Chapter 15 – Tangled Webs

Time was passing right before her eyes.  Christy had been living with her and Brian for three years now.  Shortly after she had become Christy’s foster mother Brian had asked Emily to marry him; she jumped at the chance.  There was no way she was going to let him get away.  It had taken her much too long to let someone in.  While she had been fighting her feelings about Brian for ages she knew that there would never be anyone like him in her life again.

Their married life has been great.  Besides getting used to living with a preteen child they also had to deal with a career change that Brian was going through.  He had been teaching law at the university for so long that he was losing touch with why he became a lawyer in the first place.  So he decided to take the Texas state-bar exam so he could begin practicing again and not just teaching.  Emily was so proud of him.  She knew that there were things that Brian was not telling her, she felt that he had been hiding things about something in his past for a while but she could not ask him questions about it.  Especially since he had explained “Attorney-Client Privilege” to her and all the aspects that went with it and why lawyers fought to honor it at all costs.

“Brian, have you heard anything from the state-bar yet?”

“No.  Not yet.  I think it will be another week before I do.  They said that it would take about six to eight weeks for the results to be returned.”

“Are you nervous?  You have been out of a courtroom for five years now.  Do you think that you would enjoy being back in there?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact when I do go back to work in my own office I want you to go and see my first trial.  It will be like me coming to watch you during a premier night.”

“I’d love that.  Getting to watch you in your own element will be like getting to know a different part of you.  So do you have an office already planned out?  We haven’t talked very much about it, just that you wanted to start practicing again.  What are you hiding from me now?”  Emily said with a teasing grin.  She watched as a troubled look came across Brian’s face.

Emily sure would love to know what it was that always made Brian withdraw into himself like that.  Every time she teased him about hiding something he always became a little distant for a while.  “Come on, you know I was teasing you.  Tell me about your new office.”

“Well, let me see.  I am going to set up my own office.  I will have a partner right off.  We are going to be calling the office ‘Douglas and Richardson’…”

“What!  Which Richardson?  Who will be working with you?”

“Um, your brother.”

“Jeremy is going to become your partner?  But he is living in Washington D.C. with his family.  How is he going to be your partner?”

“That is one of the surprises I have in store for you.  Jeremy and his family will be moving here at the end of the month.  He took the bar exam about six months ago.  After he got the results that he passed the exam, he began dealing with closing out his office and selling his house there.  He also needed to find a house close to us that he liked so it took him a while.”

“You’ve known about this the whole time?”

“Of course, I have been keeping in touch with your brother for the last couple of years.  I wanted to figure out a way to get you two close once again and so between the two of us we came up with this plan.”

“So, you think that by having Jeremy move to the same town I live in we will become closer?”

“What better way to accomplish this short of having him move in with us?”

“Maybe you are right.  I never wanted the rift between my parents and me to come between my brother, sister, and me.  Just maybe we can mend some fences if Jeremy is closer to me.”

“Um, Emily, there is one more thing.  You know that new hospital that they are building across town, which is opening up in about eight months?  Well, Susan is going to be head of obstetrics.”

“What is this?  Are you single handedly going to fix all the problems in my family?”

“Maybe.”  Brian said with a grin.

“I love this.  First my brother, then my sister, next you are going to say that my parents are going to be moving here as well.”

“Not quite, but I have to tell you that I have met them.”

“You what! When?”

“Just before we were married, I went to them and told them that I was marrying you.”

“And you never told me any of this?  Why didn’t you tell me?” Emily demanded.

“How would you have reacted if I had told you that I went to see your parents?”

“I probably would have become very angry with you.”

“And do you think that you would have married me if I had told you?”

“Yes, but just not quite as quickly as I did.  I would probably have made you wait another day.”

“That’s all, just another day?  Why?”

“Because I had written them after I saw the first dress rehearsal of The Little Princess.  I told them everything, including about you.  I never heard back from them so I don’t know if they received my letter or even read it.  It doesn’t matter now.  I think it is neat that you would still go to my father for permission to marry me.”

“I didn’t.”

“You didn’t what?  You just told me that you went to them before we were married.”

“I did.  I never asked them for permission to marry you.  I told them that I was going to marry you.”

“You were so sure that I would say yes?”

“No, but I sure did hope you would.”

“This was right after Christy moved in wasn’t it?  Did you mind coming into a ready-made family?”

“Are you kidding, I love Christy.  I have loved her since the first time I saw her.  In fact I think it is now time for me to go and teach her some more of those driving skills she so desperately needs.  So if you will excuse me, Christy is waiting.”

Emily loved watching Brian and Christy get to know each other.  Just watching them together made her want to cry.  They were becoming so close that they could almost be father and daughter.  Emily had approached child services about adopting Christy about a year ago but after they had done some research through her file they told Emily that she could not adopt her.  Something to do with the fact that Christy was an adoptee in the foster care system and they could not contact the adoptive parents to have her released from that contract.  Emily never told Brian or Christy about that visit.

While she loved Christy dearly they were still learning how to adjust to each other.  When Christy had moved in she was going on twelve.  She was now 15 and she still had a mind of her own.  Christy would let you know how she felt about something and Emily was still learning how to do the same thing.  In fact the last thing they had argued about last night was Christy going out on dates.  Emily did not feel that she was ready to go out exclusively with one person and Christy was adamant that she was.

“Christy, after you and Brian get back from your driving lesson could we talk?  I think that we need a little one on one time without the arguments.  I promise to listen to you, if you will promise to listen to me.”

“Okay Emily.  I think we need to talk too.  Do you think that we can go out just the two of us for some Rocky Road Ice Cream?”

“I think that would be nice.  See you in a couple of hours.”

Emily watched Christy and Brian leave.  As she stood at the window watching Christy get into the driver’s seat of the car she watched the excited look on her face.  Christy was growing up.  Pretty soon she would be leaving for college.  It just did not seem like three years had passed.  Every year the Department of Social Services would do an inspection of her home.  She was always asked the same question.  ‘Do you still want to keep Christy in your home?’  Each year the answer was the same a resounding ‘Yes’.

This year there was another question that was asked of Emily.  It was one she was beginning to consider very seriously.  But until she had talked to both Christy and Brian she could not follow through with it.  Emily had told her that there was a little two year old boy who had lost his family in a fire that was very similar to the one Christy’s family had been in.  The only difference was that the little boy had also been in the fire.  He had been burned on his arms and legs and was still in the healing process.  However, he also had to heal mentally.  Emily was asked if she would consider becoming his foster mother.  This was what she had to talk to Christy about.  Emily wound never bring another child into the house if it in any way would cause Christy to be harmed emotionally.

While Emily waited for Christy and Brian to return she decided to update some of her scrapbooks that she had begun keeping of each play she produced.  She had hired a photographer just before the premier of “A Mid-Summer Nights Dream” to take photos of everything that went on during opening nights.  There were photos of everything from the audience to the chaos backstage.  The details in the photos were wonderful.

As Emily looked through the photos she began to notice something strange.  At each of the premiers there was one lady that always stood out.  When Emily took a closer look at the photos she thought she would cry.  She would have recognized her mother anywhere.  How she had missed seeing her at these premiers Emily would never know.  But there she was for each and every opening that Emily had ever put on.

So Emily began to look a little closer at all the pictures.  She could not believe it.  At every premier that she had put on her whole family had been present; including her father.  None of them had been sitting together and each of them had been disguised just enough that you had to look twice but Emily would have known them anywhere.  Nowhere in any of the pictures did it show the family together.  It was as if they all wanted to keep it a secret from the other members of the family as well as her that they were there.

Emily had been studying and crying over the pictures for so long that she did not realize how much time had passed.  So when Christy and Brian came laughing through the door she was caught by surprise.  Her eyes were red and puffy and she was emotionally distraught.  When Brian saw her he became upset.

“Emily, what’s wrong?  Has something happened?” He asked with a great deal of concern.

“Nothing is wrong but you won’t believe what has happened.  I was just going through some of these old scrapbooks to update them and found something that I never expected to find.”

“What?” Christy asked.  “Most of those are just pictures of opening nights.  We’ve looked at them tons of times and you never found anything.  The place is always a mad house on that night so what could you possibly find in the scrapbooks?”

“My family.”  Emily said quietly.  She watched as Christy looked at her with surprise.  Emily never talked about her family with anyone especially Christy.

“You found your family?  Let me see.  You never talk about them you know.”  Christy was excited.  She was finally going to learn something new about Emily.

“Okay, well have a seat.  As you know I never talk about my family because my parents and I had a falling out several years ago.  I have not spoken to them since.  I have talked to my brother and sister but we aren’t as close as we were when we were younger.  I mistakenly thought that the argument between my parents and I also included them.  It took me a while to realize that it did not.”

“Okay, I get it.  Now show me the pictures.”  Christy demanded.  So Brian and Christy sat on either side of Emily as she went through the scrapbooks beginning at the very first play she had produced.  She showed her mother and father in photos that were taken on opposite sides of the theater.  Then there were pictures of Jeremy and his wife as well as Susan and her family.

In each of the photos each member of the family had sat in totally different sections of the theater.  Never once during that whole time had either member of the family ever acknowledged another member of the family.  Emily showed how her mother always wore a different hat that semi-hid her face and how her father would wear a mustache and glasses, which he never would have done if he wasn’t trying to disguise himself.  Jeremy always changed his dark hair to blond and Susan always changed her hair to red.

But there was no mistaking that they were her family.  No matter what disguises they put on with the exception of their mother they all had the Richardson chin.

“Hey, I ran into her once during this play.”  Christy said with surprise while pointing at Emily’s mother.  “She was gorgeous.  And she was staring at you Emily.  You know kind of like you were staring at me when you didn’t think I would notice.”

“What do you mean?  Like I was staring at you.” Emily asked Christy.

“You know, like you found something that you had lost and did not know how to keep it.  That kind of stare.”

“I was doing that?” Emily asked with surprise.

“Yep.  I thought that you might be going loony or kooky or something, but I never asked you about it because after a while you stopped doing it.”

“I see.”  While they were talking Brian had remained silent.  Emily looked at him for a minute to see how he was reacting to the pictures but once again she could tell that he had retreated into his own thoughts.

“Well Brian, I think that Christy and I are going to go out for our Rocky Road.  Would you mind if we left you here?  I think that we really need to be alone for a while to talk.”

“Sure go ahead.  I need to make some phone calls anyway.  How long do you think you will be gone?”

“I’m not sure.  About an hour or two, we might just go shopping for a while after we talk.  How about I give you a call if we decide to go shopping?  Then maybe we can meet somewhere for dinner.”

“That sounds great to me.  I’ll be able to get a little work done around here while you are gone.”  Emily watched the serious look on Brian’s face.  She knew that he was very concerned about something but she did not want to start something now that she could not finish.  Besides Christy looked like she really did want to talk with her.  So Emily and Christy left for their favorite ice-cream parlor.

“Christy, could we please save our talk until we reach the ice-cream parlor?” Emily asked quietly while she drove.  “I would like to be sitting somewhere comfortable where we can just enjoy things for a while.”

“Sure, no problem Emily.  But first, could I ask you something important?”

“Sure, if I can answer it I will.”

“Well, you know that I have been living with you for three years right?”

“Yes.”

“Um, in all that time you never asked me to call you mom.”

Emily was shocked.  She had never thought that Christy would want to talk to her about that.

“No, I guess I haven’t.  You have had some very important experiences and issues with people you have called mom.  I didn’t want you to think that you had to call me mom just to live with me.”

“But do you want me to call you mom?”  Christy asked with apprehension.

Emily pulled the car over into a parking lot and put it in park.  She just had an emotional blow that she never expected.

“With all my heart.”  Emily replied.  “Christy, how long have you been waiting to ask me that question?”

“Since I moved in with you.”

“Is this why we have been arguing over such little things?  Because you wanted to ask me that question?”

“Yes and no.  I thought that if I argued with you like a real daughter did that you would want me to call you mom or something.  But it never worked.  You still never asked me to call you mom.”

“Oh Christy, I am so sorry.  I knew that that Mrs. Thomas had made you call her mother and that she never said I love you.  So I did the opposite, I made sure that you knew that I loved you but I never made you call me mom.”

“That’s what you were doing?  You were trying to protect me?”

“Yes, I knew there was something special about you when you marched into my theater to audition when you were nine demanding an audience.  You were so bubbly and audacious that I think I fell in love with you right then.  But I had some things of my own to work through at that time.  Things I have not told you about.  And at this time I don’t know if I will ever tell you about them.  But I never thought that I would be cheating you out of anything when I became your foster mother.”

“You didn’t.  I always knew that you loved me.  You hugged me at every chance you got and no matter what you never let me go to bed without saying ‘I love you’ to me.  So can I call you Mom or what?  Do you think Brian would like for me to call him Dad too?”

Emily thought that she would never stop crying.  She grabbed Christy in a monster hug and just sobbed “yes” into her ear.  After she had been able to calm down again Emily suggested that they go on to get that Rocky Road.  She still had something important to discuss with Christy about bringing that little boy home as a foster brother for her.  Emily wanted to do it on a permanent basis just like she was doing with Christy.  This time Emily thought Christy might just be up for it.

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