Summers End

by Ryan Bartlett

Chapter 12

Alec

I caught up to Thomas and followed him out the back door. The rain was pouring down but he wouldn't stop. He was drenched almost the instant he went outside.

"Thomas, come back!" I shouted after him but he wouldn't listen.

I took a deep breath before chasing after him, letting the rain soak into my skin.

"What's wrong, what did the letter say?"

But he still wouldn't stop.

"Thomas, please?" I shouted. This time he stopped dead in his tracks and turned to face me. His whole body was shaking with rage.

"You were right!" said Thomas.

"About what, I don't understand. Why are you so upset?"

"They lied to me!"

"Who, Mrs. Lodge?"

"Mrs. Lodge and Henry and everyone else!"

"Thomas you're not making any sense. What's this about?"

"He's my father! Henry fucking Lodge is my dad!"

"Oh shit," my eyes popped out of my head.

"I have to get out of here," Thomas sniffled and then he stormed off again.

"Wait, let's go back inside and talk this out," I pleaded.

"No. There's nothing to talk about. I wanna see my mom," his voice cracked.

"Sweetie, she's…"

"She's dead, I know that, but I'm still going."

He was furious and everything he said frightened me. He was in no condition to go anywhere. I couldn't stop him but I didn't want to see things get worse so I did the only thing I could do and followed him. We were halfway to the boathouse when the last person I wanted to see turned up on the path before us.

"Hey charity case, still crying over that busted nose?" Roderick Lodge smirked as the rain dripped from his blond hair and down his forehead.

Thomas pushed past him and kept going but Roderick wouldn't let things go. He grabbed Thomas by the shoulder.

"I'm talking to you," said Roderick as he spun Thomas around.

Thomas was in no mood to put up with Roderick's bullshit. His hand was balled into a fist and as he turned he brought it up and buried it in the middle of Roderick's face.

"Ah!" Roderick shouted and fell on his ass.

"Fuck off you twisted fuck!" Thomas shouted.

"Y-you can't talk to me like that. I-I'm telling," Roderick's bottom lip quivered as blood trickled from his nose.

"You want another one?" Thomas shouted, brandishing his fist at the bully.

"N-no, I'm sorry," Roderick blubbered.

Thomas turned in disgust and continued towards the boathouse.

"What was that about?" Roderick whined as though he were the victim.

"You heard him, fuck off," I rolled my eyes and followed Thomas. I caught him just after he entered the boathouse.

"What are you doing, you can't go sailing now," I reminded him. The waves were crashing against the shore so loud you could hear them in the boathouse.

"I'm not taking the sailboat," said Thomas as he wiped his eyes and operated the controls to lower one of the speed boats into the water.

"What about needing a license?"

"I don't care. I have to get out of here."

"Then I'm coming with you."

"No."

"Thomas, please, I love you," I pleaded as he stepped into the boat.

"Alright," Thomas sighed. "Untie the stern while I get the engine started. I'll meet you at the end of the quay."

"Ok," I agreed.

At least this was progress. He wasn't saying no anymore. I kneeled down and heard the engine roar to life as I untied the stern. I started walking to the end of the quay when I noticed the boat was moving too fast. It's not like he could just apply the brakes, there was no way I could jump aboard.

"Thomas, damn it," I shouted after him.

"I'm sorry Alec," he shouted back. "I have to do this myself."

He applied more speed and broke into open water.

"Fuck," I swore and then ran to get help.

Henry

"Henry, what does it say?" asked Christine, the concern evident on her face.

"It says that Thomas…he's my son," I practically choked.

"Oh my God," said Christine, echoing my comment from a moment earlier as she touched her finger tips to her lips.

"What's this now?" said Christine's father.

"Uh, mom, daddy, why don't you go upstairs and freshen up, ok?" said Christine.

"That boy who was just here is yours?" said Mrs. DaLaughter.

"Later mom, we'll talk about it later," said Christine as she ushered her parents out. Jillian got up and followed them without having to be asked.

"Mother, this is true?" I was still in shock.

"I'm afraid it is."

"His mother…" I started.

"Alexandra," mother interrupted.

"I-I don't even remember her," I confessed.

"You wouldn't. It was only a brief dalliance," said mother. "Thomas was conceived the summer before your first campaign."

Christine stood there and watched us for a moment then she took the seat beside me. I couldn't imagine what she must be thinking but I felt her support when she took my hand and held it in hers.

"I have so many questions…"

"I know, Henry I'm sorry," said mother.

"I have so many questions but foremost, why didn't you ever tell me?"

"Your father, Henry he was so proud of you. All he wanted to do was protect you," said mother. "He swore me to secrecy."

"Protect me from what? My son?"

"It's very complicated…" mother began.

"How could you do this, the two of you? That boy is my child and all these years he's been here, right under my nose, and you never thought you should tell me?" I was growing angry.

"There were times I wanted to but…"

"But what? It conveniently slipped your mind?"

"I was protecting him!"

"Protecting him from me?" I demanded incredulously.

"Protecting him from your lifestyle. Henry, a child is not some cute little pet you can set aside when the next love of your life comes along," said mother.

"Did you ever stop and think having a child might have changed me?"

"You weren't ready."

"Maybe not but that wasn't your determination to make. I'd have been there for him had I known. I would have done the responsible thing and been his father!"

I wanted to say more but I heard a commotion coming from the foyer and then Alec burst into the study. His hair was plastered to his forehead and his clothes were drenched.

"Mrs. Lodge, Thomas, he ran away," Alec exclaimed.

"What?" mother, Christine and I replied simultaneously.

"He's really upset. He took one of the speed boats and just took off," Alec continued.

"In this weather? Oh dear God," said mother and then she grabbed me by the shoulders. "Henry, I know you're angry with me right now but please, you have to go after him! He could get hurt or God knows what…"

"Of course I'm going after him," I replied and then turned to Christine. "Honey, I don't know what to say about all this. I honestly never knew and I…"

"Henry," said Christine. "Would you shut up and go get our son?"

"Our son?"

"Our son," she smiled. "I don't know how all this came about and I don't care. The how and why is in the past. For the present, go find Thomas before he gets hurt."

"I love you," I hugged her and then turned to Alec. "Did he say where he was going?"

"He said he wanted to see his mother. I don't know wh…" Alec started but mother cut him off.

"Mt. Auburn. Henry, Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Boston. That's where Alexandra was laid to rest."

"Ok, I'm going after him. Alec, tell Carson to call the Coast Guard and give them a description of the boat Thomas took."

"Got it," said Alec.

We dashed out of the room, Alec headed for the butler's office and I for the boathouse.

Thomas

I couldn't stop crying. I guess I was in shock. Shocked that something so far-fetched had come true. Shocked that I'd lived with Mrs. Lodge for 10 years and she'd kept this secret from me all this time. Shocked that despite how much time I spent with Henry Lodge and how well we got along I never sensed any kind of connection. It was all too much to handle. I wanted my mom more now than at any time since her passing.

I was feeling so many emotions, anger, fear, resentment, I couldn't think straight. Taking the boat was a bad idea, a decision I never would have made had I been thinking rationally. The storm was blowing rain right into my face and the boat skipped over the rolling sea which churned like a pot of boiling water. The sea always demands your respect, it's a dangerous place for humans to be and I was traveling through it at a time when reasonable men were hold up by the fire with friends and family.

I was crying, the rain was in my eyes and I was overcome with emotions. I was in no condition to be piloting a boat and I never saw it coming. It was a jagged rock sticking up from the sea but with the waves rolling as they were it was nearly impossible to see. That is until I hit it at ten knots and ripped out the bottom out of the boats hull. I was thrown over the console and smacked my head on the bow. The blow dazed me but fortunately I wasn't rendered unconscious.

There was a gaping hole in the hull which was still impaled on the rock. The boat sank fast leaving the bow sticking up and me clinging to it for dear life. My heart was filled with regrets. I let the situation consume me and now I feared I was going to pay for it with my life.

Henry

So many thoughts and feelings were running through my mind I didn't quite know where to begin. I was angry with mother for not telling me about Thomas and angry at myself for leading such a cavalier lifestyle as to have allowed this to happen. But, despite all that I was excited. I have a son! I've always been fond of Thomas and maybe it's because deep inside, on some subconscious level, I knew he was mine? Whatever the source of the connection was, the only thing that mattered right now was finding my boy.

I was terrified something had happened to him. The storm blew in so quickly no one was really prepared for it. Local boats were heading for shore but my boy was out there somewhere trying to make his way across Nantucket Sound in some of the worst weather I've ever seen. I sped as fast as I dared with the visibility as bad as it was and reduced speed when I saw a jagged black mass in the distance. With the waves rolling as they were my ability to maneuver the boat was limited and I was forced to slow down before I hit whatever it was.

As I got closer to the object I was able to make out the shape of a boats bow. A boat identical to the one I was piloting.

"Thomas!" I shouted but couldn't hear anything over the wind and rain.

I moved closer, careful not to hit anything that might be lurking under the surface of the water as the waves heaved up and down.

"Thomas!"

"Here, I'm here," I heard a faint voice.

I maneuvered the boat around the broken boat and the jagged rock formation and there he was. Clinging to the boat, chest deep in the frigid water, was Thomas.

"I'm here, I'm right here," he sniffled in a voice that made him sound so helpless and small.

I quickly threw him a life jacket and maneuvered closer as he slipped it on. When I was close enough, Thomas grabbed on to the railing and I hauled him aboard. I stood him up and checked him over for injuries but other than a little bump on his forehead he seemed ok. He stood there shivering and shaking with sobs.

"Tommy, are you alright?"

"I'm sorry," he cried and my heart ached.

"Its' ok son, its' ok," I wrapped my arms around him.

"I didn't know what else to do," he sniffled.

"I know you're upset. This is a big shock for me too. Tommy, I promise you I didn't know. If I did, well, things would have been different."

"Really?"

"I would have been a father to you, I swear it."

He didn't say anything but I thought I saw the hint of a smile as he looked up at me. His body stopped shaking from sobs for a split second but then began to shake from cold.

"Let's get you home and out of those wet clothes and we'll have a nice long talk, ok?"

"Yeah, ok," Thomas nodded meekly. The poor kid, he must be exhausted from this ordeal.

We couldn't really talk on the boat, the wind made conversation nearly impossible. Instead, Thomas hunkered down low in his seat and hugged himself tightly. I would have thrown a blanket over him but it would have been drenched in seconds making him all the more miserable. When we finally returned to the boathouse, I killed the engine and tied us to the quay. When Thomas was safely on the dock I turned to head up to the house but sensed he wasn't following. He was standing there with his lip trembling.

"I wrecked the boat," Thomas mumbled.

"It's alright, no one's worried about that," I assured him.

"Mrs. Lodge is going to be so mad at me," he broke into fresh tears.

I walked over to him and gave him a hug.

"I think it's safe for you to start calling her granny, kiddo," I patted his back .

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