Showdown of the Two Mrs. Peacocks

Betty and the children were visiting with Stephen during his 11:00 coffee break. Little Margaret was two months old. Betty took the children to Woodward & Lothrop to do a little bit of shopping after visiting with her old friends at Grace Brothers. The men in Packing & Maintenance fell all over themselves ogling over the girls whom they came to love as their own nieces. Stephanie and Katherine savored the attention of being spoiled and treated to biscuits and juice. Stephen enjoyed the welcomed break with his family.

"Daddy, I like coming to your work! You have the best biscuits here!" Katherine chattered. Her articulation had improved greatly following the birth of her younger sister.

Stephen melted as his middle daughter gazed lovingly at him. He leaned in and pecked her rosy cheek and her blue eyes danced merrily.

"Daddy! Mummy bought Katherine and me some lovely little socks with ruffles on the tops!" Stephanie boasted. She looked around excitedly.

"She did? How wonderful!" he gushed.

He sat with his family and staff, watching little Margaret asleep in her pram. His heart swelled as he proudly gazed at his brand-new baby daughter.

"I've got to hand it you, Captain Peacock," Richard interjected, "you and your missus make some beautiful babies!"

Stephen beamed at the compliment and nodded, "Thank you."

"This is my baby sister Muh-mug-uh-rit!" Katherine announced proudly.

"Maggie," Stephen aided.

"Maggie!" Katherine excitedly corrected.

As he visited with his family, he heard a familiar shrieking voice and his blood ran cold.

"Where is he? Stephen Peacock!" Vivienne bellowed through the warehouse.

Stephen closed his eyes and exhaled, shaking his head. Betty shot him a look and he shrugged.

Vivienne meandered through the stock room until she walked upon the staff break area.

"There you are!" she exploded.

Stephen flinched as she lunged toward him.

He shook his head incredulously, "What do you want, Vivienne?"

"I have not received my maintenance check this month!" she sneered.

"Nor will you. Ever again," he shook his head in finality, "You should have received a letter from my solicitor. I have a wife and three children and it has been over six years since the divorce. My obligation to you has been fulfilled. It was filed in court last month and you should have received a copy. If you have not, you should contact your solicitor," Stephen stated.

Her head swiveled towards Betty and the girls, "Oh, I see you've been busy! It's disgusting at your age the two of you carrying on like that!"

Betty bristled and stood up defensively, her blue eyes blazing "Oh, hell no!"

Stephen's eyebrows shot up and he gaped at his wife. Katherine and Stephanie ran and cowered next to their father; they had never seen their mother furious before. Colin moved toward Vivienne to remove her from the area. Vivienne's eyes went wild with rage, "Take your hands from me!" she seethed.

Betty clenched her fists and leered at Vivienne, "I've got this, Colin!"

Colin jumped back as Betty stormed forward, her high heels clacking on the cement floor.

Betty marched up to Vivienne and the floodgates opened. Betty's arms flailed; open hand, back hand, blow after blow struck Vivienne about the head and shoulders.

"Ya daft bitch! How do you like being slapped?" Betty snarled.

The mother bear instinct took over and Betty stuck her over and over, "This is my family! He is my husband!" she growled possessively.

"Who's that, Daddy?" Katherine timidly asked, peeking over Stephen's arm.

"The evil queen from the story," Stephen whispered, wrapping his arms protectively around his daughters. He smoothed his moustache and scratched his chin nervously. Stephanie and Katherine buried their faces in their daddy's chest. He smiled approvingly at his wife.

Vivienne tried to avoid Betty's attack. She dodged this way and that, but Betty continued to rain down six years of pent-up anger and resentment on her husband's ex-wife.

Vivienne wailed and swung her arms defensively, but Betty was relentless.

"You haven't heard the last of me, Stephen Peacock! I told you, you lot will be living on the dole!" she blurted between slaps.

Betty drew her hand back and delivered a loud crack across Vivienne's face. Vivienne reeled back, cupping her hand to her cheek. Angry tears welled up and spilled over, "You'll regret that!" she threatened, her face smarting.

Betty stood mere inches from Vivienne, lips curled in a menacing sneer, her eyes narrowed and blazing, "Say something else!" Betty warned through clenched teeth, her nostrils flaring, "I'm just in the mood! I should have done this when you came to Grace Brothers that day seven years ago."

Vivienne straightened and collected herself. She retrieved her handbag, which went flying in the fray.

Stephen stood up; Katherine and Stephanie scuttled to the safety of Richard's lap.

"Vivienne, the only thing I want to see is the back of you. Colin, kindly escort the woman out of here. If she refuses to leave, call store security," Stephen ordered.

"Yes, sir," Colin obliged.

"You'll hear from my solicitor!" Vivienne shrieked as she stalked out of the stockroom, "Get away from me!" she shrilly cautioned Colin.

"Be gone, before someone drops a house on you!" Colin muttered.

Katherine and Stephanie looked up from the security of Richard's embrace and glanced at their mother, who was straightening her dress and tucking her hair back in place.

"Remind me never to cross you, Betty!" Richard quipped.

"You'll do well to heed your own advice, Richard!" Betty joked as she rejoined the crew at the break table, "By Jove, I needed that!"

"You want a cuppa, Mrs. Peacock?" asked Colin as he walked back from the staff entrance.

"Yes, thank you. I almost could use a drink!" Betty exhaled as she sat down.

"I've got a flask in me locker!" said Richard.

Katherine and Stephanie skittered off Richard's lap and rushed to their mother. Betty crouched down and gathered her children in her arms.

"Are you alright, Mummy? That lady didn't look very nice," Stephanie sobbed.

"Mummy's alright, dear," Betty soothed and pressed a small kiss on Stephanie's cheek.

Katherine stared wide-eyed at her mother.

Stephen took Betty in his arms, "Mummy," he whispered in her ear, "that was very naughty!"

"But necessary," Betty tittered.

"I'm afraid you're not setting a good example for our daughters," he playfully admonished.

"You can punish me later, when you get home," she teased, gently stroking his ears with her fingertips and discreetly pressing her hips against him.

He closed his eyes, gasped, and a delightful shudder coursed through him.

"Come on," he offered, "Let me walk you to the door. My break's over."

Betty shot him a smoldering look; he bit his bottom lip.

"Thanks for coming by and bringing the girls to see me," Stephen said quietly.

She smiled and winked at him.

They helped the girls into their coats and Stephen pushed the pram to the staff entrance. He cupped Betty's face in his hands and pressed a chaste kiss on her lips.

"Don't get into any fights on the way home!" he joked, "Girls, keep Mummy out of trouble!"

"Yes, Daddy!" they chimed in unison.

"I've got to go back to work, give me a kiss," Stephen addressed his little brood, smiling.

Stephen bent down and planted a small kiss on Stephanie's cheek, then turned to Katherine and pecked her cheek. He leaned over and stared lovingly at Margaret who missed the whole excitement. He brushed a strand of hair from her forehead. Katherine and Stephanie each grasped the handle of the pram and the family was off.

Stephen lingered by the door, watching them walk away, and sighed.

Richard and Colin watched Stephen gaze at his family and they chuckled.

"That's the same puppy-dog-in-love look he had that day he brought Betty round the pub after football! Remember? He followed her with his eyes when she got up to go to the powder room?" Richard stated.

"Oh, yeah, I remember that!" Colin answered, reminiscing, "It's refreshing to see a man besotted with his family. Too many can't keep it in their pants…"

"Is that why you're divorced?" Richard taunted him.

"Oh, shuddup!" Colin snapped, "Is that why you've never been married?" he countered.

"Oh, shut up your damn self!"