Chapter 16

~ Confusion ~


Dominik looked at Alanna with feelings of uncertainty coursing through him. At his parents' anniversary party, he'd been so sure... Holding Alanna in his arms and dancing across the floor with her had felt so right. How could in just a short number of days his feelings change? If he wasn't sure about which twin he was honestly attracted to...if he wasn't sure about what was in his heart, how could he be sure about anything?

"Dom? I asked if you wanted to have dinner with us at my Grandma's. If you'd rather not, just say so."

Dominik broke from his reverie. Alanna's emerald eyes blazed with intelligence, just like her father's. Uncle Tommy had a way of looking at person and making him feel like he knew everything about him. As Dom stared at Alanna, he had the nagging feeling that the ability was hereditary.

"No, I can't. Thanks, though," he said. "We're having chili tonight and it's always a big family thing. You know how my parents are."

Smiling, she nodded. A strand of dark blonde hair brushed her cheek and she subconsciously pushed it aside. Dominik swallowed hard. He remembered how silky soft her hair was against his skin. Then, just as suddenly he wondered how Ciarda's wild curls would feel in his hands. He shook his head and quickly stood.

"I just stopped by to talk. You're expected at your Grandmother's place. I can come by tomorrow instead."

"No, you can't," Alanna said. "We're going to Connecticut. I don't know when we'll be back."

"Why are you going there? Don't you have school tomorrow."

Sadness dulled the vibrancy of Alanna's eyes. She wrapped her arms around her waist and looked at the floor. "Ciarda doesn't want to go to school with me anymore, so we're going to check out a boarding school near Torrington. If she likes it, she's not coming back."

The news hit Dominik like a ton bricks. It sucker punched him and caused him to inhale sharply. "What? She's going away? But she can't. Papa said... Going away won't solve anything."

Alanna shrugged. When she lifted her head to look at him, tears filled her eyes. "Mama and Daddy don't know what to do so... It's what she wants. Maybe it'll help."

"It won't," Dominik said quietly. "Where is she? Maybe I can change her mind."

"She went for a walk." She paused and gave him a long, hard look. "What makes you think you could change her mind? No one else has been able to."

"I...uh...I didn't mean it that way. It's just that..." He stammered, not knowing exactly what to say. All he knew is that he didn't under any circumstances want Ciarda to leave. "I'll miss her if she leaves."

"That's what I told her," Alanna said. "I told her to tell her friends. When she calls you, maybe you can talk some sense into her."

He nodded. "Maybe. I'll try."

~*~

Tommy returned home from his visit with Nikolas to an empty home. Gina left a note on the kitchen counter, telling him that she'd taken the girls to his mother's house for dinner. Simone wanted to see Ciarda and Alanna again before they left just in case Ciarda decided to stay in Connecticut.

He glanced at his watch. The dinner at Keesha's wasn't for another hour. He had more than enough time to shower and dress. The silence of the house echoed around him and made him sad. If Ciarda decided to stay, the place would never be the same again. A part of his heart would be gone. He wasn't sure if he could handle leaving his daughter behind in another state. But there really weren't too many alternatives. Nikolas having ownership of a movie studio could help, but it would take time to produce results. He groaned. Why did life have to be so damned complicated?

He thought about the recent conversation he had with his mother. Tom Hardy, Sr. wanted a second chance. The bastard didn't deserve one. Simone and Tommy disappeared off the face of the earth and it took ten years for them to resurface again. During that time, Tom had to know they were missing. How could you not miss your own child? Anger warred with sadness. And later when Tommy sat by Simone's comatose body, his father still didn't return. The rescue of Simone and the other women made headline news everywhere, but they received no word from Tom. Not a postcard. Not a telephone call. Nothing.

Tommy wanted to know why.

He dialed the number to his Grandmother Audrey's house. A voice he hadn't heard since he was six-years-old answered. "Hardy residence."

Tommy's breath caught in his throat, nearly choking him. He coughed and recovered quickly. "Is this Tom?"

"Yes," came the voice on the other end, "who is this...? Tommy, is that you?"

"Yeah," Tommy replied. "My mother told me you called. You shouldn't have disturbed her. Going through her was cowardly."

"Yes, it was," Tom admitted. "I shouldn't have bothered Simone to contact you, but I didn't see any other way."

"Well, I'm on the line. What do you want?"

"I wanted to talk to you and... This is awkward over the telephone. Could we meet for lunch tomorrow and talk then?"

"No," Tommy said. "Meeting wouldn't be a good idea. Just say what you wanted to say to assuage yourself of guilt and let this be the end of it."

"I'm not-- I'm not trying to..." Tom inhaled a deep breath and released it. "Look, I know I've made mistakes. The past thirty years have been a huge mistake. Words can't erase that or change how I wasn't there for you and Simone."

"That's right. Words can't." Tommy glanced at his watch. The call had lasted far longer than he wanted it to. "This was a waste of time. Goodbye, Tom."

~*~

Keesha slowly awakened to find AJ's face hovering hers. She shifted and realized her head rested on his lap. His hand flattened against her shoulder. "Just relax for a minute."

"What happened?" she asked. "Did I faint?"

His expression was solemn as he nodded. "Yeah, but I caught you."

"Thank you." She sat up slowly and looked around. They were in the living room. The door was closed, but she could hear excited, angry voices on the other side. "What's going on? The kids... Oh, my God! That man! He looked just like Jason!"

She stood up quickly and AJ jumped to her side. His hand grabbed hers. "Keesha, wait!"

"What?" she asked, turning to face him. "I want to get to the bottom of this. I wanna know why some weirdo is pretending to be Jason!"

"Keesha, wait a minute," AJ said quietly. "Before you leave this room, there's something you need to know."

"What?" She searched his eyes for answers, but their depths were murky. As if he concealing his emotions on purpose. "AJ, just tell me. What is it?"

"He's not pretending," he answered. "While you were passed out, Michael came in and explained everything to me. They found him. That man in there is your husband."

~*~

"You bastard!" George lunged at Morgan and would have grabbed him if Michael hadn't stepped in.

"George, back off!" Michael warned.

"You keep that crazy boy offa me!"

Footsteps rumbled down the staircase. First, Marisa appeared and then, Ben. "What's going on?" Ben asked, looking around. His gaze settled on Morgan. "Wow."

"You said the kid had my eyes," Morgan accused, giving Ben a hard look. "That boy ain't mine anymore than you or your sister. Who's that girl? She ain't claiming to be mine, too, is she?"

"Ben, go back upstairs," George said.

"No, I wanna--"

"You can't let our little brother come down," Grace said. "Please, just go back up and keep him inside his room. Hurry!"

"Okay!" Ben raced back upstairs and seconds later, a door slammed.

"That trick will only work for so long," Morgan said. "I came to see my son and I'm not leaving here until I do!"

"You will see our brother when our mother says it's okay," George bit out. "And not one second before."

"That woman--"

"That woman," Keesha interrupted, "is standing right here."

Morgan turned to face her. His stance radiated the power he seemed to believe he wielded. Keesha didn't seem impressed or intimidated. She folded her arms across her chest and stared back at him.

"They say I have a kid. If they were lying to get me to come back here to you..."

"They weren't lying," Keesha said, not even flinching at the contempt that filled his voice. "I have a son. Michael believes you're Jason and if you are, you're his father."

The man cocked an eyebrow. "You don't believe I am?"

Her voice hardened. "I don't want to believe you are."

AJ moved Keesha's side and placed his arm around her shoulders. Morgan's face reddened at the intimate gesture, but he made no comment.

"No slight against you, Michael," AJ said, "but we need more proof. Before this man can see Jason-Everett, he's gonna have to take a DNA test."

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