Home > The Storm (The Storm #3.5)(13)

The Storm (The Storm #3.5)(13)
Author: Samantha Towle

“Don’t be. There’s nothing you could say that would shock me, Tiffany. I knew my son, and I loved him all the same.”

She exhales slowly and looks back at me. “I went into his room. He was passed out on his bed…with a belt strapped around his arm and a used needle on the bed beside him. A couple of girls were passed out in the room—one on the bed, one on the floor. Cocaine was on the nightstand. Empty bottles of alcohol were everywhere. Nothing I hadn’t seen before, but being pregnant made me see it through clearer eyes. In that moment, I knew that I couldn’t bring a baby into that lifestyle. If I’d told Jonny I was pregnant, that’s exactly what would have happened.”

I knew those things about Jonny. I knew he’d injected from time to time. I never used the needle, but he had. I hated that he had, but I never tried to stop him. I was always high. What kind of hypocrite would I have been when I was barely sober for a day?

“My parents disowned me when I told them I wouldn’t give the baby up,” Tiffany continues. “So, I moved away from New York. I got a cheap condo in Queens. It was a struggle. I managed on welfare until Storm was a year old, and then I got a job working at Marie’s bakery. The job came with a room in the apartment above it. We’ve been here ever since. And we’ve been happy—until…I got sick, that is.”

I’m just about to ask her about her illness. How long does she have left? What’s going to happen to Storm when she’s gone?

But then I hear voices, and the front door opens and slams shut.

Tiffany’s eyes flash to the clock on the wall. “He’s home early,” she says.

“Did he know we’d be here?” I ask.

“Yes. He knew you were coming to see him. But I was expecting him at three thirty. He’s early, which means he left school an hour before he was supposed to, and that means he’s in trouble.”

“What exactly does he know about this situation?” I ask quietly, not believing I didn’t already ask this. “Does he know that I could have been…”

Tiffany shakes her head. “No. He knows there were two men…who could have potentially been his father,” she says the words quietly. “He knows about Jonny now, but he doesn’t know that you were the other man in the equation.”

Pulling my eyes from Tiffany, I stare at the open doorway, listening to the heavy footsteps in the hallway, my heart beating in double time.

Then, a second later, Jonny’s double appears in the doorway, and my heart goes into free fall.

I’m staring.

I know I’m staring.

But I feel like I’m back in the past. Every inch of Storm is Jonny. It’s terrifying and amazing at the same time.

Looking at Storm is like looking at Jonny the first time I met him when I moved to the States.

Storm is Jonny’s exact double—from his lean frame to the shagginess of his long dirty-blond hair that he keeps brushing out of his blue eyes…Jonny’s eyes. And they are staring straight back at me.

If there were any lingering doubts that Storm wasn’t Jonny’s, that disappeared the moment I laid eyes on him.

“Storm, what are you doing home early?” Tiffany’s gentle voice carries across the room.

Storm moves his stare from me to Bob. Finally, his eyes go to his mother. “I had a free period,” he finally answers.

Jesus. He even sounds like Jonny.

I don’t know whether to cry in relief or pain.

Tiffany gives Storm the same look that Tru gives to Billy when he’s been in trouble at school, which isn’t often. He just has a little of my naughty in him.

Tiffany doesn’t question Storm on it, seemingly letting it go.

I get to my feet. Pressing my clammy hands against my jeans, I clear my throat. “Storm…I’m Jake.”

He looks at me again. His stare jolts through me. I can’t get a read on him. His eyes are closed off.

“I know who you are.”

Of course he does.

“Storm…” Bob’s voice comes from behind me, a shake to it.

I glance at Bob as he moves forward, standing beside me.

“I’m Bob. I’m your…grandfather. It’s so wonderful to meet you.”

Storm says nothing. He just stands there, staring at both of us.

Then, his expression seems to shut down. He takes a step back, retreating.

Something yanks inside me. It feels a lot like fear and loss.

The feeling intensifies when he turns to leave.

“Storm.” Tiffany’s voice carries a commanding tone, causing him to stop.

He glances back over his shoulder at her.

“Where are you going?”

Her looks at us again and then away to the floor. “My room,” he says low but with hardness.

It’s a tone I heard Jonny use many times.

I hear the creak of a chair and look to see Tiffany getting to her feet.

“Bob and Jake came a long way to see you.”

“Am I supposed to be grateful?” His voice takes on an edge.

“Storm,” Tiffany snaps.

“No. This is bullshit. It’s all bullshit!”

“Storm! Stop this right now.”

He glares at his mother. I can feel his anger emanating from him, and I understand where it’s coming from.

I also realize this is going to be a lot harder than I anticipated.

But that doesn’t mean I’m changing my mind—not now, not when I have Jonny’s flesh and blood standing in front of me.

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