Chapter 12: Seeking Solace

“Did Taylor find you?” Isaac asked. His voice was icy; the words seemed to burn as they escaped his lips.

I was afraid to speak, in the event that this beautiful mirage would disappear.

“I talked him into doing the right thing. He’s going to help take care of Lily…. Financially anyway.” He wasn’t looking at me; he was gazing toward the same little family I had been studying so closely.

I wanted him to look at me. I wanted to see the softness in his warm chocolate eyes that I knew would soothe my misery immediately. I wanted to collapse in his arms, and let him comfort me wholly.

I sniffled softly, hoping I could at least hold back my tears until he left.

He sighed tiredly, and dropped his head into his hands. “I haven’t slept in days. I feel so terrible about everything that’s going on.”

I said the only thing that came to mind. “I’m sorry. I should have told you.”

“You should have… but I can understand why you didn’t. Any guy would run at the mere mention of this situation…. I wanted to run… I still want to run.”

My heart lurched in my chest. I felt like I was going to throw up.

“But… I can’t deny that I’m absolutely crazy about you… and I’m absolutely crazy about your little girl, even if she is technically my niece.”

I could feel my heart breaking even more. “I’m falling in love with you, Isaac….” I breathed; my voice barely above a whisper.

The corner of his mouth inched up in a careful smile. “I’ve been in love with you for a long time… the feelings went away, and I think I can hide them, but I don’t think they’ll ever truly disappear.”

“Don’t let it.” I whispered, gently and cautiously touching his arm. His skin was warm under my cool fingers, and I quickly retracted my hand as if I had been scalded. I didn’t want to push things too fast, and the last thing I wanted was to do anything which might provoke the wrong response.

“Andy, as hard as this is right now… I don’t think even this can make me stop loving you. Those feelings have been buried so deep for so long, having them out in the open feels too damn good to burry again.”

I breathed a small sigh of relief. I still felt like I was in pieces, but instead of feeling utterly emotionally shattered, I felt as though I was slowly beginning to mend. I felt like someone or something was assembling the pieces of me to create a version of the Andy I had once been. Not quite as good as the original, but a version of myself that was passable.

I looked up to seek solace in Isaac’s warm eyes. He was still looking away at the park in front of us, although he wasn’t facing me, the features of his profile seemed to soften.

“Isaac…” I breathed; my voice barely above a whisper.

He didn’t reply, or even move to look at me, but his hands which had been clenched tightly into fists slowly relaxed and came to rest on his knees.

“If…” I began cautiously. “If you really liked me all those years… why didn’t you say anything?”

The corner of Isaac’s mouth twitched upward in a small smile. “Because you were so happily perfect for each other. I mean, it was always Taylor and Andy. Like Romeo and Juliet, Sid and Nancy, Samson and Delilah.”

“But… but they all died in the end…” I murmured.

Isaac’s soft smile stretched into a sly grin. “Sorry, bad analogy.”

I considered this for a moment. “Maybe not… Maybe Romeo should have stayed with Roseline. Maybe Juliet truly belonged with Paris…”

“If I’m Paris in that metaphor, I find it hard to believe that I Juliet and Romeo had a baby together…”

My heart wrenched in my chest. I didn’t want him to see me cry, but I could feel the tears resurfacing. “I wish I could tell you that I would change things if I could… but I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t give up Lily for the world… I wouldn’t change the only thing, the only person that makes my life worth living. I know not telling Taylor was wrong, and I know that keeping it from you was wrong… but I love Lily more than anything in the world… I could never change that.”

He turned at last to face me. His hand reached out and gently ran his fingers along my jaw. I knew at that moment I was crying, but he made no attempt to push the tears away. “I know that,” He admitted quietly. “I wouldn’t ask that of you…. The fact that you love your daughter so much… it’s one of the reasons I love you so much.” He smiled softly. “I… I was starting to see myself as maybe one day being a father figure to Lily. I thought of proposing and taking care of you and Lily…”

My heart stopped beating completely. I couldn’t breathe at all. His hand lay softly against my cheek.

“But this situation is so complicated… she’s my niece, Lily. How can I be a father to my own niece?”

My tears started again. “I… I don’t know…”

He was silent for a while. He continued to stare into my face, while the tears slowly slipped down my cheeks and dripped from my chin.

“I… I’m just going to need some time to think these things through… I need to make sense of all this…”

I nodded slowly. His hand was warm and comforting against my cheek. I wished he would never let go, however, his and slowly dropped. He stood with a sigh, and disappeared behind the bench and out of my line of sight.

I lifted my knees back to my chest and sobbed softly.

It was getting dark by the time I felt moderately well enough to return to my mother’s house.