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The Price of It - Part 3




Aaron Green is 47; Cory Green is 49; Rose Green is 35; Sam is 16.
Helen Green is 34; Serdar Green is 75; Matthew Langerak is 17.


March 2025




It was a later than he'd planned, when Aaron finally arrived at the hospital.  He heard Helen sigh as he opened the door.  "Dad, I can't let you pay all that money for a dress I'll probably only wear once,"



"You're my only daughter," Serdar replied.  "I want you to look like a bride on your wedding day."  He turned and looked up at Aaron.


"You're here - good!"
"Why, is something wrong," Aaron asked.
No, not at all," said Serdar.  "There's just something of importance that I need to talk to you three about, while we're all here together."

Aaron looked at his brother and sister.  They seemed as puzzled as he was.  Serdar went on, "You might remember, we've discussed the terms of my will before."
"Dad, don't - " Cory started.
"Please, just hear me out," said Serdar, turning to his other two children.


"As you know, I plan to leave the house to Cory.  I originally bought it as a home for him and Sam, and his other children have lived there all their lives, too.  It would be unfair to do otherwise.  You'll each receive a generous sum of money, as will Chris, and of course there are provisions for Brandi and her children, too.  But the house belongs to Cory.  Are we in agreement on that?"


Aaron nodded, along with his sister.  "But... why are we talking about this again now?" he asked.  As Serdar had said, they had discussed it years ago, around the time Cory had married Rose.  
"Because I'm about to make a change to the terms," he said.  "Cory, I've had my lawyer draw up the papers to transfer the  house into your name immediately."
"What... why?" Cory stammered.
"I believe it will make things a lot less complicated if I deal with this now, rather than leave it until I'm gone."
"But... things are fine the way they are.... "

"I'm not finished," said Serdar.  "That's the other thing I want to talk to you three about."  He turned to his eldest son.  "Cory, the reason I want you to take ownership of the house, is because Brandi and I are moving out."
"What?!"  
"We've moving out.  We're going to go live in that retirement home near the park."


"No... you can't do that," said Cory.
"We've already made the arrangements, signed the papers for the room last week, before I got sick. "
"But... you never said anything... you never even mentioned that you were thinking about it..."
"... because I knew you wouldn't want me to do it.  It was easier to present it to you when everything was finalised - "

"Damn right I wouldn't want you to do it! Are you crazy?  You don't want to live in a place like that."
"It's a good place, Cory, they take care of all your meals, all your laundry... they - "
"But we can do all that at home."
"I don't want to be a burden to you or your family."

"Come one, don't be ridiculous... "
"It's not just that," said Serdar.  "This place has a lot to offer - there'll be new things to do, people to meet... I'm bored at home.  You know I don't get out as much as I used to.  This could be a good - "
"Dad, you can't leave your home."



"Cory, it's your home.  It always was.  I don't want to argue about this, the arrangements are made and the subject is closed."
"And it's getting late," Aaron broke in, trying to diffuse the rising tension.  "Tomorrow's going to be a long day for Dad.  We should leave."

"What - you just got here!" said Cory.
"It's late, Cory.  Let's go."  He got up and gestured to his brother to do the same.
"It is getting late," said Serdar, "and I'm getting tired.   But, Cory, I think we should stop at the home on the way back tomorrow.  You'll like it once you see it."


"I won't like it," said Cory.
"Just give it a chance," said Serdar.  "You never know... "

---

Out in the hallway, Helen leaned against the wall and closed her eyes.
"Are you ok?" Aaron asked.
"Just a headache," she said.  "I think this whole wedding thing is getting to me... Leo and I wanted something simple, but Dad's turning it into the event of the year or - "


"You can't blame him for it," Cory said.  "Like he said, you're his only daughter..." 
"But it's not his wedding, it's mine."
"That's true, but both his weddings were in the courthouse in front of a judge and a couple of witnesses.  It's only natural he'd want something more for you."
"Yeah, I guess, whatever."  She shook her head.  "I'm going to go find coffee.  I'll be back in a few minutes."

When she was gone, Aaron turned to Cory. "That was a bit harsh, wasn't it?" 
"What?"


"Well, now, as well as having little control over her own wedding, she's going to feel guilty whenever she tries."
Cory shrugged.  "Well, it's true.  And I just think we should just go with what Dad wants, you know... "
"... except, I take it that doesn't extend to his wanting to move into the retirement home."
"Don't tell me you agree with him that - "
"I'm just saying - "


"He's not doing it," said Cory.  "I just won't sign the papers for the house."
"That won't stop him from moving out."

"I should have known you'd take his side!"
"I'm not taking sides, I'm - "
"Just forget it, Aaron.  I'm going home.  Just forget it..."


"But, Cory - "  Aaron started to follow him, then decided against it.  He needed time to think this through.  They all did.  And, he needed to talk to his father again, alone.  Something didn't add up.

He was about to go back into the room, when Helen called to him.  "Where's Cory?"
"He went home."


"Great... he's supposed to be driving me back to Richmond!"
 Aaron sighed.  Talking to Dad would have to wait for now.  "Well, it's a good thing my car's here too," he said.
----

It was a stunning spring day, Serdar thought.  He really couldn't have picked a better day to come home, or to show Cory this place.


"Look at this view," he said. "Isn't it beautiful?"


"You can see trees, great." said Cory.  "Now, what about your room?"


Serdar looked at Brandi, but she just turned and walked ahead of them to the room.  Well, she had already vowed to not be pulled in by Cory's negativity.  And told Serdar that he should do the same.

He followed them into the room.


"It's a bit bland," Cory finally said, after looking around. "And where will you put all your things?"
"There's plenty of storage... they're getting a wardrobe, and I've asked them to put up a couple of shelves - "
"And they haven't done it yet?"
"Cory - "




"How can I trust them to look out for you, if they can't even put up a couple of shelves?!"
"Cory, stop!" Serdar said, looking nervously out into the corridor.  "We are moving in here, and that's final."
"Stop talking to me like I'm a child." 


"You're acting like one,"  Serdar said.  "You've been acting like one for weeks now.  The last time you behaved like this, you were seven years old and your mother had left.  I'm worried about you."
"This isn't about me," said Cory. "Don't try to change the subject.".
"Then don't give me reason to."

"You're really going to do this, aren't you?  You're really going to move into this place?"


"Yes, we are," said Serdar.
Cory sighed.  "Then there's nothing else for me to say."  He started towards the door.
"Cory, wait... where are you going?"
"I've got things to do in town."
"If you wait a minute I can drive you - " Brandi started.
"I'm fine," said Cory.  "I need the walk to clear my head."

----

"Where is everyone?" Aaron asked his father, later that afternoon.
"At Sam's swimming championship.  I wanted to go, but I was too tired after this morning.


"Well, I'm glad you're here alone," said Aaron.  "We need to talk."
"Oh?"
"Dad, what's the real reason you're moving?"
"I told you at the hospital."  He turned and went to sit down.


"I don't believe that stuff you said for one minute," Aaron said, following him.  "You love this house.  You've got your garden here, you love being with the kids... I know Cory's been moody lately, but is he really so hard to live with, that you have to move out?"
"It's not like that," said Serdar.
"Then, what?"

"Have you ever seen the way your brother looks at me sometimes?  Like he thinks I'm going to drop dead at any moment or something... "
"He's just worried... "


"I know, that's the problem.  He's too worried.  I don't know what's bugging him lately, but I'll bet I'm a part of it."
"Dad - "
"I'm not going to be around forever, we know that.  I can't change that.  I can't make myself any younger... but at least if I'm not living in the same house maybe he won't think have to think about it quite so much."
"So you're moving because - "
" - because Cory needs a break.  From me."

Aaron thought for a moment.  "How does Brandi feel about it?"
"She's disappointed to be leaving here too, but she agrees it's for the best.  I think it'll be better for her, too, in the long run.  She may not be comfortable staying here with Cory's family after I'm gone.  At least this way, I can see her settled somewhere else."
"Dad - "
"And before you say it, no, I would never speak that way in front of Cory.  But I think I can be a little more realistic about the future, with you."
"Do you really think - "Aaron started, but the ringing of the phone cut him off.
"I should get that," said Serdar, getting up.

He was back, almost immediately, looking worried.


"What is it?"
"That was Rose.  It seems that Cory isn't with them."
"But you said - "
"He left us at the retirement home.  When he didn't come back here, we all assumed he was meeting them at the pool.  Only, he didn't."


"Well... if he's not there, then where is he?"

----

It was dark when Cory finally arrived home that night.  Rose was waiting for him.
"Where's Dad?" he asked.


"Sleeping."
"I knew it'd be too tiring for him.  We shouldn't have stopped at the retirement home."
"Where were you this afternoon?"
"You know I went with them to see the home."
"And after that?  Your parents have been back for hours."
Cory shrugged.  "Around.  I just had stuff to do.  Why?"


"The swimming championship, Cory."


"That was today?"

"You knew it was!  We talked about it yesterday.  I don't understand... what is wrong with you lately?"
"All right, don't go on about it!"


"Don't go on... do you know how much this meant to your daughter?  Do you have any idea how disappointed she was?  She wanted you there."


"Ok, ok... I messed up, fine.  Where's Sam, I'll talk to her."
"She's out with Matthew.  She had to celebrate with someone..."

He started to walk away, then turned back.  "Celebrate?  She won, then?"


"Yeah, she won.  Nice of you to ask."

----

It was a long time ago.  So long ago, that Sam thought she had... well... maybe not forgotten it exactly, but at least stopped thinking about it.  No one ever talked about it any more.  It was another lifetime, after all, in so many ways.


She used to lie awake at night, listening to her parents fight.  She remembered the raised voices, the accusations, the words that she didn't understand then, but did now.  Sometimes, a crash. Something broken, shattered.  Something thrown in anger?  Something knocked over in a drunken, clumsy accident?  Something loved, deliberately destroyed in retaliation?  She never knew.

The next day, she would sense the tension.  The careful conversation, picking their way through a minefield.  One false move and the bomb would blow...  just like it always did.


Then, inexplicably, it would stop.  There's be the peaceful periods, sometimes for days on end, where they didn't fight. Sometimes, during these times, they even acted like they cared for each other.

An outsider might expect that Sam would enjoy those peaceful times, but actually she hated them, even more than the fights.  It wasn't real, it wasn't something that she could keep.  Reality was the time bomb, still quietly ticking away.  All Sam could do, was just wait for it to blow.


That part of her life had ended abruptly when her father left.  It would be almost two years before she ever saw him again.  She went to live with her grandparents, who never fought or argued - at least, not so she could see it - and she was happy.


Then her father came back.  Granddad had told her that he was different now.  Sam hadn't believed him at first, but as time passed, it looked like he'd been right.  She and her father had grown close, and if she'd expected the worst when he remarried, she never told him.  And, up until now, he and Rose had seemed happy.


She thought she had stopped thinking about it, that other lifetime, that no one ever talked about any more.  But she hadn't, although she didn't understand that until now.


All this time, it had been something that she would keep, whether she knew it or not.  All this time, she'd just been waiting for the bomb to blow.

----

"Sshhh," said Cory.  "It's so quiet out here."


"That's because its the middle of the night."
"I couldn't sleep."
"Nor could I."
Rose bit her lip.  There were probably more gentle ways of dealing with this, but she was past the point of subtlty.  "Cory, are you drinking again?"


"Is that why you followed me out here?  You thought you'd catch me out?"
"I don't know, maybe... "
He didn't answer.

"I'm sick of this Cory.  I know you don't like hearing it, but you have changed.  Even Dad's noticed it, at the shop."
He got up suddenly.  "You talked to your father about me?"
"No, he talked to me.  He's worried about you."
Cory shrugged.  "That's an interesting turnaround."


"You still haven't answered my question."
"No, I'm not drinking again." 


He looked her in the eye when he said it, then added, "Didn't I promise you that I would tell you if anything like that ever happened."
She nodded.
"I meant it.  I still mean it, believe me..."
"I want to, but... I don't know, something's going on.  If it's not that, then what?  What's wrong?"
"I don't know what's wrong!"
"But it's something, right?  I mean, you're not going to try to tell me that nothing's going on, because I'm not going to believe that, Cory.  I haven't believed it in a long time."



"No," he said gently.  "I'm not going to say nothing's wrong."  He sighed.  "But it is true that I don't know what the problem really is.... I should be happy now, but I'm not.  Maybe it's because of Dad, maybe I'm just over-tired, I don't know... I just know I'm not happy any more, and I don't know what the hell to do about it... "

She turned away and Cory realised that she was crying.  "Hey, don't... I'm sorry... really, I'm sorry... "




"I'm just scared for you... " she said.

He pulled her closer to him, and tried not to think about how overwhelmingly scared he was for himself.


There'd be a price to pay for lying.  There always was.


There'd be a price to pay for what he'd done.


He wouldn't think about that tonight, though.   Tonight, he'd hold his wife tightly, enjoy the warmth of her body while he still could.


While he waited for the bomb to blow.

---

Soundtrack - "The End of the Innocence" by Don Henley (minus the political bit in the middle :)  ).  It doesn't really fit the story overall, but I couldn't get it out of my head, while I was writing about Sam.


As I said in the comments of the previous part, Sam really took this story over.  If I had known how much I'd get caught up in her character, I'd have given her an update of her own (maybe I still will, later), but instead Aaron's family get another update soon, as I only got through about half of the story I wanted to tell with them.


There's one small piece of this to go.  It was originally the ending of this part, but for a few reasons (including the length of this one!), I'm posting it separately in a couple of days.

6 comments:

  1. Awww, Sam! She doesn't look too sure about that. Hopefully she's okay with it after some time. It happens for everybody eventually, huh?

    But OMG @ Cory! "while he still could"? Okay, so I thought I had an idea about what was wrong with him, but now I just don't have a freaking clue! It kind of sounds like he might be dying even, lol! <-- no, that's not funny, I know, but OMG, I have no idea what's wrong with him... unless he is dying!!! :o

    I loved the running theme of lies and secrets and waiting for them to become uncovered. Beautiful update here! And I love that song too, it fits this piece well.

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  2. Now that is a cliff hanger! I'm dying to find out what is going on with Cory. Awesome!

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  3. I agree with juliejaz1, I can't wait to see what's going on with him!

    I love the picture where Rose tells Cory she's scared for him. She looks beautiful there!

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  4. I wonder what's really going on with Cory. Would I be right if I guessed that he understands it more than he's letting on to Rose? That's how it seemed to me. Maybe so he won't worry her or maybe something that he's afraid to voice?

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  5. I'm thinking that Cory has done something that is going to change his relationship with his family.

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  6. Laura, thanks... and no, he's not dying - it never occurred to me that someone might think that he was!! You might be right in what you were thinking, he's just fixating on the worst possible outcome from it. The next update will (hopefully!) explain why.

    juliejaz1, you're right, it will change his relationship with his family... although keeping the secret is doing that, anyway...

    Flit, thanks, I think Rose (and her sister Kyla) turned out quite lovely, despite inheriting their father's beaky nose :)

    Carla, yeah, he does know more than he's telling Rose. He also knows that she will find out eventually. I see her as the kind of person who isn't cynical at all, who does believe in fairy tales... so the end of innocence thing kind of applies to her too.

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Thanks for reading and commenting!