I do not own the Fifty Shades Trilogy or its characters; those belong to E. L. James. However, my characters do belong to me.

Chapter 19 | Family Affair

EMMETT

I’m standing in the open doorway when they arrive. I wonder how much truth there is to the argument of Nature v. Nurture. I’m certain Grace and Carrick Grey taught their children right from wrong and other basic necessities. I simply wonder how much weight true-blood is given in the equation.

Christian really is a striking young man. His physique reminds me of myself at his age, he resembles Everett in that aspect as well. His height, about 6’7” I would venture to say, broad chest, narrow waist and you can tell he’s meticulous in his exercise because his legs balance his upper body proportion, perfectly symmetric.

My poor nephew also has that damned hair color. A gift from his grandfather. It’s truly a blessing and a curse. Women love tall, virile men no doubt. I’m always surprised though how many women find copper-brown hair with practically red highlights attractive. I mean, being attracted to someone simply because of their hair color is astounding to me. I used to have to beat girls off with a stick in high school, college was even worse. They would follow me like lost puppies just to run their fingers through my hair.  Their fascination scared the shit out of me. At the same time, it could be used to my advantage. Christian’s father used to laugh as he offered mock pity at my plight.

I shake my head remembering the day my baby sister tried to convince me to dye my hair brown, she wanted us to look-alike. I was never more glad Mum got wind of Ella’s scheme and dared her to touch my head. Ella pouted and ran to Dad who, ironically, shared our mother’s sentiment. Dad cursed his hair time and time again, but was oh so proud to see it carried on with me.  The house, while not silent, was rather tense that night, to say the least.

All in all, it’s Christian’s face that causes my heart to melt. He is Ella. She was breathtaking as a child. One would go as far as to say she was angelic. As she matured she developed into an unbelievably beautiful young woman. Top models and actresses pay good money to look like my sister did naturally. Christian’s almond-shaped eyes, high cheekbones, straight nose and full lips are all hers; a mix of our parent’s best attributes. Although, the strong jawline is a Brown Family trait alone. The damn thing comes in handy when taking a right hook. Looking at Christian, I’m amazed at how a man and a woman can look so much alike and each be attractive. I shake my head thinking about my baby sister and her beauty.

However, the mental stress of what is to come is wearing on his face. He’s not simply apprehensive, he’s scared and I don’t fucking blame him. This young man is about to face demons he never knew existed. He’s also going to reincarnate demons I’m certain he believed were exorcised. All of this in an unfamiliar home, in a barely familiar city, among a room full of strangers. I’m proud of his bravery and I fear for his psyche. Had Eran and Emerson not behaved like little bastards we could’ve included them in this meeting. Alas, the show will go on without them. I’m sure they aren’t dismayed over that fact.

“Good evening Christian. Thank you for attending.” I offer my hand.  To my surprise he takes it to give me a strong, albeit brief, handshake. I turn and look down at his lovely fiancée, “It’s wonderful to see you again Anastasia. You look wonderful Love.” She too gives me a strong handshake and is courteous enough to include a small smile.

“Hello Mr. Brown. Thank you for inviting us stay this evening.” I frown at her greeting.

“Emmett my Dear, please, call me Emmett. I won’t lie to you, this is going to be a long evening and I have no doubt in my mind Christian will need your calming nature to enable him to suffer through. Also, it would be an unspeakable evil to expect you to remain alone at home without his protection.” I can tell she wants to comment and I can see the glimmer of ‘I told you so’ in Christian’s eyes. If he’s anything like the other men in this family, Anastasia’s safety is his primary concern and that means being by his side or under close personal surveillance.

“Come. I’ll have Ella show you to your suite. Christian, change into comfortable clothing and meet us in the Great Room, which is through here.” I point to my left off of the foyer. “Ana, please make yourself at home. We have staff who can bring you anything you wish. You can occupy your time in the Media Room, with television and movies, or the Library, as I understand you are an avid reader. You can also enjoy the fabulous sunken tub and waterfall shower in your en suite.” She smiled at the mention of the Library so I know where she’ll be tucked away tonight.

Now for the disclaimer. “Anastasia, I apologize in advance and ask that you please try to ignore the sounds you will hear. We generally fight during these meetings, but the authorities won’t be needed.” I try to give her a reassuring smile, although I am serious. We’ve had to call for medical attention in the past when things got particularly heated, but no one has gone to jail…yet. There’s a first time for everything and Christian is more like Edward than either of them knows. I’m very well aware of that.

Christian finally finds his voice enough to growl his comments, “It’s not like I was given much say in the matter Emmett. Ella and Everett were both emphatic about my attending tonight.” Just like his grandfather. It always made my head hurt to see Dad grind out not just sentences, but entire conversations with his jaw clinched the way Christian’s is now. I see his grandson has mastered the skill.

I chuckle a bit at my nephew’s comment then respond, “Yes, they were. All I can offer you is to say, you’re not as alone as you may feel.” I want to put my hand on his shoulder, but I think better of it. I froze in my spot the other night when I saw Everett pull Christian into that embrace. I fully expected to have to call an ambulance for my eldest son, but Christian surprised me. I’m all too aware of what has happened to my only nephew over the years and until he gives me permission, I refuse to invade his personal space.

Appearing as if out of nowhere, we hear, “Good evening all.” Ella stands near the far banister at the foot of the grand staircase, almost out of view. The lights are low and in her chosen attire my baby girl is difficult to see, that is, until we approach the stairs. She and Christian exchange knowing smirks and Anastasia looks at me, almost in horror. I know what it looks like, but it most certainly is not.

Grand Staircase.Family Home

 

Since Ella or Christian offers an explanation, I venture to do so, “Anastasia, Ella is dressed in her Ninja Girl costume. Has Christian told you how she kicked his ass in the park when he first arrived in Townsville?” Anastasia’s beautiful blue eyes widen and she shakes her head slowly. “I thought not. Suffice it to say, Ella can, and will, beat the shit out of her cousin should she feel the need. The only ones she will not touch are myself and her grandfather and that’s merely out of respect, not inability.” Even I can hear the note of pride in my voice as I describe my daughter’s adeptness. Good, bad or indifferent, my little girl can hold her own.

“Christian…Nephew,” his head whips my direction. The look on his face is one of shock and anger. “We mean business here…family business…and it’s not ever pretty. Change into something comfortable that you’re not overly fond of, in case you end up in a brawl of your own.” I know my family. Christian’s been in his share of fights and even brawls, no man is above it. Surely he doesn’t want to tear his linen sport shirt or get bloodstains on his washed linen pants.

I turn to address my daughter directly, “Ella, show Anastasia and Christian to their suite. Do not wait for Christian, simply show them to the door and come to the Great Room; immediately.” I raise an eyebrow to emphasize my instructions. In her current mood, Ella’s not beyond beating Christian’s ass on the spot. I want him to make it to the meeting area first.

“Alright Daddy.” She says brightly, almost singing the words. Ella also speaks pleasantly to Anastasia when she says, “This way Love.” And while it’s not surprising, it is entertaining to hear Ella’s voice quickly change as she snarls at her cousin, “Christian.” I shake my head as the threesome march up the grand staircase and off to the guest wing of the Family Home. Yep, it’s going to me a long night indeed.


Shortly afterwards we take our customary places in the Great Room. Ella, as usual, is ready for a fight and antsy to get underway. I shake my head at the thought of how this is going to go. I’ve been tempted all day to put the kibosh on this entire spectacle, but it truly is an opportune time for Dad and I to tell the three of them what really happened, at least as far as I’m aware. I’ve gotten the impression and heard bits and pieces from my old friend Ryan that things at home were not as they seemed on the surface. However, I’ve never been given a full accounting. It’s obvious there were happenings on both fronts that I was not able to control …let alone stop. My prayer is that Christian will see reason and let us all move forward…together.

Dad is Hell bent and bound to make this a family. As much as I loved my little sister and love my nephew, I couldn’t find it in my heart to tell Christian about us and I pleaded that case to Dad, which kindly fell on deaf ears. He wanted his grandson back and he wanted him back now.

Out of nowhere, I remember.  “Emmett, she is my baby.  She is my heart.  No man is ever going to be good enough for my little girl.”  With his hands digging into his hair my father and I rehashed my sister’s situation.  “That DISGUSTING SON OF A BITCH lured her away from me.”  Christian Ryan isn’t a bad guy.  He attended the University of Melbourne and graduated summa cum laude a few months before the two found out Ellie was pregnant.  When Ellie decided to go to Harvard, Ryan and I supported her decision, which made me Edward’s ‘bastard son’ and Ryan became ‘that disgusting son of a bitch’.  It was the best Dad could think of at the time and it stuck, much to Mum’s chagrin.  Sometimes I still have fun ribbing him about who my real father is.  He’s never impressed.

“How are they Emmett?  How is my beautiful daughter and my handsome grandson?”  The look in his eyes was one of desperation.  Ellie refused to communicate directly with Dad so I got to play messenger.  I was quite often damn near killed performing my assigned task, on both ends.

“They are good Dad, really good. Christian’s the striking image of his mother and of you too actually.”  Ryan was put out that his Irish genes lost to us Aussies. I told him he didn’t have a chance in Hell of contributing to that little boy’s make up, but seeing is believing.  “By the way, Ellie mentioned coming home for a visit, without Ryan.” I knew that would brighten his spirits.  “I can talk with her then, see if she will stay for a while.”  The wheels began to whirl in his mind.

If he could get away with it he’d build a tower, lock her away and post clergy to guard the damn thing.  I stared at him and said, as harshly as I could muster, “You stay out of the conversation and do not try to broach it with her yourself.”  I was willing to be the weak-willed brother and beg my little sister to come home.  I owed it to Dad…and to Christian.  “You tend to Christian.”  My sister made it a habit to pick Christian up from our home and the two of them would spend her visit with Ryan.  It seemed appropriate to Mum and I for the young family to spend as much time together as possible.  Again, Dad’s opinion was contrary to ours.

”Oh,” I feigned my absentmindedness “Ellie wants to hold Christian’s christening while she is home.”  Dad silently nods, but he couldn’t fool me.  I saw the twinkle in his eyes before, the drapes closed.

He furrowed his brow and an evil scowl enveloped his face, “Really, and what other name has that fucker talked her into giving my precious grandson?”  I sighed. Ellie loved Ryan and Ryan loved Ellie, more than life itself. She named Christian after his father and rightly so. I would kid Ryan that it was the least she could do for him. Of course Dad was furious.  ‘His initials are to be ‘EB…’ and that was all there was to the discussion. When the child’s Birth Certificate arrived and the name read ‘Christian’ I thought we were going to have to rebuild the house. Dad had to be sedated to get him to stop his tantrum.

However, Ellie was a true Brown and proud of her father, although he didn’t believe it.  I laid a finger on my lips as if trying to recall the name. I stuck an ‘ah ha’ look on my face before I uttered “Edward” then I turned to leave his study, but not before I saw the obvious surprise on his face change to happiness and finally pride. As I closed the door to his study I thought to myself, Yes Dad, your little girl loves you.

“…why in the Hell was Liam not allowed to attend? He is involved in this bucket of bullshit too.” My daughter’s colorful portrayal of our situation brings me out of my reverie.

“He is not a Brown. Even after you are wed he will still not be a Brown. He is not eligible for attendance at our Family Meetings. You know this.” And the lid is lifted from the powder keg. I can barely contain my laugh. Everett and I cover our mouths and drop our eyes to the floor. Dad LOVES fucking with Ellie about Liam and that statement is always ‘the shot heard round the world’. You would think she’d catch on by now.

In her most fluent Italian she rants, “SPOSA LIAM! E perchè cazzo dovrei sposare Liam? E’ un vero stronzo! Buon Dio Nonno, quanto hai bevuto? Dovresti davvero andarci piano con lo Scotch.” [1] Ella paces the floor with her hands flailing in the air shouting about not marrying Liam and my father being drunk. From the corner of my eye, I steal a glance at my eldest son. I see his shoulders bouncing up and down and I hear him gasping as he tries to hold in his laughter. She really is a site to behold.

Over Ella’s performance, we never heard him enter the room. “I am glad I am not the only one who finds your antics amusing Ella.” A deep, mellow and somehow familiar voice fills the room from behind us. I look at Dad while Everett and Ella dart their eyes to the door. I don’t even bother turning my head to acknowledge him.

“Good evening Christian.” I say as I look at my father’s face. “You are punctual. Good man. Yes, as you can see Miss Brown is providing us with a bit of a comical diversion. Takes the edge off actually.” My daughter tries to give me a scowl, which only makes me laugh out loud.

“Honestly El, you would think by now you would know not to take Granddad’s bait.” Everett raises an eyebrow and leans back on the couch, stretching his arms out along its back. I notice immediately the change in his dialect, and so does Dad. We all joke that my father doesn’t take shortcuts, that includes in spoken words. If he starts to use contractions, the shit has really hit the fan.

Dad sits in a chair, not far from the fireplace, and clears his throat, “Since everyone is here, we will begin. Christian, please take a seat.” No one looks directly at Christian as he finds his way to the plush, white loveseat on the far left of the room, away from everyone else. We all focus our eyes on Dad. It’s one of the Rules, to avoid attempts at intimidation.

“Christian, there are a few Rules included with this interaction.” Christian’s slate-grey eyes pop open and he looks over at me. I give him a weak smile and nod my head. “I see you doubted the sincerity of Emmett’s statement. Yes dear boy, this is a fight. Not to the death, although it may seem so.” Dad sits back in his chair, feigning comfort, while he explains to Christian, “This room has been witness to many a Family Meeting over the years and has been redesigned to afford all involved proper protection while remaining acceptable to the general décor of our home.” Christian looks around the room, to see the floor to ceiling windows that look out onto a garden terrace, tapestries and wall hangings above an inset fireplace and ancient vases decorate the room. The beige marble floor, covered with a black and gold Persian rug, complements the black marble accent lamps placed around the room. One would never believe a room containing plush, white upholstered chairs, sofas and loveseats would bear witness to ‘civilized barbarity’. I don’t believe the Grey’s raised Christian this way.

Once Christian’s eye fall on him, my father continues, “Intimidation is not allowed. You are to speak your mind and your heart. If you feel the need to lay hands on someone to get your point across or in retaliation, then so be it, but do not expect anyone to back down from a fight, which includes the ‘stature challenged’ member of the clan.” Ellie hates to be pointed out. My baby girl can give better than she gets. All her brothers respect her physical prowess and I believe her dear cousin does as well.

Great Room
Great Room

“Lastly, simply to afford it the emphasis it deserves, what goes on in this room stays in this room. Pillow talk is not allowed. This is a Brown Family Meeting, husbands, wives and significant others are not eligible for attendance and therefore are not privy to the happenings of this gathering.”

“Does everyone understand?” Collectively we nod. “Are there any questions?” No seems to be the general consensus. “Good. All of that said, Christian I want to tell you everyone in this room is privy to your life and lifestyle choices. Everyone in this room is aware of The Interference in your life and its extent. We are all committed to its disposal, regardless of this evening’s results. Everyone in this room loves you Grandson and we want to be part of yours, Anastasia’s and whatever beautiful children the two of you have lives.”

“Your feelings run deep, as do ours. No one wants to drive a wedge between you and your adoptive family. Nor are we trying to replace those who have raised and grown up with you. We simply want you to know you have a grandfather, uncle and cousins as well.”

“Your father,” Edward can’t put enough disdain in Ryan’s title, “is not a Brown and therefore does not have any rights with regard to this family, and yes we know who he is and where he is. To his credit, you are an only child, no half siblings exist.” Christian is quiet and impassive, giving the impression of apathy, throughout this monologue, but we can see the gears spinning in his mind and the emotions whirling in his eyes.

I guess I’ll start. I move to the edge of my chair, lean forward and place my elbows on my knees, “Christian…Nephew?” Again there is a flash of hate. “Plastic facial expressions and resolute silence will get you nowhere. Contrary to your belief, this will not be over anytime soon, so relax, as much as you are able, and think. Do you have any questions for us?” The ball is in his court and he seems insistent with holding it closely. Let’s try something else, “Nephew, how would Anastasia tell you to begin?” That should get this shit started.

At the sound of her name, Christian finds his voice, but it’s barely audible, while his eyes narrow and his brow furrows he says, “Leave her out of this. She has absolutely nothing to do with this dung heap built on a bed of lies. Do not let her name cross your lips again…Mr. Brown.” Everett laughs.

“Dammit boy. Is that really the best you can do Cousin? I expected more from Christian Edward Brown!” Christian moves to the edge of the loveseat he occupies, clenching and releasing his fists. The gloves are off now. I shake my head at Everett’s goading. I guess we should leave this one to the young people.

Christian rises to his feet as he growls, “What the fuck did you call me?”

Now, Everett does the same thing as the two meet, nose to nose, in the center of the room, “I called you by your given name you ass! Christian EDWARD BROWN!”

I look at Dad and shake my head. He has that ‘this is gonna be real good’ smirk on his lips. He only ever has that look in the boardroom. We most certainly should sell tickets to this shit-show.

My name is Grey, Christian TREVELYN-GREY, you self aggrandizing prick!” They’re not touching one another and neither man has made an aggressive move, however, neither has backed down either. I have to put a halt to this. We’re getting nowhere and wasting time.

Without leaving my seat, I call truce by saying, “Gentlemen…gentlemen…I see we have agreed on the first agenda item for this evening. Thank you, so much, Everett for beginning with that bullshit argument.” I say the last sentence through my own clenched teeth and suddenly realize how Dad does it.

I return my attention to my nephew, “Christian, although your parents were not married, they loved each other deeply. You are named after your father…”

Before I can finish my thought, an abrupt, “Ahem” sounds off at the front of the room. I don’t bother looking in the direction of the sound.

“…and your grandfather. Ellie loved Dad very much as well. Your name is nothing to be ashamed of.”

“Where is the sperm donor?” I figured he’d want to know about his father, at least I hoped he would. If all goes even relatively well tonight, I can have that discussion with Christian myself at another time. It will be utterly impossible to discuss Ryan adequately in Edward’s presence.

As expected, my father’s quip, “He is of no importance here” ignites a spark in me this time.

“If he is my father then he is of importance to me!” The boy is a quick study of not taking shit from anyone.

Edward better watch it with this one.

“Yes he is Nephew. Your father is Christian Lucas Ryan. He…” I don’t have a chance to finish my thought before I’m cut off.

“HA! Three first names.” As usual, Everett is trying to pick a fight. Despite his calm exterior, I know Everett is just as nervous as the rest of us. However, now is not the time.

Once again, I don’t bother to turn toward the cause for my interruption as I say, “Shut the fuck up Everett. Save it for when it is necessary.” I know Everett feels guilty about how he and his brothers have treated Christian since his arrival in Townsville. Gaming for a fight will help Everett assuage the feeling that he deserves some kind of punishment for his sins. I guess there is a masochistic trait in this bloodline after all.

I continue to focus on Christian. “Anyway Nephew…” Now it’s his turn to cut me the fuck off.

“Do not fucking call me that! I do not even fucking know you people! You have lied to me from the day I met your tart of a daughter!” Emphatically, with his chest heaving, he points at Ella, who managed to remain silent up until now.

“TART!” Ella and Everett shout in unison.

Oh, fuck me running this isn’t going to help anything. They’re just kicking sand around the playground now.

I look toward the front of the room and raise an eyebrow at Dad then mouth, ‘Now what’. The Patriarch of the Brown Clan rises from his chair and bellows, “All of you impudent fuckers sit the Hell down and shut the fuck up…NOW!”

As the vibration of his voice dissipates, it is replaced by the sound of panting.  You’d think we had all run a three-minute mile. Dad takes a deep breath, “Thank you. Now that we have each bared our teeth I will ask you again Grandson, do you have any questions for us? Do you want to know about your mother, about your grandmother, about me?” There’s so much information, neither Dad nor I know exactly where to begin without simply giving him our family biography.

“I spoke with my father briefly following Brunch.” Christian hisses. “He verified who you all are and he urged me to speak with you about what you want from me, so that is my opening question. What…do you want?”

I’ll field that one. “As my father and I have stated, Nephew, we do not want anything from you. We want you to know we love you and we are here to answer any questions you may have for us…about anything.” He’s a hard nut to crack that’s for damn sure. We’re not gonna finish this in one evening. Christian is not going to open up anytime soon. I figured as much and I warned Dad of the same. I guess my ole’ man will have to learn this lesson the hard way.

“Good. Since I have nothing to say to any of you I will collect my fiancée and we will be leaving. Excuse me.” As he stands, Christian reaches beside him and retrieves two envelopes he placed on the end table. We’ve all been eyeing the documents. He obviously wasn’t trying to hide them. My guess is he wanted one of us to bring them into the conversation for him by questioning their presence.

Well, he got his wish when Everett points at the letters and asks, “What is in the envelopes Cousin?”

Christian halts his retreat and says, “One is my Birth Certificate the other is a letter, left on my jet for Anastasia.”

Everett furrows his brow, looking at the envelopes, “They look unopened. Why did you bring them here?” He says, almost absentmindedly, before lifting his gaze to Christian’s face.

Christian looks at his hand, without raising his eyes, as if speaking to the documents themselves, he says, in a low voice, “I am not exactly sure.”

Their exchange continues while the rest of of watch. “Did you want us with you when did you break their seals?” Christian looks at Everett, and for the first time I see a little boy, lost in a sea of emotions. His only response is to shrug one shoulder. Everett takes on a less authoritative, more compassionate role when he coaxes Christian, “Sit down Cousin. Let’s have a look-see shall we?” Christian waits a long minute before retaking his seat.

Christian reaches past me to hand the envelopes to Everett, who nods his thanks and takes them. Everett flips the one addressed to Miss Anastasia Rose Steele over and over then puts it down. Everett reviews the blank envelope, front and back, then raises an eyebrow at Christian, silently asking for permission to open it. Christian gives him an almost imperceptible nod. The men remain bent forward with their elbows on their knees as we all turn our attention the envelope and, soon, its contents.

There inside is a copy of Christian’s native Australian Birth Certificate and his adoptive American Birth Certificate. I see Carrick Grey is one for preserving information as well, a blessing…and a curse. I see my father from the corner of my eye, elbows on the arms of his chair, hands clasped, as if in prayer. Looking intently at Christian and Everett, he steeples his index fingers and places them over his lips. He used to make that move when he and my mother would argue, or rather when my mother would give him a good tongue lashing. He knew, in order to lessen her wrath, he had to remain silent and pay close attention to what she was saying. I’m certain that’s his intention now, to pay close attention without interrupting.

Interesting…

Once the papers are released from their protective wrapping Christian almost jumps out of his skin and shouts, “What the fuck! I was born in Detroit. So was my brother. What the fuck is this shit.” Everett looks over at me. He remembers when Christian was born as well as when Ellie brought Christian home. It was to the place in Melbourne. The family hadn’t moved to Townsville yet.

Now’s my turn. As calmly as I can I reminisce as I explain, “Nephew. You were born in Waverley Private Hospital, Mount Waverley, Australia, a strapping 4 kilograms and 45 centimeters.” I can’t contain my smile. “You beat Everett by 1 kilogram and 5 centimeters. Your father never let me live it down” Everett similes at the remembrance as well. Ev later commented on how big the baby was when Ellie brought him home.

“Yes, you were a bit large to be considered a baby Cousin.” Everett teases. It was a happy time in our household. My adorable little sister and her precious newborn son.

Christian’s banal look changes to melancholy then morphs into animosity and bitterness, but he keeps his voice monotone when he begins to ask, “How did I end up in Detroit? How did my mother become a prostitute and a drug addict?” His breathing is labored and the real questions begin to surface.

“Why? How?” he whispers, looking at Everett then me…then…”YOU!” Christian’s head snaps to his left, so he can glare at my father, then my nephew leaps from his chair and rushes forward, toward Dad. “YOU BASTARD! YOU LEFT US TO STARVE! YOU LET HER DIE! WHY DIDN’T YOU FIND US? WHY DIDN’T YOU SAVE US!” Christian is millimeters away from snatching Dad out of his chair. Out of nowhere, Everett grabs Christian, but has a Hell of a time trying to stop Christian’s effort of mangling his grandfather.

I push Dad, chair and all, out of Christian’s reach, but my nephew simply lunges forward again in an effort to attack. I stand in front of Christian, between he and Dad, my hands on Christian’s shoulders, trying to prevent the well deserved ass-kicking my father so richly deserves. Damn, this fucker is strong as Hell. Ryan would be proud to see this day. Many’s the time I had to prevent Christian’s father from putting his hands around Dad’s throat, but it didn’t take all of this to hold Ryan back. Dad had best watch his step with this one.

As Christian struggles against Everett and I, he growls and even snarls at my father, “How DARE you speak to me about family. You were in your mansion overlooking paradise while your little girl was being hooked on crack and whored out to any bidder, while her bastard son was being tortured and starved. WHY MR. BROWN? WHY!?” His emotions are honest and his questions are valid. The man deserves answers from my father, his father and me.

I look to my daughter and mouth, ‘help him’. Immediately, Ella is by Christian’s side speaking to him in a calming tone of voice, trying to pull him out his red haze. My first thought was Anastasia, but, regardless of how much she knows, she cannot be admitted to this meeting; its the one rule even I won’t break. This gathering is a time where raw emotions are encouraged and with those emotions can come violence. Outsiders don’t understand that philosophy and rather than explain it to them or justify our actions, we simply don’t allow non-blood relatives to participate.

While there’s no rule forbidding anyone of us from approaching Dad, out of respect we try not to do so. My father may be old, but he’s strong and cunning. He has no problem in a fight. Each of the males in this family have had to learn that lesson the hard way. While I have a sneaking suspicion Christian could give Edward a run for his money, there’s no need to test my theory. I wonder if Dad would even fight Ella’s son.

Dad’s response to Christian is a mixture of anger and something else…something I can’t describe. “How fucking dare YOU! She was my daughter. I loved her, more than life itself. She left and she took you with her then and one day you both simply disa-fucking-ppeared!” At some point, in a flash, the look of remorse and sorrow on Dad’s face changes and I have no doubt in my mind Dad would fight Christian to the death if for no other reason than to do penance for his one true failure.  My ole’ man shouts in a voice I’ve never heard him use before, it’s that indescribable emotion…desperation, “LET HIM GO EMMETT!  LET…HIM…GO!”

I’ve got to get control of this scene before a malay ensues. I look over my shoulder at my father to remind him, “Dad, there is NO rule against physically engaging you so I strongly suggest you calm the fuck down and let us focus on Christian.” I turn my attention back to my nephew.

“Christian. Christian look at me. Look at me, please Christian.”  His struggling lessens and he turns his head toward me. It’s then I see it, the devastating hurt in his eyes. I’ve felt the same ever since I lost touch with my baby sister. He’ll never forgive me and he has every right to hate me with all of his life force, but I can’t let him blame his mother or his father for that matter. I know how Christian feels about himself and he has no reason to loath himself or his parents.

“We tried Christian. I tried.” I take his face in my hands and force him to look me directly in the eyes. “If you want to blame someone for ALL of this then blame me. Blame me. I supported her decisions…all of them. I let you both down.” He frowns as he looks at me. The fog of his emotions is clouding his mind so much that none of my words makes sense to him. He has to calm down and listen.

I let go of his face and step back, “Sit down Nephew.  Sit.” I point at the loveseat he rose from and stand nearby as he retakes his seat. I pull the ottoman up in front of him and begin the tale.


Family Affair, an American sitcom created and produced by Don Fedderson.  The series aired on CBS from September 12, 1966 to March 4, 1971 and aired 138 episodes.

ELLA
“MARRY LIAM! And why the fuck should I marry Liam? He’s (It’s) a real asshole! Good God Granddad, what did you drink? You really should go easy on the Scotch.”

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