After a delicious dinner, we were sitting on the back patio with a fire burning in the fire pit. Bella and Kathryn were chatting about the concert at Wrigley Field. Senior, Kathryn and several other lawyers were going to attend the concert with some students from the Elizabeth Masen Music Center. As we were sitting in the backyard, I noticed my biological father was shifting uncomfortably.
“You okay, Dad?” I asked, blinking over at him. “You look as nervous as a whore in church.”
“Edward,” Senior chuckled, arching a brow. “Language.”
“Seriously, though,” I murmured as Bella and Kathryn went inside. They were talking about trying some new tea. But, if I had to guess, they were giving me and my father some private time. “What’s wrong?”
“There’s nothing wrong,” Senior said, sipping his wine. “I’m just so proud of you. You are successful, kind, smart, ambitious and loving. You treat Bella how I treated your mother, with love and respect. She would have loved her, you know?”
“Mom?” I whispered.
“Yeah,” Senior said, putting his wine glass on the table. “I know that our relationship went through some struggles. All of that was my fault because of my inability to cope with your mother’s death. I want to you to know that I never stopped loving you, Edward.”
“I know, Dad,” I said. “It still hurt to think that you gave me up.”
“I could barely take care of myself. I did what I needed to do to make sure you were safe, cared for … if you’d stayed with me, I probably would have fucked things up,” Senior deadpanned.
“Language, Dad,” I teased.
He gave me a wry look. “Sorry.” He leaned forward, looking at me. “Our relationship has improved, but I still feel like there’s a distance between us, Edward. As weird as it sounds, you never said that you’ve loved me. Not since we …”
“Dad, I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I never thought … I never meant … I’m so sorry.” I got up. Senior stood up as well. I hugged him tightly. “I love you, Dad. I’m grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to get to know each other again.”
“I will do everything to for you, Edward,” he said, pulling back and cupping my face. “I’m proud of you, the boy you were, the man you’ve become and the person you will always be. I love you.”
“Love you, too, Dad,” I sniffled, kissing his cheek and hugging him once again.
“Edward Squared, do you guys want dessert?” Bella giggled, leaning against the doorway.
“What’s on the menu?” Senior asked.
“Bella brownies and raspberry cheesecake bites,” she responded. “The cheesecake bites are made by Ryan. They’re quite delicious. I would have never thought that Ryan, security guard beefcake, was a fabulous pastry chef.”
“Bella brownies?” Senior asked, arching a brow.
“Brownies with caramel, cheesecake and chocolate chips,” Bella giggled. “And a chocolate, rum glaze. Very decadent and with very little nutritional value.” She smiled softly, ducking inside. We snuck inside and had several pieces of both confectionary treats.
Kathryn and Senior left just before eleven, hugging us. Just before Senior left, I pulled him aside. “I really like Kathryn,” I said. “She makes you smile and she challenges you.”
“I like her, too. And you’re certain you’re okay with us being together?” he asked.
“I am, Dad,” I said, grinning crookedly. “I love you and be safe.”
“Safe?” he chuckled.
“Condoms, Dad,” I deadpanned. His eyes widened and he blushed a bright red. “I’m not concerned about pregnancy, but you never know.”
“Oh, God!” he guffawed. “Edward!” He blinked, shaking his head. “I can’t believe you said that.”
“Just saying,” I smirked.
“Well, we haven’t crossed that bridge, son,” Senior blushed. “See you on stage. Break a leg.” He cupped my cheek again. “Love you, Edward.”
“Love you, too, Dad,” I said. He patted my cheek, leaving with Kathryn.