“What is wrong with you, Jason?” Stacey fumed.
“I don’t know…I just wanted to celebrate today’s events with her, that’s all.”
“And what happened? She drugged you?”
“Oh no…we had a few glasses of wine and then…”
“And then what, Jason? You knew dad was really looking up to this day and you blew it.”
“I know; I have to see him.”
“Forget it Jason; he’s left. Think about how you’re going to explain things to him when he gets back.”
“He’s never going to forgive me for this, is he?”
“I wish I could say otherwise but I’m afraid it would take some time for this to go away.” She handed him some pills and a glass of water. He took them and gulped them down.
“Thanks.” She placed the glass down. She sat on the bed.
“Don’t you have to go to campus?” he asked.
“Well…thank God it’s a university; you can choose to skip lectures sometimes.”
“On my account? No Stacey, please go. I don’t want dad grumbling about this too. I’ve got enough to think about right now.”
“Are you sure you’ll be okay by yourself?” Stacey asked, obviously concerned.
Jason forced a smile and touched his sister’s cheek. “Yeah, now get out of here. Besides, I need to go and see Jessica.”
“Are you out of your mind?” Stacey blew at him, getting up.
“And why are you shouting?”
“Was that a silly joke or was I just punked?”
“I thought you were on your way to campus,” Jason replied. Stacey stared at her brother in sheer unbelief. She shook her head and walked to the door.
“Hey,” he called out. With her hand on the door handle, she turned to look at him.
“You know I care, right?” She opened the door and slammed the door behind her. Jason laughed. Stacey walked downstairs and took her bag.
“Is everything okay, honey? I thought I overheard you scream in Jason’s room?” Susan asked. Stacey glanced at her mother who was comfortably sipping her tea.
“Everything is fine, mum. I can’t imagine how you can still find the appetite to eat after all that just happened.”
“Please don’t give me that look, Stacey as if I’m a bad mother. You know how your father is. When he’s angry, there’s nothing you can do than to wait for him to calm down, you know that.”
“Right; I’ll see you later,” Stacey said as she started towards the door.
“And where are you off to?”
“Where else? Campus of course.”
“I thought you weren’t going.”
“Obviously I changed my mind, mum.”
“You’re not going with the driver, are you?”
“Considering that I’m pretty late right now, yeah, I’m going to need him.”
“Well, that’s going to be a problem.”
“Why?” Stacey asked, turning to look at her.
“Because I’m going out myself.”
“Excuse me, you didn’t just ask me that, did you, dear?” Susan asked, as she wiped her mouth and fingers and got up.
“Your son is probably going to lose the one opportunity which would change his life forever and you don’t even seem concerned. Instead of being there for him, you’re going out?”
“Now, watch that tongue, young lady. Jason is old enough to know he’s responsible for his actions. The fact that I’m his mother doesn’t mean I should forsake my plans to sit by him and brood over a mistake he made all by himself, does it?”
“A mistake, huh? I thought you considered Jessica or whatever she’s called the best thing that ever happened to your son.”
“Yes…but I didn’t tell him to drink so heavily when he knows of what awaited him the next day.” Susan looked at her watch.
“Oh dear, it seems you’re terribly late today,” she said to her daughter.
“That is why I’m going with the driver,” Stacey said as she turned and started towards the door.
“I told you I needed him.”
“You know how to drive, mum. Make use of your hands and legs sometimes,” she said as she left the house. Susan sighed.
“The youth of today are totally unbearable,” she muttered as she started up the stairs. She knocked and entered Jason’s room.
“How are you feeling now, Jason?”
“A little better, mum. Are you also here to scold me?”
“No; I’m sure your sister has given you enough.”
“You can say that again.”
“I’m sure things will be fine when your father returns. His temper would have cooled down and we can talk things over. Don’t worry your head, son. Besides, what comes may, you are the heir to whatever your father possesses.”
“Yes mum but I wanted to feel like I earned it not just inherited it, you know.”
“And you will; this is just a setback. Everything will fall back in place, you’ll see.”
“I hope so, mum.”
“Okay, I’m going out. I’ll be back within the hour.”
“Will you go…out?” Jason glanced at his mother questioningly.
“You know, you meet a friend or something?”
“No…I haven’t thought of doing such a thing right now. Maybe, why?”
“Oh nothing; I was just asking. Anyway, have a nice day. Take care.” She leaned down and kissed her son’s hair and left the room.
“Didn’t you sense her sarcasm when you told dad it was over between you two? I bet she knows the truth.”
“How? I never told her anything.”
“You don’t need to tell her, Jay. Mum has got her own way of finding out things for herself.”
“So what, if she does, she would tell dad?”
“Maybe not; but it still doesn’t favor you, Jay. Mum has been acting weird lately. I’d be careful around her if I were you, Jay.”
Jason recalled his conversation with Stacey. He shrugged it off and continued watching the show on TV.
Hours later, Jason knocked on Jessica’s door. She gasped when she saw him.
“What happened? I’ve been trying to call you all morning?”
“I know; I was driving.” He entered.
“Why…are you here? Why didn’t you go to work?”
“Because my dad forbade me to.”
“You mean…he has fired you?”
“Not exactly; but I definitely lost the opportunity to make it to the board of directors.”
“I’m so sorry Jay; I know all this is my fault. I shouldn’t have made you drink all that wine.”
“Don’t blame yourself, Jess. I’m responsible for my own decisions.”
“Shush… I came here because I need you right now. I know only you can make me feel better.”
“I don’t…know how…”
“Just hold me.” He hugged her. Jessica hesitated before holding him.
“I know that with you by my side, everything will be fine.” Tears filled her eyes at that remark. If only you knew… she thought quietly. Her phone rang. She took it, stared at it for some seconds and put it back down.
“What was that?” Jason asked.
“Oh, nothing important; just a text from a girlfriend. Jason, after everything that has happened…because of me, I think it’s better if we part ways.”
“What, come on Jess, don’t be silly…”
“I’m not being silly here Jason; I’m being very serious. If you had listened to your dad, you wouldn’t be in this critical situation right now because of me.”
“What happened was my fault, Jessica and mine only. Please don’t worry yourself over me. Things will be fine.”
“You think? Well, let’s say, you get to keep the job. Now he knows we’re still involved. He’s not to let that go.”
“I know my dad, Jess…”
“So do I Jay and that’s why I believe this is the right thing to do considering the present circumstances.”
“And I said no… I love you Jess and I want to be with you, no matter what.” Jessica went back a step, a surprised expression on her face.
“What is it?”
“Did you…did you just say…you love me?” Jason chuckled.
“Of course I did; I do love you, Jess. You must be blind not to have noticed,” Jason said lovingly as he held her face in both palms. He kissed her forehead. Jessica held his wrists and closed her eyes.
“No…Jay, this is not right…it’s not…”
“What is not right? I’m not asking for anything from you but for you to love me back. Don’t you love me, Jess?”
“I do…of course I do…it’s just that….your dad…”
“In the end, you’re going to be with me and not my dad. Forget him; he’s going through aging crisis.” They both chuckled. They laughed. Her eyes glanced to the phone.
Jason entered his home later in the evening. He stopped abruptly when he saw his father in the living room. He slowly walked towards the room.
“Good evening, dad.” He ignored Jason.
“Dad… I’m sorry; I know you really trusted me to do this and I blew it but I’m sure if you give me another chance, I’d never commit this mistake again.”
“Of course you won’t…because you’re out of chances, Jason.” Jason’s facial expression fell.
“Please dad…” His father took a newspaper beside him and started reading. Jason sighed and left the room. He walked to the kitchen.
“Hello son; I thought you said you had no plans of going out.”
“I didn’t at first but I was bored being at home all alone.”
“So you went to seek comfort at another’s place?” Susan asked. Jason glanced at her suspiciously.
“I don’t know…are you and Jessica still together, Jason?”
“After what happened this morning, isn’t that pretty obvious?”
“Well, you could have passed by her place last night just as a friendly gesture…”
“Yeah, you could say that. Why are you so concerned about Jessica, mum?” Jason asked.
“Because you seemed happy with her and that’s what matters to me, son; your happiness.”
“Even when my dad is so against it and it would probably cost me my job?”
“What is the whole point of life if you’re living it without happiness?”
“Then could you please talk to dad and make him understand that I can still be the responsible son he wants me to be with Jessica by my side, please?”
Susan stared at his son for some moments.
“You really want to go back to the company, huh?”
“Are you serious, mum? Of course I want to. Because sooner or later, I have to take charge of the affairs there and I want to start preparing for the role.”
“Sure; I’ll talk to him. He may still be upset but I’m sure he’ll listen.”
“You’re welcome, son.”
A car pulled up in the driveway. Minutes later, Stacey entered the house. She was about to climb upstairs when her father said, “Not so fast, young lady. Whose car brought you home?”
“Dad…you’re home,” Stacey said, surprised as she walked to him.
“That doesn’t answer my question.”
“He’s a friend, dad.”
“What kind of friend is he, when he won’t even come home and greet your parents?”
“Sorry dad…I didn’t think you were at home. Usually, you come home late, dad.”
“That’s no excuse. You could have brought him home to greet your mother.”
Stacey glanced at her mum who gave her a tight smile.
“Are you going to say you didn’t know she’d be at home?”
Stacey didn’t answer.
“Is he your boyfriend?”
“You have a boyfriend, Stacey?” Jason asked as he entered the room.
“No, I don’t.”
“So you mean just a friend just brought you home at this time?” her mother asked.
“Come on mum; this definitely isn’t the first time…”
“So he has been coming here and he still hasn’t come in to say hello? Is he that uncultured?” her father said.
“Please daddy, I understand that you’re not in a good mood because of what Jason did but please don’t rub this off on me. I haven’t done anything wrong.”
“Stacey, I brought you up to be a distinguished and decent lady. I can’t afford some riff raff coming to obstruct your purpose in life.”
“I know that, dad and when I find a boyfriend, I’ll personally book an appointment with you so you can meet him. Is that okay? Now, I’m hungry and tired and I need to take a shower.”
“You mean your friend couldn’t afford to buy you a snack on your way back that you have to be this hungry?” Susan teased. Jason chuckled.
“That’s not funny,” Stacey snapped and ran upstairs to her room. She slammed the door shut. Jason stopped chuckling when his eyes met his father’s. Gordon quietly left the room.
“Dad…” Jason started but his father ignored him. Jason turned to look at his mother with pleading eyes.
“He’s really disappointed in me, isn’t he?”
“He’ll get over it,” his mother assured him, patting him on his shoulder. She followed his father.
“Jason,” Gordon called his son.
“Could you keep this file? I’ll need it at the office tomorrow.”
“So I should put it in your briefcase?”
“No; you keep it. I want you to study it very carefully. You will do a presentation on the information you find inside. Don’t mess it up this time.”
“Is it a way to redeem myself, dad?”
“You could say that.”
“Thanks dad. Thanks mum for convincing him on my behalf,” Jason said earnestly.
Susan smiled as she brought a glass of wine to her lips. Jason got up.
“Wait…are you still seeing that girl?”
“Yes dad…dad, I know you don’t really like her and I understand because you don’t really know her. She’s a very nice person. She has always been supportive and dependable. I ask that you give her a chance to prove to you that she’s not an opportunist…”
“She does look like an opportunist to me, though,” Stacey chipped in.
“I was talking to daddy. Daddy, please…”
“You really like her, don’t you?”
“I do, dad; very much.”
“Then you should be very careful. I still feel that she is with you for an ulterior motive although I can’t say exactly what.”
“I pray she proves you wrong, dad.”
“I pray so too, son. You can go now.” Gordon coughed.
“Are you okay, daddy?” Stacey asked with deep concern in her voice.
“Yeah, he’s fine. He’s been coughing from time to time recently. I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Susan said.
“Are you sure? Wouldn’t it be better if we took to a hospital for a checkup? This way, everyone wouldn’t have to worry anymore,” Jason suggested.
“I agree with you, Jason,” Stacey said.
“I’m fine, son, “Gordon said, coughing again.
“No, you’re not, dad. This cough is strange. Are they signs of allergic reactions?”
“I can’t tell, Stacey.”
“I’ll take you to the hospital, dad and that is not debatable.”
“Why don’t you all just give your father a little break here? He’s okay; I’m sure it would disappear soon,” Susan said.
“How long has this been?” Stacey asked.
“Um…about three weeks,” their father said.
“Does your chest hurt?”
“Yeah, a little though. I’m sure I can handle it.”
“No dad; it would be silly of us to wait till things got worse. You are seeing the doctor tomorrow.”
“You know what, we’re going to bed. You two are wearing him out with your unfounded concerns. Your father is a strong man and very healthy. He just needs rest.”
“So you were waiting till it got worse before you addressed it?” Jason asked his mums. She glared at him.
“Don’t worry guys; I’ll be fine,” their father assured them. Susan took him to their room.
“Isn’t that weird?” Jason asked his sister.
“Have you now realized it? Please take dad to see the doctor. I don’t like what I’m seeing.”
“Then why is mum taking this so lightly? She’s usually the one who makes the most noise about checkups and taking medications when you’re not feeling unwell,” Jason recalled.
“You can never tell.”
The following day, Jason took his time to study every detail in the file and prepared for the presentation he was to make the following day.
Susan tried the number for the fifth time. There was still no answer.
“Damn it! That degenerate is getting on my last nerve. Come on, answer the call.” When the line went dead, she sighed as she collapsed on the couch.
“I can’t lose now…” she muttered.
After work, Jason went to pick up Jessica in front of a building. She opened the back door and threw her bag and her file onto Jason’s file at the back seat. She closed the door and sat in the front seat.
“Will you tell me what you were doing here?” Jason asked.
“Came for a job interview.”
“And I have it.”
“Are you serious?”
“Oh gosh, I’m so happy for you, Jess!” Jason hugged her excitedly.
“Wow…that is certainly good news,” Jason said with great relief.
“You mean it could ease things with your dad.” Jason looked at her.
“I think this calls for a huge celebration, don’t you think?”
“Of course; let’s go, baby.” He drove off.
They went to have dinner at a restaurant. Jason raised his glass.
“To us…and to a brighter future for the both of us.” Jessica smiled.
Jessica sighed when Jason pulled over in front of her house.
“It was a wonderful night. Thanks, Jason.”
“Thank you Jess, for sticking with me all this time. Not anyone would have done that.” He kissed her hand. Jessica smiled.
“I love you, Jason.” He glanced at her.
“I love you too, Jess.” They hugged. Jessica got out of the car.
“Don’t forget your handbag and your file,” Jason reminded. She opened the back door and took them. She closed the door.
“Good night, babe. Call me when you are ready for bed,” she said with a wink. Jason chuckled. He started the engine and drove off.