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[story] Adventures of Hannah episode 10

Episode 10

Joe tried to gauge his son’s mood as they

ate

breakfast the next morning. Ben was quiet,

chewing away at his cereal, his gaze fixed

on

the tabletop. Joe cleared his throat,

determined

to get this right with his children.

“So how are things at school these days?

Everything good?”

Ben shrugged a shoulder. “It’s okay.”

“Any new friends?”

“A couple.”

JOe pushed his cereal away and focused on

his

son. “There’s something I wanted to talk to

you

about.”

Ben fiddled with his spoon, “What did i do

wrong now?”

“You didn’t do anything wrong.This is

about me

and Hannah.”

Ben’s gaze flew to his face. “What about

her?”

“Well, she and I have gotten to know each

other. And it turns out we both like each

other.

So, we’ve decided to start dating.”

Ben’s eyes burned with intensity as he

stared

across the table. “What about MOm? Don’t

you

love her anymore?”

“Of course I still love her. But it’s been two

years, mate, and sometimes it’s nice to

have

someone to go to the movies with and

dinner

and stuff. We’re dating, Joe said firmly. I

wanted to give you guys a chance to get

used

to Hannah being back before I told you

about

us, but she told me you asked her about it

last

night.”

“Yeah, and she said you were just friends.”

“Because I asked her to. Like I said, I

wanted

you kids to have a chance to get used to

her

being around first.”

Ben stood. “Is that all?”

“Do you have any question? Anything you

want

to talk about? Joe asked.

Ben simply stared at him for a long

moment.

“No.”

There was no mistaking the anger and hurt

in

his face.

“Ben……”

“I’ve got homework to do”

Ben strode for the hall. Just before the

exited

teh kitchen he dashed his forearm across

his

eyes. Then he was gone.

poo. Joe sighed, wondering if he should go

after

Benor give him time to cool down and cry

a

little.

The doorbell rang, the sound echoing

through

the house, and he pushed himself to his

feet.

“I’ll get it,” Ruby said.

He was halfway up the hallway when he

heard

Hannah’s voice.

“Hey there”

A smile curved Hannah’s mouth when he

entered the entrance hall and she saw him.

“Hi”.

Before he could respond, Ben strode

between

them and pointed a shaking finger at her.

“You’re a liar. A bloody liar.” he said.

“Ben!” Joe said, startled by the boy’s voice.

Ben shouldered his way rudely past Hannah

and out the front door. Joe made eye

contact

with Hannah.

“Sorry.” Then he went after his son.

Ben hadn’t gone far. He stood beside the

mailbox, his head bowed. Joe stopped in

front

of him, “I asked Hannah to keep what was

happening between us private. That’s why

she

told you we were just friends last night.”

“Then you’re a liar, too.”

“Yes, I guess I am. in this one case. But do

you

understand why I made that choice? Look

at

me.”

Benslowly lifted his head. His face was

filled

with so much misery Joe’s chest ached.

“This doesn’t change anything between you

and me and Ruby. It doesn’t mean I love

your

Mom or any of you less. It only means that

Hannah and I are going to spend some time

together. Now I want you to come apologize

to

Hannah.”

Ben stiffened. “No way. I didn’t do anything

wrong. She’s the one who lied to me.”

“Because I asked her to. I thought you like

Hannah. She’s been a good friend to our

family.”

“That was before. She’s not my friend. You

can’t

make me like her.”

“NO, but I can make you apologize. Right

NOw.”

“Joe.”

He turned to find Hannah standing behind

him,

a concerned frown on her face.

“It’s okay. ” she said.

“Ben needs to apologize to you.”

“He’s allowed to have his feelings,” she

said. “I

understand.”

“I wnat you to go to your room,’ he said to

Ben.

“Fine.”

Ben speared Hannah with a burning look as

he

strode past her.

“I’m sorry. That was my fault.” Joe said.

“It’s all right. I’d be angry if I was in his

shoes

too.”

Ruby appeared on the doorstep, a frown on

her

face.

“I need to talk to Ruby,” he said.

“I think she’s heard enough to have a fair

idea

of what’s going on.”

He shook his head. “What a screw up.”

“Yeah, well, it could have been worse.”

“How so?”

“They could have walked in when we were

going at it yesterday morning.”

He couldn’t help but laugh.

“Let me know if there is anything I can do,

okay?” she said.

“Will do.”

She gave him a small smile before turning

to

wave to Ruby and walking away. He

watched

her for a moment, admiring the swing of her

hips.

Then he took a deep breath and went to

talk to

his daughter.

*****************************

Later that night JOe got a call from his

mother.

“I thougth you should know that Ben

phoned

and asked if he could come live with me,”

she

announced.

Joe swore.

“Thats not going to solve anything,” his

mother

said.

“Thank you, I Know that.” He took a deep

breath and let it out again.

“what’s going on? Did you two have a fight

or

something?”

“I’ve started dating someone. Ben doesn’t

approve.” he filled his mother in briefly.

“Oh, Joe. You’ve made a real mess of

things,

haven’t you?”

“I’m open to suggestions,” he said.

“Who is this woman anyway? How come I

haven’t heard about her before?”

“she lives next door.”

“The girl Ruby has taken such a shine to?”

“Yes.”

“I see.” she said drily.

“I thought you’d be happy I was seeding

someone.”

“I am. But it’s not like you only have

yourself to

think about. It’s not enough that you are

attracted to this woman. You have children

to

consider.”

“I know all this, MOm. The kids already have

a

relationship with her. And I wouldn’t have

gotten them involved if this was just a

fling.”

“Well, that’s good to hear. I only hope she

feels

the same way.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I’m not saying she’s a bad person, Joe.

I’m just

saying that you’re asking her to take on a

lot.

And it’s going to take a special kind of

woman,

a very generous woman, to do that.”

He stared at the wall. It wasn’t as though

he’d

never considered those issues. But he’d let

desire and need override his common sense

and caution. Had that been a mistake?

He flashed to the hot and sweaty hour’s

he’d

spent in bed with Hannah the previous

morning

and the contentment and peace he’d found

lying with her in his arms afterward. There

hadn’t been a doubt in his mind then. He

had

to hang on to that feeling, to that belief.

“Hannah is special,” he said.

“I hope you are right. What do you want to

do

about Ben and how is Ruby taking the

news?”

“She couldn’t be happier. She told me she’d

been wishing for Hannah to be my girlfriend

because she thought we were both lonely.”

Despite everything, the memory brought a

smile

to his mouth. At least one of his kids was

happy.

“I’ll talk to Ben,” he said.

“Maybe he should come stay with me for a

couple of days, let him cool down.”

“No. We’re a family. He can’t opt out when

it

suits him. We have to work this through.”

“Good to hear.”

“Glad you approve of something,” he said

drily.

“Joe…..”

“I know. And thanks for the call. I

appreciate the

heads up. And the lecture.”

“Anytime.” his mother said, and he knew

she

was smiling.

They talked a little more before he ended

the

call. He sat for a while, going over the

conversation again in his mind. Then he

pushed

himself to his feet and made his way to

Ben’s

room.

His son was lying on his bed, his eyes

flicked

toward Joe then away again.

“Could we talk for a minute?” Joe asked.

Ben ignored him. Joe walked to the bed, “I

asked

you a question.”

“I didn’t hear you.”

Joe decided to let the lie slide. “I just got

off the

phone with your grandmother. She told me

you

wanted to come stay with her.”

“That’s right”.

“Is that really what you want?” You don’t

want to

be here with me and Ruby anymore?”

Ben shrugged, avoiding eye contact. “At

least

Mama doesn’t lie to me.”

“I’ve explained to you why i felt it was best

to

hold off on telling you and Ruby what was

happening between me and Hannah. You’re

old

enough to understand that there are

different

kinds of lies. If you tell a lie to hurt

someone, or

to cover up something bad, that’s wrong.

But

what I did was to protect you and your

sister.”

Ben simply stared at him, unresponsive. Joe

sighed. Clearly there would be not getting

through to him tonight.

“Look, all i can say is that I love you kids

and

you’re my first priority, always. I’m sorry if

what i

did hurt your feelings. But that doesn’t

mean you

can milk this forever. You’re not going to

your

grandmother’s, okay?”

Ben looked as though he was going to say

something for a moment, then he shrugged.

“You’re the boss.”

Not the most satisfactory conversation Joe

had

ever had, but it would have to do. He

couldn’t

force his son to feel one way or another. He

would simply have to wait him out. Ben had

liked

Hannah before Joe had started dating her,

and

Joe was confident his son would come

aroudn

eventually. It would take time, and

patience.

He crossed his fingers that Hannah was

prepared to

ride out the storm with him.

Two weeks later, Hannah waited on the

front

porch of Joe’s house for him to return from

dropping the kids at school. He was

running a

little late and she checked her watch. If she

got

the job she was interviewing for this

afternoon, it

would be the end of their early morning

meetings.

The sound of a car engine brought her head

up

and she smiled as Joe pulled into the

driveway.

“Sorry, I got held up with one of Ruby’s

teachers,” he said as he exited the car.

He kissed her deeply, she leaned against

his

broad chest. This was the one thing in her

world

that was absolutely right: being with Joe,

holding

him, touching him, being touched by him.

She’d

never had a more considerate or passionate

lover.

“You okay?” he asked when he broke the

kiss.

“Yeah, of course.”

“I’ve got an appointment at ten o’clock with

my

lawyer.” he said.

She checked her watch. It was nine thirty.

“We’re on the clock, pay attention,” he said

as

they moved into the house.

“I love your eyes,” she said. mostly to stop

herself from saying something else.

He smiled. Then he tensed as he caught

sight of

the clock on the DVD player.

“poo. I’m going to be late,” he said. He

rolled off

the couch and onto the floor.

Hannah laughed as she helped him round

up his

underwear and shoes, buckling his belt for

him

as he pulled on his shirt. He left her to lock

up

the house, kissing her one last time before

bolting for his car.

**************************************************

Over the next week, Joe swung between two

states — happiness and frustrated sadness.

It

seemed crazy to him that both states could

coexist, but it was the reality of his life.

When he

and Hannah were alone, he felt invicible.

She was

s*xy**, strong, smart, he couldn’t stop

thinking

about her. Then there was Ben. Angry,

silent,

rude.

It has been three weeks since Hannah

returned

and they started dating. Ruby was happy,

each

night she trekked next door to help Hannah

with

her chores. Ben never did. He’d taken to

spending time in his room, except when Joe

forced him to join them at the dinner table.

The worst thing was that Joe felt so

powerless. He’d

tried patience. He’d tried communication.

He’d

tried bribery, to his shame. Nothing got

through

to his sullen son. Ben had effectively

withdrawn

from the family.

The tension within him came to a head

when

Hannah was over for dinner Tuesday night.

Ben opened the door to her knock and

walked away without acknowledging her at

all.

“Ben!” Joe said sharply, but his son just

kept

walking up the hallway.

“That’s it. I’ve had enough.” He moved

towards

the hallway, but Hannah caught his arm.

“Wait five minutes before you go after him

and

say something you might regret.”

Hannah might not want to acknowledge it,

but

Ben’s attitude was getting worse, not better,

He

was becoming openly, aggresively rude,

something Joe would not tolerate. Ben

didn’t

have to like what is happening between Joe

and

Hannah, but he had to respect his father’s

decision, and he needed to respect Hannah.

Ruby was standing in the kitchen doorway,

a

drink in her hand.

Hannah cleared her throat. “Um, hi, Ruby.”

“When are you going to stay the night?”

Ruby

asked.

Hannah made a choking noise.

“Ruby,” Joe said, amused despite himself.

“I’m only asking what everyone else is

thinking,”

Ruby said matter of factly.

“Everyone? Who’s everyone? Joe asked.

“Grandma, and Aunty Robyn next door.”

“Staying the night isn’t something people

should

rush into,” Joe said.

“Why not? I thought you liked each other. It

would be cool to have Hannah here for

breakfast.” Ruby said.

There was a sound from the hallway and

Joe

swung around to see his son standing in

the

living room doorway, his angry gaze fixed

on

Ruby.

“What is wrong with you? Ben snarled. “why

are

you trying so hard to replace mom?”

Hannah visible flinched and Ruby went pale

as

she stared at her brother.

“I’m not. I’m not trying to replace Mommy.”

she

saidi. She looked at Joe, stricken.

“Yes, you are. Wanting Hannah to be in that

mother-daughter thing with you, always sU-

Cking

up to her and trying to get Dad to like her

more.

What do you think MOm would say if she

could

see you?”

Ben was white with anger, his hands curled

into

a fist by his side.

“Ben,” Joe said, stepping forward.

Ben swung toward him. “You’re just as bad.

Don’t you care that she’s not here? Don’t

you

even think about her anymore?

“Of course I do, we all do…..”

“No, you don’t. You just want to be with

Hannah

all the time and forget about everything

else.

You

don’t even care that she’s dead.”

“You know better than to talk like that,” Joe

said.

Hannah stepped forward. “Ben, the last

thing I

want to do is try to take your mom’s place.

My

dad left when I was about Ruby’s age, and I

know it’s not the same as dying, but I

missed

him like crazy.”

Ben refused to even look at her, keeping his

gaze

fixed on his father.

“I don’t want to try and take away your

memories of your mom or replace her or

anything like that, I promise,” Hannah said,

“I

just like spending time with you and your

dad

and Ruby,”

Joe watched carefully, trying to read his

son’s

response, not sure if he should intervene or

not.

“You want more than that,” Ben said. “I’m

not

silly.”

“I swear, I just want to hand with you guys.

No

agenda. Couldn’t we at least try to be

friends?”

She asked and reached out to place a

reassuring

hand on his shoulder.

Ben looked at her and shrugged his

shoulder,

roughly brushing Hannah’s hand away. “I

told

you, you’re never going to be my mom.”

Ruby was across the room in a flash,

throwing

herself between Ben and Hannah, reaching

out

to push her brother away.

“Stop it! You’re going to ruin everything!

You’re

going to make Hannah hate us and then

she’ll go

away and we’ll never see her again.”

“You’re a traitor,” Ben yelled. “A stinking

traitor.”

He shoved Ruby with all his might. She

staggered backwards, off balance then fell

onto

her outstretched left arm.

Her wail of pain made the hairs on the back

of

JOe’s neck stand on end. He was at her

side in

seconds.

“It hurts. It hurts so much,” she sobbed.

“I think it’s broken,” JOe said.

Ben stood frozen, so pale Joe thought he

was

going to pass out.” I didn’t mean it. I didn’t

mean it. ” Ben bolted for the door.

“Ben!” Joe shouted. It was dark outside and

the

last thing he needed was to have to chase

Ben

down when they had to get Ruby to the

hospital.

But Ben was gone, the door banging loudly

behind him.

“I’ll go after him,” Hannah said. “You need

to get

Ruby to a doctor.”

He nodded briefly, giving Ruby a reassuring

sq££ze. Hannah headed for the door and he

gave his daughter all his attention.

By the time he had Ruby in the car and

ready to

go, Hannah had returned.

“No sign of him, I’m sorry. I have no idea

how he

disappeared so quickly,” she said helplessly.

“I need to go,” he said.

“I’ll find him,” Hannah promised.

He looked at her, remembering his mother’s

warning. He figured tonight definetely

qualified

under the tough category, but she showed

no

signs of flinching.

“Thank you, he said.

She simply shook her head. “You don’t

have to

thank me.”

“Love you,” he said, stepping close to press

a

quick kiss to her lips before turning to slide

into

the drivers seat.

She looked flustered for a moment, then her

mouth lifted at the corner. “Nice timing.”

“Figured I’d better get in while the getting

was

good.”

She looked as though she wanted to say

more,

but she pushed his car door closed. “Call

me

from the hospital, let me know how Ruby

is.”

“I will.”

Posted by on February 15, 2019.

Categories: /Literature/Stories

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