Metamorphosis – Chapter 9 – Pressure

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The sun shone on Tom’s face, making him groan. “Close those curtains babe,” He murmured burying his face into his pillow. He didn’t even know if they were open at all, and he didn’t feel the bed beside him shift. Turning over, he noticed Faye standing by the window with the curtain pulled back and her phone up to her ear.

“Oh shut up, dad! You have no right to even make such claims. I will not be coming back to Sim Star Chef so go and bank on someone else,” Faye said angrily. “Ok, fine. Sim Star Whatever. Doesn’t matter to me regardless. I’m not going back to some television show that you produce… You’ve got some nerve saying that…”

Tom watched with interest as Faye curled the floral print curtains into her hands. She hadn’t even heard him before, had she? She was enraptured into her own world. Her father’s world. He frowned. What the hell did Gino want now?

“Yeah, so what? Tom did change me. Do you have a problem with that? Because I don’t care what you have to say… Oh? Do whatever, I don’t care!” Faye hung up the phone angrily and tossed it at the wall, an unbound anger rising within her.

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“What’s wrong?” Tom’s soft voice broke her from her reverie of violent thoughts. “Your dad wants you to be on TV again?”

“Sim Star is all that’s ever on his mind these days. He wants me to be on some reality show with him. A camera following me and him around everywhere we go.” She frowned, trying not to show Tom the tears forming in the corner of her eyes. “He said that if I don’t do the show with him and basically abandon you and the Bennett family that he will take away my restaurant in Monte Vista.”

Tom’s brows furrowed. “He can’t do that. It’s your restaurant. You worked to make it what it is today.”

“Sure he can. The lease is under his name. He bought it and signed for it. I didn’t do anything but cook in it,” Faye said. “I built that place up from the ground. When I got it, there wasn’t even a stable menu! The decorations were gaudy and the staff was terrible.”

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“Let him take it,” Tom said. “People who are a fan of your food will follow you anywhere.”

“Follow me where?” Faye asked. “Anyone worth anything in the culinary industry knows not to go against my father and hire me somewhere. Besides it’s not the same as running my own business.”

“I’m not saying that,” Tom said, waving her off. “I’m saying we open a new restaurant for you. You have some money separate from your father, right? I have some money set aside. I’m sure Eddie has some insight on this. He’s really business savvy now that his books are getting popular.” Tom was sitting up on his knees chatting excitedly. “We can do this, Faye.”

She shook her head. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I don’t want you to have to invest any money into this and my father will no doubt slander our business. He’s be doing it to your family for awhile now.”

“Like we’re scared,” Tom said. “My family isn’t afraid of anything. Let that man come, and watch what happens. We’ll kill him with kindness and take all of his business.”

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A knock on the door stopped Tom short. “Er…I don’t want to barge in, but I made breakfast…” Came Eddie’s nervous voice through the door. “I would really appreciate it if you guys ate with us this morning. If Faye is feeling better that is.”

“I’m going to ask him about it,” Tom muttered, standing up to get the door. “At the breakfast table.”

“Tom, no!” Faye shook her head. She had never had to ask for help before from anyone besides her father and it was embarrassing.

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Tom quickly threw some clothes on before taking Faye’s hand. “I know this is difficult for you. Your father didn’t make asking for help easy but it’s time you see what a real family can do for each other.” He pulled her close gently kissing her forehead “trust me we can do this.”

Faye clutched at his shirt, her fingers stretching the material as it balled in her fists. Leaning forward breathing deeply she nodded. “I’ll try” she murmured.

“That’s all I ask” he rubbed her back trying to reassure her that no matter what she could rely on him. “Come on babe let’s go eat.”

Smiling to she took his hand allowing him to escort her to the breakfast table. “It smells delicious” she gave Eddie a grin as the entered the dining room. She could see by the way he relaxed his almost ramrod posture that her words had reassured him enough to relax.

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“Thank you” he waved a hand towards the table “I hope you like crepes.”

Sitting at the table she turned to Eddie “you didn’t have to go to all this trouble.”

“It wasn’t any trouble” Eddie sat down beside her as Rory walked into the room carrying Hannah.

“Eddie is being modest” he said putting Hannah in her highchair. “He’s worried over the menu for weeks. Probably from the day he found out you and Tom were coming to visit.” He leaned over kissing the top of Eddie’s head “don’t let him fool you into thinking this was all thrown together at the last minute.” His voice and eyes was full of the pride he felt for his husband’s accomplishments.

“You shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble” Faye murmured.

“I just hope it tastes as good as it looks” Eddie gave her a self-deprecating smile watching as she took her first bite.

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“It’s delicious” she said “I couldn’t have done better myself. You’ll have to give me the recipe.”

After everyone had started eating Tom looked over at Faye before asking “Eddie do you know whatever happened to Grandpa’s restaurant?”

“I’m not exactly sure, why?” Eddie asked wiping strawberry remnants from Hannah’s face.

“Well Faye and I were discussing the idea of opening our own restaurant” Tom informed him.

“As a chain to the restaurant Faye has in Monte Vista” Rorya asked.

“Not exactly” Faye looked down at her plate “I may not have the restaurant much longer. It’s..”

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“Let’s just say Gino is making ultimatums and we’re looking for alternatives” Tom explained.

Faye looked up at him eyes full of gratitude that he hadn’t ripped her father apart, not that Gino didn’t deserve it. “We were hoping that you might be able to give us some business advice.”

“Me” Eddie asked eyes growing large at the idea anyone would think he had business smarts.

“Yes you” Tom nodded “you have a successful business as a writer. I’m sure you can help us. At least get us going in the right direction.”

“Alright” Eddie nodded “is that why you were asking about Grandpa’s restaurant?”

“Yeah” Tom nodded “I thought if it was still in the family that we’d have a firm foundation to start from.” Taking Faye’s hand he continued “I was thinking it might be something Gino wouldn’t be able to slander or run into the ground.”

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“I think Uncle Gene might know more about the restaurant” Eddie said “I could give him a call he should at least be able to point us in the direction.”

Faye’s eyes widened. “Dad hates Gene Bennett. Something about Sim Star Idol.”

“You didn’t watch it?” Tom mused. “I figured it’d have been part of the family business.”

“Ha! Leisure activities? Not for a Ferrari. Mom let me watch it sometimes but I never watched it completely through. But I know my father hates him and Caleb Gray.”

“The Grays…” Eddie mused. “Ah, Gene talked a lot about Caleb Gray. I think they’re still friends. Maybe he’s the celebrity endorsement you need.”

“Oh! That’s right!” Tom nodded enthusiastically. “We see if grandpa’s restaurant is still in the family and then we rebuild it to fit our new brand. When that’s complete, we get some celebrity endorsements!”

Chapter 8 – Apology /

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Metamorphosis – Chapter 8 – Apology

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For a moment she pulled back then let him pull her from the room. Apologizing wasn’t a common everyday occurrence for her or any Ferrari for that matter. She was sure her father never did it.

They entered into the living to find Rory sitting comfortably in the living room playing his guitar. “Where’s Eddie” Tom asked looking around a worried crease between his eyes.

“He’s in the kitchen” glancing up his unfriendly eyes raking across Faye. “He’s worried about what to cook.” He didn’t add that his worry was mainly the seldom satisfied girl standing in his living room.

“Can I see if he needs any help” she asked moving towards the kitchen.

Rory stood up like he was going to follow “if you upset him more than you already have…”

“I won’t” Faye said hastily “I promise I won’t. I want to apologize for the way I’ve been acting. I do appreciate everything you’ve done for us in letting us stay here.” With that she turned and walked away but she didn’t miss the look of astonishment that took over Rory’s face

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She entered the kitchen to find Eddie carefully gathering ingredients. “You have excellent mise en place skills” she complimented him.

Her voice made him jump almost sending the ingredients he had gathered to the floor. “Thank you” he stammered looking up at her “that’s what my instructors at culinary school told me.”

“You went to culinary school” she asked moving in close to observe him better.

“Yeah before life got complicated” he looked up at her a shy smile spreading across his face. “Would you like to show me how the Ferrari do things?”

“You wouldn’t mind me cooking?” she asked somewhat surprised.

“I see Tom told you about my phobia” he murmured. He looked to the floor before meeting her eyes. “It’s my kitchen. I know what’s in here.” He moved aside inviting her to join him “besides Tom trusts you. I think I can too.”

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A big smile grew on the girl’s face. Trust was something seldom earned. She trusted her staff in her restaurant, she trusted her best friend Sonny, and she trusted Tom. There was no one else she thought she trusted, so Tom’s brother saying he trusted her was amazing. The idea that one’s trust could be dependent on the trust of another? Unheard of to her.

“Thank you for your trust. You don’t know how much that means to me.” She reached over him towards the sink and began to wash her hands. “Uh, we have to be sanitary first.”

“Of course,” Eddie agreed. While he was washing his hands, Faye set up the cooking utensils. “Now let’s make an organic sauce with cilantro and basil.”

“Sounds good,” Eddie commented. “What will we use the sauce for?”

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“Pizza,” Faye said with a smile. “Just because I’m a world renowned chef doesn’t mean things have to be complicated.  Oh, and I got us a bottle of the finest red wine I could find. Feel free not to drink it. I won’t be offended.”

Faye began to mix the sauce and then let out a small laugh. “Also I just love making pizza because it’s what really made me love Tom.”

“I saw the episode,” Eddie said with a small smile. “It was all real?”

“Yeah. I love him, truly I do.” She bit her lip and then whirled around to face Eddie. “What does family mean to the Bennett’s? Kids, marriage- the whole nine yards?”

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Eddie set his knife aside a moment considering her questions. “Wow I never thought about it before. It’s more than kids and marriage. Don’t get me wrong. Those things are important but it’s not what makes a family.”

She looked at him a perplexed expression of her face. “What do you mean? Isn’t family the ones you’re related to?”

“Yes but it’s more than that” Eddie sucked on his bottom lip as he thought about what he wanted to say. “People can be family without being related. Family is more of a feeling. It’s a safe place. A place where you can be yourself. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be yourself.”

“I never thought of if that way before” she voice was full of wonder “is that why people who are blood related may not act like family? I mean, when I’m with my dad I always feel like I have to be the best. Be perfect. I can never be me.”

 

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“It’s sad but true that the people we’re closest to may not be the family we need” Eddie commiserated with her. “I’m sorry you never had a chance to feel that kind of unpressured belonging with your dad. It’s a great feeling. Our dad always encouraged us to be who we are. He had dreams for all of us but he always just wanted us to be happy.” He picked up his knife to continue chopping veggies for the pizza.

They worked in silence for a while until Faye glanced over at him. “Do you think I could learn to be a good member in your family? Tom says I’m an acquired taste. Does that mean I won’t ever fit in?”

“I think you’re well on your way already” Eddie assured her. “If Rory could do it I’m sure you will too.”

“Rory didn’t fit in with your family either” she asked glancing towards the living room to make sure they weren’t being watched.

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“Let’s just say Rory made about as good  an impression on Tom as you did on Rory” Eddie smiled at the memory.

“You mean Tom hated him” Faye stated “he never told me that.”

“Well they like each other now” Eddie set aside the veggies and watched Faye finish up the sauce. “When they met Rory and I had broken up and I was devastated by it. Tom had come to stay with me for a while. He’s a good guy to have around. There’s nothing he won’t do for those he loves. That’s something you’ll have to get used to if you intend on becoming part of this family.”

Assembling the pizza Faye couldn’t wait to get Tom alone to discuss everything she and Eddie had talked about. She had so many questions. Her stomach growled. Food first she thought.

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Setting the pizza in front of Rory, Faye took a step back and bit her lip. She was hoping he’d love it. She knew it wouldn’t be enough to win him over, but it would be a start. “Smells good,” He commented and a sigh of relief washed over Faye.

“Thanks,” She said quietly. Tom looked up at her and winked. She felt the butterflies in her stomach grow just watching him, and then…a sudden wave of nausea hit her. She grabbed the back of one of the chairs and shut her eyes tightly.

“Faye!” Tom moved to stand up but she held her hand up. “I’m alright. Just a bit nauseous…uhm…can I be excused?”

“Do you need to lie down?” Eddie asked. “Tom can bring some food up to you.”

“It’s okay. Really, I’m just a little lightheaded. A lot happened today.”

“Eddie’s right. Go lay down.” Tom stood up and joined her side. “No one will mind if you sit upstairs.”

“Your health comes first,” Rory agreed. “Don’t worry about us.”

“Ok…” Faye gave in. “But Tom, you can stay down here and eat with your family. I don’t mind.”

“No, it’s alright. I want to be with you,” Tom said.

“Please,” She begged. “Have dinner with your brother and his husband. I know you’re excited to catch up with them. I won’t halt this any longer. I just need to lie down for a bit. I’ll be okay.”

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Tom watched Faye as she walked away a worried frown creasing his brow. “She’ll be ok” Eddie assured him.

“Are you sure” he asked nibbling on his slice of pizza “she didn’t look well.”

“I’m sure” Eddie sounded sure of himself.

Rory glanced up at him “you don’t think…” His voice faded away when Eddie shook his head. Luckily for them Tom didn’t seem to notice. “Let’s not let this wine go to waste” Rory refilled their glasses “this pizza is delicious.”

I’ll have to remember her technique with the sauce” Eddie sipped on the wine “she combined ingredients I didn’t think paired well. I’m glad to find out they married well.”

“Kind of like us” Rory teased winking at his husband.

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“Stop” Eddied chided him “you’ll make our guest uncomfortable.”

“I don’t think our guest is paying any attention to us” Rory waved a hand in front of Tom’s face.

“What” he blinked looking around the table with a slightly dazed look.

“Why don’t you go on up and check on her” Rory suggested “Eddie and I will will clean up.”

“If she’s already asleep I suggest you let her sleep” Eddie said as Tom got up to follow Faye upstairs.

By the time Tom opened the bedroom door he found Faye curled upon her side sound asleep. He moved around the room getting undressed. He crawled into bed careful not to disturb her. She murmured and turned to him in her sleep. He stroked her hair as he drifted off  to sleep himself.

Chapter 7 – Confession / Chapter 9 – Pressure

Metamorphosis – Chapter 7 – Confession

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“You idiot! “She exclaimed angrily. “Gosh, why can’t you just see it for yourself? Now I have to spell it out for you!”

“Spell what out?” Tom asked. “Are you feeling alright?”

“No, no I’m not feeling alright! My heart hurts and my head is all in a jumble. I don’t know what to say or do, my palms are sweating and my body is shaking!”

“We have to go to a hospital then,” He said, rushing to the door. “Can you walk?”

“Tom, no!” She grabbed his arm and squeezed tightly. “The best thing in my life is you. I feel this way because of you. Because I love you and I’m nervous and I don’t know what to do. I’ve never felt this way before…”

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She sat down on the bed behind them and laid backwards onto it. “My whole life I’ve had everything handed to me. If I wanted something daddy would just buy it for me. But you can’t buy love. I’ve pushed people away my whole life just to realize that none of them ever pushed back. They just left.”

Tom laid down beside her. He reached out and stroked her hair lovingly. “And you were thinking about all of this in the taxi on your way out of here?”

“Kinda…” She bit her lip, afraid of what she was going to say next. “Carson texted me. He was in the area and wanted to see me, so I went because I wanted to know why the hell he let me walk away. He didn’t fight for me and I wanted to know if it was because of me. Am I a problem?”

“Well?” Tom asked patiently. “Are you a problem?”

She thought about it for a moment. “Maybe sometimes, but in this case it was him who was the problem. He told me that dating me meant dating my dad in a sense. And I realized that with you, I never felt like I was competing for anything. You aren’t afraid of my dad. You want to date me and you’ve made that known. I couldn’t ask for anyone better than you. I know I have to fight for you just as much as you’ve fought for me. I’m just scared.”

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“I fight for you because I love you” Tom could feel himself becoming choked up as one emotion rose up after another. “I don’t know if that’s enough if you’re not willing to fight for me too. It was horrible watching you walk away tonight. It was like watching the world fall down around me.” He sighed stroking her long silky hair “in a very real sense my world did fall apart tonight. I didn’t know if I’d ever see you again.”

“Tom” she turned to snuggle her face into his chest “I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. What I did was unforgivable. I was scared. I’ve never been that scared or lost before.” Her fingers curled into his shirt “but I came back because this is where I belong.”

“You belong in my brother’s home” he asked chuckling a little as he made a pathetic attempt at making a joke.

“No you idiot” she sat up a little to gaze into his face. She brought her hands up to cup his face “I belong wherever you are. If you still want me.”

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“If I want you” he echoed her words. “If I didn’t want you it wouldn’t have hurt so much to watch you ride away in that taxi. It felt like my heart was being pulled from my chest while it was still beating.” He sat up wrapping his arms around her “I want you forever where I can hold you in my arms.” He gave her a little smirk “even if that means I have to date your dad to accomplish that.”

“No you absolutely will not” she raised her lips to his “from this moment on there’s only me and you in this relationship.”

“I like the sound of that” he leaned in closer their lips brushing softly against the others “can I kiss you now?”

“Do you have to ask” she closed the gap moaning into him. As their passions rose she groaned pulling apart “I wish we weren’t here in your brother’s home.”

“I’m sure he wouldn’t mind” Tom smiled resuming the kiss.

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“But I would.” She stopped him, giving the male a stern look. “There’s a child in this house and…”

“And?” Tom asked, raising a brow. “And what?”

“There’s just certain things you don’t do with children moving about. I learned that from my dad. I won’t take any chances.” She shut her eyes tightly. “He’s such a sleaze sometimes.”

I’m sorry,” Tom mumbled. “He did it…like, while you were there?”

“Yeah, he brought random girls home all the time. He’s Gino freaking Ferrari. You don’t think he got around? I guess he thought I was sleeping all those times, but you hear things. So gross.” She chuckled thinking about it. “Rory might also murder me if that was us and his kid.”

Tom laughed. “Maybe, but maybe he’d also understand. He was in our position at one point to.”

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“Speaking of…” She kicked up off the bed. “I have to apologize to them I’ve been rude and they’ve opened their home to me. I want to buy them a nice bottle of wine or something.”

“Aren’t you supposed to do that before you enter the home?” Tom asked, standing with her.

“I suppose, yeah. But I don’t play by the rules, or so I’ve been told.” She pulled her phone out. “I know a guy who could deliver us some red wine in an instant. Seriously. High quality stuff too.”

“High quality? We could use some of that too. Oh hey!” His eyes lit up. “Can you cook with Eddie tonight?”

“Huh?” She asked. “He wouldn’t mind that?”

“He would low key love it. But I say low key because well…on one hand he’s very interested in cooking but…” Tom looked for the right words. “He’d love to learn with you, but you gotta let him cook his own meal.”

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She nodded. “Yes, I do remember that. That’s why I thought it was weird. So, I should oversee his cooking?”

“Tips and tricks.” He kissed her cheek. “A cooking lesson from the best. Plus, I think Eddie will realize what I see in you when he sees you cook. I want him to see you in action up close. It’s life changing.”

“If he’ll allow me too, I’ll be happy to give him tips. But..how do I get Rory on my good side!? The guy hates me!”

“He doesn’t hate you. He dislikes your attitude,” Tom clarified. “You’re an acquired taste.”

“Yes, I know.”

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Taking her hand Tom pulled her towards the door. “Wait” she cried “I need to order the wine.”

“Oh right” he grinned “make the call.” He tapped his foot impatiently on the floor earning himself a frown from Faye.

“Be nice” she mouthed over the phone.

“I’m always nice” he moved in close to wrap his arms around her. “You’re the one who needs to be reminded to be nice.”

“I…well sometimes” she agreed grudgingly as she finished making the order. “It’s a lot harder to let people in then it is to keep everyone at arms length. I promise I’m going to do my best.”

“I know you are” he kissed her cheek as his hand slid down to take hers. “Come on let’s go.”

Chapter 6 – Brotherly Love / Chapter 8 – Apology

Metamorphosis – Chapter 6 – Brotherly Love

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Standing Tom walked towards the room reserved for him and Faye. “I want to be alone” he mumbled as he walked away.

Eddie stood up to follow him. He stopped when he felt a hand on his elbow. Looking around he he found Rory standing close behind him.

“Let him go” Rory advised “it’s been a long day and he needs to process things.”

“But he needs….” Eddie sighed “you’re right. He needs time. I just wish I knew what I could do to help him.”

“Let him rest for now and tomorrow if she doesn’t come back….” he shrugged. He didn’t know what they could do short of calling every high priced hotel in the area if she was booked into one of their rooms.  “We’ll think of something” he said smiling when Eddie looked up at him with such childlike confidence

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Eddie turned and kissed him gently on the lips. “That’s why I love you. You always know what to do. I know you don’t like Faye but you’re willing to find her because you know that would make me happy.”

“Well you know me” Rory said put his arms around his husband’s waist “I’ll do anything for your sweet kisses.”

Leaning forward Eddie kissed his husband again this time it lasted a little longer building in passion until Eddie forced himself to stop. Stepping back he said “we have company.”

“So” Rory asked eyes dancing mischievously “it’s our house.”

“You’re incorrigible”  Eddie shook his head laughing a softly.

“I know but that’s why you love me” he was about to make a move when a soft knock interrupted him. “I wonder who that could be?”

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Faye steeled herself for the look of disappointment and judgement she would be met with when whoever it was, would answer the door. “You can do this,” Faye chanted under her breath. “You just walked all the way here in heels. You were publicly embarrassed on TV by your dad. Nothing can stop you. You can survive anything…”

She was so deep in her monologue that she didn’t realize the door even opened. There was a small chuckle and a smiling face that greeted her, not one of annoyance. Good, it was Eddie and not his more abrasive husband. “Quite the pep talk,” Eddie commented softly. “So you want to come in?”

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“I…am I allowed?”She bit her lip.

Eddie nodded. “Of course you are,” He replied. “Why wouldn’t you be? You’re Tom’s girlfriend.”

“Girlfriend…” Faye liked the way the word tasted on her tongue but it was such a foreign concept to her. How was this even supposed to work? She’d just walked out on his brother and Eddie was still welcoming her with open arms.

“You really hurt him,” Eddie told her. “My feelings aside, he loves you. So you make it right, or I won’t be so welcoming next time.”

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Faye was taken aback by his sudden change in words but she appreciated the sentiment. The man could only be so nice to a girl he thought was going to hurt his brother. “Where is he?”

“Upstairs,” Rory said harshly, catching sight of her. “Don’t take Eddie’s baby face lightly. If you hurt his brother even more he won’t be happy.”

“I won’t..ever again!” She cried quickly. “I uh…I’m sorry. I was just…”

“Tell him,” Rory urged. “Not us. He’s the one who has to hear it.”

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Nodding she glanced towards the stairs. Squared her shoulders as if she were about to go into battle. She took several steps, stopped, glanced over her shoulder. Eddie was holding his husband’s hand while he watched her progress. The expression in his eyes encouraged to keep going. It seemed he had more faith in her than she had in herself. Breathing deeply she climbed the stairs. Outside the bedroom door she stopped again. Her heart beat rapidly in her chest as she tried to compose her thoughts. “You can do this” she repeated to herself as she knocked softly on the door.

After a few seconds that felt like hours she knocked again. She backed away from the door. Unsure what she should do. Should she knock again? Should just go in? She hated this feeling of uncertainty. She was Faye Ferrari. She was never at a loss for what to do. Yet at this moment in time she had no clue what she should do.

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She turned and let her backrest against the closed door. Her fingers bunched into fists. She pounded them against the solid wooden door behind her. “I’m not going away” she whispered “I’ll wait here until you come out.”

She fell backwards as the door opened behind her. “Faye” Tom cried as she fell at his feet. “Are you alright?” He moved to help her up. He stepped back as she slapped helping hands away from her.

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“I’m fine” she scowled up at him.

Shoving his hands in his pockets he shuffled backwards. “Did you forget something?” he asked watching her get up.

“Tom I…” she could see the effect of her harsh tone had on him. She was making everything worse. “Yes I forgot something” she gazed up at him “I forgot the best thing that ever came into my life.”

Tom stared at her unsure what she was talking about. “If you tell me what it is. I’ll send it to whatever hotel you’re staying at” he offered.

Chapter 5 – Awakening / Chapter 7 – Confession

Metamorphosis – Chapter 5 – Awakening

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The drive was short, but painful. Why did she even leave? The domestic life wasn’t for her. It probably never would be. When Eddie’s daughter grabbed her hand….she could feel the tears welling in her eyes. But thankfully, she was already taking her suitcase out of the car. “I paid on the app,” She mumbled, not wanting to look at the driver.

She wiped the tears with the back of her hand. Growing up, she had always asked her father to  play dolls with her. It never failed, when he would bring her home the newest and most fashionable doll, she would bound up to him and ask him to play with her. But he was always doing interviews, cooking shows or seminars. So, to get into his world, she cooked.

With Hannah, it was different. The girl was excitable and her fathers took such great care of her. Those cries as the taxi pulled away were probably worse for her than seeing Tom’s face. Because, at one point, she was that little girl. But her dad wasn’t an Eddie, or a Rory.

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“Faye?” The voice she hadn’t heard in years, broke her from her thoughts. She turned around and tried to smile at Carson, despite her tear stained cheeks.

Hi…uh…”

“Oh, babe. Come on in. What happened?” He held his hand out to grab the luggage.

“Don’t call me babe,” She said sharply. “I’m not here for you to pick up my pieces, throw your arm around me and make everything better. And I will not come in.” She was kicking herself for not telling the driver to stay, but he was a leech anyhow. “I just need to ask you one question and when you texted me after the show was over, I knew I had to know. Just answer me a single question and I’ll be out of your life forever.

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Eddie wrapped his arms around his little brother. It felt awkward. It was usually Tom comforting him even when they were kids. “She’ll be back” even as he said the words he wondered. Would she back? Was he doing Tom any favors by telling him that. Everything he had seen of Faye said once she made up her mind she didn’t back down. Was this the end of a relationship that had been through so many trials already? He hoped not. He could tell that Tom loved her. He didn’t see the appeal himself but he wasn’t his brother. There must be something in Faye that had Tom so enraptured.

“I’m sorry” Tom mumbled into his shoulder “I should have known it was too soon for her. That she wasn’t ready for what we call normal. She’s never known what a family is supposed to be like. All she’s ever known was her Dad.” A bitter laugh escaped him “we all know the Ferrari image is more important than anything else to him. Maybe I’m asking too much of her to give up that ideal that image.” He seemed to be talking to himself more than anything else.

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Eddie let him talk. It would be good for him to put words to his thoughts and feelings if nothing else. He slowly guided Tom up to the house where it blissfully quiet. The image of Rory playing dolls with Hannah brought a brief smile to Eddie’s lips. It was hard to imagine his husband playing dolls with anyone but he seldom was able to tell Hannah no to anything she wanted.

Tom looked around as if dazed. “You must think I’m a real idiot for falling for someone like Faye don’t you?” he asked his brother.

“I think there’s something you see in Faye that no one else does” Eddie replied after a moment of thought.

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“Maybe I just imagined it was there” Tom said slumping onto the couch. “I don’t know anymore. Maybe….” he let his words fade as he dropped his head into his hands “I just don’t know.”

“Maybe you should call her” Eddie suggested. All he he got from Tom was a disheartened shrug. He looked up when Rory slipped from Hannah’s room.

“She’s asleep” he said softly. Looking at Tom he asked “how is he?”
Shaking his head “not good.”

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Carson looked at her dumbfounded. “I…don’t understand.”

“You never understand, that’s the problem,” Faye replied with a sigh. “You must have seen that episode of Sim Star Chef when Tom and I talked about you.”

“Ah yes, the infamous pizza making episode. I get texts every here and there because of that,” Carson commented.

“Good for you, you freaking idiot!” Faye exclaimed. “I don’t care about that. I just want to know why it is that you didn’t fight for me. What is so bad about me, that you didn’t bother fighting my dad? Why….?” She felt her resolve dropping. It seemed so much easier in her head. If Carson told her what was wrong with her, then maybe she could go away for some time and change. Come back, Tom would be with someone else, but it wouldn’t matter. She would be a better person and he’d be happy.

Carson frowned. “It’s not you, Faye. It isn’t ever about you. What people don’t realize is that a relationship with you is a relationship with your dad and you know how he is. Come on, wipe those tears.”

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“But…what is it about me, that makes you not want to try to fight my dad? I’m not worth it?” She could feel the tears biting at her eyes again. This time, when she left, it wasn’t because of her dad. In fact, she wasn’t used to doing the leaving. Someone was always leaving her. This time she left because she was afraid of disappointing Tom. It was suddenly dawning on her.

“I…I was young and stupid. I thought your dad was super powerful and would ruin my life. I just…I made the biggest mistake of my life. But, that guy…Tom was it? The blonde one. If half of what I saw on that show was real, he’s a keeper. He fought for you like I was too afraid to do.”

“I made the biggest mistake of my life too,” Faye replied. “I’m an idiot. I just…I didn’t think about him!” She whirled around to leave. “I’ve got to go, Carson.”

“Faye, wait!” He called after her. “Can I give you a ride?”

She shook her head. “Nah, telling me that losing me was the biggest mistake of your life doesn’t put you in the clear. But you said one thing right. Tom is good for me. I just have to make sure that my fears don’t stop me. I can walk. New me,” She replied with a shrug. “Don’t call me. I don’t like this whole resurfacing after my fame has escalated.” She waved him off, grabbing her suitcase.

Chapter 4 – Heartbreak / Chapter 6 – Brotherly Love

Metamorphosis – Chapter 4 – Heartbreak

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As soon as the car came to a stop Hannah unbuckled herself from her car seat eager to get out and meet their visitors. “Sweetie be patient and let Daddy help you,” Eddie admonished her.

“Want out” she cried finding her parents too slow for her tastes.

Laughing Rory shrugged “she’s your daughter.”

Eddie gave him a look but kept his mouth shut. He hopped out of the car and hurried to open the back door. As soon as he did Hannah had gotten herself out of her seat and climbed from the car.  “Wait for Daddy” Eddie called after her but he may as well have been speaking to himself. Hannah was making a beeline towards their guests on the porch.

“Hi” she called waving her hands at the people on the porch.

“Hi Hannah” Tom knelt down to be on level with his niece “you remember me?”

Nodding she touched his nose with an index finger “Tom” she announced proudly.

“That’s right I’m Uncle Tom” he smiled glad for the temporary respite in his and Faye’s conversation.

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Hannah turned towards Faye pointing “pretty”.

Nodding Tom grinned “yes she is. This is Faye,” he told the toddler.

“Faye” Hannah patted the girl’s knee “pretty. Come play.” She reached up grabbing Faye’s hand intent on dragging her inside the house to play dolls with her.

Faye glanced at the little girl tugging on her hand than up to Tom. She gave him a half desperate look as if pleading with him for help. What was she supposed to do now? While she was trying to decide what to do a yellow taxi cab drove up. “Um that’s my ride” she stood up “I need to go.”  Breaking the hand hold Hannah had on her she hurried down the steps followed by the cries of an upset toddler.

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Eddie looked on, horrified at Faye’s departure. “Wait!” He called out weakly.

She looked up at him, a frown marring her features. She almost wanted to apologize, but couldn’t bring herself to do it.

“Where to, ma’am?” The driver asked as she closed the door of the back seat. She was too frazzled to even open the trunk, having thrown her luggage onto the seat beside her. He looked at her luggage. “A hotel? Or an airport perhaps?”

She shook her head. “No. I know someone nearby. Can you take me to 467 Lights Blvd?” She tapped her hand on her knee nervously. She watched Tom approach the car. She tapped on the class. “Quickly please. I don’t want to see his face.”

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“Breakup?” The driver asked, turning the steering wheel.

“You’d do well to mind your own business,” She nearly snapped. “I’ll leave a terrible review on your website and I’ll…” She dropped her voice.

“Ok, I get it lady,” The man said. “I’ll take you to your destination. Just calm down.”

She couldn’t calm down. Calm was for the cameras. Now, she was off screen and the person who was supposed to calm her down was getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. But that was her own fault. She picked up her phone and shot a text to her dad. “I’ll think about it.” And then to the person she was going to see. It had been awhile and it was better she not show up unannounced.

Tom ran out into the street intent on catching the taxi before it took off. He was too late. It was already speeding down the road by the time he got there. He bent over breathing hard. He couldn’t believe this was happening. How could she leave like that? He loved her but the ache in his heart felt like he was being stabbed a hundred time in succession.

Eddie watched in horror as all this played out in front of him. He could hear his little girl screaming behind him yet his eyes were riveted on towards his little brother. Torn he didn’t know who to go to first.

Rory gently touched his shoulder “go to him. I’ll take care of Hannah.”

Eddie looked up at him “are you sure?” Eddie had always been better at soothing Hannah when she became upset. Rory had less patience for her whining.

“I’m sure” he insisted “your brother needs you. Hannah and I will be just fine.”

“You may need to play dolls with her” Eddie said with a hint of a smile. Dolls had become Hannah’s favorite toys recently thanks to the new dollhouse her Grandfather had given her for 2nd birthday.

“I’m aware of that” Rory said over his shoulder.

Eddie took a deep breath before moving towards his brother who was still standing in the middle of the road looking lost and forlorn. “Tom” he said his voice low not wanting to alarm him.

“What?” he growled his hands curled into fists as he stared helplessly down the empty street.

“Why don’t you come inside?” Eddie said gently put an arm around his  brother’s shoulders. He could feel Tom’s shoulders begin to shake beneath his hand.

“She left me” he whispered “I thought she loved me.” He turned and fell into Eddie’s arms “I can’t believe she left.”

Chapter 3 – Disagreement / Chapter 5 – Awakening

Metamorphosis – Chapter 3 – Disagreement

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All the way to Gayle’s house Eddie had been silent. Faye’s disappointed face haunted him. He should have known his quaint little house wouldn’t be good enough for her. He wasn’t good enough for her. He could see it in her eyes and in her body language she didn’t want to be there. In some relief he slid out of the passenger seat when Rory parked the car.

“Daddy,” a high-pitched excited voice cried as the front door flew open. He bent on down opening his arms wide to catch his daughter as she ran to him. At least someone was glad to see him. Her uncomplicated joy at seeing him was a soothing balm to the ache in his heart.

Gayle approached Rory. “I didn’t expect you quite so soon.” Glancing over at Eddie she asked “things not going well with Faye and Tom?”

Grunting Rory nodded “she’s less than impressed with our house. I half expect her to be gone before we get back.”

“Oh no” she gasped putting a hand on his forearm. “That would devastate Eddie.”

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“I know” he could feel anger boiling up inside him. He had hoped, for Eddie’s sake that the girl would have at least tried to curb her opinions just a little bit. “Maybe Tom didn’t tell her how sensitive Eddie is about things….”

“I doubt that” Gayle shook her head “from what I’ve seen of this Faye character she’s a hard one to please.”

“You’re telling me” Rory grunted crossing his arms. “Thanks for watching Hannah for us. Eddie and I really appreciate it.”

“Any time” Gayle assured him “now hurry home before they leave. You have to make sure she doesn’t leave otherwise things will always be strained for you guys whenever they come to visit in the future.”

“We were planning on going to the park” Rory said walking towards the car “let Hannah run off some energy first.”

“We’ve already been to the park” she said “just go home.”

He gave her a doubtful look but said no more. “Eddie you ready?” he asked instead.

Glancing over the top of Hannah’s head Eddie nodded. Some of the worry and anxiety had left his eyes as he smiled up at his husband. “Just give a moment to put Hannah in her car seat and we’ll be ready to go.”

His light-hearted tone was reassuring to Rory. Maybe things weren’t as bad as he thought. They got into the car “what do you say we go home and give it another shot with Faye” he suggested.

“Um” Eddie looked out his window before answering. “Ok” he said softly his voice didn’t sound positive but he was at least open to the idea.

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“What am I going to do with her?” Tom muttered to himself. He ran his fingers through his blonde hair, before resolving to leave the house. He would go after Faye. Running wasn’t the answer to everything. In fact, it was hardly the answer to anything.

He didn’t know where he expected to find her, but when he had opened the door to leave, he found Faye on her phone sitting on the porch. “Faye…”

She looked up at him, quickly closing her phone and holding it tightly in her hand. “I’m waiting on a taxi.”

“Cancel it,” Tom replied calmly. “My brother and his husband would love to have you stay. I know things aren’t going as you planned, but that doesn’t mean you have to shut down. How are you so composed on television but break down in real life?” He regretted saying it as soon as he saw the look of distaste on her face. “Faye, I didn’t mean anything by that. I’m just trying to get you to see-”

“My dad,” She started calmly, standing up.

Tom shook his head. He didn’t want to hear her finish that statement. “Your dad what? He ruined your life Faye. He tried to ruin the lives of so many other people on his shows. What could he possibly add to this conversation? I thought you were done with him.”

“He’s my dad,” She said, as if it was obvious. “And he invited me to cook with him on Chef Star Battles. Father and daughter pairs face off this episode and the pay is pretty substantial. I should be there. That’s my world.”

Tom couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “After all that you want to just crawl back into the Ferrari trap? Faye, I love you and I can’t bear to see you sucked back into the fame game.”

“It’s really not up to you,” Faye replied. “I love cooking. It makes me happy. People like my food, and there’s something about seeing the smile on someone’s face after they’ve tasted my dish that is satisfying to me. Is the options you’re presenting me to never cook on television again? Let me fade into the background and become some sort of housewife?”

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Faye pulled her arm back forcefully. She wanted to yell at him, but was broken from her thoughts by a car driving up to the house. Eddie and Rory were back.

“Housewife? Faye, what are you even talking about?” Tom demanded. “This has to do with Eddie picking up his daughter, doesn’t it?”

“I…yes!” She cried, glaring at him. “I am not here to cater to some child. I see what you’re doing, you want me to see what it’s like to live the domestic life.”

“I want you to see how it’s like to have a family who cares about you!” Tom shouted at her, grabbing her hand. “I want you to see that you don’t have to go crawling back to your dad all the time!”

Chapter 2 – Disappointment / Chapter 4 – Heartbreak