Chapter 41

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Edward stared at his father, wondering if he had truly heard those last words, or if he had merely imagined them. For never in his strangest dreams had he conjured the image of his father actually asking for his forgiveness.

He must have stood there for some time speechless, for his father glanced up at him, and seeing the look of astonishment on his face, continued speaking.

"Of course, I understand if you wish not to forgive me; I can hardly blame you, Son. Actually, I fully expect Peter to turn me in to the authorities, especially now that I have caused harm to come to his daughter; I can see no reason why he should not, or why you should not want the same." His gaze dropped to his lap again. "They can't possibly forgive what I have done to their family; and I would deserve every ounce of revenge Peter could possibly bring against me..."

Edward hesitated, unsure how to proceed. He was still slightly astounded at hearing regret in his father's voice.

Lord, how can I do anything but forgive him? I've always wanted... It's just so hard to forget what he has done... Please help me to move on from this.

Finally, Edward took a deep breath, and clearing his throat, was able to respond. "Father, they are good people, I know that they will want to move forward from this, as do I." Moving closer, he reached out and put his hand on his father's good shoulder.

His father flinched slightly at his touch, but after a moment he lifted his gaze to Edward's face, tears welling up in his eyes, and a look of agony crossed his face.

"It..." he struggled to speak, "It was hard enough to live with the sting of rejection when Lydia wanted nothing to do with me, and then she married Peter... In truth, I could not blame her when I honestly considered what I did to her in my rage... Although, I spent very little time, if any, dwelling on the truth of my actions; I wanted only to blame anyone other than me for what I had done... I suppose my pride and anger helped to blind me to my own guilt, and over time, it became easier and easier to ignore."

Edward stood, unmoving, listening as his father poured these wretched things out of his heart, things that perhaps he had never voiced; things perhaps no one but himself had ever known.

It's so hard to trust him, Lord. Especially after he deceived me... But this feels different...it feels genuine.

"It is true, I had intended for Peter to die that night..." Gripping the bed sheet tightly, his father squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, looking even more downcast than before, were it possible. "I..." he began, trembling, his voice shaky, "I wanted to end my life when I found out I had caused Lydia to...to die. I'd never felt such pain before, I hated myself. It hardened me even more... I suppose my only reason for going on was to...to cause others to hurt as I had..." He covered his face with his hand; a lone sob escaped his throat.

Edward swallowed hard as he watched his father crumble before him. He'd never seen him like this, so vulnerable, the hard veneer he had hidden behind for so many years was being stripped away.

Lowering his hand, he spoke again, "It didn't take long for me to convince myself that it was all Peter's fault; transferring my hate to him eased my guilt tremendously, but it was all a lie. And ever since, I've been waiting for the perfect moment to take everything he had left..." He paused, rubbing his eyes with his fist. "The absurd thing is, in the time that I've been staying here, I've actually grown to like Peter... But I'm sure there's no way he can ever forgive me for...for destroying his family..." his body shook as he sobbed, hiding his face in his hand again.

Edward supposed it really was true, what the Bible said about the truth setting you free. It would seem that his father was breaking forth from his own prison, from the walls of bitterness, pride, and anger that he had constructed himself, all because he didn't have to hide the truth anymore. How much hate had it required to fuel his bitter heart for all of these years? Of course, there were still the consequences of his actions to be dealt with.

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