tagRomanceAcross the Pond Ch. 08

Across the Pond Ch. 08


Author's note: First, I want to thank y'all for reading and voting. I am so grateful for you taking the time to read and comment on each chapter, I am so appreciative of your viewership!

Since I'm bunkering down in this hurricane I will be going back and editing previous chapters for grammar, spelling etc. I never notice mistakes until after I've posted, good grief.

I'm also going to add the soundtracks at the end of each chapter! Music has been such a driving force for this story and is always good to share. Thanks again and happy reading!


I. Today.

I occupied the driver's seat of my wife's convertible in her parent's stone driveway, where we sat in silence, staring at the front door. Her family waited inside to meet me and we were as immobile as stone statues. My clammy hand was holding onto hers tighter than normal and dare I say we were complete cowards. "We could hop on a plane to England in an hour and avoid this whole thing," Sydney suggested, her own fingers shaking worse than my own.

"A bit late for that, wife of mine." A lungful of the cool evening air did nothing to negate my nervousness. "I've never met a partner's parents before."

"Seriously? Weren't you with Crazy Bitch for 16 years?"

"Simone's parents were deceased long before I met her."

"Oh. Did she murder them? She sounds like the type." That made me chuckle, succeeding in releasing some of the jittery energy in the car when I turned to look at her. Her dinner attire consisted of an oversized black sweater and white jeans, complete with a pair of red-rimmed glasses and her mother's pearls around her neck. She was stunning as always. And she, as I, was in a near-panic. "Okay, I'm gonna level with you, Dimples. My parents are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet but they're also high-powered corporate attorneys. They are sharks. If they get even the tiniest whiff of fear they will attack and we will never get out of here alive. We need to stick together so don't let them corner you alone. We're on the buddy system babe, it's the only way we'll survive."

"Christ, Sydney. You're making it sound as if we're headed into battle. I'm sure it won't be as bad as you're presuming it to be."

She leaned over the stick shift and pressed her lips quickly to mine. "If I don't make it back, Sergeant, just know that I love you."

I patted her on the head and sighed as I exited the vehicle, rounding the boot to open her door. According to Sydney the white stucco mansion sat on enough land for a seven-car garage, a private pond in addition to the swimming pool, as well as stables for her younger sister's two horses. There was even a cheery valet to take the keys to park her Porsche. With my hand resting right above her tailbone we made our way into the house and closed the front door as soundlessly as possible. She peeked around the imperial staircase and detecting nothing but silence. "It's quiet," she whispered. "Too quiet."

"Perhaps they're waiting behind the sofas with Uzi's to ambush us." She looked up at me and left her mouth hanging open, feigning surprise in the way she does when I indulge in her silliness. My knuckles grazed her cheek and she gave them a sweet kiss before someone entered the room, causing us to freeze in place. It was only Carson walking past us without so much as a glance up. Sydney uttered her name to get her attention though she continued to pass by, engrossed in the pages of the novel she was reading. "Carson!" Her sister jumped, unaware anyone was around her. "Put the book down. Socialize. Engage with others."

"Oh, hey Hellbeast." She looked at me with disinterest. "Hellbeast's husband."

"Where are the folks?" Sydney inquired.

"In the kitchen. With Rachel, Ezra, and Nana." Carson made the most tickled sound as she made her way up the stairs with her book tucked in her arm. "You're in so much trouble."

At that moment a young brunette girl ran through the living room in football gear holding a ball that looked bigger than herself. "Hi Beanie!" she exclaimed loudly.

"Shhh. Come here kid." Sydney crouched down and put her hands on the child's shoulders. "Give it to me straight, Lima Bean. What's the room feeling like in there?"

"You're in so much trouble," she answered, mimicking Carson's words. It was then her dark eyes met mine. "Is this the shegetz?"

I only knew the basics of Hebrew but even I knew that didn't sound good. "Jesus, Abby, don't say that. I don't need everyone thinking I'm teaching you bad language, too."

"It's okay! I heard Nana say it, a lot."

It was then Sydney popped up and began pushing me back toward the front door. "New plan. Run."

"What happened to 'stick together no matter what?'" I questioned in confusion.

"That was before I found out Nana's here. This is DEFCON 2, I need to diffuse the bomb or we're both gonna die."

"I never understand half of what you're saying but if you don't make it back, General, know that I love you." She kissed me swiftly before departing, making her way to what I assume was the kitchen. I'd almost forgotten our visitor when she tugged on my trouser leg until I acknowledged her. "Hi. Are you my Uncle Max?"

She had the most cherubic face and spherical, brown eyes. A complete heartbreaker. "I am. What may I do for you, darling?"

"If you give me two dollars I'll show you the best place to listen to the grown-ups talk."

Cherubic and mischievous. I pulled my billfold from inside my jacket and took out two hundred-dollar bills, handing them over. She pocketed her bribe and took my hand, leading me through the front door and round the side of the house where a lattice window was cracked open. We stood on either side of it and Abby put her finger to her lips to signal me to stay quiet which, honestly, they wouldn't have heard me through the shouting anyhow.

"Asydneya Rose James this has to be the dumbest thing you've ever done! How can you just elope -- "

"To a shegetz of all people!" I assumed that came from her grandmother. "He knows nothing of our culture, our people...at least your father converted! What, this weird boy doesn't have the decency to be like your father?"

"And you know how much I wanted to throw you a wedding!" I crossed my arms and leaned against the wall, feeling a bit shamefaced. That had to be from her mother, who had begun to cry. "I started planning it since you were six and you throw it all away to get married in another country without us!"

"And he's European! He probably has Nazi ties. You've broken your poor mother's heart, you know that?"

"Yeah Syd, you broke Mom's poor little heart." Had to be Rachel, I could tell by the sarcasm.

"Okay, that's enough!" My wife finally interjected. I couldn't help but smile and neither could my adorable niece. "Everyone needs to calm the hell down. First off, Nana, he's from England, not Germany."

"What, you don't think they had Nazi's in England?"

"Relax old woman, you think all Gentiles are Nazi. Hell, you said Mel Brooks is a Nazi. Mom, look. If you want to plan a wedding I'm all in for whatever you want to do, but you're going to have to do it while I'm in London. I'm sorry you weren't there, but I'm not sorry I married him, so knock off the guilt trip."

Silence, before the question was posed, "Alright. Where is my new son-in-law?"

I was being summoned. "Go, go, go go go," I ushered my partner in crime back inside the house where my love reappeared in the foyer. "What are you two up to?" she asked as I watched her stride over with that walk of hers.

"Uncle Max gave me two dollars!" Abby squealed, showing her aunt her the two large bills.

"Good for you, you little scam artist. Go get washed up for dinner." The young girl bounced off and it was only us two. I took a moment to gather my stunning girl into my arms. "Bomb diffused, little one?"

"Yep. I got them to scream at each other instead of at me," she explained, plump lips skimming right underneath my chin. "Sure we can't bail on dinner and go home? Seeing you in this suit kind of has me hungry for something else."

How I wish we could. However, fate had a different plan as her family shuffled in behind her, stopping on the opposite side of the room. I gently turned her around but wouldn't allow her out of my reach. "Okay, this is how it's gonna go. Each of you gets to ask Max one -- and only one -- personal question. Then we're gonna act like a normal family and eat, okay? Mom, you're up first."

Her mother stepped forward, sporting a blue and white flowered maternity apron and a familiar smile. Bashful and sweet. Sydney's smile. "Hello Maxwell, I am this horrible child's mother. When can we expect grandchildren?"

"God, Mom," my wife grumbled but I didn't mind, and when Charlotte offered her hand I took it and kissed the back of her fingers. "Lovely to finally meet you, and please allow me to express my sincerest congratulations on your own little bundle of joy." She blushed and thanked me kindly. "Sydney and I haven't formally discussed a timeline but I feel I can fairly say that if so, in no more than five years. I'm a bit selfish and would like her to myself for a while."

After her mother backed away her eldest sister stepped up and introduced herself as Rachel. She was the perfect clone of their mother with Sydney's colorful vocabulary to boot. "Please don't take this the wrong way but are you completely batshit crazy for tethering yourself to this psychopath for the rest of your life?"

I looked down at my little hellion with an unwavering stare, making sure she felt I meant every word when I said "Absolutely and for all time. It seems I'm powerless to help it." Sydney beamed at me while simultaneously lifting her middle finger to her sister. Next was Carson who appeared at my side to whisper in my ear, "Do you have a good library and any cute brothers?"

I laughed softly before whispering back that I did on both accounts. I'd build her an expansive library of her own if that would please her, but she was adorable and innocent so I would likely keep my only unattached brother far from her. Not that he was in a state to be concerned of such things, and that aside Charlie was almost two decades older than she. Then again, I am ten years older than Sydney...

She skipped out of the room just as her brother-in-law, Ezra, took his turn. He stood by the drink cart and his inquiry was a silent one, holding up a bottle of Bombay Sapphire and one of Stoli Elt. Everyone laughed as some of the tension dissipated and I pointed to the gin. Sydney took stock of who was left. "Dad?"

Her father took off his thin-wired glasses and casually began cleaning them on his shirt. "I'm forfeiting my question in exchange for a private conversation after dinner."

Sydney shook her head vigorously. "Not the rule, old man."

"My house, my food, my rules," he stated, glaring at me coolly. I watched her gearing up to protest and I bent down to her ear, "Sweet girl, it's fine. I promise." She searched my expression for affirmation of my sincerity and when I nodded she closed her mouth and let it go.

"What about meee?!" The sweetest whine came from the smallest family member while she hopped on one foot to the other. Two fingers gestured for her to come forward and I brought myself to her level, frowning when she ran up with the saddest face known to man. "Why are you taking Beanie so far away?

I gathered her small hand in mine and answered with as little emotion I could muster. "Abby, I am the boss of a very big company in England and we will have to live there so I may go to work. Does it make you sad that your, ah, Beanie is leaving?" She said yes with her bottom lip pushed out. "How about this -- we will come to visit as often as possible if you'll promise to have your mum and dad bring you to London so you can keep me company at a foo...soccer match. Deal?" She showed me a grin that was missing two teeth and shook my hand before running back to Rachel. When I straightened Sydney immediately held onto my arm, embracing as a silent thank you.

The sole person left, her Nana, hobbled over leaning on a cane and stared me down from her short stature. If I were intimidated by anyone it was assuredly her. Her delicate hands reached up and for a split second I thought she was going to slap me; instead she only grabbed onto my shoulders to pull me down so she could give me a peck on each cheek. Everyone, including myself, was in complete shock. "That's it, Nan?" Sydney asked carefully.

She let go and pointed at me. "Any man who can get you to shut the hell up gets my vote." Everyone burst into hysterics again and I gave her a hug. Interrogation time over for the time being, Nana hooked her arm with mine and began speaking of Jewish conversion classes as we headed into the dining room to begin our meal.


II. Solara.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

The lion's den. That was the only way to describe my occupation of the chair in Edward James' study. The King of the pride had been glaring at me - for far longer than made me comfortable - with his face leaning into his hand as he sat back, sizing me up. The ominous ticking of the metronome on his desk wasn't making the situation any less hostile. It was a waiting game, an establishment of dominance. One I should have succumbed to immediately but was not, unfortunately, hardwired into my personality in situations such as these. So, we waited. And waited.

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Alright. This is one I must lose. "Thank you for inviting me into your lovely home," I started after clearing my throat.

"I didn't. My daughter did. Thank her." Not the best start but at least he was talking. "Has she had any more run-ins with Rosenthal?"

I was hyperaware my leg was shaking so I uncrossed them to put both feet on the floor. "No. Now that he knows she's under watch I don't anticipate any more. Sydney will be relocating soon and I will be with her until she does."

"Time frame?"

"Four, maybe five days." His eyebrows twitched in mild surprised. "It is sudden, I know. But should I be travelling frequently I need to know she'll be safe."

Cornflower eyes tensed and so did my stomach. "So, you'll be leaving her alone for days and weeks on end? If that's the case she might as well stay here."

"I'm sorry, you misunderstand." I leaned forward to make sure I was heard in words and inflection. "I will have her with me. If she isn't directly by my side then she will be where I believe she is securest."

To my immediate surprise he snickered, but not out of humor. "You're talking about her on her own for long stretches of time, in a city where she knows no one -- "

"She knows my family."

"Your family. In your house, in your country. So far, I see Sydney giving up a hell of a lot for you, so enlighten me as to what you're sacrificing for her?" I stared. Staring was all I could do. "See, this is the problem. You love her - fine, whatever. But you don't know her. What I see happening is you isolating her to the point where she's miserable, and you know what she'll do, right? She'll run. I couldn't give a shit about you, if you died tomorrow I'd dance on the dirt you're buried under. But I won't see my daughter getting hurt again and you haven't given much to convince me -"

"Sydney had her first kiss at age ten with a classmate named Mary Younger, then didn't have another until she was fifteen with a bloke named Adam Lesk. She prefers Marvel Comics to DC because she is convinced Captain Rogers and Bucky Barnes are in a long-term romantic relationship. She claims her favorite music is that blasted hip-hop she's always blaring but her guilty pleasure is some sort of emo-rock-folk hybrid. She is always dancing and half the time she doesn't notice it, her body moves on its own to the beat of her drum. Her grandmother would disown her if she found out she puts sugar in her grits, which...to be honest I don't know what that means but it sounds vile.

Family is the most important thing to her. She is fiercely loyal -- to a fault on occasion. Her favorite color is silver and her favorite food is vanilla icing and her socks never match. She moves her hands continuously as if touching something, anything, grounds her. In her mind it is Dean, Castiel, Sam then Crowley, but the four are interchangeable depending on her mood. When she's sleeping she sort of sighs and stretches until she is comfortable except for the two nights a week when she is inundated with nightmares, in which the only way for her to settle is to put thunderstorms on the white noise machine and rub her back in a counter-clockwise circle." I stood and buttoned my jacket, thoroughly finished with the conversation.

"She says she is damaged and weak not because of the circumstances that have befallen her but because you and everyone around her have treated her as fragile and helpless for years. I am the one she feels she can be her true self around. I am the one who is up with her at three a.m. when she is so plagued with memories she makes herself physically ill, and I am the one who puts her back together even when she thinks it is impossible. Don't you dare say I don't know her. I know her. Now either support us or get fucked. I don't care which way you choose." I didn't give him a chance to respond, walking out before anymore could be said between us.


III. Mood.

It was a few minutes past nine by the time we arrived home, the inside of my door dark and quiet. I didn't bother turning on any lights since the moonlight illuminated the space well enough for me to remove my jacket and tie, tossing them on the arm of the sofa. I was halfway through the buttons on my shirt when a warm hand rested around my shoulder. "Are you okay? You didn't say much on the ride home." Sydney came around and her hand left my shoulder for my cheek, stroking the beginnings of daily stubble that lay there. As much as I know her, she knows me. "Are you upset because of the talk you had with Dad?"

"Yes and no." I pulled her hand from my face and stepped out of her grasp to finish disrobing. Her touch only fed into my culpability. "Am I making the wrong decision by relocating us, taking you away from your family?"

"Oh." She didn't speak again until I finished my task and I listened to the shuffling of her own clothes being removed. "Look, I'm going to miss Connecticut; and yeah, that makes me sad. You know what makes me even sadder? That we've been together for three months and I've seen you roughly half that. I need to be where you are."

"And that's always where I desire you to be, but what happens when I'm not able to give you my full attention?"

"I don't know, Max, I don't have all the answers. We'll figure it out when the time comes."

I grabbed onto her arms after her clothes were thrown aside, then onto her neck and her face. My touch was distressed, aggressively advancing on her until she backed into an armchair. "Promise me you'll stay. Even when I fuck up, even when I'm absolute shit. Tell me you won't run. That you'll stay with me forever, I couldn't bear it...promise me."

"I won't." Even though her brassiere had a clasp in the front I ripped it apart anyhow, dipping down to draw the tip of her breast into my mouth while I filled my right hand with the other generous globe. I could hear her scarce puffs of air and it fed into my desperation, my unyielding demand to know she was mine and mine alone. I pushed her legs apart with my foot but she stopped me before my hand could travel lower than her navel. Not to be deterred I grabbed her by her hair and twisted the silky strands twice around my arm, spinning and pushing down on her body until she was on her knees on the chair. I didn't want anything other than release of all my frustration and doubt. I wanted to be in control. "Maxwell, stop. Talk to me."

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