Just One Night - Josh & Bailey

By: Melanie Shawn


It certainly beat the alternative. No one was yelling. No one was slamming doors. No one was crying.

Her parents had stayed together “for the kids,” which meant things were…chaotic. Sure, divorce wasn’t always the answer, but it shouldn’t be taken completely off the table, either. Especially when it was clear there was no way two people could live together without a daily screaming match.

Nowadays there are terms like “conscious uncoupling” and “loving separation.” She even had several friends that, for financial reasons, remained living in the same house after breaking up. Divorce wasn’t a bad word anymore. It didn’t hold the same stigma that it once had. People were “starting new chapters in life” or “embarking on a new adventure.”

Her family had been broken as hell, but together. Every night, she’d prayed for her parents to break up. They were miserable in their marriage. They met at eighteen and after a month of dating, her mom had gotten pregnant. So, her father had “stepped up and done the right thing.” Bailey remembered him saying that a lot. He wore it as a badge of honor. But as a kid she remembered wondering, “The right thing for who?”

It was no secret that they’d never loved each other. It would’ve been nice if they’d at least liked one another, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case either. Charles and Stella Rossum could not stand the sight of each other. They were worse than oil and water. They were dry brush doused in lighter fluid. Totally combustible, and not in a sexy way.

There was a moment when she was seven that she thought that her parents might actually split up. She’d never forget that random spring day of her second grade year. They were living in California at the time. Her dad took her out of school, something he’d never done, and drove her to see a rundown apartment. He’d asked if she liked it and what color paint she’d want her room to be.

Her first question was why they were moving there and he’d explained that he was going to be living there and she could come visit him. Forget a trip to Disneyland,—which had been her first thought when he’d picked her up because that had happened to Ryland Marsden the week before—hearing her parents were getting a divorce had been the best surprise she could’ve ever gotten. She’d lied through her teeth and said she loved the apartment, though it really was a dump. She was just stoked that the fighting was finally going to be over.

But, it wasn’t. Her dad never moved into that apartment because when they got home that afternoon her mom announced that she was pregnant. Her mom threw a plate at her dad’s head and screamed at him that he’d “knocked me up again.”

Charles James Rossum Jr. arrived eight months later. At first, Bailey had been angry about becoming a big sister. She blamed her baby brother for keeping her parents together. But, by the time he was a month old she was head over heels for him.

CJ was the one pure, good thing in her life. He was always happy, even as a baby. Everyone loved him. He could even make their parents laugh, something she’d never managed to do. And he took everything in stride, nothing seemed to bother him. Not the fighting. Not the door slamming. Not the name calling. Nothing got him down.

He was still like that as an adult. He was the starting pitcher for the Long Beach Waves and when his team lost the World Series last year, he hadn’t been upset. She’d called him not even an hour after the loss and he’d said that he’d learned a few things and he’d do better next year. And that wasn’t his PR prompted answer; that was him talking to his sister. He was the same way in his personal life.

When their father passed away six years ago, their mother revealed to them that Charles Rossum was not CJ’s biological father. She told them that she’d lied because she hadn’t wanted Charles to leave her. CJ hadn’t gotten mad or upset. He just got quiet for a few moments and then said that Charles was his dad whether they shared the same DNA or not.

He’d been lied to for twenty-one years, was named after a man that wasn’t even his real father, and it hadn’t even ruined his day, much less put him in therapy.

Bailey had been angrier than he’d been. When Bailey asked if he was going to try and find his real father, he’d just shrugged and said, “Maybe.”

Maybe?

If it were her, she would’ve demanded to know any and all information in that moment, and then spent the rest of the night googling him. Also, she probably would’ve never spoken to her mother again. As it was, she didn’t speak to her mother for three years after finding out.

But not CJ. He’d taken their mother out to breakfast the next day to “clear the air” and “make sure she was okay.” Make sure she was okay? That’s what he’d been worried about. He’d said that had to be quite a secret to keep.

Sadly, Bailey knew all too well just how true her brother’s sentiment was. Keeping a secret was a heavy load to bear. As she walked under the blanket of stars, she took a deep breath and wished that she’d inherited some of her brother’s easy-going outlook.