Reliving Fate, page 24
"I don't know. Get a full-time job, I suppose. Dad has already spoken to me about it."
"Oh, brilliant, Isabella. You have so much potential, and you're throwing it away for a man you barely know. I don't understand why you can't see what you're doing," Mum says.
"I know exactly what I'm doing, thanks."
Whoa, massive lie.
I mean, I know the basics, but as far as having a plan goes, like Livvy, I'm walking around blind here. But I'm fine to go with the flow. If I never get into uni when all this stuff with Celia is over, it'll be all right. I'll make it work.
There's nothing wrong with going straight into a job.
Maybe I'll be Rocco's manager because I bet his cut of the fights is nothing compared to what the organisers get. I should suggest that to him just to see his reaction.
"Do you?" Dad mutters, walking into the room. He's been listening in then. His eyes glower, and his face is red as he tries to hold it together and not shout.
My parents aren't shouty people and believe talking is a better way of communicating and sorting out problems. They've always tried to drill that into me, Livvy, and Celia.
I bet they're kicking themselves right now.
"Just because I'm not following the path that you want doesn't mean my life is going to suck."
Mum sighs in frustration, being a bit dramatic, like I just said I'm moving to LA to pursue a singing career. I can't sing for shit.
"We're not trying to force you to follow in our footsteps, but we're older and wiser. You can't see the mistake you're making, but we can."
"But it's my mistake to make. I can't have you making all my decisions for me."
"That's not what we're trying to do," Dad says, backing Mum up.
"Then, back off a bit."
Mum practically growls. "We can't. You don't get it. You're not a parent."
"Actually, I do get it. I'm not going to die like Celia did."
Mum looks away, taking a breath.
There. It's been said. I've finally addressed my parents' biggest fear and the reason we clash so much. I can't go out there and find my own way and make my own mistakes in case something bad happens to me like their eldest daughter.
"Is that..." Dad trails off, shaking his head. "We worry more--of course we do--but we're not trying to hold you back."
"Maybe it's not intentional, but even Livvy can't argue that you're OTT restrictive."
"We're not restricting you, Bella," Dad says, frowning, as he defends his and Mum's actions. "Everything we do is in your best interests and to protect you."
"I don't need protecting against Rocco. You've written him off already, and you've only spent a couple of hours with him."
"We're not here to argue with you, Isabella," Dad says.
I grit my teeth. "No, you're just here to try and tell me what to do. Keep pushing all you want, but I'm not giving him up. You're going to have to get used to the fact that you can't micromanage every aspect of my life."
With nothing more I can say without yelling at them, I dash out of the room and upstairs.
I dive in my room, slam my door for effect, and reach for my phone. Rocco was quite clearly uncomfortable during dinner with the judgmental stares and Harry looking down his nose at him.
I dial Rocco's number.
"You okay?" he asks, answering on the first ring.
His chuckling down the phone puts a smile on my face, something I didn't think was possible right now.
"Still pissed off with the family, huh? Don't fall out with them on my account. We knew they wouldn't be thrilled."
"Not the point. My parents are so unreasonable. They don't know you, Rocco."
"They don't need to know me."
"Before they fucking judge you, they do! I'm so mad, I can barely look at them, and the longer I think about it, the angrier I get."
My hands shake, and I want to cry on his behalf. He's not bad. He's amazing, and I hate that they can't see that. They're not even willing to try. He deserves that much.
"Bella, calm down. There's nothing you can do right now. Unless...are you wound up because their opinion of me changes something for you?"
"Fuck off. You know it doesn't! Ugh! Why the hell are you even saying that?"
"Because it'd be understandable if it mattered to you."
"Okay, I'm going. Call me later when you've stopped being a dickhead about this."
"Come on, Bella, you don't--"
"Bye, Rocco." I hang up because I can't talk to him right now either.
The rational part of my brain is taking a break, and I know my reaction is over the top, but I'm pissed off. Getting my period very soon, too, so everyone can actually fuck off.
Rocco calls straight back, but I end the call and send him a quick message, asking for space until later. Of course we both knew that my parents wouldn't react well to me being with him, but we were supposed to be solid. When he asked if something had changed, he basically took a mallet to that and left behind cracks.
Rocco doesn't have a high opinion of himself, and I hate that. With the way they were acting toward him, it's like my parents were backing up his dumbarse theory that he wasn't worth much.
And I'm annoyed beyond words because a little part of me is hurt that they're not even trying to get to know him. I wasn't supposed to care what they think, but I do. It does matter.
* * *
No one is at the river when I arrive, which is fine because I need some time to think. My parents are making it so hard for me to be at home right now. Their disapproval of Rocco has hit me surprisingly hard. I didn't know I cared what they thought.
The last few days have been tense, and Rocco and I haven't spoken a whole lot.
Rocco's name flashes up on my screen again. I tap End Call. He's pissed off that I'm letting my family come between us, and he's right, but it's not so easy to cut them off. We've argued over them, too.
I've spent so long pushing my parents away, so I didn't think I would want to hold on to them. My parents won't accept Rocco through fear of something happening to me. If it comes down to it, who will I choose? The question is in Rocco's eyes every time he looks at me. He would never ask though.
I jump, leaping to my feet, as I realise I'm not alone. Well, that was a nice reminder to never let my guard down here. Thankfully, it's just Faith, and she's holding her hands up.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."
My heart starts to slow back to normal. "No, it's okay. I was in my own little world."
"Is everything all right?"
I look up to the sky and sigh heavily. My mind is spinning at a hundred miles an hour, trying to figure out what to do. "Not really, no."
"Bella, sit back down and talk to me. Maybe I can help you get some clarity."
Oh, I wish she could.
But I sit anyway because, at this point, I'm willing to try anything.
I look at her and smile. "My parents don't approve of Rocco, and it's putting a massive strain on my relationship with them both. I have no idea what to do. Losing any of them isn't an option."
"I'm sure it won't come down to that. Your parents are only worried, and that's understandable, given where you're each from. They don't want to lose you."
"No, they don't, but they seem determined to make me break up with him."
"I'm sorry, Bella."
I shrug. "It's fine. I'll figure it out."
"Can you bring them to Rocco's place, so they can see that it's not that bad? He's not too deep into this area that your parents' car would be jacked. Probably."
That's true. Rocco lives in the most decent part of the broken side of town, but it still wouldn't be good enough. I still worry about my car.
"I think what they're looking for is someone who lives a whole lot closer to me. My sister's boyfriend
She raises her eyebrows. "Is he that great?"
"Wealthy family, A-star student, off to Cambridge University, and has the next fifty years planned out. Rocco doesn't have a conventional job, he dropped out of high school, and he doesn't plan what he's going to have for dinner that day."
"Does that bother you?"
"No, not in the slightest. I actually like it--besides the fighting part."
"Bella, your parents can have aspirations for you--that's normal--but the only person who gets a say in your life is you. I speak for everyone around here when I say, we've never seen Rocco so happy before. I don't want to see him barely existing again."
The thought makes me feel sick. I press my hand to my stomach. Imagining him lonely hurts.
I know how that feels. I'm constantly surrounded by family, but I've always felt alone.
"I don't want him barely existing either. I hate that he's gone so long, having nothing. What if my parents never accept him, and we have to do separate...everything? It'll be awkward, and I don't want to have two Christmases."
She looks at me like I'm crazy.
Am I overreacting?
Running her finger under her heavily lined eyes, she says, "I don't think it will come to that."
"Well, I hope not. I want him to be involved in my family stuff, like Harry is." I frown and add in a grumble, "He spends some of Christmas Day with us."
"Rocco will be spending Christmas with you, too."
Does Rocco even do Christmas?
I doubt it since he doesn't have any family, and I can't see him and Ellis exchanging gifts and pulling crackers.
What if he's never done it, even as a kid?
"Did you know Rocco's mum?" I ask.
If he's never celebrated any holidays, it will hurt me, but I want to know.
"What was she like? I mean, was she ever sober? Did she ever give him normal childhood experiences?"
"She was lost in her addiction most of the time. As far as I know, she was too baked to do much with Rocco. I could be wrong though. I didn't know her that well."
"So, he had no Easter egg hunts, no summer holidays, no trick or treating, and no Christmases?"
Faith tilts her head, and her curly bob sways. She curiously watches me. "I don't think so."
My God, that is so sad. Every kid should have a happy childhood.
I wonder, if I do all those things for him, will he hate it? He'll probably hate it and think I'm crazy. But he always thinks I'm crazy, so...
"Oh," I reply soberly.
"He's a toughie, Bella. He's not damaged because of it."
"No, I know that. It's just hard to think of him as a kid missing out on so much."
"Well, now, he has you."
He does have me. I'm going to make sure he's so goddamn happy that it will erase his whole childhood. And, really, all I have to do is get naked.
"Can we talk about something different?"
With a smile, she replies, "Of course."
"Will you tell me more about what you do? You help people, right? All I hear about is how bad this place is, but you do good."
Her light-green eyes light up when I mention her work.
"We help, yeah. There are a lot of people in need and at-risk here, particularly teenage girls. The number of runaways is at an all-time high, and we do what we can for them. They can stay at the centre. It's not fancy, but it's a warm place to sleep. We do our best to help them find legitimate employment or get back into education."
"How do you fund that...if you don't mind me asking?"
"We own the building. We pay water, electric, and heating bills and rely heavily on fundraising for the rest."
"That's awesome that you're giving people a second chance. Everyone deserves that."
"I agree; they do. I grew up in this place, so I understand how hard it is to survive. Keith and I were never able to have children, but I consider every young person we help ours."
Wow, it's nice to hear that she's so passionate about helping people who need it the most. She's completely different to my parents; they're not willing to give Rocco a chance because of where he's from.
I'm not at all close to my parents, but right now, I've never felt so much distance between us. They're not doing it intentionally to hurt me, but everything they do keeps us apart. At no point in my life have I made a relationship between us easy, but neither have they.
I'm not sure if that can ever be fixed now; the cracks keep on growing.
"What are your parents like?" I ask Faith.
She shakes her head. "My mum could be a bit flaky from time to time, but overall she was great. My dad loved me and did what he could, but he was in and out of prison."
"Oh," I say, wishing I'd not asked. I sort of want to know what her dad did to land himself behind bars, but it's rude to ask. "Sorry."
"No, it's okay."
"Despite what I assume was a difficult childhood, you've done some real good. A lot of people use the past as an excuse to do bad."
Faith smiles. "Thank you. I tried to be stronger than that. I want to help people and perhaps prevent young women from going through some of the things I did. If you ever have some time to give, we can always use volunteers."
"Sure," I reply. "What do you need volunteers to do?"
"We've raised enough money to decorate the communal areas, but we need anyone who's handy with a paintbrush."
"Er, I'm not handy, but I'll definitely do what I can."
"You're one of the good ones, Bella. Do you mind me asking why you started coming around? It's unusual for someone who clearly lives in a nice area to be here."
Faith has such a kind, giving heart that she makes me want to spill everything. But that would be dumb as fuck since I don't really know her. Rocco already knows the truth about what happened with Celia.
"Well, like I said, I don't get along with my parents and sister much. I love my grandparents, but there's nothing going on where they live, just lots of old people! So, I started exploring, and my first night here, the first person I came across was Rocco. I don't believe in fate--there's too much bad for that--but I was definitely meant to find him."
She frowns, but her eyes light up. "You don't believe in fate?"
It's all bullshit.
"Nope. You do?"
"Oh, I definitely do. I think there are too many coincidences for them to be coincidences."
"We're going to have to agree to disagree here."
Faith laughs. "All right. Perhaps you'll change your mind one day."
That's unlikely. How, at sixteen, was it Celia's fate to be murdered?
"Anyway, what are you still doing here with me when you have a man who adores you living five minutes away?"
"You're right," I say, getting up. "Thank you for the chat."
"Anytime, Bella." Faith gets to her feet and hands me a scrap of paper. "This is the address of the centre. You are welcome whenever you like."
I take it and shove it in my pocket. "Thank you. Let me know when you need help there. I'd like to do something for you in return for letting me vent and making me feel a whole lot better."
"You're never in debt to me, but some help would be appreciated. Have a good night," she says before walking in the opposite direction of Rocco's place.
"Bye," I call out. Then, I power walk to my man's flat.
I'm done being mad at him now, and I just want to make up with him.
* * *
After speaking with Faith, I spent the night with Rocco. For once, we ignored the elephant in our relationship and focused on each other. But I had to leave in the morning, and walking into my house made me feel so uncomfortable that I wanted to turn straight around again.
I'm in my bedroom, reading Celia's diary.
I drop the diary and shake my head with my hands over my face. Oh, Celia.
That's not the first time I've read that particular little entry either. I'm embarrassed for her still. Hugo must know something about what happened to her though. She obviously made herself known to him, and he's fully immersed in this world.
For Celia's sake, I hope he wondered what had happened to her when she stopped coming around. If he doesn't already know, that is.
Unable to take reading another word, I slip the diary under my cover and head downstairs. The house is quiet. Dad is already at work, but Mum has the day off today, so she must be around somewhere. Livvy is probably crying down the phone to Harry about how much she missed him overnight.
Mum is in the kitchen, drinking coffee. She looks up and smiles. Her lips are a light pink today, and it really suits her fair complexion. "Morning, darling. There's coffee in the pot." She's smirking since it's 11 a.m. so hardly early.
Oh, I'm already going there.
"Morning," I reply as I grab a mug from the cupboard. I pour the coffee in and take a gulp. It's fucking hot, and I wince, but it's so good.
"Are you free today?" Mum asks.
I freeze. Oh God, she wants something.
Lowering the mug from my mouth, I reply, "Yeah. Why?"
"I thought we could have a girls' lunch. Well, breakfast for you."
Shit, what's going on?
"Why?" I ask slowly.
"We haven't done it in so long," she replies. "Livvy will be there, too."
"We haven't done it ever."
Mum dips her head. "I would like to change that."
Is she trying now?
Her motives are suspicious, but if we can work something out and I can get rid of this constant little worry, then I'm all up for it.
She smiles and stands up. Her hair and makeup are perfect, and she's wearing a red summer dress. I wish I cared enough about my appearance to think spending an hour a day wasn't a waste. I don't think I'm bad-looking, but I'm definitely not perfect like my mum.
"Great. Are you ready to leave now?"
I put my mug down. "Sure..."
"Stop making everything you say sound like a question. There is no need to be so wary. You're my daughter, and I want to take you to lunch."
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent NightReliving Fate
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