Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chapter 20: Troy Cannot Respond In Kind

Thurs, November 3, 2074 7:25am: Caliente Manor- Middlebourne, Pleasantview


Troy thought that he had learned his lesson the first time. Twenty years ago, a freckled, lanky and boyish Siren Caliente had barged into his bedroom, completely hysterical. She told him that she was pregnant, it was J.L.'s baby and that she didn't know how she was going to tell her mother. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Troy's initial reaction had been one of confusion. Surely she was still far too young to be pregnant? But then a little quick arithmetic told Troy otherwise. Fourteen. And he was overwhelmed by the sort of fury that could reduce mountains to ash.


"You don't have to do that, you know. That's why we have a dishwasher. And an Elmira." Troy eased in closer to his wife who was making a soapy mess all over the counter just as she had done when she was a little girl. He could still picture her and Isabella standing on chairs to reach the kitchen sink at Nina's red brick house on Bentlow Street, playing mermaid with their dolls.

"I like washing dishes. I see it as an exercise in Zen."


Troy had squandered four years of his life on the entire dog and pony show of gaining access into the upper classes. While he was busy preparing for the right career, impressing the right people, making the right investments and pursuing the right woman, Siren was growing-up without him. Had he only made time for her, listened to her prattling conversations, offered his advice and told her to stay away from his brother then maybe, just maybe she wouldn't have made certain mistakes.

Troy hated J.L. He hated him for even looking at Siren the wrong way, let alone touching her. But Troy's own self-loathing was far more potent than any disdain that he could harbor for another person.


Troy wrapped his arms around Siren's waist and nuzzled her neck. He was close enough to smell the children's shampoo in her hair and far more surprisingly, his own soap on her skin. Troy opened his mouth to tease her about these borderline eccentric choices but instantly thought better of it.

"Do whatever makes you happy," he said quietly. Siren placed a saucer on the rack to dry.


Everything that he had accomplished up until that point had been done under the banner of making Siren's life better. He had wanted to put himself in a position where she could have the opportunity to someday be and do what she most aspired towards. But as he sat on the edge of his bed, cradling her while she sobbed, he knew that he had failed her. And he swore that he never would again.


"What are you up to, back there?" Siren swatted at Troy behind her back. Troy swerved his hips out of reach.

"I'm flirting with you," he purred. Troy massaged the muscles at the base of her neck, knowing that this would quell her current tendency towards the playfully combative. Siren let go of the glass that she was washing and arched her shoulders towards him. He kissed her neck and returned his hands to her waist. Above all others, this was his partner, his closest friend and ally. He was a fool for wanting anything more.


Troy's was a misguided love of the kind that purchased dishwashers for a woman who enjoyed doing the dishes. Despite everything that he had sworn to himself over the years, he had not learned how to care for her otherwise. Perhaps he never would.


Troy moved aside to get a better view of the curve of her body, her pointed face, her long and delicate fingers. Her beauty still surprised him every morning that he woke up, halfway expecting to find himself lying beside a gangly wisp of a girl.

"Why don't we skip work today? We could send Elmira off on some impossible errand, have the house to ourselves..." At this suggestion, Siren turned her head up to him, her face full of cunning.

"I can give you five very good reasons why not," she replied. Troy smiled dreamily.

"Actually, those are a bit of an incentive," he said, drawing nearer to her. Siren laughed.

"I tell you what, Troy- We can have more children when you can start giving birth to them."


Siren deserved so much better than him. But Troy was and always had been the only man she wanted. Other than being shamefully self-absorbed, Troy's problem was that he was rarely able to see her as anything but the ten-year-old he walked home from school, the two-year-old whose diapers he changed, the six-year-old that crawled into his bed to escape nightmares, the fifteen-year-old he helped study for exams. There was no term for what she meant to him.


"I am tempted to call in sick but I have a faculty meeting at noon and it would greatly behoove me to attend," Siren said. Troy was not paying attention. He lost himself in the sound of her voice, in the rhythm of her breathing, in the fluttering of her eyelashes.

She then kissed him unexpectedly. Her lips mashed down hard against his. The tip of her tongue ran across the roof of his mouth. Clamping her hands around his arms, she was using his weight to steady herself. This was not one of her usual kisses, not just a quick reminder that he was beloved. This was an expression of poorly contained ardor. Troy regretted that he could not respond in kind but he was, as always, happy to let her have him.


And he did love her. God, did he love her. Just not in the way that she wanted him to.



  1. Very well written! I'm taking a liking to these two. :]

  2. *blushes* Thanks, Dayna!

    Flawed as he is, Troy has been a big favorite with me from the moment he was born. And I'm finding that I like Siren more and more as I continue to write about her.

  3. Hmmm - How does he exactly love her? Like a sister? He's more protective of her - that's the vibes I get. Is that why he married her - to keep her from scandal before?

    Although there must be a lot of passion - i checked their family tree and they have a ton of kids!

    So, Siren's and JL's kid - who did she grow up with?

  4. Absolutely he married her to protect her. But not just from the scandal. She proposed to him and it was a bit of a, "Oh why didn't I think of that?" situation for Troy. Because #1 He couldn't imagine his life without her anyway. #2 He was becoming increasingly well-off and marrying her would ensure both her future and Lydia's. #3 He REALLY didn't want to see her married to J.L.

    Lastly, Troy can refuse Siren nothing. Siren says, "Let's get married." Troy says, "How about this afternoon?"

    Not that they were married the day she proposed but you know what I mean. :p

    Troy loves Siren as a sister. And as a friend. And a confident. And a partner. And a soulmate, really. But he recognizes that his feelings for Sabina are different and for that reason, he knows that he doesn't quite love her romantically. Which makes sense to him since he can't seem to keep his pants on with other women.

    Siren and J.L. had joint custody of Lydia. Half the week was spent with JL and his parents. The other half with Siren, Troy, Nina and Troy's dad. Overall, they're a pretty scandalous family.

  5. stunning. sexy. and very interesting POV.

  6. Thanks, Beth!

    This was back when I wanted my characters to think about the past but I wasn't quite brave enough to just say, "screw it" and go for the full-fledged flashback.

    Much of the experiment in this chapter was to have the italicized and non-italicized parts work together but also separately so that (and I don't know why anyone would ever have this inclination) the reader could read the italicized portions as one unit, skipping the non-italicized portions and vice versa. Heh. Pardon my run-on.

  7. Wow, these two have an interesting relationship going on. It's sort of like a creepy father-daughter romantic thing, where Troy spoils her and tries to make her happy, even though he doesn't love her the way she loves him, which probably makes him spoil her all the more.

    Troy's absolutely irresistible, by the way. Not just the way you portray him, but also his confident looks... he's one of those characters that give you an instant vibe of what he's all about, and that's really hard to achieve. Congrats!

    I liked the flashbacks here, and am quite intrigued about T.L. now.

  8. Thanks! Recently, I've been contemplating just skipping my next two chapters and going straight to MOAR Troy but there are some important plot moments that need to happen. Also, I promised MOAR Alexei (who has yet to make his first appearance by Chapter 20).

    After a certain point in this story, almost every chapter contains a flashback. I think it begins with "Dina Paints The Ceiling" and then I start going flashback wild.

    Oh and TL will have his moment in the spotlight. You'll see him a little bit soon but I plan to have him at the center of something awful later on. :\

  9. I meant JL. *hehe* I assume that's who you meant too.