7 - Right Path

Silence filled the room. Hannah stood by the table, frozen. “What are you trying to say, Ryan?” She asked him in a much calmer tone.

“I can’t argue with you all the time, it’s draining. I’m tired of people around me trying to control my life; first, it was Mama, and then it’s you.” Ryan told her. “I’m sick of it all.

“I’m not trying to control your life, Ryan. I just want what’s best for you.

“I know you do, but it’s too much, it’s suffocating. Maybe we should…” Ryan said carefully.

“We’re not…!” Hannah shouted and slammed the table. She paused and then breathed deeply. “We’re not talking about this anymore, Ryan.” She said and stormed off.

Ryan loved Hannah, he really did. As time goes by, though, that love changed.

While Hannah’s control over his life grew, Ryan’s affection for her diminishes. At one point even her family became involved in his life and future, and Ryan couldn’t take it anymore. He broke up with her, but the same night, Hannah overdosed on sleeping pills.

As Ryan became more successful and popular, Hannah’s insecurities grew and she slowly felt less and less needed and wanted by him.

For the longest time, Ryan blamed himself for Hannah’s behavior. He became so busy that he spent less and less time with her and that lead to Hannah’s insecurities, so he ended up spoiling her. Doing whatever she wants, giving whatever she needs, thinking that it would stop her from thinking that she wasn’t needed or wanted.

There are certain times that doing something from the goodness of our hearts would only bring forth more misfortune and more pain. When Ryan gave in to Hannah that first time, his life was thrown into a loop of suicide threat and emotional blackmail.

Moving back to Estrella was Ryan’s chance to be finally free, to get back his life, but it wasn’t as easy as he hoped for.

The only solace he had for that tiring scene was the heartwarming meal Seb cooked for him.

Hannah was waiting for Ryan on his bed, wearing very sexy lingerie. In the past, being intimate with each other was enough to placate their anger, sometimes their high emotions even made sex better, but Ryan wasn’t in the mood.

“I’m sleeping on the sofa.” Ryan said as he took out a change of clothes from his dresser. As he walked out of the room, Hannah threw a pillow at the door.

Over the weekend, Hannah acted like everything between them was normal. Even though Ryan acted cold and showed every sign of disinterest, she ignored them.

“Are you really going to act this way the whole weekend?” Hannah asked as they got home that Saturday night. “We were supposed to be spending time together, Ryan.

Ryan ignored her. He was infuriated the whole day, not only does Hannah showed no sign of remorse for that message she sent. She also took his phone to see every call history and every message in it.

“We’re already living so far away from each other, and the rare time we could spend together, you’re acting cold.” Hannah complained. “Ever since you decided to move here, you’ve been so distant, Ryan. You’ve changed.

“Maybe I just need a time off.” Ryan said. “You know part of the reason why I came back here was because of my fight with Mama, right? I’m just tired, Hannah.” Ryan sighed.

“Ryan, your mother was just trying to protect you from that woman. She just needed a reason to stop you from coming back here.” Hannah said.

“You know, don’t you? You know what my mother did.” Ryan was quite surprised. He hadn’t really told Hannah what his fight with his mother was really about. “Since when?

“After you moved. I talked to her, and she’s worried. She doesn’t want that woman to ruin your life again.” Hannah reasoned.

“You’re still taking her side, after knowing what she did? Five years of my life was wasted, Hannah. Five fucking long years. Do you know how many times I wanted to move back here but couldn’t, because of her?” Ryan was trying his best to hold back his anger.

“What about me?” Hannah asked. “If you’ve moved back here years ago, then we wouldn’t have the chance to be together, Ryan. Are you regretting even that? Do you regret not coming back to that woman and being with me instead?” Her voice and her expression were getting more and more emotional.

“I don’t regret being with you, but right now you’re not the Hannah I first met. You’re becoming more and more like my mother.” Ryan told her. “Maybe what we need is a little time off…”

“Time off…?” Hannah scoffed. “Just admit it, you’re tired of me!” She argued. “You’re tired of me and you want to get back to your woman! This wouldn’t happen to us if you just accepted Dad’s offer instead!

“You know what I’m tired of? Both you and Mama trying to control my life. It’s suffocating!” Ryan argued back as he gripped his own neck. Ryan calmed down and took a deep breath. “That offer from your dad, if I took, I would never hear the end of it. I had a goal, Hannah, a dream, a motivation for becoming a lawyer, but you and Mama, you both did everything to change that. It’s not just five years of my life that I lost, I also lost my dream. I’m tired of it all, Hannah. I need a time off, and I’m not asking for your permission. I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.” Ryan said sternly.

Hannah went back home the next day without saying a word. It was one of the biggest fights they had and somehow, and Ryan didn’t feel good about it. Even though Hannah was mostly at fault, he still felt the most guilty.

“You’re here.” Barry said as he placed a glass of beer at the bar. Ryan could easily tell that Barry wasn’t that keen on seeing him.

“Your bar is nice, and it seems to be doing really good.” Ryan said as he took a sip of the cold beer and looked around.

“Ryan, why are you really back? And don’t give me the crap about getting a big offer on that law firm, because I’m pretty sure you can get a bigger one at the capital.” Barry asked him straightly.

“I want to get my old life back.” It was the first time Ryan said it ever since he got back to Estrella, and it felt freeing.

“Your old life is gone, Ryan. There’s nothing to return to.

“I could at least try to make things right. I wasted five years of my life away from this city, and I don’t want to waste any more second.

“And where does Seb come in the picture?” Barry asked and Ryan instantly heard the concern in his voice. “Look, Paula and I, we care too much about Seb. We don’t want him to get hurt, we don’t want you to hurt him. Five long years of pain is enough, he couldn’t take any more. So, if you just came back here to give him hope and hurt him again, then you better just leave. For good.

“I thought I was doing the right thing, by not coming back here. I thought it was the best for him and my family. Reconnecting with Seb, I realized that something was missing all along, I remembered my dream, and everything felt right. Being back here felt right. Being with Seb felt right.” Ryan gave a small wry smile.

“I don’t know what happened to you when you were gone, so I’m not gonna judge, but I saw firsthand what happened to Seb and what you’re absence did to him. So, I’m gonna say this, if you hurt Seb again, in any way, I would make sure you would regret it.” Barry told him.

The way Barry talked made Ryan realized how much he cared for Seb. He was able to be someone that Seb’s supposed family couldn’t even try to be.

Ryan watched as Seb goes around the bar, taking and serving orders. Seb was smiling at customers, and it was reminiscent of his smile in the past. It was a smile that Seb was still reluctant to give Ryan. It was a smile that Ryan wanted so bad to see all those years.

Asking for his old life back was too much, he knew that. After all, he was the one who decided to leave it all behind. He was the one who chose a life without Seb, so trying to barge his way back into his life was wrong. All that Ryan could do was try to convince Seb to let him back into his life again.

Once he does, he would never leave again.

After finishing a couple of glasses of beer, Ryan decided to go home. “Are you driving home?” Ryan turned his head and saw Seb walking just behind him.

“Yeah…” Ryan replied weakly.

“Like that?” Seb asked as he opened the door for Ryan.

“I am fine.” Ryan replied.

“Your fridge is literally full of beer, why did you even come here to drink? You should have just stayed home.

Ryan could just easily make the excuse of wanting tap beer for once, but the alcohol in him suddenly made him so honest. “I can see you here.

“Right.” Seb dismissed. “You’re here alone, so I’m guessing Hannah already went home.

Ryan turned his flushed face to Seb. “How did you know she was here?

“This is Estrella, have you forgotten? Words get around fast. And if you’re not careful, so does the little details.” Seb added as they walked towards Ryan’s car. “Was it a big fight?

“You even heard that?” Ryan asked with a soft chuckle.

“I do all kinds of work around the city, I hear stuff.” Seb was a little bit more lively that night than when they had coffee. He seemed to be opening up to Ryan more. Or maybe it was just the alcohol in him that’s making Ryan think that.

“Did you, by chance, also heard why we fought?” Ryan asked.

“Maybe…” Seb said and then snatched the keys from Ryan when he tried to open his car. “It’s really none of my business, though.

“I can drive.” Ryan complained as Seb pushed him inside the passenger seat.

“I doubt it.

“Seb, really, I can drive. I’m fine.” Ryan insisted as Seb started the engine.

“I’m not risking it, Ryan.” Seb replied stubbornly. “You’re a lawyer, you should know better than driving while intoxicated.” Seb lectured him.

“What about your shift?” Ryan asked as Seb drove away.

“Could you just sit and let me drive? Things might be different between us now, but still, I won’t lose another…” Seb sighed. “I can’t lose anyone else in a car accident. Not if I can help it.

That’s right, he lost his parents to a car accident. Ryan remembered. And after hearing Seb’s sentiment, Ryan didn’t argue any longer.

“Thanks, for driving me back.” Ryan said as Seb parked the car.

“Yeah.” Seb replied shortly as he returned the keys to Ryan. “Next time, Ryan, if you want to get drunk, either bring somebody else with you, or just drink at home.” Seb lectured him.

“Seb.” Ryan called when Seb started walking away.

“Go home, Ryan. It’s late, you need to sleep. You still have work tomorrow.” Seb replied without looking back.

“It was delicious. Your beef stew.” Ryan said. “I wish I can eat your food for the rest of my life.

Dec. 12, 2018

Ryan was in his room, reading some references for the case he was handling when he heard his mother yell. “Ryan?!” The door of his room opened and his mother came in, fuming.

“What do you want?” He asked as he remained at his study table.

“Is it true that you accepted a job back at Estrella?!” Josie asked her son. “Tell me it’s not true. You can’t be thinking about going back there.

“Why can’t I?” Ryan replied defiantly. “I can make my own decision, Mama, don’t try to control my life anymore.

“Tell me; that job offer is just an excuse, isn’t it? You want to go back there to see that good-for-nothing de…”

“Don’t you dare insult him! How can you still be angry at him?

“Have you forgotten what that evil boy did to us?!

“Have you forgotten what drove him to do that? He kicked us out because our family stole from him, betrayed him, and used him. Don’t twist the story, Mama. We did him wrong.” Ryan told her.

“I can’t let you go back to him, Ryan. You’re doing so great now, you’re successful, you have a perfect girlfriend, I can’t let you go back to the wrong path.

“Is that why you lied to me for five years? Just so I could stay on the path that you chose for me?” Ryan asked her. “Five years, Mama, I lost five years of my life, I gave up my dream, I lost Seb because I chose to stay with you, to take care of you, but it was all for a lie Isn’t that enough?

“I lied because I wanted the best for you, Ryan.

“Is it though? If it was really the best for me, then why does it hurt so much? Do you know how badly I wanted to go back to Seb, how guilty I am for breaking my promise to him? It was killing me inside, but I stayed, I chose to stay because I thought you needed me. I chose to stay because I was afraid that something might happen to you while I’m away, and I won’t be able to forgive myself if that happened. And I also know that our family would blame and hate Seb more if I’m with him while you’re suffering. Mama, the only reason I stayed and broke my promise with Seb was because of that lie of yours, and now that I know the truth, there’s nothing to hold me back. I’m returning to Estrella, I’m going back to Seb.” Ryan was trying his best to hold back his emotions. He wanted to stay calm.

“What about your girlfriend, what about Hannah? Are you abandoning her?

“I’m choosing my own path now, Mama. I should’ve known from the start; the right path for me always had Seb on it.

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