A Rented Family
Chapter 2 / Meet Tris
"Ethan honey, finish up your cereal, we need to get going," I say, as I look at the time on my phone. Ugh. Is it really already 7:52 am? We are going to be late again today. I grab his bowl and place the remaining fruit loops into a baggy so he can eat them on the way.
You are probably wondering...really, what happened to the milk? That's easy, Ethan has sensory processing disorder, which often goes hand and hand with Autism and A.D.H.D, which he also has. Basically his senses don't function normally like others do. No big deal though, because he prefers crunchier foods, he also likes not too warm or not too cold baths, he needs tighter hugs to help calm him down and he needs a heavy weighted quilt to keep his anxiety at bay so he can fall asleep. Over the years I have learned to just roll with it. If you treat it like it's no big deal, then Ethan will take it easier and his anxiety will not be heightened. It's no big deal. Life is just normal.
Life… life has thrown me many lemons over the years. A lot of them have been heartbreaking, tragic even. I've had to learn to place one foot in front of the other and keep on walking, because at the end of the day that's all you can do. Keep going, look at the brighter side of things in life and don't dwell on the things that you can't control. Like my mother used to say, "when life throws you lemons, you make lemonade."
In Ethan's case, he is often hyperactive, aggressive, loving, and often more than not, he acts like a T-REX. Yes, that's right, I said a T-REX! When Ethan becomes uncomfortable his anxieties are often high and if he is unable to adjust to something or someone around him he often transforms himself into a t-rex. He curls his little arms up close to his armpits, sticks his neck out a little, arches his back and stomps with his feet. Oh and he roars like a t-rex as well, instead of responding verbally. He can talk just fine, thankfully Ethan is a full functioning autistic child. Which means he can talk, walk, communicate, etc. It's just more comforting and easier for him to express himself in his own way. There is never a dull moment in my life or at my home, that's for sure.
His teachers really love him though, they find his story telling very amusing. Somehow he always manages to twist any subject back into the Jurassic world, period. I'm glad many have come to love and cherish him as much as I do, but like always there are those that don't understand him and why he is the way he is. So they act the only way that they know how to...they respond to him with mean words and actions. Even then, Ethan never lets them win, he will get up, roar and then stomp away. But when that happens he tends to shut down verbally until I can come and calm him down. Usually he calms down with an extra firm and tight bear hug that lasts until I can feel all the tension in his body disappear. It breaks my heart how people can be so cruel, all because they simply don't understand him.
Often more times than not I have to deal with those special parents... you know the ones that think you have no idea about what the hell you are talking about. The parents that say..."Your child looks completely normal, there is no way is he autistic," or the... "But he can speak, are you sure?" Of course there are those ridiculous accusations about what I must have taken while I was pregnant with him. Or they say,"You seem normal, maybe it was because of his father's genes." Oh and my favorite one of them all is the, "Maybe if you just smack his butt every once in a while, he wouldn't act the way he does."
Seriously? I always want to mentally smack myself on the forehead when they say that. How is it that so many people have so much judgment about Autistic children, but they never take the time to fully educate themselves on the subject to really know what the hell they are talking about? Like I said, I have no control on how "special" some people can truly be. All I can do is explain to Ethan that he is the most special, beautiful little boy, and anyone who can't see that, are just idiots and not worth his time.
But no matter what has happened in the past and what life has thrown at me, I always try to remain thankful. Thankful for my healthy and loving son, for the job that I enjoy going to each and every day, for the roof that I have over our heads, and the food that we put in our mouths. My life may not be perfect, but there are a lot of great things about it.
Before I started to work for Four at Dauntless Advertising Agency, I was working as a waitress. I was barely keeping our heads above water. Ethan was diagnosed at the age of three, which meant he had a lot of medical exams and different kinds of therapy that he needed to go to, along with many medications that were very expensive and the medical bills just started to pile up very quickly with me having no way to pay for them. Luckily I saw an ad in the newspaper that said, "Assistant needed,"on the header in the "jobs wanted" ads that day. I was so pleased that I had met all the requirements for the job. I wasted no time in calling them and setting up an interview. The line for the job applicants waiting to be interviewed was completely insane, and if it wasn't for my no sugar coated and I don't have time for games attitude, I probably wouldn't have gotten the job. If you had compared me to the hundreds of other applicants that were waiting...Hell, I didn't stand a chance. They were all female, in their mid or early twenties, gorgeous, with curves and big breasts. Nothing like I am. You could tell that they were fresh out of college with no responsibilities whatsoever, not a care in the world. Who could blame them? But I needed this job, I wasn't leaving here without a fight.
At first I thought Zeke was kidding when he asked me if I would ever think about sleeping with Four. Was he serious? If I answered no, was that a deal breaker. Was this whole job thing a way to make sure that Four got laid every day or something? But then I looked at Four and thankfully he was just as shocked as I was at his question. Up until then, Four seemed very pleased with all of my answers to all of their questions that I was asked. Including my very honest answer about why I wanted and needed this job. I figured I might as well answer this one question honestly as well. What else did I have to lose at that point?
"Does it look like I would? I have a child at home. I can't risk losing my job at the end of the day over some two minute sweat job." Was the only response that I could think of at the time, but at least it was honest. When I glanced between Zeke and Four, Four actually looked a little hurt. Which I never fully understood why? Did he really think I was that kind of girl? Or was it something else completely? Until this day, I'm still not exactly sure what the answer to that question is. I wish a part of me would have told him that even if I ever did think of him in that way… odds are he wouldn't even enjoy sex with me anyways. As I have only been with one man sexually in my whole life. And after that awful experience, I doubt I will ever get the courage to do that again. Zeke on the other hand, looked more than amused at my honest answer. My guess is that he loved the idea of someone not wanting to sleep with his partner Four, because the next thing I know, I got the job with that answer.
We arrive at school ten minutes before the first bell rings and I can't help but sigh in relief when I see Mrs. Rodriguez right outside the school in our designated meeting spot. Mrs. Rodriguez has been appointed by the school to be Ethan's Paraprofessional. She meets him in front of the school every morning and takes him to class and then works with him for an hour each day. She basically makes sure he understands the material for that day and goes over it, if need be. Then she also helps Ethan find me everyday at the end of the school day. I am beyond grateful that Ethan and I have her in our life, she truly is an Angel from up above.
Before the school assigned her to us, Ethan had really high anxiety about arriving at school in the morning, as well as at the end of the school day's dismissal. He would often worry about not being able to find me in the courtyard after school. One day he was unable to spot me, seeing as I'm only 5'2" and someone was blocking his view of me. His anxiety shot right up through the roof and then suddenly he ran off alone towards our house. I never even saw him, again someone much taller than me was blocking my view, somewhat rudely. For two excruciatingly long hours no one knew where he was or what had even happened to him. Luckily for me, he found his way home and sat on the steps in front of our front door rocking himself with tears streaming down his face. After that day, Mrs. Rodriguez always made sure that she was there at dismissal time to assure Ethan that I would be there and that she would always help him find me.
"Bye, baby. Have a good day and be a good boy for mommy, okay," I say, giving him a kiss goodbye on his forehead. He ROARS, responding back to me, he then allows one of his little hands to wave at me from under his armpits. The moment he is within the school building, I continue to watch him as he slowly relaxes and his arms fall to the side of his body. He hates walking on the busy streets outside. There is so much noise and so much action going on, that it is very disturbing for him. But I have no choice, I can't afford my own car yet. Maybe one day soon that will be a different story. I can only hope.
It took me six months after I started working at D.A.A. to save up enough money to move us into a comfortable and safe two bedroom apartment. At first Ethan took the change hard, he was used to being in a small studio apartment with my bed just inches away from his. Major changes like that can really take a toll on him. It took him a few days of sleeping in my bed, then we both slept in his bed and then slowly over time I made my way back to my own bed. It took some time, but now he can self soothe himself and fall asleep in his own bed just like a big boy. I also just finally got most of our medical bills caught up on as well. Getting bonuses and pay raises really helped pay them off quickly. I'm excited to say that I just have one more medical bill to pay off. It feels so good to not have to worry about where our next meal is coming from and I don't have to worry if I have to take Ethan to the hospital for some reason.
I walk at a fast pace all the way to work hoping that I get there before Four does. It's Monday, so I might just be lucky. It's not like I make a habit of being late for work. I love my job, but mostly, I need my job. As I enter the double doors to the building I don't slow my pace down at all, I keep my head down as I quickly squeeze myself in, just in time before the doors to the elevator close. I take a deep breath trying to calm my heavy breathing, while straightening up my clothing. Although I don't bother to dress for anyone in particular, I do like to feel and appear professional at all times while at work. Trust me, having fruit loops somehow in your hair and not knowing it is definitely unprofessional. Not to mention, extremely embarrassing. The elevator eventually digs on the twenty second floor and I quickly step out of it. I breathe a sigh of relief, as I take notice that Four hasn't arrived at the office yet. Great. Taking full advantage of getting right to work, I rush into the office's kitchenette and pour Four a steamy cup of coffee, just the way he likes it. Then I rush over to my desk and quickly begin my morning routine. I check Four's office emails, take notes on what emails may be important and what needs to be trashed. After that I move on to the office voicemails, just like the emails, I check for anything that is important and delete the rest. I love how from day one Four has given me full access to everything. He completely trusts me with everything and never once has he ever second guessed that decision. My job is to basically make his life easier and for the office to run smoother. I don't mind. It's nice working here, plus let's face it, he is nice to look at.
Four has this tough guy thing going on with him. But I can tell it's just an act, his dark blue eyes often give him away...Although I'm pretty sure I am the only one that takes notice that he wears his emotions in his eyes, or perhaps he doesn't bother to hide them with me. I'm just not sure which. I could tell from day one that he had some serious walls built up long before anyone could have a chance to hurt him. I have no doubt in my mind that he too has a story, just like I do.
He is a very well fit man though, his well built muscles always threaten to reveal themselves through his clothing. Not to mention the man's hands, there is just something about them...long fingers and big palms. Who wouldn't want them all over? Ok Tris, calm down, remember you don't need a man in your life, especially a man like Four.
After working all these years with Four, it didn't take me long to understand what Zeke's original question in my interview was all about, the question on whether or not I would ever sleep with Four. Although Four doesn't make a habit of sleeping with the women that work for him, there have been a few women here and there. After all, he has been known for his lengthy "lunchtime meetings." I admit it's been awhile since I have had sexual relations, but I still know what it sounds like. The moaning, the sounds of items being thrown to the floor, the sounds of a woman calling out Four's name...Yup, that really has happened. It hasn't happened in a while though, and for that I am completely thankful. I used to often get up and just leave, whether to go to lunch, or to go get more supplies, or just about anything as long as I wasn't there. I wasn't quite sure about why I hated to hear that...was I that uncomfortable with the thought of people having sex, or was it because Four was having sexual relations with other women? I'll admit that although I do love and need my job, I do have a little crush on Four and have for a while now. But come on, I mean look at him, he's absolutely gorgeous. Who wouldn't?
Four is a very handsome man, he is also kind...when he wants to be, although to many people he doesn't appear that way. But I can see beyond the walls that he has built up to protect himself, deep down inside he can be tender and loving if he really wanted to be. He can be a true gentleman, he can also be caring and gentle, especially when no one is looking. It's so disappointing, I guess because a man like him shouldn't have to reduce himself to just sleeping around. I guess because deep down inside, I know that he is capable of being loved and giving it in return. But who am I to talk, right? I, who have ruled out men all together in my life, well other than the little man I go home to every night. He is my one and only love and I'm okay with that.
"Good morning, Tris." I glance up just in the nick of time to catch Four walking by my desk and into his office. Although he doesn't stop at my desk for a more proper greeting, he does offer me a smile every morning while he passes by. That handsome, show all of his teeth, panty dropping smile. Fuck, pull it together, Tris.
I waste no time at all, as I jump to my feet collecting my notepad, pen and his already waiting hot coffee and follow behind him and into his office.
"Good morning, Four," I say, as he turns around giving me his undivided attention. I carefully place the still steamy cup of coffee in front of him on his desk. I waste no time, getting down to business for the day, as I open my notepad and begin informing him of what his day looks like, as well as any important messages,"You have an office meeting with Zeke regarding the Amar account at nine. A phone conference call with Mr. Ramos at one. Oh and a Nita called, she wants a call back regarding a dinner date for tonight," I inform him. I place Nita's number on his desk. I watch as his face remains expressionless as he processes all the information I have just given him. But I take notice of the irritation in his gaze, at the mere mention of the name Nita. I guess he won't be seeing her again. Without even a glance at her phone number, he picks up the paper, crumbles it and without watching his aim he throws it right into the trash can.
"Thanks, Tris. Anything else?" Four asks. I can think of a few things. Stop that Tris!
"Nope," I say instead.
"Great. Hey, how's your son doing?" He asks. I've noticed that everyday he asks me about Ethan, and everyday I can't help but wonder why he does that. Is he just being polite, or is he actually concerned? His eyes do show his curiosity towards his questions though. I also notice that every time he asks me this question, he always meets my gaze. As if he is really interested in what is happening with my son. It melts my heart that this man, this stranger to my son, can care for him so much.
"He is doing much better now, thank you for asking. We finally found a behavior therapist willing to squeeze him into her schedule," I inform him, after all who can deny his intense gaze. One thing I have also come to appreciate about Four, he has never shown Ethan and I any pity over our situation, instead he has always shown concern and compassion for us. Something that unfortunately you don't see often in people.
"Well, I'm glad to hear that. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Okay? Door is always open," he says. Did I mention how sweet he can be?
"Thank you, Four. I appreciate that," I express to him.
"Well you are appreciated around here. We want to make sure you are ok in return," he says, with that smile that makes my panties wet. Damn, time to get out of here.
I sit down at my desk, I swear that my heated skin feels a thousand degrees hotter than before Four arrived. I take a deep breath, trying to calm my boiling blood. As Four exits his office and heads towards Zeke's for their meeting this morning about Amar's case… I can't help but release the breath that I didn't even know I was holding. It's been three years, and still that man has a way of over heating my skin with just one look. I'll admit he has starred in a few of my fantasies at night, when I'm alone and Ethan is asleep, while I'm in my room… or in the bathroom. But I know it's just a fantasy, no man like that would ever want plain old me, let alone a woman with a special needs child. I have come to terms with that a long time ago. Ethan and I are fine just the way we are and we don't need anyone coming in and changing that.
Focusing back on my work, I start preparing for Four's phone conference call. I grab the file, print out the latest emails that have been sent, as well as jot down a few notes for Four. But then I hear a loud, "WHAT" breaking the silence and disturbing everyone around us. Was that Four yelling? He sounded completely outraged. What the hell is going on?
Some minutes pass by and there is no more yelling coming from Zeke's office. I begin to let it go, thinking that this is Four and Zeke we are talking about. I'm sure it was just a disagreement that now has been settled, but I'm proven wrong when I spot a red faced, pouting, very upset Four and he is walking right past me and back into his office.
"Tris, I need to speak with you. When you have a minute," he says, as he passes me and enters his office. I take note that he doesn't even bother to close the door behind him, signaling that that minute is now. What did I do? Oh god, am I fired? I need this job! I get up slowly, entering his office and closing the door behind me and lower myself in one of the office chairs that sits right in front of his desk, as I take in a few deep breaths, steadying myself. Preparing myself for the worst to come.
"Four, is everything ok?" I ask him, when I can no longer bare the silence any longer. He has a near death glare, only it looks to be like it's far off.
"No, everything is not," he says, pinching the bridge of his nose. I know that whatever he has to say to me will not be good news. Oh no!
Revised with FDFobsessed