tagNon-EroticThe Long Road Back Ch. 01

The Long Road Back Ch. 01


Chapter 1 Coming Home

After driving for 2 days, I pulled my black mustang up in front of a house that I hadn't seen in over seven years. The home I had grown up in. As I stared at my mother's house, I shivered inside. The house hadn't changed. The blue trim around the windows looked as if it had recently been painted. My mother's flower garden was thriving under the front windows. In my minds eye, I could see my mother lying on a lounge chair in the back yard by the Olympic size swimming pool.

Pulling myself back to the present I looked at myself in the rearview mirror and it came to me how much I had changed in the past seven years. My once long blondish brown hair now rested just below my shoulders. My ice blue eyes once full of mischief were now full of worry for the future.

I heard a small yawn beside me and a look at the passenger seat told me the one thing about me that had changed the most. Sitting in his car seat, was my four year old son John. His blue black hair was pushed back off his face. His sea green eyes closed in sleep. Reaching over I brushed a stray strand off his forehead then smiled. The jeans and t-shirt outfit that Nancy had bought him before I left fit him well. I would have to tell her when I wrote her a letter.

Looking back towards the house, I saw the front door open and a man in his early to mid 40's walk out to pick up the morning paper. Getting out of the car, I watched the man as he picked up the paper and started perusing it before going back into the house. From what I could see at this distance, he wasn't a bad looking guy. His dark brown hair was spotted with grey and was cut just above his neck. He wasn't a muscle man but he didn't have to bad of a body in my opinion. I couldn't see the color of his eyes, but guessed they were a light brown.

I was about to call out to him, when he looked up from the paper and our eyes met. I felt his eyes go down my body then slowly make their way back up until they once again rested on my face. He kind of smiled then called out, "Can I help you, I hope?"

I kind of chuckled to myself then leaned back against the car, my black jean skirt molding itself more closely to my body. "Well actually, I'm looking for Joann Miller." I called back.

He moved a little closer as if to get a better look at me then smiled. "Oh, are you one of her students? I didn't realize she was teaching today."

It took me a moment to understand what he was talking about, and then I remembered. Monday, Wednesday and Fridays my mother taught piano to the kids around the neighborhood.

Standing back up straight, I looked into the car to make sure John was still asleep then slowly walked towards the man. "Actually," I said stopping a few feet from him. "She's my mother. I'm Crystal Miller." The man's mouth dropped open, and he dropped the paper. "And you are?" I asked taking off my sunglasses so he could see my eyes.

"I-I'm Jeff Daniels. You can't be Crystal."

Indignantly I put my hands on my hips. "And why can't I?"

He smiled at me. "Because the last time I saw you, you were barely in kindergarten. Plus you are too beautiful to be Crystal."

When he said that, I knew why he looked so familiar to me. Jeff and his wife Marlene had been our next door neighbors until they moved out to Bakersfield when I was 5. My brother Robert and I used to play with his children. Walking closer I hugged him. "Well it's me. How have you been? How are Marlene and the kids doing?"

Jeff pulled back and I saw the pain in his eyes before he covered it with a smile. "Marlene died of cancer 4 years ago. Kelly is living back east with her husband who is in the air force and I haven't talked to Eric in over 5 years. I don't know where he is."

I rested my hand on his shoulder. "Oh Jeff, I'm sorry."

He smiled at me. "It's okay. So what have you been up to? Your mom says she hasn't seen or heard from you in over seven years, since you got sent to foster care and drug rehab."

I pulled away from him and started walking back to the car. "Yea well I decided that I needed to start a new life. So I did." I smiled at him as he walked beside me. "So what are you doing here?"

From the blush he had on his face, I knew before he even answered the question. I glanced at his hand where a plain gold wedding band sparkled in the sunlight. I put my hand over my mouth and said. "You didn't?"

Jeff smiled at me wryly. "Yes I'm your new stepfather. Your mom and I have been married for a little over a year. When Marlene died I felt like a part of me died with her. I lived alone in that big house for over a year before I finally sold it and moved back here.

About 2 years ago, your mom and I ran into each other at the grocery store. We went out for coffee, I told her about Marlene and she told me about Peter."

At the mention of my father's name, I lowered my head. I didn't want to think about him. It was because of him that all the trouble started in the first place.

I felt Jeff's fingers on my chin and slowly raised my head to look into his eyes. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to upset you." He said smiling softly.

"It's okay." I replied forcing a smile. "I just don't like thinking about my dad is all." I punched him good naturedly in the shoulder. "So you and mom started with coffee and ended up married." I laughed. "What does Robert think of this?"

Jeff chuckled. "Actually at first he wanted to punch my lights out. But when your mom told him that she loved me and he saw how happy we were together, things went better. Over the past six months Robert and I have actually become friends." He put his hand to his forehead. "Actually Robert is coming over for dinner tonight. I totally forgot."

Before I could reply, I heard a soft voice call "mamma?" Jeff and I both turned at the sound. John was sitting on his knees on my seat – having unbuckled himself – looking up at us. When he saw me look at him, he held his arms out to me through the window.

Pulling my son out of the car, I held him in my arms as I turned to look at Jeff. I had to laugh at the expression of shock written on his face. "Did he just call you mamma?"

I looked down at John who had his head resting against my shoulder then turned back to Jeff. "Jeff, I want you to meet my son, John Michael Anderson. John, this is Jeff."

"Hi Jeff," John said through a yawn.

Jeff reached over and touched John's hand. "Hi John, it's nice to meet you." Jeff turned back to me and smiled. "Boy, you're full of surprises today. Well, I guess we'd better go in or we'll have your mother out here thinking I ran off with the paper girl." Jeff laughed.

Just then I heard the front door open. Turning towards it, I almost dropped John as I stared at my mother. She hadn't changed a bit in the past seven years. Her long blonde hair was pulled back in a French braid; her eyes so much like mine were shining. She was tanned and looked beautiful. She was dressed in a bikini top and shorts. When she saw Jeff she smiled. "Hey, what's taking so long handsome?" She asked walking towards us.

I wanted to run, I wanted to get back in the car and not come back. All the hurt I had felt over the past seven years came back in a heartbeat. I stood there holding my son close to me as I watched her walk towards us. When she reached us, she put her arm around Jeff and kissed him lightly. "Who you talking to babe?" she asked turning towards me.

I knew then that the moment I had been dreading and looking forward to for the past 2 weeks was finally here. When she looked at me, I saw first recognition, then surprise then hurt then anger all flash across her face at what seemed like the same time. "Oh, after seven years you finally decide to darken my doorstep." She flared. "I have lain in bed at night wondering if you were alive or dead. Wondering where you were and how you were doing. Now out of the blue you show up. Well guess what...." She stopped then suddenly burst into tears.

I handed John to Jeff then wrapped my arms around my mother. "I'm sorry mamma. I was hurt and angry and didn't know what kind of reception I would get if I came back, so I stayed away."

I felt her arms go around me and hold tight. "I'm sorry Crystal. I've just missed you so much." She cried against my shoulder.

I pulled away and looked at her. "I've missed you to mamma." I said keeping my hands on her shoulders. I looked at Jeff and saw tears glistening in his eyes. Then he nodded to John. I smiled then turned back to my mother. "Mamma, there's someone I want you to meet." I smiled at her then took my son out of Jeff's arms.

I watched her eyes move from John to me then back to John again. "Mamma, this is my son, John Michael Anderson, your grandson."

I saw the awe in her eyes as she smiled at him then held out her arms to him. John looked at me. When I nodded, he reached out for her. Without a word, mom took him into her arms holding him tight. Then she turned back to me, "your son?"

I smiled and nodded through the tears in my eyes. "He's four."

She held John in one arm, reaching out with her other hand and took mine. "Why don't we go back into the house and you can tell us all about it."

I smiled at her and started to follow them into the house when a blue mustang convertible pulled up into the driveway. Mom and Jeff didn't seem to notice as they continued on into the house but I stopped and looked over at the car.

When the man stepped out of the driver's seat I stood frozen with excitement and fear. I watched my brother step out of the car and laugh at something that someone in the car said. Suddenly he turned towards me and I was able to get a good look at him. His strawberry blonde hair hung down the middle of his back now. He had a beard and mustache, and from what I could see over the car looked very good.

As I watched him step around the car, I had to admit for my brother he had a decent body. He was dressed in a t-shirt, shorts and sandals. I watched him open the passenger door for someone.

Taking my eyes from my brother, I looked at the girl now stepping out of the car. She was about 5'6", petite with reddish brown hair. "Who is this?" I wondered to myself as I watched Robert kiss her gently then put his arm around her. When I looked back at her again, I saw the little bulge in her stomach. I guessed she was about 5 or 6 months pregnant.

I was so engrossed in my brother and the girl that I didn't notice the other person get out of the back of the car. If I had I probably would have run for the hills. Hawk closed the door behind him and laughed at something Robert had said. Then he turned towards me and his eyes met mine.

Before anyone could say a word or I could even move, Hawk ran towards me and pulled me into his arms kissing me deeply. "Crystal," he said when he finally let me come up for air. "What are you doing here?"

Before I could reply, I heard Robert's deep voice right next to me. "Who's your friend, Hawk?"

Tearing my eyes from Hawks' I looked at my brother. Our eyes met and we both seemed rooted to the spot. Finally he was able to find his voice, "Crystal?" He asked reaching for me as if to make sure I wasn't a dream.

When his hand touched my face, I reached up and grasped his hand holding it there. It was as if the other two people weren't there. Only my brother and I existed.

"Hello Robert." I said holding his hand to my face.

"Tell me I'm not dreaming," he said pulling me into a tight embrace. "Tell me you're real."

I wrapped my arms around him as I tried to hold back the tears that threatened to fall. "I'm here. It's really me big brother."

I heard a gasp and realized it was the girl who had come with Robert. Pulling out of his arms, I turned to look at her. "Robert?" She gasped looking from me to Robert and back to me.

Robert turned to her but before he could say anything I heard my mom's voice coming from the doorway. "Crystal are you coming in? John is calling for you." It seemed then that she saw Robert because she called, "oh Robert, good you're here. We all have a lot to talk about." Then I heard the door close.

I looked over at Hawk who was looking at me suspiciously, then to Robert who was smiling broadly to the girl who looked as though she was about to faint. Without a word to any of them, I turned and walked towards the house, leaving them to follow or not. For the 100th time today I wondered to myself if coming back here was such a good idea after all.

** *

An hour later, we were all sitting in the living room of my mothers' house drinking iced tea and everyone was looking to me for answers. Especially Hawk. When I had walked off the other three had followed.

Once inside the house, Robert had told mom that he needed a cold washcloth for Suzanne's forehead. I assumed that Suzanne was the girl that he was holding so close to him.

Walking into the living room, I picked up John and sat down in a chair as I watched Robert pick the girl up and lay her back on the couch. I noticed that her eyes were closed and she had a hand resting on her forehead. Hawk was hanging close to her while sending sly glances towards me and John every so often.

I didn't have to say a word for him to know that John was his son. John looked exactly like him from the blue black hair to the sea green eyes. John was a spitting image of what Hawk had been when he was that age.

I just pulled John close to me and rested my chin on his head as I looked at the floor. Unfortunately I couldn't help feeling Hawks eyes on me or the fact that he was shooting daggers at me whenever he thought no one was looking.

Suzanne was finally revived and I found out that she was Robert's wife. They had been married for 3 years and were expecting their first child. I also found out that she was Hawk's baby sister and that he was very protective of her. I thought she looked like a pale flower lying there against Robert, but hey I didn't have to live with her.

John had gotten tired of being held and wriggled off my lap onto the floor to play with a toy fire truck that Jeff had found for him. When Robert asked me who the father was, Hawk had said he's mine.

This sent Suzanne into another faint and caused mom to rush to the kitchen for another cold rag. I felt like scooping up John and running from the house. I probably would have if it wasn't for the fact that Hawk was hovering close to me as if he thought I might run and was waiting for an opportunity to wrap his fingers around my throat.

I looked up at him and tried to smile, but the daggers he was shooting me stopped it half way. "Well, I think we would all like to hear Crystal's story." Mom said sitting in a chair next to me. She reached out and gently grasped my hand with hers as if to reassure me.

"I know I sure would. You lied to me." Hawk said angrily.

When John saw Hawk yelling at me, he stood up and walked over until he was standing between Hawk and I. "Don't yell at my mom. Who do you think you are?"

I reached out and put a hand on John's shoulder. "It's okay John, mommy is okay."

John looked over at me. He shot another dirty look at Hawk then crawled up into my lap. I cuddled John close to me then turned back to Hawk.

There were so many emotions flying around in his expression I wasn't sure which one was most prominent. I think the two highest were anger and pain. Unable to stand seeing the look in his eyes, I looked at the floor.

"How do you two even know each other?" I heard a voice come from the couch. Looking over I saw Suzanne lying with her head in Robert's lap. His arm was lying over her waist.

"It's a long story." I said making sure not to look at Hawk. Although I couldn't block him out completely. He pulled a chair up next to mine and just sat staring at me.

I knew he wanted answers, they all did. I just didn't know where to begin. Should I start when I first met Hawk? No, that would leave to many unanswered questions. After all I had been gone for seven years. And Hawk and I had met a little less than 5 years ago.

I hugged John even closer to me then started to talk. I was afraid if I stopped I would burst into tears. Hawk was right, I lied to him. But I had good reasons for doing so. At least I thought they were good reasons at the time.


Authors Note: This is a story that I wrote a while back. It is actually 16 chapters long plus the epilogue. If it goes over well enough then I will submit more parts. So if you like it, let me know. And don't forget to vote.

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