A law professor gets a family and a bookstore owner offers advice.
Previously in "Par Angusta Ad Augusta":
Monique looked up as Samuel stepped into her office. She waited for him to speak, knowing that being the one to start this conversation wasn't the best idea.
"Everything's cleaned up," Samuel reported. "Frank and Kathy already left."
"I hope they said 'good-bye'," Monique remarked.
"Good. When do you leave for Boston?"
"I'm driving up tomorrow afternoon. That'll give me about a week before classes start."
"Well, I have your parents' address and I'll mail your last paycheck to them," she said. "It's your responsibility from there."
"You'll be missed here," Monique told him.
"Thanks for everything," he said. "I learned a lot."
He gave her wheelchair a quick nod and Monique nodded back at him.
"You'll do just fine in Boston," she said. "They're lucky to have you."
"Thanks," Samuel said. "I'd better get going."
"Hold on," Monique said, stopping him. "You're not leaving just yet. Come here."
She motioned for him to come around the desk. Samuel did so and she pulled him down for a hug. He hesitated at first and then hugged her back.
"I probably crossed some kind of line," Monique said, "but I'll live."
"All right," Monique said. "Get out of here before I decide to keep you from leaving. Good luck."
Samuel gave her one last smile and left. Monique sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. With Samuel having been accepted to a graduate business program at Boston College, she once again had an opening on her staff, and she would have to go to the public to fill it. Plus, it was only a matter of time before Frank and Kathy moved on in one way or another. But they were still here for the time being, so Monique didn't dwell on that. Nevertheless, she'd have to find a replacement for Samuel and break them in as well. And, as her memory served, that would not be an easy task.
* * *
Jefferson was in his home office, catching up on sorting some papers and deciding what could be thrown out after being scanned in and reviewed on his computer. So far, he wasn't making much progress in lessening the overload which plagued his desk.
He came across an envelope addressed to Stanley and Margret. Opening it and skimming its contents on his computer, he realized it was a bill. But since all their affairs had been sorted out long ago, he knew it was no longer important and shredded the document.
Finding more items with the couple's names on them, Jefferson realized the stack had to have come from one of their pieces of furniture which he'd cleaned out and sold so long ago. He figured he got busy and therefore never got around to actually going through these papers. Deciding there was no time like the present, he set to work.
The papers seemed to be mostly bills and junk mail. Judging by the dates, Jefferson figured Stanley or Margret had brought in the mail but never got a chance to look at it. Everything was dated within a week of the accident.
Jefferson then came across a plain-looking envelope with his name on it. Concluding he was finished going through his dead relatives' mail, he went back to going through his own things. He wondered how he had never opened this envelope before. There was no return address or stamp, so he wondered how he'd even received it as he tore it open and scanned the contents into his computer.
Inside the envelope was a single sheet of paper which looked like it had come from a standard household printer. As he waited for it to scan, Jefferson dumped some magazines into his wastepaper basket. Why did he even bother to keep those?
His computer began reading the document and Jefferson paid attention, his curiosity peaked.
Please understand that I have battled with myself for nearly a year on whether or not to tell you what I'm about to tell you. It's been agonizing ever since I found out.
When we were together almost five years ago, I thought it ended between us that very night. But a horrible truth about that night has recently hit me. When we were together, we made a child. Jefferson, Matthew is you're son.
At first, I didn't suspect anything when Matthew was born, assuming that the protection we used had worked and that Stanley was my son's father, as it should be. But as he was growing, my mother's intuition was nagging at me and I finally felt compelled to secretly run a DNA paternity test last year. That was when I learned the truth.
Ever since then, I have been unsure of whether or not to tell you what I have learned. Of course I have not told Stanley, allowing him to believe that Matthew is his flesh and blood. He is my husband and the man with whom I chose to be with and love. That fact has never changed during all the years of our marriage, which is why our night together didn't mean anything. I just felt you ought to know the truth. And I must have started a thousand letters to convey this truth to you without success. I hope this one makes it into the mail.
I don't care what you do with this information. Whether you'd like to be more involved in Matthew's life or not is entirely your decision. I know we can find a way to make it work. All I ask is that Stanley never finds out. I do not want to destroy what we have. And please know how sorry I am for letting any of this ever happen. I hope you can forgive me and that we can talk about all this in person sometime soon.
My best wishes,
Jefferson sat in his chair, feeling as though he had just been punched in the stomach.
There was no need to reread Margret's letter. He had heard it perfectly clear the first time.
"My God," he wondered. "Was she going to send it?"
He paused, listening. The silence no one had heard his unattended uttering of that question. Even if someone had heard, they probably couldn't decipher the full context. Still, Jefferson was glad to have been alone at this moment.
He now knew that he had not been finished going through the papers from Margaret's desk. Apparently, Margaret had written it, printed it, and put it in an envelope with his address on it, which she then sealed. But she never got around to putting her own address or a stamp on it. Would she have put her address on it at all? When had she written the letter, or, this version of it?
Jefferson couldn't help wondering what had happened to the letters before this one and how far she had gotten with those.
But the most dominant thought on his mind right then was what the letter had disclosed. Jefferson couldn't believe his beloved nephew was actually his own flesh and blood.
"How do you explain that to a kid?" he wondered and chastised himself for thinking out loud again. Pausing again, he still heard no one.
Maintaining more control over himself, he then wondered if he should even tell Matthew at all. This is just crazy, He thought. What difference would it make?
The cacophony of thoughts catapulting around within his skull were interrupted by someone coming up the stairs, calling his name. He quickly deleted the document from his computer screen just as Abigail came into his office.
"What's up?" Jefferson asked, trying to keep a straight face.
"Monique's here," Abigail reported. "Come on Uncle Jeff. Let's go to the barbecue."
"Give me a minute. I'll be right down."
Abigail hurried back downstairs as Jefferson pulled Margret's letter out of the scanner. After thinking for a moment, he sent the sheet of paper through the shredder. He then got up and headed down the hall to his bathroom and splashed cold water on his face in an attempt to clear his head. He could hear Abigail insistently calling for him from downstairs. Ignoring her for the time being, he wiped his face with a towel. He took more deep breaths and descended the staircase.
On the second floor, he ran into Matthew.
"What are you up to, Champ?" he asked.
"I was washing my hands," Matthew told him.
"That's good. Did you already change into your swim trunks?"
"Come on," Jefferson said, heading towards Matthew's room. "I'll help you find them."
He quickly located the swim trunks in the closet and left Matthew with them, continuing on downstairs.
"Finally," Abigail said in an annoyed tone. "It's not nice to keep a lady waiting."
"I'll remember that," Jefferson said.
"She's right, you know," Monique commented, moving her chair forward slightly.
"Great. I'm getting romantic advice from a seven year old."
He figured Anya had let Monique in. Setting this thought aside, he came over and kissed her.
"EW!" Abigail exclaimed, making a gagging noise. "Yuck! Gross!"
"Go outside and play with your sister," Jefferson said while Monique laughed. "I'll get the sprinkler set up in a minute."
Seeming All too glad to go, Abigail scampered away while Monique looked at Jefferson.
"What kept you?" she asked.
"I had to take care of some stuff upstairs," Jefferson said. "Help Matthew find his swim trunks and the like."
He felt a pang as Margaret's words replayed themselves in his head.
"Okay," Monique said. "Now, be a gentleman and take this bowl of potato salad off my lap. I'm pretty sure it shouldn't be staying there."
"You made potato salad?" Jefferson asked with a raised eyebrow as he found and lifted the large bowl off her lap.
"Joan helped," Monique said. "I mean, who do I look like? Ann Davis?"
"You be whomever you wanna be. For now, you can head on out back. I'll just go grab the burgers and be right there."
"Don't take so long this time," Monique advised as she headed for the open back door.
Jefferson rolled his eyes as she headed outside.
Handing the potato salad to Anya, He retrieved the plate of burgers from the kitchen just as Matthew was coming down.
"Everyone's already out back," Jefferson told him. "Go join them."
"Okay," Matthew said and was then gone.
My God, Jefferson thought, that is my son. He knew that it had to be the case. Margret wouldn't lie about that.
He headed outside into the backyard to find Monique telling the kids that, despite seeming capable of anything in their eyes, she could not set up the sprinkler for them to play under. Jefferson set the burgers down next to the potato salad on the patio table and dragged the sprinkler over from the side of the house and turned it on. The kids' desires now satisfied, he went back inside to retrieve a plate of sausages and a bottle of wine for himself and Monique, having already set out the water for the kids earlier. Anya followed him, carrying the Caesar salad she had made. She accepted some wine from Jefferson and watched as the kids played.
"An 89 Loraine," Monique commented, eyeing the bottle as Jefferson brought it over. "Available at any convenience store. You really went all out."
"Perfect for a backyard picnic," Jefferson told her, pouring some into the tumbler attached to her chair.
He went over to his small barbecue and began putting burgers and sausages on it. As he worked, he listened to the kids playing under the sprinkler, Presley joining them. His thoughts drifted back to the block party and he found comfort in this smaller, more controllable environment.
When everything was cooking, he came back and sat down next to Monique. For a few minutes, they drank and silently watched the kids playing.
"Relax," Monique said, sensing something was up. "You're doing great with them. Under the circumstances, they couldn't be any luckier."
"Thanks," Jefferson said, supposing the best circumstances would be the kids still having their parents with them. "You want some more?"
He indicated the wine bottle.
"Sure," Monique said. "You trying to get me drunk or something?"
"Maybe," Jefferson said, pouring more wine into her tumbler. "We could have some fun after I get the kids to bed tonight."
"Hey," Monique asked with a smile. "How long are you planning on keeping me around here?"
"As long as you wanna stick around here," Jefferson replied, returning her smile.