Eddie stared at the little girl and boy playing on the floor nearby. His arm was red and sore where he had snapped the rubber band about a thousand times. “Dad I don’t think I can do this.”
Casey reached across stilling his son’s hand as he went to snap the rubber band. “It’ll be ok. Your mother and I will adopt them”
“But…but…” Eddie shook his head as tears began to trickle down his cheeks “they’re my responsibility.”
“Your responsibility is to take care of yourself,” Casey told him “you didn’t ask for this. I’m sorry if I came down on you too hard when I first met them. I didn’t know what she had done to you…”
“How could you?” Eddie swallowed wiping at his eyes “I was too busy running, searching for something….”
“That’s why you can’t take on being a single parent on top of everything else you’re dealing with.” Casey sighed “I understand the struggle your going through. After your mother left me I struggled to raise you on my own. I wasn’t ready…”
“You learned though didn’t you? Then you met mom,” Eddie said staring across at the kids playing quietly together. His fingers itched to snap the rubber band underneath his father’s hand.
“I did,” Casey agreed “but I didn’t have the extra burden of having been taken advantage of. Your birth mom and I had been in love once. Well at least I thought I was. You need time to deal with this properly. You need to heal.”
“What about them?” Eddie asked nodding towards the twins who were sitting staring back at them. “Won’t they wonder who they are? Why there parents didn’t want them?” He shook his head “it’s bad enough I’m plagued with questions about why my mom didn’t want me. I don’t want to curse them with the same feelings.”
“Are you planning on dropping out of their lives forever?” Casey asked squeezing his son’s wrist feeling the rubber band bite into his skin.
“No,” Eddie mumbled in response “not now, not when I know they exist.” He looked up at his dad “I want to be a part of their lives. I just can’t…”
“I know son,” Casey pulled him close “we’ll tell them the truth a little now then build on it as they get older as they can understand more. Maybe one day you’ll be able to look at them without feeling sick…”
Head jerking up Eddie looked at him startled “how did you know?”
“I didn’t not for sure anyway” Casey confessed patting his son’s hand “I can only imagine the inner turmoil your in. Plus I know how many times you snapped that rubber band around your wrist since you came in here. It’s alright son. I understand. It’ll get better.”
“I hope so,” Eddie stood looking at the kids he took a hesitant step towards them. Stopped breathing hard telling himself he could do this. They were innocent victims in this mess. He squatted down beside them “hi” he mumbled unsure what else to say. The boy looked up quizzically while his sister smiled and climbed into his lap.
Eddie stared at all the boxes filled with things, his things. After three months of being at home he was moving again. This time he would come home for visits with his parents, his kids. No matter how many times he said ‘his kids’ it still felt strange. He shook his head in disbelief his fingers playing idly with the rubber band around his wrist. The anxiety, the fear, the uncertainty was still there even though the terror he had felt at first was releasing it’s grip around his heart. As much as he hated to admit it the kids were worming their way inside. He tried to avoid letting his feelings for their mother affect how he treated them. Some days were better than others but he doubted it would ever be easy.
Sighing Eddie ran a hand through his hair feeling the frustration inside him building as the rubber band snapped loud inside the room. He hated starting over, making new friends, it seemed every time he started to feel comfortable….looking up as his door opened and his father walked in.
“Yeah” Eddie nodded staring at the floor.
“Son this is a good thing,” Casey told him “your therapist feels your ready…”
“I don’t feel ready,” Eddie said beginning to pace snapping the rubber band “what if I don’t make any friends? What if I can’t find a job? What if…”
“Life is full of what if’s and unknowns. There’s no way you can control everything that happens.” Casey got up and put his arms around his son “your mother and I are only a phone call away. You need help all you have to do is call and I’ll be there in a couple of hours.”
“You’ve done enough,” Eddie muttered thinking of the sizable loan his dad advanced him from his trust fund. The new car his dad insisted on buying him when he saw the junk heap he had been driving when they went to collect it from the mechanic. Not to mention the adoption the twins. “Dad what happened to…to the twins mother?” Eddie asked unable to say her name.
“She skipped the country when she found out about the warrant for her arrest. They believe she’s in Columbia where here parents have a plantation.”
“Arrest?” Eddie asked confused sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“Yeah arrest. The lawyer I contacted informed that there is not statue of limitations on rape in this state. The lawyer felt we had enough evidence we needed to pursue a case against her,” Casey explained sitting beside Eddie,” I really didn’t want to take her to trial but neither did I want her to feel she had gotten away with what she did. Evidently she felt she didn’t have a leg to stand on so she ran.”
“The twins? How did you get them?” Eddie asked trying to piece everything together.
Casey sighed wishing Eddie hadn’t asked. The circumstances brought back too many bad memories. “She left them Eddie. I came home from meeting with the lawyer and found them here alone.” He looked up putting a comforting hand on his son’s shoulder “I’m sorry. She must have thought she could travel faster without them.”
“Now I’m abandoning them too,” Eddie closed his eyes trembling.
“No you’re wrong. You’re not abandoning them” Casey refuted “you’re making sure they are being taken care of. You’ve made provision for your mother and I to adopt them. They will be well provided for and loved the way they should be. They’ll be fine or don’t you trust us?”
“Dad you know I do,” Eddie cried “I just don’t want them growing up thinking they were at fault for what happened…”
Casey gave him a long thoughtful look “is that why you went looking for your birth mom? Did you think it was your fault that she left?”
Looking away Eddie found it difficult to look his dad in the eye. Afraid to see the hurt in them as he replied “I didn’t used to think that. At least not until after…then I kept thinking and dwelling on it. It’s like everything I had ever known about myself was wrong, broken like I was…am. I couldn’t let it go. I don’t know why I had to find her I just had to. Then when I did I felt so guilty like I had betrayed you somehow, let you down. I just couldn’t face it so I stayed away.”
“You carry around too much guilt,” Casey told him “Guilt for things that weren’t yours to have. It’s time to let it go. Let the past go. The twins are in good capable hands. You’ll come to visit. They’ll get to know you and in time they’ll understand.”
“I don’t want to go,” Eddie interrupted him “I’m not ready…I’m….”
“Scared,” Casey finished for him “I know but you have to do this Eddie. If you don’t you’ll forever live in Amber’s shadow. She’ll control you. You need to do this,” he said firmly.
Four hours later Eddie was relaxing on the couch. It had taken him two hours to drive to his new house and another two hours to unpack and put everything away. He was grateful his mom had convinced him to buy new furniture and have it all delivered. All he had to do was arrange it the way he wanted it. He still had some cosmetics to do to the old house. It needed to be painted, all new flooring. Maybe a couple of soft throw rugs to cuddle on in front of the fireplace.
He was nesting. For the first time since that night fateful night in college he felt safe. Strange since he was alone in a strange town where he didn’t know anyone and he felt safe. He had felt safe the first time he saw the house. His dad hadn’t been impressed with the run down building and all the updates that needed to be done to make it the way Eddie wanted it but it had potential. The house looked like how he felt inside…shattered in need of some tender loving care. Eventually the house would be good as new and with luck maybe he would be too.
Standing up Eddie went outside to pick up the newspaper that had been lying in the yard. Maybe he’d find a job or something he could do until he found something he really wanted to do. He needed money to pay his dad back. The sooner the better too. He didn’t like the look people had been giving him when his dad paid for everything; especially when they recognized who his dad was. He cringed at the thought of all the fodder he had given the gossip columns. Once again Eddie Bennett falls on his face and his rich father had to bail him out.
When the realtor recognized his dad she immediately tried to show them houses on the richer side of town. Places that made Eddie cringe inside. He liked nice things but he also wanted the satisfaction of having worked for them. If he had let him his dad would have bought him a bigger, pricier house that didn’t need so much work but it wouldn’t have been as charming, homey or safe.
Sighing Eddie shoved those thoughts away and went back inside. Opening the paper he noticed the grocery store needed workers. He could do that. Hopefully he’d be hired to stock shelves or something where he didn’t have to deal with people. He circled some more options wondering if he should work two jobs since the hours for most positions were only four hours a day tops. He needed the money and the experience. Not to mention working was better then spending hours alone with only his thoughts for company. Definitely two jobs.
Yawning he decided it was time for bed. He’d go job hunting in the morning. Then he’d go grocery shopping, maybe get some paint. He really hated all these white walls. It reminded him too much of the hospital, too sterile. He needed lots of color.