretty successful night and I was happy with how it had turned out, even after getting into a heated argument with Kat..

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But, she opened my eyes to a lot of things I had never even considered before.. After hearing what she had to say about my baby, I had to admit that she got me wanting to be in the baby’s life more than I had planned to be, or rather, planned to not be.. I already didn’t consider the baby an ‘it’ anymore and even without talking about the baby with Isaiah, I kind of wanted to at least meet him or her when they’re born.. I wondered, too, if Jody would share custody with me..? However, knowing her, it was going to take a lot of persuading to make her reach that type of agreement with me and I wasn’t sure if I would be up for whatever she wanted in return.

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I walked out of the kitchen when I was done cleaning and walked through the living room, going out onto the balcony and relaxing in the warm, late-spring air and I could still smell the last batch of baked goods being made below me in the coffee shop before it closed. I anxiously waited for Isaiah to get home, knowing he wouldn’t be home for another hour or so, but I still always looked forward to seeing him again. I even planned on perhaps talking with him about my baby with Jody, hoping that he would be okay with me trying to put forth the effort in raising it now that Kat had persuaded me a little.. 

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The more I thought about it, the more I then began to wonder if Isaiah even wanted children.. Would he be open to helping me raise my child with me? Would he want more with me eventually if things between us got more serious? I also had to ask myself those same questions, too.. Would want more after I would try to raise the one I was having with Jody, or would it make me want the exact opposite..? I guess I’d have to wait and see before I could answer that question.

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I put those thoughts on the back-burner for now, my mind going blank and I looked around below me, still seeing the small courtyard lit and there were a few customers from the coffee shop sitting at the tables. My eyes then went to a woman sitting closest to my view, but my brows furrowed a little when I had noticed it was the same woman from this morning, wearing a sundress and sunhat, a book on the table, no coffee or pastry like she had this morning, but just sitting. 

“What the hell..?” I asked myself in a calm whisper.. Had she really been sitting there all day long..?

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My eyes then widened suddenly, looking at her golden hair and now that I could see clearer from this balcony instead of the one from our bedroom, I noticed she was pregnant and my heart sank abruptly. 

“Jody..?”

 

| Next Chapter, Part 2 |

Generation 4, Chapter 5

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The past few weeks have been worse than I imagined they’d be.. I haven’t told anyone about what had happened, yet.. I was embarrassed, scared, and unsure if anyone would even believe me. Jody’s been trying to get together again, but I’ve been ignoring her, and when I couldn’t ignore her, I’d tell her I was sick, or just unable to do anything.. I meant it when I came to the conclusion that I wanted nothing to do with her anymore, but I can say that she felt the exact opposite and it was beginning to get a little suffocating. 

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We didn’t have class today on account of it being Thanksgiving, and I didn’t want anything to do with his Holiday, either. A few weeks ago, Kat and I had a huge fight and even despite me telling her that I would never sit down at a dinner table with my Uncle ever again, she still insisted that I be here. I wasn’t on speaking terms with her, I’ve barely said a word to her since our argument, but she’s still been as bossy as ever, just minus her sweet, protective side towards me. She could care less right now, but that might just be because she’s trying to remain strong and not give in to apologizing to me, yet, I was doing the exact same thing. Just like everyone else in our family, her and I truly were stubborn people.

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I stood in James’ room, looking out one of his windows as I spaced out and I jumped suddenly when I felt his hand on my shoulder. “Whoa! Jeez.. You’ve been really jumpy ever since you and Kat got into it.. I know I keep asking you, but are you okay?” He asked, looking to him and I calmed down a little, soon nodding and turning my attention back out the window. “Are you just on edge a lot now since Kat’s Dad is coming?” He continued and I stared out the window. I didn’t reply to him, my mind was too focused and I kept my eyes on the street below, hoping that I wouldn’t see my Uncle and Camilla pulling up anytime soon. Even though I was still a little mad at Kat, she wasn’t the one that my mind has been unable to block out and forget.”..Oliver?”

“What?” I asked abruptly, looking back at him and his expression was a little worrisome.

“Sorry.. I know it’s not any of my business, but.. I know the whole situation.. Don’t be mad at Kat for telling me, but, she just didn’t want me left in the dark and she told me to kind of be ready for confrontation..”

“And that’s exactly why I won’t be here, so none of that happens,” I replied, turning my attention back to the window.

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“Are you sure that leaving is the best option? Maybe we can just have a nice dinner and then he’ll leave and that’ll be it, you know? Can’t you just ignore the guy for a few hours? I mean, Camilla’s coming home for a few days only and it’s been a long time, shouldn’t you be here for her?” He asked and I was getting sick of his questions, but I tried hard not to snap at him.

“She’ll be here after today, so why can’t I spend time with her tomorrow? Or the next day?” I rebutted.

“You know what I mean.. It’s a ‘family’ day..”

“Yeah, then why are you here?” I asked, but the moment those words came out of my mouth, I regretted them instantly.

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I turned around, facing James and my expression was apologetic, “Look, I’m sorry.. I didn’t mean that, you are family to me..” I replied and I watched as he accepted my apology with a nod, “It’s just.. I don’t consider him my family anymore and I haven’t for a long time. He’s nothing to me,” I continued, looking to James standing in front of a mirror and he adjusted his formal attire for the occasion.

“Then why are you so worried about it? Leave what’s in the past in the past, huh?” He offered, “I know you’re mad at Kat, but do it for her, and do it for Camilla.. Plus, we already have Kat and Camilla to watch and make sure they don’t get at each other’s throats,” he added with a soft chuckle and I sighed heavily. I didn’t want to, I didn’t want any part of this, but I hated to admit that James was right.. 

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“I’m not guaranteeing anything, all that I’m going to say is that if I can’t take it anymore and I leave, I suggest you do that same..” I warned.

“What? Why..?” He asked, looking at me through the mirror.

“Are you serious? This is the first time you’re meeting my Uncle.. You’re a male roommate who lives with both of his daughters. Who the hell do you think he’ll vent his anger to next if I leave?” I asked sarcastically and I watched as James’ expression went more nervous than it was before.

“Well.. I might just take you up on that, then..” He replied and I chuckled, facing the window again.

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When James was ready, we went downstairs to the dining room and Kat was rushing around in the kitchen, trying to get everything ready and I pitied her for how frantic and rushed she felt she needed to be to impress someone as simple and uncaring as my Uncle. James had offered to help her a few times, but she said she had it under control, so he didn’t bother her anymore.. From where I stood, I could still keep a good watch out the windows and I’d know when they would arrive, but James disrupted my staring when he stepped up to me. “Want a beer or anything to calm down a little?” He offered and I shook my head.

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“No.. If anything’s going to happen I need my mind to be clear..” I replied and I heard him scoff lightly.

“Man, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say that you’re asking for a fight tonight with that attitude,” he answered and I looked to him, then back to the window.

“I just want to be ready..” I replied, seeing him leave my side out of the corner of my eye and he went back to the kitchen with Kat. Maybe if I decided to leave, then is when I would need a beer or two, maybe even something with a little more kick..

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The wait was about half an hour, but I finally saw them pull up in my Uncle’s car, driving passed our place and he went around the corner to park. My heart started racing and I tried to take a few deep, collected breaths, but it was hard to focus when I knew they were here, and I knew who was going to be walking through that door any second. I looked to the kitchen, seeing both Kat and James distracted and I went through the dining room and upstairs, avoiding being the one to answer the door and I went to the living area, turning the television on and acting as if I had been here the whole time. I sat there in anticipation, not paying attention to anything on the screen and I waited, and I listened.. 

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A few minutes after sitting within the living area, I heard the door being opened downstairs from Camilla getting the door herself and I listened as James was the first to greet her, knowing Kat didn’t give any kind of care that Camilla was here, she was just waiting for her father to come in before she showed any sign of acknowledgment that they had arrived. “Hey! Long time no see! How was France?” I could hear James asking Camilla and she responded with an excited tone, but I couldn’t make out her words because she had such a quiet and soft spoken voice. When I heard the door shut, I knew that my Uncle was right behind Camilla, though he made no effort into alerting anyone that he was there, but I knew because Kat finally came out of the kitchen..

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“Dad! I’m so glad you could make it!” She called out and I’m sure she greeted him with a large hug that he didn’t even want. I heard another soft voice, assuming it was Camilla and Kat answered, “I don’t know.. He’s probably still upstairs..” She replied, knowing that Camilla was wondering where I was. I knew Kat wouldn’t greet Camilla with such excitement as she did for her father, brushing her off like she was nothing and I then heard her paying attention to her Dad, but footsteps on the stairs kept me from hearing their exact words.. If I were to guess, I’d say she was introducing James to her Dad.

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Just the thought of knowing he was here, just a staircase away, made my stomach turn into knots.. “Ollie?” I heard the sweet, soft voice of my sister and I looked up, seeing her standing in the doorway of the living room and the smile on her face almost made me completely forget that my Uncle was here.

“Camilla,” I said with a smile of my own, standing from the couch and we met each other half way with a large, warm hug.

“Oh my god, I’ve missed you so, so much..” She began and I pulled her in tighter.

“I missed you more, sis,” I replied, finally letting go of one another.

“Wow..” She began, giggling softly as she looked at me, “You’re hair has gotten so long since I last saw you!” She said with a wide smile and I nodded.

“So has yours,” I replied, “You look a lot more mature with longer hair.. Are you sure you’re only eighteen?” I joked and she laughed more, pulling me into another much needed hug and we remained like that for a few more seconds, but eventually pulled away again. “Come here, tell me about your first year abroad,” I said with a smile and she nodded, following my gesture for her to join me in the living room and she sat with me on the couch.

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“Spill it..” I began, seeing her cheeks flush a little and she laughed off my words.

“Spill what?”

“Oh, come on.. Don’t tell me that in the most romantic place in the world, you haven’t found a guy there yet that sweeps you off your feet,” I continued and she kept her large smile she couldn’t hide.

“Fine, you got me.. His name’s Leon.. I met him in Geneva when I was on my way to Switzerland,” she replied with a bashful tone and I kept the smile I held.

“Yeah, I knew it..” I confirmed, “But, how was the first year out there? Was it good?”

“Yeah, definitely.. I’m learning so much.. I think I actually want to be a teacher, or a translator of sorts.. I actually invited Leon to come back with me to meet my family, but he couldn’t make it,” she replied and I nodded.

“Well, that’s too bad.. But, I’m glad you’re enjoying it.. You deserve to be somewhere you love to be, especially with someone you like,” I answered and she continued her smile as she nodded in thanks.

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“What about you? How have you been?” She asked next and I couldn’t help but shrug. 

“Nothing new to report.. Still same old me..” I replied, though I don’t think I sounded as convincing as I would’ve liked to.

“Well.. How are classes going? Still straight A’s, I hope?” She implied and I nodded.

“Yeah, nothing to worry about there,” I confirmed, sending another smirk her way and she seemed convinced enough to stop prying.

“What about a girl? Have you met anyone since we last talked on the phone?” She asked and my smirk slowly faded, unsure of how to answer her, though I thought it would be best if I just acted as if nothing at all had happened since I had last spoken with her.. As far as I was concerned, I was determined to not let Jody force herself into my life, and the first thing to do to achieve that was not even acknowledge that we were dating anymore, if you could even call that short amount of time ‘dating’..

“Nope.. Just me, still..” I replied with a pathetic grin, seeing her face turn a little less happy than it was, but before she could continue to ask questions about it, we both heard another set of footsteps coming up the stairs and my heart began to race.

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I could hear the footsteps approaching the living area and just based on the sound of their pace, I could tell it was my Uncle.. His slight limp was always a dead giveaway. He soon came into our sights and Camilla rose from the couch, going to him in a slightly panicked manner, “Dad, you shouldn’t use the stairs without your cane, you could’ve gotten hurt,” she said softly, taking her luggage that he had brought up with him as a nice gesture and he brushed off her worry.

“I got my knee replaced, not my hips..” He replied sarcastically, “I’m still able use stairs.”

“Well, okay.. But at least let me take this to my room, I don’t want you to go up two more flights, alright?” She replied and he nodded.

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“Thanks, doll,” he answered and she smiled as he put his hand to the back of her head and pulled her in so his lips met her forehead. My stomach turned even more knowing that he probably didn’t mean his kind words and gestures towards her, putting up a front, but I knew who he really was.. I saw passed his bullshit and I’ll never let myself be fooled like that again. His questionably loving gesture towards her even made me a little angry and I felt bad for Kat.. Never have I ever seen him show her as much love as he does for Camilla. Was it because she came from my mother and not Aunt Nina? Either way, I still didn’t like how he treated both of them.. I was always bothered, too, by how Camilla could accept my Uncle as her father.. Even though he was her real father, I didn’t like how she completely ignored the fact that my dad was the one that took care of her from the moment she was born until she was almost four, but it’s as if she completely forgot about him or blocked him out of her life after he had left, and she accepted her real father to call ‘dad’, even when he was never there for her like my father was.. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, about how she might not even remember enough of my father to label him her Dad, but whatever the reason, I still hated how quickly she warmed up to him after our mom and my dad were gone..

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After Camilla had begun walking up the stairs, my Uncle looked towards the living area and his brown eyes met my blues, watching as the side of his mouth lifted into a slight smirk and I didn’t like the look on his face.. Then again, I never really did..

He stepped into the living area slowly and he stopped just before the couch, “Are you going to stand and greet me like a man, or are you going to sit there and pout?” He began, still holding his disputably innocent smirk and I sighed heavily, making sure he knew that I didn’t want to before I stood to my feet and I stepped up to him.

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He stuck out his hand and I reluctantly shook it with my own, “It’s been a few years.. It’s good to see you,” he continued, though I knew that that was a lie.

“I wish I could say the same,” I replied and quickly removed my hand from his, hearing him chuckle and he was amused by my behavior. 

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I watched his hand then reach up towards my hair, “Look at this mop on your head..” He continued, but I pushed his hand away abruptly before he could touch me and he chuckled again, “Your father would be disappointed to see you looking so.. Well, unkempt.. You should consider a haircut,” he insisted and I kept my stern expression.

“I could say the same for you.. And if you haven’t noticed, he hasn’t exactly been around much lately, so how would you even know?” I asked sarcastically and I didn’t enjoy how long he kept up that annoying grin of his. It was obvious that he enjoyed messing with me, but I was far from enthused.

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My Uncle stepped over towards the couch and sat down slowly, minding his knee and he then gestured towards the seat next to him, “Sit down and talk to me for a little bit, it’s not often I get to see my nephew,” he insisted, my eyes looking to the couch and I sighed heavily like I did before, slowly going to the couch and I sat the furthest that I could away from him. I kept my eyes on the television, wanting to go downstairs where James and Kat were, but I couldn’t exactly ignore my Uncle, no matter how much I wanted to. “So, how’s college?” He began.

“Fine..” I replied blandly.

“Wow, hold back that enthusiasm of yours a little more, will you?” He asked sarcastically and I didn’t say anything, “Are you ever going to grow up and get passed all of this, or are you going to hold a grudge forever?” He asked next and my eyes went around the room aimlessly instead of at the television. I didn’t want to talk about this now, and especially not with him. 

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“Not today,” I replied.

“But it’s perfect for such a momentous occasion, finding peace with one another so there’s no more hard feelings,” he offered, though I knew he was bluffing and I wondered what he was trying to accomplish instead.

“A momentous occasion would imply that it would have great or lasting importance.. And it would’ve been, had you just dropped off Camilla and left,” I answered and I heard him hum a soft laugh.

“Charming, as always.. Reciting definitions as if you were getting ready for a spelling bee,” he slightly mocked, “Still just a child..”

“You were just like this at my age, still a child.. I think I’m doing a little better, though, seeing as I’m in college doing something with my life and my ‘total number of lives ruined’ is still sitting at zero.. What’s your number up to? Because I can think of a few right now..” I spat back, finally having the guts to look over at him and still, he held that damn smirk that I hated so much.

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“Such a smart mouth.. You remind me a lot of your old man, always have, actually.. Maybe that’s why we just can’t get along,” he suggested as an answer and I scoffed.

“Or maybe it’s because you stuck your nose where it didn’t belong,” I rebutted.

“Oh, I’ve stuck myself plenty of places where I didn’t belong,” he implied and I could feel myself getting angered, “I don’t regret anything, though.. I don’t regret what I did to get Camilla..”

“They would’ve had her regardless, you just wouldn’t have been her father,” I answered, watching him then lean forward and a little closer towards me and I hated to admit that I got nervous from it.

“Have I ever told you the story of The Woman Who Never Said No? There’s one person in particular that could play that part like a champion, can you guess who?” He rubbed in and my anger had returned ten-fold, knowing he meant my mother and I bit the inside of my cheek as I tried to keep my cool, “It’s a lovely story, would you like to hear it?” He continued to push my buttons and I couldn’t answer him.

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Well.. Once upon a time, there was this woman, very beautiful.. A gorgeous frame, long, dark hair, piercing blue eyes, kind of like yours..” He mocked and I could feel my hands beginning to shake in anger, though I brought my hand towards my head to hide the fact, “She lived with a troll that pretty much treated her like a prisoner, making her raise his troll child, making her do all of the troll’s chores while he was away, doing what pleased him.. Ignoring the beauty for years, and even despite her sadness, when asked if she wanted to stay, she never said ‘no’, even though you could tell that she wanted to and she remained in the prison-like conditions,” he continued the story and I could barely hold my own as he then leaned in a little more and continued, “But then, one day.. A brave man came along and whisked her away, asking her to be his in secret just so she could be happy on occasion and you know what? She never said ‘no’, even when her child slept in the room next to the one that they would-”

“Stop..” I cut him off and he tilted his head in curiosity.

“Now? I was just about to get to the good parts..” He taunted and I grit my teeth together.

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“..Why are you telling me this?” I asked, struggling to keep my anger under control.

“To show you that even though the man that took her away from her miserable life, she never said no, even though she had every chance to,” he replied and I let out a heavy sigh, shutting my eyes and I hung my head, “..It’s not all on me, Oliver.. And it never was.. Does three years mean anything to you? She was just as willing, if not more so..” He continued and I didn’t know whether to believe him or not, “I would never speak ill of her, I saw everything unfold right before my eyes, but, you must know that putting all of this on me is completely ridiculous, don’t you..? Just because they’re your parents and you hold them in much higher regards than me, doesn’t mean they’re any less to blame in this, too.. They weren’t around to give you any side of their story, but I am.. I stayed with you, raised you, got you to where you are now.. Doesn’t that count for anything?” He asked, his voice sounding sincere and just as I was beginning to believe his words, the tone of his voice was all wrong.. This wasn’t my Uncle.. My Uncle was a cruel, conniving man, and him telling me all of this in the manner he did was just another way to brainwash me like he had Kat and Camilla..

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I stood from the couch, turning to face him and I bent down to his level, “I’ll never believe your word.. I know my Dad is still out there and eventually I’ll get the truth to all of this. Your words still mean nothing to me, you mean nothing to me, and I’m doing just fine by keeping it that way. So, excuse me if I’m a little too harsh when I say this, on such a momentous occasion, but..” I mocked him back, hesitating a moment and I smirked just slightly before my next words, “Fuck you, Uncle Gareth..” I finished, feeling a sense of accomplishment flowing through me and I was actually a little proud of myself for finally sticking up to him.

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..However, to my surprise, my Uncle’s smirk turned into an amused smile and he quickly reached back behind my head, gripping my long hair tightly and even despite using his hand that my father had shot, he could still get a great grip of my locks. I let out a soft groan of a struggle, my hand quickly going to the back of my head and I tried to free myself, but it was no use, feeling him then pulling me down and I was forced to take a knee in front of him, looking up at him. “Now you listen to me, boy. If you ever look down your nose at me again like that, I’ll show you what I do for a living first hand..” He threatened with a deep, serious tone, his smile now completely gone and I breathed harshly through my nose as I looked into his eyes, “Do I make myself clear, you little shit?” He asked and I hesitated, his threat weighing down hard on me and I was scared, not wanting to know what he did for a living even despite my curiosity over the many years. 

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“You don’t want me to repeat myself,” he advised and I finally gave in.

“Yes..” I said quietly.

“Yes, what?” He demanded.

“Yes, I understand..” I repeated, admitting defeat.

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“Good,” he completely changed, his smile coming back and he threw me to the floor as he let go of my hair. I stumbled just slightly, catching myself with my hands and I sat on the floor for a few long seconds, trying to gather whatever self respect I had left for myself. “You always were a stubborn fuckin’ brat.. I can’t believe that I even attempted to make amends, what the fuck is wrong with me?” He asked sarcastically, chuckling at himself and he needed help standing to his feet, putting his hand to my shoulder and he used me to push himself up, obviously taking the dominant roll and making it a point to show me that he still shouldn’t be trifled with.

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“You’re lucky you’re my brother’s son,” he threatened last, hearing his footsteps walk out of the living area and he made his way downstairs and he left me here, left me to stew in my thoughts and think about what I had done. He still treated me like a child.. He made it a point to show me that he could still do whatever he pleased and there was no defending myself when it came to him, no matter how right I felt about my beliefs.. He always managed to bring me back down to the lowest points left that I could go. 

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After all that’s transpired, after trying to put up with him the best I could, I wasn’t able to do it anymore.. I rose slowly from the floor, reaching back and I rubbed my scalp tenderly where his grip was pulling at my hair and the back of my head was a little sore, but I could manage.. I can do fine with physical pain, I’ve grown numb to it, used to it as I grew up, but it was the emotional and mental pain that I struggled so hard with, and right now I couldn’t even look at my Uncle again at the dining table for dinner without having the urge to shove a fork in his eye. I needed to get out of here..

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I walked towards the stairs to go down to the first floor, rushing down them and I went straight for the front door, keeping my head and eyes down and I left in a hurry, but sadly, I didn’t make it very far before I heard James coming out after me, “Oliver!” He called out, and I walked out the gate in front of our townhouse, but he grabbed my arm before I could reach the road, “Ollie, wait a second! What are you doing?” He wondered and I stopped, pulling my arm out of his grip abruptly and I looked over my shoulder towards him.

“I’m leaving, what is look like I’m doing?” I asked sarcastically.

“Yeah, I can see that,” he answered defensively, “But, where are you going? Kat’s going to be furious if you leave.. You think she’s mad at you now for the fight you had? She’ll never forgive you if you ditch today..”

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“..Then tell her I’m sorry, and that I hope she understands..” I replied and I turned to leave again, but he grabbed my arm once more and stopped me.

“Would you just wait a second and talk to me? You should really stay.. She invited Jody over, too, not that long ago.. Don’t you want to see her? It’ll take your mind off of your Uncle, right?” He mentioned, as if it would make me feel better and get me to stay. I remembered during Kat and I’s fight that she wanted to fix me up with Jody so I had someone to distract me from my Uncle being there, but at this point, she was just as bad as he was, and no one knew that but me.

“Even more reason for me to leave..” I replied as I pulled my arm from his grip, continuing towards the road with a quick pace and I hailed a cab that was coming towards us.

“Wait.. What? Why..? Ollie!” He tried to get my attention again and I ignored him, getting in the cab and it pulled away.

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“Where you headed?” The driver wondered and I hung my head with my eyes closed, glad that I had made it out of the house successfully.

“Any place away from here that I can get a drink..” I replied quietly.

“You got it,” they replied, continuing to drive and I sat there in silence, letting out a relieved sigh and I was happy that I had gotten out of there without too many issues.. If anyone else but James had chased me out the door, I wouldn’t have been able to get away from that whole situation and I don’t know what I would do if I would’ve been forced to face my Uncle again after what he had ‘discussed’, not to mention Jody, as well.. “So, rough Thanksgiving already, huh?” The driver wondered and I didn’t even bother to look their way, keeping my head down like I had been.

“Yeah.. You could say that..” I replied, taking my phone out of my pocket and I looked at it, knowing that Kat or anyone else at the house would probably try to call me to get me to come back, but that wasn’t going to happen.. And to make sure of it, I shut my phone off, watching the screen turn black and I placed it back within my pocket, feeling the relief already beginning to lessen the weight on my shoulders.

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I was driven to the other side of town to a lounge that I’ve only heard of but have never been to and it had recently just opened. It was a little too high-class for my taste, but at this point, I wasn’t picky and I just needed a drink.. I know I wasn’t one for drinking, especially to the point where I’d get incoherent, but right now I needed it, I needed to numb myself of this and I didn’t want to go back while he was there.. I won’t go back until morning, maybe, when I know that he’s gone.. I’ll walk to the motel down the street that I had passed and get a room for the night if I have to in order to avoid going back..

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I got out of the cab and thanked the driver, handing him the fare that was due and I walked into the lounge, noticing it was empty and that didn’t surprise me.. It was Thanksgiving, everyone was with their families or friends, while I’m alone, spending my night with a bartender and a glass of liquor. 

“My apologies, sir, but we’re closing in about ten minutes and final call was twenty minutes ago,” the bartender began, but when I looked up, he stared at me for a moment, then choosing to correct himself, “I suppose I can make an exception for a face like yours, though,” he continued and my words caught in my throat as I stepped up to the counter.

“..Uhm, I’m sorry..?” I asked and he chuckled.

“You look like you’ve had a rough day,” he explained and I scoffed.

“Yeah.. Really rough,” I answered, “I’m sorry.. I can go somewhere else, I didn’t mean to come when you were about to close up.. I was just glad that you were open on a holiday,” I explained and he waved me forward.

“No, no.. Don’t worry about it. Looks like you need a drink and I’m still here, so, please.. Sit..” He insisted and I nodded in thanks.

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I stepped up to the bar, sitting on one of the stools and I put my face into my hands, rubbing my eyes in frustration, “What’ll you have?” He wondered.

“Whiskey..”

“Straight, clean, on the rocks, dirty?” He asked and I just picked one randomly.

“Uh.. On the rocks, I guess..”

“Of course.. But, before I do, you know the drill, I’m sure..” He implied and I removed my hands from my face, taking my wallet out and I showed him my identification to prove I was old enough, “Thanks, Oliver..He continued and I smirked briefly, putting my ID back into my wallet and within my pocket. 

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He came back with a glass that held a few ice cubes, pouring me three fingers worth and I grabbed it, not hesitating as I poured it all down my throat quickly and put the glass back down. My eyes shut tight and I let out a hard breath after the large amount, “Another, please..” I requested and he chuckled softly.

You know.. You’re supposed to pace yourself with that type of style,” he put in his two cents.

“Another..” I insisted.

“Suit yourself,” he replied and he poured me another like I had asked and I downed that one as well, letting out another harsh breath after I swallowed the strong liquid and my eyes winced shut.

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I pointed to the glass once more, signaling for him to pour me a third and he hesitated a moment, but he then gave in when I insisted and he poured me the drink. I grabbed the glass and picked it up, but he put his hand down over it and made me put it back on the counter, “Whoa, whoa.. Pace yourself, kid, I can tell just by the first one you don’t do this often. You don’t want to leave here in two minutes stupid, do you?” He pointed out and I looked to him.

“I’d rather leave here stupid than leave the way I came in,” I replied and he stared at me for a moment, then slowly removed his hand from my glass and I watched as he walked away. 

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I lifted the glass, but before it met my lips, I looked down at the ice swimming in the liquor and I stopped, putting it back down on the counter and I brought my other hand to the front of my face, shutting my eyes and taking a deep breath. I sat there in silence for a few minutes, listening to the bartender cleaning glasses and he eventually spoke up again, “You’re lucky no one else is here, it’s a requirement to wear a jacket or tie to get in and I’d be forced to kick you out,” he said softly and I looked to him, seeing him holding a slight smirk.

“Then why’d you let me in?” I wondered and he chuckled.

“Already said.. You looked like you could really use a drink, so what’s your story? What made you storm out of the house on Thanksgiving?” He asked and I kept silent, “Mom? Dad? Sibling?” He continued and I took a sip of my drink before answering.

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“Uncle..”

“Ahh, the Uncle.. One of your parents feuding with him, or just with you?” He wondered as he continued to clean glasses and I turned my attention away from him.

“My mom’s dead, and I haven’t seen my dad in fourteen years,” I replied softly and I could see from the corner of my eye that he stopped cleaning.

“My apologies.. And condolences,” he replied genuinely and I finished the rest of my drink.

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He stepped back over and took out another glass, scooping a few ice cubes into it and he poured me another drink as well as himself, putting the bottle back down and he held up his glass. I looked up to him and he held a smile, “To being alone on Thanksgiving.. For the better or for the worse, let the liquor decide if it’s a blessing or a curse,” he said with a forced chuckle and I smirked, picking up my glass as well and we cheered one another before both taking a sip and he barely flinched as my eyes winced a little from the strong taste. 

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“..What’s your name?” I asked, watching him lean against the counter holding his glass.

“Isaiah. It’s nice to meet you, Oliver,” he replied and I nodded in agreement, watching him take another sip and setting the glass down by mine. “It’s always hard losing parents. The last time I saw mine, they were signing divorce papers. My mom then went back to Japan and my dad is the manager of some bullshit, un-popular company that no one even knows or probably cares about. Work seems to be the only thing that drives them. It’s been a few years since I’ve spoken to either of them, and even those were only about five-minute phone calls,” he confessed and my expression went slightly remorseful, “So, I know how it feels, but.. That’s nothing compared to what you’ve probably been through, huh?” He continued and I didn’t reply, looking down at my glass. “I’m sorry, I’m overstepping my bounds,” he added and I shook my head.

“No.. It’s fine.. I’m just not used to talking about it with someone that isn’t my cousin or sister,” I replied, taking another sip of my drink and I looked up to him.

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“Well, don’t feel obligated to tell me anything, though bartenders tend to hear some pretty crazy stories every now and then, I’m pretty immune to mostly everything now,” he answered with a chuckle and I smirked.

“How long have you been a bartender?” I asked, watching him calculate the amount of time in his head and he picked up his glass as he thought.

“Twelve years,” he replied and I made a slightly impressed expression.

“Really? Is this a good career to be in? Well.. It must be, seeing as you’ve been doing it for so long,” I wondered.

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“If you get a job where you’re drinking whiskey as old as you, in a place like this that charges twenty dollars for a whiskey on the rocks, then you can imagine the tips I have the potential of receiving,” he explained with a grin and my eyes widened a little as I looked down at my glass.

“Wow.. Uhm..” I didn’t really know what to say, but he chuckled and I looked back up to him, “I-I have money, really-”

“Don’t worry about the tab. Here, once the owner drinks with you, it’s on them,” he replied, cheering my glass once more and he took another sip before placing it down. I smiled softly, appreciating him showing me such hospitality and with no lack of generosity, but now realizing he was the owner, I supposed he could do whatever he wanted to here.

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“Thank you,” I replied, looking back up to him and he smiled in return.

“Don’t mention it,” he answered, both of our attention then going to the staircase and a woman came downstairs by the bar.

“The kitchen’s clean and the back is locked up, do you-” She began, but stopped when she noticed me, “Should I stay?” She asked and Isaiah shook his head.

“No, I got this. Go home,” he replied politely and she smiled.

“Alright, thank you, sir.. Happy Thanksgiving,” she answered.

“Yeah, you, too,” he replied and she walked through the bar and put her coat on, leaving us alone once again and I looked up to Isaiah.