"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out"– Walter Winchell
Texas, Friday 22nd June 2018 @ 6 pm
The doorbell rings, long and loud. She's here, finally. As soon as I open the door, she bursts in.
"Hi honey, I am home." Leah's voice is filled with joy and laughter, honeyed and comforting. Soul food.
"Hey girl, I miss you so much." (Only three days has passed since I left New York City, but who is counting?) She laughs beautifully.
"I miss you too honey, New York is not the same." Alé and Patrick rush over to make her acquaintance, she whispers into my ear.
"We need to talk, it's important."
"Soon," I replied, readying myself for the introductions.
"Leah, you remember Aléjandro, my sweet big brother and this is his friend, Patrick. Patrick, I want you to meet the greatest friend anyone could ever ask for, Anna-Leah."
Leah gushes but not at the introduction but at Aléjandro. She is in love, completely.
"Well, hello Dr. Hernández, so nice to see you again, under better circumstances." Please Anna-Leah, behave yourself. "Patrick" she is cool and distance.
"Anna-Leah, it's a pleasure." Patrick radiates pure sunshine and the iced cold in her veins melts away. She returns the smile with full wattage, it cannot be helped.
"Dinner will be ready in a few minutes," I announce to the small group of people.
"Thank you, Jesus! I miss your delectable dishes, Bethy darling!" Anna-Leah is giving the performance of her life. "What are we having?"
Not to be outshined by her, I put on my most impressive French accent and begin reciting. "Today, there will be an appetizer and a soup, a main dish and a dessert; for our appetizer, caramelized Pear and Sage Crostini with a Creamy Chilled Cucumber Dill Soup. Our main dish; Bacon-wrapped Pesto Pork Tenderloin or Balsamic Roast Chicken and finally for dessert, White Chocolate Crème Brülée."
The dining room is now filled with the wonderful smells of food and the sound of boisterous laughter. My little family; beautiful. The only people that know my secrets, well; most of my secrets. Leah keeps giving me glances and gestures. She desperately needs my action and I am curious to find out what is so urgently important.
"Okay people, dessert time...Leah could you help me a second, thanks."
Quickly we leave the boys at the table, where they are deep in conversation and head into the kitchen area where I make the final touches to the crème brülée. Leah dives right in and blurts out her confession. "I did something, you're not gotten be pleased with me."
Looking up at her face, she is close to tears. "What could be that bad Leah honey?"
She is still a bit hesitant.
"Out with it woman"
Taking a long deep breath, she exhales.
"I contacted him."
Him? Who's him? Vague much, Ms. Greene, I am sure you can do better than 'I contacted him'
"Anna-Leah Greene, what is doing on, just spit it out, NOW." I am losing my patience, blame it on my fiery Spanish spirit.
"Okay, okay, don't get testy child, I found out the guy's actual name from Erin, it is Canaan Demetrius Black the third, and by the way, he's famous, and I called his office and spoke to his personal assistant' she's a super fan, (she bats her eyelashes at me [who does that any more?]) So she gave me his personal email and sent him a little note to contact me. I am waiting for his reply."
It takes a few minutes for all that information to sink into my thought process. Wait a fucking minute, Canaan? Is that the guy I slept with? Who I am pregnant for? Nah! She wouldn't have done that, she couldn't have?
One word is all I can utter, but that one that word brings forth the tears she has been fighting for the last couple of minutes. Her hand quickly covers her mouth to stifle down her cries. I rush over to her rigid form and quickly pull her into an embrace of comfort and forgiveness. I will never be mad with Anna. She did the right thing. She had that courage, the backbone, to make everything correct. (Always so principled, it is fucking annoying but cute too)
"What's done is done, Leah. We're good and...thank you."
She finally releases the breath she has locked in her chest for so long. We stand there hugging each other, silent.
"What is taking so long? Where is my dessert, mujercita?" Alé's voice sounds really close to my ear. Too close. Then, I feel his arms around me, around us, bringing us more warmth and solace.
"This is nice," his face is buried in my hair and he squeezes us a little tighter. "But I want my dessert now"
We all laugh and detach ourselves from each other and get on with dinner. Leah and I's conversation has not been concluded but I know we will revisit it, soon.
"Okay people, I need to watch the news." Aléjandro never misses the nightly news broadcasts. He's an information junkie, always needing that fix.
"Really Aléjandro is it necessary, we're having such a blast." Patrick voices his opinion with a very sad look upon his face.
"I am addicted, Pat, my dear, you know this. It is just ONE hour, okay and we can then continue the merriment." Alé is grabbing the remote and turning on the TV while he speaks and flips quickly through the channels until he is on the local news.
"Good evening, I am Denise Waters for Channel 6 News. Breaking story from England, tragedy has struck the town of Northampton, where a prominent family has been murdered. Earlier today, the Leblanc family originally from Marseilles France were all killed by a known assailant. Dead are Lucien LeBlanc age 63, a retired renowned cardiovascular surgeon, his wife of 30 years; Esmeé LeBlanc, 57, their only child and daughter Justine LeBlanc-Pope age 27. Also dead are Jasper Addington, the family's butler of 35 years, Linda Hurley-Addington and Chrissie Addington, who was also employed by the LeBlancs.
The police are advising the public to be on the lookout for Christopher Pope, former owner and CEO of Pope Industries of London. He is wanted for questioning for these crimes. It is also believed that there might be a relation between these shooting and the near-fatal shooting of the sole child and heir of the Black Empire; Canaan Demetrius Black III, who was also shot approximately 10 pm London time outside his office of Black Industries where he is the CEO. He is currently in surgery state sources close to the family.
Mr. Pope is considered to be armed and extremely dangerous. If seen, please contact the proper authorities, do not confront him. In other news..."
The news fades to dark as my heart races to a million beats a minute. Canaan has been shot! I cannot catch my breath, I feel faint. Oh God, I will not make a fool of myself in front of my brother. There are no words that could explain why this news bulletin is creating such havoc on my emotions. Anna-Leah and I look at each other. Canaan might be dead for all we know. The father of my child could be gone, forever.