Laying in bed Bea could tell that something was bothering Allie, she'd been quite through dinner, she'd hardly answered Debbie and that was something unusual for her, never mind that she'd hardly eaten anything.
“Tell me what's wrong.” Bea said quietly.
“It's stupid…the last time I saw Michelle I said I wanted to see my dad and she reminded me of that. I asked Franky to look for him and she's found him, wasn't hard really he hasn't moved like I thought he would have.”
“You know if you want to see him I'll support you…is it really that scary wanting to see him again?”
“I walked away…he tried to help me but I wasn't interested, thought I knew best didn't I and look where that got me.”
“Hey you don't have to think about that, it's in the past, you should concentrate on what you've achieved, not many people would find their way back and you've more than done that. I never thought I would ever be ok again, never thought I'd be laying here with someone who's my whole world but here you are.”
“What if he doesn't want to see me?”
“How will you know if you don't try? Maybe he didn't move because he thought you'd turn up one day, he doesn't know what happened to you…you did say you missed your brothers, even if things don't work out with him maybe you'll get to see them again.”
“Yeah…didn't think of that, I have his email address maybe I could email him, if he doesn't want to see me at least it won't be so bad not getting a reply as getting the door shut in my face would be.”
“You have nothing to lose.” Be snuggle closer to Allie, “And if he doesn't want to see you then he's an idiot because you Allie Novak are the most special person I've ever met.”
“And you kinda have to say that.”
“Maybe…its the truth though…get some sleep beautiful we can work something out tomorrow.”
Allie couldn't sleep, she'd walked away from her family, she still remembered the day she had packed a bag and just left with nothing but a few clothes and few dollars in her pocket, she'd been racked with a sense of guilt walking away from her younger brother but she didn't see any other way out. She'd felt engulfed with nothing but defeat and despair, she'd spent three years trying to fit in and the only way she'd ever felt part of something, found herself some friends was to do drugs, she could have studied harder, made more of an effort to make friends like everyone else did but she'd taken the easy way out and then walked away. The first night she found herself sleeping on a so called friends sofa and then spent the next few weeks moving around from house to house until everyone turned their backs on her. Her lowest point was the night Kaz found her, she didn't care what happened to her that night, she hated herself, hated what her life had become and hated the world in general. She'd sat down at some point and memories of Bea had come flooding back, she missed her like crazy even after all that time, after everything she'd been through she was the only person she wanted to see one last time but why would she ever want to see her, she was a mess. She'd often thought about going home but didn't want to prove to her dad what a real disappointment she really was. Laying in Beas arms was the only time she ever remembered feeling safe, actually felt really loved for the first time in her life and she couldn't stop the tears from falling. She lay in the dark questioning if it really was true that everything happens in life for a reason, was every mess she made really a message? Every trial a triumph in the making? When she felt like a victim was that just a path to victory? There had to be a reason for it, at the time she couldn't see it but right now she'd live through it all again if it meant that right where she was would be where she'd end up every time.
She'd failed at so much in her life and had always been overcome by a sense of defeat, wasn't that just a part of life, everyone goes through failures and it doesn't make anyone feel good but life can't always been rainbows and sunshine. The greatest lessons in life are always born from failure, she had that thought way too often so why the hell was she always so afraid to fail? She spent so much time trying to hide from failure and she knew she should do the opposite, she knew she should embrace and welcome it because who ever learnt from success? You don't improve yourself if you always live on easy street, true strength and progress are gained from living outside of your comfort zone, that knowledge still didn't make her feel any better. Both her and Bea had been through pain, had faced failure stood strong through their most trying experiences and then for some inexplicable reason they had met again and something really wonderful had been born, something that had renewed them both, rejuvenated them both and given them both a belief that there were greater things to come.
“Why aren't you asleep?” Bea asked as she pulled her closer kissing her forehead.
“Just thinking…I never though anything good would happen to me, then there you were. The only reason I was ever with Jess I think was because I was scared to be alone, I didn't think I could make it, thought I'd fall back into my old life if there was no one there to give me a reason not to. I haven't told you this, never though I would, but I still had cravings, the whole time I was with Jess I still had times where I just wanted to forget everything for a few hours, I did everything for her and she just took advantage of that.”
“And now?” Bea asked unsure if she really wanted to hear the answer.
“I haven't even thought about drugs since that night at the bar, I don't need them anymore, the only drug I need is right here beside me.” Allie answered honestly.
Bea was quiet for a few moments, it was hard to think that Allie could have thrown herself into a relationship that clearly hadn't been healthy from the start, given her recent confession it wasn't an ideal situation for her to be in but she hadn't caved into her cravings even when things had been bad and Bea admired her for staying so strong.
“After Harry disappeared Liz told me that we're all meant to thrive not just survive. I'd been living in survival mode for so long that I couldn't see any other way of living, I guess I was on survival autopilot. I was trying to survive all the emotions that had engulfed me for so long, everything that happened changed my perspective and I guess I thought that was just how life was meant to be. When I first got the job at LB I was so afraid that people would know who I was because it had been in the papers for months, one day I realised while I was sitting by myself over lunch that everything I had experienced had actually made me thrive. It's funny how certain things can alter your life's trajectory if you embrace it rather than run from it. I look at things differently now, I've learnt to approach the things I find hard in a completely different way and having you in my life has changed me for the better I think.”
“I'm going to do it…contact my dad, I'll email him while I'm at work in the morning. You don't think I'm being stupid do you?”
“I would never think that, I think you should do whatever you need to do, I know it's been a long time but I'm sure he'll be happy to hear from you, you said it yourself he hasn't moved so maybe all this time he's been hoping you'd go home. I can't imagine not having my mum and dad around even if mum does always call just because she has nothing better to do and assumes that neither do I.”
Monday morning arrived once more, Allie was sitting mulling over the report in her hands when her thoughts turned to her dad. She emailed him a few days ago and had heard nothing, she'd tried not to think about it but Bea had called her out on Saturday afternoon when when they'd taken Debbie to the beach. Franky and Boomer had tagged along and the three of them were happily messing around further down the beach while Bea and Allie were sitting by themselves watching. Allie had been quiet all morning and Bea was getting more than a little concerned. Bea of course had reasoned that maybe if he was anything like her dad he might only check his emails every now and again, it wasn't like they were constantly checking their inboxes like they had to do, and that had settled Allie a little.
Throwing the report to one side she turned her attention to her computer, there would always be emails that needed answering, especially on a Monday morning and she'd been putting it off knowing that there was always the possibility that at least over half of them that were waiting for her had arrived over the weekend.
She scrolled down to where they had begun on Saturday and was stopped in her tracks when she looked at the second one, her dad had replied and she didn't know if she wanted to read what he had to say in reply. She'd used her work email instead of her personal email in the hope that when he saw that he would see that she wasn't the complete failure that she still sometimes saw herself as. She took a few moments to decide if she was going to just skip right over it and leave it for later, curiosity got the better of her and even if it were a rejection she would have to deal with it, it wasn't like she wasn't used to feeling bad about herself, it just happened less and less since she'd found Bea again.
She read it through once relieved that he'd said nothing bad, it was completely the opposite of what she had expected, reading it again she decided that she wasn't going to answer straight away. He wanted to see her and said he was happy to meet her anywhere she felt most comfortable. She panicked a little then, she'd hidden so well who she really was even though she'd known she was gay since before she could even remember and she didn't know how she was going to approach that subject, she didn't want him not to know that she was with Bea, she was the most important person in her life and if he couldn't accept that then there was no point in even seeing him, and that fear of rejection cut her like a knife the more she thought about it. She needed to speak to Bea but she knew she had meetings all morning.
Right before lunch Franky walked back into her office after receiving some particularly good news, all the connections had been made between Sonia and Joan's long standing association.
First thing that morning she had been ready to let go of the dwindling ray of hope that had flickered inside of her, she was sure that they would both be released without charge due to lack of evidence. That blanket of blackness that had started to descend had now been replaced by a burst of light that pierced through that darkness. It the first time since this whole mess came to light that she had felt any kind of optimism, Joan was staying tight lipped, every question that was thrown at her was met with the same words ‘no comment,’ but Sonia was not Joan and Sonia had started to crack revealing a few details. Every question to Sonia was like a punch in the face and she was showing more signs of wanting to cooperate, she hadn't been offered a thing so it wasn't a simple matter of getting what she wanted in return for what she could give which was standard for Sonia.
Allie instinctively knew Bea was watching her as she looked up from her computer screen, Allie rarely closed her office door preferring to still feel part of the office as a whole and also because she had concluded that it made her more approachable if she wasn't closed off from everyone else.
“What?” Allie asked in amusement when she saw the smile Bea had plastered on her lips.
“Oh you know, thought I could take you for lunch, I believe I still owe you one.”
“Is that so, well since you've taken so long to remember that bet how about we make it two?”
Bea shrugged, “I can live with that, I'll buy you lunch for the rest of the year of it means getting away from my office for an hour.” Bea grinned before half turning away and looking back, “Are you coming or not?”
“Maybe later.” Allie threw back with a cheeky wink earning her an eye roll from Bea.
Sitting at their usual table in the diner Allie was still trying to process the email from her dad, Bea watched her with interest clearly something was on her mind.
“Bad morning or something else?” Bea asked as Allie picked her head up to look at her for the hundredth time in ten minutes.
“I got a reply from my dad.” She sighed.
“Oh…what did he say?…He wants to see you right?”
“He does…he said he was happy to meet me anywhere so that's a relief because I didn't really want to go over to the house…”
“That's not all that's bothering you is it?”
Allie fell silent again, she'd kept part of what made her who she was so well hidden from her family, her dad had asked a few times about boyfriends and she brushed it off, never sure what might happen if she revealed the truth and now she felt right back where she started from, needing to hide but not wanting to anymore.
“He doesn't know.” She finally said.
Bea looked confused for a minute until it all fell into place and reached across the table taking her hands in hers.
“He clearly wants to see you, that should mean something, that he's willing to listen to anything you have to say. If he truly wants you back in his life he'll accept anything you tell him.”
“I don't know what to do.” Allie admitted, she felt conflicted, she wanted him to know the person she was now and that meant telling him everything.
“If it helps any I'm still trying to find the right time to tell my mum and dad…I know that's a different situation and I'm sure they'll be ok with us but it's still not something that I ever thought I have to tell them. I was the one who said they were done with relationships.”
“Maybe I should call him?”
“I think you should do whatever you feel most comfortable with, whatever you decide I'm right here with you.”
Franky bursting through the door and jogging over to them soon put an end to that conversation.
“Come on love birds stop pawing each other, Jesus, it's enough to make ya puke.”
“Fuck off Franky…if Bridget were here you'd be no different.”
“Nah Red ya got me all wrong, altogether wrong…”
“Whatever Franky, do you need something or are you going to sit and eat with us?”
“You been hidin under a rock? Shit ya haven't heard have ya?”
“Heard what? Fucks sake Franky, why can you never just say what you want to say without going round the houses ten times?”
“Huh?…Yeah well…Sonia and Joan, ya know they were arrested? Well they're toast, gonna be brought back here for trial, turns out Sonia, I'm so fucking good at everything, Stevens was in on it all along….an the best bit she ain't even denyin it, shit honestly she's telling the cops everythin.”
“Seriously?” Allie asked, “Shit, you didn't just come over here to tell us that though sit down already would you?”
“Thought ya’d wanna know, forgot ya so fucking wrapped up in each other that a bomb could go off an ya wouldn't notice.” Franky finally sat down and carried on telling them what Sonia had revealed so far, their previous conversation was soon pushed to side.
Allie was worried and Bea was worried about her, she paid no attention to the meeting she had to spend the afternoon sitting through. All she wanted was the day to be over so they could go home, she wasn't interested in what was going to happen to Sonia and Joan really, wasn't interested in the new big client that they had just gained and she clearly wasn't in the mood to listen to some random person she didn't recall ever meeting before dragging out his IPO pitch for a smaller business client, nope not the slightest bit of interest at all.
Allie sat quietly in her office, this time behind a closed door, debating if she really should just get it over with take the plunge and call her dad. She picked up her phone and stared at the screen, ‘Its not like he can call you.’ She said to herself before putting it back down on the desk and then picking it straight back up, grabbing the paper with her dads number on it from the draw, her thumb hovering over the numbers on the screen. She quickly tapped out the number and pressed call, stunned when it was answered almost straight away as if he knew it was her and he'd been waiting on the call.
An hour later she sank back into her chair her phone still in her hand, she wasn't sure what had just happened and replayed the conversation in her head, he really wanted to see her, didn't care what she may or may not have done after she left, not that she'd gone into any great detail and shit he wanted to meet Bea and Debbie. “Are you happy?” He'd asked and she was sure that if it were possible he could hear her smile as she told him about her two favourite girls. Arranging to meet him the next evening, she'd hung up still unsure if he really meant everything he had said but happier knowing that she'd been honest with him, she would have handled him slamming the phone down on her but he hadn't and she hadn't expected it to go so well. Still she had to get past the nerves she was feeling now she had agreed to meet him for dinner.
“What's got you smiling?” Bea asked as she walked into Allies office thirty minutes later than she'd intended, like all meetings this one had been no exception and had overrun and Bea was not happy about it.
“I called him…my dad I mean…I'm meeting him tomorrow for dinner.”
“I sort of told him everything, mainly everything about you, and Deb too, he wants to meet you.”
“Ok…I…wasn't expecting that.”
“Don't look so worried, I told him we needed to see each other before I decided if I wanted to let him loose on you, and if you don't want to you really don't have to.”
Bea had never honestly given it any thought, she just wanted Allie to be happy, Harry as she remembered had always kept her as far away from his own parents as possible choosing to visit them every now and again by himself, and he hated her parents, if either of them called and he answered he'd tell them she wasn't home, they'd turned up uninvited once right after they argued and Bea was in no state to see anyone, Harry had carried on drinking and ignored their knocking on the door, she would never forget that day she was sure of that. As soon as they'd left he'd dragged her from the bedroom by the hair and told he she'd better call them later and tell them never to show up a the house again. She'd wanted so much to tell them the reason why but she couldn't with Harry standing right behind her listening to every word. She'd finally managed to think up the only weak excuse she could, that Harry liked them to do things with Debbie and they were rarely at home in the evenings and weekends, her dad had wanted to say something, it was obvious they were at home but her mum had shot him a look and he'd stayed quiet. The second they'd ended the call they'd called Franky demanding that she tell them the truth, she'd always promised never to say anything and she hated being put on the spot like that by Beas parents, they'd always been so good to her, never minded that even though Bea was married she still went over to see them, spent Sundays lounging around their house when she was tired of studying and needed a break. Somehow she'd managed to tell them only the half truth and then she hadn't been able to face them for months, not until the day she had to face them at the hospital not knowing if her best friend was even going to make it. She wasn't sure how they were going to take the news that she'd finally found someone she was certain she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, they'd always been fine with Franky but this was different she wasn't Franky she was their daughter and if they weren't supportive it wasn't going to change a thing, she wasn't letting Allie walk out of her life just to keep them happy.
“Sorry, did you say something?”
“I asked you if you were ready to leave, want to tell me what you were thinking about?”
“I'll tell you later, come on let's just get out of here.”
Bea listened quite contentedly to Debbie telling Allie that the geographical low point of Australia was Lake Eyre at -15 metres and that the geographical high point was Mount Kosciuszko at 2,229 metres as she cooked dinner. It wasn't that Bea wasn't interested in everything Debbie had to tell her she just didn't always have the time she would like to spend with her and until Allie had walked into their lives she'd always felt that Debbie was missing out not always having her full attention. Allie would sit and listen for hours if necessary, making her decision to finally tell her parents that she had in fact met someone easier than she imagined even if she was worried about how they would react.
After dinner Allie and Debbie ushered Bea out of the kitchen refusing to let her help clean up, sitting on the sofa she listened to Debbie telling Allie more about her geography homework, the whole conversation was very one sided but she loved how Allie would listen to her constant chatter about school. Beas phone started ringing somewhere in the kitchen where she'd left it and she just couldn't be bothered to go in search of it, she was sure it wouldn't be anything of great importance until Debbie appeared her phone pressed against her ear chatting to whoever had called.
“Grandma wants you.” Debbie cheerfully said as she handed over her phone before skipping back back off to the kitchen.
“Mum, hi…I have been meaning to call you.”
“Of course you have sweetie, I know how busy you get with work and Debbie, don't worry about it.”
Bea did feel a little guilty for not calling, not that she ever called them much anyway and the last couple of times her mum had called her she'd been in a hurry because the three of them had been going out. They chatted about what had been happening at work before her mum got to the reason that she had really called.
“We were wondering if you'd like to come over this weekend, maybe stay over we don't get to see you as often as we'd like.”
“Mum…I…err…I'm not sure, maybe I could bring Deb over.”
“That's not the answer I wanted…”
Beas mind was racing, she knew she had to tell her something, she's was planning on doing it but thought she be able to prepare what she wanted to say in her head before she had to have this conversation. Right then Debbie and Allie reappeared from the kitchen laughing.
“Yeah…sorry mum, it's just…well…”
“You can bring Allie with you if that's what's on your mind.”
Bea almost choked, how the hell had her mum even thought that her reluctance was anything to do with Allie, making her wonder if Debbie had said anything.
“Lost your voice?” Her mum asked, “You do seem to spend an lot of time with her, I just thought she might like to come with the pair of you, but if you've already made plans we could make it the weekend after.”
Allie sat down next to Bea wondering why she seemed to have fallen silent, especially since she knew she was talking to her mum.
“I…errr…I don't know, I'll have to ask Allie…not sure she could stand your constant stream of questions, she's not a hard ass like Franky.”
“Franky's a pussy cat you just have to know how to talk to her.” Her mum laughed, “Besides Allie was always tagging along everywhere with Franky, I seem to remember that it always annoyed you at the time, I'd like to see for myself what's changed so much, other than the obvious.”
“Obvious?” Bea mumbled.
“The fact that she's not a kid anymore, you always seem to be so much happier with her around. Ask her she might surprise you and want to hang out with two old people more than you do.”
“Mum!…I'll ask her.”
“Good, don't leave it too long.”
When Bea finally ended the call she wanted to kick herself, but then maybe telling her mum over the phone wasn't the best idea. All she knew was that she was going to do it, secrets never did her any good in the past and she didn't want to keep their relationship secret from anyone.