You all are wonderful. Simply and truly wonderful. Keep the reviews coming. It makes me want to write more …. And on a more frequent basis. Happy Thanksgiving !
"Get that fucking stupid look off your face before I throw this shoe at you!"
Rhett sat staring at his wife in stupefaction, his mouth agape at her sudden outburst of anger. "Scarlett, what are going on about? We talked about this yesterday and you were fine. I already said that I'm sorry!".
She forcefully threw her beige Yves St. Laurent slacks into her Louis Vuitton carry-on. Initially, she had wanted the suitcase with the familiar LV monogram on it, but decided on the red Horizon 50 because it cost almost 7 hundred dollars more.
"No, we did not discuss it yesterday. You said you were sorry, that was all. I'm sorry does not count as a discussion, Rhett!".
She momentarily left the room with a huff of frustration, continuing to talk as though Rhett could hear her through the walls. "And besides, what did you expect me to do in there with my father and Gerry?! Seriously, my dad freaks out with loud noises. You honestly think I'd talk about something as serious as this in front of him?! Or Gerry, for that matter! Isn't that the reason for all this in the first place? Us screaming and fighting in front of the kids, traumatizing them and making them hate you?! You really want to do that in front of the baby?!", she yelled as she returned, throwing her reticule filled with make-up on top of the soft duvet cover of their bed.
"So, you're still upset then."
She threw her arms up in frustration. "Yes, damnit! Of course, I'm upset! You threw my daughter out of this house! A house, mind you, that is partially mine! How'd you expect me to feel ?!".
She forcefully opened her side table draw, throwing out items as she rummaged through it, seeking a particular item. "You know what Rhett, you must have severely low self-confidence."
Rhett crossed his right leg over his left, signaling with his body language that he knew this was going to be a long conversation.
"Oh, I forgot that you were a psychiatrist now too.", he said as he rolled his eyes.
She stood before him, her hands placed on her hips as she spoke with authoritative clarity. "Whenever you are faced with something that in anyway resembles criticism, you lash out. You can't handle it and you fly off the handle and act or do something cruel as a form of protection".
"Thank you, Dr. Butler, for that enlightening synopsis of my mental state. Will you please just finish packing so that we can leave?"
Scarlett sat in the chair across from him. She leaned the top part of her body forward, resting her elbows on her knees. "This all stems from your childhood you know."
Rhett threw his head back and groaned. "Been visiting Dilcey on your own, have you? I'm sorry to tell you this my pet, but having regular therapy sessions for years and reading self-help books, doesn't make you a professional therapist."
"Seriously, Rhett. You have a true fear of abandonment. You're so afraid that you're going to be abandoned again in the same way you were when your father threw you out, that when things get complicated, you leave before they can leave you. And, for your information, I don't read the self-help books. I listen to the audiobooks, smart ass."
He lifted his head and looked at her in the eyes. Her understanding of Rhett had increased significantly over the years and never ceased to amaze him. He remained unsure if this was a good or bad thing.
"But don't you see that when you lashed out at Ella and told her to leave, you were doing to her exactly what was done to you? What do I have to do to get it in your stupid, thick head that we are not going to leave you. I am not going to leave you."
She reached out for his hand, grasping it with both of hers. "You don't have to be afraid anymore, Rhett. You're safe."
As much as he tried, he couldn't hold back the stinging tears from filling his eyes. He moved his hand to cup the side of her face. "I don't deserve you".
He was rewarded with a smile and a simple, "We all know that".
"Who's going to make sure I get my meals on time when you both leave?! Who's going to take care of me?! I think you are both very inconsiderate concerning my needs!" Cat demanded as she stood in the doorway to their bedroom. Scarlett resumed her packing as she tried to calmly address her daughter's concerns. She and Rhett had planned on preparing Cat for their absence this weekend together, alone and away from her sisters and brother so that she would better understand. Her frantic display of emotion meant that she had already been privy to the information.
If there was one thing that had caused Scarlett's fiery temper to subside over the years, it was Cat.
"A child on the spectrum requires calmness and consistency". Those were the words that were firmly impressed on her upon her daughter's diagnosis of Autism. She sat in the pediatrician's office in a state of shock. She thought he would tell them that Cat was just above average for her age and needed little coddling or interaction with other children. The doctor's words had begun to filter through her ears in an incoherent wave of sounds as he listed common characteristics of Autistic children as they age. Rhett, who could clearly still hear, refused to believe that anything was wrong with his daughter and was rudely exchanging dialogue with the physician. She could see the increased animation in his body language as he pointed aggressively at the poor physician.
Wordlessly, Scarlett moved from her chair to sit on the floor next to her toddler and began helping her place the wooden blocks in patterned rows, whispering, "I'll do anything for you, Cat. Even if it kills me, I'll be anything you need me to be."
"Mrs. Fitz will be here, and Ella is spending the weekend here as well. I assure you honey, you will be regularly fed and well taken care of".
Cat began to become more agitated. The disruption to her normal schedule by her parent's absence, was causing her anxiety to rise. "And I like my bread not too toasted. I need it not too toasted. Who's going to make sure it's right if you're not here ?!".
"I will be sure to remind Mrs. Fitz about your bread. Catherine, look at me. Daddy and I will only be gone for two days."
"That's forty-eight hours!"
"Yes, in forty-eight hours, we will be back. I have left Mrs. Fitz with detailed instructions. You do not need to worry. You will be okay."
"But what about Mammy? I don't want Mrs. Fitz, I want Mammy to take care of me!"
"Mammy is spending some time with Aunt Careen. Remember, I told you that she was going to take care of her because she was sick? Cat, you will be okay."
She could see Cat's brain at work, her brows furrowed in deep thought.
"Cat will be okay", she repeated her mother's words out loud to herself.
"Scarlett, maybe we should just cancel.", Rhett began.
"No. We're going. Cat will be okay.", she said calmly once again as her eyes remained on her daughter.
"We've reached our cruising altitude of 39,000 feet. We should land at JFK in about two hours, Captain. You're both free to move about the cabin, but please be careful, as we may hit a patch of turbulence."
"Turbulence?", Rhett thought." My whole life has been a patch of turbulence." He glanced over to his wife who was focusing on her lap top. He was certain that, had she had the ability to move the muscles in her forehead, her face would be contorted in a scowl. He wished that she would abandon her unending quest to stay young, constantly filling her face with products that would make the lines and wrinkles vanish.
He found her most beautiful when her freckled face was without make-up, when she would saunter around the house in the early morning wearing her purple rimmed glasses; snuggling up in one of their plushy armchairs clad in her favorite pajama pants and T- shirt, her hair still a tangled mess of black curls spilling over her shoulders as she read the newspaper.
"Sydney, could I have a diet coke please?", Scarlett asked their sole flight attendant. She placed her elbow on the small table in front of her and rubbed her temples. "Have I mentioned to you how totally incompetent Ashley is?".
Rhett smiled. Those words were music to his ears. He didn't care how many times she said it. He would never tire of hearing it. "Only once or twice", he said with a wolfish grin.
"Well, excuse my language, but he is fucking clueless. I swear, if he were ever left in charge of the business for more than a couple of days, I'd be filing a chapter eleven in no time. Thank you, Sydney", She said as she took the glass of diet coke with a sigh.
Rhett wanted to tell her to close the laptop and relax, to forget about work and for God-forsaken Ashley, and enjoy the flight. Maybe it was because he was getting older that he began to appreciate the smaller things in life that were so often overlooked. Here they were, in their private jet, sitting in plush leather seats, served whatever they wished, flying through a clear, blue sky to New York, and his wife was sitting there missing it all.
"Did I tell you that Beau is starting to work with us next week? Hopefully he can undo all the mess his father creates on a daily basis."
Rhett stretched out his long legs in front of him. "Scarlett, I wish you'd put that away."
He knew that Scarlett saw her work as a distraction, an obsession really, created from her lingering fear of sudden poverty. Dilcey had stressed to him during their last counseling session not to dismiss it, but to view it as an indicator of something deeper that was troubling his wife. Just getting out of the house this morning and onto the plane had proved to be more trouble than he had anticipated and was completely stressful.
He almost had to peel his son away from his mother as they tried to make their way to the car. His little hands held onto her blue cardigan in a vice-like death grip.
"I come with you!", he cried as he buried his face in the curve of her neck, leaving behind a sticky reside comprised of tears, saliva, and mucus. No amount of cajoling or appeasement was accepted, and Rhett thought that they may actually have to take Gerry with them. Ella was the one to finally extract his clinging limbs from Scarlett; stating in an authoritative, and very Scarlett-like voice, that they had to go and would be back soon and he was to stop acting like a baby. It was then that Rhett noticed how grown up Ella had become. She really wasn't that little baby he soothed to sleep all those years ago anymore.
To his surprise, Scarlett closed the lid to her laptop at his suggestion and walked over to his chair." Move over, old man" she said as she squeezed into the empty space between his body and the arm of the chair. He welcomed her into his arms, pulling her head onto his chest; willing her to relax. She raised her legs and placed them on her husband's lap and let out a deep sigh. Rhett ran his fingers up and down her back in rhythmic motions until he could feel her breathing become slower and her shoulders relaxing. He placed a kiss on the top of her head and smoothed away the strands of hair that had fallen across her cheeks.
"Just relax. You're safe with me too."
Cynthia and Edward Waters shifted in their seats, sipping their half-filled glasses of Chevalier Montrachet as they waited for the illustrious Captain and Mrs. Butler. Aimee had provided them with sparse details of the couple. Simply commenting that they were nice and welcoming to her.
"But what do they look like, dear? How will we recognize them?"
Aimee frowned at her mother's question. Her mother was a typical Manhattan Matron: condescending and self-righteous. She knew her mother would take one look at Wade's parents and instantly form unjust opinions about them. She had never given much information about Wade's past to her parents. They were always aloof to him, treating him with an air of detached friendliness.
Much to Aimee's trepidation, Wade had insisted he ask her father's permission to marry her. She was terrified that they would verbally attack him, rebuking him for having the gall to even consider marrying their daughter. But, both Aimee and Wade were surprised when her father gave his permission giving Wade's hand a firm handshake and a slap on shoulder that said" Welcome to the family". But beyond her parent's congratulatory smiles and embraces, Aimee could tell they really didn't approve of her marrying a man they considered beneath her.
"Didn't Amelia say they were young?" Edward said before draining the last of his wine with one gulp.
"She said the mother was young looking. It doesn't necessarily mean she is young. The step-father is one of the Butlers of Butler Industries. You know, Butler Enterprises ; the big financing firm?", she said as her husband looked at her with the unmistakable look of confusion.
"Butler Enterprises, Edward. It's part of the S&P 500."
Edward nodded in agreement. He was never one to follow the stock market; unlike his wife, who's health seemed to fluctuate with the status of the Dow Jones Average.
"His worth is astronomical, but since Wade is not his biological son, I'm assuming that any inheritance he would receive from him would be quite lacking compared to his other children."
"Wasn't he involved in some sort of scandal a while back? Something to do with pornography?", Edward questioned.
"Yes, with an escort service or along those lines. He was even involved in that whole Heidi Fleiss debacle."
Once Wade and Aimee's engagement had become a reality, Cynthia had set out to discover everything she could about this young man who could possible become her son-in-law. There were very little public records concerning Wade in the office vital statistics. She found that he was illegitimately born on January 13, 1995 to Katie Scarlett O'Hara- then only 17 and Charles Hampton Hamilton who was deceased. He had a squeaky clean criminal background as well, with nary even a traffic violation. It wasn't Wade that was a cause for concern for her; it was his family.
For starters, his maternal grandfather immigrated to America from Ireland as a felon and quickly began having altercations with the law. The majority of his violations were misdemeanors for public drunkenness and assault, but still. Cynthia knew her friends would secretly love to marinate in the fact that her son- in-law came from an Irish peasant background, spreading the malicious gossip all throughout the city. Of course, they would say that it didn't matter one bit who Wade's grandfather was, but Cynthia knew better. She heard the snide remarks they made behind each other's backs, about their supposed "friends". She herself was an active participant in them.
And then there was his mother, her daughter's probable future mother-in-law, the potential other grandmother to her grandchildren. She indeed was young. Very young to have a son as old as Wade. At 39, Katie Scarlett O' Hara Butler had been married twice and was the mother to five children from three different men. From what she could gather from online information, Cynthia could see that the young Mrs. Butler had several encounters with the law in Georgia over the years and only been charged with two. Both were assault charges made against her by someone named Susan Benteen. She was the co-owner of two very successful businesses in Atlanta and was known for her "no nonsense" business practices that had earned her the title of "The O'Hara" among the leaders of Atlanta industry. The pictures that were available to Cynthia showed her to be lovely, but only in the grainy way pictures appeared in publications. There was no shortage of detractors for her. There were numerous negative reviews against her, both of a professional and personal nature. One in particular stuck out in Cynthia's mind.
"Scarlett O' Hara is the worst person on the planet. She is a downright whore who uses what's between her legs to get what she wants. She is completely immoral and the LAST person on EARTH that I would ever do business with."
The reviewer had left only their initials as a clue to their identity: IWK.
"Is this them?", Edward asked as he nodded his head in the direction of the approaching couple.
"Hey, you.", Ella answered as she saw Taz's name appear on her phone.
She closed her eyes and smiled as Taz's smooth Cajun drawl filled her ears. "Just checking on you to see how everything is over there and that ya'll didn't kill each other."
"Everything's fine. Cat and my little brother are both sound asleep. Bonnie is still awake of course, but she can take care of herself…well, sort of.", she laughed as she flopped onto her four-poster bed. Her bedroom was exactly the way that she had left it.
"How'd the conversation go with your mom and Rhett?"
Ella snuggled under the heavy down of her cream comforter. "Fine. Except that I had to have the most awkward conversation of my life with my mother."
Ella found it very difficult to maintain eye contact with her mother as she listed the numerous types of birth control and her own personal experience with them.
" I was raised in the Catholic Church and was always told that using birth control pills were a sin and that I was to abstain from sex until I was married. I had no clue about anything having to do with pregnancy prevention and as soon as I started having sex, I ended up pregnant with your brother. I used condoms for the most part after Wade was born, but they only work if you use them, hence- your arrival. I was stupidly convinced by Rhett to try the withdrawal method after we were married, which is the WORST form of birth control you can use, and was pregnant with Bonnie within a few months. And Cat and Gerry are the results of pure unprotected sex. So, you Ella must decide which type of birth control you want to use. There's also the pill, the shots, diaphragms, cervical caps, the IUD, and those little things they put in your arms. These are just the ones I used. In the meantime though, I'd like you to use these until you make up your mind."
Ella sat in stunned silence as her mother handed her the massive pack of condoms.
"They didn't say a word about you not going away to college?" Taz asked.
"Well, I decided to tell them that when they come back. It shouldn't be too shocking to them. It's not like I'm NEVER going to college. I'm just not going away to THAT college. And besides, they'll have to understand that I could never go to a school that far away from my husband."
Ella smiled. Apparently in their haste to make it to the airport in time, her mother and Rhett hadn't noticed the shiny gold wedding band on her left ring finger.