You ever have a secret that you don’t want people to know, but it always has a way of revealing itself? Today was one of those days. Don’t get me wrong. I’m an honest goddess through and through. It’s just I wanted to be the one to tell this story, but when you have kids, they tend to blurt things out. No one is safe, no matter how many shields I have.
“Lady Nike, if you look over the numbers here,” Sheba said, pointing to the screen on my desk. “Since our visit to the states, the stores have taken an upturn in sales.”
“They know they have our support.”
“Looks like you are on your way to being that global brand.”
“I hardly think a small upturn will do that, but I am glad that everyone liked our ideas,” I said with a smile.
“I think it’s more that they liked your money,” Cara said sarcastically, and we laughed.
We were completing the last of our to-do list before Sheba and Cara took a few days off for the holidays. The boxes were packed, and much of the stuff that the staff wanted had been picked up. They marked furniture with X’s that were to be moved, and we were about done for the day.
My office door opened, and in walked a young man with a puffy Afro who looked to be around sixteen. Mr. Carrol hurried in after him. “I’m sorry, Lady Nike. I tried to stop him.”
I waved him off. “It’s alright, Mr. Carrol.”
“Hi, Mom,” the young man said as he made his way further into my office.
“Tiberius, what are you doing here, sweetheart?”
I could see the confusion on both Cara and Sheba’s faces as my son came over to hug me. Releasing him, I said, “Ladies, this is my son, Tiberius Anew Sharp. This is Sheba…”
“Hello,” she said, extending her hand to shake his.
“And you remember Cara?”
“Oh, your Cara. Mom talks about you…well, actually both of you quite a lot.”
“Teddy?” I said, clearing my throat and directing my gaze toward the two women. He saw the looks on their faces.
“Lady Nike, I did not know you had a son.”
“Oh! Oh, wait, I’m a foundling. Mom didn’t give birth to me. I’m adopted,” he quickly explained.
The ladies both looked at me, then Teddy.
“He looks like you, Lady Nike.”
I smiled. “Everyone says that,” Teddy said and grinned at the ladies.
“I didn’t know. I’ve worked with you for over a year now, and you never said anything, Nike.” Cara looked at me, shocked.
“Mom’s been keeping me busy.”
“Teddy, sweetheart, is there a reason you’re here?”
“Oh, yeah, sorry, Mom. I went to the apartment, and the uncles said you were working up here. I need to talk to you, and it’s important.” He looked over at the ladies, putting his hands in his back pocket.
I looked over at the ladies, who were eagerly watching us. “Ladies, if you’d excuse us. It appears my son needs me.” Motioning my hand for them to leave. “Thank you. I’ll call you once we’re done.”
Both Sheba and Cara gathered their notes and headed out of my office.
Teddy plopped himself in a chair in front of my desk. “Mom, why didn’t you tell me you were working in an office for Grandfather?”
“For one thing, young man, I don’t tell you everything so you can keep up with your studies. Why aren’t you with your tutors? And does your father know you are here?”
He looked away from me, then said with desperation, “Mom, that’s what I want to talk to you about.”
Sitting up and listening to him, I felt a ping in my chest. Looking at Teddy, I knew he needed a victory.
“What? Why? When?”
“It’s okay, Mom. He has this opportunity to go to the labs and help with finding a cure for the virus.”
“Wait a minute. He’s a pediatrician. What can he do?”
“Mom, he was a researcher first, then became a pediatrician.”
I sat there, stunned that Dr. Jacque Devore would just dump our shared custody charge.
“Here, Mom, he wrote it all down for you,” he said, handing me an envelope.
Taking the envelope, I read over the note. “Today? He’s leaving today?”
“Mom, he sent you emails and tried to call you at least three times this week.”
I had been very busy with my trip to the states. I must have missed some messages.
I picked up the phone to call Jack.
“Mom, he’s boarding a plane about now.”
I let the phone ring until he answered. “Hello, my lady.”
“Don’t you “my lady” me. We have an arrangement.”
“Yes, we do, but this came up, and I think you will agree that this is important.”
“It’s your turn, my lady. This is a great opportunity for me to do something for the world. I think you can take care of him now.”
“When will you return?”
“I don’t know.”
In the background, I could hear, “Calling for our first class and passengers with disabilities or traveling with small children…”
“I’m sorry, Lady Nike, forgive the short notice, but he is your son, too. He’s healthy, and his growth seems to be slowing down. There is nothing to worry about. He’ll be fine. I need to board now. I’m terribly sorry that this was so unexpected. I tried to call you, and I left messages at the office and at your home. I must go now. Take good care of our boy,” he said and hung up the phone.
I wasn’t sure how to feel. I was angry that I hadn’t known he was trying to reach me. It frustrated me that this was happening now, just when things were already topsy-turvy at the office. But when I looked over at my son, and I saw the glint of hope shining in his eyes, all that anger melted away. I set my phone down.
“Well, what did he say?”
I take two calming breaths. “He was boarding his flight.”
“Mom, are you mad?”
“No, I’m not mad. I just have a few things…” I paused, thinking about my words as I watched Teddy staring at me. “It will be fine, sweetheart. We should send for your things if you’re going to be staying with us now.”
Teddy sprung to his feet, rounded my desk, and lunged at me in a great big hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom. This is gonna be great. I have already set my bags in my room at your house,” he said with a great big grin on his face.
Kissing him on the forehead, I smiled. “Alright, go on. And next time, don’t barge in. You made Mr. Carrol nervous.”
“Sorry about that. I’ll remember to do better next time.” He winked and rushed out of my office.
Smiling, I realized I would have to tell my family about him. This thought did not make me feel at ease. I sat down and thought about how everyone would react to knowing I have a son. I mean, lots of the others have children, and some even have a foundling or two. Then it hit me, and my eyes widened in horror. How am I going to tell my mother? This past year had been such a whirlwind of events that I hadn’t had the time or seen a clear enough path to approach her. Between the Titan attack, Dad’s coma, and then Mom being gone, then returning. What am I gonna say? Hi, Mom, meet your grandson. He’s actually only a year old but is the size of a sixteen-year-old. I’ve been keeping him hidden away. Ugh!
It sounded so dumb. Thinking about how glad-mad she’d be, I dropped my head to the table. These are things I never wanted to tell my mother. Finding out she had a grandson would thrill her, while at the same time she would be hurt I hadn’t told her. That I had hidden him just might get me… I shook my head, trying not to think about my mother’s wrath. But why would she be mad at me? I mean, sure, I kept this secret from her. We were dealing with a lot of things. I just made a choice, that’s all. Surely Mom couldn’t be mad at me for that? Putting my head in my hands, I started to cry.
All the emotions from last year flooded me. I put my head in my hands and cried. There was a soft knock on my door, and I looked up to see Cara standing in the doorway. “Nike? Are you alright? Did something happen? Tiberius looked so happy when he left,” she said as she stepped closer to the desk.
I tried to compose myself, but the tears wouldn’t stop.
Cara came around the desk and wrapped her arms around me. “Nike, I’m so sorry. Is there something I can do?”
I wiped my face and forced myself to stop being emotional. “Sure, If you could please tell my family I have a son, that would be great.” Cara smiled at me. “I know this is dumb.”
“Phew, I thought it was something serious. You mean they don’t know?”
“Haha, you don’t know my mother. No, I’ve never had time to tell them.”
“What happened?” Sheba exclaimed as she stood in the doorway.
I rubbed a hand over my face, then ran my fingers through my hair. “What am I gonna say to her?”
Sheba came in and looked over at Cara with a questioning look.
“Nike hasn’t told her family about Teddy yet.”
“Oh, gods. You mean your mother doesn’t know?” I shook my head no. “Oh, gods,” she said again, wide-eyed.
“Forgive me, ladies. I don’t normally break down. It’s just one of the biggest secrets I’ve ever kept. I have always been open with her about me. I just didn’t know how to explain Teddy, but now he will be in the building. I’m sure she thinks he’s one of Francisco’s siblings, but when I tell her this, there is no telling how she’ll react.”
“Nike, I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to have another grandchild,” Sheba comforted.
“Thank you both for your kindness,” I said to them, trying to ease the tension in the room. “It’s just a lot has happened this past year.”
“Nike, what are you gonna do?” Cara asked.
“I guess I’m gonna have to simply tell her.” Standing up, I roll my shoulders back. “But first, perhaps I should tell my sister or maybe one of my brothers to see what they think I should do. I may be the Goddess of Victory, but I’m not crazy.” I needed to figure out the right way to handle our mother. Oh my gods, did I just think I’m going to try to handle Mother?