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Chapter Two: Tell Them All The Truth Of Many Lies
It was roughly seven-thirty in the morning and already Janette was on her third cup of coffee. Although it was weak in taste, the caffeine and hot liquid gave her the motivation she needed to be on her feet. She had just left Luca’s room a few moments ago where Aria sat next to the little boy’s side eating scrambled eggs and sausage out of the a plastic container she recognized from the cafeteria downstairs. The food really wasn’t the best, but Aria quickly scarfed it down like the burger yesterday. Claiming it was better than the food at the shelter, which Janette believed was true.
Luca appeared to be doing better this morning, something Janette hoped meant a good day ahead of them. He still had a long way to go, but for now he was at least feeling up to some cartoons and Cheerios.
Standing by the front entrance to the clinic, Janette squeezed her empty Styrofoam cup in her hand as she waited for Aria’s mom to arrive. Although she had yet to meet her, she sounded sincere on the phone. Janette still hadn’t told Aria about calling her mom; and gave Dr. Truman a warning look not to mention it to Aria either. Truly she didn’t know why she didn’t say it when she saw the girl earlier, it just wouldn’t come out when she gathered the courage.
The double doors squeaked open, drawing Janette’s attention back to the present as she surveyed the woman before her. She looked slightly frazzled as she fixed her windblown hair and looked around her. Janette’s eyes met hers’ and instantly she knew this was Aria’s mother. The same hazel eyes and bone structure, although her mom was taller.
Tossing her coffee cup in the trash along the way, Janette rubbed her hands on her white coat before approaching the woman.
“Are you Mrs. Montgomery, by any chance?” She asked, giving her a warm smile.
“Yes.” The woman rang her hands together before glancing around, obviously looking for her daughter. “Is Aria okay?” She worriedly asked.
“She’s fine.” Janette reassured her again. “I’m Janette Stevenson, we spoke on the phone.” Janette clarified, stretching a hand out towards the woman.
“Ella, nice to meet you.” She shook her hand vigorously.
“Ella.” Janette nodded. “Um…Aria is just down the hall with her son Luca.” Janette explained to Ella who was once again looking over her shoulder to see if she could spot her daughter.
At hearing those words, Ella’s head snapped back to Janette, realizing just how close she truly was to her daughter. It had been so long since she had last seen her, and so much had changed in such a short period of time. She knew the reason why Aria had left, but everything was just now starting to feel real.
Noticing the shocked expression, Janette wanted to get everything out in the open before bringing mother and daughter face to face.
“Would you like to take a seat?” Janette motioned towards the seats against the navy waiting room wall. Ella tucked a strand of hair behind her ear as she turned in the direction of the cushioned chairs and took a seat.
Plopping down beside Ella, Janette was able to see the resemblance even more striking to her young daughters. Their hair was the same chocolate brown, but Ella’s was pin-straight and their nervous habit of pulling on the end of their shirtsleeves was present at the moment. Her clothes were upper middle class, not too fancy but nothing like Aria’s street clothes. She wore a long dark brown sweater over an olive green shirt and dark blue skinny jeans matched with tall brown boots.
Ella took a deep breath before smiling and turned towards Janette, “Thank you for calling me.” She acknowledged.
“I’m happy I was able to reach you.” Janette stated softly.
Like Aria, Janette could see the way Ella put up a front, but under her strong exterior, she saw something deep in the woman’s eyes.
Ella felt guilty for the way she let her daughter run off, she felt like she was being judged for the lack of support and couldn’t even begin to think about what Aria had gone through these past few years.
“Aria was always a free spirit, that’s how her father and I raised her, but she is still a child.” Ella remarked.
Janette could hear the subtle unease in Ella’s voice, she realized how hard this must be to want the best for your child and then to see it all fall apart.
“Yes, well…” Janette cleared her throat and moved to the edge of her seat. “The point is that Luc is a very sick little boy, and he needs a proper home. Aria needs to be in school, she can’t keep living like this.” Janette got straight to the point.
“She does, I agree.” Ella swallowed the nerves that were once again bubbling up her stomach. She stared down at her hands, rubbing the faded, yet visible paint.
It’s just now hitting her, the fact that Aria would be coming home with her. That she would be seeing Aria in just a matter of seconds, and yes, meeting her grandson for the first time.
Bracing herself for what’s to come, Ella took a deep breath and glanced up at the kind nurse across from her. “Alright then, let’s go tell her.” She confirmed her decision by standing to her feet.
“Okay, let’s go.” Janette stood and led the way, happy and confident at the thought of reuniting this broken family.
Tossing her fork into the empty food container Aria walked to the trash bin inside Luca’s room and threw it away. Turning around, Aria scratched her head trying to get the insistent itch to go away, but to no avail she finally gave up. Her hair was tangled and she was surprised everyone was even willing to stand next to her; she could smell the mustiness on her clothes. Aria realized she was going to need to go back to the shelter soon to grab some clothes and to take a shower, but she wasn’t about to leave Luca.
For the first time in awhile Aria felt like she could breathe again, Luca was doing better, the food here was decent, and although the environment was more social-able than she was use to, no one was questioning her capability to raise her child.
Luca’s laughter cut through the noise of the TV as something funny on the screen brought a smile to his lips. Excited, Luca shook his cereal box around in his hand making the Cheerios fly out, only to land on the white bed sheet.
“Is that funny?” Aria asked. Luca nodded his head before noticing the Cheerios on his bed. Picking a few of them up, he observed the round loops in his palm before placing them in his mouth. Crunching on the cereal, Aria smiled and walked over to his bedside where she smoothened down his curly hair and placed a gently kiss on the top of his head.
“Aria?” She heard her name, but the voice was one she thought she would never hear again. One she hadn’t heard in over two years. With her hand still resting on Luca’s head, she slowly spun around and saw her mother standing in the doorway.
“Mom?” Aria dropped her hand to her side, her eyes wide and confused. Ella smiled, tears pooled in her eyes at seeing her daughter for the first time. Ella was overjoyed, yet her heart broke at the sight before her. Aria was so tiny and her clothes were dirty.
“What-What are you doing here?” Aria questioned, crossing her arms as she stared her mom down.
She should be happy to see her mom, but she was too angry. Remembering the night everything transpired, the harsh words that were spoken and the devastation of how everything fell apart.
Ella clearly hadn’t heard her daughter; her eyes were trained on the little boy behind her sitting on the bed. His curly brown hair and chubby cheeks were so much like Aria’s from when she was a child, but those eyes. Those dark blue orbs were his.
“Oh, Aria.” Ella cried, stepping further into the room. “He looks just like you when you were little.” Ella smiled, inching towards her grandson.
“Don’t touch him!” Aria quickly stepped between the two. Her instincts and defenses to keep Luca safe kicked in on over drive.
Ella stepped backwards, caught off guard by her daughter’s reaction. She had never seen Aria react this way, but she figured she was just shocked.
“Who called you?” Aria raised her voice, turning towards Luc and pressed him close to her waist as he sat on the bed. She waited for an answer, but Ella just stood with her mouth hanging open before she turned to someone standing in the doorway.
Aria followed where her mother’s eyes landed and saw Janette walking into the room, her hands stuffed into her coat pockets. Aria couldn’t believe it. She clenched her jaw tight, she had trusted this woman, she opened up to her, and thought she was there to help. She knew it was a bad idea to come here, she knew they would try to take Luca from her.
“I’m sorry Aria, but-”
“Why did you call her?” Aria questioned, this time directed at Janette.
“She called me because you’re going to come home with me. Both you and Luca.” Ella explained. Aria turned towards her mom at the sound of her voice, but all she wanted to do was laugh at the thought.
“No.” Aria gave a small chuckle. “Home is the last place I’m going with you.” Aria spat. Ella tried again to step closer to her daughter, but Aria took a step back. “I’m not going home,” She shook her head. “Not after the way you and dad kicked me out.” Aria stated loud and clear.
Hearing the commotion from down the hall Dr. Truman swiftly walked to Luca’s room as the scene unfolded around him. He wasn’t too sure what was going on, but by the look and sound of it this must be Aria’s mom. Staying silent, he watched as the women tried to make Aria see reason.
“He and I are not together anymore.” Ella wanted to calm the waters. She hoped this might ease Aria’s decision, but she was stubborn.
“Well good for you.” Aria remarked. “But it doesn’t change the fact that you wanted to drive me to an abortion clinic, and I wouldn’t do it, you told me I would have to give him up for adoption…” Aria choked, her breathing heavy and she desperately wanted to cry, but now was not the time.
“I never should-” Ella bowed her head, realizing how wrong that was. Turning towards Janette once again, Aria wanted her to understand why she wouldn’t go home.
“I heard my parents talking that night from my bedroom, they wanted to send me to boarding school and then when Luc was born they were going to make me give him up.” Aria cried, she couldn’t hold it in any longer. Janette took a shaky breath as the words of the young girl caught her ears. “So I ran away…” Aria finished.
“I’m sorry…” Ella pleaded with Aria. “But you need help.” Ella’s voice softened, she didn’t want to see Aria hurting anymore. At the calmness of her mother voice, it only hurt Aria even more. For almost three years they had been doing everything on their own and she wasn’t about to let her past ruin everything again.
Aria picked Luca up despite Janette trying to get her to put him down. She wanted his comfort and wanted to keep him safe. She wanted out of the room and so with her head buried into Luca’s chest she pushed past everyone and walked out of the room.
“Luc and I are just fine on our own.” Aria’s voice echoed down the hallway.
Following close behind Aria, Janette pleaded with her to bring Luca back to the hospital room. Luca’s screams soon began to fill the hallway, echoing even louder than Aria thought possible. Aria stopped in her footsteps as she bounced him in her arms trying to calm him down.
“Shh…shh… Please, it’s okay.” Aria patted him on the back. Spinning around to face the direction she had just walked away from, Janette was soon standing in front of her. “We’re fine…we’re fine…” Aria tried to convince Janette as she took a step back when Janette touched her shoulder to guide her back into the room.
“Let’s just get him calmed down and then we can talk.” Janette frantically wanted to help, hearing Luc’s cries grow even louder.
“I don’t want to be near my mother. Just keep her away. Promise me…I don’t want her near Luc.” Aria stated as she closing her eyes, swaying back and forth trying to get Luca to stop screaming in her ears.
She wanted to be anywhere but here. Aria buried her face into Luca’s curls as his hair clung to her wet face as tears of his own fell.
“I promise… Just please, bring Luc back into the room and we can talk.” Janette begged. She motioned for Aria to go back towards the room.
Aria glanced in that direction, seeing her mother’s back to her as she was being led in the opposite direction with Dr. Truman. Aria nodded, seeing she wasn’t going to be near her mother and walked quickly back into Luca’s room.
Luca’s cries began to dissipate and turned into hiccups by the time they made it back into the room. Aria set Luca down onto the bed before turning away to wipe her eyes.
Janette watched Aria as she ran her hands through her tangled hair, trying to get it out of her eyes. She didn’t dare say anything to Aria as she examined Luca, turning to the small boy as she heard the hiccups with each breath he took. She feared they were back at square one with the way his whole body seemed to bounce with the loud gas that erupted every few moments from his chest.
Aria’s mind was all over the place, seeing her mom again, feeling hurt by Janette for calling her mom, and trying to figure-out a way to keep Luca.
The sound of a door closing caught Aria’s ears and as she followed the noise and saw the words, ‘Supplies Closet’ and it all clicked.
Glancing at Janette, she knew she was too preoccupied with Luca and figured it was the perfect time. Angry and frightened at the thought of losing her son, Aria did the only thing she thought would help her cause.
Grabbing her orange backpack off the floor by the door, Aria easily slipped out of the room with no one noticing. Watching one of the other nurses on duty walk into a patient’s room and close the door she found it was a synch to sneak inside the small closet without being seen. Aria’s eyes adjusted quickly to the dark as she unzipped her backpack.
She didn’t care what it was she took. If her hands touched it, she put it in her bag. Blankets, diaper, soap, Band-Aids, and pudding cups, she could use it all.
Luca’s hiccups had almost completely faded when Janette turned around and noticed Aria was gone with her bag. Despite the fact that the light in the storage closet was off, she could hear the shuffling of someone inside and could only guess what Aria was doing.
Aria could barely close her bag as she made her exit, believing the coast was clear until she saw Janette with her arms folded over chest and a disapproving scowl upon her face.
“Please don’t tell anyone.” Aria closed her eyes, ashamed at being caught and afraid that she had just hurt her case even worse. The last thing she needed was to be labeled a thief and be taken to jail. “I only took enough for a week.” She gripped the handle of her bag tighter.
Janette knew she could say and do just about anything, but deep down she knew all Aria wanted to do was be a good mother.
“What about when the week is up?” Janette let her hands fall to her sides as Aria opened her eyes, surprised at the question rather than being scolded for her actions.
“I-I will pick up cans in the subway or work in the soup kitchen at the shelter.” Aria let her bag slide down her shoulder to the floor.
“And the week after that?” Jeanette investigated. “How about in a month? What about next year? What are you going to do then?” She gave a little shrug to her shoulders as she watched the girl before her huff in frustration as the questions kept coming without letting her speak.
“I am doing the best I can!” Aria raised her voice, cutting Janette off. A few of the nurses walking down the hallway stopped to turn at the commotion, but quickly went on their way as Aria glared at them. Aria took a step towards Janette, determination in her eyes. “We have always made it and we will.” Aria’s voice grew calm yet serious.
She didn’t need anyone’s help; she and Luca had always been able to make it on their own and she wasn’t about to let Janette or her mom stand between her and her life with Luca.
Growing tired of trying to explain herself to Janette and seeing how she wasn’t going to stop her from taking the supplies. Aria swung her bag over her shoulder, turned around, and began to walk away.
Janette knew that calling Aria’s mom had been a mistake, but she still believed it had been the right thing to do. Debating on whether to stop Aria again or to let her cool down she went with the first choice.
“Aria, wait please…” She called.
Frustrated, Aria stopped in her tracks and rolled her eyes as she spun around on her heels.
“Why? What for? So you can dig more into my past?” Janette took a step towards Aria thankful she didn’t back away, but was struck by the coldness of her words. “She is going to make me give him up if I go home with her.” Aria explained.
“I’m sorry if it feels like I betrayed you,” Janette sorrowfully spoke. “No one wants to take Luc away from you.” Janette shook her head.
Aria’s eyes once again drifted to where her mother was and uncomfortably Aria shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
“She’s going to make me pretend like he never happened.” Aria bit the inside of her cheek, suppressing the urge to cry again.
“That’s not going to happen, you’re his mother.” Janette stated calmly, but firmly. “She understands that, what she also understands is that Luc needs a healthy environment, and so do you.” At hearing this Aria turned back to Janette seeing the sincerity in her eyes, but Aria’s fears were still there.
“Nothing would be the same.” Aria tried to grasped for the right words to say. “I-I can’t be seen in that town.” Aria tugged on her shirtsleeve with her opposite hand, oblivious to the habit but Janette noticed. She could see in Aria’s hazel eyes that there was more to her story and yet Aria appeared to hold onto it for dear life.
“I may not understand the whole situation…” She took the chance and rested a friendly hand upon Aria’s shoulder. “But like I said, Luc needs a stable home.” She looked deep into Aria’s eyes.
Exhausted and knowing that what Janette said was true Aria bowed her head and agreed.“Now, why don’t we go check on Luc and then go get some coffee downstairs?” Janette squeezed her shoulder. “You like coffee?” She verified. Aria gave a small chuckle, a grin forming under her dark curls as she nodded making their way back to Luc’s room.
With a cup of steaming hot coffee in their hands Janette and Aria made their way to one of the clean tables in the cafeteria. Aria could smell the greasy food being cooked and wrinkled her nose like a bunny at the smell.
Janette gave a small laugh at the gesture as she pulled her chair out from under the table, the legs squeaking on the tile floor. Still, no one spoke as they sat across from each other and sipped their coffee. The time between their argument in the hallway, going to check on Luc, and grabbing their coffee had allowed Aria time to cool off and now with a level head she realized how hard she was on Janette.
“I’m sorry if I sounded harsh back there…” Aria looked down into her cup. “It’s just hard to know what to do sometimes.” Aria confessed. She knew what she had done was wrong, stealing was never the answer, but if it meant keeping Luc she would do whatever it took.
“No, I get it…” Janette shook her head. Aria looked up. Had she really just heard her correctly? “All you want is to keep your son.” Janette explained, understanding clearly the reason behind the fiasco with the storage closet.
“He’s all I’ve had for so long…” Aria chewed her lip, pondering how she had allowed everything to get this bad. She could ask that question again and again, but it would always come back to the same conclusion. If she had only taken better care of him, of herself none of this would have happened.
She took a deep breath and a realization suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks.
“Did I do this?” Aria asked, tears brimming her eyes. Janette was confused by her abrupt question. “Did I make him sick?” Aria’s voice quivered.
“No…absolutely not.” Janette placed her hands on top of the table. “None of this is your fault.” She confirmed, but still Aria looked down not believing her.
“But maybe if I had taken better care of myself when I was-”
“Luc was born with this and whether you were living with your parents or out on the streets he would still be the same.” Janette clarified. There really was no chance of knowing whether or not that was true, but to make Aria feel better she said it.
Aria sniffled as she squared her shoulders trying to make herself believe that what Janette was saying was the truth. She felt like she could trust her again, and with that confidence she wondered if she could confide in her again.
Aria’s mind went back to her four best friends back home, particularly a snarky blonde with blue eyes, Alison. She always said that friends share their secrets and that’s what kept them close. Could she trust Janette again? Especially after what Janette had done by calling her mom.
She didn’t care anymore… She needed to tell someone. Sure she delved into her past to her street friends, but even they didn’t know the whole story.
“Back home…” Aria started. “I had this best friend, her name was Alison.” Aria paused, almost envisioning her sitting at a nearby table as she stared off. “She always said that friends share their secrets. That’s what kept us close.” She took a deep breath. “Can I tell you a secret?” Aria asked, looking deep into Janette’s eyes.
“Sure…” Janette smiled. She could see the longing in Aria’s eyes and knew this was the secret she had been holding onto so tightly.
“You can’t tell anyone, if this got out…” Aria couldn’t even finish her sentence, as she suddenly grew very serious.
“You have my word…” Janette could tell how hard this was for Aria and waited patiently as she gathered her thoughts.
“I-I never even told Luc’s father…” Aria stuttered. It wasn’t how she wanted to say it, but she didn’t really know what to say let alone how to say it.
“Oh…” Was all Janette could think to say. To be honest, it wasn’t what she expected to hear. “Let me guess…” Janette smiled. “He was your high school sweetheart?” She took a sip of her coffee. Aria blushed and gave a small laugh. If only that was the truth.
“You could say that…” Aria rolled her eyes in amusement. “But he wasn’t in high school… Well he was but…” Aria licked her lips as they suddenly went dry. “He was my teacher.” There, she said it.
Janette stared at Aria, unable to speak as she processed the words that came out of the eighteen year olds mouth. The words ran over and over in her head as she tried to grasp the reality of them. Never would she have thought that was the truth behind it all.
“I loved him.” Aria declared. “He loved me too.” Aria smiled. She glanced at Janette who continued to just stare at her. “I met him before school started and we had no idea. I knew he was the one for me from the moment I laid eyes on him… We just met at the wrong time in our lives, but I don’t regret it.” Aria admitted.
“Wow um…” Janette swallowed. “I just never…expected this…” She gaped for words. “It sounds like you loved each other but-” She took a deep breath as her eyes went wide.
“I never should have told you… You promise you won’t tell…” Aria grew concerned.
“No…I won’t it’s just…” Janette restated. “To be honest I never really thought about that sort of relationship, but the way you talk about him… I believe you. It’s not realistic but…”
“He used to say that sometimes…” Aria thought. “Sometimes love isn’t romantic…sometimes it realistic and other times its just love…” Aria quoted.
“Yeah… sometimes love is just love.” Janette liked that.
Aria was relieved that for once someone was on her side about her relationship. It hadn’t always looked right, but it had always felt right.
She smiled and sipped her coffee as she thought about Ezra. Thought about what it would be like to see him again after all this time. But she realized that it could never be, not in a town like Rosewood.
“Now you know why I’m afraid to go home…” Aria huffed out a deep breath. “Because if people were to find out about Luc,” she paused. “If people were to find out about who Luc’s father is…it would ruin everything.” Aria tugged on her sleeves as she placed her hands on the table.
“Aria,” Janette emphasized her name as she placed her hands on top of Aria’s. “Facing your fears is a big part of growing up.” She looked at the young girl before her. “You’re eighteen, and already you’ve been through so much.” She squeezed Aria’s hands. “But a part of growing up is admitting to the people around you that you’re drowning.” Janette grew serious.
Aria looked down, taking in the words Janette was saying. If only it were that simple she thought.
“How do I do that?” She asked, looking back up at the nurse. “Admit to the people around me that I’m drowning?” She took a deep breath, afraid of the answer.
“Go home with your mother.” Janette said, hoping this wouldn’t be world war three all over again. Thankfully Aria just sat still, allowing her to continue. “You will have a whole support team there for you. Your mom, brother, your friends, they will all be there to help make things easier.” Janette explained and watched as Aria bit her lip and looked off at another table.
“A few weeks ago…” Aria’s voice grew quite. “I went to the drugstore to buy some cough medicine for Luc and he saw a bag of cheese puffs.” Aria swallowed, smiling weakly at the innocents of Luca. “But I couldn’t even buy them because I needed the money for bus fare.” Aria shrugged her shoulders helplessly.
“What mother can’t buy her kid cheese puffs?” Aria’s eyes pooled with tears. “I only want what’s best for Luc… I love him so much.” She stated as a tear fell down her cheek.
“I know you do…” Janette’s eyes mirrored Aria’s as she nodded her head. “I know you do…” She repeated, as she smiled weakly. She took a deep breath trying to gather herself. “Let’s go try to sort everything out…” She said in-which Aria gave a smile and nodded as she finished her coffee as they stood to their feet.
The bell above their heads signalled another stop just as they felt the ground beneath them jolt. The door slid open and Aria stepped off the elevator first, Janette following behind. They kept to a steady pace as they walked towards Luca’s room. Janette’s mind began to replay their conversation over again.
She knew Aria had a past, one with secrets but never would she have thought it would involve a forbidden relationship. Still, she couldn’t judge, she reminded herself that, no matter what, her job was to support people and make them feel better.
Watching Aria with Luc and hearing her talk about her lover made the young girl happy so despite the odd circumstances she had to agree with Aria’s decisions.
Aria’s eyes skimmed over the names of patients on the doors as they walked down the hallway. Counting her footsteps as she moved, it helped to keep her nerves as bay.
She spotted Luca’s room a few steps away but the view down the hall made Aria stop.
Ella paced the length of the hallway unaware of her daughter’s eyes as she held her cell phone to her ear. The noises surrounding Aria made the conversation muffled, but she knew the look on her mother’s face and it meant business. Swallowing back the rush of emotions, she continued to stare until Janette’s hand touched her shoulder.
“Why’s don’t you go sit with Luc and I will be in shortly.” She advised Aria, who only nodded before walking into the little boy’s room.
Ella’s feet finally came to a halt as she snapped her phone shut and glanced towards her grandson’s door seeing Janette standing close by. After speaking to Doctor Truman earlier and giving Aria a chance to cool down, she knew that setting up arrangements for going home was the next step.
Taking a deep breath, Ella let it out as she made her way towards the young nurse who stood watching her draw near. Janette tried to look away like she hadn’t been staring but she was pretty sure she had been caught.
“So I just got off the phone with my son, Mike. I figured it would be best to tell him now rather than it be a shock once we get home.” Ella smiled, as she tossed her phone into her handbag. “I just can’t believe it,” Ella sighed. “She just had to go and run away.” Ella shook her head. “Her father and I were only trying to do what we thought was best; Rosewood is a very small town.” Janette nodded, listening intently. “I don’t agree with everything my ex-husband did, I even tried searching for Aria, but we just pushed her away.” Ella huffed out closing the zipper on her bag.
“Did you tell Aria that?” Janette questioned. Ella’s head flew up and stared at Janette, her mouth hanging open.
“No.” Ella quickly responded. “It won’t change anything.” She added.
“But it might change the future.” Janette tilted her head. “Remembering what the past taught you might bring Aria closer.” She suggested.
Ella glanced into the room and saw her daughter leaning over Luca’s bed. Janette could see the tears brimming the young woman’s eyes as she continued.
“Trust me, Aria can handle it, she has come so far in the past few years, she isn’t a kid anymore.” Janette spoke softly.
“But she is a kid.” Ella turned back to Janette, wiping her eyes. “She’s a teenager…” Ella emphasized. “She’s only eighteen, which is why I’m going to have legal guardianship over Luca.” Ella spoke with determination in her voice.
Janette furrowed her eyes Ella; she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She knew she wanted to help, but maybe this was going too far.
“Do you really think that is a good idea?” Janette argued. She didn’t give Ella a chance to say anything before saying more. “Why put Aria through that? You will break her heart if you take away her responsibilities. Luc, he’s not going to understand why his mother who has raised him since birth is no longer the authority figure. Do you really want to subject Luc to that type of confusion?” Janette shrugged her shoulders.
Ella bit her bottom lip, turning back towards Luc’s room as Janette did the same.
“Did Aria tell you who Luca’s father is?” Ella asked, her voice very low.
“Um…” Janette closed her mouth. She had promised Aria she wouldn’t tell, but she couldn’t say no. “Yes,” She sucked in a deep breath. “But I told her it’s completely confidential.” She added.
Ella remained quiet for a few seconds as her eyes scanned over Aria as she sat on the edge of Luc’s bed, rubbing his back gently.
“My classroom…” Ella began. “Is directly across from his.” Ella bit her tongue as she looked down at her hands. “For months he came over to our house for mixers and parent teacher conferences and not once did he mentions he was seeing my daughter.” Ella’s voice grew icy.
“Well…” Janette sighed. “From what I hear it sounded like they really loved each other.” Janette said.
“Like I was really going to give my sixteen-year-old daughter and her English teacher my blessing.” Ella scoffed and rolled her eyes as she looked back up at Janette.
Janette could hear the sarcasm in Ella’s voice and even the hurt that was still painfully evident from within the past few years. She knew the situation wasn’t ideal, but Luca had been born out of love and if Aria’s parents had truly raised her to be her then it was her decision.
“Didn’t you tell me earlier that you raised your daughter to be strong willed and independent?” Janette interrogated.
“Well yes, but-”
“She is only giving that little boy the best life she can.” Janette cut her off.
“What she needs is her mother.” Ella’s voice rose. “Someone to care for her and make sure she goes to school, not to mess around with her teacher.” Ella shook her head. “She shouldn’t be living on the streets with a sick baby.” Pointing towards Luca’s room as she spat her words.
“You’re right.” Janette nodded. “She does need to be in school and with Luca sick he does need a roof over his head.” Janette agreed. “But what you also need to remember is that you maybe Aria’s mother, but Aria is a mother too now.” Janette stared Ella down, hoping she got the picture.
Ella swallowed and clamped her mouth shut as Janette’s words rattled around in her mind.
“Luca is her son.” Janette stated calm and quietly. “Aria’s. Now you can bring them home and figure it all out as a family, but that child is hers’.” Ella nodded and once again looked inside Luca’s room, a smile growing on her face as she hears the interaction between mother and son.
“You doing okay buddy?” Aria asked, even though she knew he wouldn’t really answer. “The doctors are going to make you all better.” Aria kisses the top of his head before rubbing his back.
“Mommy look…” Luca shouted, holding up his teddy bear for her to see.
“I see… Is that Peter?” Aria whispered, examining the teddy before giving it back to Luca. He squeezes the bear tightly before nodding.
Aria took a deep breath and tilted her head onto Luca’s shoulder and out of the corner of her eye she spotted her mom watching, a smile on her face. Aria’s heart began to swell; deep down she missed her mom and wanted her to be a part of her life again. She wanted everything back to the way it was.
“Mom?” Aria called, scooting off the bed and walking to the door. “Would you like to meet your grandson?” She asked.
“Yes.” Ella nodded, tears in her eyes. “I would really like that.” She stepped inside.
The pair walked to Luca’s bed where he continued to watch his TV show, only breaking away when Aria took his hand and he turned his attention towards her.
“Luca, this is your grandma. Mom this is Luca, but we call him Luc.” Aria smiled, rubbing gentle circles over his hand. She figured he wouldn’t say anything. He was shy until he got to know you and as usual he clung to his teddy. “He doesn’t talk a lot, but he is really smart. He likes to hear stories and go to the park and cuddles at night are his favorite.” Aria turned to Ella who smiled.
“He takes after you.” Ella slowly wrapped her arm around her daughter’s thin waist, happy when she didn’t pull away. “Your favorite thing to do at night was snuggle with me and your father on the bed. You used to wedge yourself right between the two of us and watch Barney reruns.” Ella explained, relishing in this moment together.
Aria took another deep breath, this felt right. She loved having this time with her mom and was actually looking forward to sharing Lucas life with her mom. Maybe this could work, she thought.
“Mom,” Aria paused, looking her at her mom. “Luc, is really sick and-” Aria bit her bottom lip. This wasn’t easy for her. “And the last thing I want is for him to get worse.” Aria took another deep breath. “I know you don’t agree with how I live my life, but I’m not giving him up.” Aria shook her head. “But if you are willing to have us,” Aria patted Luca’s head. “I would like to come home.” Aria exhaled, waiting for her mom to reply.
Ella wanted nothing more, but she knew this would be a challenge.
“You know it’s going to be hard.” Ella explained. “Rosewood is a small town, and a lot has changed.” Aria nodded. “You’re going to have to start school again and there will be talk about you and Luca around town.” Ella explained further all in which Aria knew was true. “But I would love to have you come home. Mike misses you too.” Ella smiled.
“Thank you, mom.” Aria’s smile mirrored her mothers and as she spoke she hugged her mom in a tight embrace.
Dressed in a new winter coat and her orange backpack on her back, Aria held Luca in her arms by the clinic’s front entrance. After Ella made a few more arrangements Dr. Truman gave the okay for Luca to go home, provided that he see a doctor in Rosewood soon. Janette and Dr. Truman stood beside Aria as Ella walked through the front door, stuffing her hands into her pockets as she walked inside from warming up the car.
“The new car-seat is strapped in and the stroller is in the trunk so I guess whenever you’re ready.” Ella gestured towards Aria.
Aria took a deep breath, nervous, yet excited at the same time. She nodded towards her mom before turning towards Dr. Truman and Janette.
“Thank you, so much for all your help. I will always be grateful, that you were there that day. I don’t know what I would have done.” Aria said, giving them a group hug.
Dr. Truman gave a smile before composting himself as the doctoral persona kicked in again.
“For now, I would say it would be best to take him home and let him rest. If he’s feeling up to it tomorrow you can take him for a walk, but nothing too strenuous.” He advised.
“But the medicine you gave him fixed the problem, right?” Aria verified.
“Everything is stable, but Aria he is still a very sick little boy.” Dr. Truman ruffled Luca’s hair. “Luc has what is known as Cystic Fibrosis, or CF. The problem is, he is very small and his lungs are susceptible to viruses easily.” He sighed, wishing Luca could go home as a healthy little boy. “He needs surgery, but it can’t be done until he’s older.” He knew the odds were now in their favour, but you could never tell.
“Is he going to be able to wait?” Aria’s voice grew concerned.
“As long as he stays in a healthy environment.” Dr. Truman restated.
“He will…” Ella clarified, putting a comforting hand upon her daughter’s shoulder.
“Still, you have to keep an eye on him. Make sure he goes to the doctors within the coming week.” Janette said.
“I’m not going to let him out of my sight.” Aria looked down at Luc, who busied himself with the zipper on Aria’s coat.
“I don’t want you this to be a constant worry for you, Luc doesn’t even realize anything is wrong, it’s not hurt him.” Dr. Truman stated. “He will have coughing fits, but if you give him the medicine we gave you he will be good. If it gets really bad, believe me, he will let you know.” Dr. Truman explained.
“He is a strong little boy,” She smiled, taking one of Luca’s hands in her own. She had grown fond of the little boy who now gave her a smile. “He’s a fighter, like his mom.” She turned to Aria who leaned into her for another hug. “Everything will be fine, just take him home.” Janette whispered into Aria’s ear.
“Thank you, for everything.” She whispered back.
Stars lit up the night sky by the time the three made it back into Rosewood. From what Aria could make outside her window nothing had changed on the exterior. They were soon pulling into the driveway of their small brown house; the one Aria never thought she would see again.
The porch light was on and the path leading up to the doorway had been shovelled but other than that there was no sign of life. As Ella killed the engine, Aria turned to look into the backseat where Luca had fallen asleep shortly after their trip.
She smiled as she unbuckled her seat and unlocked her car door. She swung her backpack over her shoulder before opening the back door and bending down to Luca. Ella went to the front door and unlocked the deadbolt as Aria unbuckled Luca from his seat, thankful that he didn’t stir.
Walking up the creaking steps and into the main foyer, Aria’s heart began to beat rapidly. She was home.
“Well, it looks like your brother is already asleep for the night.” Ella closed the door behind Aria. “Are you hungry?” She asked, Aria.
“No,” Aria shook her head. “No, thank you.” She whispered. “I would just like to get some rest. I think Luc could use some too.” She added. Ella nodded, slightly nervous as she looked around the downstairs portion of the house.
“Your room is not exactly baby proof but-”
“If it’s okay, I think I will just setup a little bed in the living room for Luc and I can sleep on the couch?” Aria motioned towards the room to her right.
“Yes, that’s fine.” Ella agreed, turning on the lamp in the living room. “I will just grab some blankets from the closet.” She walks up the stairs.
Having a moment to herself, Aria shifted Luc in her arms as she walks further into the house. The kitchen was still as spick-in-span as always and the living room hasn’t changed expect for the photos of her parents were taken off the mantel of the fireplace.
Setting Luca on the couch, she proceeded to remove her backpack off her shoulder and sets in on the floor beside the end table. Taking off her winter coat, as well as Luca’s she sets them on the back of the single chair.
Aria heard the creaking of the stairs and shuffling of her mother’s feet as she turned and saw blankets and pillows in her arms. Placing the pile on the floor, Ella rang her hands together.
“Would you like some help?” She asks.
“I can take it from here. Thank you.” Aria bent down as she unfolded one of the blankets.
“I will see you in the morning then.” Ella took a step back, smiling.
Aria nodded and smiled as she went back to making the bed.
“Aria,” Ella stopped at the foot of the stairs, her face in the shadows as Aria looks up. “I’m so happy your home.” She whispers.
“It’s good to be home.” Aria acknowledged back.
The two once again smile before Ella headed up the stairs and Aria finished making the bed. Placing Luca down onto the soft sheets, she tucked the blankets around his tiny body and made sure his teddy bear is close by before she unfolded the last blanket and drapes it over herself.
She snuggled deeper into the cushions and closed her eyes.
She was finally home.
Thank you so much for reading chapter 2. I hope you enjoyed it. A song that heavily inspired this chapter was Calls Me Home by Shannon Labrie. PLEASE like, reblog, message me to offer feedback. 😘
Troian’s first tatoo is the word “Soeur”, meaning “Sister” in French in a script font on her left foot. She got the tattoo along with her best friend (and co-star) Lulu Brud at Shamrock Social Club on October 27, 2015. I believe they both got matching tattoos (since they both got tattoos on their foot), as a celebration of Lulu’s birthday.
On October 27, 2016, Troian, along with Sasha, Janel, Lucy, Ashley and Shay, visited Shamrock Social Club during the night to get a finger tattoo. Each one of the girls got the first letter of their character from Pretty Little Liars’ name and a full stop tattooed on their fingers. Troian got an “S” for for Spencer on the proximal of her right index finger. The idea of the tattoo is that it’s only seen when the person raises their index finger to do a “Shh” motion and is a tribute to PLL - as each of the girls do a “Shh” at the end of the theme song.