Dear Diary, life is good. I’ve spent hours rehearsing on my own for my next performance. Being a lead has opened up a new future for me that I’ve always craved. I’ll never be rich or famous, my body will ache and my feet may never be the same again but this is what I have worked for.
I’m not saying I’ve “arrived” because there is always something to improve upon, hence, my relentless rehearsals in front of my mirrors. I want to be the best, so there’s always something to strive for.
Rosetta is still away with our parents on some kind of case that I don’t want any details on. Everything they do is good, I guess, but I’m not willing to go to Crazy Town on one of their adventures. Yeah, I said it. My family is nuts.
First, you have my father who runs a philanthropic company to cover for what they really do. Then, there’s my adventure seeking mother who would do anything, I think, to get high off of fighting evil. I’m not even going to get into how Uncle Dan and Aunt Susan are involved, yet they are just as deep into this as all the others. Add to all of that my sister Rosetta who gets a real bang out of honing what she says is her psychic ability. What I think – what I’ve always thought – is that she believes this will help her with her ultimate goal of taking over the world.
Like I said, they’re a special kind of wack-a-doodle.
Why am I not interested in the “family business?” Mostly because I have enough problems just getting through every day, “normal” life.
Take tonight, for instance. After going through my choreography for our next show, “Possessed By The Past,” a few trillion times, I needed a good icing and then a shower. As I came all the way downstairs, I heard a pounding on the door.
“All right, I’m coming,” I shouted.
As I whipped the door open to express my irritation of someone visiting in the middle of the night, I came face to face with Brent Graves, Julie’s husband.
Before I could get a word out, he growled at me, “Where is she? I know she’s here!”
He attempted to push past me and come inside but I was able to block him with my body.
“Do I need to hit you again?” I asked, a small smirky smile curving my lips.
This got his attention. “I just want to know where my wife is.”
“I’m surprised someone like you doesn’t know where she is.”
“Is she here or not?” he spat.
“Do you think I’d tell you if she was? What’d you do to her this time, anyway? Is she okay?”
His face turned red and his hands balled into fists at his sides. “Of course she’s fine!” He must have lost his mind, because he tried to push past me again as he yelled into the house, “Julie!”
I pushed him back a little harder than I’d intended. At least he got the message, though.
“If I find out she’s here – ”
” – You’ll what?” I said.
He never answered me. Instead, he muttered something I didn’t catch and left. I immediately locked the door and called Julie’s number. To my dismay, her phone was disconnected.
Making my way to the kitchen to get my bucket and some ice, I wondered where she could have gone. To the police station maybe? Somehow, I doubted it.
After I filled the bucket with ice there came a light tapping at the kitchen door.
“Jules?” I said as I squinted into the darkness. I could see her standing at the bottom of the steps, her face twisted with fear, shivering.
“Holden,” she gasped, her voice coming in strangled breaths. “Is he gone?”
“Yes, you’re safe.”
I was down the back steps within seconds, wrapping my arms around her and pulling her inside.
She pulled away from me and broke down in sobs.
I didn’t know what to do. Call the police? Hold her? Make her some tea?
“Are you hurt, Jules?”
Without answering me she ran into my arms and held me tightly, her entire body trembling.
“You’re freezing cold,” I breathed into her ear, patting her back a little.
“Everything I love is gone,” she sobbed. “My daughter… I want her back! I miss her so much!”
“I’ll help you any way I can, Jules.”
Pulling back and wiping her eyes, she said, “I knew you would. I’m sorry Brent was here like that. I knew he’d think I came here but I didn’t know where else to go.”
“It’s okay, he doesn’t scare me. You’re safe here.”
Not knowing what else to do, I made her some tea. She held the cup in her small hands, her body huddled over the warmth.
“Social Services told me if I have my own place and can prove that I can provide for her, I have a chance to get her back. I have to try even if it kills me.”
“I’ll help you,” I repeated.
Julie remembered which pajamas Rosetta had loaned her before. Even after a hot shower and warm pj’s, she was still shivering. I tried to convince her she was safe and Brent couldn’t get her. She didn’t look any closer to being calm, though.
I walked her to the den where she had slept before, however, she just stood in the doorway, staring blankly at the daybed.
“Are you all right?”
Her eyes teared up again and she covered her mouth with a shaking hand. “I don’t think I can sleep.”
That’s how Julie ended up sleeping in my bed with me. I cuddled her and then eventually rolled over and fell asleep.
You may think it’s strange that I put myself in this position after what happened to me with Ella. And, I won’t lie. Part of me wondered if I’d gone the way of my family to cuckooville. I ended up deciding that Julie was the vulnerable one here and she was no Ella Dean, thankfully.
She tossed and turned all night so I didn’t figure it was likely that either of us would get much sleep anyway. After a while, we got up and raided the fridge.
We had yogurt and granola. Surprisingly enough, Julie had a pretty good appetite.
No sooner had we eaten and done the dishes when we heard Chris calling out, asking if anyone was home.
“You’re so handsome in your uniform,” Julie praised as we joined him in the living room.
“Um… I’m going to get dressed. It was nice seeing you, Chris.”
“Yeah, you, too,” he said.
“Dude! What is going on?” Chris asked as soon as Julie was out of earshot.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, Julie obviously spent the night here and – and you’re both in your pajamas! Did you two – ”
” – No!”
“Did she leave her husband?”
“Yeah, and I’m afraid she’s going to go back again. She needed somewhere to stay, so, of course, I told her she could stay here.”
“What about her angry husband? This is the first place he’s going to look for her,” he said.
“Brent was already here and I took care of it.”
“What does that mean?”
“Will you relax?” I asked.
“Dude! This is a crazy situation. As a cop, I know how dangerous this is.”
“Everything is fine, okay? I respect you as a police officer but I can’t turn her away. She needs me.”
“This isn’t your fight, Holden. I know you’ve been friends with her for a long time but she needs professional help.”
“She came to me.”
“So, you need to steer her in the right direction. You’re not a counselor and this isn’t a women’s shelter.”
Chris sounded so heartless to me but maybe he was right. If I took her to a shelter, wouldn’t that be turning my back on her right when she needed me most?
“I don’t know, man. I mean, I can help her get into counseling but being in a shelter is not an option.” That’s when I told him what the requirements were in order for Julie to get Paisley back.
“Look, I care about you. I just think you’re in over your head.”
Nodding a little and reflecting on what had happened with Julie so far, I was beginning to understand he was right. What was I doing in the middle of all of this? I wanted to help Julie with all my heart but I was unqualified. In my longing to help her, I wasn’t doing either of us any favors.
If I really wanted to be of service to her, my only choice was to do what Chris said.
“I won’t turn her away,” I slowly said.
“Okay, let her stay here under the condition she gets counseling,” he reasoned.
It wasn’t going to be easy. Still, I hoped Julie would do this. I was certain in counseling, they would help her figure out what she needed to do to get on her feet.
“So you slept with her?”
“Sort of… I mean we really did sleep.”
She chuckled a little. “So what?”
“So, I thought I should tell you.”
“Oh, Holden, you’re so precious,” she said with a yawn. “I don’t care if you slept with her.”
This was one strange relationship.
“How do you feel about me?” I asked her.
Again, she laughed lightly. “I adore you.”
What exactly did that mean? I had a feeling she wouldn’t elaborate even if I asked her to.
She yawned again, stretched, then got up. “I’m going to take a shower. Do you mind starting the coffee?”
She regarded herself in the full-length mirror, turning this way and that.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
Her mouth curved into a wry smile. “Looking at the flaws.”
I smiled genuinely at her. “You don’t have any.”
“That is why I adore you.”
“I’ve wanted to bring something up that’s very important to me for a long time,” she murmured, hands across her stomach as she turned once again.
“Yeah? Go ahead.”
“Well, there’s no way to talk about it… I just have to say it. I want you to be the father of my child.”
My jaw dropped as the thought of children had never crossed my mind.
“I knew you’d be shocked,” she laughed again. “You see, I’ve been wanting a child for a long time but I never found anyone worthy of being the father. I want your genes.”
All I could do was stare at her.
Thank you for reading,