When Noah returned home after his session with Sarge, he was feeling very keyed up. During his last two sessions, Sarge was encouraging him to examine his feelings and past relationship with his mother. That was still something in which Noah did not see a purpose. Sarge had reminded Noah that he was not a coward, and that this was necessary for his continued advancement as a good husband and father.
Noah didn’t feel like talking about it yet and told her that he was going to workout for a while. He went to the master bedroom and quickly changed clothes. Then he went into their home gym. Sharlee decided to join him. She had started working on losing the weight that she’d gained during her pregnancy with Logan. She changed herself and Skylar into workout clothes and went into the gym.
After that she copied some of his martial arts moves. She seemed to enjoy it so much that they planned to enroll her in toddler martial arts classes next year after she met the age requirements. For the first time she was able to get her little leg in the right position and she was so excited because she’d done it! Noah was proud of her too!
Sharlee was cooking dinner with Skylar’s help, and Noah was playing with Logan when his cellphone rang. He was surprised when he saw the name on the caller ID. It was an old high school buddy of his. He’d helped Jake to rebuild the engine on his motorcycle. Melina had given Noah’s number to Jake, remembering him as one of the few friends that Noah brought to the house during his probation as a teen. Jake too had moved from Bridgeport, but he was now living there again.
They caught up on what had happened since they had last seen each other. Jake wasn’t married yet, but he was in a long term relationship with a woman he’d met almost two years ago. She’d been throwing out hints that she wanted to get married, and he planned to ask her soon. Jake paused and then changed the subject.
“Didn’t you and Ton used to be tight?”
“Yeah, we were; we are. I haven’t spoken with him for a while though. How’s he doing?”
“I don’t think he’s doing too well. I have a buddy who told me that Ton’s in deep. Things have changed a lot in Bridgeport. All the smaller gangs are gone now, and there are three groups fighting for turf. Ton’s in with Taglianni now.”
Noah’s heart sank. Taglianni had been just a thug when Noah was a teen. He’d had no sense of respect for anybody, not even for those in his own gang. Ton had always told Noah to steer clear of Aldo Taglianni, and now Ton was in his gang.
“I can’t believe it!”
“Ton’s gang leader, Crank, was killed a few months ago by Taglianni; and Taglianni’s gang took over Ton’s. Ronnie says Ton is changing. He’s still real good with the younger guys and teaching them the ropes, but his heart just doesn’t seem to be in it. He seems tired. He is older now and out of shape.”
“Even so, Taglianni ain’t gonna just let Ton quit. He’ll have to fight to get out of the gang. Ronnie doesn’t think that Ton would survive a fight to get out even if Taglianni pits him against one of his lessor fighters. The fights are more brutal than they used to be. They put two guys into a ring, and they fight with no rules with the exception of using no weapons. If his chosen victor appears to be losing, Taglianni will let other guys in the ring to ensure the victory.”
They talked for a while longer. After his conversation with Jake, Noah hugged Logan close.
“Daddy’s got a lot to think about, Little Guy.”
“What does Sarge say? Does he agree?”
Sharlee just looked at Noah silently. He knew that he wasn’t being fair to Sarge. Noah was more than just another patient to him. He cared about Noah and had continued to genuinely do everything he could to help him. Sharlee guessed the problem.
“He’s encouraging you to talk about your mother again, isn’t he?”
“You don’t think that you do?”
“No. As far as I’m concerned, there is no unresolved issue. I’ve resolved to continue living my life without her. I’m happy now despite her.”
“What does Sarge want you to do?”
“He thinks that I should go and see her and talk with her; tell her how I feel now, and how I felt growing up. Then after that, I would be able to let go of the anger and resentment that I feel towards her. Even if nothing changes between her and me, at least I would have told her how I feel.”
They were both quiet for a few moments. Then Sharlee broke the silence.
“It’s a really strange coincidence that Sarge is pushing you to go to see your mother now. Bronson called me earlier today. You know that my Grandmother Littler was hospitalized with pneumonia last month and now she’s home.”
Sharlee hadn’t seen her since she was a teen. After the way Renee had publicly denigrated Noah, Sharlee and her parents when Noah was on trial for Mick’s murder, Sharlee had wanted nothing to do with her.
“She’s well again. Bronson said that she wants us to come visit.”
“You mean you and the kids?”
“He said that she wants to see all of us. Getting so ill made her think about her family, and she told him that she misses me and wants to get to know my family.”
“I guess we’re going to Bridgeport. While you were cooking dinner an old high school buddy called. He’s back living in Bridgeport. We can get together with Jake and his girlfriend during our visit, and we can see Ton too. It’s been a long time since we saw him. I know he’ll want to see the kids. He hasn’t met Logan yet, and I’m sure Sky doesn’t even remember him.”
He decided not to worry her with what Jake had told him about Ton.
“You know that I’ve sent Ton pictures of the kids. I never mentioned it, but I’ve sent pictures of the kids to your Mom too, birth announcements and other pictures. She’s never responded, but I wanted her to have them because they are her grandchildren. Whatever you decide is best for you, Noah, I’ll support you.”
“Alright. I’ll call him and make the arrangements. I know he’ll want us to stay with him.”
They arrived in Bridgeport on Friday later than they had planned. Their flight had been delayed because of weather. Sharlee’s grandmother was expecting them for a big family dinner, and so they had to hurriedly dress themselves and the children at Bronson’s penthouse before going to the Littler’s home.
Sharlee’s aunt Deidre and Deidre’s husband, Warren, were also visiting. Now they were all seated in the dining room at her grandparent’s home. Sharlee was glad to see that her grandmother was back in good health, but Sharlee could tell that her grandmother was still the snob she’d always been. The years hadn’t mellowed her.
Noah’s first impression of Warren was that he was a stern, snobby geek. The perfect son-in-law in Rene’s eyes. However, now he’d seen that there was more to Warren. Warren was quiet, but under his stern exterior was a friendly, intelligent man. He and Deidre seemed happy together.
“This sketti tastes yucky!”
Sky started crying. “I not like it Daddy!”
Sharlee noticed that her grandmother had included the words “at least” in her compliment of Noah. She couldn’t resist putting Noah down at the same time that she complimented him. She really was the same old Renee. Sharlee sighed. Then she responded to her grandmother’s comment.
“Yes, Noah is a wonderful father.”
Noah thanked her for the compliment. Sharlee would be glad when they returned to Bronson’s. She’d stay in contact with her grandmother, but she would only make rare, occasional visits to see her. They didn’t stay long after dinner. It was after seven when they got back to the penthouse.
Noah knew that his mother would be off from work by then. He decided to go and see her that night. He and Sharlee had agreed that it would be best if he see her alone. Noah had rented a car for the weekend, and he drove to his mother’s home.
The next chapter is almost finished too. It should be posted next weekend. 🙂
Extra dinner pictures: