Eighteen

“I don’t think you should go in right now.”

Leopold looked up to see an arm blocking his way. Frowning, he glared at the owner of said arm, who no longer loomed over him but was only a few inches taller. Irritation flashing across his face – as much as Alexei Aleksandrovich didn’t like it, he was no longer the small child who readily bent his will according to the decisions of those older, wiser adults – he ducked under his arm and pushed his way into the restaurant.

He was surprised to find it dark. The lights should have been on in preparation for the dinner service, but either they weren’t planning on serving dinner or prepping hadn’t even begun (perhaps that was why Alexei had been loitering outside), but the front was unusually dark and quiet.

Weaving his way past tables and chairs, he hurried up the stairs to the second floor to see if his mother was in her office, when he stopped in his tracks. His heart falling into his stomach and forming into a hard pit, he stood as if winded as his mother whipped around and the man who had abandoned him so many years ago, who had quickly and permanently severed all ties, in spite of the love he had claimed to have for him, when he’d still been young and innocent and hopeful rose from the table.

His father had returned.

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