Albert Bennett and Denny both wanted Eva to move into their house and live with them, but for conflicting reasons. Albert wanted an adult female companion to advise and keep an eye on his daughter. Denise wanted a more mature, beautiful girl to study and model herself after. Ironically, they both used the same argument to convince her.
“I don’t have a mother or a sister or anyone to confide in,” Denise had pleaded. “Dad’s no help, and I can’t talk to Teresa about girl stuff, you know.”
“I’m worried about her,” her father had said. “She won’t listen to me. She has no mother, and she’s reached that stage where she needs proper female guidance. She idolizes you, Eva. You’re a good example for her right now. Don’t turn me down, Eva; I’m pleading with you here.”
Eva hesitantly agreed to a trial period; within three months she regretted it.
Standing behind Denny, who was sitting in front of her vanity, Eva stopped brushing Denny’s hair and looked in the mirror at the pain in the girl’s stricken face.
“Are you sure?” Eva said quietly.
“It’s been three months. Isn’t that a pretty sure sign?” She stared into the mirror at Eva as if begging to hear that she might be wrong.
“Usually, but we need to be sure before you say anything to your dad. We’ll have to get you to the doctor for an exam. Who’s the father?”
“What! Why, Jerry of course! What do you think I am some kind of a … a … whore?” she cried, bursting into tears.
Eva gently caressed her shoulders and whispered into her ear. “Of course not, honey; don’t worry, everything will work out. We’ll get through this together you and me.”
“DD’s going to be furious,” Denise said through her sobs.
“Probably,” Eva agreed, “but it’s not his baby, it’s yours, and he’s just going to have to accept that.”
“You’ll help me tell him, won’t you, Eva?” Denise’s bottom lip quivered like that of a child with a freshly skinned knee, and Eva thought of Tina.
“Of course I will, honey,” she whispered, squeezing Denny’s shoulders comfortingly. “That’s why I’m here, isn’t it?”
The following week Eva brought Denny to a free clinic where her pregnancy was confirmed. Eva had registered her under a false name, and she handed the surprised receptionist a $100 cash donation as they left.
Denny wanted to wait to tell her father, but Eva advised her that “getting it over with” would be much better in the long run.
“What!” he bellowed, his face turning beet red.
Denise and Eva sat in the chairs in front of the desk in his study. Denise immediately started to cry.
“Yelling isn’t going to solve anything, Albert,” Eva said calmly. “We need to discuss this calmly.”
Opening his mouth, he managed only a sputter; one of the rare moments in his life he was rendered speechless. Recovering, he banged his fist on his desk. “Damn him; damn him to hell; I’m going to kill that bastard.”
“No, DD!” screamed Denise. “He’s my husband; he’s the father of my baby!”
Bennett pointed his finger directly at Denise. “He’s not your husband, and there’s not going to be any baby! I know enough doctors who can take care of this.”
“What are you saying?” Denise said, shocked. “I don’t want my baby ’taken care of.’ I want my baby!”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Bennett, thrusting both hands toward Denise. “You can’t have a baby; you’re a baby yourself for God’s sake!”
“I’m not!” she screamed. “I’m not a baby, and I’m not giving up my baby! I don’t care what you say; I don’t care what you do to me. I want a baby, and I’m going to have one!” Sobbing, Denise flew out the room and slammed the door.
“Jesus Christ,” said Bennett, shaking his head. “What a fucking mess this is. I am going to kill that guy; I swear I am.”
“She’ll hate you forever if you do that.” Eva said.
“What! Are you defending this jerk?”
“Of course not. I’m saying she has to find out for herself what he is. If you kill him or hurt him, she’ll always have this Don Juan fantasy of him in her mind, and she’ll hate you for taking him away from her.”
Bennett grumbled something under his breath, and said, “Well, you’ve got to take care of this other thing, this baby thing.”
“Oh?” Eva cocked her head attentively.
“I obviously need you to convince her to have an abortion. You saw how she reacted when I suggested it.”
Eva shook her head. “I won’t do that.”
“Won’t,” he yelled. “What do you mean ‘won’t’? What the hell does that mean?”
“I’m not going to try to convince Denny to do anything. This is her decision, not yours, not mine. This is her decision, and I’m going to support her in whatever she decides. And so should you.”
Flabbergasted, Bennett’s mouth dropped open. “I don’t believe this,” he said, stunned. “This is going to ruin her life, it might even kill her, and you won’t lift a finger to stop it.”
Eva sat forward in her chair. “Albert,” she said somberly, “having a baby won’t ruin her life. She’s rich; you’re rich. It’s not the same as a poor, single woman on welfare, forced to make this decision. The way you and Denny decide to deal with this pregnancy is what will form her life from this point. You’re her father. Give her the love and support she needs now to get through this, and she’ll be fine. And she will love you all that much more for it.”
“You can’t know that?” He challenged her. “Of course I love Denny; she knows that, but she’s notoriously self-centered. My fault I guess.”
“I can’t know for sure, but I agree that you obviously adore her. Use that feeling to support her in whatever she decides to do. I’ve seen the way you look at Denny. It’s the same way my dad used to look at me before he was killed.”
Eva caught the flash of regret in his face.
“I’m not looking for your sympathy, Albert. I’m simply telling you how important a father’s love and support is to a young girl. You have no idea how much it means. I would give or do anything—absolutely anything—to bring my father back.”
He stared at Eva, incredulous. “But this is different,” he said, agitated. “Denny’s just a child, don’t you see? She can’t go through a pregnancy and childbirth, much less raise an infant! Why can’t you see that?”
Eva sat back in the chair. “You’re the one who’s not seeing straight, Albert. She’s a woman not a child, and with a little help she can learn to be a loving mother. In fact, having a baby might be the best thing for Denny. She’ll become more mature and less self-absorbed; that much I can guarantee you.”
“What about the delivery itself? What about that,” he argued. “I lost her mother that way, I can’t lose Denny the same way; I can’t!” Eva saw the tears in his eyes. “That was my fault,” he said. “My wife wasn’t strong enough for a second baby, but I pressured her. I wanted another baby. My wife was a saint; always she did whatever I wanted, whatever I asked, and it killed her. I killed her.” He swiveled his chair around, and Eva heard sniffling.
Rising slowly, she made her way around his chair and placed her hands on his shoulders. “Albert, your wife’s death was a tragic mistake, but an accident. You can’t go on blaming yourself for that. Millions of women have babies every day and it works out just fine. Denny is young, strong, fit; there’s no reason she can’t have a normal delivery and a healthy baby—if that’s what she decides.”
“I don’t think I’m getting through to you,” he sighed. “Am I?”
Eva smiled. “Do you want me to move out?” she asked, removing her hands from his shoulders.
“No,” he shouted, looking at her with concern, “absolutely not. Why would you even say that? I don’t want you to leave. I want you to stay here and continue living with us; especially now. Denny needs you now more than ever.”
Eva examined Albert’s face carefully. “She needs you even more, Albert,” she said quietly. Eva walked to the door and closed it resolutely behind her as she left the room.