Twice The Charm Ch. 03bycassandraharper©
Chapter 3: Halfway There.
Scott laughed, shaking his head in disbelief, "you know, Manni, that was a good one. You really had me there for a second." He hung up the other dish towel in his hands still chuckling to himself.
"Scott, I'm being serious. Look--"
"No," he told her, spinning back in her direction before she had the chance to follow him out of the kitchen. "Serious is when you tell me that you hate my guts or that you have some kind of terminal disease, but what I do not take seriously is you joking around so tastelessly!"
He was upset. Very upset. She could understand, but what exactly did he expect from her? If she had known that one random day on the way to pick up her daughter, that she would run into him, she would have stayed in touch to let him know in the first place. "Scott, I know that you're upset."
"Upset is an understatement. I'm not sure what I'm feeling right now. Whether it's anger, hate, resentment, I'm not at all certain," he told her walking away from her. "This has got to be a joke because I know that you're not the type of person to do something so selfish and vindictive."
"That wasn't my intention at all," she told him, grabbing onto his arm to stop his pacing.
"Then what was it? Did you want to hurt me? Is that why you wouldn't tell me something so important? Or did you plan on using Star as a means to blackmail me later on?"
Manni felt her hand connecting with his face surprised that she had even been able to reach it in the first place. "I'm sorry, let's just calm down and talk about this like adults."
He looked at her too stunned for words then huffed a cynical laugh. "Now you want to be adults about things?" He snatched his arm away from her walking away.
"Scott, where are you going?" she asked though she was following him to the door. "Scott, please, just hear me out."
He snatched his keys off of her coffee table, unlocking the front door. "I don't have anything to say to you right now," he told her in a cold voice. "If I even look at you right now, I'm not sure what I'll do so don't look me up. You let me contact you when I'm ready. I just need some time to sort things out in my head."
She watched him leave then crumbled to the ground. This was one of the worst days of her life. She should have kept her mouth shut like she had planned all along, but after the way he was so righteously indignant on Star's behalf, she had to say something. It would have been wrong not to. Not like it had been right for her to keep silent in the first place, but she had had her reasons. Pain and hurt were one helluva hurtle to jump over no matter how many years had passed. And even now, though they weren't together, Manni was still feeling the pain from his betrayal.
Now that he knew, she would have to worry about custody. Would he try to take her baby away from her? What was she supposed to do now? Her only solution was to wait for him to want to talk and only God knows when that time would come. Her knees felt too weak to move, but Manni forced herself to stand and get ready for bed. Hopefully, tomorrow would be much better than today, she prayed turning on the hot water to take a shower. What she should have done was gotten his number before letting the cat out of the bag. That way she could try to call him though he had told her not to. Well, since he had a listening problem when he wanted to so could she. And if he wanted to duke it out over their daughter, then Manni knew she would do everything possible to win the fight.
"Bring it on Scott Carver," she told the shower head. She was ready for him.
"It took you long enough to come home," Scott replied, stretching his back from sitting on the hard marble floor of the hallway.
"Why are you here? I'm not ready yet," Manni told him receiving a confused look from him. She saw him reaching for Star and wanted to back away, but knew that it wouldn't be right. She bit her tongue instead, acting as if it was only normal for a father to want to hold his daughter that he hadn't seen in three years.
He gently took his daughter looking down at her with intense interest. "If I had paid attention the first time, I would have noticed that she has my grandmother's eyes," he told her.
"Were you crying?" Manni asked when their eyes met for the first time.
"Will you let me inside or what?" he answered instead, pressing a gentle kiss to Star's forehead. She looked at him quizzically then to her mother.
"It's ok," she told her. "Star, say hello to Daddy."
"Daddy?" she asked with peaked interest. "My Daddy?"
Scott smiled, holding her closely as more tears began to shed. "Yeah, your daddy." She gave him a big smile and since that moment he couldn't stop kissing her.
"Scott, you have to let her go. I need to put her to bed," Manni told him. Her guilt had exponentially increased since she'd found him at the door. He was an attentive father. Very caring and affectionate. He was just what Star needed and she had kept him from her.
"I'll do it," he volunteered not ready to let go of his daughter. She was so beautiful. So precious. Just thinking of all the time he had missed out on with her made his anger return. How could Manni have kept something so important, as them having a child, away from him?
"I said that I'll do it," he told her, inviting himself to the rest of her apartment while she sat on the couch worrying her fingernails. She needed to think of a plan. Something to stall for more time before he demanded joint custody. Or would he? Even if he did, maybe the court would favor her since he had never paid child support. Then again in order for him to do that he would have had to have prior knowledge of the child's existence. Manni dropped her head in her hands. She was done for.
"I'm not planning on taking you to court if that's what you're sitting there stressing yourself over," Scott announced, startling her out of her thoughts.
"When did you come back?"
"I've been trying to get your attention for the past ten minutes. Then I figured that I would let you torture yourself with your own rampant thoughts as I watched with a big smile on my face," he said, leaning against the wall instead of really joining her in the living room.
"Tell me why."
"Why what?" Manni asked taking her fingernail out of her mouth.
"Why did you wait so long to tell me? Wouldn't it have been easier to just keep your mouth shut in the first place?" he asked looking beyond her. She hated when he gave her that cold look as if he wasn't in the same room with her though he was so near.
"What would you have liked for me to say?" Manni asked, sitting up straight in her seat.
"How about, Scott, you have a daughter? Doesn't that sound good enough to you?" he sarcastically stated.
"What do you want from me, huh? Did you really expect for me to come to you with news of my pregnancy when we had just ended things?"
"Yes," he firmly stated, pushing away from the wall though he didn't take any further steps. "That's what you do when you trust someone."
"Trust?" Manni asked him incredulously. "Did you really expect me to have any of that left in you when I found you between your secretary's legs? Would you have taken her titties out of your mouth to have a brief chat with me?"
"You should have told me," he said with a drop of his tone.
"Or would you have continued having sex with her while we had this much needed discussion?" Manni asked jumping to her feet when he began to walk towards hers.
He grabbed her shoulders, squeezing them tightly in his anger as they burned holes into each other's eyes. His own glistened over with fresh tears and he let her go. "Don't you think that I've replayed that day over and over again in my mind for the past few years? Is that why you didn't try to contact me?"
"Please don't think that I was being vindictive to get back at you," Manni told him. "I did try, but you were already gone. What was I supposed to do when you had left without a word?"
"I left because you told me to," he said sounding utterly vulnerable.
"Why?" she asked hearing her voice break. "You've never listened to me before. So why didn't you stay and talk to me? We could have worked it out."
"Really?" he asked revealing his disbelief.
"Maybe," she agreed wiping at her eyes. She heaved a sigh shrugging her shoulders, "I kept convincing myself that it was for the best. I mean, there I was happily skipping into your office to tell you the best news of the century and there you were inches away from sucking on the best pair of implants ever bought. What do you think was running through my mind?"
"I know, I know," Scott said, dropping down to the sofa while banging the palm of his hand against his forehead. "I was an idiotic, selfish, arrogant, egotistical bastard. And not once did I say that I was sorry—that I am sorry."
"So where do we go from here?" Manni asked with uncertainty dripping from her voice. "If you want to take me to court for joint custody, I'll find a lawyer—"
"Jeez, Manni, is that what you really think I would do?" he asked standing back on his feet to walk away from her.
"I don't know. I feel as if I don't know who you are anymore!"
Scott stopped his pacing to look back at her. She was right. She didn't know him anymore because he had spent the last three or so years changing from the selfish prick he was those years ago into the man that he had become today. "I want us to do things the right way," he told her. "No courts, no lawyers, no judges. Just you and me and Star. I don't expect you to accept me with open arms into her life, but I want to see her on a regular basis and when you don't have the time to be there for her, let me be there instead. I'm her father and we both deserve to catch up for lost time."
Manni nodded her head in agreement as she stared down at her feet, fighting back the tears. What he was saying was right, but it still hurt. The pain was still too strong. "Then what do you want to do?"
"I'll work around your schedule," Scott said reaching for her purse to grab her cell phone. "Here is my number and address. Call me or come by whenever you'd like to. You don't need to tell me in advance. I want us to try again for our daughter's sake."
She bursted into tears continuing to nod her head. "It'll take time," she told him sitting back down.
"I have nothing, but time to make up for all of the wrongs that I've done to you. Manni, are you willing to start over as friends?" He walked towards her extending a pale arm covered with light red hair and she stared at it for a few minutes before gingerly reaching out her own for a shake. "But we communicate," he told her. "As long as we communicate we can get through this. And eventually, not now because it would be too heavy, but eventually we'll really need to talk about everything that has happened."
"I know. Where are you going?" she asked when he had released her hand to walk away.
"Home. I feel exhausted."
"Aren't you forgetting your bike? I brought it in the other day. It's on the balcony."
"Thank you. I guess that would be easier than walking all over the place like a nomad."
She smiled at his efforts to lighten the mood. "Wouldn't it be wiser to take a taxi?"
"Don't judge me," he said disappearing then reappearing with his bicycle. "I'll see you both tomorrow?" he asked, hoping that she would give her consent.
Manni nodded her head, watching herself play with her fingers. "Come by the school tomorrow at three-thirty and I'll introduce you to the teachers. That way when I'm not able to make it there on time you can pick her up instead."
"Three-thirty it is," he replied opening the front door to let himself out. "And Manni?" She lifted her head to look at him, embarrassed that she was still sniffling. "Thank you."