And so it was that the next day Meadow found herself in the living room with Heath. Brian had herded the girls up to the playroom and was reading to them there. She had until Brian left for the club around 6:30 to tell Heath everything and still have time for him to talk to Brian if he wanted to do so. Rocky was on the floor nearby, playing on his xylophone and totally uninterested in them.
"Son, I need to talk to you alone," Meadow had said ruffling his shiny black hair, sitting down on the loveseat by the window and indicating the adjacent loveseat. Once seated, Heath wondered if he had done something wrong, but he couldn't think what that might be,
"I took out the trash," he ventured.
"You're not in trouble, honey. Actually, I'm the one who has done something wrong; I've kept something from you for a long time and I hope you'll understand--at least one day--why I was doing that."
He looked confused.
"When I was pregnant with you Daddy stayed by my side and, as you've heard, he was there when you were born. Brian is your true father in the sense that he has loved you from the beginning, always been there for you and for me, and he's guided you along the way."
Heath nodded and smiled,
"Yeah, Daddy is cool. He's my best friend almost."
"As I said, he is your father in the most important ways," she paused and took the plunge, "But not all. He is not your father biologically."
Heath continued to look at her because it had not begun to sink in. Brian had told him the facts of life a while ago, but in regard to his parents it was not computing. After several more seconds his face clouded up.
"He's not? Daddy's not my father?"
Meadow wanted to die,
"What I'm saying is that although he's not your biological father; he is your real father in all the ways that count."
This only seemed to confuse him.
"Honey, Daddy wasn't even in Pleasantview when I got pregnant with you. We weren't married and, in fact, we were just friends. Friends since we were kids."
"How did I get born?" tears began to fill his eyes, "How come I don't have a daddy?"
"You do have a daddy. Well, I guess you could say you have two daddies."
"I don't want two. I just want...Daddy."
"I know. And you will always have him. But, there is another man..." she trailed off; this was even harder than she thought it would be.
"I don't want him!" Heath insisted as he began to cry. Then he stopped after a moment and cautiously asked, "...who is he?"
"His name is Lonnie Hammond. Do you remember the man who played piano at the block party? You thought he was so good?"
Realization hit him,
"I remember! But he has kids--Loni Faye and Liara!"
"Yes, that means they are your half sisters."
"Well, that means they have the same father as you, but a different mother."
"Why didn't they ever say anything to me?"
"They don't know that you are their brother, Heath. In fact, Lonnie doesn't know."
"How come he doesn't know? If he was your husband, how could he not know?"
Meadow was becoming nauseated and it wasn't anything to do with the baby.
"Honey, he was never my husband. He wasn't married at that time to anyone."
"But," he started to ask, then sighed, "I don't understand."
"I wanted a baby. I didn't think I would ever marry...I'd been single for what seemed to me to be a very long time. I had dated Lonnie once or twice; there was no one else I cared about at the time. So...I decided I would get pregnant and he would be the father, but I wouldn't tell him. I didn't want to marry him or live with him; I wasn't in love with him. I liked him, but I didn't love him. I never really loved anyone until your Daddy--Brian--came along. And so I got you and then Daddy was a friend who came along to help me in any way he could."
A thought suddenly came to Heath,
"Does Daddy know?"
"Yes, he does. He's the only one who knew at first, but then we told Nana and Poppa, and Uncle Dylan and Aunt Elaine. And now you."
"What about Brook and Willow and Rocky? Who's their daddy?" Meadow motioned him to come over and sit beside her.
"Brian is their biological father and their real father. Both."
"But not me."
Meadow was fighting back tears herself,
"Sweetheart, I'm so sorry this has to be so hard for you."
Heath had thought of something else,
"Then, they aren't my real sisters and brother? They're like Loni Faye and Liara?"
"They are your half-sisters and brother, but it's not the same. Brook, Willow and Rocky have been raised right alongside of you all your life and they share your memories. This really changes nothing, not in regard to your daddy, not in regard to your sisters and brother and little whos-its here," she rubbed her belly, "We are family, and we're held together by more than DNA."
"You can ask me any questions you want, Heath. And Daddy is ready to answer any you might not want to ask me."
"Does he still want me?"
"Oh, honey, he's always wanted you and he always will. And since the moment you opened your beautiful eyes you've loved him, too. None of that has changed in the least," she stroked his hair again and was relieved that he reacted naturally to that and didn't resist, "Would you like to talk to him now?"
"He...he knows you're telling me?"
"Of course. And there's time before he goes to work if you want to ask him anything."
Heath suddenly looked uncomfortable,
"No, I don't want to. I mean, well, it might make him feel bad."
"No, it won't, honestly. Remember this is not something he just learned about."
He shook his head adamantly,
"I don't want to talk to him about it; not now. I wish he didn't know you told me."
Meadow regarded him for a moment then said,
"All right. Whatever you want to do. Do you think you might want to see Lonnie? If you want me to I will tell him. If you don't want me to, I won't."
Heath shook his head once more,
"No, I don't want to see him and I don't want him to know. I want to forget about him and I want Daddy to forget about him. I just want him to be my dad again."
Meadow sighed and moved to hug him and this time Heath did back away from her touch, frowning. He no longer met her eyes.
"Can I go now?"
He went upstairs, though he did not join his siblings or Brian. In a few moments she heard him on the synthesizer in his room. Meadow climbed the stairs slowly; she suddenly felt ungainly and tired. She was ready for this baby to be born. At the playroom door she crooked her finger silently at Brian who asked Brook to continue the story he'd been reading and followed Meadow down to their bedroom. As she told him the whole conversation Brian listened and then afterward he held her while she cried; big gut-wrenching sobs.
"Give him time, sweetheart, give him time," he murmured.
Next update: Brian Ottomas Ch. 15 Still Winter