Perfume Ch. 09byMsLaLa31©
Rob was deep in thought as he made his way back to the car. Now that the authorities thought him and Ethan dead, he had to leave Baltimore behind and make a new life for himself elsewhere.
But not before he worked to get Mike a shorter sentence. That would take time, a lot of traveling, and the best lawyer money could buy.
He breathed a sigh of relief because years ago, when he had first begun to acquire his wealth, he had opened a Swiss Bank account under another name. It would be tricky, but Rob was sure he would be able to get to Switzerland without any problems.
If there was anything he'd learned in his line of business, was the art of remaining unseen, and playing the part of chameleon.
From Switzerland, he would travel to Amsterdam. That was supposed to be their second destination after Puerto Vallarta. He had no idea if Ethan would still follow the plan; but Rob had to at least try to find him.
Before he left, though, there was one more person he needed to see...Hector.
It was time to face his demons head on. As painful as that was, this was something he needed to do. With his hand on the door handle, Rob made to enter the car when a voice stopped him.
"I have watched you come here on your birthday each year. I was hoping this time would be no different."
He kept his head low and turned to stare at Hector from behind the comfort of his dark sunglasses.
His father continued to speak to him from the shadows of a large, oak tree. Hector didn't dare move any closer.
"Happy birthday, Roberto. How are you?"
Rob chuckled. The sound was dry and humorless.
"As if you've ever cared how I've been," he said. His deep voice was dripping with sarcasm and controlled rage. He thought he could do this...talk with his father, but he couldn't. He couldn't just get over twenty plus years of hurt.
"I do care, son...I've always cared." Hector said haltingly.
"FUCK YOU!!!" Rob exploded. "I can just...I can fucking choke you!!!!"
Hector closed his eyes against the force of Rob's words. Even worse was the pain he heard beneath them. He knew this would be hard, but Hector didn't know if he could stand up under his son's fury. For once in his life, though, he would try. It was the very least he could do.
For the second time that day, tears rolled down Rob's face. "You fucking turned your back on us like we were shit. Then you had the audacity to be the perfect father to Eric--"
Rob turned away, unable to articulate what he wanted to say. He grabbed his head as if in physical pain. Then he whipped back around.
"Why him and not us?" he asked brokenly.
Hector bowed his head in shame as tears rolled down his own face. Rob had sounded like a wounded child.
"FUCKING ANSWER ME YOU GODDAMN BASTARD!!!" Rob bellowed.
When Hector still said nothing, Rob's voice dropped, barely above a whisper. He sounded defeated.
"For once in your miserable life, answer the fucking question," he implored.
Hector stood there at a loss for words. He thought about why he'd left his sons and poured all his attention into Eric, and then he spoke.
"Eric didn't...I hadn't hurt Eric the way I hurt you. He still looked at me as if I was his hero, and I needed that. There was no condemnation or disappointment...just love. I couldn't face you and Miguel, Roberto. Then when Etán got old enough to understand what I had done, the same disenchantment was mirrored in his eyes. It was too much."
Hector paused, taking a deep breath.
"How do you redeem yourself in your children's eyes when you have just killed their mother?!" he cried. Hector stepped forward, stretching his hand toward Rob. It was as if he was begging his son for understanding.
Once again, Rob turned away from his father. This was really too much. There was no fucking way he would allow Hector's sob story to affect him. He had abandoned them, goddamn it; not the other way around.
"You listen to me," he growled. "There is no fucking excuse for what you put us through...your fucking flesh and blood!" Rob's veins were beginning to protrude in his neck, his face mottled with red.
"WE WERE LOST!!! WE FUCKING NEEDED YOU!" Rob thundered, the tears pouring down his face. He had long since discarded his sunglasses.
He took a step toward his father, not sure what his intentions were. Rob was like a caged animal and capable of anything right now.
Well aware of his son's propensity for violence, Hector hastily took a step back.
Rob spoke quietly now, the anguish no less palpable. "We needed you. I fucking needed my father. The rest...we could've worked through it. We may have hated you for a while for what you'd done, but you should've been there to take it like a goddamn man. I..."
He stopped, staring up at the sky, seeming to collect himself. "I used to watch you...WE used to watch you go to Eric's. We would watch you bring him gifts and...father him. You have any idea what that does to a kid??"
Hector's shoulders slumped as he listened to Rob. He'd had no idea his boys watched him. He didn't think he could get any lower than this point.
"Son," he began.
"And the abuse from Evalisse and Arturo," Rob continued. He spoke as if Hector had not uttered a word. "Where were you when that shit was happening?" he asked.
Hector's eyes widened, his expression became pained. "Son, please believe me. I never knew of any abuse! If I had—"
"If you had what? You would've come for us? You would've done what you should have in the first place?!" Rob asked, enraged.
As Hector stood there silent, Rob suddenly became very, very tired. He couldn't do this shit anymore. He didn't even have the energy to hate his father.
He looked at Hector from dim, red eyes...eyes that had not known joy for 23 years.
"I'm done," he said quietly, his gaze shifting off in the distance behind his father.
"I can't speak for Mike, but you've destroyed me. I'm grateful that you didn't get to Ethan. He's a good kid, and hopefully I didn't do to him what you've done to me. I'm on my way to find him...to right the wrongs I've dealt him. That's the difference between you and me; I can try to rectify my mistakes. You...you just shit on people and then carry on as if nothing happened."
Rob used the end of his shirt to wipe the tears from his face, and made to leave. But before he did, he looked at Hector once more.
"Find your other sons. One is in prison; I don't know where the other is. Maybe they have the heart to forgive you. As for me...stay away; or I'll put a fucking bullet between your eyes."
With that, Rob put his sunglasses back on and got inside the car. As he sped away, he never looked back at Hector. If he had, he would have seen the old man collapse to his knees, sobbing.
For Eric and Wynston, the next few weeks went by in a blur.
They were busy with prenatal appointments and looking at houses. The baby was doing well and growing everyday. But the house hunting wasn't coming along as nicely.
The two had looked at five more houses, but nothing fit what they were looking for.
So they had decided to go back to the fourth one they'd seen...which was the one Wynston had wanted in the first place. Luckily it was still available.
Looking at the home a second time only reiterated what Wynston already knew. She loved the place...and so did Terrence for that matter. He had already claimed one of the large guest bedrooms for his own.
Eric finally came around the second time, looking at the house with new eyes (or with the eyes of a person who was tired of house shopping), and realized that it was everything they were looking for.
Wynston never said "I told you so." She just smirked at Eric, letting him know what she thought of his doubting her instincts.
Once they put in their offer and it was approved, they set about getting the house appraised and inspected. They were aware that the closing process could take between thirty and sixty days. It was just enough time for them to get back to Maryland, pack up, and plan a small wedding.
After their honeymoon, they would have to work double-duty getting the house and nursery ready for the baby.
Wynston's head was spinning just from the thought of everything they had to do. But she and Eric had family and friends who were willing to help, so that was a huge plus.
Her arm was healing nicely, as well. Wynston had been incredibly excited when the sling had been removed two weeks earlier. Of course there was still residual pain, but she was slowly regaining use of the arm.
And Eric was right to tell her not to worry about the "baby arm." Both her arms were identical and Wynston felt silly for worrying.
Her pregnancy was coming along without any complications, too. Even though she had begun to experience morning sickness, Wynston didn't complain. It meant her little one was alive and well inside of her, so she took everything in stride.
For Wynston, life was good.
Her relationship with Lacey was getting stronger everyday. Wynston found it so refreshing to have a true friend whom she could trust. Everyday she, Terrence and Lacey walked around the park during the cool of the evenings.
It was a good opportunity for Terrence to get out and expend his energy. Meanwhile, Wynston and Lacey got their daily exercise and were able to spend time with each other and catch up on girl talk.
At the fifth month of Lacey's pregnancy, she and Bo had learned that they would be having a little girl. Lacey had called Eric and Wynston, screaming about the good news. All she had been waiting for was the word.
Once she learned the baby's sex, she went ballistic with the shopping.
Lacey dragged Wynston with her to every baby store imaginable - which wasn't a bad thing since Wynston got some of her own baby shopping done, too – and bought all the little pink and purple dresses, shoes, blankets and nursery decorations she could find.
Unfortunately, though, her husband was scared shitless. Bo was already worried about protecting their little girl from boys and preventing her from getting pregnant. Eric was always the "Amen corner," giving his two cents' worth on the matter.
All the two women could do was laugh at their men and how ridiculous they sounded.
Wynston couldn't be happier...until she and Eric got into their first argument.
He had finally told her how he'd gotten Terrence to South Carolina, and Wynston was not pleased. Since they were returning to Baltimore in just two days, they were in Eric's room packing clothes for the trip when Eric dropped the bomb.
"You did what?!" Wynston gasped. She did her best to keep her voice low as Terrence was quietly playing in the other room.
Obviously it was a rhetorical question, so Eric just watched her silently.
"Wait. Let me get this straight. You took $10,000 and bribed Terry into letting T.J. come here? And he took the money?! AND you're just now telling me all this?!"
Again, Eric said nothing.
Wynston stood with her hands on her hips and eyed him, waiting for him to say something.
"What do you want me to say? If there's anyone to be pissed at, it's Terry. He's the one who took the money. I only wanted to bring Terrence here to you," Eric said quietly.
Wynston sat on the bed and ran her hand over her face.
"I appreciate that, and I love you for it, but this just complicates things even more. I can't tell you how grimy Terry is. Have you stopped to think that now he will make our lives even more difficult? You tossing your money around will only make him want more," Wynston said.
Honestly, she felt like Terrence Sr. was her problem; and that's how she wanted him to remain. She didn't want Eric to be dragged into all her mess, but it looked like the damage had already been done.
"Who did you say you were to Terrence and me? Terry is going to go ballistic when he realizes that T.J. will be spending the majority of his time with another man. And where the hell did you get $10,000 just like that, anyway? Ethan hadn't given you the money yet."
"It was my own money," Eric answered. "And I didn't disclose who I am. I just made the offer through a friend. At first, we didn't hear anything from him. Then at the last minute, he contacted the friend and accepted," he explained.
Eric watched Wynston. She was clearly agitated which in turn made him irritated as well. He had done a good thing, damn it!
"Look, I understand your concerns, but I won't allow Terry to be a problem for us. He sure as hell won't be getting any more money. You just have to trust me. My job is to protect you, Hughes. Haven't I been doing that?" he asked.
"Eric, I do trust you; and I know you did all this from a good place. But you're missing the point. Terry isn't good...I didn't want you to get involved in my problems that way."
Wynston was close to tears.
Eric pulled her to her feet and gently took her into his arms.
"If I had a problem long before I met you and kept it to myself, how would that make you feel?" he asked, kissing the top of her head.
Wynston groaned. She knew where he was going with this. "I wouldn't like it, but I wouldn't be throwing $10,000 at it either," she said. "Why the hell did you have to give him so much money?!"
"Okay, maybe I got a bit overzealous. But truthfully, I was hoping the guy would have more integrity than to take it," Eric explained.
Wynston buried her face in his clean-smelling shirt and sighed.
"OR, you could've just believed me when I told you he was scum. Eric, you don't understand. I've had minimal dealings with that asshole because he's the worst mistake I have ever made. I can't even believe I called myself loving him!"
She pushed away from Eric not knowing how to make him understand what he'd done. Wynston was very afraid of what Terry was capable of. Even worse was the fact that her son had been bought and sold.
She grieved for T.J.
His father was no better than the dirt on the bottom of her shoes. He had forfeited his relationship with their son for money...that was low even for Terry. How would she explain that to her boy later on?
Wynston was completely overwhelmed and prayed that Terry would simply leave them alone.
When Eric went to grab her again, for the first time in their relationship, she pulled away, avoiding his touch.
"I just need time, Eric." With that, she left the room.
Late that night, Wynston awoke to find that Eric's side of the bed was empty. She knew it had something to do with their argument earlier. Also, she had not had much to say to Eric after that, and Wynston now felt bad. She lay in the dark, slowly rubbing her small, baby bump as she mulled over the situation.
As always, Eric had only been trying to help...albeit in a very grandiose fashion, but she couldn't fault him for that. Wynston knew him well enough to be sure that Eric was somewhere in the house beating himself up over the issue.
What a contradiction he was!
She had always thought men like him were vain and pompous...that they didn't care about anyone but themselves. Eric was entirely the exception. He was too gorgeous for words, yet he had a wonderful inside to match his outside. He was a rare jewel, and she was so lucky to have found him.
Wynston wondered if she would ever get it right when it came to her reactions to difficult situations. She didn't want to keep hurting Eric this way...it wasn't fair to him.
With a new resolve, she got up and went to look for him, not wanting him to continue to stress over this.
She realized that she was inadvertently allowing Terry to come between them, and that wasn't going to fly; Wynston would rather die than allow that to happen. She would just allow the chips to fall where they may and tackle the Terry situation with Eric when the time came.
Wynston first stopped by Terrence's room to check on him. Then she padded downstairs and found that everything was dark; but the front door was open so she made her way onto the porch.
Eric was sitting on a cushioned lounge chair, a beer bottle hanging loosely from his fingers. He looked like a petulant little boy. Her poor baby.
Wynston could just eat him up...he was so precious to her. She felt even worse for being too hard on him. Looking up as she made her way toward him, Eric quietly observed her.
"Come down to ignore me more?" he asked, taking a swig of his beer.
"No. I missed you in bed," she said quietly.
"I couldn't sleep...came out for some air," Eric said tersely.
Wynston could hear the tension in his voice. She had to do her best to rectify the situation.
Taking the beer bottle out of Eric's hand, she set it down on the porch and eased onto his lap. She cupped his face with her hands and kissed his lips. They tasted like beer.
"Forgive me," she whispered.
Eric automatically pulled her closer to him and nuzzled his face in the crook of her neck. He was so forgiving...and loving.
"I can't quite find the words to explain to you how I was feeling. I just want...I want our relationship to remain untarnished by Terry. He has a way of destroying things for me, and I don't want to see you affected by him. He's a monster and in my own way, I wanted to protect you from him, sweetie."
Wynston shrugged her shoulders, hoping she made Eric understand at least a little of what she meant.
"I get that. But you have to understand that Terry had that kind of control over you because to a certain degree, you allowed it...and on top of that, you were fighting alone. But I'm here now, and your problems are my problems. We're supposed to be in this thing together, Hughes...ride or die. We don't come with separate lives. We have to mesh at some point, right?" he asked.
"Yeah, I know...but you can't be throwing money at our problems, either. For real! $10,000, Eric?! That was absurd...you gotta admit that!" she exclaimed.
Eric smiled wryly. "I tend to do things in grand style, what can I say?"
Wynston swatted his arm. "Eric!"
He pulled her close again and laughed. "Okay, I admit the money was a bit much. Happy?"
"Yes. AND, I want you to promise to DISCUSS our problems with me, too. No solving them by yourself. Right now you're on probation," she said pouting.
"I'll do my best to compromise, baby. But I'm not a man who asks for permission when it comes to my family. If a situation presents itself where I have to do what I need to in order to protect you and the kids, I'm going to do it. Anything else?" he asked.
"No," Wynston sighed. She guessed she'd just have to be content with that. It was a start.
"Just keep being you...but I reserve the right to add to this agreement later on." She smiled and laid her head on Eric's chest. Twining her fingers with his, they enjoyed the cool and comforting night breeze. The crickets sang their hypnotizing song in unison, lulling Eric and Wynston into a companionable silence.
"Have you thought any more about our wedding?" he asked suddenly.
"Yeah...about that," she said. Wynston almost laughed when she felt Eric tense.
"Calm down...I was only going to say that I really don't want a huge ceremony. I don't have many friends and the most important people in my life wouldn't even take up two pews in a church."
"Okay. So what do you want to do?" Eric asked.
"Well, I think it would be great if we could just go to the Justice of the Peace. Then afterward, we can have a nice dinner with our family and friends, and then spend a ridiculous amount of money on our honeymoon...that is, if we have any money left after that $10,000 you GAVE away. What do you think?"
Eric smacked Wynston on the rear for her cheekiness and kissed her forehead. "You really are amazing, you know that? I think it sounds good."
"Have you thought of a date?" Wynston asked.
"Nope. But it should be soon. We're already going to have our hands full with leaving Baltimore, then moving into the new house AND getting ready for the baby. I think we should do it before we come back here."