After years of working hard, putting in extra hours, and trying to live down my party girl image, I have finally been promoted to CEO. This was my life-long wish, but what I’ve realized is that it isn’t the stopping place for me. No, I want to reach the top of the business world.
But being CEO has its perks, like the company limo for example. Also, now that I’m CEO, we finally have enough money to get a larger place.
Well, I couldn’t afford to get a larger place by myself—yet, but Ron, Alana and Caleb were also becoming more successful, too. Together we could afford a two bedroom, two bathroom penthouse.
“Are you sure you want to share a bedroom with me,” Caleb asked me jokingly when we moved in.
“Well by now I know that you only snore a little bit and you rarely kick and you never hog the covers. Sure,” I said. “I’ll let you sleep with me.”
“Hey! I do not snore!”
“You do so,” Alana quipped. We’d lived in such tight quarters for so long that we all knew a little too much about each other’s sleeping habits.
Since I was the one to put most of the down payment on the penthouse, I did get the largest say on how it was decorated. I like green, so that’s the primary color I chose. However, I did let Ron and Alana do their own room. She chose pink but allowed Ronald to pick out a blue carpet.
The new place wasn’t as perfect as it could have been. We were not rich by any stretch of the imagination. Most of the appliances were old and needed a lot of tinkering. Luckily Caleb was handy.
I invited my former boss, now simply a co-worker, to see my new apartment. Katrina was my best friend.
“I really like it,” she told me. “But it’s very green, isn’t it.”
“I know, but I really like green,” I laughed. I knew that my choice of wall color wouldn’t agree with everyone. “If it wasn’t for all of your help at work, I couldn’t have ever gotten this far,” I told her. “I just wanted to say thank you.”
“It was nothing. I just didn’t want to see my husband get his hands on you. I live to thwart him.”
We talked for several hours before Katrina had to leave. I offered to let her stay for dinner, but she reminded me that she didn’t eat food like I did. Sometimes I forget that she is a vampire even though we are such good friends.
The beauty of having such a large living area is that you can do with it what you want. We decided to convert the dining room into a music room. Caleb and the others use it to practice in. Now that they are getting more gigs, practice is essential.
With all of the band’s successes, Ronald and Alana have decided that it is finally time to get married.
“I never thought she’d set a date,” Ron joked one morning over pancakes. He smiled sappily at Alana. “But we’ve decided. It’s going to be next month.”
“That’s fantastic, Ron,” I enthused. “Maybe we should make it a double wedding!” I had no qualms about marrying Caleb. The only reason we hadn’t set a date was because he kept pressuring me to call my parents. He wanted both Mom and Dad to be at the wedding. I didn’t really want to invite Dad since he had made it so clear that I wasn’t wanted before I left Twinbrook.
“Are you getting married here in Bridgeport or going home to Twinbrook?” I asked Ronald.
“Here,” he said. “Alana doesn’t want to go home. Her family has moved and they weren’t that close anyway.”
“I hate that swampy town,” Alana added. “Always did. My folks are now stationed in Meadow Glen. They won’t be able to come to the wedding, but that’s ok.”
“Are you going to invite Mom and Dad?”
“Yeah, but I bet Dad won’t want to come. You know how he feels about cities.”
In the end we didn’t get married the following month like we had originally planned. Instead Ron got a phone call from Sydney a few weeks before.
“Hey Ron, it’s Syd.”
“Hey big sis, what’s going on over at the farm?”
“The farm’s doing well. The new irrigation system I put in has nearly tripled our output.”
“Yeah, but that’s not why I’m calling.”
“Mom? What’s wrong with Mom?”
“She’s real sick, Ron. She has a rare form of cancer, and the doctors don’t think she’ll live much longer.”
“Should we come see her? Does she want us to come?” Ron asked, his voice breaking slightly.
“She would probably like that. She talks about nothing except your weddings. She was so excited to see you get married. She’s disappointed that she can’t come now. But things have gotten bad quick. She’s so weak!”
“God, Syd! I wish we could be there right now.”
“Come when you can,” she said.
Ron told me everything as soon as he hung up. Then he called and booked a flight back home. I was not able to go with him because I had a big presentation at work followed by some important meetings with other CEO’s from Sim City and Sunset Valley.
I wish that I could go back in time and call my secretary to cancel or re-arrange those meetings. Mom died the third night of Ron’s visit. I wasn’t there to say goodbye.
I felt so guilty for not being there, but I couldn’t face my siblings. I also didn’t want to fight with my dad. So I decided not to go to the funeral, either. I used my meetings and business deals as an excuse.
I could tell that Mina was upset when I called to tell her about my decision. I called her because I didn’t want to risk having to talk to my dad if I called Sydney at the farm.
“But it’s Mom’s funeral,” Mina said. “Don’t you think you should be there? Don’t you think your meetings can wait?”
“There’s billions of simoleons tied up in these deals Mina. I want to be there, but I just can’t get away. Caleb is coming and Alana. Ron’s already there. It will be fine. I think Mom would understand.”
“But what about us? What about the rest of your family?”
“Dad probably doesn’t want to see me either,” I said.
“He does, Kindra. He wants to talk to you.”
“I doubt it. Ron says that Dad hardly said anything to him since he’s been back. He doesn’t even acknowledge Ron’s success.”
“Dad has a hard time expressing his emotions,” Mina argued. I clutched the phone hard because it was the same thing Mom had always said to me.
“I just can’t get away at this time. I’m really sorry. I would be there if I could,” I repeated. My words sounded hollow and untrue, but I couldn’t take them back now.
“What about Charlie, Kindra? Don’t you want to see him? He’s walking now. And talking, too.”
Charlie. In my mind I flashed to the picture that I had tucked in my wallet. Mina had sent it right after Charlie’s birthday. Yes, I wanted to see him, but I knew that I couldn’t. He had my red hair, but he had Jack Osborne’s eyes. Even if things had been fantastic with me and Dad, I couldn’t go back to Twinbrook. I didn’t want to see my son again. Seeing him would hurt even more than the loss of my mother.
“You’re Charlie’s mom, Mina. I shouldn’t see him.”
“I know that I’m him mom, Kindra. But you’re his aunt,” she sounded exasperated at me. “You should meet him.”
I managed to hang up eventually and I remained steadfast in my resolve not to go to the funeral. But it was a difficult decision.
We didn’t get married right after Mom’s funeral either. Ron and Alana decided to put it off for another month. That was fine with me. I felt pretty bad and am ashamed to say that I reverted back to some of my old ways.
We went out a lot. I convinced Caleb and the others that it would be good for their reputations, but truthfully, I just wanted to forget my pain and loss.
I should have known that I wouldn’t be able to fool Caleb long, though. He waited until we were at one of Katrina’s house parties to corner me. He asked me to join him in the hot tub and I thought we were going to have some fun. Instead he made me come clean.
“Why are we doing this Kindra?” he asked.
“Because we’re two consenting adults in a hot tub,” I flirted.
“No, I mean why are we going to all of these parties? Why are we staying out late every night and drinking too much?”
“Because we like to have fun?” I knew what he meant, but I didn’t want to admit it.
“Why are you running from your feelings?”
“I’m not. I like having fun. I like being with you. Is it so bad to want to go out on the town sometimes?”
“No. But we’re doing it all the time. We’ve been out every night since your mom’s funeral.”
“So, it’s just like what you told me about your first few months here. You were hiding your feelings then, too. And it didn’t work then, either.”
And he was right. I burst into tears. Caleb tired to console me the best he could. “What’s really bothering you?” he asked. “Is it your mom or your dad or is it really Charlie?”
I hiccupped and looked at him. How did he know me so well? “All of them,” I finally said. “I’m so sad that Mom is gone and I’m so mad that Dad can’t understand me or accept me and I feel so awful that Charlie is growing up without me.”
“He doesn’t have to grow up without you, you know.”
“But I gave him up!”
“You gave him to your sister. You’re his aunt, now. It doesn’t mean you can’t get to know him.”
I shook my head. “I can’t get to know him. What if he’s like Jack? He has Jack’s eyes.”
“How could he be like Jack? He’s a part of you, too. Did you see that hair! And he’s being raised by Mina. Who could be a better mother than her? She wouldn’t raise him to be like Jack.”
“But Jack had a good mother, too, or so he told me,” I said.
“Not as good as Mina. She couldn’t have been that good.”
I knew Caleb was right. I knew that Mina had been right. I was Charlie’s aunt and I should get to know him in that capacity, but I was not ready to face him.
Still, my talk with Caleb did help. We stopped going out so much. We started planning for the wedding again. Instead of a big lavish affair that we thought we might have, we decided to keep it more intimate.
We cleared out the furniture in our apartment and decorated it with flowers and wedding bells. We rented a dance floor and a gobo light. I invited my whole family including my dad, but he decided not to come. Sydney said that Dad wasn’t doing so well since Mom was gone.
“I worry that he will soon follow,” she told me. “He loved mom so much that he’s lost without her.”
Apparently things had settled down with Calvin because he attended the wedding with Sydney and their daughter, Sylvia, who had grown into a lovely girl. I was surprised how much she looked like a red-headed version of Sydney at that age (except with longer hair).
Caleb and I were the first to exchange rings. Then it was time for Ron and Alana to do the same. Everyone was so happy for us. The party was a huge success. I think it may have boosted our celebrity, too, even though we had kept it a more intimate affair.
Near the end of the party, I cornered Mina to thank her for attending. I knew she was disappointed in me for not coming to Twinbrook. I knew she wanted me to get to know Charlie.
“You should see him, Kindra. He’s getting to be so big. He looks a lot like you.”
“He looks like Mom,” I said. “He won’t know that he’s my son. No one will.”
“That’s the thing, Kin. People will eventually realize that he must be related to me because he does look so much like Mom.”
“So. He’s your son. Why should people be suspicious?”
“People know that he’s adopted. He isn’t my natural son. They’ll make connections between him and one of my sisters…you.”
“Well then it is a good thing that I didn’t come to the funeral, isn’t it,” I said, but Mina shook her head.
“Don’t say that. You should have been there. Mom would have wanted you to say goodbye to her. She wanted you and Dad to make up. I think she would have liked knowing that you had given your son to me. She would have been proud of you for that.”
“Why? I gave away my baby. She and Dad would have both hated that. They were so family oriented!”
“No. They would have understood and accepted your decision. They were always happy that I got to have a baby, even one that was adopted.”
“Well, now wouldn’t be a good time for people to find out that Charlie’s mine. I think it’s a good thing that I wasn’t there. Charlie will never need to know and the press and paparazzi will leave him and you alone.”
Of course Mina wasn’t happy with what I said, but she did eventually drop the subject.
“Congratulations on your wedding, Kindra. I hope that Caleb brings you the happiness you deserve.”
I knew he would.