Chapter 11: Flesh & Blood
I didn’t want this, the secrets and the lack of communication. That’s what made relationships fall apart. All I wanted was for Matt to be able to talk to me openly and for some reason be felt the need to keep everything to himself. I had to learn everything important from other people which was not only embarrassing, but baffling for me.
This custody thing with Thomas though was completely different, this was more serious and life changing than leaving the company his father built. He could and would do better. But Thomas, he didn’t say a single thing about having to fight for custody and having that kept from me hurt a lot more than any of the countless insults his family threw at me. This was a bigger insult - it was Matt’s unclear way of showing his lack of trust in me and the lack of stability in our relationship.
It seemed like a slap in the face and right now I could feel the bruise forming.
Alexandra had left me with plenty to think about. Even though I knew that she was always going to be trying to find ways to bring me down, today I seen a completely different side of Alexandra than the woman who showed up at my apartment door seven months ago and slapped my so hard that I fell to the ground while she screamed all kinds of profanities at me.
She was vulnerable and lonely, all she wanted was for me to see how greatly I affected her family although I had already been made aware on various occasions.
I was sitting with my thoughts for quite some time before Matt had arrived home that evening, oddly enough Matt forgot to mention that the attorney he was meeting was an attorney for child custody cases. That’s why he always kept it short and sweet with one simple word.
There was two ways I could approach this; ask Matt straight up whether it’s the truth or not, or attempt to slowly push the truth out of him. Both options seemed terrible.
But as I heard keys in the front door, all of my thoughts were broken and I no longer had the time to think about it.
“Allison?” Matt’s voice called out as the front door opened, the sound of it closing soon followed.
I looked up at the doorway of the living room where I was sitting on the couch before responding back in a slightly higher than normal voice so he could hear me, “I’m in the living room...”
After hearing Matt’s faint footsteps come closer, eventually he appeared in the doorway with a brown paper bag in hand, “Hey, beautiful. How are you feeling?”
I gave him a little smile and shrugged my shoulders, “I’m feeling okay...”
It was partly true. My upset stomach from earlier this morning had settled but now I was stressed after my conversation with Alexandra earlier. I was worrying about where Matt and I stood or why her couldn’t confide in my like he should be able to. So my stomach was feeling okay, but by my heart and mine weren’t doing so good.
“I brought you some soup just in case, and...” He set the brown bag on the coffee table as he walked over to me, taking off his jacket and setting it on the arm of the couch, “I could give you a little massage to relax you a bit.”
How could I be frustrated when he came home being so sweet? I wanted to lay in his arms for the rest of the night until I fell asleep, but that wouldn’t make the questions go away. The best thing to do was to be mature and talk like adults.
“I’d actually like to talk...” I responded quietly, “Thank you for the soup, I haven’t really ate much today so that sounds fantastic.”
I watched as Matt settled down next to me, resting his arm on the back of the couch and his eyes staying focused on me, “Is everything okay?”
“Yes, everything is fine... I just feel like we should talk about what’s been going on. You haven’t said anything about what’s going on with your case and...” I shrugged my shoulders slightly, “I know that it isn’t my business, but I care. I want to know, Matt.”
His hand extended over towards me, the corner of his mouth twitching upwards into a small smirk, “You have the kindest heart of anyone I have ever met... Baby, everything is fine. You don’t need to worry.”
As he extended his arm towards me, he brushed his thumb against my cheek gently. I placed my hand over his, “I just thought that you and Alexandra were handling the divorce situation personally, what do you need the attorney for?”
Matt visibly tensed up and his hand was quick to move away from my face. With a single shrug of the shoulder, he simply blew off my question with a wave, “Material items, Allison.”
Who was lying and who was telling me the truth?
“So it isn’t true?” I asked him suddenly. I could take avoid the obvious question any longer or I would just look like an asshole who was interrogating him.
His eyebrow raised and the look in his eyes grew more curious with a darker shade in them, ”What isn’t true?”
I took a deep breath and looked down at my hands, “That Alexandra is taking you to court for full custody of Thomas.”
The room fell silent and when I finally gained the courage to look at Matt, he was no longer looking at me. Instead he was facing forward, his jaw seemed to be clenched and I watched him lean forward, burying his head into his hands. He groaned loudly and ran his fingers through his hair, “Who told you that?”
“You didn’t answer the question, Matt. Is it true or not?” I countered.
He lifted his head to look at me, sighing softly, “Allison, what do you want from me, huh? Yes, it’s true. She’s trying to take Thomas from me.”
So that was the truth. Matt was the one lying to me.
“Why didn’t you tell me, Matt? I thought we were going to be honest with each other.” I began to explain whole heartedly to him.
Before anything else could come from my lips, Matt stood up and shook his head, “I’m not having this conversation.”
“Seriously? Come on, Matt. Don’t be a child...” I stood up also and began to follow him as he headed up the stairs but he stopped abruptly at my words.
“I’m sorry, what?” He hissed, facing me with a glint of agitation in his eyes now, “You’re saying I’m a child because I don’t want to talk to you about this?”
I opened my mouth to speak and my voice came out louder than I intended, “No! It isn’t just that. You’re keeping things from me. First you left the company and didn’t say anything and now the situation with Thomas? It’s hurtful.”
“You’re acting like I’m a fucking criminal, Allison. Get the hell over it, there are things that I won’t want to discuss with you,” Matt’s voice was now louder than mine and I froze in my position on the steps, frowning at him.
My eyes stayed on him, not believing what I was hearing, “I only want to be able to comfort you, Matt. I don’t want to stress you out or anything like that.”
"Allison,” He put emphasis on my name, saying it in a stern tone, “Go downstairs and eat your soup. If I want to talk to you, I will. End of story.”
He ended it there, turning get around and walking up the rest of the stairs, he quickly disappeared down the hallway so I could no longer see him. I hadn’t been expecting the conversation to go like that at all, I had clearly hit a nerve and Matt was shutting me out - me bringing it up didn’t make it any better.
I had become familiar with Sasha’s expressions, I could tell when something was going wrong and when things seemed to be looking good - which was rare. She didn’t have to say much for me to know if my odds were looking good or not, and right now I knew my chances were bad which didn’t quite make sense to me. I hadn’t done anything to be proven as unfit in Thomas’ life and for the court to hand him over to his mother seemed ridiculous.
Paperwork was scattered over Sasha’s desk while she looked at her computer screen with an unsure expression on her face, I sat dumbfounded on the opposite side of the desk.
“Sasha, please be honest with me...” I asked, breaking her from her trance, “We’ve been at this for weeks already and we’ve come up short each time. Why am I not good enough for my son?”
It was a discouraging process to say the least. I always considered myself to be a pretty great dad, I always strived to be the best dad in the world for Thomas so I could never fail him. All I wanted was for Thomas to grow up and remember the times he and I spent together and think that his dad was present, that I always engaged in activities with him. I couldn’t do that if I legally wasn’t allowed. But even until now, I was always there for him.
“Matt, you haven’t done anything to be unfit,” Sasha replied reassuringly, “The thing is... The courts often rule in favor of the mother regardless of the father’s contributions.”
She nodded in agreement, “I know, I agree completely. I’m trying to work around it because we can try and go ahead with what we have but unless you have something against Alexandra, there’s no guarantee that we’re going to get anywhere.”
I shook my head slowly, a soft sigh escaping my lips, “Alexandra is a wonderful mother. She hasn’t done anything wrong.”
Other than this.
This was a losing battle, I already lost I was just struggling along the way. It was pathetic that I was even trying but I wasn’t going to just let go of Thomas without a fight.
“Matt, I’m not going give up...” Sasha place her hand over mine that was rested on the desk, I looked at her and she gave me a reassuring smile, “You deserve to be a part of your little boy’s life.”
I was grateful that Sasha was taking this so personally and I knew she was doing her best. I smiled back at her, nodding my head, “Thank you, Sasha. For everything. You’ve been so amazing and... I know this case has been difficult to work with but you’ve been so optimistic.”
“Well, you make the job very easy.”
The sound of my phone ringing causing the conversation to be interrupted and I pulled my hand away from hers, “I’m very sorry.”
She gave me a reassuring smile and mouthed, ′It’s okay’ as I answered.
“Father, what do you want?” I answered in a careless tone. I hadn’t been speaking with him since I left the office after quitting, now he had suddenly decided to call? Surely there was a reason. There was always a reason behind his calls.
I could hear the annoyance in my father’s voice from the other end of the line, “That’s no way to answer your father, Matthew.”
“I’m in the middle of something very important, so could you please get to the point of your call?”
I wasn’t normally rude to my father. Rarely ever, but I had been reaching the end of my rope lately. Between everything that was going on, I was stressed to the max and my father was a huge factor in that. He was the reason I left work. He demoted me for the dumbest reason in the world.
My father sighed before deciding to answer my request, “Please come by the house, your siblings will both be here along with your mother and I. We have something to discuss.”
I raked my fingers through my thick, dark hair, “Father, I--”
“Matthew, if not for me, come for your mother.”
Well, fuck. The man knows how to get his own way. Even though my mother could be just as conniving as he could be, he knew that I would always have a soft spot for her because of the obvious reasons - she’s my mother. So I had to do the only thing I’ve ever known to do naturally when it’s come to my mother.
I agreed to go to the house for whatever reason that my father needed me there. I didn’t ask questions, giving the fact that my siblings were going to be there as well, I assumed it was going to be family related.
“I’ll be there soon,” I replied dully before hanging up and turning to Sasha who was twirling her dark, black hair around her index finger and looking at me curiously with her carmel brown eyes, “I’m very sorry, but I have a family matter to deal with. You have another client tomorrow, correct?”
She nodded her head, standing from her desk, “Yes, but perhaps we can grab dinner in the evening tomorrow and go over some further details?”
My brows furrowed on instinct and I shook my head, “Oh, no. Sasha, that’s after your working hours. I can’t expect you to take the time out of your personal life to focus on my case.”
“Matt, I’m in your corner... I want to help you,” She insisted, “Plus you’d be buying.”
I chuckled lightly and shook my head slightly, “Let me see what’s going on with my family and I’ll text you, okay?”
Sasha nodded her head in agreement as I slipped on my suit jacket before heading out of her office. Luckily for me I was fortunate enough to find an attorney who was invested enough to put so much of her time into helping me, all I was hoping for was some kind of break through. We didn’t have much time for a miracle to occur, the judge set a hearing for two weeks from today and on my end, it wasn’t looking good.
I didn’t tell anyone what was going on. Not Allison, not my family, and certainly not Thomas. The only reason Allison found out Alexandra was taking me to court for full custody was because Alexandra told her and I’m sure she had some kind of motive behind it. But I didn’t want anyone to know because I felt like it was somehow my fault, like maybe I could have prevented this if I had divorced Alexandra before dating someone else. I made her angry which caused her to want to retaliate against me and she used the thing I loved most in the world - Thomas.
By the time I reached my parent’s house I noticed my sibling’s vehicles in the long driveway, so of course they were waiting on me. Whatever this was about I doubt it was as urgent as my father made it seem on the phone but I had to make the effort to come just in case it ended up being important.
Reluctantly and unwilling to face the demons whom I called my family, I made my way to the front door and knocked lightly but before the third knock happened the front door quickly opened and Amelia stood before me.
“I saw your car coming up the driveway,” She explained while stepping aside.
I simply nodded my head and walked inside, stuffing my car keys into my pocket, “Where’s father? I’d like to get whatever this is over with.”
Amelia closed the door and stepped in front of me, beginning to walk towards the family room, “Everyone is in the living room.”
Following behind her I began to think of the possibilities of what this family meeting could entail. I swear to god if it’s some kind of uncalled for intervention I will disown each and every one of them. It was beginning to seem more and more like that by the second.
As we entered the room I noticed my parents on one couch and Will on the other, Amelia walked over towards Will, taking a seat next to him. I made my way over to the arm chair, sitting down and clasping my hands together in a less than interested manner.
“What’s this about?” I asked, getting straight to the point.
My mother seemed struck by the forwardness of my words, “Not a single word? No hello? Matthew, sweetheart...”
“Mother, please. The only reason I came was because father made it sound important.”
“It is important,” My father cut in.
I noticed Will lean forward with an interested eye, seeming almost as irritated as I was, “Well? How about we just get on with it then? Matty clearly doesn’t want to be here.”
Anytime Will referred to me as Matty my blood boiled and he knew that, and it was exactly that reason for why he continued to use that God damn nickname on me.
He watched me glare at him and he simply smirked a taunting mother fucking smirk that made me want to punch him square in the face. I hated him. I’ve never hated anyone so much in my life, but I hated my brother. My own flesh and blood.
“I wanted to call you all here because you grandmother called to let us know that she’s going to be visiting next weekend,” My father finally spoke up.
The only grandmother I had that was still living was Grandmother Lucia. She and I were always relatively close, growing up she had always told me that I was her favorite but she possibly told Will and Amelia that too. She was considered to me one of the more generous members of my family amongst all of the crazies.
Considering I had been expecting to walk into this family meeting and get some kind of bad news, I was relieved to know that to big announcement was my grandmother coming to town.
I sighed in relief, “That’s fantastic. I assume we’ll be taking her to dinner?”
My mother nodded her head, “Of course we will.”
I was eager for my grandmother to meet Allison, although our relationship started in the wrong way, I was proud of my girlfriend and I wanted the world to know that she was mine. Surely Allison would be somewhat excited to meet my grandmother also, after I explained to her that she isn’t nearly as horrible as the rest of my family.
“There’s just one thing, Matthew.” My father spoke up, catching my attention and causing me to look at him. “You know your grandmother is very, uhm... ‘old school’ with her beliefs and...”
“Oh no... don’t even go there...” I started, shaking my head as I began to understand where this conversation was going.
“Matthew, your grandmother had a heart attack last year. Her doctors said that any amount of stress could cause another relapse and she might not be as lucky next time,” He continued, sighing heavily and he held onto my mother’s hand, “You know that she doesn’t believe in divorce. All you have to do is pretend that you and Alexandra are still happily married for the weekend your grandmother is here, until she leaves.”
I can’t believe that he even suggested it. That I pretend to be married to Alexandra while my grandmother is in town. It was an insulting suggestion to say the least, to both Allison and myself, who’s to say that Alexandra would even go along with it - And Thomas, that would confuse the hell out of my boy.
“You people are crossing a line,” I muttered, standing up from the arm chair quickly but my father stopped me from leaving the room, stepping in front of me as I headed towards the door.
“Matthew, I understand that this is a lot to ask... But please consider your grandmother’s heart condition and how a divorce so early in your life, with a two year old son, would stress her...” My father looked at me, “It’s one weekend, Matthew.”
I flailed my arms, beginning to raise my voice as I responded to him, “It’s never going to be just one weekend! What happens the next time she comes into town? When she’s older, huh? Then I’ll have to do it again!”
My father fell silent and I glanced around the room to see my mother staring at us silently. My gaze shifted to Will who was leaned back on the couch with a stunned expression on his face and Amelia next to him had her arms folded over her chest.
“I know that you all hate Allison, but this is the most disrespectful thing that anyone could suggest... It’s degrading,” I shook my head and held my hand up to stop them before they could even say anything, “I’m not going to do it. This is the last time that I want to hear this conversation, and maybe I’ll try to forget that you were rude enough to bring it up.”
I didn’t wait for a response - I didn’t want one. Instead, I walked out of the family room and headed out of the house, digging my keys from my pocket in a hurry.
“Some fucking family,” I muttered under my breath as I reached the car and opened the door.
I couldn’t believe they even suggested such a thing no matter how much they disliked Allison.
Leaning my head back against the seat, I let out a heavy sigh and began to evaluate the situation. How dare they drag my grandmother into this as some stupid scheme to push me away from Allison, it would never happen regardless no matter how true their words were. I knew about my grandmother’s heart attack last year and she was very set on her opinions on sticking with wedding vows, but my family was using that information to their benefit.
I wouldn’t hurt Allison like that and I certainly wouldn’t go behind her back. No matter what the consequences were, I had to consider all aspects of the situation and now that I had left the house I wasn’t sure what the best choice was.