#TUS 17: But still…

This chapter will be the last one I post on WordPress. It has become difficult to maintain posting on both WordPress and Wattpad and I don’t have many readers here as compared to Wattpad plus it’s easier for me to access. I’m so sorry to anyone who’s been reading this here for the inconvinience. But if you can access it, you can read new chapters on Wattpad on my profile @fatfaceheart. Someday when I have the time to manage both sites I may start posting here again.

“I’m sure your mum has a reasonable explanation for all of this,” Nathan tried to re-assure Natasha but even he didn’t believe what he was saying.

“Like what? She’s secretly an elephant?” Natasha fumed, shaking with rage.

Nathan almost laughed at this but thankfully he managed to refrain from doing so. He didn’t want to aggravate Natasha anymore than she already was.

“Why would she lie about this?” For the first time since she saw the article, Natasha sounded hurt as she looked at the paper again.

Before Nathan could give his opinion, she retrieved her phone from her pocket and dialed her mother’s number. The call went to voicemail again and she hung up frustrated. She called David next and he told her Lily had left his office a while back. She finally called home but it was Elle who answered the phone and told her that Lily hadn’t returned yet.

“Should I take you home?” Nathan asked as she shoved her phone back into her pocket.

She nodded and started putting away the boxes they had gone through, carefully setting aside the newspaper with  the incriminating evidence. The more she thought about it, the faster her panic grew. Is this what her mother had meant that night she eavesdropped on her call? That her father wasn’t actually her father? Now she wanted more than ever to know who was on the other end of that call.

By the time they left H.B media, Natasha had worked herself up into a state of utter distress. All of Nathan’s attempts to make conversation went un-noticed as she stared blankly out the window until they reached her house. Upon seeing her mother’s car in the driveway, she jumped out of Nathan’s car and ran into the house almost crashing into Elle who was just leaving when she sped through the door.

“Whoa what’s chasing you?” Elle asked alarmed.

“Where’s my mum?” Natasha asked, ignoring her question. Her mother walked in from the kitchen and Natasha headed straight for her, shoving the crumpled up newspaper at her.

“What’s this?” Lily asked confused, holding the paper away from her body by the tips of her fingers.

“Read it,” Natasha said through gritted teeth. She vaguely heard Nathan talking to Danielle at the door. Her entire focus was on the woman standing before her.

Lily obliged and straightened out the page she’d been given wondering what all the fuss was about. She paled when she read the headline and the furious expression Natasha wore confirmed her worst fear; her secret was out.

“Well?” Natasha demanded.

“Where did you get this?” Lily asked gripping the newspaper.

“That doesn’t matter!” Natasha said exasperated. “I want to know why you lied about who my father was.”

Lily tossed the paper aside and approached Natasha, hands stretched out. She stepped back, away from her mother. “I’m sorry Tasha, I just…I…”

“What mother?” Lily looked close to tears but that did not sway Natasha. She voiced out a thought that had been running through her mind on the way back home. “Was it Henry?”

Lily tried to reach for her again but Natasha backed away, shaking her head. “Was Henry Bandieer my father?”

Elle gasped out loud from somewhere behind her and tears fell from Lily’s eyes.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry baby,” she pleaded.

That was all the confirmation Natasha needed. Different emotions warred within her and she did the only thing that made sense to her in that moment. She ran towards the door, ignoring Lily’s pleas for her to hear her out. The traitorous tears blinded her and she ran into Nathan who was standing at the door with a dumbfounded Danielle.

He helped her stand upright again and she clung to his arms and begged him to get her away from there. He hesitated for only a second but after taking a quick glance at Lily, he led her out to his car.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked, starting the car as a distressed Lily appeared at the door.

“I don’t care. Just get me away from here,” Natasha said watching her mother approach them. “Far away.” She closed her eyes as Nathan drove away, blocking out the image of a tear- stained Lily watching in despair as they left.

***

Nathan took Natasha to the sports stadium. Darkness was approaching so there were very few people there. She reluctantly followed him out of the car and onto the field. He left her there for a moment then came back wearing a golf t-shirt and jeans, carrying a bat, pitching glove and a black bag. He handed her the bat and put the glove on.

“What’s this?”

“A bat. You use it to hit the balls that I’m going to throw at you,” Nathan replied opening the bag and taking out one of the balls.

Natasha cocked an eyebrow at him before tossing the bat to the ground. Nathan, patient as ever picked it up and held it out to her.

“Trust me, it helps to take the anger out on something.”

She eyed him with extreme wariness but took the bat nonetheless and walked over to the other end of the field as he had directed her to. For the first half hour, Nathan pitched balls to her and she managed to hit a couple and the only sound on the field came from the loud thunk of the bat the few times it came in contact with the ball.

“How is baseball actually played?” Natasha asked as she helped Nathan pick up the balls that she’d hit to different points of the field.

“Simply put? I throw, you hit then run. Try to reach as many bases as you can before you’re put out,” Nathan explained pointing them out to her.

They started again and it took a couple of misses before Natasha finally managed to hit a ball. She got excited about it, almost to the point of forgetting that she had to run. She had only reached the first base by the time Nathan retrieved her ball but he didn’t stop her.

She kept running, reveling in the feeling of the cool evening breeze through her hair. As the burning feeling in her legs increased, the day’s events ran through her mind. When she passed Nathan halfway around her lap of the field he fell into step with her, running beside her. They ran until she came to a halt, tired and out of breath. Nathan stopped a little way ahead of her and jogged back to where she was.

“Do you think he knew I was his daughter?” she asked once she’d caught her breath. “When he threatened me after Max almost killed me, do you think he didn’t know or he did and he just didn’t care?”

Nathan shook his head. “Forget about him.”

“How can I?” Natasha cried. “I don’t even know who I am anymore. I’ve been living a lie for 22 years!” She looked close to tears again.

Nathan brushed away the strands of hair that had escaped her ponytail and Natasha shivered at his touch. “You’re still the same person you were yesterday before this whole mess. I can’t even begin to imagine how you feel right now but you just need to remember that this doesn’t change who you are, okay?” Nathan urged.

Natasha nodded in agreement.

“Ready to go back home?” Nathan asked.

“Oh no. No way. I’ll spend the night at Kelsey’s. I can’t deal with my mother right now.”

***

Kelsey wasn’t home when Nathan dropped Natasha off at her house so she played Banana with Keisha upon the girl’s insistence, while Mrs Harris got ready for her night shift. Kelsey arrived with her boyfriend Liam a couple of minutes before Mrs Harris was due to leave.

“The prodigal best friend has returned at last,” she teased as she hugged Natasha.

“I missed you too,” Natasha said dryly. “Hi Liam,” she called over Kelsey’s shoulder.

“Hey.” He gave her a shy smile and rubbed the back of his neck. “I’m gonna go now Kelsey.”

Kelsey released Natasha and went back to Liam who was standing near the door. “Sorry babe, you’ve been besty-blocked.” He laughed into the crook of her neck as she hugged him then gave him a light kiss on the lips. They walked out of the house, arm around her waist as she leaned up and whispered something to him that had him laughing again.

When she came back she dragged Natasha to the kitchen and Keisha trailed after them dragging her teddy bear by it’s foot.

“Why do you look like you got run over by a truck?” Kelsey asked pulling a cereal box out of the cupboard.

Natasha lifted Keisha onto her high chair before settling into one of the kitchen chairs surrounding the table.

“Why are you eating cereal at 7 p.m?”

“It’s 8 a.m somewhere,” Kelsey shrugged pouring the cereal and some milk into a bowl. She took a heaped spoonful and hummed appreciatively. “Your turn.” She waved her spoon at Natasha.

“I was playing baseball,” Natasha replied. Kelsey chewed her cereal slowly, eyes fixed on her.

“Why?”

“It’s baseball season somewhere.”

“That doesn’t even make sense Tasha.”

“I’m leaving girls,” Mrs Harris called from the lounge, “And Kelsey you better not be eating cereal or I’m going to start locking it away again!”

Kelsey pouted and swallowed the cereal in her mouth before responding. “I’m not!” Keisha giggled and Kelsey covered her mouth to keep her from telling on her.

“And don’t forget to call your dad before Keisha falls asleep.”

“Okay mum. Bye,” Kelsey called returning to her bowl.

***

Natasha took a shower and changed into the spare pajamas she kept there while Kelsey and Keisha talked to their father on Skype then joined them as Kelsey read the little girl a bedtime story. She finally came clean to Kelsey about the reason she was spending the night there and needless to say, Kelsey was shocked.

“So your mum didn’t say anything else?” she asked.

“I didn’t stick around long enough for that. She kept calling non-stop so I switched my phone off,” Natasha sighed.

“I’m so sorry,” Kelsey consoled her pulling her into a hug.

“I just want to stop thinking about it or else my head is going to explode.”

“I have just the thing to distract you!” Kelsey dragged her to bed and propped her laptop between them. They watched back to back episodes of Young and Hungry until they dozed off.

***

Natasha woke up first and she switched her phone on to check if anyone besides her mother had tried to reach her. Apart from the deluge of messages from her mother, there were a couple from David and Nathan.

Nathan had texted to check on her while David’s texts were to inform her that he’d spoken to both Nathan and Macmillan and they were scheduled to meet later that afternoon. She was supposed to go with Kelsey so he could brief them all together. She replied those texts and sent one to Benny asking him to apologize to his mother on her behalf for not bringing in cupcakes before switching it off again.

When Kelsey finally tumbled out of bed, Natasha had finished cleaning and was now sprawled out on the living room carpet watching Keisha scribble with her crayons. They bathed, had breakfast and as soon as Mrs Harris returned from the hospital, the two girls left in Kelsey’s car to meet with David.

Natasha was relieved to hear that Lily was in the Capital so she wouldn’t be joining them and if David knew of the conflict between them, he didn’t give any indication of it. Nathan arrived a few minutes after them but Macmillan still hadn’t showed up.

“Thank you for joining us Detective. We’ll just get started while we wait for Mr Bandieer,” David addressed them.

Nathan gave David a copy of a doctor’s report from the time Max had tried to strangle Natasha. That, as well as the testimonies of the doctor and nurse who Macmillan had brought in to patch Natasha up when Max hurt her were their strongest argument for Max’s conviction and David was optimistic that he could get the charges bumped up to attempted murder.

There was still no sign of Macmillan by the time they dismissed and Natasha was getting worried that he’d changed his mind about helping her.

“Can I talk to you for a second?” Nathan asked Natasha when they were leaving David’s office.

“I’ll wait by the car,” Kelsey excused herself leaving the two to walk alone.

“I tried to call you earlier,” Nathan said.

“Sorry, my phone’s off,” Natasha replied. He held the door open for her and they stepped outside and stood in a sunny spot on the pavement.

“How are you today?”

“Confused. Sad. Angry,” Natasha rattled off. “I don’t know how to deal with this.”

“Talk to your mother. Maybe you can get closure and move on. Take it from me, talking helps.”

“You sound like a therapist,” Natasha scoffed.

“Just speaking from experience,” Nathan shrugged, shoving his hands in his pockets.

She paused, regarding him, “Carey?”

“After we lost Carey my mum tried to get me to go for therapy and talk about her death and my dad, but I couldn’t. I physically couldn’t,” he said sullenly looking straight ahead at passing traffic.

“I would just choke up and have a panic attack. I tried several therapists and I even tried to talk to Stacey and my mum but the result was all the same until they gave up. But that night, with you, was the first time I talked about it and I felt like I could finally breathe again after that. Tell me that doesn’t prove something.”

“Wow,” Natasha said amazed.

“Just think about it,” he said as he walked away, heading to his car. He swiveled back around to face her. “And keep your phone on!”

Natasha gave him a mock salute and went to join Kelsey. He got into his car and drove back to the station. He was tempted to swing by H.B media just to make sure that Macmillan wasn’t chickening out of the promise he had made Natasha but decided against it. He had a lot more work to do at the station.

“Where did you disappear to?” his partner, Michael Carter, asked him when he walked into their shared office.

“I had a meeting with Natasha’s lawyer,” Nathan replied shrugging off his jacket and placing it on the back of his chair before taking a seat.

Michael rubbed his chin, regarding his partner coolly. “Natasha Evans, the murder suspect?”

Nathan, sensing what his partner was trying to imply answered in an equally neutral tone, “We cleared her of suspicion Michael.”

“Hmm, true but doesn’t mean she’s innocent.”

Nathan switched on his computer and focused his attention on the screen. “Don’t turn this into a witch hunt. She’s not the bad guy.”

“You know this how?” Michael asked.

Nathan retrieved a file from one of his desk drawers and slid it to the end of his desk. Michael walked over from his desk and picked up the file, quickly browsing through the contents.

“This isn’t conclusive,” Michael said tossing the file back on the desk.

Nathan turned the monitor towards Michael and gestured for him to take a look.

“What’s this?” Michael asked peering at the screen.

“I called in a favor and got the Chief’s phone records for the past month. You’re looking at the records from last week,” Nathan replied, folding his arms over his chest.

“Why?”

“Remember how we thought it was odd that the Chief led a search and seize at Natasha’s house?” Michael nodded and Nathan continued. “My first assumption was that he was being paid off to do it to get Max Bandieer off the hook.”

“But Max couldn’t have paid him anything because he was in our custody,” Michael said perching on the edge of the desk.

“Right. So my next thought was his brother, Macmillan. Max called him from prison, probably to tell him to make a deal with the Chief for that warrant.”  Nathan drummed his fingers on the polished wooden desk.

“Prison calls are recorded. Did you confirm that Max called his brother?” Michael asked.

“Yes and I had them confirm that the number Max called is registered to Macmillan. That same number showed up in the Chief’s phone records for the day we had Max in custody and according to the records the calls were made after  Max’s call to Macmillan,” Nathan replied pulling out a sheet of paper from the file and pointing at a highlighted detail.

“I’ll call Angela and ask her to send over the recording of Max’s call so we’ll know exactly what he said” Michael said already dialing.

Michael called Angela Wilkins, a fellow police officer who kept records of and monitored in-mate phone calls. She emailed the recording they asked for and they listened to it on Nathan’s computer.

 “Mac! I need your help.”

“You’re in prison? What the hell happened?”

“I got into a little trouble. Look I just need you to get down to the station and I’ll explain everything.”

“Fine.”

“The phone call doesn’t have anything incriminating,” Nathan said when the recording came to an end.

“I think we should talk to Macmillan. Try to shake him up till he coughs something up,” Michael suggested.

Nathan groaned. “You’re just looking for an excuse to feed your witch-hunting tendencies.”

Michael rolled his eyes as he went back to his desk and picked up his badge, gun and car keys. “Please. You love playing good cop.”

“It’s almost six p.m,” Nathan said, checking his watch as they walked out of the station. “Do you think he’ll still be in his office now?”

“Call him and check.” Michael started his car while Nathan tried the number they’d obtained from the phone records. The call went to voicemail and they decided to just try his office first.

When they got there they were surprised to find the building relatively empty. Nathan led the way to Macmillan’s office and even his secretary wasn’t at her desk.

“Is anything about this striking you as odd?” Michael asked.

“Maybe everyone’s gone home for the day?” Nathan shrugged.

Michael, skeptical as ever, took his gun from the holster, indicating that Nathan should do the same. Nathan obliged, though he felt it was a bit un-necessary. They walked quietly to Macmillan’s office door and Nathan knocked. A loud crash came from inside the room and the two men immediately burst through the door, guns at the ready. They were met with a sight that confounded Nathan.

Macmillan was slumped in his chair, eyes staring blankly ahead. The light blue shade of his shirt was barely visible under the blood seeping out from his chest and dripping onto the floor into the red mass steadily growing on the brown carpet. A movement in a corner of the room finally drew his attention from the bloody mess to another unpleasant sight.

“Put the knife down and put your hands behind your head!” Michael shouted, aiming his gun.

The dull thud of the blade as it was thrown onto the carpet rang loud as a bell in Nathan’s ears as he followed the shaking, bloodied hands being raised into the air. Michael immediately darted forward, whipping out a pair of handcuffs.

“You are under arrest. Anything you say or do will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you,” he spieled off. “This time I remembered your rights Miss Evans.”

“I didn’t do this Nathan,” Natasha whispered, tears streaming from her eyes as Michael led her past him. “I didn’t kill him.”

***

I’ve recently become obsessed with gif’s! Like certifiable kind of obsession. So I’m going to be posting a reaction gif at the end of each chapter from now on. And I would be so, so thrilled if you tweet one to me for this chapter so if you would like to, my twitter handle is @fatfaceheart.

So here’s mine for this chapter:

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Yeah it is!

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