5-30) Olive Branch

Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is again made clean.
~Dag Hammarskjöld

Thursday evening.
Against better knowledge, Ethan drove out to San Myshuno right after work, went to the building where Amy lived now and rang the doorbell. He had to.
The door was buzzed open and he pushed the elevator button for the penthouse.

“Ethan? What are you doing here?” Amy looked genuinely surprised as she beckoned him inside.
“I was in the area and – we have to talk, Amy. There is no way we can just sweep this under the rug now. We HAVE to talk about it all.”

“Really a bad time …” she said
“Who is it, my love?” came a male voice from the background. The infamous new husband. Ethan had not even considered that he could be home.
Lovely.

A man came into view, looking curiously at Ethan, who wanted to just disappear into an abyss.

“Carson, this is Ethan, my ex-husband. He came to … uh … talk about Blake. Schedule visits and such.” Amy quickly lied.

“Well, nice to finally meet you! Come on inside. Coffee? You are the architect, correct?”
“Yes I am and no thank you for the coffee.”

“I cannot wait to meet that little fella. I told Amy to start picking out some furniture to make him a room. And when he outgrows it, we’ll have one of those of our own to use it. It’s in the works. All of that.” Carson winked at Ethan.
“Carson, I told you not to talk about that yet! It’s too early.” Amy looked horrified.

“You’re pregnant?!” Ethan hoped he misunderstood.
“Yes, just a few weeks along.”
“Pregnant is pregnant if you ask me, no matter how long. I am hella excited, how could I not be, my first child! She is a young, healthy woman, what could happen, right? I am thrilled.”

“How many weeks, Amy?” Ethan asked suspiciously.
“5 or 6 is what the doctor guessed.” Carson answered for his wife, then his cell phone rang.
“If you excuse me for a second. I’ve been waiting for this call. You know how it goes, once you own a business, you never have any spare time anymore.” Carson stepped away.
Ethan turned to Amy
“Pregnant? Five or six weeks? When were you going to tell me?!”

“Ethan, please do not jump to conclusions. It’s Carson’s baby. I am 90% sure.” Amy blushed and looked away.
“But the time frame says it could also be mine! Amy, what the hell? You should have come to me with that the moment you found out! You may be carrying my child!” Ethan wasn’t sure how he felt about that fact.

“For heaven’s sake, keep your voice down! Yes, maybe there is a slight chance. Either way, what happened between us was a one time thing and for all intends and purposes that child will be Carson’s. Not yours. No matter what.” Amy determined.
“Amy! What the ..” Ethan was going to lay into her, when Carson came back.
“All right, where were we? Oh, right. The room for the little boy. We were thinking so he can spend a night, or a weekend for now, to get used to it all until we get the final judgement.” Carson smiled businesslike.
“Final judgement?” Ethan didn’t understand.
“Carson… not now!” Amy tried to stop her husband.
“Oh, I thought for sure Amy would have told you by now.” Carson said nonchalantly.
“I haven’t …” Amy averted her eyes.
“Told me what?” Ethan didn’t like this at all.

“Well, not to cause bad blood, really, we do not want that at all, but Blake is her son too and therefore my step-son. Amy made a bad decision about all that when she wasn’t in her right mind. Now she is stable, has a solid home, a loving husband, is financially secure and will have a little sibling for Blake before long, whom he should of course know like a sibling. Amy does not have to work, so she has all the time in the world to be a dedicated mother. Therefore we think it is only fair that the courts would revisit that old ruling and makes it fair too.”
“You want to take Blake from me?!” Ethan could barely speak, staring at Amy.

“Of course not! But you would agree that a mother should have at least 50% of the time with her own son, wouldn’t you? Our attorney definitely thinks that is not outlandish to ask. Surprised you haven’t gotten the notice yet, but courts, right? Always running behind. Anyway, not trying to be rude, really, but Amy and I have dinner reservations and need to leave. You are more than welcome to join us.” Carson addressed Ethan.

“No thanks, I need to get home.” Ethan’s knees felt wobbly, he felt light-headed.

He could not recall how he got back to Brindleton Bay, but felt numb all over. That fact did not stay hidden from his family when he went to his parents’ home to pick up Blake. Nick, Ezzy and Ally were there too. All the adults were staring at him, so he dropped the bomb. At least one of the bombs he was dealing with. The pregnancy news had to wait until he knew more.

***

Sitting at his desk at work the next morning, Friday, Ethan could still not digest the news.

He had hopes Amy would come back to him, leave her husband to be with him and they would be a little family again with Blake. Instead: this new mess. And seeing her, it was crystal clear to him now, whom she would choose. She was lost to him forever and after seeing this side of her, Ethan was certain he never wanted her back again. How could she have done what she did to him? Again.

He had hoped Grace would forgive him but she remained aloof. Very professional, went out of her way for him work-wise, courteous, attentive but as soon as he tried to talk about private things she cut him off.
But nothing could have prepared him for the news she had for him when she stuck her head in his office.

“Ethan, do you have a minute?”
“For you always.”
“Okay, I’ll be quick.” she shut the door behind herself, which was unusual, then sat in one of the visitor chairs facing him..
“Am I being fired?” he tried to joke away the bad taste this was already leaving with him.
“No. But it has to do with my job and you.” Grace remained serious and Ethan’s heart began to race fast, as he was trying not to freak out.
“Ok …” he said hesitantly.

“As you know your mother’s assistant Gabrielle is leaving the company end of this month. A position as the Executive Assistant to the CEO would be a great step up for me and look great on my resume. I know I am qualified for the job, since I have worked with Gaby many times on projects for you and your mother. The job opening has just posted and I would like to apply.”
“You want to leave me?” Ethan felt like a bucket of ice had been emptied over him, followed by a flame thrower aimed at him.

“This is a professional decision and has nothing to do with you or me …  wait, that is a lie. I respect you too much to lie to you now. Still. Truth is, I have told you before that I love this job and this company. I do not want to leave and I do need the income, you guys pay well for a job I truly love. But, somehow things have become iffy between us, just as I was always afraid they would. That makes it hard for both of us and decreases our value for EC Architects, if we are distracted like that. So I think it would be a good step in both our interests.”
“Why are you telling me this? It is your choice and sounds like your mind is made up.”

“As a professional courtesy. Like I said I respect you and don’t want you to feel broadsided by this. Also the CEO happens to be your mother. No way she would hire me, knowing I am your assistant, unless you told her you were okay with it. Can you do that for me? Tell her it’s ok?”
“What?!”

“All you have to do is mention to her that you are fine with this. That is all I am asking. No more, no less.”

“But I am not. Grace I am NOT fine with this. I do not know why things are weird between us. You said you do not mind my TMI and of a sudden you are so aloof. I forgot the birthday party. I told you many times I would like to make it up but you shut me down each time. I made a big mistake and you won’t allow me to fix it.”

“Ethan, that is just the tip of the iceberg and I really do not want to get into this.”

“But, we are such a great team! You want to throw all that away?”
“I am not throwing anything away and we would still work together from time to time on projects, plus I would train whoever replaces me. I’ll even help you pick a suitable candidate, if you want me to, and then you’ll be a great team with her. Or him.”

“This is insane! I cannot do this!”
Ethan jumped up and rushed out of his office.

He spent the entire morning, noon and afternoon just walking around aimlessly, trying to make sense of the huge mess his life had become. Instead of better, it seemed to only ever get worse. He started running to clear the cobwebs from his mind.

***

In the late afternoon of that same day, most of the staff had already gone home or was about to, Ethan entered his mother’s office.

Like him, she was always one of the last to leave.
Even her assistant was already gone.
“Hey mom, you got a minute?” Ethan asked.

She looked up from her work, a flash of surprise about his casual outfit, he had gone home for a shower and to change after sweating through his suit which he spontaneously jogged in, but she said nothing, instead gestured him to sit.

“Of course, honey! I lost track of time, that one client is driving me to drink. And Gaby leaving … I swear if I read one more resume, I’ll scream. I even had your grandpa look over some of them. Yikes.”

“You can stop looking. That’s why I am here actually. I have the best candidate for the job. She’ll be perfect.”

Ethan pulled Grace’s resume from the pile and placed it in front of Evey.
“Ethan honey, no way I could do that to you.”

“You’re not doing it to me, I am asking you for this. And we are doing this for her. She deserves it. I’ll find a new assistant and you need someone like her to keep everything straight. Plus, your assistant’s office is a palace compared to the little desk outside of mine. And the bigger paycheck would be great for her. She takes care of a sick grandma every minute she is not at work and is the sole breadwinner.”

“Aww, I am always amazed what a sweet, considerate boy I raised. I’ll have Gaby call her to set up an official interview on Monday. And you are sure you are okay with this?”

“I am sure this is what I want. For her.”

“Ok, baby boy. Maybe you can take that stack of resumes and see if there is one that catches your eye. But – are you SURE you are okay? You do not look okay. You know daddy and I are always there for you, right? For anything.”

“Yes, mom, I know. There is stuff that I have to sort through mentally myself first, not ready for the presses yet. But if I need to, I know I have you, dad and Ez. And Nick. It’s really just a temporary rough patch. But, mom … I’d take a hug.”

“Oh, come here you sweet boy!”

***

Saturday evening.

Ethan walked up to the house with a funny feeling in his stomach, then rang the doorbell and waited. Finally someone came to the door. A young woman, a definite resemblance, so he knew this had to be Blythe’s sister.

Instead of the typical greeting, she just stared at him, visibly surprised, then said
“Oh my gawd, it’s you!”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You’re the guy from the painting.”
“What? No, you are mistaking me for someone else.”

“No, I really don’t think so.”
“I am not in any paintings. But, is Blythe home?”
“She just left to pick up a few items we are out of. Come on in, I have to show you something. I am Blair, by the way, Blythe’s sister.”
Ethan entered and followed her to a door, which she opened, both entered. Obviously a young woman’s bedroom. Presumably Blythe’s.

“So you are telling me that is not you?” Blair pointed at the wall.
“What the …?”
Ethan could only stare at the painting of himself, on a big canvas and definitely him.

“Yeah. That’s what I thought. She would not tell me who you were. So, who are you?”
“Ethan. I … work with Blythe.”

They heard a car pull up.
“Ah, they’re back! Come on, Mr. Mystery-Solved-Ethan-From-Work.”

He left the bedroom in a daze and saw Blythe through the window as some Latino man entered the house. Ethan’s heart sank. So it was true.
Now what?

“Hey mami!” the man said, then kissed … Blair?

Ethan was totally confused, then the man looked at him, measuring him up.
“Who are you, bruh?” he barked.
“That’s Ethan, he is Blythe’s colleague. Ethan, my boyfriend Raphael.” Blair introduced the two young men.

“Why you makin’ house calls, Jefe?” Raphael wanted to know.
“Uh … I …. ummm….” Ethan stuttered.

“Ethan! What are you doing here?” Blythe was surprised.
“I came by to go over the … thing with you. You know the …for Monday’s meeting…”
“Oh yeah, that thing. Totally forgot.” she joined his lie.

“Yo, Jefe, we are about to BBQ, you can stay and eat while you two go over your ‘work stuff’, man.” Raphael offered.

“Okay.” Ethan agreed politely. None of this made sense to him, especially as he was helping Blair set the table, then went inside to get condiments where he saw that guy definitely getting up close and personal with Blythe. WTH?

She saw him and quickly wiggled away.
“Did you need something, Ethan?”
“Blair wanted me to get condiments.”
“Right, I’ll show you.”

Raphael had left in the meantime, grinning at Ethan and through the kitchen window he saw him making out with Blair in the backyard now.

That was too much for Ethan. He just turned on his heels and left without another word.
“Ethan? Where are you going?” he heard Blythe call after him.

Whatever sick shit this was, he didn’t need it in his life!

***

Monday afternoon Ethan was sitting at his desk staring at the stack of resumes before him. They all started to look the same.
He hated all of this, but felt it was the right thing to do.

He owed her this much.
Bullshit! He owed her a lot more than a stupid recommendation. But if she was unhappy, better to have her working a few floors above him than to lose her completely. At least his mom would benefit.
And he knew full well that he had done much more than just recommend her.
He knew his mom would just hire her now, after going through the bureaucratic motions.

Maybe this would make up for some of his stupidity.
But there was still her grandma, whom he had unintentionally caused tears.
He picked up his phone and dialed.

“Hey grandma, here is your loser grandson. No, seriously, I am. But I could use your advice … actually am desperate for it.”
After the conversation he had a spark of something he had lost.
Hope.

***

“What are you doing here?” Grace looked unimpressed to see him.
“Trying to apologize. And to right a wrong.”

“You have nothing to apologize for. We already talked about that.”
“I didn’t mean you.” he told her.
“Who is it, Gracie?” Myra Pearson’s voice echoed out through the front door, which Grace had left cracked open.
“Wait – before you answer, there is more. I brought guests… my grandma and grandpa… we are here for the … belated party.” Ethan pointed at the two people not far behind him.
Grace gave Ethan a stern look, then in- and exhaled, before she gestured them to come inside, as she called back

“It’s Ethan, nana, he brought some … friends.”
“Oh, that poor boy, always working working working. And he brought friends?”
Ethan felt guilty, since obviously his neglect had forced Grace to lie to her grandmother to cover for him.
Katie and Everett entered behind them. Both knew Grace from work, so no introductions were needed, just greetings.
“I am so very sorry to have missed your birthday party, but I hope you accept this as an apology. My grandparents heard so much about you and really wanted to meet you, too.” Ethan said politely as they all entered the living room.
Katie placed a homemade cake on the table, followed by a bouquet of flowers which Ethan had presented to Myra.
“Oh my goodness, would you look at this! How thoughtful. What a beautiful arrangement. Been such a long time since I last received flowers from a dashing gentleman. And that cake looks delicious! Gracie, would you get some plates and make coffee, please? I wished I had known we’d have people over, I would have worn my good clothes and have Gracie do my hair.” Myra was beaming.
Everett gallantly kissed her hand now and said
“You look like a sunny Spring morning, dear Myra, and it is my wife and my very good honor and pleasure to make your acquaintance. Ethan has spoken so highly of you, we just had to meet you.”

Myra smiled even bigger and blushed a little.
Katie just smiled and hugged her, then both sat down and started a conversation right away.
“I’ll make the coffee and get plates.” Grace left.
“I’ll help you.” Ethan offered and followed her into the kitchen.
“That was very nice of you.”

“I hope it makes up a little for my dumbassery and shows I managed to pull my head out of my ass finally.”

“Speaking of dumbass … so you went to pimp me to your mother? You didn’t have to do that Ethan. I didn’t ask you for that, just for you to tell her it’s okay if she wanted to interview me.”

“I only told her the truth. Everything else is her. So you got an interview then?”
“No. I received a job offer straight out. Starting Monday in two weeks.”
“Oh, wow, that was fast. Congratulations. I hope it will be everything you hope for.”

“It wouldn’t be. I like your mother, really I do, but for some reasons unbeknownst to me I still like my current boss better, even though he is a douche sometimes. But he has a good heart and is very sweet. Which is why I declined the offer. Looks like we are stuck with each other for a while longer.”
“You’re staying?”

“Guess I am…”
“Please tell me I can hug you now.”

“I’d be pissed if you didn’t …”
Ethan embraced her, relieved, finally some good news again. Great even.

“Thank you…” he whispered near her ear.
“Yeah, don’t make me regret it. Now go set the table and don’t just stand here staring holes into the air.”
“Yes, drill sergeant! But I can see why I am the boss and not you. You are terrifying!”
“You haven’t even seen me when I am really mad yet!”

“Now you are scaring me!”
“You should be frightened! Especially since you are still standing here. Set the table, chop chop!”

The evening was enjoyed by all five of them.

Katie and Everett had arrived as strangers to Myra, but left as friends.

Katie ended up checking in on Myra frequently after that night, sometimes accompanied by Everett, and the trio seemed to enjoy each other’s company often, lightening the dull boredom for the mostly housebound Myra.

-tbc-

 

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2 thoughts on “5-30) Olive Branch

  1. I’m so worried about Ethan. Amy seems like she’s doing the same thing again. Getting nervous about the direction of her life and the things happening and doing things impulsively. And Blythe? What’s up with that. Hitting on your sisters boyfriend. I’m glad he ran. Grace… please find each other. They both like each other. A great prelude to love. But something tells me he can’t see what’s right in front of him…

    Liked by 1 person

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