Wasn’t he doing the right thing?
“Claire, I’ll be home in four days, and then you will come back to our house. The great thing about Harper’s house is that it is eight minutes from here, so it’s not like you’ll have a different school or different friends. Everything will be the same. Everything is going to be okay, I promise.”
She slowly shook her head, falling back on the bed. He watched as she moved her hand along her cheek before looking up at him.
“I feel trapped.”
She shook her head as she said, “I just do.”
“No, you’re not trapped, Claire. I am giving you options. I am going to give you a better life. I promised you that. Everything will be the same; the only thing that will be different is who the guardian is. It’ll be like a kid with divorced parents. You will spend some time at Harper’s, and then some time here. When I’m home on breaks, I promise you won’t go anywhere but here. In the summer, we’ll go on trips. It’s all going to be okay.”
She looked down and took in deep breaths before shrugging her shoulders. He wanted more from her. He wanted her to talk to him, tell him if she thought everything he said was a good idea. He wanted her to tell him why she felt trapped and what he could do to make it better, but he knew that she was done talking. How many times did he have to tell her he loved her… that he was looking out for her best interest? Shaking his head, he knew he could say it until he was blue in the face, but it would mean nothing to her.
After getting everything in the car, they made their way over to Harper’s house. The Titov’s lived in a nice one-story, ranch-style home in Belle Mead. It had huge windows with blue shutters, which made the house seem whiter, if that was possible. Pulling his car into the driveway, he turned it off, but neither of them moved.
“So I’m just supposed to, like, have Harper to drive me around and shit?”
He rolled his eyes. He knew what she was really asking, but first he needed to get her language under control.
Turning to her, he said, “First, you have to watch your mouth. They have a toddler, Ally, and you can’t say stuff like that.”
She folded her arms across her chest and looked away.
“And the deal still stands from when you first came to live with me. You show me that you are ready for a car, and I’ll give you this one,” he said, petting the wheel of his BMW Z4 Roadster.
“This car is ugly. I want something else.”
He couldn’t believe she just called his baby ugly but, then again, that meant he could keep it, even though he hardly drove it. He rode his bike more than he drove the car, but that was beside the point, the roadster was hot.
“Fine, be good for six months, and we’ll go shopping.”
He looked at her, blinking his eyes.
“What, did you think we’d go tomorrow? I’ve caught you drunk, in bed with a rookie, and your attitude stinks, so yeah, we will wait six months. If you don’t mess up, I’ll buy you whatever car you want.”
She let out a huff before pushing the door open and getting out.
In his head, their conversation ended differently.
Claire’s face would brighten, and she would say, “Oh my god, you are the best uncle in the world. Thank you, Phillip. I promise I will never touch another boy in my life or drink another drink. I will be an angel. I will love you so much and never make you worry again. I love you so much.”
Phillip would smile as he wrapped his arms around his sweet, beautiful niece. “You’re welcome, I love you, too.”
But that was in his dreams; the girl that stood behind his car waiting for him to pop the trunk was his reality. Thinking he shouldn’t keep her waiting, he got out and helped her grab her things. Walking up to the house, their arms full, Harper appeared, looking sweet with Ally on her hip. Phillip put a smile on his face before saying, “Hey Harper. Hey Ally.”
“Hey guys! Come on in.”
They entered the house, heading back to the room that Harper had for Claire as they exchanged simply pleasantries. It was bigger than the room at his house, and he knew that Claire would appreciate the space. Along the south wall, there were windows, letting light in and giving a beautiful view of the backyard. They had a pool, another thing Claire would love once it got warm out. All the same things that were in her room were in this one. The white bed with the green bedding, along with the same desk and dresser. A plasma TV, and even though she never played her Xbox at the house, he still made sure she had one here too. It had cost an arm and leg to get everything the same, but looking around the room, he knew he had done well. Glancing over at Claire, he could see that she seemed pleased with everything.
“It’s the same things I have at your house,” she said, looking back at him.
He tucked his hands in his pockets as he watched her. “I told you, everything would be the same. I want you to feel at home here and at our house.”
Claire looked away, but he could see a smile pulling at her lips. Soon he was smiling too before he turned to look at Harper and Ally. Like her mother, Ally had big brown eyes; she was a cutie and always stared at him when he was around. She was doing it now, her head leaning on her mom’s shoulder as she watched him.
“Claire, this is Harper and Ally Titov,” he said, reaching out to shaking Ally’s hand.