Liam looks more and more like his father with every birthday.
They meet at the local Bistro and sit in an awkward silence for a long time, Harris flipping through the menu before ordering two sirloin steaks for their lunch.
They make small talk while waiting for their meal. Harris asks his son about school, about his hobbies and friends. Making sure never to ask anything too sensitive like how he and his mother have been without him, or even asking if he ever wanted a father. As a politician he likes to think he knows how to control the conversation.
Liam proves him wrong. Oh he does answer his father’s questions politely. Telling him about his stellar elementary school grades, his love of sports and a few of his friends, leaving out Serena. She’s family and he isn’t sure if he wants to tell Harris about his family yet.
“Can I ask you something?” He asks after a moment, catching Harris by surprise. “You had to have known I was born, you had to have seen mom and me around town before. Why did you wait so long to see me?”
Harris hesitates with his answer. “I knew your mother was pregnant with you, but she told me that you weren’t my son, and like a moron I believed her. At the time Gwendolyn and I had an understanding that we weren’t in love with each other and that we could have affairs as long as they were out of the public’s eye. I’m not sure why your mother lied to me but I knew a baby would kill the agreement Gwendolyn and I had and I almost wanted to know you weren’t mine. I kept out of the crowd a lot and your mother was very good at you keeping you safe and out of my sight. It wasn’t until the day I picked Pablo up from school that I saw you and realized who you were. I couldn’t stay away anymore and now here we are.”
“So why did mom lie to you about me?”
Harris shrugs. “Thats a question for her, not me.”
Liam accepts that answer before smiling. “After lunch I have to go home to help mom with the babies but I’d like it if you came with me.”
Harris agrees to come by. Wondering what Liam meant by “help with the babies.”
James refuses to be picked up by the older man, but Cadie crawls over to Harris and pulls on his pant leg so he picks her up obediently, noting her dark red hair and eyes. She must be Melody and Naveen’s, he assumes.
Harris isn’t a bad man. Not really. And Cadie is such a little cutie pie. He’s always had a soft spot for children, even if they aren’t his.
He doesn’t even notice Alexandra’s entered the room until she speaks.
“Funny, I never never knew you were so good with kids.”
“You never gave me the chance to show it.” He shoots back before realizing how rude that was. “I mean, it’s sort of hard not to be when kids are this cute. Look at her! She’s Melody’s, right?”
“Yes.” Alexandra admits. “And I suggest you put her down before Mel gets home and chops your arm off.”
He puts Cadie down immediately. He and Melody only ever spoke a few times, but even then it was clear she didn’t approve of him. Alexandra’s about to leave again but he starts talking before she can, not looking at her. “Alex can we please talk? I still don’t know what I did to make you so mad at me but I can’t stand us not talking. I don’t want to just be a part of Liam’s life, I want you to know that I miss you, and that I still care about you. Whatever I did to make you stop loving me must have been awful and I’m sorry. I just wish you’d tell me what I did wrong.”
“You didn’t do anything.” She swears. “It was all me. What we did, the affair, it was a horrible idea, and when I found out I was pregnant I knew I couldn’t put you in that position. I knew things between you and Gwen were rocky at home and I didn’t want to take advantage of that. You and her have such a big family together, and we had one child. I knew I could take care of him, and I didn’t want to break up your family.”
“If I’d wanted to leave Gwen for you it would have been my decision, not yours.” he tells her. “I love my children dearly, but we’re only staying together for their sake and sometimes I wonder if that’s a good idea. All we do is fight and yell at each other.”
Alex thinks back to her own childhood with parents who constantly fought. “Still, at least they have you.”
“If you gave me another chance they could have a mother who treats them better than their own, you know.”
Alex’s heart hurts her, knowing how easy it would be again to have him at her side, be in his arms every night after they make love, and knowing that everything will be alright. But-
“I can’t leave Melody.” She says. “She was there for me when I needed her, and right now she needs me.”
“Why does she need you?”
“Her husband is in jail.”
“Ah that’s right.” Harris says, remembering who was involved in last week’s fight. “Xander was a good friend. Donated a lot of money to my last campaign.”
Alexandra blinks back her tears and takes a breath. “Xander was James’ father. He raped me and I refused to go to the police because I was scared to admit it happened. Naveen was just trying to protect Melody and me when Xander threatened to do the same to her.”
Harris doesn’t speak for a long moment, shocked by her words. “Alex, I’m so sorry-”
“Don’t.” She cuts him off. “Just don’t say anything ill about Naveen. He’s been nothing but good to me and helped me out of my depression. I probably owe my life to him as well knowing my history... I only wish I could somehow save him as well.”
They let him keep his medal. Mostly because it seemed to be glued on
Both men have seen each other perhaps once, twice if you count running into each other at the grocers a few weeks ago. They’ve never exchanged more than a quick hello and Harris has no reason to help him.
“I went to school with a Mr. Johnson.” Harris begins anyway. “He’s one of the best defense lawyers this side of Bridgeport and he’s on his way now to represent you. Don’t worry about the cost, I’m covering it.”
“Why are you helping me?” Naveen asks as Harris turns to leave. “I will not betray Jane or any of the other thieves, and I don’t know what else you could want from me.”
“You mistake my intent, Mr. Smith. I’m actually the one returning a favour.” He smiles, heading back up the stairs. “You helped Alexandra and took a predator off the streets. I’m not about to let you stay in jail for that. Once you're out we can consider my debt to you paid in full."
Aaaw Harris is a good guy! You can decide for yourself if there's any other underlying reason for Harris wanting to help Naveen.
What else do I need to talk about... oh yeah.
LIAM I LOVE YOU. <3