This Isn't You, Baby(7)

By: K Webster


Our relationship is based on lies…

“He asked about Gabriella,” Dad says, jerking me from my inner thoughts. Guilt infects me. Standing up, I start to pace again.

“And?”

“Just mentioned he’s been by to see her from afar a few times over the past three years. He says she looks happy and that she deserves a safe, loving home. He says that every time.” He sighs in frustration. “I didn’t dare tell him what you told me.”

“That her adopted dad looks at her like he wants to eat her?”

“Fuck no,” Dad hisses. “That psychopath would slaughter everyone in this damn city if he thought for one second that Heath Berkley was shady around his daughter.”

“But he is shady, Dad.” She never mentions it, but I’ve witnessed firsthand how Heath devours her with his gaze. On more than one occasion, I’ve seen him hug her in a lingering way that goes beyond how a guardian should hug a girl.

“Until we have more information, I’m not going to bring it up to him. He’s unstable and he still has your sister. And…” he trails off. “My grandchild.”

Gabe has kept his lips sealed about their child but we know the baby has to be just over two years old now. When he broke her out of the facility, Hannah was six months pregnant.

“I’m dropping by tomorrow to ask if they need summer lawn help. I’ll find out what I can,” I assure him. My gaze stops at the mirror and I almost laugh. I’m as big as Dad now but more filled out, thanks to my obsessive workout schedule. We still have the same deep blue eyes, chiseled jaw, and messy brown hair. Dad says I have Mom’s smile, though.

“You haven’t told them your real name, have you?” he asks.

Guilt once again surges through me. Mom doesn’t know I mowed lawns for three years where Gabe’s daughter lives. Dad doesn’t know that Brie and I have been friends for the past year and a half. And he certainly doesn’t know that we’re quickly progressing to more than friends, especially after I nearly blew my wad in my swim trunks making out with her on the beach during spring break.

What sucks the most, though, is that Brie thinks my last name is Loveland.

But if she ever knew my sister was the one who killed her mother…

“How’s your mom?” he asks, dragging me from my dark thoughts.

“Banging shit around in the other room,” I say with a chuckle. “Calder’s spending the week with some friends on their yacht. So it’s just me left to deal with her wrath. Thanks a lot, Dad.”

He huffs. “Go cheer her up. God knows you’re the only one who can. She hung up on me earlier because the client I’m working with asked me to stay three more days to go over some different concepts for their firm. Your mother didn’t take that news lightly.”

“I swear to God if I have to be in that delivery room, you’re dead to me, Dad,” I groan.

He lets out a loud chuckle. “That’s pretty much the same thing she said to me earlier, but with a lot more curse words.”

We chat a little about how final exams went before I let him go. I change out of my jeans and pull on some gym shorts before leaving to go find my mother. When I make my way into the kitchen, she’s cleaning out the fridge and chucking old bottles of salad dressing into the trash.

“Hey, Mom,” I chirp and lean in to kiss her on the cheek.

The tension leaves her body and she flashes me a wide smile. “Hey, baby. What do you want for supper? It’s just the two of us. We can order pizza if you want, or I could make you one of your favorites.”

Shrugging, I lean against the counter and regard her. My mom is young looking for her age. And now that she’s pregnant, she looks about twenty years younger. “Pizza is fine.”

She continues throwing stuff into the trash but she’s lost her furious edge. “You look bigger. You’ve been working out too much.”

I smirk and snag an apple from the bowl on the counter. “I don’t think there is ever such a thing in a guy’s mind.”

“Do you have a girlfriend?” she queries, her head still hidden in the fridge.

“Meh, nobody serious.” Lies.

“That’s good,” she says with a grumble. “You’re too young to settle down with just one girl. Wait until you get your degree and then you can date more seriously.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I agree just to get her off my back. While she cleans, I pull up the pizza delivery app on my phone and order two large pizzas. Since she’s been pregnant with Mason, she’s been craving bacon much to my vegan father’s horror. Her pizza is bacon with extra bacon plus bacon.