Natalia walked into her mother’s house and looked around. She was told to come over but she didn’t see anyone. She made her way to the back of the house and found everyone outside in the yard. Everyone. Her father and her sisters guys were in attendance. She slid the door opened and stepped on the porch. Natima noticed her first and rose from her seat and crossed the yard to her. She stopped in front of her with a small smile on her face.
“I’m glad you came.”
“I wouldn’t have if I had known,” Natalia said.
“Come with me.” Natima stepped into the house. Natalia reluctantly followed her, closing the door behind her. She followed Natima into the living room. “Sit.” Natalia sat down beside her mother on the couch. “I get how pissed off you are.”
“Do you really? Did grandma ever interfere in your life?”
“How do you think I met your father?” Natalia looked up shocked. “Oh, yes. I was what you would call a party girl. I was enjoying my early twenties and your grandmother met this “sweet young man” who was so nice to her at church that she invited him over from Sunday dinner and that was all it took. I later found out that she invited him in the hopes that I would want to give up my party girl ways and try something with some “substance”. Plus, she thought he was just my type.”
“Absent is your type?” Natalia asked her eyebrows arched.
“We were young Tal. Neither one of us knew what it meant to be parents.”
“Yeah, but you stayed.”
“Because you’re my kids.”
“And we’re not his?”
“You know, everything isn’t always so white and black. People make mistakes Natalia. They also learn from them. That is all Nate is trying to do. You could learn a little forgiveness. Now if you can’t show a little respect to your father, then you can leave.”
Natima stood and moved through the house heading back outside. Natalia sunk back into the couch cushions and let out a heavy sigh. Forgiveness was a hell of a thing. One that she didn’t know if she had the ability to do. She looked up at the sound of heels clinking across the floor. Natanya and Natasha stood in the door. They looked at her with understanding in their eyes and walked over to her. They each held out a hand for her to take.
Natalia took their hands and they helped her to her feet, walking through the house hand in hand. They stopped on the back porch and looked out at the people in the yard.
“So, whose who?” Natalia asked.
“Eric is the one talking to dad,” Natasha said.
“That doesn’t bother you?”
“He was looking for a location for his store and dad being the realtor that he is, showed him the vacant spot next to me and he took it.”
“And Mike is talking to Kat,” Natanya said. “Before you ask, we talked and mommy mentioned to dad that I was looked for a contractor and dad had her refer him to me.”
“He’s hot,” Natalia commented.
“Not sexiest man alive?” Natanya asked.
Natalia cleared and throat and fidgeted on the spot. She noticed the way Mike looked over at Natanya and his entire face lit up. She glanced over at her sister and saw that she too was wearing a face breaking grin. Without saying so much as “be right back,” Natanya stepped off of the porch and walked over to where Kat and Mike were talking. He didn’t miss a beat in his conversation with their cousin as he slid his arm around Natanya’s waist and pulled her taut to his body. Natanya slipped her arm around his shoulder and placed her free hand on his chest snuggling close.
“Hey, why don’t you come meet Eric? Mike too?” Natasha asked. She looked over at Natalia with a worried glance.
“In a minute. You go ahead,” Natalia said. She crossed her arms over her chest and balanced on the balls of her shoes before teetering back on the heels.
“Are you sure?”
Natasha rubbed her hand soothingly down Natalia’s arm before walking down the steps of the porch and crossing the yard over to Eric. He held his arm out to her and she stepped into his embrace snuggling up into his side. Natalia watched them slightly envious. Her eyes fell on her father and she saw that he was looking at her. They stared at each other for a moment before Natalie turned and re-entered the house.
She stood in the living room looking out the large picture window her arms crossed. She didn’t need to turn around to know who had just entered the room. She stood there for a moment not saying a word and he didn’t speak either. Finally she broke the silence.
“My life was perfectly fine before you stuck your nose where it didn’t belong.” She continued looking out the window, not ready to turn around and face him.
“Natalia, I didn’t mean to hurt you,” Nathan said, his voice low.
“But you did,” she said. Natalia slowly turned around to face her father. Tears fell silently down her cheeks. “That’s what you do. You hurt the people you claim to love. Do you want to know when I realized that?”
Nathan didn’t speak. He didn’t want to interrupt her and upset her more. He let her talk and get everything off of her chest.
“It wasn’t when I was five and you left and didn’t tell us when you were coming back,” she said. “It wasn’t the year I spent waiting up wondering if you were going to walk through the door. It wasn’t even when I was ten and you came back and promised that things were going to be better and then you took off again.” The tears fell steadily from her eyes and she didn’t make an attempt to wipe them away.
“It was when I was sixteen. You moved back to town and I saw you a week before my birthday. I was so excited about having a party, but what I was most excited about you being there. The birthday in years. You promised you would be there. But you weren’t. You never showed up.” She finally wiped her hand angrily across her face. “So I went by your house, but before I could get close enough, I saw you in a moving truck.
“I thought you left town but then I saw you a week later when I was out with friends. You were having lunch. With Kat. On her birthday.”
Nathan dropped his head. He remembered clearly the time Natalia was talking about. It was a low point for him. “Natalia, I-” he tried.
“No!” she cut him off. “We I saw you I knew. I finally got what you were saying. You weren’t going to be a part of my life. But you broke your promise! And you made me break mine! I promised myself that I would never let another man hurt me the way you did, but he’s in here!” She jabbed a finger at her heart. “He’s in here and I can’t get him out. I don’t want to feel like this.” Natalia sobbed. “Please. I don’t want to feel like this.” Natalia sank down to the floor crying. “Please, just get him out,” she begged. “Please, daddy. Please.”
Nathan moved and sank to the floor beside her. He held her in his arms while she cried and tried to sooth her, running his hand up and down her back. He lifted her head, her tears falling faster, her shoulders rising and falling with each sob that racked her body. He wiped the tears a way and held her head in his hands so that she looked at him.
“I. Am. So. Sorry.” he said enunciating each word. “The pain that I’ve caused you. I’m sorry. I didn’t want you to close yourself off from love. That’s why I did what I did, but I would take it back if I could if it would ease your pain. Natalia, I’m sorry.”
She lowered her head and he cradled her against his chest and rocked her while she cried.
Natalia stepped off the elevator on her floor but instead of turning towards her apartment, she walked down to Chris’. She stopped outside the closed door and pressed her ear against it listening for any movement inside. She didn’t hear any so she straightened and started to walk away but stopped. She turned back and stopped in front of the door. Natalia raised her hand to knock but didn’t touch the door. What was she going to say to him? She lowered her hand and stared at the door as if it would just open or she would get a sign as to what she should do next.
She took a deep breath and raised her hand again only to drop it. She knew she was acting silly and shook her head chastising herself. Another deep breath and she raised her hand but couldn’t make herself knock.
“You going to knock or just stand there all night?”
Natalia lowered her hand and closed her eyes. Chris stood just inside the door leading to the roof.
“They should really put some sort of alarm on that door,” she said. “How long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough,” he said walking towards her. She had yet to turn and face him. He heard her let out a shaky sigh. “You don’t get embarrassed though, so it’s cool.” He was teasing her.
“Then why does my face suddenly feel hot?”
Chris unlocked the door and stood back, “Coming in?”
She walked past him, never looking up and breezed into the apartment. Her heels clinked along the tiled floor as she walked over to the window to stare out. It was the only place she could look. Chris shut the door and walked in, perching on the arm of the couch. They didn’t speak.
“Why did you ask me out?” she finally asked.
“What do you mean?”
“That first day. When we went to go get pizza. Why did you ask me out?”
“Yeah,” she said. She glanced over her shoulder at him.
“I was hungry and didn’t really want to eat alone,” he said.
“So, it wasn’t in some sneaky attempt to get me to lower my guard and fall for you?” She turned fully to face him, crossing her arms protectively.
“Do you really want the truth?”
“No, I want you to lie to me Chris<' she said sarcastically. "Yes, I want the truth."
"Natalia, I wasn't checking for you," he said and shrugged his shoulders.
"Gay," she said and rolled her eyes.
"I'm not gay," he said standing and moving towards her. "I wasn't checking for you because I didn't think you were my type. I thought you were too brash for my taste." He stopped in front of her, pinning her against the window. "But I get it. Why those other guys fell for you. You don't make it easy not to."
"What?" Chris asked, tilting his head.
"You should like those corny romance novels Tasha reads."
"I do, do I?"
"Yeah," she said in a hushed tone. "Got any other corny things you want to say?"
"Just one." Chris placed his finger under her chin and tilted her head up. He brought his lips down to meet hers in a soft kiss. He placed soft kisses on her lips before kissing her like he would die if he didn't.
When they came up for air, Natalia said, "Am I finally going to get laid?" and laughed. Chris laughed to and wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her close to him before bringing his lips crashing down on hers.
Natalia didn't think she had ever been kissed like that before. With so much love. She could feel his heart beating against her chest, matching hers beat for beat. She found herself wanting to lift one leg the way they did in movies but stopped herself.
Even that was too cheesy for her.
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