"Someone in the midst of us is holding a secret. Brother Joey, would you happen to know who I am speaking of?" Roman says to him in a sly tone.
Joey, shocked that the spotlight has unexpectedly been placed on him, shakes his head nervously.
"No Roman, I don't know what you're talking about." He takes a deep breath.
Wanda jumps to her feet and says in an angry rage, "Roman, you leave him alone! Joey don't know nothing, so you stop picking on him right now!"
"Sister Wanda, if Joey is innocent, then there's nothing to get worked up about, now is there? I do wonder, however, if you're keeping a secret from me, and the rest of the congregation."
Roman is then joined by two Juniper Creek officers.
"I'm sure you all know officer Creaney and officer Blake. They have a few questions for you, Wanda." He says this in a calm yet certain manner.
Wanda quietly says "Questions, what questions." She begins to fidget nervously under the pressure, but tries to remain calm.
"Where were you on the day of Alby's disappearance?" Officer Creaney asks abruptly.
"I was at the house with the baby. Where else would a new mother be?" She grins.
"Did you see Alby at all that day?"
She huffs, "Yes, he stopped by to see Joey…but he left when I told him that he was with Bill."
Exasperated, Joey exclaimed "Stop doing this to her! She has nothing to do with Alby."
Paying no attention to Wanda's angered, yet usually gentle mannered husband, the officers continued on with the questioning.
"Have you ever seen this before?" Officer Blake asked, and then held up the note the Lois wrote and left with Alby in the hospital. It read, "Delbert Mc Coy. Drank Antifreeze."
She made a slight twitch, "No, of course not!"
Roman looked her deeply in the eyes; ignoring the mumbling in the background. "Don't you find it interesting that Brother Frank and Alby were both poisoned? It seems to me that whoever poisoned one, must have poisoned the other as well." Roman never took his eyes off of her. "There must be some connection."
Barb has returned home, and needs to find a way to let off some steam. She quickly changes into her bathing suit, and takes a dip in the pool. At first it's just a few light laps, but the more she thinks about all of the things that have happened lately, the more vigorously she swims around the cool mass of water. She is so unaware of her surroundings that she doesn't even notice that Nikki has been watching her the entire time,
"I want justice for my family." Bill says wholeheartedly to his lawyer, Bob Schelee.
"Bill, I'm telling you this as not only an attorney, but as a new found friend. As long as you have no romantic involvement with minors, pay your taxes, and don't commit food stamp fraud, the government really has no interest in pursuing a case against you." The lawyer says then drinks a sip of water.
Bill takes a moment to digest what he's just been told, but he refuses to take his lawyer's advice.
"Bob, I appreciate your advice, but whoever exposed my family is in for a rude awakening. Not only has my family been under legal scrutiny, but they've been humiliated. Someone will pay. I refuse to let this person walk away scotch free."
Bob can barely stand to look at him. Bill's stubbornness is quite an annoyance to him, but he wasn't at all surprised by his reaction. Lee Hatcher told him all about Bill before introducing the two to one another.
"I hope you know what you're doing."
After finishing her laps around the pool, Barb takes a quick shower, and begins ironing her clothes for her class later in the day. She hears a knock at the door.
"Barb?" Nikki calls out. "Can I come in?"
Barb quickly finishes ironing the collar and responds, "Of course you can Nikki."
Nikki walks in with a look of concern clearly written on her face.
"Are you ok, Barb?" She asks.
"Yes, I'm fine."
Nikki knows other wise, "What are you doing home so early?"
The older sister wife begins to look as though she's going to cry. This is a look that the other members of the family have become quite familiar with over the past couple of weeks.
"I was fired, Nikki."
In disbelief, Nikki slowly sits on the edge of the neatly made bed.
"Why?" She asks, trying to deny the fact that it was more than likely because of the family.
Nikki's ignorance infuriates barb.
"Why?! You're asking ME why? Because of YOU and MARGENE! That's WHY, Nikki! We were the model family before the two of you…but now…now…" She plops down on the bed, and begins to cry.
Nikki's eyes grew cold, and her lips tightened in angered.
"I can't believe you would say that to me after all I've done for you. I know I haven't always been the best sister wife, but no one's perfect. You agreed to let me and Margie into this family: It wasn't a decision that Bill made on his own, so stop feeling sorry for yourself, and get over it, Barbara. Life does go on." Nikki gets up and begins to storm off.
"Nikki…" Barb calls out, but the blonde haired woman continues walking away. "Nikki, I'm sorry."
Barb's class lets out at 5:15. It's a refreshing feeling to be away from the hectic life of one husband, 2 sister wives, and 7 ½ children. As much as she loves them all, she can't help but to feel ecstatic when she's away from them. I guess you could call going to class her guilty pleasure. Sure, advancing her education is a reward in itself, but getting away from it all is a hidden reward that going back to school carries. When she gets into her car to leave for home, she's almost tempted to drive off into the sunset and never return home, but she loves her family too much for that. She picks up her cell phone and checks the messages. There's one waiting for her from Sarah.
"Hey mom, it's me. We're all at the Embry's. Dad asked if you could meet is here. I love you."
Bill and Don are in the living room discussing how things went at the attorney's office, while the women are in the kitchen preparing dinner.
"We're going to find out who ratted us out." Bill says sincerely.
Don looks as if he's not the slightest bit surprised, yet very disappointed.
"Bill, just let it go. It's for the best." The gentle heavy-set man said.
Stubbornly, he responds, "Absolutely not. This put not only my family on the line, but yours as well."
The doorbell rings. Don quickly gets up to answer it, but he also wants to end the discussion with Bill as smoothly and as painlessly as possible. He opens the door to be greeted by none other than Barb. He welcomes her in and the two exchange a hug. She only stays in the room long enough to greet her husband, and then rushes off to help the other women in the kitchen.
"Hi everyone. I came as soon as I got Sarah's message. PTA meetings are such a drag!" Nikki looks up at Barb without cracking a smile, while everyone else laughs and greets Barb.
"Is there anything I can do?"
Margie responds "Well, everything is just about done."
"Yeah, Boss Lady. We didn't know how long your meeting would be, so we finished everything up." Nikki says snidely.
Barb tries to ignore Nikki's attitude, "Well, I guess I'll help you guys set the table and round up the kids." She grabs a tray of food and carries it out into the dining room behind Peg, Vernie, and JoJo, leaving Nikki and Margie behind.
"Nikki, what's going on with you and Barb?" Margie asks.
"I'll tell you later Margie. Just you wait." She grabs a basket of rolls and heads to the dining room with everyone else, leaving the youngest sister wife all alone. Left in the dark yet again, Margie follows behind Nikki.
Friendly conversation takes place at the dinner table, but Bill notices that Barb is a lot quieter than usual.
"Barb, are you alright?" He asks.
She grins. "Mmhmm, I'm fine."
Nikki begins, "Are you sure, Barb. I mean, after what happened to you today at work and all." She looks at Barb from across the table after completely turning the attention on her.
"What happened today, Barb?" Peg asks, concerned about her dear friend.
"I'd really rather not talk about it right now." She excuses herself from the table after giving Nikki a nasty look. Peg follows behind her.
Bill firmly grasps Nikki and Margie's hands. "I have three beautiful wives that care for each other and seven…" He looks over at Margie and smiles. "Soon to be eight wonderful children. I have been truly blessed, and could never be more thankful for my family."
Barb and Peg listen while sitting in the stairwell.
"I don't know how much longer I can do this. I love Bill, and our kids…and even Nikki and Margie, but I just don't think this life is for me, Peg." A tear trickles down barb's face as she continues to listen to her husband.
"There has never been a moment where I've regretted regaining faith in the principle, and I thank God for each of my wives and children every single day of my life."
Barb runs upstairs with peg close behind her. They go into a bathroom where Peg gets tissue for her friend.
"Everyone gets a little discouraged. That's part of being human." Peg says trying to cheer Barb up.
"No, Peg…This is more than just discouragement."
There's a knock at the door.
"Barb?" Bill calls out. "What's going on?" He knocks yet again.
Peg walks to the door, ready to let Bill in.
"No, Peg. I don't want to see him right now."
Peg is shocked "Barb, he's your husband."
"I know, but I just can't see him right now. I need to think."
Peg frowns and goes into the hallway with Bill.
"What's going on, Peg?" He asks.
"I don't really know what's going truthfully, Bill. I do know that she's very upset right now."
He reaches for the doorknob.
Peg looks at him with the friendliest face she can possibly give at the moment, and quietly says. "She said she doesn't want to see you right now."
Bill is astonished and hurt. In all the years that he and Barb have been married, they have never been in the position where they couldn't talk to one another about their problems.
"Barb, let me in." He says while knocking on the locked door again.
"Bill, just leave her alone right now. She'll talk to you when she's ready." She grabs him by the hand, and gently encourages him, to come back downstairs with her.
At the compound, Wanda's interrogation in front of the entire congregation has finally ended. Rhonda has gone outside with some of the other compound teenagers. All of them she has known for most of her life, but one in particular has always been extremely handsome to her, and just coming back "home" from the closest thing she's ever felt to normal has left her a bit more liberated and somewhat frisky. She walks over to him.
"Hello, Peter." She says with a small grin.
He waves, "Hi Rhonda, how are you?" He gives her a quick look up and down.
"How was the competition?" He asks.
She lights up the same way she does whenever anyone asks her that. You would almost believe that she actually participated if you weren't careful.
"It was so amazing, and it was the most fun I've ever had." The young girl shyly looks away then whispers, "But I can think of something that would be a lot more fun." She moves in closer to him.
A little shocked but excited, he whispers in her ear "I want to explore your body." The compound boy grabs her by the waist and kisses her earlobe.
"What is this?!" The children hear a familiar voice, and immediately stop.
"Adaleen?!" Rhonda exclaims at the sight of her soon to be sister wife.
Adaleen gives them a disapproving look and grabs Rhonda by the ear, pulling her away from the young boy.
"Owe, Adaleen! Ouch! You're hurting me." Rhonda says in pain.
The older woman turns to her "Rhonda Volmer, you are about to be sealed to the Prophet! Do you know what an honor and a privilege that is?! If you were one of my girls, I'd bend you over my knee and slap your rear end, toot-sweet!"
"I just wanted to know what it would be like. God, don't have a cow, Adaleen!
Adaleen, now infuriated, "Don't you use the Lord's name in vain, young lady! Wanted to know what what was like? Being just another teenager with raging, sinful, lustful hormones?"
"No! I just wanted to be normal, Adaleen!"
"Oh, my dear, don't you know that we're better than normal? We've been chosen by the prophet." Adaleen says this with a reassured grin on her face.
The next day, Sarah decides to go to a meeting for former members of the Mormon Church. The group leader stands and introduces himself and his wife.
"Hello, I'm Christopher Franklin, and this is my wife Shelly. Everyone here has at least one thing in common; they were once members of the Mormon Church. My family was part of the church for nearly twelve years, but we just started losing faith in what was being taught to us, and found another religion that better suited us and our lifestyle and beliefs. This group is in no way intended to bash the Mormon Church: It is solely intended to be an outlet for those of you that need to vent, or simply want to share your experience. So, let's get to know one another. Everyone, please stand up, say your name, and give a little info about your experience with the church."
The circle goes from left to right. Everyone gets their turn, but Sarah is the last. When it is her turn to speak she says "Hi…I'm…Clair...Jeffries. My parents were LDS for a while, but then they left the church once my mom got sick with cancer. Now…they're, um…fundamentalists?" She sinks back into her seat after she thinks about what she has just said.
The group leader takes a quick look at his wife. They know there's more to the story.
After the meeting, she's approached by a very attractive guy. He's tall with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes.
"Excuse me? Claire?" He says.
Sarah doesn't realize that he's talking to her at first. When he says it again, it finally registers with her.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I was in another world for a second. You're Scott, right?" She asks nervously.
He grins, "Yeah, look, your story really interests me. I don't know if you plan on coming back to any of the meetings, but I'd really like to know more about you. Do you think I could call you sometime?"
She's shocked and doesn't know how to react really. She's quite beautiful, but she's never approached because she's such a loner.
"Well, um…I don't usually give out my number…"
Before she can even finish, he interrupts, "Ok, that's cool…" He pulls out a piece of paper and begins writing on it. "Here's my number in case you ever want to talk or hang out." He hands it to her, and she takes it with a shy grin on her face.
Roman has decided to pay a visit to Joey. After stepping out of his red Hummer, he walks to the door and knocks several times before he's finally greeted by Wanda.
"Hello Sister Wanda" He tips his hat. "Is your husband home?'
Blocking the sun from her eyes, she responds "Uh, yeah. Let me go get him for you. Would you like anything to drink while you wait?"
"Sister Wanda, it's not time for me to leave this earth yet. You can save your antifreeze and arsenic for someone else." Never once does he crack a smile, "Please go get your husband."
She gives him an angry look and storms into the house. "Joey?! Roman is here to see you." She yells through the tiny shack. Joey quickly rushes to the door. He steps out onto the porch.
"Roman." He nods his head.
"Brother Joey, God has spoken to me…" Roman begins.
"It's time for you to gain more responsibility. I will be appointing you another wife."
"What?! You can't do that, Roman. I won't let you." He says angrily.
"What's the problem, Joey? Do you feel as though you have too much responsibility as is? Perhaps I should reassign Sister Wanda to your father or Alby. We can both agree that she has put them both through a lot." He gives a sly grin.
"What do you want Roman?" Joey asks abruptly.
"Vote for me in the council meeting, and I'll leave you alone."
To be continued…