Home > Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(7)

Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(7)
Author: C.L. Stone

Mr. Blackbourne continued, “Like I said, this was something we were all going to face sooner or later. It won’t be just the Lee family. Eventually, it was going to be anybody we’re related to or associate with. We will have to make a decision on whether to hide or whether to tell people.” He paused. “But you’re right. We’re not ready yet.”

“So maybe the fight was a good idea,” Nathan said. “For now.”

“Give them some time. But we’ll all have to be more careful, especially in places where we know this sort of relationship won’t be accepted. We don’t want to strain relationships with family any more. Not when we’re all not sure about it ourselves.”

“I thought you were sure.”

There was a long pause on the line. “...I just know how I feel,” Mr. Blackbourne said softly, “about her.”

Mr. Blackbourne had been adamant from the beginning, but it was the first time Nathan heard something akin to him being included in the scenario. He usually only spoke about the others. Did he doubt it would work like the rest of them?

Was he as scared as Nathan was?

While dealing with Sang’s parents had been a huge milestone to overcome, it left them with the future to face. Could they or could they not have such a relationship and make it work? Or would it be too much, even for friends as close as them?

“We don’t know what we’re risking,” Nathan said. “I didn’t think about it until now, but...I don’t have anyone to lose on my side.”

“You’ve everyone to lose,” Mr. Blackbourne said.

“I mean family. I don’t give a shit what my dad would say. But...Erica... And the others. What if they don’t accept it?”

Mr. Blackbourne’s tone quieted. “That’s part of the risk we’ll all have to sort out. And are we willing to give them up if they won’t accept it? Or continue to keep this secret from them? We’ll need to get together to discuss.”

“What I do now?” Nathan asked.

“I know you don’t want to hear this,” Mr. Blackbourne said. “But you need to wait. If we need time to figure ourselves out, then your original plan will need to be your strategy. Stay away from Sang and Kota for a short time. After a few days, go back and apologize. But you’ll always have to be mindful now.”

“Sang was going to be going home soon, as far as Erica knew. She was going to come back to staying here, wasn’t she?”

“I don’t know if that’s possible now.”

Nathan frowned. “This is bad...”

“Give it time. We’ll have to figure it out. If you need it, I can give you an assignment that will distract you for a couple of days.”

“Sang’s not going to like this,” he said. A realization hit Nathan so hard, it was like Kota was punching him in the chest again. Things were hard enough for them to figure out, but it felt like he left Sang alone to deal with the aftermath, and on top of everything else...but Sang needed him the most right now.

If she’s witnessing friends splitting apart and families getting upset, then she may call off the entire thing. She’d want to spare them all their families and friends and not be the cause.

If she wanted to back out... It would be his fault. “I don’t want to be too far if Sang can get away. I want to talk to her. I’m sure she’s worried.”

“This is where you’re going to have to trust the rest of us to take care of the situation until you can talk to her.”

The edge of something sharp threaded into Nathan’s heart. Fear of not being able to see her wedged into him. It was all he wanted right now. He had just been next to her, but after all this, he needed to be reassured he didn’t screw the entire thing up by being careless. “I need to talk to her.” He sucked in a breath and then let it out slow until the next part came out in a harsh whisper. “We should have talked about this before. Please. I need to...”

“I know you do,” Mr. Blackbourne said calmly. “Only it might be better for now, if you are going to pretend to be humble and sorry for what you did, to not take the risk and be seen with her right now. If Jessica or Erica or anyone they know sees you and Sang talking alone, or Sang sneaking over to someplace to talk to you, it’ll look bad for Sang and will ruin the façade you’ve created. If we can’t talk to anyone yet about this relationship, then we’ll have to protect Sang’s reputation with the family we do care about. Give it time. Let’s not take that risk. Not right now. I promise, as soon as I’m sure it’s possible without too much risk, I’ll make sure you can talk to her. But you’ll have to give me time.”

Nathan shifted his weight from foot to foot, feeling the tense muscles in his body. Who knew how long this process with Erica and Jessica would take, and how long it might take for Sang to be able to talk to him without risking too much. “What can I do? For now, I mean. I can’t just sit here.”

“How about you take over monitoring the Sorensen house?” he asked. “You’ll never be too far from Sang just in case she can come over and see you.”

It was on the tip of Nathan’s tongue to say no at first. Watching Sang’s stepmother or Marie and paying attention to what went on in that house wasn’t going to be any better for his mood. It’d be a constant reminder.

But he’d be thinking about Sang anyway. At least he’d be helping her out when he couldn’t do anything for her now.

The buzzer for the front doorbell sounded, and Nathan nearly dropped the phone, startled.

“Hang on,” he said into the phone. “Someone’s here.”

“Keep me on the line,” Mr. Blackbourne said.

At first, he thought it might be Sang or Kota, but they probably wouldn’t have bothered with the doorbell. Maybe Jessica? Or Erica to talk to him?

He tucked the phone into his pocket, hoping Mr. Blackbourne could still hear. The he answered the door.

Danielle stood there, jeans, gray sweater, both tight, and fuzzy boots. Her hair was trimmed shorter than he remembered, close to her jawline.

The corner of Danielle’s mouth dipped a little, but she kept her expression neutral. “Your dad isn’t around, is he?”

Nathan breathed out a bit in relief, glad to not have a confrontation with Erica, but at the same time, annoyed by seeing her. “Why are you asking?” he wasn’t quite in the mood for this. Seeing Danielle on his front porch was strange. They used to spend more time together when they were younger. Then one summer...

He suppressed the memory. Ever since one incident a few years ago, he’d distance himself from her. He didn’t even like being alone with her ever. He’d been angry about it, but it was the past now.

Danielle waved toward the Sorenson house, the two-story gray house a couple of homes down from Nathan’s. “I need help with Marie, and I think it would benefit Sang, too. Let me in?”

Nathan couldn’t imagine anything she could offer that would help Sang or Marie. Either way, he needed to get her off the front porch. “Uh, sure.”

Nathan made room, and Daniel walked past him and into the kitchen. Nathan shut the front door and walked around the kitchen’s center island. He leaned against it, looking across at Danielle. Somehow, that barrier between them made him feel better. He put the phone upside down on the island between them, so she wouldn’t see it was on call.

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