Written by Mark The Goodpen
By now I'm sure you know the drill, so I won't bore you with another disclaimer to ignore.
Thank you to everyone who has e-mailed their feedback on this story. You're e-mails let me know I should keep the Sierra Inn in business.
Feedback is always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Other Story on Nifty:
Wanting Perfection (Gay Male Adult/Youth)
From the end of Chapter 22:
If it had not been for that loan I would have never been able to start construction on the Sierra Inn. I can't believe I had actually forgotten about that day at the bank until seeing Brian's father's head stone. What I can't believe even more is what a small world it really is. I have never really been that big of a believer in fate but all of a sudden I'm starting to really buy into it. If it hadn't been for the loan Robert approved me for, the Sierra Inn would have never opened and who knows where Brian would have ended up that night when P.J disappeared on him. Brian could still be on the streets, or worse.
I stand there in a virtual state of shock for a moment, before remembering what I had come here to do in the first place. I take a quick look around to ensure there is no one else in the area.
"Mr. and Mrs. Landers," I say slowly as I kneel on the ground in front of their head stones. "I'm Kevin Wasdin, and I'm going to be adopting your son. I don't know if I really believe it's possible but maybe you guys already know about what has been going on the last few years with Brian. He's an incredible boy, and I feel blessed to have him in my life. If you do know, I'm sure you both are very proud of the strength he has shown. I don't know how many people could cope with what he has had to and done it so well. I hope you both know that I really do love your son, and will do everything I can to provide him the best life possible. I will never try to replace either one of you, and I've already told Brian that. I just feel it's my job now to look after him, and make sure he becomes the young man he is capable of being, because the world is going to be a lot better place for having him in it. Please know, that I will give Brian everything he deserves and I hope neither of you are worried about him anymore. I promise you that no one will ever hurt your son again, not as long as I'm around. I guess the last thing I want to tell you is thank you, thank you for sending my angel to me."
I know it may seem weird and even I don't know if I really believe if they could hear me or not but I feel like I owed Brian's parents some type of promise. I want them to know that I will do anything for Brian, and that their son is in good hands with me. Slowly I get off the ground, and with one last thank you to Mr. Landers I head back to my car. I drive around town without really knowing where I'm headed for awhile, still in a sort of shock over what I had remembered. Finally it's time to pick Brian up from school and I wait anxiously in front of my parked car for him to come out of the building. Finally I see him come out, a huge grin on his face.
"Dad!" he almost shouts as he comes up to me. "Guess what?"
"What?" I ask as he slams into me, grabbing me into a tight hug which forces the air out of my lungs for a second.
"I made the team!" he says, excitedly.
"Wow!" I say, happily. With everything that has happened today I forgot Brian was going to find out about the basketball team today. "Congratulations, son!"
I hadn't really thought about that word until it came out of my mouth. It's funny how a three letter word can carry so much weight. After it comes out of my mouth I wait for a reaction from Brian, wondering if he would even notice. He looks up at me for what seems like an eternity, even though in reality it's probably less than a minute, his face has a questioning look painted on it and I worry that I over stepped some invisible line.
"Thanks, Dad," he says as a large grin spreads across his face.
I take a big sigh of relief knowing that Brian accepted my new name for him. It was only after hearing Bill say that as far as he was concerned the adoption was essentially a done deal that I felt comfortable even thinking of Brian as my son. Up until now he had been my foster son, and that was it but after hearing what Bill had to say I finally felt comfortable with dropping the foster part. I smile back at Brian before we get into the car. The drive home is silent except for the radio, and Brian's drumming on his lap in time to the music.
When we get home, Brian goes to do his homework and I go into the bathroom to soak in the tub for awhile. The day has been long and emotionally draining. I still can't figure out what Julie is hoping to accomplish. It just doesn't make any sense to me. I try not to worry about it too much, as I attempt to make myself believe that there is nothing Julie could do now anyway. After all I do have Bill on my side, and that is a major plus. All Julie has done is proven herself to be anything but sane and I don't know what judge in their right mind would even give her the time of day. I can't put my finger on Doris, I haven't done anything to turn her against me but I'm starting to wonder if she even cares where Brian ends up. I'm hoping that with Bill's support, Mr. Quincy's know how and the support system that I or maybe I should say Brian has apparently won over in my parents I have enough to legally make Brian my son.
The realization that Brian's father was the one who gave me the money that enabled me to build my motel almost blows my mind. I guess it is true what they say about it being a small world. I never had any reason before to believe in fate. Nothing ever happened to me to make me think about it. But now, with everything that has fallen into place I don't know what else to give credit to other than fate. That one move, giving me that loan, probably one that Robert Landers had forgotten about a day later may have very well ended up in the end saving his son's life. If it wasn't for that loan I wouldn't have been able to get the motel project off the ground. The lot where the Sierra Inn sits now would probably have been turned into another warehouse or just remained sitting vacant as it had been when I bought it. If the Sierra Inn wasn't there that night over a month ago now, Brian would have been left to wander a pretty much deserted area in the middle of the night, all by himself. Who knows how long he could have survived on his own on the streets. I shudder to think what could have happened to my angel if his father had not given me that loan.
I duck my head under the warm water of the tub, trying to forget all that happened today. The only real highlight of the day was seeing Brian's smile as he came towards me after school, a smile that seemingly lights up my world. As I re-surface after almost a good half a minute spent underneath the surface of the water I hear the doorknob turning, then footsteps coming over to the tub. Suddenly the shower curtain is pulled back to reveal a smirking Brian standing next to the tub.
"Surprise!" he says, through a giggle.
"It definitely is," I say, with a smile of my own. "I wasn't expecting any company. Did you finish your homework already?"
"Yeah," Brian says with a nod. "I didn't have that much."
"Well I'll be out soon," I say. "Did you need something?"
"Well," Brian says, kind of shyly. "Can I get in there with you?"
"I should have known, that's what you wanted," I say, with a little chuckle. "Did you really think I'd say no?"
Brian smiles at me before starting to take his clothes off. With out saying a word Brian carefully steps into the tub before sitting down in between my spread legs and resting his back against my stomach and part of my chest.
"So you had a good day today?" I ask him, as I wrap my arms around him and give him a loving squeeze.
"Yeah," Brian says, with a nod.
"Good," I say, before giving him a gentle kiss on the top of the head.
"Dad," Brian says, alerting me to the fact that a question is about to come my way.
"Yeah," I say.
"Why are you taking a bath in the afternoon?" he asks.
"It's just a way for me to relax," I say. "I had kind of a long day."
"Oh," Brian says, plainly.
"Why are you taking a bath in the afternoon?" I ask him back.
"Because you were," he says as he rests his head against the top of my chest. "You're comfortable," he adds as he closes his eyes.
"Thanks," I say, with a smile.
Silence falls over us, as I rest my head against the back wall of the tub and just hold Brian in my arms as he rests back against me. Brian and I have made a habit out of taking showers together the past couple of weeks, and more times than not nothing sexual happens during them even though our last sexual adventure started in the tub. Brian has not even brought up the subject of sex since that night, which is getting close to being a week ago now. I start replaying that night over in my head, how Brian had been jacking himself off while giving me a blow job. It had taken me by surprise, but I had not wanted to ask him about it thinking that might embarrass him.
"Dad," Brian says, making me open my eyes.
"Yeah," I say.
"Something's poking me in the back," he says with a giggle.
"Sorry about that," I say, realizing that my memory had caused my cock to get hard in between my pelvis and Brian's back.
"Hold on a second," Brian says, as he lifts himself up slightly, plants himself on my pelvis then starts wiggling around until my cock slips into the crack of his butt. "That's better," he says, as now my cock is pushed back flat my pelvis by his butt.
I lean my head against the back wall of the tub and close my eyes again as Brian settles back against my chest, this time resting his head on my shoulder. My arms are still around Brian, my right hand resting on his stomach, my left hand laying on the very top of his right leg. I feel Brian start to move his arms, which are on the outside of mine, figuring he is just getting comfortable in a new position I don't bother to see what he is doing. A couple of seconds pass then suddenly I feel him slowly start to move himself up and down on my cock. My eyes shoot open and I look down to see Brian's right hand gently stroking his boner as he rubs his backside over my now rock hard cock. I start rubbing Brian's stomach with my right hand, as my left hand starts messaging his leg. I hear him groan a little, as my left thumb brushes against his sack and quickly he increases the speed of both the stroking of his cock and the thrusting of his hips to message my cock in between his butt cheeks. I move my left hand off of his leg and gently cup his balls in my palm and give them a gentle squeeze. Brian lets out another moan and I feel his butt cheeks squeezing my cock as his dry orgasm over takes him. He falls back against me, as I release his balls and gently kiss his neck.
"It feels better in the water," Brian says after a minute or so of basking in his afterglow.
"Yeah it does," I say, with a little smile. "But the water is starting to get cold, and I'm ready for dinner. Are you?"
"Yeah!" Brian says happily.
Even though it's been close to a week since the last time I came and the feel of Brian humping me with his butt was enough to turn me into a crazed animal, I just don't feel the need to get off. It is enough for me that Brian made himself happy and I really do not feel like I need anything more than that.
We get out of the tub, dry ourselves off before getting dressed and heading into the kitchen. Brian sits at the breakfast bar, playing on his computer while I make dinner. While I am stirring the spaghetti sauce, I feel my pants vibrating. Though it takes me a second to realize it I grab my cell phone, which some how had ended up on vibrate, out of my pocket and answer it without looking at the caller ID.
"Hello," I say.
"Kevin, it's Doris," I hear on the other end of the line. "I wanted to apologize for the last two weeks."
"I'm not the one you need to apologize to," I say, quickly.
"I know," Doris says. "Can I talk to Brian?"
"Sure," I say. "One second," I say pulling the cell phone away from my face, and walking over to the breakfast bar where Brian is looking up from his computer at me. "Brian it's your Grandma," I say, holding out the phone to him.
Brian grabs the phone from me, looks at the key pad and pushes the red button to hang up, before putting the phone down on the breakfast bar and running down the hall. I stand in shock for a second as I hear a door slam shut. Just as my feet start to work again and I am heading for the hall I hear the phone vibrating against the countertop of the breakfast bar. Figuring Brian probably wants to be alone right now anyway I pick up the phone.
"What happened?" Doris asks.
"Doris, Brian..." I start to tell her what happened but stop myself. Doris may not be winning any "Grandmother of the year" awards, but she still is Brian's grandmother and I don't want to hurt her by telling her that her only grandson just hung up on her. "Sorry my cell must have dropped the call. Doris Brian had to go to the bathroom. Can I have him call you back another time?"
"Okay," Doris says. "Thank you Kevin."
"No problem," I say, before hanging up the phone and putting it back on the breakfast bar.
When I head down the hall I see the door to Brian's room is shut. I gently knock on the door, but get no response.
"Angel, can I come in?" I ask through the door.
Getting no response, and hearing absolutely nothing from inside the room I get worried and turn the doorknob. I open the door and find Brian sitting on the end of his bed, staring down at the floor. I walk over to him and sit down on the bed next to him. He doesn't say a word, he doesn't even look up at me he is absolutely silent. I had been expecting him to be crying, but there are not any tears, not even a sniffle. I sit next to Brian, looking at him trying to figure out what to say while at the same time he will say something first so I won't have to. Realizing he isn't going to break our silence I decide I need to speak.
"Brian, you know it's okay to be angry," I say. "If you ask me you have every reason to be angry with her."
"I know," Brian says, still looking down at the ground in front of his feet. For the first time since I met him I hear anger come through in his voice.
"Do you want to talk about it?" I ask.
"I don't know," he says softly, as he shakes his head a little.
"Okay, well when you're ready..."
"She doesn't care about me," Brian says. "I could of lived with her, she just didn't want me," he says anger still the main emotion coming through in his voice.
"What makes you say that?" I ask.
"Ms. Harden told me that I couldn't live with Grandma because she was too old," Brian says, looking up at me for the first time. "But she was lying. Grandma's not too old, she just didn't want me. I can tell."
"How can you tell?" I ask.
"Because, she still doesn't want to see me," Brian says. "And if she was really old, she wouldn't be busy like she is," he says, using logic that had even escaped me. "She keeps saying we can't go over there cause she has other stuff to do. If she was too old, she wouldn't have other stuff to do."
"Brian, there's a big difference between helping a friend and taking in a kid," I say, trying to make him feel better even though I can not argue with what he is saying. "It takes a lot more energy to raise a kid, and your Grandma probably just didn't think she'd have that kind of energy."
"But she still doesn't want to see me," Brian says. "She just doesn't care about me."
"Brian, I'm sure that's not," I say, trying to be as convincing as I can be. "I'm sure she has very good reasons for cancelling and she did call to apologize."
"I don't want to talk to her," he says, shaking his head.
"I could tell," I say. "Brian, you talk to her when you're ready. I'm not going to make you, do anything you don't want to do. Okay?"
"K," Brian says, with a little nod.
"But, in the meantime," I say. "Please promise me, that you'll stop thinking that all of this is because your Grandmother doesn't care about you. I'm sure that's not it."
"K," Brian says, softly.
"I guess that's all I can ask for you now," I say, not exactly getting the type of response I had been hoping for. "Well I better get back to the kitchen before we have an explosion of spaghetti all over the place," I say, standing up slowly. "You want to help me?"
"Yeah," Brian says, with a nod before he too stands up and I follow him into the kitchen.
I have been trying to avoid any confrontation with Doris, because I felt like I needed her on my side. I did not want to risk the possibility of turning her against me and trying to stop my adoption of Brian. But it has gotten to the point now, where I feel like I have no choice to talk to her. I can not stand to see Brian upset, and this time he's not only hurt but he is also angry. As I sit next to Brian at the breakfast bar eating I decide to give Doris a call back. So after dinner while Brian is sitting on the couch watching television, I sneak into my bedroom a shut the door.
"Doris it's Kevin," I say.
"Hello, Kevin," Doris says. "Can Brian talk now?"
"Doris I have to be honest with you," I say. "My cell phone didn't drop the call before, Brian hung up."
"Why would he do that?" Doris asks, sounding surprised but not hurt like I had expected.
"He's angry," I say. "And I really can't say that I blame him."
"Kevin, I had my reasons," Doris says. "I thought you understood."
"Yeah, well maybe I don't," I say, anger coming through in my own voice. "Can I meet you somewhere tomorrow? I think this is something we need to discuss in person."
"Well can you come up here to the Denny's on the corner?" Doris asks. "I can meet you there about noon."
"Okay," I say. "I'll see you then," I add before hanging up.
I go back into the kitchen to do the dishes and notice that Brian has fallen asleep on the couch. He was silent during dinner, the phone call from Doris apparently shattering the good mood he had been in since I picked him up from school. I do not begin to pretend that I understand what Doris has been through. I am sure losing her son was very hard on her, but it seems as though she is taking all her emotions out on Brian who needs support also. I can't understand how Doris could have gone almost three years without seeing Brian or even knowing where he was. The person I've met, the one I saw that one Sunday we actually did get over to her house, does not seem capable of that kind of neglect. I feel that there is more to this story, something I have not been told. And I am determined to get to the bottom of it, tomorrow at lunch.
After finishing the dishes I join an once again awake Brian on the couch. The Suns game coming on apparently re-energizes him as he is soon wide awake living and dying with every trip up and down the court. Still though, in between routing for his favorite basketball team, he is silent. I sit watching the game, and not prodding at Brian to talk any, knowing when he is ready he will. The game ends with the Suns losing on a last second shot, something they seem to have a knack for doing.
"He was wide open!" Brian complains after the game ends. "They totally messed up on defense!"
"That's why you always have to stay on your man," I tell him. "See what happens when you don't?"
"Yeah that was stupid!" Brian says, shaking his head. "Did you play basketball?"
"No," I say, shaking my head. "But I watched a lot of it growing up. I picked up a few things here and there."
"Cool," Brian says. Even though his team lost, the haze that had been hanging over him since Doris's phone call seemingly has lifted.
"When is your first practice?" I ask.
"Next Tuesday," Brian says. "It's from four until five thirty at school."
"Okay," I say.
"Coach G, said he needs parent volunteers to help," Brian says. "Maybe even like an assistant coach type of person."
"Oh," I say, not getting the hint.
"You think you could do it?" Brian asks.
"What?" I ask. "Volunteer?"
"Yeah," Brain says. "Or coach," he adds shyly.
"Well, I could volunteer to help him out," I say. "But I don't know about coaching."
"But you knew what the Suns did wrong," Brian says.
"Well that was kind of obvious," I say. "I'll tell you what, I'll come to practice on Thursday and talk to your coach. Does that sound like a plan?"
"Yeah," Brian says happily.
"Good," I say. "But for now, how about we hit the sack?"
"K," Brian says, with a little nod.
We head to bed and Brian falls asleep almost immediately, his head resting on my chest. I on the other hand am not so lucky. After the day I had I thought I would have an easy time falling asleep but my mind is racing too much for sleep come. I try to figure out a way to approach Doris tomorrow. I figure if I don't come across angry and just tell her the facts, she won't have any reason to change her opinion of me. But if I come across like I'm judging her, then I could have a problem. I decide to just give her the facts of what has been going on with Brian and try to figure out why she seems to not want to see him. I know her losing her son must have been very upsetting for her but I thought she had moved past that enough to reconnect with Brian. Even though I have wanted to be able to numerous times myself, I still can't comprehend how anybody could totally ignore family. Which is essentially what Doris has been doing to Brian and thinking about that is what makes me angry.
An hour passes with me just staring at the ceiling, my mind skipping from Doris, to my visit to the cemetery to things I have to get done at work. Brian is sleeping soundly with his head on my chest and my arm around him the entire time. Just as I feel myself starting to drift off to sleep, Brian starts to mutter something I can't understand in his sleep. Suddenly I feel him start to shake than thrash around in my arms in the midst of what appears to be a very bad dream. He hasn't had a bad dream that I know of, since the first week I met him and I still don't know what that one was about. I know they say not to wake up someone who is having a bad dream. But the people who said that obviously were not laying in bed next to someone who was having a bad dream. My first instinct is to try to help Brian and the first way I think to do that is to wake him up, or at least try to.
"It's okay, angel," I say softly. "You're safe now it's okay."
Brian suddenly rockets into a sitting position, frantically looking around for a moment before remembering. He stays in a sitting position in the middle of the bed with his back to me. Slowly I sit up, next to him as I turn on the lamp on the nightstand next to me.
"Bad dream?" I ask him.
"Yeah," he says, as he tries to catch his breath.
"It's okay," I say, grabbing him into a tight hug. "You're safe here angel. Nothing bad is going to happen to you."
"It was just so real," he says as he digs his face into the crook of my neck. I can feel him shake a little in my arms as he starts to cry.
I hold him tighter as he continues to cry, and gently rub his back trying to calm him down. After a few minutes I feel him stop crying and he wiggles free from my arms and looks into my face.
"Sorry," he says, as he wipes his eye with the back of his hand.
"You have nothing to be sorry about," I say quickly. "Do you want to talk about your dream?"
"No," Brian answers quickly.
"Okay," I say nodding, my head as I turn to shut the light off.
"Wait!" Brian says, quickly. "Can we leave the light on?" he asks.
"I guess," I say, with a shrug. "Would that make you feel better?"
"Yeah," Brian says, nodding his head.
"Okay," I say, knowing leaving the light on will ruin any chance I had of getting sleep tonight.
"Thanks," Brian says as he lays back down, this time resting his head on his pillow.
I lay back down on my side facing Brian, who is staring up at the ceiling. I really want to know what his dream was about, so I could help him more, but I don't want to push him into telling me anything he isn't ready to talk about. I have learned already that he will talk when he is ready.
"I love you, angel," I say, as I gently rest my hand on his bare chest.
"I love you too Dad," he says turning his head on his pillow to look at me. "I don't want to go back to sleep," he adds as he looks into my eyes.
"I know," I say. "But you have school tomorrow. Why don't you think of something fun?"
"Like this weekend?" Brian asks.
"Yeah," I say. "That way maybe you can trick your brain, so you can start dreaming about how bad I was at all of those arcade games instead of something scary," I say, knowing that's probably not how the mind works, but it sounds good anyway.
"That would be funny," Brian says with a little smile. "You were bad," he adds with a giggle.
"Thanks," I say, as I tickle his stomach slightly.
"Hey!" he says, as hits my tickling hand away from his stomach.
We fall silent and I watch Brian at first try to fight off sleep before it becomes too much and he drifts off. Like he asked, I leave the light on and spend the rest of the night staring at the ceiling listening to Brian breathe in his sleep. With so much time spent just laying in bed staring into space my mind can not help but wander. The more I think about it, the more nervous I become about my meeting with Doris. I have had problems with my temper in the past. And while I have been able to keep it in check recently the way Doris has been treating Brian does me angry. I am afraid of her saying something that will set me off. I just want to get some answers out of Doris, and make sure she still will back the adoption when it is all said and done.
When morning finally does come and the alarm clock sounds, we get out of bed and get ready for the day. Brian is in a good mood again, despite what happened last night with Doris and his bad dream. I on the other hand am a total grump. I am used to running on little sleep, but I am not used to running on no sleep and I feel like I need all the coffee beans in Columbia to get me through the day. I drop Brian off at school and make my way to the Sierra Inn.
"What happened to you?" Laura asks me as I pass the front desk.
"I didn't sleep," I say, as I head back to my office.
"Everything okay?" she asks as she follows me into the back room where Matt is sitting at the table already doing some paperwork.
"Brian had a bad dream last night," I say as I pour myself a cup of coffee. "And he wanted me to..." I stop myself realizing I was just about to tell Laura and Matt that I sleep in the same bed as Brian every night. "I mean he wanted to sleep in my room."
"You didn't let him did you?" Matt asks, looking up from his paper work. "Kids need to be able to tough those things out on their own."
"I hope you didn't send him back to sleep by himself," Laura says. "I'm sure he needed some comfort."
"I let him stay with me," I say. "But anyway, he wanted to keep the light on which is why I didn't sleep."
"You're going to turn the kid into a wimp," Matt, who doesn't have any kids, says. "He needs to learn not to come crying to you every time something bad happens."
"Nothing I do is going to turn him into a wimp," I say, a little angrily. "Brian doesn't have a wimpy bone in his body."
"Not yet, he doesn't," I hear Matt mumble under his breath. I really want to say something but Laura seeing the approaching argument intervenes.
"Kevin, I think you did the right thing," Laura says. "Are you sure you don't want to take the morning off?"
"No, I took yesterday afternoon off," I say still shooting Matt the evil eye. "I'll be fine, I just need to shoot myself full of coffee is all."
"Well don't push yourself too much," Laura says, in a motherly tone. "You don't want to make yourself sick."
"Don't worry," I say. "I'll be fine."
I spend the morning trying to get caught up on work in between cups of coffee, and try my best not to get too worked up about lunch with Doris. Right as I am getting ready to leave to meet Doris, Matt comes into my office.
"Hey Kevin, sorry about this morning," he says as he stands in front of my desk. "I think I stuck my nose where it doesn't belong."
"Don't worry about it," I say. "Just don't let it happen again," I add with a smile.
"No promises there," Matt says, with a little chuckle. "You want to go to lunch?"
"I wish I could," I say. "I'm meeting with Brian's Grandmother for lunch. And I am not looking forward to it."
"His biological grandmother?" Matt asks, his eyebrows raising slightly
"Yeah," I say.
"She doesn't want to take him in?" Matt asks.
"No," I say. "She's not exactly your stereotypical grandma."
"Well you better hope she doesn't change her mind," Matt says. "If she decides she wants custody of Brian all she has to do is say so."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"Well to the court blood over rules almost everything," Matt says. "If his grandma wants custody of him, and the court deems her fit you have no argument."
"Yeah, well I don't think that will happen," I say. "Not with this particular grandma."
As I drive to Sun City to meet Doris, I push Matt's comments to the back of my mind. I figure there isn't too much of a chance that Doris would try to get custody of Brian now, after all she certainly has had plenty of opportunities to do that in the past. After I park the car in front of Denny's I take a deep breath before un-doing my seat belt and getting out of the car.
"Hello, Kevin," Doris, who is sitting at a table near the front of the restaurant says as I walk up to her.
"Hi," I say, as I take a seat across the table from her. "Thank you for meeting me," I add, trying to be polite.
"You're welcome," Doris says. "Kevin, I hope you understand that I really have had things to do the past couple of weeks, and it was not my intention to hurt Brian any," she says the small talk I had been expecting to start with.
"It doesn't matter if I understand that," I say quickly. "It only matters if Brian understands, and he..."
"I know he doesn't," Doris says, shaking her head slightly. "I just hope that over time what I have done will make more sense to him."
"Doris I have to be honest," I say. "What you've done doesn't make much sense to me. Frankly, I don't know how it could make sense to anyone."
"Well, you don't know me the way Brian does," Doris says, a little defensively. "He knows that I love him and that I just get busy. I'm by no means worse than his father was, and Brian understood that his father was busy."
"That's just it," I say. "He doesn't understand that. He doesn't think you love him."
"What?" Doris asks, sounding genuinely surprised.
"After you called yesterday we talked," I say. "Brian was angry, he said that he thought you don't care about him. I had to make him promise me to stop thinking like that, he did but I know he didn't mean it."
"I don't understand..."
"Doris, how could you not understand that he would feel like that?" I ask, trying to keep a calm tone. "Put yourself in his shoes how would you feel?"
"Kevin, I know I haven't exactly been the ideal grandmother," Doris says. "But I do love that child."
"Well how does Brian know that?" I ask. "Because of the memories he has from when he was little? That's only going to carry him so far."
Doris doesn't answer as she seemingly falls deep into thought, which is quickly broken when the waitress comes to take our orders.
"I'm not good at this type of thing," Doris says, after the waitress has left. "I was never the motherly type, in my day you were supposed to have children. So that's what I did, but I was never good at being a mother. I know I'm not good at being a grandmother now either. But what am I supposed to do?"
The entire time she is speaking her voice lacks any kind of emotion. It almost reminds me of how Brian spoke of his time on the street. The words just come out of Doris's mouth, I can tell she's thought of what to say but the words are totally hollow.
"At this point, I honestly don't know," I say. "Doris, if you ask me you're an inch away from losing Brian all together. By that I mean he's not going to want to have anything to do with you. I think if you show him you do care and be patient with him you will eventually get him fully back."
"Kevin, I don't have that kind of time," Doris says, still no emotion in her voice.
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"I was hoping not to have to say anything," Doris says. "But, I don't have very long left. I have pancreatic cancer. I was diagnosed shortly last month. There's nothing the doctors can do, they gave me six months to live."
"What?" I ask, in shock.
"Kevin, I'm dying," Doris says. "That's why I've been cancelling on Brian the last couple of weeks. I don't want him getting attached to me only to lose me again," she says, still without any emotion in her voice.
"Doris, I'm so..."
"Don't say it," Doris interrupts. "Don't you dare be sorry for me. I've led a full life, and I've come to peace with what is going to happen to me. The only thing I haven't come to peace with not having been there for Brian when he needed me the most. I suppose, now I will never be at peace with that."
"But Doris, you have a chance to make up for that," I say, quickly. "You still have time to show Brian you love him."
"I have six months," Doris says. "That boy has had enough loss in his life, I don't need to add to it. No, I've decided it's best if I don't see him again," she adds, her voice cracking slightly for the first time.
"But don't you see he already thinks he's lost you?" I ask. "At least if you..."
"Kevin, the doctor said that my last couple of months on this planet won't be pretty," Doris says. "It's an aggressive and painful cancer. I have always been a strong woman, that's how Brian's always seen me. I want him to remember that way, not the way I will be in a couple of months."
"Even if that means he resents you for the rest of his life?" I ask, bluntly.
"What do you want me to do?" Doris asks. "Let my grandson see me suffer a painful death? How would that be helping him any?"
"Doris, I can't tell you what to do," I say. "But, what I can tell you is that there is a boy that loves you very much but is hurting so much because he doesn't think that love is returned. You haven't seen him the past couple of weeks when I've told him that you cancelled. The look in his face, God Doris it breaks my heart. And I didn't realize this until last night, but that look isn't because he's disappointed that he won't be able to spend the day with you. He's hurt because every time you cancel on him that just reinforces his belief that you don't love him. So maybe it's not right for you to re-enter his life knowing you don't have that much time left, I won't pretend to know the answer to that question. But I do know, that the pain of seeing you sick will be far less than the pain he would feel if you go without saying goodbye."
"You must think I'm awful selfish," Doris says, shaking her head a little.
"No," I say shaking my head. "I think you're scared. But Doris, you don't have to go through this alone."
"Thank you Kevin," Doris says. "But I have made up my mind. I have already made arrangements with a hospice and I will be moving in there at the end of March."
"So there's no talking you out of this?" I ask, a little angrily.
"Kevin, this is for the best," Doris says.
"Well then give me this," I say. "Please meet us this weekend, you won't be too sick by then. Just give Brian one more chance to see you. Give him a chance to hear that you do love him, please he needs that," I say, my own voice cracking with tears as I think of the hurt look on Brian's face when Doris cancelled the last two weeks.
"Okay," Doris says a little hesitantly. "I will do that, you guys come on over on Saturday."
"Thank you," I say. "That's all I can ask."
"Kevin, I want to tell you something," Doris says, looking at me straight in the eye. "I see the love you have for my grandson, and I can't tell you how good that makes me feel. So now that I promised you Saturday, I need you to promise me something."
"What?" I ask.
"I want you to promise me that you will continue to love him, no matter what happens," Doris says. "No matter how angry he makes you at times, which he will. No matter who else comes into your life, which could happen. I want you to promise me that you will give that boy all the love and attention he deserves. And make sure that he grows up to be the type of man I know he is capable of becoming. There is something magnificent inside of him, he just needs to feel comfortable enough to show it. Promise me that you will give him the happiness my son and daughter in law had worked so hard to give him."
"I absolutely promise all of that," I say.
"Thank you," Doris says, wiping the tears that have started falling down her cheek.
"Thank you," I say. "For trusting me with him."
"You're a special young man, Kevin," Doris says. "Brian told me a lot about you. He loves you, and for him to open his heart like he has to you only means that you are an incredible person. I know you will take good care of him. There's just one thing."
"What is it?" I ask.
"I've decided I want to be the one to tell Brian," Doris says. "About what's going on with me, I don't want to put that on you."
"Are you sure?" I ask.
"Yes," Doris says.
Just then the waitress comes with our food, and our conversation stops for a little while as we both eat. My mind is spinning as I not only try to digest my food but what I have just been told as well. I still do not totally agree with the way Doris has chosen to handle this situation. But I suppose it is kind of her final wish so I feel obligated to honor it without questioning it anymore than I already have. I know this week is going to be hell for me, and Saturday even worse. I don't know how I am going to get through the week pretending everything is normal while knowing that come Saturday Brian's heart is going to be broken. But Doris wants to be the one to tell Brian, and maybe it is for the best that she is.
"Kevin, you should know," Doris says. "And I want to tell you this now while I still can. I have left Brian as the sole beneficiary of my estate, all of my money will be added to the money from his parents. Again it isn't much but it will be enough for his college education, which I almost forgot about. Make sure Brian gets a good education."
"I absolutely will," I say. "We can't let a great mind go to waste," I say, with a little smile.
"That's exactly what I was thinking," Doris says, returning my smile.
"Doris I have something I need to tell you," I say, a little hesitantly at first. "Yesterday I went to Brian's parents graves to promise them essentially what I have promised you."
"You did?" Doris asks, surprise strong in her voice. "That was very nice of you."
"Thank you," I say. "But the reason I bring it up is, Robert Landers was the man that lent me the money that allowed me to build my motel. I hadn't put two and two together until I saw the headstone."
"My goodness," Doris says, with a smile. "I had forgotten that Robert even worked for the bank," she says, shaking her head with a little smile. "That was his second job actually. Maybe no bigger irony in the world, he could never manage his own money but the bank trusted him with a job like that."
"What was his main job?" I ask.
"He was a free lance journalist," Doris says. "He sold some of his work, but he never was able to make it big. He took the job at the bank when Brian was born. Amy insisted he do something because the money from his writing wasn't going to cut it with a baby. His friend managed that branch of the bank and gave him the job. When you come over Saturday, I will give you my family albums to keep for Brian. I'm not sure he is ready to look at them yet, but maybe someday."
"Thank you," I say. "Doris, I want you to know that I'm not trying to replace Brian's parents."
"I know you're not," Doris says. "Kevin, I have no doubt your heart is in the right place. That's why I trust you with my grandson. I know Brian is in good hands."
I leave the restaurant still in a small state of shock. I am not a very good actor so I don't know if I will be able to make it through the week without Brian knowing something is wrong, but I feel I have to give it my best shot.
To Be Continued...
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Chapter 24 Coming Soon!!