Chapter 25: Make or Break
“No, I’ll come by and look at the options later today,” I explained to Will over the phone. He was explaining things about the new office to me and it’s always better to see things in person, this was a big deal - I wasn’t going to make any stupid decisions because I’m too lazy too go there and hear the workers explain it in person.
“I’ll mention it to them and see if they can have their workers ready,” He responded, “Did you talk to Alexandra about designing the interior?”
I nodded my head even though he couldn’t see it, “I did... She’s going to think about it but we still have time.”
“You’re dreaming, man.” Will chuckled and I rolled my eyes. Cocky son of a bitch.
“Just do your job dealing with my legal contracts and stay out of my other business,” I responded back causing him to laugh in response.
As we hung up the phone, I walked out of the family room and to the kitchen where Allison was making breakfast. The smell of pancakes filled the room and instead of bothering her, I leaned against the door frame to watch her in for a minute longer.
She was stunning, just out of the shower with her long blond hair still wet and falling down her back. Black ‘yoga’ pants and a white t-shirt that was too big for her. My white t-shirt.
I’m not sure why those pants were called yoga pants, I’ve never seen Allison even do yoga. Hell, I’m not complaining though because her as--
“Can you get that?”
I snapped out of my thoughts and looked at Allison, who was now staring right after me, “Huh?”
“The door, Matt,” She laughed softly, “You’re so zoned out today.”
When did the doorbell ring? I shook the thought away before walking out of the kitchen and heading towards the front door.
I didn’t have time to process anything before I opened the door and noticed Quinton Fleming standing right in front of me. He was here, at my house! He must’ve been insane to think that he could just show up here unannounced.
“What are you doing here?” I asked him in a hushed tone.
Quinton attempted to glance over my shoulder and look inside as he responded to me, “I’d like to come in, perhaps I could meet this daughter of mine that you mention.”
“What? No. Absolutely not,” I refused, shaking my head adamantly, “She doesn’t know yet, Quinton. I haven’t told her about you. I haven’t told Tristan either, so if you’re interested in being a part of her life you need to be patient and not just insert yourself into situations.”
“She doesn’t know?” He asked me in a soft tone but he didn’t seem upset at all, he actually seemed relieved, “That’s great, actually. Now she can get to know me a little without the pressure of father and daughter weighing on her mind.”
I ran my fingers through my hair, groaning in frustration, “No... My god, no. We are not playing her like that.”
Quinton said nothing. He stayed completely quiet and didn’t even bother to respond to me declining his suggestion. Instead his eyes were focused behind me, like he was looking through me. And I didn’t have to turn around to realize why.
Allison was behind me, I was sure of it. Now that I thought of it, I could smell her vanilla scented perfume and as I turned around my thoughts were confirmed.
Her smile was still present which indicated that she didn’t hear anything I was saying to Quinton. Thankfully. I didn’t want her to find out this way, I wanted to tell her alone when she wasn’t still coping with the idea of Patrick not being her dad.
She deserved to have this as a private moment, not showcased and played for a fool without knowing it.
“Hey, I was wondering what was taking you so long,” She finally spoke and looking at Quinton for a moment.
“Sorry, babe. Tristan’s dad stopped by, but he’s leaving now,” I answered, looking back at Quinton, “It was good to see you.”
“Tristan’s dad? Wow... You know, I can see the resemblance,” Allison commented politely, “It’s nice to meet you. Why don’t you join us for breakfast?”
No, Allison. No.
I looked at Quinton, hoping he would have enough common sense to say no. He returned a smile at Allison’s offer and nodded his head, “That would be lovely, thank you.”
“Come on in,” She motioned her head towards the kitchen and walked away.
As she disappeared into the kitchen, Quinton walked inside and I closed the door behind him, sighing heavily. This was a mess and my mind was spinning with all of the ways this could go wrong.
I stopped Quinton before he could follow Allison into the kitchen. As his green eyes looked at me, I gave him a warning look, “Do not say a word to her. She doesn’t need to find out this way.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Matt. I wouldn’t throw her into a situation that she wasn’t prepared for,” He replied.
He was already speaking as though he had taken on the father role, and if Quinton had decided upon that, I knew that Allison would be lucky to have him. He was a compassionate man who cared deeply about family, not the way my parents did - it wasn’t a show, it was truly love, not about image.
This could be good for her. After all of these years of not having a father figure and then being blessed to have a man like Quinton Fleming become her father basically over night, it was a complete 180. But I didn’t feel like it was my place to tell her, though I constantly attempted to call Joanne to discuss this with her in hopes of convincing her to do the right thing on her own she would only ignore me.
I felt like I was slowly being forced into telling Allison the truth that could make or break her.
When we finally joined Allison in the kitchen, she was already sitting at the table devouring pancakes. She’ve already developed quite the appetite.
Quinton took a seat across from her while I sat next to her, resting my arm on the back of her chair. He looked at Allison attentively, like he was admiring her almost. From my point of view it was a nice moment of a dad seeing his daughter for the first time, though anyone else would see a creepy old man staring at a beautiful young girl.
He didn’t hesitate to try the pancakes Allison had given to him, instantly complementing her to instigate some kind of conversation, “This is delicious, Allison. You’re a wonderful cook.”
“Thank you,” Allison smiled, taking in the compliment with pride as she sipped her orange juice, “What’s your name? It’d be much easier than calling you ‘Tristan’s dad’.”
As Allison laughed, my smile faded. She knew very well that he biological father’s name is Quinton, this would be too much of a coincidence for her to not notice.
I quickly answered before Quinton had a chance to, “His name is Don.”
“Well, thank you, Don.”
“You’re welcome, Allison.” Quinton quietly responded before continuing to eat some pancakes.
I started to eat but I couldn’t completely feel comfortable. I was on edge, feeling like I had to make sure everything was moving at a decent pace.
The sound of Allison setting her fork down startled me and I looked at her as she reached for the carton of Orange Juice while speaking to Quinton, “I actually work for Tristan. He’s really great... He gave a strange first impression, but I’d consider him a close friend of mine now.”
Quinton smiled at the thought of his kids being friends, but I couldn’t help but wonder if knowing their bloodline would be the thing to tear all of this apart. “He tends to have a shield surrounding him. It takes a lot for him to open up to new people, Allison, but I assure you he has the biggest heart of anyone I know.”
“I’ve seen that side of him a few times and it’s great,” She admitted.
Quinton spoke softly, “I’m pleased that he’s kind to you.”
Allison seemed slightly confused by the comment but just smiled.
“So, Matt was telling me that you’re expecting a baby?” He added a moment later.
Allison beamed with excitement and I could see just how thrilled she was about this baby, “Yeah... Our first together. It’s really exciting to share this experience together.”
The expression on Quinton’s face changed to a more soft expression as he nodded in agreement and I continued to look back and forth to the both of them.
“That’s true. When I shared that experience with my wife it brought us closer... I appreciated her and respected her more than I already had,” He told Allison.
I cleared my throat and nodded towards the side of the table where Allison was, “Can you pass me the OJ, babe?”
I was attempting to changing to conversation before this got too personal at all but it was hopeless at this point. Both Allison and Quinton were chatters, they were just getting started.
Allison passed me the orange juice before turning her attention back to Quinton, “That’s beautiful... Does it ever fade? I mean, do you and your wife still feel the hype of being blessed with a family?”
I tried to stop Allison before she could ask Quinton, but it was inevitable. I wanted to face palm then and there but I refrained. This was miserable, there was no way I would be able to get through this morning.
“I uh... I do. My wife, however, she passed away a long time ago when Tristan was a young boy.” Quinton began to explain to her, “Twenty-three years ago.”
I watched as the emotions in Allison’s face slowly unraveled and began to fill with horror at the new revelation. She was already aware of Deena’s passing, but not Tristan’s mother.
“I’m so sorry... I can only imagine how difficult that was for you, and then your daughter...”
“You know about Deena?” Quinton asked quickly, seeming surprised.
Allison nodded her head slowly, becoming hesitant, “Yes, I uh--”
“Tristan told her,” I interrupted, hoping to make Allison less uncomfortable.
“Speaking of Tristan, I should get going. I need to get to work,” Allison said as she stood from her chair and walked to the sink with her plate.
I noticed that Quinton’s eyes followed her, a sad expression on his face and I cleared my throat to get his attention before Allison turned around again.
“I’ll drive you, sweetheart.” I suggested, deciding to take this as an opportunity to get Quinton out of the house and so I could be alone with Allison.
Damn it. I need to tell her, I had no idea how to say it or the right words to use but all I know is that telling her is what needs to be done. The guilt of knowing such importing information was beginning to weigh down on me. I’ve given Joanne her chance to be honest with Allison and it seems like she has no intentions on doing that, so I have to.
While Allison went upstairs to change into her work attaire, I turned to Quinton who was still sitting at the table with his hands clasped together.
“Quinton?” I asked him in a concerned tone.
“She’s beautiful,” was all he said.
I agreed, not a single part of me had to lie when I nodded my head because I already seen Allison as the most beautiful woman in the world, “I know...”
“You have to tell her,” He responded suddenly as he looked up at me with desperation in his eyes, “Please tell her... I’ve already missed out on twenty-one years of her life, I don’t want to miss out on more.”
I stared at him, seeing how desperate he was to be a part of Allison’s life. That’s what Allison deserves, a father who wants to be there. A man willing to be there.
Everything Joanne said didn’t make sense.
“I’ve already lost one daughter, Matt.”
“Joanne said that you told her to get an abortion,” I spoke up suddenly, looking over my shoulder to make sure the coast was clear. I continued to speak in a hushed tone, “Is that true? Tell me she’s lying, Quinton. Allison doesn’t know, but if you become a part of her life I guarantee you that her mother will tell her if it is.”
The paused he had concerned me. If he hasn’t asked for an abortion then he would have defended himself, but he didn’t. Instead he closed his eyes tightly and I swore I could hear him sniffle like he were crying.
“Damn it, Quinton.”
“I was in a bad place, Matt,” He admitted to me, as he looked up at me I could she that his eyes were red, “It happened a few months after Tanya died and I was miserable. I relied on alcohol and when I found out Joanne was pregnant, I panicked. I had become an alcoholic after Tanya, not even taking care of Tristan and Deena.”
Tanya, Quinton’s wife and Tristan’s mom, passed after a three year battle with cancer. Tristan was only young, but when we were older I recalled him telling me how vividly her remember his dad spiraling out of control. The drinking, the constant crying - it was all beginning to make sense. To Joanne, Allison was a child who came out of an affair, though for Quinton, she was conceived during one of the hardest times in his life when he was an alcoholic at his lowest point.
“After I cut ties with Joanne, I cleaned myself up and began to focus on my kids... I had no idea there was an Allison until you told me,” Quinton stood from the chair and rubbed his face, “If it weren’t for Tristan, I probably would have turned to alcohol after we lost Deena, too.”
I was going to tell Allison - I am. The more I thought about it, telling her and Tristan together seemed like the better option.
“You sure you’re feeling okay?” Matt asked me for the forth time since we reached T. Fleming Ads. I had been a little nauseous before we left the house but between stress and pregnancy, that’s to be expected. It wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle.
“I told you, I’m fine. And just for the next time you ask - I’m fine.” I teased him, unwrapping my arms from around his waist and opening my eyes as the elevator doors opened.
As usual, I held onto Matt the entire way up with my eyes closed. Any time he brought me to work we did that. I could handle my fear of elevators enough to get to Tristan’s floor on my own, but any excuse to hold Matt close was enough for me to take advantage.
We stepped out of the elevator and I felt Matt’s hand take mine as we walked towards Tristan’s office.
“So, how is your office coming along?” I looked over at Matt as my smile grew. He had been spending a lot of time on it but I wasn’t allowed to see it until it was completed.
“It’s going well,” He nodded, “I need to meet with some workers later about where they’ll be building some walls and there’s plenty more to do, but it’s coming along quickly.”
Matt was the one to knock on Tristan’s office door when we reached it. I looked over at him at made a face, “I usually just walk on in.”
“He hate when people don’t knock, Allison.” Matt made me aware and I bit my lip gently to try to hold back a laugh that threatened to escape as Matt continued, “I’m surprised he hasn’t told you that himself.”
“We have a mutual respect for one another,” I stuck my tongue out at him before shrugged my shoulders, “Plus, I technically work in there, too. It’s my office also.”
The door opened an Tristan stood in his usually work suit, minus his jacket which he usually never wore. He always walked around with the black pants and white shirt that had the sleeve rolled up to his elbows.
“This is not your office,” Tristan said to me with an amused expression on his face, “Read the name plate on the door.”
I glanced at the gold plate that said T. Fleming, CEO before smiling and walking past him, “You should add one that says A. Prescott, Paperwork Person so we can notify everyone that we both work here.”
“Paperwork person?” He chuckled as he and Matt followed me inside.
The door closed as I sat at Tristan’s desk and spun in the chair to face them, I tried to keep my smile on but realizing that my last name wasn’t exactly accurate put a damper on my mood. Once again I was reminded that I have no idea who I am.
“How’s the company coming along, Matt?” Tristan asked him as they took a seat on the couch.
Matt respond, “Good, it’s a long process, but I’m enjoying every step of it.”
Tristan leaned back with his arms resting on the back on the couch, “I suppose once your get up and running you’ll be taking my little Allison from me, huh?”
I snorted at his words, an actual snort. He had the weirdest way of stating things, “Don’t be ridiculous, Tristan. I’m not your little Allison.”
“Fine, fine. I get it. You’re a big girl now,” He smirked playfully at me.
Matt was noticably quiet, I stared at him from my spot at Tristan’s desk and observed the way he stared blankly at the coffee table without staying a word. He was distracted and I had no idea what could possibly be on his mind.
Tristan seemed to notice, too. Though instead of keeping quiet like I was doing, he called Matt out on it. “Hey, broody. What’s going on?”
Matt glanced towards Tristan with eyebrows raised, “Huh? Oh, nothing...”
“Yeah, right. My furniture is nice but the coffee table isn’t nice enough to stare at for countless minutes,” Tristan leaned forward, his eyes peering at Matt as though he were looking right through him, “What’s going on, man?”
The look on Matt’s face concerned me, at first I assumed it might have been something small on his mind but now I wasn’t so sure. I stood from the chair and walked around from the desk, going to where Matt and Tristan were sitting.
Standing beside Matt, I rested my hand on his shoulder which caused him to look up at me with a look in his eyes that I was unsure of.
He seemed nervous.
“Matt... Are you okay?” I asked him, speaking softly.
With his hand opposite to me, he touch my hand that was resting on his shoulder and took a deep breath, “You need to sit down. There’s something I need to tell you,” He then looked at Tristan before continuing, “Both of you.”