Quiet As It’s Kept

After fleeing the jail, I went to my scheduled appointment with Dr. Singh-Patel. From the look on his face, he immediately sensed something had happened, but he didn’t let on until about 30 minutes into the session.

 

"Ms. Lovesome, you keep pacing. Want to tell me what’s wrong?"

 

"You name it,” I blurted out, cutting my eyes in his direction. “First, the executor of Eric's estate came and gave me the news—”

 

"News?"

 

"Yes, the news about how much AJ and I would be receiving."

 

"It seems you found that quite unsettling. Must have been a substantial sum."

 

"Substantial is light stuff. But that’s not even the real problem.”

 

“And what do you see as being the real problem?”

 

“That I still haven’t told Alex."

 

"So, I see you’re still earning your self-imposed title, the ‘Queen of Avoidance.’”

 

"Well, not for long. Alex and I have to deal tonight. His lawyer blew up my spot, by insinuating that I’d taken care of Alex’s legal fees. I had to get up out of there with a quickness."

 

"Mmm . . . I see. Tell me, did he insinuate, or did he tell the truth?”

 

I gave him a pointed stare that should have told him everything he wanted to know.

 

“So, how are you going to break the news?” he continued.

 

"I was hoping you could guide me. That’s why I’m here. I’ve got until 7:00 p.m., when Alex makes his nightly call.” I paused to check the time. “I have to be ready, and I can't do anything until then that would raise suspicion, like cooking."

 

"Why?"

 

"Doesn’t matter. Just know that my grocer thinks I’m a caterer."

 

"But you want to do that, don't you?"

 

"I do, but I don't know if this is the right time to start a business."

 

"Yes, the economy is fishy, but everyone needs to eat. Yes?"

 

"Yes."

 

"Then why must you put the horse before the cart?"

 

"You mean the cart before the horse?"

 

"What?"

 

I couldn't help but chuckle. "Nothing."

 

Dr. Singh-Patel looked at his own watch. "If I didn’t have another client coming in, I’d go overtime today.”

 

“Oh, no, I understand. I’ll just have to figure this out on my own.”

 

I scheduled my next session and walked grudgingly to my car. The clock on the dash read 6:30 p.m. In thirty minutes, Alex would be calling.

 

By the time I walked into the house, I only had a few minutes before the call. I breezed past Jean with a quick hello, before heading to AJ's nursery for his feeding.  

 

I had gotten comfortable in the rocking chair when the phone started ringing.

 

"Hello?"

 

"Collect call from Alex Bedford. Will you accept the charges?" The operator said in a nasal tone.

 

"Yes."

 

I heard a click, followed by Alex’s deep baritone. "Hey, beautiful. What aren't you saying?"

 

"Shoot right to the punch,” I said, forcing a laugh. “Oh, Alex, there’s so much to say, but this is not how I imagined telling you."

 

"Baby, it is what it is. So, you gonna talk to me straight?”

 

"AJ and I inherited some money. A lot of money,” I said, feeling the weight begin to lift from my shoulders.

 

"You and AJ? Some distant relative?"

 

"No. Not like that."

 

Alex laughed on the other end. "I was just joking. I think I already have a good idea where it came from.”

 

“You do?”

 

“Starlet, my body’s locked up, not my mind.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I mean, woman, that I know this has to do with Eric’s estate.”

 

“You do?”

 

“Yeah, stop asking me that.” He laughed again.

 

I sat back in the chair, perplexed and stunned at the same time. No one had ever accused Alex of being stupid. But how he had figured this out just left me at a loss for words, and wondering what our next steps would be.

 

“So, what does this mean for us?”

 

“What? You mean the fact that Eric is AJ’s biological father?”

 

“Yeah,” I whispered.

 

“AJ is still my son—biologically or not. Star, baby, we’re in this together. You understand that?”

 

“Yeah, I understand.” I felt all warm and jittery on the inside. I hugged AJ tightly against my body, wishing I could do the same to Alex.

 

"Good,” Alex added. “And when I get out of here, which I will do, you, me, and our new addition are going to do this thing right. You hear me?”

 

I nodded, momentarily forgetting that he couldn’t see me. “I love you,” I finally cried into the phone.

 

“One minute left,” came the recorded reminder.

 

“I love you, too, baby. And thanks for taking care of the fees. We’ll discuss that another time.”

 

“You knew?”

 

“Yeah. I got a confession of my own. Mike told me, when he came back by a few minutes ago.”

 

“And I thought I was the crypt keeper when it came to keeping secrets.”

 

“Oh, now, that you are,” Alex replied.

 

We both laughed.

 

“We’ll talk tomorrow, baby,” he said.

 

I was about to say something when the line went dead.