1.11 Beginning Anew

A/N: Hey!!! So it is currently 4:30 am, and while I should be in bed, I have decided to finish this post! Think of it as a New Year’s gift from me, to you. I would have finished it earlier, but we had to go to a little New Year’s shindig. Anyway, we finally made it to the last chapter of generation 1! It only took us about 4 years! At this rate, I’ll finish the story in about 36 more years. I’ll be 58 by then! 😀

I’m not the happiest with this chapter, but that’s mainly because it’s only here for time skipping/personality establishing purposes. But I hope you enjoy the final installment to the craziness that is/was Conrad Alabaster Lee’s (yes, I did give him a crappy middle name) story. I’m pretty excited about jumping into Brian’s head.

Anyway, Enjoy! Likes, comments, etc. are always appreciated!

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Life seemed to calm down to a comfortable routine in the upcoming years. With Reuben locked away for life, and all of our secrets out, we stopped worrying about the next ‘life-shattering’ event, and just decided to live in the present. It was definitely weird, though I’m not one to complain.

Granted, we couldn’t exactly say that our lives had become a walk in the park, as raising three children was not easy.

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Both Brian and Vissa were the types of kids who enjoyed making their presence known in one way or another. Between making messes with their food, and somehow managing to get their grubby hands on ‘daddy’s foyo’ (also known as my portfolio) and making everything disorganized, I would sometimes find myself secretly wishing that they were more like Lance, who somehow had managed to be a complete angel during his toddler years. I’d usually scold myself under my breath, reminding myself of how much I loved them. Even when they smeared peanut butter and jelly all over my sketches.

But as time passed, they grew out of their ‘terrible twos’ stage, and entered the stage where they began to develop their own interests and hobbies.

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Vissa remained an active girl, and (unlike anyone else in the family) took a liking to sports. She even tried out for the school softball team. She’d usually rope me into practicing with her in the backyard, stating that Lance was too uncoordinated, and Brian would always whine until she left him alone.

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Brian, however, seemed to really fall in love with music. On his seventh birthday, Odine and I decided to buy him a Walkman, and despite his protests at the fact that it wasn’t even a ‘measly mp3 player’, he really seemed to love the thing. There would hardly be a moment that he didn’t have some CD playing at max volume, ear buds securely in his ears.

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He’d could usually be found in the room that he shared with Lance singing at the top of his lungs. I would constantly catch myself singing along to his voice as I walked passed his room, despite not being able to hear the music myself. I was pleasantly surprised at how my son was able to carry a tune. We offered to pay for singing lessons for him, but he refused. When asked why, he would usually say that he didn’t think that he was that good, and didn’t really want to be a singer anyway. But still, you could hear his voice in random areas of the house.

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Lance continued to act. He hadn’t quite had his ‘big break’ yet, but he’s done a couple of guest spots on popular shows, and small roles in some movies. When he found out that he’d gotten the role as ‘Kid #3’ in a movie with Matt Hamming, he was so excited. We’d gone out to celebrate the beginning of a promising career in acting. It was still a very small role, but we knew that he’d go far. Eventually he began to get better roles, but it made it difficult to get noticed due to the fact that there were some things that Lance just refused to do.

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He could usually be found on his phone talking with his agent, telling her that he wasn’t going to compromise his morals. Despite her protests, he refused to change his mind, even if it lost him a few roles. I was proud of him for sticking up for what he believed in. He’s a good kid. But sometimes, I think he might be a bit TOO good. I know that might not make much sense, but it’s almost like he has to be perfect. Not in an ‘I’m God’s gift to mankind’ kind of way, but more like if he’s not good enough, then people won’t like him anymore. Especially around his mother and I.

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When he would make a mistake, or do something wrong that required correction, he would freak out. Sometimes to the point of tears. It honestly scared me sometimes. I tried thinking back to see if there was ever a time that he’d been pushed into that type of situation, but my mind drew a blank.

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Both Odine and I would constantly remind him that we loved him, and that it would never change. Even if he made a mistake. He would usually calm down, but the next time, it’d be the same situation. I was confused, and no amount of prying would get him to open up.

Despite the occasional moments of panic, he remained a pretty happy kid.

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Especially when his friendship with Belle Hemlock evolved into a relationship. She was a great influence on my son. Always supportive of his decisions concerning his life, and career. His rock when he began to falter in his convictions, and the encouragement he needed when he felt low. I was glad that he’d met a girl who was so sweet.

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Odine somehow manages to surprise me more and more every day. I knew that she was stronger than she thought she was, but she even somehow managed to surprise me with the amount of inner strength she’d developed over the years.

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One thing that made it easier on her was the occasional visit to a therapist. Shortly after we’d seen the Littlers, she mentioned how she felt like she needed someone to talk to. Turns out that having an unbiased third party listen to her inner struggles really helped her out. I was against it at first, feeling as if she felt that she couldn’t talk to me. But I couldn’t be more wrong. Being able to open up to a specialist who could help her sort through her thoughts made it easier for her to open up to me, and Dr. Markus was a caring doctor who really knew his stuff. Without the weight of carrying all of her past experiences with her, she was a lot happier. Which made everyone else in the house a lot happier.

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As for me, my life seemed to shift into a strange sense of normalcy. My career was going well, and I had plenty of regular clients. It never got to the point of being a ‘world renowned’ career, but that was okay. In most stories you read, the main character achieves some type of fame or importance, but I’m just… me, and I’m completely content being me. I was able to make people happy with how they looked, and maybe give the offhand client a confidence boost. Then, I got to return home, where my wife, three kids, and dog would be waiting for me.

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It was the day of Vissa’s first game on the Bridgeport Middle School softball team, and she had constantly reminded me that morning how important it was that we all be there to support her. So you can imagine that when work ran a bit late, that I made a mad dash back to the house so that I could take a shower.

Ignoring the whining noises coming from my daughter’s throat, and the protests of my wife, I grabbed a spare change of clothes, and crashed into the bathroom.

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As the water ran over my body, I quickly began to rub shampoo over my scalp. I let out a sigh, grateful for the warm water flowing over my muscles… Until I smelled it. Alongside the smell of shampoo, a strangely familiar scent wafted into my nostrils. I froze, and quickly removed my hands from my scalp, only to see through squinting eyes that the suds were… Yellow?

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“AAAHHH!!!”

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Coming out of the bathroom, I was met with pretty much the same reaction from everyone in my family, except for one.

“Oops.” Came the tiny voice of my eleven year old son as my other two children stared at me in complete shock. I seethed, trying to ignore my wife as she stifled a giggle.

“Let’s go.” I said through gritted teeth.

“But dad!” Vissa complained. “You can’t go out with yellow hair! You’ll embarrass me!” I rolled my eyes, and grabbed the closest hat that I could find, which turned out to be Lance’s bright blue baseball cap. Grumbling under my breath, I shoved the cap onto my head.

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Walking back over to where my family stood, I put my hand on Brian’s shoulder. “We’ll talk about this when we get home.”

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When we got home, we did talk. Or more so, he tried to explain why he thought it was a good idea to put yellow hair dye in my shampoo. Turns out it was a prank that was meant for Lance, who uses the same exact shampoo that I do. But this wasn’t the first time that Brian had done something to sabotage Lance.

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It started out as really small things; things so insignificant, that I had chalked it up to how siblings would normally treat each other. But as time went on, his pranks seemed to get worse and worse. Stealing Lance’s scripts; ruining his dates with his girlfriend Belle; and apparently now putting hair dye in his shampoo.

Odine and I knew that it was jealousy, we just weren’t sure why. It wasn’t as if we would treat Lance any different. We did have to discipline Brian a bit more than the other children because he would cause trouble so often, but that was no one else’s fault. Odine would usually tell me to go easy on him sometimes, reminding me that in his small mind, constantly getting punished while his siblings roamed free would be seen as favoritism. But it was really hard when his constant antics would try my patience.

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“Give me your mp3 player.” I told him. His face dropped. He didn’t even bother to argue back as he walked over to his dresser, and removed the mp3 player from the top drawer. As the tears formed in his eyes, he placed his prized possession in my hands. Sighing, I sat down on the bed next to him.

“Son, what’s going on?” I asked. “Did Lance do something to you?” He stared at his shoes as a tear began to stream down his face. He slowly shook his head, not looking in my direction.

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“Did I do something?” Another silent shake of his head. “You can be honest with me, Brian, what’s wrong? I can’t help you if you don’t say anything.”

He shrugged his shoulders, the grim expression on his face unchanging. Frustrated, I sighed, and stood up from the bed.

“Well, I guess you can stay in here until you are ready to talk.” When he gave me no response, I pursed my lips, and left the room, closing the door behind me.

——————–

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I had just gotten back from taking Mickey out for a walk. As I removed the leash from Mickey’s collar, I listened for signs of life, but the house was oddly quiet. I knew that the kids wouldn’t be back for a bit, since Lance had an audition, and I’d convinced him to let the twins tag along. Odine and I had planned on surprising the twins when they got home, being that it was their birthday. But while dinner, the decorations, and the cake were set up, my wife was nowhere to be found.

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“Hello?” I called, scratching my newly trimmed hair. After the ‘yellow hair’ fiasco, I’d had to shave off all of my hair. While I did NOT have the right head shape for going bald, I tried my best to make it work. Fortunately for me, my hair grew back fast, and I decided to maintain it in a more ‘adult-appropriate’ style. I was pushing forty after all, and I didn’t want (or need) to look like I was pretending to be ‘regain my youth’.

“Hello… Dee?” I called again.

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I heard the bathroom door close, and my wife walked into the living room. She walked slowly toward me, her eyes wide with shock. My stomach flipped, and I walked quickly over to her, grabbing her shoulders.

“Honey, are you okay? What’s wrong?” She looked like she’d seen a ghost, and as I was about to pull her into a hug to comfort her, two words came out of her mouth.

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“I-I’m pregnant.” I froze.

“What?” I asked, not entirely sure I’d heard right.

“I’m pregnant.” At that admission, she broke out of her shock, and began to laugh. I felt a smile began to spread across my face, as I looked her in the eyes.

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“Are you serious?” I asked. I already knew the answer, I just hadn’t expected to hear those words again. As Odine continued to laugh, tears began to form in her eyes. Her laughter was infectious, and I found myself laughing along.

It was one of relief. We’d thought that we’d given up that dream a long time ago, but apparently, God had other plans. I pulled her into a tight embrace, tears beginning to fog up my glasses.

“I can’t believe it.” I said. “But I’m not even going to question it.”

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“You don’t think we’re too old?” She asked hesitantly.

“Hey!” I protested. “We aren’t that old. You’re only 36. Plenty of people have kids at that age.”

“We have to tell the kids. Do you think they’ll be okay?”

“Honey, stop worrying! The kids will probably be fine with it. We probably shouldn’t even tell them today. I don’t want to take the attention from the twins.” She took a deep breath, and nodded as we heard the front door open.

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“We’re home!” Lance called out. I turned to face the kids, who all stood in front of the door.

“Surprise!” Odine said, as she wiped the tears from her eyes.

“Are you guys okay?” Lance asked, his face twisted in concern.

“Of course!” I said, a little too enthusiastic. “Why do you ask?”

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“Your eyes are red and puffy.” Brian said, not entirely convinced. Odine and I looked at each other, and smiled as we thought of the secret that we were keeping.

“We’re fine!” I said, as Odine giggled. Vissa rolled her eyes at us.

“Old people love.” She muttered under her breath.
“Hey!” I protested. What was it with everyone thinking that I was old? “Watch it young lady, or you’re not getting your present.” At that, both hers and Brian’s faces perked up.

“Now come, and sit down. You’re mother prepared a very special dinner for your birthday.” The twins ran to their mother, and wrapped her in a hug, before finding their seats at the dinner table.

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——————–

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As the twins surrounded the cake, we began to sing Happy Birthday. I looked around the room at my family. A feeling of joy and thankfulness filled me, being surrounded by the people I loved. I’d certainly come a long way from being the scared little boy from Sunset Valley.

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Sure, life definitely had some unfair moments. But I don’t think I would have done anything differently, provided I was given a do-over. Who knows what could have changed. I might not have my kids, and I can’t imagine my life without them. I might not have met Odine, or even moved to Bridgeport. I didn’t even want to think of the possibility of her not being in my life.

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As our off-key rendition of Happy Birthday wrapped up, the twins leaned in, and blew out the candles. They could now be considered teenagers, which felt strange to say. They’d be starting a new chapter in their lives, a feeling that I could sympathize with. It almost felt like a chapter of my own life was ending. But you know what they say about endings.

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Every story has an end. But in life, every end is a new beginning.

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A/N: What? You thought I was actually going to show you what the heir (or his twin sister) looked like as a teenager? Hah! You make me laugh… 😉 I figured it’d be better to just do a shoulder shot, and leave his face as a surprise! Fun, right?

But thanks again you guys, for sticking with me while I was the slowest updater known to man. I can’t (and never will) promise that I’ll get better at posting, but hey! That’s what makes it fun, right? The element of surprise! You never know when I’m gonna post!

No? Really? Oh…

But anyway, Thanks again for reading!

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1.10 Lost and Found: Part 6 Closure

A/N: Hey guys! Welcome to the second to last chapter of Conrad’s generation! Holy crap! It’s been 4 years coming, but we’re finally almost at the finish line (of gen 1, talk about lame!). I have Conny’s last chapter written, I just need to take pictures for it, and then we can begin BRIAN’S GENERATION!!! And I can say that because there is obviously no surprise as to who the heir is. I mean, Lance is his son, but not by blood/biologically. So it passes over to Brian, and can I say that his personality has flourished very differently from Conrad’s… But I don’t want to give anything away. Gah! I’m so excited!!! *flails*

As always, likes and comments are much appreciated! Enjoy! 🙂

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Odine’s POV

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Conrad and I sat on my bed in silence. After my breakdown, he had quietly carried me up the stairs so that we could have some privacy.

Just when I had managed to stop crying, another wave hit me, and I began to sob again. This time, I ended up soaking his jacket with my tears as I cried into his shoulder. When my eyes were finally dry, I sat up straight and took a deep breath.

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“I… I’m sorry.” I began. “I’ve been a terrible wife. I’ve let my problems get in the way being a good enough wife and mom. I’ve put you and the kids through so much, and I’m going to try my best to be happier.” He tilted his head in confusion, his eyebrows furrowed.

“But honey.” He said, sounding concerned. “That’s not what I want.”

“But at home you said…”

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“I know what I said.” He sighed. “Do I want you to be happy? Of course. But I don’t want you to force yourself to be something you aren’t.” He pulled me into his arms. “You’ve been through the ringer, honey. With all that you’ve experienced, you’ve earned yourself a ton of hours of crying. I just…I just got scared that I was going to lose you, and I felt so hopeless. I’m… I’m sorry if I ever made you feel like you needed to suppress your feelings for me and the kids.”

“Emotions can suck, but we still have to deal with them.” He grabbed my hands, holding them between us. “So if you need to cry, then cry; if screaming at the world will help, I want you to do that, okay? I just want you to be able to feel like you can depend on me when it becomes too much for you to handle. You don’t have to deal with it all by yourself.”

I took a deep breath, and nodded slowly. “I-I know. I don’t want to push you away anymore. I can’t promise that I’m not going to stumble at some point, but if you’ll be patient with me, I want to try to work through this.”

His eyes began to tear up, and he gently caressed my cheek.

“Together.” He said.

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Then he pulled me into a hug.

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Planning the funeral of your father is not an easy thing. I would imagine planning the funeral of the love of your life would be even harder. While mom tried her best to help out, you could see that something had died inside of her. She just wasn’t the same without dad. Malik and I tried our hardest to handle most of the arrangements, but we could only do so much before we would begin to lose it.

Conrad was a tremendous help through it all. He took on more than what was expected of him, and stopped me from pushing myself too far. He was also surprisingly comforting; though I guess he would be one of the few people who could understand how we felt, since he had lost both of his parents. The three of us would be out all day, going from the place to place to make sure that everything was in order; and at night, we’d all be too tired to do anything, and would just head to bed. The days continued like this all the way up until the funeral.

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The funeral itself was a pretty big deal. Throughout his life, my dad had made some sort of positive impact on a lot of people. At first we planned of having the funeral at a small church, but the list of attendees kept growing. Eventually, we had to move it to the graveyard.

“We are gathered here today to bid farewell to Frederick Perry, and commit him into the hands of God.” The entirety of the funeral, tears were shed, and condolences were given.

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I was in a weird place throughout the whole service. I didn’t feel like how I would imagine a grieving person should feel. Yes, I cried. I cried a whole lot. But at the same time, I felt at peace. While my dad probably should have lived longer, I know he had a full life. Wherever he was, I knew that he wasn’t in pain anymore.

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“Honey, it doesn’t look the best when you’re smiling at someone’s funeral..” I looked at Conrad through my tears. I hadn’t realized that I was smiling ever so slightly, so I put my hand in front of my mouth.

“It’s just comforting,” I admitted, “knowing that where he is, he isn’t sick anymore.” Conrad nodded in understanding as my mother walked up to stand next to the gravestone. He gently pulled my forehead to his lips, and placed a kiss on it. I turned my attention back to my mother, as she began to speak.

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“Freddy was one of the most daring people I’ve ever met. He just loved life, and didn’t want to miss out on anything. I remember when we first met; I was a single mother with a newborn baby.” She paused to take a deep breath, and wiped the tears from her cheeks. “I had just lost my first husband in the Vietnam War, so there was no way that I was going to let any man even come close. But he didn’t give up. He told me that he didn’t want to miss out on a good thing in life, and he would wait for as long as I needed.

“That’s how he lived his life. He never wanted to let an opportunity pass him by; never wanted to be a man who regretted anything. Even when he was in and out of the hospital, he was still adamant that he wanted to experience everything he could.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s up in heaven right now, challenging an angel to a pole vaulting contest over the pearly gates.” At that, a laugh passed through the crowd. She paused as she tried to regain her composure. She turned to face the tombstone.

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“Fredrick, we’ve had many, many years together; and even though you haven’t been gone for long, I miss you so mu-.“ She placed her hand over her mouth as she began to get choked up again. I let go of my husband and walked over to my mom. I pulled her in, and let her cry.

She held onto me as if letting me go would cause her whole world to fall apart. As her body continued to wrack with sobs, I sent a silent prayer up to God for peace.

I felt a hand touch my back. Turning to face the person who touched me, I looked into the deep brown eyes of Malik. He signified that I should sit mom down, and he would cover for us. I led mom off to the side, and sat her down on a bench nearby. She covered her face with her hands as he began to talk.

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“As my mother was saying, dad was a great man, and we’ll miss him. If I could have one more chance to see him again, I’d make sure that he knew that he was the best father that a guy could ask for.” He rubbed his eyes, and I could tell he was fighting back tears. “If I had just one more minute with him, I’d make sure that he knew that he taught me to live life to the fullest. That every moment is precious, and to appreciate the time we have with the people that we love.”

“But I know that if I did have that chance, he would give me a big hug, and tell me that he loved me. Then, he’d probably smack me on the back of the head, and tell me not to live in the past.” He cleared his throat as the people gathered there laughed. “That we should always look forward, and grab every opportunity by the horns.”

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“That’s how my dad should be remembered. As a great man who never let anything hold him back. Who cared for his family, and loved and accepted you. No matter whom you were, or what you might have done. He loved people, and wanted everyone to live up to their potential.” He looked at my father’s casket. “We’re gonna miss you dad. The world isn’t going to be the same without you.” He then grabbed the shovel that had been lying on top of a mound of dirt. His face said that he didn’t want to do this; didn’t want to be the one to finalize the gravity of my dad’s death, but we both knew that it would be impossible for mom to do it. As the sound of dirt landing on wood filled the air, my mom burst into another set of tears.

——————–

Neither Conrad, nor I had wanted to leave my mother to grieve on her own. But we had to, as Conrad’s vacation time couldn’t last forever, and we had children to take care of back home. I only felt better about leaving after Malik promised to check up on my mom every day, and to keep us updated on how she was doing.

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“It’s nice to finally be home.” Conrad said as he unlocked the front door. I nodded in agreement, knowing exactly what he meant. It was nice to be able to see my family again, but what they say is true; there really is no place like home. Besides, travelling by plane is one of the most uncomfortable things that a person should have to endure.

As Conrad tossed his keys onto the table, I thought about how supportive and encouraging we had been. A man like that is hard to find, and I felt an overwhelming amount of love swell in my heart for him. As he turned to face me, I leaned forward and planted a kiss on his lips.

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As our kiss deepened, it was as if a switch set off inside of me. I wanted, no needed him. I grabbed the collar of his jacket, and pulled him closer to my body. I leaned in towards his ear and whispered.

“We don’t have to pick up the kids for a while.” I heard him moan ever so slightly, grabbing onto the small of my back. As I began to idle my tongue into his mouth, he jumped ever so slightly. He pulled back slightly, and looked into my eyes.

“Are you sure?” He asked me. “Because I don’t want you to feel pressured into anyth-“ I placed my finger over his lips.

“Shh…” I told him. “We haven’t been intimate in far too long, are you really going to refuse sex?” I began to unbuckle his belt. I leaned in one final time. “I want your body so bad.”

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It was enough to push his hormones over the edge, as a look of hunger and desire took over his face. He pulled me into a deep kiss, and I jumped into his embrace. I wrapped my legs around his waist, and let him carry me to the bedroom.

——————–

Conrad’s POV

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As I watched Odine press the doorbell, my stomach began to somersault. She turned her head to face me, a mask of anxiety twisting her features. I knew that she desperately didn’t want to do this; heck, I didn’t want to either. But we had agreed that in order for us to move on with our lives, we had to tie up all loose ends. Besides, it was high time that we talked to the family that lived here. They deserved the closure.

We waited a couple of seconds before we heard someone unlock the door. Evangeline Bryan was attractive, maybe mid 30’s to early 40’s. But most of her beauty was overshadowed by messy hair, baggy clothes, and an air of exhaustion.

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“Can I help you?” She asked. She tried to appear welcoming, and began to smooth out her hair with her hands.

“Mrs. Bryan?” Odine asked. She hesitated for a minute, and then took a deep breath, before continuing to speak. “My name is Odine Lee, and this is my husband Conrad. We were hoping we could speak to you, about Lucas.”

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“Come in.” She said. She stepped back from the door, and began to walk back inside. It seemed as if she carried a thousand pounds on her shoulders, and I felt a guilty for waiting so long to do this. I grabbed Odine’s hand, and gave it a squeeze to show her that I was here for her. Then, we walked inside.

——————–

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As we sat on the couches, Odine shared her story of what happened. It was no cake-walk, and Odine would have to pause periodically as she would relive the events that happened. I tried to notice how Evangeline might have felt during each section of Odine’s version, but her face remained emotionless.

“Without him, my children and I wouldn’t have survived. He died a hero, and I felt it was important that you knew personally what an amazing man he was.” Odine then averted her gaze to her fingers. “I know that his death is my fault. You probably hate me, and I’m sorry that it took so long for me to approach you and your family. His blood is on my hands, and I can’t apologize enough for your loss.”

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Evangeline let out a sigh; she ran her hands through her hair before she spoke. “I don’t hate you. I will admit, at first I hated your guts, and wished terrible things for you and your family. But after a bit, I realized that the person to blame is now paying for it. I know that Lucas wouldn’t want me to hate you. You were as much a victim as he was.

“It’s been very hard without him.” She admitted. “Both physically and emotionally. The girls still occasionally ask about him, forgetting that he’s not coming home. I find myself most mornings still expecting to wake up with his arms around me.” She cleared her throat, and wiped a stray tear from her eye. “But I want to thank you for doing this. It… It makes it easier hearing it from you, as opposed to reading it from some newspaper, or doctor.” She then noticed the time. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to pick up the girls from school.”

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They stood up, and Evangeline pulled Odine into a hug. “Thank you so much.” She began to cry, tears falling slowly down her face. I put my hand on her shoulder, and gave her a look of sympathy.

“If you ever need anything, don’t be afraid to let us know.” I knew she would probably never call. This wasn’t the beginning of a beautiful friendship, but I was glad that we were able to give her some closure. The Bryan family definitely deserved it.

—————

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“I’d… I’d been trying to work up the courage to come see you.” Renee admitted. “But I just felt so ashamed.”

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We were sitting on the couch in the middle of their living room. Both Odine and I knew that the Littler family felt guilty for Reuben’s actions, and we wanted to reassure them that we didn’t hold anything against any of them. We’d brought our children along, and they sat on the floor playing with some of Bronson and Deidre’s old toys.

“Deidre, would you be able to take the kids outside to play?” Renee asked her daughter. Deidre nodded, and scooped Vissa up.

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“Lance, would you be able to help me with your brother? If you do, there’ll be extra ice cream for you later!”

Lance, given the possibility of a treat, excitedly picked Brian up, and ran across the living room to catch up with Deidre. As he did, a lightbulb went off in Renee’s head, and she stared at Lance’s unique blonde hair. Recognition filled her features, and her eyes grew to the size of saucers. When Lance rounded the corner, she waited a few minutes before speaking.

“Is Lance..?” She asked. She didn’t finish her sentence, afraid that it would be true. Both Odine and I nodded.

“It’s true.” I said with a sigh. “Reuben is Lance’s biological father.

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Renee placed her hand on her chest, shocked by the news. “Have you told him?”

“N-no.” I told her hesitantly. “We felt it was better for him to believe that he was my son. We don’t want him growing up feeling like he’s not as important to me as Brian or Vissa.”

She stood up, and began to pace across the room. “I should have known. There was always something off about Reuben. I just thought it was because of me working so hard. You see, he never did seem very happy when I became more famous than he was. He was always a bit jealous, but I never expected him to do something so… so…” She paused as she tried to find the right word. “Sick!” She exclaimed. She put her hands over her face.

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Odine stood up, and put a hand on her shoulder.

“Renee, it’s not your fault. What Reuben did was his own fault, and he has to pay for the consequences.”

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“I hope he rots in jail.” She said angrily. I’d never really thought about how the situation affected the Littlers, seeing as how Odine was the victim. But it finally hit home how bad the situation was for them. They had to find out that their husband/father was convicted of rape; kidnapping; and murder. It’s a scary thing to find out that someone you loved did something so horrible.

The worst part of it was that you could see that Renee still loved her husband. She was hurt, and betrayed, but being married for over 20 years, the feelings would be hard to shake. Plus, the fact that she even cared about what he’d done, more than a normal person would, proved that she still cared for the man she’d agreed to marry; and you could tell that she hated herself for it.

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Love is a powerful thing, and as I watched my wife comfort her former boss, I felt my heart swell with love and pride. The time spent with her family really helped her to move forward, and while there were days that she would feel depression want to seep back in, she would fight it like there was no tomorrow. I couldn’t be prouder.

She’d told me that her dad had helped her see that she couldn’t live in the past anymore. Sure, we probably wouldn’t be having any more kids, but she realized that she couldn’t waste her time stuck on the ‘what ifs’. Instead she focused on the children that we do have, and cultivating relationships with them, while we still have the time.

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“So what are you guys going to do?” Odine asked. They’d been talking about how their current house held too many memories of the past.

Flopping down onto the sofa, Renee shook her head slowly. “I’m not really sure. I’ve talked with the kids, and we aren’t planning on leaving Bridgeport. It’s our home. Bronson isn’t going to be living at home for much longer, so Deidre and I could probably move to a small apartment in the city.” She shrugged. “It’ll definitely be a big change, but I think it would be good for us.” I couldn’t fight back the smile that began to form on my face. I knew exactly what she meant, as I had endured many hours of Deidre’s complaining when she would visit the salon. Which happened to be very often, as the salon was the halfway point between the high school and the library. Deidre just wanted time with her mother, but Renee had always been too busy. Perhaps this was the wakeup call that Renee needed to build a good relationship with her children.

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“I know that this might be a little bit forward.” Renee said. “But I was hoping that it’d be possible to occasionally have Lance come over to our house. Just to make up for everything that happened.” Warning bells began to go off in my head, but before I could object, Renee continued. “We wouldn’t tell him that he’s related to us; that wouldn’t be fair to you guys, or him. But I know that once Deidre finds out that she has a younger brother, it’ll be impossible to keep her away. I just thought that this arrangement would be easier.” She fidgeted in her seat. “It’d just make me feel better for all that you went through.”

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I looked at Odine, unsure of what to decide. As we stared at each other, it was as if we were able to communicate our thoughts by the smallest of looks. When we came to our decision, we turned back to face Renee.

“We’ll give it a go,” I said, “for Deidre’s sake, not because you owe us anything. We didn’t come here to make you feel like you needed to pay for Reuben’s mistakes. If anything, we came here so that we could start fresh, without feelings of guilt or shame.”

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Renee smiled at me, and thanked us for the opportunity to get to know Lance. But I had a feeling that Renee still didn’t fully understand how we felt. Most people in the city probably wouldn’t be as willing to build a relationship with the family of someone who hurt them, especially if that family was rich and famous. But we weren’t from the city. I was just a lowly boy from Riverview, who’d been lucky enough to have people in his life teach him the value of forgiveness.

——————–

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“Ow!” I yelped as I felt the plastic base of the walker hit me on the top of my head. I’d been lying on my back on the floor, playing airplane with Vissa. Brian had been in the walker, as he was just getting used to being on his feet. As I lowered Vissa back onto my belly, Brian accidentally rammed the walker into my head. Apparently he’d gotten a little excited seeing his sister flying over daddy, and wanted to join in. I shot up in pain, just barely managing to catch Vissa as she began to fall off of my belly. As I placed her on the ground, Brian began to clap excitedly, kicking his legs around. I rubbed my head, knowing full well that I was going to get a bruise.

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As I blinked back tears of pain, I saw an icepack being offered at the corner of my eye. Grabbing the icepack, I followed the outstretched hand to the face of my wife, who looked as if she was desperately attempting to hold back laughter.

“It’s nice to know that you find my pain enjoyable.” I grumbled as I placed the icepack on top of the tender flesh of my scalp.

“Oh honey,” she said, crouching down to give me a hug from behind. “I’m not laughing at your pain. I’m just laughing at your luck.” She gave me a kiss on the side of my neck. “Does that make you feel better?”

“Maybe…” I said playfully.

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“Oh?” She asked, masking her voice in innocence. “Then I think I know what would make it all better.” She began to gently kiss my neck, and placed her hands on my shoulders. She slowly started to move her hands down my chest, over my stomach, passed my belt, until she finally reached my-

I jumped slightly, and looked around the room to make sure that none of the kids had seen what just happened.

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Vissa was facing away from us, trying to shove a square shaped peg block into a circular hole; Lance was completely enamored with whatever show he was watching on the T.V.; and Brian had somehow managed to run into the wall. He would back up about a foot, and try to turn as he ran forward, banging the walker into the wall again. I debated whether or not to go and turn the walker around for him.

He’ll figure it out eventually. I thought to myself.

“Lance!” I called out to my son. “Keep an eye on the twins. You’re mother and I will be right back!” When I received confirmation from Lance, I scooped my wife up, and carried her to the bedroom. Her giggles filled the room until I managed to shut the door to our bedroom.

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Thank God that we have thick walls.

——————–

And that’s it for chapter 10! Hope you guys enjoyed! 🙂

1.9 Lost and Found: Part 5 Healing

A/N: Hey Guys! So I know it’s been a long time since I posted anything on this blog, but I finally finished chapter 9! Hooray! *waits for fans to echo hooray back* *Only hears crickets*

This is the second to last post of this whole ’Lost And Found’ arc. So close to the end of Conrad’s MAIN story, and then there may be one or two more posts of ‘in-between-ish’ chapters, and then we get to GENERATION TWO!!! Such excite!

Anyway! Most of this chapter is in Odine’s point-of-view. It was unavoidable, and I figured it was easier to just do it in first person, so the chapter will start out in Conrad’s POV, then it’ll switch over to Odine’s for the rest of the chapter And some of next chapter.

Enjoy!

——————–

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I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. Today was a very important day in my career. A-list celebrity Kirby Wise had called and made an appointment for a makeover for the Emmy’s, and Marcel had directed her over to me. She was going to be here in about a half of an hour, and the pressure was definitely on. It is common knowledge in the world of fashion that if you give a celebrity a good makeover, you would be considered THE stylist to go to. But if you failed to give them a makeover worth raving about, people would avoid you like the plague. Having worked at Barney’s for over five years, I knew I was more than capable, but I also knew that celebrities have a tendency to be exceptionally picky when it comes to how they look.

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“You’ll do fine, Mr. Lee.” My assistant Lala said from behind me. I had been wiping the sweat off of my glasses, completely oblivious to what was going on around me. I turned to face her, and couldn’t help but chuckle. Lala had been my assistant ever since I first started at Barney’s, but despite the many times I told her to call me Conrad, she would always refer to me by my last name.

I felt guilty as I looked at her overly enthusiastic face. She had been working here twice as long as I have, and had been hoping since the beginning to be moved up from an assistant to a regular stylist. Unfortunately, Marcel had told her that she wasn’t qualified enough. He also mentioned to me privately that he didn’t think clients would appreciate Lala’s “eccentric” style. While it was a bit harsh, he did have a point. I had let Lala take the reins a couple of times, and I would have to spend the next couple of hours repairing the damage.

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“Yeah, dad!” My six year old son said from the chair that he was sitting on. Lance had gotten out of school about an hour ago, and he and Sebastian walked the short distance from the school so that they could wait for Stella to come pick them up and take them to an audition. A couple of months back Lance stated he had an interest in acting, and when I was talking to Stella about it, she immediately offered to use her husband’s celebrity connections to get Lance into auditions. Odine and I had agreed, and Lance turned out to be a surprisingly good actor. He began having small roles in the occasional commercial, but as time passed, he slowly became more well-known.

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I laughed at my son’s enthusiasm as I heard the bell above the door ring. My stomach flew up to my throat, until I saw Stella walk in. Breathing a sigh of relief, I gave her a wave.

“I am so sorry that I’m late.” She said as she walked over, and pulled me into a hug. “How are you doing?”

“Not too bad, I guess.” I answered despite the butterflies in my stomach.

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“And how is Odine?” She asked. My stomach flipped even more, and I felt my mood plummet.

“She’s… she’s hanging in there. She has some good days, and some bad.” I answered sheepishly. After she had been released from the hospital, it had taken a bit for her to warm up to me again, which I understood. Learning that your husband had been almost been convicted of murder wasn’t the easiest thing to accept; especially considering the fact that she had just had to endure being a victim of kidnapping, all the while being pregnant.

But after a while, it was almost as if the whole Reuben ordeal never even happened.

Until…

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“Well, you tell her I say hi, and that I hope that she feels better.” Stella said. She then put one of her hands on my shoulder. “You guys will get through this. Odine is a strong young woman, and I know that she’ll come around.”

I thanked her as she turned towards our sons. Lance came over to me and gave me a hug.

“Good luck dad. I know you’ll do great!” I ruffled his hair as I stood up. As they left, I couldn’t help but wonder which version of my wife I would encounter when I arrive home.

——————–

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I entered my house cautiously, hoping to hear the sounds of my children or Odine. All I heard was silence. I quickly checked the nursery, and saw that Bryan and Vissa were sleeping soundly. Being careful to shut the door quietly, I tiptoed over to my bedroom.

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When I entered, I saw my wife lying on the bed, facing towards the wall. On any normal occasion, it would be safe to assume that she was napping. But I knew better.

“Hey.” I said as I approached my side of the bed. She turned around to face me.

“Hey.” Her voice was flat. She looked towards me, but not quite at me. It was evident that she had been crying, and I wanted to pull her into an embrace. But I knew that she probably wouldn’t have accepted it.

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We stared at each other for a bit, neither of us knowing what to say. I began to kick off my shoes so that I can lie on the bed, when she finally spoke.

“Why are you still with me..?” I did a double take at her question.

“What do you mean?” I asked. She sat up, and brought her knees to her chest, hugging them tightly.

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“Why are you still with me?” She asked again. “I’m more trouble than I’m worth. I’ve pushed you away too many times; abandoned you; and done other things that I can’t even describe.” She wiped a stray tear from her cheek. “If I was you, I wouldn’t want to stick around with someone like me.”

“I guess it’s good that you aren’t me then.” I said, putting my hands on my hips. “Because I love you. I don’t care what happens, or what I might have to go through, I’m sticking around. You’re worth it to me.”

She dropped her head until it rested on her knees. She said something, but I couldn’t hear what it was because she spoke softly.

“Baby, I can’t hear you.” I said. I sat on the bed and placed my hand on the back of her head. “What did you say?”

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“You could have died!” She shouted as she jerked her head up. Her reaction surprised me, making me jump slightly. “You could have died, and it would all have been my fault. I-I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened to you.”

“It wouldn’t have been your fault.” I countered. “It was my choice to barge in to save you, and I would do it a thousand times over. It was Reuben’s choice to point the gun and pull the trigger, not yours. Even if I were to try to think of the smallest reason to blame you, I wouldn’t be able to because none of it was your fault.” I wanted her to realize that she doesn’t need to blame herself for anything, but I could tell that she had already shut me out.

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I grabbed her hand, and gently kissed the back of it. “But baby, it’s over. He can’t hurt any of us anymore.” While her eyes were looking in my direction, I could tell that she wasn’t looking at me. She began to fiddle with her wedding ring, and I could tell that she was debating whether she shouldn’t say what she was thinking.

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“Then how is he still able to destroy one of the things that matter the most to me? How, Conrad?” She pulled at a loose thread on the bottom of her dress. “I can’t stop thinking about it. I’m so frustrated and angry all of the time. I can’t have one second of peace, and it’s all because of him!”

“Honey,” I said gently.” You keep focusing on the negatives. Think about how blessed we are.” I pulled her into a hug. Her body tensed up at first, but then she relaxed into my arms. “We’ve both gone through so much, but we came out on top. We both stared death in the face, but thank God that we’re alive, and together. Doesn’t that make you happy?” She nodded slowly, her eyes downcast. I wasn’t even sure if what I was saying was even helping anymore. I just wanted my wife to be genuinely happy.

“But it isn’t fair.” She said, her voice laced with fury. I tilted my head, and furrowed my eyebrows, feeling slightly confused as to what she meant. After a bit, I finally understood. I took a deep breath, and let all of the air out in a sigh.

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“Honey, I know it isn’t fair, but there isn’t much we can do about it. Lance, Brian, Valyssa and I. We all need you. Lance has noticed how different you’ve been acting, and even though Brian and Vissa are only just learning to talk, even they can tell that something is wrong. They just need their mom back.” I took one final deep breath. “I need my wife back.” Was it selfish to say? Probably, but I just really missed her. It seemed that every day that would pass, the gap between us would continue to get bigger and bigger.

“I… I don’t know if I can do that.” She admitted. My insides flipped, and I felt bile begin to rise in my throat.

“Wh-Why not?” I risked asking.

“Because it’s not fair!” She yelled. She stood up, and faced me, the torment evident on her face. “I’ve had to deal with that… that… monster for years! He’s finally behind bars; he isn’t even in my life anymore! Yet he still finds a way to ruin it! What did I ever do to anyone to have what I want most in the world to be snatched out from under me?”

“Baby, you’re life isn’t ruined!” I pleaded with her. “We’re together; we have three awesome children; we aren’t doing too badly financially. We may not be rich, but what we have is good enough for me!”

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She hugged herself then, and looked at the ground. “But I don’t know if it’s good enough for me.” Her voice was barely above a whisper, her words so soft that I almost couldn’t make out what she’d said. But I felt like someone had punched me hard in the stomach.

“What are you saying?” I asked. Before she could answer, the sound of Brian’s crying reached my ears. Odine turned toward the door to our bedroom, but before she could take a step, I put my hand up to stop her. “Don’t worry about it. I got it this time.” I then marched out of the room, eyes misting over, feeling completely defeated.

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——————–

ODINE’S POV

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As I watched Conrad leave the room, our conversation began to replay itself in my mind. I couldn’t get his hurt look out of my head. As the tears began to resurface, I started to berate myself.

Why did I have to say that? What the heck is wrong with me? I hadn’t really meant what I said. I was just so caught up in my moment of grief and sadness. I am thankful for the life I have. I just can’t handle the fact that I’m… Broken.

“I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Lee.” The doctor had said. As if an apology could fix what was wrong with me; or change the fact that I… I probably won’t be able to have any more children. After those words were said, I stopped listening. His voice faded in and out of my hearing. Something about where I was shot messing with my body, and that the chances of me carrying a baby would be almost impossible.

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I didn’t want to relive that moment in my mind again, so I launched myself onto my bed, and forced myself to think of good things.
I have a loving, supportive husband.
I have a nice house.
I have three beautiful children.
I’m still alive.
I want for nothing.
Except…
I shot back up into a sitting position, and put my hands over my ears in an effort to block all of the depressing thoughts from my mind. I almost didn’t hear my cell phone ring.

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“Hello?” I asked, trying to keep my voice level. I heard sniffling on the other line, as if someone had been crying. After a bit, the person on the other end of the phone spoke.

“Odine?”

“Mom?” I asked back. I was more than a bit surprised. Not that my mother didn’t call me, but the timing of the phone call, and the way she said my name, seemed off. I tried to think of why she would sound so full of grief over the phone, and my mind could only come up with one conclusion. I swallowed. “Is he..?”

“No.” My mom answered. I breathed a sigh of relief. “But the doctors aren’t giving him much time. He’s been asking for you.”

I nodded. “Okay. I’ll… I’ll see what I can do.” After a couple minutes more of talking, I finally got off the phone. I tossed it on the bed just as Conrad came back in.

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“Who was that?” He asked me. I turned to face him.

“That was my mom.” I said. “She said that the doctors aren’t giving my dad much time. He wants to see me before… Before he…” I couldn’t finish my sentence. It was as if every time I tried to say the word, my throat would close up. I wiped the stray tears from my eyes. Conrad walked over to me, and pulled me into a hug.

“I’m so sorry baby.” He said. “We’ll figure something out.” He then let me go, and placed his hands on my shoulders. “I think I have enough money in the bank for two plane tickets. We could talk to Stella about maybe taking care of the kids while we’re gone. We could probably leave next week.”

I picked at a loose thread on my dress. “Thank you… But I-I want to go alone.” He tensed up after I finished speaking. He moved one hand to fiddle with the hair in front of his face, and fiddled with his glasses, his other hand placed on his hip. 

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He sighed. “Look, I’m tired of arguing about this stuff.” He then looked me straight in the eyes. “I know you’re going through a lot, and I’ll back off and give you your space. But please, I’m begging you, don’t shut me out.”

I couldn’t hold his gaze for long. “I know that.” I said as I stared at the floor.

“I’ll order your ticket tomorrow.” He said, sounding defeated. “And Odine? You can always talk to me. I’m here for you. That’s what husbands are supposed to do.”

I didn’t want to break down in tears. So instead of saying anything, I just nodded.

——————–

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As the taxi pulled up outside of the hospital, I swallowed. I struggled to keep the bile from rising in my throat as I grabbed my bags from the trunk. I quickly paid the driver, before I walked towards the entrance.

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“Odie!” I heard my being called the moment I walked through the front doors, and I knew only one person called me by that name.

“Malik!” I pulled my older half-brother into a hug as he came close. Under different circumstances, I would have swatted him, reminding him how much I hated my childhood nickname. However, we both knew that it wasn’t the right moment. As we finally let go of each other, I looked at my brother’s face. His eyes were red and puffy, and his cheeks were still wet from the tears that he had allowed to fall.

“How’s he doing?” I asked. I was a bit surprised that my 26 year old brother had been crying. As long as I had known him, he had hardly ever shed a tear, even when we were children.

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The corners of his mouth pulled down into a frown, and he shook his head slightly. “He’s not doing too well. There are times when he seems to be okay, and then there are other times when he’s delirious.” He took a deep breath, and slowly let it out through his teeth. “We weren’t sure if you were going to make it in time.” He took my bags from me, and jerked his head in the direction of a long hallway, indicating that I should follow.

“I’ll take you to his room.” He said. He turned away from me, and began to walk.

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As I began to follow him, I took a good look at my surroundings. Starlight Shores Regional Hospital looked so much like Sacred Spleen in Bridgeport. I found it hard to fight off the bad memories that my brain had begun to associate with hospitals.

“Odie?” Malik called. He stood in front of a door, the one that I would assume lead to my dad’s room. He had one eyebrow slightly arched in confusion. I then realized that I had stopped walking in the middle of the hall. Tears had begun to form, so I wiped them away, and walked quickly to catch up with him.

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As he cracked open the door, I saw my mother sitting on a chair next to a hospital bed. Her usual curly, vibrant graying hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail. As I entered the room, she turned her gaze towards me. For being 56, my mother normally looked pretty good for her age. Now, she just looked tired; the bags under her eyes showing that she hadn’t gotten much sleep. She came over to me, and gave me a big hug.

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“Odine!” She exclaimed. As we separated, she began to fuss over me. She began to smooth over my hair, and look me over; all the while asking me how I’ve been, and how my trip was. Once she was certain that I was okay, she gave me one final hug. “We’ve missed you so much!”

“I’ve missed you guys, too.” I said.

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As I let go of her, I finally noticed the person lying on the bed. Had I not known that it was my father, I would not have recognized him. His normally pudgy cheeks, where I got mine from, were now sunken in. His cocoa colored skin was pale, and he was sweating profusely. The heart monitor beeped in the background, and there was a strange feeling in the air; as if the air itself could sense that death was coming soon. I went to the side of the bed, and reached over to feel his hand. His fingers felt bony within mine, and I almost pulled my hand back in fear.

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“He goes in and out of consciousness.” My mom informed me. “The doctors told us to just let him rest.” I continued to stare at my dad as he slept.

We sat in silence for what felt like a couple of hours, but I’m sure it was only a few minutes. The only sound being the heart monitor that beeped often, indicating that my dad was still alive. Finally, Malik broke the silence.

“Well, I’m going to the cafeteria to get something to eat. Mom, are you coming?” He gave her a look that indicated that he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. She didn’t get the message.

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“I… I wanted to wait for your father to wake up.” She said, hesitantly. Crossing his arms in front of his chest, Malik spoke again.

“Mom, you haven’t eaten anything since yesterday.” He pointed out in concern. “You need to eat, especially if you want to be awake when dad wakes up! Odine can wait here, and if anything changes, she’ll let us know, right?” I nodded.

“Yeah,” I told them, “If he wakes up, I could give Malik a quick call, and you guys would be here in time.” I tried my hardest to sound as cheerful as possible, but I felt dead inside. “Besides, you look like you could use a walk.” I grabbed my mom’s soft hand in mine, and gave it a slight squeeze, letting her know that everything would be fine. She slowly nodded, and let Malik lead her out of the room.

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Even though no one was talking when my mom and brother were in the room, just their presence seemed to quell my negative thoughts. Being left alone, my brain was free to wander to places that I didn’t want it to go. I covered my ears with my hands, as if blocking them would prevent my brain from thinking them.

“Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.” I began to whisper over and over. I became so engrossed with distracting my mind, that I almost didn’t hear my name being called.

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“O-Odine?” A shaky voice called me. Their voice was barely above a whisper. I shot my head up in the direction of the person who spoke.

“Daddy?” I asked. Sure enough, he was lying in the bed, eyes open ever so slightly, looking right at me. I shot up from my seat. “I have to get mom!” Turning towards the door, I was about to pull out my phone when he called for me to wait.

“Could we just talk for a bit? Just the two of us?” I placed my phone back in my purse, and sat back on the chair. I placed my hands on my lap, and waited.

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“So how have you been?” He asked me casually. I was a bit stunned at how he asked me. As if we were sitting at the table in my childhood home, instead of waiting in the hospital for him to die.

“I’m okay.” I answered. I didn’t feel like delving into the emotional struggles going on in my head. I hoped that he would just let it be, but I knew that I was never really able to lie to my dad.

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“Honey,” he said softly. “I know you well enough to be able to tell when you aren’t okay. Tell me what’s going on? Is Conrad treating you alright?”

“Of course!” I answered, unable to hide the slight defensiveness that found its way into my voice. “He’s a perfect gentleman.” He treats me better than I deserve, anyway. I thought. I wasn’t going to voice my opinion to my dad, though.

“And how are you recovering with everything that… happened?” He asked hesitantly. When I was missing, Conrad had called my parents and told them everything. While he had never met my parents face-to-face, they became close while I was gone. They were his support group, in a sense. Always encouraging him, and telling him not to give up, though I know it was hard on them.

When I was found, and my entire story was displayed in the papers, I knew my parents blamed themselves for everything that I’d had to go through. Even when I repeatedly told them that it wasn’t their fault, I knew that there was still going to be a part that wished that they could have been there to protect me.

“I’m doing fine.” I told him. I forced a smile on my face, but I knew he wasn’t buying it.

“Well then, what is it? We haven’t been able to talk in such a long time.” He then smiled, as if he had thought of the funniest joke. “Grant a dying man his last wish?”

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My jaw dropped, and I felt my stomach rise to my throat. “That’s not funny.” I spat out. I felt close to tears.

“No, I guess it isn’t.” My dad said sadly. We sat there in silence for a bit, neither of us entirely sure what to say. He continued to stare at me, and in a weird way, it almost seemed like he felt sympathetic towards me. I finally decided to break the silence.

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“I don’t want you to go.” I admitted. “It isn’t fair.”

“No it isn’t fair.” He said. “But what are you going to do about it?” I stared back at him, not entirely sure what he meant.

“Sometimes there are things that happen in life that we can’t control; terrible things that may affect us for a long time. But your perspective can change a lot of things. For instance, my time is running out. But am I going to sit here, wallowing in depression and self-pity? Or am I going to spend some of my time with my beautiful daughter? Am I going to become a victim of my situation? Or am I going spend my time with the people who matter most to me?” He sighed, the discomfort evident on his face. “Too many people spend their days living in the past, or stuck under the circumstances. Then they wake up one morning wondering where all of their time went. All of the hours they could have spent actually living were wasted.” He paused for a while, staring in the direction of the window. I still wasn’t able to find my words, and I didn’t want to interrupt his train of thought, so I waited in silence for him to continue.

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“I never wanted to live my life that way.” He smiled at me, a sense of pride in his weathered face. “And I didn’t. I married an amazing woman; helped raise her son, whom I love like my own; had a daughter, who grew up into a beautiful young woman. She married a caring young man, and gave me grandchildren before I died, so I know that she’s loved and taken care of. I don’t have any regrets.”

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“You are immensely blessed, you know that?” He asked. My eyes had begun to well up with tears, but this time, I didn’t feel like trying to hide them, or keep them at bay. As they began to fall down my face, I bit my lip, and nodded. “Don’t let life pass you by. The people around you love you. I could just tell from the conversations over the phone that Conrad adores you. Not everyone is as lucky as we are.”

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At that moment, the door to the room opened, and mom and Malik walked in. I knew at that point that our heart-to-heart was over. But my father had said enough. The rest of that day was spent remembering the good times when we were younger, and appreciating being in each other’s company. I knew that this would be the last time all four of us could be together, so I made sure that I didn’t miss a single moment.

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We knew it was coming, the inevitability of it all. But it still didn’t prepare us for the moment that he passed away later that evening. None of us had expected how painful it would be to hear the nurse record the time of his death, or the ringing of his flat lined heart monitor. Neither Malik nor I expected to see just how much light went out of my mother’s eyes, as if a part of her died with him.

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She collapsed onto the floor, the sobs racking her entire body. Every sob felt like a stab to the heart, and I fought the urge to crawl into a little ball of self-pity on the floor. Instead, I sat next to my mother and pulled her into a hug. I let her cry into my shoulder, telling her that it would be okay and that we’d get through this. But I knew it wouldn’t really be okay. Things probably wouldn’t be okay for my mom for a long while. But I knew that with time, she’d make it. She’d learn to cope with the loss of my dad.

Because even though he was gone, there was still a piece of him left behind in all of us. The part that wouldn’t let circumstances control us; the part that knew that in order to properly remember him, we’d have to keep moving forward and live life to its fullest.

——————–

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As I sat on my old bed, my father’s words replayed over and over in my head. He had no idea of the list of experiences I had lived through; and yet, his words had really struck a chord with me. Malik and I had agreed to help our mother with the funeral preparations. But even though I had my mom and brother around me, I don’t think I had ever felt more alone. Normally, solitude is what I want. But I really didn’t want to be by myself.

I picked up the phone, and punched in the number from memory.

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“Hello?” He answered after the second ring. Just hearing his voice made me feel comforted, and I began to cry. “Baby, Is that you?”

It was a few minutes before I could speak.

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“Hi baby.” I said.

“Odine?” He asked.

“Yeah, it’s me.” I paused for a second as I tried to swallow. “I’m going to be staying here for a week or two. Mom and Malik need my help with the funeral.”

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“So, your dad, he’s…” He hesitated. “He’s gone?” I nodded, forgetting the fact that he couldn’t see me. I simply answered yes, knowing that if I tried to speak too much, I would begin crying again.

“Take all the time you need, okay?” He reassured me. “If there’s anything I can do, please let me know.”

“Actually,” I managed to say. “I-I was h-hoping that you could come down.”

He was silent for a minute, and my stomach began to twist and turn in worry. I felt as if sand was in my mouth, and I had to keep swallowing to relieve the dryness in my throat.

“Let me make a couple of calls, and then I’ll get back to you, okay?” He asked. I agreed, and with a quick goodbye, we hung up.

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I flopped back down on my old bed, and tried to take deep breaths. As I waited, my mind began to go at one thousand miles an hour.

What if he doesn’t want to come? I wouldn’t blame him. All I’ve brought to this marriage was one big headache. I haven’t been the person that he needs, or the mom that the kids need. They’d be better off without me. I shot up from the bed, and walked to my mirror. It was painful to look at my reflection, and I had to force myself not to turn away.

“You are a good person.” I told myself shakily. “You aren’t perfect, but you are trying. You’re a good mother, and a good-.” I had to swallow, as my throat began to tighten. “A good wife. You will get better, and you will be the best wife that you can be.” If Conrad forgives me.

I jumped slightly, as my phone rang. Rushing over to my bed, I saw Conrad’s name in the caller ID. I pressed the green button on the screen, and slowly brought the phone to my ear.

“He-hello?”

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“Hey, hon.” His deep voice filtered through the speaker. “So, I made a couple of calls, and I can be there in less than a week.” My heart leapt in my chest.

“Really?” I asked. I couldn’t help but smile as tears began to form in my eyes once again.

“Yes, really.” He said. “I hadn’t used my vacation days for this quarter, so Marcel gave me time off so I can go; and Stella said she can watch the kids, so I’m all set.” I wiped the tears as they fell down my cheeks.

“Th-thank you. This means… So much to me.” I took a deep breath, and let it out. I knew that the hardest part of this whole thing wasn’t over yet; but just knowing that he’d be here, and hopefully give me a chance to fix everything, was comforting.

“Of course babe.” He said. “I’ll buy a plane ticket as soon as I can.” A small voice piped up through the phone. “Hey hon, Lance wants to talk to you before he has to go to his audition.” As he passed the phone to Lance, I could hear incoherent baby babbling in the background.

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“Hi, mommy!” Lance said excitedly.

We talked for a little bit; mainly him sharing details of what’s been happening while I’ve been gone.

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“There’s a new girl in my class, mommy. Her name is Belle Hemlock. She was a little weird, but Sebbie and I invited her to play with us at recess. She was really nice. She even shared her skittles!” He stated matter of factly. “Daddy told me he was proud of me for being nice to her, and that he was going to take me out for ice cream after my audition!” I laughed at that, and shook my head ever so slightly. Oh, to be a child again.

“That’s great honey!” We continued to talk for a couple minutes more, and then Lance gave the phone back to Conrad.

“Hey, so I have to take Lance out, but I’ll catch the soonest flight to Starlight Shores that I possibly can, okay?”

“Okay. I love you.”

“I love you too. Bye!”

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——————–

It was the day that Conrad was supposed to arrive, and I was pacing back and forth in the entryway in front of the stairs. Malik had been teasing me, saying that I was going to create a ditch in the hardwood floor with all of the pacing I was doing. I ignored him, and kept walking back and forth.

I was trying to figure out the best way to put my feelings into words. I had been stuck inside my own head for so long; too busy pushing others away and I wanted to tell him that I was going to change that. No matter how long it takes. I just wasn’t exactly sure how to word it.

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I was in the middle of making my hundredth round across the carpet, when the doorbell rang. My stomach flipped, as I froze in fear. I glanced at Malik, as he stood up from the couch and made his way to the door.

As Malik let Conrad into the house, I stared at him; my body frozen. He set his bag down on the ground, and stared at me with his piercing lavender eyes. His mouth turned up into a shy smile; one that reached his eyes.

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“Hey.”

With that one word, the dam that held back my tears was broken. Every second of planning what to say was all for nothing, as the only thought that remained in my mind was that I needed to hold my best friend. I threw myself into his arms; and with tears staining my cheeks, I repeated one thing over and over again.

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“I’m so sorry! I’m so, so sorry!”

——————–

Hope you enjoyed chapter 9! I hope to get chapter 10 out soon, because I have it all written out already. But honestly, who really know with me. XD As always, likes; comments; etc. are always welcome! Thanks for reading guys! And for being so awesim!!! 😀

1.8 Lost and Found: Part 4 The Origin of Marshal Weaver Part 2

A/N: WOAH, guys! Look at this! It’s an actual chapter..! Can it be? Why yes! I finally buckled down and took the pictures that were needed for this chapter (I had it written for AGES). I had wanted to post this before I left to get married, and go on my honeymoon, but it was not so. But anyway, here is the final chapter to Conrad’s backstory. I have about 2 more chapters left for this whole “lost and found” arc. I hope you enjoy! As per usual, likes & comments are always appreciated! Enjoy! 🙂

——————–

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Turning myself in was one of the scariest things I had ever done. I was put in a jail cell for only one night, as they posted bail the next morning, but I had never felt more alone in my life. I spent most of my time there laying on the bed in my cell, crying my eyes out.

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Evalynn, Constance, and Mary Ann came together the next morning, and were allowed to take me home. Evalynn refused to tell me where they had gotten the money to pay for bail, but I found out later from Constance that she had taken the money out of the account that she was putting money in for repairs for their old church building. I told Evalynn that I would try my hardest to pay her back if I was found innocent.

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She told me to hush, and that she just wanted me to focus on giving my testimony for now, and worry about my trial.

——————–

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The day of my trial, I was a big ball of nerves. I only took a few bites of my food, pushing the plate away from me as I tried to fight the nausea that was in my stomach. I moved over to the couch so that I could be by myself, and tried to take a couple thousand deep breaths.

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Unfortunately I couldn’t calm my nerves. I felt as if someone had their hand around my heart, and that they were squeezing it with all of their might. I wiped the sweat from my brow, as I began to hyperventilate. At my wits end, I did something I normally would not do. I began to pray.

The Lee sisters had taken me to their church services in the past, I just usually ended up sitting in the back not paying attention. I had trouble believing there was a God. Especially with all that I went through. But I had reached the end of my rope.

I began to practically beg, pleading that if I really was innocent, a thing that even I wasn’t sure of, that the judge would find me innocent. I prayed that the truth would be revealed, and if I was indeed guilty, that I’d be able to accept my punishment.

——————–

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When we got to the courtroom, I was directed to the defendant’s seat. Which was right next to Lorraine. As the judge came in, I looked over at the prosecutor. He was an older gentleman, with scruffy looking dirty blonde hair, and a permanent frown.

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Lorraine had warned me that he was a tough man to beat, and seeing the determined look in his eye, I felt the nerves spread from my stomach, to every section of my body.

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After the judge was seated. They called the first witness. Officer Miraj Alvi. He was my next door neighbor, and apparently on the day of my parent’s murder, he was the one who heard the gunshot, and saw me running away. He was a good guy, so I knew that he would only tell the truth of what he saw. But what he did see, really didn’t look good on my part.

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He told the prosecutor of how he would constantly hear yelling coming from inside my house. He also mentioned on few occasions, he would see my mom outside of our house. He would see cuts and bruises on her body that she would try, in vain, to hide. The prosecutor asked him a couple more questions, and then Lorraine stood up. She walked over to Miraj.

"I just have one question." she stated. "If you knew all of this, the fact that Mr. Weaver was both verbally, and physical abusive, why didn’t you do anything about it?" At that, Miraj’s eyes fell, and guilt crossed his features.

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He fidgeted with his collar. "That’s actually something that has been on my mind for a long time. As an officer of the law, it was my job to protect the citizens of Sunset Valley. Yet, I didn’t do anything to stop whatever was happening in the house that was right next to mine. I… I was afraid that if I did something, that it would cause more harm than good. So I told myself that it was just better for everyone if I turned a blind eye. Whether or not it could have prevented all of this, I’ll never know. But the ‘what if’s are something that still swirl around in my mind." He looked at me with guilt written all over his face, and the small amount of anger that I had toward him dissolved. I felt like I should be mad at him, but I wasn’t.

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Lorraine told the judge that she had no further questions, and Miraj was allowed to step down from the witness stand.

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The prosecution then called up a whole bunch of people to prove his point that I was a troubled child. Anyone from old teachers who could testify of my troubled behavior, to even having Evalynn come and tell what happened from the time she found me in the park, until now. But no matter what they may have said, he spun their testimony in such a way, that it appeared as if I brutally killed both of my parents in cold blood.  He was so persuasive, that had I not been the defendant, even I probably would have believed him.

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Finally I was called to the stand. I nervously took a seat, and began answering the prosecutor’s questions. I tried my hardest to tell them all of the details that I could remember, but the prosecutor’s questions slowly became more and more accusatory. Tears started to form in my eyes, and my glasses started to smudge. I tried taking a couple of deep breaths, but I felt as if my throat was starting to close up. I only barely heard Lorraine shout out an objection, and then the prosecutor said that he had no more questions.

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The judge called for a five minute recess, mainly so that I could catch my breath and relax again.

When we went back, I took the stand again, this time to answer Lorraine’s questions. I was worried that I would get choked up again, and I wouldn’t be able to give a proper testimony.

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As opposed to hounding me with questions, as she had when I first met her, Lorraine walked over to me slowly and placed her hand on the stand in front of me.

"Now Marshal, would you please tell the court the events that happened on the day of your parents murder?"

I started slowly, trying to make sure that I wouldn’t start panicking. Every time that the feeling would rise inside of me, I would look over at Evalynn, Constance, and Mary Ann, and they would silently help me to calm back down so that I could continue. Lorraine also helped me get the important details out by asking a question every so often.

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Telling my story took longer than expected, but when I finally finished, I felt like the worst was over.  I answered a couple more of her questions, and then I was able to go back to my seat.

The judge asked if either the prosecutor or Lorraine had anyone else that they would like to bring to the stand. At that, Lorraine called for one more witness, named Luke McDermott. I looked back, and I saw an older gentleman begin to walk to the stand. He appeared to be a businessman, but his cowboy hat and boots threw off the businesslike image.

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"Mr. McDermott, would you please state your occupation?"

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"’Course." He said in a slow, southern drawl. "I’m the owner of ‘McDermott Gun Emporium’, ‘n I own the dairy farm across town."

"So would you say that you would have a vast amount of knowledge about guns?"

"If I din’t, then I shouldn’t be ownin’ a gun shop, eh?" He asked with a chuckle.

"Mr. McDermott, the reason I ask, is because I believe we need a professional opinion. Just to make sure, does your shop sell this model?" She asked him, handing him a photo of the gun that was considered the murder weapon.

"We haven’t sold a model like this ‘n a couple years, but I know ‘nuff ‘bout it."

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"Excellent." Lorraine said with a confident smile. "Now, what was the reason behind the discontinuation of this type of pistol?" At that question, Mr. McDermott became really serious, and there was a sad look in his eyes.

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"There were… multiple r’ports of accidents where the gun would… accident’lly go off. The trigger is veeery sensitive. The manufacturin’ company did that ‘cuz they figured it would make it easier to fire, ‘n not put so much strain of the finger. Bunch of hogwash, iffen you ask me."

"I have, with me, a list of about 15 victims that died due to the faulty trigger." Lorraine said, as she handed the list to the judge. "Including 3 children. One of whose name was Travis McDermott." At this, Luke McDermott’s face twisted in anger. I felt really guilty that Lorraine was bringing such a sensitive subject up, but I didn’t know what to say to get her to stop.

"Mr. McDermott, could you please tell us what happened?"

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"I…" He said, sounding utterly defeated. "Someone was stealin’ from us, we din’t know who don’ it, or how. But we’d wake up in the mornin’ and find some of our livestock missin’, then we began losin’ tools. So I did what I thought I should do, and I armed my boys. Not so that they could actually shoot or kill someone, just so that they could scare ’em off. I gave Maximus, my older son, the pistol. I figured he was ‘sponsible ‘nuff. Well, one night, both of my boys thought they heard somethin’. They grabbed their guns, and ran outside together. Maximus told me that they din’t see anyone, until they got to the barn. When they opened the door, someone ran out, and bumped into Max, shoving him hard. He barely pulled the trigger as he was falling, but the gun fired, and hit Travis. We tried gettin’ him to the hospital. But… He din’t make it." Lorraine thanked him, and allowed him to step down. But before he rushed out, I saw him quickly wipe tears from his eyes. My heart went out to him, and I wished that there was something that I could do. I sadly turned my attention back to the front as the judge ushered both Lorraine and the prosecutor to say their closing statements.

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The prosecutor went first. He spoke directly to the jury, occasionally giving me backwards glances. I had felt shaky enough, and the looks he would give me made me feel like dirt.

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He portrayed me as a troubled teen, stating the testimony of my teachers, and Officer Alvi proved that I was an unstable young man. He brought to light the fact that my fingerprints had been on the grip, and trigger, of the gun. Which meant that I had to have held it at some point. He stated that with the angle that my father was shot, and based on the testimonies of his personality, it wouldn’t make sense for him to commit suicide. Finally, he practically begged, or in his words "implored", the jury not to let a guilty man get away with cold blooded murder. I was about to stand up and tell him off, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Lorraine, and she was gently ushering me to remain seated. She shook her head slightly, and then she stood up to give her final statement.

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"If you look closely at Ms. Kelly’s autopsy report, you will notice that when the bullet entered her head, it entered at an angle that you would have to be tall enough that your arm would be horizontal. Now, Ms Kelly was about average height. So the person who shot her would have to be tall enough that she would only be about shoulder height to them."

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She had been walking towards where the jury sat, then she turned around and continued talking as she walked back toward me. "Included in the stack of papers is the doctor’s report of Marshal’s last checkup before the time of the murder, and you will see that it says that he was about the same height as his mother at that time."

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By this time she had reached the desk, and had turned to face the judge again. "In order for him to be able to fire the gun, and hit her at that angle, he would either have to jump while he pulled the trigger, or he would need to stand on top of something that would make up for the height difference. Both instances are highly unlikely." She put her hands on her hips. "Which leaves us to wonder, ‘If Marshal wasn’t able to shoot his mother at that angle, then who was?’" With a confident smirk, she continued.

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"The obvious answer for that is the only other person there. Mr. Archer Weaver. If you would kindly look at his autopsy report, you will see that Mr. Weaver was well past the height required to be able to shoot Ms. Kelly straight on." She then called the bailiff over. "If your honor would give me permission, I’d like to show a bit of a demonstration." When the judge nodded, she held out her hand. The bailiff handed her a paper bag.

"Now, let’s say that we continue with my scenario. Seeing as Mr. Weaver is the only one tall enough to shoot Ms. Kelly from that angle, He would be the one holding the gun. It would be pointless for him to turn the gun on himself, and if he was attempting to commit suicide, there is a higher chance that he would point it at his head, as opposed to his chest. Also, the pistol had been dusted for fingerprints, and it was proven that Marshal’s prints had been found on the grip of the gun. However, it was also proven that Archer’s fingerprints were also found on the grip, and that fingerprints, belonging to Marshal, were found on the barrel of the pistol." She reached into the bag, and pulled out what looked exactly like the gun that I had used. Before anyone could react to the fact that there was a gun in the courtroom, Lorraine continued with her story.

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"This, your honor, is an exact replica of the gun used to kill Mr. Weaver and Ms. Kelly. It is not an actual gun, and doesn’t contain any bullets. It does, however, react in the same way that the actual gun would." She pulled the trigger to show proof that the gun wouldn’t harm anyone. The pistol produced loud clicks when she pulled the trigger, as if she had the actual gun, just without any bullets. She then casually approached the bailiff. "If you would be so kind as to hold this?" She asked. He quickly grabbed the gun, and held it at his side. Lorraine ushered him forward, until he was standing in front of the judge, and then turned to face the jury.

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"Based on Mr. Weaver’s testimony, he attempted to wrestle the gun from his father, and after a bit of a struggle, the trigger was accidentally pulled, and his father was shot in the chest. Under normal circumstances, that would be very unlikely. But if you remember the testimony of Mr. McDermott, the gun was recalled because the trigger was deemed too sensitive." She turned back to face the bailiff. Apparently the bailiff had been told already what was going to happen, because he wasn’t caught off guard when Lorraine tried to take the gun away from him. They wrestled back and forth for possession of the gun for a couple of minutes, until a soft click sounded in the courtroom. The bailiff looked down in surprise when he noticed that the barrel of the gun was pointed at him. Upon closer inspection, he, along with everyone else in the courtroom, noticed that it was his finger on the trigger, and it had only moved a fraction of an inch before it fired. Lorraine let go of the gun, and extended her hand to give the bailiff a handshake. Thanking him, she turned back to face the judge.

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"As you can see, all the gun needed was for the trigger to be pulled ever so slightly before it fired. If we went off of the testimony, and blatant evidence, we can see that it was practically impossible for the defendant Marshal Weaver, to have killed his parents. I ask the jury to take this blatant evidence into account when they deliberate." She moved back over to her seat, and sat down next to me.

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She placed her hand over mine, and gave me a small nod; as if to signify that everything was going to be fine. We both looked forward again as the judge began to speak.

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"Well, that was… rather interesting. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a demonstration executed quite like that." He said with a chuckle. "We will have a ten minute recess while the jury decides the outcome." With that, he banged his gavel.

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My stomach really began to feel uneasy. This was it, there was no more arguing. No more stating, or trying to persuade anyone, that I was innocent. My fate was left in the hands of a bunch of random strangers.

While other people decided to get up and move around, I stayed in my seat with my head on the desk. I know that Lorraine spoke a few words of comfort to me, but I was too busy fight the nausea in my stomach, and the bile that had risen in my throat. I lifted my head as I heard people begin to shuffle back inside of the courtroom.

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"Has a verdict been decided?" The judge asked as he took his seat. An older woman stood up from her seat. She dusted off her skirt, and made a show of clearing her throat. I clenched my fist in frustration. Didn’t she know that my entire future would be determined by her words? Yet she stood there, biding her time, before deciding to speak.

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"We find the defendant, Marshal Weaver, not guilty of first degree murder." She said. I felt my heart soar. "However, we do charge him with constructive manslaughter, and possession of a gun without a license." At that point, my heart plummeted. The woman sat back down on her seat, crossing her legs.

"In that case." The judge piped up, drawing our attention back to him. "I find no reason to declare a death sentence. Mr. Weaver, you are hereby ordered to complete six hundred hours of community service, within the time span of 5 months. If you fail to complete the allotted amount of hours, you will be charged. Case dismissed."

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The bang of the gavel rang in my ears as I sat there in shock. I wasn’t going to prison? Granted, I wasn’t let off completely scot free, but compared to what could have happened, being sentenced to 600 hours of community service was practically nothing. But maybe, just maybe, it would make up for all of the wrong I had done.

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We barely got through the front door of that house, that Evalynn, Constance, Mary Ann, and Lorraine scurried off into the kitchen. They began to talk in whispers, and kicked me out when I finally let my curiosity get the better of me. I sat down on the couch, deciding to wait and see if they would tell me what they were talking about.

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About fifteen minutes later, they came out of the kitchen. They each sat down close to me, and tried to look as if nothing had happened. They weren’t doing a good job though, and their face looked like they wanted to blurt out a big secret.

"What is it?" I asked. Evalynn cleared her throat and began to speak.

"Marshal…"

"Actually," I interrupted, "could you just call me Conrad? I’ve gotten so used to it that being called Marshal just feels wrong."

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"Of course." She said with a smile. "Conrad, you’ve been living with us for a while now, and since you don’t have any parents, and your not in hiding or anything, we were wondering if you would be okay with us adopting you."

I couldn’t fight the smile that wanted to appear on my face, nor could I fight the tears that began to form in my eyes.

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"I’d really like that." The final word had barely left my lips, when all three of the sisters came over, and gathered me into a big hug. I let the tears fall down my face. I officially would have a family again.

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My life became really busy after that day. From helping research what they would need to do to adopt me and change my name from Marshal to Conrad, to studying to get my GED. I had tried to convince them that it was a waste of time. In my mind, it wasn’t as if I was going to get a good paying job that would require having my GED, nor was I really planning on going to college. However, they told me that they weren’t going to let me limit myself in that way. I really didn’t care, but they seemed to believe in me even though I didn’t really believe in myself, and I didn’t want to disappoint them.

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The community service was another thing that took up a lot of my time. I was charged with the job of helping a nonprofit organization called Open Rivers that would feed, and give clothes to the homeless. I tried helping out in the kitchen, but once they realized that the only thing I was good at was making toast, they quickly banned me from the kitchen. Instead, I helped gather donations, and would give clothes to people who needed it.

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I probably took it a bit too far though. As opposed to just handing out clothes, I found myself purposely putting together outfits, or mixing and matching different clothes that I though looked nice together. I figured that the homeless didn’t care, but I couldn’t help myself.

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It wasn’t until an older, homeless lady told me that I should get into fashion that I even thought about the possibility of making it a career.

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The very thought that it was possible that I could end up doing something that I loved excited me. I would end up staying up late, just making sketches of possible clothing pairs, and even creating some clothes of my own. I realized that in order to get into fashion, you’d probably have to get into a good college. In order to get to college, you’d at least have to have a high school diploma, or a GED. So, I threw myself into my studies even more than before.

I didn’t tell anyone why I was studying harder, or even that I wanted to be a stylist. Not even the Lees. I guess knowing that I was never lived up to my father’s ideals of manliness affected me more than I had thought. I had been judged and criticized for sixteen years of my life, that I didn’t want to receive any more criticism. Especially from the women who cared about me so much, and who I cared for just as much.

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The day that I finally did wrack up the courage to tell them, was the day that they finalized the adoption, and my name change. They were so excited as they came crashing through the door to tell me the news.

I tried being excited, because I really was happy about that, but I was too nervous about telling them, and how they might react.

It didn’t take too long for them to notice, and they ushered me to the living room to talk. I took a couple of deep breaths, and then just plunged ahead.

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"So I’ve decided what I want to do with my life." I stuttered. "I… I want to… I want to be a stylist." I looked at their faces, expecting the smiles to disappear, and them be angry with me. Liking art is one thing, but being a stylist is a completely different concept. A lot of people would probably see it as a job for women, but it was something that I loved to do.

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"Oh, Conrad. That’s great!" Constance said. They began bombarding me with questions about what exactly my plans were, and what school I was planning on going to. I was a bit confused, and asked why they weren’t mad at me.

"Why would we be mad at you?" Mary Ann asked me, as a confused look crossed all of their faces.

"Be-Because… Don’t most people think that job is mainly for women? Aren’t you going to tell me that I should get a job that is better suited for… a man?" They still appeared confused for a couple of seconds, until realization struck. It was almost as if a light bulb went off in their minds.

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"Absolutely not!" Evalynn stated. Her sisters nodded in agreement. "You found something, actually found something that you are passionate about. I don’t care what society says. Being a stylist is not a woman’s job, in the same way that being a construction worker is not a man’s job! You do what you want, and as long as it isn’t selling your body, then hell would have to freeze over before I let somebody try to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with your life." She said the last part a bit harshly, which kind of scared me a bit. I knew that she wasn’t angry, or yelling at me. I just had never seen her get so passionate about something. Not even in church. Mary Ann came up behind her, and put her hand on her shoulder, which brought her back down to earth. Her features softened before she continued talking.

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"Conrad, I know what society says, but do they really matter? At the end of the day, they aren’t the ones who have to live with the decision you’ve made, you are. Do you really want to live your life doing something that you can’t stand? Or do you want to wake up every morning loving what you are doing? The choice is yours. Just know, that whatever you decide to do with your life, we are always gonna be here to love and support you."

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She then pulled me into a tight hug. "Oh I’m so proud of you. You’ve come so far from the scared, and angry young man that I met at the park." I chuckled at that, as Constance and Mary Ann surrounded me.

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I worked as hard as I possibly could to get my diploma. I asked anybody that I could for help, including the people at Open Rivers. By that time, I had already fulfilled the hours that I had been sentenced, but I continued coming back as much as I could. I grew really close with some of the people, both volunteers, and the homeless people who came often.

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So when I finally passed all of the tests for my GED, they celebrated with me just as much as the Lees did.

I then began to search for the best college in the country that would be affordable, and grants and scholarships that I could apply for. With the help of the Lee sisters, and the extra help of the community hours I had completed, slowly but surely, everything began to fall into place.

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I received an acceptance letter for a college over in Starlight Shores shortly before my eighteenth birthday. With the grants and scholarships I had managed to get, I was able to attend a college with a two year fashion program without really owing anything. I was overjoyed that I was given the opportunity. But I was also completely terrified. I didn’t want to let anyone down, and I worried that it would all be for nothing.

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As sat in the car on my way to college, I looked back at the only place that felt like home. I reflected on my time at the Lee house, when I first came to them as Marshal Weaver. As the name passed through my mind, I chuckled. That wasn’t who I was anymore. Marshal Weaver died two years ago, along with his parents. I was a new person. Someone who had a family that he could be proud of. I was Conrad Lee now, and I was ready for my adult life to begin.

——————–

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"So that’s my past." I chuckled, nervously scratching the back of my neck. "That’s the big secret that I had trouble telling you." I looked at Odine’s face, her jaw slack, eyes opened slightly wider than normal, and I felt my stomach tighten. Maybe this wasn’t the right time.

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"Over five years." She said. "We’ve known each other for more than five years! How come you never told me?" Despite the shock that was clearly on her face, I could see an emotion buried underneath it. She was hurt.

"I didn’t know how to tell you. This is one of the hardest things that I had ever had to do, and I wanted to do it at the right time. Granted, the hospital wasn’t exactly the perfect setting, but I had trouble working up the courage to tell you. I mean, I couldn’t bear the possibility of you not wanting to be near me after hearing this. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t entirely blame you." I paused for a second. "Plus, you were gone for months!"

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"I was open with you about my past." She argued. She then winced, and placed her hand on her stomach. I reached over and placed my hand on her shoulder. She tensed up, and I let my hand drop. I looked her right in the eyes, and took a deep breath, silently begging her to do the same, so that she could calm down.

"Your past wasn’t your fault. There was no way you could have known that your boss would be a manipulative rapist."

"There was no way you could have chosen your life, nor the events that happened." she told me. "I’m sure if you could, you would choose differently." She looked down, and began to fiddle with her hands. I sighed. She was right. I should have been open with her about my life.

"I… I’m sorry. You’re right, I should have told you from the beginning. I was just worried, and I should have trusted you. Can you forgive me for not being honest with you?" Still looking at her hands, she nodded slowly. She then tried to give me a smile.

"I do forgive you. I just… I need time to process all of this. This… This is so much to take in, I need some alone time to think about everything." With those words, my heart dropped even lower, and my stomach twisted. I knew that was what she was going to need, but I had hoped that everything would be okay. With a silent nod, I stood up, kissed her on the forehead, and walked out.

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I slumped down on the seat that I had been sitting on before. Resting my head in my hands again, I couldn’t help all of the questions that swirled around in my head.

Should I have waited until a better time to tell her later? Would that have even changed anything? Are we ever going to have a time of peace? Every time that we think that things are looking up, something happens that tries to crush us again.

With a sigh of defeat, I stood up and walked to the window. I looked out at the bustling city, and sighed one more time.

"What am I gonna do?"

——————–

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Odine watched Conrad leave the room with his eyes downcast, and his shoulders slumped. She felt horrible for how she reacted to his story. None of what happened was his fault. It wasn’t like he was a cold-blooded killer. He wasn’t a fugitive either, his name having been cleared years ago. He was an excellent husband and father, and she couldn’t have possibly imagined a more perfect person for her and her kids. She really did love him as well.

Then why did her stomach turn when he touched her? Why did she have trouble looking him in the eye when she reassured him that everything was okay. She felt like a hypocrite, treating him like a different person, though he was the most trustworthy, and dependable person that she knew, especially with how he had reacted to the story of her past. He actually reminded her a lot of her father, who was one of the most amazing men she had ever known. She knew that she was being unfair. But she couldn’t shake off the uncomfortable feeling that had decided to surround her. She really wanted to get over it, to be the best wife that she possibly could. She owed Conrad that much. She just wasn’t sure how long it would take for her to move on.

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——————–

A/N: Thanks for reading, guys! I hope you liked it! 🙂

Three Year Anniversary Special–A Different Life

A/N: So I had this whole spiel about how I was excited about this special. But Live Writer ate it (thoroughly encouraged by WordPress). Because it SUCKS! Anyway! You guessed it right! Exactly three years ago TODAY I posted Conrad’s prologue. I’d say we’ve come so far, but I’ve only posted like 8 chapters. This is a NON CANON special, which would show how different Conrad’s life really would be had any small event been different. You guys got the idea stuck in my head with your comments in the last chapter. This NON CANON tale takes place in a universe where Archer never chased Brianna and Marshal down in Riverview. I hope you enjoy this NON CANON special! I was really excited about it (until Live Writer started being a weenis!). I am still excited about it, but my excitement bar has plummeted considerably! Anyway!!! I hope you enjoy!!!

——————–

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Twenty four year old Marshal Weaver woke up slightly disoriented. The sheets that were covering him definitely weren’t his. They felt softer; nicer. Not like the itchy blanket that adorned his queen sized bed. It took him only a few seconds to remember why he felt like he wasn’t in his room. He opened his eyes, and turned over to face the woman lying next to him. She was still asleep; snoring softly.

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Elaine Joy was definitely not his type. Sure, she had an amazing body, and was awesome in bed, despite having no prior experience. But Marshal had a really hard time getting past her face. While he had met and seen uglier women, he felt like Elaine’s face was extremely plain. Almost borderline ugly. She was good for a romp in the sheets, if nothing else; as long as Marshal pretended that she looked like some other woman.

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Marshal got out of the bed as quietly as he could, taking one last look at Elaine’s naked form. He quickly threw on his clothes, and tiptoed out of her bedroom.

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Closing the bedroom door quietly, he walked down the hall; trying to be careful not to make a sound. If Elaine’s father caught him sneaking out, he’d probably threaten him with his shotgun again, which would wake Elaine up, and would bring on more trouble than was needed.

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He felt relief wash over him as he exited the house, and got into his jalopy. He knew that problems with the Joy family would eventually turn up, but that was something he would worry about another day.

As he turned the key in the ignition, he heard his cell phone begin to ring. He looked at the caller id, and saw that it was a call from his mother. He cursed, and hit the send button, turning on the speakerphone as he pulled out of the driveway

“Hey.” He said, feeling his chest tighten in irritation.

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“Hi Marshal!” His mother greeted him, trying to sound cheerful. “I’ve been trying to reach you for a while.”

“Yeah, well… I’ve been busy.”

“Oh… Okay. Well, the reason I’m calling is because Nova’s graduation ceremony is in two weeks. We were really hoping that you could be there.” At the mention of his younger sister’s name, Marshal felt anger course through his entire body.

“I don’t know. We’ll see.”

“That’s… that’s it? ‘We’ll see?’ This is a very important day in your sister’s life, and she would really love it if you could be there to support her. She really looks up to you.” Marshal laughed dryly at the thought of his genius of a sister, who was graduating a year early at the top of her class, would look up to him of all people.

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“Sure she does. Look, I’ll try to make it. If I can’t, I’ll… I don’t know… I’ll buy her something.”

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“But Marshal, she just wants you there! We really haven’t seen much of you since you moved out last year. We really miss you. You’re my son, and I love you.” Marshal felt a headache begin to form just above his brows as he remembered what happened that caused him to leave.

He and his sister had always been at odds, constantly fighting over the smallest things. It usually started because Marshal lost his temper. However, he had never laid a finger on his sister until the day where she accidentally spilled her glass of water on his laptop as they sat together to watch a movie. Marshal had gotten so angry, that he lost control, and punched her.

After his fist connected, he snapped back to reality and realized what he had done. His mother had warned him that if he didn’t control his anger, he would do something he regretted, but he had never cared before. He couldn’t help but think of his father. In a moment of panic, Marshal stormed out of the house. He never came back.

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“Uh huh… Love ya too. I gotta go, I’ll talk to you later.”

But Marshal-” he didn’t hear the rest of what she was going to say as he pressed the button to end the call. As he drove, he couldn’t help but wonder what his father might be up to. ‘Probably rotting in a jail cell’ somewhere. He thought, as he pulled into one of the few parking spaces near the grocery store. He knew that he had more of his father in him than he would have liked, with his short temper, and anger that was difficult to quell.

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As he climbed out of the car, he thought about the silent promise he had made to himself years ago; when his temper really started coming out. ‘I am not going to be my dad’, he had thought. So much for that promise. He knew that most of his anger came from self loathe, and that the more he exploded, the deeper he fell into bitterness.

Crossing the park on the way to the store, he begged to no one in particular that the person that he really didn’t want to see might not be there. His heart sank as he saw her sitting on her usual bench in front of the store, clutching a bag of birdseed. Stealing his nerves, he marched in the direction of the grocery store entrance, hoping that she wouldn’t notice him today.

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“Good morning Marshal!” She called out to him cheerily. Crap.

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“Morning Evalynn.” He said through gritted teeth. He turned around to face the woman who seemed to have a strange interest in him; and wondered how someone could be so freakin’ cheerful this early in the day.

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“Beautiful morning, isn’t it?” She smiled sincerely at him. ‘Crazy old coot.’ He thought. She always either wanted to strike up a random conversation with him; as if they were the best of friends, or she would want to invite him to church; a place that he had absolutely no interest in going to.

“Sure it is.” He grumbled. He saw her take a deep breath, and sigh in contentment, as if the world that they lived in wasn’t utter crap.

“A day like today makes me really appreciate everything that God has created. Like this beautiful park, these birds, all of the people in this town.” She reached into her bag, and pulled out a handful of seed. She tossed it gently onto the ground in front of her. ‘This isn’t freakin’ Mary Poppins!’ He thought, fighting the urge to roll his eyes.

“Sure it does.” He clenched and unclenched his fists. He really didn’t want to explode in the middle of the park, but he felt anger rise with every word out of this old lady’s mouth. Suddenly, she perked up, remembering something that had been previously escaping her mind.

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“Oh! I’ve been meaning to tell you! On Sunday, after service, we are having a luncheon. Everyone’s invited! I already talked to your mother, who said that she and Nova would come. But she told me that I would have to talk to you, since you don’t really live there anymore. Of course, I have no problem personally extending the invitation.” She continued going on and on about how excited she was for the luncheon, and who would be coming. Who was bringing what, and who was going to be singing in the choir. Marshal tried taking deep breaths, so that he could calm down. But only one thought continuously ran through his mind. ‘Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. He couldn’t take it anymore.

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“Oh my God! Will you just shut up!?! Nobody freakin’ cares about your stupid church, and your dumb freakin’ church functions! I’m not going to go to any services, and I sure as heck am not going to any stupid luncheon! So just leave me the freak alone!” He stormed off into the store before he could even focus on the look that may have crossed Evalynn’s face.

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When he exited the store, hands full of his purchases, he looked around for Evalynn. Though he found her to be annoying, he felt he should apologize for his outburst. His mother had taught him that. Unfortunately, her bench was empty. ‘Great,’ He thought. ‘Something else to add to the list of things I’ve messed up.’ He slowly began to walk to his car, when his cell phone rang again. He picked it up, and raised it to his ear.

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“Hello?” He asked.

“Hey baby!” He was thrown off for a second, until his brain recognized the voice of Anna, his girlfriend of two years.

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“Hey babe! What’s up?” He asked, trying to shrug off his previous self loathe. He began to picture her, laying on the bed that they shared, and wondered what she might be wearing. Probably something that didn’t leave much to the imagination. He thought fondly of the many see through nightgowns that she chose to wear, and rushed over to his car before his body could embarrass him in public.

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“I was just calling to see what happened last night.” She stated nervously. “You said that you were going to go to the store to replace the milk that expired in the fridge, but you never came home. I stayed up waiting for you.” He rolled his eyes.

“Sorry hun. When I got to the store, it was closed. Then I ran into Ian, and hung out at his house. I guess I fell asleep over there.” That was partially true. He really had bumped into Ian, one of the few good friends that he hadn’t managed to push away. They had planned to hang out at Ian’s house, but went to a bar instead, where they saw Elaine. “I just left the store with the milk. I’m on my way home.”

“Okay.” Anna responded. She sounded slightly skeptical, but she knew better than to accuse Marshal of anything. It would not end well for either of them. “I’ll see you at home then.”

“Okay, I love you!”

“I love you too. Buh-bye baby.” Marshal ended the call, and started up the car.

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His relationship with Anna was plaguing his mind. He knew he didn’t really love her; He didn’t really love anybody. She was very attractive, and they got along pretty well. He wasn’t planning on marrying her, though he could tell that’s what she wanted, but Marshal refused to put himself in that position. No, he’d rather just continue the relationship he had with Anna. Eventually, it would die, and they’d go their separate ways. If not, then he’d have to cut the cord before their relationship became too dangerous.

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As he reached the front entrance of his house, he noticed that the newspaper delivery boy had thrown the morning paper into the bushes again. He grunted in frustration, then put the groceries on the porch, and rang the doorbell to let Anna know that he was outside so that she could let him in. He reached into the bushes to pull out the paper, silently threatening to wring the kid’s neck the next time he missed the porch.

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When he finally got inside, he gave Anna a quick kiss, and sat down to try and look for job openings in the paper. He really wasn’t picky, being desperate enough to apply for anything that he qualified for. Having been fired from five different jobs in the last two months really didn’t look good for his resume. Having not found any jobs that he was qualified for, he slammed the paper down on the coffee table.

Sitting back, with his arms folded, he noticed the article on the front page. Letting curiosity get the better of him, he picked up the paper again, and began to read.

Littler Family Mourns The Suicide Of Au Pair

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Yesterday morning brought a shock to the Littler family, as they discovered that their Au Pair Odine Perry had committed suicide. Ms. Perry was found by Deidre Littler, daughter of celebrity couple Reuben and Renee Littler, as the young girl noticed that her caretaker was nowhere to be found. Ms. Perry was found lying in her bed, with a bottle of pills in hand. Renee Littler confessed that Ms. Perry appeared to be having a hard time, especially after the birth of her son, Lance Perry.Screenshot-475-1

“I knew that she wasn’t happy. I just didn’t expect her to do something like this. It’s just so sad to think that little Lance is now orphaned.” Renee confessed, as she wiped tears from her eyes. Her husband Reuben lovingly put a hand on her shoulder, and stated that they were going to find out who is Lance’s father, and if he doesn’t want him, that they are willing to adopt the 3 year old. Teenagers Bronson and Deidre refused to comment on the matter. Reuben asked that the family be given privacy as they mourn the death of a member of the family.

 

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As Marshal’s eyes scanned the final words of the article, he felt an overwhelming sense of sadness come over him. So much so, that he actually felt like crying. He hadn’t cried since he was about ten years old, and the fact that he suddenly wanted to bawl over the death of some random stranger confused him. Sure, it was sad that Lance Perry had lost his mother, and sure, it was sad that Odine just gave up, but there was no reason to cry. Lance would probably be fine. He had the Littlers to watch over him. At least he had a father figure to depend on. Marshal’s father figure had been abusive.

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Wiping his eyes of the tears that had begun to form, Marshal got up from the couch to look for Anna. Can’t worry about other people right now. I’ve got my own problems to deal with.

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I woke up in a cold sweat, with my fists gripping onto the blankets for dear life. I shot up, and looked to the person laying beside me. Odine lay there with her blanket covering part of her face.

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Even when she was completely disheveled, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. I turned over, and wrapped my arms around her.

“Did you have a nightmare?” She asked me; as I had accidentally woken her up. I wasn’t entirely sure how she could tell that I’d had a bad dream, as opposed to normal cuddling. She was always pretty good at that.

“Kind of.” I said. “It wasn’t like a normal nightmare. The whole thing just felt… Off.”

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“Do you want to talk about it?” She questioned. I thought about it for a minute, before deciding that there really was no point. That dream would never happen. I shook my head, telling her that it didn’t matter. She laid her head back down on her pillow and faced me, giving me a small smile.

“Hey babe?” I asked.

“Yeah?”

I’m… I’m really happy that you’re in my life.” I placed my hand over her cheek. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” At that, her mouth spread into a big smile.

“I’m really happy that you’re in my life!” She stated, and moved some of my hair out of my eyes. “And you’ll always have me.” She snuggled up against my body, and gave the back of my head a kiss.

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“I love you.”

“I love you too.” She sighed happily, before we both drifted off to sleep.

——————–

 

Thanks for reading guys! Happy Anniversary and all that crap! Cheers!

1.7 Lost and Found: Part 3 The Origin of Marshal Weaver Part 1

A/N: Hey guys! Sorry it took so long to get this out. I have a million reasons as to why I took so long to post this. Unfortunately I don’t really have time to tell you all of it… And I’m sorry if this chapter sounds rushed, but it was getting super late, and I really wanted to finish this. Oh, and also, I was going to make his backstory only one chapter… But it ended up being too long, so I had to split it in two. I hope you enjoy the first part of Conrad’s backstory!

 

Also!!! I just recently got a Tumblr! Or, moreso, a simblr… I’m going to try to post there occasionally so that I can keep you guys updated of either Lee or Huggins stuff!

HERE is the site! Feel free to follow me!

 

-Nate

——————–

My real name is Marshal Weaver.

To be able to tell you this story, I have to start it a long time ago. Before you and I were born.

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In Sunset Valley, there lived a teenager named Archer Weaver. He came from a rich family, the richest in the whole town, and he had a girlfriend named Brianna Kelly. They really loved each other, but they made a mistake.

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A mistake that cost Archer his entire inheritance.

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When his father found out about it, he disowned him. Told him that since he thinks he’s man enough to do the deed, that he’s man enough to provide for his pregnant girlfriend and future child.

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Something changed in Archer’s heart that day. The constant reminder that he was the heir to the Weaver family, and he lost it all, was enough to make him bitter, and he decided to take the majority of his anger out on his girlfriend.

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Physically, mentally and emotionally.

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Nine months later, I was born. But, just the sight of me was enough to make my father sink even more into bitterness and resentment.

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He became even more violent, with both my mother, and I.

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When I was about six years old, my mother decided that though she still loved Archer, she couldn’t continue with the lifestyle that she was currently in.

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So one day, when my father was at work, she packed bags for the both of us, and we left.

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We had gotten as far as Riverview when my mother started to feel nauseous. We had to slow our pace a lot because she kept needing to stop to throw up. I was getting really worried for her until she told me that she was pregnant.

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Because the pregnancy was making her really sick, we decided to stop and stay at a hotel until the baby was born.

——————–

I remember the day that my sister was born as if it was yesterday. It started as the days that we stayed at the Riverview Inn usually did.

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When I woke up and walked to our mini kitchen, mom was standing at the stove, making blueberry pancakes. She looked at me and smiled, asking me how many I wanted. To me, it really didn’t matter how many she gave me, as long as I got to see her smile. It wasn’t something that I saw very often when we were living with my dad.

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When I finally did respond, she placed two on a plate and set it on the table. She then began to ask me more questions. My opinion of Riverview, whether or not I would like to live there permanently, and so on. When she was in the middle of asking me whether or not I would like to go to school here, she gasped.

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She began to clutch her stomach, and was breathing in a weird way.

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I remember that I started crying, worrying that she was going to die, when she told me kindly, yet firmly to get her the keys to the car.

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After hours of waiting, Nova was born. My mother told me that she decided to name her Nova because Nova means new, and she felt like this was going to be a new start for us.

——————–

A couple days later, mom, Nova and I were finally able to go home. Mom looked really happy, until we reached the hotel, and saw a familiar truck parked out front.

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The smile dropped off of her face, and was replaced with a scared look. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that I needed to be quiet, and to take care of Nova until she got back. Then she parked the car, got out, and walked inside the hotel.

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I waited there in that car for a few minutes, as Nova slept soundly. I was worried about mom, and had been debating whether or not to go find her, and find out what was wrong. That is, until I heard a crash, and a scream from my mom. I took off my seat belt, double checked on Nova to make sure she was still asleep, and ran into the hotel.

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That’s where I saw the person that terrified me the most as a kid. He was pulling mom’s hair, and asked where “he” was. It only took me a couple seconds to realize that the he that he was talking about was me. Unfortunately, it only took a couple seconds for my father to notice me standing there.

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I don’t know how he found us, but he did, somehow. And he told us that we were going home, and he was going to make sure that we didn’t leave again.

——————–

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“But… what happened to Nova?” Odine asked me. I could only shrug.

——————–

Life at home got even worse after dad found us. He hit much harder, and he didn’t hold his tongue when he insulted us. It would be even worse when he drank. He wanted to make sure that we stayed for good this time.Screenshot-312

Especially when he realized that I wasn’t into sports, and I couldn’t live up to the trophy son image that he had in his head. He would say terrible things to me, like tell me that I was a mistake, or an S.O.B. It would hurt when he would say those things to me, but whenever he would say something to my mom, or about my mom, I would feel like someone was stabbing me in the gut. I slowly grew to hate my father more and more.

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School was the only place where I could get away from him, and I felt like I could have peace, until I reached high school.

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I was teased endlessly for being the fat loser, since all the stress at home didn’t help my weight. I grew tired of it, and in a final effort to protect my mom and I, I got a gun from one of my classmates just in case, but I had hoped that I would never have to use it.

——————–

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I remember the day as if it was yesterday. It was a Tuesday, but the school was closed because of summer vacation. I had tried to stay in bed for as long as I could, so that I didn’t have to face him, and when I finally did get up, I took a longer shower than normal.

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As I crept out of the bathroom, I looked around to make sure that the coast was clear. I was almost out the front door, when he came up behind me, and pushed the door closed.

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I looked at him in fear, as he gave me a look as if I was a mouse that he could toy with. I still here the conversation in my head over and over.

“Where do you think you’re going?” He asked me. I stutteringly told him that I was heading to the library.

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“What makes you think that you can just leave and go wherever you wanted without my say?” He asked me, his voice getting louder with every word. That’s when my mom jumped in the way, apologizing to him, and begging him to let me go, it just made him more angry.

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The minute his hand touched her face, I ran to my room without thinking, and I grabbed the gun from under my pillow. I ran back to the living room, and threatened to pull the trigger if he didn’t let her go, and leave us alone.

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I only wanted to scare him, I never even intended to shoot. My nerves were on edge, though, and he could tell that I wouldn’t be able to pull the trigger. He began to laugh. He called my bluff and dared me to shoot him. I closed my eyes, and willed myself to kill my father, but I couldn’t. Right when I was about to lower the gun, my father rushed forward and grabbed the gun from my hands. He smacked me in the back of my head, and called me a wimp, saying that I wasn’t a real man if I couldn’t pull the trigger. He then did something that even I didn’t expect.

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He turned around, aimed the gun at my mother, and before she could even react, he pulled the trigger.

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She was dead before she hit the floor.

I felt my stomach turn, and my throat tighten. I wanted to scream, but when I tried, no sound came out. I leaped forward and tried to take the gun from my dad’s hands. He refused to let it go, and we both struggled for it, until another gunshot rang out.

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My dad finally let go of the gun, and looked at me shockingly before collapsing on the floor. Before he died, he gave me a look that will forever be burned into my skull. It was a look that said that this was all my fault.

Seeing the dead bodies of my parents made me sick, and I couldn’t look at them anymore. So I panicked and did the first thing that came to mind. I left.

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I got on my bike, and rode away as fast as I could.

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I pedaled until my legs were burning from the pedaling, and my eyes stung from the tears. After a while, my glasses had gotten so fogged up and smudged from both crying and the sweat that was pouring down my face, that I didn’t notice that I was going to ram into the sidewalk until I had already hit it, and fallen over. I gave up on riding it again when I noticed the broken chain.

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When I looked around, I noticed that I was in a park that looked strangely familiar. Shaking off my deja vu, I dragged my feet until I came to a nearby bench. Laying down, I felt the rush of adrenaline disappear, and reality crashed down on me. The rush of mixed feelings left me feeling drained, and before I knew it, I had fallen asleep.

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I was startled awake when I felt someone place their hand on my shoulder.

“Excuse me,” The person spoke calmly. “But this is the usual spot I go to when I feed the birds.” She then gently shook the bag of birdseed that she was holding. “Would you mind if I sat next to you?”

I sat up, and moved over to give her space. She sat down, and with a polite nod, she thanked me. We sat in silence for a while, as she gently tossed the seed on the floor.

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“So I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before.” She states. “And I know everybody in Riverview. My name is Evalynn, Evalynn Lee. What’s yours?” I really didn’t feel like engaging in a conversation with a stranger. So I turned my face away from her and looked at the grass.

“Well I have to call you something when I tell my sisters later about the handsome young man that I met at the park today!” She stated happily, and then gave me a warm smile. Her friendliness was beginning to get on my nerves, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she was that oblivious, as to not realize that I would prefer to be left alone.

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“Well, if you don’t give me a name, I’m going to have to come up with one for you.” She nodded her head as if she had just made a major decision. “Alex? No, too generic. Simon? Nah, too American idol. Cletus? Oh heavens no. The Lord help whoever gives their child that name.” She then snapped her fingers and a light came on in her eyes. “I’ve got it! You remind me of that one actor from The Wild Wild West. Now what was his name? Robert… Conrad! That was it! I’m gonna call you Conrad.” She chuckled and smacked her leg, then put her hand on my arm.

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It was meant to be a loving gesture, but I hadn’t been expecting it, so I freaked out, and stood up with my fists clenched. I tried to stare angrily at her, until I noticed her expression. Her jaw fell in shock, eyebrows raised, and eyes filled with fear. It was an expression that I was used to wearing, and my anger slowly melted away, as I realized that I had reacted as my father would have.

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“I… I’m sorry.” I said quietly. I brought my hands to my face as my eyes started to tear up again. Evalynn stood up, brushed a stray graying hair from her face, and she approached me. I could tell that she wanted to give me a hug, but thought better of it.

“Hey, it’s alright. No harm done. In fact! I was just about to go have lunch at the bistro. Would you like to join me?” I was about to refuse, but my growling stomach gave me away, and I let her drag me to the bistro.

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Evalynn had a way of drawing out specific information, but somehow knew when to stop, so as not to offend anyone. Within the first half hour, she had found out that I was recently orphaned. I was thankful that she didn’t ask me to go into details about why my parents weren’t in the picture anymore, she just offered to let me stay with her and her sisters, until I get everything figured out, and she refused to take no for an answer.

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Constance and Mary Ann must have been used to their older sister bringing any old stranger to their house, being a minister and everything, because they seemed unfazed when Evalynn brought me home, announcing that I would be staying there.

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Mary Ann simply rushed off to the kitchen, saying that she would prepare a meal, despite my protests, and Constance announced that she would get me a change of clothes, and a towel so that I could shower, before heading upstairs.

When they were gone, Evalynn put her hands on my shoulders, and turned me toward her. With a smile on her face she told me. “Conrad, I don’t know exactly what you’ve been through, but I want you to know that you’ll always have a home here.” She then pulled me into a tight hug. I froze, not used to being hugged, but then I felt myself relax, and let myself hug her back.

I can gladly say that after living with the Lee sisters for a couple of weeks, they really grew on me.

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It did take some time getting used to Evalynn waking everyone up shortly after sunrise.

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It also took a bit for my stomach to stop twisting every time Constance and Mary Ann would get into an argument, which was a lot of the time. But even when they would, you could tell that they still very much loved each other, and even though they barely knew me, they made me feel as if I had been living with them for years, as if I actually belonged. Because I got so comfortable, I forgot that I had been on the run. Until the day the police came.

——————–

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I had been in the bathtub after a very tiring day of martial arts training. Evalynn had begun teaching me, claiming it was therapeutic. Her sisters where also trying to teach me different skills.

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Constance was teaching me painting, and Mary Ann was teaching me how to cook. I knew from day one that I connected with art a lot more than I did with cooking, or pretty much anything athletic.

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But while Mary Ann backed off when I told her that I had no interest in learning how to make food, Evalynn continued to insist that being active and learning martial arts would be good for me, and help me channel all of my pent up anger. So I let her continue to teach me. But the only thing I could think of as I sat in the warm water was how sore my arms and legs were. Though the fact that my fat was slowly but surely being replaced with muscle was very satisfying. Evalynn was doing some extra training, she could keep going even when I felt like collapsing. Constance was on the balcony, which she called her studio, painting, and Mary Ann was in the study reading a cookbook on how to perfect her lobster thermidor recipe, which turned out to be one of my favorite meals, when they heard the doorbell ring.

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Mary Ann went to open the door, and found two cops standing on the porch. She greeted them with a smile, and asked if they would like to come in. With a quick shake of their heads, they held up a photo, and asked if she had seen the person in the picture. She went and grabbed her glasses in order to see the picture, and her heart dropped when she saw my face there. She asked them why, and they told her that the young man in the picture, being me, was responsible for the death of his parents. In a moment of panic, she told the officer that if she did ever see me, she would contact them immediately. She also asked them for a copy of the photo. When they handed one to her, she politely thanked them, and shut the door. She then told her sisters about her conversation with the police officers.

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When I got downstairs, all three of them were seated at the dining room table. Sensing that they wanted to talk to me, I sat down on one of the chairs. Mary Ann then told me what happened, and told me that if I intended to stay with them, that I would have to be completely honest with them.

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I told them everything. From the time I was born, until the moment that I met Evalynn in the park. I hung my head in shame, believing that now that they knew about me, that they would want nothing to do with me. But instead of kicking me out, they came over to where I was sitting, and gave me a big hug. I started crying, and it took me a second to realize that they were crying also. They said that they were sorry that I had to go through so much. I told them that if I stayed there, they could get in trouble for harboring a criminal. But as I was about to get up, Evalynn put her hands firmly on my shoulders, and told me not to worry, and that they would handle everything. I figured they’d let the subject drop.

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Three weeks before my seventeenth birthday was when I started having nightmares about the death of my parents. Details would change here or there on different nights, but the basic gist of the event stayed the same. They were so vivid, that I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, terrified of sleep.

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One of the sisters would have to come in my room just to calm me down and comfort me. Eventually they decided that one of them would stay with me during the night. I guess they couldn’t stand to see me like this, because on the morning of my birthday, I entered the dining room expecting a small get together. I was met with something else entirely.

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My blood ran cold as I stared at the figures sitting with Constance and Evalynn at the dinner table. I began to backtrack, when I bumped into Mary Ann, who had been standing behind me. They prompted me to sit down. When I did, they introduced their guests.

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George Dean was the only detective in Riverview. While Riverview wasn’t necessarily crime central, Constance told me that he George was a quick-witted genius. He would do his best to make sure that every nook and cranny was inspected.

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Lorraine Cantina was a distant cousin of the Lee sisters. Having recently graduated top of her class at Harvard, studying to be a lawyer, she didn’t have much real world experience. But Evalynn reassured me that I could trust that she would work her hardest to represent me in the best way that she possibly could.

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I gave them each a polite greeting, all the while gripping onto the chair that I was sitting on for dear life. I asked Evalynn what she meant when she said that Lorraine would represent me. Evalynn then walked over to me, and placed her hand on my shoulder. She instructed me to tell the lawyer and detective my side of the story. With a gulp, I let go of the chair, and began to retell the events of my childhood, not leaving out a single detail. My stomach was in knots, not knowing how the people across the table would react. Being a small town, I wasn’t sure if they were trustworthy enough to keep my secret.

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As I told them the story, I stared at their faces, trying to see if they might react in a certain way. Unfortunately, their facial expressions didn’t change, which made me all the more nervous. I stared at the table as I eventually reached the part where I met Evalynn at the park.

George scratched his chin, then stood from his chair. He gave each woman a hug, stating that he was going to head down to the station. When I began to freak out, he told me that all he was going to do was find out as much as he could about my case. With a quick nod in my direction, he opened the front door, and left.

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Lorraine then began to bombard me with questions. She wanted, and needed to know every single detail, and would write notes on a notepad that she had been holding. I provided as much answers as I could, until I felt like I was naked. As if every single part of me was being put on display for the whole world to see.

She then had me retell the story a couple of times, her eyes never leaving whatever it was that she wrote down on that notepad. When I reached the point that I felt completely exposed, she snapped her notepad shut, and politely excused herself.

I tried to take deep breaths when Lorraine had left, but all I could feel was this tightness in my chest. An overwhelming sense of dread came over me.

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I sprang up from the chair, accidentally shoving Evalynn a little bit, and ran outside.

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I rushed over to the barn beside their house, and crashed through the door. I walked over to one of the practice dummies that Evalynn and I have been using. I tried to relax, using the breathing exercises that Evalynn had taught me, but all I could think about was my current situation, and how scared I was. I began to get frustrated, and frustration quickly turned into anger.

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Needing to get some of my aggression out, i punched the training dummy. Unfortunately, I punched it harder than I intended to. I screamed in pain, and brought my injured hand back, cradling it with my other hand. I kicked the dummy, not thinking about the fact that I wasn’t wearing shoes. I yelled even louder, and began hopping on one foot. I was about to smack the dummy with my uninjured hand, when I heard a voice behind me.

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“Ya know, if I didn’t work the first two times…” I turned around, and saw Mary Ann, standing a couple of feet away from me. I sighed, and let me arms fall at my side. I attempted to glare at her, but I didn’t have any energy to stay mad. I was so terrified of what would happen. I felt like a small child again, cowering in fear as my dad would hit me or my mother.

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She walked over to me, and put her hand on my shoulder in a comforting manner. That touch was enough to break down the walls that I had, and I pulled her into a hug.

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I began to cry, telling her that I was so scared of what might happen. She gently put her hand beneath my chin, and lifted my face so that I could look at her. She told me that while there is a risk that something bad would happen, she also told me to think about the possibility of being free. Not having to look over my shoulder for the rest of my life. Being able to finish school, and maybe take it further. Meeting someone, having a family. Living a fulfilled life.

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It sounded like a very nice possibility, but I had trouble believing anything like that could happen to me. Mary Ann moved her hands to my shoulders, and told me gently, yet firmly, that no matter what happens, they would always be there for me. After she said that, I nodded my head slowly, and gave her an other hug. I was still feared the worst, but I was going to, at least, try.

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TO BE CONTINUED…

———————

Thanks for reading guys!!! I will try to get the 2nd part up at soon as possible. Oh, and special thank you to my fiancé Jacqueline, for motivating me, and helping me so that I could post this! Love you babe!!!

1.6 Lost and Found: Part 2 To Save A Loved One

Hey guys! Its been a while! I’ve had this chapter written for about 500 years. Just never had the time to take pics… Or when I did, I could only take like 5 pictures or something. Anyway, life’s been kinda busy for me, so I’m super happy to finally be able to post this. I can’t say when the next chapter will be posted, just expect that it’ll take a while (as usual), but I’ll get to it when I can. Anyway! Without further ado! Read on!

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There are many different ways of achieving fame. For some, it is the result of many long years of tiresome work. For others, it is due to their connections. The people they know, and the ones they are introduced to. And for a very few amount of other very lucky people, they are born into fame.

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That is what happened to him. Being the son of two very powerful celebrities in Bridgeport, he was thrust into the spotlight practically once he came out of his mother’s womb. When people of great importance would see him, they would take their time to give him the attention he felt he deserved.

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Once he was old enough, his parents put him in acting classes. Surely any director with half a brain would see this adorable child actor, and want to put him in the spotlight. He was always the one on top. In his classes, he was the star student, the one that always brought the teacher apples. When he would do something that he shouldn’t, it was easy to pin it on the shy awkward kid in class. No one would suspect the star student. He could do no wrong. And that is how much of his early life continued.

——————–

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When he reached high school, he figured it was about time that he started looking for a mate. Someone who would be easy to manipulate, one who would not want to be in the spotlight, or steal his thunder. One day, during art class, he spotted her.

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She was relatively easy on the eyes, yet seemed to shy away from any attention given to her. Surely she would welcome a savior. Especially one with his dashing good looks, and celebrity status. And welcome him she did.

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As time progressed, he began to experience what the common man would call feelings, and while another, weaker man would shy away from said feelings, he saw them as an advantage.

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He would let those feelings guide him in the ways of love, to officially win Renee over. And when he felt the time was right, he proposed.

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She said yes.

——————–

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Their wedding day was a glorious event. Anyone who was considered important knew that this was an event that should not be missed. He, however, refused the attendance of any paparazzi. He needed to ensure that Renee trusted him enough now, so that she didn’t complicate his plans.

——————–

A few months after they were wed, Renee expressed her desire to pursue a career in journalism. That was the moment that he should have realized that his plan may backfire. Unfortunately, when he recalls this memory, he expresses it as one of his weaker moments. So, due to his connections, he agreed to get her an entry level position at the Bridgeport News.

Before he knew what was happening, she began to excel in her field. And the more she excelled, the more attention she received. Soon, newspapers weren’t printing stories about him, they were printing stories about her, about an ordinary girl’s rise to fame. Fashion magazines were writing articles about her latest fashion choices. And when their two children were born, they did not ask him to discuss the daily changes of his life. They asked her.

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He felt his fame slowly decrease, and it angered him.

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As time passed by, both parents became more and more engrossed in their careers, and so Renee felt the need to hire a live in nanny. He honestly didn’t care, and so instructed his wife to figure it out herself. Which was exactly what she decided to do.

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A couple of weeks later, when he returned home, he was surprised to find that it was not Renee that was caring for the children, but a very young girl.

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Her name was Odine, she was only sixteen, but had moved from Barnacle Bay in search of a better life in order to support her mother, and ill father.

She acted exceedingly shy and in awe around him, much like Renee when they were both much younger, before she came and stole the spotlight from him. Oh, how he longed to feel in power again, it was like a drug to him. This girl would be easy to control. He just had to wait for the opportunity to present itself.

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When it did, he took action, as he usually did.

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However, this girl did not accept his advances. How dare she turn him down, she should have begged at his feet. In the midst of his anger and confusion, he took what he wanted.

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He finally felt that the world was right. He had easily broken her, he could easily do it again if she decided to be brave at any given point. And so, life continued that way for a bit. Then, the unthinkable happened.

She left. She just decided to desert him to be with some other man. A man who was nothing, and when it all came down to it, he wouldn’t measure up. She even bore that man’s child. He knew that if he tried to drag her back, all of his transgressions would wiggle their way to the ears of every citizen in Bridgeport. So he decided to bide his time. The right moment would come for him to strike, stripping that nobody of all that he stole.

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So when the right moment came, as usual, he jumped into action. Finally Odine would be all his. Except for the fact that she is pregnant with another child by that worthless man. He could easily rid her of the kid, and he could break her again if need be, but he was sure that nothing could stand in his way.

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——————–

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Odine lay on the makeshift bed that was set up for her, crying and thinking about all that has happened. Why me? She thought. Why now? She had thought that her life was finally looking up. She had hoped that she could finally settle down and start a family with Conrad, and she could be happy. Much like her parents were. But it always seemed like once everything finally started to look up, something else would happen that would crash all of her hopes. “What’s the point of trying any more?” She thought aloud.

“Well, what about the kid in your belly?” Odine jumped at the other voice. She had been locked in this room by herself for so long, that hearing another person’s voice, who wasn’t Reuben, felt a bit strange. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she asked “Who are you? What do you want?”

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“I’m Doctor Lucas Bryan. I’m here to help you deliver the baby.” With that statement, Dr. Bryan walked over and extended his hand. Odine, wary of trusting anyone, scooted away from the doctor.

“Look. I know you probably don’t trust me. Why would you? I’m someone that Reuben brought in.” The way that he said Reuben’s name made Odine believe that he wasn’t a fan of  Reuben either. Dr. Bryan sighed, turned away and sat on a nearby chair.

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“So the kid, do you know the gender?” Dr. Bryan asked. “Or did Reuben take you before you were able to find out?” Odine just continued to stare at him. “If you don’t want to talk, then that’s fine. I wouldn’t even want to talk to me either.”

“So did you choose to come?” Odine finally asked. With a soft chuckle, the doctor responded.

“Actually, no. I had to. A couple years back I had a slight drug problem. Reuben caught me, and now he threatened that if I didn’t help, he would reveal it to my superiors. I have a family that I need to support, and former drug addict really doesn’t look good when it comes to working at a hospital.” While he may have had a troubled past as well, Lucas’s good natured personality did put Odine at ease.

“Do you have any kids?” She asked him.

“Absolutely. I have three little girls. Piper is 10 years old, Alexandra is 7 years old, and Evie is 3.” They continued the small talk until they heard the stairs begin to creak as a person slowly came down.

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“So how are we doing today?” The minute that Odine heard his voice, her stomach was in knots. She wanted to cry, and scream in fear.

Be strong. Be strong. She continuously told herself in her head. Though it made it all the more dangerous, she knew that she must not let Reuben have his way. Just until someone can find and free her.

“So are you finally ready to run away with me, my dear?” Odine had to try her hardest not to throw up as she saw his smug grin. He seemed certain that she was willing to just ditch her former life to be with him. I have to distract him. She thought.

“How… How would this work out?” She asked. A victorious look crossed his face, and he rubbed his chin, and smiled.

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“Finally, your thinking. I already have it all worked out. Actors die all of the time, it would be pretty easy to stage my own death, let everything cool off, and then just leave Bridgeport.”

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“But wouldn’t people recognize you if you just waltz around anywhere you wanted? It doesn’t seem like you thought this through very well.” Lucas asked from his chair behind Reuben. Odine noticed that Reuben’s whole body tensed. He then turned and gave the doctor a look before replying.

“That’s what plastic surgery is for. Only for me though. Nobody really knows you. Then I could take you anywhere I want.”

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With that, he grabbed Odine’s hand, and yanked her up so that he could kiss her, practically shoving his tongue down her throat. Odine wanted to throw up. She waited a couple of seconds before punching him as hard as she could in the groin. He bent over in pain, but before Odine could get passed him, he grabbed her arm, and shoved her to the floor.

“Dude, are you crazy?” Lucas asked as he ran to Odine’s side. Her head was spinning, and she felt dizzy because her head hit the floor when she was thrown. When Lucas made sure that she was okay, he got up, and approached Reuben.

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“What is wrong with you? She’s freaking pregnant!”

“She won’t be for much longer, and when she isn’t, I expect you to get rid of it.” Reuben stated quietly.

Odine couldn’t believe her ears. Despite the pain in the majority of her body, she used the last bit of strength that she had to get up from the floor.

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“No!” She said in as forceful of a voice as she could. “You will NOT touch my baby!” She was mad now. “First you think you can just take advantage of me, then you come in and steal me from where I was happy just so you can feel important again, and now you think that you can just get rid of my baby? The baby I would give my own life for? Over my dead…” She had to stop when she felt the first contraction. She began to panic as she realized that her water had broken, and she knew it was time.

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“Oh no. Is it the baby?” Lucas asked. Odine nodded quickly as the next contraction came. With that, Lucas rushed over to guide her to the bed, quickly forgetting about Reuben.

Before Odine was able to push, she grabbed Lucas’s arm and told him to make Reuben go away.

“I don’t need to. Once he realized that you were in labor, his face turned really pale, and he practically ran up the stairs. At least we now know one way to get him to leave.” He chuckled.

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“No jokes… Not the time…” Odine gasped as she continued to control her breathing. Then, when her body was ready, she began to push.

——————–

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Lucas stood next to the bed looking at the babies that he and Odine had placed there. Neither of them suspected her to have two babies, but when Odine was finished pushing out the girl, she wasn’t quite done, and the little boy followed soon after.

“So what are you going to name them?” He asked her.

“To be honest, I didn’t want to give them a name without Conrad here to help.”

He scoffed. “Conrad is one lucky man to have a caring woman like you. When my wife had our kids, she told me ‘I held her for nine months! I don’t care what you want!’ I really had no say when it came to naming our kids. I’ll make sure you three can get back home to him safely.” I hope. He thought as sat on the chair and waited for the moment when Reuben would come down.

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He had just fallen asleep when he heard a door open, and Reuben’s heavy footsteps as the latter made his way down the stairs. He looked over at the bed and saw that Odine, and her twins were sound asleep. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he stood up, and waited for Reuben to finish making his way down.

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When Reuben finally reached the floor, he made eye contact with the bed, and his face twisted in anger.

“I knew you didn’t have the balls to take care of it.” He said, “So I came to take care of it myself.” With that, he pulled out a gun, and marched over to where the bed was. Lucas quickly moved in the way. Reuben stared at Lucas in the eyes, and chuckled. “What are you going to do about it?” He asked, with a triumphant smirk on his face.

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Lucas didn’t think. He just acted, and before he could even think of what his plan of action was, he had punched Reuben so hard in the face, that there was a loud cracking sound. Reuben spit out a tooth as both his nose and mouth began to bleed.

“Is that all you’ve got?” He asked. Then he shoved Lucas to the ground, and pointed the gun at him.

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“Its too bad for your family that you couldn’t follow through. But you’ve over stayed your welcome anyway.”

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Then he pulled the trigger.

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Odine had been sound asleep and was dreaming. Dreaming of better days. The days that she was with Conrad and Lance. Where they would go to the kiddie park, and Conrad would push her on the swing while Lance would ‘help’. She didn’t expect to hear a gunshot, but when she did, she snapped awake, and saw what she wished she could forget.

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It was all she could do to keep herself from screaming as blood flowed from her new friend’s skull. She watched in horror as Reuben casually put the gun away.

“That’s what happens when you don’t do what I tell you.” He then happened to notice the blood on his shirt. He cursed. “Now I have to get this mess cleaned up. I trust you won’t try anything funny.” With that, he turned, and went back up the stairs, locking the door behind him.

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When he was gone, the dam broke, and Odine began to cry. She cried for herself, she cried for her children, she cried for Lucas, and his family. They would be missing both a father, and a husband because of her. She cried until she couldn’t cry anymore. Then, she began to pray that soon, someone would find her, and save her and her babies from this hell.

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I drove as fast as I could to the address that Lois had given me over the phone. My stomach was bouncing around everywhere, and I was clutching the steering wheel so tightly that my knuckles turned whiter than my already pale complexion. They had told me where they figured she was, but they never mentioned whether she was okay or not. What if we went inside, and she was dead? I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if he had killed her. I had to get there before anything happened to her. I don’t care about myself anymore. I just need to make sure she stays alive, even if I have to die trying.

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I parked on the side walk, and got out of my car in search of the girls. I paced around the lawn of the very small shed type building near the bridge that separates the city from the suburban side of Bridgeport. It was far enough away from civilization that it was partially hidden from view, but close enough, that no one would really expect to check there for missing people, because they figure that no one is stupid enough to hide someone in plain sight.

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I stood there, wondering where in the world Lois and Bonnie could be hiding. I was just about to head back to the car to double check whether or not I had made a mistake with the address, when I heard a barely audible “Psst!” I looked around, until I saw a petite hand come up from behind a bush. I ran over to where the hand was.

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“Nice of you to finally join us.” Bonnie said. I shook both of their hands, then asked “So what’s the plan?”

“Nothing yet. We’ve just been sitting here, waiting for the right opportunity. So that we make sure that Odine doesn’t get hurt in the process.”

“But… But what if he is hurting her right now? She might not be able to take it. She could end up dying while we just sit here.”

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“But if he is hurting her,” Lois spoke up, “and we interfere, he could end up hurting her worse than he originally planned. Trust us Conrad, we’ve done this before.”  I didn’t care how many times they had done it before, I wasn’t going to relax until I knew she was safe. I was about to argue, when I noticed a gun on Lois’s belt. I kept my mouth shut, and waited for the right moment. That moment came a few seconds later, when Lois took her focus off of me, and turned away to strategize with her sister. I took my chance, and grabbed the gun.

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I then ran as fast as I could to the shack, ignoring the Izbie sisters’ calls for me to come back, Odine’s safety the only thing on my mind.

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I crashed through the front door. I aimed the gun in front of me as I searched through the only room in the house. Finding no one, I slowly paced the floor, in search of any evidence of Odine or Reuben. But one thing did catch my eye.

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All of the furniture in here looked old, moldy, or rusty, except for a bookshelf in the far corner of the room. I crept up to the bookshelf, and began inspecting it. Everything seemed normal, so why was I getting a suspicious vibe every time I got near it.

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There has to be something behind this. I thought, as I took a step closer. I reached for a copy of ‘Murder in Pleasantview’, but it wouldn’t budge. I then tried to pull an other book off the shelf. Then an other. Then one more. None of the books that I tried would move. I took a closer look at the books. Surprisingly, all of them were murder mystery books. I rubbed my arms to stop the chills, when I spotted a book that looked a bit out of place.

“‘Power Loss? Ten Easy Steps To Regain Control’, huh?” I read aloud. I gently put one finger in the book, and tugged in order to see if it would budge. It did! Beneath the book, on the shelf, was a button, which I quickly pressed.

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The floor rumbled gently as the bookshelf moved to the side, and I had to take a step back. In the room behind the shelf, was a staircase.

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I made my way slowly down the stairs. I started to smell something really disgusting when I was about halfway down the stairs. It was so foul smelling, that I had to cover my nose using one of my arms as I tried my best to make sure that I didn’t toss my cookies. The fear that I felt increased all the more when it clicked in my brain that the rotting smell could be Odine, and I went down the stairs faster than before.

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When I reached the bottom, I felt relief to see that Odine was in fact alive, until the moment that I saw the blood stain on the floor. I was going to run to her, but my stomach couldn’t take the smell that had invaded my nostrils, and I threw up. Odine had been resting on her bed, but her head quickly shot up when she heard me empty out my stomach.

“Conrad?” She asked. As if fearing that saying my name out loud would wake her up from a very happy dream.

“Its me Odine. I’m here.” I said as she got up slowly, and began making her way toward me. I ran over to her before she had even taken five steps in my direction, and enveloped her in a hug.

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“I knew you would find me eventually.” She said as she cried into my shoulder.

“I wasn’t going to stop until I did, my love. Now, come on. Let’s get out of here.” I began to walk to the stairs, when she pulled me back, and with a gentle, yet firm voice, she said “Wait. We need the twins.” Twins? I thought. It took a couple of seconds before I understood what she was talking about. I pulled her into an other hug, as a smile reached my face. My babies had survived. They made it, and I don’t think there was any possible way that I could be happier.

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“Well isn’t this a nice family reunion.” Hearing his voice made me jump. I turned around quickly, and pointed my gun in his direction.

“Oh, so you came prepared. Well its a good thing for me that I brought this.” As he said that, he pulled a gun out and shook it near his head, as if showing off a new toy. Then he aimed it at me.

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“I don’t think you have the guts to shoot me. You aren’t man enough to pull the trigger, Mr. Lee. Or should I call you Mr. Weaver?” When he called me that, I took a step back in shock, and I lowered my arm.

“Its interesting what you can find out when you have money.” He chuckled. “I’m actually very surprised. But don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.”

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“Conrad, what is he talking about?” Odine’s voice came from behind me. Oh crap.

“You never told her?” Reuben asked, apparently amused. “I thought that marriage was about honesty, and trust. If this is honestly the type of life that you wish to have Odine, then be my guest.” He was having way too much fun with this. I was getting fed up with him, but I didn’t dare get any closer, for fear of getting shot. I clenched my jaw, and took a couple deep breaths, while I kept my gun targeted on him. He lowered his gun, and moved closer until the end of my gun was on his chest.

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“C’mon! Prove that you’re a real man! Pull the trigger!” He yelled, taunting me. As much as I hated this man, as much as I wanted to make him pay for all of the crap he had put me and my family through. As much as I wanted to end his miserable life, I couldn’t. I couldn’t take someone else’s life, and he knew it.

It all happened so fast. One moment I am looking at the smug face of Reuben as he raised the gun.

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The next moment, I’m on the ground, looking up in horror as my wife clutched the bullet hole in her lower abdomen.

“Odine!” I yelled, as I pulled myself up from the ground. I rushed over, and caught her as she fell.

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“I did warn you, Odine. This is what happens when you try to outsmart me.” Reuben remarked casually. I didn’t care anymore what his stupid mouth was saying, nor did I pay attention to the fact that my children were screaming at the top of their lungs from the moment that the gunshot rang. I just held on to Odine, while her life drained away in my arms. At the corner of my tear stained eyes, I saw Reuben get closer, and I knew that he was planning on actually shooting me this time. I could feel his eyes on me, but I refused to look at him, and prayed that it would end quickly.

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“Such a waste.” Reuben sighed. Before he could pull the trigger, a door crashed open, and multiple footsteps rushed down the stairs.

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“Freeze!” I heard someone shout. I jerked my head up for a second, silently thanking God that this whole fiasco was over as the police came and arrested Reuben.

——————–

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I sat in the waiting room of the hospital with my head in my hands. After Reuben had been arrested, the paramedics had come and taken Odine, and my kids to the Sacred Spleen Memorial Hospital, and I had followed them as closely as I could, constantly praying to God. “Please don’t let my wife die. Please let her be okay.”

Sitting there, begging God for her to be alright, I realized that I had been holding my breath, as if letting out a breath would determine her chance of survival.

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I slowly let myself breath out, when the doctor came out. I ran over to him, and immediately began bombarding him with questions.

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“Your wife and children are fine.” He told me. “Mrs. Lee was very lucky that the bullet passed right through. A couple of inches higher, and she would’ve been in serious trouble. You can see her now.” He turned around then, and led me to the room where my wife was staying.

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When I saw her, I couldn’t help but shove the doctor aside, and rush to hug my wife.

“Ow!” She yelped. “Conrad, be careful!” I pulled back quickly, and she smacked my arm as hard as she could, which wasn’t that hard at all. I couldn’t help but smile as I feigned being in pain. I was glad that despite having been shot, and being in the hospital, she was still her normal child-like self. I was about to lean over to kiss her, when I heard a barely audible coo. Both Odine and I turned our heads, and that’s when I actually noticed the two cribs at the corner of the room.

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“Would you like to meet your kids?” Odine asked. I nodded, and one of the nurses grabbed the first baby, and handed her to me. It was a baby girl, and she was sleeping peacefully.

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“What are their names?” I asked.

“I was actually waiting for you. I didn’t want to give them names without you being there and seeing them.” I chuckled, and looked the baby girl in the eye.

“Hmm… Any ideas on this one?” I brought her up to my face and rubbed my nose on her nose.

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“I… I was thinking Valyssa.” She said nervously.

“I like it.” I told her after I had pondered over the name for a bit. “Its different enough, but not too different. Its cute! And with a name like Valyssa, you don’t really need a middle name, right Valyssa?” I asked my daughter jokingly. I then paused for a minute as I scratched my chin.

“Brian.” I said. She looked at me with a shocked face for a second. When it finally clicked in her head what I meant, she looked at the baby boy in the hospital bed, and began to cry. I walked over and asked her if it was okay.

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“Yes, its okay.” She told me through tear stained cheeks. “Its just that, that was the last name of the doctor who helped me give birth when I was trapped. He helped me in more ways than just delivering the babies, he gave his life so that we could live.” I then remembered the blood, and the rotting smell that had made me vomit, as a tear came down my face. I gently kissed Odine on the forehead, and apologized.

“It isn’t your fault. In the short time that I’ve known him, he became a good friend. I only wish you could’ve met him. I think you two would’ve gotten along well.” She then sighed, and wiped the remaining tears from her eyes. “So Brian, huh? Does this one have a middle name?”

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“I was actually thinking of Kelly.” I said.

“But isn’t Kelly usually a girl’s name?” I couldn’t help but smile at her question.

“Normally it is, yes. But both of those names are special to me.”

“Well, if you want to doom your son to having a girl’s middle name, then that’s fine by me.” She giggled. “You do know that he’s probably going to hate us for it, right?”

“Probably. But I think he’ll survive.” I responded, as I took Valyssa back to her crib. When I turned around, I saw that the smile had left her face. I knew what was coming.

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“Conny?” She asked. “Can I ask you a question?”

“Aren’t you already?” I asked, trying to dodge the question that I knew she was going to ask. When she gave me the usual look she would give me when I was joking during a serious moment, I sighed.

“Go ahead.”

“When we were back there, and both you and Reuben were pointing guns at each other, he called you by another name, and was talking about how he didn’t think you had the guts to do it. What… What was he talking about?”

I couldn’t help but let my shoulders drop. My legs felt like spaghetti as I slowly walked over to the chair next to her bed and sat down. I knew this day would come eventually, I was just hoping for more time to be able to figure out how to phrase it.

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I stared at the floor, suddenly fascinated with the carpet

“Conny?” Odine asked. With a sigh, I lifted my head to make sure that no one was around, took a couple of deep breaths, and forced myself to speak.

“There are some things that you don’t know about me. I ask that you let me finish before coming to any conclusions.” I groaned and rubbed my eyes, knowing full well that I was probably going to regret telling her.

“My real name isn’t Conrad Lee. My real name is Marshal Weaver.

——————–

Thanks for reading guys! I hope you enjoyed it! Sorry for ending on a cliffhanger, but this just seemed like a relatively alright part to stop at. Don’t hate me. XD As usual, comments and likes are greatly appreciated!

Oh, and this may be random, but I had asked my girlfriend Jax for help with animating some of the blood… And this is what she gave me…

Screenshot-533Thanks babe… Thanks… T_T

1.5 Lost and Found: Part 1 The Five Stages of Grief

Hey guys! Long time no see! Sorry I kind of disappeared… I really don’t have much of an excuse. Except maybe the fact that when I tried to write this chapter out, I would know what to say, but I wouldn’t know how to say it… And I was only able to write this because I downloaded an inkpad app onto my phone, and miraculously, when I would try to write on my phone, I would be miraculously inspired (seriously… I wrote like 1/2 of this chapter in relatively 1 hour and 10 minutes) I’m so strange. This chapter, which is part 1 in a very small series of chapters that surround a certain topic, will be Conrad going through the 5-stages of grief, also called the ‘Kubler-Ross model’, which are ‘denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance’ in no specific order. I am showing his experience in the form of letters. Be honest with your opinion of this letter writing theme, or anything else you want to share your opinion about. In other news, I am officially a college graduate… Well technically a Technical School Graduate. The only thing left is the graduation ceremony, and actually getting a job. Life here I come!!! Anyway! I hope you enjoy Part 1 of this 2-3 part section thing!

Denial

Dear Dee,

I’ve searched everywhere for you. I even bothered the majority of our neighbors, and called all of our friends in search of you. Everyone was searching as best they could, until I actually showed them what your note said, then the only ones who stayed behind were the Strikers, and Renee and Deidre Littler. They helped me search until it was dark outside, until Renee told me it was time to face the music. Before they left though, Deidre told me that she still doesn’t believe that you left. That she would always be a phone call away if I ever needed help looking. I just nodded my head. But when they left, I couldn’t help but cry. Especially when I heard Lance calling for you in a sing-song voice. This doesn’t make any sense. This can’t be real. I will find you.

Love,

Conny

Anger

Dear selfish, worthless hag,

It’s been three months since you decided that it was all fine and dandy to just check out of Lance’s and my life. People have been coming in bunches lately to “extend their condolences”. As if they freaking understand how I feel. As if they know what its like to have your heart ripped right out of your chest and ground into dust. Deidre just came last week, and her stupid chipper attitude was getting on my freaking nerves. I was about to slap her face. And to make matters worse, guess who decided to be stinking parent of the year all of a sudden. But does he even bother to come in? Of course not. That would just be too much stress to try to fake more emotion than he’s supposed to. He just sat in his car, staring at me with this stupid grin on his face. When Deidre finally left, I couldn’t help but let a curse word slip, and lo and behold, Lance decides that now would be a good time to copy everything daddy says. Ugh! I can’t take this crap anymore. This is all your fault. I bet you weren’t even raped. I bet it was all a little scam you set up with Reuben. And now that you are finally free of the child that didn’t even ask to come out of your vagina, now you can finally escape with your egotistical lover. I hope you’re happy with the havoc you’ve caused. I hope he makes your life a living hell.

Signed,

Your EX-Husband

Bargaining

Dear Odine,

Its been three months since you’ve been gone. This morning when I woke Lance up, he asked me “Daddy, where’d mommy go?” and my heart broke. I may not understand why you told me you loved me, and then left me, stomping on my heart on the way out. But how could you do this to Lance? Please! If you come back. We don’t even have to be married. You don’t even have to say a word to me. Just be here so I don’t have to tell him that his mother didn’t want to be his mother anymore. Please come back. I will even buy separate beds, or call that one company that remodeled our house to build us an extra room so that you don’t have to see my face every night. Just… Please…

Conrad

Depression

Odine,

What’s the point anymore. I’ve been writing these letters for months now, but why do I keep doing this? Sometimes, I think I can understand why you left me. I’m a pathetic excuse for a human being, I’m not even good enough to be a father, or stepfather for that matter. Lance has been taking care of me more than I have been taking care of him. Most afternoons tend to just consist of me sitting on the couch, watching a depressing movie, in the clothes I’d been wearing for the whole week, and when I get too tired, I just fall asleep in a mess of junk that has accumulated around the couch. I don’t shave anymore, and I rarely bathe anymore. Only when Lance sort of forces me to. The kid is four, almost five years old, and yet, he is acting as the parent. He shouldn’t have to do that. I’m not good enough to take care of him, I should just ask the Strikers to adopt him. He gets along pretty well with their son Sebastian. Then, when I’m certain that he is well-adjusted, I would then be able to end it all. Hopefully God will understand.

Signed,

Conrad

Acceptance

Dear Odine,

You’re gone. It finally feels official. Not that it hurts any less, and I would kill to have you right by my side. But there isn’t anything I can do about it. Lance has stopped asking for you. And while part of me is relieved that I don’t have to try to dodge his constant questions, my heart actually dropped when I realized it. He’s gotten so used to life with just us two, and he doesn’t give it a second thought about how he should have both a mother and a father, as opposed to just having me. I do promise that when he is old enough, and when I think he is ready, I will tell him about you. I just hope that he will be able to forgive you, just as I have learned to do. This is going to hurt me to say, but I was advised by pretty much everyone to do this. This is officially goodbye Odine. I wish you the best, and whether or not you decided to keep my child, I hope you find what you are searching for.

Sincerely,

Conrad Lee

Realization

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It has been a couple of months short of a year since Odine left Lance and I. It really has not been easy. But I must admit, that without Lance here, I don’t know where I would be. It’s surprising how the presence, smile, or laugh of a little kid can make all the difference, and while I may not be his birth father, I’m proud to call him my son nonetheless. Unfortunately, Odine’s abandonment must have affected him more than I thought.

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Ever since she left, I had been taking him to work with me with the excuse that I couldn’t find anyone to take care of him while I worked, which was only the partial truth. I just didn’t trust myself without him. I have actually had some close calls even with him there, but surprisingly, he knew just the right moment when to distract me. But one afternoon, when I thought maybe I could begin to handle myself, I brought up the possibility of finding him a daycare, just so that he could learn to interact with other people, mainly kids, and I would be able to work uninterrupted and know that he was in good hands.

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He looked mortified, claiming that I was going to abandon him too, and wouldn’t stop crying until I said that I would forget it. I hope he gets over it soon, before he has to start school.

——————–

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I had just arrived home from working at Barney’s. Once Lance and I entered the house, he ran off to go use the restroom. Chuckling, I went to organize the stack of papers that I had put on the table early this morning.

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(A/N: Yes, I know that’s magazines… But the CC I had downloaded wasn’t showing up, so I had to work with what I had… Sorry)

“Bills, bills, more bills, wrong address, letter from Mary-Ann, more…”

I stopped mid-sentence as a small stack fell out of the pile, and landed on my shoes. Crouching to pick it up, I realized that it was all of the letters that I had written to Odine after she left. I didn’t really have anywhere to send them anyway.

Scanning quickly through each letter, I couldn’t help but chuckle at some of them. As obscure as it may sound, in my worst moments, writing them had been very therapeutic. When I finished reading all of them, I noticed there was one left.

Dear Conny,

I’m sorry, I can’t keep up this charade anymore. I don’t love you. I never have, never will. I will have left by the time you read this note. And I hope that you do find someone who actually loves you for who you are, because I can’t. I am leaving Lance behind with you, so please take care of him. I promise that you will never, ever see me again. Goodbye.

Signed,

Odene

Even after all this time, reading that note feels like a stab to the gut. With a sigh, I crumpled up the paper, and tossed it in the trash.

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——————–

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It had been a tiring day of work at Barney’s. Everyone has seemed to be a bit on the edge. Even my assistant Lala, who surprisingly always has a sunny attitude, snapped at me when I tried to mention that spots and stripes don’t really go well together.

When I was finally finished making sure that every stupid little hair on Matthew Hamming’s stupid little head was perfectly slicked back, I heard the bell on the top of the door go off, signaling that a new client had walked in. With a sigh, I turned around, and almost collided with Deidre Littler.

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“Woah Deidre, slow down. You almost knocked my head off of my shoulders. Who are you running from anyway?”

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“Oh no one. Is there something wrong with coming down to see one of my best buds in the whole world?” She then proceeded to give me the biggest smile she possibly could.

I was not fooled. I crossed my arms, raised my eyebrow, and stared at her until her facade cracked.

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“Okay, fine.” She said, throwing her arms up. “I convinced mom to let me go to the library to study, but I’m actually here for a makeover. My senior prom is coming up soon, and I have to make a good impression. Mom offered to come shop with me, but have you seen the clothes she picks out for me? I would be ostracized the minute I walked through the door. A girl only has one senior prom. I can pay more money than I would owe.”

I had no doubts that she could pay. Her father Reuben was one of the highest paid actors in Bridgeport, and her mother was the top news anchor on channel 6 news, and while I was pretty sure that the cost wouldn’t even burn a hole in their pockets, I still wasn’t fully convinced.

“You do realize that children under the age of eighteen need their parents’ signature, right?” I asked, my arms still crossed over my chest.

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“And that is exactly why I asked my dad to sign this check for a recent checkup. Though I actually haven’t been to the doctors in months.” Though she tried to hide it, I could hear the hurt in her voice over the fact that her parents hardly ever give her and her brother Bronson the attention they need or deserve. That was the final straw that pushed me into agreeing to give her the makeover. And I will shamefully admit that I did enjoy the prospect of Reuben Littler losing some money.

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When we were done, she did a quick spin, then a little curtsy. She then gave me the biggest hug a petite seventeen year old could give anyone.

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“Thank you so much Conrad. I’m going to be the hottest looking girl at prom.” With that, I lead her over to the paperwork that the parent is usually supposed to sign, making sure that my boss wasn’t looking. As she was filling out the form, I couldn’t help but peek over her shoulder as she copied her father’s signature.

Hmm, that handwriting looks awfully familiar. I thought as she finished writing the R at the end of her father’s last name.

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“Earth to Conrad! Hello?” Deidre waved her hand in front of my eyes. Looking down, she handed me the cash that she owed for the makeover, plus a little extra. She then turned to exit the salon, but before she was gone, she turned back around to face me.

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“Conrad? I… I just want to say I’m sorry about what happened with Odine. She was always a sweet girl, it’s so unlike her to just ditch. Especially considering how much she talked about you.” With that, she left.

I was only paying a little bit of attention to what she was saying. Honestly, if I didn’t figure out where I had seen Reuben’s  handwriting before, it was going to bug me. I don’t think it was from his clothing line, though it did have his signature. Scratching my head in frustration, I took a quick picture of the signature using my cell phone. I grabbed Lance’s hand, said goodbye to my coworkers, and went to hail a taxi.

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On the trip home, I really wasn’t paying attention to anything that Lance was saying, I do vaguely remember him saying something about Lala giving him something disgusting for lunch. I was too lost in my own thoughts.

Arriving at home, I sent Lance to his room, and told him to get ready for me to come and give him a bath. When he left, I sat on the couch and thought about the signature. Right before I deleted the photo, the trashcan caught my eye.

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Getting up, I rushed to it, and pulled out Odine’s final letter to me. I compared the handwriting of the note to the signature, and while I wasn’t an expert, to me they looked like they matched. I also just noticed that in her last note, she misspelled her name, which was completely weird. To double-check, I compared her final note to the handwriting of her earlier notes.

My Dearest Conny,

    Reading the letter that you left for me yesterday was the highlight of my day, between feeding, chasing down, and changing the diaper of my little munchkin, hearing your recollection of our wedding day brought a smile to my face, and tears to my eyes. I love you, and am anxiously waiting for your return home.

With even more love then you have shown me,

Dee.

How could I have been so stupid? The two letters didn’t even match up. But if she didn’t write it, then that could only mean… She didn’t leave because she wanted to. That would also mean… Oh God! “He” has her!

——————–

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“911, what is your emergency?”

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“Hi! Yes, I would like to report a kidnapping.”

“Alright sir, how long has your child been missing?”

“Actually, its my wife.”

“Oh, sorry about that. What is her name,  and how long has she been missing?”

“Her name is Odine Lee. She has been missing for about 6 or 7 months.” There was silence on the other line. “Hello?”

“Yes sir, I am here. Why didn’t you call sooner?”

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They had me there… “Sir?”

“Um… It’s because I had thought that she left me. She left me a note saying she was leaving.”

“And why do you believe now that she has been kidnapped?”

“Well, in the note she left, she had misspelled her name.” Good Lord, I sounded absurd.

I heard a sigh on the other line. “Sir, if that is all you have to go on, then there isn’t much we can do.”

“But I also…”

“Sir, there are a whole lot more serious crimes that need to be taken care of. Perhaps your wife actually did leave you. We will keep an eye out for her.”

“But you don’t even know what she…” I stopped mid-sentence, when I realized that the person had hung up on me. What in the world? I then realized that I had forgotten to mention the difference in handwriting. But I wasn’t going to call that crabby idiot back. If they wouldn’t help me, then I would find another way to find Odine.

——————–

I paced in my livingroom, waiting for the doorbell to ring. Lance was finally down for a nap, so this was the perfect time. Strange, but I never thought I would ever need to do this, but this is the only thing that I could think of, in order to find Odine.

My head snapped to attention when the doorbell finally rang. I rushed over to get the door, and when I opened it, I was surprised to see two girls who looked like they were barely over twenty years old.

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“Can I help you?” I asked, I really didn’t have time to meet with anybody. I was waiting for the private detectives that I had called to arrive.

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“Conrad Lee? My name is Bonnie Izbie, and this is my sister Lois, from Cloak & Dagger Inc. Would it be alright if we came in so that we could talk about finding your wife?” I opened the door, a bit shocked about how young they looked.

“Come on in!” I stuttered.

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“I realize that we look a bit young, but we’ve been at it for years.” Lois stated. “Have you ever heard of the Twinbrook jewel thief?” I nodded my head. “Yeah, we were the ones who caught him.” I raised my eyebrows. Who hadn’t heard of the Twinbrook jewel thief? I couldn’t help but whistle.

“Now, enough about us, tell us everything there is to know about your wife, and what happened when she disappeared.” Bonnie said.

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So I did. I told them everything that I could remember about her, even gave them our wedding picture. I also told them everything I could remember about the night Odine left, and the next day.

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“After I searched the house for her, I returned to the living room  and there was this note on the table.” I passed the note to Lois, who gave it further inspection, while Bonnie furiously recorded notes of everything that I said. “I matched it to some of her previous letters, and while I may not be an expert, there was a pretty big difference in the handwriting. I may have accidentally stumbled on a match on the handwriting a couple of days ago while at work.” I hesitated on telling them who I think wrote the note and kidnapped my wife. A man like Reuben has to have a lot of connections. But if this was the information that could save Odine, and maybe put that monster behind bars, then what else could I do?

Screenshot-342

“I think that the man who kidnapped my wife is Reuben Littler.” With that, I definitely had both of their attention.

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I really had trouble determining whether or not their facial expressions were looks of excitement, or worry. With that, Bonnie walked over, and extended her hand.

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“Thank you very much for all of the information. We will begin searching for your wife, as well as keep a close watch on Mr. Littler. We will call you if anything happens.” Then they both left. As much as I wanted to help, I didn’t really know what to do. So I did the only thing I could. I waited.

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And waited.

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And waited. Until one day, when Lance and I got back from playing outside, I noticed that I had a voice mail on my cellphone. I stared at my phone for a minute, hoping that it was from Lois or Bonnie saying that they found Odine, but I was also a bit worried. Worried that this was going to be a dead end, and that I would lose her forever. Not hearing the message wouldn’t determine to me whether or not she left, right? I could go on believing that she was just missing, not kidnapped. But at the same time, if I waste any time, and she was kidnapped, I could end up letting her get hurt… I took a few deep breaths to relax myself, and dialed voice mail.

Screenshot-350

“Conrad! It’s Lois. We think we’ve found her. We think we’ve found where Odine is. She’s with Reuben.”

Screenshot-351

——————–

Well, there you have it folks. Hope you enjoyed this chapter. And hopefully I will not take too long with the next chapter… But come on… Its me. The detectives Lois and Bonnie are actually from an ISBI blog that is written by my girlfriend. Its called Insanity Doesn’t Compare. You should check it out! And I’m not just saying that because she’s my girlfriend and I’m biased or anything. Anyway! Thanks for reading, and tune in next time!

Special Chapter: A Wedding to Remember

Hey! Yo! Surprised to see me? Astonished that it didn’t take another seven months for me to do this? I know! Me too! But I wanted to finish this before I had to go to New York tomorrow (well, since its four am, more like later today. Anyways! I know I probably didn’t speak enough about Conrad and Odine’s wedding in the last chapter, so I decided, since she is a very special character to me, to show the proposal, and wedding, in Odine’s POV. Besides, she is a woman, and guys you have to admit that no matter how detailed you are, a woman is usually (unless you are a very special case) going to pay more attention to certain things. So here we go!

——————–

“Odine, I love you, and I love Lance, and though these past few years have been a difficult for the both of us, I know that we can push through anything when we are together, and I can’t imagine my life now without you. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?” Deep in my gut, I wanted to say yes. But I felt like I would’ve cheated Conrad out of someone better. So I told him no. “Odine, I have a big feeling that you feel the same way that I do, so what’s stopping you from saying yes?” He asked, slowly standing and caressing my cheek. I shrugged and told him. “I feel like I would be cheating you out of marrying someone better. I can’t be that selfish. I wish you would stop loving me.” He looked me right in the eye and asked. “What would you do if Lance told you to stop loving him?” Without thinking I told him, “I would tell them to shut up and let me love him. Because its not something that I can just turn off.” With a smirk he replied, “Then can you shut up and let me love you? Because its not something that I can just turn off.” “That’s different!” I attempted to argue. “How?” He asked me. I had no answer for him. “If you want to think about me, imagine how sad I would feel if the love of my life rejects me again.” He stated, “Plus with all the stuff we’ve gone through, we deserve to be a little selfish. So I am going to ask one more time, Odine Perry, would you give me the honor of becoming my wife?” He said as he got down on his knee again. I caved, he was right after all, and I knew we would both be unhappy if I said no for a third time.

——————–

Wedding day “I can’t believe that you are getting married, and that you asked me to be your maid of honor, and that you have a son!” Deidre shrieked as she helped me slip into my dress. “Lance is so cute! I can’t believe you and Conrad had a son together. I didn’t even know that you knew him that long. Where did he get the blonde hair from though?” I couldn’t respond to that. Conrad and I decided to let everyone come to their own conclusions, which we figured would be that Lance was Conrad’s son. “Uh… I think its from Conrad’s family, he told me something about his grandma having blonde hair.” I felt bad lying to one of my former best friends. But I couldn’t tell her that Lance was actually her half-brother. If you know me, you know that I’m a terrible liar, but I was saved by a knock on the bedroom door. “Hello?” A woman’s voice called. I opened the door hoping that it was my family, and that their letter stating that they couldn’t make the trip from Barnacle Bay was a lie. I opened it to find three old ladies. “Oh Odine! You look lovely!” One of them said, putting her hand on her heart. “Of course she looks lovely!” Another piped in as she came through the door. “Our Conny wouldn’t pick some ogre. Not that looking like an ogre is a bad thing. Mary Ann has been fine all of these years.” She stated, pointing at the last one. “Oh hush Constance!” The last one retorted as they all came through the door. “Oh look at us, all yappin’ this poor young lady’s ears off, and she don’t even know who we are. As you probably figured, I’m Mary Ann, and these are my sisters Evalynn and Constance.” She stated matter-of-factly, then she leaned in and whispered loudly. “Be careful around Constance, that poor girl might be a few fries short of a Happy Meal.” “Both of you, quiet. Your makin’ the girl think we are raving lunatics.” Evalynn stated. “Now Odine, I know that Conny is going to take good care of you, we taught him well, but if he tries anything, you call us so we can take care of it.” She said, punching her fist into her hand for effect. I just laughed, until Constance told me that Evalynn has a black belt in Sim-fu. I was officially confused. When Conrad would mention them I pictured them more… His skin color? These ladies don’t even look related to him. “Now I also want to fill you in on how the ceremony will be, since I will be the minister who is going to marry you two love birds. Now, once you reach the front, Conrad is supposed to grab your hand and you both will face me.” She continued to give me instruction, until a little voice piped up. “Mama!” Lance called out while running toward me. “So this is Lance?” Constance asked, getting in the way. She picked him up, and Lance froze, until Constance found his ticklish spot. “He’s so precious.” Mary Ann came over and squished his cheeks. “Hello little one! I’m your great aunt Mary Ann. Your so cute, I just wanna squeeze your face off.” Conrad’s aunts and Deidre left shortly after to talk to Conrad, and I continued to get ready, until Deidre came in. “Odine? Its time!”

——————–

Butterflies with metal tipped wings were fluttering in my stomach as the first few notes of “Your The Inspiration” by Chicago started to play. Deidre squealed in excitement before beginning to make her way down the aisle. What if I can’t do this? What if it doesn’t work out? When they say the wedding jitters, they are not joking. Then I remembered something that my father used to tell me when I was scared of something. He would say to me, “the only advice that I can give is to do it afraid. You need to take risks sometimes, and if it doesn’t come out perfect, you pick yourself up, and keep going.” So I took a deep breath, and started to walk down the aisle. That’s when I saw Conrad, and I knew that I was making the right choice. I reached the front just as the song was finishing, and I shakily grabbed Conrad’s hand, and faced his aunt. When it was time we said our vows. I, Conrad Lee, vow to love you with all of my heart, from this day forward, to have and to hold. To love and to cherish. In sickness and in health, for richer or poor, as long as we both shall live. I, Odine Perry, vow to love you with all of my heart, from this day forward, to have and to hold. To love and to cherish. In sickness and in health, for richer or poor, as long as we both shall live. Then Conrad’s aunt had us exchange the rings, and pronounced us husband and wife. “Then by the power vested in me, in front of God, and all of these witnesses, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Conrad, you may kiss your bride.” And we kissed as our family and friends clapped and cheered. And we became Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Lee.

——————–

The reception was so much fun! After we cut the cake, we danced the night away to all of the songs that Constance played. Who knew that such an old lady could jam out so much! I know for a fact that I had the dorkiest smile on my face, but I didn’t care, I was on cloud nine. “So, ever so sweet wifey of mine, you do have your passport, correct?” My new husband asked. “Yes… But why?” “Oh its nothing much, just that it would be hard to get you into France without one.” “France? Oh my gosh! Your serious?” Is it possible for me to love my husband even more?

——————–

Looking out the plane window as we were landing, I shrieked! Champs Les Sims looked so adorable! Like one of those quaint little villages that you see in all of the movies! The place we were staying in was adorably built like a house, which was welcoming, as opposed to a tiny hotel, and when we walked into what appeared to be the living room, Conrad gave me a look as if to say Bedroom? and wiggled his eyebrows. Lightly smacking his arm, I said “Ah ah ah! Not yet, after traveling all day, I’m hot and disgusting, so I’m going to shower, than I want to see more of this place.” I gave him a kiss before heading upstairs to shower. After setting our stuff in our room, Conrad told me to go put on something pretty, for a night, or day rather, around town. Looking down at my flats, leggings, and Nyan cat dress, I asked him what he meant, thinking I looked fine. He then opened my suitcase, and pulled out some clothes, saying that those were more suitable. I can see how marrying a stylist might be a slight problem when it comes to clothes. Though I looked good, I felt really awkward and nervous. So I started fooling around to calm my nerves down I heard an intake of breath and turned around. Conrad looked amazing! He even took off his glasses. Which made him look even more hot! “You… You look stunning Dee.” He stuttered in shock and awe. How can he do it? How can he say one small thing, and make me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world? “I had a good stylist.” I chuckled. “A stylist can only do so much.” He chuckled, before he leaned in and kissed me.

“Are you ready? I have everything prepped.” I nodded, and he practically dragged me out the room, and out the door of the hotel, laughing like a ten year old the whole way. I was barely out the door, when Conrad hopped onto one of the scooters that he rented, and after a quick, barely understandable explanation on how to operate one of these things, yelled “Race you!” and sped off.

We arrived at the winery, both out of breath from our small race around Champs Les Sims. Crashing through the door, we were given the death stare by all of the people in the winery. Maybe we were a bit too loud. My face began to feel hot, and I looked at Conrad, who shared the same embarrassed look on his face that I must have had. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one who just made a complete idiot of themselves made me feel a bit better, which threw me into a fit of giggles.

I let Conrad take the initiative since I had never been to a winery. Heck, I’ve never even been to a bar.

“Hello, do you speak English?” When the man nodded, Conrad asked him for a tour.

As part of the tour, we were allowed to make our own bottle of wine. I have to say that it tasted like barf, but then we were given a complimentary bottle of wine, which actually tasted pretty good.

I may have drank a bit too much to drink, as I was laughing at pretty much everything that anyone said, and had an overwhelming desire to dance to whatever was playing on the radio.

But looking at Conrad’s smiling face, I honestly didn’t care how ridiculous I acted, as long as I was with him.

——————–

I stood in front of a mirror in the bathroom. Good Lord I was nervous. I… What if I don’t do good enough? What if he… No! Conrad isn’t like Reuben. I know that he would never lay a finger on me. I took one more deep breath before I stormed out of the bathroom.

When I waltzed into the room, he had already stripped down to his boxers, and was reclining on the bed, waiting for me.

“Holy crow…” He said when he saw me. I couldn’t help but blush.

“Are you ready for me to rock your world?” He chuckled

“Of course! How much for a lap dance?”

“Well, the first one is always free.” With that, I started to slowly inch closer, swaying my hips to silent music in my head. When I was just a few inches away from the bed, a memory came into my mind. An unwanted memory.

“Dance for me! I said dance for me you worthless skank!” He yelled, and grabbed my arms.

“No…” The words were barely out of my mouth, when I felt his palm smack my face.

“When I say you dance, you dance! I own you. What are you going to do, go to the police? You know that if you tell anyone, I will make this even worse for you. If you run away, I will find you.” He laughed, before shoving me onto the ground.

“Odine?” I was snapped out of it by Conrad’s worried voice. “Was it…?” I nodded before he could finish the question. He tapped the side of the bed that he hadn’t been laying on, and I went to lay down next to him. “We don’t have to do anything if you want. We could just go to sl-“

“No!” I said more forcefully than I had wanted to. If I couldn’t do this now, what about in the future. I can’t let some man who abused me control me. I can’t give him that power. “I want to do this… I… I need to do this.” I said before I kissed him on the lips.

“Are you sure…?” He asked. He was flat on his back, looking up at me.

“Absolutely.” I said with confidence.

——————–

That was… Well, frankly how it was is really none of your business. But I will let you know that it was a totally different experience than with Reuben. I should have known all along that Conrad wouldn’t do something like that…

“You know I love you, right?” Conrad asked me.

“Of course I do. I love you too.” I told him sleepily.

——————–

“Are you ready to head home?”

Grabbing his hand, I nodded. “I had a ton of fun. But I just want to get back to Bridgeport.” I really did enjoy this Honeymoon. Conrad and I would go sightseeing in the day time, and at night, we would spend time together talking… And doing other things. But I was ready to go home. I wanted to see Lance, and though I would have to prepare to field some slightly inappropriate questions from Deidre, I couldn’t wait to see her either. But most importantly, I was ready to begin my life as a married woman, with Conrad by my side. As long as we both shall live.

——————–

I hope you liked a little bit of insight into Odine’s mind. Lemme know what you thought of this little special guys. As Tobuscus from youtube.com says “Peace off!”

1.4 The Love of a Woman

*Gasp!* Is it true? A new chapter, really??? Yes!!! Sorry guys for going AWOL on you. Oh, and before you read this, I want to apologize beforehand if some of this stuff isn’t realistic, and stuff… Anyways! So a whole bunch of stuff happened with my laptop (wanting to upgrade my memory, then having to update from windows 7 32-bit, to windows 7 64-bit so that my laptop could actually use the 8 gbs of memory that I bought), and even though I saved the back-up files of the Lees, when I tried to move the save back, it didn’t work. Then I got a bit addicted to my ISBI ‘Huggs For The Insane’, you should go read it sometime. Anyways… I had saved Conrad and Odine though, so I just made Lance as a toddler in CAS, and I had a puppy saved in my bin that looked pretty similar to Mickey, so I used him instead, and I took the liberty of giving Conrad and Odine a (very small) make over,

and I remade the house

Front view of house

Living room/Dining room/Kitchen thing.

Bathroom (Derr)

Nursery. I know its not much…

Master bedroom

I know my building skills aren’t really that great… But what can you do… Now, without further ado. I give you chapter 4!

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I was so angry that I felt like my head was going to explode. The edges of my vision started to turn red,and I ran over, and punched a hole in a wall. That was when I guess you could say blind rage kicked in. I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened, except that I was snapped out of it by the sound of Lance crying, though it sounded muffled and far away. I looked around, while huffing and puffing, at all of the damage I’d done. Anything and everything that could be flipped or thrown, except for Lance’s crib, was. I fell to my knees in the midst of the carnage I had created, and started to cry. What am I doing? Odine had been gone for hours, Lance was crying, and I was acting like an idiot. Whether Odine accepted that I loved her or not, she shouldn’t be alone right now. Though I knew I would have to wait a little longer, I called up Stella.

Stella came right over after I explained the situation, yelling “go get ‘er tiger!” as I hopped into a taxicab.

“Where to?” The driver asked me. I racked my brain for all of the places that I thought Odine would run off to. Suddenly, it snapped into my brain where she would head off to. I told the driver the address, and he started to drive.

My stomach did back flips when my foot touched the sidewalk. I hoped that she was there, I mean, it is her favorite place in the entire city, and I honestly don’t think there would be any other place that she would feel relaxed. I passed the fence, and saw a person sitting on the see-saw far away. If I had thought that the back flips earlier were bad, it got so bad that I was practically begging for the flips that I had before. Stealing my nerves, I walked over to her, and sat on the other side of the see-saw.

We sat in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. To break the ice, I stupidly commented “Well, at least no one can call you a slow runner.” She didn’t smile, which definitely told me that she wasn’t doing well.

Sigh. “Odine, please come back. You can’t stay here alone forever. What would you do with Lance?” I winced, knowing that I had hit a nerve. She shrugged, not looking me in the eye.

“C’mon! We could forget about what happened. We could act like before, remember? I was your best friend?” Though I didn’t want that, I preferred to be only her friend for the rest of my life, over never seeing her again. My heart jumped in my chest when she slowly nodded, and said “I would like that…”

——————–

To say that Odine and my friendship was strained would be a big understatement. The only time that we were in the same room without feeling awkward was when we were taking care of Lance.

Speaking of Lance, That kid grew like a weed. One minute he was a tiny baby, and I could hold him with only one of my massive hands. the next, he was one year old, and it is already hard to keep up with him. Most of his features are Odine’s, but unfortunately his hair came out the same color as… He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named for fear that I would break something in my anger. He is a really good kid, despite his parentage. One thing he is really good at is learning. He’s not necessarily a fast learner, but once he grasps something with his mind, he does it perfectly.

I desperately wanted to repair mine and Odine’s relationship, but it seemed that every time she would let me get close to her, something would happen that she would shrink back again. For example, Odine finally didn’t shrink back or freak out at my touch, the next day, when I got walked through the front door, Lance ran up to me and yelled his first word.

“Daddy!!!” I almost tripped over my shoelaces when I heard that. While I was thrilled that he said his first word, perfectly too, Odine looked very uncomfortable with it.

For two years I had to endure being able to get a little bit closer, then having to take a few steps back. I love this girl, and I want to give her space, but she is seriously driving me crazy! It was really hard. One minute she would be yelling at me, the next she wanted a hug, and the next she couldn’t stand the sight of me. I might not have been the bast moral support at times. But I finally convinced her to stop blaming herself, that what she went through was never her fault. Though she was still a little adamant to marry me.

Whoops! I let the cat out of the bag. I guess I should tell you what happened. I had been given an engagement ring by my aunt Evalynn before I left home. So one day I stuck it in my pocket, and asked Odine to come with me.

I took her out to the park, and after pushing her on the swings, we sat down, and had a picnic.

Where I proceeded to get down on one knee and proposed.

At first she refused. But I convinced her that she was very special to me, and that I love her, and want to spend the rest of my life with her.

She eventually caved.

——————–

Our wedding day was one of the most memorable days of my life. I was outside, welcoming the guests while Odine continued to get ready, refusing to let me see her before the ceremony (stupid superstitions). We had invited the Strikers, but none of them could make it. Instead they sent tons of wedding gifts and an apology note. Odine’s family couldn’t come because her dad, Fredrick, wasn’t well enough to make the trip from Barnacle Bay, so her mom, Jane, was also staying behind to take care of him. I was snapped out of my thoughts by the voices of three of my most favorite people in the world, and the women who raised me.

“It’s good to see you sugar!” My aunt Mary Ann exclaimed, while crushing me in a bear hug. I pulled myself away from her, and hugged my other aunts Constance, and Evalynn.

“I’ve missed you guys!” I said, “I thought that you guys couldn’t make it because of Evalynn’s bad hip!”

“Oh poo! Those doctors don’t know what they’re talking about!” Evalynn stated. “My hip is fine, I only hurt it a little while trying to get Mr. Winklestein down from that old Sycamore tree in our backyard, and do you think we would honestly miss our little Conny gettin’ married?” She pinched my cheek as she said my nickname. Then noticed the time. “Oh, it looks like the wedding is about to start! Get on now Conny. We are expecting a formal introduction to your bride later!”

The Wedding procession began at the first note of the song that we both chose, and after Odine’s only bridesmaid, who was also the maid of honor, Deidre Littler reached the front, everyone stood, and turned as my beautiful bride began to walk down the aisle.

She was so beautiful, my heart did a little hop, skip, jump thing when I first saw her. I looked at Constance and Mary Ann, who the former gave me a thumbs up, and the latter smiled.

When Odine reached the front, I grabbed her hand, and we turned to my aunt Evalynn, who was the minister back at my old church back in Riverview, and had agreed last minute to do the ceremony. After a very touching speech from my aunt, the rings were brought and we were told to face each other.

“Do you, Conrad Lee, take Odine Perry, to be your lawfully wedded wife? To have and to hold, to love and to cherish. In sickness and in health, for richer or poor. Til death do you part?”

“I do.”

“And do you, Odine Perry, take this man, Conrad Lee, to be your lawfully wedded husband? To have and to hold, to love and to cherish. In sickness and in health, for richer or poor. Til death do you part?”

“I do.” And when she said that, my heart leaped in my chest, because I knew that she was finally mine, and that there was no turning back.

“Then by the power vested in me, in front of God, and all of these witnesses, I now pronounce you husband and wife. Conrad, you may kiss your bride.”

The wedding reception went by in a blur of music, dancing, cake, hugs, and kisses. But what I do know is that I had a blast!

——————–

Dee,

I think back to our wedding day; most of it is blurry and surreal, but I do remember one thing with utter clarity. I remember hearing you say “I do.” I can see your lips pronounce the words, I can hear your voice settling in my ear, and I can definitely remember the surge of emotion that flooded me (which I handled in an extremely manly fashion).
No two words have ever meant so much to me.

Yours,

Conrad

——————–

My Dearest Conny,

    Reading the letter that you left for me yesterday was the highlight of my day, between feeding, chasing down, and changing the diaper of my little munchkin, hearing your recollection of our wedding day brought a smile to my face, and tears to my eyes. I love you, and am anxiously waiting for your return home.

With even more love then you have shown me,

Dee.

——————–

My beloved Dee,

Every time I tell you I love you, it only feels like I am expressing a small fraction of how I feel. When I am around you, or think about you, or hear your voice, my heart feels like it is going to explode right out of my chest with love and joy. I don’t know how much longer my body can take this. But as long as my exterior is still intact, I will love you.

Yup, my body is still here,

Conny

——————–

I read off of the internet, that something that the famous men from the old days had, and may have helped them with their long-lasting marriages is that they would write love letters to their spouses. It does also help get some stuff out that the man doesn’t feel free to say, or can not express in front of their wives. To be honest, it really does help. I feel that Odine and I have gotten more intimate, and personal, every time we come together.

It wasn’t long after our wedding that Odine began to feel sick, and was throwing up constantly. We aren’t stupid, and both figured that she was pregnant again. I couldn’t be happier! But on the night that the doctors were able to confirm that she was pregnant, I went to bed with my wife in my arms…

… and I woke up alone. I walked out of my bedroom, finding it strange that Odine wasn’t standing at the stove. She wasn’t in Lance’s bedroom either, where I chuckled at Lance’s soft snoring.

Heading back into the living room, I noticed there was a note in the middle of the table. I opened it, and my blood ran cold. It said:

——————–

Dear Conny,

    I’m sorry, I can’t keep up this charade anymore. I don’t love you. I never have, never will. I will have left by the time you read this note. And I hope that you do find someone who actually loves you for who you are, because I can’t. I am leaving Lance behind with you, so please take care of him. I promise that you will never, ever see me again. Goodbye.

Signed,

Odene

——————–

She left?

How could she?

I loved her.

Why God? 

Everyone I love just hurts me. Were thoughts swirling in my head, and I started to cry.

——————–

So that’s chapter 4. Hope you liked it. Yes people, I did in fact put a failed Voldemort joke. Excuse my strange sense of humor. 

I also realized that with the pictures, I might have confused some people of who is who with the aunts, Constance is the one with the bun, Mary Ann is the one with the short bob thing, and Evalynn (love the way that is spelled) is the one with the wavy hair. Darn limited pictures!

Where ‘Conrad got the love letter idea’ is from an actual website. Its called ‘The Art of Manliness’ and it has a bunch of articles written by guys about a whole bunch of stuff. I would say every possible thing you could imagine, but that’s probably not true. The article is called 

A Resolution for Romance: The 52 Loves Notes Challenge

I would explain what it talks about, but you would understand better if you read it, and it has a flippin’ awesome letter from president Reagan to his wife. And yes, Conrad’s first letter to Odine was taken from that site, but I made his second letter up. Comments are requested, even if all you have to say is that Conrad is a girl and he should man up. I want to hear everyone’s opinion. It makes me sad when I see 34 views :-D, 2 comments :-(. Also, if you didn’t understand something, or had any questions, please let me know, and I would be delighted to answer them. Peace out!