Mallory watched as Chris settled in on the couch in the family room to watch Ironman with Henry and John. To her surprise, Henry sat next to Chris on the sofa. The two were quickly becoming buddies, and it made her happy to see. She was lost in the moment when Darby walked up beside her and offered her another bottle of water.
“Well, they seem to be getting along okay. Do you have any idea when you might spring the news on him?”
“I know, he looks so happy and comfortable with him. I don’t know when to do it. And honestly, Darby, I think Chris is just as fragile as Henry in this scenario. I am not really sure he is ready to entirely accept the responsibility.”
“I don’t know, he looks so at ease with him.”
“Sure, at ease with him as his buddy and pal. I’m not sure he is ready to start playing the role of dad. And is that what it would be like? Playing a role? Or is this really real to him?”
“Oh, wow, that is a big question, Mallory. Is that really a concern for you? Are you worried about his feelings?”
“I don’t know. I am just confused – this all seems to be happening so fast. I came to Boston to bury my parents and didn’t even consider seeing Chris much less telling him about Henry,” She turned to look at Darby. “I have an all-out argument with him one day and the next I am fighting to keep my hands off of him. What is wrong with me?”
“You’re human, that is what is wrong with you,” Darby answered. “Honestly, you know what is wrong. You have never stopped loving the guy and having his child didn’t help that, at all! It was easier when you didn’t see him or only saw him on the internet or the movies, but now you have him in the flesh, and the flood of emotions is strong and too powerful for you to resist.”
“I don’t know what to do about it, Darby. I love him, but I fell in love with Chris, the guy who wanted to be an actor. But that guy in there on the couch, that is Chris the big time movie star – those are two different people.”
“Look, I don’t know him, but I have a feeling he is not different, just his circumstances are. Because it is evident, he is still crazy about you, and I don’t think any of this is an act for him. He seems like a down to earth guy, and dare I say, he was passionate the other night and goofy as can be now. You better buckle up sister, I think you are in for one hell of a ride.”
She knew that her best friend was right. While she would like to say that Chris was different because it would make this whole thing easier to manage; he was the same guy. Darby joined the boys to watch the movie and Mallory stood in the kitchen and watched them. Henry was completely enthralled with the movie and Chris seemed to be watching Henry more than the movie itself. She used this opportunity to slip away to her room to begin packing her things.
She finished zipping up her suitcase and sat on the bed; staring out the window, her mind racing with all of the changes that had happened in such a short period of time. There was a light snow falling, and it made everything seem so peaceful. When she had arrived in town she could only think of leaving, now all she wanted to do was to stop time and stay. She heard a noise and turned to see Chris; he was leaning in the doorway, arms crossed and watching her intently.
She jumped at the sight of him, “You scared me, I didn’t hear you come upstairs. Is the movie over?”
“Sorry, didn’t mean to do that. Yeah and Henry passed out before we could start the next movie so I thought I would come find you and see what you were up to,” He stepped out of the doorway and began approaching the bed. He sat next to her and took her hand, lacing their fingers together. “You look like you were deep in thought. Want to talk about it?”
“Just thinking about all of the changes in the last week and how things are forever changed going forward.”
“Hopefully, some of the changes are for the better,” he said.
“Yeah, some of those changes are for the better,” she said, placing her head on his shoulder, “But some of them still make me worry about what is lurking around the corner.”
“What’s in the envelope?” Chris asked cautiously, afraid it might be for him.
“I don’t know, I am afraid to open it,” She said looking at Chris, his face showing that he was confused. “During the reading of the will the attorney gave me this letter. He said it was from my father and I haven’t been brave enough to open it or read it.”
“That is something we never talked about at dinner the other night, I was afraid to ask how it went. Did it go as you had anticipated?”
She shook her head, “Not at all. You know, I had always expected that I would be removed from their will. They cut me out of their life why would they leave me anything, right? But they included me in the will and they left money for Henry’s education.”
“You’re kidding? Why the change of heart?”
“I don’t know, I guess the letter probably explains it, but I am not sure I can handle reading it. This house is mine now, and I have business in Boston that will require me to come back here.”
“So you could be persuaded to move back to Boston, possibly?” She looked at him and didn’t say a word, instead she just slowly nodded her head. “I am not going to pressure you, but I am just leaving it out there that I want you to move back to Boston, but not yet.”
“Wait, I’m confused. You said that you wanted to be with me and to spend time with Henry, but now you don’t want me to move to Boston. What am I missing?”
“Right now I have time off, I will have to do some press and award shows at the first of the year. Then I have to do the press for the next Avengers movie.”
“Ok, that makes sense, but I am still lost.”
“In late April I begin filming the next Captain America movie,” he paused for effect, “In Atlanta.”
Mallory’s eyes grew large, “What? When were you going to tell me this?”
“Actually, I just got confirmation this morning. I had to double check the schedule on a few things. We filmed Winter Soldier in Cleveland, so I didn’t know where this one was going to be done. Since it is in Atlanta, it provides the perfect opportunity for us to spend time together. If I had encouraged you to move back to Boston, well, I would have been hurting my attempts to work on our relationship.”
“We will only have to work on a long distance relationship for a few months before we can see each other regularly then?”
“Yes, ma’am that is correct. I’m not sure I can handle even a few months, so I’ll just have to plan that my travels have a connection in Atlanta.”
“You really intend to make this work, don’t you?”
“Absolutely and does that bother you?”
“No,” she said as she stretches up to kiss his cheek, “It does not bother me at all, it makes me happy.”
“I think you should read your letter. This has been a rough week for you and maybe you should get everything behind you before you go home. No sense in having this loom over you,” He lowered his head to look into her eyes, he could see the clouds of confusion swirling around. “Would it be better if I read it to you?”
Mallory didn’t speak, she didn’t even move her head in any sort of acknowledgment. Instead, she reached for the envelope and passed it over to him.
Chris carefully opened the envelope and removed the letter and unfolded the pages. He scanned the handwritten letter than cleared his throat before beginning to read.
My dearest Mallory –
You are reading this letter because I am gone from this earth and was never brave enough to reach out to speak to you in person. Please know that my heart wanted to, and many times I reached for the phone to dial your Aunt Mary’s number. However, my head and my foolish pride kept me from completing the task. I know that you have been hurt and have harbored a great deal of anger due to the actions that were taken by your mother and me all those years ago. Those emotions are justified, and you need to know that, in retrospect, there is deep regret that we were not accepting of your pregnancy and that we turned our only child and her child out of our life.
Your mother and I had a misguided belief that our status in the community and our reputation for the work that we provided was more important than anything. This meant that we were blinded by the truly important things in life and it lead us down the path of pushing the most precious person in our life away from us in a time when we should have been accepting and embracing. Yes, our faith was tested, and we failed miserably. Your mother and I have spent many years praying and asking for forgiveness, but we were still too scared to come directly to you for forgiveness because we knew that there was the risk that you would not give it and we did not think we could handle that, even if we deserved it.
As disappointed as we were when we learned of your pregnancy, you do not know how overjoyed we were on the day your Aunt Mary called to announce that Christopher Henry Turner had been born. I had to leave the room, we had friends over, and my emotions were too raw, and I did not want to cry in front of them. We knew you were having a difficult pregnancy and several times your mother almost made the trip to be with you. To know that you were both healthy was a blessing and we were so excited to know that we had a grandson. Your Aunt Mary kept us up to date on how your life was progressing. She told us about your college graduation, your job and how Henry was growing. She would regularly send up photographs of the both of you. In our bedroom closet, you will find a box where we kept the pictures and items that Mary would send us. I hope you will see that even if we did not reach out to you, we were very proud of you as the woman and mother you have become.
I also know from talking to Mary that Henry’s father is not in his life and that is because of the decision we forced you into when we made you move out. We were wrong for not having you tell Chris that he was going to be a father and we were wrong in keeping the two of you apart. We did not have a right to make such a major decision about the course of his life. I will encourage you if you have not reached out to Chris, to do so and make him aware of Henry. It is the right thing to do for everyone. While I am sure he will be angry and will have a hard time understanding, I hope he will come around and realize what a real gift Henry is and will allow you both into his life in some capacity.
Your mother and I are truly sorry for the pain we caused in your life, Mallory.
With all of our love, Jackson and Madeline Turner (Dad and Mom)
Chris folded the paper and put it back in the envelope, he turned to hand it back to Mallory and noticed the steady stream of tears on her cheeks. He stood from the bed and walked to stand in front of her, he reached for her arms and pulled her up and into an embrace. Chris didn’t speak. Instead, he just held her tightly and let her cry.