Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chapter 16 - Reconciliation

NOTE: This story has a rating of PG-13. It is intended for a mature audience, as it contains strong references to things such as woohoo, crime, violence, language, etc. You have been warned!

Whitney felt like a child again, crying into her pillow for something she'd done wrong in her mother's eyes, when in reality, it wasn't wrong. Nothing would ever be good enough for her mother. She felt bad about what she'd said to her, but she was tired of taking it. Riley had been her first, and if it weren't for Jordan, he would have been her only. She didn't sleep around. And she certainly hadn't deserved what had happened to her.

But how could she tell her mother that? She'd find some way to blame her, just like she always did. She feared for Dustin too, since his biggest ambition was to be a speed racer. God only knew what Laura would have to say about that.

Her bedroom hadn't changed since she'd left. It still had the same pink, green, and yellow colors as well as her twin-size bed, the room not being big enough for a larger one. The only difference was that her guitar was now in Bridgeport, as she hadn't thought to bring it with her. Posters of various musicians were on her wall, and she had one of the two biggest windows in the house. She didn't always like that, due to lack of privacy, but she had grown used to it over the years.

Whitney didn't realize she'd dozed off until she opened her eyes and saw that it was dark outside. She sat up and stretched, feeling guilty about what had transpired earlier that evening. Knowing she wouldn't feel better until she apologized, she swallowed her pride for the second time that day and walked to her parents' room. She knocked on the door and her father's voice said, "Come in."

She walked in and saw that her father was reading a book in one of the two chairs. Her mother wasn't in sight.

"Where's Mom?" she asked.

Gavin lowered his book and said, "She got called in to work late. She has to cover for someone that called in sick."

"Oh. Well, I was just going to say I'm sorry about earlier."

"I've never heard you talk like that before. You said earlier that you wanted to talk to me privately. How about now?"


Whitney walked forward and sat down in the other chair next to her father. She clenched and unclenched her hands, unsure of how she could possibly begin.

"You can tell me anything, pumpkin," Gavin said when Whitney said nothing. "Whatever it is, I'm here for you."

"Can we just keep this between us?"

"It depends. If it's a very serious matter, I may have to tell your mother at the very least."

"It is serious, but it's already happened. A few months ago, in fact. So it's old news."

"Well, then, let's hear it."

Whitney took a deep breath and said it all in a rush.

"That picture in the papers of me in my underwear at a guy's house? Well, the guy was my boyfriend. But it wasn't like that. I'd just went through a very traumatic experience, and I was sort of in a state of shock."

"Why were you in your underwear, then?"

"My boyfriend, Riley, had a band. But this one member, Jordan, was always flirting and messing around, so he got rid of him. Jordan got mad and showed up at Riley's place to let him have a piece of his mind, but I was there. Riley was also my drummer, so we jammed together a lot, so I was already over there. Riley got called away to see another potential band member to replace Jordan. Well, Jordan saw me alone, and he'd flirted with me since we first met, so he got a different idea. Oh, and he was a vampire."

"Whitney...you're not making any sense. Jordan found you alone in Riley's house, which he showed up to in order to chew Riley out about dropping him from the band, and he happened to be a vampire?"

"A flirty vampire. Dad, I did tell you that I didn't turn into a vampire by myself, or by choice."

It took a moment to register, but Gavin's brow furrowed and he clenched his fists together. He was angry, and rightly so. His daughter had just confessed to him that she'd been taken advantage of and turned into a vampire by her assaulter.

"Did you tell the police?"

"I couldn't. The press..."

"To hell with the press. Whitney, this guy forced himself on you, turned you into a monster, and you didn't tell anyone?"

"I told Riley. And later I told Darcy. But Dad, Jordan also threatened me. He said he'd kill me and Riley if I told the police."

"And you believed him?"

"Dad, he was a vampire. I was scared to death and in a state of shock. But that's not even the worst of it."

"What could possibly be worse?"

"This is embarrassing to say to my dad, but, he uh...didn't use...protection."

"I didn't need to hear that. That's nasty."

"Dad...I'm going somewhere with this. What happens if someone woohoos and doesn't use protection? Didn't you ever have this talk?"

This time Gavin's eyes bugged out. "You mean to tell me that...you're pregnant? With some monster attacker's child?"

"Was. I...lost it."

"You what?"

"I got the vampirism cure, but not long after I took it, I lost the baby. I didn't realize it was too strong for babies, and it would have been at least half-vampire. Maybe if it was full vampire, it would have survived..."

Whitney broke down crying then. She'd finally gotten everything out, and as she'd hoped, her father stood up and gave her a hug.

"You poor thing," he said as he embraced her, in a way that would suggest he would fight off a vampire with his bare hands if one dared to even look at his little girl. "I had no idea. Why didn't you tell us?"

"I was too scared and ashamed. It's my fault."

Gavin let go of Whitney and looked at her closely. "It wasn't your fault. None of this. That Jordan guy did this to you, and it was his doing, not yours. And as for the cure...well, you couldn't have known that."

"I keep telling myself that if I knew it would be fatal to the baby, I wouldn't have taken it, but then I think, I probably still would have taken the cure because I didn't want that life."

"That doesn't make you a bad person. You're only human. Er, well..."

"Yes, Dad. I'm human. And that's what I want. I want to live a happy, normal life. I don't want to live forever and see everyone I care about die."

"Whitney, this is very...serious. I think your mother should know."

"Please, Dad. She'll find a way to blame me for this, I know it."

"Well I don't think so. Whitney, your mother means well. It just comes out wrong."

"Well, it really hurt me, what she said to me earlier."

"I told her that. I also told her she should be proud of you, and she should be. I think she is, she just doesn't want to admit it. But Whitney, I'm very proud of you, and I want you to be happy."

"Thanks, Dad. And hey, I noticed you guys were getting along a little better now."

"Yeah, I think it was just hard for your mother to accept you leaving home. Every parent hates when their kids move out."

"Sometimes I think I shouldn't have left, but then I think that I wouldn't have been able to achieve my goals if I hadn't."

"Everyone makes mistakes, Whitney. The important thing is that you learn from them."

"Yeah, and I know I did. When I get back to Bridgeport, things will be different."

Gavin hugged his daughter again, and then the two said good night. Whitney changed into her pajamas, but she knew that sleep wouldn't be possible. So, since she didn't have her guitar or an easel, she went into the living room to watch TV until her mother came home.

When she heard the door being unlocked, Whitney turned the TV off and stood up, waiting for her mother's entrance. When she saw Laura at last, she looked tired and strained.

"Mom," Whitney began before she could lose her nerve. "I'm so sorry..."

Laura looked at her daughter, and Whitney was surprised to see tears in her mother's eyes. She hated hurting people (Jordan being the exception), especially ones she cared about.

"Oh, God, I can't even begin to tell you how bad I feel," Whitney babbled on. "I didn't mean what I said, I just..."


Her mother's voice wasn't one of anger and retaliation. It was of sorrow and concern tinted with sadness and regret.

"Sit down," Laura said. Whitney complied and Laura sat down beside her.

"I shouldn't have reacted the way I did," Laura began. "I should have known that you'd never sleep around. And I also should have known that you'd never turn yourself into a monster on purpose. It's just..."

"You didn't want me to go to Bridgeport to begin with. I know."

"It's not that. I want you to live out your dreams, Whitney. But...there are so many things you'll miss out on with the life you've chosen. You won't have time for a husband and kids, and a lot of people think being a celebrity will make them happy, when it actually drags them down and makes them depressed. I didn't want that for you. If you wanted to make such a difference, something more practical would have been better."

"You mean, you didn't want me to go to Bridgeport because you were afraid I wouldn't be happy?"

"Yes, and, well, I used to want your life, Whitney. I often thought of being famous one day, but that never happened. I never even had that much of an initiative to try. I guess I felt that, if you became successful..."

"You're jealous."

"I guess you can put it that way. I worry about you, yes, but I do wish I had an easier life sometimes. Then I remind myself that the celebrity life isn't always as happy as it seems."

"Where is this coming from?"

"I had a best friend years before I married your father, and she wanted the same thing. But she ended up not liking the celebrity life, because of all the other things she'd miss out on. She hardly had time to herself, much less time to devote to a potential husband. So, she quit and moved to Sunset Valley and now she's happy."

This was a lot for Whitney to process. Her mother was jealous? That was the last thing she truly expected. She thought she didn't want Whitney doing something that was so easy to fail at, but in reality, she'd only been looking out for her all along.

Tears filled her eyes as she looked into her mother's.

"Mom, I'm so sorry. I had no idea you felt that way. Why didn't you tell me?"

"It just seemed silly, of a mother to be jealous of her daughter. And the more a parent forbids something, the more likely a child, whatever their age, is likely to do it. So I didn't outright forbid it; I just checked to see if you were completely sure this is what you wanted."

"It is, Mom. Since I was twelve."

"Well, I was also afraid that stardom might go to your head, and you'd forget all about your family and who you really were. Like you'd turn into a completely different person."

"I haven't lost track of who I am, I promise."

"I'm glad, but I do question that since you have tattoos, since I never knew you to like those things, and the vampire thing scared me beyond belief. Not to mention how, well, unhappy, your latest album was. And there is that issue with you in that boy's apartment..."

"Mom, this is really hard, but if you want, I'll tell you the truth."

Whitney was surprised she'd tell her mother the truth voluntarily, but she owed her that much. Laura nodded and she told her everything (leaving out, as she had with her father, what had been Jordan's fate).

When she finished, Laura was crying all over again.

"Oh, my poor baby," she said, taking Whitney into her arms. "You didn't deserve that. I wish you'd told us. And the police."

"But Jordan threatened me."

"Well, I'm surprised you didn't go after him when you were a vampire as some sort of revenge. God knows you would have been strong enough. I would have done that if it had been me."

Whitney hoped her cheeks didn't heat up.

"Well, I don't know where Jordan is. He just dropped off the face of the earth."

"I read in the papers about a vampire's body being found in that special lounge of theirs. In fact, I swear his name was Jordan. And his head was separated from his body."

"Oh...yeah, I guess I do remember that story. But I probably blocked it out because I was still in shock."

"I don't blame you. And I guess, since he's already been taken care of, we don't have to inform the police. I wouldn't want this to get out either, just for fear of what might happen to your dream. Whitney, I really am proud of you, and as long as you're happy, that's all I want. I'm sorry I didn't give you much hope."

"It's okay, Mom. Just, from now on, how about we be honest with each other?"

"I'd like that."

Whitney gave her mother a hug, and for the first time in a long time, she felt her mother's warm embrace filled with true love and care.

"And Mom," Whitney added as they separated, "I didn't say I'd never get married and have a family. I'd like that someday, and a lot of celebs do it."

"Well, I do look forward to being a grandma someday. But I'm glad it's not before you're ready. I hope you were...safe with that boy."

"Yeah, always."

Whitney was thinking of Riley when she said that. She wasn't ready to tell her mother about Jordan's unsafe ways. That would be too much for her. She had to tell someone, and her father was the best bet for that. Perhaps someday Laura would discover that truth as well, but for now, she would be in the dark. And both of them would be in the dark about Jordan's death.

After that, the two went to bed, Laura being exhausted from her shift, and Whitney finally feeling tired. As she lay in her bed waiting for sleep to overtake her, she thought about what her mother had said. She'd been worried about Whitney losing herself, forgetting who she truly was. In a way, she'd been right. Whitney had let stardom go to her head, if only briefly. She'd allowed Simon to transform her into a slightly different person with her haircut and new wardrobe and makeover, but that was hardly anything. Riley had changed her a lot, making her more outgoing and fearless. Darcy had also contributed to that. And then there was Jordan, who brought the biggest changes of all. Whitney was determined not to become that person again.

She'd gone to Bridgeport to become a country music star, and that dream had somewhat been pushed aside, because she was becoming more like a rock star. Country girls didn't usually make it in the city, but Whitney wasn't a city girl. Riverview was in her blood. She wanted to be herself, and no one else. Not someone that another person transformed her into, not someone she didn't recognize in the mirror. She wanted to be Whitney Cross, country girl in the city. But how was she going to pull that off?

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