Devil’s Backbone — Part Eight

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“Have you talked to Chloe at all?” said Claire, who was just getting up at noon after having a mini sleepover in her older nieces’ room. She somehow slept on the hard floor and was now feeling the pain in her back and neck. She rubbed the back of her neck while she passed Brenda, who was starting her Monday off right, coffee and a bran muffin. “No, I’m pretty sure she wants to forget all about the mess that happened between John and I.” Claire walked over to pour herself a nice cup of black coffee. Surprisingly the coffee was still warm, which meant Brenda also got up late too. “Speaking of John, have you talked to him after you let him sleep on the couch that night after the wedding?” Brenda still reading her paper didn’t even look up at her young sister who was sitting across from her. “No, but I want to. I just don’t know what to say to him though. I mean, what is there to say to somebody that you’ve trusted all these years and find out they’ve gone out and betrayed you in such a way that you don’t think you could ever trust them again?” It was a conversation that Claire wasn’t very good at, since she’s always been the “cheater” in her relationships. She’s heard it all too well and Brenda was never going to get an answer she wants out of it.

Suddenly three little creatures appear from their bedrooms. Brenda’s daughters hadn’t heard about how their daddy’s been cheating on their mommy. Brenda was perfectly fine with keeping it that way too. She remembers what she and her sisters went through when they found out about their own father cheating on their mother. It was heartbreaking, you always wished they would get back together. Before you knew it though, once the divorce papers were filed, everything that you knew was gone. She didn’t want them to know about it right now. Brenda and Claire sat in their chairs while the little girls climbed onto the remaining chairs and insisted they have their breakfast. Motherhood never rests, and Brenda was thankful for it too. “Do you girls want milk with your cereal or do you want it in your cups?” Ava and Tatum both said, “with my cereal, please.” and Gracie sat in her chair, quiet as a button. She was usually quiet in the mornings, but it wasn’t morning. Brenda looked at her, she looked distanced from her sisters. Brenda put her hand over her forehead to check for a fever, but she was cool to the touch. It was just going to be one of those days with her. “Here you go girls.” Claire said as she placed two small bowls of Lucky Charms. “And here you go, Miss Gracie. Eat up.” as she placed the third bowl in front of the small girl.

Brenda had always wondered if Gracie was autistic or not, but John refused to get her tested. Anytime the girls had a problem there was a good chance John always had an excuse for it, but for Gracie, she had all of the signs. She hardly smiles at people or makes eye contact with anybody within the family. Claire sat back down on her seat and began feeding Gracie her breakfast. Within five more minutes, little cries could be heard from the next room. Brenda sat up and poured her left over coffee into the sink and walked into the next room to grab Ivy. She brought out into the kitchen and Ivy had some wacky hair going on! “Man, Ivy did you sleep well last night? You look like your curls are going to fly off your head!” said Claire, Ivy cheesed really big and Brenda sat up her high chair and placed her inside. She went back to the cabinet and grabbed applesauce and Cheerios box. She poured out some of the Cheerios onto her tray and she started taking one by one in her mouth like she was chipmunk or something. She’s was a little comedian. Brenda sat back down in her chair and used a napkin to wipe off the spoon to mix the cream in her coffee. After she wiped it clean again, she unhooked the lid and began feeding her, hopefully to drive her away from stuffing her mouth with cereal.

The six of them were having a pretty good brunch, until they heard a couple of knocks, and then here came Chloe walking into the kitchen. The girls were completely shocked and practically spilled cereal on themselves as they jumped out of their chairs to go hug their aunt. “Hey girls!” Chloe said excitedly and hugged them back. “Man, I’ve been gone for two weeks and you guys go and have a party without me. I see how you are.” Chloe said as she smiled, while getting a hug at the waist by both Claire and Gracie. “What are you doing here so early?” Brenda said as she fed Ivy her last bite of applesauce and wiped her face off with a napkin. “Well, after the kids go back into their rooms or whatever I’ll tell you.” Brenda and Claire looked up at each other and wondered. Brenda got the table cleaned up as the girls left for their rooms. Ivy still sat in her high chair until Chloe couldn’t take it anymore and lifted her up and hugged her tightly. “So what’s been going on since I left? Anything new? Filed for divorce yet?” Chloe said as she was still holding Ivy in her arms. “Shhh.. I don’t want the girls to know yet.” Brenda said as she whipped her towel at Chloe, “Well, they’re going to find out soon enough.” “What happened to your honeymoon?” Claire said without missing a beat. “Well, you girls remember when Hank and I were on a break by in high school, and he was with Jessica and a few other girls?” Chloe said as she put Ivy back in her high chair. “Yeah.” said Brenda and Claire, “Well, looks like he might’ve gotten one of them pregnant and you’ll never believe who the girl is,” Brenda sat down real quick before this got any worse, “Nicole Boyd showed up on our first day there and brought her five-year old son and told me, that Hank is the father.” Chloe said as she leaned up against the counter,

Circles — Part Seven

Pregnancy photography :)A few years before Chloe and Hank had gotten engaged, they had been dating off and on for about six years. They started dating at their junior year of high school. They were so in love and there wasn’t a time where they were apart. If that happened, it was because the other one was grounded. Back then, Chloe was in the mist of celebrating her older sister’s new marriage and welcoming her first niece. Chloe never thought they would make it together after school was over. Honestly, nobody in her family thought it would, after the hell her mother went through. At the prime of their life, Chloe was trying to focus on her future, if in case, they did break up after they graduated. Hank didn’t like the fact that she didn’t believe in their relationship for it to last. So he decided to break up with her. It wasn’t the first time they went their separate ways, but this one was a lot longer. They were apart for more than eight months. She knew what he was doing and even though they were not together, she felt herself become jealous. Hank was around another girl, actually a few girls., one being Nicole Boyd.

Nicole was actually a childhood friend of Chloe, but a really old friend. They were neighbors when they were growing up and they were each other’s best friend. They had matching dresses, Barbie dolls, and every girl’s favorite necklaces. They were this way for many years, until after Chloe’s little sister Claire was born and her father left the home for good. Nicole’s mother Andrea was also friend’s with Sandra, Chloe’s mother. They were happy that their daughters were best friends, but when the town heard of Sandra and Chuck were separating, the entire town was mixed. Chuck was the man of the town and loved to help out anybody who asked him. However, that’s what got him in trouble most of the time too. Chuck was a fairly attractive man, his daughters got his beautiful looks, but they got their mother’s fears. When Sandra and Chuck went through separate ways, Andrea sided on Chuck and said that Sandra was the one who was in the wrong. The girls were in middle school, and they were in band together playing the flute. The fight for first chair was brutal in the beginning of the feud. Cat fights and name calling. They were normal girls. At the end of sixth grade, friendship was in the past. Nicole became the slut of the class and Chloe was nerd in school. Chloe always believed when she would get a boyfriend, Nicole would get very jealous and spread rumors about her. The hatred grew more and more with each passing year that they were around each other.

Hank knew how Chloe felt about Nicole, but they were done. She wanted to keep things the way they were, but she missed being in that relationship. She missed Hank. She wanted to think about her life first, because she had been so about her life as an individual for years and felt worried about her parent’s marriage that nothing about love looked appealing to her. Other than that, she definitely missed being around Hank and had heard he missed her just as much. While she was work, she had got told by one of her co-workers that she got something. When she walked back to her desk, she found a vase full of red roses. There was a card saying, “Sorry, I was wrong, I can’t live without you.” She couldn’t believe Hank could be that sweet. Chloe always figured he paid one of the ladies at the flower shop to write something sweet on the card for him because the writing wasn’t even in his writing. It was a good gesture though! After she got home, she called him and they got caught up on their time apart and Chloe felt a piece of joy talking to him again and when they decided to give it a go again. She never asked him about the girls he hung out with, and he never brought them up either. She felt like it was the best relationship in the world and after a while, her family started to love him as well!

Now after all these years together, here she was, with her husband’s child–well, possibly. As much as Chloe wanted to keep Nicole out of their honeymoon suite. It’s some nerve that she showed up while they were on their honeymoon, almost like she was planning this all along. Chloe wanted to chill out, and be cooled and collected, but her rage was peeking up behind her. The only reason why she hadn’t exploded on her former best friend is because there was a five-year old sitting on the chair, eating the leftover oranges from this morning’s room service, Nicole sat in the chair next to the small table with her young son, who looked more like her than Hank. The little boy sat quietly but smiled brightly at his mother and at Chloe. Hank was out walking by the ocean. “How did you know that Hank and I would be here, of all places?” Chloe said, as shr stood up against the doorway from the bedroom to the living area. “My mother called me yesterday afternoon when her neighbor came home from your gorgeous wedding.” Nicole said, “I still can’t believe he actually married you after telling me that he would be there for James. After I had him, I moved on and moved here. It’s always sunny and warm. Even though I moved away from Hank, I still wanted him to be a daddy to his son.” Nicole said as she rubbed her son’s curly hair down. Hank had curls when he was a baby, but every baby has curls. James wasn’t a baby anymore. He was five years old. Nicole was looking for her child support. That’s all she was there for; not for her son’s needs, but for her needs. That’s all she’s ever been.

Little James sat on his chair and asked politely if he could have a drink water. Nicole looked around inside her bag for a juice box, but didn’t find one. Chloe felt for the child. She left her place by the wall, to grab a cup from the cabinet and fill it with water. She brought it back and instead of giving it to Nicole. She put the glass on the table and watched the five-year old smile big and say “thank you” and grab it and attempted to get a sip without dropping it on the carpet.  Ten minutes later, they heard a key cling against the door. Hank was back from his walk and as he opened the door and saw his beautiful wife kneeling by James, he also saw an old girlfriend/one night stand of his. He was going to need a whole day to explain himself to Chloe. “What is going on?” Hank, said out of breath. “I don’t know, Nicole and her five-year old son James showed up a half hour ago saying you might be the father.” Hank turned his head as quickly as possible towards Chloe, who was now on the edge of tears. “He’s not mine, I swear! She even knows that. She even told me that he wasn’t mine.” Hank said, almost yelling at both of them. “Well, those others I was with, turned out not to be the father and you’re the only one left I was with at that time period.” Nicole said with her arms crossed. He turned and looked at little James, who looked distanced. “He doesn’t look like me. I mean, you were with other guys, how am I the only one left?” Hank said as he stood up again. “I wasn’t that big of a slut as many people thought I was in high school.” Nicole said, “Even though you have a kid.” said Chloe, as she tried to keep in her laughter. “Fine, don’t think you are the father. Take the test and let’s find out.” Nicole said, as Chloe looked back at Hank, “Fine.” Hank said in agreement.

The Mirror Never Lies — Part Six

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So if you haven’t noticed. I didn’t necessarily finish up my part five, did I? As I writing it and creating different parts, other ideas started flowing around in my head. I finished the last section with Claire and Brenda sitting in Brenda’s kitchen, drinking wine, talking, and waiting for the cookies to finish baking in the oven. Brenda’s husband hasn’t come home yet and Chloe and Hank are on their honeymoon. I decided to make last section all about Brenda and Claire because I thought they needed some time together. There’s a back story to everything and we’re about to unlock some more stories from not only John’s past, but someone else’s as well!

*Ding!* “Thank god! They’re done!” Claire said, but as she tried to stand up from her chair next to her sister, she realized that she already had too much alcohol for her small body. It had worked a lot faster than she would have wanted it to, but she tried to clear her mind and stumbled over to the oven. Opened the door and went to try to grab the pan from inside, but forgot she didn’t have her mittens on, and felt a big sting on her fingers. “Ouch! Son of a bitch!” Claire said in a loud voice, angered with rage at her own ignorance. Brenda couldn’t help but laugh, seven glasses of wine has done a good job of making the girls feel better, but now Claire wasn’t just dealing with emotional pain, she was now dealing with physical pain as well. Claire grabbed the blue mittens, she slipped them on and glad that when she went to grab the pan, the heat wasn’t as bad as her first attempt. Brenda giggled inside her hand at her drunken baby sister. “Oh shut up, Bree!” Claire said, still in pain. She sat it on the counter and took off the mittens to run her burnt fingers over cold water. After feeling some relieve, the girls heard the door unlock. The girls’ eyes widen and they stumbled on their feet to find their mystery person.

“Ohhhh…” John said as he began to walk toward the kitchen. He was still weak from getting his ass kicked by his new brother-in-law Hank. Even though his cuts and bruises were slowly healing after going to the hospital like Chloe and Hank’s groomsmen made him go. “Oh shit.” John said at the sight of not only his drunken wife,. but his other sister-in-law Claire standing the kitchen. This was not on his agenda for the evening to deal with the both of them right now, but it wasn’t like he was going to be able to ignore them forever. “What are you doing?” Claire said, in a slight slur. She hated him to the core now and hoped this would play out better than she expected it too, but she knew Brenda well. She would fall back in love with John, if given the chance. He didn’t deserve it whatsoever. “I do actually live here, and Brenda, why are you allowing your minor sister drinking wine with you? What if the girls woke up?” John said, as cocky as ever. “I don’t think that’s much of your concern since you can’t even handle the slightest bit of wine anyways. It makes you “sick.” Or was that a lie too?”  said Brenda who was no longer in the mood to hear his voice at the moment. “It does actually make me sick if I have too much. You know that!” John said in an angry tone. “Claire would you like to sleep in my room tonight? So this asshole can sleep on the couch?” Brenda said, who didn’t want to talk anymore. “Sure, let me just get these cookies packed up.” Claire said back to her sister without moving her gaze from the John. “Great, I’ll grab another bottle of wine and bring our glasses. Good night John.” Brenda said as she walked away and left her younger sister with the love of her life. Alone.

It took everything to not punch John in the face. She packed some of the cookies into a plastic, but kept a close eye on John just in case. “Do we anymore beer left, or did you two drink that too?” John, said as he walked past his younger sister-in-law. She tried to ignore him, but that comment made her want to kill him. “No, asshole! We haven’t touch your precious beer.” Claire said in a sarcastic voice. John ignored her and opened the fridge door and grabbed a cold beer. She walked back over to the couch one last time to grab her stuff that was piled everywhere. She grabbed the clothes and cookies and tried walking towards Brenda’s bedroom when John stopped her. “You have to realize that I never meant to hurt your sister or any body in your family. I had a moment of weakness. That’s all!” John said, in a whisper. She looked at him, not seeing his soul in his eyes and told him, “Why are you telling me this and not your wife? Besides you had plenty of times to stop yourself as what I heard. Your damage has been done. Don’t let the door slam on you when leave.” She walked around him and opened the door to see her sister’s tears flowing down her cheek. As she slammed the door, John crashed onto the couch and turned on the TV to watch a rerun of a basketball game on ESPN. He had done wrong, he knew that inside, but how could he bring back all of the sorrow he had done? He wasn’t ready to lose his wife or daughters, but yet he felt like that’s what he had done so long ago.

When Chloe started looking at the text messages and started wrapping her mind back into the drama that surrounded her family once again. She wished she was there to comfort her sisters. Hank was her everything and couldn’t imagine him cheating on her, but she did hear about a time when he did kiss somebody else while they were on a break one year. She was devastated, but he promised that’s all it was and that he’d never do it again. She believed him with all her might, because she desperately wanted their relationship to work. She sat in their large gathering room in their honeymoon suite, eating the fruit that room service had delivered to them. She sat in her chair reading text messages and eating fresh strawberries and oranges. Hank was out running down the beach. Chloe had too much in her head to join him so she stayed behind. As she was finishing, she heard her door bell ring. She wondered who it could be. She didn’t order anymore food and knew Hank had his key with him. So she stood up from her chair and walked over to the peep-hole to find a woman and child standing before her. She thought they came begging for money, but still opened her door. “Hi, can I help you?” Chloe said gladly to the woman and smiled at the little boy. “Hi, are you Chloe Cohen?” It hadn’t been more than 20 hours since the wedding and it was still strange to hear her name like that. “Yes I am.” Chloe said, kind of wondering how this woman knew her name after a short period of time. “I’m Nicole Boyd.” Nicole…..Nicole……where have I heard that name? Chloe’s mind tried to figure it out, but no luck. “I’m sorry, Your name sounds familiar, how do I know it?” Nicole looked at Chloe point-blank and said some words that the newlywed didn’t expect to hear. “Your husband and I dated for about a year after you guys graduated.” Ahhh! It clicked it was the girl that he went out with when they were on there break. “And this is his son James.”