Author: TereseLucy384 PM
Please R/R - Bobby Osborne, 22, from Wisconsin - befriends an old man who, he thinks, is homeless. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, Katie Baxter, almost 18, is desperate to escape the clutches of a drunk, abusive step-father.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Chapters: 33 - Words: 86,227 - Reviews: 72 - Favs: 27 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 05-22-12 - Published: 02-16-12 - Status: Complete - id: 2997586
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Katie sat, stunned. She suspected that her grandparents might make a plea for her to stay, but she certainly didn't expect it so soon – and she certainly did not expect the animosity towards Bobby.
"Gramps, really," she protested. "You're misreading the situation." She was shaking her head, but could see that her words were falling on deaf ears. He had made up his mind on how things were, and she wasn't going to change it.
"If you'll all excuse me," Katie said, stiffly, "I'd like to go to my room for a bit." She got up and went quickly up the stairs, grabbing her notebook to finish her letter to Bobby. She tried to put a positive spin on things, but she was feeling so disheartened.
There was a knock on the door. Ashley walked in and plopped herself down on the bed. "Gram wanted me to come talk to you. Apparently, she thinks I can convince you stay . . ." She snorted. "Don't know why."
"Ashley, why don't you like me?" Katie asked. "I mean, we just met. I don't understand what you're problem is."
Ashley brushed her hair out of her eyes. "Because you're here," she stated, simply. "Ever since Gram and Gramps got your card, they've been saying 'Katie this' and 'Katie that'. Apparently, now that you're the oldest, you're the new favorite, too."
"It's not a competition, Ashley. I just wanted to know my family." Katie leaned back against the window. "I don't want to fight with you, I don't want to be a 'favorite', I just wanted to be friends."
Katie finished the letter to Bobby with a promise to see him soon. Then she folded it and took it downstairs to find an envelope.
"There's an envelope on the desk in the hall, Kathryn," her grandmother offered.
Katie found it and put her letter in, carefully writing his address on the outside. While she was busy at the desk, she didn't see the stern head-shake her grandmother was giving to Jeffrey.
"Uncle Jeffrey," she said, coming back into the room, "Will you please mail this for me, tomorrow. I'd be happy to give you money for a stamp."
"That won't be necessary, Katie," he answered. He took the letter and put it in the side pocket of Rachel's purse, frowning as he did so.
Later, that evening, after everyone had left, Olivia went upstairs to talk to Katie. "Darling," she said, sadly, "Please don't be upset with us. We just want to look out for you. You're young and impressionable, and we want to protect you."
"I don't want you to protect me. Bobby looks out for me, and he's wonderful." Katie sighed, and crossed over to the bed to sit with her grandmother. "Meet him. You'll love him, I promise."
"I don't know, Dear," her grandmother said, shaking her head. "Your grandfather has his mind made up. We think you should stay here. Now, no more discussion tonight. You go on to bed. In the morning, we'll go visit Great-Grandma."
Olivia left the room and closed the door. Katie sat on the bed hugging Little Atticus and missing Bobby more than anything. She was tired, she realized, and went to get ready for bed.
Monday morning was gray and gloomy. Katie sat in the back seat as she, Franklin and Olivia drove across town to meet her great-grandmother. When they reached the home, Myra, one of the nurses, had Esther in her wheelchair in the front lobby. They had been watching out the window for her visitors.
"Good morning, Mother," said Franklin, cheerfully as he leaned down and kissed her cheek.
Esther Baxter smiled at her son and patted his cheek as he kissed her. Then she held her hand out to greet Olivia. When she spied Katie, however, her smile turned to a scowl.
"So, this is the bastard child?" she asked. "Fool girl. What was she thinking, messing around with that good-for-nothing grease monkey."
Whatever Katie had been expecting from the visit, it wasn't that. "What do you mean?" Katie asked. Looking at her grandfather, she said, " Is she talking about my father? What exactly do you know about him? Momma would never tell me. Who is he?"
"Now, now, Mother," cooed Olivia. "Let's not go down that old road. Katie wanted to meet you. Let's have a pleasant visit."
Esther looked Katie up and down. "Takes after her father's clan. No question about it."
Katie vaguely remembered asking her mother about her real father years before. Carla promised to tell Katie the whole story when she turned 18. She had said that it was a sad story, and she never wanted Katie's childhood tainted by it.
"Grandma Esther, I'd like to know what you know about my father." She knelt on the floor in front of the old woman. "Please."
Franklin and Olivia exchanged exasperated looks. "Mother, Katie, let's go out to the mezzanine." He wheeled Esther around the corner, leaving Olivia and a confused Katie to follow.
For the rest of the visit, whenever Katie tried to steer the conversation towards her parentage, Frank or Olivia would steer it in another direction. Finally, as Esther started to doze in her chair, Olivia waved down Myra to come get the old woman.
During the ride back home, Katie bombarded them with questions. "Why wouldn't you let her tell me anything? Why haven't you told me anything? Why all the secrecy?"
Olivia turned back to Katie and shook her head. "Katie, it was a relationship that never should have happened. Now, Dear, we're awfully happy that you came home to us, but that's all in the past. What's done is done and best forgotten. We're your family now. That's all you need to know."
"But that's not fair, Gram," Katie whined. "Everybody seems to know more about me than I do."
As they turned up Maplewood Drive and headed passed the Lloyd's farmhouse, Katie was sitting in the back seat, with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face. She looked at her grandparents, but they were staring straight ahead, stone-faced.
When they got back to the house, Olivia set about making lunches for them. Katie sat at the table, but wasn't sure if the strict rules of family dinner in the dining room also transferred over to an informal lunch at the kitchen table. So to play it safe, she kept quiet. After they ate, Franklin wiped his mouth with a napkin, and looked over at Katie.
"Your mother defied our rules as a teenager," he sighed. "She got involved with a young man unbefitting to her, and you are better off not having him in your life."
"Shouldn't that be my decision?" Katie asked. "What about him? Does he even know I exist?"
Olivia put her hand on Katie's arm. "Kathryn, don't be obstinate. We know what's best."
Katie had to wonder if that was true. If they were so opposed to Bobby, as sweet and kind as he is, she could only wonder if they were as mistaken about her own father.
That afternoon, Katie decided to explore the farmlands for a while. She bundled up and headed out, heeding her grandfather's warning not to wander too far into the woods. She headed down the road for a half mile before cutting into the edge of the woods. Finding a large fallen tree, she sat down and just listened, enjoying the solitude of the forest.
She wasn't sure how long she had stayed out there. It only seemed like a short time, but suddenly, the sky started to change, and she could tell that it was getting late. Reluctantly, she left her woodland refuge and started back for the house. Off in the distance, she heard the "infernal machines" and grinned to herself. Grandfather is definitely strict and unyielding when it comes to teenage boys, she thought to herself. Then she remembered her upcoming dinner plans with the Schaeffer's for tomorrow night and grimaced.
Walking along, she hadn't realized that the sound of the snowmobiles was getting closer. They startled her when they came out of the woods ahead of her and headed back her way. There were only two of them today, though. When the boys saw her, they stopped in the middle of the road. She had no choice but to walk past them. She stopped a few yards away and they all stood, sizing each other up. Katie looked closely at them both. Seeing them up close for the first time, she realized that they were identical twins, about 15 years old, tall, blond and heavy-set, with bright blue eyes. She bit her lip.
"Hi," she said, uncertainly. "I'm Katie."
"You their granddaughter or somethin'?" asked one of the boys.
"Cal, you're such a dolt. You could at least introduce yourself." The other boy said. "Hi, I'm Jonas Lloyd, and this is my brother, Cal."
"Hi," said Cal. "Who's your mother?"
"Jeez Louise, Cal!" Jonas said with his eyebrows raised. "Ma'd skin you, if she heard that. Where's your manners?"
Cal looked at his twin. "You were listening at the door last night, same as I was. Don't you wanna know?"
"Know what?" asked Katie. "What's my mother got to do with anything?"
Jonas looked over his shoulder. "Gotta go," he said, nudging Cal. "The old man's coming."
Katie saw her grandfather's car rounding the corner. "He must be looking for me," she said, with a frown. "I guess I've been gone longer than I thought.
"Bye, boys. I hope I get another chance to talk to you this week," she said, sincerely. Then she muttered, "I'd like to know why everyone in this town knows who I am, but me."
The boys shrugged and waved as they headed off towards their house.
Katie slid across an ice patch towards the car. Franklin Baxter was sitting behind the wheel with a fierce scowl. "I'm sorry, Gramps. I guess I didn't realize how long I had been gone." Katie said, contritely.
"What were you doing with them? You know how your grandmother and I feel about those boys." Franklin bombarded. "Have you been with them all afternoon?"
"No, not at all." Katie said, shaking her head. "I just met them a few minutes ago."
"What did they say? Did they say anything to you?" He sounded a bit frantic.
Katie's eyes narrowed. "No. Should they have? What are you afraid of them saying?"
Franklin changed tactics. "I'm sorry, Dear, if I was short with you. I was just worried that you may have gotten lost." He reached over and patted her knee, affectionately, but Katie wasn't swayed.
"They seemed nice enough to me, Gramps," she said, watching his reaction out of the corner of her eye.
"Well, first appearances can be deceiving. Those Lloyds are more trouble than they are worth." He turned the car around and headed back to the house, where Olivia was waiting with dinner.
Katie and her grandparents spent a quiet evening watching game shows and playing cards. But in her mind, Katie had made a decision to find a way to talk to those boys again. They knew things about her, and she was determined to find out what.
Tuesday morning came with an invitation from Olivia to take Katie out for a girls' day of shopping in Fargo.
They set off early, and Katie was hoping that without Franklin's watchful eye, she could persuade Olivia to divulge some of the secrets that they had been guarding.
Unbeknownst to Katie, Franklin Baxter was sitting at home, making plans of his own. Knowing that the phone number that Katie had given them belonged to Bobby Osborne, Franklin decided that a phone call to Wisconsin was due.
Bobby sat at his desk by the window. He was hoping that today would be more productive than yesterday had been, but as of yet, all he had accomplished was to set out his sketching materials and sit there, looking at them.
He slid a piece of paper in front of himself and picked up a pencil . . . he tapped the pencil . . . he shifted the paper . . . he took a drink of his soda . . . he checked the time . . . he leaned back in his chair and sighed. At the sound, Atticus lifted his head from the floor and looked at Bobby. Then he, too, let out a long sigh, as he lowered his head to the floor. Bobby looked down at the dog and said, "You miss her, too, don't you, boy."
Bobby's phone rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and checked the number, smiling widely when he saw it was from North Dakota. He answered, cheerfully. "Hi, angel-baby, I was just thinking about you."
"I highly doubt that," came Franklin Baxter's wry reply.
"Oh, Mr. Baxter. Good morning, sir," he said, sitting up straighter in his chair and setting down his pencil. Atticus lifted his head and watched Bobby, warily, adding a whine for good measure.
"Mr. Osborne, I'm calling with some unfortunate news," Franklin said. "Well, unfortunate for you."
"What is it?" Bobby asked, with trepidation, a cold knot forming in his stomach.
"Mrs. Baxter and I have made an offer to Kathryn, and she is taking us up on it. We have invited her to stay here, with us, in North Dakota. She will finish high school here and go to the University in Fargo. Now surely, you wouldn't want to deny her that opportunity."
"Can I speak with her, please?" Bobby asked.
"No, actually, she preferred that I make this phone call without her being here. She knew you would be upset and isn't ready to talk to you, yet." Franklin was actually surprised, himself, at how easily the lies slipped from his lips. He was determined to do whatever he could to keep Katie here, in North Dakota, and if he had to lie, then he would. "I'm sure that, in time, she may want to contact you to apologize, but in the meantime, I would appreciate it if you wouldn't call her. Your contact may upset her, and we want her to settle in and start a new life, here.
Bobby stood up and started pacing. He ran his fingers through his hair. Then he sat back down and put his head low between his knees, breathing deeply. "This isn't right," he said. "She wouldn't do that. She loves me. She wanted to come back."
"Mr. Osborne, please don't be difficult." Franklin spoke sternly. "It's not the first time that a young girl was naively led into a relationship. Katie realizes, now, that it wasn't real and that she is better off here, with us."
"Naively led? No – no, I never . . . "
"This conversation is over, Mr. Osborne. I trust you will respect my wishes." And with that, Franklin Baxter hung up his phone, leaving Bobby hanging on the other end in disbelief.
"Mr. Baxter? Mr. Baxter, please." Bobby begged, until he realized that the connection was broken.
When Katie and her grandmother returned home that afternoon, both were in high spirits. They had had a lovely day, and Katie felt like she had gotten to know her grandmother a little better. They talked about Olivia's and Franklin's courtship and early years of their marriage, and raising the three kids. Olivia downplayed the turbulent times with Carla as a teenager; she asked Katie to be patient, as it was difficult to talk about.
Katie tried hard to understand things from Olivia's point of view, and vowed to wait patiently, until they were ready to share the past with her.
When they walked in the front door, however, Katie's bright smile slipped from her face. She knew, immediately, that something was wrong.
Franklin approached her, holding out his hands to her. "Katie, Dear, Little Darling," he said, taking her hands in his. "Come sit down, Dear. I have something to tell you."
"What is it, Gramps? What's happened?" she asked, scared of his answer.
"While you were out," he turned his head away, as if unable to look at her. "While you were out, today, Bobby Osborne called."
Katie gasped. "I'll go call him back, right away."
"No, no, Dear. It's best that you don't." Franklin held tight to her hands, not letting her go. "Let me explain. We had a long talk. I explained to him that your grandmother and I wished for you to stay here and finish high school and that we would then help you go to the University in Fargo. He agreed that that would be best for you."
"No, no." Katie was shaking her head, trying to free her hands. "I've got to talk to him. I want to go back."
"Now, Dear, I have to tell you all of it." Franklin sucked in his breath and got ready to lie again. "This will be hard to hear, but it's necessary, Kathryn. He doesn't . . . he doesn't want you back."
Katie fell back onto the couch in despair. She was sobbing and shaking. "No, no, he said he loved me. He was on pins and needles until I got back."
"Darling, young men often say what they think a young girl wants to hear." Franklin offered. "He admitted to me that marriage wasn't on his mind . . . that you should stay here and find a man more suitable to you."
"I don't believe that. Bobby's good. He wouldn't hurt me." She put her hands to her face and sobbed into them.
"Olivia," Franklin motioned to his wife. "Would you please get her upstairs, and I will make her some tea. She needs rest right now. Things will look brighter in the morning."
Olivia led the hysterical girl up the stairs and into the bedroom. She ran a warm bath and tried to get Katie undressed.
Downstairs, in the kitchen, Franklin Baxter made a cup of tea, containing a strong sedative. He carried it up the stairs and set it on the nightstand. He could hear Olivia in the bathroom trying to calm the girl. He called his wife out, so that they could speak privately.
"Get her to drink the tea – all of it," he ordered in a fierce whisper. "She'll sleep like a log. Where's the old key to this lock? I think we're going to need it again."