General Fiction posted July 22, 2014 Chapters:  ...72 73 -74- 75... 

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Paul returns and Sarah begins breaking the news to him.

A chapter in the book Enough to Miss Christmas

Table for Two

by Fridayauthor

Sarah has been holding back news of her unexpected pregnancy until her husband returns. The problem of Karen's withheld secret guilt remains on hold.
     Finally it was Friday. I spent a restless night trying to decide if I should tell Paul about the Mary Ellen’s scenario and thereby get him in a terrible mood or announce he was going to be a father and bear the burden of whatever his reaction to that might be. I decided to hold back the big one for last.
     When the limo pulled up in front of the house late afternoon, my heart was in my throat, until my little man Timmy ran up the steps and into my arms. Soon followed my big man and all was right with the world, at least at that moment. Presents were distributed amid ohs and ahs as we traipsed back into our house, a family together again. Paul said little about the funeral, letting Timmy tell his tales of Parisian adventures and sights they’d seen together.
     Karen was visibly nervous but Paul seemed not to notice. When he asked, “What mischief have my two favorite ladies been up to while we’ve been away?” it was her cue to suggest, as we’d arranged, that her father and I go out to dinner together while she remained home and fixed something for her and Timmy. Paul protested that the whole family should be involved but she begged off, citing a need to study for her upcoming play. Paul got the hint that I might have something private to discuss. He assumed I wanted to learn about the funeral and his first visit with his mother in decades.
     Paul discussed the elderly Mrs. North on the drive to the restaurant. I was too nervous to pay close attention but I learned she’d changed dramatically and not for the better.
     “My mother was a kind and sweet woman, married to a bully who finally embittered her against everything, including me. She’s made a saint out of her devil husband. Everyone at the funeral seemed to agree. She’s still my mother, so I held my tongue and tried to put up a good front.”
     “Will I ever get to meet her?” I asked.
     “Probably not. She’s entrenched in her continental lifestyle and has no interest in family. She hardly acknowledged Timmy, her only grandson, after insisting I bring him half-way around the world.”
     I prattled away during the balance of the drive as nervous as a mouse in a cat house. Paul knew it. As we were seated, he ordered two manhattans. I almost told him I didn’t want it but that called for an explanation I wasn’t yet ready to provide. I had to get the Mary Ellen business out of the way first. I took a deep breath and plunged into my first confession.
     “We had a little incident while you were away,” I began. “It got a tad out of hand but everything is now resolved.”
     “An incident,” he said, repeating my words, a concerned look blossoming on his face.
     I definitely had his attention. I’d rehearsed my words a dozen times, but they came out far more disjointed than planned. I held back on the fact Mary Ellen actually spent the weekend and more under our roof while her mother, child-rapist boyfriend and the police were searching for her. I thought I’d slipped in Thatcher Wright’s involvement nicely, but Paul vacillated between confusion and becoming seriously disturbed.
     “The woman was a real bitch and when she grabbed Karen, I guess I sort of lost it,” I said. “When she threatened to sue, I called Thatcher Wright.”
     “You hit her?”
     “Yup. A pretty good one, actually.”
     “And Thatcher took care of it?”
     “That, and some other business.”
     “What other business?” He finished his manhattan. I slid mine toward him.
     “The girl. Mary Ellen.”
     “Don’t tell me Karen actually knew where she was hiding!”
      “Sort of. Yes, I guess.”
     “There was a question of where Mary Ellen was at that actual minute when the policeman asked, but in general, yes, Karen knew. At that time, I didn’t. I learned after I tossed out the mother and her piece of shit boyfriend.”
     “God, Sarah. This sounds like a B movie! So when you found out from Karen where the girl was hiding you told the police, right?”
     “No. I . . . I can’t say I did.”
     “Did you tell Thatcher instead?”
     “Not exactly.” I was making a first class mess of this, and I still had the big one to go. I blurted it all out. “Karen hid Mary Ellen in our house while we were away in Connecticut for the weekend. She spent Monday night there too, only I never saw her. She was molested by her mother’s bastard boyfriend and knocked up either by him or maybe by her jail bird boyfriend and the mother’s boyfriend wanted to abort the baby to kill the evidence. We arranged for Thatcher to get involved and Mary Ellen’s doing fine. They arrested the rapist on an out of state warrant from Maine. There. It’s finished.”
     Paul took a gulp of my drink. “Karen is a child and, yes, she should have known better, but you’re an adult, Sarah! How could you get us into all this?”
     “My introduction to this whole business was a cop at my door, a daughter in trouble and a husband a world away. I neither started, nor was I aware of this hide-and-seek game. I know we were foolish and Karen was deceitful in hiding Mary Ellen in the first place . . .”
     “And exposing us to God-knows-what . . .”
     “There’s that too, but it all came out hunky-dory. You should give Thatcher a raise. He was the one who straightened matters out.” Paul didn’t say anything, which was worse than him tossing a shit-fit and jumping across the table and choking me. “Are you pissed?” I asked.
     “Yes.” He’d finished my manhattan and waved to the waiter for two more. At this rate, he wouldn’t be sober for my big announcement. That was bad.
     “I know what I did; what we both did was . . . ill advised. We deserve whatever we’ll get but we did it for good reasons.” Two more drinks arrived. Paul grabbed one.
     “We can’t respond to all of life’s wrongs, Sarah. You didn’t just involve us. You involved Thatcher Wright. You put him in a precarious position where he might have lost his license to practice law!”

     “I know I was wrong. He’ll tell you all about it. We didn’t ask him to do what he did; we only explained the situation and he took the ball and ran.”
     “That’s what Thatcher does; he fixes problems, but this wasn’t one of ours. I don’t even know the girl. You said you didn’t even like her! You were practically ready to go to jail, for someone you don’t like?”
     “That’s not the point. What was happening to her was dead wrong.”
     “You have to personally address all the wrongs of the world, Sarah?”
     “Some. If I get a shot at them, maybe.” Now I was the one getting pissed.
     “So where is she? Please don’t tell me she’s upstairs in our attic or out in our garage.”
     “Are you sure you want to know? It makes you a party to lord knows what.”
     “Of course I want to know!” Then Paul added, “You’re my wife and Karen is my daughter. I may not always agree with you but . . .”
     “But what?”
     “But I love you and trust you. The question is; do you trust me?”
     “With my life,” I answered as I tried to fight back not crying. “Mary Ellen is in a facility out of state; Vermont, I think. Even if they could find her, by the time they finished all the paper work it would be too late for an abortion.”
     “A facility?”
     “It’s a place that will take care of Mary Ellen and the baby after it is born, and then place the infant in a good home.”
     “She doesn’t want to keep the baby?”
     “She never wanted to keep the baby. She just didn’t want to kill it. Mary Ellen isn’t the most intelligent girl in school . . . she’s even a couple of years behind  . . . but she’s smart enough to know she’s in no position to raise a child. Karen claims she understands there are good people who can do a far better job. I think it was our daughter who convinced her. Karen may have done something foolish behind our backs, but her motives were as pure as a new born baby. This, by the way, brings me . . .  to another subject.”

Earned A Seal Of Quality

Enough to Miss Christmas is a family love story, about sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, parents and children. Foremost, it tells the story of a step mom and a precocious young lady and how they bond in spite of overwhelming odds.
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