Well, why not? Killerlashes betas and says nice things. Thanks for reading. XOXO
Accidental Atonement – Like Father (Like Son)
"Daddy? Do you think we can have pizza for dinner? I really want pizza. It's Friday. Will Mommy let us have pizza?"
I sighed and picked up Hannah, our two-year-old we'd adopted from Haiti, as we stepped into the house.
"I don't know, buddy. You'll have to ask her when we get inside," I answered Matthew, but the front door swung open before I could put the key in the lock.
"You do not want to go in there right now," Mara greeted me, and then held out her hands for Hannah. Abi nodded in agreement behind her twin and pushed her wavy hair out of her face.
"Seriously, Dad. It's scary in there." She shuddered as the girls pushed their way past me.
"What happened?" Matthew frowned up at me. I smiled and mussed his hair.
"Just stay out here with your sisters, okay?"
"And then pizza?"
"We'll see," I laughed, and pushed into the house, only to be greeted by the sound of yelling. My wife's yelling, to be exact.
"Fighting? Fighting? Of all the things you could get in trouble for, Daniel? Since when do you fight?" she demanded loudly, standing with her hands on her hips and glaring at our seventeen-year-old.
"You don't get it, Mom!" he yelled back, his dark eyes clouded over with frustration.
"Then help me understand why I had to pick you up from the principal's office, kid!" Leah lowered her voice and brushed her hair from her face, still oblivious that I was in the room.
"Don't call me a kid!" Daniel yelled, and I half-expected him to stomp his foot. (He was so like his mother.)
"You are a kid. You just so happen to be my kid. My kid who got suspended for punching a classmate. Why don't you explain it to me so I can get it, please?" She took a step toward him, but our son shook his head.
He shook his head stubbornly. "I can't. You wouldn't understand." Leah set her jaw and cast a quick glance at me before speaking again.
"Fine. You're grounded. Hand over your car keys, drumsticks, and any and all electronic devices you own."
"Now." Leah held out her hand and I watched my son hand over the keys to Leah's prized '69 Camaro, and walk away. He returned a moment later, arms laden with his laptop, phone, and iPod. He haphazardly dropped them on the table and straightened up to look his mother in the eye.
"Happy?" Daniel asked coldly.
"Incredibly. Go to your room," she answered through clenched teeth.
"There's nowhere else I'd rather be."
Silence reigned until we heard the slam of Daniel's bedroom door. I waited a moment before speaking, until Leah rested one hand on the table and one hand on her heart, and I knew the tears were about to start.
"I can't believe him," she whispered to my shoulder as I wrapped my arms around her. "I can't believe my baby would do something like that."
"What happened?" I kissed her cheek after she'd pulled away.
"I don't know." Leah shrugged, wiping away tears. "I got a call when I was picking up the girls…fighting, Edward? I don't understand."
"I'll talk to him," I told her softly. "Meanwhile, your other son is really hungry for pizza."
She forced a smile and rubbed her temples. "Are they all outside?"
"Or in the kitchen listening…"
"Their cute butts better be outside," she muttered and walked away.
I made my way upstairs to Daniel's room. We'd moved nearly a year ago, shortly before we brought Hannah home. She came to us shy and curious and was currently learning every word ever and enjoying giving hugs to everyone (including perfect strangers). She was amazing, and fit right in with our crazy bunch.
I knocked on Daniel's door and waited for his muttered "come in", before opening the door. He was lying on his bed, a book open on his chest, and his eyes glued on the ceiling.
I sat on the edge of his bed and heard my son sigh. "You want to talk about it?"
"You won't listen either," he said as he threw his arm over his head.
"I promise I will." I patted his leg. Daniel tossed his book to the side and sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He was nearly as tall as me, but still favored Leah in his looks: dark, broody eyes, high cheekbones, and a glare that could make anyone recoil.
"What's with the fighting, man? That's not like you." I frowned at him and he rested his head in his hands.
"How do you know that's not like me? Because of you and Mom? Because the two of you are so good? Maybe I'm different that you are!" Daniel pushed himself off the bed and paced his room a few times.
"Trust me, boy. Your mom and I aren't that good."
"Dad. You're a preacher."
"I went to jail once," I blurted out, before I could stop myself. My son's eyes widened as he turned to me.
I sighed and scrubbed a hand over my face. "Fighting."
"I mean it, Daniel. Right after I found out my parents had died. I had a roommate who was…my girlfriend was cheating on me with him. So, he wanted to talk and I didn't."
"Yeah, right. Next you're going to tell me you were on drugs."
I raised an eyebrow at him and he looked at me incredulously.
"I'm not perfect, Daniel. And neither is your mother. We're here to help you. If there's something you want to talk about, then let's do it now."
Daniel sighed and sat next to me again. "There's this senior at school who's just a jerk, you know? He's always picking on people and today he was saying stuff about this guy I know and I kind of lost it."
"What was he saying?"
"Dad- I can't…I'm not supposed to talk about it," my son mumbled.
"I won't say anything. Pastor's honor, or something." I nudged him with my shoulder and watched his lips curl into a little smile.
"My friend Josh is…well, he's gay. But he hasn't told a lot of people and this guy just wouldn't let up on him about it."
"So you lost it."
"I lost it," he repeated. "And I know that was wrong, but you always talk about how God loves everyone no matter what, and my friend shouldn't be any different because he's gay!"
I swallowed around the lump of pride in my throat, then put my arm around my son's shoulder and pulled him as close as he would let me, pressing a kiss to his hair.
"So, your mother is pissed because you got in trouble for fighting and you were just sticking up for a friend, right?"
"She deserves to be mad," he grumbled.
"Is there anything else you need to tell me?" I asked quietly.
"Like what?" Daniel asked skeptically.
"Why it made you so mad that your friend was being picked on…"
"Dad! I'm not gay!" Daniel half-laughed. "I mean, would it matter if I was?"
"Not a bit, kid." I clapped him on the shoulder. "I love you no matter what. Your mother does too. If you were gay? No big. Fighting, on the other hand…"
He laughed for real that time, and then looked down at his hands. "I'll apologize to her."
"You're a good boy."
My son rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, yeah. Tell Mom that."
"I will, after dinner," I teased.
He groaned. "C'mon, Dad!"
"No, really. I'm starving. I'll do it later," I said as I lifted myself off his bed and crossed the room.
Daniel groaned again, but followed me downstairs where everyone was gathered around the kitchen island on stools. Hannah rushed forward to Daniel, who picked her up and kissed her cheek loudly.
"My bubbie," she squealed and he smiled at her, and then shifted his gaze to Leah.
I took Hannah from her brother's arms and watched my wife cross the kitchen to our oldest child. The rest of them watched on, frightened or intrigued by whatever was going to happen.
"I'm sorry," he whispered before wrapped his arms around her, much like I had earlier. He was nearly as tall as me these days.
"Me too," she replied, kissing his cheek and smoothing his hair.
"I love you, Mom."
"I love you too. You're still grounded, though."