For Everything You Were

by Westcliff Writer

Chapter 7

The Developing Dilemma

"My dad?" I exclaimed. "No, I don't believe it, why would he know about this… why would he act that way and not tell me, it's not him, it's not my dad."

"Jake, calm down. I wanted to get that bit out of the way first. Look, I dunno why he did-"

"Wait… does my mum know too?"

"Not sure… I doubt it, this was all done in secret."

"But why?"

"One question at a time Jake, otherwise this is all going to confuse you."

"I am asking on question, and that was my question Ethen!" Ethen looked at my screwed up face and cracked an ever so subtle smile. "You think this is a joke?" I asked, perplexed.

"No… no it's just, you've grown, more mature, the way you talk and all that. It's nothing, I've just missed you that's all."

I lowered my head. "Yeah, and I've missed you too," I replied, solemnly. "So tell me about the fall, was it all fake blood or something?"

Ethen frowned. "God Jake, No! Look, whatever has happened I need you to know I never deceived you or made anything up and I was most definitely not privy to what came after my fall. It was real, I woke up in hospital with my dad by my side. I kept asking for you and that request kept being rebutted."

I got up from the bed and went over to the room window and looked out, sighing. "I can't believe my dad was in on this, I can't process that."

"I was surprised too, and found it strange my dad would have even told me, but I'm guessing he thought we would never see each other again. I don't really know too much more about the whys and hows your dad was ever involved. Maybe my dad thought it would be better if your dad could give you the required propaganda in order so you wouldn't get suspicious."

Ethen followed me over to the window and placed a hand on each of my shoulders before kissing the back of my neck. It sent shivers down my spine.

"Don't!" I said, pulling away from him. "Don't do that when I feel like this."

"Like what?"

"Weak! I'm so angry right now, I'm angry, confused and I don't know what to do, and you kissing me just fucks my head up even more."

"I was just trying to let you know I'm here for you."

"Jesus, what a mess," I remarked, wiping my hands down my face. "Ok, so you fell, went to the hospital, and then what happened? Apart from my own father screwing me over."

"I was told dad had a new job and that we were leaving," he shrugged. "Because we had got so close it had made things difficult I guess. He said we had to leave Beale and that I would not be seeing you again, nor anyone else."

"Didn't you try to talk him out of it?"

"No Jake, I just let it… of course I did, what do you take me for? I was madly in love with you, still am. I wasn't going to let anything come between us, but I had no choice. I was patched up and before I knew it, two weeks later I was being flown to Colorado."

"Couldn't you… couldn't you run away or something?"

"In my condition? Jake, for the first five months I kept getting dizzy spells, I was living… or rather being kept on this base in the middle of nowhere surrounded by rocks. I didn't have a contact number for you either… I didn't even have a basic phone. You really don't know what I went through."

"What you went through?! I thought you were fucking dead," I yelled, irritated by his comment.

"Jake, I didn't mean it like that. I just mean… it's like you think It would have been easy for me to just pick up a phone and call you, it wasn't, and there were things in place, put there by my dad and his job to make sure I was kept a secret."

"But why would you dad take a job knowing it would affect so many lives?"

Ethen shook his head and sighed. "I don't know Jake, It's like he's been brainwashed or something. He changed, you know? Even when I was in hospital getting better, he used to come visit me now and again but when we spoke it was like he was a robot, not the loving dad I knew."

"A robot?"

"Yeah, like he kept going on about schedules and making sure I knew my new name and social security number. Making sure no one had tried to call me and what I should do if they did. I was emotionally weak, and in pain so I just went with it."

"Sounds horrible. So, you have a new name?"

"Callum Lloyd," he announced. "The real guy was killed with his parents when their car got totalled by a truck doing sixty down a narrow road. I still kept some of my old ID though… I didn't want to just forget who I was."

"You took over the identity of a dead person?"

"Sick right? I don't understand how all that works, and I didn't know the truth until I went through my dad's office and found all the stuff relating to him and me."

"I need the toilet," I announced, probably rather falsely. Truth was I just needed a minute to try and take in some of this.

"Strange your parents haven't called, I thought they would have been worried," Ethen said as I passed him. I stopped and looked back.

"Yeah, well they might have done, but I've put it on silent, they can leave a message. I'm not ready to deal with them right now."

I entered the bathroom and closed the door going straight to the toilet and sitting down on it starting to breath hard. I lent my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands as I tried to come to terms with what Ethen was saying. It was striking that my dad was involved and yet he was able to act so normal from start to finish. How could a man I thought I knew so well deceive me so… well?

For the first time in a while I wanted to cry but couldn't. Maybe I was all cried out, or perhaps it was just the numbness I felt right now. How was this all going to end I wondered as I sat there in a room I never thought I would be in, let alone with Ethen just outside.

I worried about the future all of a sudden. I wondered how Ethen was going to fit into my life. Even more worrying was where he was going to be after all this was done. Would be just return to America, would he stay here, somewhere. These were questions that started to crop up now the initial shock of knowing he was alive was passing. It was slowing morphing into a new phase now, that of trepidation as to how each of our lives would be affected. Mum, dad, Cody and Colin fucking Jones will all see this in their own narrow view. They will each judge Ethen in their own way for what he has done. But really, here was me worrying about people getting angry with Ethen when, what exactly has he done wrong?

I got up off the toilet and lifted the seat up and forced out a piss. I didn't want Ethen to wonder why I was in here other than relieving myself. Flushing, I quickly washed my hands and stepped out into the main room.

"You're a victim in all this Ethen, I see that."

"What?"

"I was just thinking… in there… you're a victim."

"I know that, but the category of victim ended by the things I did to get away from my dad. Some might even say I'm a criminal."

"Bad?" I asked, raiding a brow.

Ethen sighed and looked at the window. "I keep telling myself I had no choice you know?"

"Ethen… how bad?"

Ethen got up and went over to his large bag he'd obviously travelled with and chucked it on the bed I was sitting on.

"Look in there."

I did as he asked, first not taking my eyes of him and then finally looking at the bag before unzipping it. Inside amongst the usual stuff you would find in a travel bag were bundles and bundles of fifty pound notes. My jaw almost hit the floor as I switched my view from the bag back to Ethen.

"Fuck, there must be like twenty grand in here."

"Around thirty two give or take, but who counting."

"But… but where did-"

"My dad of course."

"You stole it?"

"Some of it, look Jake, it's complicated, it's not all his and it's not all mine."

"I don't understand."

"Remember I told you my mother died?"

"Yeah."

"Well she left me some money… or rather they both did. It was part of her life insurance that I was going to be given when I reached eighteen. The thing is, dad didn't plan on giving me it because he was afraid I would use it to leave Colorado."

"So why not just keep that information from you then?"

"He did. A few days after I got flown to Colorado all this weird stuff started turning up."

"Weird stuff?"

"Yeah, like files… although I didn't know they were files because they were sealed in three aluminium cases. I broke into two of them and found files on my mum, me, your dad… he even kept files on Luke's parents."

"But why?"

"I don't know, I never asked him because if he found out I'd seen them it would have kept me from being here. You see Jake, I have been planning this trip for over six months, I just needed to wait until I was eighteen so I could get to what was rightfully mine."

"So this money you got… we seem to have drifted off topic."

"Yeah, so that insurance money was thirty four thousand dollars, it was paid into a bank account in my name so I drew it out because it was legally mine… at least the bank it was in let me have it."

"And the rest? You said some of it wasn't yours."

Ethen sighed. "No, me and my dad also had a joint account for me to use when he was out of town, I cleaned that out which was twelve thousand dollars and took another six from the safe at home."

"Jesus Ethen!"

"I know, I know."

"Wasn't the insurance money enough?" I asked, perplexed.

"Jake, I didn't know what I would be facing when I left Colorado, I didn't know how much things were going to be when I left."

"You mean you always planned to come here?"

"Jake, ever since I woke up in that hospital bed from the fall I was determined to see you again. I didn't know how long it was going to take, all I knew was that it would be one day. But things needed planning. First I had to find a way of contacting you where you didn't freak out."

"Well you knew THAT was never going to happen, surely!"

"I knew it was going to be hard for you to take in, what I didn't anticipate was you telling your parents."

"So what exactly was your plan?"

"Beyond contacting you I didn't know, my ideas sort of ran out there."

"And what do you think is going to happen now?"

"My dad will look for me, probably is. Your parents will go mad… or your dad will because of what he knows. We will be kept apart, but you know what, it would have been worth it."

"Really?"

"What, you don't think so?"

"I mean worth it for who, you or me? You just do all this so you can say a quick hello and then leave me again? I don't see how you think that would ever do me any good?"

I took a swig of water from my bottle and wiped my mouth getting up from the bed. I headed over to the window and leaned my head on the glass.

"Jake, I thought long and hard about what this would do to you but I always settled on the premise that you would rather know this whole thing had been a cover-up and a lie than for you to go on thinking that I was dead. What would YOU have done? I missed you with all my heart and even though I knew if I saw you again it would not be for long I… I just had to, please accept that, please accept that I had to see your face again, tell you the truth and spend the time with you that was robbed from us."

I turned round, looking at his handsome face, eyes teary. "So what are your plans after this hotel room?"

"I thought you might be able to tell me, but I know that's impossible."

"You mean…"

"I don't know what I mean, our lives are so disconnected now, I wish…" Ethen blew air through his lips. "I hoped that-"

"You hoped we would pick up where we left off don't you? Oh my God!" I interrupted him, my eyes on beanstalks.

"I was excited, and yeah ok I admit it, there was some tiny hint of expectation."

"You do know I have a boyfriend now."

"Cody?"

I creased my head up and nudged my head back. "How did you…"

"It was always obvious you two would end up together, but due to a freak of nature, I came along and interrupted your flow I guess. Anyway, I guess I should say I'm happy for you."

"But you're not, right?"

Ethen paused for a moment before getting up and coming over to me. He placed a small kiss on my forehead and I did nothing to stop it this time. Pulling back slightly and with our noses almost touching he stared deeply into my eyes. "Am I happy that you found some happiness with another person? Yes of course. Am I glad Cody found happiness with you after losing Luke? Yes, of course. Am I happy that I lost you at the expense of our Father's secrets? No, I'm devastated Jake. I had it all with you. I had found my soul mate in every way, and if I had done something to jeopardise that then I could get over you and move on, but because neither of us had any part to play in being separated I have this… this hole, this void that just won't go away and it never-"

I pressed my lips against his not letting him continue and pushed my tongue past his teeth. Ethen responded and I felt him exploring inside my mouth for the first time in what felt like an eternity. He still tasted the same as I remember. He still kissed the same, passionate and slow, purposeful but gentle. He was like a drug habit I'd worked so hard to kick but having it again was too much to resist. He brought his hands up, his strong wide hands, and cupped my cheeks with them, granting them the same delicate touch as his tongue was to my tongue.

Once again I was at his mercy.

After a moment or two I think we could both feel where this was heading. I don't know who pulled away first because I was so wrapped up in his aura to tell, but as we parted and I walked away squeezing my forehead with my fingers, I felt suddenly guilty.

"I'm sorry, I took advantage, I was weak," Ethen exclaimed, shaking his head.

"No, it was me, I started it, I wanted you… I do want you, but…"

"Cody, I get it, and I feel bad too, he's a nice guy and what we did was wrong to him."

I started to pace the room, probably looking like a scatty mouse to Ethen as he followed me with his eyes.

"What's wrong?" he asked, starting to come towards me again.

"I'm scared Ethen… I'm scared of falling for you again. In fact, even while I've been here this short time, the feelings have already begun."

"What would you like me to do?"

"How the fuck should I knew," I spat in a moment of frustration, more with myself. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to shout, this is all just so screwed up."

"Do you regret coming?"

"Yes… no, I mean maybe. Oh I don't know, I'm just so confused."

"I never stopped living you Jake-"

"PLEASE! Don't say that while I feel like this!"

"If you had let me finish I was going to say, I never stopped loving you, but I love you enough to let you go, if that's what you need me to do." He stopped me pacing and pulled my head in his hands getting my concentration. "I know what this is doing to you, I can see it's a dilemma that is going to wear you down if you let it, so I'll make it easy, I'll go. We say goodbye here, and you go back to your life as it was. Say you met me and that I have gone and you don't know where. What happened here today, what I told you only needs to stay with us."

I was looking at him, listening to his words wondering if he had gone fucking mad all of a sudden. "What… what the hell are you saying? So I just go back and pretend life is normal and we never met?"

"No, I just mea-"

"You want me to just forget you're alive, go back to my life at home knowing I have virtually cheated on my boyfriend who I don't think I'm in love with because I'm still in love with a dead guy, a father who deceived his own son and a mother who will never let me out of her sight again, really Ethen?"

"OK, I know, it's not that simple, but-"

"You're damn right it's not, what the hell were you thinking?"

"So tell me what to do, Jake?"

"I don't know OK, I really don't have the answers for this, but I cant go through this again. I… I love you Ethen, always have."

"I know, you just told me, and I chose to ignore it."

"Why?"

"Because it doesn't help either of us in our current situation, it just makes things worse."

"Even if-"

"DON'T! Jake, don't, say anything you might regret, it's impossible."

I was just about to speak again when our room phone started ringing. Ethen and I looked at each other each wearing a puzzled look.

"Shit, did you tell anyone I was here?" Ethen asked.

"No of course not, no one even knows I'm here. Look, don't panic, it's probably the wrong room, here let me get it." I went and picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Oh hello there sir, sorry to disturb you, we have gentleman downstairs looking for someone in the name of Jake Stevens?"

"Uh, one moment please," I said, starting to shake. "Ethen?" I whispered, covering the mouthpiece with my hand.

"What?"

"What name did you book the room in?"

"Ethen Jones, I had to show ID, why should it matter?"

"One sec," I hissed. "Uh hello, Can I ask who is asking for him?"

"Yes sir, he says he is the person's father."

My eyes sprang back to Ethen and his face seemed to drain of blood wondering why I was looking at him like that.

"What… what is it?"

"My dad's here!"

"WHAT?! But how?"

I thought for a moment. "Fuck! My mobile phone, I left my fucking cell phone on."

"Oh fuck, and he's traced it!" Ethen said, falling back onto the bed. I swallowed hard and felt like I was starting to sweat.

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