Lucky in Love, page 15
I sigh loudly, everything flooding me as I do. It’s been such a strange journey, I hardly know what to think about it. The reunion at Kayla’s birthday party, the two night stand that followed, the endless lonely months before he came crashing back in to my life, and now this… will there ever be a time when it’s normal?
“I have so many things that I want to tell you about your daddy,” I continue, my voice thick with emotion. “Right now, people are believing some terrible things about him, but that isn’t true. You know, for a little while even I doubted him a little bit. But that was because of fear. I couldn’t actually think those things of him. He would never do anything to actually hurt someone, I just know it. He’d never steal.”
I huff and lean my head back against the pillow, the unfairness of the situation crushing down on me. Now that my baby is born, I’m more certain than ever that Ann is right, and Tony didn’t do anything. I just wish that I could speak to him somehow, to find out what’s going on, to let him know that our miracle is here.
“Your daddy will come and see you soon,” I reassure him. “You’ll get to know yourself what a great person he is. And he will be able you show you then how much he loves you. Because he loves you already.”
I hold my son close to me and inhale deeply, breathing him all the way in. He smells delicious, the scent just makes me fall even deeper in love. I have never felt anything like it before. It’s incredible, life altering. It makes all the issues that I have ever had in my life melt away to nothingness. Nothing else matters to me now but him.
“Now, what are we going to call you? What name suits you?” I look at his little face, just waiting for inspiration, and as soon as I catch his deep brown eyes, it hits me hard. He looks a lot like Tony’s father, John. The man who inspired him, who cared for Tony, who helped him to become who he is. “John Compton. That’s who you are. Little John Compton. That feels right. He will be so happy to know about that.”
“Hey, Natasha.” Ann slides in to the room with a smile on her face. “I just got through to Tony.”
“What did he say? Is he okay?” I try to sit up straighter in the bed, but I can’t. “Does he know?”
“He’s okay. Surviving just fine. He’s been with the lawyer today, so the case is progressing a little bit. But he’s over the moon about the birth of his son. The news is giving him something to look forward to.”
I can tell that Ann is trying to soften the blow. Probably because Tony is struggling and he hates that he wasn’t around to be here for the birth, but I appreciate that it might be giving him some hope. I pray that he isn’t sitting in his prison cell crying, but that he has a smile on his face, imagining the future for all of us. Because that future needs to happen. He can’t be locked away forever. He needs to be back with us.
“Good, good. When are we going to get to see him? Can I take the baby in to see him?”
“Oh, I don’t know about that. I mean, it isn’t really the place for a baby to visit, is it? Not before his shots anyway. You may not even be allowed to take him in before then, there are so many rules. Plus, we don’t know when Tony will be going away to England. I think that it might be best for you two send a picture for now, and a letter too. Let him know what’s going on that way. I think it might be best for all of you.”
I know that she’s right, logically everything that she’s saying makes a lot of sense, but I still just want to see him. I want to see his face when he sees our child for the first time. When he hears the name.
“Okay, yeah fair enough.” I nod slowly. “It’s just a shame, isn’t it?”
“I know.” Ann pats my hand reassuringly. “But I have just contacted Tara as well, she is on the way.”
“She is? Oh, that’s good. She’s going to love little John.”
“John?” Ann immediately becomes misty eyed. “Like Tony’s father?” I nod. “Oh, that’s really sweet. Tony will be over the moon. You know how much he loved his father… and I loved him too. I know that it doesn’t always seem that way because we fell apart, but I always did, and I love this. I think that this is a brilliant way to always remember him. And he looks like a little John, doesn’t he? He has that face.”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking. I just looked into his eyes and the name became obvious.”
Ann reaches out to hold John and I pass him over to her. I can see what Tony was talking about as her eyes light up. She needed John to be born just as much as the rest of us. More, really. He will center her and give her something new to look forward to every single day.
“Hi, oh my god, I’m here!” Tara crashes through the door, completely out of breath and red faced like she’s been running. “Wow, it’s crazy out there. I think the press must have followed you here?”
“Really?” Instantly I remember what I need to worry about. “Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I think so. They want to get the first picture of Tony’s child, I suppose. And oh wow, he is beautiful.” She coos at him over Ann’s shoulder. “Oh, Natasha, you must be so happy. He is lovely.”
“I know, he is, isn’t he?” I can’t stop grinning, even through the panic. “So cute and all mine.”
“Oh, we will have to find a way to sneak him out of here without any of those assholes seeing him because he doesn’t deserve to be caught up with them. He’s too sweet for all of them.”
“You know what?” Ann says, her lip pursed in a thin line. “Tara, can you take little John for a moment? I’m going out there to speak to the reception desk and to call the cops. This isn’t on.”
“Oops, she’s on a mission now,” Tara laughs as Ann leaves. “But at least it gives me a cuddle with this one.”
She sits beside my bed, fussing with my son and it makes my eyes fill with happy tears. I need to start focusing on what I have right now, rather than what I can’t change. At least I’m not alone.
“So, Natasha, I was thinking that I might come and stay with you for a bit to help you with John.”
“What do you mean?” I gasp back.
“Well, I will still have work and I’ll still want to spend some time with Jason, but I want to help you as much as I can. I think that it will be a challenge at fist without Tony while you don’t quite know what’s going on. I’m sure you will have Ann as well, but the more people to help, the better. Plus, as much as you can say to Ann, I think that it will be good if you can speak to me as well. Vent about it all, because it must be so hard. I’m just sorry that I wasn’t able to be there more with the press around the house… oh, and that’s something else that I can help with! I can kick some ass for you. I’m ready for it, you know.”
I can’t help but laugh. “I don’t doubt that! But are you sure? I don’t want to be a pain. Plus, the thought of sleepless nights followed by work is a lot, Tara, I don’t want to put you out.”
“No way! It’s okay. I will speak to my boss. It’s fine. I can work flexible hours if I need to.”
“Honestly, Tara, I don’t know what I would do without you. You’re the best friend ever.”
“Yeah, and don’t I know it! Oh, look. John has fallen asleep in my arms. How cute is that?”
“Hey, do you mind if I use this time to write a letter to Tony? I want to tell him about John…”
“Of course not.” Tara beams. “You go ahead. I am quite happy here, thank you very much.”
I grab a pen and paper, feeling a little bit better to get everything down on paper for Tony so at least he will know. There is actually a smile on my face as I start to get the words down.
I hope that you are okay. I have been missing you and worrying about you every single day. I don’t have too much information as to what is happening with you right now, which troubles me, but I have faith that all will work out in the end. You will be back home, with me and your son who has only just been born.
John Compton, born 17th August at 9.24PM as 7 pounds 2. There will be a photo attached so you can see him for yourself.
I hope you like the name, I wanted to honor your father. If you want to add in a middle name, you will have to let me know. Maybe write back to me and let me know that way before I register the birth.
He looks a lot like you. I know that he’s only been in this world a short while, but he looks like you already. He has your eyes and face shape. I bet he will have a lot of your personality as well. I can’t wait for you to officially meet him. He’s so lovely, such a wonderful bundle of joy. I can’t even begin to explain the love I feel for him. It’s unlike anything that’s come before. But you will know it soon enough when you join us back here again soon enough. The day that happens will be the day everything starts for us. Our happy ever after will begin at last. It feels like we’ve been working towards it forever, doesn’t it? Practically our whole lives.
Anyway, I love you, Tony. I love you and I miss you more than anything in the world. Just know that I believe in you and I am always on your side, just waiting for you to come back to me again.
Lots of love,
Thinking of you always,
It’s short and sweet, it doesn’t convey everything that I want to say, but I don’t know how much I will be allowed to say. There are a lot of funny rules in jail that I have to just go with. For now anyway, because I need to believe more than ever now that he will be back with us soon and our family will be back together.
I hold the letter to my chest with the photograph attached, my heart swelling with love as I have this little piece of my son with me. It isn’t exactly the same as the real thing, I would love nothing more than to hold this gorgeous little boy in my arms, but this is what I shall have to be satisfied with for now.
“Thank you so much, Natasha,” I rasp into the phone. “You have no idea how much this means to me.”
“I know it isn’t enough, but it’s all that I can do for now. But you’ll be back soon, won’t you?”
I bite down on my bottom lip, trying to keep the emotion inside. “I hope so, yes.”
I didn’t want it to get to the stage where I had to actually go to England, I kept thinking that something would crop up to prevent it from getting too far, but here we are. It’s happening for real now, I can’t stop it.
“Okay, well that’s good. You need to keep your hope up, Tony. Hope and the knowledge that you are innocent. That will take you through to the end. Then you can come back and hold John for real.”
Fuck, every time she says my son’s name, I nearly crumble. It’s so nice of her to do this for me, to help me to remember my father in such a wonderful way. I honestly couldn’t be more in love with Natasha if I tried.
“You’re amazing, Natasha,” I gulp out. “I’m so sorry that I have to leave you again like this.”
“It isn’t your fault. It never is, but this time you really don’t have a choice in the matter. I know you wouldn’t leave us if you did.” I can hear the thick emotion in her tone. “I don’t want you to go, of course, but…”
“But it will be over soon.” My heart hurts. It’s an actual physical pain. I still keep thinking that I might wake up from this nightmare soon and none of this will be happening. “And me and you can start over.”
I keep dreaming of the amazing life that I’m going to have with my family. It’s honestly the only thing keeping me going. If I didn’t have the idea that everything is going to be perfect, then I would have fallen apart by now. Natasha, and now John, are the only things keeping me standing upright.
“So… today,” Natasha says sadly. “The flight is today. You’re really going. Off to England for the trial.”
“That’s right, and I hate the idea of being on the other side of the planet, but the sooner I begin all of this, the quicker that it will be over. The sooner we can be back together again.”
She’s silent for a while, and I find myself unable to speak as well. There are so many things that need to be said but that I don’t have the words for. Plus, I’m scared of vocalizing them because if I do it will be like a final goodbye. This can’t be anything like that. This needs to be more of a farewell for now type of thing.
“Oh, that’s John,” she finally whispers as a crying sound fills the other side of the phone. My chest aches and yearns for that sound. “He’s awake now. I don’t want to leave, but I better go and…”
“Of course. If our boy needs you, then you must be there.” I wipe a stray tear away. I don’t want her to know how choked up I am because it’s clear that Natasha is already torn. “As soon as I am allowed to make a call in England, I will let you know that I am here okay and that you don’t have anything to worry about.”
“Yes, of course. I will… I will speak to you then.” I hate hearing her sadness. It kills me.
We say our goodbyes then and hang up the phone, disconnecting me from the last glimpse of family life that I will know for… well, I don’t know how long. I’m so fearful of being blamed for this whole mess, of being locked away in the UK of all places where I will never be able to see them.
I rest my head against the cold wall and try to calm myself down. My heart pounds, my chest is ragged and full of agony. I can’t stand it. Isn’t there any way I can just stay behind here and be in America? I so wish there was a way to make this okay, to just get damn well rid of it already. To never be in this mess in the first place.
“Are you ready?” Joseph rests a hand on my shoulder. “Because we need to make a move soon.”
“I know, I know, I just need to gather myself up for a moment. Use the bathroom. Do I have time for that?”
“You sure do, but don’t be long. Just think, the sooner that we get this all out of the way, the quicker we can get back. You have me on your side, the best lawyer possible. You’re going to be fine.”
I wish that I could believe him. I would love nothing more than to be able to put my complete faith in his words, but I can’t. I put more faith into Natasha’s words in her letter: Just know that I believe in you and I am always on your side, just waiting for you to come back to me again. But they only give me strength, not the knowledge that I will be back soon enough. I guess all I have now is prayer and the truth. Hopefully, one of those things will win out in the long run, saving my ass from a life of injustice.
“Right okay.” I nod determinedly at Joseph. “Sure, all will be okay. Thank you, Joseph.”
* * *
The cold hits me hard. There is a real iciness to the English air which simply matches my mood. I’m cold and afraid, hating every second of being in this country this time around. Joseph has been on the phone the entire time that we’ve been here already, which leaves me with literally no one to talk to.
Not that I would have much to say…
I lean back in my seat at the police station, glancing around the room, noting how different it is to the American interrogation room. Or maybe it isn’t that different and it’s just the way I feel that’s changed. It’s still very gray, almost as if that depressing color is chosen on purpose to make people feel ill. Similar to the way that hospitals are all white to look as clean as they can possibly be.
“Tony.” There’s something in Joseph’s voice which instantly grabs my attention as he quietly steps inside the room to join me. “Things have changed. I need to talk to you about some stuff.”
My stomach sinks. Anything that has changes since this whole mess began has not been good for me. I don’t see why that would be any different now. I hang my head low trying to prepare myself for the worst.
“Ben, the manager from the business has been found this morning…”
“Found?” Uh oh, now I might puke. The world starts spinning like crazy. There is only one way in which people use this phrasing, but I don’t want to believe it. It’s too awful. “What the hell do you mean, found?”
“He was found dead in the early hours of t
“No!” A guttural yell flies out of me. My head accidently bangs on the desk as I fly forwards, but I don’t even notice the pain because I’m completely consumed in shock. I know the guy did bad things, but that doesn’t mean I want anything bad to happen to him. Especially not this. “No, that can’t be right. I don’t believe it.”
“I’m sorry. It is. It’s a big shock to all of us, no one wanted to believe it either.”
“How…” I can barely get the words out because my chest hurts so much. “How do you know it was suicide?”
“He hung himself. And also, he left a note. One that directly links to this case.”
“A note? Like some kind of suicide note? Joseph, this is so messed up.”
“A note that tells the truth about the case. About him and Cole and what they did, and how they wanted you to take the fall for it. I guess he couldn’t live with it anymore…”
This isn’t the good news that it should be. Not when someone has died. I can hardly focus on the fact that Ben has effectively taken the blame off of me by telling the truth because I’m so sad that he’s gone.
“They took Cole in right away,” Joseph continues, giving me everything all at once whether I want it or not. “And with a bit of pressure, he confessed too. He admitted to being the master mind being everything and confessed that you had absolutely no knowledge or part of it. He forged all of your signatures.”
“He did that because Ben died? That’s so… so sad. I don’t know… this is too… god, it’s horrible…”
“He did that because he had no choice. He had nowhere else to hide,” Joseph replies wryly.
“So, what about all the employees? Are they going to get their pensions now?”
“That’s really the first question you ask? You don’t want to know about yourself?”