Messing up Love
Copyright © 2017 Amanda Adler
All rights reserved.
“You can’t just leave Chase!” I yelled, tears spilling down my face. I can’t believe this was happening to me, we were supposed to be forever.
“I have to!” He ran a hand harshly through his dark hair, not meeting my eyes. “Why can’t you just understand this?! I can’t stay here anymore, it’s too hard!”
“Then let me go with you. I would follow you anywhere, you know that! Why do you have to do everything on your own? Let me be there for you.” I pleaded, knowing he would do what he wanted regardless.
“No. Your sixteen years old Mia! And I’m no good for you, why can’t you see that? Everyone else does. I need to go… figure out who I am.” His voice started to break near the end. God, he never cries. I don’t know what to do if he cries.
“You’re Chase Logan. Brother of Reese, son of Carl and Sara. Star of the football team. I know who you are Chase. I’ve always known. Isn’t that enough? Aren’t I enough?”
[_ "I'm sorry Mia, but I have to go. You'll be fine. You always are, but after Sam dying... I just- I need to get away." He whispered. Tears spilled down his cheeks. It was the first time I remember seeing Chase cry, he didn’t even tear up at the funeral. _]
“He was my best friend to, damn it!” I said, frustrated.
[_ "And he wouldn't have crashed that damn car, if you hadn't called him! He would still be here- going off to college with me next week, waiting for you to join us! That is the way we always planned. Now it’s all disappeared! What was so goddamn important that you had to call him over in the middle of the night?!Why didn’t you wait for me to call you back instead?!" He bellowed. _]
I felt the chill run through my body as I understood… he blamed me for Sam’s death. I didn’t realize… I blamed myself for it, but I didn’t know he did to. Him wanting to leave made a little more since now. I turned my back as the tears continued. It was his choice, he was eighteen now.
[_ "Nothing. Goodbye Chase." I felt a soft touch on my shoulder that only lasted seconds- but still made me tremble. His touch always had. _]
All I heard next was the sound of the front door slamming, and my heart crashing shut with it…
"Hey pretty girl, how's work going?" The bell over the door chimed as Reese walked in, that signature smirk all over his face- and something else…
“What’s up Reese?” I asked, eyeing his shady expression. He started fidgeting nervously.
Come on fess up pretty boy, you know you want to.
“Nothing, just some news I have. But I really don’t feel like being hit right now, maybe later.” He replied, in mock terror. Yes, because he was terrified of all five-foot nothing me. I rolled my eyes.
“Reese…” I said in warning. I wouldn’t hit him, but I might pinch. I was good at pinching.
“Well, great chatting with ya. But I gotta run, work calls and all that jazz.” He said before grabbing one of the muffins off the counter and sprinting to the door. Yep, that boy was up to something. I’d bet my last dollar on it.
The bell over the door rang, signaling another customer. I guess I’ll worry about what was up with Reese later.
“Hello Mrs. Ryans.” I said cheerfully.
“Good morning Mia. I was hoping you had some of those delightful chocolate chip muffins made.” She beamed at me. Mrs. Ryan was this really sweet old lady that came into my Bakery at least once daily, always ordering the same thing. I always made sure I had some made for her.
“Just made some fresh, let me just go grab those for you.”
“Wonderful! I just love them, they are my favorite treat!” She clapped her hands together and I tried holding on to the giggle that was close to coming out. I loved my customers.
I took over this shop around two years ago. It won’t make us rich or anything, but it keeps us afloat. Plus, I really do love this place. The aroma of the baked goods and coffee, and the people that walk through my door.
The rest of the day went by smoothly, around four that day I let my manager Leslie take over and I headed home.
We lived in this house I had always loved as a child; it was small, only two bedrooms- But it was mine. My tiny little white house on the corner with a big yard and blue shutters. I pulled into the drive and got out. Emma came running outside laughing, Reese chasing behind her. She had her little yellow sun-dress on and her hair in pigtails, cute as a button.
"Momma!" She yelled, jumping into my arms, I caught her- she does this every day.
“Hey Sweetheart! I missed you! Were you good for Charlie?” I asked. She nodded quickly, cuddling in my arms.
“I sent Charlie home early, she said she had some homework to get done.” Reese said as I carried Emma into the house. Charlie was starting college soon, I’m going to have to find a new babysitter. Emma ran off down the hall as soon as I set her down. “She said Emma was great, as usual.”
“Thanks, but I didn’t pay her.” I started digging around my purse to pay him back. I knew he paid her for me, he did things like that a lot. Charlie was saving up for her schooling and I like to over pay her a little.
“I covered it.” Reese shrugged. “It was no problem Mia, I know you’re good for it.”
“Well, thanks then.” I replied, eyeing him. He squirmed under my scrutiny. That’s right buddy. “So, spill it. What is it you’re not telling me?”
"What?" Oh, Reese- so innocent. I snorted, yea and I'm snow white.
“Reese Logan, you are one of my best friends. I know when you want to say something, but don’t.” It just worried me that there was something he didn’t want to tell me, we told each other everything.
“Ok, um. But do not freak out okay?” Yeah, because that sounds likely. I nodded and made a ‘out with it’ gesture. Reese took a deep breath. “He’s home.”
I knew I was hitting the floor but for some reason I couldn’t seem to prevent it, a cloud covered my eyes. I felt as my back hit the wall and I slid until my butt made contact on the tile in the kitchen. But all I could think was, He’s home? I knew who he meant without asking, who else would it ever be? I felt my breaths coming in at a rapid pace, I could just make out Reese’s voice in the distance. Why now? Why is he coming home now? It’s been five years! God, I thought I was over this… over him.
I look up to see a very worried looking Emma standing in front of me, hands behind her back. She looked very unsure. That was not okay. Alright, strong for Emma, that’s what I’ve always done. I can’t fall apart now. Chase coming home doesn’t change anything. He left, that was his mess to deal with, he is the one that messed up by running scared. He messed up by not getting to help raise Emma.
“I’m okay baby girl.” I tell her, she gives me a shaky smile and I could kick myself making her worry. For a four-year old she is very observant. An old soul, Chase was like that to. She has my strawberry hair, but Chase’s light blue eyes, and I see him every time I look at her. I stand and pick her up. “See I’m okay, Uncle Reese just surprised me.” Reese was quick to help reassure her. He loved Emma fiercely, anyone who met her did.
I take her into the kitchen and set her on the counter. Reese had already made dinner so I fixed us a plate and put it on the table and set her in her booster seat. Reese cracked jokes, making her laugh all throughout the meal.
After dinner, Reese cleaned up while I gave Emma a bath, read her a book (or four) and put her to bed, kissing her goodnight. As I went back to the living room Reese was seated on the couch.
“Keep an eye on Emma please.” I say as a grab my keys.
“Mia…” He started, but I cut him off with one of my looks.
"No. It's time Reese. I have waited a long time to let him know how badly he screwed up." I had to get this out, this was a small town and it was inevitable I would run into him sooner- rather than later. “I need to do this before I burst.”
Reese sighed but gave me a nod. “I haven’t seen him yet either. Just got home today, dad called. I don’t know if I want to see him at all.” Chase was his big brother, and even he hadn’t heard from him since he left. He was just as angry as I was, had good reason to be. “Call me if you need me.”
I knew he would understand. He has been by my side ever since Chase left and I announced my pregnancy. I couldn’t tell Chase after hearing he blamed me for Sam’s death, he left to fast, and never even called to check in with anyone. I owe Reese and his dad a lot. Chase has a lot of people to make emends to. But he had a lot to make up for here to, he had a daughter that asks where her dad is all the time lately. Just for me to have to try and explain that he doesn’t know about her, but will love her just as much as I do, as soon as he knows.
The drive doesn't take long- being I have been to the Logan house just as much as my own, I knew the way easily. I pulled up to see Carl's car and a massive truck I had never seen before, it must be Chase's. I walked up to the house, getting more and more nervous the closer I got. But this was something I had to do. It’s been too long coming. He had to know about Emma, he could decide what to do with that information.
I felt like the teenage girl I used to be, as I stood in front of the home that held so many of my childhood memories. But before I had the chance to knock, the door opened. And there he was, the man that broke my heart- and left me to raise our daughter alone as a teenager.
“Mia?” Chase said in a shocked tone.
All I could do was stand there. My mind just blanked.
Five years ago, Chase was hot- in a teenage, still growing into the man he would be, kind of way. Now? Good lord the man was smoking! His dark hair was buzzed short, making his blue eyes stand out. He was still much taller than my five-nothing. I stood maybe at his shoulders, not even that far. He had grown to. I mean, maybe not too much in height, but the muscles under the fitted black shirt he was wearing were more defined. He had tattoos covering every inch of his arms. And my traitorous heart still skipped a beat at seeing him, even after all he has done.
“Mia?” He asked again, knocking me out of my gawking. He was looking at me with the same shock. He still had his hand on the door frame, like it was keeping him upright.
I found my voice after a minute, remembering why I was here. Then my mouth starting spewing and I couldn’t have stopped the onslaught if I wanted to. “What the hell are you doing back here Chase Logan?! I seem to remember you telling me you couldn’t be here anymore!” I was fuming, I knew my face was probably red, and I probably looked like a child throwing a fit. My whole body was shaking with adrenalin.
“I thought it was time. I got an honorable discharge when I was injured.” He had the good sense to look remorseful.
“You thought it was time?!” I cocked my head to the side. “Wait. You were in the army?” He nodded with a smile. Damn that smile. Back on track Mia. “You know when would have been the right time?” I asked.
He shook his head, but said nothing. “How about two years ago, when your mother got sick? Or when Reese and I moved in to help your dad take care of her? Or how about when she died? How about the funeral? How about when your whole family was falling apart with grief? Or when I got kicked out of my own house shortly after you left? There were lots of moments you should have come home Chase.” I dug a picture out of my purse, I only had about ten of them in there, and thrust it into his chest. “How about four years ago… when your daughter was born!” He looked down at the picture with a stunned expression. So happens, it was one of Emma, Reese, and I at the beach a few weeks ago. Emma was on Reese’s shoulders, grinning down at me has I looked up at her tenderly. She looked like my mini-me in that picture. But Chase’s eyes on the little girl were obvious.
“Mia…” He started, but I wasn’t done yet.
“No. Or how about you shouldn’t have left at all? Maybe you should have stuck around, and dealt with life like the rest of us had to. Or perhaps called me or your family, so we knew you were still alive, or so someone could have told you that you were a father!” I shoved against his chest, tears now falling. He stumbled a step backward. “About time?! You missed your time Chase!” I had to much pent up anger to stop now. The words just vomited out of me. Like a dam that had been broken.
"Mia... I'm so sorry." I could hear the pain in his voice as he was still staring at the photo, but couldn't bring myself to care after all he had put me through. "I didn't know..." He doesn't know sorry. Sorry is staying all night in the ER with a sick baby, or the middle of night colic bouts- all alone. Or taking care of a baby, dying woman, grieving men, all at once. Sorry is being kicked out of your home at sixteen.
“You would have known, had you stuck around. If you would have even kept in contact instead of punishing me for Sam’s death. I loved Sam just as much as you did! It hurt me to lose him to, I spent years blaming myself for all that has happened. But that little girl… that little girl you don’t know, helped me move past it with every smile. She could have helped you to, we all could have.”
“Mia, I don’t blame you. I never really did. I was angry that night. I was pissed that I missed your call, so you had to call Sam instead.” He ran a hand over his head like he always used to. “Can I see her? Meet her?”
“Of course.” I felt my sigh down to my bones. All the anger drained out… I was just so damn tired. “I’m not keeping her from you Chase, that was you all this time.” I stepped up closer to him, finger in his chest. “But I swear to god, if you leave again and break my baby girl’s heart I will make sure you can never have kids again, got it?” He nodded slowly, taking a deep breath.
“I’m not going anywhere Mia. I know I messed everything up. I messed our love up, our lives. I plan to do whatever I can to make up for it all.” He said softly.
“Make it up to her.” I said nodding to the photo in his hands. “She doesn’t know who you are, and I’m not telling her yet.” He started to say something but I barreled on. “I’ll tell her when you prove your sticking around. I won’t tell her you’re her dad, just to have you disappear again.”
With that I turned and walked to my car without another word. Chase had a lot to make up for, but Emma was going to have loving him around, if he sticks around. I made it about a mile down the road before having to pull over. Afraid of wrecking the car with the sobs that were bursting out of me. I was okay through the whole confrontation, but now it all caught up with me. After a few minutes to calm myself, I headed back home, back to the little girl that made my life the blessing it’s been after that dark time when he left.
Reese was still sitting on the couch where I left him last. He looked at me with concern when I plopped on the couch beside him.
“I told him about Emma.” Simple and to the point, that’s how we normally are with each other.
“Good.” He replied, kissing the top of my head. “Things will be okay Mia. Promise. Dad said Chase was here for good, says he’s done running. Call me crazy but I want believe him, I think the war changed him.”
“I want to believe him. I really, really do.” I whisper before falling asleep on Chase’s shoulder.
She looked just as beautiful as I remember. She had always worn her hair up in that messy knot thing back when we were kids to, all the strawberry curls falling around her face. She looked harder than I remember though, my doing I’m sure.
“She’s a feisty thing.” Dad chuckled from the kitchen table. “She is right though, you missed a lot son.”
I ran a hand over my head, frustrated. “A daughter? Dad nodded, a slight smile on his lips. “Why didn’t you tell me when I first got here? I don’t know the first thing about kids.” I let out a sigh. “I really messed up dad.”
“That you did kid. And it wasn’t my place to say. Mia needed to say her peace… she’s earned it.” He stood up and motioned for me to follow. He led me to the middle room that used to be mine, I had wondered why he stuck me in Reese’s old room. Reese- another person I need to talk to, and soon. I messed things up with my little brother to. He wouldn’t even come over when dad told him I was here.
He opened the door to the room… and it wasn’t mine anymore. I mean, the bed and furniture were mine- But there was a crib in the corner by the bed, pictures lined the mirror over the dresser. Pictures of Mia, a little baby with my eyes, Reese, and my parents. They all looked happy enough. But there was a haunted look in Mia’s eyes, the same look that was in her eyes when I saw her tonight.
“Mia moved in shortly after you left. He parents kicked her out when they found out she was pregnant. Your mom…” He cleared his throat. “Your mom took her in with no questions, you know how much she always loved that girl. She didn’t stay long though. Tough one, that girl is. She got her and Mia a tiny apartment around a year later, and your mom watched the baby while she worked.” Dad took a deep breath. I didn’t want to hear all this, but I knew I needed to. I needed to know how my actions affected everyone. “Then two years ago, we found out your mom had stage four cancer. Mia packed up Emma and moved back in, we didn’t ask her to, she just showed up the day after we told her and moved in.” He laughed at the memories I won’t ever be a part of. My fault. “Reese moved back home shortly after that, dropped his schooling. Between the two of them, they took care of everything. Your mom set Emma up at the bakery, signed it over to her. She knew Emma loved that bakery just as much as she did. They made the last year of your mom’s life happy. She loved that baby. Emma was a god-send, in a time we needed it most.” He looked over at me again and there was pity in his gaze. “We tried to call you, get ahold of someone that knew where you were.” He shook his head. “I couldn’t find any information.”
“I’m sorry dad.” There was nothing else I could say. I missed my mother’s last moments, my brother graduating, the birth of my baby- everything.
“Just say you’re sticking around this time Chase. I won’t have you floating in just to break that girl’s heart all over again. I’m not sure she could take it again. Your leaving broke her, more than the rest of us even knew about I think.” He sighed. “She was lost.”
I look my dad in the eyes to let him know how serious I was. “I’m not going anywhere dad. I’m done running, everything I was looking for is here- I just didn’t know it then.”
“Good.” Dad said simply. “Then I’ll see you in the morning. I have work in the morning, your welcome to join me, till you find out want you want to do for yourself.”
I let him know that was fine. Working at the old hardware shop was something we always did as kids, it would be good for me to get back down to my roots for a while. I walked to my new room – I need to get my own place soon – And laid on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. The hardware store was across from the Bakery, I would probably run into Emma tomorrow. I fell asleep thinking about the girl I had loved as long back as I could remember, and how I needed to prove myself to her all over again. And my baby girl I needed to get to know.
“I’m taking the day off.” My brother demanded as soon as he saw me walk in. He looked good. Not at all like the scrawny sixteen-year old I had left behind. His dark hair was hanging over his eyes. The eyes that were shooting daggers into me as he spoke. “I think Mia needed help today anyways. Charlie called this morning and quit, so she had to bring Emma with her. Maybe I’ll take Emma to a movie or something.” The door slammed behind him and he shoved past me, his shoulder forcing past mine.
“Give him time to cool down.” Dad said softly. He began wiping the counters down with an old red rag. “He and Emma grew close, bonded after you left.” He saw the look I shot him and laughed. “It’s not like that Chase.” He looked over at me. “He was there when Emma needed him, and she for him.” He huffed a laugh. “They are more brother and sister than anything. He protects her and looks out for her, and she tries to do the same. Your mom said one night, that she may have given birth to two, but she has three kids.” God, I missed her. I should have been here.
I knew he was across the street, I knew it the minute Reese came in and said he was taking Emma to the movies. His furious, but at the same time, sad tone said it all. So I let him take her, knowing it would cheer him up, Emma could make anyone smile on the worst of days.
The day went smoothly enough all my usual customers came and went. My mind was a jumble of thoughts, but I was doing okay. It was approaching lunch time and I knew Carl would be coming in for his coffee soon, so I went ahead and started the pot.
The bell above the door dinged and I looked up to see Chase standing there looking unsure. I took a deep to gather my composure. “I have your dad’s normal coffee ready, but I don’t know what you drink anymore so you’ll have to speak to tell me.”
He shot me that smirk that always got me as kids. Well, I’m not a kid anymore. It doesn’t work on me anymore, really… it doesn’t.
“Black is fine Mia, thank you.” Of course, that was something he hadn’t changed. He walked over to the counter as I was pouring his cup and looked around the place. I knew what he saw, I hadn’t changed much. It looked pretty close to the same as when his mom ran it. The table and chairs where new, but the décor stayed the same.
“The place looks good. You look like you’ve done okay for yourself.” I nodded and handed him the cups.
“There on the house, I always supply your dad’s daily coffee.” He smiled before taking a sip.
“Look. I really want to apologize again. I was a messed-up kid. I took the easy way out, but I’m not going anywhere this time Mia.” He rambled all this out so fast I had a hard time hearing it. “I want to make things right. I don’t even know you and Reese anymore, and I want to. I want to get things to where they should be.”
I thought a minute before I replied. I don’t know if I wanted to do ‘us’ again. It has been a long time, and I don’t trust easily anymore. But I was willing to try to be friends with him… maybe.
I sighed. “Reese is hurt, he had a tough time these last few years to, and he needed his brother. He will come around. He still isn’t great at holding grudges, just give him some time. I will talk to him. But you and I… I don’t know, we can try at friendship. But I can’t promise anything. That’s the best I can offer you right now.”
“I’ll take what I can get.” He nodded and smiled. “I will just have to prove to everyone that I’m here to stay, I’m not going to disappear again.”
Just then the door chimed and Emma walked in with Reese. His expression shuddered closed.
“Momma!” Emma ran to me I scooped her up. “Reese let me have candy and soda!” I laughed and gave Reese a look, he just shrugged. “I ate it all, and didn’t even get sick!”
“Is that right?” I laughed. “Well. I guess that means you need extra vegetables at dinner tonight.”
Her face scrunched up in that adorable way, and she turned her attention to the other man in the room… Chase. He was gazing at her with a look of awe.
“I shouldn’t have to eat extra veg-ta-a-bulls, right?” She looked at Reese accusingly. Pointing her tiny finger at him. “It was his idea, he should eat them for me. Right?”
Chase laughed loudly, Emma’s charm working on him already. “That sounds fair to me.” He nodded as she grinned up at me with triumph.
I shook my head at her, she was something else. “Emma, this is Chase. He was a friend of mommy’s when I was a little girl.” I told her, watching as she looked over at Chase.
“Mommy ate candy when she was little to right?” She cocked her little head at him, a move she got from me. “She said she always ate her veg-it-ta-bulls when her momma told her to.”
Chase laughed again, eyes sparkling. “I seem to remember your mom always eating dessert first. But she did love her sweets.” He winked at her. “But she did always eat her veggies, they made her grow up to be as beautiful as she is now.”
Emma looked up at me. “Okay, I will eat them.” Simply put. He had gotten my four-year-old to voluntarily say she would eat her vegetables, when it was always a battle for me.
“Alright I better get back to the shop.” Chase said. “I hope to see you again soon little Emma.” He kissed her hand and she giggled. He looked up at me. “Can we do dinner sometime?” He saw my hesitance and backtracked. “As friends, dinner as friends. I’ll cook-out at dad’s, tomorrow. Reese,” He looked back at his brother- who was still scowling, “You to. Come. I want a chance to start over again.” Reese looked to me and I knew he’d back me, whatever choice I made.
I nodded slowly. “Alright. We will be there.” I watched as he left the bakery, glancing back at me as he walked out. What have I gotten myself into?
Continue on to see what happens next…
Chase returns home after years away. Surprises await him. He has a lot to make up to the people he left behind. His brothers is pissed. fathers disappointed, his love was left broken, and a daughter he doesn't know. Find out how he handles all this and how Mia handles his return in this Episode Series. "She still made my heart crash relentlessly in my chest, that much hasn’t changed. I wondered if it would, being there had been so much time and distance between us. But no, she still held my soul in her delicate hands. I had to make them see I had changed. The army had changed me. I wasn't a coward anymore. If there was one thing I had learned watching friends die in front of me, it was that you held on to the people you love with everything you had- and you never let them go. I had let them all go before, I would not make that mistake again." - Chase