Confrontation Ch. 03bylannasage©
Lord, what do I tell him?
Rhea stared at Jonas as he slept. He had slept over twenty minutes ago after much persuasion and assurances that all was well. She supposed she should be grateful, he had literally rescued her from the claws of a hungry predator. But his act of chivalry had come with a price.
This was what had kept her away from home. She didn't want them to see each other. On her way here she had known it would be inevitable, but she never guessed it would be so soon. They hadn't even been here for twenty-four hours and the drama was already enfolding. She stroked Jonas' cheek affectionately with a small smile; he had proved once more that he really was her little soldier, but even he couldn't save her from the Field Marshall himself.
She could still remember that look on Mitchell's face when his eyes fell on Jonas; shock, disbelief, realization...anger. It was the anger that still scared her. The way he had stepped away from her and simply assured her he would return, with a calmness that spoke volumes of an impending explosion. She wished he had just gotten it all out of his system once and for all, perhaps if he had screamed at her and demanded an explanation, she wouldn't be so nervous. Instead he had just walked out, but not before a final glance at Jonas who never dropped the pole until the door closed behind Mitch.
She went into her bedroom and lay on her bed, but sleep evaded her; thoughts of what Mitchell would do and how he would do it plagued her mind. She was scared of him. She turned restlessly, willing for sleep to somehow overcome her, but nothing happened. You would think after a long, highly eventful day she would be out like a light the second she hit the bed, so much for that.
She had just closed her eyes when the sound of her phone ringing caught her attention. She turned and grabbed the gadget on her bedside table. She blinked at the caller ID, it was Jared. She sat up as she wondered why he would be calling so late.
"Hello?" she began sleepily.
Hey Rhea, hope I didn't wake you." He began softly.
"No, what's up?"
"I just wanted to know how your day went, if you're okay." 'no dummy, you just want to know if she'll date you' he thought to himself, but pushed the thought away, the last thing he needed was the little voice in his head discouraging him too, he had gotten enough of that from Gerard, his twin brother all through the day.
Rhea smiled, grateful for his thoughtfulness. She wished she could tell him all that happened, but that would be giving him more information than he should have access to, irrespective of how long they had known each other, she thought it was wrong to divulge the happenings of her personal life to a man she had only began an informal relationship with a few months ago.
"It went fine, thank you Jared. And yours?"
"Could have been better if I was with you...." Jared replied and immediately regretted it, that was a bit too forward- no, it was way too forward, it was supposed to be just a thought.
Luckily, she laughed it off, "I bet you say that to all the ladies." She replied. Despite how old he was, Rhea liked that Jared had a goofy side to him- perhaps the reason he got along with Jonas so well.
He laughed briefly, "I guess I do. How is Jonas?" he asked, switching the subject to avoid making a total idiot of himself.
"He's good. He's asleep."
"Nice, I wanted to ask if the day after tomorrow I could take you guys out. There's a nice amusement park here I know Jonas would love. I mean, I know I said you could call when you were around, but I figured if I could just come over.." he knew he was blabbing, it was a habit- he talked off-point whenever he got nervous.
Rhea smiled, not just because she realized Jared was nervous, but also, she found the idea of going to an amusement park totally interesting, Jonas loved amusement parks, "That would be very nice Jared."
"So I can come pick you up then?"
Rhea could hear the smile in his voice through the phone, "Of course, I'll send you our address tomorrow."
"Really?" now he sounded like a dorky teen that had just gotten a date with the prom queen. He heard her giggle and he turned a deep shade of crimson, "I mean, that's cool." He seeeriously needed to work on his damage control.
Rhea's giggle grew into a laugh, "Good. So, sleep tight Jared."
"Yeah, you too. Thanks again."
"You're welcome" with that she ended the call. She lay her head on the pillow with a deep sigh, finally feeling that much needed sleep wash over her. Funny how a nice conversation could put a smile on one's face despite a generally awful first day back home.
How dare she?
Mitch hadn't stopped seething since he left Rhea's house last night. Of all the low down dirty things she could do to him, this had to be the worst. It was okay if she decided to just up and leave without notice, but to keep the knowledge of his son away from him for over four years? That was just plain unacceptable.
He couldn't even stand to think of her right now. He hadn't been in the right framed of mind to speak to her last night, and nothing had changed now. .
So he was going to see the only other person he could vent at without causing bodily harm- Lynn. They were a tag team, one couldn't know something and the other didn't, he accepted he had wronged her to some extent- five years ago, but he definitely didn't think that enough leverage for her to keep something so serious away from him.
He parked his truck in front of the grocery store where Lynn worked, it was owned by her uncle, but not without his father's help- one of the many businesses in this county that was tied to the Montgomery name.
He got out of the car and barged into the store just so everyone there knew he wasn't here for any bullshit. The look on Lynn's face as he approached the counter told him all he needed to know- the conniving bitches!, "How could you?" he bellowed.
Lynn backed away from the counter in terror. It wasn't everyday anyone got to see Mitch this angry; eyes a jade green. Nostrils flaring, jaw ticking- scratch that, she had NEVER seen Mitch this mad, "I swear I was going to tell you..."
Don't give me that shit Lynn, when were you going to tell me? When I was on my death bed?"
"How old is he?"
Lynn definitely didn't see that question coming, but it didn't make her any less scared, "Mitch.."
"How old?" he shouted.
She jumped, apparently startled, "He...he'll be five in November" she trembled.
She waited patiently for his explosion- and he didn't fail her.
"Five years? Five damn years Lynn?" he screamed at her. He couldn't even guarantee her safety at this point, now she was just as guilty as Rhea in his view, if not more. She was in this county with him, she saw him more or less every day, he came here to get his groceries, they went to the same church every Sunday, and to top it all off, his ranch was about a fifteen-minute walk from her house, she had no excuses.
Fortunately for her though, Ronald came out from the freezer area of the store just before Mitch could lunge at Lynn and wring her neck. Lynn damn near sprinted to her husband in fear, and he was only too willing to block her from Mitch's impending wrath.
"What do you want Montgomery?" Ronald asked authoritatively, he knew if it came to fisticuffs he was no match for Mitchell. Their height and weight variance aside, he had seen Mitchell in a fight and he was no fool to wish to be on the receiving end of his fists- neither was he cowardly enough to watch him bully his wife.
"Your fucking wife was in cahoots with Rhea to keep my son away from me. What I want is an explanation."
Ronald looked unsure, doubtful. He narrowed his eyes and turned to Lynn, "You didn't tell him?" he asked in surprise.
Mitch scoffed and shook his head, "Oh, so you knew too." He seemed to be getting more pathetic by the second.
"Rhea said not to tell him" Lynn replied her husband, suddenly regretting her decision to go along with Rhea's plan.
"Damn it Lynn, the man's got a right to know his own son." Ron reprimanded her. This was so not worth being on Mitch's bad side, apparently Rhea wasn't the one getting screamed at right now.
"So I guess you've known for five years too." Mitch surmised.
Ron shook his head absent-mindedly, "I only found out over a year ago."
"Why thank you Ron, that makes me feel a lot better." Mitch replied, his words dripping with sarcasm, "The whole fucking county knows I've got a kid, except me." For the first time since he began his little tirade, he noticed the entire store had their eyes on him, "What the hell are y'all staring at? Got another kid I don't fucking know about?" he yelled.
Everyone returned to their business, none willing to face the wrath of Mitchell Montgomery so early in the day.
"Listen Mitch, if there's anyone you need to talk to, it's Rhea, okay?" Ronald asked, wanting to get rid of Mitch as soon as possible before he scared all the customers away.
He had barely spoken those words when the jingle of bells at the entrance alerted everyone to the entrance of another customer and sent their eyes in that direction.
Rhea and Jonas had had just walked in.
Mitch and Rhea's eyes met and they held their gazes only briefly, she seemed terrified- good she was so. He lowered his gaze to the green-eyed little boy who seemed to be sizing him up, he was unsure whose temper the kid had gotten between he and Rhea's , but he was willing to bet he had gotten a healthy dose of both their attitudes., even as a kid, he still seemed intimidating.
He didn't like the look in the kid's eyes. His own son looking at him like he was some kind of villain- and this was all Rhea's fault. He couldn't take it anymore, so he just walked out. He could feel her holding her breath as he glared down at her, the thought of smothering her lush, glossy lips in kisses flashed through his mind, but was gone once the kid moved her from his way so that he was now standing protectively in front of his mother as some form of human barricade, he looked all set to throw the first punch if pushed to the extreme- oh he was gutsy alright, it would really be a show for a thirty-three year old man to go at it with a four-year old buy.
He pushed the door open and stepped out.
It was only when he got to his car that he realized he didn't even know his son's name. Shit! Fuck! Fucking shit!
All attention was called to the entrance of the massive ranch as the silver Ford F-150 truck drove in like it was being driven by a crazed man.
That theory was confirmed as the driver jumped out of the car and slammed the door shut behind him, he didn't spare a look at the ranch hands who had stopped their work to stare at their obviously enraged boss.
Mitch wasn't always angry on the ranch. On the contrary, he was friendly with the employees, to a stranger he seemed more like one of them on a normal day; they all had breakfast and lunch together, sharing tales of past hunting 9both of animals and the opposite sex) and giving advices when to each other during their free time. Some found it odd that Mitch was able to be so friendly with his employees when he was quite hostile on a broader level.
But there were those days when everyone knew not to get too close or even attempt a conversation with Mitch, unless whoever it was happened to be feeling suicidal- days like this. The ranch hands could safely say the last time they had to condone this side of Mitchell was five years ago, and that had been a nerve-racking two-week spell, from the way he just drove in, it seemed like they would be having a repeat of that.
"You know why he's mad?" Lionel, one of the ranch hands asked another. He was a large black man who was undoubtedly one of the strongest ranch hands Mitchell had. he had hired him eight years ago when he had come looking for work fresh out of a Minnesotan jail. No one ever knew what he went in for- well, no one but Mitchell- and once he started doing so well on the ranch and got friendly with the town's people, no one ever bothered to find out.
The other hand- Paul, a lanky red-head, shrugged, "Heard she's back" he replied as he heaved some more hay and dumped it in the wheel barrow. He wiped off the drop of sweat making a trail towards clear blue eyes and went on shoving more hay.
Lionel stared wide-eyed at Paul knowing who the 'she' in question was. It was almost a taboo to mention her name around here, the few times someone had dared to say it in the presence of Mitch had gotten whoever the unlucky fellow was, a murderous glare that promised a dismissal and maybe more if he dared to repeat it. They had gotten used to referring to her in other terms, the most famous being 'heart-breaker'
"Uh huh" Paul replied. He glanced towards Mitchell just to make sure they weren't being watched, once that was confirmed, he leaned closer to Lionel whose ears were perked up to get more juicy information, and spoke in a voice that was almost a whisper, "Heard she's even got a son...and he looks just like the boss"
Lionel's eyes grew wider if that was even possible, but before he could come up with a reply, Mitch's voice invaded their conversation.
"Y'all better not be having your little gossip session on my time." He snapped.
They both returned to their jobs with re-energized speed, neither daring to look Mitch's way.
"Who got the nerve to provoke nig bad Mitch?" a familiar voice asked as Mitch got to his porch.
He turned toward the direction the voice had come from, and his scowl slowly dissipated until he was wearing a large grin. It had to be him, no one else referred to him as 'big bad Mitch'. It had been years, thirteen years to be exact since they last saw each other, they had both changed considerably, but if nothing else, that smile was a confirmation of the identity of this August visitor.
"Jared Brendan Doyle, you little sneak!" Mitch said as he approached Jared and wrapped him in a bear hug, both men laughing, "Where the hell have you been?"
"Where you left me." Jared replied as he and Mitch went into Mitch's house, both men unaware of the stares they got from the ranch hands who had temporarily stopped what they were doing to take in the scene.
"You mean you're still in Kansas?" Mitch asked in disbelief, he hadn't even thought the business they had both set up ten years ago would survive this long, especially after he had pulled out to move back here.
"Yep, still running the company" Jared replied proudly. It had been a tough ten years, but the survival of the company was one of a few things Jared prided himself on.
The mention of the company brought memories Mitch had thought were long forgotten. Memories of two young men fresh out of college who thought they could change the business world with a few supposedly 'genius' theories. With more money than sense at the time, they had set up their first company, gotten a few interested investors- mostly men like them- naïve freshers, or just moneybags looking for some place to dump their excess dough. The place had potential true, but after a year and a few months, Mitch began to get disillusioned, things were going well, not as well as Mitch had anticipated, but well enough. He realized a bit too early in his view, that he wasn't a corporate man, he didn't like board meetings, or suits, and he loathed ties. It was only a matter of time before he pulled out, sold his shares to willing buyers and got on the first plane he could find to Texas.
He never regretted that decision, he was a country boy through and through, but Jared seemed to be doing very well in the world of business.
"So, how's it been?" Mitch asked as he got them some beer and sat on a chair opposite of Jared.
"it's been great, got a few challenges, but nothing we can't handle." Jared replied and then took a gulp of the beer in his hand, "How about you? Have you found someone to tame the beast or there are still unworthy opponents?" Jared joked on Mitch's womanizing ways.
His thoughts briefly went to Rhea; oh someone had tamed the beast alright, and then brought it back in a different form. He shook his head to clear it of thoughts of her; this was not the time to get angry- or horny, "No, still waiting for worthy opponents. How about you? You always had a thing for Stepford wives and picket fences and all that." he asked, intentionally shifting the direction of the conversation with the hope that Jared wouldn't press further.
Jared gave a shy smile as his thoughts went to Rhea, he doubted she'd fit into the whole Stepford wife role, she was a little too self-assertive to be subdued into the role of submissive wife, those were the vibes he got anyway. He had to be honest with himself, there really wasn't anyone- yet, "Well, there's this ex-employee..." he began, but Mitch interjected.
"Ex-employee? You've been eye-fucking your employees? Jared, whatever happened to your work-ethics." Mitch scolded with a smile.
Jared shook his head as he laughed, "I swear it's not like that..." he paused when he notice the look of disbelief Mitch gave him, "..okay maybe it's something like that, but, I really like her Mitch."
"Interesting, so she's not just a little entertainment?"
Jared scoffed, "I don't do that Mitch, I'm not like you." He joked.
"True." Mitch laughed.
"Besides, I came here to find her place."
Mitch sat up, "She lives in this county?" he asked, his interest suddenly perked.
Jared shook his head once he recognized that look on Mitch's face, "That's all you'll be hearing from me."
Mitch sulked, "Why?" he asked, giving his best pouty face.
"You'd charm her away." Jared said in all honesty. He wasn't exactly unsure of himself as a man, but next to Mitch, he knew he stood no chance with any woman. Mitch was like a female magnet, it wouldn't matter if he was standing next to Mr. World, he would out-shine, out-talk and out-charm him, that was just Mitch, he just had it.
Mitch laughed, "Scared of a little competition Jared?" he teased.
Jared smiled, "You know I'm not Mitch, but I can't risk this prize." He replied
"Ooh, she must be something special then."
"So are we talking 'walking down the aisle' special?"
Jared laughed, "Oh no, we haven't gone that far. I'm just taking her out for the first date tomorrow."
Mitch raised his brows, "Interesting. So you really like her huh?"
"A lot Mitchell." He replied, "So, the ranch seems bigger, your dad finally let you take the reigns." Jared asked, he didn't want to speak any further concerning Rhea, better to keep her away from Mitch. He had been so giddy he didn't bother waiting for tomorrow, he just wanted to know where she lived so he wouldn't have any reason to be late tomorrow. Dropping by here was just an afterthought, it was only when he got closer to Mitch's place he remembered he had been here sometime later. The ranch was far from conspicuous, it was probably the largest in the county at over 500 acres, and then there was the large M sign right at the gate, you couldn't miss the place.
Mitchell saw that for what it was- a distraction. He smiled, but went with the flow, apparently whoever this female was had really gotten to Jared for him to be this secretive about her. Good for him, at least someone was making positive progress with the opposite sex, though it felt weird for that someone to not be him.
Rhea looked out the window for what had to be the tenth time in five minutes, her nerves were at an end. Why wasn't he here yet?
She rubbed her arms, suddenly feeling cold despite the warm weather. She looked around the house for some form of protection. It was only then that she remembered her trusty bat, she wondered what had become of it, if he had thrown it away, or burnt it in his fireplace- she could bet it was the latter.