Two years earlier.........
Although Josh had loved his latest painting, Cody and Iris did not feel the same.
When they spotted the dark angst ridden art hanging on his bedroom wall they had immediately began to worry that all was not well with their eldest child.
They had called him for a "family meeting" and expressed their concerns.
"Josh we think it's wonderful that your art is so, expressive." Iris began, choosing her words carefully.
"Yes Son, you are very talented." Cody added.
"But............" Iris continued.
Josh had heard the "But" and tuned out.
There was always a "but", he learned that from the therapist Mom had made him see after the accident. She would always start out with some form of flattery and then the "but" would come.
"Josh it's admirable that you are being so strong, but......"
He tuned back in to catch the gist of what his parents were saying, they wanted him to go back to therapy.
"It's really not that bad son." His Dad said, "Dr Deign has helped me so much, I've started to remember things i thought were lost forever."
What could he say?
Josh knew that no amount of telling his parents that he was "fine" was going to dissuade them from this idea that therapy solves all.
Besides he knew enough now about hiding his emotions from others he was certain that he could continue this trend with Dr Deign.
"OK, if it's what you guys want." He shrugged, "Can i go to my room now?"
Josh had done the obedient thing and attended weekly sessions with the doctor, this had been his routine for the past two years.
After their first meeting Dr Deign had concluded that he was suffering with clinical depression due to the significant stress of his Dad's accident.
She realised that he was holding a great deal of guilt and blame over his Fathers disappearance but he was completely unable to express this.
Josh continued to attend the sessions as he knew it made his parents happy, that they were somehow helping him by sending him here.
Although he knew that Dr Deign had guessed the root of his problem accurately that did nothing to persuade him to discuss the matter with her.
What good would it do now? The accident had happened and his Dad had been lost for three years, no amount of therapy could erase that.
Cody and Iris had benefited greatly from Dr Deign's help and over these past years Cody had regained most of his memories.
They still attended a couples session once a month, it helped them to talk through the difficult issues that had surfaced since his return home.
The issue of Corine and his time spent with her had been the root cause of the problems.
One year earlier........
Iris still felt that Cody was holding back from her and after she had found a stack of letters in his drawer from Corine she had decided to keep tabs on his actions.
She scrolled through his call log to find yet another received call from Corine.
"What are you doing?" Cody asked, surprising her with his presence.
"What are you doing more like!" She exploded, throwing the phone at him.
"Iris! You shouldn't be going through my things, remember what Dr Deign told you?" He chided.
"Remember what she told you about keeping things from me?" She countered.
"Why are you still talking to her and writing to her?" She demanded.
"You read her letters too?" Cody yelled.
"Yes i read them all!"
"Iris, you have to understand that i need some privacy." Cody begged.
"Not about this Cody! Do you know how hard it has been for me to accept that you were with another woman for all that time? Not just that you were intimate with her but that you loved her and wanted to marry her."
"Iris i couldn't remember anything." Cody reminded her, "You know that i would never deliberately hurt you."
"That doesn't mean that you haven't hurt me." She replied, "Just tell me why you keep in contact with her?"
"Corine saved my life. If it wasn't for her I'd probably have died on that beach." He explained, "And yes i loved her and it was hard for me to leave her and come here with you, someone i didn't even know, but i did it Iris."
"So what you want some kind of medal for coming home to your wife?" She cried.
"No! I don't regret for one second coming home, you know that. But just because i remember our life together now, doesn't mean that I've forgotten the life i had with Corine."
"Do you love her?" Iris asked.
"I love you." He replied stroking her hair, "But i care for Corine and i always will Iris."
Iris ran out farther into the hills of Bridgeport, this was her original place of escape and had been since she was a girl. As she ran she replayed her last session with Dr Deign in her mind.
The issue of Corine still festered under the surface but since she and Cody had discussed it at great length in their couples session she had started to see how her negative reaction towards Corine had caused Cody to be secretive.
Dr Deign had encouraged Cody to be honest with Iris about his continuing relationship with Corine and the letters and calls they continued to share.
Iris had realised over time that her demand for him to forget about his past was unreasonable but she still felt jealous.
Iris decided that the only way to move past this feeling was for her to get to know the other woman in his life.
She had penned a letter to Corine explaining her feelings and also had thanked her for saving Cody's life and encouraging him to come back home.
Josh stared at the girl, he had been sitting in Dr Deign's waiting room for what felt like forever awaiting the end of her current session.
He usually hated having to wait around here in the cheery yellow room with its zen styled plastic plants and positive reinforcement photographs but today he found himself not minding all that much.
He noticed she was reading Catcher in the rye and giggled.
"Something funny?" The girl asked looking up at him.
"Just the irony of you reading a novel about teenage angst and mental health issues while in a shrinks waiting room." He replied, instantly regretting sharing his inner monologue with this total stranger.
Josh knew he had a quirky idea of humour and not everyone "got him"
"You like J.D Salinger?" The girl asked.
"It sure beats Shakespeare." He replied.
"I guess, although King Lear's not bad. I usually crack that one open when I'm looking for a really depressing read." She retorted.
"So what you judge your mood on the book you're reading that day?" He asked.
"Nah, but my Mom does, it really bugs her! She's all like "oh why can't you read Stephanie Meyer and be like a normal girl?""
"So your Mom makes you come here too huh?" He asked.
"That your story?" She replied, hitting the ball back in his court and deflecting the need for an answer.
"Yeah, they got a bit freaked out when they saw some art I'd been working on, so i get to come hang out here once a week." He admitted.
The girl smiled at him, "You know what i like to do when Dr Deign is yakking on?" She asked, "I try to figure out which of her pictures i hate the most, like which is the more irritating shot the clasped hands or the dove?" She asked ironically.
"Don't discount the lamb and the daffodil." He quipped.
"I know right? In what country is a lamb a symbol of internal peace and tranquility?" She laughed.
"Josh, I'm ready to see you now." Dr Deign called from her office.
"See ya around." He said, giving an awkward wave to the girl who nodded her reply to him.
Josh leaned forward to mimic the Doctor stance, he read somewhere that mirroring made people believe you were actually interested in what they were saying.
But as the Doctor talked endlessly about their last session and asked him how he was feeling all Josh could do was stare at the pictures behind her and think of the girl.
She was right that dove was really annoying!
Since Josh had begun therapy two years ago much had changed in the Traytor house.
Firstly the twins had aged up into children.
Although they still styled their hair the same and dressed alike they had begun to develop very distinct personalities.
Lexie was a bit of a tomboy and preferred the company of Josh and Cody, she could be a little grumpy at times but that suited Josh just fine, he knew the feeling.
Lilah was a good little girl, always following Mom around and trying to help out in the kitchen. She was very family orientated and still dreamed of being a princess when she grew up.
Then there was Kaya, she was now a freshman in high school a role which she relished.
After the first day she had managed to establish herself as queen bee surrounding herself with two other popular girls, Amy and Connie.
The three of them ruled the school dictating what was in and what was out.
Kaya found that she could pretty much do as she pleased at school and while her bullying had been stopped at home, the school hallway was a whole other domain.
She knew she was the most popular girl in school, all the girls wanted to be like her, Becky Dawson had even bleached her hair platinum blond to try and emulate her, but unfortunately for Becky the colour didn't take too well to her auburn tone and ended up a rather luminous shade of orange.
A fact which she was constantly reminded of by Kaya and her bunch.
That weekend, after days of begging, Kaya had been allowed to have the girls round for a sleepover.
"Hey Josh come and dance!" Amy called.
Josh rolled his eyes, Kaya's dumb friend was always trying to flirt with him, but she couldn't have been less his type if she tried.
Josh and Kaya were still BFF's, that would never change, but Josh disliked the clique she had formed.
Even though he was a junior the antics of his sister and her posse had not escaped him, nor had the way the other boys in his year talked about wanting to date her.
"Aw come on Josh." Amy giggled.
Josh smiled awkwardly and beat a hasty retreat to his room, he knew most guys in his year would probably kill to be in his shoes tonight, surrounded by pajama clad girls.
Mostly he just felt uncomfortable around them, in fact he felt uncomfortable around girls in general, except for the girl at Dr Deign's office.
He really wished he'd asked for her number, even her name would of been a good start!
The girls made their way up to Kaya's room and gawped at it in awe.
"OMG i can't believe this is room where Ivy Cross grew up!" Connie exclaimed.
"I know right!" Amy added, "Does she ever come over?"
"Of course she does Amy, she's my aunt." Kaya retorted giving the girl a withering look.
"So Maxwell Cross is like your uncle or something." Amy concluded.
Kaya didn't bother to respond, she just rolled her eyes, sometimes Amy could be so dense it was painful.
"Hey can i use the bathroom?" Amy asked.
"Sure take a right then it's the first door." Kaya replied.
"OMG! This isn't the bathroom!" Amy cried as she "accidentally" opened the door to Josh's room.
"Next door along." He replied although she still did not make any effort to move.
"Wow is this like for art class or something?" She asked, walking farther into his room and staring at the canvass he had just put the finishing touches to.
Josh stifled a snicker, as if he would ever enter this painting towards his art grade!
"I love painting." Amy continued, not noticing his disinterest, " Especially with my fingers."
Josh found it hard to cover up his true feelings at this statement, finger painting? What was she five?
"Kaya!" He yelled.
"What's up?" She asked popping her head round his door, "Oh Amy!"
"What i got lost!" Amy cried.
"Out!" Kaya commanded, and Amy obeyed like a good little follower.
"What's this? Did you let Amy paint?" She laughed.
"Ha Ha, very funny. Would you keep your brain cell deficient friend out of my room?" He replied.
"Seriously Josh, did you paint this?"
"I had to paint something happy, it's part of my therapy." He rolled his eyes.
"No offence but it sucks!" Kaya replied.
"Yeah well if it keeps the good Doctor off my case then....."
"As long as she's not brain washing you." Kaya replied, "I kinda like you the way you are."
"Yeah there's not enough emo in the world." She laughed.
"Well I'd rather be emo than an airhead!" He retorted sticking his tongue out at her playfully.
"Shut up!" She said playfully punching his arm.
Although they loved to mock each other it was only ever playful between the two of them. Both Josh and Kaya knew that regardless of how crazy or bitchy they were the other would always accept them.
"So what are you girls up to today?" Iris asked as she prepared the breakfast waffles.
"We're going to hit the mall then the beach." Kaya replied.
"Have you done your homework?" Iris asked.
"Mom!" Kaya complained.
"Kaya, you agreed that you wouldn't let your homework slip this weekend just because your friends are here." Iris lectured.
"I'll do it OK? God can't i ever have a day off!"
Cody gave her a warning look that her back chat was getting close to warranting a punishment, relenting she said "I'll do it tonight OK Mom? Please can i go to the mall?"
"Of course you can honey." Iris replied.
As the girls gathered around the bathroom mirror to get ready, Kaya could feel the anger simmering inside over her Mom's lecture, why did she have to undermine her in front of the girls?
"Can i borrow your eyeliner?" Connie asked.
"Gross! No way, i don't want you getting your germs on it." Kaya snapped, she felt the anger subside slightly at her catty remark.
She had discovered that being mean to people released a lot of her pent up anger.
Smiling as a plan formed in her mind she regarded Amy and said, "You know i think you should really consider getting some highlights."
"But last week you told me that highlights were totally last season." Amy cried.
"No i said highlights are next season." She retorted, "I can do them for you before we go to the mall." Kaya offered.
"I don't know Kaya, my Mom paid a fortune to get my hair coloured just last week." Amy said scrunching up her face.
"Really!" Time to sack the stylist, Kaya thought, "Come on it'll be fun and i know for a fact that Josh prefers lighter blonde's." She said tempting the girl like a donkey is tempted by a carrot on a string.
"For real?" Amy said in amazement, "You think if i got highlights he'd ask me to prom?"
"Definitely." Kaya encouraged.
After applying the bleach the girls sat in the bathroom trading idle gossip.
45 minutes later and Amy stood surveying the disaster zone that used to be her perfectly coiffed hair.
"It's green!" She sobbed, "Josh is never gonna ask me out now!"
Kaya stifled a giggle, "Amy I'm so sorry, i think we left it on too long or something."
"I look ridiculous!" Amy cried.
"No! It's really not that bad." She said, hiding another giggle, "Come on we'll go to the mall and get you a hat."
"Thanks Kaya, you're such a good friend." Amy replied hugging her.
Kaya smiled and hugged the girl, she could feel the anger melt away like an ice lolly in an oven and mentally noted to thank Becky Dawson and her bright orange hair disaster for the genius plan.
Iris headed towards the fridge to grab a bottle of water after her run.
There was nothing finer than the feeling of invigoration she felt after a long run.
"Hello beautiful." Cody called before attempting to pull her close.
"Cody! I'm all sweaty!" She cried.
"I know. I sorta like it." He said pulling her close and squeezing her tightly until she giggled.
"You know the kids are all out." He said suggestively.
Iris laughed and kissed him softly, remembering there were some things better than the feeling after a run!
Just as they were about to head upstairs the doorbell rang.
"I'll get it." Iris called, running to the door. She expected to find someone collecting for charity or trying to sell her something, either way she was ready to get rid of them quickly, but as she opened the door she stopped in her tracks.