Chapter 10 (this thing is going on for a long time!)

Mush thought long and hard about Race's advice to listen to what his heart told him. He kept trying to listen, but it always seemed he couldn't ever be quiet enough. He kept busy with Jacob and his wife, but hated himself for making the wrong decision so many years ago. Now it wasn't just about him and Adele, it was about four other people as well who needed and depended on them both, and Mush could barely live with that weight.

A few months later, it was necessary of him to venture into Adele's neighborhood to deliver something to one of his wealthier customers. He knew Adele's house, he had memorized the address when it had been put in the newspaper all of those years before. He stopped in front of it, debating whether to go in or not. Sighing, he realized seeing her could possibly help him sort things out.

He grabbed ahold of the regal brass knocker with her new last name inscribed on it. He knocked twice carefully. A maid in the typical uniform answered the door, looking very frazzled.

"Yes sir?" she asked, looking expectant.

"Is Mrs. Heinrich available, miss?" he asked, removing his hat and revealing his curls.

"No, she's not taking visitors." the maid answered with a sour expression.

"Can you tell her Nick-"

"No. She's not taking visitors." the maid insisted and began to close the door. He heard a small child cry in the background and someone rush to console her.

Mush walked home, with the weight of the world on his shoulders, unsure of where to go next. He wanted to rid himself of her, of Adele. His cursed her name and wished he had never met her.

Two days later, he sat with Jacob while his wife sewed the ever growing boy a new coat. He was now walking and babbling and could sufficiently play with blocks to the twins' liking, although he always made them mad when he liked to run through them once the ever-so-serious three-year-olds had stacked them up as tall as he was.

A knock came on the door and Mush grinned and the baby who ran to see who it was. He scooped the little bundle up and opened the door, to reveal the postman.

"I have a letter for Nicholas Meyers." he said sternly.

Mush nodded and accepted the letter. The writing was curly and perfect, as if the sender had spent years perfect each stroke of the pen. He turned it over to reveal the Heinrich seal waxed onto the letter to close it.

Instinctively he tore it open, putting Jacob on the floor.

"What is it?" Rachel asked, noting the fevor in which Mush opened the letter.

"Just a letter from an old friend." he said sitting down on the bed. He scanned the letter at once. It read:

Dear Nicholas,

I do not know why I am writing you as I fear it won't do much good. It won't help my situation and certainly can only hurt yours, but I felt I must tell you. I saw you come to our house and the maid turn you away. I am sorry about that, I did insist no visitors and I didn't expect you to be one of them.

Gregory died two weeks ago. We are all devastated and shocked. He was in an automobile accident, driving too fast around a curve in the Catskills at his brother's vacation home. He died instantly and his brother has broken his neck and will probably never have the use of any of his limbs again. I haven't spoken to anyone since it happened. I feel so alone without him. But at least I have Cecilia, bless her heart. She just learned to talk and often will say "Daddy?" asking where her father has gone.

I know there are loose ends between us, but I must say goodbye. Cecilia and I are moving to Germany. There is nothing to keep me here any longer. My father thinks perhaps I can make a match there with someone who will support my daughter and myself. I'm only 21 and I feel so old. I don't think I have enough love for another man, Nick. One was enough, but then two...and now three? It seems near impossible.

I've never stopped loving you and I never will. But you have Rachel. She is wonderful, beautiful, talented, smart, everything you could have wanted in a woman. She gave you that beautiful son, so please stay with her. I can only imagine little Jacob is getting bigger as well and learning to walk and talk just as my child. I fancy they could have been excellent playmates.

Cecilia and I are setting sail in two weeks time to London and then back to the countryside in Germany to settle into mein Vater's home. I haven't been there in so long, my own home seems foreign to me...imagine that.

Goodbye Mush. I'll see you around.

Love,

Adele

Mush gulped. His heart raced, his mouth was dry. He looked like he had just seen a ghost.

"Nicholas...what is it!" Rachel asked, genuinely worried his troubles had now reached a head.

"I'm going for a walk." he answered without apologies and with that he slammed the door and went into the night.

----

He returned in the wee hours of the morning and found Rachel sitting up in his favorite chair, rocking Jacob who had since fallen fast asleep.

"You two should be in bed." Mush told her touching her chin lightly and hanging up his hat. Rachel shrugged away at his touch.

"What is it?"

"I suppose you know."

"No, I don't. I ain't a mind readah." he answered, sitting down next to her.

"That letter...from the wife of the Heinrich heir...I read it. Seems everything about us was a lie, wasn't it Nick?" she challenged, staying dangerous composed. He couldn't even see a tear in her eye in the dim of the oil lamp.

"No! It ain't like dat! She was me goil a long time ago...we ain't seen each uddah since."

"Right." she scoffed. "Right. That's why you go to her house? You're just as disgusting as your mother."

She stood up, putting Jacob in his crib and Mush was rendered speechless.

"I ain't done nothin', Rachel. Nothin'! I saw her in my stoah and I wanted to talk to her."

"She's in love with you, Nick. Are you in love with her?"

He stood there swallowing hard. How could he answer that question?

"I love YOU." and that was the truth.

"But do you love HER too?" she asked, on the brink of tears.

"I don't know, Rachel, I don't know." he answered, banging his fist into the wall. He was on the brink, on the brink of losing everything. "I can't do nothin' right and I know it."

Rachel seemed to have no pity for him.

"Whattaya gonna do, Rach?" he asked, looking at her with tears in his eyes. He couldn't lose her, she and Jacob were all he had. He might as well be dead if he lost them.

"I don't know." she answered, pulling her shaw tightly around her shoulders.

"Please don't leave me. I ain't got nothin' widout you. You know dat." he begged.

"DON'T do that." she insisted, raising her hands to her temples. "I don't know, Nick. I don't. Don't you think I deserve to be with someone who loves me?"

"But I do love you. I do...wid everythin' I got."

"But you love another woman with everything ya got too. That ain't fair and you know it. What if I loved someone else?"

"I'd murdah da bastahd."

She nodded. "I ain't gonna go dat far, but dat's about how I feel right now."

Mush sighed, understanding her point.

"I'm goin' ta bed now, Nick. I'll see you tomorrow. Maybe we can talk about it more then after I sleep on it." she told him, trying to mask how hurt she actually was.

"Aight. Sleep tight. I'm gonna take da couch."

She nodded and retired to their room, locking the door behind her.

Mush slipped off his shirt and trousers and lifted Jacob out of his crib. He kissed his tiny forehead. Jacob giggled and murmured "Dada".

"Dat's right, I'se your dada." he answered, cradling him. "I ain't gonna lose you, ya know dat? I love you so much."

Mush sighed and put his baby down after a few more moments of snuggling and lay down on the couch. He blew out the oil lamp and let his thoughts take shape in the darkness. He thought he was a broken man before, but now he'd hit rock bottom. And all because he was stupid when he was sixteen.

----

more to come! still don't know how to end the story...arg...we'll see.