Reagan sat at the table waiting for her mother. When she walked in, she looked a lot different than she did last time. Reagan stood up and hugged her before they were seated across from each other.
“I missed you,” said Avery, “Where’s your handsome brother?”
“I missed you too,” said Reagan as they took their place at the table. “Ryan is home babysitting Connie. Dad and Dannie took Taylor to Paris, so they are staying a couple of days longer for a delayed honeymoon. They didn’t want Connie tagging along so we are watching her.” Then she blurted out, “You look – different.”
“Different better or different worse?” said Avery and laughed. Something she hadn’t done the last time they saw each other.
Reagan was a little embarrassed. “Your hair is longer . . . and . . .”
“And getting gray. I know,” she cut in and chuffed out a sad laugh “It sucks getting old and not having access to a salon. I think that’s the first thing I will do when this is over. Go to a spa and get pampered.”
“But Mom, you look better too, maybe happier I guess, or just like you have more energy. Of course it’s been about 9 months since we’ve seen each other.”
Her mom smiled again. “Thank you. I did beg for a little mascara since I knew you were coming. And I’ve been exercising more too. Now that the weather has been nicer, I’ve been able to get outside to get some fresh air and sunshine. I feel like I have something to look forward to now.”
Reagan suddenly remembered the pictures and gingerly slid the book towards her mother. “Oh . . . I brought pictures of the wedding, but didn’t know if you wanted to see them. There are others too though . . . Ryan playing basketball, and just us, and stuff.” She’d been afraid she’d upset her mother with pictures of the wedding but she’d asked for them.
“Thanks,” replied Avery. She fingered the book with a faraway look on her face, like she was trying to decide whether or not to open it. She took a deep breath and offered Reagan a little smile. “Did you know, your father and I got married in Vegas. It was so exciting. We bought rings and clothes after we got there. It was very spur of the moment. I brought him a puppy. You remember Phil? The black lab. It felt like family, so Cole called Ami and she came over and dog sat for us and off we went.
“Well, Ami promptly called her parents and everyone was at Cole’s house when we got home.” She stopped and chuckled and shook her head. “Ben was fuuuurious. But Cole, he stood up to his dad for me…” She paused again, this time to sniff back her tears while trying to cover it up with a little laugh. “Sorry for reminiscing. I’m glad he’s found someone new. I know I hurt him.” She closed her eyes and sighed before continuing, switching gears. “Sooo….How’s work? And did Ryan get a scholarship yet?”
Hearing how her parents had been truly happy once, made Reagan sad but she didn’t want to upset her mother so she plastered on a smile, swallowing back her emotions, and quickly answered her questions. “It’s too early for an offer, but Ryan thinks he should get one by Christmas break. He’s hoping for Brindleton Bay. Scouts have been looking at him. Believe it or not, his grades are good.”
Avery smiled and it lit up her face. “I’m so proud of him, but what about you?”
“Work is fun! Ami has me interning with their sales guy. He also does design consulting. He remodeled the offices.”
“Hmph,” said Avery as a sneer replaced her smile, “my replacement.” One eyebrow shot up and she crossed her arms. “You know, I helped your grandfather make that business what it is today.”
“I know Mom,” said Reagan embarrassed, “but you can’t blame her for needing to change it up.” Somehow, she felt the need to defend Ami, maybe because she had been so nice and had never said anything bad about her mother. “It’s still called C&M Development though. She isn’t changing that. The brand thing.” Stupid, like that helped, thought Reagan.
“Well, it wasn’t me, it was Spencer,” she said her tone still defensive. Then in a whisper she asked, “You haven’t by chance heard if they found him, have you?”
“No…as far as I know, he just disappeared. I’m sure they would let Ami know.”
Avery quickly replaced her grimace with a sweet smile. “I’m sorry if I seemed bitter. It’s hard not to be. But, let’s talk about something that’s less of a downer. Where are you going to college?”
Reagan smiled, relieved her mother wasn’t upset any longer. “Well, I think I’m just going to take a few online design and marketing classes at SMU after I graduate and continue to work for Ami.”
“Taking after your mother! Nice!”
Reagan felt a pang of sadness. Her mother should be around to help her and guide her. “Mom? When do you get out? I can hardly stand seeing you here anymore.”
“I’m sorry baby,” said Avery and hung her head in shame. She sighed and looked up a little hopeful. “I’m eligible for parole in three years. They should grant it, but maybe you could come and put in a good word?”
“I can?” asked Reagan. She had no idea she could do that.
“I think so. You’ll be what, 20?” asked her mother.
Reagan was thrilled. “Yes!” she exclaimed with joy, “That would be wonderful! I could help you!”
“You’re so sweet. I’m lucky to have you.” Avery looked thoughtful for a moment. “So, what about you? Is there anyone special right now, for either of you?”
“No,” said Reagan sadly, and thought fleetingly about Archer. “I just broke up with my last boyfriend. He was jealous of Jason. Jason’s my best friend, outside of Ryan. In fact, he drove me here today since Ryan couldn’t come.” If only Ryan had been able to come, thought Reagan, he would realize, Mom really does want to get to know us. She’s not just trying to hurt Daddy.
“Jason Blake? Mickey and Nicky’s kid?” she asked.
“Yes. You remember him?”
“His parents split up,” said Reagan sadly, “Jason’s really bitter about it. And then, his grandfather died not long ago and his grandmother too. I feel so bad for him.”
“Wow…interesting. I heard through the grapevine that Garret Blake died – suddenly. Didn’t know about his ex-wife though.”
“Yeah, it sucks,” replied Reagan sadly.
“Of course it does, give Jason my condolences,” said Avery sweetly.
They continued small talk until the guard came to get her. Reagan hugged her mother one last time before she had to leave. “I love you. But I don’t know when I can come back.”
“Don’t worry about it sweetheart,” said Avery as she held her in her arms, “I love you too. Just knowing you are rooting for me has given me a purpose. Just, please, don’t rock the boat at home. Cole wouldn’t be happy to know you were here.”
The rest of the summer flew by and school had started up again. Reagan and Jason continued to hang out, mostly because they were just two lonely people that needed a friend. Oftentimes she would sit in his studio while he played music. His band had long since disbanded when Link and Camden had graduated. That just left Ryan and he was way too focused on basketball to bother with a two man band.
Basketball started back up and Ryan was a star player. He was attracting attention from a couple of colleges. He hoped by Christmas he would have a full scholarship offer.
In anticipation he had been working out more and more. Reagan felt that Ryan was driven more by the need to get out of Willow Creek than the probability that he may one day go pro. He just wanted that scholarship.
Right before the Christmas break, it finally happened. All of his Ryan’s hard work had paid off. A scout for Brindleton Bay attended the game and had a meeting with Ryan’s coach afterwards.
When everyone was leaving, Ryan’s coach told him to wait and shared the good news. The scout wanted him to come tour the campus in Brindleton Bay. If he accepted, they were offering a full scholarship, since his grades were good as well.
Summer after graduation……
Graduation had been bittersweet for Reagan. She was now working full time at C&M, which she loved, but Ryan was leaving in a week and Taylor was in Paris. Of all people to still be living at home after graduation, she never thought it would be her, still living in the same bedroom she grew up in. Regardless, it was her space and she spent most of her spare time in that room working on her college studies. It was only temporary. She could deal.
However, when Jason called, Reagan jumped at the chance to get out of the house and see him one more time, before he too was gone out of her life. He was moving to Del Sol Valley in two weeks, chasing his dream of becoming a musician, while working at one of the Dreamer’s nightclubs his mother owned.
She and Jason were just friends, but he had been a huge help to her over the past year. Neither was ready for a relationship, so it had been easy to spend time together with no expectations. Jason was changing though, and his music had gone a little darker, as had he. She hoped the change of scenery and something constructive to focus on would be good for him. She knew underneath the grunge, he was still the same, at least she hoped so.
Reagan sighed softly as she curled up on the couch in her ‘regular’ spot. She let her mind wander as she listened to him play.
Jason was completely lost in his soulful song. She fleetingly considered just forgetting about working at C&M and maybe going with Jason to Del Sol Valley. But she wouldn’t be able to see her mother if she did that. She would be out in a couple of years. Plus, she really was excited about her job at C&M and her classes at SMU were already paid for.
Jason stopped playing and looked at her with his crooked grin. “That bad?” he asked.
She immediately plastered on a smile and turned to face him. “No, actually, it’s quite – emotional.”
Jason’s grin turned into a laugh as put his guitar down. “I guess that’s enough for now.” He scooted next to her, and slid his arm around her affectionately. “I know you Reagan,” he said as he hugged her, “You didn’t like it. You’re a terrible liar. That’s okay. I know it needs work. But, you were thinking about Ryan weren’t you? I’m really pumped for him.”
Reagan snuggled into Jason’s embrace and sighed. “Yes, and you too, to be honest. I’m super happy for both of you. It’s just, I’ve never been separated from Ryan before, you know. We were always there for each other. For the good and the bad. It’s like my right arm is getting cut off. With you leaving too, I’m gonna be armless.”
“Hey, I get it, but you’ll be okay, you have family,” said Jason and kissed her gently on the forehead. “I lost all of mine. Even though my grandmother was some kinda crazy, insane bitch and I didn’t really know her, I still felt empty when she was . . . when she died. And now with Liv at school and Mom working so much to keep herself busy, I feel even more alone, or armless, as you put it. So really, nothing is keeping me here. I might as well take advantage of the opportunity in Del Sol Valley and start over. Make a new beginning.”
Reagan turned to face him. “Oh Jason, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to whine …”
“It’s okay Reagan. You’ve helped more than you know. Just being here….” Jason stopped talking and looked at her differently, like maybe he wanted to kiss her.
“Unless, maybe, there was a reason to stay…” he whispered, then closed the distance between them and began to move his lips softly across her own.
Reagan felt … weird … and very uncomfortable, so she quickly pulled away. “I’m, I’m sorry Jason,” she said, wincing a little, “I guess I wasn’t prepared for that.”
“No… my bad,” he said and tried to laugh it off, although Reagan could tell he was sorry she didn’t respond differently by the hurt look in his eyes. “Not sure what came over me. I guess I just needed to know. Hell it’s only history repeating itself, my mom and your dad couldn’t make it work. Now me and you. Karma I guess. Just not fucking meant to be.”
“Jason … I … “ she stammered. She felt really bad for hurting his feelings, but didn’t know what to say.
She saw a hopeful look before he was able to mask it. “It’s okay Reagan. I figured it could never work with us. We grew up together, more like brother and sister I guess. Can we just forget it and stay friends? I’m going away and I would hate it if I left with things weird between us.”
Reagan let out a small breath. “You will always have me as a friend. You don’t know how much you’ve helped me this past year too. I could never be upset with you. Why don’t you go practice some more, so when you get famous, I can say you’re my best friend.”
Jason laughed, picked up his guitar and began to play. He sang a funny song he made up on the spot, just for her, making her laugh. Reagan would miss him, but she knew, after that kiss, she would never be with him. He was another brother. Her other arm.
A/N: OMG! The end of the teen years! I am jumping for joy. The young adult arc for this generation will thankfully begin next chapter with a short time jump. And chins … they have chins now!
♥ Thank you for hanging in there with me through all of these hormonal teenage years. ♥ Shew! Teenage girls! Gahhhh. I don’t wish them on anyone…. Wait… I used to be one… Sorry Mom and Dad!