“I couldn’t get out of that kitchen fast enough!” June set the box and packing paper on the floor near the fireplace. Beads of perspiration dotted her forehead and upper lip. She knew this was not the end of it but she needed to figure out how to deal with the questions that would surely follow. She looked at her sister’s portrait on the mantle.
“What were you thinking Annie?! You had to know Grace would find it. Of all places to store that blasted letter…a recipe box!”
June busied herself packing photographs. Some of the frames would surely bring a high price at auction but it didn’t feel right removing the photos. No, they would remain intact. She sighed when she took his picture from the shelf, holding it to her heart.
“Oh Tommy, Grace was always meant to be our secret. You didn’t tell Annie, did you? That would explain the letter, right there where Grace was sure to find it.” She held the frame so she could see his face. “You didn’t tell her did you Tommy?”
It was one night. A weak moment. Tom was inconsolable when he arrived at June’s door. Annie was in the hospital recovering from her fourth miscarriage. She had begged him for a divorce, he had said, telling him she was a failure as a wife…defective as a woman. Annie told Tom that he needed more that she could give. He needed a wife who could carry to term the children he dreamed of having. She said it was the best thing for them both.
But Tom didn’t feel that way. He loved Annie with all his heart. They could adopt he had told her. He begged her to reconsider, but her mind was settled. She demanded that he leave, screaming that she hated him, causing such a stir that hospital security had to be called. They escorted Tom to the street. From there he went to the only safe place he knew. He went to June’s.
June poured Tom a glass of wine, then one for herself. As she sat across the table from him she gazed at his strong shoulders crumbling under the weight of his grief. How fragile he looked. How lucky her sister was to be loved so deeply by such a sensitive man.
They talked for hours, mostly about Annie, then about his dreams and hopes, his childhood growing up in the country, and as the wine flowed, June spoke of her dream of becoming a designer.
There was a chill in the air. Tom offered to build a fire. June joined him in the parlor with another bottle of wine. The crackling fire and warmth from the wine swirled around them, through them. Their eyes met. It was only one time…one night that changed everything.
And now Grace knew. Well, she knew that her mother was not Annie.
Three months after that night, June could no longer deny that she now carried within her the child her sister so desperately longed for. She lied to Annie, telling her that the father was a one-night stand, not someone she had ever considered seriously. Eventually June knew what she must do. It was the only way to make things right.
June glanced at the clock on the mantle. It was time for lunch. She called to the kitchen, “Grace, are you at a stopping point? I’m famished,” another lie, “what do you say we head out to the diner. I think we could both use a break.”
“Coming Auntie June. Let me get a sweater.” I’m not going to push it at lunch, but one day I want to hear the truth. I need to know why June gave me to my parents to raise. She owes me that much.
kat ~ 7 March 2016
This entry is by request. Clearly there is more story to tell. Thank you everyone for encouraging me! 😊
To read previous chapters click on the links below:
The Letter Part 2
and the next part…
The Letter Part 4