Claire Buckley was beautiful, the kind of beauty that made people stop doing whatever they were doing just to look at her, and she knew it, she had spent half of her life taking advantage of her beauty. It wasn’t just her looks, it was something else, call it a light, a spark, magic… It was just something intangible that was there, something that helped her to capture all kinds of fools in her net. And she would take them, as her personal slaves, and would do whatever she wanted to do with them, because she always believed the world was divided into predators and prey, and after a childhood suffering all kinds of abuses, she promised herself she would always be the hunter.
Evan, her boy, had inherited that light from her, but he would never use it in the way she did, first, because he was the opposite kind of person, he had a kind soul and self-sacrificing personality that pushed him to save and protect, and Claire couldn’t imagine how her kid, her beautiful kid, has grown to become someone so… good. She guessed it has been his sister's influence, after all Maddie had been "weak" from the beginning. Sometimes, when Claire was drunk enough and alone in some random bed of some random hotel, she would reflect, and sometimes she even felt bad about the way she treated her kids. But she never wanted them, she just wanted to have fun, and she had the money and the power to do it, so that is what she did. Therefore, her kids were raised by a bunch of babysitters, a too serious, disciplinarian husband who spent more time in his office than with his kids, and the professors in the different boards where they were sent. Claire was always away, getting high and fucking women and men in upper-class parties and orgies, five-star hotels, and dirty bars she would never visit without the help of her best friends, Jack & Daniels and Cocaine. And she was happy, and that was why she didn’t care if her husband and her kids weren’t, because she was the only boss of her own life
But sometimes, after a bad trip or a bad fuck, she would think about the family she hardly ever missed and would wonder about their life, so she would call them, she would have a cold conversation with her husband, full of formalities and void of anything else. Then she would call Maddie, who would ignore her calls, and finally, she would phone who Evan would be the only one who would be slightly happy of hearing from her, they would talk about silly things because Evan loved to live in denial and wanted to believe his mom loved him, and Claire was too self-aware of her limits, her son needs, and also, she did love him in her own twisted way, so she would give his son the only thing she could without having to make an effort
But then, one day, Maddie number stopped existing, and Evan didn’t pick up… and when that happened three times in a row, Claire sat up, put on some clothes, called her personal assistant and demanded all the information available about her kids…
She wasn’t happy with what she learned about them
The Christmas party was a success, everybody was there, their families and their friends, plus some others, and Buck was static and proud of himself. Nobody believed he would be able to keep the secret, Athena was ready in case Buck gave the surprise away, but he didn’t and to see Athena Nash looking at him so full of love and pride made him feel like a million bucks
Then, of course, there were Eddie and Chris, they were both so happy, sure, it wasn’t like Shannon getting back to them, but they were together, and Buck was part of it, and he felt so elated looking at them being merry. He even had the mistletoe and some cheesy line ready to get that kiss from Eddie. It was stupid really, something Buck would have done when he was a teenager no a grown-up man. But this was the first time he was in love, and the first time he wanted to engage in a serious relationship, and it's with a man, and it's his best friend, who also happened to be a single father of a kid that Buck adored as if he was his. There were so many things that could go wrong that Buck felt that he needed some kind of back-up, like the mistletoe, if Eddie wasn't interested Buck could blame the mistletoe. It worked better than alcohol in the Hallmark movies that Maddie used to be. So Buck hold onto the mistletoe as if his life depended on it and went in search of Eddie... it looked like the older man was expecting him, he had a soft smile and a spark in his eyes, and Buck was just thrilled...
He really should have foreseen the other shoe to drop, there was always a shoe dropping when he was full of joy.
It started with a blonde mild aged woman, tall and blue-eyed, walking in the station with her loud heels and expensive perfume making her presence known
“Evan and Madeleine Buckley” roared with a voice that the Buckley siblings knew oh too well.
“Oh crap” he heard his sister say, reading his mind
It didn’t take too long for Claire to get to the top floor. Buck rolled his eyes at his sister when he saw the line of men looking at his mother behind. It wasn’t new for him, but he never got used to it
“Here you are,” she says when she gets to them “My little boy… So precious and beautiful” she exclaims with arms open, waiting for him to give her a hug, as if she cared about him. That was always her way to salute him, always pointing out the only thing she liked about him that he looked like her. At least he had that going on, because his mother ignored Maddie, as usual, and Buck always believed it was kind of ironic that his father ignored him and favored Maddie, as much as Benjamin Buckley would favor any of his children
“Mother” answered Buck and Maddie almost at the same time, and well, it’s how they always called her mother, always with the same polite, reverent tone. After all, Claire was a volatile woman, and although she never hit any of them, the two siblings had been in the receiving end of her cholera more than once, and it was something to avoid
And then, someone else spoke, and that was the biggest surprise of everybody's life
Buck saw with horror and fascination how her mother turned on her heels, took a look at the source of that voice and her face mutated into one mask of horror, just for one minute thought, and then got back to her usual cool, elegant, put together face
Suddenly, Buck realized that there were very few ways her rich mother could have known Bobby, and knowing his mother, and with Buck's kind of luck, it probably involved sex and drugs. His mother was looking at him, and then at Bobby, and back at him, and she didn’t look her collected self. Buck was not used to seeing her mother freaking out, though for anyone seeing the scene, Claire Buckley looked the perfect, composed, lady. But Buck knew her, even better than Maddie did because Claire did spend time with him from time to time, and he sensed she was nervous and afraid
“How do you know each other,” Claire asked with a strange tone of voice, the one she used to get when things didn’t go as she planned, which hardly ever happened.
“He is my boss”
“I’m his boss,” Buck and Eddie replied at the same time
“Oookaaaaaaaaaaaayy… That is fine… But I’m here to see my babies… You are not answering my calls kids” she admonished, which makes Buck and Maddie roll their eyes for the umpteenth time, and they know they will be rolling them a lot until she left
“Mom, I couldn’t…” started to explain Buck, because even though he knows his mother is all kind of toxic, he hated to disappoint her. But Claire cut him off and started talking quickly and efficient, as usual, without leaving room for anyone else in their conversation
“Schhh… I heard everything… You got crushed by a fire truck, then you got yourself in the middle of a tsunami, and started a lawsuit to get this stupid job back… You don’t need to do any of this stupid savior thing, you have could take your place at Grandpa’s”
“That is not what I want…”
Now it’s Claire turn to roll her eyes, she waved off her son and started with her daughter
“And you Maddie… You killed your husband… And you have to watch what you eat, you don’t have Evan and me metabolism”
Maddie's face felt, and that was the moment that Buck had enough, so he grabbed her mother by her arm and dragged her outside with Maddie in their heels… Or at least, that was what he assumed. He wasn’t expecting Bobby, looking at him with a face he couldn’t decipher, and although he was curious, Buck didn’t have time to deal with Bobby overprotective self, Buck was determined to get rid of her mother, for his and Maddie sanity.
“Bobby, what do you…” he asked Bobby, hoping his boss would understand he needed to be alone with his mother. He knew how to deal with her, though he hated it when he had to do it
Bobby opened and closed his mouth, looking at him utterly fascinated as if that were the first time he saw him, and he kept doing the perfect impersonation of a fish out the water until Claire said
“So you did the math”
And at the beginning Buck didn’t get it, what did that ever mean, but then he saw the tears in Bobby's eyes and, yeah, he did his own kind of math, even though he didn’t know dates and details, but the faces were enough. He just couldn't believe it, didn't want to believe it... Bobby was his dad? His biological dad? And that explained so much, the way that his father... rather, the man he thought was his father, ignored him and treated him like shit. He never hit him, there were never physical abuses at his home, but he never felt beloved by his father, and her mother was complicated, but deep down, he knew she loved him as much as she was able to love any human being who wasn't she. Buck always knew that was why he attached himself to Bobby the way he did because he was the father figure he never had. And now, here they were... the irony was unbelievable and complicated, and wonderful at the same time... But there were so many things to consider, his whole life had been turned upside down in a way that left him with only one thought and one thing to say