Another great week for Tuesday Tales. This week we’re taking a peek back into Escaping Humanity the book I’m co-authoring with Sarah Cass. Another little Father/Daughter Moment with Annie and Warren. The prompt this week is Ruthless.
Annie chewed on her thumbnail all of her concentration on the chessboard in front of her. As she moved the piece across the board she flashed a grin at Warren. “Check.”
“Again?” Warren chuckled with a shake of his head. “I think that’s a new record. I’ve never been beaten that quick before.”
“Hey I learned from the best.” A pang of sadness ran through her at the statement. “I mean in my version of memories…”
“Easy Annie.” Warren’s hand covered hers on the table. “We may not have the same memories but from what you’ve told us they are pretty close to what we would have done had you always been with us.”
“Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better if James had never pulled me out of New York. You and Mom wouldn’t be going through this now. Everything would just continue to fade and you never would have known about me.” She wiped at a tear that slipped past her control. The medicine James had given her stabilized the degradation of her cells but deep down she knew there would be no miracle cure. The end result would be the same.
“Don’t say that. James and Charlotte are going to find a way to fix this. Regardless you are our daughter and we love you.” Warren had come around after her last episode and stopped the search for any mission that might have facilitated Annie’s presence at the compound.
“Yet I can’t tell if you want to cry or throw up every time I call you Daddy.” Annie squeezed his hand back with a smile.
“And here I thought I was getting better at hiding my knee-jerk reactions.” Derek smirked back at her.
“You are. It’s frustrating sometimes though that I’m the only one that has these memories.” Her parents and her brothers had gotten used to her references to things that had never happened. “Check.”
“You have no intention of letting me win do you?”
“If I let you win and didn’t make you earn it you wouldn’t learn anything.”
“I think I said something similar to your brothers when I tried to teach them how to play.” Warren concentrated on the board and his next move.
“You told me that when I was ten years old and I was so mad that I could never beat you.” Annie looked up as the door to her room slid open and Abbie walked in. “Hey Mom.”
“And how are you two doing in here?” Abbie pressed her lips to Annie’s forehead and then to Warren’s lips.
“I’m getting my ass handed to me by our daughter. She’s ruthless. I haven’t won one game all morning.” Warren moved his piece across the board.
“Mainly because he keeps making moves like that. Check mate Daddy.”
“Did you expect her to let you win honey?” Abbie’s eyebrow quirked up with the question.
“No but I expected to win at least one or two.”
“Perhaps you need to try a little harder.” Abbie laughed as Warren pulled her onto his lap.
“Hey now I don’t need both of you ganging up on me.” Warren scowled at the two women but it held the underlying hint of his smile.
“How are you feeling Annie?” Abbie studied her.
Annie’s shoulder rose in a shrug. “Okay I guess. I mean a little better than I did yesterday but I can still feel it and now things are starting to feel a little jumbled.”
“What do you mean jumbled? Abbie straightened up.
“Memories are starting to overlap and some details feel mixed up and hazy. Honestly my brain feels like a hard drive in need of a serious defrag.” Annie busied herself by resetting the chessboard. With an empath for a mother though she doubted that she would be able to hide her own trepidation.
“Have you told James about it? It might be a side effect from the medicine they gave you.” Warren ran his hand along Abbie’s back.
“Nope haven’t seen James since…” Her voice trailed off at the thought of her last real conversation with James. The kiss right before she passed out. Guess that answered what he thought about it and by extension her. Not that she blamed him. In the end she would be dead so what point was there in getting attached.
“Since when Annie?” Abbie prodded her daughter in an attempt to get her to finish her thought.
Annie cleared her throat which suddenly felt like she had swallowed a pound of sand. Maybe if she forced enough indifference into her voice her mother wouldn’t pick up on how she really felt. “I guess since I passed out outside. Why would I see him anyway? Tall dark and angry doesn’t exactly strike me as someone that would stop by just to chat. I mean come on he’s been forced by his sister to work on this.”
“Annie what happened?” Calm came from Abbie as she asked the question.
“Nothing happened Mom. Want some tea? Daddy you want anything?” Annie pushed on the table to steady herself as she stood up. She focused on the task of pulling out mugs and teabags. “I’m sure James will be much happier when I’m gone and he doesn’t have to stay chained to the lab anymore.”
“Did James do something to hurt you?” The overprotective father voice came from behind her.
“No Daddy James hasn’t done anything to hurt me just don’t get the impression that I’m more than annoying task to him.” Despite her best efforts the gripping sadness that came with the statement crashed into her heart as if someone had parked a truck on it.
“Baby?” Abbie’s hands came to rest on Annie’s shoulders.
“I’m fine really. Just hit me harder sometimes.” It took considerable effort but Annie forced a smile onto her face. In truth finding moments of happiness in her situation had become almost non-existent. While her parents still held hope that a miracle cure would reveal itself Annie knew better. The kiss she had shared with James allowed her to forget for a brief time but she didn’t have the energy to keep up the pretense.
“It will all work out Annie. You have to believe that.” Warren joined the pair in front of the sink.
“Let me know when the white knight shows up with his horse.” Annie leaned into her father with a sigh.
“James will find something I don’t think you are an annoying task to him.” Abbie ran her hand along Annie’s hair.
“I think I’m going to lay down for a bit I’m getting tired again.” Annie leaned up and kissed each of her parents on the cheek.
“Get some rest. We’ll bring some dinner by a little later.” Warren hugged her to him as he kissed her forehead.
Annie managed a nod as she extracted herself from Warren’s arms and made her way to her room. In truth she wanted to avoid any other questions from her parents. Yes James had kissed her back but she didn’t want to dissect it with her parents. Instead she curled up under a blanket with her back to the door and let the silent tears fall.
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