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Chapter 22

Kevin walked in and scanned the room, stepping towards the kitchen he tripped over her boots.  “Shit,” as he picked them up and shoved them in the corner.  Bounce’s little giggle echoed behind him.  Kevin recovered from his use of foul language with a lesson to be learned.  “That’s how accidents happen, people not putting things away.”

Grabbing her hand, he walked her upstairs and settled her in for the night.  Walking back to their bedroom, he opened the door to find it empty.  Glancing across the hall he saw a small gleam of light coming from under the bathroom door.

Slowly he turned the knob, opening the door.  He had found his missing wife sound asleep in the bathtub.  Standing next to it, he noted her eyes had dark circles under them.  His gaze swept down to the knees that she had drawn to her chest in her slumber.  Kevin could not fathom how someone could actually sleep in a tub full of water. 

He studied her eyes again; they were puffy and swollen.  Swiftly it became evident she had been crying.  A little stab of guilt poked him in the gut.  Somehow, he knew he was responsible for it.  He had let his temper get the best of him the last few days.  First asking and then demanding that she reveal what she truly was to him to the people that worked for her, including Chris and cronies.

Gently he bent and placed his hand on her knee, squeezing it lightly.  “Darlin’ are you okay?”

Her eyes fluttered open and they were red-rimmed too.  She turned her head away from him as she answered him, “Fine, hand me the towel.”

Grabbing the towel, he handed it to her.  She wasn’t acting herself as she wrapped the piece of cotton around her, and left. 

Kevin followed like a puppy that had lost its bone.  “Bron, What’s the matter?” he asked as she began to dress and she didn’t answer him, as she did so.

“Nothing,” she mumbled as she her pace slowed even more.

“Bron, come on talk to me.  I hate the silent treatment.”  After he spoke the words, he realized that he sounded like a whiney child.

“Nothing to say,” she answered; as she slid on the four inch spiked heeled boots.  Continuing to go about her business she didn’t offer to expand on her thoughts or her mood.  As she pulled on her other boot, she stood up and headed for the door.  “Meet me downstairs when you’re ready.”  She left him sitting on the edge of the bed befuddled as to what to do next. 

Bron paced the kitchen under the watchful eye of Mama Richardson and Jake.  Jake knew she was upset since she hadn’t stopped or spoken to either one of them since she entered the room.

Anne was the one who decided to do the prying this time, since Jake had shook his head no.  “Bron what has you so agitated tonight?”

“I’m not agitated,” she snapped.  Throwing two pills to the back of her throat along with a swallow of water, “I have a headache.”

“From what?” she grinned, knowing better.

“Your spawn,” Bron groaned as she rubbed her temples, trying to make the ache go away.

Anne let the word register; she didn’t ever recall having Kevin referred to as spawn.  “Bron you have to pick your battles with him.”

“I don’t pick anymore, I always lose.  I hate losing, losing sucks.”  Exhaling loudly Bron sat down across from her mother-in-law.  “I’m not me anymore, I’m confused.”

Jake uttered a hasty see-ya as he got up from the table.  Passing Kevin in the hallway, he whispered,  “Just listen and learn.”

Anne asked in a voice lilted with concern, “What do you mean dear?”

“I’m not me.  I don’t have a life anymore.  I don’t even make my own decisions.”  The ache in her head was easing to a dull roar by now.

Anne reached over and patted her hand, “I still don’t understand honey.”

“Well let’s see.  Stevie is most likely at my house, packing up my things.  Kevin doesn’t want me to go there because of everything that has happened over my rape case.  Everything is circumstantial so he doesn’t want me to go back.  He’s afraid.  I’m sure that Kevin and Mc have Mike Webster running around like an idiot in his spare time.”

Bron studied the woman’s face for a reaction, she didn’t get one.  Bron knew that she knew some of it.  “Figures.”

“Well Kaylin did have that nightmare and with the wedding and all….”

Bron stared blankly at Anne, only somewhat listening to her.  Her memories called her back to that morning.  That one stupid mistake that she did.

Kevin stood anchored to his spot.  He had seen that blank expression before and understood what it meant.  As he stepped forward, a tug on his elbow stopped him.  Jake was behind him listening along with him.

“I’m lonely, I miss my friends, I miss Kevin when he’s gone.  I miss C.W….”  Bron tilted her head slightly.  “Am I a bad person because I still love C.W. and I miss him?”

“No you’re not.  You had a life and a love with him.  You had Kaylin too.  Now you have Kevin.”

Bron jumped out of the chair, she paced, and then stopped at the sink.  Placing her hands on the sink for support she looked out the window.  “Why do I feel like shit?”

A loud sigh came from behind her.  “Because you’re torn sweetheart.  You’ve never really dealt with what happened to you.  You have never dealt with C.W.’s death.  You need to deal with these things so you can move on.”

Gazing out into the darkness from the window, she contemplated the remark.  “Kevin won’t let me.  He tried once to get me to deal with it and I had a mental meltdown.  Now he shields me and makes all of my decisions.  The only place I get to be me is at work and that’s changed now too.” 

Anne quietly went and stood next Bron.  She did catch a shadow of Kevin standing at the end of the hall listening.  Placing her hand on Bron’s upper arm she made gentle sweeping motions.  “Of course he does dear.  He feels he’s protecting you, you won’t deal with it so he will do it for you, you hide.”

Bron’s head snapped sideways.  “I don’t hide!” she popped off.

“If you don’t hide then why did you not tell anyone what happened to you?  Why do you blame yourself?”  Anne clasped one Bron’s hands between her own and squeezed it gently.

Kevin was ready to pounce into the kitchen.  His mother had no right to keep this going.  Bron was upset enough.

Anne saw the tears star as a trickle and end in a stream.  Patiently she waited for her to pull herself together and speak. 

“I didn’t lock the door,” came from Bron in a voice just above a whisper. 

Grabbing the dishtowel that was next to Bron, Anne gently dapped the tears from her daughter-in-law’s face.  “I don’t have the answer for you, but what makes you think that the push of a button, the slide of a chain, or the turn of a key would have made a difference.”

“I don’t know,” Bron sobbed loudly.  She hugged herself tightly.

Jake grabbed the corner of Kevin’s jacket to stop him from running into the kitchen.  Kevin was visibly shaking.  Jake steadied him by placing a hand on his shoulder.  Kevin turned to Jake, “A lock…”

Both of them turned when they heard Anne’s voice in a gentle and kind tone.  One she usually reserved for talking to babies and small children.  Anne had wrapped Bron in a motherly hug while she gently rubbed her back.  “Honey, you need to get past this.  If you want your marriage to Kevin to work.”

Bron sniffed, “I know, I need to go home and take care of this.”

“Yes you do, but not tonight, we’ll talk after Kevin leaves.”  Pointing to the powder room off the kitchen.  “Go in there and fix your face up.  You two are going out tonight, you look a fright.”

“Gee thanks,” Bron shuffled off to where she had been told to go. 

No sooner had the door shut that Kevin flew into the kitchen.  His mother put her hand up in his face and whispered.  “Stop, that is enough for one night…”

Kevin’s temper flashed.  His mother had pulled out of her what everyone had been trying to do and couldn’t.  Then she told her she should go home.  That is was okay for her to just up and leave him to take care of this herself, “But...”

Anne’s arms crossed at her chest.  “But yourself, you put on happy face and behave yourself tonight.”

Kevin couldn’t believe it, “Ma!” 

“I’m warning you…  I said enough.”  Tossing the dishtowel onto the counter, she swept by Jake and upstairs.

Jake looked at Kevin and frowned.  Kevin was about to respond when Bron came out and glanced at both of them.  She walked by Kevin and uttered, “You have a good mom.”

Silently the three of them walked out the front door.  Half way to Scout’s Bron finally spoke, “I’m going home while you’re in Mexico City and doing Krystal’s video shoot.”

Jake was waiting; Kevin could blow this opportunity by being himself or bite the bullet and let her go.

Kevin adjusted the mirror in the truck, “It’s probably a good idea.  I don’t like the idea of Stevie pawing through your dresser anyway.”

Kevin pulled into the parking lot of Scout’s.  Kevin got out, went around and opened her door.  Bron smiled a huge smile at him, “Thanks.”

Leaning over, Kevin gave her what the boys had always called ‘The brows’, “Anytime, Mrs. R.”

“Thank you Mr. R,” she grinned, as she craned her neck and gave him a quick kiss.  Bron finally had some clarity to face all of this.  It hadn’t come from Kevin, her friends, or her family, it had come from his mom.  She was going home, it wouldn’t be pleasant or nice but it would be done and over with.

Kevin had insisted on holding her hand when they walked in.  As hard as she tried to remove her hand from his grasp, the tighter his grip became.  Bron smiled and shook her head, “You’re just damn determined to get your way again aren’t you?”

Kevin tilted his head and smirked.  His eyes almost closed so that all she saw were the long sooty lashes resting on his cheeks.  Squeezing his thumb, she got him to open his eyes just before they went through the door.  “Okay, but my way.”

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