“Hi Auntie Evey, can we talk?” Abby had come into the shop, looking distressed.
“Hi sweetie!” Evey hugged the girl and could tell right away that this was not just a social call.
“Sure honey, just come on back. KC! KC!” Evey pulled Abby with her into the office, while yelling for her husband, when as soon as the office door closed, Abby burst into violent tears.
“Yes Ma’am, what did I do now?” he quipped as he was walking in through the door connecting the office with the shop, but saw Abby’s meltdown and said no more.
“Can you take over the sales-floor for a bit.” Evey mentioned a few people browsing the shop.
“Yeah, sure.” KC took one more look at Abby and scurried away.
Abby started sobbing so profusely, speaking incoherently and unintelligible, so Evey let her cry it out, snuggling her quietly, then lead her to the couch in the office and sat her down. Once she calmed down, Evey made tea and carefully started getting to the bottom of it all.
“It’s all broken! All messed up beyond recognition … I don’t even know where to start … it’s over .. my life … Jacob … dad hates me …” it poured out of a girl very much beside herself.
“Let me stop you right there! I do not know what is going on, I was going to let you rant, get it all off your chest, but that part I know to be bullshit, Abby, Heath adores you. He loves you like no other.” Evey spoke very serious.
“You haven’t been around in a while. I can tell.” Abby told her in between sniffles.
“I don’t need to be. I KNOW.”
“Well, you are wrong!” Abby sounded pouty now.
“Nope. I don’t know what happened that made you think that, but what I do know is Heath. Better than anybody else in the world. Even better than Sam, I’d wager. And if there is one thing I know for 100% certain, it is that he loves you and will forever. With every fiber of his being.”
“Yeah, for sure.” Abigail’s tone had changed to sarcastic, in between sniffling.
“Why would he not love you anymore, all of a sudden?”
“Wouldn’t call it sudden. More like ever since he had the younger kids…”
“I figured you’d be above sibling rivalry. Seriously, Abby?!”
“No, I am not jealous. But I was replaced.” Abby sounded like a child.
“Bullshit.” Evey shook her head.
“You don’t live there. You don’t see it.”
“Oh, I don’t? I see a lot more than you think. One of several examples would be your 180 degree turn from chipper to highly-combustible at your high school graduation after your dad took Ava to the potty in the middle of your ceremony, I witnessed that with my own eyes.”
“Well, there you go. You saw it first hand! Tells you how important I am to him these days. I am being honored as the best student and he goes and wipes a toddler’s ass instead of watching me receiving the highest honor a high school student can get.” Abby sounded disgusted and hurt.
“So a toddler – your half-sister – just barely potty trained, is to crap her britches, then simmer in it for a few more hours, so your daddy can watch you receive just another bit of reaffirmation of how brilliant his daughter is, whom he already thinks hung the moon? Again, really Abby? You are 19 and way too smart to stoop down that low.”
“Why couldn’t Sam have taken her? Her daughter too!”
“Because Sam was filming the whole thing and your dad didn’t want to interrupt that, you bobblehead. Your dad can watch that ceremony in high-definition every damn day now. And your dad does not need to see anybody awarding you for brilliance. He always thought and still thinks that you are the smartest, most brilliant and most beautiful thing to ever walk the earth.” Evey’s tone softened towards the end when she saw Abby’s bottom lip tremble.
“Oh gawd. Now I feel bad about that too…”
“Well, you should. Stop crying Abby. Just normal teen stuff. Go talk to your dad, tell him you love him, flutter those lashes over those beautiful purple eyes and he’ll forget all about it. It is killing him that you have distanced yourself so much from him, but he is afraid if he pushes you, he’d lose you completely.”
“He said that?” Abby looked hopeful and guilty.
“He sat right where you are now and cried. Oh, I am not supposed to tell anybody, so shhh. Secret, ok?”
“Aunt Evey … I am pregnant!”
“Of course there had to be more. Heath does not know?”
Abby shook her head.
“He’d hate me, he’ll…”
“For the last time, Abigail, Heath does not and will never hate you! Were you not listening at all? We can do this supportive and gentle or I can give you some tough love! That’s what your dad often needs for him to snap out of his weird rants, looks like it’s an inherited trait!”
“He’ll be disappointed.”
“Maybe. But he’ll get over it.”
“Do I need to repeat the Heath loves Abby speech?”
“Who’s the lucky father-to-be? And how far along are you?”
“Few weeks. It’s Jacob’s.”
“Yeah, I figured. Well, at least that baby will have some kick ass genes.”
“Really?! Joking!? Now?”
“Abby, what do you want? You are not the first and not the last girl who got pregnant early and at an inopportune time. Especially not if you’d look at my family. Barking up the wrong tree here, baby girl. I lucked out, but my sweet bro-bro and his wife go preggers even younger than you and all is fine and dandy there. Speaking of Josh, don’t even consider running away, Abby. I’ll drag you over to their house by your ears right now and let you listen to Emmi’s experiences….”
“Thought about it, but don’t worry, I won’t. I just don’t know what to do anymore. Jacob wants me to have an abortion. He does not want a child. At least not now.”
“How old is he 18? 19?”
“17. Well, 17 and a half.”
“Abby, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe he’ll change his mind, maybe he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, his loss, but he cannot force you to do anything. Clearly, you are not okay with doing that or you wouldn’t have stumbled into the shop looking like death on wheels.”
“Yeah, sorry about that. I’ll … buy something to make up for it or something…”
“Abby, I love you, but shut the hell up. I have known you since before you were born. You KNOW you can always come to me and I will ALWAYS be there for you. Screw work. KC is a big boy, he can handle it for a moment. Actually, I’ll let him know that he’ll have to handle it for the rest of the day, because you, my sweet, and I are going over to your dad’s home now.”
“Aunt Evey …”
“Nuh uh! We are! Sam’s at work, so we’ll talk to your daddy alone first. He still cannot handle too much drama like that. So you will let ME do the talking, I know how to spoon feed scary stuff to him without him getting spooked. Actually, YOU will find Jacob and reel him in. Once I primed your daddy, we’ll talk with Jacob too. I know Sam should probably be there, but maybe it is better if she isn’t. She is a lot more durable for crap like that than Heath, and it sounds like Jacob will be a piece of work too.”
Half an hour later Abby had already texted Jacob asking him come over to the house, while Evey sat down a suspicious Heath, who grew even more suspicious when Abby sat down next to Evey, wordlessly, looking tense.
“Heath, sweetie, I need you to be really calm and listen to me, okay?”
“I think I know what this is going to be about.”
“Oh, you do?” Evey sounded half-amused, thinking ‘oh buddy!’
“You are going to tell me Abby is pregnant.”
“What the fuck!?” slipped out of Evey’s mouth for surprise.
“I second that.” Abby added.
“Did you two really think I do not know when my little girl is pregnant? I didn’t say anything, Abby, because I wasn’t really sure you had realized it yet and I wanted you to be the one to tell me, not vice versa. But it looks like you trust your Aunt Evey more than me now. Even I didn’t tell her about my suspicions yet, out of respect.”
“Heath, you are wrong. She came to me, because … well .. we’ll get to that, but it just came out. Your daughter is very confused and you being so tough about Jacob made her skittish. I told you that would happen.”
“An I-told-you-so lesson? Now, Little Leigh?”
“Look you and your daughter need to talk. But first things first. Yes, she is pregnant. And scared. Scared to have disappointed you, abused your trust and lost your love.”
“And you told that that’s impossible, right? Abby … how could you think that. I would give my life for you. And how could I hate you for something that happened to me? It wasn’t ideal then either, but it gave me you. The best thing to ever happen to me. Aside from Evey. And … well, that’s beside the point.”
“Sorry daddy … but I really love Jacob … even though he will probably hate me now.”
“Jeeze, Abby what is it with you and thinking people hate you?” Evey said, then sighed.
“He doesn’t want a kid. Wants me to have an abortion and..” Abby was interrupted.
“Heath, let her finish.” Evey told him.
“Absolutely not! And if I have to raise that child by myself again. No.” Heath remained firm.
“Okay, I am going to side with your daddy here, Abby. He and I are not the one having to deal with the pregnancy and birth, but when the baby is here, we’ll figure it out. You are not alone and destitute, there is no real reason for an abortion, especially since you don’t even want it yourself.”
“I don’t want to go to college though …. I don’t want everybody to know me as the pregnant chick.”
“Fine. We’ll say it’s postponed, but not cancelled. Maybe you can work in your mother’s flower shop until you can re-enroll.” Heath determined.
“Jacob’s here.” Abby said after her phone beeped and she looked at it briefly.
“Get him in here. No wait, I’ll go. You talk some daddy-daughter talk. And I will make sure that kid doesn’t run.” Evey told them.
Jacob looked unpleasantly surprised when Evey came towards him as he was sitting on a bench near the side of the house, partially hidden from view.
“Don’t run, you. I am more athletic than I may look.” she told him as she sat down next to him.
“Good to know.”
“I assume you can guess what is currently going down, right?”
“She told all of you?”
“She fell apart in my shop, Jacob. She cannot do what you asked of her. Please don’t make her choose. I am here to offer help and support. I get it, you have a hard time with everything. So, I have options. If you tell me right now, you really love that sweet girl in there, who is crazy over you and would do something for you that would break her apart, then I will move heaven and earth to help in a way that you can deal with. My family is pretty big. I am sure we can find some situation you can live with.”
“I am not a puppy that needs a new home!”
“No, you are a young man who needs a chance. And boy, do I have someone for you to talk to. Two actually. My little brother and my husband.”
“This isn’t a sappy Harlequin novel were everybody loves each other at the end, Mrs …”
“Evey is fine. And I know that. Life is not a happy sappy novel with the surefire happy ending.”
“Jacob, come on inside and we all talk.”
“I think I’ll pass.”
“I think you shouldn’t.”
“Look, I just can’t. This is … I … I just can’t.”
“You can, but won’t. Oh well, good to know though. You are pretty cute, and that will be some killer looking baby – but good that Abby finds out about you know. Gives her plenty of time to move on. Bye then.” Evey was deliberately saying things she figured would resound with him.
“Find out what?” his tone changed to upset.
“That you don’t really love her. Heath was totally right about you. You just wanted to have your fun with Abby, and when the going gets rough you are out of here. Guess that apple really does not fall far from the tree.” Evey shrugged. She was playing verbal poker.
“What is THAT supposed to mean?” Jacob looked angry now.
“Means you are just like your father. Have your fun, then run. Have a nice life, Jacob, I have a beautiful girl to console now.”
“Take that back!” he was livid.
“What? The truth?”
“Why are you so mean and hurtful?” he sounded more like a boy than a man for a moment and Evey almost felt bad but knew this was how she would get his attention the best.
“Truth hurts, Jacob. What you are doing right now, is exactly what your father did to your mom. Pressure her and abandon her when she was very vulnerable. Do you need me to refresh your memory how well that went especially for the mother and the innocent child? And don’t even mention that other option. It would kill Abby’s spirit and heart. She may even do it for you, but she would not come out of it the same.”
“I am not like that! And I am not like him. Abby understands. We talked about that. She knows why I can’t do this. Not now…”
“Oh she does? Really? Because in reality, all she is is mortified to lose you! That is the ONLY reason she agreed to it.”
“She won’t lose me. I love her….”
“How? I am under-aged, homeless, jobless, I have no money ….”
“Ok. Under-age I cannot fix, homeless, jobless and no money I can. We need help at the shop. You would be PERFECT!”
“I don’t want charity!”
“Jacob, get over yourself. Or quit lying about loving her.”
“I do love her! She knows! Just because we don’t fit into your rigid structure doesn’t mean it’s not real!”
“You know what else is real? That little girl in there, whom I helped raise, is about to be a mother. A single mother by the sounds of it with a flaky baby daddy, because he is too proud to accept help. I don’t know what wires are crossed in your head, Jacob, your story may be sad and all, but I have had much MUCH worse. So has Abby’s dad. Your shit is child’s play compared to what he has been through, and still through it all he cared for a little girl. Say what you want about Heath, like him or don’t, but he has proven more than once that he is a real man, despite all of his hardships, he puts his money where his mouth is and isn’t afraid to sacrifice everything for those he loves. His love does not change with the path of least resistance. Food for thought, Jacob.”
Evey was hoping he would have taken the bait.
“Wait!” he said holding her back when she acted as if she was getting up.
“What?” she turned back to face him, still sitting.
“Why would you even help me? I know I wasn’t very nice to you and your husband.”
“You were always a little shithead! I remember VERY well. And so does KC. But he is another one of those who went through much worse than you could imagine, got his chance and ran with it. He’ll help. It’ll be tough love, but he will help ya. And why? Because I love Abby like my own daughter, that’s why, and I am not afraid of getting my hands dirty for those I love.”
“I can deal with tough love. IF the offer is still good.”
“Then why are we still sitting out here. Get that butt inside.”
“You are a really weird aunt.”
“I am not even really her aunt, so move it, you heavenly devil.” Evey laughed. ‘Heavenly Devils’ was the name of the male strip group Jacob had been a part of.
“Oh gawd, she told you about that too?” Jacob looked horrified and blushed.
“No, Heath did. He knows more than we give him credit for.” Evey grinned, enjoying watching him squirm.
“Oh crap! Does my mom know?”
“If she does, not from Heath or me. Now go and work that money maker into the dining room.” Evey nearly doubled over laughing, partially enjoying payback for his bratty behavior as a child and in part out of relief as the worst was obviously over.
“You really are weird.” Jacob shook his head.
“No, I just have been with KC for too long.” she grinned.
“Never mind.” Evey was still highly amused, thinking how she sounded like her husband earlier. Too bad he wasn’t here. He would have gotten such a kick out of it.
They arrived in the living room and the tense talk turned out not to be one.
Everything was very streamlined and factual, with lots of emotions due to relief sprinkled in. Heath took it all in stride.
When Sam finally came home, she was presented with the final plan.
Abby would postpone college and work with Sam in her shop.
Jacob would work with KC and Evey, and stay with them for the time being on a foldout couch in their office.