Title: No Matter What
Author Jordana Ryan
Price 6.00 ebook 13.99 print
At Amira press http://www.amirapress.com
Brenden's eyes narrowed, "You were so selfish that you considered yourself above anyone else, even our daughter!"
It felt like a dam had broken within her, all the pent up emotions flowed out of her.
"Yes!" she exploded. She walked away from him, her shoulders shaking.
"You think this was so fucking easy for me Bren. Have you stopped to think that I was seventeen years old and pregnant? I was scared! My God Bren, you told me just before I found out I was pregnant you were going to school and becoming a doctor. All the plans you made, how could I ruin that for you?"
Brenden sank down on the nearby sofa, stunned by her outburst. "Well you see I never did go to school, so I guess you ruined it for me anyway."
"I told you to go on with your life!" She shouted resentfully.
Brenden blinked rapidly as if trying to hold back tears. Several minutes passed before he answered.
"How could I when the woman I loved waltzed right out of it with no explanation? I was heartbroken. All those plans you talk about, they were our plans. When you left, I didn't think beyond a minute at a time, then eventually a day at a time. I followed my father's footsteps, managing the store. It was easy for me, family business, I couldn't fail. That is my life now, I run that damn store better than ever before." His voice was acrimonious.
Bitterly she laughed. No longer caring if she hurt him, her voice oozed sarcasm.
"You think that's my fault? You think things have been so hard for you? I had no one. I had this baby by myself. To survive and put food on the table, I did what I had to do. Was I always responsible NO! But I did what I had to do."
She cut him off with a gesture. "No Goddamn it, you are going to listen to me. You put me up on a pedestal. You thought I was this perfect woman. No matter how wild I got, you always made excuses for me. You justified every damn thing I ever did."
"I loved you!" He rose and walked towards her.
Cassandra began to speak and faltered, stopping to regain her composure she whispered,"I know you did, but how could I go to you, this person who loved me so much and tell you the one thing that I knew would change everything? I didn't want you by default! That's what it would have been." She hung her head dismally, not wanting him to see the tears clouding her eyes.
Brenden moved closer to Cass, gently placing his hands on her shoulders.
"Cass, I was planning to ask you to marry me the night of prom. In the morning, I had set it up real nice, ring by your plate, the whole nine yards. There was no having me by default. You had me." His voice was tender.
She bit her lip until it throbbed like her pulse. One single teardrop fell down her cheek. When she could, she turned to face him.
"I didn't know that Bren. But I wouldn't have agreed. I was pregnant and determined. Maybe I didn't make the right choices, but they were my choices. I can't go back and undo all the pain I've caused." She dropped to the couch, face in her hands. "Please Bren, don't take Becca from me. I am trying to do the right thing, we can work something out."
His stare made her feel as if she were a mere cockroach. Deserving of it as she was, she was still angry. She glared up at him.
"What? The noble Brenden Carter would have done what was expected of him. Married the poor girl he knocked up because she wasn't responsible enough to take her pills the way she should have. Always perfect, to a fault.
"Cass I am not perfect!" He sighed running his fingers through his hair "I am merely a man, a man who loved you with all his heart."
Tense silence filled the room; Cassandra walked to him and slowly raised her hands, taking his face between her palms."If you loved me, then please don't take my child from me."
She watched his eyes soften slightly and she held her breath as she waited for him to speak.
"Cass, I'm not going to take Becca from you. I will, however, see her as much as I would like."
Cassandra slowly removed her hands from his face the tears flowing freely down her cheeks. A wave of relief washed over her. Brenden continued in a tone that suggested there would be no more argument on the matter.
"I agree for Becca's sake we need to do this right. Neither one of us is in the state of mind to deal with telling a little child something this important. Be ready tomorrow at noon, I'll be picking up you and Becca."
"What? I don't know..." Apprehension filled her as she searched her mind for a protest.
"You've had it your way, now it's my way. You will help me get to know my child, and you will be there to answer any questions she has. I didn't make this mess, you did."
She watched Brenden walk towards the door, and open it with quiet resolve. He turned back and met her eyes."Tomorrow Cass."
Cassandra nodded and he closed the door behind him. She listened as his truck roared to life and then faded into the distance. She walked slowly to the door, and opened it, looking out at the beauty that surrounded this house. She could hear birds chirping, and watched a bunny scurry over to the fountain in the yard.
Watching the bunny run around, she smiled at its innocence. Scampering away, the bunny took off for an unknown fate. Her own fate was just as undetermined; things were now out of her hands. Slowly, she walked towards the stables to find her daughter and Reese. Tomorrow may be a mystery, but she was going to enjoy today with her daughter.