The sound of the shattering vase broke the tense silence.
Ron had officially gone off the deep end and was wrecking his office–one patterned vase at a time. “HER BOYFRIEND?? How could Lisa do this?”
There goes a potted plant.
“What in the…how in the...She fell in love? With HIM?”
Ron chucked a Petri dish at the wall.
“I knew he had tabs on her, but I didn’t think he had his hands on her too! For the love!”
Ron collapsed back into his desk chair and looked around at four shocked faces. He turned to the most prominent one and his senses came back to him. With a sigh of defeat and a need for some answers he spoke again, “McKenna.” His voice was controlled to hide the burning anger. “I would really like to hear how this came to be.” Ron stared into his daughter's wide eyes. “Can you tell me this story?”
McKenna’s lips trembled as she knelt down beside her dad’s chair, “Dad, I can tell you, but I really think you have a key part of the story that I… and well probably these guys too… we really need to hear what this is about, Dad.”
McKenna was afraid that her father would start throwing things again, but all the fire had gone out of him. She reached up at pushed his matted hair out of his eyes–they were always the same bright blue as her own–and saw the tears slowly stream down his face. “Daddy? It’ll be OK, it’s OK. Oh, Dad, I’ve missed you.” McKenna could no longer hold back her own tears and wrapped her arms around her father’s neck as they both wept.
Memory after memory flashed through McKenna’s mind. Being spun around the living room by his strong arms. Laughing through the entire Three Amigos movie. Her parents kissing just to see her blush. Going on early morning jogs with her dad. And finally, the long nights they spent on the porch talking about everything under the moon.
McKenna realized she’d been remembering all of her dad’s flaws since the divorce, but now as she sobbed on his lap like a five year old, she began to appreciate all of the outstanding qualities in her father. The bad days had been few and far between, like a small puddle compared to the Pacific Ocean of good moments throughout her childhood. The tears continued to fall.
Predictably, the father-daughter reunion was cut short by a certain red head. “Sorry to rush you guys, but can we wrap this up? I’d really like to seek some revenge on the psycho path who tried to murder me.” Jewel huffed, “Now would be preferable.”
“Shut up, Jewel.” Luke’s voice was quiet, yet firm as he strode over to McKenna and The Professor and knelt beside them. “McKenna. Ron. I’m so sorry that your time apart has been hard on you, and I know that you want nothing more then to be alone, but you must know that time is of the essence here. They are on the move, Ron. We need your story, and we need it stat.” Luke addressed his uncle who had been silent for a long time. “Alfonzo?” At the sound of his name, the middle aged man turned from the stack of letters he was perusing and faced his nephew. “Can we drive and listen at the same time?”
“Yes, that would be best. We need to move quickly.”
Luke started to move the group out of the cramped office, “Professor, how hurt are you? You can walk, right?”
“I’m…fine.” Ron said through clenched teeth. In reality his body hadn’t felt this battered since he got beaten up in 8th grade. Biologists really weren’t much for high-risk sporting.
McKenna was still crouched on the floor so Luke jutted out his hand to help McKenna to her feet. Regardless of all the other distractions around, McKenna was keenly aware of Luke keeping his hand in hers slightly longer then necessary. That was nice. Although, if McKenna had been paying more attention to the distractions around her, she might have noticed the small object and stack of letters that Alfonzo shoved in his pocket before he headed out the door. That was not nice.
McKenna threaded her arm through her dad’s as the little procession made its way down the hall. “OK, Dad. I’m ready to hear the story.”
“You’re right, Sugar. It’s time you knew.” Ron bent to whisper in her ear, “But McKenna, are you sure we can trust these people?”
McKenna turned and glanced at those around her, her eyes lingering on the back of Alfonzo’s head- the leader of the group. It was possible that they could be leading McKenna to her demise, but she turned and glanced back at Luke who was trailing behind them. His eyes were focused down on his gray converse and she remembered the trouble that this boy had gone through to find her. Stalwartly standing by the Viking all day, the disaster by the willow tree, and the green house where he told her the story that would change her life.
McKenna still had the taste of the final cherry licorice bite Luke graciously let her have. That pretty much sealed the deal.
Although McKenna knew that she wasn’t a fan of Jewel, Alfonzo creeped her out, and putting the whole kidnapping thing aside, McKenna believed that Luke wanted her to be safe. “Yeah Dad, I think we can trust them.”
By then they were loading back into the small car, Alfonzo was driving, with Jewel in the front seat. McKenna was squished between her dad and Luke. Alfonzo put the car into gear and steered the car back onto the highway.
Ron sighed in defeat, “OK, but please, Sugar, remember that sometimes we do stupid things for stupid reasons. And please forgive me.” McKenna nodded in encouragement. Ron took a deep breath.
“The story starts out back when I was in college… back when I was in love.”