I have to admit, the lull after the wedding was wonderful. The hospital was much more lenient with Chris’s work schedule (I knew his boss was a softie at heart), and when he was at work all I had to do was play on the piano to get the girls to settle down. They were both completely entranced with the music, usually. Today, however, I had managed to get them to take a nap, a rare feat indeed. So while I couldn’t play the piano, I could settle down to catch up on the latest news.
Or rather, the latest town gossip.
It had been months since I’d checked the news, but what it focused on was still the same. The Goth family, eternally in the headlines. At least they weren’t talking about ‘Gunther Goth’s Alleged Affairs’ anymore.
Well, at least not entirely. Apparently his wife, Cornelia Goth, was taking a trip for the next few weeks. No one was sure what she was up to, only that they saw her pack her bags and drive off. Of course there were suspicions that she was leaving him, but Mortimer, their son, was still in school. He hadn’t gone with her. Even though she took their younger son with her, people were still touting that she couldn’t be leaving him because she had left Mortimer. After all, what mother in their right mind would leave any kid behind?
The house got a slight remodel, as we fixed the nursery up so that it could properly house two toddlers. Plus, the old couch just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so we found ourselves two nice bargain ones to fit in with the new rug. We also got a computer, knowing that was going to come in handy once the girls were in school.
Of course, that was years away. They were just getting the hang of shapes and words.
I could barely understand a word of it, but they certainly seemed to speak each others language well enough to hold long conversations.
It was quite possibly the cutest thing I had ever witnessed. Well, besides everything else they did.
The more time I got to spend with the girls at home, as I wrote my music, the sadder I felt for Gunther. He had to know that they were his, and they were here. The announcement had been in the paper after all. Though of course not everyone keeps tabs on the birth announcements, I know I don’t.
It seemed such a shame that he was missing out completely on their lives. The more I thought about why he hadn’t reached out to me, to even meet them, the more and more I realized that it probably wasn’t his fault.
I was a commoner, by comparison. I dropped out of gossip some time ago, comparatively. People could still stop and wonder if I was ‘that girl,’ but no one would ever forget who he was. He had to watch his every step. It would be no surprise he hadn’t reached out. Perhaps he was waiting for me to contact him.
I decided that I had to at least try.
When Chris had to work late one evening, and the bulk of the paparazzi was distracted by a ceremony being held at the stadium, I slipped on over to Goth Manor. A chill swept through me as I headed up the walk and rang the doorbell.
Gunther was completely shocked to see me on his doorstep, and ushered me in quickly, before we were spotted together and the whole ordeal started up all over again.
The kitchen was nothing like what I’d expected: bright and colorful. Though through it’s doorways, I could see only darkness. That seemed more of Gunther’s style.
“What are you doing here? You have to realize it’s not safe…”
I took a deep breath.
“I…I don’t know if you…you saw it in the paper, but uhm…we have twins. Penelope and Lucina. It’s been a year since they were born, and I’m sorry for not reaching out sooner I just…I was scared, but I thought you should know. They’re really beautiful girls, and Chris is so great with them…”
“That’s so wonderful to hear. They’re happy then?” The look on his face made me wonder if he had, indeed, been thinking about them from time to time.
“Yes, probably the happiest little girls I’ve ever seen anywhere. However…”
“I really think they should have a chance to meet you. It’s only fair, you are their father…”
The look on his face almost stopped me dead.
“I know it’s crazy and it could turn out badly, but I’m willing to take all precautions and try to find a way, if you are interested…I know that they’re going to wonder someday, when they find out…I’m sure that Chris and I are going to tell them…It’s only right that they know…”
I could see his face darkening as I spoke. That’s when my speech really started faltering.
“You have to want to meet them…they’re really something special…”
Just hearing him say my name stopped me short. I gave him my full attention.
He held my gaze for a moment before taking a deep breath. I think the pit in my stomach had formed and settled in for the long haul before he even spoke.
“As much…as I would want…to meet them, I can’t. You have to know that. If they are to have any semblance of a normal life, they can’t know me. If it gets leaked out that they’re tied to me, they’ll never have a day’s privacy again. And…besides…”
“We’re going to the other side of the country, to a small town called Pleasant View. Cornelia went there ahead of me, to clean out the new house. Once we’re there, we plan to start things completely new.”
“Don’t think of this as a bad thing for the girls, think of it as a good thing. Once we’re gone, you’ll be completely free of my shadow. I’m really sorry for what I’ve caused you, and this is really all I can do to make up for it. To make this work, you can never contact me again. Do you understand? I can’t have anything to do with the girls. For their futures, and for yours.”
True to his word, within a week the moving crew had cleaned the house out. Half of the city would line up in town square and count as the trucks went by. Gunther made sure there was no known forwarding address left. He wanted to make absolutely sure his new life wasn’t contaminated by his old one.
Suddenly, the Landgrabs were the wealthiest family in town, and they had no clue what to do with their power. People largely ignored them, really, not knowing how to react themselves. The Goth’s had a hand in everything that made this town what it was, and now they were gone…And it was largely my fault.
The old house on the hill stood as the only reminder, empty, eerie, almost haunted by their memory. The ‘For Sale’ sign was tacked in the yard so long that the paint started to crack off.