Seconds felt like minutes, and when the door did not open, Chris began to bang on it again. “Open the damn door Josh – I know you’re in there!”
As he was prepared to begin in on the door again, it flew open, and Josh stood in front of him, jeans only, no shirt. “What in the hell is your problem?” He could not hide his anger at the impatience his friend was showing.
“Oh, am I interrupting something? Let me guess, you have her hiding in the bedroom or did you put her in the bathroom?” He pushed himself past Josh to enter the apartment without being invited in.
“What are you talking about? And by all means come on in,” Josh retorted.
“Where is she?”
“Where is who? Seriously Chris what in the hell is going on?”
“Mallory, she’s here isn’t she? I mean I have obviously caught you at a most inopportune time,” the sarcasm and bitterness hanging off of each word.
“No, I’m telling you that no one is here. I just got home from the funeral, and I was changing my clothes when you started assaulting the front door.”
“You know I never expected you to lie to me; not to the extent that you have when it comes to Mallory. All those years you told me you had no idea where she was, and you knew the entire time. You were talking to her regularly,” Chris noticed a look of shock appear on Josh’s face, “No, wouldn’t expect you to tell me – she had to do it.”
Josh began to stutter and back up from where he had been standing, Chris was angry, and he was starting to scare him a little, “She made me swear that I wouldn’t tell you.”
“So the fact that you have been one of my best friends since we were kids didn’t matter to you? You showed more loyalty to my ex-girlfriend that you were sleeping with than to me? Fucking brilliant, man. Oh, let me guess, you are going to deny sleeping with her, too.”
“”Hell yeah I am going to deny it – I am not sleeping with her.”
“You always had a crush on her – tell me did you stab me in the back first or did she?”
“Man I had a crush on her before she dated you and once you went out with her, I stepped away from that. I would NEVER do that to you,” Josh’s explanation was cut short when Chris’ fist connected with his nose. He stumbled backward and put his hand to his face and felt the trickle of blood. “Dammit Chris, what was that for?”
“You are a liar! You slept with Mallory, got her pregnant, and she left me,” He took another step toward Josh, “She was pregnant with your kid when she disappeared.” Josh’s eyes went wide; now this whole thing made sense. He did not even think about Lisa Evans being at the funeral or in the car. But he had no time to say anything because Chris’ fist connected with his face for a second time; this time, he was knocked down to the ground.
“She wasn’t pregnant with my kid,” Josh cried out as he was struggling to get to his feet, “Henry isn’t my son you asshole, he’s yours.”
Chris stopped, the room began to spin, and he suddenly felt nauseous. He ran for the open apartment door and vomited in the bushes. He was doubled over and trying to comprehend the words that Josh had said.
Josh made it to his feet and went to the kitchen for paper towels; he wet them and began walking toward Chris. He said nothing but handed him a wet rag and then went inside to sit down and use the other on his face.
Chris finally composed himself enough to come back inside; softly closing the door behind him. He sat in a chair and leaned forward; trying to keep from being sick a second time.
“I’m sorry because you weren’t supposed to find out this way,” Josh offered quietly.
“You knew she was pregnant when she left? Please, Josh, tell me you didn’t know and kept that from me.”
“I didn’t know when she left, I swear to you. I didn’t find out about Henry until after he has been born,” Josh leaned forward and hung his head, “My parents were good friends with the Turners and had gone over for dinner and cards one night. Mr. Turner’s sister called to tell them that Mallory had the baby and mother and child were doing well. Mr. Turner was angry and left the room while Mrs. Turner began to cry. She ended up telling my parents the entire story; that when they found out Mallory was pregnant they kicked her out and she ended up in Atlanta with her aunt. They disowned her and wanted nothing to do with her ever again.”
Josh took a moment to see if he could gauge Chris’ reaction to the words. Instead, his friend was stone-faced and emotionless. He decided that he should at least continue and get everything out there that he could.
“I gave it a few days, and I tried calling her cell phone and, amazingly enough, she had not changed the number. She wouldn’t talk to me, but she didn’t immediately hang up either. I would just talk, about how you missed her and we were all worried. After calling for months and being a one-sided conversation, she finally began to talk back. She asked about you and your movies, and we talked about Henry. She never told me she was in Atlanta and I never let on that I already knew that. Eventually, she told me but it took a long time for her to trust me and open up. Every call, though, she asked about you.”
Chris looked up at Josh, noticing the bloodied towel and the bruising that was beginning to show on Josh’s face. For a moment, he felt sick and almost apologized, but he remembered that while he might have punched him thinking he was the father of Mallory’s son, he was in fact, still angry that Josh had lied to him all these years.
“You’ve seen them over the years haven’t you?” The question was barely audible.
“Yeah, when you would be on break from a movie, and I had a few days here and there, we would meet up. I took them to Disney one year, just for a couple of days. But usually, I would just fly to Atlanta and visit them there.”
Chris stood up and began pacing around the room, trying to form the questions in his mind. He was struggling to comprehend everything that Josh was saying. “So you got really close to her, and you are telling me you never made a move?”
“No, never even made a move. You are my best friend, and I know you are still crazy about her and don’t you dare try to deny it because if you weren’t you wouldn’t have come over her to kick my ass,” Josh smiled for the first time since he opened the door to Chris. “My relationship with her is the female version of my relationship with you. There are things you have told me that I have not mentioned to her and vice versa. I love her but not in the way you do.”
Chris looked at Josh and felt like his friend was actually telling the truth. He began walking toward the door, put his hand on the handle and pulled it open. He spoke softly but did not have the strength to look at Josh, “I can appreciate that you were trying to protect her. But I am not sure I can get over this anger, and I can’t promise I will forgive you or move past it.”
“I understand, I really do. And for what it’s worth, I am sorry because the last thing either of us wanted to do was hurt you.”
Chris quietly closed the door behind him and walked to his car.
~ * ~
When the service was over, Mallory had gone to lunch with Darby and John and the kids. They had returned home, and Mallory was descending the stairs after changing her clothes when her phone chirped to indicate a text message had been received.
“He just left my place – his mom saw me with you and Henry – he knows the truth, and he is furious. Be prepared.”
No sooner had she finished reading the text when she noticed a car pulling into the drive; it was Chris. She quickly filled in John and Darby and the kids were told to stay upstairs. Mallory was frozen in position when the banging on the door started.
John opened the door and blocked the entrance to keep Chris from barging in, “I don’t know that it is a good idea for you to be here if you are angry. Wait until tomorrow so that things calm down.”
“No disrespect but I will not be any calmer tomorrow. I want to talk to her, and I deserve the truth,” he looked over John’s head and looked directly into Mallory’s eyes, “I deserve the truth, and you know it; just talk to me.”
Mallory slowly nodded her head and then spoke, “Let him in John, I don’t want to argue in the stairway where the sounds will carry upstairs. I really don’t wish to have this conversation with the kids in the house.”
John let him in, but he continued to place himself in between the two of them; he didn’t want there to be a physical altercation. While he figured Chris was not violent, with emotions running high anything was possible. They all walked into the living room to talk; this allowed for some privacy but also afforded a view of the stairs in case Henry felt like sneaking down.
Chris and Mallory took a stand on opposite sides of the living room; each was afraid to speak, Chris decided to break the tension. “I can respect that you would like to avoid this right now, but I think I have been in the dark for twelve years too long. So tell me, is it true? Do we have a son?”