Dear Diary, once we left the after party, the cab took us to her little drab townhouse. I never mentioned it before but she only stays there until our season is over, then she moves back to her big house in the country. It’s a pretty amazing Tudor nestled in the hilltop neighborhood with other big houses and mature trees all around.
My head was still reeling from the panic attack so I guess she figured it would be best to travel back to her Tudor. She had to pack some things first so by the time we got there, it was daylight.
The interior of the house was no less impressive but a little darker and old-fashioned than I generally like. This was just one more thing to add to the list of reasons a lasting relationship could not work between us. We were too different in too many ways.
“The flowers are gorgeous,” she purred. “My favorite.”
“I know,” I said, glancing briefly at where she’d put them in a vase on the fireplace mantle.
Smiling, she turned her back to me and said, “Will you unzip me?”
I reached out without thinking much about it, then drew back when my brain caught up with my hands. During the past few hours, I’d calmed down enough to think about things and I knew she was going to be angry.
“Myung,” I said, “we need to talk.”
Turning around to face me, she frowned. “I thought we already did. You’re not backing out, are you?”
I shifted my feet uncomfortably and sighed a little. “I don’t know what to say except I really think this is a bad idea. I can’t and I’m sorry I ever told you I could.”
“Wow. I can’t believe you’re doing this to me.”
“Try to think of it as that I’m not doing this to you but for the baby we would have had.”
“I don’t follow you and I can’t help but feel very disappointed.”
“I know – I mean, I knew you would be upset. What I’m trying to tell you is that after thinking about your… uh, proposal some more, well, it’s just too complicated.”
“All of us,” I said. It was hard to believe someone as intelligent as she was couldn’t see how complicated this would make our lives. I suppose she wanted this so badly, she’d talked herself into it without worrying about the details.
“You know, this doesn’t have to complicate your life at all. Give me what I need and you are free to walk away. I’ve told you that.”
“I can’t just walk away, though. But in all honesty, I’m not ready to be a father. You and I don’t love each other which could cause custody problems in the future. There are a multitude of reasons as to why this is a bad idea.”
“My biological clock is ticking and you’ve wasted a lot of my time.”
“If you must know, Myung, I’m feeling kind of used, too. We started this relationship and I didn’t have a clue you were only with me to get a baby. Then, to find out you don’t even really want me, just my genes. That was quite a blow.”
“Oh.” She only paused for a moment before saying, “I didn’t realize how awful it sounded. I’ve wanted a baby for so long, so many years, but I never found a worthy father until now.”
“I’m sorry,” I told her. “I do hope you will find the right… situation before it’s too late.”
Tears rolled out of her inky eyes and down her cheeks but she didn’t make a sound. Instead, she took a step forward and kissed me on the cheek, her arms snaking around my waist. I returned the embrace and took in the scent of her silky hair one last time.
Days passed and I didn’t hear from Myung. I figured she was either licking her wounds or finding another guy to “adore” and ask for his genes. Looking back, I’m thinking I dodged a huge bullet. My mistake was kicking the idea around seriously. I make a lot of mistakes, but I’m grateful I didn’t make that one. Someday, I hope Myung and I can be friends again similar to what we were before our affair began.
It wasn’t until I went to my therapy session that week that I finally felt completely confident about my decision. My counselor, Cason, told me I should have brought this up in one of my sessions so he could help me figure it all out. I realize now he’s right about that. I know a lot of guys who look down on therapy but after everything I’ve been through, I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
Cason suggested that during my time off from the ballet company, I take a trip. But where would I go? Mom and Dad suggested a trip to see my grandparents.
Winchester, here I come!
After stepping off the ferry, I promptly got lost. Hopefully, my bags had been delivered to the right place. I walked through what I thought they must call “town” and found myself on a lonely dirt road.
Two deer jumped out of the woods and pranced past me. I was definitely in a different world.
“Hey, wait!” I called to a girl who stepped out of the treeline on the other side.
Upon hearing me yell for her, she stopped in her tracks and turned toward me, shielding her eyes from the sun.
Even though I’m athletically sound, it took some effort to run to her. I came from a chilly place currently experiencing Autumn to this island in the middle of nowhere that was not only unspeakably hot but muggy as well.
Looking into my eyes and watching me gasp a little bit from my sprint, she said in a small voice, “This is not the time for such exertion. We’re under a heat advisory, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know.” My breathing was normal already but the humidity in the air was thick and heavy. “I’m not really used to this kind of heat.”
“Yes,” she simply said.
Holding out my right hand, I said, “I’m Holden Sprague.”
“Pleased to meet you, Holden. I’m Ellie Duberry.”
When she took my hand for a handshake, I fully expected her grip to be dainty and loose. Instead, she firmly gripped my hand and gave it three strong pumps before letting go. She was much stronger than her petite frame looked.
“You’re lost,” she said, her voice soft and sweet. It wasn’t a question.
Nodding, I said, “I’m looking for my grandparent’s farm but, well, I have no idea where I am. There are no street signs or house numbers.”
She laughed a little but managed to stifle any huge guffaws my confusion might bring.
“Oh, you’re that one. I didn’t realize who you were because you are nowhere near their farm.”
“So, you can show me where to go?”
She nodded, a tiny smile on her face, her baby blue eyes dancing with life. “I live with your aunt and uncle right across the lane,” she explained.
I barely remembered meeting my Great-Uncle Leo and Great-Aunt Wilda. I was a child when everyone came to my Great-grandpa Leo’s funeral. And to tell the truth, I was more interested in meeting Chris that day then meeting older relatives.
“Come with me,” she said lightly.
She was small but moved quickly, even in this heat. I had a hard time keeping up with the little thing.
I don’t know what I pictured when Mom told me about Grandpa and Grandma’s farm. I didn’t expect this, though. It was quite large, surrounded by fields. I could see a pond, chickens, cows, and horses. The ground was dry and cracked, but there were luscious trees providing areas of shade.
The house itself was much bigger than I thought it would be, too. But I guess with six children and an occasional stray, you’d need a huge house like this. It was obviously very old but very well cared for and maintained.
“Just go on in,” Ellie said, letting me go inside first.
The inside of the house smelled like freshly baked bread. Everything was neat, presumably in its place and lit with lanterns hanging on the walls. The woodwork in the house was polished like new, the old wallpaper was clean and seemed fitting.
“Oh, my!” Grandma exclaimed when Ellie and I stepped inside. “My, my! Holden, you have grown so tall! Isn’t he tall, Daddy?”
“Yes, Momma, he certainly is.”
“But look how thin he is!” Grandma said with a tsk.
I wondered briefly if they remembered I could hear them.
“Have you eaten? Let’s get some food in you.”
“Now, now, Momma, let the lad settle in before you load him up,” Grandpa said.
I smiled widely at them and tried to ignore the picture of the farmer and his wife with the pitchfork that kept popping up in my head. These were my grandparents and I was already enchanted by this farm and their lives.
“Oh, dear, Ellie, can you stay? I just pulled the last loaf of bread out of the oven. I have fresh blackberry jam – I know that’s your favorite.”
Ellie smiled a little shyly. “Thank you for the invitation, Ma’am. I’m afraid Miss Wilda is waiting for me. She needs help with some of the younger ones.”
“All right, dear,” Grandma said.
The next thing I knew, I was being ushered into the dining room. Each time I cleaned my plate, Grandma insisted I needed more.
“Momma, he’s full, he doesn’t need anymore,” Grandpa said, winking at me.
“Well, I worry when I see a young man as thin as that.”
“I know, but he’ll tell you if he needs anything. Right, Holden?”
“Oh, uh, yes, definitely.”
The dining room was pleasantly … well, I wouldn’t say cool, exactly, but it wasn’t as hot as the outdoors. When I mentioned this, Grandpa explained that because the house was built on a hill, the air blowing in from the ocean made the house a reasonable temperature. They had winter here, but not the kind I’m used to. It’s cooler and less humid, according to them.
“It’s our favorite time of year,” Grandpa said.
“Will I be meeting Uncle Leo? Or Uncle Charles or Laurent? Are my aunts here on the island?”
“Well, no. I’m afraid you’ve come when a lot of Winchester, especially the young men, are on the mainland to sell their crops. Usually, so many of us don’t leave.”
“This was an especially good year for the crops,” Grandpa added, “so more of our people were needed.”
“Oh, of course.” I was so happy to be there, I decided I could meet the other members of the family another time.
“Thank you for letting me come to stay with you.”
My grandparents smiled at one another, then back at me.
“We are more than delighted that you’re here, young man,” Grandma said. “Ellie is a nice girl, isn’t she?”
“Momma,” Grandpa sternly said.
“I only wondered if he thought she was cute.”
There was a hint of mischief dancing around in my grandma’s green eyes.
“I know just what you were thinking,” Grandpa told her with a wink.
She blushed prettily and smiled at me again. “I am so glad you’re here.”
I couldn’t help but smile genuinely at her. “I’m really glad, too, Grandma.”
After we’d visited, I was shown my room which actually had been my uncles’ room when they were growing up in this house. As I looked at the old quilts that my grandma had sewn by hand for her boys Charles and Laurent, I thought about what it must have been like to grow up here.
Touching one of the iron beds, the metal felt cool under my hand even with the heat that had risen to the second floor. I thought about my own childhood, living in a mansion with every need met by people I didn’t know or have a relationship with. Did I enjoy luxuries? Oh, yes. Yes, I did. And I wouldn’t want to live here permanently, that was for sure.
Somehow, though, this little room felt homier than any other place I’d ever been. It was almost empty, this space, yet every item here had been carefully and lovingly made and placed. It lent a different feeling. And I liked it.
I liked it a lot.
Author’s Note: You may or may not have noticed, but I decided to change the default eyes I was using. In doing so, I pulled some CC out of my game in order to get rid of the default eyes I was using. In doing this, I didn’t realize that makeups had changed. Ugh. So, Holden has some dark eyeliner in some of the pics; I’m really sorry I didn’t catch that before. He is all patched back up now and it shouldn’t be a problem in the next chapter.
I’d like to offer special thanks to Bee who donated Ellie to the story. Originally, she was named Jane Reid. You may remember her father who was in Bee’s story when Jin was in Monte Vista.
Jane’s father was Firefighter Travis Reid.
Thank you so much, Bee. She is lovely and makes a great addition to Noble Doubt!
As always, thank you for reading,