Chapter - 11
I was standing in Rhea's room. She was asleep alone in the bed. Even with full blast AC, her forehead was covered with sweat. I wanted to touch her but I couldn't. Rhea hasn't liked to be touched when she is asleep since she was a child.
She used to get angry with us if we got in her room without knocking even when she was just 2 years old. I put Bella on her bed. She quickly took a face napkin from the nightstand and wiped her forehead. My little pie is so caring.
Even though Rhea had a sleeping pill, she still recognized that it was Bella. Without opening her eyes, she took the thermos from the side table, poured milk in Bella's bottle, made Bella sleep upon her, and put the bottle in her mouth.
How could she do that?
"Enough Bella. Let everybody sleep. You will sleep in my room from now onwards." Rhea mumbled in her sleep and Bella made a sound in approval.
I went down into my memory lane while looking at my both sleeping princesses. When I was 18 and pregnant. Everybody wanted me to abort the baby. But I couldn't, that small baby bump used to make me feel complete. I fought with everyone.
I still remember, 18 years ago on the same day, Matthew had proposed to me. Not because we got drunk and made a mistake that led to that pregnancy, but because I fought for my unborn child.
I still remember he said and I quote, "I want to be your husband as well as I am a father of your child. I want you to be the only mistake in my life. A beautiful mistake." I am one of those women who got pregnant first and then fell in love with my child's father.
Rhea has never been a mistake for me. She was and still is the reason for my existence. She is everything I could have wished for and more…
Rhea has been a fighter since she was in my womb. First, she fought to be alive in my womb and then to be alive in this world. She was barely 2kg when I first held her. Doctors had told me that there was only a 2% chance that she could survive. But she stood up for the challenge that time also.
That day I decided to become a doctor and not a fashion designer. I still remember the way she used to look at me while I was studying, with those beautiful, shining emerald green eyes. Every day her father and I used to tell her how our day was. And she used to laugh at the correct places. So much mature, even when she was a baby.
"Thinking about Rhea's childhood, aren't you?" Matthew said, hugging me from behind.
"How fast time has passed. Just yesterday she was 3 years old, fighting with a reputed businessman on her birthday because he kissed his wife without her permission. And within a few seconds, she is 18. She didn't even get to enjoy her childhood, Matt." I said with teary eyes and hid my face in his chest. He rubbed my back.
"I still remember that day, standing on the table with one hand on her waist, narrowed eyes, and yelling at Mr. Swan. He was standing in front of her like he was a 5-year-old boy who is going to be punished. No one ever dared to talk to him in that tone, not even his father, " Matthew laughed at the memory.
"She never took disrespect lightly. The only thing she took lightly was her life. Do you remember, she drank half bottle poison to prove to your father that she is capable enough of protecting Rishi? " he asked me.
"I will never forget that day. Thank God! Her uncle Vincent was there and he quickly injected an antidote of poison. We nearly lost her that day also. I will never forgive my father for that day."
"How's Rhea doing? " Matthew changed the subject wisely.
"I don't know Matt, I had added sleeping pills in her course. I still could not find out if she was in pain or not. Do you know how she is? Never tell anyone about her suffering. Those sleeping pills were added because Mili told me that she can't sleep in New place. And…." I didn't know how to tell him.
"I knew you were hiding something from me… just say it," Matthew said encouragingly.
"I had her full body checkup while she was unconscious. And I found that there is swelling in her brain. At 2 places to be exact. She still hadn't recovered it from her second kidnapping incident."
"What? But it's been 11 years since that incident, Helen. She should by now. How dangerous is it?" Matthew asked with a horrific expression.
"Not much but small portions. The swelling is much less than the last time I checked. But I guess she must be suffering from partial memory loss. I think we should call Victor for details."
"Do you think she… she had forgotten about him… I mean… them…" Matthew asked.
"No… I don't think so… there is no way she could forget him. Not in this lifetime at least. She still had that painful smile and those lifeless, sad eyes. She could forget herself but not them." I snapped at him.
"I know… neither could we forget them...but it is better not to let Alex, Bella, and Rishi know about the past. The less they know, the happier and safer they are." Matthew said. And I couldn't agree more…
I closed my eyes and a memory flashed in my head.
"How are you dear?" I asked 5 and half-year-old Rhea. She is covered in bandages like the MUMMY. Only her eyes and nose are visible. They had recently rescued her from her kidnapping.
"The way I should feel...The Same way… Body without soul…" she said in a cold dead tone.
Those words are still haunting me. She and we had lost part of our souls at that time.
"What the hell is this?" I heard a hoodie girl scream from the window and looked out from it.
"What happened?" Kate asked
"I don't know, let's see."
"Mumma, why do those cabinet doors have handprints all over them?" A hoodie girl asked Mrs. Black
"Aren't they looking lovely? Bella did this morning and loved it so I let her put handprints on all the doors." Mrs. Black was brimming with happiness.
"Mumma, if Alex saw it, He will have a heart attack. He can't stand a single spot on any furniture. Oh, God! Mumma, which mother lets kids do that?" She had a horrific expression on her face.
"Wait a minute, I would not let it wipe. It's looking lovely." Mrs. Black said in a dismissive tone.
"OK! It was my duty to inform you. He will not have food unless he cleans everything." the hoodie girl said and walked out.
And as she had mentioned, Mrs. Black and the young boy kept wiping all the cabinets till dinner time.
“I found a hoodie girl, she is living with Black’s,” I answered the phone with this statement.
“You are getting on my nerves E. What’s wrong with you? Why are you seeing her everywhere?”Ava screamed at me over the phone.
I took days to confirm that she is not only in my imagination. Even Paul confirmed that he saw her.
“You can come and check,” I answered her and cut the call. I was currently watching her through Paul’s bedroom window.
That baby was scolding her in baby language and she was trying to answer her but the baby seemed so angry that she was not given a chance to speak.
“Maybe those are Rishi’s sisters,” Paul said. I didn’t catch his approaching footsteps.
“How can you say that?” I asked him.
“He used to say that he went to visit his sisters on the weekends. You know that on the second and fourth Saturday Black’s went somewhere.” Paul said to me. He was right.
They always said that they went to their parent’s house but Mrs. Black never mentioned their daughter in front of any of us.
“Besides she and Rishab have the same hair, nose, and smile,” Paul observed.
She and he were both standing side by side.
Their side profile was facing us. Anyone can tell they are related.
I just stared at them for a few moments and retreated to my room.
About half an hour later, Ian, Ava, Xav, and Ry entered my room. I was searching for something in my closet.
“You said come and check, show me now,” Ava said as soon as she spotted me in the closet.
“You are late, she just went out with Rishab,” I answered her curtly. She was about to retort when I continued, “You can ask Paul. He also saw her and told me that she is Rishab’s sister.”
“Helen never said that she had a daughter. I mean I never saw a girl in that house. I am practically grown up in that house.
Helen is my godmother for god's sake! I would have known.” She exclaimed.
“Well, Umm... Helen has a daughter and I know that.” Ryan mumbled.
“What??” Everyone yelled at him at the same time.
“You never told us,” Ava said to him.
“It was not my place to say anything. She and I were childhood friends but she left and that’s it.
I also left here and returned after 5-6 years. We were children Ava; how can you expect me to remember that?” Ryan reasoned with her.
“Why are you getting hyper on that fact? It's just a girl Ava.” Ian said in a duh tone.
“I want to see her,” Ava said to me and made her comfortable on the couch facing the window.
Maybe she was hurt that Mrs. Black never told her about her daughter. But why did she hide it from Ava?
“Is she alright now?” Ryan asked me.
“Well, I saw a cast on her left hand and some scratches and wounds. One cut on the left upper hand was quite big. She can use only one hand now.” I answered him.
“When you saw her? Are babies all right? Did anyone other than her get hurt?” Xavier asked me.
“Babies are fine without a scratch if I may add. Only she seemed injured. I saw her the next morning after we went to that boring club.” I answered him.
After hours of waiting, the hoodie girl didn’t show up so after dinner everyone decided to bid goodbye to us.
We were standing in the middle of our front garden when Ava said, "I am still not believing that I wasted that much time on your imagination.”
I was about to retort when Ian cut in and said, “Guys!” He was pointing towards one of the balconies on the front side of the neighbor's house.
There she was standing with a coffee mug in one hand and smiling towards Rishab and the baby. That young boy was complaining about something. All of them had a picture-perfect moment in their life.
“Di! Since he was born, you don’t love me anymore.” Rishab complained this time. She just shakes her head and walks into the room and they follow her.
Ava’s face was white with shock and so were others; except Ryan’s. His face held relief, a smile, and something else that I could not figure out.
In the following days, Mrs. Black met my mother and told her that the hoodie girl was indeed her daughter and she was brought up by her grandparents.
She even mentioned that the hoodie girl moved in here permanently.
I personally never saw Mr & Mrs. Black so happy. They even get home earlier than usual.
What bothered me most was the bonding between those siblings. I just hate it when they all are coordinated and all sweet. Even fictional books don't have that sweet bonding thing.
I mean at least Rishab was away from them but the distance doesn’t seem to affect their bond.
All he did was pamper those three. He even stopped hanging out with my brother. Paul only has him as a friend.
I even saw one night that he bragged in her room and declared that they were sleeping in her room while she was doing something on her laptop. They had a popcorn fight that night. It feels as if God is being partial towards us. So much happiness to only one family.
And here we are, not even talking with each other for weeks. I envy their sibling bond. Even Kate and Paul noticed that and were grumbling that we never had this type of relationship between us.
At our Friday family dinner my parents brought that subject also; “Meryl, Have you seen new kids in Matthew's house? How well behaved and loving are they! They are just inseparable. I never knew Matthew had four kids.” Dad said.
'Look who's talking? The one who forgot about his kid. ' My mind mocked my father.
“Oh! No, those little ones are his brother’s kids. Only that beautiful young lady is their daughter. Helen said that they all have shifted here permanently.
Their daughter is brought up by her grandparents and Uncle & Aunt. I also thought they were siblings.” Mom said.
“What? But that new girl and small boy are kind of inseparable.” Kate said and others nodded at that comment.
“I even saw them sleeping in one room,” Paul added silently. He is sad since that girl came, he has no one to hang out with. I swear I want to kill that girl for snatching my brother's friend from him.
“Relationships like that take time to build. Everyone should make an effort, especially the older ones.” Mom said sternly looking at Kate.
“Have you seen that girl, Tom? God! How responsible for such a young age. She is taking care of both younger kids without complaining. Her siblings don't question her judgment.” Mom added further.
“Mr. & Mrs. Black took efforts to bind the relationship between their kids. They visited their kids at least twice a month. Our parents forgot that they even had kids.
Look at them, they come home early. They cook together, eat together, and play together. Our parents don't even bother to ask how was our day?” I added and for the first time in history, Paul & Kate agreed on my opinion.
After that our dinner table went silent. I know that I should not have said that but they haven’t seen Uncle Matthew and hoodie girl having evening coffee or tea together.
They don’t know that every night Mr. & Mrs. Black come to kiss her good night.
They haven’t seen Mrs. Black yelling and feeding their near about 16 years daughter with her hand because she was working on a laptop and forgot to have lunch.
It's actual team effort what they have between them unlike us who never had parents for anything.
After dinner, Kate and Paul stopped by my room. They knocked and entered my room.
Frankly speaking, it was kind of awkward to have a conversation between us. We have only talked when we need anything. We all sat on a bed.
“I thought that we should spend some time with each other. You know, as we are living together so… ” Paul said hesitantly.
“And I agreed with it, so do you mind spending some time with us?” Kate asked tentatively.
“No. I don’t mind. What should we-” I was cut by the sound of yelling from the neighborhood. We ran to the window to see what happened? Don't these people have manners?
The hoodie girl was standing on a chair with the baby, and the young boy was looking at her questioningly while Rishab just ran into the room and started yelling. Why that idiot is yelling?
“Shut up! What is going on?” Helen asked.
“How would I know? I just entered this room.” Rishab said and went to stand on the couch.
“Care to explain?” Helen aunty asked the hoodie girl.
“Mamma there was something near my pillow and it suddenly started to fly.” She explained. That young boy searched for the spot where I suppose the bed is.
“Di! That's a butterfly. What is wrong with you?” The young boy scolded her.
“You are a grounded young lady,” Helen said.
“OH Come on Momma! She is already grounded.” Rishab said.
“Can being double grounded mean I am free?” The Hoodie girl asked hopefully.
Helen and the boy slapped on their forehead while Rishab, baby, Uncle, and we started to snicker at her reply. What is she? Dumb?
“No butterfly that means you are in double trouble. Come down from the chair now. There is nothing to be shocked about. Butterflies are cute, you will love them.” Uncle said.
“Papa, don’t bother. I am not going to look at that thing again. Let's go before it bites me or Bella.” Hoodie girl said and walked out of the room and everyone followed her. We three watched a movie together that night.
In the following days, we witness so many of their happy family moments. We kind of tried to bond with each other also but frankly speaking it was kind of tough.
We have practically never been part of each other’s life. I for one don’t even know the color of the walls of my sister’s bedroom.
We even started to have breakfast together and I found out Kate is allergic to pineapples. It’s quite good to have parents and siblings around. It started to feel more like home and less like a Villa.
On the other hand, Mrs. Black doesn’t shut up about her daughter. All she was doing was bragging about those kids.
One evening Kate had enough of it so she directly asked Mrs. Black, “When will we get to meet your awesome daughter Aunty Helen. I mean I could use some girl time and I am sure she would also.”
“Well... There is a slight issue. My daughter is not as outgoing as I am. Meeting new people makes her nervous. She is not a social butterfly, you know.” Mrs. Black hesitantly added.
“She has to try Helen, besides all our kids will help her for social awkwardness. You don't even allow us to enter your house. What is going on? And don’t you dare to lie. We want an answer” Ryan’s mum added.
“I agree with Rita. All you are doing is talking about her and then whenever we ask you to let us meet her; you send her away with Rishi. Every one of us has noticed it; so tell us, what’s the matter?” Xav’s mum added this time.
“Her Aunt Mili had strictly instructed me to keep her away from social gatherings and friends. She is not used to these kinds of things.
While she is recovering from injuries, I don’t want to stress her. She is badly injured and we were so close to losing her that made Matthew and Rishi more anxious.
So we decided to take it slow with her; as she just agreed to move in with us.” Helen aunty explained.
“I saw a cast on her hand. Is she all right now?” Kate asked politely.
“She is on meds. I can’t exactly tell about how she is though. She is practically inexpressive.
She hadn’t complained about anything so far. We guess that she is fine as Alex & Rishi hadn’t freaked out yet.” She explained.
“You are saying as if you are playing a guessing game,” Paul said through the doorway.
“Because we are. She has always been a complicated child to handle. No complaints, no demands and so much responsible for her age. It's kind of scary, you know.” She exhaled loudly and everyone got in thinking.
Why are you such a mysterious person, Miss Black?
The more I wanted to avoid her; the more I was getting into that matter. I even stopped opening my windows, but all hell was bent to get me involved with her.
Kate and Paul were excited to meet her and get to know her. Whereas Mia, Theo, Ava were happy that Kate is as curious as them.
All of them were observing her and found out nothing new. As if she is an alien and everybody wants to see the one.
All she could do was bury her head in the laptop or listen patiently to the baby's complaint and hang out with family.
I couldn’t find out what was with her that made all of us give her attention.
It is as if the whole center of the universe has shifted to her. I started to hate it.
Exactly how much potential a girl can hold?
Finally, a day had come when everyone got to meet her. Xav out of all people was quite relaxed about it.
He never got himself involved in such gatherings but he hadn’t declined it once.
Which, according to me, is more shocking.
When we entered the house it was quiet. Mrs. Black welcomed us and informed us that her husband and kids will join us shortly.
Their whole house has been changed. It's more organized than the last time I saw it. The whole house was decorated with photos of their child. The whole vibes of the place have changed into pleasant.
“Wow Helen, Your house seems more lively now.” Mrs. King asked and Xav hummed in response. He was admiring the change in the house.
“Ohh... It’s just Alex who likes more natural light in the house. We add some things also. Bella is quite adventurous so we had changed some settings according to her. ” Mrs. Black explained.
“Nice photo frames over the fireplace,” Dad added.
“Matthew always wanted to décor house with family photos. His wish finally got fulfilled.” She answered.
“Ava, I am warning you. Stay away from Mrs. Black’s daughter. She is a freak and bad news. She had a mental issue that’s why they kicked her from here.” Mrs. Wright said as soon as Mrs. Black was out of hearing range.
“It was never like that.” Rishi roared as soon as she finished her sentence.
“If you said anything to my sister, I will forget that you are Ava’s aunt. There could be no one better than my sister in the whole world.”
“OK, that’s enough. Let us meet her first. Don’t ruin people’s minds with your prejudice Mrs. Wright.” Mr. King jumped in and broke the fight before it got out of hand.
All settled down with drinks and snacks waiting for them to arrive. Where are you, Miss Black?
Here is my new update… Let me know what you think about it.
Stay happy and healthy…
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