Chapter 16 - Permission

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Joe wanted to run after her. Instead, he stood alone in the music room. Even if he hadn't seen her, he would have known it was her room. The bulletin board was uniquely her style - creative and inspiring. Even her vanilla scent already lingered.

Was it fate that brought them together? How was he ever going to win her back?

He returned to his room and finished his work. Luckily Karen didn't stop by. He stapled the last piece onto his bulletin board and stepped back. There was nothing creative about it, but it would have to do. He had enough work with the new school which meant a new curriculum.

Before he left he sent a text to Ella. He really wanted her to know he was sorry. When he arrived home he looked at his phone. She hadn't responded but had he really expected her to.

Caleb was still held up in his room. Joe shouted, "Are you alive?"

Caleb shouted back, "Piss off."

Joe thought Caleb would have to take a number since there was a person who hated Joe more. Truthfully Caleb was probably third because Whitney was in the mix, not that she had any right. Joe hadn't even needed a DNA test because his blood type was incompatible with her kid's.

The minute he found out the baby wasn't his he was relieved. He had been experiencing so much guilt first for praying for a miscarriage. Before he finally sent Ella the letter, he prayed for his mother to pass and for that baby to disappear. By the time he had no choice but to do his mother's bidding, he hated himself so much he knew he didn't deserve Ella.

Throughout the entire eight months, he never felt excited about the baby. He didn't feel it kick or go to appointments. To him, Whitney was an acquaintance who lived in his house and repeatedly crawled into his bed. She moved into his mother's bedroom and was pissed when he refused to join her. She performed sexual acts on him, but he never once reciprocated. He refused to kiss her. He knew that he was going to divorce her after the baby was born, he just didn't realize that he wouldn't be responsible for the kid.

Leah who also hated Whitney called him stupid. "Joe everyone knows it takes at least two weeks to miss your period and even buy a pregnancy test. How could you be so stupid?"

He had no response except their mother was dying and he was messed up.

He called Owen. "What the hell, man? Did you know she left Sebago?"

"What? No way, how'd you find out?"

"Guess where she went!"

"Nooo! It's karma. Now you can watch her in love with someone else."

"She's not in love. They're friends."

"Well, he sure has weaseled himself into that family."

"That's because he is family at least her uncle's family."

"Hey Joe, look on the bright side, you wanted to see her and now you will every day."

Joe knew Owen was right. For him, it gave him a chance to win her back, but he was pretty sure she wasn't feeling the same way.

Caleb refused a trip to the beach and so Joe ordered a pizza from Mario's, the local place around the corner. Caleb finally came out to eat but didn't say anything. Joe was glad because he wasn't in the mood to hear about how he had ruined Caleb's life. Joe had ruined a whole bunch of lives including his own.

Suddenly Ella's only emotion towards Joe was anger. Once she stopped crying, after seeing him she hadn't cried again. She spent a lot of time thinking about the things he told her about his marriage but wasn't ready to stop being angry to feel any empathy for him. The odd thing was when she wasn't angry she felt happy. She hadn't felt that way in a very long time. She supposed it had something to do with the flip her belly did anytime she thought of him.

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