"Perhaps you should come inside." Denny said, stepping aside for us to walk. He handed the toddler to Adam.
"What the hell is going on here?" Spencer demanded.
I placed my hand on his shoulder, "Calm down, honey."
"Calm down?" he turned to me. "How would you expect me to calm down?"
Adam spoke up, "Just let me explain."
"You had better."
"I'm going to go make some tea." Denny said, as an excuse to leave the room.
"What are you doing here, Spence?" Adam asked. His brown hair had gotten longer, and he had stubble, appearing to have not shaved in weeks. His eyes, which were once a bright green hazel, were now grey.
"I don't think you're really in a position to be asking that question. Why don't you tell me what you're doing here instead?" Spencer said with venom in his voice. Adam opened his mouth to respond, but Spencer cut him off, "You know you broke mom's heart, right? She was so torn up after the sinking. We all were."
Adam waited a few seconds before speaking, and my husband looked at him angrily and expectantly waiting for an answer. "How about we take this into the sitting room. We might as well discuss this like human beings. Besides, the tea should be ready soon."
"Tea would be lovely." I said meekly, earning a glare from Spencer, "Sorry." I muttered, and was quiet.
Adam led us down a large hall into a lavish sitting room. The walls were burgundy, with dark wooden floors, giving the room a dramatic feel. Seemed about right for the moment. He gestured for us to sit down. I told Sadie to sit next to me on the sofa. "What's going on, Mer-wy?" she asked innocently.
"Just a bit of a dilemma, dear. Nothing big."
Spencer sat in a chair near me, and Adam was right across from him in an overstuffed seat. "Who's daughter is this?" he said inquisitively, looking at Sadie.
"This is Sadie. We just adopted her in Liverpool a few days ago. She is the younger sister of a friend of mine who actually died in the sinking. I couldn't just leave the poor thing in an orphanage. Our two boys are home with my family, while Spencer and I were traveling around England a bit."
"Two sons…" he said with a smile, "Imagine if they turn out to be like us, eh, Spencer?"
Spencer just glared at him silently. Denny walked in with two cups of tea in his hands, and a butler behind him carried two more cups of tea, and a mug of hot chocolate for Sadie, which I was grateful for.
Adam laughed nervously, "What are their names? In the letters between mother and Uncle Denny she didn't explain."
"Adam James, who we call AJ. He will be two in March. And Joseph Matthew. He'll be a year in April." I explained.
"You named a son after me?"
"Of course. You were very important to Spencer. And we thought you were dead…"
The silence hung around us all, and the tension was thick.
"And who is this little darling?" I asked, smiling at the red-headed toddler on Adam's lap.
"This is Bethany. She's Clarissa's daughter."
I nearly dropped my teacup. "Clarissa is alive?"
"No, I'm afraid." Adam's eyes became moist with tears he was too proud to let fall, "She died two years ago."
We all stayed quiet, hoping he would explain further.
"You remember when she and I jumped off the side of the ship?"
I nodded, "Yes. I waited for you two to resurface but you never did."
"We swam underneath the water. I pulled her with me, hoping we could find a boat or something."
"I found a boat when I jumped and swam. You probably went in a different direction than me."
"Probably. We found some deckchairs in the water and began stacking two on top of each other, and then connecting them to create a raft. I helped her onto it, and pushed it as far out as I could to keep her away from the crowd. The ship was going down now, and the lights had gone out. So I wasn't able to see too well, as I tried putting together something for myself. I got a few suitcases and two deck chairs and managed to balance on top of that for awhile. I tried to keep Clarissa awake and talking after the ship went down, and until help could arrive for us." he shut his eyes for a few moments as he spoke, "The screams and moans were so horrible. People dying left and right." He took a moment to compose himself. "I don't know how long it took for help to reach us. A lifeboat arrived with a few men in it. They're rescued a man a few meters from us. I tried to call out to them but I found I had no voice. Clarissa was unconscious. I kept trying to wake her, but nothing worked. I waved my arms around, while still trying to balance on my makeshift raft, and minutes later they saw me in the glow of their flashlights.
"Once they came to me, I refused to be rescued unless they took Clarissa too. I was able to convince them, and they pulled her aboard. I then peeled off her coat and dress, leaving her under things on, and keeping her out of sight of the other men using a blanket, I chafed her limbs and wrapped her up in two blankets. Then I kept her close to me, holding onto her. I wouldn't accept her death. She opened her eyes just as the sun was beginning to rise and we were in sight of the Carpathia. I wanted to hoot and holler and cheer that she was alive, but instead I just stroked her still damp hair and told her to rest. When they lifted her up, they put her in a canvas sack due to her weak state. They brought her into a side door, and straight to the infirmary. We spent awhile there, and were then given a room to spend the rest of the trip so she could rest. The doctor personally visited us every few hours. Clarissa had gotten hypothermia. I had told the doctor our last name was Meade. We changed our names to Henry and Anna Meade."
"Mother's maiden name." I heard Spencer mutter.
"My brother saved you?" I asked, which my eyes open wide. Why wouldn't Harold have told me?
"Yes, he did. But before you get mad at him, he did recognize us, but I convinced him we weren't who he thought. It was dark and he only saw us close up in the flashlights. After that he was too busy to even pay us any mind. I'm sure if he knew, he would have told you."
I nodded and took a deep breath. The sick feeling of being betrayed went away.
Adam continued, "When we arrived in New York, we were some of the last to leave. I carried Clarissa off the ship, and bought a hotel room for us with money I'd stuffed into my pocket before we left the Titanic. We bought ship tickets to return to England on a Cunard ship two days later, then showed up on Denny's doorstep.
"Clarissa remained ill. She and I were going to get married, even though our new forged documents listed us as Mr. and Mrs. Henry Meade. We were going to have an actual wedding, once the baby was born. She was a bit self conscious about her weight gain from the pregnancy. We were basically married though. She was so ill, and I was always taking care of her. She had circles around her eyes and red eyelids, and she was always coughing. I didn't know what to do. She was so sick, and I couldn't help her. The doctors tried but nothing worked. Then…" his eyes began to tear, "When she had Bethany, she was too weak. They had to do a cesarean section, where they cut the baby out. She was too weak to give birth naturally. She named her Bethany Rosaline, after a doll she had as a child, and the middle name for her mother. She was so happy to have the baby. Then, that same December night," Adam looked down, " We lost her.."
I was nearly crying by now also.
"Why didn't you tell us you were alive?" Spencer asked.
"Mother didn't accept Clarissa. Society didn't. She wanted to be somebody new, so we decided this was the best plan."
"You've done some immature and insensitive shit in your life, Adam, but this really takes the cake. You just decided to break everybody's hearts because you had a little crush and thought you'd be all romantic and run away together? You didn't even care about all the people you were leaving behind?"
I could see my husband was fuming with anger. I wanted to somehow calm him down, but I didn't know how. I figured it was best to just let him get his words and feelings out.
"I did care, Spence. So instead of running away and making mother feel like I didn't want her in my life, I faked my death. Made you all think I died as the Adam you knew."
Spencer was about to retort, when Sadie yawned beside me. "Mer-wy, I'm a bit tired."
"Oh, I know, Sadie. It was a long train ride. Adam," I turned to him, "Is there a place she could lay down for a little while?"
Denny came over and took her hand gently, "I'll bring her to Adam's room. It's right down the hall. That way you'll hear her if she needs you."
"Thank you." I smiled, as he took her away.
"Why are you guys in London?" Adam asked.
"Well, I lost a pregnancy not too long ago, and we decided to get remarried and take a trip to England. We-"
"So you got pregnant before remarrying?" Adam pointed out with a smirk.
Spencer glared at him, and I just smiled, while surely turning a bright shade of red. "Yes, I did. But we were basically married anyway. We just hit a small bump in our relationship. Then we were able to pick up right where we left off. And besides, AJ was conceived before our first wedding anyway."
I could see Spencer's jaw drop that I'd actually just told his brother about that. I couldn't help but giggle at that.
"I can't wait to meet the boys someday. My two little nephews are bound to become trouble makers one day like Spence and I." Adam smiled proudly.
"Well, we'd best be going. We need to get to a hotel and find some dinner." Spencer said, standing up.
"Nonsense!" Denny said, reentering the room. "I haven't seen you in years, Spencer. And I have yet to properly meet your lovely wife. You'll stay here for the night. Do not argue with your Uncle Denny."
Spencer sighed and sat back down. "Fine, Denny. When do we eat?"
"In a few hours. You and your wife may have the guest room on the next floor. It's two doors to the left from the stairs."
Spencer nodded and grunted. "Thank you." I said, wishing to cancel out my husband's rudeness.
Spencer stood up, "I'll be in the library." and walked off down a hallway.
I went to follow, but Denny pulled me aside. "Mrs. Welch, lovely to meet you."
"Please, call me Meredith."
"Alright, Meredith. I just wanted to introduce myself. I'm Dennison Welch. Your uncle-in-law. My brother was Vernon."
"He was a very nice man, even though I only knew him for a few days."
Bethany came running up to Denny, wheezing slightly. "Unkie!" her light red curls bouncing behind her.
He picked her up, "My girl! What's going on?"
Denny barked out a laugh, "Go to the kitchen and tell Arielle you'd like some grapes, alright?"
She smiled and nodded, running off again, letting out a little wheeze. "She has asthma. One of the little side effects of Clarissa's illness during her pregnancy. Other than that, Bethany is pretty healthy."
"You seem really good with her."
"I've practically raised the little tyke. Her mum passed away, and Adam hasn't been too up to the challenge of being a father figure yet, so it has been like raising the girl on my own."
"Hasn't been up to the challenge? Why not?"
"He's been down in the dumps ever since Clarissa died. She was everything to him. When she died, a huge part of him died with her. So I've been Bethany's father figure really. She is a very sweet girl. Well behaved too, and giggly. She has the beauty of her mother, and I'm assuming the father had red hair."
"She's adorable. I can see the resemblance between Clarissa and her clearly."
"Yeah. Clarissa was really excited about having the baby. She fell into an awful depression for months up until her death, but one of the things keeping her spirits up was Bethany."
"This is like having to accept her death for a second time."
"It hit Adam very hard. He's still suffering horribly. I can't blame him. I watched the way he doted on her, sat by her sickbed, fed her soup, read to her, etcetera. He spent every moment he could with her. He loved her so much, and cared for her so much more than himself. I believe during that time, the stress of it all was making him sick mentally and physically. He stopped caring for himself. His world died with her."
"I wish there was something I could do."
"We've tried nearly everything. He's been in this depression of his for two whole years. There is nothing any of us can really do but let him heal himself."
I didn't know what to say.
"Well, I have some paperwork to finish up, so I'll see you at dinner. It should be ready in about two hours." he disappeared down the hallway.
I went into the bedroom, which had cream colored walls, and navy blue accents, along with a matching bedspread. I sat down on the sheets, and shook Sadie's shoulder gently. "Sadie… Sadie, are you hungry?"
She rolled over onto her side and nodded, still not opening her eyes.
"Come on, then. We're having supper here."
Her eyes fluttered open gently, and then she stretched and rose. She hopped off the bed, and went for the door. I was about to follow, when something shiny caught my eye.
Sadie stopped in the doorway, "Are you coming, Mer-wy?"
"Yes, dearie. I'll be there in a moment. Just go down the hall and to the left." She left, and I now turned to what had caught my eye. The closet door was halfway opened. I pushed it open more, and saw shining glass bottles everywhere. Kneeling down, I picked one up. It was an empty morphine bottle. Looking around, I realized they all were. There must have been about thirty there.
"Snooping, are we?" I heard a male voice say, and I froze.
Adam stepped into the room, and took the bottle from my hand, dropping it noisily back into the closet. He didn't look like Adam. His features appeared darker, and contorted with anger. "Didn't your parents ever tell you it isn't right for you to touch things that aren't yours?" he asked sickly.
"I'm sorry, Adam. It just caught my eye, and I-"
"Shut it." he said rudely, glaring at me, and then slamming his closet door shut.
"Adam, what is with all of this? Is there a problem? If so, we'll help you. We'll-" he grabbed my wrists and swung me around, throwing me against the wall harshly. I whimpered, and slid down the wall until I was sitting on the floor.
"I do not have a problem, got it?" I nodded, "Now forget you ever saw any of this and get out." I locked eyes with him. Grey against blue. I was trying to see if I could find the old Adam reflected in there, but I could not. "Go!" he snarled.
I stood up, and ran from the bedroom, stopping in the sitting room, and throwing myself onto the couch to catch my breath. My shoulders and back hurt from hitting the wall, along with my wrist, which was red and aching. I approached the mirror over the mantel, and checked my appearance. I made myself look appropriate, and headed into the dining room for dinner.
I sat beside Spencer, who had Sadie on the other side of him, and Denny was at the head of the table, with Bethany's highchair.
Spencer looked at me curiously, "Are you alright? You look a bit off."
"I'm fine. Don't worry." I replied plainly, and gave him a fake smile. I then looked down at my plate, where my gaze stayed for the rest of the meal.
Denny held us in polite conversation for most of the evening, and Adam who had been previously in a brooding state was not animatedly joining in on the conversation as if nothing had happened. Even my husband seemed most at ease and accepting. He and Adam appeared once again to be the same two boys I had met on board the ship.
"So Spencer and I used to come and visit our Uncle Denny in the summertime. Dennison here had this pug, named Thurston. Now, this dog was one of the ugliest sons of bitches ever. His face looked like it had been smashed in with a frying pan. Spence and I were about four and seven years old, and we decided to play a little game with Thurston. We put him in a sack and hung it on the clothes line out behind the kitchen. The dog squirmed and yelped. We kept moving the sack across the entire clothing line. Poor Thurston was traumatized by the time the maid came out and yelled at us to let him down." Adam was snickering.
"And then you blamed the whole thing on me." Spencer commented, playfully smacking his brother in the back of the head.
"My poor dog." Denny lamented unenthusiastically. "Evil little bugger, he was."
I couldn't help but grin at their reminiscing.
"Excuse me. It's about time I get Sadie to bed. Come along." I said to the young blonde, who rose and followed me up the stairs to a guest room decorated in pale green.
Sadie crawled into the large bed, and I tucked her in. "Mer-wy?" she asked softly.
"Yes?" I sat beside her.
"Am I going to stay with you and Spencer forever?"
"I believe so. We adopted you. That means we're going to take care of you. Is that alright with you?"
"Yeah. But I do miss my friends. I'd rather have a family though."
"You're going to have a wonderful family, Sadie. I have two little boys at home, and a pet cat. She wanders around outside a lot, but will usually show up at night for some food, and sleep in a cupboard. I also have nieces and nephews nearby that I'm sure will be good friends of yours soon enough. My two nieces are around your age, and I have a nephew who is a bit older than you, but I'm sure you'll like him too. My parents are very nice, and my brothers, and their wives. You're entering a very loving family."
"Family…" she said dreamily with a grin on her face.
"You'll have a lot of people to count on and to play with. We're even going to put you in the local school. You can meet some new friends and learn new things. How's that sound?"
"I never been to school before. They taught us a bit in the orphanage, mostly 'bout how to behave ourselves so's we'd get adopted. They had us clean a lot. Told us if we're good at chores, more people would want to bring us home."
"Well, at our home, we just want you to be happy, healthy, and listen to us, which I'm sure you will."
Sadie nodded enthusiastically with a big grin on her face.
"Now you can have some lovely dreams about all of that, alright?"
She nodded again, turning onto her side. "Night, Mer-wy."
I sat up and went to shut off the lamp in the corner. "Goodnight, Sadie, dear."
I walked into the other guest room, and was suddenly lifted off my feet and spun around. When my feet hit the floor again, I felt Spencer's lips against my own. "Meredith, this is wonderful. My brother is alive. I've gotten him back!" he said happily.
"I'm happy for you."
He twirled me around and sat me down on the bed. He sat beside me, wrapped his hands around my waist and kissed me again.
"Can we celebrate?" he asked while kissing my neck.
I let out a small laugh, "Here? In your uncle's home? What if they hear us?"
"They won't. It's a big house." he started pulling at my dress, trying to get my sleeves off after he unbuttoned the back. Suddenly, his hand reached my wrist, and I let out a small hiss. He looked at me curiously, and lifted my sleeve a bit, revealing five purple bruises, each a reminder of Adam's grip.
"What is this?"
"Bullshit, Meredith. These are finger prints. Who did this to you?"
"Nobody, just drop it." I said, "Good night." I moved away from him, and laid down, turning onto my side away from him.
"Oh my God! And your back is bruised too!" he roughly rolled me over, making me hiss in pain again. "Tell me, who did this?"
"Adam." I answered. I could see he was fuming mad. "But please, don't be mad at him. He's upset. He had a reason."
"Which was what? What reason could there be for my brother to hurt my wife?" "He has a problem, Spence. I discovered empty morphine bottles in his room. Lots of them. He has an addiction. This is how he's been trying to deal with Clarissa's death, and this is why Denny has been the one basically raising Bethany."
"That can't be."
I sat up beside him and put my hand on his shoulder, "I didn't want to tell you because you seemed to happy to have him back."
"His actions are inexcusable." Spencer stated, more to himself than to me.
"Please, don't do anything rash. Let's just go to bed, and we'll discuss it more in the morning when our minds are clearer."
He grunted, and laid down under the sheets with me. We didn't speak anything, but just fell asleep.
In the morning, a noise randomly woke me up. I sat up and noticed Spencer was not beside me. I heard the odd noise again, this time recognizing it as a door being slammed.
I hopped out of bed, wrapping my pale yellow silk robe around me over my white nightgown. Out in the hall I saw Sadie poking her head out of the door two down from mine. "What's going on, Mer-wy?"
"Nothing. Just go back in the room." I said, watching her disappear from the doorway.
"Adam Henry Welch!" I heard my husband's voice boom.
I went down the stairs, and saw Adam cross my path. "Help!" he yelled, looking scared. Behind him was my husband, eyes set to kill.
"Spencer! What are you doing?" I yelled, hurrying to grab his arm.
"Meredith, get out of the way. I'm dealing with him."
I stood in between them, "No. You will stop this right now and talk it out. Like men, for God's sake."
"You are not to ever touch my wife again!"
"I didn't mean to. It was an accident!" "An accident? You lying shit." Spencer rushed toward him, but I stopped him.
"This isn't talking like men."
"Well if only one of us is a man, we don't have the ability to. I am a man, and he is an immature bastard."
"Immature?" Adam spat.
"Yes. Using morphine to get over your problems instead of trying to solve them. You're a coward."
"This coming from the man who treated his wife like dirt, and cheated on her. Then let her get away. Then somehow got her to take his pathetic ass back. And you call me the immature one? You're the coward."
Spencer rushed at him again, this time getting past me and punching his brother right in the gut. Adam doubled over in pain. "Spencer!" I yelled.
"I was much happier when you were dead." my husband said bitterly.
Adam looked up at him with hurt eyes.
"He didn't mean that." I said to him.
"No, I really did." he answered.
"Spencer!" I hissed, "Come on." I let out a nervous laugh, "I'm sure you didn't really mean it, Spence. You couldn't."
"Yeah, he did. He meant it with all his heart. So how about you go back to thinking I'm dead." Adam snapped.
"Maybe I will." my husband retorted, "Meredith, get your stuff and Sadie. We're going."
I didn't even get to reply when Spencer rushed up the stairs. I turned toward Adam and looked at him apologetically, mouthing 'I'm sorry', before running upstairs as well.
"What is wrong with you?" I yelled at Spencer once I reached the guest room.
"You should be proud of me. I wasn't going to just let him get away with hurting you."
"But I told you to not make a big deal of it, and what did you do? You made a big deal out of it. I can't believe you sometimes. You're always letting your anger get the best of you."
"Just shut it and pack." he growled.
I walked toward the doorway. "We're never going to discuss this, are we?"
"We'll talk about it when I say we will." he forcefully shoved a messily folded shirt into his trunk.
I rolled my eyes and left, going to Sadie's room. "We're going home." I told her softly, grabbing the small suitcase next to her bed.
"Nothing. Just Spencer and his brother aren't getting along too well. We're going home and you'll get to meet everyone."
Sadie followed me out of the room, where we met Spencer in the hall holding both of our packed bags. We didn't say a word. I held Sadie's hand as we went down the stairs and met Denny.
"I see you're really leaving. You'll have to come visit again, alright?" Denny said, offering his hand to Spencer, which he took in a firm handshake.
Bethany came running up to us. "Bye bye." she said, waving with her tiny hand.
I bent down and gave her a kiss on the top of her head. "Goodbye, Bethany. You be a good girl, alright?"
She nodded and giggled as I ruffled her red curls slightly.
Adam did not appear at all. So we left, called a cab, and hopped onto a train to get back to Northern Wales. I was upset that things ended so badly between Spencer and Adam. There was just so much to digest from the past few days. At least now I'd be able to see my boys again. I had missed them terribly. I was now remarried to Spencer, had my two boys, and Sadie. A whole new family life to look forward to.
I finally got this chapter done. I was going to add another whole scene but decided I will put it in the next chapter. The next chapter Harold comes for a visit and other things happen too. You'll have to wait and see. Please review. I will try to answer them. Usually I don't because I get busy, as you can see by how long it takes me to update sometimes, which I still apologize for. Thanks for reading. Chapter 22 will be up as soon as possible. Love, Kell.