Chapter 23

My dad and I don't cross paths all week, but when I get home from school on Friday, he's there and already cooking dinner. I've barely got the front door closed behind me before my mouth is watering at the smells drifting through from the kitchen. A small smile lifts the corners of my mouth. He's always done the cooking, it's just that he's not home nearly half as much these days, and even when he is, he's easier to stay away from.

"Hey," I greet him as I wander through into the kitchen, grabbing a glass from the cupboard and pouring myself some juice. He looks on approvingly as he stirs a pan. I guess it is the little things that matter after all. "Did you have a good day?"

"Not bad," he tells me. "You?"

I huff and set my glass down. "It's been kind of a shitty week."

He looks at me with sympathy. I can't remember the last time he showed even half as much concern as this.

"I'm sorry to hear that. You wanna talk about it?"

I guess he probably thinks I'm considering his offer, when in actual fact I'm trying to decide if there's anything I'd rather discuss less with him.

"Nah, I'm good. It'll probably blow over."

"Starting school in a new place is never easy," he says. I resist telling him how much harder it is when everyone thinks you're in an incestuous relationship with your sister.

"Well I hope I'm not about to add to your bad week," he says, setting the spoon down, adjusting the burner and turning to face me as he signals to me to have a seat. I look at him, wondering what's going on as I lower myself onto a stool. "Alice wrote me about her parole. I'm going to go visit her next week. I wondered how you felt about it?"

"About you visiting her? Well-"

"No,no," he says, shaking his head gently and smiling at my misunderstanding. "About her coming back to live with us when she gets out of jail."

I'm shocked enough about him visiting her, I really hadn't seen the second part of that coming. It had been the plan on paper all along, I just hadn't thought it would ever happen given his attitude whenever she'd been mentioned since. I guess we'd never really sat down and discussed it though.

"You'll let her come back here?" I ask, double-checking I have his meaning right, because I still wouldn't put it past him to play some sick joke about it. I stare at him intently, looking for signs he's anything less than serious, but there are none.

"Well that depends how you feel about it?"

"I don't have any problem with it. Alice is my sister." It's simple as far as I'm concerned. I stare him down, waiting for him to disagree in some way, but he doesn't, he simply nods and turns to stir dinner again.

"It won't be for a while," he tells me. "But they're starting to work towards release with her. The family reunification they want her to do involves all of us, they need her to be closer to home so they can work with us."

"Home being…?"

He laughs softly. "Here of course. They're looking at a facility in Tacoma for her."

My eyes widen and I'm speechless for a moment, overwhelmed by the thought of having her close by. Eventually I snort quietly.

"I don't get it," I tell him honestly. "What's with the big turnaround?"

"I've been getting a little counseling," he tells me. "I guess it finally started to have an effect."

"Whoever you've been seeing needs a pay rise, they're a fucking miracle worker."

He tries to scowl but the smile wins out.

"You watch your mouth," he says. "I'm having a good day, so you probably shouldn't get too used to it, I'm not there yet, but I'm trying. I want to do my best by you and Alice, God knows I owe it to your mothers, the way I've treated you both since…" He tilts his head and I know what he means, he doesn't need to finish.

"Can I come with you next week?" I figure it's a good time to ask while he's feeling guilty as hell.

"You have school, Edward."

"Really?" I stare him down for a moment, until he looks away first.

"I guess you could," he relents.

Now he's given me permission I feel altogether less sure. I've not seen her in months and I'm kind of scared. What if she calls me out on not writing her back? I have no good reason other than the gigantic chip on my shoulder I've had recently. Maybe she changed and I won't recognize her?

I could really use somebody to talk all the shit going round in my head over with, but there's literally no-one since Bella fucked me over. The empty feeling the thought leaves me with, is depressing.

My dad changes the subject, launching into a story about something that happened at work the other day that made him laugh, but I can't concentrate. I do my best through dinner, trying to stay present and pushing alternate thoughts of Alice and then Bella out of my mind.

Finally, once we've eaten and cleared away together, he excuses himself to his office to do some work and I drift off to my room.

And all of this is why, when a message comes through to my phone from a number I don't recognize asking if I want to hang out, I reply with a yes.

Even though it is from Brady.

~Come Undone~

A/N Thanks to everyone who came back and read the last update after I'd been AWOL for so long, it's much appreciated :)

Thanks to Choc as ever xx