Apparently, it had taken a million Simoleon donation from the Racket family to the public school system to keep them from pressing charges against Silver and I, and to pay for damages.
Dennis also offered to re-host a prom for the seniors in two weeks on his private yacht in the Inner Banks.
Lolly wouldn’t leave her room for two days,and Dennis finally convinced her to go and take her finals or risk failing and repeating 10th grade.
Bill hated his sister-in-law even more now after learning about her latest antics. He even punched her in the face, threatening to do more than that if she didn’t cut it out. Dennis intervened and told Bill to back off and it was the one and only time I had ever seen him come to his wife’s defense. This newfound protectiveness side I see in Bill is surprising to me, but appreciated, even if it’s a little misguided. I feel ashamed for how I acted at the high school. I know violence is never the answer.
When summer arrived, Lolly, still traumatized and humiliated by her family’s actions at the prom, begged her dad to let her go live with a friend, Frances Picard. She was terrified she would never have another boyfriend again. Lincoln had graduated and hadn’t called her once since the night, not that Lolly or anyone else blamed him. Still, I felt bad for Lolly. I tried apologizing to her multiple times, but she didn’t really want to talk. She left for Roaring Heights with Frances a week ago.
Dennis had been longer hours than normal, pulling sixteen hour shifts, and when he does come home, he has been sleeping in the guest room.
Shark is the only one in the household who didn’t seem to care much about what had transpired. I think he was glad his mother got a little of what was coming to her, but he is too wrapped up in his girlfriend and gaming to really notice.
Max iced out his daughter-in-law more now than ever. He refused to speak to her or acknowledge her, and he still harped on Dennis about divorcing the woman. I, myself, wondered why he hadn’t left his wife, but I choose not to question it. He has his reasons. He seems to honor his commitments and that is honorable.
Whatever he said to Silver, he must have scared her straight. I doubted he lifted a finger to hurt her, but I was curious to know how he convinced her to be nice to me. Ironically, I am the only one in the family really still on speaking terms with her. Even Marigold has taken to avoiding Silver. We have been reading in the living room most afternoons.
I’m on maternity leave now. The baby is due any day. Bill has been working harder than I’ve ever seen him do so before from his in-town office, hoping to save up money for us to move out of the Racket mansion once and for all. I know he wants to give me the wedding I’d like too, but I want to wait until the little one has joined us. It’s hard to think of myself as a mom and a married one too, to Bill of all people, but I take it he wants to do the right thing, and I respect that.
My days are routine. I wake up, bathe, eat breakfast, sometimes with Bill, and sometimes alone, watch a little Sim-Span, check work emails, eat lunch, spend the afternoon reading, eat dinner with Bill, he gives me a back or foot massage, we read and surf the Web in bed, and sleep. I wake up the next day and repeat.
Today was no different. I woke up at twenty-til-eight and took my bath. It’s too hard for me to stand in the shower these days. Bill fixed me scrambled eggs with cheese and toast and left it on a tray in the dining room. Without fail, Shark left a glass of orange juice in the fridge for me. Congress is slow today since it’s the middle of summer, but I still watched for a few hours while checking my work emails. I fixed myself a salad for lunch, and then settled into the living room to read a political biography.
At half past three, Silver wandered in and said hello like she’s been doing, asked about how I was feeling, and then asked if I minded if she joined me. I smiled. She asks me this every day. It’s strange, but I let her, and I always tell her yes. She’s been reading horror novels. I seriously wonder how Dennis convinced her to apologize and be polite, but I suppose that’s one of the mysteries of life.
The doorbell rang at quarter-past-four. Silver excused herself to go answer. Someone from the local university was supposed to be stopping by today to talk to Shark about colleges, but he wasn’t home yet. I doubted he’d be interested in Twinbrook anyway. Like Lolly, he wanted to go far away from home.
“Stupid llama,” Silver snorted from the foyer. “Who picks a llama as a mascot? I tried telling the guy my son’s not home and he kept talking like he was trying to sell me something. Oh well… hey, by the way, Rachel, a package came for you.”
I stood up, but as I did, I felt strange. Warm liquid pooled around me and I felt overcome with nausea. I barely made it to the downstairs bathroom before upchucking my lunch. I found myself staring into the bathroom as my stomach literally felt like it had been cut off from its air supply.
“Oooo!” I screeched. “She’s coming!”
“Who’s coming?” Silver asked, still flipping through the mail as I met her in the hallway.
“The baby!” I said, breathing erratically.
“OH!” Silver exclaimed, dropping the letters to the floor. “I’ll get the car. No! Wait! I can’t… I don’t have a car.”
“What?” I frowned.
“It’s in the shop,” Silver moaned. “And no one else is home. I’ll go check the garage.”
She called for a taxi since the alternative was driving one of Max’s antiques and he would’ve killed us. It was a strange feeling as I plodded down the front steps, my abdomen constricting and releasing, and pain shooting all up and down my back. I didn’t even have time to change my clothes. I didn’t particularly like the idea of showing up at the hospital in soggy pants and a sweaty top, but I didn’t have a choice. The sun was trying to peak out from behind the clouds as the rain pounded the earth. Summer thunderstorms were normally soothing to me, but now the thunder and lightning and rain grated on my nerves.
“Wait!” Silver called after me.
“I’m not stopping, Silver,” I huffed and puffed down the walkway. “This baby is coming.”
“No, I’m coming,” she ran up to meet me. “But shouldn’t we call Bill or something?”
“I… left my phone in the house.”
“I have mine.”
She did. Three times. He didn’t answer. She left a message.
“Damnit Bill!” I howled as we hit another bump, and the taxi driver apologized. “Where are you? Why isn’t he answering?”
“I don’t know,” Silver answered. “I’ll keep trying. Just focus on breathing, Rachel.”
We arrived at Twinbrook Foundation Hospital and Silver raced ahead to get me admitted. I huffed and puffed and breathed and heaved as I walked up to the emergency room entrance. I couldn’t believe I had chosen today of all days to wear my heeled boots. My ankles were throbbing. Where are you, Bill? I moaned internally. He had promised to be here when our daughter was born.
Twenty-six hours later, my precious baby girl was born. Max and Marigold drove over to see me. Shark stopped by with his dad after playing basketball with some of his friends. Even Lolly called from Roaring Heights to congratulate me. But still no Bill. I sighed as I signed myself out of the hospital alone, and carried our new daughter to the door and watched for the taxi. I was still wearing my clothes from the previous day. It didn’t matter at this point. I was exhausted and no one had remembered to bring me my bag. Dennis and Silver offered to drive me home, but I wanted to be alone.
She was gloriously perfect – ten fingers, ten toes. She had inherited her father’s eyes and my mocha skin tone. I couldn’t believe it. I was a mom. I was the mother of a beautiful baby girl. Hope Anastasia was a perfect name for this little baby Colt-Racket. I just wished her father was here to see her.
As Rachel walked away, Dennis watched after her to make sure she made it into the taxi safely. He still wished she had taken him up on his offer to drive her back to the mansion, but he didn’t blame her. She probably wanted to be alone with her new daughter, and to find her fiance. He balled his fists thinking of his brother. What a terrible start to being a father! Bill couldn’t even bother to be here for his own daughter’s birth, to support the mother of his child, Rachel.
“Do you think she’ll be okay?” he asked aloud, mostly a rhetorical question.
“I dunno,” Silver shrugged and made a face. “I sure wouldn’t want to go through all that again… the aches and pains, misshapen body, and constant fatigue. Let’s go get a drink or something.”
“Maybe another night,” Dennis replied. “I have to work.”
“Oh fine, whatever,” she sighed, and glanced at her nails as if they were the most important thing in the world. “You’re no fun. I’ll go by myself.”
“Silver, go home,” Dennis said. “Remember our deal.”
“GAWD, Dennis… I’m not a child!” Silver stomped her foot for effect. “I know. I won’t drink too much. I promise.”
She smiled too sweetly and placed a dutiful kiss on his cheek before she flounced away. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. He knew the truth.
Silver wouldn’t keep her promise.
Bill wouldn’t be a good dad.
Rachel would raise the child alone.
That last one was particularly painful for him. He cared for Rachel. More than he wanted to admit. But he had his duties. He had his skeletons and he preferred they stay in the closet. Maybe one day, he’d be free, but not today.
He glanced up at the sky as the rain stopped and squinted as the sun came out. Today was a beautiful day. A day full of hope. That was the perfect name for the little baby girl of Rachel’s born into a family of corruption and lies, secrets and shame, pain and problems. That little girl was the hope of the Racket family clan… and in some ways, Rachel just might be too. He hoped that would be enough… enough to save them all.
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