“You don’t seem surprised to see me.”
“The bank called earlier to inform me that Miss Colthurst spent twenty-five thousand dollars in one swipe and to confirm that I authorized the transaction. You haven’t used your card in a long time and suddenly you spend thousands of dollars in just minutes.” We enter a large room with wall to wall bookcases that span from the floor up to the ceiling. Behind a mahogany desk, there is a majestic panoramic window that faces the ocean. A familiar setting, but I’m positive that I’ve never been here before. Gabriel closes the door behind us and resumes the conversation. “Logically, I had to find out what you were up to. I feared you’d been in the hospital and with that pride you carry… you wouldn’t call. That’s why I sent Mason to pick you up, I wanted him to make sure you’re alright. He was in the neighborhood.”
Well, he’s here, I’m here, might as well get the party started.
“I wanted you to tell me that what the magazine published is a lie.” I fight with the fist-sized knot in my throat. “But I witnessed that it’s real: a wife, a kid… your first kid, the magazine highlighted that part. Congratulations, I guess.”
I clean the dripping sarcasm from my mouth with the back of my hand.
Those wrinkles around his blue eyes shrink even more. He doesn’t look as young as he does on the cover of magazines. Late fifties look different in front of the cameras, in the media, and, in general. With all the makeup and Photoshop they apply, not many get to see the real face of Gabriel Colt; only a few of us are lucky.
“Ah, that made you crawl outside your little hideout, I see.” He closes his eyes and takes several breaths before opening them again. “Life changed while you were gone, AJ. I don’t think you have the right to burst into my house and make a scene.”
“Your house?” I try to grab the edge of the desk to keep myself from getting caught in the rapids I’m swimming against at the moment. What happened to: “What’s yours is ours?”
“So, I take it you’re not here to apologize?” he dodges my question.
“This house looks a lot like the house in Baja—also looks like home,” I take a few steps and scan the room—avoiding his question.
Two can play the same game. I learned from the best—him.
The answer is simple. Hell, no, I’m not asking him to forgive me. Not when he’s proving that I was right. He lied for a long time. Or, that he only cares about his image and what the rest of the world thinks of him.
“Eight rooms upstairs, I bet. The biggest facing the ocean and it’s right above this library, isn’t it? You never brought us here.” Babbling, faking anger that’s keeping me standing in one piece without shedding a tear. “Can I ask you a question? Actually, just a few things and after that, I swear I’ll disappear forever since that is what you want.”
I cough a couple of times masking the shakiness of my voice. Gabriel sets his hands on his hips and stares at me before he lets a breath out. I take that as a ‘yes’ or a ‘go ahead you poor kid, let’s give this one last time before I start my new family’.
Meet Claudia Burgoa
Born on the mystical day of October 30th in the not so mystical lands of Mexico City, Claudia grew up with a childhood that resembled a caffeine-injected soap opera. Seventeen years ago she ventured to the lands of her techie husband—a.k.a. the U.S.—with their offspring to start a new adventure. She now lives in Colorado working as a CFO for a small IT company, managing her household filled with three confused dogs, said nerd husband, two daughters wrought with fandoms and a son who thinks he’s the boss of the house. To survive she works continually to find purpose for the voices flitting through her head, plus she consumes high quantities of chocolate to keep the last threads of sanity intact.