Oli Meets Rebecca – Book 1 Part 3


Part Two: Family Secrets RevealedThe next two days passed me by in a blur.  I got fitted for my rental tuxedo and paid to have it dry-cleaned and pressed.  I attended the rest of my classes but barely paid any attention to the lecturers.  My mind was replaying our encounter in a minute, exquisite detail.  We didn’t see each other until the Saturday of the party, as we only had Professor Wynn on Mondays and Tuesdays.  I thought about her constantly. Savouring every second of the encounter we’d shared, replaying it over and over in my mind.  We chatted via text constantly.  Rebecca sent me a stream of messages with her in seductive poses.  All as tasteful as that first picture, fresh out of the shower; hinting at just enough of whatever was the focus of the image to make the mind run rampant with possibilities.  I noticed in all the images, that she seemed to have a penchant for hold-up stockings of varying types.  My favourites were the black fishnet-style ones.The time had come.  I showered and dressed in the tuxedo.  Suddenly, I felt very restricted and longed for the freedom of movement that was offered by a pair of jeans, a tee shirt, and sneakers.  Once again, I called an Uber to take me to Rebecca’s house.  I really should call it a palace, for it is appointed as such.  The same Uber guy picked me up and was just as talkative as before. That suited me fine.  I preferred being alone with Rebecca in my thoughts anyway. Carter welcomed me to the house once more, as he was standing watch over the open double door, to save any inconvenience caused by people having to knock and wait for admission. There was a table in the entry foyer, stacked with a pyramid of glasses filled with champagne.  I took one for politeness and started to mingle with the crowd. As I walked around the room, hoping to find Rebecca quickly, I was pleasantly surprised at how polite everyone was being. I fielded many ‘hellos,’ and nods from couples and groups that I passed by.  Occasionally, a group would invite me to join their discussions, and I would join in briefly, before excusing myself and continuing my search for Rebecca.  I found her sitting on the same sofa that we had talked on for hours earlier in the week.Her flaming red hair was again tied up in an elegant bun, locked into place by chopstick hairpins.  She was wearing a vivid green evening gown that matched her jade eyes perfectly.  The dress was a style similar to the one that she’d worn previously, but the split up the thigh was much less provocative.  I managed to catch her eye, having been standing open-mouthed and staring like a fool for some length of time.  She raised a gloved hand to her mouth to stifle a small chuckle and then rose to greet me.I regained my senses, and I took the offered hand gently, raising it towards my face and kissed the knuckle delicately. Rebecca seemed surprised at my level of sophistication.  Truth be told, I’d seen James Bond make the move in countless movies that portrayed similar settings, so I just copied it and hoped I got it right.“I’m so glad you came,” Rebecca said, the words hid the double meaning that I could see lurking just behind her glinting jade eyes. “Come!  Let me introduce you to some people.” Rebecca clasped my hand tightly and led me about the place.  Stopping here and there to introduce me to various lecturers and Professors from the university and their respective partners.  There were many and varied friends of the family in the mix too.We made pleasant small talk for an hour or so with many fascinating people, when a gong sounded loudly over the drone of many conversations happening all at once.  Everyone’s attention was drawn to the sound, and I could see Carter placing the fabric-covered mallet onto the gongs cradle. “Ladies and Gentlemen,”  he began, almost ceremoniously.  “Presenting Mr and Mrs Smythe-Johnson.”Muted applause rang out as a couple appeared at the top of the stairs. They elegantly descended the serpentine curves of the staircase.  I could only see the woman from the angle I had, she seemed to be considerably taller than Rebecca’s father. “That’s my stepmother,” Rebecca hissed from between clenched teeth.  Her voice was dripping with disdain. The target of Rebecca’s ire looked to be barely two or three years older than us I thought to myself. “Venomous bitch,” Rebecca spat under her breath.  The viciousness of the statement shocked me.  I’d not heard her speak ill of anyone before now.  I made a mental note to ask more about this later.  Now wasn’t the right time to engage in family drama.  One thing was plain to me.  Rebecca had no love for her stepmother.My eyes were drawn back to Mrs Smythe-Johnson.  She was pretty, I guess, in a strange kind of way.  The closest I could describe her would be to say she bore more than a passing resemblance to Cate Blanchett.  Thin, cruel-looking lips were coupled with sharp and angular, almost elfin-looking features.  I couldn’t tell if that was a trick of lighting and overly applied makeup or just exceptionally sharp cheekbones.  She was skinny too, to the point of looking anorexic, which may also explain the pointedness of her features.  Casting my gaze down, barely-there breasts were trying and failing to jiggle in the ill-fitting bustier part of her ballgown. Certainly, she was nowhere near as attractive as Rebecca.  The sequinned white ball gown had lacy shoulder pads that would have been quite at home in an Eighties TV soap opera and slicked back, jet black hair that was cut just to the neckline.  For some reason, an unbidden memory of the music video for ‘Addicted to Love’ popped into my head.  I forget the name of the artiste.  “No, certainly not as attractive as Rebecca,”  I said to myself.It was as if Rebecca were sensing my brief appraisal of her stepmother.  I heard her huff slightly and, as she grabbed my hand, she muttered “Come on,”  We navigated our way around the crowd, so we were front and centre with the couple descending the stairs, taking in their surroundings, and luxuriating in the applause they were receiving. I looked up and my heart stopped. I felt my body go rigid and my hand clasped Rebecca’s so tightly that she winced.  “What’s the matter?” she queried.  I couldn’t answer her.  My eyes were locked forward.  I knew I had to get out of this place.  Right now!  I suddenly felt very claustrophobic and sick to my stomach.  My breath had caught in my chest.  “Would you please tell me what’s wrong,” Rebecca demanded. Regaining my senses for long enough, I managed to splutter out through clenched teeth. “I need to be outside,” Rebecca looked shocked by my outburst, and it gained curious glances from a few of the couples around us, but she agreed gaziantep ofise gelen escort to my request.  We managed to escape the throng of people and appeared out the front door straight to the perfectly manicured rose beds. “Will you please tell me what’s going on?”  Rebecca demanded.  Hand on hips.  I was bent over, hands on my knees and breathing heavily.  I was feeling so nauseous.  My mind was racing.  I hadn’t thought anything about her surname the other day when Carter had used it.  I just dismissed it as the usually pretentious double-barrelled surname that most kids who were not on a full scholarship to Yale had.“Smythe-Johnson,” I said, weakly, still desperately trying to not vomit.“Yes, what about it?  That’s my name,” Rebecca exclaimed testily.“I know,” I responded… “And you know my surname is Johnson too, right?”  I paused.  “Smythe-JOHNSON,” I overly emphasised the second barrel of the name.  “I hadn’t thought anything of it until I saw your father,” I exclaimed.“What are you talking about?” Rebecca asked sounding increasingly incredulous.“Here, LOOK,”  I exclaimed.  I reached into my back pocket and retrieved my wallet from which I took a battered old picture.  The photo of me and my father was heavily faded and creased, but still clear enough to see that the countenance on the adult face was mirrored here in person.  Twenty years or so of age added, of course, but undeniably, it was Rebecca’s father’s face.  “No, our father,” I thought.I saw the look of disbelief cross her face.  A look that then turned to horror.  I knew that she’d figured out what I was thinking too.  Her pallor took on a decidedly greenish hue.  I thought that Rebecca was my half-sister.  The daughter that my, no; our father had left my mother and me to raise with his lover.—“That’s impossible,” Rebecca stated, defiantly. “And, what’s more, I’m going to prove it to you,” she stormed off.  Stalking our father for answers.  I hurried after her through the rose beds.  Truth be told, a morbid curiosity had suddenly overwhelmed me.  I wanted answers too. I wanted to know why my father hadn’t been in touch for the last nineteen years of my life.  Why he’d not fought to save his marriage to my mother all those years ago? I had caught up to Rebecca by the doors to the house.  Sounds of conversation and music were floating on the evening air. I laid my hand on her shoulder, partly to get her to slow down, but mostly to ask that she consider what she was about to do.  Surely this was a matter that would be best managed in private, not at this… this party or whatever it was.  Rebecca considered me for a moment.  Her beautiful green eyes searched mine for understanding and validation.I could see the frustration on her face.  Her cheeks were burning fiercely; so much so that I thought I could feel the heat emanating from her delicate countenance. “So, that part is true about redheads too,” I noted to myself.  Short fuses and volcanic tempers.  I made a mental note to not piss her off if it could be avoided.“OK.  But,” she breathed in temporary surrender to the situation, with a caveat, “As soon as this night is done, we both get some answers!”“I couldn’t agree more,” I stated.  My head was spinning.  I made a mental note to call my mom and ask her if she’d known about my father’s whereabouts when I had won the scholarship to Yale.  That was a conversation I was most certainly not looking forward to having.  I didn’t talk about my father with her, and she rarely offered any information or insights into him to me. All I knew for sure about him was what he looked like, his face on a faded picture of him holding me as a newborn, and that soon after that photo was taken, he’d confessed everything to my mom; illegitimate daughter, and all. That’s when she packed up the family station wagon with everything that we needed and drove us to some no-tell motel somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Idaho.  Shortly afterwards apparently, my mother filed for divorce from my father.  Citing adultery and irreconcilable differences as the main reason for the petition.  A petition which, according to my mother, had never been contested.We mingled and danced the evening away.  We each were trying to distract ourselves from the dreadful truth that had been uncovered completely by accident.  The champagne flowed freely, and although I stuck to soft drinks, Rebecca showed no such self-control and drained flute after flute.  She was quite tipsy, although not once did she lose her sense of decorum.  I was silently impressed by her fortitude.  Also, by a small miracle, I had somehow managed to corral us both away from making a scene with our father and stepmother.I became aware that Rebecca was quite a good dancer, not a one-foot shuffler like me.  I tried and failed to match her steps.  It was getting late in the evening, and she had dropped her head onto my shoulder, and we were now just swaying to the soft music playing.  Immediate considerations aside, she seemed to be having a good time.  I was pleased about that.  I wanted her to be happy, always.  An unbidden thought raced through my mind, that this may be the last time I’ll ever be this close to her. How could we possibly continue as siblings who were once lovers?  My heart sank.  I was filled with despair once again. “Yep… butt of some massive cosmic joke.” The thought came unbidden and was unwelcome but couldn’t be dismissed either.  Perhaps the cruellest aspect of all this was that this joke was wholly unscripted and there were no naughty schoolboys to berate after the fact.  The Gods, I had no doubt, were sitting on high somewhere and having a grand old time laughing at my misery at this moment.I became aware that the crowd was thinning considerably. “What time was it?” I wondered to myself, absently.  I retrieved my phone out of my pocket and glanced at the lock screen.  00:04 the screen cheerfully displayed; the time superimposed over the first picture that Rebecca had sent me. “Looks like the party is breaking up,” I commented. Rebecca raised her head off my shoulder and looked around. “Hmmm.  I think you might be right,” She agreed.“What was all this in aid of, anyway?” I asked.  Painfully aware that I was way out of my depth socially and in unfamiliar territory, and I was dressed like a penguin to boot.“It’s both to celebrate Daddy being awarded the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology position at the University and their return from a month in Europe.”“I see.” That was all I could manage.  I knew that this was a big deal.  It was akin to celebrated physicists gaining the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge University in gaziantep öğrenci escort Britain, the most notable holder of that position in recent memory was Professor Stephen Hawking.  I felt so bitterly disappointed with my life suddenly.  My father, who had made a success of his life having left my mother and me, was still even at this stage in his life, climbing the social and professional ladders.  Leaving my mother and me forgotten. A wave of anger washed over me, and I became aware that my hands were tightly balled into fists.  Rebecca sensed how angry I was feeling.  It was now her turn to place a steadying hand on my shoulder and whisper to me, “Wait!  The time will come, soon!”—We loitered by the door to the room where we had our first meeting.  Watching as our father and his trophy wife bade farewell to their guests.  Eventually, there were just the four of us in the mansion.  During our wait, we strategised on how best to approach this thorny matter. We agreed that initially, Rebecca should do all the talking about what a lovely evening it had been, and then introduce me as her plus-one.  I would then go on to give a little information about myself, my hometown, age; that sort of information that parents normally pay no attention to when meeting a boyfriend for the first time.  We were trying to trip our father up… to see if there was any recognition of me on his face or if my hometown made him betray his knowledge.“Daddy,” Rebecca exclaimed brightly as she walked over from our position by the door to the lounge.  Her high stiletto heels clicked on the marble floor.  I stayed back, as instructed, enabling Rebecca to make a proper introduction for me. “She sounds genuinely happy to see him,”  I thought.“Simone,” Rebecca said with barely hidden distaste, looking her stepmother up and down in an instant and managing to look wholly disapproving of the barely out of her teenage years woman she so obviously vehemently despised, didn’t much care if it showed. Our father reached out with both arms palms up as she approached.  Rebecca took his hands delicately and they leaned towards each other and kissed the air by the cheeks as they do in European movies.“Rebecca, my darling girl,” our father said, joyfully.  “I hope you had a good evening, and that your old Pa didn’t embarrass you too much?” he continued.“Not at all, Daddy!” Rebecca exclaimed, going on to say that this had been the best party of the year so far. “So far?” I wondered.  There was that pang of jealousy again.  Why had I been denied a life with all the trappings of money?“Daddy, there is someone that I would like you to meet.” That was my cue to approach.  I walked up and as confidently as I could manage, thrust out my hand in greeting.“Daddy, Simone, I’d like to introduce you to Oliver Johnson, my… friend.” I chuckled to myself at her hesitation in describing our relationship.  I had to admit, I didn’t know how to describe us either after the evening’s revelations.  “Oliver, may I introduce you to my father, Professor Smythe-Johnson and his wife, Simone.” Whether or not Rebecca’s… our father heard the word wife catch in Rebecca’s mouth, as if it had the foulest of tastes, he didn’t let on.  I watched our father’s face intently as we shook hands firmly.  Watching carefully for any spark of recognition of either my name or face.  I was surprised and more than a little dismayed that there was none.“I hope you and my daughter are being careful and using protection.  I know what university students get up to.” I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not.“DADDY,” Rebecca shrieked.  “There is no need to be like that!  Oliver and I have only recently met, and it’s very early days,”  She sounded very indignant, and it was so utterly adorable.  Unbidden, my mind went back to the bedroom a few days earlier and just how “careful” we’d been.“Still, the advice is sound,” our father retorted.  Almost clinical in his observations of the courtship rituals of twenty-somethings at university campuses the world over.  “So, do you prefer Oliver or Oli?” he asked.  I hadn’t thought about it much.  Only my mother had ever called me Oli and I was in no mood to welcome my absentee father with open arms by allowing a contraction of my name.“Oliver is fine, Professor,”  I replied, respectfully.“That’s grand,” he smiled warmly.  “Then I must insist that you call me Hamish and not Professor.”I was just about to shake Simone’s hand in greeting when I realised what he had said his name was.  I was so caught up in how I was going to trap him with the knowledge that I was his long-lost son and had intimate knowledge of his precious little girl, that I was thrown for a complete curve.“Hamish?  That can’t be right,”  I thought to myself.  “Hamish?!  But my fathers’ name is Angus!” I was suddenly horribly confused. I’m guessing that I lost all colour in my face from shock, as the next thing I remember clearly was a loud voice shouting for Carter to fetch some cognac and being guided by Rebecca and her… our… oh hell!  Hamish to the sitting room.—My mind was reeling.  Hamish?  The implications of this revelation were very slowly starting to dawn on me.  The primary of which was the realisation that Rebecca wasn’t my half-sister after all.  I felt a huge wave of relief wash over me, and I began to relax. Assuming, of course, that what Hamish was saying was correct I thought, suddenly suspicious once more.  Just another wrinkle in the cosmically epic joke that was unfolding in front of me this evening. “How the hell do I broach such a subject with this man?” I thought.  I would have to be very careful, of that I had no doubt. Rebecca’s gaze was fixed on me.  Trying to interpret the myriad emotions that were no doubt playing across my face.  She reached out and placed a hand gently upon my knee.  I was surprised to suddenly become aware that I was shaking.  I gave her a thankful glance and covered her hand with mine, in gratitude.  Carter chose that moment to arrive with the cognac on his omnipresent silver platter, and four glasses, neatly arranged.“Thank you, Carter.  That will be all for this evening,”  The dismissal came from Simone, and I caught Rebecca firing a venomous glare in her direction.  Once again, my mind made a mental note to avoid crossing her at any cost. Hamish picked up the bottle and studied its label. “Oh, excellent,” he exclaimed with apparent joy.  “Carter brought the nineteen sixty-two Courvoisier.” He poured four equal measures into the cognac glasses and offered them around the group, ladies first, of course. He swilled the cognac around his glass a few times and took a deep inhalation oğuzeli escort of the bouquet.  Then retrieving a lighter from his pocket, lit the device and held the flame to the glass for a moment, to warm the alcohol inside.  Approving, he let the smallest of drops pass his lips.“Fine cognac is best savoured!” he observed as if knowing that the nearest I’d ever come to fine cognac was watching an episode or two of Downton Abbey.  “Now then.  What seems to be the matter that has your young… friend so rattled?”  He was addressing Rebecca but was looking at me with the curiosity of a scholar that has discovered a particularly challenging problem, which has to be solved.“I think it may be best if Oliver explains to you, Daddy.”  That was all Rebecca said.  I cleared my throat and took a sip of the cognac.  Its warming burn was both welcomed and served to reassure me that I was, in fact, still awake and this wasn’t some horridly vivid nightmare.  It also reminded me that I loathe the taste of alcohol.“Where to begin?” I wondered out loud.  “I suppose it’s best if I tell you an abridged history of me.  Then perhaps, you may understand my earlier confusion.”  I could think of no better descriptor for my state of mind. I told Hamish and Simone about my childhood, having been abandoned by my father at just eight months old and the struggles that my mother and I had as a single-parent family with no alimony or child support paid by my father. I went on to detail how I’d won the full scholarship to Yale through sheer hard work and was majoring in ancient history. “But what you’re all no doubt wondering, is why I reacted the way I did when you told me your first name.” I reached into my back pocket once again and withdrew the wallet that contained the faded picture of my father and me.  I passed it to Rebecca so she could show Hamish.  The photo was old and faded, creased heavily but still clear enough to see that the countenance on the adult face was mirrored here in person.  Twenty years or so of age added, of course, but undeniably, it was Hamish’s face.“Ah… I see,” was all Hamish said.  His face was suddenly sad, and a look of understanding crossed his face.  “I knew that this day may eventually come,” he began. “But I wasn’t quite expecting it in these circumstances,”  Rebecca and I exchanged quizzical glances simultaneously. Hamish went on to tell us that his parents had immigrated to the U.S. from the Highlands of Scotland in the late nineteen sixties and promptly settled into life with their new family. “My twin brother and I were born in nineteen seventy,”  Hamish continued.  “When my brother and I were eight, our parents were on their way to pick us up from school during a very heavy thunderstorm,”  His eyes took on a glazed look, recounting a painful past for his immediate family and me.  A past that he had long since been reconciled with.“Their car had skidded out and rolled down an embankment about a mile away from the school, neither of them survived the accident,”  Hamish, tears in his eyes now almost whispering as if showing reverence to his long-departed parents.  “Angus and I became wards of the state, but Angus had a difficult time accepting our new reality and acted out at every opportunity he could.”  Hamish took another sip of cognac.  It was as if he was steeling himself for what was to come next. “Eventually, after two years in various foster homes, I was adopted by a wealthy family from here in New Haven.  However, because of Angus’ behavioural problems, the state had refused to allow us to be adopted together,” I glanced over to Rebecca.  Tears were welling up in her eyes, catching the muted lights overhead and making her beautiful green eyes glisten.  I surmised that this was the first time that she’d heard about this also. My attention returned to Hamish. “Angus and I stayed in touch for a few years, by letter, as the internet was just a pipedream back then, but he rarely responded to me,”  He took another sip of his cognac and continued his monologue. “Eventually, the letters and phone calls stopped until fall two thousand two.  A full twenty-four years since I’d last heard from my bother.”  He paused as if weighing how next to phrase this coming chapter of the story. “I received a collect call from some small town in Idaho. Naturally, I was curious and accepted the charge.” He licked his lips, almost nervously.  “It was Angus, and he was distraught.  It was all I could do to get him to calm down and give me a reasonably coherent conversation.” Another sip of cognac.  “He was frantic.  Telling me that he’d gotten married after finding out he’d got his girlfriend pregnant, typical shotgun-type affair, you know?  And that he now had a son of his own.” I did know, all too common in the past I thought.  That style of thinking had long since passed for the majority of people I thought.“Angus had been playing the field it turned out.”  Hamish looked me square in the eye.  “Not only had he gotten your poor mother pregnant, but It also turned out that he’d been having an affair with a young lady from the next town over and gotten her pregnant at about the same time as well,”  This time, Hamish drained the remaining cognac from his glass and rose to pour himself another.“I know about the philandering of my father,” I exclaimed, not needing a reminder of his infidelity and abandonment of my mother and me.  “All I know is that the bastard cut us off and we didn’t get one red cent from his deadbeat ass.” My outburst was fuelled by anger and resentment. “I don’t need to be reminded of it,” I said, far too harshly than was needed.Hamish looked at me with understanding and kindness in his eyes and raised a hand to halt my tirade. “Be that as it may, Oliver.  You are not yet in possession of all the facts,” Hamish said gently.  “Your father; my brother was trying to reconcile with your mother, but Helena wanted nothing to do with him.” Hamish considered the cognac in his glass briefly, as if he were searching for the right words to deliver the next part of his story.  “Which, I suppose is understandable given the circumstances.” Hamish was making a reasoned argument.  “Angus knew that he’d erred gravely and wanted to do right by both of his children.  Your mother, however, would not entertain his overtures of reconciliation.” Another contemplative pause followed, longer this time.“Angus started living with his lover and started to raise his new daughter with her.”  He sized me up, taking a long deep breath.  “But he never forgot about you,” he said, pointedly.  “I received a letter from him in two thousand three.  It had contact information for him and pictures of his family.”“So what?” I spat.  “He shared his new family with you, big deal.” Hamish reached into his inside jacket pocket and retrieved his wallet and took out two photographs.  One was of my father, with his daughter and girlfriend.  The other was a duplicate of the photograph I carried with me of my father and me. I was struck dumb.  I at once moved to apologise for my outburst, but once again Hamish stayed me with a raised hand.

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