Home > Forever Oblivion (Oblivion #4)

Forever Oblivion (Oblivion #4)
Author: Alexa Padgett

 

1

 

 

Nash

 

 

During the rest of the summer, I worked through my list of remaining struggles, I kept circling back to Steve. Finding a way to a meaningful relationship with him would go a long way in my quest to leave the past behind, and it was time to deal with this.

“I’ll be with the girls, enjoying my two weeks of freedom before the fall semester starts.” Aya hugged and kissed me, promising to always have her phone on her. “It’ll be okay.”

I scowled. “How do you know?”

“Because Steve loves you. He’s just rubbish at saying it.”

I held on to those words as I forced myself to walk into my kitchen. I settled at the table while Steve pretended to ignore me as he seasoned something bubbling in a pot.

“Will you tell me?” I asked.

His shoulders stiffened, but then he turned off the stove and went to the fridge. He grabbed two kombuchas from the large expanse and sat one in front of me.

“You expect me to drink this?”

His lips twitched. “Yeah. Just like the three you did yesterday.”

I scowled. Guilty. They were gross and wonderful all at once, a total taste-bud-blowing experience.

I twisted off the top and took a long gulp. He nodded in approval, which warmed my stomach.

“I met Carolina whiIe I was on R&R in Fiji. She was there on vacation—avoiding…er, Brad’s…um…”

I tugged my lower lip, considering. I shook my head, closed my eyes, and refocused on Steve. “So you and my mother had an affair.”

“I loved her.” His gaze was steady, his cheeks flushed.

“So did every other man in America.”

“No, I loved her.”

“Then why didn’t you ask her to leave Brad and—”

“You’re not hearing me. I loved her. She was a model then. This was before the acting. I was a grunt in the Army. I was never going to college, and I wasn’t going to ever make it that far up the chain of command. What could I offer her? I still had years on my initial enlistment. Plus, I was a kid—barely nineteen.”

I grimaced. “I really don’t like thinking of you that age, banging my mom.”

His face stiffened but a hint of humor crept into his eyes. “Better that you don’t, then.”

I scrubbed my hands over my face. “Sounds to me like she took advantage of you. She was…what? Thirty?”

His lips flipped up in a bit of a smile. “I guess. Not that her age mattered to me. And it was never possible for Carolina to take advantage of a man.”

I waved my hand, dismissing my parents’ sex life. I might have grown up in Austin, but I’d seen that sex was pretty much a twenty-four-seven commodity. Brad made sure of that. But that didn’t mean I wanted to think about my parents that way.

“So, you left to go back to…”

“Japan. I was stationed there.”

“And my mother came home…”

“And reconciled with Brad. I didn’t know about you,” he said. His gaze was steady. “That would have changed things.”

“How?” I asked.

He frowned. “What do you mean, how?”

“Exactly what I asked—how would it have changed things?”

“I would have been more prepared to…” He trailed off, running a hand through his shorn hair. It wasn’t the buzz cut he used to wear, but it was still short. He met my gaze.

“I was also intimidated by your family’s wealth. I made mistakes because I got money confused with decency. I saw what your mother did by leaving you, but I told myself she was busy, living her life, and she had every right to do that.”

I settled into the chair, letting him tell his story. He seemed surprised, and I guess with good reason. Up until this point I’d never let Steve explain his decisions or thought process to me. I’d always attacked.

He shut his eyes, and I noted the same freckle on his eyelid as I had. Strange that that small detail was the one we shared.

“It was a shock—upended everything I thought about my life. I was here to get closer to Carolina.” He opened his eyes, and I could see regret swirling in them. “I had to reprioritize, but in the same moment I found out about you, wanted to kill Brad for being such a disgusting excuse for…” He cleared his throat. “Ultimately, I realized I couldn’t piss off Mr. Syad. If I did, he could take you away from me. And if that had happened, I worried I’d never see you again.”

“So, you think he knew? That you were my dad?”

Steve’s jaw tightened. “I think he did. He also had the lawyers, the wealth to bury my claim to you, to keep me from you.”

I nodded. “I realized that later.”

“But at the time you were a grieving, pissed-off teen.”

My lips twisted into some semblance of angry humor. “Not much has changed.”

Steve shook his head. “Everything has changed. It started with you realizing you were struggling with addiction and seeking help.”

My stomach curdled at the term, but he was right: I was a recovering addict. Perhaps I’d inherited the gene from my mother, or maybe I just had the propensity. Or my chaotic and painful teen years could have brought on my need for drugs. The reason was less important than the action. And I was managing the day-to-day of life…okay.

Surrounding myself with people who cared about me helped.

Steve thrust his jaw forward and bowed his head. “I want you to know something: I’m honored to be your father, Nash.”

I snorted. “I can’t imagine why. I’ve acted like a dick for years. Especially to you.”

Steve smiled, a wide one that showcased humor and probably the handsomeness my mother found attractive all those years before. “I don’t care about then. I care about now.”

“What I don’t get is how I can be so musically inclined if I came from you and my mom. She can’t carry a tune, and I’ve never heard you so much as hum.”

Steve cleared his throat. “Uh…that would be my grandmother. She could make up songs on the fly. Create tunes. She said she heard music in her head—it was always going.”

I nodded, my throat tight. So that’s where the cursed talent came from. Maybe it wasn’t an albatross, maybe it was a gift from a grandmother I’d never met, a woman who wasn’t infected by wealth and entitlement.

“Is she alive? Your—my great-grandmother?”

He ran his finger along the wood grain in the table. “Not anymore. She died ten years ago.”

 

 

2

 

 

Aya

 

 

“How’s the statistical analysis going?” Nash asked as he turned and rested his head in my lap. I ran my fingers through his thick hair, loving how the ends curled around them as if seeking to be closer to me.

Summer break had ended, and I was a couple of weeks into my fall courses.

“Statistically. And boring. So thanks for interrupting.”

“Any time.”

I ran my tongue over my teeth. “I’m not ready for the exam tomorrow.”

“You don’t have to get a master’s, Ay.”

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