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Authors: Deanna Lynn Sletten

Maggie's Turn (21 page)

BOOK: Maggie's Turn
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"I'm so sorry, Maggie. I didn't know. You never told me," Andrew said, his voice barely a whisper.

"I never told you because I didn't want Kyle to be in the middle of this mess. He felt bad enough. He was afraid that by telling me, our marriage would be over. I told him not to say anything to you, and I'd take care of it. Why do you think I didn't just up and leave you? Why do you think I didn't push the issue? I didn't want Kyle to feel like it was his fault that our marriage was over. Because it wasn't his fault. He didn't create this mess. You did. And now you've created yet another mess." Maggie sat back down on the bed, exhausted from all the emotions that had passed between them over the past few weeks, maybe even over the past couple of years. She really didn't know how much more of Andrew's crap she could take.

"I'll fix this, okay? I'll go see Kyle and talk to him. I didn't know. I'll try to get him to come home," Andrew said.

"You can't just try, Andrew. You have to get him to come home. I don't want him living at Nick's place," Maggie said, her tone urgent.

"Okay. I said I would," Andrew told her.

"You don't understand, again. Nick's place isn't a good place for Kyle to stay. Kyle's told me that Nick throws parties all the time and keeps illegal drugs at his place. Kyle only hangs out with him at work, or to go out to eat, but he never goes over there. He's afraid of getting into trouble for the drugs if he's there. Andrew, you have to bring him home. Now."

"Oh, shit. I didn’t know that either," Andrew said.

"There's a lot you don't know, Andrew, because you haven't paid attention to your family. You need to smooth things over with Kaia, too. She was really upset about the fight you had with Kyle."

"I will. I'll go talk to her now, and then I'll go get Kyle," Andrew said. After a silent moment, he said quietly, "I'll fix this Maggie. I promise, I will."

"You have to, Andrew. Because I can't fix your mistakes any longer. It's up to you to bring your family back together again. I'm tired of trying to do it all on my own."

After Maggie hung up, she lay down on the bed and thought about everything they'd said. She didn't know how she felt about Andrew anymore. She wasn't sure if she still loved him. Too much anger and too many terrible words had passed between them. She had thought at one point they might be able to fix their marriage, but now, she didn't know. She just wanted to be happy again. She wanted to feel whole again.

Maggie went downstairs for a glass of water and was surprised to see Rob sitting in front of the fireplace in the semi-dark living room.

"Still up?" he asked, as she made her way to the sofa. He was lounging in the corner of the sofa, his long legs spread out in front of him, looking relaxed and comfortable. Maggie wished she could feel as relaxed as he looked.

"Yeah. Just came down to get some water," she told him. She went to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of water from the pitcher in the refrigerator, then headed back into the living room. "Did Cassie and Matt go up to bed?"

"Yep. I'm the only one up, except you."

"I figured you'd be asleep already since you have a long drive tomorrow," Maggie said, as she perched on the arm of the sofa. It was a big, dark brown leather sofa that you sank into, and was the perfect place to sit and enjoy the fire.

"Yeah, I probably should get some sleep. It's nice sitting down here though, in front of the fire in the quiet house." Rob looked at her for a long moment, studying her profile as Maggie stared into the fire. "You know, my offer is still open for you to come along with me. We'd have a good time. You could wear your leathers," he added with a twinkle in his eyes.

Maggie laughed, and thought about it a moment. It would be fun to ride along and just forget about Andrew and all the trouble he'd caused. It was up to Andrew to fix his mess, not her. She turned to face Rob. "You know, I think you've talked me into it. It might be fun. Just two friends on a ride, right?" she asked, hoping she was making the friends point clear.

Rob nodded. "Just two friends on a ride."

 

Chapter Twenty

 

 

Andrew had a lot of work to do to fix his broken family. After hanging up from Maggie, he immediately went to Kaia's room, where she was hiding out from him, and apologized to her for the fight he'd had with Kyle. He assured her he was going to fix everything and bring her brother home. Kaia just stared at him with big, sad eyes. Andrew realized how much she and he and been through over the past few weeks. The eyebrow piercing winked at him in the light, reminding him of those first few tense days. But things had gotten better, until now. He didn't want to lose the relationship he was building with his only daughter just because he was a stubborn idiot.

Andrew walked across the room and drew Kaia into a hug. She responded. When he finally left, he hoped he had mended the huge gap in the bridge he and Kaia has started building.

Nick lived in an upstairs apartment downtown, in an old brick building above a coffee shop. Andrew knew this only because he'd seen Nick coming out of the door between the buildings in the morning when Andrew occasionally stopped there to pick up coffee and doughnuts for the office staff. He didn't know Nick very well, other than the fact that he had been a couple of years ahead of Kyle in high school, and he worked in the parts department at the motorcycle shop where Kyle worked.

The streetlights spilled shadows on the empty street as Andrew pulled up in front of the building. This was the old downtown section, where two story, brick buildings, built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, housed family-owned businesses downstairs and musty old apartments upstairs. All the businesses downtown closed by six o'clock in the evening once the summer season was over, leaving the downtown to look empty and desolate. As he stepped out of his car, Andrew looked up and saw a light on in the upstairs window. Hopefully, Kyle was there.

The main door was locked, so Andrew had to ring the buzzer beside the door. After a long wait, Kyle finally appeared at the door. He opened it hesitantly and looked at his dad.

"Hi, Kyle. I need to talk to you," Andrew said in an even tone.

Kyle frowned but turned and headed up the narrow staircase, leading the way. Andrew followed. At the top of the stairs, there were two doors, one that was straight ahead, the other on the right. Kyle turned right and led Andrew into the apartment.

Andrew stood and surveyed his surroundings. The room was a mess. There was a ratty brown couch in the center with a scarred wooden coffee table in front of it. An old, green Naugahyde recliner sat next to the couch with silver duct tape holding the arms together and cigarette holes burned into the seat. Across from the couch sat a fairly new flat screen television on a battered TV stand and across the room sat an old wooden dining table with four rickety chairs. Littered on the table and coffee table were old pizza boxes and empty beer and soda cans. The place reeked of moldy food, beer, cigarette smoke, and God knew what else.

Kyle had sat down on the ratty couch and was now staring at his dad. "It's not a palace, I know. But it's somewhere to stay."

Andrew walked over to the couch and tentatively sat down next to Kyle. "Is anyone else here?" he asked, not wanting Kyle's friends to overhear their conversation.

Kyle shook his head.

Andrew took a deep breath in anticipation of what he was about to say, then regretted it when he got a lungful of the horrible stench. "Kyle, I'm sorry I blew up at you. I'd like for you to come home."

Kyle rolled his eyes. "So, that's it? All you have to do is apologize, and everything is better?"

Andrew looked down at his hands, not quite sure what to say. When Kyle was younger, he looked up to him like he was his hero. But now, Kyle knew differently. He knew his dad was only human and made human mistakes. Andrew wished Kyle was ten and still looked at him in amazement like when he taught him to throw a curveball. But those days were long gone.

"No, son, that isn't it," Andrew said, and looked Kyle directly in the eye. "I didn't know that you saw me, that night. I'm sorry that you saw me that way, with that woman. I'm sorry that you had to be the one to tell your mom."

Kyle glared at Andrew. "Why? Because you got caught?"

Andrew shook his head. "No. Because it hurt and embarrassed you in front of your friends. Because it put you in the middle and forced you to take sides. But most of all, because I was wrong to do what I did, and you shouldn't have had to be the one to tell your mom. I'm very sorry about that. I'm so, so sorry about all of it."

Kyle's anger softened. "Aren't you apologizing to the wrong person? You hurt Mom more than you hurt me."

Andrew ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "I have apologized to her, many times. We're still trying to work things out."

"Did you mean it, though? When you apologized. Or did you just say the words, like you do about so many things."

Andrew looked at his son, surprised by his question. "Of course, I meant it. Why do you say that?"

"Sometimes you just say what you think the other person wants to hear, but you don't follow through. You don't really mean what you say. I think you've been a salesman for so long, you just say the right thing to manipulate people and get them to like you. It's the same with all your committee work. You've basically learned to lie to get people to do what you want."

Andrew sat there, shocked. He was about to protest, then stopped himself. He thought about his life over the past few years. The way he'd slowly alienated his family with the excuse that he was doing good for the community, convincing himself that it made him a good person. But he barely knew his kids anymore. And he and Maggie had become so far out of touch with each other that he'd gone looking for comfort elsewhere. Without realizing it, he'd become a combination of his father and his mother, a coldhearted, unfeeling jerk. His kids knew it, and his wife knew it. Heck, the whole town seemed to feel that way about him.

"I'm so sorry, Kyle. I didn't mean to become that way. I didn't realize I'd become so distant from all of you. My God, how could I have not seen what I was doing?" Andrew dropped his head in his hands, distraught at what he'd finally realized.

Kyle placed his hand on his dad's shoulder. "Dad, I just want you to go back to being the dad you were a few years ago, when we used to do things together, as a family. And when you used to listen to Kaia and me when we talked to you."

Andrew raised his head and looked at his son. He was so grown up. Andrew was suddenly so proud of the man he was becoming. Thanks to Maggie, he was becoming a better man than Andrew had become.

"I promise to try to listen better," Andrew said. "And I'll start by listening to you about what you really want to do instead of going to college."

Kyle's brown eyes grew wide. "I just don't like going to college, Dad. I know that you think I need to go, but it just isn't for me. Mom and I talked about me going to the tech college this spring. I really enjoy working with engines, and I think I'd rather pursue that instead."

Andrew took a deep breath. "Well, maybe that would be a good idea. You're good with your hands, and you're smart. Working on cars and small engines is getting more complicated these days, with all the computerized parts. I think going to the tech school might be a better fit for you."

Kyle smiled. "Thanks, Dad. I know you'd rather I go into business or something like that, but I don't think I'm cut out for that kind of work."

Andrew nodded. He couldn't force Kyle to become someone he wasn't. He didn't know why he'd tried to push him in the wrong direction for the past two years. If working on engines made Kyle happy, so be it.

"So, will you come home now? I promise, no more fighting," Andrew said.

Kyle looked around the apartment and grinned. "You mean you want me to leave all of this behind?"

Andrew chuckled. "I know it will be hard, but I'm sure you'll survive. Let's pack up your stuff and get you out of here, okay?"

Kyle stood and looked at his dad with serious eyes. "What about Mom? How are you going to get her to come home?"

"I don't know yet," Andrew said honestly. "But I'll keep trying. I promise."

 

***

 

Maggie and Rob headed out early Friday morning just as the sun was burning off the morning fog. Cassie had been surprised, but pleased, to hear that Maggie was going after all, and she helped Maggie hurriedly pack the few items she'd need for the trip. She couldn't bring much, since everything had to fit in one of Rob's saddlebags. She left her leather chaps behind but wore her leather jacket for warmth and protection. It could double as a regular jacket since it was sleek fitting and had very little decoration. She chose also to wear a pair of low-heeled ankle boots she'd bought at the outlet mall in Reno, and one of her new pair of jeans that fit perfectly. Maggie only packed a few personal items, another pair of jeans, a couple T-shirts, and a pair of lightweight sneakers. She also squeezed in her camera, an essential for her.

She left that morning in good spirits, no longer worried about Kyle and Kaia. The night before, Andrew had texted her that he'd talked to Kyle and brought him home, and that he'd also smoothed things over with Kaia. She didn't call him back, because she was still angry with him, despite him fixing his problems with the kids. She just wanted to go on this trip with Rob, enjoy the view, and not think about her problems with Andrew for a few days.

They headed down I-5 South to the 101 Cutoff, then hit Highway 101 South. After only two and a half hours, they stopped at a small gas station to stretch and walk around. Maggie took photos of the ocean view from high above on the rocky cliffs. Down below, there was a sandy beach hidden in a cove, and a few people in wetsuits were braving the water with surfboards. Maggie took photos of the surfers on their colorful boards, cruising over the medium-sized waves.

After a time, they were on the bike and riding again. Maggie sat behind Rob, holding him lightly around the waist to keep her balance. The seat was generous in size and comfortable to ride on. She wasn't used to the helmet she wore yet but understood its necessity. She was happy she hadn't tried to style her hair this morning, because it would've just been a flat mess by this evening from the helmet anyway.

BOOK: Maggie's Turn
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