The next months brought much change.
Avalon, the youngest of the Graingers, turned 6 and became a school child.
Jacob’s 18th birthday came.
Like Abby had always done for her birthdays, he requested it to be a small family affair.
He celebrated with KC and Evey the Friday before his birthday at the shop after they closed, Evey had made him a cake.
This was in an attempt to not further the divide between Heath and Sam by confronting her with Evey.
The day of his birthday, a Saturday he had taken off work, even before cake, Jacob proposed to Abby, who naturally said yes.
A wedding date was set by basically picking a random date on the calendar for the next month.
Neither Jacob nor Abby truly cared too much about the wedding itself and really only wanted to be together, indivisible, not even much of a party, so in order to avoid the constant fights with clashing ideas for the wedding celebration with Sam, they ended up eloping a few days after Jacob’s birthday.
When they returned home beaming, presenting their parents with the done deal, it upset Sam to a degree where nobody could calm her down, as she had big dreams for a romantic wedding for her firstborn son.
She was inconsolable, and when Heath made the mistake trying to tell her it was the young couple’s life and decision, as long as they were happy with it, Sam flew off the handle completely, packed her bags and left him after showering him in the most bitter of accusations.
Out of respect for KC, hard as it was, Heath resisted the urge to dial Evey’s number right away even though he was utterly overwhelmed with the situation at hand.
He was barely able to function or form coherent thoughts, his hands shaking nervously.
He made it until it was dark and all kids were in bed.
Evey just carefully pulled the door shut behind herself after checking on her sleeping kids one last time before turning in herself. As she was about to turn to join KC in their bedroom, she saw something out of her peripheral vision outside the window. A dark figure, in front of the house.
She knew right away who that was, quietly ran down the stairs and out the front door. Just like she used to as a child when this was still her parents’ home.
“Heath!” she quietly exclaimed upon reaching him.
He said nothing, just closed his arms around her, pressing her tightly against him.
Words were unnecessary, Evey could tell what had happened.
“Few hours ago.” he placed his head on her shoulder as if the weight of his memories of the past hours had gotten to heavy to carry. She could feel him cry softly.
That was all that was spoken until Heath straightened up, looking terribly sad, so Evey placed her hands on his cheeks. Seeing him hurting so badly hurt her.
Suddenly life returned into him, he in turn enveloped her face with his hands, his face was so close to hers. She felt engulfed in his deep purplish blue eyes.
Unexpectedly he kissed Evey, surprising her into a sort of momentary paralysis.
Before she could recover her senses, someone spoke, Heath let off her and both found themselves parting to face a very upset looking KC standing on the front porch.
“What a Kodak moment! Care to explain why you are here in the middle of the night, sucking on my wife’s lips?”
“KC…” Evey tried to diffuse his anger.
“I was talking to HIM.” he barked at her.
“She is gone, KC, she left me.” Heath told him.
“Do I need to explain texting, calling or how to operate doorbells to you, Heath?!”
“I didn’t know what to do .. where to go…”
“Both of you, inside now. As a matter of fact, Evey, you should go take a hot shower. You’ve been out in the icy cold Autumn night in nothing but thin pj’s.”
“KC I just…”
“NOW, Evey, or this is going to turn really ugly, really quick and I won’t guarantee for nothing anymore!”
“OK fine. Please don’t hurt Heath …”
“That will be up to him. GO!”
All went inside, Evey disappeared up the stairs while the men stayed in the kitchen near the bottom of the stairs.
“You better make this one REAL good.” KC demanded.
“I just needed someone…” Heath started, but KC interrupted him right away.
“You have a whole house full of someones. No need to come here and try to take what’s mine! Ever considered snuggling your children, whose mother just left them?!”
“I didn’t mean …”
“You didn’t mean to go kiss another man’s wife?! I am still waiting for something to come out of you that makes me not want to beat you straight into the ground right now!”
“I don’t know what to do KC. I cannot handle it all without Sam…”
“I need her.”
“I … love her.”
“Then why the fuck is your ass at MY house kissing on MY wife, instead of finding your own?! Or am I supposed to go find Sam and lock lips with her as some odd love triangle gone square!?”
“She doesn’t want my affections …”
“Neither does Evey, but that didn’t seem to stop you here! For being such a genius you are pretty dumb. Sam’s problem is the exact same one I have right now. Stay the fuck away from my wife! If you thought about your own woman half as much as you do about mine, we all wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“Abby and Jacob got married today. Eloped.” Heath said quietly.
“Are you fucking kidding me?! Con-fucking-gratulations! Still no reason to come to MY house and make out with MY wife!!!”
“We weren’t making out we were …. oh.” Heath stiffened, his gaze aimed past KC onto something on the stairs.
“Dad?” KC froze when he heard his son’s voice behind him.
“Ethan, go back to bed.” KC frowned. The last thing he needed now.
“Is he here to take mommy?”
“No! He needed …some eggs for baking. Go back to bed, I’ll tuck you back in shortly.”
“He needs to go. I don’t want him here.”
“Go back to bed, Ethan! NOW!”
“I hate you, uncle Heath!” Ethan turned and ran back up the stairs.
“Ethan McCoy, you are cruising for a spanking!” KC called after him.
He looked livid when he turned back to Heath, who looked ready to sink into the ground.
“I warned you about getting my kid involved in your bullshit!”
KC boiled over and punched Heath straight on, who stumbled back but caught himself, showing no inclination to defend himself, just patting his immediately swelling eye, then turned and left instantly as KC ran upstairs after his son.
Ethan was inconsolable and pouty, but finally fell asleep.
KC was not happy with Evey, when he went to find her sitting on their bed, he went over and sat next to her.
“Evey, this is going to end tonight. I have been patient with you, and him, but now my children are involved. For the second time. There will be no more leniency. I even understand that this is not something sexual between you, I know you won’t leave me, I know you love me and I also know he usually respects all that and me, I get he just has some wires crossed with Sam leaving, but I cannot stand for this. Ethan is convinced you will leave us, the boy is a mess, and you better figure out how to fix that before he drags Esmée down too. I tried, without too much luck, and sure as heck am out of ideas and excuses. I am sick and tired of slapping band aids on this odd relationship we both have with him to make it palatable for children, until the next time he mucks it all up again.”
“KC, I love you, only you and I only want you. He just surprised me.”
“I know. I even know that he didn’t have ulterior motives. But we have a very upset boy at our hands. As much as I understand and respect that you cannot measure a Heath by normal standards, my family is my first priority. If he keeps running amok, if he forces me to pick, it won’t be him I will choose. And if he ever gave me a real reason to even have as much as an inkling that he was trying to drive a wedge between us, he would walk away with a lot more damage than just a black eye! If he would even be able to walk anymore at all.”
“You punched him?!”
“Since you didn’t slap him when you should have, I did. Just a little shiner, he’ll live. Maybe he’ll remember now.”
A knock on the door. Ethan.
On a whim they allowed him in and had an open heart-to-heart talk with the boy.
He was allowed to openly voice his concerns uncensored, and he would in turn receive honest answers. Of course heavily redacted to make them proper for a 12 year olds ears.
In a mutual effort KC and Evey were able to talk Ethan off the ledge and calm him once more.
When they finally tucked him in he told them he loved them both.
He seemed fine even in the days to follow, displayed no odd behavior, except for a solid dislike for anything concerning ‘uncle Heath’. His solid foundation of trust that his parents lead a happy marriage, both very involved with their kids lives and spending almost all waking time together paid off once more to dissipate even the last bit of worry.
As they say, it can always get worse.
Hard to imagine at this point but the situation could – and would – turn even more desperate for the Grainger family.
The next morning, while Heath struggled through explaining his black eye to his children while trying to calm them down about their mother not being present, the doorbell rang.
Abby opened but called for Heath.
When he got there, two uniformed men informed him they were with the local police.
“Mr. Grainger, there has been an accident. Your wife, Mrs. Samantha Grainger tried to avoid hitting a deer last night, her car swerved and she lost control….”