Chapter 7: Back Home Again

Drake woke up early the next morning to get an early drive to his biological dad's funeral. From his mom and aunt, Drake had found out that his dad had moved from Freemont to Los Angeles, so that required a long drive from San Diego, at least three hours. The wake was to be held that day with viewings in the afternoon and evening and the next day would be the funeral. Even though Drake felt a bit calmer the night before, he still had some doubts. He didn't know what to say or even how to say it. He hadn't seen these people in years. But he decided not to drive himself crazy with all this. He just decided to enjoy the drive along the scenic Pacific Coast line. The rain was gone from before and the sun was shining brightly and broadly on the beach and water, making it more beautiful than ever. The beaches were getting crowded and filled with activity, a clear sign that summer had officially come and school was out. Drake loved summer the best because of no school (obviously) and the feeling of freedom and being carefree. It's funny; Drake wasn't feeling any of those things. He was feeling scared and unsure of what the next few days would hold for him. Drake soon snapped out of it and paid attention to the road, he didn't want to get in an accident, which is would bring back more painful memories for him.

It was just a year after Drake's mom had taken him and his baby sister away from their abusive father. Audrey had filed for divorce just a month after moving into his aunt's house. She also told the police about his abuse and got a restraining order. Drake remembered that day when his mom showed the pictures of him, with his bruises. Audrey had taken the picture to have proof for the police. Drake could see the tears in his mom's beautiful brown eyes as she struggled to take the photo; she finally gave up and gave the camera to her sister, Drake's aunt, to take the picture. Drake looked at that photo when he was older and couldn't believe what he saw, he couldn't believe what his dad had done to him. Drake was so worried that he pulled off to the shoulder of the high way and put his head in his hands.

"Why am I going to this?" he asked himself. "Why am I even bothering to pay my respects to that monster?"

Then, Josh's words came to him. "You want to tell your dad you're okay. You survived your childhood."

With that renewed confidence, Drake started his car and again drove along the highway. Soon, he was thinking about the dad his mom filed for divorce. He was got school and his aunt was watching baby Megan. Drake knew this day would come; his mom had prepared him for what was to happen.

"Drake Michael," she said, pulling him into lap. "You know that we left Daddy."

"Yeah," he said in his childish, sad voice.

Audrey's eyes welled up but she kept her strength up for her son. "Well, Daddy hasn't been nice to us, so we're going to get a divorce."

"What's a divorce?" he asked.

"Well, a divorce is when the man and woman don't love each other anymore, so they decided that it would be best to not live together anymore," she explained.

Drake remained silent. He was so silent that Audrey questioned him. "Drake, honey, are you okay?" she asked.

Drake nodded his head and said, "Yes, Mommy."

"If you need to talk, I'm always here," she said.

"I know, Mommy," he said.

Audrey gave him a kiss and sent him off to school. Before he left, he looked over at his mommy and "Mommy, I want to live with you." Then, he left.

Audrey cried at those words. She couldn't believe that someone so small and young can be so strong.

As Drake drove off the highway at the exit, he thought about that strength. He hadn't felt that strength in a long time. He didn't know where that strength was…..but he needed it. Drake had just driven to his aunt Rose's house.

Drake drove to the house, which was in the lavish area of Malibu. Drake shut off the car but he didn't get out. He wasn't scared anymore just unsure of what was about to happen and what to say. So, instead to calm his fears, he looked around the house. He had remembered it so well. It was on the ocean, a mansion whose front yard was sand. Drake remembered being a little boy, playing in the sand with his sand toys. He loved the simply feeling of being a child, something he didn't feel often. After ten minutes of stalling, Drake figured he would get out of the car and see everyone. Drake hadn't seen his dad's relatives and he was concerned about how they were about to react. But Drake needed to do this. He needed to talk to his dad's relatives and tell them he was okay…..without them.

Drake got his duffel bag and walked to the front door and rang the bell.

About a few seconds later, the door opened and there appeared a tall, slim woman, about late 30s, early 40s, with burgundy hair, burgundy eyebrows, and cream-colored skin, just like Drake, just like his dad's.

The woman frowned but suddenly changed to a smile. "Drake!" she said, surprised. "How are you? It's good to see you!" She grabbed him and gave him a hug. Drake felt a little uneasy with this woman that he didn't know hugging him.

When Drake got out of the woman's hug, he looked at her, trying not to be surprised by this woman.

"I'm good, you?" he asked, uncertain.

"You don't know me, do you?" she asked.

Drake smiled a bit and said, "Um, yes, I don't, sorry."

The two laughed and the woman said, "It's Aunt Rose. Remember? You and my kids used to play on the beach at Catalina."

Drake smiled and said, "Oh yeah, I remembered. Ryan, Rebecca, and Matthew, right?"

Aunt Rose smiled and said, "Yeah, yeah."

"How are they?" he asked, feeling a little bit comfortable.

"Great, Ryan is at USC, working on his degree in special education, Matthew is going to be a senior at West Malibu High, and Rebecca is a lawyer, just like your dad," she explained.

Suddenly, the word, "dad" struck a cord in Drake, his "dad" was Walter Nichols, not Michael Parker, but Drake didn't want to say that so he just listened.

"SO, your mom called this morning and I offered to have you stay here at my house, if that's ok," she offered.

"Oh, that's great, thanks a lot," he said.

Aunt Rose lead Drake through the house. It was perfectly decorated, with expensive, beige leather and wooden furniture. It reminded Drake of the house he once lived in. As he walked through, Drake saw old pictures of his dad's family, some he knew and some he didn't, including a beautiful, blond, model-like woman and two small girls, who looked like twins, because they had on matching lavender sundresses. Why this particular picture was pointed out was that Drake's biological dad was in it, which meant that…this woman was his dad's wife.

"Aunt Rose, this woman," he asked. "Is she Dad's wife?"

Aunt Rose, who had checked on some food, walked up to him and had a sad look on her face. She looked like she was about to cry. She turned around and said, "That's his wife, Amber and their twin girls, Abigail Grace and Michaela Joy."

"They're beautiful girls," he said, softly with a warmth that he didn't have often. "They have the same nice brown hair as Megan."

"Do they?" she asked. She turned still had her back turned. Drake was so engrossed in the picture that he didn't realize that his Aunt Rose was crying.

Drake turned and saw her tears. "Aunt Rose, what's wrong?"

Rose turned and said, "They're taking their dad's death hard. They're only five. And they were very close. They did so many things together. He was a stay-at-home dad, so they played and colored and they had a great bond."

Drake focused on the picture and his aunt's words. "They had a great bond." Man, that's something Drake so wanted. Michael never played or colored with Drake or Megan. He never cared about him, he just ignored him……..or hit him. That made Drake feel sad and soon, Drake felt tears of his own come down.

RING! RING! Went the doorbell.

Aunt Rose's eyes cleared and said, "I better get that."

Drake quietly wiped his tears and prepared himself to meet another person from his past. In walked, his childhood priest. In the back of his mind, Drake actually hoped that his priest could give him some help, help for him to understand why Drake was the only Parker child to suffer cuts and bruises.