A/N: Well, as I told you, it's been awhile since I updated this. I just didn't think many people were actually reading, so I figured there was no hurry in the updates. XD Thanks to the reviewer, normal-on-strike3zq (which I've decided to dedicate this chapter to ;)), I am updating it sooner than I thought. Heh. There is only one chapter after this one and then an epilogue. Please review if you're still reading this, it'll definitely push along these last two updates sooner. ;)
Ch.25—Almost Legitimate Drama
The three sat quiet and still in the cold car. Jack had refused to turn on the vehicle and at least offer some heat to the two shivering teenagers. They had blankets and there were a few extra in the trunk. He needed to get his head together first, and worrying about his son's and Laura Chapman's temperature preferences – though he should have at least considered it – were not the top priority in mind.
"It's not an engagement ring," he clarified.
"No," both Laura and Sam said simultaneously.
Jack reclined further into his seat and tried to find a comfortable position on the freezing leather. He decided life was a crazy, challenging adventure, and if half the world freezing over wasn't enough, his son had to go off and almost propose to a girl he'd only started dating perhaps a month or so ago.
"Your mother's not going to like this," he said, his fingers now clenching the steering wheel. Both teens in the backseat looked at the action closely, wondering if it was dangerous for Mr. Hall to be so close to that kind of power regarding the mood he was currently in. But the car was still off, and the key wasn't even in the ignition. That thought comforted them.
"It's a promise ring, Dad."
His father said nothing.
"To remain pure until marriage."
Jack's eyes flashed to his son's in the rearview mirror. Sam swallowed hard uncomfortably. Perhaps the words hadn't come out exactly as he'd wanted – or as they should have come out to prevent himself from trouble.
"Who…" he stretched his shirt forth from its restful location around his neck. Regardless of the cold vehicle, he had started to feel very warm and with an increased tightness in the area surrounding his throat. "…wouldn't want that?" he squeaked. Laura squeezed her gloved hands around his other hand for reassurance, and Sam gladly looked away from the mirror and to their soft embrace.
Jack rolled his eyes and looked out the window. He should've been happy for his son, truly. But something about all the relationships and the scandal that they had all gotten caught up in since his son started dating the sweet girl in the backseat just seemed to be too…coincident.
"So you admit it's for marriage…" Jack pursed his lips, nodding. He had to get his son to admit to it, otherwise there would be no punishing him. It was cruel to try and manipulate him into it, he thought, but if he could get rid of the union between the two, maybe everything else would work itself out and then the infatuated teenagers could investigate in their 'promised' future.
"Not technically," a chattering Laura shivered in response. Jack sighed testily in the front seat and finally turned the key in the ignition and in doing so turned the heat on high. Both Laura and Sam breathed a sigh of relief, pushing the threat of powerful hands at the steering wheel to the back of their minds.
"Well, what would you technically call it, then?" Jack asked, turning around to face her. Her lips were almost blue and instantly he felt bad for keeping the heat from them for so long. After all, would he have done the same if murder had been on the list of possible 'crimes' committed?
"Um," she swallowed hard, rubbing her hands together, "I would call it a promise ring."
Jack rolled his eyes again, annoyed. He may have been acting like an impatient, overprotective parent, but at that moment it was exactly what he was.
"Mr. Hall," she began, daringly reaching her hand forward to grip onto the back of the driver's seat. "With all do respect, Sam never had a marriage in mind. We're just…kids."
Jack scoffed softly, ignoring the voice in his head that told him the girl was speaking mature for her age, even if it was eighteen. "Exactly," he muttered.
"But…" she turned back to Sam and smiled at him sweetly, "we love each other."
"What are you saying, Miss Chapman?" he asked, relaxing into the grip her hand had extended to his shoulder.
"I'm saying we want to do this right, whether we get married or not. It's just going to be us, without any physical pressure along the way." She shrugged and then released him, sinking back into the embrace with her Sam. "That's it."
Jack sighed, nodding, and his demeanor seemed to even smooth over completely. "Okay," he said quietly, turning behind him only to back the car up properly and then drive down the road. Sam's eyes flashed to Laura's in worry.
"Dad," his warning voice took over. Mr. Hall said nothing. "W-where are we going?" he asked. Jack cleared his throat.
"There is something I have to tell you two that may explain somewhat…why I just interrogated you, and so much."
The two in the back blinked, and Jack took that as his sign to continue. He took a right at the corner and drove for another two blocks in silence. That's when he approached a twenty-four hour coffee shop and slid smoothly into a vacant parking spot.
"Come on, kids. Let's get something warm to drink."
Both Sam and Laura shared a confused look with each other, but gathered up themselves and their blankets and followed Mr. Hall into the coffee shop nonetheless. After two hot chocolates and one strong blank coffee – for Mr. Hall, obviously – had been ordered, the three sat around a circular table near the gas fire in the middle of the room.
"Things are very complicated with your family right now, Laura."
She gave him a blank stare.
"I'm sure you know that," he went on, catching the flicker of recognition that came and went on her face. "H-have you told…Sam?" he questioned.
"A little," she nodded, turning to him.
"There's more?" the boy asked, his eyebrows furrowing. Laura swallowed hard, looking back towards the older man peering at the almost argument between the two teens.
"I told him my mom slipped into a coma after we got to…here, Mexico," she said, keeping her eyes pinned to Mr. Hall's. Jack nodded and Sam remained frozen. He and Laura had seemed to have fallen in love and promised their souls to each other over night, but the one thing that had really bothered Laura in the beginning, hadn't been entirely shared with him.
"Your mother," he cleared his throat, interrupting his son's thoughts, "took your side on this one, Sam. And quite honestly so did I. Things just have been…" he sighed, "complicated."
The two teens didn't look at each other in confusion now. Sam felt as if he had basically been lied to, and now Laura realized she'd have to spill out everything that was actually going on before they even finished their drinks. She looked down brought the warm foam cup to her lips, sipping from it.
"Dad," Sam said, in a need to know more. His father's eyes had also drifted down to his own drink, and it seemed he was the only one who was out of the loop of it all. There was no way it was going to stay like that. Not on his watch. Not if his father was planning on clearing up the 'complications'.
"Your mother went to visit Mr. Chapman because of this huge rift coming from the two of you deciding to date."
Sam gulped, but continued to listen. Laura focused on her drink.
"She…" he lingered on the empty space that followed, hardly realizing all of this was happening and just like this, "discovered more than she had intended to." His son's brows furrowed and he sighed again, rubbing his hand along the back of his neck. Laura shifted awkwardly and Sam finally released his hold of her, folding his hands over each other on the table. "Apparently there was a miscarriage years ago with Mr. Chapman, Gary, and…"
His father's voice faded into the back of his mind and he felt the world a blur. He couldn't feel Laura or the table beneath his fingertips. He knew he was suddenly being let it on the biggest secret of his life. He had thought the scandal of the weather working against every human being would have been enough to keep him from avoiding such personal affairs. But there was more, and everything was beginning to make sense. He just didn't know if he wanted it to.
Jack had told her to wait, and she would do as she was told. She was a feisty vixen if there ever was one. No one told Lucy Hall what to do, she told them, and they followed through. But somehow things had heightened to a degree that she almost didn't trust herself to be delivering the orders. She had hardly expected a 'sit tight' from her husband, but that's what he had given. And so now she sat, tightly, and only stood to her feet to wander over to the register and turn the heat a few degrees warmer.
She supposed it was for the best. She couldn't jump to conclusions after all. She was a grown woman and normally wouldn't fall victim to such scandals. Who would've thought when her son chose to date Laura Chapman a scandal would envelop all of them, regardless of what they willed it to do or not. If she was smart, Lucy Hall might have gone to bed and waited for what would come when her husband and son returned, maybe with Laura Chapman in tow. But she was too worried, bordering on almost angry, and the last thing she would do at a time like this was attempt sleep.
She had resorted to pacing some time ago, but that didn't help. She contemplated screaming until she had no voice left, but figured that wasn't the brightest idea regarding it was only between three and four in the morning. So, she had sighed and retreated to the couch.
And she had sat. Tight.
That was when the phone rang.
"Hello?" the man whispered, having just tucked his youngest daughter back into bed and hoping she'd stay contently asleep for more than the next five or six hours. She must have been exhausted from the day's activities, and the evenings too.
"Mr. Chapman," Lucy Hall cleared her throat roughly.
Apparently waiting didn't agree with her either.
"Mrs. Hall," he stated in shock, his voice rising back to its normal level the further away he got from Tessa's bedroom.
"I saw you," her airy voice responded, everything prim and proper tainting itself into the phone. She was anything but noninvasive, and right now she was direct and to the point. After an hour and a half of trying to 'sit tight', her will to slip into things slowly had completely diminished.
"Excuse me?" he asked, confused. Maybe the night was finally wearing on him.
"I saw you at the restaurant, Gary."
His lips parted.
"And you weren't with your wife. That just makes me a little—"
"Mrs. Hall, what you saw is none of your concern. I'm not cheating on my wife in a coma. I wouldn't dare."
The silence that followed was so thick. Lucy should've had a witty remark by now, but something in her told her to let him continue talking, that maybe there was more to the story that he was willing to let her hear…if she'd only let him speak.
He sighed. "I went to go see Janie Parxton," he paused, flooding back to the memory and how crude the woman had been. Then, he remembered what he had put her through and almost dismissed her actions completely. "The girl I was with in high school. The one that—"
"Yes," Lucy confirmed the information.
"I wasn't on a date with her, Lucy. Don't get the wrong idea."
She pursed her lips.
"She's the nurse, ironically, that has been overlooking my wife's case at the hospital since she collapsed. I've been trying to get her to do more than she's been doing to improve the health of Chelsea. I know she's not doing the best she can. I can tell when she talks to me that she's still better over what I did to her, and sometimes she even lets it slip that she's not doing as much as could be done."
Lucy sunk in her seat. She had definitely assumed too much.
"Ga—" she stopped herself. "I had no idea," she breathed, running a hand through her silky black locks and then covering her mouth lightly in the horror of the whole situation.
"I don't know what to do," he sighed again, pausing for an incredibly long time, as if trying to figure out his game plan right then on the phone. "But it's late," he said finally. "I've finally found Tessa, and everything else just needs to be figured out…tomorrow."
Lucy nodded, smiling softly.
"Or…later, rather," he chuckled lightly.
Her smile widened just a little.
"That reminds me, I didn't see Laura around here when I got back."
"She's out with Sam, remember? You gave consent this time?"
"Oh," he laughed, "that's right." He shook his head. "I should've never not given consent," he admitted.
"You were just trying to protect her."
He shrugged. "Maybe. But I think mostly I was trying to prevent her from making the mistake I did. Only I know she never would. She's got a better head on her shoulders than I ever could have had at eighteen."
"Sam too," he interjected. "Your Sam is the perfect complement to my Laura."
"Thank-you, Gary. I find I'm thinking the same about your Laura more every day. In fact, I think we were all idiots to blow up on them like we did," she coughed intentionally and Gary smirked.
"I'll take that as my 'subtle' hint?"
Lucy laughed. "You said it, not me."
"Mm," he agreed, his quiet sound evolving into a yawn.
"Tired?" she asked, yawning herself. He chuckled.
She smiled. "We'd both better go then. If we're not asleep before Sam and Laura get home, we'll have to pretend we're mad at them."
He laughed. "Ah, so true."
She gave a small yawn again and it made him smile. "Goodnight Gary."
Feeling content, Lucy turned to look at the clock and it worried her suddenly that she was not sleeping. It was not quarter to five in the morning, and she was not sleeping. She clearly had not looked decently enough at the time before. She obviously would've gone to bed then and not caused so much ruckus for a late night or early morning phone call with who appeared to be a troubling Gary Chapman. She shook her head, knowing that would not have been the case. Though, she would never admit to it, especially when her husband and son came home later.
Lucy Chapman stood to her feet, turned off the remaining lights and padded down the hall to the bedrooms. The warmth beneath the comforts was so very enticing.
A/N: Yes, I have finished it! Please review if you read it. It will inspire me to get back to this sooner. Hehe. Happy New Year's!! (almost…lol)