When you try to take one step forward to attain knowledge about the hidden truths, then at the same time take three steps forward to perfect your character.
Out of the blue Blythe showed up in Ethan’s office, not long after Grace left to run some errands in her lunch hour.
“What’s up, Blythe?” Ethan asked.
“Do you have a minute?”
“Can I close the door for a moment?” she asked politely.
“Okay … ”
She shut the door, then turned around, visibly fighting with her emotions.
“Ethan, I know this is a horribly wrong thing to do, all things considered, but I have no other options. You are the only one I know who could possibly help me now.”
“I’ll try. What do you need?” he had walked over to her when she refused to sit down.
“I need … money. Oh man, how that sounds. Borrowed of course. I’ll pay you back!” she quickly assured him.
“Money?! What for?” Ethan didn’t even attempt to hide the surprise. Money?!
“Something personal.” Blythe averted her gaze.
“Look, I am not wealthy, Blythe. How much money are we talking about?”
“Not THAT much, but more than I have. I already tried the banks but they won’t give me a loan. Maybe 3000 bucks. I’ll pay you back as soon as I can, I promise.”
“Ok, what do you need that for? I cannot just give you a few thousand bucks without even knowing what for… I am a single dad and don’t have that kind of cash just laying around just so.”
“If I told you, you would hate me. Even more than you already do.”
“I don’t hate you. I don’t understand you, especially since none of this makes any sense. I have questions. So many questions.”
“If I answer them, will you help me out, please?”
“Possibly. So what do you need 3000 bucks for, from someone you barely know?”
“An … abortion.”
“WHAT?! Why are you coming to me with that?! That should be the father’s responsibility!”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Well, then start explaining. I am all ears.”
“The father is in a relationship. I just cannot break that up. If his girlfriend found out, she would hate me. And worse, be heartbroken and very sad.”
“Then why did you sleep with him to begin with? And am I right to assume we are talking about your sister and that macho?”
“Yes. I figured that you noticed something, and assumed that was why you left so suddenly. But it is not what you think, I swear it.” he eyes were begging him for a chance.
“Ok, what is is then. Because honestly, I think there is something funky going on at your home. I am all for you doing you, but a menage a trois or some weird cheating charades with your own sister’s live-in boyfriend are where I get off this merry-go-round.”
“Ethan, that’s not it. Oh gawd, is that what you think of me now?! No, no no. I don’t even know where to start. One night, Blair was not home, just Raphael and I and he … he … he got very … ummm … let’s call it ‘flirty’ with me. When I told him to stop he … didn’t … he … he is so strong … I tried to run from him. But … I didn’t make it.” she was visibly uncomfortable.
“What?! Did he …” it dawned on Ethan what she was trying to say without saying the words as she had started to cry.
“He was incredibly brutal. And threatened me with horrible things if I even as much as thought about telling someone while he was doing it. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I fought and fought, he just hit me, he was drunk and I thought if I kept fighting him, he’d kill me for sure. So it happened and I let it. And when I realized something wasn’t right I took a test and … now it got even worse than it already was.”
She stared crying harder, each sob telling a tale of honest desperation as she sunk to the floor, where Ethan carefully comforted her, speaking to her softly.
“When did all this happen?” he asked softly, now very concerned. This was not a show, to extort money from him, but a vulnerable young woman at the end of her rope.
“Just a week or two before we went out for the first time. That is why I … when you … kissed me I … your face … Blair told me she showed you my painting. I am so very sorry you found out this way. Gawd, this is humiliating. What must you think of me now?! Truth is, when I first started working here there was some town hall meeting and when I saw you I just crushed so hard on you. I didn’t know who you were at first. When I found out you were the son of the owner, I knew there was no way I could approach you. I always liked to paint, so I … painted you instead. That way I could have you a little bit with me. It turned out nice so I hung it up. Reason number one why I couldn’t ask you in that night. Kinda hard to explain that, right?” she had to stop for another sob attack.
When she could she continued “The other reason was when Raphael did what he did to me I tried to run to my bedroom and lock the door, but Raphael was too strong, pushed it open before I could lock it, threw me on the bed and … well …. your face was what I kept staring on while Raphael did … when he … I tried to zone out and imagine it was you, not him, but you would never be so brutal with any girl. Still backfired. I didn’t realize how damaged I was when we went out … but when you touched me and kissed me all I could think of what what Raphael did while I stared at your face …so your face just reminded me of … that night … sorry…” Blythe began to sob hard again.
Ethan didn’t know what to say to that.
Instead he just pulled her into his arms and rocked her gently, like he would with Blake when he was sick or otherwise cranky and seemingly inconsolable. It seemed to work for her too.
“Did you go to the police?” he finally asked after she calmed down.
“You have to.”
“I can’t. It’s all so convoluted. He swore he would hurt me and Blair. And it would break Blair’s heart. She is so much in love with him. She was engaged to someone else before, but her fiance died tragically. It took forever for her to get over that. She was alone and miserable for so very long it was painful to see. When she met Raphael she changed instantly, would smile again, hum songs at breakfast. She really loves him. I could never tell her what he did. But I cannot keep the baby. Obviously.”
“What if he does it to her? Or to another girl? Or girls even? You have to go to the police. It may be hard on her now but what do you think if she finds out later on, maybe when they are married or have a baby? Or if he does it again. What would that do to her, especially if it were to come out that you kept this from her?” Ethan pleaded carefully.
“Ethan … I just can’t do it. Blair would hate me for it. I’d break her heart. I could not bear it.” she sniffled.
“She is a smart girl and cares about you, she would NEVER blame you for something so heinous that Raphael did to you! This is not your fault, nor should it be your cross to bear. That is all on him! You need to bring him to justice, make him pay for what he did and make sure he won’t do it again. Imagine he did it to Blair. You would never forgive yourself. So, what if I were to go with you?” Ethan kept pleading.
“To the police?” her words were full of disbelief.
“Yes, and to your sister. Not sure it is such a good idea for you to stay in that house anyway at least not until police got a hold of him. From what I saw, he is not above a repeat, already has his tentactles all over you when Blair is not looking. Not sure this is safe for Blair either. She seems like a really sweet girl. Imagine he gets drunk and she refuses him. No doubt in my mind he’d just take what he wants.”
“OK. OK, I’ll do it. Police and Blair. But I really need you there. Would you really do that for me? Despite of it all?” her reddened eyes looked hopeful.
“I would and I’ll throw that money in too if that is what you really want. Let’s go now. No time like the present. I’ll just need to leave a note for Grace.” Ethan told her.
Months had passed since that day.
The battle about custody for Blake turned out to be none.
What Amy and Carson asked for was not outrageous, and they agreed to slowly build up to longer visits for the sake of the boy.
Ethan hated to admit it, but Carson was really not the asshole he had pictured the new husband of his ex-wife to be. Not exactly best friend material either, but definitely tolerable.
Blake was coming around. Still very much preferred his father and the rest of the Camerons, but there was progress.
Ethan hated to admit it, but stepping aside and letting someone else take care of Blake gave him some needed room to breathe.
The last months had been busy. He had added more work to his full plate by completely tearing down his old home and rebuilding it from scratch to his liking. During that time he stayed with his parents, which helped again by forcing him to make sound choices if confronted with certain offers by any of the females in his life.
When his house was finally done, he felt like his head was in the right place and the old bitterness and heartbreak seemed to have dissipated. The old shrine to what once was Ethan & Amy’s home had given way to what was now Ethan & Blake’s home.
He reminisced about the housewarming party.
His place had been decidedly too small for the amount of people who came to celebrate with him.
Everybody was there, his entire family, Amy and Carson, Grace and her grandma, Blythe and Blair …
It had been so much fun.
That was weeks ago now.
Sitting on his bed he looked at a framed quote Grace had given him as a housewarming gift.
In big white letters on black background it read
“IT MAY NOT BE EASY BUT IT WILL BE WORTH IT”
Deeply meaningful to him, so much so, that he placed it next to his bed as a constant reminder to avoid old mistakes.
Blythe had faced some rough times since she came to him for help, but in the end did Blair choose her over Raphael, kicked him to the curb to deal with his impending legal trouble, while she helped her sister get through it all with Ethan’s and later a therapist’s help.
Including the miscarriage which mercifully took the tough decision Blythe thought she would have to make from her. Tears fell, a mix between sorrow and relief.
Both of the girls considered Ethan a good friend now.
Blythe was really a sweet girl, and still had her no-so-secret crush on Ethan, but despite the therapy just could not stand any physical affection beyond a hug. From no one. Her road to recovery in that aspect would be a long one.
And Ethan … he was still healing himself from all the insanity of the past months and finally perfectly happy where they all were at.
The new Ethan had several friends who were girls now, but no girlfriend. He was in no rush to change that. Until that fateful evening …
It started innocently enough.
Blythe came over one evening like so many before that, they had dinner together, played with Blake.
While Ethan went to bathe Blake, Blythe snuck in a surprise gift for Ethan from her car and managed to hang it on a perfectly sized blank spot on his wall.
A painting of him and Grace dancing, probably at some work function as both were dressed up.
Masterfully capturing both of them in great detail, so much so that it send goosebumps down Ethan’s spine. He saw it right away when he came down the stairs and slowly walked towards it, mesmerized, his eyes never leaving the canvas.
Him and Grace being together was nothing unusual anymore to anyone, they were fast friends now and spend lots of time together, not just at work anymore, especially since her grandmother now wanted to visit Ethan’s grandparents a lot. So usually Grace would drop her off at the Beach House, then spend some time with Ethan and Blake, later she would pick up her grandma to drive back home. At work they had always been inseparable.
But when he looked at Blythe’s painting, he saw something that he had never noticed before.
He felt a flash of electricity shoot all the way through him.
The way she looked at him …
“Idiot! Fucking idiot!” Ethan exclaimed.
“You don’t like it?” Blythe asked.
“I fucking love it! But I realized I am still a moron. Sorry, I gotta go. Could you watch Blake for a little while?”
“Sure … uh … Ethan … where are you going?”
“To show someone I finally pulled my head all the way out of my ass! Just pray for me that I am not too late!”
He ran out.
Blythe’s shocked face changed to a satisfied smile.
“About damn time! You are welcome for holding the proverbial mirror up for you. Go get ‘er, tiger.” she mumbled to herself.