Eddie drove up to the house and parked. He sat in the car staring out the window unsure what he should do. He had wanted to come. It had been his idea to come home. Now that he was here all he wanted to do was be anywhere but here. His hand hovered above the gear shifter. All he had to do was put it into gear and he’d be out of there. He didn’t have to get out. He could leave. He still had a choice. Sighing he moved his hand and turned off the ignition and the almost silent engine stopped. He had come for a reason. Running away from possibly getting the answers he needed wasn’t going to do him or anyone else any good.
The front door opened and his mother’s head emerged. “Eddie” she called stepping onto the porch. “What are doing just sitting in your car?”
Sighing he got out of the car and plastered a smile on his face. “Mom it’s good to see you.” He tried to cover up is disappointment. He had expected his Dad to greet him.
As if reading his mind she said “your Dad will be here later. He had to run to the university to take care of a few things for your sister.” She pulled him into a hug “which means we have a couple of hours to talk.” She took a few steps towards the house “I need to get back inside. The twins get into everything if I don’t watch them.” Her smile couldn’t conceal the irritation she felt “we need to talk about that.”
He nodded in response. He knew she expected more of a reaction from him at the mention of the twins. They were after all his kids but he hardly felt anything for them except a passing sense of curiosity. Which in light of how they came to be that was progress in his opinion. He retrieved his bag from the trunk he glanced up at the house wishing his Dad was there. He’d understand. His step mom not so much. She had disagreed with the idea of Eddie giving up his kids. She had been adamant that he was shirking his responsibility. Slamming the trunk shut Eddie doubted she ever believed him. He dreaded the next couple of hours in the company of the woman he had thought of as his mother but now felt so distant from.
Upon entering the house two cute little kids stared up at him in anticipation of his arrival. The little girl spread her arms, running to him, wrapping her small arms around his leg. Her brother smiled up at him saying happily “Daddy”.
Shock coursed through him as he looked down at them wanting nothing more than to run. Runaway and never look back. His step mom’s laughter coming from the kitchen caught his attention. “They’ve been waiting for you to come.”
Confusion crossed his features as he looked back down at their happy little faces. He didn’t want to hurt them by retreating into his room but he wasn’t ready for this, for them. “When will Dad be home?” he asked hoping to be saved as he slowly sank in a sea of turmoil.
“He should be back in a couple of hours,” Lynn told him as she went back into the kitchen.
He didn’t know what he expected but he hadn’t imagined being abandoned to cope with the twins on his own. It was obvious though that his step-mom wasn’t giving him a choice. The kids looked up at him as he gazed down at them. He had no clue what to do. What if he did something and it was the wrong something?
The dark-haired boy was the first to speak. Pointing towards the bookshelf “read us a story,please?”
“Yes please,” the girl chimed in agreement.
Eddie glanced towards the kitchen hoping his step-mom would take pity on him and rescue him. But the sounds of cupboards opening and closing and pots and pans clanging it sounded like she was in the middle of spring cleaning. Sighing he told himself that he could do this. He had nothing to fear from two little three-year olds. “Alright” he told them “pick out a book while I put my things in my room.”
The boy went almost immediately while the girl looked up at him doubt in her eyes. “Go on sweetie I’ll be right back.” A moment later she followed her brother to the book shelf much to his relief. He went to his room, tossed his bag on his bed. He wanted nothing more than to curl in on himself and block everything out but something inside him wouldn’t let him. He didn’t want to disappoint those little kids. With one last longing wistful glance at his pillow he turned and joined the twins on the couch. To read the book they picked out for him.
After putting the twins down for their naps Lynn turned to Eddie. “Are you ready to take over?”
Panic sent his heart leaping into this throat cutting off his oxygen. Vaguely he was aware of being guided to a chair. He sat heavily resting his pounding head in his hand while the world revolved around him. “You’re missing so much of their lives. You’ll never get this time back. Once it’s gone it’s gone forever.”
“Lynn I asked you not to bring this up to Eddie,” Casey’s low almost angry voice startled both of them.
“You coddle him too much,” Lynn mumbled standing up facing her husband.
Casey’s eyes narrowed “he’s my son.”
“And Christine is your daughter.”
“Her situation is hell of a lot different than Eddie’s,” Casey said his voice rising.
“All I see is you bending over backwards to cater to Eddie while your other children suffer.”
“Christine isn’t pregnant is she?” Eddie asked turning to his dad “she wasn’t…”
“No she’s not and she wasn’t.” Casey said turning to his son “she made some bad choices that’s all.”
Standing up Eddie said “I don’t want to cause you any trouble….” he turned and stumbled from the room.
Casey shot an angry look at his wife of almost twenty years “you had no right..”
“No right” Lynn shouted “you cater to him but you let our daughter sink.”
“I told you we’d help her out of the mess she made. But it’ll do her no good if we shield her from the consequences of her choices. I do expect her to pay for her mistakes.”
“Her mistakes but yet we’re raising Eddie’s kids for him….”
Casey could feel his anger slipping from his control “I’m going to pretend you didn’t just say that. Christine’s problem is a result of her poor choices not the result of being taken advantage of. There’s a big difference between stealing and getting caught and what happened to Eddie.” He glared at her “if you don’t like how I’m handling things you can leave.” He turned pointing “there’s the door.” He walked stiffly from the room unaffected by the tears streaming down his face or hers.
The angry frustrated screams emanating from the twins room roused Eddie enough to leave his room to investigate. His parents were no where in sight when he came out. The house was silent other than the screams from the twins. Going into their room he could smell the problem as soon as he entered “whoa that’s some potent stuff they’ve been feeding you.”
Despite his queasiness Eddie managed to change their diapers without gagging too much. unsure what else to do he sat on the floor where the girl crawled into his lap and the boy moved off to play in the toy box. Holding the little girl Eddie murmured “I’m sorry sweetie you have such worthless parents,” he kissed the top of her blond head.
“You’re not worthless,” Casey said as he came into the room overhearing Eddie’s comment. He sat on the floor next to his son “I’m sorry for what happened earlier.”
“I don’t want to cause you any trouble,” Eddie said glancing up at his Dad “if it helps I’ll take the twins…”
“Eddie I appreciate the offer but the twins aren’t the problem. You and I both know you’re not ready and it would be upsetting to them to be uprooted again.”
Sighing Eddie frowned “I know. I’m scared to death at the idea of ever taking them home with me. My house is so small. I’m going to culinary school, working long hours at the book store, not to mention paying back the loan you gave me….”
“You do know I’m proud of you, don’t you?” Casey said cutting him off “so is your Mom if she’d stop and think for a moment. She’s not herself right now. Your sister was caught stealing so she’s been upset about that.”
The little girl in Eddie’s arms snuggled deeper in his arms content to be held “I could get used to this” Eddie murmured looking down at her. “I never thought I’d be able to look at them without feeling sick. I know it’s not their fault anymore than it was mine. At least I know it most days.”
“Are you still going to the psychiatrist?”
Looking away Eddie hesitated before responding “I did for a while but it wasn’t working out….I just didn’t feel comfortable talking to him.”
“Eddie,” Casey began his irritation apparent in his voice. Sighing he continued “its your choice. You’re an adult capable of making your own decisions.”
“Thanks,” Eddie mumbled thankful that his Dad hadn’t given him a lecture.
“I hope you have someone to talk to….” Casey probed “I hate to think of you all alone with no one…”
A smile appeared briefly upon Eddie’s face “I do Dad; although I may have messed it up.”
“Want to talk about it?” Casey offered.
“Do you remember me telling you about Graham and how I messed up?” After Casey nodded he continued “well I may have done it again.” He covered his face with his hands. He could feel his little girl pulling at his fingers “I didn’t mean to. It just sort of happened. I thought we were all friends until things started happening faster than I could keep up. Maybe I just didn’t want to see it I don’t know….” He looked over at his Dad “I don’t even know how it got so complicated.” He went n to explain to his Dad everything that had happened since he moved.
Once Casey had listened to Eddie’s story he asked “is there one you like more than the other?”
“That’s just it Dad I like both of them but when I was faced with being alone with Ramsey in his home I suddenly didn’t feel safe. I know he wouldn’t hurt me but I panicked and I knew I couldn’t go with him.”
“But you felt safe with Rory?” Casey probed watching his son nod in response. “Son I think you already have your answer.” He spoke quietly “I can’t tell you who you should go for. Only you know what you feel for both of these young men. Ask yourself who you can see yourself turning to for help?”
“Rory,” the name escaped his lips without hesitation. It was impulsive the same as it had been the night his trailer had been broken into. The same safe comfortable feeling he had when Rory had slept on his couch allowing him to get the first decent night’s rest since he had moved. He couldn’t help but wonder if he’d have felt the same way about Ramsey if the red-head hadn’t quit talking to him the day Eddie freaked out in the movie theater. Did that mean he had his answer? Could it be that easy?
Casey smiled at him “see I told you. You already know who your heart wants. You just have to let him in.”