Chris had been able to wake and get out of the house before anyone saw him. The clock on the gym wall said 5:00 am as he stepped on the treadmill for his warm up. He hated being up this early, but he wasn’t sleeping so he might as well do something constructive. He was still full of anger and emotion from the night before and figured he should go to the gym to work it out. He had months before he had to begin working out for the next Captain America movie, so his workout regimen was very relaxed right now. But he figured it would be better to focus on the pain of the workout versus the pain of betrayal.
His workout was intense, he paid no attention to any of the other people in the gym. He was hoping that he wasn’t recognized and that videos and pictures would not pop up on the internet of his workout but he wasn’t going to police the room. He didn’t pay attention to any of the clocks on the wall until he stepped onto the treadmill to cool down, it was 8:30 am. He figured that everyone should be gone from the house and it should be safe to go back home. His emotions were running high last night and lost in it all was the anger he held for his mother. She had stuck her nose in where it didn’t belong and misread a situation. Then she told him all about it and got him worked up, and now he had a mess on his hands with Josh and with Mallory. He was not sure that he would be able to contain his emotions if his mom was still at the house; unfortunately, though, he was about to find out because her car was still in the driveway.
He entered the house and began moving deftly up the stairs when he heard her voice, “Chris, is that you?”
“Yes, I’ve been at the gym, so I need a shower first.” He didn’t wait for her to respond and kept walking. He took a long, hot shower and tried to figure out exactly what to say to her when he went back downstairs. The hot water felt good, but he knew he was just delaying the inevitable.
As he descended the steps, he noticed that his mom was sitting in the living room, facing the stairs. There was no way he was going to be able to avoid her. She was waiting to pounce, and he just kept repeating to himself to stay calm.
“You got in late last night, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to you,” she said, keeping her voice quiet and calm. “Did you work things out with Josh?”
“Look, I know you want me to spill my guts, but right now I am not really in the mood,” he snapped.
“What happened?” She seemed genuinely shocked at the venom in his voice.
“What happened? Well let’s start with the fact that you misread the situation and I beat up my best friend for no reason,” he stared at her with anger in his eyes. “But hey, you did get one thing right; Mallory has a twelve-year-old son.”
“I knew it,” she felt vindicated, “She was too close to that little boy for him not to be hers. So he confirmed she cheated on you and walked away to hide it.”
“No, this is where your assumption bit me in the ass. She didn’t cheat on me, but she was pregnant when she was kicked out of her house and walked away from me.”
Lisa Evans was suddenly confused, “Well wait, so if she didn’t cheat and she was pregnant…,” she trailed off as the lightbulb went off. “Oh my God, Chris are you saying her little boy is your son?”
He said nothing, he finally finished coming down the steps and entered the living room, throwing himself into the closest chair and sat quietly for a minute. Finally, he spoke up, “I confronted Josh, actually punched him for lying to me and for sleeping with my girlfriend. And to my surprise, he drops the bomb that Henry is my son and not his. He told me about Mallory and what he knew about the situation. I left his apartment and went to her house to confront her; she confirmed what Josh had said. I have a son.”
His mom sat quietly, watching the emotions play across his face, “Oh, Chris, I am not sure whether I should say I’m sorry or congratulations.”
“I think both are equally appropriate,” he said with a glare in his eyes, “She told me she was going to tell me the truth before she left, so it didn’t have to go the way it did. Now my relationship with my best friend is a mess, and I can’t even say what this means for Mallory and me. Not to mention that I now have to meet my son and hope he wants to have me in his life. And to top it off, I am not even sure if we can work on arrangements for me to see Henry because she refuses to discuss moving back to Boston.”
“What, why would she refuse to move back? You have rights to your son, and we will fight her to make sure she does not block you.”
“She knows I have rights and we haven’t even had a civilized discussion about any of this yet,” He stood up, “Look I don’t want to talk about this anymore right now; I’m still angry and I’m trying to sort out my emotions. I just need some space and would appreciate it if you would not tell everyone else – I’ll make the announcement and introduce him when I am ready.”
His mother nodded her head in agreement, and she could tell her son was rattled by this entire scenario. It was also killing her he asked her not to talk to anyone about it, but she knew he was angry at her and she was not about to rock the boat any more than she already had.
Chris had gone into the kitchen and made a cup of coffee and retreated back upstairs. He was serious that he didn’t want to talk and figured he would keep himself occupied with scripts while he waited for Mallory to call after the reading of the will.
~ * ~
It took a few minutes for Mallory to gain her composure; the reading of the will had certainly not been what she had anticipated. John left the room to give her some privacy and allow her to read her letter if she wanted, but she didn’t have the courage to do that just yet. Her mind was swimming with uncertainty; she had anticipated that she would bury her parents and find out they left her nothing and she would go back to Atlanta. She didn’t plan on seeing Chris, didn’t plan on him finding out about Henry, and didn’t plan on having her parents include her in their will after all these years. It was too much to bear, but she was not going to break down, at least not in the lawyer’s office anyway. She pulled herself together and walked out of the room and walked to the car.
She had elected to remain quiet for the first half of the drive home. She didn’t want to discuss the will with John and then repeat it all with Darby, so it was best to stay quiet. However, as they got closer to home, Mallory got out her phone and sent a text. Upon receiving the response, she asked John to drive her to Josh’s apartment and drop her off.
“If I need to come and get you, just give me a call,” John offered as he pulled out of the drive. She waved goodbye and began walking up the pathway to Josh’s door.
She knocked softly, and he opened the door almost immediately, he had evidently been watching for her. “Hey, come on in,” he said as he stepped to the side to give her clearance.
She said nothing and walked in slowly but turned suddenly when she heard the door click. Her voice was stern, “Do you want to explain to me what happened last night and how in the hell you came to tell Chris about Henry?” She took a breath and looked up and got a good look at Josh’s face and suddenly softened, “Oh my God, did he do that to you?”
Josh smirked, he found it amusing that she went from one extreme to the other in the blink of an eye. “Yeah, do you like? I think it will be all the rage this year; does wonders for my look I think.” He was trying to play it off, but she wasn’t letting it go.
She walked over and softly touched his cheek, “I’m sorry that you got that because of me.” She quickly pulled her hand back, afraid she might hurt him. “Did he just come in throwing punches? What happened?” She asked as she moved to take a seat on the couch.
Josh sat down next to her, “I totally forgot that his mother came to the funeral with us. I didn’t even give it a second thought when we picked her up, I was just thinking of getting there and being there for you.”
“I didn’t realize she was friends with my parents,” she commented, her curiosity was evident.
“She wasn’t really, and I think she came strictly to see you so she could report back to Chris. My parents knew everything since they were friends with your parents and they knew I was talking to you. So it had never crossed my mind to be careful with you yesterday.” He ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath, “Evidently she witnessed my interaction with Henry and then when I got back into the car, and my mom asked questions about how you guys were doing, well, Lisa made an assumption based on that information.”
“So she didn’t have the entire story, but she told Chris her version? Wow! That was certainly bold.”
“He came over here all worked up and of course, he catches me when I am changing my clothes. He immediately thinks he has interrupted me doing something or someone and accuses me of hiding you in the apartment and wants to know how long I’ve been sleeping with you.”
“What?” She exclaimed, turning to look at him, “He thinks we are sleeping together?”
“He wanted to know which one of us betrayed him first and wanted to find out if you were pregnant with my son when you left. He had it in his mind that you cheated on him with me, got pregnant, and that is why you left him. I guess when he found out we have been in touch over the years he thinks we are still together. He threw a punch because he thought I was lying to him.”
“Josh that black eye isn’t from one punch and since he didn’t have a mark on him last night, I guess you didn’t get to throw one in return?”
“Have you seen Chris? I mean he is a little more muscular than I am so, no, I didn’t get to return a punch. He hit me a couple of times and to get his attention I told him that Henry is his son and not mine.” Josh hung his head and then moved forward with the rest of the story, “He was shocked, and the news made him sick, literally. I didn’t want to tell him, and I am sorry, but I had to stop him from beating the shit out of me.”
“You have no reason to apologize, and I mean that. Actually, I owe you an apology because it is my fault that he hit you in the first place. Me and my damn secret.”
“He came to see you last night, didn’t he?”
“Yeah, he showed up just as I finished reading your text message. He wanted to know if what you said was true; about Henry being his son and then he wanted to know why I never told him,” her emotions were bubbling to the surface, and she was afraid the dam would break, and the tears would flow. She took a few deep breaths in the hopes of staving off the tears.
“How bad was it?”
“Well, it wasn’t good. He demanded to know the truth, and I had no choice, so, I told him the entire story. I would have no idea if he believed what I said to him or what he thinks about it all. Hell, I am not even sure if he completely comprehends it all.”
“Did he argue with you when you were telling him everything?”
“No, not at first; he just listened. But that changed, and he got angry. It got heated and then calmed down and then got heated again and then calmed down,” she looked down at her lap, “You know he wants to meet Henry and be a part of his life and he wants me to move back to Boston so that Henry will be close to family.”
“Are you serious? So he wants to be an active part of Henry’s life?”
“Yeah, apparently he does. I am shocked about it as you are; I mean he could easily walk away and not have to worry about this. I didn’t have any intention of him finding out about this. My God I am a horrible person.”
“No, you aren’t a horrible person. This is just a lot to process and decisions were made for you years ago, and it is not something you figured you would have to deal with. So, is he not really fazed by the idea of having a son?”
“Oh, I’m not sure it’s completely settled in yet, and I don’t think he understands the ramifications of this. I made a comment about what this will do to his image, and he didn’t like that.”
“He won’t do anything to jeopardize Henry being in the spotlight, Mallory. Think what you want of him, but he will protect Henry.”
“Sure, like he protects Miles and Ethan when they are at Disney? I don’t want people whispering about Henry or following him around. He is an average kid, and I want him to stay that way.”
“He isn’t an average kid, he is the son of a movie superhero, and that can’t be changed.”
“I know, but I don’t want him to be talked about online and for people to speculate about him. And you know I will have a target on my back,” She turned away from Josh for a moment, “He asked me why I never reached out to him when I knew he wasn’t dating.”
“What did you tell him?”
“That I was afraid that at this point in his career he would think I was a gold digger and I was after him for money.”
“Did you come clean and tell him you are still in love with him?” She didn’t answer, she couldn’t because it hurt too much to repeat the words. But, Josh knew from watching her that she had told him in some form.
“Josh, in all of our years of talking we have never actually talked about this, and it has always bugged me a little – you knew my feelings for Chris, and you knew he was single, why didn’t you suggest that he call me? I mean, I guess as this all comes to light it is only fair that I ask.”
“I couldn’t bring you up without giving up the fact that I had been talking to you. I wanted to tell him, several times I came really close, but it would have gone against you telling me to keep our friendship quiet.”
“Well, you could have asked for my permission to tell him,” she said, somewhat indignant.
“Look, you are upset, and I get it but don’t project your anger on me. The two of you are adults, and for heaven sake, you could have gotten over your damn egos and found a way to get together if you really wanted to,” Josh didn’t mean for his voice to be raised but the idea of them arguing over this was ridiculous. “Don’t waste an opportunity to reconnect with him, Mallory. You have been in love with him for years, and he has never gotten over you. Find a way to work this out – or don’t – but either way, you will have to live with the decision, and you might not get a chance to go back and do it over.”
She knew he was right and a lump formed in her throat, the reality of this entire situation was settling in, and she realized that Chris might not be the only one who was not fully comprehending the situation. When she finally got the courage to speak again she spoke honestly about her fears, “Josh, I this entire situation scares the hell out of me but what terrifies me the most is telling Henry the truth. I have deflected and refused to answer questions about his father over the years, and he will hate me, I know it. I’m afraid he will never forgive me, and I worry about losing him more than losing another chance with Chris. I won’t be able to survive if he wants to spend all of his time with Chris and never forgives me.”
Josh moved closer to her and put his arm around her, pulling her towards him, “I think you are getting yourself worked up; it is fair to think that he might be hurt and confused but he won’t hate you. Has he ever told you he hates you for not talking about his dad? He asks, and you don’t answer, and it hasn’t caused an issue for you yet. My only advice will be to tell him everything; Henry goes from being a typical kid to being mature for his age and I think he is old enough to understand the situation.”