“Chloe?” Dad knocks on the door sounding defeated.
“Go away.” I mumble into my pillow.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He replies quickly, and although he’s on the other side of the door, I know he’s scowling at me.
I have to laugh. He can’t be serious. “And I’m supposed to believe that?” I snap at him.
With that, he barges in to find me laying on my bed. “Dammit, Chloe! I’m sorry I left okay? I’m here now and I’m not leaving again.”
I begin to feel guilty for the way I’ve been treating him. Even though he’s a terrible father for abandoning me for nine years, maybe he’s taken that time to change. Maybe he’s a new man, a man who can actually be my father.
“I’m sorry I was rude at dinner.” I apologize reluctantly.
“It’s okay,” He sighs. “You left before the big news though.”
“Oh?” I look at him confused. I don’t know if I can handle any more ‘big news’ in my life.
“Yes, Anne and I wanted to tell you and Harry that we are getting married.” He smiles and looks down to his hands. “I proposed last weekend.”
“Oh...” I say again. I’m speechless. What does this mean for me? Will he leave me again to start a family with Anne and Harry?
“I know you just moved here and are still getting adjusted, but we wanted you to know. You’re apart of my life now, and I want you to be comfortable with Anne and Harry.”
My stomach begins to twist and my head is spinning at his words. What if Anne tries to replace my mother? I don’t need another mother, I need my mother.
“Chloe? Are you okay?” Dad frowns.
“Yeah, just a little tired.” I lie.
“Come on, sweetheart. I’m not going to sit here and act like I know you anymore, but I know when there’s something bothering you. I’m sorry for everything, sweetheart, but I’m trying now. I’m not going to leave again.” He says softly and joins me on my bed. "Tell me what's on your mind."
“I don’t even know, Dad.” I sigh and roll to my side so I’m facing him now. More tears fall and I feel him wrap his arms around me when I close my burning eyes.
“Chlo, you can tell me, okay?”
Where do I start? I’m sick of the ache in my hurt that feels like it’s never going to subside. Everything around me is caving in, and I haven’t a clue where to begin fixing it. What has become of my life? A damn mess, that’s for sure.
“I just miss Mom.” I sob into his chest. I guess we'll start there, seeing that is the root of all my problems tonight.
“Shh, it’s okay,” He whispers and kisses my head while rocking back and forth. “It’s okay to miss her.”
“I don’t want to have another mother. I don’t want Anne to pity for me.” I admit. God, I’m pathetic. I’m seventeen years old and I’m afraid for the father who I’ve seen more of in the past two weeks than the last nine years of my life to get married.
“She doesn’t pity you, sweetheart. Why would you say that?”
“Didn’t you hear her at dinner? She feels bad about Mom dying. I don’t want her to replace Mom.” I tell him truthfully. I don’t know what it is, but I feel like me and Dad are getting back on track, and I can’t deny the fact that it feels really good.
“Chloe… She doesn’t know about your mother.” He pauses and sits up straight on the bed, running his hands through his short hair. “I haven’t told her yet.”
“What? Why not? Why does she think I moved here then?” I ask. Now I am beyond confused.
“I just wasn’t ready yet… I know you won't understand, but it’s difficult for me to talk to Anne about your mother. She always meant a lot to me, even after I left.” He chokes up, and I sit there with a frown plastered on my face. “At the moment, she thinks you chose to be here. I’m sorry, Chloe.” He shakes his head. I want to be mad, but I’m actually relieved he lied to her.
“Can you not tell her?” I blurt out and his brow furrows. “I don’t want them to know about Mom… I don’t want them to pity me or feel sorry for me. And I definitely do not want her thinking she can be my new mom.” I say a little sarcastically.
He sighs and thinks for a minute. “Chloe, I don’t think that’s a good idea… I can’t keep lying to her.”
“Please Dad… This is all I’ve ever asked you to do.”
He lets out a strained breath. “All right... But please try to take it easy on Anne… She’s delighted to finally meet you, and I know she’s excited to have a girl around.”
“Yeah, about that… What’s Harry’s deal?” I actually let out a laugh. I know I haven’t been the most reasonable person, but my dad would be lying if he didn’t think Harry was trouble.
“He’s a good kid… when he wants to be. Just give him a chance. Maybe he can show you around like Anne mentioned. It’d be good for you to get to know each other.”
In my mind, I hit my forehead with my palm in realization. That’s why Anne and Dad were pressing Harry and I to hang out, because eventually we will be step-siblings. I suppose we should start off on the right foot.
“We’ll see…” I sigh. “And I’m sorry again about dinner. I’ll apologize to Anne and Harry the next time they’re over.”
“No need, they’re still downstairs. Anne thought we could all watch a movie and have some dessert. She brought French Silk Pie, your favorite.” He smiled, and I can’t help but smile at the fact that he remembered that.
“Sounds good. Can I just have a minute though? I’ll meet you downstairs.”
“All right.” He smiles and gives me a nod.
When he gets off my bed, he stops at the door and pauses for a second. “I’m glad you’re here, Chloe. Everything’s going to be okay, all right?”
“Okay.” I nod wearily. I sure hope it will be.
When he leaves, I get up and go to the bathroom to fix my running mascara and brush out my unruly hair before heading back down.
“Oh Chloe, I’m glad you’re joining us.” Anne smiles and walks over to me with a plate holding a piece of pie.
“Thanks, Anne… And I’m sorry about dinner—“
“Don’t worry about it, sweetie. Let’s watch a movie, yeah?”
“Sure,” I offer her my best smile.
I end up sitting on the same couch as Harry, who hasn’t said a word since I’ve been down here, while Anne and Dad snuggled up on the other couch. Dad decided on some Transformers movie, and I almost feel asleep at least ten times… But the green eyes looking at me the whole time kept me awake.
“Chloe did you like the movie?”
“What?” I wake up with a blanket over me and the ending credits to the movie rolling. I notice that Anne and Harry are still here; Anne is smiling like she always is while Harry still looks like he’s hating the fact that he’s here. I must’ve eventually fallen asleep.
“I guess you thought it was a little boring if you fell asleep.” Dad chuckles as I sit up and rub the sleep from my eyes.
“Sorry… I’m still a little tired from the trip here.” God today has been the longest day.
“It’s okay. Why don’t you go get some sleep. You have to be up early tomorrow anyway to go register for your classes.” Ugh, I forgot about that.
“Yeah… Uh it was nice meeting you guys.” I look at Harry and Anne. “Goodnight.”
“Actually, Chloe, your dad has something to tell you!” Anne beams and I look quizzically at Dad. He looks apprehensive at Anne as she nods her head in encouragement.
“Well, your mother has something to tell you too, Harry.” Dad says to him.
“Can you just tell us so I can leave?” Harry groans, saying what I’m thinking in my mind.
“All right,” Anne smiles at Dad again, nudging him to say it.
“Well since I’ve asked Anne to marry me, we thought it only made sense to live together now…” He smiles at his fiancé. Ugh, I know where this is going.
“Harry, we’re going to be moving here next week!” Anne finishes.
“Fuck no.” Is Harry’s response. He stands up and readjusts his hat like he’s about to leave, but my dad stands up like he won’t let him.
“Harry, it only makes sense.” Dad says and places a hand on his shoulder only to have it shrugged off.
“We only live twenty minutes away, I think you can manage.” Harry spits.
I feel so awkward just sitting here watching this go down. I have no idea what Harry’s deal is, but I can tell he’s a piece of work. Shit… What’s it going to be like living with this guy?
“Harry, I’m not asking for your opinion. We’ll be moving here whether you like it or not.” Anne steps in, and for the first time since I’ve met her, her smile isn’t present on her face.
“What about school? My friends?” He raises his eyebrows in question.
“You’ll be attending Southview High School with Chloe.”
“You’re shitting me!” He yells as he pulls off his hat and runs his hand in his hair. “There’s no way in hell you’re getting me to leave Lakeside. End of.”
“Harry!” Anne yells after him as he stomps out of the living room and slams the front door.
I see a tear run down her cheek before my dad wraps his arms around her trying to calm her down.
“Um, I think I’m going to head upstairs…” I announce uncomfortably.
I nod and make my way away from the disaster that came out of this night. Just as I’m about to take the stairs though, I notice Harry sitting outside on the front step, his hands in his hair and his leg bouncing up and down. And then I notice that one of his hands is covered and blood, and I almost pass out at the sight.
On impulse, I open the door to see if he’s okay. His head swings around to see who it is, but when he sees me he quickly looks back out at the street in front of him.
“If my mum or your dad sent you out here to talk to me, then you can just give up now.”
“They didn’t, I… Are you okay? What happened to your hand?” I blurt out.
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
“Harry, that doesn’t look fine. Come back inside and we can find something to wrap it with. You really should go get it looked at though.”
“Chloe, right?” I nod, embarrassed that he has to ask. “I’m fine. Now please leave me alone.” He snaps.
“Why don’t you leave?” I spit back. He’s the one who is actually able to leave this mess of a night.
“Because I can’t.” He nods towards the motorcycle parked in the driveway before holding up his hand. I suppose it would be pretty hard driving that thing with one hand.
“What did you do?” I ask him again.
“I punched the fucking wall. There you got your answer now go back inside.”
“I was just trying to help, you don’t have to be an asshole.” I scoff. I begin to go inside, but I don’t want to give him the power by doing what he says. “And you also don’t need to be a dick to your mother. She’s inside crying because of you.” I inform him before opening the door and slamming it behind me.
God, I already hate this kid and he hasn’t moved in yet.