Home > Until Harry(10)

Until Harry(10)
Author: L.A. Casey

“I know, sweetie, I know.”

Did he really? my mind whispered.

I glanced at him. “You do?”

“Of course.” He nodded. “You think Kale got off easy for driving you out of the country?”

That caused me to stare blankly at him.

“What exactly does that mean?” I asked, my eyes wide with curiosity.

My father grinned. “It means I knocked around a man who is like my son.”

I gasped in alarm. “You didn’t!”

My father shrugged. “Only for a little bit, but I stopped myself before anything serious happened.”

I shook my head. “You hitting Kale is serious.”

“Your moving away because of him was a lot more serious,” he countered.

I looked back down at the earth before me. “It’s complicated, Dad.”

“Love always is,” he said.

I forced a smile. “And don’t I know it.”

My father squeezed my shoulder. “I told him I was sorry – don’t worry.”

“When?” I asked.

He hummed. “About six weeks ago.”

I widened my eyes and pressed my hand over my mouth. “Are you being serious?”

“No,” my father chuckled as I dropped my hand to my side. “I apologised about six months later. It was very hard for me to forgive him. You’re my daughter, and to know you left home partly because of him really hurt me. I hated him for a while because of it.”

My laughter dried up, but my eyes grew damp.

“I didn’t want anybody to hate anyone,” I whispered, and licked my dry lips.

My father exhaled. “I know that, but sometimes emotions can’t be tamed, as you know.”

I knew that very well, so I nodded.

“He was very forgiving when I did eventually say sorry,” my father continued. “He actually judged me for apologising at all. He said he deserved the beating I gave him and more.”

That, again, surprised me.

“So why didn’t you beat him further that day?” I quizzed.

My father was silent for a moment and then said, “Because he did a good enough job of beating himself up about it. Everything about his life changed after you left.”

I squeezed my eyes shut. “Do I want to know?”

“No,” my dad replied instantly. “You don’t want to know, but you’re going to have to know in order to understand how things are with him now.”

That scared me.

“I don’t understand,” I replied.

My father was silent for a long time, but he eventually took me by the arm and led me away from my aunt’s grave. “Come with me, my sweetheart,” he said softly. “I want to show you someone.”

He wants to show me someone in a graveyard?

We walked slowly, passing by grave after grave, me holding my hand in his.

“Where are we going?” I asked as I scanned the dark cemetery, feeling goosebumps rise on my arms.

“You’ll see,” my father replied solemnly.

I nodded and nervously gnawed on my lower lip.

“Can you talk to me as we walk? I’m suddenly scared to be here,” I admitted.

My father tightened his hold on me. “Don’t be scared. I have you.”

“I know,” I said, “but I want to listen to you talk. I’ve missed your voice.”

My father chuckled. “Your mother would laugh hearing you say that. She offered to pay me one hundred quid to shut up last week. She gets sick of listening to me talk.”

My lip twitched. “She just pretends she does.”

“She’s a cracking actress if that’s the case,” my father stated.

My laughter filled the dark space of the graveyard, and I stopped just as quickly as I started. It felt wrong to laugh so loud in a place where many were resting.

“What is New York like?” my father asked, completely catching me off guard.

I glanced around. “It’s not right to say this in a graveyard, but it’s alive. Pulsing with life, day and night. It never stops.”

My father glanced at me. “It sounds exciting.”

It wasn’t.

“It can be,” I murmured. “I don’t get out much, though, if I’m being honest. The constant activity isn’t for me. I like the peace I find in my apartment and my books. New York isn’t exactly my ideal place to live, never mind grow old.”

I knew I shouldn’t have revealed that bit of information to my father, but it felt nice to finally say it out loud and know it was honest truth and not a fabricated lie to please others. Roman thought I loved New York, but that was only because when I was with him, I shared in his zest for life. He didn’t know that when I was on my own I sometimes wished I wouldn’t wake up when I went to sleep.

“Why not move someplace else then?” my father asked, scanning our surroundings as we walked.

I noticed he didn’t mention I should move back to York.

I shrugged. “It seems pointless to move somewhere else, I feel the way I feel because I’m sad, Dad. The environment I’m in won’t change how I feel.”

He nodded in agreement, then said, “No, but you can change how you feel.”

Here we go, I inwardly sighed.

I smiled a little. “I can’t change how I feel until I resolve why I feel the way I feel.”

“Ah, I see.” My dad smiled too. “If that’s the case, then when are you moving back home?”

I pulled on my father’s hand and stopped us walking.

“What?” I asked him, and fully turned in his direction.

My father raised his eyebrows at me. “Your problem started at home. You can’t fix it anywhere but here because your problem is rooted here . . . He lives here.”

I groaned. “Why can’t you just tell me to get over it and move on from Kale?”

“Why should I repeat what you’ve told yourself a million times before? It won’t change how you feel.”

I glared at my father. “When did you become so philosophical?”

“The day you left me.”

I froze. My father’s reply was instant, and it gutted me.

“I’m so sorry, Dad,” I breathed.

He frowned at me. “I know you are.”

I leaned in and placed my head on his chest. “Being here is really difficult.”

He put his arms around me and kissed the crown of my head. “I know, honey, but deep down you knew you couldn’t stay away forever.”

I sighed and mimicked my father, putting my arms around him. “Staying away – that was my plan.”

“Until Harry?”

I nodded against my father’s chest. “Until Harry.”

“He always did say he would get you to come home. Little did he know he was right.”

My eyes welled with tears.

“He understood it wasn’t just a silly crush I had with Kale. He knew that I was devastated when things ended the way they did between us. Then after Lavender . . . he knew I had to leave after she collided with the bombshell Kale dropped. It’s why he helped me. I probably would have started on my downward spiral again without Lavender, as I watched Kale and Drew start a family together while I looked on from the outside.”

I pushed away the thought of Lavender and the surfacing memory of Kale revealing to me that he was having a child with another woman, but I knew when I was by myself I would relive that day over again just like I had a million times before.

“That’s actually what I wanted to talk to you about,” my father murmured.

I pulled back and looked at him. “What do you mean?”

He frowned. “We’re nearly there.”

He took my hand and starting walking again. “I’m sorry if this upsets you,” my father said as he brought us to a stop in front of a grave.

The white marble teddy bear plaque was the first thing I noticed about the grave. My eyes picked up the carved-stone toys and artificial flowers a few seconds later. My heart hurt when I realised what I was looking at.

“You want to show me a baby’s grave?” I asked, annoyed. “Why would I want to see this, Dad? Of course it will upset me.”

I avoided looking at the picture of the little angel on the headstone because I didn’t want to see the face of the beauty that was taken far too soon from the cruel world I still roamed.

“Because I want you to hear it from me before you hear it from anyone else,” my father replied.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked, my mind a pool of confusion. “You want me to know what?”

My father looked away from me. “About a year after you left, something awful happened.”

My stomach instantly began to churn.

“Wh-What do you mean?” I asked, my voice tight.

My father rubbed his face with his free hand. “You knew Drew was pregnant when you left, but what you don’t know is that she gave birth to a boy four months after you went to New York. The baby was two months premature. At first everything was perfectly perfect. Even though he was small, he was healthy and everyone was happy. Then when he was two months old, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. He fought hard for a few months, but eight months after he was diagnosed, his little body couldn’t take any more—”

“Dad. Please,” I cut him off, not wanting to hear anything further.

My father ignored me and pressed on, “The doctors tried everything they could, but he—”

“Stop it,” I snapped. “Just. Stop.”

“He died,” my father finished.

I whimpered and flung my hands over my mouth as I took a step away from my father and from the grave. “Dad, no,” I whispered. “Please be lying.”

My father’s features shone with pain. “I wish I was lying, sweetie, but I’m not.”

I looked at the grave and at the grass that covered it. “This baby . . . this is . . .”

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