General Fiction posted February 3, 2011 Chapters:  ...68 69 -70- 70... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Kelly throws a curve ball (or two)

A chapter in the book Twist of Fate

Twist of Fate, part 1

by Connie P

With their bags spread out on the bed, Kelly packed while Brian made arrangements for their flight home. She took her necklace from the room safe and paused to look at it before she placed it in her suitcase. “This is the most beautiful piece of jewelry I’ve ever seen.” She gave it a gentle twirl in the light. “You really have exquisite taste.”

Brian ambled to the window and shoved his hands into his pockets. “It looks good on you. I felt rather foolish for buying it after the fact.” He cocked his head, speaking over his shoulder. “I guess I’ve finally had to face facts. I can’t buy our way out of every situation … as much as I’d like to.”

Kelly continued placing clothing into her suitcase, but watched Brian as he stood contemplating. She huffed out an anxious breath. “I need to call Tommy. I’m dreading talking to him … I should have kept them better informed.”

“Go ahead and call; he may have talked to Emmie. I asked him to call her.” Still facing the window, Brian shook his head. “He’d held off on calling her. I guess he expected me to wave a magic wand. My box of tricks seems to be empty. While you have him on the phone, see if they’ll come out late this afternoon. I’d like to see Jamie.”

Once on the plane, Kelly settled into reflective silence. As they began descent, she said, “My stomach hurts. I wanted to go home, but I dread facing Emmie’s room. Should we just leave it as it is?”

“Leave it until you’re ready to change it. Don’t rush into anything.” He pushed his head against the headrest. “Tom made a good point before we left. He said I have a tendency to run from my problems. I think we need to find a way to live with this rather than trying to gloss over it.” He mumbled, “We may need to see a professional.”

“A counselor?”

He shrugged. “Maybe. This is going to be long-term. I’m sure there’s someone who can help us learn to cope with Emmie’s marriage to …” He stopped himself before he said what was really on his mind. While he considered Mike the lowest of the low, he didn’t want to say so again. “… an older man who is difficult.”

A deep nod preceded a little stammer. “I … ah … seeing a counselor is a good idea. What do you think people would say … I mean, would it be crazy to even think about …” She stopped in mid-sentence.

Brian arched his brows and waited for her to finish. When she didn’t go on, he said, “You’re talking in circles—if there’s something on your mind, spit it out.”

“Oh, never mind. I’m just being ridiculous.”

“You’re not going to leave me hanging. Now, what is it?”

“You know my birthday’s coming up.”

“Yes. If you’d like something special for your birthday … name it. I can’t think of anything I’d consider ridiculous … if it’s something you want.”

“I’ll be forty-eight.”

“I know--mine’s not far behind. Fifty has been hell. I’m hoping this year will be a little more predictable. I’m worn out.”

Kelly’s expression changed. Predictability didn’t figure into what she had on her mind, so she simply replied, “Oh,” and let the matter drop.

The plane touched down and within minutes the ground crew had their luggage on a transport vehicle and loaded into their car. Brian slid behind the wheel, but didn’t mention Kelly’s evasive statements again until they were on the expressway. With Turner Field on his right and the Atlanta skyline looming in front of them, he glanced over at her. She had her hands in her lap and sat in silence picking at her nails. He reached across the seat and patted her leg. “What were you trying to ask me on the plane?”

“Never mind. It’s the silliest thing I’ve ever come up with. Just forget it.”

“You know me better than that. There’s no way I’m going to accept you being afraid to ask me something. I’d think after all we’ve faced, you’d know you can ask me anything.” He saw her chest rise, but she continued to stall. He drummed the wheel. “I’m going to pull over. We’re not going another mile until you fess up.” He flipped on the turn signal and prepared to exit.

She turned her face toward the window and blurted out, “I want a baby.”

In mind-numbing bewilderment, Brian continued to maneuver through the traffic to take the next exit. He wrinkled his forehead and said, “Hold on.” When the car rolled to a standstill, he pushed the gear into park. “What did you say?”

“See, I knew it was a crazy idea.”

“Did you say you want a baby, as in an infant … a baby?”

She turned toward him, stone faced, and bobbed her head in a series of rapid little nods.

“I don’t know, Kelly. I mean, you’re very youthful for your age, but I think you’re jumping the gun. You talked about Emmie filling a void, wouldn’t you be doing the same thing?”

“I’ve wanted your baby for as long as I’ve known you.”

“You can’t be serious … can you?”

“I’m very serious. But, I don’t think a pregnancy at my age would be wise.”

“So you’re talking about adopting?”

“No. There’s a surrogate program in Atlanta.” She wet her lips with the tip of her tongue. “We could have our own baby, a Connor baby, by using a surrogate. The surrogate sometimes lives with the family during the pregnancy. It’s several thousand dollars.” She tried to read Brian’s reaction, but his expression resembled a blank canvas … a pale, blank canvas. She justified, “No where near the cost of that necklace.”

“You’ve checked into this?”

“A little.”


“A while back.”

“And you’ve never mentioned it to me … I’m stunned.”

She started pleading her case like a trial lawyer giving an emotional close. “Why not, Brian? We could offer a child everything. First of all, love … but just think about how it would be to have our own baby … a child that’s yours and mine. A little boy who would eventually have your looks and charm, or a little girl who would wrap you around her little finger. You’d be a great father. If we had a boy you’d have a namesake, otherwise … the Connor name ends with you.”

“Back up. My head is spinning. You’ve actually been thinking about this all this time?”

Another series of rapid nods. “Lamborghinis and million dollar necklaces … I mean, we could have our own plane and houses all over the world if we wanted them. But, none of that lives on. I want to give you a child.”

The color started to creep back into his face with hints of red across his forehead and cheeks. “Well, this is not a decision to be made on a whim--on the side of the freeway. I think the counselor I suggested should come before we make a serious decision like having a child.”

Her lips formed a pout. “You told me you wanted a child at one time, but you and Kathleen never got around to it. I don’t see why we can’t have our own child. I’ve never asked you for anything ….”

He gave her a dazed, traumatized smile. “I didn’t say no. You’ve hit me with this out of the blue … it couldn’t be more out of the blue.”

“When can I expect your decision?”

“When I’m certain you’re not trying to replace Emmie. You can arrange a counseling appointment and once we’ve talked this through with a professional, we’ll make our decision together.”

“Going for counseling is reasonable. It will do us both good, but I assure you I’m not trying to replace my daughter. Getting issues out in the open is one of the most liberating feelings … after we talked in that pub, I realized how much I’ve allowed myself to be manipulated. I taught Emmie respect. She’s started acting like Mike.” Kelly crossed her arms. “Brian, I don’t think I’m going to put up with her attitude. She and I may have to battle through a few things, but I’m tired of feeling like a punching bag, just because I love her.”

Brian drove back onto the highway. The incomprehensible nature of Kelly’s request short-circuited his thought process; he had no cognizance of driving through Atlanta. The luxury of operating on autopilot ended when taillights ahead of him warned of a massive traffic jam.

When they finally made it home, The Palmers and Laura met them at the door. Sympathetic hugs and a slap on Brian’s back from Eric let them know they were back in the bosom of support. Coming home had turned out to be a very good move.

After they’d unloaded the car, Brian asked Kelly, “Were Tom and Linda going to bring Jamie out?”

Lynne apologized. “I forgot to tell you, Jamie came home from school with an upset stomach. They said they’d see you in a few days.”

Brian wrinkled his chin in disappointment. He’d looked forward to seeing Jamie throughout the trip home. They sat in the den discussing Emmie and Mike. When they’d filled everyone in and nothing more remained to be said, Kelly looked around. “Where’s my small suitcase?”

Eric said, “I put all of the bags in Brian’s office.”

Kelly stood and looked at Lynne and Laura and then curled her finger for them to follow her. “I have something to show you.”

Eric glanced over at Brian. “What’s going on?”

“I bought Kelly a necklace. I’m sure that’s what she’s going to show them.” Brian leaned over and tipped his head for Eric to move closer. He looked toward the office and whispered, “What kind of legal nightmare is having a child using a surrogate?”

Eric’s hand went to his chest and he rubbed while he gave Brian the once over. “What the hell are you up to?”

“It’s not me. Kelly plowed into me about having a child on our way from the airport. She seems very serious. Look into it for me. I need to know the pitfalls before I give her my decision.”

“How do you feel about something like that? You and Kelly are not exactly spring chickens.”

“Tom and Linda are making it fine with Jamie. I was in total shock when she brought it up, but it didn’t take long for the idea to begin to grow on me.”

The women came from the office and Lynne held the box containing the necklace. She rested on the edge of the sofa beside Eric. “Brian’s raised the bar on gift-giving.” She opened the box and draped the pricey necklace over her fingers. As she wiggled the diamonds, she moved her hand closer to Eric’s face.

Eric gave Brian a dirty look. “Thanks, man.”

They were admiring the cut of the stones when Kelly’s phone rang. “Oh, it’s Emmie, excuse me.”

She walked up the stairs and Brian followed with his eyes. Her voice echoed, “I didn’t tell your dad what to say. He’s just as concerned as we are.” He held back for a few moments, but decided to walk up and make sure Kelly was all right. When he made it halfway down the hall, he heard her raised voice. “You listen to me, young lady …” He hustled toward the bedroom door with as much stealth as he could muster. He heard Kelly say, “I’m well aware of what Mike says about it.” After a brief silence, she shrieked, “He doesn’t have a point of reference for what a family is supposed to be, but you do.” Another silence. “Emmie, you weren’t brought up to talk to me this way …when Brian and I married he accepted you and me as a package deal. You’ve wanted for nothing and your feet have hardly touched the ground. Now, what you need to realize is, Brian is my husband. He and Mike may not care for each other, but he’s your stepfather and I expect you to treat him with respect.” Her voice elevated to a near scream. “Do not threaten me. You need to get your attitude in check. When you feel you can talk to me in a civil tone, call me back, until then … well, I love you, but don’t expect me to take any more bullying from Mike and especially not from you.”

Brian had backed against the wall across from the bedroom door. Kelly threw the door open and started to storm down the hall. Tears ran down her cheeks but it became immediately obvious they were tears of anger. She fixed her hands on her hips and looked through the corners of her eyes.

He pulled her wrists from her sides. “What was that all about?”

“It’s as I told you on the way home, I’ve had it. Emmie knows better than to speak to me the way she has. I’ve allowed the situation to control me, but I’ve reached my limit.”

“I heard you defending me. You don’t have to ….”

“I’m ashamed of the way she’s acted. It’s inexcusable. I don’t know why I let it go on this long.”

He spoke just above a whisper. “I’ve been terrified.”

Her eyes narrowed in a quizzical look.

“I stood up for what I thought was right once and it cost me ... ” He refrained from referring to his and Kathleen’s breakup. “I couldn’t bear to lose you over this.”

Kelly raised her head in proud assurance. She pulled her arms loose and returned them to her hips. “Sometimes I think you sell me short; don’t forget who you’re married to.”


This is part one of the final chapter.
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