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Sitting on her bed, she carefully unfolded the letter. Bron read the note several times; the tone was different this time. More anger and more threats and much longer than the rest. He had made remarks that made it concrete in her mind that Lenny knew her every move. She swiped at tear from her cheek and read the letter again, he had mentioned that Kaylin was a sweet child and to leave her without a mother and brother would be such a tragedy. The author had hoped that Kevin would be gracious enough to raise a child on his own, especially a child that wasn’t his. Maybe he wouldn’t be troubled with that burden after all.
Swallowing hard Bron tried to get past the insinuation that her unborn child, Andrew, and she wouldn’t be around as well as Kaylin.
“How do you know this stuff?” she rocked on the bed. “You know Kevin is home… Okay, you can learn that from the television or the internet. You know Suzie is not here… That nobody knows. Hell, they don’t even know who Suzie is.” Sighing heavily, her heart sunk when the letter made a reference to her being pregnant and not to worry that he would be there for her when Kevin left her and her family, but took his child. The last line had Bron changing directions, now the writer was stating that he would be there for her and they would all be alive. “The guy is crazy,” Bron sniffed.
Bron slipped out to the balcony off of their room. Kaylin and Logan were swimming in the pool. She was about to yell at them for being in the pool without an adult until she saw Andrew sitting in one of the lounge chairs. “Hey, are you on my clock?” she leaned over the balcony. Andrew was a good kid, he always knew when he was needed.
“Of course Mom,” Andrew smiled up at her. “Babysitting counts when the offices are in bedlam right?”
“Overtime baby, overtime, I promise you.” Bron backed into the bedroom.
Placing her hands on her stomach she rubbed, then she felt it, the first flutter of life. The tears of happiness mixed with sadness and fear came flowing out of her. The same comments eating at her as A.J. had said, Kevin wouldn’t want her after the baby was born. She grabbed the bundle of letters and flung them at the wall. “I HATE YOU! YOU’RE RUINING THIS FOR ALL OF US!”
Crying for well over an hour, she let it all out, between Kevin being frustrated and driving her crazy and these letters. Her own inability to remember things and Kaylin being bored, she was on the edge. All of this mixed with hormones, insecurity and fear were as much as she could take. This should be a happy day for her. She felt the first stirrings of life; she should be happy. Instead, she was upset, angry, and melancholy all at once.
Bron went to the rear of her closet. Buried all the way in the back and covered with boxes was what she was seeking. She began to move the boot and shoe boxes. Pulling the blanket off the object, she lifted the lid to the chest. “Nobody knows this is in here but Andrew. Knowing him, he has forgotten about it by now.” Digging behind some dress bags, she pulled a key from the bottom of one of them. Unlocking the chest, she smiled. All of her memories were piled in here. Her entire life before Kevin had been tucked in the Amish oak chest. Tenderly she pulled out a bundle wrapped in blue tissue. Inside the special paper rested Kaylin’s Baptismal outfit. Lightly, Bron’s fingertip brushed the satin. “Your sister was so tiny… ” Bron spoke to her unborn child, as she sat on the floor of her closet. “You are going to wear this too… Andrew didn’t get to but his Mommy was alive then. I didn’t get him till he was almost grown. I wore this too. There isn’t much of me left in this world besides Kaylin and Andrew; my family is all gone now.”
Bron removed photo albums and special treasures. She had been saving most of these mementos for Kaylin; at least that is what she told herself. Bron smiled as her finger traced the wedding portrait. “Oh C.W. I do miss you… ” Bron chuckled, “Look at my hair, that is eighties hair. I bet I could drive a spike with all the mousse. Damn, I look tall with hair that high!”
Little things came out of the trunk, baby books, photos, kindergarten masterpieces; all of it had been saved. Bron placed the threatening notes to the side, neatly bundled with a rubberband. As she placed everything back inside, she left her wedding album out. She wanted Kaylin to have it in her room. Kaylin had asked several times for it since they had moved, along with the video that went with it. Kaylin would sit and watch the video of Bron and C.W.’s wedding over and over again since C.W. had died. Bron kept putting her off, not wanting to hurt Kevin’s feelings, but Kevin wasn’t Kaylin’s father, C.W. was. Kevin had to come to terms with this too, in a way. If he wanted to be a father to his child and her children, he needed to understand that Kaylin had a father that she truly loved and missed.
Placing all the items back, Bron closed up the trunk, and shut her closet door. She felt a little more at ease after taking her trip down memory lane. Maybe a little more confident too. Walking over to the phone on the nightstand, she made a fast telephone call. She had heard that Brian and Leighanne were in town and they had brought their newly adopted and renamed son, B.J., for a visit. Bron invited them to dinner hoping a little family around might help Kevin too. Backstreet was disconnected at the moment with A.J. in rehab. As hard as the decision was for all of them to make, it was harder to live with. The men were used to being together continuously, now they were ripped apart from each other and not really knowing where they stood. Kevin was holding back most of his feelings and would only discuss them with the fellas. He sheltered his feelings from his family. Trying so desperately to keep them separated but it was only increasing his frustration and not helping him accomplish any work.
The other thought was for B.J., Bron had met him briefly after his surgery. After his stay in the hospital, Brian and Leighanne had whisked the little boy to Atlanta and their secluded home for recovery and privacy. It was a huge effort on their part to become parents to an older child. Bron wondered how Leigh had been dealing with it. Bron had some fear and anxiety when C.W. insisted that they take Andrew in. At first, Bron was upset because she thought C.W. was doing the adoption to hurt Mc. In the long run, it was to save Andrew from a sordid life that even until the day he died, C.W. could not tolerate. He hated the fact that his wife of so many years actually had a relationship with such a dark man and still did.
Bron wondered if Brian and Leighanne would be blessed with another baby. The one day she would never forget was the day the doctors told her she was pregnant with Kaylin. C.W. was delighted but cautious, this had happened too many times before. Their doctor had told them that it must be because they gave up trying so hard, they had Andrew now. Bron never would have known that Brian and Leighanne had been trying since their honeymoon had Kevin not slipped up one night after dinner.
Heading back out to the balcony, Bron yelled to the kids below that company was coming over for dinner and that Logan needed to go home. No arguments but some grumblings wafted up to the balcony. Bron wasn’t in the mood to argue with them and didn’t hang around long enough to give them a chance.
As she opened the door, Kevin stood there staring at her. “You okay?”
Bron felt the hair on the back of her neck prick up. This man had the innate ability to catch her at the most awkward moments, and always seemed to be blocking her way. Kevin had done this to her on buses, hotels; you name it. “Yeah fine, I was just tired, I needed to lay down.”
Kevin blocked her exit from the room. His fingers grazed her cheek, “You sure? You look like you were cryin’ or somthin’?”
“I was crying,” Bron whispered, as Kevin entered the room forcing her back into it.
She swayed to go around him but he caught her in his arms. Pulling her back against him, he leaned down to her ear. “What’s the matter darlin’?”
With soft smile on her face, she turned to look at him. “Nothing, I felt the baby move for the first time.” Bron watched his eyes as the joy crept into them.
“Can I feel?” his hand automatically dropped to her stomach. “I want to feel the baby move.”
Gently, Bron patted his hand as she watched the long fingers rub her bulging belly. “Not yet Kevin, but soon, not only will you feel the baby move, you’ll see it. Then you will see the look on my face when it makes me uncomfortable.”
His lips made a cute little ‘O’ and then he smiled. “Cool. We are almost there, tomorrow will be twenty-four weeks.”
Bron’s head tilted back as she rested her head on his chest. Closing her eyes, she wondered if he would indeed leave her when it was all done and over with. She wasn’t going to turn tail and run this time. She would get to the bottom of this and there was no need for anyone to know. Inhaling deeply, she smelled him, yep, it smelled like Kevin, her insecurities fluttered away with the tiny flutter in her stomach. Baby Richardson must know that Daddy is close by too, she thought to herself. “Now, we’re having company for dinner so why don’t you keep the kids busy and take Logan home.” Bron waited for him to ask who, knowing he would but before he could, she beat him to the punch. “Brian, Leighanne, and B.J.”
“Good, I can tell Bri the baby moved today. Doctors’ appointment with Gabe is in two days. We need to figure out what we are going to do with the nursery. Colors, furniture, stuff like that.” Kevin bopped out of the room more than pleased he could share his news with somebody.
Bron shook her head and then look towards the ceiling since Kevin had dropped the bomb. Not once since she had became pregnant had they discussed anything beyond getting to twenty-six weeks, which was two weeks away. Granted he didn’t at least with her. “You have to help C.W. You have to help me stay calm until I can figure this out. I love him, he’s a pain in the ass most days but so were you. He wants this baby as much as you wanted yours, so please, if I need to talk to you and bounce stuff off of you, just be there for me. Something is very wrong and I can feel it in my bones.”
The first thing Bron heard was Leighanne yelling, “Oh God!” Bron chuckled as she made her way to the front foyer. Kevin stood in the foyer handing Leighanne a towel. Bron checked her amusement as a ‘slinger’ from the dogs clung to the designer dress. Brian didn’t laugh but the look he gave Bron showed her that he wanted too.
“Bron really, your dogs are like rampaging elephants with spit! How do you put up with this?” she looked at Kevin.
Kevin shrugged, checking his grin. Yes, he hated the slime and the hair and the dogs always managed to get him right before he walked out the door. He had to admit he had two things in common with the dogs. They all adored Bron and then there was the other thing.
“We dress down at home. This is home, not a stage, and there is no press.” Bron sent the comment out to sting and by the face Leigh was wearing, it hit its mark.
Walking up to B.J. Bron smiled and offered her hand. Brit, the female mastiff, sat sedately next to the boy. “She likes you, that’s good.” She patted the top of the dog’s head.
“How do they act if they don’t like you?” Leigh’s voice held some alarm.
“I don’t know, there isn’t many people they don’t like, except Stevie.”
“Your own dogs don’t like Stevie?” Brian looked at Kevin.
Bron could see the evil grin slowly unfold over her husband’s face. Bad Kevin, that is just bad. She had told him there was no reason to be jealous but Bron couldn’t seem to break down that possessive streak in him. “No, and neither does Kevin, that is why the dogs stay. He’s hoping one day they will eat him.”
Kevin’s face turned red at being busted in front of all of them. He did not like Stevie at all. He used too, until he found his wife wrapped in his arms, when it should have been him. When Kevin should have been here for Bron and he wasn’t. There was a plus side to A.J.’s being in rehab, he could spend all his time at home with his family, especially Bron. Maybe not liking the man was a tad strong, but he was jealous as hell over him.
“Let’s go into the kitchen,” Bron re-directed the conversation. “Kaylin show B.J. around.”
The two children bolted up the stairs with the dogs galloping behind them. All eyes followed the figures as they turned right at the top of the stairs.
“The dogs won’t hurt B.J. will they? He so fragile.”
Kevin’s head backed up, he looked at Brian, confused. Brian rolled his eyes and closed them.
Bron didn’t miss the silent ‘Cousin Communication System’ that they had been using for years. Leigh was babying the boy. “He’ll be fine Leigh, we fed them before you came over.” Bron left.
Kevin began to fight the laughter, but Brian didn’t. “Really Leigh, I mean B.J. would be just a little old snack for them anyway.”
“Brian!” Leigh left both of them standing in the foyer.
Kevin stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back his heels. “Over protective.”
Brian swiped his hand through his hair. “She’s turning him into a sissy. I can’t stand it.”
Kevin punched him in the arm and laughed, “Leave him with us for a couple of days, we can toughen him up.”
Both of the men heard the peals of laughter, a game of chase had begun upstairs with two kids and two very large dogs. Brian placed his finger over his mouth, “Sssh, let them play.”
Kevin walked up the stairs, stopped Kaylin as she flew by him, bent down and spoke to her. He came back down the stairs.
“What did you do? I told you to let them play.” Brian followed him to the kitchen.
“I told her to play nice and not hurt B.J. Kaylin plays like Bron fights, rough!” Kevin laughed followed by Brian.
They ate a wonderful dinner, the kids excused themselves to play, Andrew being the leader. Kevin couldn’t help but notice that Kaylin may have developed her first crush. Bron had missed it but then she would, when it came to these things and her children, she was the ‘Queen of Denial’. Kaylin carefully watched everything she said at the table and her mannerisms. Andrew looked in awe at her when she remembered to excuse herself from the table.
The phone call came in that Suzie was home safe and sound. Kevin thought that maybe this would brighten Bron’s mood. She had been social through dinner but not herself. She was down and sullen. Kevin was more than concerned considering Bron’s track record with him. He hoped it was nothing but would try to talk to her tonight when they went to bed.
Brian didn’t seem to have accomplished much in the music department either. It seemed with all the uproar, nothing was getting done. They set a date three days away for both of them to go visit A.J. At first Kevin was hesitant, but Bron pushed it. Kevin had said some pretty mean words to A.J. but A.J. had said some pretty mean words to his wife. Kevin wasn’t dealing with it well, simply because at that point in time he meant exactly what he said. He wondered if A.J. had meant his words as well. A.J. had said he hadn’t later in the day, but Kevin thought that he had. Kevin had been dwelling on the words, he never doubted his commitment to his wife or his family, and he didn’t understand why everyone else seemed too. Maybe it was the whirlwind of it all or even the MTV announcement, he wasn’t sure. He had always been a private person and always, always, had moved slowly on things. By doing what he had done, it was the complete opposite of what was expected of him.
B.J. had asked to stay over but Leighanne had put a halt to the kids’ plans. The next obvious step was for Kaylin to ask to go with them. Bron said yes, which made Kevin do a double-take. “Really?”
“Sure, why not? I’m going to be really busy tomorrow.” She started for the stairs, leaving Kevin, Leigh, and Brian staring silently at each other. Busy trying to figure out who is trying to ruin my life, she thought internally.
“I don’t mind Kevin, Kaylin is a joy.”
Kevin’s eyebrows shot up at the remark. “I think she’ll have a ball. I’ll remember you said that.”
Sending the Littrels out the door with Kaylin joining them figured well into Kevin’s plan of having a talk with his wife. As the door closed he turned, Bron was half way up the stairs. “Hey!”
“Hey yourself, you’re not lovin’ me up. I’m tired and I want to go to bed.”
Kevin’s laugh was loud and lusty. “I just wanna talk darlin’.”
Bron ran as fast as she could for the safety of.... of what... “Aw hell,” she laughed as she ran into their bedroom. Kevin was hot on her heels.
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