A Third Chance at First Love - Chapter TwentyWith his secret revealed, how will Erin Grey react?
Dinner was great.
Erin got two helpings of steamy, hot corn soup inside two crispy and delicious bread bowls, while Derek had four helpings of carrot soup and sour dough.
"Carrot soup?" She looked at his bowl in disbelief.
"It's good for the eyes," he replied as he took a spoonful.
Erin looked at the bowl again, this time with a look of disgust, before minding her own bowl with another soft slurp.
As they ate, they talked about normal, mundane things - of Derek's current project regarding the funding of a new medical mission, of Erin's past work as a journalist, even his hobbies and dreams, along with her likes and dislikes.
Their first date was presumably low-key compared to the more extravagant places they've happen to meet before.
Erin didn't talk much, nor did she bring up anything else to the conversation, but she was careful enough to not make her change of attitude to obvious. Her eyes sat on Derek as he told her stories of his stay at the hospital. He complained about the food being blander than anything he had ever eaten before, and how he finally realized why his patients looked like death whenever he announced that lunchtime was coming.
"You'd think they would be nice enough to add some salt on my food," he sighed. "Full of grub, I tell you."
Derek lifted his head to find her looking at him with an uneasy expression.
He reached for her shoulders, but she didn't react.
"Erin," he said again, this time he shook her lightly.
She blinked a few times after that. "Oh, I'm sorry. What were we talking about?"
He smiled at her. "You must be tired. Do you want to make our way back to the hotel?"
She nodded her head.
They left the restaurant and strolled quietly down the empty streets. It had gotten much darker, and windier too, causing Erin to clutch on to her jacket for warmth.
Derek pulled her closer to him, his hands intertwining with her own.
"What's wrong, Erin?" He finally asked her. She had grown silent all of a sudden, and he started to wonder if he did something.
"I'm fine," she replied, "I..." she stopped walking, and she removed her hand from his clasp.
They stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, with only one old street light to light them.
"I can't stand being in the dark anymore," she whispered, her voice quivering. "I can't stand being the last person to know, always the one protected, always the one left out..."
Erin was shaking her head, and her shoulders were stiffening. Derek felt confusion by her actions, and he could only put her in his arms as he tried to comfort her.
That was until she lifted a piece of paper in her hand, that he pulled her away.
It was his biocard.
"Are you really related to Michael Dean?" She asked him, "Are you really Gary's brother?"
He didn't reply, but instead took the paper from her hand. Erin watched as his eyes scanned the content quickly, as if he had already read it a thousand times.
When he was done, he crushed the paper into a small ball and placed it back into his pocket.
He wouldn't dare look at her.
"Can't you tell me?" He heard her say, "or is it that you do not trust me?"
"I trust you more than anyone in this world," he finally replied. "But I'm afraid... I'm afraid that once you find out the truth, you won't even look at me anymore."
As Derek tried to look up, he was faced with a loud slap on his cheek.
"How dare you, Derek Matthews," Erin said in anger, "after everything that had happened, how dare you doubt me now!"
She ran back to the hotel, leaving him alone in the middle of an empty road.
Derek made his way back after an entire hour. When he opened the door, he realized that the lights were turned off. For a second, he thought that she didn't go back, but he found her heels placed in the side of the doorway.
"Erin?" He called out as he maneuvered his way to the bedroom without turning the lights on. "Where are you?"
He poked his head through the doorframe to find her sitting on the edge of the bed, her back facing him.
Derek said nothing and merely sat on the other side.
"Three nights ago," he began to speak," I visited Jordan Erikson in hopes that he could tell me all about you," he paused, "it was the day I've seen you cry for the first time."
Derek closed his eyes as he tried to remember storming in Jordan's home, and what had happened afterwards.
"When I was there, he told me to take his briefcase and run. He didn't say anything else, but he knew he was being watched," his hand turned into a fist. "At that moment, someone aimed a bullet in his head. Jordan's dead, Erin."
Derek heard her gasp in surprise, followed by a low whimper. But he didn't turn around, and instead he continued.
"I opened the bag to find pictures of a casualty in a landslide accident in St.Lucinta. It also contained a police file, some identification and a classified hospital document - all which had your name on it," he whispered. "Jacobs must have asked him to keep them away from the hospital if the time came where I decided not to pursue you."
Derek grabbed the piece of paper from his pocket. "I also found this card there," he continued, "and so I asked Jacobs about it." He placed the card behind him, right in the middle of the two of them.
"Elena Watson was your mother's closest friend. She had no idea what your mother did, except that they had known each other since they were children. When your mother urged her to move to New York, she met a much younger James Dean, who back then wanted nothing to do with his father's fame."
"...And then?" Erin whispered, and this made Derek smile.
"The two fell in love and moved in together. A year later, Elena Watson got pregnant. But you see, not everyone was happy - Michael Dean eventually found out that his only son was expecting a child with a woman he never approved of. He felt betrayed, so," Derek choked on his words, "he fixed her death."
Erin covered her mouth from the shock. Although the lights in the room were turned off, she could imagine the sort of expression he was making right now as he told her of the truth he learned from his family - his real family.
"Jacobs told me that Elena died from a crash due to an unstable break pedal. Your mother and father rushed to the scene while Jacobs came with them. Somehow, the child in her stomach was alive, but Elena had died. Your parents decided it was best to tell James that the baby had died with her, as they knew Michael would go after it too. They took care of me for three years, until another couple had asked to take care of me instead. They are my current parents, the Matthews."
This time, Derek had reached for her hand, and he held it tight.
"You were born that same year. Although my recollections are vague, I could imagine coming over to your house a lot," he continued, "however, as years passed, Michael Dean caught wind that the child-" he paused, "that I, was alive. And that I was taken in by the Grey's family."
Erin's hands felt cold. He didn't have to continue for her to understand.
"My father... he died... because..." She gasped.
"Michael didn't know if the child was a girl or a boy, and he would never dare ask his son either. That's why all this time, he aimed for you - because he thought you were me," Derek broke down on his knees.
"Your father's death, your mother's revenge, and now the life you lead - it was all because of me," he whispered in agony, "and yet I still dare to love you."
He decided ever since boarding the plane that he would reveal what he found out about himself to her, the only one true thing he has in his pathetic life.
Now it's her move. Anything she does now will be inevitable.
He was, after all, the biggest kryptonite of her life.
Derek didn't move an inch. He waited for her instead. He waited for her to cry, to push him away, and to leave. He was ready.
Except she didn't move an inch.
Derek was about to say something else, but was stopped when a loud pair of stilettos made itself heard as Irina Grey walked inside the bedroom.
"It looks like I'm interrupting something," she said as her shoulders crossed, "but I must speak to Derek right now."
My absence is inexcusable, but I will tell you one thing - I'm back.