Chapter 42

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"I just bathe in that sparkle in his eyes when he looks at me, when he appreciates every single inch of my soul with a single glance."


I love my family.

I really do. And that's probably why I suddenly feel so guilty, so bad for telling my parents about this mess. They supported us through thick and thin, gave us everything we could ask for, and still they have to deal with this. It's ungrateful, and I hate it.

But they deserve to know - I realize my mother is worried about Max and me, worried about her children drifting apart when all they did was stick together all their lives.

"Wait, so they were a couple?" she asks, heaving a sigh and running her fingers through her beautiful hair. I see the empathy in Dad's eyes when he places his arm over her shoulder, tugging her closer on the two-seater sofa they're occupying in their living room.

"Apparently, yeah... I don't know the full story yet. Apparently Ri broke up with him, and a few months later, shortly before Pops passed..." I swallow, still seeing the pain in my mother's eyes when I mention her father, "She spoke to him again. Jer says she thinks their talk riled Max up, and that that's why he flipped and talked to Link..."

Dad shakes his head, pinching the bridge of his nose before he exhales deeply, "Why wouldn't he just tell us that? Why wouldn't Riley tell us that? I don't understand his intentions behind hiding it, I mean..." he shoots a quick glance to my mother, who just shakes her head as well, "I mean that doesn't make sense. I know we talked about the business and that he wants to take over in a few years, but surely he didn't think he couldn't be in a relationship, right?"

"He's been in relationships before, so I don't really get it..." Mom mutters, staring blankly ahead with narrowed eyes.

"I don't think it's because of something like that. You can't put that blame on yourselves..."

Both Mom and Dad look at me now, the parental sympathy in their eyes as always warming my heart. They supported me a lot over the past years, especially Mom pushed me to keep going with therapy whenever I felt like it became too much.

"Come here, princess," Dad says, stretching out his arm. I follow his notion and leave the armchair to step into his grasp, only to be pulled on his lap.

"Dad..." I chuckle, but he just shrugs as he positions my legs over Mom's lap next to him, his arm around my waist as he looks at me, the all too familiar eyes studying me with interest.

My father's touch has always made me feel so special. Ever since I can remember he made me feel strong but gentle, made me feel like I can be who I want to be, that it's my choice to become the person I dream of. And I know he's been blaming himself for the issues I've been dealing with, even though it's not his fault. Not in the least.

"You know none of this is your fault, right?" he asks.

"I know..."

"Really, though, honey," my mother speaks up, taking my hand and giving it a squeeze, "We know how much this must affect you. And we want to make sure you know we're on your side, always."

I nod my head, having a hard time suppressing the tears again. "I know, Mom. I know. It's just... I don't know why everyone keeps hiding things from me. It just... It hurts."

Mom nods her head, the way she looks at me makes me think she has a fair idea what this feels like. I sometimes forget how much my parents have been through, how long they have been together... Or just generally how long they've been on this earth. They probably had their fair share of unfair treatments in their life, as well.

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