I don't always end a chapter with a cliffhanger, but when I do, I don't update for one month.
Fate had been ready for the past hour. 'What happened between my mum and dad?' she asked eagerly. 'I know she didn't die, so what happened to her?'
'Did Vaughn tell you that she is still alive?'
Oops. 'Um, well, you're friends with her and uh, the, er, casual way you talk about her with Dad – I mean, if she was dead, you probably... wouldn't talk like that about her...' It was lame, but it worked, apparently, as Sabrina relaxed.
'I see. I didn't expect you to be so perceptive.'
And Fate didn't expect Sabrina to be so gullible.
'Where to start... you know, it was Chelsea who proposed to Vaughn. He had never even considered that he might have had feelings for her before then.'
'Yes. It was your mother who fell in love and struggled to win his affection. Even now, we wonder if she succeeded.'
'What do you mean?' Fate frowned. 'Of course she did. He married her, right?'
'It's... not that simple, Fate,' Sabrina said slowly. 'How do I say it...? Do you remember the first time we met and your father said "Don't get into a relationship that has a maybe"? It was like that for him. There were a lot of maybes.'
'Well, when she suddenly proposed to him, he probably thought something like "Chelsea and I are friends so maybe it won't be bad if we become more" or "Maybe it's time I settled down after all".'
'I – I don't understand. You either like or don't like somebody, right?'
'Oh dear!' Sabrina cried, looking flustered. 'I'm trying to explain love to an eight-year-old! It's – well it's different when you want to marry somebody – like, there are lots of kinds of love, love for family, love for friends, and love for someone you want to marry. You'll understand when you're older.'
If Fate wasn't so eager to hear more, she would have scowled at the phrase 'when you're older'. 'So my dad felt for her as a friend, but couldn't love her like a husband?'
It was still a weird concept to her, but she let it slide. 'And then what?'
'They began fighting. Everybody could see the strain it put on them. And Vaughn... he began avoiding her as much as possible. Chelsea told me he didn't even come home for the Starry Night Festival.'
Fate's hands clenched the bed sheets. So it was her father's fault.
'But, well, this is my opinion so don't quote me, alright? They were both at fault. Chelsea... I don't think she was in love with Vaughn for who he is, but who she wanted him to be. He looked like he was perfect so she made him out to be in her mind.'
'You're wrong!' Fate said loudly, anger bubbling up inside her. 'My mother wouldn't do that! You don't have any right to say that!'
Sabrina looked surprised. 'I – I'm sorry. You're right Fate, I shouldn't have. I... forgive me? It's just that...' She shrugged apologetically, looking away. 'Chelsea asked me that herself, so many times. But she never wanted an honest answer – oh dear, there I go again.'
Still glaring, Fate said 'What makes you think that anyway?'
'Because Chelsea said it herself,' Sabrina answered, turning back to her. 'She said to me one day "He's not acting like who I thought he is at all".'
'And Dad? Why is he at fault?'
'Well you know about him and his relationship maybes. And he didn't want to be tolerant.' Sabrina focused on a thread of wool on her gown and picked on it. 'He could be a good husband. I know that.'
Silence fell for a while.
'Do you have a picture of Chelsea?' Sabrina asked finally.
'No. If I did, my dad would burn it.'
'Oh dear,' Sabrina smiled sadly. 'Just hang on and let me show you something.' She left. Fate assumed it would be one of the pictures from her wall, but instead she came back with a faded yellowing picture.
'Look at that. Isn't it pretty?'
Fate looked. It was a simply but beautifully coloured sketch of a couple on their wedding day. She snatched the picture from Sabrina to look at it more closely. It was her father – but he looked different. A little mellow, perhaps. Or maybe... peaceful? And on his arm was Chelsea. Her hair was done up and she wore a beautiful white gown. Her face was pleasantly flushed.
'There wasn't a single person that day who was wishing them anything but happiness,' Sabrina said. 'A lot of people were surprised though. Would you like to keep it?'
'Oh.' Fate would have liked that, but she was afraid of her father finding it. He might become angry. She shrugged. 'It's fine, I don't want it.'
'Are you sure?'
'Yeah.' As she stared at her feather wearing a blue tuxedo and a cravat, she suddenly remembered something. She handed the photo back saying 'Oh yeah, I found a blue feather inside my dresser. It says "From Chelsea".'
'Ah, that thing. Chelsea told me to hold on to it while she healed when Vaughn asked for divorce.'
'Divorce... how did I end up with Dad anyway? It sounds like it was his fault in the first place, so why would he want me?'
'Because you're his daughter, Fate,' Sabrina said gently. 'Even if he couldn't stand Chelsea anymore, he loves you. I think he was afraid that you would become Chelsea's next victim. I – I'm not saying he's right though!'
'Do you think he's right?'
'I don't know, Fate,' Sabrina said a little helplessly.
'Fine.' Fate drew her knees to her chest, thinking hard. She had learnt so many new things today, and not all of it was things she wanted to know. She was beginning t o see her father in a whole new light.
'You won't let that get in between you and your father, will you? He made a mistake with Chelsea, but I think he's grateful it happened anyway because he has you now.'
'I guess,' Fate said a little slowly.
'It's in the past. Even Chelsea's forgiven him now.'
'Do you keep in touch with her?' Fate asked, even though she already know the answer.
'Yes. We exchange letters every week.'
'I'd like to meet her.'
'Hmm... I wonder.'
Sabrina then glanced at the wall clock and gave a start. 'Would you look at the time!' she cried. 'I'm keeping you from your sleep. We're going riding tomorrow, aren't we?'
'Alright. Good night, Fate.'
'Night.' Fate curled up underneath the sheets as Sabrina turned off the lights, but it was a while before she could fall asleep.