Twice The Charm Ch. 06bycassandraharper©
They were having a staring competition, in her opinion, and Manni wasn't sure which one, between Scott and her father, would win. But Scott did look ready to sweat a couple bullets. "Daddy, would you stop trying to intimidate Scott," she told her father who had yet to wipe the intense frown from his eyebrows.
His eyes wandered to his daughter and his agitated wife making him decide to take the adult way out and actually speak instead of giving the man before him the silent treatment. "Come on in. I guess I should be a good host and offer you a drink?" He turned his bulky neck in Scott's direction waiting for a response.
"No thank you, sir. I'm not at all thirsty." He followed Manni's parents into the living room feeling ready to pass out. He had just literally spent fifteen minutes, in front of their door, in a staring match with Manni's 6'4" father who still had every ounce of muscle mass on his body that he had when he was a professional boxer. His mouth was drier than cotton and his throat felt as if he had had a large helping of saw dust for lunch.
"Daddy, you and Mom promised to be mature about this," Manni reminded her father as she stared up at him.
He grudgingly nodded his head in agreement then scooped up his granddaughter for a kiss. "Star, happy early birthday, the puppy is waiting for you in the backyard. Go ahead and keep him some company. Grandpa and Grandma need to talk to Scott."
"Her father," Manni chimed in to correct her father.
"You...your," he cleared his throat then tried again. "Your father."
"Ok," she squealed wiggling out of his arms to play with the puppy they had bought for her a week ago for her impending birthday.
"Would you like any snacks?" Kiné, Manni's mother, asked courteously as she showed Scott to a seat in the living room.
"No, thank you," he once more replied. His stomach was flipping circles. There was no way he could even imagine eating something.
"Sure. I'd like some peanuts if we have any."
"Which kind? Salted or honey roasted?" she asked heading to the kitchen.
"Honey roasted," Manni and her father replied in unison.
"I'll just get both," she told them, disappearing to round up a tray of snacks.
"Sit down, son."
"Yes," Scott replied quickly dropping himself into the sofa across from Manni's intimidating father. Luckily, Manni sat beside him giving him a bit of comfort.
"Relax," she whispered to him. "My father isn't going to eat you up." He released a nervous laugh wiping the palms of his sweaty hands against his black slacks.
"So, what brings you back to Florida?" Samuel asked once his wife had rejoined them.
"Oh dear. Has she gotten worse?" Kiné asked genuinely concerned. Scott nodded his head looking down at his hands he was now wringing together. "I'm truly sorry to hear that."
Samuel cleared his throat trying to hide the fact that he was also concerned about Scott's mother. Nonetheless, he remained undeterred in his quest for the truth. "I'm sorry to hear about your mother, Scott, but you know that I was never one to pussyfoot around something. So I'm just going to jump into it." He folded his muscular, dark chocolate arms across his chest turning his stern eyes upon Scott.
"Now, Samuel, I already told you that we should go about things differently," Kiné told him a bit disappointed by his manner of handling things. In all honesty, despite what may have happened in the past between her daughter and the evidently nervous young man sitting in front of them, she felt that it was their responsiblity to regulate the situation and work things out to how they saw fit.
"Look here woman--"
"Who do you think you're calling woman?" she asked ready to stand to her feet and give her husband a piece of her mind. She may be feets shorter than him, but that didn't mean that she wasn't capable of holding her own.
"Exuse me, dear," Samuel apologized looking somewhat uncomfortable.
"That's what I thought." Her light complexion became somewhat red with embarrassment as she realized she had nearly lost her temper in the presence of company. She ran her fingers through her thick, curled afro turning her attention back to her daughter and Scott. "I just want you to know, Scott, that I think Samuel and I should stay out of this in order to remain objective."
"Objective?" Samuel asked in disbelief. "How do I remain objective when he cheated on our daughter with his assistant then left her to raise a child on her own?"
"In his defense," Manni intervened, "Scott had no idea that I was pregnant with Star at the time. If he had known, things would have been somewhat different."
"What do you think this will solve for us to drag up the past?" Kiné asked looking at her husband.
"I don't see it as the past."
"That's because you tend to hold grudges."
"Now, Kiné, if that was us in their shoes, wouldn't you want to figure things out?"
"That's just it, Samuel, we are not them. Instead of sitting there and arguing things out, we should be able to leave them to solve this issue on their own. Let them talk about it on their own."
"There you go again with this 'peace is the answer to life' philosopy."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Mom, Dad, please don't argue over this."
Samuel grabbed a handful of honey roasted peanuts and threw them into his mouth before spitting them back out and glaring at his wife.
"The roasted peanuts are in the yellow bowl," she told him openly smiling at his mistake.
"Look," Scott said finally speaking up since the argument started. "An apology has been long overdue for everyone. I know that it doesn't excuse what I have done in the past and I plan to work to earn a second chance, if possible, because I am sincerely sorry for the way in which I have handled everything concerning Manni and our relationship."
Samuel rolled his eyes, "don't think that I'll forgive everything just because you bat your big, green eyes at me. Do you know what hurts the most about this? It's the fact that you came to me and we spoke, man to man, about you marrying my daughter. I gave you my permission upon your promise to be wise in your ways and what did you do? You fooled around with some young lady in your office. Do you know how disappointed I was to hear that? I really wanted you for my son-in-law."
An immense boulder of shame fell upon Scott's shoulders at Samuel's words. "I know."
"Then if you know, why the hell did you do it?"
"Daddy," Manni replied more so for her sake than for Scott's. She wasn't ready to hear why he had wanted to bed another woman.
"No, I need to know why. I think that we all need to know why."
Scott rubbed his throat hanging his head low as he thought about it all. Many nights had passed with him demanding this very question to himself. Yet never had he once thought that he would actually have to verbalize it all. "Because I was stupid. At the time, Manni and I were going through one heck of a rough spot and, ah...I wasn't thinking."
"What?" she asked unable to understand his reasoning. "So because we were arguing you thought that it was alright to go out and have an affair? Did you do that every time we fought?"
"No, of course not," he replied already defensive. "It was just..."
"It was different that time. I felt suffocated."
"What?" she replied standing to her feet. It was safe to say that her temper came from her mother. "What do you mean you felt suffocated? Did you not want to be with me anymore?"
"That's not what I'm saying at all."
"Then what are you trying to say, Scott?" she demanded looking down at him in expectation.
He stood up running his hand through his hair, the both of them forgetting that her parents were present in the room. "It was hell living with you for once," he told her. "You didn't want to do anything. You wouldn't get out of bed, you cried all the time, I tried to console you and you would explode. You weren't even going to work anymore. Do you know how hard it was for me to take care of you when you didn't give a damn about yourself?"
"Excuse me for going through a bout of depression. I never asked for it."
"I know that, it was just a side effect of the medication from when you had food poisoning, but at times it seemed as if you were happy that way. As if you were just sinking into darkness and you were content to die there. God, I remember there was a time you hadn't showered for a week and I had to call your mother to get you out of bed and into the bathtub!"
"So you're blaming this all on me?" she asked with her hands on her hips.
"No, no, I'm not blaming this all on you," he tried to assure her, but it was too late. She had already made her conclusions. "I made my mistakes as well."
"Yeah, you did. There were times when I didn't even see you at all. We barely spoke. You didn't even want to touch me anymore."
"That's because everytime I tried you cried. Do you know how that made me feel?"
"How it made you feel. It was always about you," she accused.
"No, it wasn't. It was never about me. Don't you recall how many sleepless nights I'd gone through to make sure that you were alright? I couldn't trust you by yourself because you were so far gone that you were contemplating suicide. I even begged you to go to therapy and you told me to go to hell. What did you expect, Manni?! I know that I wasn't doing much, but everything that I tried you shot right down. What was I supposed to do? I was at my wit's end."
She covered her mouth as tears came to her eyes. It was her fault that things had gone awry with Scott. "I'm sorry. I was in a really bad place, but I thought that if you loved me, you would understand."
"Of course I tried to understand, it wasn't you, but having to hear every night how much you hated your life and how insignificant everything was, I started to get weak. I kept reminding myself that it was the medication, but after a while it seemed as if you were believing the things that you were saying." He sniffled dropping back down to the couch to rest his head in his hands.
"I even wondered if you still loved me. All of a sudden you weren't the Manni that I knew. You were consumed by depression and you wouldn't let me help you to get out of it. We were suffocating together and I needed to breathe. I know that that doesn't excuse what I have done, but you were content to die from suffocation whereas I couldn't breathe. And I wanted to live."
She cried. Her mother rushed to her comfort.
"Why didn't you say that things were this bad?" Samuel asked. "We could have helped you."
"We all have our pride," Scott told him looking down at his feet. "And that's exactly the same reason why I'm in this predicament." He stood to his feet to go outside for some fresh air. His throat felt constricted and ready to burst. He couldn't take it.
"It was all my fault," Manni told her parents once he had left. "I've always asked myself why our relationship had turned out this way, but it was all my doing."
"Don't say that, sweetheart," Her mother told her caressing her back. "At least now the air is clear and we can all work on getting past this. That includes you as well, Samuel." Her husband didn't argue for once only nodding his head in agreement. "Where are you going?"
"To talk to Scott," he threw over his shoulder joining him on the patio. His eyes were red almost as red as the tinge of his hair. It was obvious he was going through a hard time with it all. "Don't you feel better now that you've talked about it?" Samuel asked as a conversation starter. Scott looked at him though he remained quiet.
"Look, Scott, I'm sorry. Over the years I have formulated so many negative conclusions and assumptions towards you that I never once stopped to think about your true character. You were always so reserved so not once did we think about how much you were affected by Manni's ordeal. I owe you a big thank you and an even bigger apology. Would you be willing to accept them, coming from one stupid father to another?"
He smiled watching Star chase the puppy in order to grab the stick from it's mouth and play with it. "I know that right now is not the time to bring this up, but if Manni is willing, I would like to give our relationship another try. And this time around not even hell freezing over will make me leave her again. I have a lot of ground to cover, but I'm determined and willing to do that, if you will once more give me your permission, sir."
Samuel covered his mouth from a yawn as he contemplated Scott's words. "Let's allow time to decide. At least I now understand why your relationship turned out how it did, but I still need time to get my feelings straight. Besides, it all depends on that stubborn daughter of mine. The two of you have things to talk about.
"Thank you, Mr. Stanley."
"We can, however, start by you dropping this polite act. It's Samuel not sir nor Mr. Stanley. Just Samuel or even Sam."
"Much better. Now on to the birthday party."