By: Rosa Swann
When your very cute nephew suddenly becomes your son…
After Aiden was pushed away by his parents for having mated but not married me, I try to cheer him up, even a little, by showing him around my unfinished house.
Only, I didn’t expect the feelings I get when I see him walk around the hallways, or when he stands on the balcony overlooking the city…
I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I’m all on my own now. Hailey left, my parents don’t want to see me anymore, and I’m standing here holding the baby. Quite literally.
And what about this suspicion that Seb’s an Omega, like me?
The trip back into the city is tense. In the back, Seb is asleep, but in the front I try my hardest to stay together. I try to keep my mind off what just happened. Try to not break down, even though it’s not easy…
Being told to leave by my own family. Having my dad turn me away instead of offering to help, it stings. It hurts.
When we reach the edge of the city, I can feel that Clay’s staring at me. “Aiden…” His voice is soft, careful.
I shake my head. I can’t talk, not yet. I don’t want to think about this, but I know that my dad won’t go back on what he said. I knew that if he found out, this would happen…
“I’m sorry.” Clay reaches out, putting his hand on my knee, holding me a little.
“Why?” What does he have to be sorry for?
“I shouldn’t have gotten involved in all this. I shouldn’t have asked you to lie about being my husband. I shouldn’t have taken you to the wedding. Then this would never have happened.” He sounds so… Defeated. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault.” I put my hand over his. “Everything was tense from the moment I chose to support Hailey instead of staying at home. This is just… Another way in which they show that they don’t actually want to help. They just want to stay perfect, be the perfect family, be the perfect parents, having perfect kids. Hailey broke that image, and now they’re just unhappy.”
I sigh, leaning back in the chair. “I wish it wasn’t, but this is the reality.” A reality I’ve been trying to ignore for the last months, a reality I’ve been trying to tell myself isn’t actually true.
“No matter what, I’ll be here for you.” Clay squeezes my leg and then turns into a direction that’s not my home or the cafe.
“Clay?” I’m not exactly sure what he’s planning.
“Give me a moment. I want to show you something.” He starts driving through the streets and I slowly realise the direction we’re going in.
This is towards the centre of the city, towards the canals, towards where Clay said his other house was.
I stay quiet as the city passes us by, the little shops, the high buildings, the new and old all together, side by side. I love living here, there is so much history, and also so much other stuff to see. It’s… magical, in a way. There isn’t a corner to turn that doesn’t show you something totally new.
We turn into a small parking lot between multiple buildings and Clay turns off the car. “I know that you’re not having a good day, and I don’t know if this is too early or whatever. I don’t care right now. But I do want to show you this. I…” He colours a little and looks away.
“Anyway. Maybe this will cheer you up.” He gets out of the car and I’m curious as to what he was about to say. He’s not just being cryptic, he’s unsure of what he was about to say.
Clay opens the back door and takes Seb’s seat out of the car, carrying it in his arms as he waits for me to get out too. So, at least we won’t be going far, I presume.
I get out of the car and look around.
The small parking lot is surrounded by old buildings that loom over us. I can hear the streets that we just left, but in here, between these buildings, it’s quiet. It’s nice.
“Come.” Clay takes my hand as he takes me to one of the buildings, to a door that looks old but that Clay opens with just an electronic key fob on his key chain, so much for being ‘just’ an old building.
The hallway we step into looks nice and spacious. Clay checks his mail slot, but only pulls out some junk mail and stuff like that. He looks at each piece before he dumps it into the box next to the mailboxes.
“Nothing interesting. There’s never anything interesting in these.” He takes my hand again and walks me to the elevator at the side of the hallway.
“Clay?” I’m a little overwhelmed with how this all looks. If the hallway looks this nice, I can’t imagine the way his place must look…
“Yeah?” He turns to me, squeezing my hand a little.
“Are you sure?” I don’t want to impose or make him do things that he doesn’t want.
“Yeah.” He smiles and as the elevator arrives he pulls me inside. “I’m very sure.” His voice drops a little, which makes my stomach do a little flip. Okay…
The drive up isn’t long, but long enough to realise that the building is pretty high. “How high up are we?”
“Six floors. By far not the highest building around, but it’s still a good view.” He pulls me along as we leave the elevator and only lets go of my hand to open the door to his place.
This is the highest apartment that you can get to, the stairs and the elevator end here.
Clay steps inside and holds the door open for me. “Welcome to my humble abode.” He grins.
“Pretty sure ‘humble’ isn’t on the list of adjectives I’d use.” I walk into the apartment, looking around.
You immediately step into a big living room, it spans the whole floor and even has a kitchen on one side. I walk further, the view giving away to a beautiful windows looking over the city, on one side the outer city and on the opposite end the inner city. There is no furniture here, just barren wooden floors and a single table and chair near the kitchen unit. It’s so open, free, uncluttered.
“Wow.” I turn to Clay, who flashes me a huge smile.
“You like?” He grins.
“Definitely! This is amazing!” I make a full turn, looking around the whole space.
“It’s the most finished room…” Clay shrugs. “I had to replace nearly everything in here, even had to have people reset the windows and stuff like that. But it’s getting along nicely.”
He steps inside more, standing next to me. “This flooring was a hell to get in.”
The wooden floor looks great and so smooth, but it also looks like it would have been heavy and that it would probably have required a lot of sanding and stuff like that to make it look this good.
I’d imagined something flashy and kitsch, but instead this place looks warm and inviting and it even keeps elements that we’d associate with old buildings, like the wooden floors and the brick showing on some of the walls.
“Thank you.” Clay’s voice is soft. “Let me show you upstairs.” He walks up the stairs that are right next to the door, the only element blocking the spacious layout of the room.
When I follow him, I can see that the first floor up has a lot of the same elements as the living room. The dark wood flooring, the exposed elements on some of the walls, though here it’s wooden panels instead of brick.
“These are some of the other rooms.” Clay opens the door right next to the stairs. “This is the bathroom. It’s not done yet.”
When I look inside, ‘not done’ is an understatement. There are elements of a toilet and a bath stacked on one side of the space, while the other side is tiled partially. But what gets my attention the most is how spacious and light it is too.
“I still need to finish it. It’s been slow going…” He shrugs and steps away, letting me leave the bathroom.
Then he opens one of the other rooms, it’s not as bright, but I can also see that the room is mostly stripped of anything, the floor just bare boarding and the walls still have some old paper stuck to them.
“This is how most of the rooms look.” He shrugs.
“I thought you said some were liveable.” I raise my eyebrow at him.
“Well, some are. Just not on this floor.” He grins, then walks up the final set of stairs.
This floor is very different from the other two. You can definitely see where Clay has done his own things on the other two floors, but this one seems to have mostly just been fixed to be sort-of liveable.
Clay opens one of the doors. “This is my bedroom when I stay here.”
The room is simple, plain. There is a light coloured wallpaper on the walls and there’s carpet on the floor. At one end of the bedroom, there is a simple two-person bed, unmade. There’s also a shelving unit that most people would use for books, but this one has some clothes in them.
Then Clay opens the door next to it. “This is the bathroom that’s boring but usable.” The white tiles, the simple shower and a toilet and a sink. there’s nothing else in the room. It’s bare.
“Sure…” I step back out, the difference between this one and the one downstairs is staggering.
“And this is a temporary office.” He opens the next door, which opens to a room which could be amazing, but for now, it’s not looking like much.
There’s the same wallpaper and carpet, but there’s also a huge window set in the slanted roof. It could be amazing, with some love. Inside are a desk with some papers on it and a chair, but not much else. I can see what Clay means with liveable…
You could live here, but it looks old and unloved. If I compare this to the work he’s done downstairs… He’s got a long way to go.
“All the windows here have been replaced and I’ve fixed any leaks and anything else that needed fixing. But I’m working from the downstairs up. I just needed a few rooms that I could actually use or live in when I’m here. Which is why I’ve not started on these yet.” Clay stands next to me.
“But there’s one more reason why I love this place.” He takes my hand again and steps outside, walking back to the stairs and the door opposite the stairs. He opens the door and it opens onto a huge roof space.
I step out, looking around. This is hidden from most of the wind and other elements because of the buildings around it and the way it’s located, but the view is stunning and the roof is big enough for parties or things like that…
I walk over to the edge of the balcony, holding on to the railing as I look around.
Wow. I totally get why Clay bought this, and why he’s putting so much love and time into restoring this place.
It’s beautiful and this view is to die for.