Chapter One - Unexpected
April 15th, 2011
"Sky, your bag! Don't forget it." I said, holding out my daughter's pink Disney princess bag. We spent weeks searching for this specific one and she's always forgetting it. Skylar appeared in the doorway of our kitchen, snatching the bookbag from my hand. For a ten year old, she had quite a bit of an attitude.
"I wasn't going to forget it." She said, adjusting the bookbag over her shoulders.
"Oh, you weren't, is that right?" I asked her, grabbing the car keys off of the table and marching her forward towards the door. Skylar reluctantly made her way to the car and settled herself inside.
It was a silent car ride except for the radio and the small sound of Skylar's voice as she sang along to certain songs. Once I pulled up to the school, Skylar stayed buckled in her seat, staring out the window. Normally, she quickly unbuckles herself and darts out, but not before giving me a kiss goodbye.
"Sweetie, what are you thinking about?" I asked her concerned. She started fiddiling with her fingers before looking at me.
"I was just wondering when is the next time I'll see Dad." Skylar's pleading green eyes met mine through the rearview mirror. I sucked in a breath not expecting those words to come out of her mouth. I shouldn't have been too surprised, I knew she would ask soon enough.
Skylar unbuckled herself and inched closer to me, "Mom?" She looked worried, wondering if she had asked the wrong thing. I gave her a reassuring smile.
"You'll see him soon, Sky. Real soon." I turned to look at her. She gave me a small smile before saying goodbye and climbing out of the car. I watched her run up the pathway, meeting with a few of her friends before entering the building. I didn't move from where I parked. I sat there thinking about him and most of all, us. How everything used to be before it all fell apart.
Flashback- December 25th, 2004
"You've got one last present to open, Skylar!" Luke beamed, pointing to a box that stood a little taller than her. Skylar walked towards the box, losing her balance a few times due to wrapping paper on the floor. Luke took her hand in his and guided her.
"Go ahead. Open it!" I said, sitting in front of her, camera in hand. Her little hands started tearing pieces of the wrapping paper off. By the rate that she was going, we would be here all day. Luke and I shared a glance and laughed. He stood up, tearing the paper from the top, helping her immensely. After a few minutes, it was completely unwrapped and Skylar's face lit up.
"What is it, honey?" I asked her, taking pictures of her delighted face. She squealed with excitement and ran to give each of us a hug.
"It's Barbie's Dreamhouse!" She said, running to the box, examining the picture on the front. I smiled, pleased that we were able to give her what she wanted. "Can I open it, mommy?"
"Not yet, there's one more present, that your mom needs to open." Luke said to the both of us before I could say anything. Skylar and Luke shared another smile together and she ran out of the room, only to return a few seconds later with a small wrapped box.
I looked between the two of them. What could a twenty-six and four year old share that I had no clue about? "What's going on?" I asked, generally confused.
Skylar handed me the box and sat beside me on the hardwood floor. "Open it, mommy." I looked between the two of them again before tearing at the wrapping paper. After unwrapping it, it revealed a small ring box. I looked up at Luke, who now was on bended knee in front of me.
"Luke.." He put a finger to my lips then grabbed my left hand.
"When I met you, I wasn't in the greatest place in my life. I lost everything that I thought meant the world to me, but then you walked into my life and all of that changed. If someone asked me then where I would be today, I wouldn't have had an answer." Luke took a deep breath before continuing, "I would have never thought I would be here with you, this house and our beautiful daughter. I want to spend the rest of my life with you and I hope you want to as well." Luke opened the ring box, that was sitting in my right hand.
"So, Devin Michelle Grey, will you marry me?" A teardrop fell to the floor as I looked down at the ring. The engagement ring was simple, two small diamonds on either side around a bigger diamond in the middle. It was beautiful and I was speechless.
"Yes, of course!" I said without any hesitation. I threw my arms around Luke's neck and he pulled me into a hug. After sharing a few kisses and hugs, he slid the ring on my left ring finger.
"Perfect fit." I said in awe. Skylar let out a little noise, making me turn my attention to her.
"And you.." I said, taking her in my arms. She giggled as I hugged her to me. "You knew about this?" She nodded, a huge smile across her face.
"I helped Daddy pick it out!" I kissed the top of her head then looked at Luke.
"She did, but why did you pick this ring, Sky?" He asked her, sitting pretzel-legged on the floor beside me.
"Cause its called Belle!" She said standing up proudly.
"Does that have anything to do with Belle being your favorite Disney princess?" I asked her with just as much excitement as her. She nodded again.
I smiled, "Well, I love it. It's beautiful. Thank you, sweetie." Skylar embraced me in a hug then ran to retrieve a present from under the tree. Watching as she played with one of her opened presents, I rested my head on Luke's shoulder and his arm instantly wrapped around my waist. I could get used to this.
There were a few taps at my car window, which caused me to come back to reality. I realized I was still parked out front of Skylar's school and the crossing guard stood by the driver's side. I rolled down my window, after starting the car.
"You've been out here for 15 minutes." She told me, sounding annoyed. Afterall, I was probably holding her up. Though, for god knows what. Maybe a cup of tea on her front porch with the newspaper.
"I'm so sorry." I said, having the same amount of annoyance in my voice as she did. She pushed a strand of her salt and pepper hair behind her ear, then motioned for me to leave. I pulled out of the parking lot with a little haste.
Once I was on the highway, I checked the time. It was 8:45 and it took me a half hour just to get to the city, minus traffic. I was late for work. This was going to be one fine day.
"Devin, you're late." Kara, my co-worker said as I entered the building. She was leaning against the front desk, a clipboard in her hands.
"You don't think I already know that?" I snapped, instantly regretting it as Kara gave me a weird look. I never gave anyone an attitude around here. I was supposedly, the nicest one. "I'm sorry, Kara." I said, getting into the elevator. She followed behind me.
"It's fine. Are you okay though?" She asked pressing the button for the 16th floor. I nodded. "Well, you missed an unexpected meeting this morning." Shit, of course I did.
I looked at her, running a hand through my wavy hair. Years of working here at Boston Magazine and not once have I been late or missed a meeting. Could this day get any better?
"You didn't miss anything major. You were just assigned with taking pictures and reporting about the new restaurant downtown." Kara said reassuringly as the elevator opened up, revealing our floor. The huge Boston Magazine sign on the wall welcomed us.
"That's all that meeting was called for?" I asked, stopping to face Kara before heading down the long corridor to my office.
"Basically it. Oh, and I believe there is a visitor in your office!" Kara shouted behind me as I made my way down the hallway. A visitor? Probably someone here to talk to me about an article that they didn't like.
I opened my office door to see a man dressed in a t-shirt, jeans and converse. His back faced me and he was looking at pictures of me and my daughter that hung on the wall.
"Okay, what did I say this time that didn't settle right with you?" I asked, placing my cup of coffee and my bag on my desk.
"A divorce." I froze. What was this person talking about? I whipped around to see Luke standing in front of me, his hands in his pockets and a smile across his lips.
I couldn't even believe he was standing there in front of me. The last time I had seen him was in court, about three years ago. He looked good, nothing had changed on him except that he had cut his hair.
"If you recall, you brought the divorce upon yourself." I spat, plopping down in my chair. He pulled out one of the chairs that sat in front of my desk and settled into one.
"I did?" Luke asked incredously. I rolled my eyes. Was he serious?
Flashback - August 8th, 2007
"Days like this I want to drive away, pack my bags and watch your shadow fade."
I opened the door to our house after a long day at work. I was looking forward to having a weekend to ourselves, since Skylar was spending time with her grandparents.
I walked into our kitchen, placing everything I had in my hands on the island. Reaching into the refrigerator I grabbed a bottle of water, but before opening it, I heard a noise coming from upstairs. Curious, I walked into the living room hearing the noise again. I walked to the steps hearing it come from upstairs. As I crept up the stairs, it became louder and sounded more like a continuous bang against the wall.
I reached the top of the steps and walked to our bedroom door, where the noise was coming from. As I reached for the door handle, I heard what sounded like a female voice.
I grasped the door handle firmly, taking a deep breath, before turning it. I pushed the door forcefully and it swung open.
My jaw was on the floor and tears stung as the scene unfolded before my eyes. On the bed was Luke thrusting into a girl who had blonde hair. They were so into each other, they didn't notice me standing in the doorway.
"You son of a bitch!" I yelled, turning on my heel. I heard him call after me, but I was so enraged I didn't look back. I grabbed everything I had just placed on the island and stormed out of the house. As I was leaving, Luke came running after me.
"Baby! Dev, we can talk about this!" Luke said, as I threw everything into the car.
"Talk about what? There is nothing to talk about, Luke! Nothing!" I screamed back, wiping away the tears that were falling from my eyes. Luke stood there in just his jeans, he ran a hand through his hair.
"Devin.. please, listen to me." He said, walking closer to me. I was shaking my head. There was no way we could ever fix this.
"No. I won't, damnit. How could you do this? How could you do this to me? More importantly, to Skylar? Your daughter!" The tears were streaming down my face and I couldn't stop them. Luke had nothing to say for a while, which killed me.
I shook my head in disbelief. I didn't want to believe that that was him in our house, in our bedroom, having sex with another woman. I so badly wanted this to be a nightmare and I would wake up.
After a few minutes of silence between the two of us, I couldn't take it any longer.
"I want a divorce." I told him as I threw the diamond ring on the ground and slammed the car door behind me.
"Don't play dumb with me." I told him, like it was venom on my tongue.
"Oh, yeah now I remember that day." I narrowed my eyes at him. He looked at the pictures on the wall again. "I miss you guys." He said finally.
"Fine time to say that now, Lucas." I said, throwing my head into my hands. "You kind of destroyed that."
"Actually, you destroyed it by taking Skylar away from me." My jaw dropped to the floor.
I stood up from my chair, "You never fought for her! You acted like you didn't want a damn thing to do with her!" I slammed my hands against my desk, fighting the tears that stung my eyes. Luke, again, had nothing to say.
"How do you think it feels to know that the man you fell in love with doesn't want anything to do with his only daughter? And when she asks when she'll even see him, you keep telling her soon. When in reality, you don't even know when." I screamed at him, as much as I tried to fight the tears, they stubbornly fell from my eyes.
"She wants to see me?" Luke asked, disregarding everything else I had said. I sighed.
"Of course she wants to see you, but I don't know if it's the right thing to do." I grabbed a tissue from my desk and wiped my eyes.
"Just let me see her, Devin." Luke said, getting up from the chair.
"I'll think about it. You.. you need to go." I told him, I looked out at my office window, my back facing him. I waited for the click of my office door and when it finally shut, I took a few deep breaths, pulling myself together. In less than an hour, I had had one of the toughest mornings in a while. I had a lot to think about.
"I hope you have a better day tomorrow, Devin." Kara said as I closed my office door. She was sitting behind her desk, fingering through an appointment book. I smiled, walking towards her.
"Thanks. No more surprise visitors." She stopped to look up at me.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know who it was until he was leaving your office. If I had known, I would have told him to leave."
I waved her off, "No need to defend herself, I'm not blaming you." I threw my bag over my shoulder and placed a folder on her desk. "These are the articles Mark needs for this week. I'll see you tomorrow." She looked relieved as I walked away.
After a half hour drive from the city, I finally arrived at my parent's place. I parked the car out front and cut the engine before looking up at the house itself. My mom and dad lived in this house close to 30 years. It's the house that I grew up in with my older sister, Lisa.
I saw the curtains move and smiled when I saw a glimpse of Skylar peeking out. She stays here on the weekdays after school until I could pick her up. I climbed out of the car and made my way up the path to the door. I walked into a well-lit home, my daughter on the couch with her grandfather and the smell of dinner cooking.
"Hi, mommy!" Skylar said, peeling her eyes from the TV.
"Hi, honey. How was school?" I asked, sitting beside her on the couch.
"It was good." I closed my eyes for a brief moment, wishing to be her age again.
"How was work?" My father asked as my mom entered the room. She leaned against the doorway, drying her hands on a towel.
I hesitated before answering, "It was okay. Same old, same old." My mother gave me a quizzical look, which told me she knew we'd talk after dinner.
"Sky, sweetie, go wash your hands, dinner is ready!"
"So, what's this I hear about work being just okay today?" My mom asked, pouring coffee into my mug.
"Well, Ann, way to jump right into it." My father said smiling up at her.
She placed a hand on her hip before sitting in her chair across from me. "Well, what is it?"
"Luke unexpectedly stopped by my office today." I said stirring my cup of coffee. My dad's spoon slipped from his hand and made a loud noice against the china. My family loved Luke and when they found out what had happened, they were devastated. Especially my dad. He looked at Luke like a son and now all he wanted to do was hurt him.
"Jay.." My mom started, but was cut off.
"What did he want?" My dad asked, holding the spoon so tightly, his knuckles were turning white.
"He came by to tell me he misses us. That I took Skylar away from him." I sighed, "I also mentioned that Skylar wants to see him. Which was probably stupid of me."
"It wasn't stupid. Skylar has a right to see her father. Has she been asking about him?" I looked up at my mother and nodded. I felt like a little kid who was getting in trouble. I had no clue what to do.
"I agree that Skylar has a right to see him, but I wish he hadn't done what he did to my baby girl." I rolled my eyes.
"I wish he didn't do it either, Dad, but he did. And that's that." He sighed loudly looking between me and my mom.
"What do you guys think I should do?"
"Let her see him." My mom replied taking a sip of her coffee.
"I guess I'm just afraid that he'll try and fight for joint custody after a few visits."
"And if he does that, God help me, I will come after him myself!" My father said, raising his hand in the air. The three of us shared a laugh before Skylar had entered the dining room.
"Am I going to be able to see Dad?" She sat in the chair next to me, her green eyes, that reminded me so much of Luke, looked up at me.
I took a deep breath, "Yes, you will. I need to call him." The smile that came across her face put a smile on mine. Even though she would be seeing the man that broke my heart, it's still nice to see the love my daughter has for her father.
"Maybe this weekend, I can see him! We can go to the park and maybe get ice cream!"
"Maybe!" I said, finishing the last bit of coffee and taking the mug to the kitchen. "Sky, can you get your things ready? It's time to head home."
"Am I really going to see Daddy soon?" Skylar asked on the ride home from my parents. I sighed again, this was her fourth time asking. Since we left, all she could do was talk about him.
"Yes, you will. I have to call him." I repeated for the fourth time.
"When will you call him?" She asked, cutting me off. "Can you call him tonight?"
"It's too late tonight. I'll call him during my lunch break tomorrow. I promise." I looked at her through the rearview mirror. She smiled at me and looked out the window. Just as I was about to say something more, flashes of red and blue caught my eye.
"Are you serious?" I asked, turning my blinker on and pulling over to the side of the road. I may have jinxed myself when I asked if this day could get any better. He pulled over behind me and took his sweet ol' time getting out of his squad car. He stretched and I rolled my eyes.
"License and registration please, miss." He said once he finally made it to the driver's side of my car. I reached over and opened the glove compartment, retrieveing the papers he needed.
"Hi, Mr. officer!" Skylar said excitedly from the backseat.
"Oh, hello! How are you?" He asked, leaning down and looking past me to see her. I looked up at him and my breath caught. He was younger than I expected, maybe a year older than me. The more I looked at him, I didn't believe he was a cop. His eyes met mine and in that split second, everything vanished. "I'm good, sir!" Skylar said.
"Um, so may I ask what I'm being pulled over for?" I asked, breaking the eye connection and running my hands over my face. I do not find this man attractive, no...
"Uh.. your tail light is out." He said, finally looking at my license.
"Shoot." I mumbled. "I've been so busy, I forgot to get that fixed. Trust me, I've been meaning to do so." I said looking up at him again, bracing myself. He smiled, which made my heart flutter. This could not be happening. He was looking at my license funny.
"Is there a problem?" I asked him, concerned that I had also forgotten to renew my license.
"No, no problem. Your last name is Grey.. are you Jayson Grey's daughter?" I nodded, what the hell was he getting at? He chuckled. I felt anger rise within me. I needed to get home and he was definitely wasting my time.
"Your father is a mechanic, who owns a shop in town. He fixes up my car, for a discounted price. You've been so busy, did you forget that too?" He said, handing me my license and registration back and laughing. I couldn't help but laugh at myself, tears started to fall.
"I won't write you a ticket, but this is a warning. Just get it fixed."
I wiped the tears and smiled, "I will, I promise. Thank you."
"You have a great night, Devin." He said then waved to Skylar who waved back. I smiled again as I pulled away and watched him fade away in the distance.
"Mom." Skylar said. I looked at her through the rearview mirror, she had a smile that reached from ear to ear. "He was really cute!"