Time Changes Everything
Four months later, Christmas and New Year’s had passed and now they were entering February. Mia and Steve had everything ready for the wedding that was set to take place in a week. It was not going to be anything big or extravagant. All Steve and her wanted was their closest friends with them on a very special day, including Steve’s mother and sister, who were already speaking to each other.
Mia was upstairs in Danny’s house checking some things in a box that Danny mentioned she might have forgotten and he didn’t know if she wanted to leave them there. Mia said she was going to check her car to see if the box would fit so she could take it with her. As she was going to go downstairs, her cell phone started ringing causing her stop at the top of the stairs to see who it was.
Danny was coming down the hall as Mia was just ending a call. He placed a hand on the small of her back to get her attention when Mia started freaking out catching him completely off guard.
“Let go of me! Don’t touch me!” she screamed as she tried kicking him off her but Danny quickly grabbed her from the waist and pulled her to him and away from the stairs because she was too close and her erratic behavior could send them both flying down the stairs.
“Hey Mia, calm down, it’s okay. It’s me Danny, come on it’s okay,” he said trying to get her attention to calm her down. Danny didn’t know what got into her and he was honestly freaked out about it as he leaned against the wall holding her tightly against him afraid that if he let go of her she was going to do something crazy. “It’s okay Mia, shh.”
Mia slowly started coming to her senses and as she realized what had just happened she let the tears fall freely from her eyes. “I’m sorry Danny,” she whispered against his shoulder.
“It’s okay, just breathe in slowly and let it out,” he consoled as he ran a hand through her hair while the other was still on her waist. “Come one lets sit you down.”
Mia let Danny guide her down onto the floor, leaning against the wall.
A few minutes later, when he saw that she had finally calmed down and her breathing had returned to normal, Danny took her hand in his and apologized. “I’m sorry for sneaking up on you like that. I never meant to scare you that way. I should have made some noise or called out for you.”
Mia squeezed his hand and said, “No Danny, you don’t need to apologize. None of this was your fault and I shouldn’t have freaked out on you like that. It’s just, when you touched me, everything came back so vividly and I lost it for a moment. I’m sorry if I hurt you or freaked you out.”
“What happened, Mia? What did you remember?” he asked her, genuine concern written all over his face. “Want to talk about it?”
“This is where I lost my baby when I was younger. I fell down these stairs,” she told him, her gaze lost somewhere behind Danny.
Danny sighed, understanding dawning on him. “I’m sorry Mia I didn’t know.”
Mia shook her head. “I know. There was no way you could have known.”
Danny nodded and they stayed quiet for a minute until Danny noticed something else was troubling Mia. “Is there something else?” he asked her softly.
Mia shook her head while the tears came out unable to stop them. Placing her face in her hands, Mia cried out, “It was her.”
Danny could barely understand what Mia was saying. “Her? Who?”
“My mom,” came out in a muffled voice.
“I’m sorry, babe, you’re going to have to uncover your face so I can understand you,” he said as he tried to remove her hands from her face.
“It was my mom,” she said more clearly as she lifted her head from her face and looked at Danny straight into his eyes.
“Your mom?” Danny asked clearly confused. “What was your mom?”
Mia wiped her cheeks and turning her gaze to her right to look at the stairs she said, “When my mother found out I was pregnant she didn’t take the news too well. I mean, no parent would ever be dancing with joy after finding out their fifteen year-old daughter is pregnant, but she had already had a few drinks that night. We started arguing. She called me all sorts of things and I just couldn’t take it so I tried to get away from it, from her. My plan was to get out of the house, go to Savannah’s house but my mother was hot on my heels demanding that I get back. When I refused to stop she caught up to me right there, on the landing, and grabbed me from my arm. I was begging her to let me go, to stop pulling me the way she was because I knew what would happen if she didn’t stop. We were so close, so close and when I finally freed my arm from her grasp, I turned to run down the stairs but she pushed me. She pushed her own daughter down the stairs! Tell me, Danny, what kind of mother does that to their own daughter?” she finished, turning to look at Danny with tears in her eyes.
Danny was shocked at what he just heard and angry for what Mia’s mother had done to her. He didn’t know what to say. What could possibly be said in a situation like this?
“Don’t bother saying anything Danny. It’s okay you don’t have to,” she said, seeing how he was struggling for words.
“I’m sorry Mia, I just, wow, it infuriates me how a mother could be so cold and do something so cruel,” he said not knowing how to articulate what he was thinking.
“Some mother, if you can even call her that and to top it off, the man who I thought was my friend, an angel sent to me, ends up being my biological father. Tell me, how crazy is that?” she said with a humorless laugh. “I’m just glad this baby will have two parents that really love him, or her,” she said as she placed a hand on her growing bump and smiled a genuine smile after everything that had happened in the last hour or so.
Danny nodded returning the smile. Suddenly Danny remembered something. “What does Steve have to say about all this?”
Mia snapped her head up. “Steve doesn’t know, Danny, and I don’t want him to know. Please Danny you can’t tell him anything,” she begged him. “If Steve finds out, he’s going to lose it and I can’t handle that right now. There’s already so much going on and he doesn’t need this too.”
“Mia, he has every right to know,” he said incredulously. “How do you expect me to go to work every day and look him in the eyes knowing something he doesn’t?”
“Please Danny, don’t say anything. I understand you’re his friend but I need you to please keep this to yourself.”
Danny hesitated. He knew he shouldn’t agree to this but Mia had confided in him and this wasn’t his secret to tell. Mia would tell Steve when she was ready. He just hoped it would be soon. “Alright, but,” he said raising a hand to stop her from saying something, “you have to promise to tell him as soon as you’re ready, hopefully soon.”
Mia readily nodded. “Yes, I give you my word Danny. Thank you, really.”
Meanwhile downstairs, Steve quietly let himself out of Mia’s house, now Danny’s, after everything he’d just heard. He couldn’t digest everything he had just heard Mia tell Danny. Now Steve understood Mia’s reluctance to talk about what had happened. No one in their right mind would ever want to remember something like that and Mia wasn’t the exception. He just didn’t understand why Mia didn’t tell him and it hurt.
Steve had gone to Danny’s house to help him with some things he needed to fix when he walked in and heard crying and Danny trying to console someone upstairs. At first he thought he was talking to Grace but when he heard Mia he worried and was about to climb the stairs to see what was going on. What came out of Mia’s mouth made him stop for some unknown reason and now he was glad he hadn’t made his presence known because then he wouldn’t know what he knew now.
Mia got home around four in the afternoon to find it empty, which was weird because Steve had said he would be here all day. She called his cell phone but it went straight to voicemail so she decided to leave him a message.
“Hey babe, it’s me I just want to know what you’re up to since you said you would be home all day. Anyway, give me a call,” she ended the call and went upstairs to lay down for a bit. She felt tired from her meltdown at Danny’s.
Steve got home about an hour after listening to Mia’s voicemail. He had gone for a ride after leaving Danny’s house and somehow ended up in the cemetery where his father was buried. Steve felt like he needed time to clear his mind after what he’d heard but even after spending time alone he still couldn’t shake the anger he felt. He was angry at everything and everyone. Steve felt like he couldn’t trust anyone and everything that came out of people’s mouth were nothing but lies.
Mia should have confided in him. She should have told him exactly what happened no matter how painful it had been. He had every right to know.
“Hey, did you just get here?” Mia asked interrupting Steve from his thoughts. “I called but it went straight to voicemail.”
Steve studied Mia to see if he saw something, anything. All he saw was how tired she looked and her eyes were slightly puffy, maybe from sleep he thought.
“Are you alright?” she asked him as she came to stand in front of him grabbing his arms to wrap them around her.
“Yeah,” he said absentmindedly as he just looked into Mia’s eyes.
Mia stood on her toes and placed a kiss on Steve’s lips and held them there for a second but Steve didn’t respond. “Babe, what’s wrong?” she asked feeling Steve’s body tense up when she kissed him.
“Nothing, I’m fine,” he said as he gently moved her to the side and walked to the other side of the island. “I’m going to go for a swim.”
Mia frowned. “You’re not hungry? I thought maybe we would eat together,” she said.
“I’m not hungry. You can go ahead and eat without me,” he said as he walked out of the kitchen and went to change into his swim trunks.
Mia couldn’t shake the feeling that something was up with Steve. She thought about this morning and everything was fine before she left. Maybe he’s just nervous about the wedding next week.
Mia smiled at the reminder of her pending wedding. In just one week she would be a married woman, married to the man she loved and the father of her child. Everything was ready. She had her dress and the ceremony and small celebration would all take place in the house’s backyard. That’s the way Mia wanted it, small and simple with only their closest friends with them and Steve had agreed to everything.
When Steve came out of the water an hour later, he found Mia sitting in one of the lounging chairs holding his towel out for him. He grabbed it and began drying himself.
“I was beginning to worry. You were out there for a while,” Mia said standing up.
“I guess I lost track of time,” he said with a shrug as he placed the towel over his shoulders and sensing how close Mia was now.
“Are you mad at me?” Mia asked as she looked up at Steve with questioning eyes.
Steve bent down to grab his sandals and began walking towards the house. “No,” he said over his shoulder to Mia who was following him. “Why should I be mad at you?”
“I don’t know. This morning you were fine and when you got home you seemed distant, cold, distracted. In fact, you still are,” Mia said suddenly bumping into Steve’s hard back after he abruptly stopped.
“I guess I’m just tired of everything,” he said turning to face Mia. “Lately, all that comes out of people’s mouths are lies, nothing but lies. I know my mother is hiding something from me and as much as I’ve tried to figure it out, I got nothing.”
“Maybe you should let it go Steve. I’m sure if she’s in trouble or needs your help she’ll come to you,” she said looking into his intense stare.
“What about you Mia?” he asked.
“What about me?” Mia asked confused.
“Should I let go of the fact that you’re keeping something important from me, something I have every right to know, and yet you managed to confide in someone you’ve barely known for a few months?” he retorted.
“I’m not sure I understand Steve,” Mia nervously said as she searched Steve’s eyes and knowing he was mad at her for something.
“Oh I think you do Mia. When you’re ready to talk to me without any more lies you know where to find me,” he said and then walked into the house and left her standing in the middle of the backyard confused.
What in the world was Steve talking about, Mia thought as she paced in her bedroom. Surely Steve didn’t know anything about his mother and Mangosta and from what she could remember, there wasn’t anything she could recall keeping from him. If everything was fine this morning then something must have happened in between the time she was out of the house and the time he got home. Mia rubbed her baby bump as she thought about what exactly Steve thought she was keeping from him. The only secret she had was his mother’s secret but that wasn’t hers to tell. Besides that, nothing came to mind, unless…
Mia suddenly came rushing down the stairs looking for Steve. She found him in the garage in dry clothes working on the car his father had left him.
“Steve,” Mia said but was rewarded with silence. “Steve where were you while I was gone?”
Steve knew she had figured it out. He stopped what he was doing but didn’t look at Mia as he stood in front of the open hood of the car putting the full weight of his body in his arms t leaning on the car’s open hood. “Why?” he asked.
“You weren’t here when I got home and you said you would be here the whole day,” she said to his back.
Steve straightened and turned to look at Mia. “Danny called. He said he needed help fixing something in the house so I went to help him out,” he said shrugging his shoulders as he wiped his hands on a towel without looking at her.
“I was at Danny’s,” she said as she placed a shaking hand on her stomach.
“I know,” he said softly as he slowly raised his eyes to meet hers.
Mia saw it in his eyes. He knew. He’d heard everything she told Danny.
Steve saw the color leave Mia’s face and saw a mix of emotions cross her face but what stood out the most was fear. “Why, Mia? That’s all I want to know. Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked her.
Mia felt a tear slide down her cheek but she didn’t bother wiping it away. “I was afraid,” she said in a small voice.
“You were afraid? Afraid of what?” he asked slightly tilting his head to the right and his eyes becoming red from the burning caused the tears he felt welling in his eyes but he swallowed the lump in his throat as he waited for Mia to say something.
“I was afraid of your reaction. She’s my mother Steve,” Mia cried out.
“She killed our child Mia,” Steve said raising his voice at the incredulity of what he was hearing. “She pushed you down the stairs while you were pregnant and you still defend her?”
“I shouldn’t have run from her. Everything was my fault. I got her mad when she was inebriated. That was my mistake,” Mia said.
“Stop just stop,” Steve demanded as he paced the length of the garage and ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “How could you stand there and defend her? After everything she did to you, you still can’t see it. Your mother hated you Mia! It’s like she blamed you for everything that happened to her. Even a blind man could see that. There’s no excuse for what she did!”
Mia was fully crying now. Why was Steve telling her all this? Did he want to hurt her as much as she’d hurt him for not telling him. Well he certainly accomplished his goal. “If your goal was to hurt me, well congratulations, you’ve succeeded,” Mia said in between sobs.
“Oh no, Mia, don’t you try to turn this on me,” he said coming to stand a few feet in front of her and pointing a finger at her. “You kept something I had every right to know. You didn’t confide in me but yet you managed to tell Danny? Are you that afraid of me?”
Mia shook her head. “No, Steve, that’s not it.”
“Then explain it to me!” he bellowed raising his hands in frustration.
Mia flinched. “I was just there to pick up some box I forgot and I was going to check if I had room in the car for it but just when I was coming down the stairs I got a call from Savannah. When I ended the call I didn’t hear Danny until he placed a hand on my back to get my attention and then I just freaked out. Everything from that day came flooding back and I couldn’t seem to stop it. Danny grabbed me from the waist and pulled me away from the stairs and sat me on the floor until I calmed down. Then everything just came out.”
“Why did you make him promise you not to tell me?” he asked wanting explanations.
“For this exact reason Steve,” Mia said pointing at their current situation. “I knew you were going to lose it and I was afraid you would do something stupid. Tell me, where did you go afterwards?”
“I needed time to absorb everything I’d just heard so I just drove around and then ended up in my father’s gravesite,” he said. “You’re right, if you’re mother were here she would be paying for everything she’s done and so help me God, Mia, if she ever dares to come anywhere close to this island I will not be held accountable for my actions. Let’s just get one thing straight. You are in no way responsible for what happened that day and please stop defending her! She could have killed you in the process.”
“Please Steve, don’t do anything stupid,” she begged him as she went to him and clutched his shirt in her fists. “I wouldn’t be able the take it if something happened to you.”
Steve hated seeing Mia like this but she had to start talking to him with the truth. He didn’t know how many more lies he could take. He wrapped his arms around her and just held her as she cried. He kissed the top of her head and said, “Mia, we can’t do this anymore. I always have to be the last one to find out things that concern not only you but me as well. You have to start talking to me with the truth if we want this to work out.”
Mia looked up at Steve. “I’m sorry, I know I’m always saying sorry for everything and it doesn’t change anything but I really am sorry. I love you so much and I don’t want to lose you,” she said and then threw her arms around him and hugged him hard.
Steve slowly ran a soothing hand up and down her back and kissed her temple. “Come on,” he said gently removing her arms from him and placing one of his arms over her shoulder as he led her back into the house. “It’s getting late and today has been a rollercoaster ride. You need to rest.”
Steve led Mia up the stairs and into their bedroom where she changed into one of his shirts while he was in the shower. When he came out only his night light was on and Mia as already tucked in bed facing his side. He got in bed after putting on sweatpants, turned off the light, and brought Mia closer to him placing a small kiss on her forehead.
“I love you Mia,” he whispered. “In one week you’ll be my wife and I want us to start our life as a married couple with no more lies.”
“I love you too, so much,” she whispered back. “I can’t wait to be your wife.” She looked up at him in the darkness and placed a small kiss on his lips but this time Steve kissed her back.
“Go to sleep now,” he said gently as he massaged her six month baby bump and felt Mia snuggle into him with a contented sigh and slowly they both drifted into a deep sleep.
A few days later Steve went to pay a visit to an old friend.
“Mick?” he called out. As Steve continued to walk through the house and out to the patio he spotted a beautiful Hawaiian coming out of the pool. “Aloha,” he said after she greeted him.
“I see you’ve met Brittney,” Mick said.
“I see you haven’t changed,” Steve said as he hugged his long time friend.
“It’s good to see you Steve, it has been too long,” Mick said. “Come on sit down. So I hear you’re running some kind of Task Force now. Good to know your talents haven’t gone to waste.”
“Same to you, pal. Looks like the private sector is paying well,” Steve commented as he observed Mick’s beautiful home.
“Yeah well after twenty-five years of Navy Intel it’s either hang the shingle or buy a rocking chair so I hung the shingle,” he said shrugging.
“That’s why I came to see you Mick,” Steve said sitting down looking at the yellow envelope in his hands. “I want to hire you for your services. I need a full surveillance package on this target.”
Mick got the envelope Steve handed him and took out a picture of a female. “Who is she?” he asked.
“My mother,” Steve said” Steve said looking at Mick.
“Kid you don’t need a P.I. you need a therapist,” Mick said.
“Trust me, she’s not your average mom,” Steve said and then went on to explain what Doris did. “She says she’s changed but I don’t believe it. She goes dark for a few hours and I want to know what she’s up to.”
“Don’t you have people-”
“No, no I don’t want my people involved,” Steve said interrupting him. “Besides I want the best that’s why I came to you.”
They arranged their deal and then Steve got called in to work, leaving Mick to handle the situation as best as he could.
The next day, Mia and Steve were enjoying a quiet night in with Steve reminiscing his Navy Seal days by eating Navy food when Doris came down the stairs interrupting their make-out session looking very fancy in her black dress.
“If you two keep going at it like you are I wouldn’t be surprised baby number two to be on the way right after the first one,” Doris said. “Mia can you help me with this necklace please?”
Mia blushed and stood up to help Doris with the necklace. “You look great, what’s the occasion?” Mia asked Doris.
“I’ve got a date,” Doris said simply.
“I’m sorry, what?” Steve asked as they all heard the doorbell ring.
“A date,” Doris said again.
Steve went to answer the door and was stunned at who was on the other side of the door. He closed the door and then opened it again. “What are you doing?” he whispered.
“You told me to keep an eye on your mother,” Mick said.
“An eye not a hand or any other part of your body,” Steve said looking Mick up and down.
“Steve, we’ve got chemistry,” Mick said.
“Chemistry,” Steve huffed.
“Mick, you brought me flowers,” Doris said opening the door wider. “Let me put these in water.”
“It’s okay Doris, I got it,” Mia offered taking the flower arrangement from Doris.
“Mick this is Mia, Steve’s fiancée. Steve this is Mick but I think you already knew that,” Doris said. Standing in front of Steve and placing her hands on his cheeks she said, “Steve if you wanted to know what I was up to you should have just asked.”
Doris kissed Steve goodbye and walked out closing the door behind her and leaving a shocked Steve.
Mia returned to the living room and found Steve standing there looking lost. “Babe, you okay?” she asked him.
“Did you see that?” and incredulous Steve asked pointing the closed door.
“Uh, yeah?” Mia asked confused. “Where do you know the guy from?”
“He’s a private investigator I hired to follow my mother and check what she was up to,” Steve said taking a seat on the arm of the couch.
“A what?” Mia asked confused but the surprise evident in her voice. “You hired a private investigator to follow your mother?”
“Yes, look Mia, I don’t trust her okay? She’s up to something and I want to know what it is,” Steve said crossing his arms in front of him and looking at Mia.
“Why don’t you just talk to her? Ask her what she’s up to,” Mia said.
“She won’t tell me the truth,” Steve said.
“Whatever Steve,” Mia said waving him off. “I’m going to bed now.”
“You’re not mad are you?” Steve said standing up and holding Mia’s hand before she went up the stairs.
“Mad? No, I’m not mad. I actually find it kind of funny because that little stunt actually came back to bite you in the butt,” Mia said smiling up at Steve. “Seriously babe, who did you think you were fooling? She’s a former spy for heaven’s sake.”
“It’s not funny,” Steve said pouting.
Mia laughed and placed a small kiss on Steve’s lips before walking up the stairs. “Good night babe.”