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    LitLover
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Choices - 15. Chapter 15

Chapter 15

 

Allie dragged Liam back to the table, insisting he tell her more about his love life, or lack thereof. Unfortunately, she had to wait since Ken, Sara and Joey had arrived, and the mini-reunion took precedence for several minutes. The laughter at their table drowned out the music, and earned amused gazes from the other patrons.

After obligatory hugs and exclamations as to how much everyone had changed, Liam was finally pulled closer to Allie and Sara, who also wanted ‘dirty details’ of his love life. The short and quick version of events regarding Alek and Nathan earned sympathetic nods and hugs from both women, who’d each had their share of relationship woes.

“Why don’t you just move back to Halifax?” Sara asked, squeezing Liam’s hand. “It sounds like Kingston hasn’t been that great of an experience for you, and you know we’d love to have you home. Maybe some geographical distance will even help you get over Alek?”

Liam gave the question serious thought before answering. He was having a wonderful time with his old friends, but Kingston, despite his relationship issues, had been good for him. “Actually,” he said with a smile. “I love Kingston. My boss, Corey, is amazing, and encouraged me to go back to school for my physiotherapy degree.”

“And he’s going to kick ass at it,” Marty interjected from across the table.

Liam chuckled. “I don’t know about kicking ass, but I’m excited to get started.”

“Maybe once you become a therapist to the rich and famous you can look at my bum shoulder,” Joey kidded, rotating his left shoulder. “I never recovered after Ken threw me off of that dock when we were sixteen.”

Everyone laughed over Ken’s protests that he was only defending himself. “Please,” Sara said, using her foot to nudge the bar owner under the table. “You weren’t defending yourself. The only way you could take Joey out was by sneak attack.”

“It’s not my fault Jen Anderson was jumping around on the raft in a bikini,” Ken retorted, with a wink. “Next time, Joey should pay attention to something other than some bouncy blonde.”

“Did you know Jenny’s studying to be a neurologist now?” Allie interjected. “Last I heard she was in Montreal.”

“A neurologist?” Ken said with a mischievous grin. “Too bad you didn’t manage to bag her, Contin. She could help with that mental deficiency.” Liam laughed loudly when Joey grabbed Ken around the neck and mussed up his hair.

“So,” Allie said once the laughter died down. “Do you think Alek’s sincere this time?”

“I don’t know,” Liam replied with a shake of his head. “I think he is right now, but what about when things get tough with his parents. His dad is pretty overbearing, and I know he must hate hurting his mom.”

“Maybe,” Allie replied softly, “he needed the push of your accident to make him see the light? Landon never believed how much I cared about him until I was ready to let him go.”

“That’s not the same though, Al. You didn’t treat him like he was your dirty secret.”

“No, but he did hurt me. I’d tried for so long to get Landon to give us a chance, but he never believed my feelings were real. Finally, about three years ago, I’d had enough rejection and was ready to walk away. I’d even put my notice in at work, and found someone to sublet my apartment. The weekend I was set to move to St. Johns he went out, got trashed, and slept with Michelle Colhain. She was rooming with Sara at the time, and I caught him leaving Michelle’s room when I stopped in to say goodbye. We weren’t together, and he didn’t owe me anything, but it was like a knife to my heart. Lan told me the hurt he saw in my face that morning was what finally convinced him my feelings were sincere.” She looked across the table at her boyfriend and smiled. “If he hadn’t followed me to Saint Johns to beg me to give him a chance, we wouldn’t be together now. I didn’t make it easy for him. I wasn’t sure I could give my heart to someone who believed I would play with their feelings. In the end, I finally realized I loved him too much to let him go, and if he was willing to risk his heart, then so was I. I’m happier now than I could’ve ever imagined. I know it’s scary, but if you still love Alek, even after everything that’s happened, maybe you owe it to yourself to see if he can be the man you need him to be?”

Liam was saved from answering by Ken dropping shots in front of everyone. Allie didn’t bring up Alek again, and hugged him fiercely before the group parted for the night. With promises to keep in touch, Liam and Marty hopped into a waiting cab. He was pleasantly buzzed, and leaned against the cool window, watching the familiar neighbourhood pass by. The driver took a different route back, coming within blocks of his old house. Liam didn’t realize he’d reacted until Marty placed a hand on his shoulder.

“You all right, Li? You seem tense.”

“It’s nothing, really.” He tried to smile, but wasn’t very successful. “We’re near my old street. I guess I’m feeling a little melancholy.”

“Do you want….” Marty cleared his throat, looking uncertain. “Are you going to the cemetery while you’re here?”

“I don’t know,” Liam replied honestly. He hadn’t visited his father’s grave since the day of the burial, and he wasn’t sure if he could handle it now. Not alone. “If I do go, would you come with me?”

“Of course. You don’t even have to ask.”

 

The next morning Liam woke with a splitting heading and a stomach protesting the quantity of alcohol he’d consumed. Even though he didn’t drink much, he knew the shots were what did him in. The place was quiet, and with Marty having the day off, Liam assumed his friend was still asleep. He got out of bed and quietly made his way to the kitchen in search of coffee and maybe toast to settle his stomach.

Liam was munching the last bite when Marty finally stumbled out of bed, rubbing his eyes, and making a beeline for the coffee pot with a mumbled ‘good morning.’ Once both men were caffeinated, they were able to have a lucid conversation about their night.

“It was great to see everyone,” Liam said, refilling his cup. “I’m glad you thought of it.”

“It was a good night,” Marty agreed. “We all live in the same city, but don’t get together as often as we should.”

“It’s easy to let things go when life gets busy. You always think you can put off a phone call for another day.”

“Exactly. We’re all guilty of it. I’ll have to make an effort to get better, especially if I’m going to be moving.”

“So,” Liam began, trying not to sound overly excited and failing miserably. “Have you heard anything concrete about a transfer?”

“Actually, I was talking to my boss yesterday.” Marty paused to rinse out his cup, leaving Liam to anxiously squirm in his chair. “He said the transfer paperwork has been approved. I’ll be in the Ontario office within six months.”

Liam squealed in excitement, not caring how it sounded as he rushed over to hug his best friend. “Oh my God!” he shouted. “I can’t believe it’s finally happening.”

Marty laughed and hugged Liam back. “I thought you might like the news.”

“Have you told your mom yet?”

“Oh, man, don’t even get me started on that conversation,” Marty replied with a sigh. “She wasn’t happy about the possibility of me moving so far away, so I know the reality is going to set off tears. She told me she understood though, and would be happy if you and I were closer to each other.”

“I feel badly for your parents, but I’m thrilled the move is actually happening.”

 

With the good news of Marty’s impending move, Liam felt bolstered before the visit to his father’s gravesite. The day was frosty, but luckily the clouds were well out over the ocean. It didn’t take long to drive to the cemetery and before he knew it, Liam was walking down a path lined by headstones. The area was surprisingly green for this time of the year, and there were no other visitors in sight, although he could hear the distant sound of voices. Marty stood down the path, far enough away that he wouldn’t overhear, but close enough he could be there in seconds should Liam need him.

Liam stood awkwardly for a few moments, staring at the marble markers of both of his parents. He barely remembered his mother, who’d died when he was very young. The only clear memory he had was of her leaning over his bed to kiss his forehead. He wasn’t sure if the image was a memory, or something his mind made up, but he clung to it. After saying a few words of greeting to his mom, and placing a light touch on the cold stone, he turned to his father. As expected, tears began to form in the corner of his eyes.

“Hi, Dad,” he started with a sigh. “I know I haven’t come by since the burial, but I just… I couldn’t do it. I’m sorry. I wanted to, but it hurt so much. I never expected to have to say goodbye to you so soon.” Liam spread out the light emergency blanket Marty handed him in the car and then knelt between his parents’ graves. “There’s so much I’ve wanted to tell you. You probably know I moved to Kingston a few months after you died. I really like it there. I have a job at a physiotherapy clinic, and my boss, Corey, has convinced me to go back to school.”

Liam wiped away a few more tears and looked back at Marty, who still stood stoically beside a barren tree. With a tight smile, he turned back to the raised earthen mound. “I don’t know what you can see from where you are, but I met someone in Kingston. His name is Aleksei. We’ve broken up now, but I haven’t been able to get him out of my head. I loved him, and he told me he loved me, but he wasn’t out, and he let his family obligations come between us. I know I should get over him, but I can’t seem to let him go.” Liam sighed again and looked up at the light blue sky. “I still love him, Dad. A few weeks ago, I learned he came out to his family. It’s what I wanted for so long, but I don’t know if I can trust him to put me first in his life. He couldn’t do it before, even though I gave him several chances. I don’t know what to do. Do I give him another chance, or do I walk away? Allie said I might owe it to myself to see where things go. God, why does love have to be so hard?

“Do you realize this is the most we’ve ever talked about something that didn’t involve fishing or hockey?” Liam laughed, and was surprised how bitter the sound was to his ears. “I hate that you had to die to be still long enough for us to have a conversation.” Tears started to fall in earnest and no amount of blinking was going to keep them at bay. “I miss you, Dad. God, I even missed you when you were here. I hope you’re happier now that you’re with mom again. I wish….” Words were impossible as sobs started to wrack Liam’s body. He trembled as the pain pushed past the protective wall he’d built around it. Suddenly strong arms were pulling him into a warm chest. He leaned into Marty and allowed his best friend to console him.

Slowly, the tears subsided, and Marty’s soft words broke through the haze. “Let it out. That’s it. I’ve got you.”

After a few moments, Liam reluctantly eased out of Marty’s embrace, and wiped away the moisture cooling on his cheeks. “Sorry about the jacket,” he said, noticing a wet stain on Marty’s light coat.

“That’s all right. It’s waterproof.”

Liam gave a watery chuckle. “Always prepared.”

“Are you okay? Did you say what you needed to say?”

“I’m not sure,” Liam answered truthfully. “I feel a little raw right now.”

“Fair enough. If you’re ready, how about we head over to Mom and Dad’s? She’s expecting us for lunch, and I’m sure you could use a hot drink and a warm house. It’s chilly out here.”

As if called, a cold breeze swept through the relatively open space, causing both men to shiver.

“Yeah, I think I’m ready. I might….” Liam turned to look back at the stone markers. “I might come back again before I head home.”

“Whatever you need.”

Liam gave his friend a hug, squeezing tightly. “Thank you for coming with me. I love you.”

“I love you too, bro. Come on, let’s go get you warmed up.”

 

Liam was quiet on the drive to the Harrison’s home as he tried to process his feelings. Marty’s mother, ever perceptive, took one look at him and pulled Liam into a hug before leading both men to the kitchen table. Soon, he was warming chilled fingers with a hot cup of tea while sitting between the pair. No one spoke for several minutes until Eileen finally broke the silence.

“I know today was hard, and if you ever want to talk, I’m here. We’re only a phone call away.”

“Thank you,” Liam replied gratefully. “I was just surprised, I think.”

“Surprised?” Eileen took his hand in her much smaller one.

“I didn’t expect to feel….” Liam paused and knew his face was flushed with embarrassment. Neither Marty nor Eileen spoke, instead sitting quietly with looks of support and encouragement on their faces. “I was bitter.”

“That’s not unusual,” Eileen replied quietly. “People left behind after loved ones die are often angry.”

“No. Not angry like that.” Liam fidgeted in his seat. “Yeah, I was upset dad left me all alone.” He lifted his hand to interrupt Marty’s objection. “I know you guys are here for me, but after he died I had no other close living relatives. Sure, I have second cousins and a great aunt somewhere, but I don’t know them.”

Liam took a fortifying breath before continuing. “I was bitter when I realized talking to dad’s grave was the longest conversation I’d ever had with the man. The only time we talked was when we were out on the boat, and that was about fishing. How selfish is that? He’s dead, and all I can think about is how I wish he’d paid more attention to me.”

“Oh, Liam….” Eileen’s voice wavered. “It’s not selfish. I knew your parents since they were newly married. Gavin was always a man of few words, but I think after Margo died he became even more closed off. She was the outgoing one. You’re so much like her.”

“I didn’t know you knew my parents before Marty and I became friends.”

“Margo and I met through a few of the committees we both sat on. She always seemed so happy. She didn’t like to drive, so your dad was always there to pick her up. I think the only times I’d ever seen that man smile was when he looked at her. After she died, Gavin pulled away from our circle of friends. I worried about you. You were so little at the time. It made me so happy the day Marty brought you home.”

“Is that why I got a hug in the first five minutes after I met you?” Liam asked, smiling at the memory.

“I couldn’t help myself. It was like seeing Margo again.”

Liam’s wistful smile faded and he rubbed at the dull ache in his chest. “I should let this bitterness go, shouldn’t I? There’s nothing to be gained by wishing things had been different.”

“If your reaction today is any indication, I don’t think you’ve ever dealt with how Margo’s death affected you, or your dad.”

“No, I guess not.”

“Well, maybe you should think about it? I know your dad loved you, but I can see how his taciturn nature would be hard on a child.” Eileen considered Liam for a few moments before leaning in for a hug. “I’m here for you any time, even if you need to vent,” she whispered and then pulled back, clapping her hands together. “Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m hungry, and those grilled cheese sandwiches aren’t going to make themselves.”

Sending a big thank you to my editor and friend, Gary, for all of his help. He's a wonderful sounding-board. /emoticons/default_glomp.gif" title=":glomp:" /> Thank you to all of you who read and support this story. /emoticons/default_thankyou.gif" title=":thankyou:" />

Copyright © 2017 LitLover; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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A very emotional and good chapter. It is good, that Liam finally reflects about his relationship to his parents. He is still young. Relationships change, even if one part is dead, because our thoughts on this person can change, as we change. Seems that he is doing some more growing up. :)

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Maybe talking about his father has made Liam see that he needs someone who is not closed up like his father. Maybe Liam can open his heart to someone who doesn’t have daddy issues. Maybe Liam is ready for someone whose life isn’t a series of secrets!  ;-)

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Wow.. The visit to the cemetery was something that had to be done. It a aged to give us deeper insight to Liam too.  Liam gas been carrying this weight around for so long. I'm glad that he was able to shed some of that. 

Marty is so much more than his best friend. That bond goes beyond that and I'm glad that he's moving, so they will have each other. 

Al's advice to Liam was great. It still rubs me wrong when Liam says things like Alek treated him like a dirty secret. Yes, we could go on endlessly that Alek did, but that's kind of harsh. That didn't happen by itself. Probably because I believe that Alek likely did not see it that way at all, just like Liam would hardly recognize Alek's resistance to hurting his parents. Again, likely due to the fact that we now know there was an emotional disconnect between Liam and his father. I am also not defending Alek, but.. 

Anyway, I hope that Liam's thoughts are clearer now that he has purged so much from his system. Also, Alek did stand up to his father in the garage (with Liam eavesdropping) so I don't think Alek will allow his parents to have that kind of a hold on him again.. K, Liam? No worries.. 

 

 

Anyway, through thus whole beautiful but emotionally charged chapter, my biggest takeaway: Liam is going home to Alek. Whaddya mean that's not mentioned in the chapter? -_-

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A maelstrom of emotions in this chapter, some repressed, some denied, some just plain complicated...

Nicely done

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On 4/20/2017 at 10:52 AM, Lyssa said:

A very emotional and good chapter. It is good, that Liam finally reflects about his relationship to his parents. He is still young. Relationships change, even if one part is dead, because our thoughts on this person can change, as we change. Seems that he is doing some more growing up. :)

 

I think Liam may have started to realize he has some things to work out.  

 

Thank you for you comment and support, Lyssa

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On 4/20/2017 at 11:02 AM, BlindAmbition said:

 That was a sad moment at the cemetery. I completely understand that moment. Often relationships are left unresolved after death. 
 Marty's family is just awesome. The perfect example of family not having to be related by blood. Eileen obviously has a fondness and treats Liam like a son. 
 LitLover is evil. Created this absolutely perfect character of Marty and makes him straight. He is loyal, comforting and Liam's rock. Why the hell is this man single? 
 Allie gave Liam some very good advice about his relationship with Alec. However, I honestly feel he should leave that relationship in the past. Learn from it and move on! 

 

The cemetery scene was tough for me to write.  Eileen loves Liam like her own.  It's good for Liam to get a reminder of that from time to time. 

 

Thank you for your comment an support, Blind :hug: 

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On 4/20/2017 at 11:10 AM, Headstall said:

This, to me, was about finding balance. Emotional balance. We see here, how Liam is learning to examine his feelings more closely. His bitterness at his father was very telling. He buries his feelings. I believe that may have been part of why he convinced himself dating a closeted guy was okay. He's not in the habit of speaking up... confronting issues from a place of strength. His conversation with his dad may be the start of a change, and provide him with some clarity. He's been given some good advice... I wonder what he'll do with it... meanwhile, what is Aleksei going through. He knows now that Liam is single. There has to be a modicum of hope somewhere deep inside... even though he doesn't feel deserving :). Oooops... I think some Team Alek slipped out :P ... cheers... Gary....

 

Liam does tend to bury his feelings, does't he?  Maybe he's realizing this sis something he needs to work on?  


Thank you for great comments and support, Gary. :hug: 

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