Chapter Twenty-Two

Moonbeam awoke feeling stiff. She tried to stretch her body out, but felt herself being held down by an overwhelming weight. Her tired eyes opened to reveal Landon's arms wrapped around her waist. His head was just on the pillow in the crook of her shoulder, but she still couldn't stretch out properly.

A yawn escaped her as she let her eyes flutter close once again. Moonbeam let her fingers dance across Landon's shoulders. She did so every so lightly so not to wake him up. She didn't mind the weight, and rather enjoyed the scent. In the back of her mind she knew she had to be cautious about someone finding them tangled up in her bed. Of course it wasn't as if they had done anything. There were the hidden kisses, but clothes barely came up for nothing but comfort.

The lack of physical touch the two partook in made Moonbeam wonder exactly what she was doing. In a matter of weeks, would she be gone? If so, what was to come of her and Landon? Nothing seemed crystal clear, and Moonbeam couldn't decide if she loved or hated the idea.

It was really only a little over three weeks, but she no longer made any real attempts to go back to the life she once knew and trusted. There were her friends and family whom she loved very much, but there was also the reality of it all. Her average job didn't make her unhappy, but it was nothing more than something she did to pay the bills. She was just fresh out of college and lucky enough to get the job she had. Still, she felt like her hard earned college degree had given her nothing in moving forward in her life. She was on an escalator without the stairs; she was moving, but not in a productive direction.

How was her still life any different from Landon's in this mansion?

Her thoughts were cut off once she felt kisses trailing up from her next to her ear. She let out a sigh of relief as her eyelids lifted back open.

"Good morning," she mumbled.

"Mhm," was his ever so coherent response. He kissed her lips before pulling away and smiling.

"Why am I so tired?"

Moonbeam smiled back and went back to playing with his hair. "We spent a lot of time upstairs last night."

"Among other things," he teased.

Moonbeam's thoughts flashed back to the restrained touches and somewhat passionate kisses. Instead of letting herself feel uneasy about this again, she played along and let out a small laugh.

"Do you think Morrison knows what we were up to last night?"

Landon let out a soft groan and rested his forehead against Moonbeam's collarbone. "Can we make a rule not to use his name while in bed?"
Moonbeam smiled. "Seriously, if he tells your dad that we were up there your dad's going to be furious."

Landon shrugged. "He's already furious. He thinks his only son is a failure," he explained.

"I don't think he thinks you're a failure."

"He sent me here because he had nothing else to do with me."

"He sent you here because he was worried about you. He didn't want you to give up your life for some stupid college mistakes. You have every right to be upset about this, but try to think about his situation in the matter."

Landon just stared at Moonbeam for a few moments. "Why are you trying to justify what he did?"

"Maybe it's justifiable."

Landon shifted his weight on the bed so that they were no longer as entangled as they were before. Their shoulders were still touching, but their arms were by their own sides. Landon looked up at the ceiling as Moonbeam tried to see his reaction. All she got was a blank stare for a few minutes before he shook his head and sat up.

"For the first few months I hated him. What right did he have to stick me in some mansion with a bunch of people whom I've never met? But then I tried to think it through. I tried to find out if there was something that I wasn't getting. I practically lived in that room upstairs trying to put our family history together. Of course there were too many books to find what I really needed to. But I did try to justify his actions. He was a good father, and I knew he always had careful plans. I just figured this was one of them," he paused. "But I've been here for years and nothing has changed. I don't know what his reason was behind this, but I do know that it's not right for me to have to figure out what's going on in his mind."

Moonbeam crawled across the bed and put her arms delicately around his shoulders. He leaned down so that his elbows were resting on his knees and his head was cradled in his hands.

"Landon," she started, "your father seems like a very complicated man."

A humorless chuckle escaped his lips. "Believe me, I know. He always had to keep things hidden because of what he was doing. And when I was a kid, I was confused as to why he would sometimes go days without holding a tangible conversation. When I got older and knew why he had to keep quiet, I started to understand. I trusted him because that's what sons do, but he never had the decency to do the same."

His fingers started tugging at his short hairs. Once Moonbeam noticed this, she grasped his hands in her own and nuzzled her nose on the top of his head. "You need to talk to him when he gets here."

"I don't want to jeopardize Tamatha and Chris's chances of getting out of here."

Moonbeam moved herself so that she was sitting next to Landon. His shoulders stopped hunching just a little when he was able to look her directly in the face. Moonbeam's eyes widened once she saw his glance soften.

"That's just an excuse," she whispered.

"But a logical one at that," he added.

Landon looked out the window momentarily. He took note of the sunshine, and was already to see a little more green than before. Although Moonbeam was staying until she was invited to leave formally, Landon didn't point out to her that the roads were probably already cleaned and ready to be used. At the same time, Moonbeam thought the exact same thing, but didn't mention it.

The thoughts of the open road brought Landon back to his father. He didn't know how far away his father was, but he knew that with the snow gone it wouldn't take very long for him to get to the mansion. It suddenly hit him that he had been spending every winter holiday without his blood family for years.

Landon's eyes moved to his bare feet on the carpet of Moonbeam's room. "He's probably aged a bit," he said in a very contemplative tone.

"How old is he now?"

Landon shrugged. "Older than fifty, at least looks wise."

"His hair was already starting to grey the last time I saw him. He still had just as much energy as he did when he was younger, but he began to look tired all the time. I think he had to start pushing himself more.

"I mean, I only saw him on breaks during college and everything, but when I would ask mom if dad was overworking himself, she would just dismiss the conversation. During dinner one night I asked him if I could help him with any of his work," he paused. "I just wanted him to get some more sleep, but he seemed offended that I would even ask."

"Was your mom also starting to look more tired?"

Landon shook his head. "She always knew how to be happy. She was still just as beautiful as she was when I was a baby."

Landon took a deep breath before nodding and turning toward Moonbeam. "I guess that's how they were made for each other. He was born into a life where he had to work and keep things running, and she knew how to be happy. And she gave him that happiness just by being with him. I just hope that they didn't lose that somewhere along the way."

Moonbeam wrapped her hand around Landon's arm. "I would love to meet your mother. I feel like she would be a very refreshing person to talk to."

"In what way?"

"It's always nice to talk to someone who is happy. It makes you realize that we shouldn't waste our times being sad."

Landon couldn't help but frown. Was he straying away from his mother and towards his father? Or was he straying away from both? Despite the fact that he hadn't seen either of his parents in the past seven years, that idea of separation gave him an uneasy feeling, which caused him to move closer to Moonbeam.

"Are you happy?"

"I'd say so," she said immediately, as if she was expecting the question. "I mean, how does one measure happiness?" she asked.

Landon's eyebrows furrowed. "I don't really know."