Davina married Cole right out of high school, and they went to college together after graduation. Fiona was not supportive at first. Her feelings were mostly due to the bad opinion she had started to develop for Megan. She figured he was just like his mother, and she later figured out that she had judged them both properly. She wished Davina would have waited until after college to get married because they were so young, and she wanted them to live life before marriage, but Megan and Corbin insisted that it would be a good thing for Davina to have a stable man in her life. Stable man…even though he was just a boy with a crazy family. Fiona didn’t understand why they thought they had a right to tell her what her daughter needed anyway.
‘Fiona, dear, Davina and Cole have been spending some quality time together, and I was wondering if you would be okay if we got her a few things to celebrate the relationship.’ Megan was audacious at times, and this was one of those times.
Fiona felt awkward about them wanting to gift Davina merely for having a relationship with their son. ‘Umm. I’m not sure that’s necessary. All of our kids are friends with one another…I don’t see why we should do all of that.’
Megan appeared to be frustrated by her answer, but she had to keep up her persona by making it seem like it was not a big deal. ‘Sure. That’s fine. Another time then…’
Fiona couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the dramatic undertone of the reply. ‘There are plenty of opportunities for us to spoil the kids with gifts…birthdays, Christmas…you know?’ Fiona probed at Megan to relate to what she was saying. ‘I hope you aren’t upset.’
‘Of course not…birthdays and Christmas will be fine dear…nothing to be upset about. I just love her like one of my own, and one day she’ll be mine too.’ Megan flashed a sarcastic grin towards Fiona.
Megan boldly threw out of her lips such an assumptive statement, and Fiona did not care for the tone of that declaration about her daughter. Needless to say, the ladies both split the hairs in the room when they said goodbye. Fiona headed back to her house brooding on the words that Megan had spewed from her lips. That woman!… she thought, how dare she put claims on my Davina. Mine…not hers. Davina was sitting on the couch in the living room when she got back in the door from her visit next door, and she could tell her mother was completely pissed off.
‘What’s wrong, Momma? Are you alright?’ Davina got up from the couch and met her mother in the kitchen where Fiona had stormed off to.
‘That mongrel of a woman…she drives me absolutely certifiably crazy!’ Fiona was slamming around the cabinets looking for her tea as she spoke. ‘How do you not notice that she is particularly strange? I don’t like her…one damn bit.’
Davina pretended to understand, ‘Megan is a different kind of person. I like her though…I assume that is who you are speaking about?’
Fiona just glared over to Davina as she put her water kettle on to boil on the stove. She grabbed a cup and threw a Celestial Seasonings Chamomile tea into the cup with the string dangling off to the side by the handle of the cup. ‘You know…I am not a mean person, but that is one woman that pushes all my buttons. Nine out of ten times we encounter each other, she drives me insane. It’s not customary for parents to play matchmaker with other people’s children! It’s absolutely asinine.’
Fiona tapped on the counter while she was waiting for her kettle to start whistling, and Davina came over and placed her hand on her mother’s shoulder. ‘I’m sorry, Momma…I know she is not like the people we are used to. I don’t know what happened, but I am here for you if you want to talk about it.’ The conversation was ungainly for Davina since she enjoyed Megan’s company when she would visit Cole next door.
‘No, it’s okay. Just go be a kid, and don’t let anyone try to make you grown before you are ready. Enjoy life as you are now…you will have to grow up faster than you would ever realize or think of.’ Fiona hears her kettle screaming as she finishes her preaching about youth. She pours the steamy water into her teacup, looks up, and smiles at her beautiful daughter. ‘I’m okay. Go be great.’
‘Now you are the one being weird…’ Davina giggles as she walks out of the room to finish the show she was watching on VHS.
Through the years, it became apparent to both the Marlow and Ridings family that the Devilles had some absurd ways about the manner they lived and the people they personified. It was like a contradiction in terms of who they were and who they portrayed themselves to be to outsiders. They had tons of money, but they lived very discreetly. You had to be close to them to realize how rich they really were. There were a lot of people in and out of their house, and some of them seemed seedy and shady. Corbin spent much of his time away from home, and Megan did not have to work to get the things she and the children needed.
Fiona remembered a time she had asked Megan about her career, and she recalled thinking that it must have been nice not to work so hard to live. It was after the first meeting at Fiona’s truck, and Megan had come over to ask about a school trip right after the kids were enrolled for the year at Maumelle Charter High School. The school was arranging for the children to go to the capital and see downtown Little Rock.
‘Fiona, are you letting Davina go on this school trip?’ Megan had asked.
‘Yeah, I saved a whole paycheck. I wanted to be sure she had enough money to get her some souvenirs and a nice lunch. I know you are new to the area, but their school trips are usually pretty fun and eventful.’ Fiona informed Megan about the trip, elaborating further about how amazing it was for the kids to see the sights in Little Rock. ‘If you are not able to pay the allowance, I can help you.’
‘Oh no, dear…I can cover it. No problem.’ Megan exclaimed while chuckling to herself.
‘What’s so funny about that?’ Fiona wondered.
‘I just have no need to take someone’s money. I’m not a charity case for Pete’s sake.’ Megan twirled her hair and flipped it behind her.
Fiona continued, ‘Well, I figured since you are new here that you have not planted your feet into a new job since moving in. After all, it’s only been a few weeks.’
Megan giggled condescendingly, ‘That’s cute…umm…I don’t have to work. My job is taking care of the kids and their interests. Corbin does all the demanding work.’
‘I see. Hmm. That must be nice. I would love to spend all my time with Davina. I couldn’t say that she would want me around all the time, but it would be cool to have that option. After nursing school, I had to go right back to work. We’re not broke, but we aren’t comfortable either.’ Fiona’s cheeks flushed with red from being embarrassed for rambling on about her finances. ‘Sorry, I shouldn’t have been so nosey about your life. I just wanted to help if you needed it.’
‘No worries, Fi. You’re good.’ Megan started heading towards the door as she finished speaking. ‘Give Davina my best…I should get back over to the house since the kids will be home soon. Mwah, darling!’ This was a prelude to more absurd behavior that Megan would display, but Fiona had already had plenty of her nonsense to last a century.
Fiona waved goodbye to the grandiose woman and closed the door behind her. She thought to herself that Megan was so strange and lucky at the same time. After the move to get away from the Devilles, she always reflected on how she should have seen how bizarre life next door was, but she always just chalked it up as Megan was just a fearless woman with nothing better to do than cause havoc in the neighborhood. The Deville name went from meaning “the new people” to meaning “absolute chaos.”
After the wedding, Megan and Fiona got closer than they were when Davina and Cole were in school, but there was always something that was off about how Cole’s mother looked at Davina. She groomed her. She had even bought Davina’s wedding band long before Cole ever proposed, and she groomed Davina more than her own daughters. She would shower Davina with gifts after she and Cole became an item. Weird gifts…like lingerie and sexy outfits. Fiona would find them hiding in Davina’s closet from time to time.
“Davina Louise Ridings, what did I just find in your closet?” Fiona held up a deep purple negligee that was nothing but lace to her Davina as she came rushing into her own bedroom.
“Mom, what are you doing going through my stuff?” Davina was embarrassed and furious that Fiona was invading her privacy. “Megan bought that for me. I’ve never worn it…ever.”
“That woman is going to be the death of me with her nonsense. You need to give these things back to her. Megan has no business buying you things like this. You are just in high school, Davina.” Fiona tossed the lingerie onto the bed and pulled out more of the same types of items from the drawer. “My goodness! How many are there?”
“She’s bought me one nearly every week since Cole and I began. I never wear them, but I thought it would be rude to not accept them. I’m not giving them back and making her upset or mad. Haven’t you seen her angry? It’s scary, Momma.” Davina almost pleaded to her mother to not have to take all of the sexy bed gear back to Cole’s mother.
“Put them in a box…I’ll get rid of them.” Fiona threw her hand up in frustration as she walked out of Davina’s light pink-walled room.
The ataraxia that Fiona felt the first week in Indiana could not begin to describe how glad she was to get away from Megan’s drivel. All the moments were coming back to her as she spent her first night knowing that her daughter would never come home. She ran the brush through her hair and removed her makeup, pausing to look in the mirror at the dark circles that surrounded her beautiful hazel eyes. Right before Fiona got ready to sleep for the night, she ran across that decorative storage box that Davina packed up all the outfits from Megan in. It was at the very top of her closet. She had labeled it “Nonsense from Megan.” Remembering the argument over the unusual offerings to Davina’s wardrobe from Megan brought tears to her eyes. It was so late, and she did not want to go to sleep. She could hear the detective snoring loudly in the guest bedroom. He was sleeping like a baby without a care in the world.
“I wish I could do that…” She spoke out into the silence of her bedroom. “Davina, I miss you, sweet girl.”
A sweet voice came back to her in the silence, “I miss Mommy too, Gammy…” Sebastian was standing there with large drops falling from his red eyes.
“Oh sweetie…you should be resting. Let Gammy tuck you back into bed.” Fiona rushed to him and wiped her eyes as she went towards the doorway in which Sebastian was standing.
Klaus was at his feet as well, wagging his tail and licking Fiona in the face as she knelt to pick up the sad little boy.
“Can I stay with you, Gammy? My bed is too big tonight, and I’m scared.” Sebastian rubbed his tired, wet eyes and pouted into the face of Fiona.
“Of course, sweetheart,” Fiona said as she walked back over to the bed and rolled the covers back on the unoccupied left side of her queen-sized bed. “Hop up here, and I will get you all cozy in the covers.” Fiona patted the bed and sat down on the end.
“Are you going to leave me too?” Sebastian asked after Fiona got him tucked in tightly in her bed.
“Never…never ever…I will never ever leave you, Sebastian.” She patted the bed to call Klaus to lay with his friend. “I will always be right here with you. However, I still need to work and make us some money. Will it be okay if you play with Jenna on those days?”
“I guess so, Gammy. I like Jenna and Miss Sharon.” Sebastian’s eyes got sleepier as he finished his statement. “Goodnight, Gammy, I love you.”
“Goodnight baby boy…Gammy loves you more than the whole universe.” Fiona said before she stood up from the bedside and went into the bathroom to change into her pajamas.
She rested both of her hands on the sink counter for a minute, dangling her head down into her chest, and took a deep, cleansing breath. She was so overwhelmed and full of sadness. The realization that Davina would never be able to see that innocent, caring boy grow up and become a better man than his father came to haunt her a bit as she undressed. As she opened the hamper to put her dirty clothes inside of it, she saw something odd inside of it. What is in there? Is that paint…, she thought to herself as she shuffled around some of the clothing in the basket.
As she dug deeper and investigated what she thought was red paint in her dirty wash bin, she saw more of the red tint on a pair of pants and a pair of socks. She realized that it was odd, so she left the hamper alone and went to get Finn from the spare room. She didn’t want to disturb any evidence because she had no idea how anything red got inside of her laundry.
“Finn, wake up!” She jiggled his shoulder to wake him from his deep sleep. “I found something…get up please! C’mon…”
Finn wrestled around and was a bit startled to wake up to Fiona standing over the top of him with a distressed look on her face. He jumped and pulled his head back to the other side of the pillow.
“What’s wrong? Are you okay? What time is it?” Finn said and seemed stunned up from being woken in an unfamiliar place.
“Follow me! I need your help!” Fiona exclaims as she rushes her and Finn out of the room, nearly tugging on his nightshirt.
As they arrive back at Fiona’s bathroom, she uses her hairbrush to lift the hamper lid. “Look in here! I don’t know where these clothes came from. At first, I thought, when I first saw it, that it was red paint on her clothes, but I think it’s blood, Finn!” She was quietly whispering but whispered hysterically if that was possible. She wanted to be sure she did not wake up Sebastian in her room.
“I’m going to have to call the local detective to bring forensics to gather these items, Fiona. I also need to check the house. That blood is fresh and not dried.” Finn’s gut filled with fear for all of them. “Better yet…Gather Sebastian…I need to get you both out of here.”
Fiona did not hesitate to get a bag together and toss Sebastian up on her shoulder. As she reached the top of the stairs of the two-storied house, she heard footsteps above her head. Finn had gone downstairs to warm up his police cruiser, so it wasn’t him trampling on the ceiling above her head. As her body filled with adrenaline from the panic, she shuffled down the stairs, with Sebastian fast asleep on her shoulder. He was out like a light, and she was glad he would not be awake to witness the chaos. She made it down the stairs without event and down to the front door. When she got there, a towering man, with lifeless eyes was staring back at her.
“Oh, shit…” That was all Fiona could say as she backed away from him.
Fiona had only ever seen Flannery a handful of times, and it was years ago. It was around the time that Davina and Cole got married. He came to the wedding. He was Corbin Deville’s best friend, Jericho Flannery. Megan had recommended that Fiona bring him as her date to the wedding. He was not her type, at all. He was unkempt, and he was too sinister-looking. You could not see the color of his eyes because they were always just so dark and miserable.
“Jericho…where’s Finn?” Fiona was still backing away slowly and holding on tightly to her grandson who was still asleep on her shoulder.
He said nothing. He just stared back into her eyes and cocked his head to the side as he saw the fear fill her face as he walked towards her.
“Finn!” She hollered out the door that was still open, not caring if she woke up Sebastian at this point. “Finn! Help!”
Flannery just laughed at her and continued pursuing her as she bumped into the couch in the middle of the living room. “Finn is a little occupied at the moment…how can I help you?” He was so evil, smiling as he spoke his sarcasm into her face as he lingered over the top of her.
“I know you. Why are you here? I’m going to set him down, okay?” Fiona said as she carefully laid Sebastian on the couch and stood in front of him.
“I don’t care what you do lady. I am here for the key, and you will give it to me.” He edged closer to her.
“What key are you talking about? The only keys I have are the ones to my truck and this house.” She crossed her arms and tried to appear brave as she stood there with the enemy. He still just looked at her with his sinister eyes and a smirk on his face.
As she finished talking, she saw a glimpse of Finn outside the door, so she continued, “I have Davina’s keys. You can check all the keys I have. Just let me grab them, alright?” She held out her hands to signal that she wasn’t going to try anything risky. “They’re right there, on the table by the door.”
Flannery looked away from her to the table she pointed out. He walked toward the keys, and she sat beside Sebastian on the couch. She knew Finn had a plan, so she sat tight and protected Sebastian. As Flannery fumbled with the keys, Finn snuck up behind him and bashed him across the back of his head with a 2×4 that was posted outside the door.
“Let’s go! He won’t be down long.” He took Sebastian from the couch briskly and grabbed Fiona’s free hand to guide her out of the house and away from the hitman.
Finn put Sebastian in the backseat of the car, and Fiona got in beside him. He shut them in the secure area, and he got in the front and drove away as fast as he could. “We need to get to the phone. Anywhere we can go to do that?”
“Boo’s…go to Boo’s…” Fiona gasped the words out of her distressed vocal cords.
For my new readers, this is an ongoing story. Here are the previous posts:
The bolded and hyperlinked words in the story were using word challenges from the Daily Spur, Fandango’s One-Word Challenge, Ragtag Daily Prompt, Word of the Day Challenge, My Vivid Blog, Your Daily Word Prompt, and Three Things Challenge. This story started from a flash fiction prompt from Fandango.
© E.M. Kingston