Chapter 4.23 – Two Years Later – The Murdock Family

Ryan was sitting at his desk thinking about the past two years.   They had been full of ups and downs for his family.  The passing of Alex, and then his grandfather, had left emotional scars for some, and a big hole in his own heart.

But there was a bright spot in all of the tragedy that helped fill the void. Taysia delivered a healthy baby girl.  He had never seen his wife so happy and so in love.  Little Paige Marie was definitely a joy.  His love for both Taysia and Paige swelled, even as his heart broke for his sister’s family.

Ryan had hoped that Paige’s birth would help Tyler, along with the rest of the family, find some healing. And she did bring some much needed joy back to their lives. Sadly, his own children paid very little attention to their little sister, already a rambunctious, but incredibly affectionate, 15 month-old toddler.

Samantha had yet to even meet Paige.  She claimed she was too busy with the new show, but Ryan knew the real reason. Guilt. She and Tyler both carried unwarranted guilt for what happened to Alex.

Samantha dealt with it by pouring herself into her acting.  He missed her dearly, so he figured, they’d have to go to her.  Now that Paige was bigger, they could take a family vacation to Del Sol Valley and introduce Sam to her little sister.

Tyler, on the other hand,  withdrew into himself more and more.  His friends were nonexistent, with the exception of an occasional visit by Samson, otherwise he stayed in his room all day.  He barely managed to pass his last two years of high school.  Even the new car Ryan bought for his sixteenth birthday didn’t entice him to get out.

Ryan wasn’t sure what to do about it, other than just to be there for his son if and when he needed him. Even Taysia was at a loss, and she had always been able to reach him. Tyler’d refused further therapy after the initial grief counseling.  Ryan wanted to force him to continue going, but the counselor advised against it, saying he just needed time.

Ryan’s phone buzzed, startling him out of his unpleasant reveries. Reagan?  He was shocked.  She rarely called him anymore so he immediately thought the worst. What if something happened to Cassie?  The anniversary of Alex’s death was fast approaching and he knew Cassie was having a hard time, in fact their whole family was still in so much pain.

Ryan swiped across the screen to answer the call.  “Hi Rea.”

“Hey Ryan. I wanted to see if you had lunch plans today. I really need to see you.  It’s been way too long, plus I’d like to run something by you.”

Ryan let out a relieved breath. “Of course. I’ll always make time for you. Where are you?”

“Oh, I’m back at work. I started last week.”

“That’s awesome, I’m sure Evan’s  happy having you back. How’s the house coming?”

“It’s just about done, the kitchen is a mess.  We did get the basement finished.  That’s Cassie’s new lair.  I wanted her to have something of her own.  Too bad we had to do it all after we moved in.”  She paused and laughed. “I don’t recommend doing it that way.”

She laughed! He couldn’t remember the last time he heard his sister laugh. It warmed his heart and he chuckled in return. “I’ll keep that in mind. What time and where?”

She told him and they hung up. He thought about calling their dad to see what he knew about Reagan’s sudden apparent happiness, but then, he figured she’d tell him when he saw her.


Reagan was already there when Ryan arrived. She jumped up and hugged him. She felt so fragile in his arms because she was stick thin, although she did look healthier.

“It’s so good to see you,” she said as she released him and sat back down. “So, how’s that baby?”

Ryan smiled at the mention of his daughter as he scooted his chair up to the table. “Paige is a mess! She’s into absolutely everything. I forgot how hard toddlers were!”

“But you are smiling like a proud papa. Something tells me you’re loving it.”

Ryan laughed. “She has me wrapped around that tiny little finger of hers already.  She’s such a happy inquisitive little thing. It’s a joy watching her learn.”

“So how’s your other gorgeous daughter?”  Ryan’s face fell.  “That bad huh?” she surmised from his expression.

“Sam seems like a different person, Rea, distant. I don’t know her anymore. We used to have such a good relationship even though we didn’t see each other a lot. I know she’s working hard on her new show, but still, she could’ve come to see the baby.  She hasn’t even met Paige yet and she was so excited about it when I told her.”

Reagan sighed and her smile also vanished.  “I’m sorry. I hate to think she’s still carrying around misplaced guilt.  But I can certainly relate. Cassie now insists on being called Cassandra.  You know she cut her hair and dyed it black. Evan says she’s reinventing herself.”

Ryan sighed softly.  So much had changed. “How are you doing Rea?  You look really good. Healthy and happy.”

Reagan’s smile reappeared momentarily.  “Thanks. I’m getting there. I have a magic therapist and an amazing husband. Do you remember the therapist I went to after the thing with our mother … Dr. Brown? Evan found her and she came all the way to Willow Creek just to see me. Bless her, she has a knack for helping me see what’s obvious to everyone else. Sadly, Cassie is still clinging to Grayson, and he to her. It’s such a weird thing to watch. But I was awful to Cassie, Ryan. I have a lot to make up for with her and Grayson too. I hope I can. But I don’t know how to reach her. I tried to get her to talk to Dr. Brown, but she insists she’s fine.”

“She’ll eventually understand Rae,” he said softly, “It may not be until she has her own children, but one day, she’ll understand and you two will be close again.”

“I hope you’re right.” She paused and took a deep breath, composing herself. “Soooo. What I wanted to ask you is this. Sofia suggested that we add Alex’s name to the memorial for the Park. Sofia said she thought Grandpa would be honored … “

Reagan sniffed as she dabbed her eyes and chuckled softly. “Damn, you’d think I wouldn’t have any tears left. Anyway, they didn’t have the party there last year. But this year, I think I’d like to bring it back and do the dedication and establish a scholarship in her name. I think it would bring healing to the kids … and our family. But we won’t do it, if you feel it’s self serving.”

Ryan was speechless. Where did this strong woman come from. She was a mess a few short months ago, before they moved. He realized she was waiting for an answer. “I think it’s a great idea Reagan,” he said quickly, “it’s a nice way to honor her memory. I’m happy to donate to the fund for the scholarship.  Maybe it would even help Tyler and Cassie. We hoped the baby would bring him out if it and it seemed to do the opposite.”

“I’d be happy to talk to both of your children Ryan. I hope you know I don’t hold them responsible. It was a freak accident.  In fact, Tyler was only trying to protect Alex, bless him. I know he loved the girls.”

“That’s generous, but I can’t ask you to do that.  They would resent me interfering. It’s just gonna take more time. Maybe the memorial will give everyone closure.”

“Okay enough sad topics,” said Reagan and smiled, “You and Taysia need to bring little Paige by the house and see the changes. It’s really starting to take shape. Bring Tyler too.  He needs to know he’s welcome in our home.”

“I will. That’d be nice. Rea … I’m really glad you are coping better. I guess it does take time. I just hope the kids begin to figure it out too.”

“Cassie, Cassandra, is hiding behind her hair and makeup. Honestly, I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be to become a twinless twin. I know there’s a connection between us, and well, I can’t even go there. She must feel like part of her is missing … crap … here I go again.” His sister once again dabbed at her eyes.

“It’s okay Rea. I get exactly what you’re saying. She’s dealing with it the best she can by creating an identity all to herself.”

“I know,” she said on a sigh, “That’s what Dr. Brown says. Well thanks for meeting me and letting me unload a little. I feel better. Please, you guys, do come by this weekend. I’ll call Taysia and set a time. And maybe that’ll light a fire under the contractors and they can get the kitchen finished.”


Later that evening…..

Tyler’s phone buzzed with a message. ‘Dinner’s ready, come on down.’ 

Tyler sighed and told his online friends he had to go for 20 minutes, but he’d be right back.

He walked into the dining room. The smell of garlic noodles and bread sticks made his stomach growl, reminding him he hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

“Tywer!” squealed Paige from her high chair and looked at him expectantly.  Tyler rolled his eyes. He had no idea why she even liked him. He hardly paid her any attention, and when he was forced to, she just pestered him to play with her more. It was annoying, so he avoided her as much as he could get away with.

“Tyler,” said his father in his ‘don’t argue with me’ voice, “say hi to your sister.”

Tyler let out an exaggerated sigh. “Hi Paige,” he said and plopped down in his chair.  He grabbed his plate and filled it, not looking at either his dad or stepmother, hoping to just eat and go back upstairs.

“I had lunch with Rae today,” said his father, thankfully directing his comment to Tay.

Tyler stopped chewing listening closer.

“Oh, is everything okay?” she asked.

His dad chuckled. “That was my initial reaction too. Actually, she’s doing really well. She invited us to their house for dinner this weekend. All of us.” He looked meaningfully at Tyler.

“I can’t wait to see what she’s done with the house,” replied Taysia gushing excitedly. “And to see her too, of course. I’ve missed hanging out with her and Evan.”

“I can’t go,” mumbled Tyler.

“Why not?” asked Taysia.

“I have … to clean my room,” he lied. Shit. He knew that wouldn’t fly.  But he really, really didn’t want to go to there. It had been hard enough seeing ‘Cassandra’ the last few weeks of school with her short black hair. He knew he was responsible for that change. And he knew she hated him.  She always avoided him at school, so he knew she wouldn’t want him in her house.

“Ty,” said his father, his tone surprisingly gentle and forgiving, instead of angry and harsh, causing Tyler to look up, “I know you don’t want to go.  But you need to spare a couple of hours for them. It would be rude to refuse.”

Tyler suddenly lost his appetite and put down his fork. He just couldn’t. He shook his head. “I … can’t … why would they even want me there?”

“They’re family Ty,” explained his father, his tone still controlled. “Aunt Rea specifically requested that you come.”

“Why?” Tyler was about to lose it. He felt the walls closing in.

“Because she cares about you,” he explained.

“That’s stupid!”

“Stooo – pid!” parroted Paige.

“Tyler, please watch your language around your sister,” said Taysia in a hushed whisper.

“She’s a baby,” he retorted, thankful to have something else to talk about. “She doesn’t know what I’m saying. Besides, stupid isn’t a swear word.”

“She’s learning and it’s not a nice word.”  Disappointment colored her words making him feel bad.

“Whatever, I’m finished. I’m going upstairs.”

“You didn’t eat,” said Taysia.

“I’m not hungry anymore.” He got up and took his plate to the kitchen to avoid further discussion.

When he walked past Paige she started waving her hands.  “Bye-bye,” she squealed over and over.

She was smiling at him and it made him sadder. She didn’t know what a loser he really was. He didn’t respond to her but rolled his eyes and went upstairs.

He laid down on his bed. He knew his dad was going to somehow make him go. He dreaded it. He couldn’t face Cassie or her family.  He needed to figure out how to get out of going.

Sure enough, he heard a knock on his door. “Tyler?” His fathers deep voiced boomed through the door. Here goes the mandate.

He quickly got up,  sat at his computer and launched a game. “What?”

“Can I come in? I brought you a piece of cheese cake.”

Tyler felt his stomach rumble. “Okay.” He wouldn’t leave until he let him in anyway, and since he didn’t eat, cheese cake sounded really good.

His dad opened the door and sat the slice of cheese cake on his night stand. “Here you go.”

“Thanks,” mumbled Tyler.

“Ty, you know you need to go, right?”

“Dad, please don’t make me go,” begged Tyler.

“I’m sorry, it’s not open for debate. I haven’t forced more therapy on you, but you need to start coming to terms with your family or we might revisit it.”

No! he screamed in his headTherapy wasn’t going to change the fact that he killed his cousin. That wasn’t fair. “Fine,” he agreed simply to make his dad go away. He didn’t want to think about it, much less talk about it.

“Good decision Ty.  I love you and just want you to be happy.”

Tyler just scowled at him. He knew it was a lie just to try and make him feel better.  He didn’t love him, not like he loved Paige. “Then let me stay home.” He had to give it one more try.

His dad sighed. Tyler thought he was either gonna yell or leave. He did neither. “Non-negotiable son,” he said firmly. “I’ll leave you to your game. We have to be there Saturday at 11:30. I expect you to be ready, and to be gracious.”

“Whatever,” he mumbled.  He had no intention of going.  He would be sick or something.  Even if he had to make himself throw up, it wasn’t happening.

His dad finally turned and left the room, the door closing with a soft click instead of a loud bang like he would’ve done before Paige was born.  Tyler felt his shoulders relax now that he was gone. He he picked up the cheese cake and began to eat.

As he ate the rich, sweet dessert, he thought about how much his father had changed since Paige was born, keeping things ‘happy’ for her and Tay.  His new perfect family didn’t include him. He’d probably be thrilled when he was out of his hair. He couldn’t wait to be out either. As soon as he graduated he’d move away where no one knew he killed his cousin. If he could make it that much longer.

That last thought gave Tyler an idea. He turned to his PC and DM’d a friend he’d been playing and chatting with for the last 4 years. He knew him only by his screen name, DarkShadow, Dark for short.  They’d chatted privately a lot, so Dark knew about Tyler’s problems.

DemonSlayer:  Dark, you there?

DarkShadow:  Yeah – you coming back to the game?

DemonSlayer:  In a minute. You have time to talk? I wanted to ask you a question.

DarkShadow:  Sure, what’s up?

DemonSlayer:  I’m thinking of moving outta town. I have a little money saved.  Once I get where I’m going, I’ll get a job. Do you maybe know anyone I can crash with for awhile – until I can get a job and get my own place?  I really don’t care where, as long as it’s not Willow Creek or Newcrest. I’ll go anywhere, I just gotta get outta here soon.

DarkShadow: Fuck man. What kinda trouble are you in?

DemonSlayer: No Dark, no trouble. I just hate it here and need to get out.

DarkShadow:  You’re not running from the law are you?

DragonSlayer:  Never mind.  I’ll figure something out.

Tyler exited the chat session and logged out. He was more depressed than before. He really figured Dark would help him. He knew Dark was a little older than him, already out of high school. But he never mentioned that anyone lived with him. He hoped he’d take the hint and offer to let him temporarily crash with him. But obviously Dark was suspicious and didn’t trust him. He’d just have to do it on his own.

For now he needed to immerse himself in his game and slay some dragons. He turned it on and hoped Dark wouldn’t be on.   Soon, a soft ding indicated he’d received a message. Dark.

He switched over and looked to see what he wrote.  He didn’t have to reply back.

DarkShadow:  Where’d you go Slayer?

Tyler thought for a minute, deciding whether or not to change his status to away,  when yet another soft ding sounded at the same time a second message popped up on the screen.

DarkShadow:  Hey man, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to piss you off.  I just had to be sure. I have an idea.  Talk to me. 

Tyler’s curiosity was piqued.  He gave in and started typing.

DragonSlayer: What idea?

DarkShadow:  Oh good.  Listen.  I’m not in Newcrest or Willow Creek.  But I’m not much further.  I live in San Myshuno, if that’s okay.  I thought you’d already figured that out.  Anyway, I’m in an efficiency apartment, but I do have a couch if you want a place to crash for a few weeks.

Tyler couldn’t believe it. He was getting outta here.  It was going to happen.  His hands were shaking when he typed his response.  He needed to be sure he understood.

DragonSlayer:  You’re offering me to come stay with you?

DarkShadow: Yeah man. I’ve known you for awhile.  You’re good.  I’m sorry I thought you were in trouble.

Dragon Slayer: Thanks. I need to come in a couple of days.  

DarkShadow:  That soon?  Okay.  That’s fine.  Gives me a couple of days to clean up beer cans and empty pizza boxes.  Damn, I can’t believe I’m gonna meet THE DragaonSlayer.  

DragonSlayer:  Same. Now let’s go kick some ass.

Go to Chapter 4.24>>>>>>>

Go Back to Chapter 4.22

A/N: I’ve prepared a tribute to Ben. ❤️  Interlude – Remembering Ben. 
I love you forever

44 thoughts on “Chapter 4.23 – Two Years Later – The Murdock Family

  1. I’m SO worried about Ty!!! Like, who is this person? He could be anyone! Yikes! I hope he’s not some kind of pedophile or something. 😨😨

    Rea is doing so much better! I’m so glad she reconnected with the therapist she had before. It’s done a world of good.

    On a happier note, Paige is so cute!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tyler is a huge concern right now. No telling who the guy is. I hope he’s not a pedo. That would be disastrous! 😭.

      And yes! Rea is trying to put her life back together. She’s been hiding behind her grief for too long and it’s hurting her family. I’m glad they found her old therapist and she was gracious enough to come help her.

      And Paige … she is so cute, even when she cries. And she is easily comforted.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, I really wonder what made Ryan even think that the baby would make Tyler feel better when Tyler already had a bad reaction when his father announced the pregnancy? Ryan will never change much, even if he stopped the yelling 😁

    I’m curious about the mysterious gamer friend too, ofc, but four years of pm’s and no names were mentioned?? Tyler is maybe too naive.
    How old is he, actually? Can he even move out like that?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ryan is so good hearted yet has zero common sense! Tyler is very naive. He is 16 now and no, he can’t just move out. He’d be running away from home. Which is totally his plan. He’s gonna hide. Typical teen thinking he knows more than anyone. But, in his defense, he’s carrying a ton of guilt over Alex’s death.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no! Tyler is going to run away! Wow…I hope his friend Dark is trustworthy.

    Little Paige is such a cutie! Too bad Tyler is too into his own troubles to notice her!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tyler is going to try and run away. He’s just so confused and sad right now. 😭😭😭. Let’s hope Dark will see that he’s a minor if he does indeed make it them and will get him to go back home.

      And Paige! A little Murdock with her black hair and blue eyes. But I think she missed the mouth and got her mother’s full lips. ❤️. I hope at some point she and Tyler will bond. It would be sad if they didn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ryan having a nice guy moment really threw me for a loop! 👀

    Ty is sure carrying around some epic grief here 😬 always made harder by teenage hormones!

    You know what tho, I’m excited by this new development, get him out of the yeller’s house, have an adventure! 👍

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yay for terrible ideas! Lol. Y is carrying around so much guilt exacerbated by teenage hormones. 😭

      And yes, Ryan shocked me too. I think Taysia might be rubbing off on him, finally. Or maybe it was realizing he could lose Tyler at a moments notice? Tragedy can change a person.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Every mom instinct in me is sweating at the thought of him hooking up with an internet friend, just out of the blue. Hope it goes well..
    Glad Rea is doing better and has extended the olive branch to them to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes! I’m terrified for him! It could go well or very badly. I’m not sure there is an in between. 😱 Teenage logic in full swing.
      Reagan is doing so much better with a good therapist and loving and understanding husband.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. HOW is Ryan just the worst dad. 🙃 I mean, Tyler is, like, in the EXACT same situation as Ryan and Reagan was when Cole and Dannie got together – feeling like he doesn’t have a place in the new happy family. And now Ryan is all ‘But why did ma new babby not make him happyyyyy?!’ Dangit, Ryan, get your head out of your behind. Babies don’t make teenagers happy.
    Oh well, Ryan will probably be forced to dislodge his head from his large intenstine when his kid just runs the heck away.
    Ha, ha, ha, at least Reagan is recovering. It was nice to see her happy. 😊❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes! Karma. Tyler is very much in the same place as he and Reagan were! Teenagers hate competition for their attention – especially babies! Poor Ryan, he’s trying but just can’t get there. Ryan might finally get a clue when his kid runs away! I love the way you put that! 😂🤣😂

      Thank goodness Reagan is working in getting her life back. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Paige is so cute 😍 It’s sad to see how cold Tyler is toward herd but understandable too. Not only was the timing of her birth pretty bad, but Ryan’s way of handling things has been too… 😬

    While I feel bad that he’s choosing to run away, I’m very excited to see Ty meet this mysterious online friend 😈 Because it’s either going to end in absolute disaster or unexpected romance. There can be no in-between! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paige was the bright spot in this chapter! ❤️ So sad That Tyler doesn’t even see her. Ryan hasn’t been the best father, although he tries. He just can’t seem to get it right.😢

      Poor Tyler wanting to run away breaks my heart. Meeting his online friend will be fun. It can end in disaster or it can be good. No in between is right! Lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Interlude – Remembering Ben | New Beginnings

  9. Paige looks so adorable. And she obviously thinks the world of her big brother. Too bad he is drowning in his own guilt to see that.
    I don’t have a good feeling about this plan of his. I don’t trust this Dark guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. HmMmMmMMMMM. i’m not sure I like thissss. I would feel slightly better if Ty actually knew more about Dark. $ years of friendship and you didn’t Exchange a Picture or talk about Jobs? Not saying he’s trouble, but I would think twice about doing so lol.

    But, then again Ty isn’t in his right mindset. If he wasn’t before, he sure isn’t now. It’s gonna be sad for him to move out, but, alas, you can only force your child to do so much, and you can only help someone if they want to be helped, in some aspect. Both Cassandra and Ty do *not* want to be helped, and you can’t exactly tie then up and force them to go to theraphy. (Thought I still think the parents should have tried that lol)

    I think Cassandra isn’t avoiding him because of hatred, more like guilt, I dunno. She seeme to be blaming soleny herself, so it wouldn’t be that weird if she was just avoiding him because it was ”too much to deal with” and not in a bad way.

    *SIgh* I thought Sam would also espiral down. Lucky for her mother, i guess. She must be more productive then ever.Ugh.

    I’m glad Rea is manaaging to get herself healthy again.Poor girl has been throught a lot, that’s for sure. Hopefully if her healing, it could help Cassandra to heal up too. Not necesserally go back to her previous self, but at least cope better with her sister’s death.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right. Usually you would know more. But Ty is 16 not 20. So the years he’s known him have been as a fellow gamer. He probably didn’t ask those questions…

      Cassandra and Ty are avoiding each other out of guilt. Not because they are angry. And each thinks the other is mad at them for causing Alex’s death. So unless they talk, well it’s hurts them both because they used to be good friends.

      Sam’s chapter is next…

      Thank goodness for Reagan finally getting better for her. Once she’s healthy she can begin to help ‘Cassandra’ too if by nothing more than actually being there for her.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. First of all, I have to agree with Louise in everything she said about Ryan. How could he be so dense and not see the situation exactly as it is? The repeat of his teenage years all over again! Gahhh, he’s so frustrating!
    And now Tyler is about to run away because of his guilt and his dad’s poor handling of situations. I’m not sure how I feel about this Dark person… he could easily be anyone hiding behind that screen! I hope it’s not someone dangerous or someone who will take advantage of Tyler in any way…
    I am on pins and needles about what’s gonna happen next! Can’t wait for more ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes I just want to shake Ryan. What is it about him? It Ryan 2.0 and he doesn’t see it. I wanted to yell at him the exact same thing. I wondered if anyone would connect the dots there. Repeating the sins of his father and not even seeing it.

      Dark could be anyone. Maybe they can find him quickly or he’ll tuck his tail and come back home. Ugh.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Chapter 4.24 – Two Years Later – Samantha Murdock | New Beginnings

  13. NO WHAT HOW DARE YOU DIE, BEN! What a time of losses. Paige really comes in like a blessing. I’m so glad Rea is actually doing a little better. Or, not a little. A lot better actually. But of course it’s still going to be difficult and there will be a lot of tears more. Some things, you never heal from.
    It’s kind of weird how Dark’s first thought was “he’s running from the law” and still, he’s willing to let Ty sleep in his room. Maybe it’s a bad conscience and too many movies. Maybe it’s more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was so hard when Ben died. Paige is a breath of fresh air and she’s so dang cute. Reagan is trying hard and learning to live again. Dark probably thought he was in trouble because the request seemingly came out of nowhere. We shall see.


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