Jace's Reason Why

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Jace's POV:

I stood with my hands in the pockets of my leather jacket, not moving, not caring what anyone else thought. Especially that bitch of a nurse who just walked away after I told her I was the dad, not the older brother.

My boys were in the hospital nursery. I made a different nurse move them right in front of the window so I could get a better look. Blaze was on the left, Oliver on the right. I snapped a quick pic and made it my phone background.

Holy shit, I thought. Holy shit, those are my kids. I've got kids. Is this even real?

"For God's sake, there you are!"

I turned to the pair of heels clotting down the hallway, fast and aggressive. My mother's thousand-dollar fur coat was flapping in the breeze of her strut while Dad trailed behind her.

"I told you to wait in the lobby while I gave that girl the bill for the car!" she said, finally coming to a halt next to me. "I'm running all over the place just to find you all the way over here."

"Yeah. I kinda wanted to see my kids one more time before I have to go home and deal with you," I said.

"Watch your mouth, mister," she said. "And don't call them that. How many times do we have to tell you that this mess isn't your problem? And look at you! Ugh! You're disgusting! You're not riding home in the car with that jacket."

I looked down at my favorite leather jacket. I didn't realize I got a bunch of nasty baby goop on me after catching Oliver. For some reason I smiled about it.

"Go without me then. I'll ride home with Chase. I don't need you to get me there," I said.

"Jace, stop stressing your mother out. It's been a tough day, alright?" Dad said.

"It's been a good day. My sons were born. She's ruining it," I said.

"You can't seriously want this. You can't," my mother said. "You need to have a life. You need to meet girls and party and have a wild teenage life. You don't need to be part of that messy family with no class and no money, changing diapers when you should be out with your friends. I swear to Jesus, I can't have you ending up like my brother."

I put my phone in my back pocket. "How many times do I have to tell you, hag, that I'm not going to end up like Uncle Craig. He didn't kill himself because he had a kid at sixteen and lost out on his teen years. He killed himself because he had depression."

"From not being able to have a normal life!" she said, going into her full-on cry act that somehow always worked on Chase. "I already lost my brother. I can't lose my son, too!"

"Your son that you treat like absolute shit?" I asked.

"Jace, stop it. Stop all of this right now!" she said. "Do it for your mother! Live a normal life. Forget about these dumb kids! You don't need them!"

I turned away and drowned out her sobs. I was too focused on looking at the boys. Blaze was squirming in his swaddle and wailing. I just wanted to run in there and do something to make him feel better. They need me, and I need them.

"Yeah, I do," I said, my palm against the cool glass window of the nursery.

"You're talking nonsense," she said, pretending to wipe away tears. "I won't let you have those kids in your life."

"Bullshit! You can't control me!" I said, knowing it was actually completely false.

"No, but we can throw you out," Dad said. "We'll evict you. We've been over this again and again, Jace."

"Long story short, if I catch those kids calling you 'daddy,' or you have them when it's not in your contract, you'll be living in a cardboard box on the street," my mother, the hag, said.

I opened my mouth to challenge her, but she had that look. The look that said 'don't test me.'

"You never give a shit when Chase gets all gushy over them. He can love Blaze and Oliver as his nephews, but I can't love them as my sons?" I said.

"Chase doesn't have a normal life to begin with. He's also not around them as much as you would have the potential to be," Dad said.

"He has a good head on his shoulders. You don't," said the hag. "You're always angry, always getting into trouble. Kids will only screw you up more, and when you screw up, it makes us look bad. I'm not having that happen again. We have an image to maintain!"

"Let's get you home, Jace. Toss your coat in the trash, and you can borrow mine on the way to the car," Dad said.

"No."

"Jace, get your ass in the car or you'll be spending the night in the pool house with no heat!" she said.

I had a sudden flashback to when I was thirteen, my freezing cold hands banging on the front door of the house because I was locked out...on purpose. I saw my mother open the window on the upstairs terrace. I looked up and had to keep batting my eyelashes to keep the snowflakes from getting in my eyes.

"Let me in! I'm freezing!" I said, hugging myself.

"I did let you in. I unlocked the pool house for you. Goodnight!" she said, slamming the window shut.

I remembered walking across the backyard in my soaking wet sneakers, wondering what I'd done to deserve this, again. Then I spent the night huddled in a corner, covering myself with a towel that was left on the bathroom floor and using it as a blanket, but it didn't even really phase me that much, because I was so used to it. So used to all of it.

The name-calling and the brutal punishments when she came home with Chase. She treated me the way her parents treated her, and the way their parents treated them. It was an endless cycle that spanned for decades, the mistreatment trickling all the way down to me, framing my mind in such a way that I thought it was okay to do to someone else.

I looked into the window of the nursery one more time, watching my boys. I left my leather jacket on the floor for the staff to pick up, since there was no garbage can nearby. My dad gave me his jacket, and we left the hospital. As much as I wanted to go back and be with the boys, my mind was made up on what I had to do.

"And that's why I called you here. Because after all this time I owed you an explanation," I said into the phone. "I needed to tell you the reason why after prom night, I was never there for my boys. My mind was so warped by my mother's games that I truly thought I was going to lose everything...the little that I had. I couldn't take them controlling me anymore, which is why I turned to heroin."

I looked across the pane of glass that separated me from the mother of my children, who would be sixteen in three months and four days. Chrys still had long, brown curly hair. She'd aged, but just a bit. Definitely not as much as me. This ugly ass orange jumpsuit didn't help either.

Chrys looked me in the eyes and let out a long sigh into the phone.

"Look, I just felt that I owed you this information. I used my time here to better myself. I've done years and years of therapy to realize my wrongdoings. I got clean. I've apologized to all the people I've wronged, and now I want to do the same with you, Chrys. I just hope you accept my apology."

She sighed again and said, "Well, Jace..." 

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