Author’s Note: For some odd reason, the previous chapter didn’t publish on the correct date. In case you missed it, please read it first here – 1.63 Need to Know. There’s important information in that chapter you need before proceeding. This is the final chapter in Generation 1: The Price of Ambitions. I’d love your feedback below, and if you’d let me know who you’d like to see in the future in the poll below also, I’d appreciate it. Thanks for coming along this bumpy journey with me in the Colt Family Traitacy.
Rachel’s whole world came to a crashing halt… only she couldn’t afford to stop long enough to process. To breathe. To think clearly. To escape. She knew what she wanted to do. But she chose the best she could do, whether it was right. No matter what the price for her ambitions was… and she hoped it was worth it.
Four months ago, Rachel walked down the aisle for the second time to meet her husband, William Alton Racket. Everything inside of her had wanted to cry. She knew she was signing her heart’s death warrant, but there was too much at stake. She would be the proper Southern wife. She would go to counseling and make things work for the sake of her family. She would be the epitome of grace. She would be the representative of her city and act as a mayor should. She would provide the best stability for her daughter and son. She would be the woman she should be and rise above it all, despite the horrible truth… one which she would leave in the gnarly pit of despair forever
Bill had looked so handsome in grey tuxedo with his white scarf. The vow renewal had taken place in the Racket mansion backyard. Someone had sprinkled purple rose petals up the aisle. The shepherd had stood waiting beneath the beautiful wooded arch with white magnolias for the “happy couple.” Gala served as the matron of honor, her husband, DeAndre, and their baby girl, Quiana seated behind. Lolly was the extra bridesmaid and her boyfriend, Sinbad was even dressed served as the extra groomsman, and Dennis… had been the “best man.” It didn’t seem fair. Rachel knew it wasn’t fair. It was horrible. But she couldn’t do anything. She couldn’t say anything. She could lose everything and so could he. So on that day four months, two weeks, and six days before, Rachel Nyssa Colt held her head high and smiled at their guests as she reached for Bill’s hand to take him to be her husband… “till death do us part.”
Lolly and Sinbad returned to school.
Her mother and Virginia had returned home.
Gala and DeAndre moved to New Simoleans to open a restaurant.
Dennis went to visit Shark in rehab.
It was just Bill and Rachel, Hope, and the baby on the way in the manor. Rachel had never felt more lonely in her life. She should’ve been happy. She should’ve been grateful. This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. The kind of day little girls dream about where they marry the wealthy man who loves and cares for them. Sure, Bill and Rachel hadn’t done things the traditional way, but things were better now.
A year ago, she was considering divorce. Now she was wondering if she made the best decision. But looking at her daughter, seated in the high chair, snacking on cereal for dinner, babbling about colors and fishies in the water, Rachel knew she could never leave her precious baby girl.
Today, Rachel had given birth to Ernest Phillip. Bill wanted their son to have his name, but she couldn’t do it. She literally could not write Ernest Phillip… Racket on the birth certificate. She wrote Colt instead. She also hesitated to write Bill’s name on the line as father. It was too painful to think about – he wanted to be a good dad and a good husband, but she couldn’t let him. In her heart, it was Dennis.
He was the one who had been there for her when she was pregnant with Hope. He was the one who had been there for her when Shark and Lolly confided in her and she needed help. He was the one who had been there for her when Max stabbed her last fall. She still had the scars. Dennis was the one who had held her in his arms when she cried because Bill never showed up at the ICU. Dennis was the one who made love to her like no man had ever done after she hadn’t wanted to go back to her hotel room alone after her release from the hospital. Dennis had been a man trapped in a loveless marriage. She should be grateful that her spouse was nothing like Silver. At least Bill cared and loved her now. He was around. He tried.
In the past few months, so many things had changed. Shark had continued to have ups and downs with his rehabilitation, and had made two more suicide attempts. Russ’ wife, Bo and their baby son were killed in a “mugging gone wrong” three weeks ago, and all hell broke loose. Drive-by shootings and gang fights in alleys had become more commonplace. Bodies turned up in the swamps. The Racket family business continued its in-fighting. It was practically civil war on the streets of Twinbrook. The national guard had come assist, and they had all but enforced a city-wide curfew. Rachel had tried desperately to liaise with the police and other emergency services, but she couldn’t do much since she had been about to give birth. Bill ordered a twenty-four hour guard to follow Rachel in the last days of her pregnancy, terrified she could be next if Russ chose to retaliate.
He did… but not in the way people expected.
Dennis had been arrested… for the murder of Timmy DeBleu. How the hell he figured that cold case out was beyond everyone, but nonetheless, Dennis sat in the Twinbrook County Jail, awaiting sentencing. Rachel had decided today was the day she would go see him. When everyone thought she was sleeping, she slipped out of the pregnancy care center, and took a taxi across town. After a few minutes of processing, she waited nearly forty minutes before the guards brought Dennis in his orange jumpsuit. She pushed the intercom button.
“How are you?” she asked softly.
“Rachel?” he seemed shocked. “Why are you here? Is everything okay? Didn’t you have the baby just recently?”
“Yes,” she replied. “But I had to see you… and make sure you were okay.”
“I’m…” he scratched his head. “As well as can be expected. Did the labor go well? I wish I could’ve been there.”
“Labor was fine,” Rachel said, numbly.
It didn’t feel as though she had just given birth.
“I name him Ernest… Ernest Philip.”
She saw the slightest twitch of his brow. He remained silent for a moment.
“Congratulations, Rachel,” he said slowly. “I bet Hope will be happy to have a new baby brother. Please pass along my congratulations to Bill.”
Fidgeting in her chair, Rachel changed the subject. “Are you really okay in here? Do you need anything? Do you know what’s going to happen? I’ve heard so much gossip. It’s hard to filter out the truth.”
“I always knew this would catch up with me one day. It’s time I did time.”
Rachel leaned forward and touched the glass with her hand, tears brimming in her eyes. “Dennis, you can’t… you don’t know… you could get…” she couldn’t bring herself to say it.
“The death penalty?” he said quietly. “I know.”
“What about your federal contacts?”
“Murder kinda negates my contract with them. I mean, I was trying to bring them Russ, but they’ve cut off ties since the arrest.”
“But it was in the past… so long ago.”
“Rachel, you should know better than anyone that murder has no statute of limitations.”
She cracked her knuckles nervously, wondering how Russ found the information. She wondered how he found the proof… unless… he had been in contact with Silver. Could that have been why? Rachel’s eyes widened. …why Dennis stayed married to Silver for so long? Why he never left her? A drunken affair with her husband’s cousin wouldn’t surprise Rachel. In fact, the pieces fit and made sense now. It was Silver… and Russ… holding this awful burdensome secret over Dennis’ head. It had to be. It was the only way to explain everything. And now with Silver dead and his own wife and son dead, Russ thought he had nothing left to lose.
“I know… I studied law… I just… there’s word on the streets…” she added, worriedly. “Russ is amping up something huge. Bill and I are talking about leaving Twinbrook at the end of my term.”
“You won’t need to worry about Russ much longer,” Dennis clenched his fists.
Rachel leaned forward into the glass. “Dennis…” she breathed. “How can you say that?” she glanced around as if expecting guards to swoop in on them. “…you’re in prison.”
“I made some assurances before I was taken in by the police,” he replied cryptically. “Look, Rachel, it was the only thing I could do. I wanted my family to be safe. He made threats against Shark and Lolly…and I’ve heard rumors about you and Bill and the kids. He needs to be handled once and for all.”
She lowered her eyes, feeling eternally grateful, even though she was terrified.
“This might be the last time I see you,” he added.
“What do you mean?” her eyes widened.
“Things are being handled. I’ve heard the rumors though too.”
“Please Dennis… tell me… what are you going to do?”
“I didn’t want to worry you more, but Russ has put a hit out on me.”
She gasped. She wasn’t surprised, but she never felt so fearful in her life. He seemed so calm. How could he be so damn calm? Rachel balled her fists and resisted the urge to drop her head on the tiny ledge table.
“Dennis…” she whispered.
“I know, Rachel, it’s okay. Things will be okay. I have plans. I won’t be in danger much longer.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because… just trust me, Rachel.”
“Please, please, stop saying my name.”
“It hurts too much…”
He sighed. “Does Bill know? About our night together?”
She shook her head fiercely.
“Good, it’s better that way. It’s better for everyone. Safer if everyone thinks he’s our son.”
Rachel gasped. “How did you know?”
They sat in silence for a moment, and Rachel’s heart ached. She wished everything was different. She wished she could go back and change every bad decision she ever made. Most of all, she desperately wished she had met Dennis first.
“I always knew,” he said, his voice catching. “I just didn’t think you wanted me to know.”
Rachel stared at him with tear-filled eyes, wishing the glass wasn’t dividing them, that she could hold the father of her newborn son, that she could hug him and tell him how sorry she was, and explain why she picked Bill over him. But he knew. She knew. It just couldn’t be.
“Ernest… it’s a nice name,” he croaked.
“After The Importance of Being Earnest,” she replied sorrowfully. “After your favorite book.”
Dennis leaned in his chair and lowered his voice. “Come with me.”
“What?” she asked as if she hadn’t heard him.
“Come with me. I know I’m risking a lot to tell you, but I just…” he continued.
“Don’t go,” she cried.
All the words they weren’t saying…
“I have to… it’s the only way… I can…” he began, but she interrupted.
“No, no,” she cried. “Dennis… I can’t… you can’t… I don’t want you to leave.”
“If I stay…” he seemed to ponder for a moment. “No, it’s the only way to be alive someday for our son. I have to go… but you can come with me.”
“I can’t,” she shook her head.
“We can be together… you… me… and Ernest… we can get away from here.”
“Dennis, it’s wishful thinking.”
“…they would never find us. We would be safe. Please, come with me, Rachel. You could meet me. I’d arrange everything. You wouldn’t have to worry.”
“But Hope…” she thought of her daughter with Bill. “And this town… my career… Bill…” she couldn’t believe she said the name of her husband. “Oh how I want to… Dennis… believe me, I want to… so much…”
“I know,” he dropped his head into his hands.
Rachel said words she never thought she would be able to say aloud genuinely and freely.
“I love you Dennis…”
Dennis met her gaze. His eyes misted with tears. Rachel knew he had never once heard those words sincerely from his wife. Rachel knew he desperately needed and wanted to be loved just as much as she did. He reached up to touch the glass, but quickly jerked his hand. The finality of his movement only further demonstrated how trapped they both were – trapped by their lies and secrets and ambitions. She longed to hear the words from him in return, but she knew this was wishful thinking.
Author Note: This is the final chapter in Generation 1: The Price of Ambitions. I am feeling overwhelmingly bittersweet about this, and I hated to end on such a depressing note, but it was time to move on. Rachel and Bill are not traditional legacy founders, but it felt appropriate to end with the “vow renewal” ceremony, though the circumstances are happily ironic here.
Yes, Silver had conspired with Russ to hold the truth about the murder of Timmy DeBleu over Dennis’ head. That’s how long Russ has been operating in the shadows and driving wedges in the Racket family organization. I know that it’s a little late to be introducing that tidbit, and maybe it’s lazy writing, but I wanted to fit it in before finishing this generation.
I want to cry as I end things with Dennis and Rachel here. I wrote an alternate ending where the two run away together, but it just didn’t feel right, even if this option was infinitely more depressing. Rachel choose her career time and time again and sacrificed nearly everything for it, and now she can’t get back up to the surface. It didn’t feel realistic to have her abandon everything, plus I just couldn’t do that to darling Hope as she would forever be a reminder of Bill to Rachel since he is her father.
I also didn’t want to resolve absolutely everything in this ending. There are many things up in the air – What will happen to Russ? Will Dennis succeed and run away? Will the Rackets-Colts ever see Dennis again? How will Shark recover? Will Lolly and Sinbad stay together? Will Rachel and Bill stay together? What about Ernest? Will Rachel ever tell Bill the truth? Does she know the whole truth about Bill and his one-night-stand? Will Rachel continue to advance in her career? What is the fate of Twinbrook?
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the Colt Family Traitacy – your predictions for the future, what you enjoyed from this generation, and answer any lingering questions you may have. Please let me know in the comments below.
I also plan to continue with the Racket/Colt family. I’m not moving along to Generation 2 just yet. I plan to write an interlude – Generation 1.5 from the perspective of Shark and Lolly Racket. I already have chapters outlined. I will continue to write about Rachel Colt in the background.
I’d love your feedback about who you’d like to see, in addition to Shark and Lolly, in Generation 1.5: The Choices We Make.