“People don’t change, they come closer and closer to who they really are.”― Faraaz Kazi
volte-face [vōltəˈfäs] NOUN - an abrupt and complete reversal of attitude, opinion, or position
Senator Suites Penthouse
The front door was pushed open, young female voices talking and giggling, as well as the sounds of things being dragged into the hallway echoed, when Rohan walked in from the living room, he could barely react fast enough to catch the girl running into his arms.
“ROHAN!!!” she exclaimed.
Twirling in a circle with her, as she was planting a million little kisses all over his face, giggling and talking, he couldn’t help but chuckle too.
“AG, beautiful, you are early!” he mumbled, smiling.
“Oh my god, I missed you SO much! I am so glad I am finally here for the weekend. Oh, I brought Bianca along, hope you don’t mind, didn’t want to leave her all alone on campus and she can have my bed, since we both know I won’t be using it anyway and … oh … what the hell?” AG rambled excitedly, as it was her way.
He sat her down gently when she peeked around him into the living room.
“What is SHE doing here? Why are you in the living room with HER?” she inquired, suspicious.
“AG, please, it’s not what you think.” Rohan told her.
“Oh yeah? I am away at college and bend over backwards to surprise you by coming home early to find you cozied up in the living room with your ex!? Lemme guess, Nick and Addy aren’t home.”
“She’s not my ex and we weren’t cozied up, AG. Nick and Addy ARE home … upstairs. In their bedroom.” Rohan tried to calm her down.
“Ah, and you felt inspired and invited that one over for some bedroom action for yourself?!” Aria-Grace ranted on, when Esmée spoke up.
“Aria-Grace, take it down a dozen notches already. I am not here for him, although, gotta say, spoiler alert. Didn’t realize – or would have ever guessed – that you two were … a thing now.”
“Oh yeah, we’re a thing. A REAL thing, so hands off, okay Ezzy!? He’s mine now! You blew your chance.” AG ranted at Ezzy now.
“Good grief, relax, AG. I don’t want your man. I didn’t even want him when I could have him. I am definitely not THAT desperate for a man. Does Nick know about this, you and his best friend?” Esmée wondered, shaking her head at AG.
“None of your business! I don’t need my brother’s approval to date someone! I know you don’t keep up with our side of the family much, if at all, but I turned eighteen several months ago now, making me an adult not requiring approval.”
“I keep up well enough. Boys are weird when their sisters date, AG, all I know is that Ewan would be iffy if I were to try and date one of his buddies, especially a single dad who’s a lot older and knowing Nick and his temper … Then again – never mind.” Ezzy backpedaled when realizing that Michael may not be one of her brother’s friends, but a dad and much older. Oops. That was accidental hypocrisy in action.
“Knowing you, I wouldn’t blame Ewan! I wouldn’t be comfortable letting you date a blow-up doll.”
“AG – come on. She came to see Aryelle, not me.” Rohan tried to calm the emotions.
“You gotta be shittin’ me, Rohan! Now I KNOW she has ulterior motives! The bullshit meter just exploded. I can’t believe you are gobbling up the crap she’s trying to spoon-feed you! You cannot be that gullible! She is trying to take your daughter away from you and you just sit there and let her? What the hell!?” AG directed her upset mood at Rohan.
“Excuse me?! She is MY daughter, AG! MINE! His and MINE, not just his! Takes two, AG!” Ezzy defended herself.
“Since when? All I ever saw was you trying to get rid of the baby, happily dumping her on Rohan to deal with at the worst possible time for him. But he has us, and we dealt. We are dealing really well, actually. WITHOUT you. She doesn’t need you!” AG nearly breathed fire at Ezzy, she was so upset.
“AG … please.” Rohan tried to calm her down, gently rubbing her back, so she snapped around to face him.
“Why are you taking her side? You cannot want this?”
“Maybe I DO want this. For Aryelle. She is her mother, after all. I don’t know why she changed her mind either, but Ezzy is here so we can talk about visitation rights, and I am considering it.”
“Oh, give me five gazillion breaks now! You lost your mind! I am getting Nick’s ass down here! I need backup!”
“AG, no! Nick is with Addy and … oh boy! AG!” Rohan tried to hold on to her, but she was already running up the stairs.
“What a show, not wonder her family is in entertainment, I definitely am plenty entertained. Part of me wants to go up and watch her drag Nick off Adrianna in the middle of nookie. It’s definitely getting ‘Cameron’ up in here now. Grab the popcorn, Rohan and probably a crash helmet, cos you just never know with us.” Ezzy giggled.
“Ezzy, that is Addy’s little sister over there, so watch your tongue, please. I am already being rude, should get her settled in just not sure where, I have never been in AG’s room without Nick or Addy, and I am afraid to move in case AG really does what she said, cos Nick will NOT be happy.” Rohan pointed at Bianca, who smiled and waved uncomfortably.
“Everything’s fine, Rohan, relax. I am sure the sister has met Nick and knows he and Addy get it on, if not, she has much to learn while at college. Nobody takes you by the hand and pre-chews life for you, she has to figure shit out on her own now. That’s all college is, learning things that are close to impossible to remember, 60% of which you will never need again, fueled by booze and meaningless sex. We would be the poster children for that.” Ezzy shrugged after her evaluation.
AG was already coming back downstairs, followed by Nick and Adrianna, both dressed very casually, in other words, hastily. Adrianna greeted her sister.
After the hellos the two sisters went upstairs, carrying some bags, probably to get her set up for the visit, while Nick and AG joined Rohan and Ezzy.
“Aww, hi Nick. Look at you. Been exercising? You look so flushed.” Esmée said grinning, her tone sarcastic.
“I was Ezzy, exercising my right to be balls-deep in my future Mrs. Cameron. Speaking of beds, I hear you suddenly rolled out of yours wanting to try the mother thing now? I hope that’s fake news.” Nick shot his own crude ammunition back at his cousin.
“Not exactly like that, but kinda. I have rights, Nick. Guess what? She is my daughter and I think I should be in her life.” Ezzy told him.
“Well, guess what? I have forms, signed by you, saying otherwise.” Nick countered.
“Are you really gonna be a dick about this? There are other forms, Nick, that can be filed to change that.” Esmée shot back.
“I know there are, just don’t see why Rohan and I would.” Nick told her.
“You don’t have to. You are not the only lawyer in town. I can file them myself.” Ezzy shrugged.
“Help me understand why.” Nick inquired.
“The Cliff Notes version? I realized I made a big mistake; huge mistake, my priorities were out of whack, and I have regretted it since the day she was born. It was easier to quiet the little voices before Emmy had her second kid. She and Connell live a few hundred yards away from me, and I see them with their babies all the time. And I also recently had a very enlightening conversation with someone, who put things in perspective for me. I made a big mistake, but I think it can still be fixed. I don’t want to mess anything up for Rohan, just a chance to be in Aryelle’s life before I miss any more of it. That’s all. Nothing more.”
“A-ha. That almost makes sense to me. Rohan? Your take on this?”
“I don’t know, Nick. You know how I feel about this, but this seems so unexpected and sudden, I wanna agree, I want Aryelle to have a real mother and …” Rohan mumbled, but was cut off.
“OH HELL NO! This is bullshit. No way! You had your chance, Ezzy!” AG interjected.
Nick turned to his sister, kissed her cheek, then looked at her with sincerity.
“AG, a couple things here. First off, I am so happy to see you, you are always welcome at the penthouse, even though you are way earlier than agreed on, and I sure as fuck hope that doesn’t mean you and Bianca skipped a few classes cos you couldn’t wait a few more hours. Secondly, for future reference, unless some shit is on fire or someone’s life is at stake, never ever burst into my bedroom again when I am in there with Addy for some alone time. Never. Deal?”
“You should lock your doors if you are doing THAT in there. And no need to tell me, I saw a lot more of you and Addy than I needed to ever see in my life.” AG shot back, frowning.
“Well, and whose fault is that, huh? Number three, AG, I am totally cool with you and Rohan, also cool that you adore his little girl so much, we all do, but Esmée is her mother. Not you, not me, not Addy, even though we probably have done more parenting for Aryelle than Ezzy has until now. But the decision here is Rohan’s. You and I and Addy, we can advise him, or give him our thoughts, if he asks us. If he doesn’t, if he chooses one way or another, it’s HIS choice. You also know that grandma and grandpa are very sad about the way things went with Ezzy and her baby, so if she actually is coming around, we need to support that. Okay?”
“But Nick …”
“No ‘but Nicks’, AG, I need to hear an OKAY from you now.”
“Fine. Okay. But if she tries to go after Rohan again …”
“AG!” Nick exclaimed, followed by a frustrated sigh.
“Nick, she was in the living room with him when Bianca and I walked in! ALONE!”
“AG, do you know how many times I have been in rooms or elevators alone with girls? You wanna guess how many of them I fucked?” Nick asked her, when Esmée laughed up.
“That’s a loaded question, knowing you.” Ezzy snickered, referring to Nick’s early teen days when he was a notorious heartbreaker, making his way through all the cute girls Windenburg had to offer at the time.
“Oh, shut up Ezzy. I was long done sowing my wild oats by the time Addy and I got serious with each other and when college came around I was even living with her, being very responsible and we still are. More than you can claim, cos if you were better at contraception, we wouldn’t be having this chat in the first place.” Nick shot back at his cousin.
“Aaaand matchpoint Nick.” AG narrated gleefully.
He grabbed his little sister by the wrist and pulled her along with him into the home office, shutting the door behind them.
“AG, you need to stop. I get it, you are in total protection mode and uber-jealous, but this is not needed here, and I can defend myself. You are overlooking the big stuff while sweating the little stuff, and you are also torpedoing what I am trying to do, namely figuring out what the right thing here is, cos Rohan is overwhelmed, and I need to come through for him here. What I don’t need is my little sister sabotaging progress because of her jealous babbling into everything I am trying to say here to Rohan and Esmée. Counterproductive. Remind me to never have you in the courtroom when I am trying to argue a case!”
“I am not jealous, Nick, I am flabbergasted at Ezzy and her take on life! How can anyone have a baby inside of them for 40-some weeks, then dump it on someone else, only to see it at the occasional family events every few months or so for almost 8 months after that, then suddenly discover motherly feelings. Seriously Nick. Either/or, not back and forth!”
“You are so much like mom.”
“And you are just like dad!”
“I take that as a compliment.”
“Well … I guess it is. I take being like mom as a compliment too!”
“It wasn’t an insult. Mom is fierce and would fight till blood for those she loves. Especially us.”
“I am about to. Literally this close to going all ghetto on our cousin.”
“I can see that, but you are completely missing something important. I think deep inside it always hurt Rohan and bothered him to know his daughter would grow up without a mother, or her having one who didn’t want her. He is not looking to replace you or me or Addy, we’ll always be a part of that little girl’s life and I guarantee you he does not want Ezzy, not even if she offered herself up buttnaked on his loneliest night. This isn’t about Rohan or you or Ezzy. It’s about what’s best for Aryelle, long-term. Right now, she’s a baby and doesn’t get everything. But she’ll get older, and what a difference you think it will make to a little girl’s psyche knowing her mom and dad just couldn’t get along, but both wanted her as opposed to knowing there is a mother who can’t be bothered? Remember when our parents were split, and we were split up too? We hated the separation, but never doubted both loved us and I know I always loved you little shit. Imagine that differently. Esmée is asking for visitation, not custody, big difference. She wants to be in Aryelle’s life, but not take her from Rohan, which is exactly what he always wanted. If Ezzy had stood there and as much as muttered custody to me, she’d already be looking at the outside of the front door by now. But I know visitation is what we all want, for Aryelle.”
“Okay, fine. I get it. But I tell you this, Nick, if that bi-a-tch Ezzy as much as thinks about getting her hands on Rohan, I am sticking her legs in concrete buckets and sinking her in the ocean so deep, they will find Jimmy Hoffa before they ever find her again!”
“Jeeze, remind me to never really piss you off, killer! I know you little traitor chose to study lame ass Fine Arts over the much better choice, Law, but wanna help me figure out how to come up with good and fair terms for visitation for Esmeé to see her daughter and for Aryelle to finally have her real mom in her life?”
“Sure! Can I add in severe punishments if Ezzy breaks the rules? Like pulling fingernails, sticking a net of chewing gum in her hair, sinking her to the bottom of the ocean, …”
“No, but you can go smooch around on Rohan, while I talk with Ezzy alone for a moment. That guy missed you badly. Addy and I felt so bad kissing in front of him, that we started sneaking PDA as if we were teenagers again. So, quit fighting unnecessary battles and show your man how much you missed him. Oh, and AG, please – PLEASE – use protection for your private ‘lemme demonstrate how much I missed you’ celebration with Rohan tonight! If you don’t have any, let me know and I will gladly build you a pyramid in your bathroom like Grandpa Blaine did with Chase. We’ll probably have to deal with Rohan-shaped holes in your wall, but hey, better safe than sorry, right?” chuckled Nick.
“Ha-ha, so hilarious, Nick, such a comedian, just don’t quit your day job. You know me better than that!” AG nudged her brother, trying not to giggle, while blushing.
“I do, but I also know that when you are really angry you pull out the big guns without thinking, and I am not sure how to top someone having a baby with someone else better than by making a new one with them yourself. If that thought EVER crosses your mind, come tell me and I will slap you until you feel better.” Nick laughed.
“No worries, I would slap myself until I couldn’t stand upright anymore and came to my senses if I were to start thinking THAT! I adore Aryelle, I do, because she is part Rohan, but I want and need a baby in my life like a hole in my head. Not for a long time! Especially not after all the drama Rohan’s kid has already caused and she’s not even a year old. But don’t you dare tell Rohan that, or he’d feel bad.”