Sarah, Returned--Chapter 28 (A Steemit Original Novel)

in #fiction4 years ago (edited)

A few minutes later, everyone is gone. Lt. Daniels escorted Karen off the property; I expect she's gone to her parents' house or to a fancy hotel. I'm positive we haven't heard the last of her. Great-Uncle Jacob and Carter quietly slipped out, too, each promising to be in touch tomorrow. I lingered with each of them a moment, taking them in to seal in my memories, as the question of whether I will see them again is not yet settled.

Only Sgt. Baker remains. “I’ll wait outside until the night shift officer arrives,” he tells us, happy to see that Matt and I have begun to resolve our differences. I think he's comfortable leaving Matt alone with me tonight.

“How will we get in touch with whoever is outside, if we need to?” I ask. Though she's been ordered away, I'm still kind of concerned about Karen. What if she tries to sneak back onto the property to exact revenge? Matt and I are both targets for her ire now. 

“I’ll call the house before I leave, and give you the officer’s personal mobile number. I won't know which officer it is until they get here. Is that okay?” 

“Of course. Matt, do you agree?”  

“Yes, that will be fine,” Matt says, and blows my mind for a second by putting a protective arm around my shoulder. Maybe he's starting to see through Karen's "Miss Perfect" act, after all. One can hope. I don't want to leave 2017 with the two of them still together.

“Okay, then." Sgt. Baker rubs his hands together. "I’ll leave the two of you to it. Remember, you can always call 911 if there’s an emergency and you can’t get in touch with an officer. Since we still don’t know who tampered with your car, I’d advise against going outside. We’re glad you’re back, Ms. Morgan.” 

“Thank you, Sgt. Baker. And, the next time I feel like I need some time alone, I promise to let at least one person know I’m okay before I disappear.” If all goes well, this is a promise I will keep. 

“I know you will. Good night, kids. We’ll be around to pick you up about 10 am tomorrow go file that restraining order, Ms. Morgan. Does that work for you? Or do you want to sleep in a little later, this being your first night back and all?” 

“A little later would be good, I think. I’m pretty exhausted as I'm sure you understand. Maybe around noon?” 

“Noon, it is. I’ll transport you personally.” 

“Can Matt come?” 

“Absolutely.” 

Tipping his hat to us, he leaves, and Matt and I are alone for the first time in forever. We were never alone once he started dating Karen, and then there was my own 14 years away. It’s nice, but in an odd way, like doing something I remember from a dream. 

Matt gets up and locks the door behind Sgt. Baker. Probably a good idea, making sure this place is secure. Even with an officer stationed outside, we can’t be too careful. However long I’m here, I don’t want to be a target for some evildoer, and if I am, I don’t want to make getting to me easy. I have to get back to my husband and kids, preferably in one piece.  

I rise from the sofa and go check the back door, making sure it’s locked, and start testing the windows, too. 

Seeing what I’m doing, Matt goes around behind me and double-checks everything I just checked. If this wasn’t a serious matter, it would be funny. I never thought I’d witness it, but I think Matt may be a little concerned about Karen and what she may do. She was furious when she left. That rage isn’t going to fade any time soon. She won't let Matt's transgression pass without trying to do something about it. Matt knows this. The question is, what will she do?

Once we're done locking and re-locking the house, Matt shrugs his shoulders and asks, “So, now what?” 

"Honestly, I could go for another grilled cheese. But, maybe we’ll save that for tomorrow. I’m beyond tired. And, it’s after three in the morning. It’s been a long day. Why don’t we just go to bed?” 

There won’t be a better time to search Grandma’s bedroom than this. I have to take advantage of it, no matter how much Matt’s incredible cheese grilling skills are calling to me. 

“Whatever you want," he concedes, going out of his way to be nice. "I’m tired, too, truth be told.”  

I’m not sure if this is true, or if he is just eager to give me whatever I want. It’s probably a little of both. “Can I ask you one question first, Matt?”  

Where did that come from? I wasn’t planning to ask him anything. I need to get him to sleep ASAP, and then head into Grandma’s room. Ah. It’s my subconscious again, taking advantage of the free rein I gave it earlier. There is a question I’ve been wanting to ask for a long time. This might be my only chance to get an answer. 

“Of course.” He rests an arm on the back of the sofa and turns to give me his full, undivided attention. He may as well be holding up a giant, flashing sign that says "Please forgive me, Sarah." Poor guy doesn't realize I already have.

I nibble the tip of my index finger, trying to think of a diplomatic way to put this, but soon decide the best way is to just ask. “Why did you start dating Karen? She’s so shallow and bossy. Not your type at all. Yet, you immediately put all your independence and pride aside and became her lap dog, even to the point of asking her to marry you, and siding with her against me time and again. No. Don’t apologize. I just need to know what you saw in her. Or, maybe, what she was holding over you?”  I add the last part with a playful lift of my eyebrow, just so he knows I’m not mad. 

“The first part is easy,” he says with a sheepish bite on his lower lip. “She was a gorgeous woman who said yes when I asked her on a date. I’m not immune to that. Few men are. As to why I stayed with her, sacrificed my own desires for hers, and asked her to marry me so quickly? You know what? I don’t even know. I think maybe it’s because I never dated anyone like her. All the women I went out with before were college or grad students, academic types with real passions in different areas, who wanted to make the world a better place.” 

“Yeah, you love those activist girls,” I laugh. 

“I do. But, Karen is a socialite. You know the type. From old money, traveling in the fanciest circles in New England, a sorority girl when she was in college, no need to get a job after. She had her own condo until she moved in with me a couple of weeks ago, but her whole lifestyle is funded by her dad’s money. She has a title at his import company. Director of Public Relations. But, it is just for show. Her assistant does all the work. She collects a salary without doing anything. After we began dating, she introduced me to a whole new world I never expected to be part of, or even thought about, and when I saw how fancy it was, I wanted to embrace it, so I could impress her. It got to where I was so caught up in it that I didn’t realize when impressing her and doing whatever she said became the same thing. Basically, I wanted to feel good enough for that kind of woman. So, when she told me she wanted to get married, I asked her. When she wanted to move in here, I let her. When she did her best to push your buttons, and asked me to side with her against you, I did. Oh God, Sarah, I am so sorry. I’m such a jerk.” 

He puts a hand to his forehead and looks down, like he isn’t worthy of making eye contact with me anymore. 

“It’s okay,” I say, putting a hand on his arm and laughing. “I get it. Pretty girl, fancy friends, powerful and connected family. Your primitive male brain goes on autopilot to prove yourself worthy. It’s a tale of the ages. Believe me, you are not the first. But, what I don’t get is why she was so eager to marry you if she has money of her own. Well, money being funneled to her. You’ve got to know our money is what she was after. She made it abundantly clear to me.” 

“We have more money than her family. Or, at least, we stood to inherit more after Grandma passed, and she knew it.” 

“How? We didn’t even know how much we were getting, until you spoke with the lawyer while I was gone.” 

“Her aunt is Grandma’s lawyer.” 

Oh.”  So much for lawyer-client confidentiality. Aunt Attorney must have let her know how much she stood to get her hands on if she married Matt. 

“Actually, it was her aunt who introduced us.” 

“Oh, geez, Matt. And you never connected the dots?” 

“I did, deep down. I recognize that now. But, I ignored them when I became blinded by her beauty and sophistication. We always had everything we needed and most of what we wanted growing up with Grandma, but she let us lead lives like normal kids. I never considered myself part of that fancy world. Karen was raised like a rich girl from the start."

“And, what better way to impress her friends and please her family than to bring home a guy with even more money than her.” 

“Exactly. But, I’m a bit rough around the edges, as you know. She had to clean me up first and teach me how to act like a rich guy, so I would fit in with her circle. And, I let her.” 

“And, once she did that, you were the perfect catch for her.” 

“Exactly. What a dumbass am I, huh?” He lets a rueful laugh slip from between his lips. Could it be Karen's artificial sheen is finally wearing off of him? God, I hope so.

“No," I assure him. "You’re just like every man on the planet. You think with your….” 

“Okay. I get the picture,” he cuts me off, laughing. “No need to embarrass me further. I see the whole thing clearly now, and that’s what matters. When she wanted me to leave you alone here on your first night back, with someone out there who wants to kill you, I couldn't believe it. It was like I was seeing her for the first time, and I didn't like what I saw. Thank God I realized the truth before I married her. Don’t worry, Sarah. It’s over with Karen.” 

I refrain from getting up and doing a victory dance, but boy, do I want to. The dance is going on in my mind, believe me. Will wonders never cease? It appears my prayers were answered. I will feel so much better going back to 1699 knowing he is free of the Evil Queen.

“You’re a legitimate rich man now,” I tease him, unable to resist turning the screw just a little tighter. I do forgive him, but it’s always been fun to make him squirm. Some things never change. “What if another wealthy woman comes along who only wants you for your infinitely greater fortune? Will you become so captivated by her you lose the power to control your own life once more?” 

“No,” he says, slashing his hand diagonally through the air for emphasis. “I’m done being stupid. Once was enough. I know with my inheritance, things are different now. I’ll vet any potential girlfriends or wives more carefully from now on, I promise. No more Karens for me.” 

“Good.” I lean forward and kiss his cheek. “I’m satisfied you’ve learned your lesson. We just need to be careful until we’re sure Karen knows it’s over for good. She’s going to try to get you back, you know. A woman like her doesn’t just walk away the first time there’s an obstacle to her plan. You’ve got to let her know in no uncertain terms, and you’ll probably have to tell her more than once. You want to get a restraining order with me tomorrow?” 

“That might not be a bad idea,” he admits, putting a finger on his bottom lip, a common habit of his when he’s giving deep thought to something. When I was 16, I asked him to allow me to access my trust fund so I could buy my first car; I thought that finger was going to become permanently affixed to his lip, he put so much thought into it. Of course, he said yes in the end. That's just how we rolled. 

Even though he says he's done with her, I think he's concerned about how Karen will react to being dumped; he's been trained for months to fear her wrath, and it will take some time to undo that. He continues, finger still on lip. “After the way she acted tonight, I can’t be certain she wasn’t the one who tampered with your car, or at least hired someone to do it. I’ll consider it.” 

“Okay, then. It’s good to have you back, Matt...the real Matt.” 

“It’s even better to have you back. Let’s promise to not let each other go again. Good night, Sarah.” 

"Good night, Matt"

We walk up the stairs to our rooms in companionable silence, and I’m so grateful he didn’t make me agree to that promise out loud. He took it as a given, as I would have in his place. It’s a promise I can’t keep, not the way he intends it. Naturally, I’ll never let him go in my heart. Physically, though, is a whole other story.  

At least I can be happy when I leave, knowing he isn’t trapped by that horrid witch in a controlling, emotionally abusive relationship. I just hope, whatever I decide to tell him about me leaving again, that he understands. 

Please, God, let him understand. ________________________________________________________________   

Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here:   

Chapter One 

Chapter Two 

Chapter Three 

Chapter Four 

Chapter Five 

Chapter Six 

Chapter Seven 

Chapter Eight 

Chapter Nine 

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven 

Chapter Twelve 

Chapter Thirteen 

Chapter Fourteen 

Chapter Fifteen 

Chapter Sixteen 

Chapter Seventeen 

Chapter Eighteen 

Chapter Nineteen 

Chapter Twenty 

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two 

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five 

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

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Oh, this seems too easy. What tricksy things have you got up your sleeve, Ms M? ;-)

Let's just say the rest of the night and the next morning take up most of the rest of the book, and a LOT of things happen in that short period of time. Sarah does not get much sleep. Lol! And, we have not seen the last of Karen. Plus, there are a couple of other people out there who have agendas of their own where Sarah is concerned, which come to light as the next morning progresses. By the next night, she has resolved a few things, but then something else mind-blowing happens, which no one saw coming (not even the people in the book who are, or gradually come into "the know.")

This chapter was basically the calm before a huge storm comes. :)

Ooh, can't wait! (but will wait)

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