“Alright,” a shaky voice said.
Jeffery raised his head and turned around to see Stevie standing in the middle of the kitchen of his restaurant. “Stevie, what are you doing here?”
Taking a deep breath, Stevie started towards him and when she came to stand directly in front of him she looked up. “I’m here to help,” she replied. “I thought a lot about what you said and I uh… And of course I talked it over with my husband and he agrees with you. I need to help her.” she explained.
“No,” he said, turning back around and going back to work on the ‘Jeffery’s Chili’ Special. “I don’t want you to feel obligated to help me… help us. So thank you, but don’t force yourself.”
“I’m not,” she spat. “Look, not only did he agree with you, he helped me to realize that deep down I need to help her, to also be able to fully complete me,” she continued. “You were right. After that little girl died I shut down because I felt it was my fault… Still do in a way,” she admitted, looking down and twirling her thumbs. “I may not be able to get rid of that guilt today, or tomorrow, maybe not even a month from now, but I know eventually I will. Helping Angie get through this will help me get on that path of forgiveness.”
“Who needs forgiving?” Jeff asked curiously, as he turned back around and fixed her with a questioning look.
“I do,” Stevie replied. “I need to forgive myself for not helping her more and most of all I need God to forgive me.”
Not really getting where she was going with everything, Jeffery just nodded. “Okay,” he replied. “Okay, I guess… Okay,” he just said. What else could he really say other than, okay? This wasn’t his battle to fight and his problem to fix, it was something deep within Stevie and, he realized, only she could take the steps to get everything under control.
“I wouldn’t exactly expect you to truly understand any of this. My husband didn’t quite get it either,” she hinted. “But, just understand this… It’s something I have to do, for myself.”
“Well I guess with that being said… I get it,” Jeffery said. “Thank you, Stevie. Thank you so much and I promise you, we’ll pay whatever. Money is no option when it comes to Angie.”
“Look at you, talking like she’s your own,” Stevie teased with a twinkle in her eye.
Shrugging, Jeff looked away. “I know she’s only been here a little while and we haven’t really talked-talked, but I got this overprotective feeling for her. And not just because she’s Patty’s daughter, but deep down I feel she and my daughter would have been so much alike. There’s a connection.”
Stevie looked at him and nodded in understanding. “I get it… So when uh… When and where would you like for us to meet up? I mean is she even up for it?”
“Actually, she is. She said loud and clear that she wanted help. Pat’s still a hard one to sell because she feels nobody can help Angie except her, but she supports the decision to try it out.”
“Well that’s all I can ask from the family, support and lots of a love. Because having to relieve everything is going to bring up some buried emotions and she’s going to need all the shoulders and arms she can get.”
“Yea, we know and we are there no questions asked. And as far as when and where goes, we can get started whenever you’re ready and we can do it at my house.”
“Frankie… I uh… There’s something we need to talk about,” Randi said the minute her husband walked through the door and started putting his bag and keys down. It probably wasn’t the best time to talk to him about this and she probably should have told him way before he came home too, but she didn’t know how. She didn’t know how to tell her husband what happened and what she did.
“You just have to tell him,” one of the ladies at Fusion told her after she confessed to her about the most recent events.
Sighing, Frankie pulled his scrub top over his head and threw it on the couch. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it can wait until after I take my shower,” he replied, walking past her. After the day he’d just had the only thing Frankie wanted to do was let hot water beat down on his sore body to calm him as well as ease his aching head.
“Actually, no it can’t!” She called after him, making him drop his head and slowly return to her side. “It’s really important.”
“Is it about my mother?” He asked, becoming concerned. It had been a week since they last talked and she still hadn’t gotten back to him with info on how to keep in touch. “Did she call? Is she back home?”
“No,” Randi said softly. “I’m sorry… It’s about Jesse.”
Frankie rolled his eyes and plopped down in a nearby chair. “What he do now?”
Randi bounced from the couch to a spot on the coffee table and then back to her feet. She knew that what she had to say was going to be bad and that her husband would not be the least bit of happy about it. But what could she honestly do!? She couldn’t just say no, it wasn’t in her nature. “He was put out of the loft,” she blurted out, as she came to a halt behind the chair he was sitting in.
“And?” Frankie asked, unmoved by the news.
“Well… He uh… Of course he needed a place to stay so I told him he could stay he–“
“No!” Frankie yelped, jumping up from the chair and turning to look at her. “Hell no!”
“But Frankie, he—“
“I don’t give a damn!” He fussed. “He’s the reason my mother ran off. You saw the video. Hell you’ve been around since the beginning and you know he’s the reason for it all. If you ask me it serves him right for being put out on the streets. He needs to be knocked down a couple of pegs for putting his wife, his angel through hell and high-water,” he argued. “So whatever you told him, you can go and un-tell him,” he concluded, before giving her a hard stare and brushing past her to head to their room.
“He’s already here,” Randi replied. “He’s in the guest room.”
Turning around quick enough to get whiplash, Frankie all but ran back to her. “What?”
“I told him he could stay here… For as long as he needed too,” she said, walking away and going into the kitchen.
“What the hell you do that for?” He yelled. The fact that his father was right down the hall and had heard everything he said and was still hearing him, didn’t affect him one bit.
“He’s your father!” She yelled right back, not backing down one bit. She wasn’t afraid of Frankie, hell she’d come up against worse when she used to work the streets. “And he needed a place to stay.”
“And that makes what he did all right?” He asked. “Because ‘he’s my father’,” he mocked. “That makes it okay for us to give him a place to stay?”
“Yes, it does. Where I’m from we never turn our backs on family,” she said as a matter of fact-ly.
Frankie scoffed. “Well, where I’m from we never blame our loved ones for killing our families when we know damn well it isn’t true,” he snapped back. “Where I’m from we don’t chase our loved ones off!”
“He was drunk, Frankie. You of all people know what liquor can do to the mind and the tongue.”
“Yea, as a matter of fact I do. Liquor can make your tongue say what you’re mind has been thinking about all along. A drunken tongue never lies.”
Just as Randi opened her mouth to say something, one of the doors in the back opened and closed and Jesse came down the hall. The minute Frankie saw him his hands flinched. He truly had no love for this man. He thought lying about his death and then lying about the fact that he had a grown ass daughter was bad, but compared to now, that was nothing!
“Hey, Frankie,” Jesse greeted.
After giving Randi a not so pleasing look, Frankie brushed past Jesse and started for the bedroom. “It’s Franklin to you,” he said before slamming the door.
“I’m sorry,” Randi quickly said as she rushed to her father in law’s side. “I’ll go and try to talk to him.”
“No,” Jesse said, grabbing her hand and gesturing for her to sit down. “You don’t do that. And don’t you be sorry for it. To be honest I don’t deserve it.”
“You damn right you don’t deserve it!” Frankie fussed. They had both been too in shock, well more like Randi had been in that state that they hadn’t heard the door open and Frankie come back in. “You don’t even deserve a second glance for what you did to my mother!”
“Frankie!” Randi scolded as she jumped up. “Jesse —“
“Franklin,” Jesse started as he came to his feet and went to his son who was breathing like a raging bull. “You have no idea how bad I wish I could go back in time and change all of this. How I wish I could go back to that night and keep this from happening somehow. But I can’t!”
“And that’s supposed to calm me? The reminder of the fact that you can’t undo this?” Frankie scoffed as he crossed his arms and shook his head. “Save it! Save it for somebody who gives a damn!” He fussed. “What did you do anyway? How did you get put out?”
Jesse looked down. “The rent was way past due,” he replied. “You’d think that maybe Angie would have done something about that before she left. But–”
“Done something about it?” Frankie asked. “You have the gall to say that? That place belonged to not only her, but to you as well. Your name is on the lease as a renter, not just hers.”
“I didn’t mean it like that I meant tha—“
“Okay, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say mom had a to-do list, right? She’s supposed to get her sight back, find out that her baby died and be okay with it, dig up said baby and bury her all over again, and have to give up the baby she thought was hers to somebody else. And while doing all of this, she’s supposed to take care of you and the bills? Right? Do I have that right?”
“No! Not at all…” Jesse wanted to say more but knew it was pointless. He knew what he’d said was wrong and while it had not been his intention it was too late to take it back. “That’s not what I meant,” was all he could say.
“Whatever,” Frankie scoffed.
“Can he stay?” Randi asked after sometime. “He has nowhere else to go.”
Frankie eyed her. “I can think of a place he needs to go,” he hinted. “But you know what… I don’t care. He’s your guest. Everything he needs, wants, it’s all on you. You take care of him.”
“I don’t need anybody to take care of me,” Jesse snapped.
“You need a place to stay?” Frankie snapped back.
“You know what, forget it. Randi, I thank you for your help, but I’m gonna leave,” Jesse said before dropping his head and after several moments brushed past Frankie headed down the hall to get his things.
“Frankie!” Randi yelped. “He has nowhere else to go. Say something, do something! Please,” she begged. “Look, I know you’re mad, pissed even but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s your father and he needs us,” she explained. “Frankie, he wouldn’t do this to you, so why are you doing this to him?”
“This is family business, so stay out of it.”
“I am family! When you married me, I became family!”She hissed, before shooting him yet another dirty look and soon walking out of the room and going to see about Jesse. Whether Frankie liked it or not, Jesse was going to stay with them and he was going to get himself together. “Don’t pack. Just get ready for dinner, it’ll be ready in 30mins,” Randi said to Jesse and without another word from him or her, she backed out the room and headed back to the kitchen and looked up to see Frankie heading towards the front door. “Where you going? Dinner’s almost ready.”
Frankie looked over his shoulder. “I’ll grab something while I’m out.”
“Don’t wait up.”
A/N: Damn! Who believes Randi should have spoken to Frankie first? Who believes she did the right thing? Who thinks Frankie did the right or has the right to feel the way that he does? Hit up the comment area below and let me know what you think! And afterwards, go on and ready the next part of “This Is Forever”.