Chapter 17: (v.3) No Coming Back.

Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 480

While we bathed, Ana gave me a detailed itinerary of how things would go at the funeral. In advance, she warned me that it would be entirely in Xudian and that it’d be the first internationally televised royal Xudian funeral. I already knew that this meant the world would learn how Luca and I were related. I accepted this, but I didn’t want my parents to find out before I had a chance to tell them myself.

“Hey, babe?” I called as I watched my wife’s valets fit her for her funeral attire after the bath was over.

They made her a priority since Luca approached them after his video call with her yesterday, as the royal palace clothing designers had less than twenty-four hours to design and make her ensemble.

“Yes, darling?” she replied.

I once more spoke strictly in Italian to keep our conversation private, but I allowed my valets to fit me in my funeral attire as well.

“You said you got some voice messages on your phone from Cami, right?”
“Yes, that’s right,” she answered as confusion spread across her face.
“Did you get them before or after I called you from Malone?”

Then the look on her face changed, as she now figured where this conversation headed.

“Honestly? I got them before, but it didn't feel right to tell you over a phone conversation from halfway around the world. I was making plans to return stateside when you called me and told me what happened. I wanted to tell you in person, face to face because I knew how devastated you’d be.”

Tears formed in my eyes when I heard her explanation. I’m glad she was honest with me. However, I was still upset that she kept her friendship with Cami a secret from me.

“I understand, but I’m not going to lie, though … it honestly hurts that you’ve been in Cami and Luca’s life for these last ten years without my knowledge, that you’ve kept Luca a secret from me … but I understand. She tied your hands behind your back and threatened to keep Luca here if you told me everything you knew, and I can’t even be angry with her either.”

Tears now formed in Ana’s eyes, and I knew that she was heartbroken over this.

“I’m so sorry, Vince,” she apologized wholeheartedly. “It was never my intention to hurt you.”
“Oh, babe, no; I didn’t say it was you who hurt me. I don’t blame you, Ana, and I don’t blame Cami. Cami did what she did because of how my mother treated her. All of this stems from my mother’s behavior and her poor decisions regarding me and my future. My mother did this, and it hurts in so many ways that I’m … losing myself in my anger towards her. I don’t know how to have a conversation with her without breaking something in the process or without saying something I will regret later. Did Luca tell you that he wants to return with me to the states so that he can talk to her too? Even after knowing everything my mother has said and done to Cami, Luca still wants to meet her and talk to her.”

Ana nodded for a moment before she spoke up.

“He told me last night when I got in,” she answered softly. “He feels this is his only chance to talk to her and confront her directly about how your mother treated Cami. He feels this is the only chance he’ll get to talk with her before he has no choice but to return here permanently to accept the crown upon the day after his sixteenth birthday. I get the feeling, however, that whether or not he’ll have the option of accepting the crown at sixteen will have to do with whatever decision you make as the leader. If you decide to accept the crown on a legitimate basis, then obviously, he won’t be king at sixteen.”

Me? King of Xudia? Get real.

“Oh, I don’t want the crown. I’ll accept it as regency until I find Luca is a man and ready to be a leader, but … to be a king permanently?” I had to laugh at this. “I may be half Xudian, but this country has never even heard of me until now. I really don’t think the country would accept me as king on a more permanent basis, and I seriously don’t want such a high position. I’m only going to accept the title of King Regent because the people want Luca to be their king, and he’s just not yet old enough or mature enough to lead them. We now have in our custody a boy whose stepfather has broken him, and I just have this feeling he’s going to give me a lot of trouble when I try to talk to him about it. He needs to deal with this and talk to a professional to work through his issues because if he doesn’t, then he’ll never be strong, stable, and ready enough to lead his people.”

Ana was silent for a few moments, and I knew something was on her mind when I saw the serious expression on her face.

“I think you’re right,” she said softly. “I saw the manila folder on the desk over there. I’ve never been through anything that he’s been through or seen any of the stuff he’s seen that was done to Cami, so that’s one way in which I can’t relate to him. It’s so heartbreaking to discover all the brokenness in that kid’s young life, but you’re so right because he does need professional help.”

I sighed deeply as I had not realized Ana already looked at that paperwork.

“I didn’t know you already saw the paperwork,” I answered. “I know he’s been through some stuff, but I’ve been waiting for the right moment to look at that paperwork. I know that it’s going to break my heart to read it, and …”

I was at a loss for words.

“I saw it last night, right before I climbed into bed. It was hard to close my eyes without thinking of what that monster did.”

She made me want to look at those files right now rather than on the plane ride home. So, with my hand, I gestured for my valets to stop touching me, and then I walked over to the paperwork.

“I don’t think you should --” she started to say in English, but it was too late, as I had already opened the manila folder.

I read all the words on the first page, and it took a few moments for my mind to register what it was that I just read, and then the fury in my veins returned with a fiery vengeance.

“Get ‘em outta here,” I said as calmly as I could.

Ana knew what that meant. She spoke to both our valets in Xudian. Shortly after, I heard the quarter doors close, which meant Ana and I were now alone. I felt her eyes on me, and I knew she wondered what I’d do. It was tough for me to keep myself in control right now when all I wanted to do was punch a damn wall. I turned the next page, though, and read on. I soon realized that the more I read this report, the more I understood why Ana had trouble sleeping last night. I was so angry that I had tears in my eyes, and I shook in a boiling rage that was nearly ready to blow.

“Vince?”

That was it. I wiped the desk clear of its contents in a fit of fury, which caused paperwork to fly all over the room. I was tired of holding it in anymore.

“That fucking monster!” I shouted in Italian as I now turned around to face my wife. “I fucking dare him to try and come after us, to try and reach Luca again, because I swear if he comes after us or Luca, I’ll fucking kill that piece of shit myself!”

My wife was quiet now, and she watched as I paced back and forth in front of her. Then in a rare and surprising turnaround, my sobs had pushed their way through my anger.

“How am I ever supposed to forgive my mother for what she did to me by pushing Cami away? If she hadn’t done that, Cami wouldn’t have met him! She wouldn’t have met him, and neither she nor Luca would have gone through the shit he’s put them through! She’d still fucking be here!”

Ana approached me and immediately wrapped her arms around me as I collapsed onto my knees in sorrow and defeat. It was hard for me to allow her to see me in such a state as this, but at the same time, I knew I needed her now more than ever. So I allowed her to wrap her loving, gentle arms around me, and I allowed myself to be consumed by the love and tenderness she gave me.

“Oh, honey,” she spoke in a gentle tone as she sat down on the chair in front of the desk and kissed the top of my head. “Honey, look at me.”

As soon as she said that, I felt her warm hands upon my face, and they lifted me to look up into her eyes of sorrow.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered as a sob escaped her lips. “I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I’m so sorry for what your mother did to you and Cami, and most importantly, Luca. You had a right to know who your birth father was. You had a right to choose who you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. Cami and Luca both had a right to have lived without abuse. You had a right to know your firstborn son. That last part, I know I had a hand in personally. I should have told you. I should have told you the truth when I first found out, but I didn’t.”

It took me a few moments, but when I finally found the words, I spoke up.

“I don’t blame you,” I told her softly as I tried to wipe away my tears.
“But you should,” Ana answered, but before she got another word in, I parted my lips once more.
“No,” I said quietly but firmly. “I shouldn’t, and I won’t, not now and not ever. I read her letter. She told me what happened when you went down to North Carolina to confront her. She gave me every detail in her goodbye letter that her parents gave me.”

A short sob escaped Ana’s lips, and she tried hard to cover it, but this shocked her.

“She was just like us. She was so stubborn. She was adamant about starting a life with Luca, but not with me, simply because of my mother. Cami explained in her letter how important mothers are in the Xudian culture, which is why she was so persistent in leaving me out of her life … because of my mother, and how my mother treated her, so no, you are not to blame here. She told you to come back to me in New York and pick up the pieces. She told you to stand by my side, and you did just that.”

Ana kept her hands on my face and wept again.

“Then why do I feel so guilty?” she asked between her tears.
“I don’t know … survivor’s guilt, maybe?” I answered quietly as tears still threatened to fall, but I kept my composure. “Would you hate me if I said I never want our children, any of them, to have anything to do with my mother again?”

Ana was quiet for a minute, though she shook her head.

“No. No, because I understand where you’re coming from. I understand why. The second time you and I got pregnant, I didn’t tell you immediately because I wanted to see how your mother would react. I told her I was going for an abortion because I didn’t want the decision to be stripped away from me, and you know what she did?”

I was shocked to hear that Ana wanted to abort Kris, but I was curious to know what my mother did, though this news left me speechless.

“She told me to keep it.”

What? Was she serious? Who was I kidding? Ana wouldn’t lie about something like this, though maybe she did back then, but she came clean now. What the hell, Mother?

“Yeah, Vince, she told me to keep Kris, so I did. I didn’t want to abort our baby, honestly, but I needed to know what your mother’s reaction would be since I knew about what she did to Cami. She was so happy that I was pregnant with Kris and flat out told me she would never want me to abort one of her grandbabies, so that little test made it clear as day to me that she was prejudiced against Cami and not me, and yet she damn well knows you are half Xudian.”

Yeah, I’ve decided, my relationship with my mother was now over. There’s no coming back from this. Not after all this.


Submitted: October 08, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Jenah Pierce. All rights reserved.

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