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Accordance (Significance #2)(54)

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“Huh,” he said almost in a disapproving way and I wanted to laugh at how differently this was going that I thought it would.
“The husband gives a house,” Caleb clarified. “The day before we’re married, I’ll give Maggie the keys to the house I picked out for her.”
Great, I heard Bish. One more reason Jenna’s better off without me. There’s no way I could buy her a ring let alone a frigging house.
I looked at him and he knew I had heard. He clenched his teeth and refused to look at me so I pressed on.
“Yeah.”
“Wow, a house,” Dad said and clucked his tongue.
“Yes, sir,” Caleb said in his respectful but firm manner as he rubbed his chin.
“The women are ok with the husband’s picking out a house for them, without them even seeing it?” Dad said with a questioningly raised eyebrow.
“Yes, sir, it’s just like an engagement ring. The woman doesn’t pick that out either,” Caleb countered.
“True…but she’s not going to live in her engagement ring.”
“It’s tradition. It’s what we’ve always done, even back to my ancestors. See, back then, you couldn’t marry until you had a place to take your wife after the wedding. So, they worked all day and night to prepare for her to come and be with him. But, regardless of imprinting, the catch back then was that you had to build it by yourself. It was a show of commitment and faith that you planned to work your hardest and do whatever was necessary to make her happy.”
My father blinked in surprise.
“Well, then. What can I say to that? Have you found a house yet?”“No, sir. It’s hard for us to keep things from each other.” He pointed to his head to demonstrate. “So, it kind of has to be last minute to keep it a secret.”
Dad nodded and took a deep breath and leaned forward and steepled his hands.
“Ok. Well…I mean, you know the usually spiel. I’m your father and I think eighteen is too young to be married but I also thought twenty four was the perfect age and look how it turned out for me,” he said but he wasn’t bitter or upset, he just stating his case. “I still can’t completely grasp everything that goes on with your family and this imprinting stuff but from what I’ve seen with my own eyes, I can’t say that it’s not true.”
“Jim, I know I’ve said this before, but Maggie is in good hands. I won’t let anything happen to her and it’s not just because I wouldn’t anyway but because my body won’t let me. Your daughter’s heartbeat is in my chest,” Caleb said firmly. “And it’s the most precious thing I have.”
I looked at him, biting my lip at his sweet words. Dad was stunned silent, with his mouth and mind, and Bish was same old Bish. He wasn’t happy about it and still agreed that people can say anything they wanted to and it didn’t mean it was true. But he had told me he was going to back off and he was. He knew it was inevitable. He just hoped I’d be ok and that I’d come to him if I needed him later.
“I will,” I told him. “But I won’t have to, not for that.”
He smirked.
“I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to you being able to read my mind,” he said dryly.
“That’s what I said,” Dad said smiling.
I looked around at them and marveled at the fact that everything seemed to be falling into place so peacefully.
Then the doorbell rang.
“I wonder who that is?” Dad remarked.
“Maybe Jen,” I said and felt Bish jerk. “I told her yesterday she could come but with everything else that happened I figured it’d be best to come by ourselves. I’ll get it.”
As I made my way to the door, I heard the thoughts of a woman before I reached the knob. At first I thought it was Jen, then Beck maybe but then I froze with my hand on the knob.
It couldn’t be…
I jerked open the door, letting it bang against the wall, to prove myself wrong but no. She was right there, flesh and blood.
My mom. 
Caleb ran in behind me, feeling my heart gallop and wrapped a hand around my wrist. Whether to calm me or restrain me I wasn’t sure and I wasn’t sure if he was either.
“Sarah?” I heard Dad say in disbelief behind me.
“Hello, Jim,” she said and it had been so long since I’d heard her voice I barely recognized it.
She was thin - so thin - not in a sickly way, but like she had made herself that way. Her hair was dyed a deep black, her tan dark and her makeup much. We just stared at each other. Her eyes perused me with clear relief but also surprise.
She’s finally taking care of herself. She’s lost weight and cut that dreadful hair. And who’s this…
She eyed my significant with a twinkle of interest in her eye and I knew right then, there’d be no reconciliation for us. She hadn’t changed. She had no interest in coming back to be our family again.
“What are you doing here?” Dad asked her harshly.
“Jim, we talked on the phone, you know why I’m here. I’m ready to come home,” she said, her tone impatient and embarrassed. Like how dare we question her when she was on our doorstep.
“No can do, I’m afraid.” Dad moved to stand beside me. “We just don’t have any room for anyone else right now.”
“Are you seeing someone?” she said and laughed like it was impossible.
“No, I’m not seeing anyone. I’ve been a little busy taking care of my daughter.”
Mom’s face turned red, her eyebrows rose in anger.
“Our daughter,”
“Enough,” I shouted and the chandelier above us started to rattle in response to my anger, but I felt Caleb’s squeeze of my hand and I took a deep breath. “Enough, Mom, what are you doing here, for real?”
I’d already seen in her mind that her boyfriend left her. She had been staying at his place and had no where else to go. She refused to be a waitress and that had been the only job she could find so she figured she could say she wanted to make sure I was ok after my ‘ordeal’ and that she wanted to come home.
Home wrecker.
“I told you-“
“The truth,” I said.
She sighed and made a dramatic show of pulling off her shades and smoothing her hair before pasting on a huge fake smile for me.
“Honey,” she crooned and took one step towards me. “I missed you.”
When she touched my hand before I could jerk it away, I saw it. Her little secret. Her dirty indiscretion that would have destroyed everything I knew up until that point and could also from now on. She really was a home wrecker.
In a vision, I saw her giggling. She was young and the man she was with was young too. At first I thought this was college or something but I noticed the house she was in, this house. They were in the kitchen and doing disgusting things on our kitchen counter together. She glanced at the clock and effectively ended his perusal of her.
“My husband will be home soon,” she said to him.
“Tomorrow, same time?” he asked, his back still to me.
“You know it.”
She kissed him long and hard and then the vision flew to another one.
She was crying in the bathroom, a slender white stick in her hand that held her fate. She apparently wasn’t happy with what it told her. A man knocked softly on the door, and she sniffed angrily and rolled her eyes but the voice she used was sweet and innocent and she wiped her face and put on a smile.“Come in.”
Dad was so young and handsome back then, looking at her with a face full of concern.
“Are you ok? What did it say?”
“I’m pregnant,” she whispered.
Dad looked shocked but not in a bad way.
“But…we were careful…we used protection.”
“It’s not always one hundred percent, Jim.”
He smiled hugely and pulled her from the tub side laughing.
“We’re going to have a baby!” He laughed. “I know you said you wanted to wait a while but…wow. We’re going to have a baby.”
“Yes,” she said happily but her eyes were dead behind his back. “We are.”
Then the vision changed to my mother crumpling a piece of paper into the trash. It was a result, for some blood test I had as a kid when they thought I might have Meningitis. She tossed it in the trash as if not a care in the world. When I glanced closer I saw the one sentence that would ruin everything. The one sentence that would change my life even more than it had already.
Dad was not my biological father.
~ Twenty Nine ~
I gasped back to reality with a warm calming hand on the back of my neck and my face pressed into a neck that smelled like my whole world. I sobbed loudly and clung to him as he held me up, doing the only thing he could do.
How could she? How? Why?
How had she pretended to be happy and love us all those years when she didn’t want me at all? She didn’t want Dad, or our life, or our house. She hated it all, endured us. How could she do that to Dad? I had no idea what to say.
Gah, Maggie. I’m sorry.
He can’t find out, I begged him and looked up to his face. He can’t find out. This would kill him. He can’t…
Caleb nodded and then I heard an exasperated sigh from the devil herself.
“I think you’re being a little dramatic. It was just a graduation, I’m sure your father took lots of pictures and I’ll look at them.” The glass in the door next to her started to rattle but she didn’t even notice. “I’ll even get you a gift if you want one.” I looked over at her blankly, in awe of her utter gall. I saw a few blue ribbons behind her head and tried to breathe and accept Caleb’s calm as he discreetly kissed the back of my neck, desperately trying to keep me from showing my mother what I was. “That’s what this is show about isn’t it? You’re upset because I didn’t come for your graduation?” 

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