The past has a few more secrets to tell…

February 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm (Uncategorized)

Hi Everyone,

Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope that you are all having a spectacular Valentine’s day with someone special. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to celebrate the people you care about.

I also hope that you are enjoying Choices. Mallory and Jackson’s story is far from over, but the past has more secrets to tell…

Chapter 16

Jackson pulled onto the dirt road, his eyes squinting against the darkness as he tried to steer.  He had to admit that it wasn’t just the darkness that blurred his vision tonight.  It might have something to do with the bottle of Jack Daniels that he had consumed all by himself.  It had been two weeks since Mallory Westfall had walked out of his life for good, and it had been the longest two weeks of his life.  He pulled the bike to a stop across from the cabin, leaning heavily on the handlebars as he tried to get his leg over.  He stumbled, falling to the ground.  Unable to stop the chuckle that escaped his mouth as his bike landed beside him in a loud chatter. 

It seemed that even gravity had turned on him. 

            Bracing a hand against a large oak tree, he slowly got to his feet.  He barely made his way up the steps to the front door, before it was wrenched open. 

“Jackson Hart!  What do you think you’re doing?” his mother demanded, her voice echoing in a high-pitched squeaking sound that made his brain cry out in pain.

He winced.  “I’m trying to get in the door,” he admitted, his words slurring together.

She shook her head in exasperation.  “Get in here,” she instructed, moving aside.

Once inside, she rounded on him again. 

“You think you’re just going to throw your life in the toilet because some snooty girl doesn’t love you anymore?  Are you even my son?”

He fell onto the sofa, wishing that she would stop yelling.  “You don’t know anything about it, mom,” he complained, his hand coming up to rub his forehead.

Hovering over him, she pointed her finger.  “Don’t I?  You’ve been licking your wounds for weeks!  Drinking while you’re out on that bike…it’s a wonder that you’re still alive.  What?  You think you’re nothing because a Westfall tells you so?”

Mom, just stay out of it!”

Shaking her head solemnly, her lips formed a grim line.  “I think I’ve done enough of that.  I thought that if I left you alone, you would find a way to deal with what happened.”

Leaning back, he propped his feet up on the coffee table as he closed his eyes.  His mother kicked his feet to the floor, her eyes shooting fire. 

“That girl waltzes into your life and suddenly the sun rises and sets with her?  Is that it?  You’re not going to be the man you should be because she doesn’t love you anymore?”

“You don’t understand,” he yelled, getting to his feet to tower over her.

She didn’t back down an inch.  “Don’t I?  I’ve lost more than you will ever know, but I didn’t crawl into a hole and bury my head like a coward.  I got out of bed each day and went about making a life for myself.  If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll make sure that you do the same.”

Fuming, he stood before her.  He wanted to yell at her, wanted to hurt her the way she was hurting him, but he couldn’t. 

Because she was right. 

And deep down, he knew it.

“What?  This Westfall girl walks into your life and suddenly you’re ready to throw all of your plans away?  Suddenly you don’t have a future unless she’s in it?  Am I getting close?”

Stumbling to his room, he slammed the door behind him.  He fell onto the bed, looking around the room.  She had called him a coward.  Never before had she been so harsh with him.  It hurt.  But the knowledge that it was true hurt even more.   For the past two weeks, he had done nothing but find comfort in the bottom of a bottle, and it wasn’t making things any better. 

It wasn’t making the pain go away.

Mallory’s scent filled the room. 

It was in his pillow, on his sheets, and he couldn’t even bring himself to get rid of it.  It was like a self-inflicted punishment that he chose to face every day.  Smelling her without being able to touch her was torture. 

Why had she done this? 

Why had she thrown away everything they had for a paycheck? 

He stripped down to his boxers falling back on the bed. 

The next morning he packed his things.  When his mother woke up, her surprise was evident. 

Jackson, what are you doing?” she asked.

“I’ve packed all of my things.”

“You have?”

He hesitated for a moment before pushing forward.  “I’m leaving for Indiana University today.  I know it’s a little bit early, but I think it’s for the best.”

Concern laced her features.  “But…” she trailed off.

“I can’t stay, Mom.”

At her shocked silence, he continued.

“If I stay, things will only get worse.  I need to do this,” he assured more firmly.

Standing up, she crossed the room to wrap him in her arms.  He closed his eyes wishing that things could be different, wishing that he could stay.  But he couldn’t.  She didn’t offer him any words of wisdom, and he was glad for that. 

It was too late for advice anyway. 

The damage was done. 

All he could do now was try to pick up the pieces.

And that was just what he intended to do.

 

Mallory lay in bed staring up at the ceiling.  It had been three weeks since she had walked away from the man she loved.  Every day hurt a little bit more.  Each day her father pressured her more and more to say yes to Derrick’s proposal, but she stubbornly held out.  She wasn’t sure why.

 There was no reason to now. 

Jackson would never take her back even if she wanted to change her mind.  And she did.  Ever since she left him in that jail cell, she had thought of nothing else.  She grabbed her purse off the bed, reaching inside for a stick of chewing gum when her hand collided with something. 

Everything inside of her went still. 

Five weeks…It had been five weeks. 

Her fingers curled around the tampon, and a sickening feeling spreading through her stomach.  She had given herself to him five weeks ago, and since then, she hadn’t…

Oh my god!

It couldn’t be. 

She rushed down the stairs.  It wasn’t possible.  Climbing into her car, she turned the key in the ignition.  Thank God, her father finally loosened his tight hold and allowed her to have access to her car again.  After the scene at the courthouse, he figured that the damage was done.

 And he was right. 

She told herself to calm down as she drove the thirty miles to Vincennes to pick up a home pregnancy test.  Picking one up at the grocery store in Princeton would be tantamount to announcing that she was pregnant to the world. 

She couldn’t risk it. 

Three minutes later her worst fears were confirmed by a single pink line. 

She was pregnant.    

She had destroyed everything between them, and now she was pregnant with his child.  How could she have been so foolish?   The truth was that protection hadn’t seemed necessary when she thought she would soon be Mrs. Jackson Hart.  

Unable to sleep, she stared at the ceiling overhead for the entire night.   What was she going to do?  The answer hit her with blunt certainty.  She had to tell him.  She was carrying his child.  He had to know.  It was his right. 

The next morning as she got dressed, she gave herself a mental pep talk.  She would just go and tell him.  He wouldn’t want to listen to her, but he would have to.  He would yell and scream, but he wouldn’t be able to turn her away. 

Whatever they decided to do, they would make the decision together.  First, she had to find him and tell him the truth.  She would deal with the fallout later.  Driving to the cabin, her heart jumped into her throat.  Parking her car underneath a huge oak tree, she sat glued to the seat.  Her hands gripped the steering wheel so hard it hurt.  Staring out at the field ahead, she wondered what he would say, what he would do. 

There was only one way to find out.

Slowly, she climbed the steps to the cabin, trying to block out the memories.  Memories that were too painful to face. 

Would he ever be able to forgive her for what she had done? 

Could he? 

He had to. 

They were going to have a baby.  He may hate her right now, but he would have to listen.  Lightly, she wrapped her knuckles on the screen door.  She heard movement inside, and her heart leapt at the thought that he was only a few feet away. 

But the person that opened the door was not Jackson.  It was Myrna Hart.  A scowl marred her features as she realized who her visitor was.  She stared at her, not saying anything for the longest time. 

Mallory pulled her lower lip beneath her teeth, tension tightening her muscles. 

“Hello, Mrs. Hart.  Is Jackson here?” she asked, her voice quivering just a little bit.

The older woman’s eyes narrowed, her lips pursing together.  “No,” she said, not caring to elaborate. 

She began to close the door.

“Wait!  Do you know where I can find him?”

Myrna crossed her arms over her chest.  “No, and even if I did I wouldn’t tell you.”

Her mouth fell open.  “Mrs. Hart, I…” she stammered.

“Why don’t you just leave him alone?  Haven’t you done enough?”

“Mrs. Hart, I just…”

She held up a hand to silence her.  “No!  I don’t want to hear anymore of your lies.  Jackson is gone.  Do you hear me?  He’s gone,” she replied, slamming the door in Mallory’s face.

Her eyes widened in shock at the announcement.  He was gone?  He couldn’t be.  He just couldn’t be.  Dear God, what had she done?  On the drive home, she didn’t really see anything.  She didn’t want to believe it, but the sick feeling in her stomach confirmed that the other woman was telling the truth.  Her emotions were drained.  Just as she was about to climb the stairs, Curtis stopped her.

“Dad’s looking for you,” he announced, his hand on her upper arm.

“What?”

He shook his head, as he pursed his lips in disgust.  “It must be really nice walking around all day without a clue,” he chided.  “I said that Dad is looking for you, and he looks pretty mad.”

She barely heard him as he pointed her in the direction of her father’s study.  The door was left slightly open and her father was staring out the large picture window at the back of the room. 

“You wanted to see me?” she inquired, her voice completely devoid of feeling.

He spun on his heel, his face red with anger.  “Do you have something to tell me?” he bit out furiously.

Her pulse jumped.  “No,” she lied.

“No?” he yelled, grabbing a bag from his desk.  He reached into the bag to reveal the box from the Home Pregnancy Test. 

Biting her lower lip, her hands wrung together nervously.  

How did he find out? 

She wanted to ask, but knew it would only dig a deeper hole than the one she was already in. 

“Sally was cleaning, and found this in your bathroom.  Needless to say, she was a little surprised and thought I should know.  At least someone thought that I should know!” he bellowed, his eyebrows furrowing together.

“Daddy, I was going to tell you…” she stammered.

He held up a hand to silence her.  “It doesn’t matter.  Once again, you have proven to be nothing but a liability to this family.  Would you like to tell me who the father is?”

“Jackson Hart,” she confessed.

He let out a harsh curse.  For a minute, he was silent and she wasn’t sure what was worse, his verbal tirades or the anticipation that they were soon to come. 

Then, he spoke. 

“Considering the situation,” he said, motioning to her stomach.  “We only have a few options to clean up the mess you created for yourself.”

Bile rose in her throat.  She stared at him waiting for him to drop the fatal blow.  Crossing the room to stand in front of her, he placed his hands on her shoulders causing her to flinch. 

“We will just have to move the wedding up,” he explained, with a stiff smile.

“What wedding?” she demanded, her eyes narrowing.

He gave her a look that let her know that she was trying his patience.  “Your wedding to Derrick, of course.  I’ll admit that it will be sooner than I would like, but considering the situation we don’t have any other choice.”

Eyes widening, her mouth fell open.  “You can’t be serious?  Did you even hear me?  I’m pregnant with Jackson Hart’s child,” she cried out.

His eyebrows rose.  “Do you have a better idea?”

“Yes, I can have this baby on my own.”

He laughed, the sound coming out harsh as it reverberated through the room.  His gaze routed her to the floor, as he gritted his teeth.  “Not in this family you can’t.  Now, you listen to me, daughter.  You have disgraced this family quite enough with your antics.  You will marry Derrick Lange as soon as possible, and that is the end of it.”

She pulled away from him, needing to put some distance between them.  “What if Derrick doesn’t want to marry me?” she challenged angrily.

His cruel smile confirmed her worst fears.  “He will.  After all, you’re still a Westfall.  You two are the perfect match,” he confirmed in a cold tone.

Running out of the room, she raced up the stairs.  Once in the solitude of her bedroom, she threw herself across the bed, letting the tears spill down her cheeks.  All she ever wanted was to be happy, but that was a fantasy.  All of her dreams of a future with Jackson were gone.  Her father had decided things for her, and she was powerless to stop him.  After all, she was a Westfall, as her father so eloquently put it. 

She was a Westfall.

And Westfalls were never happy.

Stay tuned for more of Choices…

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