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Becca woke to the sun setting. The pinks and oranges flooded through her bedroom window. She sat up in bed, stretching her arms out. She felt a power in her that she had never felt before. She had done something to satisfy her own needs, even if it was as small as taking a nap. That was something she had never done before, knowing others needed her and dismissing them. Typically, she satisfied the angry masses first.

As she made her way down the stairs, real life reared its head up again. Her phone screamed in notifications. She swiped through each one, not quite ready to dive in head first yet.

“What is going on?”

“Please call me.”

“Are you okay?”

She dialed her sister first. “I’m fine,” she said when Jenny answered. “I just needed to make sure this cat was fed and I was exhausted so I took a nap.”

“Well, mom is completely freaking out.”

“She barely stopped in to see me at the hospital.”

“Please, we know this is how she is,” Jenny went on, “But you need to call her and get her off my back.”

“Fine,” Becca replied.

“I filled dad in on everything,” Jenny said.

“Everything?” Becca freaked out a bit over the fact that her dad could know she had been dealing with a lunatic. He had warned her time and time again to not get into these predicaments and had even offered to get her out of it right from the get go. She knew he would not be happy.

“Not everything,” Jenny replied. “Are you crazy? You know how he would react to that. But I did tell him I was going to help you get out of this contract. I told him we have been working on it all along.”

“Good,” Becca responded. Jenny had always known how to handle their dad and Becca was grateful for that. She wasn’t sure they would even be on speaking terms if it wasn’t for Jenny constantly coaxing out fires between them.

“I want to look over the contract a bit and then I will come up with a plan,” Jenny said. She didn’t even need to ask that Becca wanted out of it, it was now a given.

“Thanks,” Becca said. “I will bring you a copy.”

“No, I’ll come over later today and stay with you again,” she said. “Bo said he would fix the locks on the doors too.”

Becca hadn’t remembered mentioning that, but it wasn’t uncommon for them both to be in the same state of thinking.

After speaking with Jenny, she called her mother. Her mom was always wavering in between a state of panic or a state of indifference to the goings on of her children’s lives. This time was panic. But she had waited long enough to call her back that others in the family talked her down. Or maybe it was the wine. “I’m just worried about you,” she had said to which Becca replied, “I know mom, but I’m fine. You know I am.” And that was enough to send her back to indifference for awhile.

After she hung up with her mother, she stared at her phone and felt the anxiety rise. Do I call him back? What do I say to him?

The thought of him sent her into a feeling of both comfort and unease. She sensed that he enjoyed being her rock, but the tide was always moving in him. She ran her fingers through her hair as she paced the floor and lifted the phone to her ear.

“Hey,” she said at the sound of his voice.

“Hey there,” he replied. His voice was deep and covered her like a soft blanket, stopping her in her tracks. “I was beginning to get a little worried about you.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Sorry about that,” and the way he listened with true concern as she began to tell the way things played out was a breath of fresh air. She had always lived in a world where her shortcomings were her failures and her failures alone. She relaxed and took a seat on one of the steps of the giant staircase where she proceeded to tell him everything that happened.

As her story ended, he added, “I’m glad you’re okay.” She breathed in a lightness as his words escaped his lips. Even though he was miles away, she could feel the comfort in his voice. That was the moment when she realized, he was the only one whom she could truly be herself with.

 

The door opened. Jenny and Bo entered the house. Becca’s head swirled as Jenny directed Bo to the different doors throughout the house. Becca had never had a need for anyone in her life. She had been a loner, but not in the true sense. She was always surrounded by people and she enjoyed their company, but she was a pleaser and always, always, followed the rules, whether they were true or made up from the people to which she was sharing her time.

“What is wrong with you?” Jenny asked.

Becca hadn’t moved since they entered the house. She still stood in the same place in the kitchen that she had entered when she finished her phone calls and grabbed a cup of tea. She hadn’t realized it. It was as if time stood still and the feeling she held inside her was the most important thing she needed to hang on to.

“Nothing,” Becca responded to Jenny’s question. But truthfully, she was working to understand what it was like to have words fall out of her mouth without need to filter. The freedom she had in expressing herself to Andrew was new and exhilarating.

“Here,” Jenny said as she handed her a bottle.

“Thanks,” Becca said. She opened a drawer and flipped off the lid passing it to Jenny.  “Everyone is freaking out about me, but there’s nothing wrong.” She took a drink from the bottle, the brown liquid inside slightly bitter.

“I know that,” Jenny said. “I cannot believe what happened,” she began, but cut herself off when Bo entered the room. Of course, he had no clue the real story. That would only shorten his rope on Jenny.

“It’s just easier for him to not know,” Jenny said after Bo left for the evening. “You know this.”

“God,” Becca shook her head, sat down at the counter and took another drink.

“What?” Jenny said, a look of anger crossed her face. “It’s not like I lied about it. I just didn’t tell him everything.”

“Not you,” Becca said. She paused, thinking of the conversation she just had with Andrew and how he didn’t even question her and her actions. “Do you think there is someone out there that would just be okay with it all?”

“With what? Me?” Jenny asked but then answered her own questions, “I don’t care. I’m gonna do what I want to do. The only reason I don’t tell Bo everything is because he would freak out and I don’t care to deal with that. It’s not my problem that he worries about me, but I’m not about to give him even more reason to.”

That wasn’t what Becca was asking but it was too tiresome to get a real meaningful thought about it. What she wanted to know was if there was the possibility of a relationship in which two people could be exactly who they were, no questions or explanations. She was beginning to think that could happen with Andrew, but with her past experiences, had grown cautious.

“Okay,” Jenny started. She opened the fridge and pulled out two more bottles. “Where is this contract?”

Becca jumped off the counter where she had been sitting and walked to the library. Jenny followed. As they reached the door, she felt a cold breeze blow across her body. She turned to close the window, which was already closed. “Weird,” Becca said. She could have sworn she saw the curtains move. Why else would she have suspected the window to be open?

“Yeah,” Jenny added.

“Did Bo change these locks too?” Becca asked. The handle to the library wouldn’t budge.

“I don’t think so,” Jenny said. She picked up her phone and texted him. “No,” she confirmed.

Becca grabbed the handle again and shook to try and get it to open. Don’t do it.

She stopped.

“Let me try,” Jenny said.

Don’t.

“Wait,” Becca said. Becca looked around the room.

“What is it?” Jenny asked.

“I don’t know,” Becca replied. “I think there is a reason why we can’t go in.”

“Well, we have to get the contract if I’m going to do anything about it,” Jenny said.

There was a knock at the door. Both turned to see a girl standing on the front porch. Becca pulled the door open. “Can I help you?” she asked.

The girl looked just like any other. She wore a black, lace top, with necklaces full of gemstones and jewels. Earrings dangled from her ears and a short, jean skirt was topped with knee high socks and high heeled boots.

“You must be Becca,” the girl extended her hand in an over-the-top display of confidence. “I am Morgan.”

Becca shook her hand.

“My apologies,” Morgan went on. “I’m really more of a hugger but have found the gesture to be offtaking by some.”

“No worries,” Becca said. She blocked the doorway. She wasn’t about to get into another predicament as she had before. She also had no problem asserting herself to strangers to whom she cared nothing of. Something she wished she held for those in her life she did care about.

“And this must be Jenny,” Morgan went on and extended her hand to Jenny who had been standing behind, but also next to Becca.

“Yes,” Jenny said reaching her own hand to Morgan’s.

“I’m sorry about the hour,” Morgan started. Becca knew it was late, but heard one of the grandfather clocks strike midnight to confirm it. “May I come in?” she asked.

Against all judgement and Jenny’s looks screaming, no, she opened the door wide enough for Morgan to enter. “Isn’t this house just beautiful?” Morgan asked as she paused and looked around the entryway.

“Who are you?” Becca asked. She didn’t mean for it to come off as rude, but it definitely had that flavor. Which was odd after the welcoming entrance she had just inadvertently offered.

“I am so sorry,” Morgan began. “I didn’t know the emotions would hit me like this.”

Becca could see the reflection in Morgan’s eyes, the wetness that had formed, the sadness. “Did you know my aunt?” Becca asked.

“I did,” Morgan said. She grabbed Becca’s hands and looked right into her eyes. Her hands warm and soft. “She was an amazing woman,” she went on. “I was so sad to hear of her passing.” She stood for a moment. The room becoming a bit uncomfortable as they both shared the silence. “I am here to help,” she said. She let go of Becca’s hands and walked right to the library door. Becca and Jenny watched as Morgan quickly and easily turned the handle and entered the room.

 

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