Author's note: So I know it's been forever since I've updated. Truth is I lost interest in the story. However I recently got a new computer and in the process of transferring my documents from one computer to the next rediscovered this little story and suddenly felt a need to continue with it. So after long wait here is the next chapter. I hope you all enjoy and I will do my best to continue on with the story. Thank you to all who have reviewed encouraging me to continue.
The Big Reveal
Conner stood staring at Elizabeth for a few seconds as she kept her head down staring at her feet, he then lifted his head to look down the hall at the door to Elizabeth's and Aiden's room where Aiden lay sleeping. Returning his gaze to Elizabeth he sat down in a chair directly across from her silently begging her to lift her head and look him in the eyes. He didn't know what was about to come, but he knew it had to be big.
Slowly and silently Elizabeth lifted her head and looked Conner in the eyes. Conner stared back into her eyes and could see the depth of pain behind them that she had been hiding from him before. Looking at her now Conner could see the bags under her bloodshot eyes and small frail frame.
Taking a shaky breath before speaking Elizabeth said, "It's kind of a long story and is going to be hard for me to say, so please bear with me and try not to interrupt me because if you stop me in the middle I may not be able to continue, Ok?"
Elizabeth stared at Conner her eyes pleading with him and as he tried to answer her but the words wouldn't come finally he resolved to nodding his head in agreement. Finding this as acceptable terms of agreement Elizabeth proceeded.
"A few years ago, Aiden was about one, I was diagnosed with cancer. I went through the treatments, chemotherapy all of it. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but not because of any pain I may have been in but because during it all I kept thinking about the fact that if I didn't make it through what would happen to Aiden. I've made a lot of stupid decisions in my lifetime but the smartest one I ever made was to have Aiden. He is my entire life and because of my decision to run and hide from my problems Aiden would be left without a home. I promised myself that if I made it through and beat my cancer I would come back home and make things right, I would find you and tell you about your son and give you the option to be a part of his future. I would make things right with my parents and with Jessica.
When the doctors told me I was in remission I broke down and cried thankful to know I would have more time with my son. After finding out I was in remission I kept putting off coming back here and facing everyone. I would tell myself after my next visit to the doctor if the news was still good I would pack up and come home, and each visit the news was good I would just put it off until the next one. Finally the thought of coming back here was no longer a part of my plans. Then a couple weeks ago at a routine check-up I found out that my cancer had come back. Immediately I thought about how stupid I had been to not do what I said I would and come back and find a home for Aiden. I wasn't going to go through that again so the next day I packed up our stuff and came out here.
I was hoping things with Jessica would have smoothed over by now, I call her everyday but she has yet to pick up my call or call me back. But I can't keep waiting around for her. I've decided it's time to fight back, I know now that no matter what happens to me Aiden will be taken care of and loved. Now the next best thing I can do for him is to fight for myself and make sure that I am around for as much of his future as I can be. So I made an appointment and that is what I need to go into the city for and Aiden can't be there for that."
When Elizabeth had stopped talking she exhaled one long breath lifted her head, which she must of lowered from looking at Conner at some point during her story without him realizing, and stared at him eyes pleading for him to say something.
For a long time Conner just sat there staring at her, everything she had just told him was so much to take in he didn't know what to say. He knew she had been hiding something but had no idea it was as big as this. She had basically just told him that the reason she was here was because she was dying and needed to make sure that her son, their son, was taken care of.
Conner took a deep breath and stood up, a sudden wave of anger hit him as he began to speak, "so let me get this straight," he said as he began to pace, "basically the only reason you came back is because you are sick and want to make sure Aiden is well taken care of. But if it wasn't for that then I still wouldn't know about my son"
Elizabeth inhaled sharply as if she had been slapped but she looked him in the eye as she responded, "I told you that I've made many stupid mistakes in my life. Running from this place and all my problems here instead of facing them, never telling you about your son, those are mistakes I regret. But I was scared, scared of what you would say, what Jessica would say, what my parents would say. It's true that being sick was a wake up call for me and gave me the courage to do what I should have done a long time ago, and I am sorry that it took me so long"
Conner continued to pace he didn't know what he was supposed to do, he couldn't just sit there, not with all this running through his mind. Trying to organize his thoughts Conner stopped and turned to look at Elizabeth, her vulnerability was heartbreaking. As he stared at her, looking weaker and more scared then he had ever known her to be all his anger with her seemed to disappear.
"And all this time you've been here you haven't received any treatment?"
"No," she responded looking at her hands, "not since I found out my cancer had come back. I don't know what kind of news I'll get from the doctor but I'm not expecting it to be good"
Conner sat down again, this time in the chair next to Elizabeth and grabbed her hand and looked her in the eyes, "and your parents, they have no idea?" he asked her.
"No," she said, "I was going to wait and tell them after my appointment when I knew for sure what I was dealing with now."
"Well you can count on me to be there and do whatever you need to help you" Not too long ago something like this would have sent him running as far in the other direction as he could get, now however all he wanted to do was be there and make all her pain disappear.
"Right now all I need you to do is watch Aiden for the day while I go into the city"
"You got it" he said as he reached up, touched his thumb to her cheek and wiped away the single tear that was streaming down her face.
Elizabeth turned the hair dryer off as she finished drying her hair and put it on the bathroom sink. She leaned forward to look at herself in the mirror. Back when she was first diagnosed with cancer she had made herself stop looking in the mirror, the image reflected back at her was just too painful, she supposed now that she was going through this a second time she'd stop looking in the mirror again.
She had finally spilled everything to Conner, it felt good to have finally told someone but she was still fighting an urge to turn and run from her problems. She heard Aiden through the door laugh at what he was watching on tv and that sound brought her back to the present and out of her own head. She had to finish getting ready and leave within the next 15min. She had arranged to drop Aiden off at Conner's house on her way into the city.
She was just stepping out of the bathroom after finishing getting ready when there was a knock at the door. Confused she went to open it and found she was staring at Conner, "Conner what are you doing here? I thought I was going to drop Aiden off with you, not have you pick him up."
"Change of plans," he said as he glanced passed her through the doorway and at Aiden sitting on the bed behind her, "can I talk to you real quick out in the hall?"
Glancing back at Aiden Elizabeth said, "I'll be right back" and stepped out into the hall with Conner closing the door behind her.
"What's up Conner? You can't be canceling on me now" she said panic starting to set in that the supportive guy and father he had been since she told him was all just an act and now that things were getting tough he was finally letting his real feelings show.
"No, no I'm not bailing" he assured her and she sighed a little in relief and mentally kicked herself, she needed to stop always jumping to the worst conclusions with him, he had proven that he had changed and was in fact a more mature man who would no longer bailed at the first sign of trouble.
"I went home after our talk and realized something," Conner began, "getting sick, going through those treatments, that's not an easy thing to go through, especially when you're alone. You've been through it all before, and you've been through it alone. I don't think you realize you don't have to be alone anymore. You and I, we will forever be connected because of our son. That means that from now on I will be there for him and for you. I am on your side, in your corner, there to support you whenever you need it. When I told you I would be there and do whatever you need to help, all you wanted me to do is watch Aiden. But what about you Liz? You don't have to do this alone anymore, you don't have to put up this tough girl front. It's ok to let me in, to lean on me for support, I am going to be there.
So since you aren't used to a support system and don't know what to ask for I'm just going to have to show you what it means to have someone supporting you. That is why I am coming with you to your appointment today. You shouldn't be driving into the city by yourself and get the kind of news you'll be getting by yourself. You should have someone there with you, so I will be."
Elizabeth began shaking her head, "no I told you just watch Aiden, he can't come with. He was too young the first time to know details but he's not dumb he knew I wasn't my best and something was wrong. He can't be there for this, he can't know, not yet"
To her surprise Conner smirked, "Well that's why I called your parents as soon as I made this decision and they were more than happy to take him for the day."
"What!" Elizabeth almost screamed at him, "Conner what did you tell my parents? I told you they didn't know and I was going to tell them later."
"Relax," Conner cut her off, "I just told them that I thought it was time that you and I worked out some things just the two of us and we hadn't had the time alone yet to do that. You're mother was more than happy to take him off our hands for the day so we can discuss our future"
Elizabeth just shook her head, of course she would be. Her mom probably had some delusional idea that she and Conner could work everything out and live happily ever after.
"Fine," she said, "But you have to explain to your son why the day he was so looking forward to spending with his father is now going to be spent with his grandparents instead"
"Fair enough" Conner said and Elizabeth opened the door and the two of them walked back into the hotel room to talk with Aiden.
Jessica climbed into her car and slammed the door. She couldn't believe it. First Elizabeth shows up on her doorstep out of the blue, no warning from her parents, and wants to make things right. Then if it wasn't bad enough that Elizabeth insisted on calling her everyday, obviously not getting the hint from the fact that Jessica had done nothing but ignore her, her parents were constantly on her about giving Elizabeth a second chance. But through all of this she had still had Tia, supporting her, encouraging her to stay strong. Then today at work Tia is all of a sudden on Elizabeth's side.
How did she do it, just get everyone one to forget they were mad at her and be her friend again. She had always been like that, always been the one that everybody seemed to like without question. The goody two shoes that could do no wrong, and when she did it didn't take much for people to forgive her.
Since Elizabeth had shown up back in town she had stopped talking to her parents because all they ever wanted to talk about was Elizabeth. Tia had been her one constant; her encouragement and now she had switched sides too. It was all just too much to take. Jessica slammed on the steering wheel in frustration making the horn sound. She put her key in the ignition, started the car, threw it into drive peeled out of the parking lot and headed towards her parent's house. She was going to put a stop to this for once and for all. Let them say what they wanted to say so they would stop bugging her and she could finally get on with her life.
Conner stared at Elizabeth out of the corner of his eye as he drove them back home. She sat there in silence staring down at her lap where her hands were folded. He wasn't quite sure what to say to her. The doctor's appointment had not gone very well at all. After she had put off treatment for so long neither of them really expected any good news but it was still a huge gut wrenching feeling to hear the cancer had gotten worse and if she didn't start treatments immediately she wasn't going to make it much longer. They had wanted to check her into the hospital then and there but Elizabeth had refused insisted she needed to go home and explain things to her family, she had agreed to come back the following day to start treatments, much to the doctors dismay.
Finally unable to take the silence much longer Conner spoke up, "So Liz I've been thinking and I think it's time you and Aiden moved out of that hotel and came to live with me in my house."
Elizabeth's head shot up to look at Conner and her eyes widened, "don't be ridiculous Conner. Aiden and I are not going to move in with you."
"Well for starters you're only asking because of the news we got today."
"Liz that is not true!" Conner replied a little offended. "I've been thinking about it for a couple of weeks now. It's ridiculous that you are wasting your money living in a hotel when I have two empty rooms for you back at my house. Plus it would give me more time with my son"
Liz just stared at him with a somewhat challenging look on her face
"Ok fine" he said "It's true that part of the reason might be because of the news we just heard. If you care to remember my mom's health is not all that great either, there is a nurse who comes in and takes care of her. Things can be arranged so that she can tend to whatever you may need as well. With me living in the same place as you it will be easy for you to use me as a babysitter whenever you need a break or time to yourself to recuperate"
"Listen Conner it's a very sweet offer, and it really does amaze me how much you have stepped up since I came back but that's just too much to ask from you. I can't do that"
"But Liz you aren't asking, I'm offering. You need to stop trying to do all this on your own and let me help you and be there for you. Listen I know this is a major step and with everything that is going on right now it's a lot to handle. Just do me a favor, think about it. And I mean really think about it, don't just tell me you will to make me happy but secretly have your mind made up already. Actually think about it, when you get back tonight sit down and go over all of your options"
Elizabeth looked at Conner, sighed and said, "Ok I can do that"
Conner smirked a little and returned his gaze to the road as he drove them back home.
"Mom! Hey mom where are you!?" Jessica yelled as she stormed into her parent's house
"In hear sweetie" Jessica followed her mother's voice into the kitchen where her mom stood behind the stove.
"Ok where is she?" Jessica asked.
Her mom looked up "Where is who?"
"Don't be ridiculous mom, you know who. Where is Elizabeth? I'm tired of you and dad and Elizabeth calling me every single day and bugging me. So I'm here, I'm going to let you all say what you want to say and then you guys can stop bugging me and I can get on with my life"
"Well that's great honey but Elizabeth isn't here"
"She's not?" Jessica was a little thrown, in her anger and determination to put all this to an end it never occurred to her that Elizabeth wouldn't be at her parent's house when she got there"
"Well no, she's not staying with us."
"She's not?" replied Jessica still thrown off
"No, she's staying at a hotel somewhere" her mom said as she grabbed a stack of plates and headed into the dinning room.
Jessica followed her mom and watched her set the table, "Ok well then where can I find her?"
"Well if you wait here a little while she'll be stopping by for dinner"
Watching her mom set the table Jessica noticed that she was setting places for five people. Thrown by that number a little Jessica commented "Don't bother setting me a place for dinner I'm not staying"
Her mom glanced at her as she walked by her and back into the kitchen, "Oh I wasn't setting you a place for dinner, but there is always room if you did want to stay"
Jessica wasn't quite sure what to think, she was confused by everything that was going on. She didn't get why her mom was being so calm and why she hadn't jumped on her the minute she walked through the door bombarding her with reasons she needed to make up with Elizabeth. Confused and at a loss for words Jessica glanced up and out the window. She noticed that her dad was outside with some kid she had never seen before. "Why is dad outside with some kid?" she asked
For a minute her mom looked a little shaken, "Oh we're babysitting" she said as she recovered her composure and continued to get food ready for dinner.
"Who are you babysitting for?"
"Oh um, just some neighbors"
"Which neighbors, I know everyone in this area and none of them have kids that young."
"You know Jessica you haven't lived at home for a couple years now, it is possible for your father and I to know people you don't"
Jessica moved closer to the window to get a better look at the kid, something about the way her mom was being evasive just didn't seem right. It was a little hard to tell from her distance but something about the kid was recognizable to her. "That kid looks really familiar, what's his name?"
"His name is Aiden," at the sound of her sister's voice Jessica spun around to find Elizabeth standing in the doorway with Conner next to her, "He's our son."
Jessica's mouth dropped open and she was left speechless.