Ugly Good Bad

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Nav, Aug 13, 2016.

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  1. [​IMG]


    Name: Rhett J. Wolfhart
    Age: 28
    Brief Overview: Where did the blue eyed wolf come from? No one really knows, making him something of a puzzle to the people of New York City. Rhett arrived in New York City two years ago with nothing but a fresh law degree and a vision. Starting up a budget law office, Wolfhart Attorney at Law, Rhett provides affordable legal advice and services to low income families and individuals. Thus, he is often ignored by others in his field or treated as a lesser, but that is perfectly fine by him. He's a bit quiet, though is known for having a cool self-possession.

    He strongly believes in the goodness of people, even if it's hard to tell behind his aloof nature. As such, he really doesn't have any interest in being the center of attention. When he does talk, it's easy to determine who he is and what he's all about, but he very rarely talks about himself. As people go, he's relaxed, determined, and always speaks from the heart, though his words are not usually delicate, making him come off as callous or rude. He trusts easily, but not recklessly. Nothing gets under his skin. Though he very rarely has any interest in discussing his past or personal life, Rhett actually had an idyllic childhood growing up in the farmland of Southern Wisconsin.

    His parents were lovely folks that instilled in him a strong moral compass. He has two older sisters, Diane and Marisol, both of whom still live back in Wisconsin on the family farm-- supplying a near endless stream of nieces and nephews between the two of them. Always the black sheep of the family, Rhett clawed, scraped, and crawled his way to law school, paying his way using loans and scholarships. He's in an awful lot of debt these days, but refuses to cater to clients he can charge more for his services. He finds his downhome, country roots to be rather embarrassing, and prefers not to speak of his family for this very reason.

    Name: Det. Eliza "Liz" Madison
    Age: 24
    Brief Overview: Born and raised in NYC, Eliza was briefly famous at the age of four for the unsolved double homicide of both her parents, Elliot and Lisa Madison. She spent the rest of her childhood in and out of foster care, getting into trouble wherever she could. It was only after an intervention by Lieutenant Charles Brooks, who worked her parents' case, did she find her calling. Hired at the NYPD directly following her graduation from the police academy, Eliza dove right into her work in the homicide unit, standing to prevent or solve the very crimes that took her childhood and parents from her so abruptly. After a catching a serial killer a little over a year ago and saving four potential victims, Eliza was awarded the title of detective, the youngest to do so in the history of her precinct.

    Eliza is tough to the core. With a strong wit and sarcastic attitude, she is certainly an acquired taste for some but she does her job well. A bit of a workaholic, she'll spend days on end at the precinct working cases and never backs down from a lead. She is confident in herself as a cop, but she falters in her own faith in her character. She is honest, determined and incredibly loyal to those who prove themselves in her eyes. While she would never call herself maternal, she does have a soft spot for the children she works with throughout her cases. Often times more capable of conversing with them than anyone else. She drinks too much and sleeps too little.
    #1 Nav, Aug 13, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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  2. The story so far:

    For the young lawyer working out of his own law office, built on a shoestring budget, offering cheap law advice and services to low income families, satisfaction was always guaranteed by investigating unclosed and unsolved cases. He can't usually solve them, as their isn't enough evidence to do so, but after working on one particular case, now twenty years old, involving the murder of two parents, the lawyer believes he might have a break. On a whim, he reaches out to the only survivor of the double homicide, the at-the-time four year old daughter, who had now matured into a beautiful young woman working a police task force in a neighboring city. The murder of her parents, it would seem, goes much deeper than they first believe.

    “I've said it before and I'll say it again,” he explained in a straight-forward voice, “I don't need you to show or share with me anything. But you've already showed me so much. Maybe this isn't what you have, but you showed me New York, and that was amazing. That is amazing,” he clarified.

    He had never wanted to come back home, not really, and certainly not like this. He would always love his parents, his siblings, his entire family-- but this wasn't home for him, either. Up until recently, he had been an aimless drifter attached to nothing or no one. Some people always said there would be no home like their childhood home, yet Rhett felt so detached from where he had grown up. Even now.

    Sure, he enjoyed sharing with her the horses or the motorcycle, but he could have lived without. He felt guilty about it since he had been given a family when Eliza had not, but it was a delicate and uncomfortable situation for him, so he couldn't even imagine what it felt like for her. All he could do was try and make it as comfortable as possible and hope they could regroup quicker rather than slower. Whatever happened though, he would stay and suffer for as long as Eliza needed. He would most certainly not hurry her back to New York, or wherever, before she was physically ready to do so. “I know it terrifies you. It terrifies me, too,” he reminded him, resting his head down against the pillow next to her so he could just catch a glimpse of her handsome profile, smiling at the way the low light curled around the bends and planes of her facial features.

    “You're my family too, Eliza. I know we've been through a lot and we're going through even more as we speak. Tomorrow? Tomorrow, the whole family is going to want to meet you and I know that's going to be hard for you. This isn't...” fuck, “This isn't what I want to be able to give you, but it's all I got right now. But tell you what, tomorrow, if you're feeling stressed and need to get out, just give my hand two squeezes and I'll figure something out for you, okay?” He didn't want her to feel trapped, either. If Rhett was good at anything, it was slipping out of whatever terrible family obligation he was put in. 'Migraine' was usually his go to, because he was prone to them, but he wanted to see to it that she knew there was a way out... all without having to open her mouth herself, if she didn't want to.

    “Come on, let's have some hot chocolate and get ready for bed, okay? It's been a long day.”
    #2 Nav, Aug 13, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
    • Love Love x 1
  3. Eliza melted into his hold, her body curling impossibly close against him because she just needed him. Everything else would come in time, it always did, but in that moment she was feeling more vulnerable than she had in a long time. Eliza had faced her fair share of demons since they had met, but it seemed that more and more just came barreling out of her closet like bats out of hell and she was just very suddenly faced with a situation she never thought she would need to be prepared for. But Rhett was steady as he always was, even though she knew deep down how uncomfortable this all made him. She was just tired and hurting, the last thing she wanted after nearly losing her life a second time was to be thrust into the darkness of her past, but he was always right. Sometimes the past was the easiest to hide in and they were there for a reason.

    But still, the idea of meeting his entire family made her skin crawl.

    She was sure they were lovely people, after all they had greeted her so warmly out of the cab that she did not doubt their good intent. What really unnerved her was what always came of introductions – all the questions. She wouldn’t even know what to say if someone asked about her parents or how her and Rhett met, or what drew them together. What if any of them, god forbid, caught sight of her scars? And immediately the anxiety welled up in her chest at the thought. Eliza was trying harder than she had ever tried before to move forward, but nothing changed the fact that she opened up to Rhett after she knew she could trust him without a single doubt and just because he earned it did not mean the anxiety was gone. She would always be just a bit fucked up and that was just the truth of it.

    “It’ll be okay,” Eliza breathed out and nodded, more for her own sanity but she figured he could use it too. She was terrified – not just of her past but of his family loathing her. Maybe he did not put much stock in his family’s opinion of things, but she wanted nothing more than to be loved. Eliza never had a family of her own, but the thought of being rejected by his made her heart race. And it was – her heart felt like it was beating out of her chest. “Rhett?” she glanced up at him almost sheepishly, “I just want them to like me, that’s all, and I’m just – I don’t know how to make that happen with…well, with everything.”

    God, she was so fucked up.

    At his offer, she squeezed his hand to show him she was listening before she reached up and pressed a soft, gentle kiss to his lips. Her shoulder was screaming out, her head ached and every muscle was stiff and achy. Hot chocolate and bed sounded like just what they needed between the two of them. They were both so uncomfortable, but they could take on anything together -- corrupt cops, murderous district attorneys – and she could only hope that the list contained ‘the Wolfhart family’ because otherwise they were in for quite a difficult time tomorrow.

    Picking up her hot chocolate, Eliza took one sip and seemed to melt back into him. It eased all of her ruffled feathers and frayed edges, but more than that, it gave her a second to focus on something that was not the small army of human beings who would head back sooner rather than later and would want to meet her in the morning. Rhett was everything to her, so she would try. God, would she try.

    “Two squeezes you said?” Eliza looked up at him with a bit of a playful smile, lightening the air, “So you mean I shouldn’t make a scene? You know I’m a born and raised New Yorker, right? Quiet exits aren’t really our strong suit. At least tell me you have one heavy drinker in the family. I bet I can get them to like me.”
    • Love Love x 1
  4. Rhett could feel the panic cluster in Eliza like a whole bunch of spark plugs in her abdomen. It was unusual the way she curled into him with all that stress. Sure, they cuddled often, but she didn’t usually act so distressed. Tension pulsed through her face and limbs, and all Rhett could do was collect her closer as silence stretched between them— the type of silence that even a feather could fall and make enough noise to be heard. For just a moment, it was still. Utterly still.


    He glanced down at her, his eyes showing a kind of gentle concern as she explained her deepest concerns and by affiliation, her deepest desires. It was almost hard for him to process those words because he realized almost immediately he didn’t have a solution for her. He couldn’t make anyone in his family love her and he had been so detached from them for so many years, he couldn’t even promise her that they would. Hell, he wasn’t even convinced all of them loved him aside from just their obligatory feelings of affection because he shared the same blood and was a blip on their family tree… some distant apple any farmer would have plucked and tossed aside for its blemishes. Thankfully, that wasn’t how a family tree actually worked and Rhett was clinging to the branch all the same.

    “It will be okay,” he agreed, though he wasn’t sure when or how, but it would be eventually, some point, some day. He would be sure of it. “And you know what? The only way they’re going to love you is if you just be you… brilliant, funny, intelligent you.” His hand came up from her shoulder and stroked down her hair, his thumb trailing across the shell of her jaw as he admired her from where he was lying back against the pillows. “And just remember, this is temporary, my heart. We won’t be here forever and trust me, I know it’s not… it’s not very…” god damnit, “It’s not ideal, but we’ll make it work until we’re both well enough to finish what we started back in New York.”

    He sunk deeper into the pillows and expelled a steady sigh that was slow, as if his brain needed time to process what was going to happen the next day. It was remarkable to think that a brain like Rhett’s, nothing short of a supercomputer, was struggling to wrap itself around the force that was the Wolfhart family. For a second, his eyes fanned upwards before resettling back on Eliza’s face as she began to turn and reach for the hot chocolate as he had suggested. Reaching his arm over top of her, he plucked up his own mug and brought it to his chest.

    Hot milk, cocoa, sugar— sometimes the simplest of things were the best cures for all ills. It was as rich as it was dark and flows as slowly as cream as he tilted it back and inhaled a delicious sip. He knew the bottom was a mass of sugar crystals that formed as it cooled and he just didn’t care. It seemed to be exactly what they both needed to file off the sharp edges of their stress because only a few sips in and the tension that had been palpable between them only moments prior seemed to have gone away.

    “Two squeezes,” he agreed, licking away the smudges of froth that had collected at the corner of his lips with a contented smile, “I mean, you can most certainly make a large exit, if you prefer. It won’t bother me any,” he reminded her casually, “I’ll love you no matter how you take your exit. Please don’t take your exit by feigning illness so we call an ambulance. My heart just can’t take any additional stress or worry like that, that’s my only request.”

    He raised his brows at her over the rim of his mug, “Honey,” he said, “You’re in Wisconsin, everyone here is a heavy drinker.”
    • Love Love x 1
  5. “Well, maybe I have more of a shot with your family than I thought, then,” Eliza said warmly, the smirk on her face both loving and mischievous. She had no intentions of drinking too heavily when she still had so much time to heal, but she would needed to up her game if she was going to keep up with her mental state. It was the most sporadic she had felt since – well – since Rhett had walked into her life, but it was more than that. Eliza was facing the one reality she had never been prepared for, but they would manage it. They had to. “And I promise,” she pressed a loving kiss to his cheek as he sipped his cocoa, “No medical emergencies. I think I have put your heart through plenty these last few months.”

    And she had – between prison, the explosion and the kidnapping? Rhett was overdue for some time to relax and know that they were safe. Maybe this place was an emotional cesspool for Eliza, and she knew it was not easy on him either, but at least they were together and alive. Every single moment she could feel his heartbeat and he hoped that hers brought him the same solace. After all, it was not easy being in love with a cop, especially one like Eliza. She would never apologize for doing her job and saving lives, but she knew all too well the stress that stemmed from that kind of dangerous life and she wanted him to know that no matter what the case, he was always the most important thing in her life.

    And she would always come home for him.

    Eliza set her mug down once she finished and shifted herself so her shoulder wasn’t screaming out in pain and she eased herself back into his side. The tension had alleviated and she was just too tired and in a bit too much pain to do much of anything except fall asleep Rhett. The drugs had moved out of her system, but they left behind a groggy feeling and she wanted nothing more than to sleep it away. “I love you, Rhett,” she said softly, her eyes closed as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

    She slept like the dead, but even in a heavy sleep, she was woken by the sound of people. God, so many people and they were all so loud. Children, adults, dogs – barking and laughing and yelling for one another to wake the hell up and Eliza was immediately pulled back into reality. “I miss our apartment,” she mumbled into Rhett’s skin as she turned and felt her aching body just start to ignite little by little. There were bangs against the floor and shouted words that Eliza could not quite make out in her hazy sleep-filled mind. She shifted again and the pain from her shoulder managed to shake her away enough to process. It was barely seven thirty. What kind of terrible people were up this early when they weren’t working? Eliza made a soft whining noise after she heard the word breakfast yelled by someone.

    Her stomach was crying out for food.

    Eliza managed to open her eyes after a few attempts and she looked up to Rhett, her expression sleepy but she managed a warm, “Hi there.” It had been ages since they had just fallen asleep together and were woken up together, not by work. She had barely realized how many hours she was clocking and it was always nice – especially after he got out of prison – to be able to sleep with him. “Did I hear breakfast?”
    • Love Love x 1
  6. Waking up was no longer the pleasure it was.

    Before, at least before prison, Rhett would be awoken to gentle kisses of a freshly-showered and dressed Eliza, pausing to greet him before she’d go to work. The kisses would be gentle and warm, peppering her face and a delight to slowly stir in to consciousness to. There was just a fleeting moment when Eliza turned into his side and she mumbled something he wasn’t coherent enough to make out into his skin where he felt entirely whole again, but the feeling evaporated quicker than summer rain off hot cement. His lids were drooping and leaden with sleep as he opened them slowly, only to have them roll back with a pitiful groan as he could finally hear the thumping, the barking, the screaming, and the laughing from downstairs.

    The noises were unpleasant, but the smell of pancakes on the brittle were welcoming to his senses. Though pancakes sounded delightful, no part of him was ready for morning. No part of him was ever ready for morning, truthfully… he hated waking up especially knowing he didn’t have to go to work. He wiggled his toes and groaned again when Eliza began to say those international signs of ‘it’s morning’: hi there.

    “I’m not ready—“ he managed out, his voice sounded so slurred he could have been mistaken for drunk had his girlfriend not known better. He blinked a few times and finally willed his eyes to open, and stay open, just so he could tilt his head and look down at her. She looked glorious in the dusty, morning light. The golden rays cocooned her beautiful skin and the darkness of her hair in a veil of gold and it made him decide, ultimately, that waking up was worth it if he got to see her like that. He loved Eliza in the morning… and not just the mornings when he got a fleeting glimpse of her as she rushed out the door to work, but the sleepy, bed-head, no make-up, a little greasy, just-woke-up Eliza. He loved it. He loved the way her wild black hair would tangle up into knots and begin to form a baby fro. He loved the way her eyes appeared watery and more blue than any ocean he had ever seen. He loved the sleepy smile and grumpy crinkle of her nose when she realized how hungry she was.

    He loved it, desperately. He loved her, desperately.

    “Yea, breakfast at the Wolfhart’s is always an affair. The kids have to go to school today, so everyone is getting ready. It’s an assembly line of chaos,” he explained. The adults would be around all afternoon, he assumed, but maybe having some of the kids gone during the day would make life a little easier on poor Eliza, who was so unaccustomed to everything the Wolfhart family was. “The only rule is that everyone has to wear pajamas to the breakfast table. So, what do you think? You want to give it a go or do you want me to bring something up for you?” Rhett sat up finally, the blankets pooling in his waist as he pushed a hand through his hair, only to have the dark brown locks fall right back over his forehead like they were before.

    Forcing his legs over the side of the bed, Rhett rose and forced himself on to his feet. He looked a little shaky, at best, but after a few yawns and sleepy stretches, he seemed to be slowly coming around to the idea that it was time to be awake.
    • Love Love x 1
  7. Eliza loved the way Rhett looked at her.

    She loved the twinkle of his sleepy blue eyes as he looked at her, the way he brushed his hair back haphazardly without a care in the world, and she loved his voice. His slightly drunk with sleep voice that was a low, husky timbre and send shivers up and down her spine. Never in her life had a man made her feel like that, like she was helplessly in love with him, but she was. Rhett Wolfhart was everything she ever wanted or needed and she was lucky to have him there, curled up beside her, even if they were facing hardship after hardship. “An assembly line of chaos?” Eliza laughed softly, but her mind reeled over the image.

    When was the last time she ate breakfast with anyone other than Rhett? Was that what families did? When she was younger, Linda used to do what she could, but everyone was running around that Eliza usually slipped through the cracks and just headed off to school without a thing to eat. Even at some of her foster homes, she had never experienced a real family meal – the kind of meal where everyone sat down and chatted, their laughter bright and their topics light. No, she never had that and she had no idea how to function in that kind of situation, but she was going to have to. Not just because she was their guest, but because she wanted to – for Rhett. She wanted to make this as easy on him as possible even when it was impossibly hard for her.

    “I think I can do that,” Eliza smiled as she pushed herself up, gingerly babying her hurt shoulder as she made her way to her feet. There wasn’t much rest between the attack and waking up that morning, so Eliza was feeling the full effects of the bruising and aches, the dizzying nature of her mind, but she would be okay. Eliza managed to run her fingers through her hair and straighten herself out a bit, but there was still a sleepy smile on her lips as she walked over and burrowed herself in Rhett’s arms for a moment. It was a gentle motion, as not to jostle her shoulder, but she just wanted to be with him more than anything.

    “Especially with pancakes that smell like that,” Eliza laughed, her head against his chest, “You know how much I love breakfast.”
    • Love Love x 1
  8. “As assembly line of chaos.”

    There was something different about Rhett in Wisconsin and it was so slight, it might have been easy to miss. There was a relaxedness about him. A certain ease with how he was moving and a calmness in his face that had never been there in New York. Not really, anyways. There had been glimpses of it when he had been with Eliza alone in their apartment, but he had always seemed just a little on edge… like he was afraid something he said would be embarrassing or his accent would slip out a little and everyone in the whole room would notice. He had spent so much time constructing the ideal version of himself in New York, that he spent every moment scrutinizing everything he said and did.

    In Wisconsin, it was different. He was still the same Rhett he had been before— the same warm, overly generous, friendly man with catastrophic blue eyes, but there was an easiness about him, as if suddenly it didn’t matter so much if he stumbled over a word, had his hair out of place, or wasn’t wearing a suit every minute of every day. There wasn’t anywhere there to judge him or be appalled with his lack of ostentation. In the Wolfhart family home, he could just be Rhett Wolfhart in a way that was completely and utterly unforgiving.

    Closing his arms around Eliza, he smiled as he placed a kiss on the top of her head, cutting through the tangled black hair that had been hastily pushed away from her face. “I know exactly how much you love breakfast, sweetheart. So, let’s go get breakfast, then after the kids go to school, we can come back up here and relax and I can take a look at that shoulder, alright?” He was just trying to give her as many opportunities to get away from the group as possible. He knew the family setting was going to be uncomfortable, but he imagined it would be better if he could find ways to break it up into digestible chunks. Perhaps they could go out together to a local diner for lunch, instead of staying around the house. Then, dinner would perhaps be a little less stressful.

    “Good,” he kissed her one last time on the head before unraveling from her arms and going to drop down the staircase. “Then let’s get this chaos over with.”

    “Oh… my… god.”

    “Nikki, stop! Nikki!” the minute Rhett had made his way down stairs, leading Eliza towards the kitchen, Nikki had been there. She was loud and proud, even in her skimpy little pajamas that were leaving little to the imagination.

    “Lookit your hair! Rhett, Rhett— you look a mess! Let me cut your hair,” her voice was raspy, like rocks in a thespian sack, a voice you might find on the Jersey Shore. “What? Stop! You look a mess!” she grabbed him by the chin, trying to wipe some dirt from his face. “MA! Rhett looks a mess!”

    “Nikki!” Rhett’s mother called, “Leave Rhett alone!”

“But Ma! He looks a mess!”

    “Nikki! Come get Sarah!”

    Nikki’s eyes rolled back into her skull and she turned away, “I’m gunna find ya later with a pair of scissors. Ain’t no respectable girl like your nice woman over there gunna stick with you lookin’ like that.”

    Rhett had not been lying— the kitchen was a wreck and a half. There was a plug-in flat top being used for pancakes as well as the stove with all burners going for eggs and bacon, and just as Rhett had promised, it was an assembly line. One kid was pouring juices, another setting the plates, another the forks and knives, another helping with pancakes… parents were all over packing lunches and corralling children. Two infants were already tucked into their highchairs and Nikki had returned to them, a baby spoon in both hands as she guided applesauce to both babies simultaneously. It was something out of an early Ford assembly line, certainly.

    Once they entered the kitchen, everyone stopped what they were doing and stared, falling ill with silence.

    “Hi,” Rhett said sheepishly as he stepped into the kitchen, his toes scrunching against the linoleum. Still nothing.

    “Oh, sorry,” he continued, “Everyone— this is Eliza. Eliza, this is… everyone.

    “Eliza!” People and kids and adults and parents and cousins all at once were greeting her with smiles and laughs and questions.

    “Easy, easy,” Rhett waved a hand, sliding his other across the small of her back and guiding her towards one of the corners of the table to take a seat, “She’s feeling under the weather so everyone be gentle.”

    “Everyone! Back to your stations-“ Rhett’s mother directed, shooing all them off, “Eliza, dear, milk? OJ? Water? Tea? Coffee?”

    “Ma-“ Rhett sighed.

    “What! I want her to have options in our house! She’s a guest!”
    • Love Love x 1
  9. Rhett wasn’t joking. This was chaos.

    Eliza had spent the majority of her childhood growing up in a group home and she was used to other children, but she was so much older than the rest that it never really felt like a family. She was off to school most days before the babies were up and even the younger kids were just making their appearance to the table when she would duck out with some toast and make the long trek to school that day. What was happening in the Wolfhart kitchen was so much more than that. It wasn’t just an assembly line, it was a brilliantly oiled machine. Everyone had a job, a part, and a purpose. There were kids with juice, adults wrangling children, a few people eating, one and Rhett’s mom was the ringleader. Within reach she had every pancake, every batch of eggs or bacon, and every cup of coffee under her control.

    And the moment Nikki opened her mouth Rhett’s mother saved the day.

    Rhett eased her towards the table, but the moment they hit the kitchen it was like everything came to a dead halt in front of her. Despite Rhett’s greeting, every single eye was on her and while she had managed to pull a brush through her hair, she hated that their first real impression of her was a bit of a sleepy mess. It was only when Rhett formally introduced her did Eliza let a soft smile touch her lips, but she was quickly bombarded with hollering and questions. It was a warm welcome, nothing to feel insecure about, but Eliza did what she could to keep up with the greetings. Already in her head she was trying to run through who Rhett had mentioned yesterday and whose kids were whose. But Rhett was always a lifesaver and he very quickly spun her overwhelmed heart into feeling under the weather and his mother came in with the save.

    She wondered for a moment if her parents would have had more kids after her. Back at Rhett’s apartment, she had that small box of memories, the photo albums, and they had always seemed so happy. But she wondered if this was something she could have had if not for Robinson. She shook the thought from her head, knowing all too well that this whole thing with Sylvia and Robinson wasn’t about her, but it lingered in her heart a bit painfully. How much did she have to endure to be worthy of a family? Luckily, Rhett’s mom pierced through her thoughts with a kind voice as she offered everything save for the kitchen sink.

    “Coffee would be wonderful. Just black is fine,” Eliza smiled graciously and genuinely, “Thank you.”
    • Love Love x 1
  10. “One black coffee, coming right up!”

    “Two, please.”

    “Two black coffees, coming right up! Sit, sit!” his mother sounded almost scolding at the fact they were both still standing. Rhett’s eyes softened immediately when their gaze met. It was only for a beat of a second but he felt an intensity surging through him once they had. She was treating him like a guest, not a member of the family, and he supposed that was what he had become. He could see it in his mother’s eyes— the questions. Are you still on your medications? How is therapy? Are you fitting in with the others? Questions that came from a place of concern, but questions that made Rhett’s anxiety clam him up tighter than a child’s fist around their own dollar bill.

    He swiftly slipped his hand in Eliza’s and it became painfully clear that it wasn’t just for her own wellbeing, but his, too. For so long he had been the black sheep in his family— the outsider, the weird one, the baby everyone was convinced must have been the milkman’s kid because he was so unlike everyone else. They loved him all the same of course with all the love they had to give, but he was always different. He had been different from the kids in school. He had been different from the people in his family. He had never belonged anywhere before and it had taken him a great number of years to realize that he had a place in the world— he was just the only one who was in it.

    It had been Eliza who made him feel normal for the first time in his life. She didn’t take his oddities as weirdness, but instead embraced them as gifts— even when he rambled on random, useless facts because he was nervous or counted out numbers that he was calculating at an impossible speed in his head. She made him feel like there was somewhere he belonged in life for the first time and in that familiar kitchen, he was beginning to feel uncertain again. His confidence had been shaken but he remained as composed and straight-laced as ever. His ‘lawyer face,’ his mother used to call it— when all emotion just shed away because he was beginning to shunt out all emotion for self-preservation.

    Setting down at his seat at the table, one hand still curled around Eliza’s, he thanked his mother when she brought them their coffees. Breakfast was beginning to come together and within minutes, they had plates, forks, knives, and napkins in front of them. Kids quickly took their seats and bounced excitedly as platters of pancakes, eggs, and bacon made their way around. Parents and adults joined in at the two dining tables in the dining room just off the kitchen…

    Thankfully, everyone seemed to be too busy shoveling as much food into their mouths before the kids had to run off to school and the adults to work that no one had time to ask questions, but Rhett could tell from their occasional sideways glances that they were curious. Curious about Rhett, about Eliza, about New York…

    “Pancakes?” Rhett asked, taking the plate from Jean, who was sitting next to him, opposite of Eliza, and piled a few on his plate before offering it next to Eliza with a stiffness mingling with the warmth in his smile.
    • Love Love x 1
  11. Eliza was grateful every single day for her observation skills because sometimes, with Rhett, it was such a subtle change that no one else really noticed. She watched as his jaw flexed for a moment, his eyes shifting and the way he sat down next to her. As much as she wanted to say he was holding her hand because he was head over heels in love with her and wanted to ensure her comfort, she knew it was because of something else, too. He felt all those things, but in the same way she had anchored herself to him, somewhere in the mess of it all he had become just as dependent on her. Families were foreign to her, but she remembered all the nights it took to get him to even speak of Wisconsin, let alone share memories, and she remembered how many times he had said that he loved his family but they just didn’t understand.

    “Thank you so much,” Eliza nodded as his mother brought their coffee over and her hand squeezed Rhett’s back lovingly. She was there for him as much as he was there for her, and he needed to know that no matter how out of place he felt, he always had a place in Eliza’s world. It was a lonely little world, but warm and he was her one and only. She loved him, so much in fact that she was willing to let him in, not just as a lover or a friend, but also as her family.

    She could feel everyone’s eyes, no one sure how or what to say without being scolded. Eliza took a deep breath before letting the coffee settle in her stomach. She needed a moment, but she had to do something to take the attention off Rhett to keep his anxiety at bay. Especially now without his meds, she did not want him to feel too overwhelmed. “Always,” Eliza laughed gently and offered Rhett a soft smile. She forked a few pancakes onto her plate and passed it on, clearly favoring her good arm, but she managed it and the plate kept on rolling along. Slathering her pancakes with syrup, the bacon and eggs made their way around and everything seemed to settle out. With their drinks and plates full, Eliza gave Rhett’s hand another squeeze and held onto it under the table and she took a bite.

    It was the kind of homemade family breakfast she always dreamed of.

    “So Eliza,” Jean spoke from next to Rhett, “Are you from New York? Or did you move there for work?”

    “Yeah,” Nikki added, glancing over at her, “What do you do?”

    There was a beat of silence where Eliza realized every eye was on her. A moment of truth. “I am, actually,” Eliza spoke, the sound coming out before she realized she was talking, but it was a warm sound, “Born and raised. This is the first time I’ve ever been out of the state. As for what I do, I’m a homicide detective.”

    “So you got a gun?” one of the men asked, the air around the table easing the tension as though people were genuinely enjoying the conversation.

    “Yes sir,” she smiled, “You’re looking at the best shot in the state of New York.”
    • Love Love x 1
  12. And there came the gun talk. Of course there came the gun talk because there was nothing else the Wolfharts seemed to be physically capable of doing besides procreating, drinking, and talking about guns, beer, women, or trucks. Slipping his hand free from Eliza’s, he picked up his fork and began to eat without really offering anything to the conversation as he really had nothing worth adding. The family seemed enthralled with Eliza and her career and that was all well and good for now.

    “A detective, huh? And the best shot in New York?” Nikki audibly sipped her coffee, “Rhett, are you pregnant or…? ‘Cause you finally got yourself a nice man to take care of you. Maybe Eliza here can buy you a vacuum for Christmas, you’d like that, right? Just in time too-“

    “Nikki!” Rhett’s mother interjected with a harsh, scolding tone.
“What, ma? He’s the only lawyer in the world who can’t make money. Somethin’ ain’t right when you a lawyer and you ain’t makin’ money.”

    “I’m actually an attorney-at-law,” Rhett corrected, not even bothering to glance up from his plate, though he was shuffling his food around way more than he was actually eating. “A lawyer is—“ but he stopped himself right there and ultimately decided not to continue. They wouldn’t understand or care and Rhett had given up on the futile attempt of convincing them that he enjoyed what he did, which is why he continued to do it. There was no bottomline in Rhett’s world. As long as the lights were on in his office, he’d run. He’d eat ramen every day for the rest of his life if that’s what he had to do, but he’d been finding that money had been more generous in the past few months. Again, ‘making money’ was rather asinine.

    “We should take her out to the range,” Jim mentioned off-handedly, brushing off the two nippy women, “See how the ‘best shot in New York’ holds up against real country.”

    “Wait, wait, wait,” Nikki cut in, “You’re a detective? Like… Sherlock Holmes kinda shit? With dead bodies and blood n’ stuff? Like, CSI? Do you have a guy who wears sunglasses all the time… What was his name? Ohh… ohhhh.”

    “Horatio?” Rhett offered.

“Horatio! You got one of them Horatio folks at your office? Or one of the cute ones, like what’s that one guy on Criminal Minds? Not the weird Rhett-like rain man one, but the hot one? You got yourself a few Derek Morgans? I definitely just signed my divorce papers yesterday.”
    • Love Love x 1
  13. And Eliza was back to being the least feminine woman in the world. It was the same kind of feeling that Sylvia gave her and immediately under Nikki’s words she felt really small. Rhett’s hand had slipped from hers and she felt a bit on her own, which she knew was hard because he was uncomfortable. Eliza had no idea how to navigate a family and suddenly she had opened lines of conversation and everyone wanted to speak. Even if she didn’t have his hand, she placed er hand on his knee and her leg was bouncing uncomfortably under the table. Thankfully everyone seemed it be fine and paying her discomfort no mind, and she pushed her food around, taking small bites and realizing very quickly that her anxiety had quelled her appetite.

    She just recalled the way Sylvia had waltzed into the Christmas party with her low cut, backless dress and the way she felt watching her move around. Eliza was beautiful, but often times through her beauty was snuffed ut by her job and the opinions of others around her. She pretended like she didn’t care, but she did. Eliza wished with all of her might that she could be the kind of beautiful well-spoken woman that Rhett deserved, but she knew that would never happen. Eliza was who she was and there was no changing that, or her scars. God, what if her scars were seen? For a moment, her anxiety spiked bad enough that she had to clear her throat to bring herself back down.

    It was fine. She was fine.

    “I guess like Sherlock Holmes, but a lot less British, more like CSI,” Eliza answered Nikki’s question as the men seemed plenty content in answering for her. Guns were easy an easy topic though, because she knew it was something they shared. “And no, I don’t really have a Horatio or Morgan, but they’re all good guys. It’s uh,” she stumbled over her words, “definitely not the most glamorous job, but I love it. That’s actually how we met, Rhett came in to help on a case and, well, here we are.”

    “Derek Morgans don’t really exist in real life,” Eliza shrugged, knowing the romanticized view of being a detective that most people knew from the shows on TV, but the truth was her job was gritty and rough constantly.

    “But Rhett is a great attorney,” Eliza added, “I think if you saw him at work, you’d think a bit differently. He’s helped a lot of people.”
    • Love Love x 1
  14. The gentle hand resting on his knee caused Rhett to stir a little from whatever storm clouds he had fallen under. Immediately, his expression seemed to soften back in to near warmth and his lips relaxed from the tenseness they had been pulled back into. Gently resting his fork down on the edge of his plate and reaching for his mug of coffee, Rhett quietly slipped his hand below the table again and let his fingers slide through hers until they were neatly tangled up and resting together on his knee.

    It was awkward and clunky for them both and Rhett was maintaining the poise of a sledgehammer in a knife fight. He felt painfully out of place, like a pepperoni that had mistakenly made its way on to a vegetarian pizza, but he inhaled a shaky breath, forcibly swallowed all those years of built up unease down and allowed something of a smile to actually make its way on to his face. It was about as shaky as a newborn fawn fumbling around on its legs for the first time, but he glanced up.

    “Wait, you’re workin’ on murder cases?” Nikki glanced to Rhett with raised brows, as if she couldn’t believe the demure little Rhett she had grown up with could stomach murder scenes, as he used to be the little boy who’d cry whenever one of the horses came in hurt from the pasture.

    “Not much,” Rhett admitted, “But I have, yes. I mostly work with low income families that couldn’t otherwise afford law advise. The state provides attorneys free of charge, but those individuals often handle a lot of cases and are more often than not too overbooked to provide good care to clients,” he explained in a tone that was somehow gentle but firm.

    Nikki looked like she was about to ask more questions but a loud horn beeping outside caught everyone’s attention. “Oh, shit!” Nikki bounced up, “Bus!” The kids all bolted for the tables, grabbing their lunches and quickly stuffing them in backpacks as they tumbled over one another, screaming and shouting, as they fought to pull their coats and boots on. In a wave, they plunged out of the door and went running to the end of the driveway where they quickly loaded up on the bright yellow bus still honking its horn for all the Wolfharts.

    It was considerably quieter once the children had left and the atmosphere seemed to relax because of it. Even Rhett’s shoulders seemed to pulse with a bit more ease as he set his coffee down and turned back to his pancakes, which he continued to pick at slowly.

    “So, you two met at work then?” Rhett’s mother interjected, giving Nikki’s a ‘shushing’ signal so she could speak, “And how long have you two been together now?”
    • Love Love x 1
  15. Rhett’s hand found hers and Eliza could find it in her bones to relax again. Thankfully, he rested them on Rhett’s knee as Eliza’s was bouncing a bit uncomfortably under the table. Her free hand found her coffee and brought it to her lips – even coffee out here tasted different. Maybe she was being spoiled because the coffee at the precinct was certainly more water than caffeine, but it warmed her right down to her toes. Coffee was still coffee, no matter what, and she felt some anxiety ease and her mind fall back into step behind Nikki who was drilling Rhett about whether he worked murder cases or not. Eliza took a bite or two of breakfast but turned right back to her coffee when the kids needing to leave yanked Nikki from conversation.

    The moment’s reprieve from attention eased her heart and she found her leg slowing under the table, her hand a little less on the edge of a double squeeze to run away. It was a lot to process, but they were still Rhett’s family, and she wanted nothing more than for them to think she was good enough for their son. She knew that deep down it didn’t matter to Rhett and that he would make his own decisions independent of his family, but it didn’t stop her from wanting to fit in, from wanting to be able to interact without shutting down. It was asking a lot of her to process this entire visit, but like anything Eliza faced it head on and knew that she had lived a long twenty-four years alone.

    This was a once in a lifetime chance, and while they had been thrown into it, Eliza was not about to let it go to waste. She wanted to know him, his family, his roots and she especially wanted to see that ease in his shoulders. Sure, they were tense with the conversation but it didn’t change the fact that Rhett didn’t have to pretend here. He did not have to pretend like Wisconsin didn’t exist or watch when he stumbled over words. If his accent slipped out, so be it, and if he wanted to take her to see the horses he damn well would. It was nice to see that kind of carefree spirit in him, because home was the thing he was running away from and since he was there – he didn’t have to worry.

    “We did,” Eliza nodded, taking another sip of her coffee as she wondered how long they had been dating. God, what was she supposed to answer to that? After she got blown up, a little after she revealed her disgusting scars, and quite a bit before Sylvia sent him to jail? Eliza almost made herself laugh at the thought but she tried her best as a detective to spin her words around to make it seem a bit more normal. “Well, we started working together before Christmas, went out a few times, and it just sort of happened from there. So a few months.”

    Hopefully that sounded okay, because Eliza was about to just blurt out that they had been living together since New Years because she almost died and he had been almost kidnapped. She was certain, even with her limited knowledge of families and overprotective mothers, that her alternative was better than the truth.
    • Love Love x 1
  16. In Wisconsin, Rhett could be the country boy he had always secretly been, yet it wasn’t hard to see that his confidence wasn’t making it out so well in that little farmhouse. His eyes flicked up occasionally and he met people’s glances, but he seemed almost depressed by it. He would smile politely and respond to questions, but everything about the way he was acting seemed hollow. He was such a generous, warm soul, yet he seemed almost incapable of tapping into that at the dining room table, as if it had suddenly dissipated straight from his chest. He could have drowned in the air, suffocated by low self-esteem and backhanded remarks from his cousin Nikki. It was easy to justify their words with ‘they really did love him,’ but they were damaging all the same.

    Rhett had a terrible tendency of wearing and reflecting people’s opinions of him and had a hard time rationalizing less than stellar commentary, especially when it was coming from the mouths of family members. God, he had hated this table growing up. He could still remember how humiliated he had felt when his mother had sat him down in front of the entire family and reminded him, honey, it’s OK if you’re one of the gays.’ The gays. The memory alone caused his chest to ball with embarrassment. There was nothing wrong with being any sexual orientation, but it had been awfully hard to feel comfortable in the already terribly awkward state of being a teen when your mother was speculating about your ‘crush’ being a cover-up and discussing your sexuality in front of every aunt, uncle, grandma, and grandpa you had.

    They were good people, but Rhett sank in their antics.

    “Mmhm, mhmm, since Christmas? That’s nice. Rhett, why didn’t you visit for Christmas this year?”

    Rhett perked up when the question came around to him, offering a smile, “Things were—hectic,” he explained, “Work was pretty busy, mostly. I have an apartment break-in, too, so I was dealing with that.”

    “A breakin?” Rhett’s mother’s voice took a turn for the cloudy as a motherly scowl formed on her face, “Rhett, where are you living? Are you in danger? Are you in one of…. the ghettos?” The gays, the ghettos. His mother always emphasized things with a pointed ‘the.’

    “I’m not living in a ghetto,” Rhett couldn’t help but chuckle a little. The lines of his shoulders were still pinched with an immense amount of tension and discomfort, but he was clearly feeling better about this conversation than when Nikki had been springing on them like a cat in heat. That, and he’d never actually tell his mother he was kind of actually living in a poor side of town at the time of the break-in. There was a lot of things he wasn’t planning on telling his mother and Eliza seemed to be on board with her non-committal response of ‘sometime around Christmas.’

    “Eliza helped me get it all sorted though, it actually is perfectly fine. I ended up moving to a new apartment anyways and it’s really nice.” He decided to use ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ despite the fact that it had become more of a ‘their’ apartment than a ‘his’ apartment.

    “Mhm, mhm,” his mother nodded, not looking entirely convinced, “This all sounds very… dangerous… the New York.”
    • Love Love x 1
  17. Thank god Rhett didn’t tell her that he spent both Christmas Eve with Eliza at the Christmas party and then Christmas day with her makeshift little wayward home family. Eliza sort of just silenced herself into the back of the conversation, just listening as the two talked and she could see what he meant about his mother. She was good intentioned, god Eliza could see that coming out of her ears, but it was a sense of grace that she was missing. The ghettos made Eliza clear her throat and sip down some coffee to stop herself from laughing. Eliza stood for a moment and took their two coffee mugs towards the kitchen to fill them up – but she figured they might need something stronger as the day went on.

    By the time they left here the two were going to be an alcoholic mess if this continued. Eliza brushed off graciously the other family members who offered to grab the coffee, but it gave Eliza something to do with her hands and the drugs were still wearing off. Her limbs were stiff and achy, the more she worked them out in little bursts, the better they felt. She managed two cups of black coffee and slipped back to the table, setting his down in front on him before sliding herself into her chair, but not without a quick, loving rub between his shoulders where he was gathering all his tension. It just looked like her hand brushed him as she sat, but she knew that he needed comfort as much as she did and when she finally sat down, her hand slipped back into his under the table. She wasn’t going to squeeze it for help, but it made her feel better to have it there just in case. She wanted to make this trip as easy on Rhett as possible, but she knew he was there if she needed him.

    After all, Rhett Wolfhart was the only person Eliza could rely on like a sure bet.

    “New York isn’t dangerous, people are dangerous,” Eliza said without thinking, “and there are people everywhere.” Eliza did not mean to disagree with his mother, but it had just come out. Eliza might have felt a great deal of pain in New York, but it was still her home, the place she had grown up in and knew better than anyone else in the world. It was her city. Eliza chuckled softly to follow up, “But I guess that’s why I’m a cop. Just trying to make it safer so people can see the good in it, because there’s plenty of it.”

    Eliza took a long sip of her coffee before looking up at Rhett’s mother. Eliza never expected to change her opinion, but Eliza knew she was right. People were dangerous; cities were not. “Rhett’s apartment is beautiful, though, in a great part of the city.” Eliza added, bringing the conversation back to Rhett. Maybe it was way too soon to say it was ‘their’ apartment to his mother, even though Eliza still had her own apartment. Eliza wondered what was going on behind that woman’s eyes, but Eliza had no idea.

    Rhett’s mother was unreadable to her, mostly because Eliza had never had to read a mother. Not like that, anyway, and it unnerved her. God, what if they all hated her?

    She took a deep sip of her coffee.
    • Love Love x 1
  18. There was something obviously disapproving in the way Rhett’s mother looked at Eliza when she spoke up about New York after having sit down— the kind of look that seemed to speak to the fact that she would have rather her son been dating a man, despite what the Bible said, than a woman who was back-talking as a guest at another’s table. She didn’t seem to like Eliza much, though she didn’t seem to dislike her, either. She seemed a bit too forward for the woman’s taste, a little too intrusive. Feeling the tension gathering, Rhett reached out for his mug of fresh coffee that Eliza had brought and quickly swallowed down half of it, almost eagerly.

    “Yes, I suppose that is why you’re a cop,” she agreed, her eyes closing as she closed her hands around her mug as well, but not going to take a sip.

    Breakfast didn’t seem to be going exactly how anyone planned but Rhett dropped his hand below the table and tangled up his fingers with hers once more. A sudden wave of repose washed over him and it was hard to tell exactly where it had come from, but all of a sudden, Rhett’s confidence seemed to get a breath of fresh air and blossom open once more. He smiled, as if remembering a wonderful past memory, and his shoulders began to dip with relaxation. His mother would never be approving of his choice to move to New York. Or, better yet, of the fact that it had been Rhett who had chosen to move to New York. She had thought him to kind-hearted and good to survive in a place like New York, but he had done so.

    Perhaps not gracefully, perhaps not even all that successfully, but he had done so and he was happy, damnit. The city wasn’t a place he wanted to live forever, but between his little apartment, Eliza, and that damn cat (he still hated cats), his life was oddly complete. Sometimes, he wanted to believe he could only truly be happy if he could incorporate his family so perfect into his existence, but maybe that wasn’t true. Maybe he could continue loving them for who and what they were, even if it wasn’t perfect. And it wasn’t. The relationship he had with the other adults at the table was broken, dysfunctional, abusive… he wouldn’t have chosen to like a single one of them had it not been for the blood they shared.

    But they were family and despite their opinions on his sexuality, his slightly more effeminate nature, and his tomboyish girlfriend, he was happy and he wasn’t going to let a thing they said change that because at the end of the day he could very well go upstairs and put his hands on the most beautiful pair of breasts he had ever seen, kiss the sweetest mouth he had ever tasted, and enjoy behavior his mother would have been bathing in holy water if she knew about.

    “She’s a great cop, actually. And she’s not actually a cop, really, she’s a detective. She does a lot of good for a lot of people,” Rhett said with a small smile, “Just a week ago, or so, she actually saved the life a little girl named Kelsey.” Rhett decided to not share his participation in the story, as that involved him going to prison. He shrugged softly, glancing sideways to Eliza, “But anyways, what’s the family been up to?”

    “Ohhh, the same old, same old, you know. Nikki just got a divorce from that scumbag Josh. I told her from the get-go he was no good.”


    “I told you Nikki— he was no good! He knocks you up and leaves. No good.”

    Nikki’s eyes rolled.

    “Wait, you’re pregnant?” Rhett asked, raising his eyebrows.

    “Yea, numba four. You have any kids, Eliza?”
    • Love Love x 1
  19. Eliza could feel the anxiety welling in her chest, but at least Rhett was there beside her. His kind words about her job would have made her blush if she were in different company, but instead as a soft smile touched her lips. Maybe she wasn’t much in this big, terrifying world but at least she knew that she had helped one or two along the way. She did not become a detective for the recognition or to brag about it to her boyfriend’s family. No, Eliza had gone to the academy for a purpose and to make sure that what happened to her never happened to another and if it did, to make sure that the families got the answers they deserved. No one deserved to grow up like Eliza did and she had been done pitying herself for a long time, but that was just fact. No child in the world deserved to grow up feeling so unloved and alone. Not if Eliza Madison had anything to do with it.

    “Oh no,” Eliza shook her head, almost choking on her coffee at the question as to whether or not she had kids. She wanted to say that it was never really in the cards for her, but from the way Rhett’s mother seemed keen on her every answer, Eliza held her tongue. “Not yet anyway, I work too much.” It was a simple answer, one that seemed to bring a bit more life to his mother’s face and Eliza decided that she would not speak unless spoken to. It was so much easier that way. At least if she waited for them to ask the question first, it was not rude to speak back.

    “You ever been married?” his mother asked.

    “No ma’am,” Eliza shook her head, trying to keep down a laugh that nearly escaped at the thought of any man wanting to spend the rest of their life with her. It was never a question she asked herself, not unless Rhett came around, at least. For him, she would change in a heartbeat. “No kids, never married.”

    “Brothers and sisters?”

    “Nope, just me I’m afraid.”

    “Who do you talk to?” Nikki interjected, eyebrow raised as if it was unnatural that someone not have a whole litter of kids and enough cousins to fill three family trees with some left over to spare.

    “What do your parents do? Do they live in the New York too?” Rhett’s mother asked completely innocent, but Eliza felt her heart seize in her chest. “Oooh, have you met them yet, Rhett?”

    Eliza had been dreading this question since the moment he mentioned they were going to Wisconsin and for a moment, every ache and pain seemed to explode against her skin, anything to tear her away from the idea of having to tell Rhett’s family that she was nothing but a scarred and fucked up orphan who only spoke out of turn because she was so terrified and uncertain of how to speak with a family. Her hand immediately squeezed his under the table. Did she lie to his family? Did she excuse herself? Did she tell the truth? God, no. The truth? They would all run her out like the street rat she was raised to be.

    “I, uh—” Eliza stumbled over her words, “they…”
    • Love Love x 1
  20. “It’s not a them,” Rhett stepped in politely with a warm voice that was incredibly more stable than it had been earlier in the conversation, “Her parents are actually parent and, yes, I have met her. She is a wonderful woman and she invited me over for Christmas dinner,” Rhett explained politely. There was no point in exposing all of Eliza’s wounds. Maybe someday they would come to light to his family, maybe sometimes they wouldn’t, but it didn’t matter because he wasn’t lying. Maybe Linda wasn’t any mother like his own mother had ever known, but Linda was, without a single doubt in Rhett’s mind, a mother to Eliza.

    A person could have more than one, that was. Eliza had lost her first but she had gained Linda, and maybe the trade-off wasn’t fair or just, but those were the cards Eliza had been dealt. “Her name is Linda,” Rhett went on to explain, brushing aside their other questions like he had simply missed them inadvertently, “Very lovely.” That was all his mother needed to know for now— Eliza had a mother named Linda, nothing suspicious about that, especially considering Nikki had just become a single mother.

    Before his mother could even speak the question that he could see burning in her eyes, Rhett turned the conversation like any good attorney ought to. Maybe Eliza wasn’t a client and his mother wasn’t a judge or jury— but she certainly felt like the executioner. “Speaking of family… how is dad? Where is he? I haven’t seen him.”

    “Oh,” Rhett’s mother’s face immediately turned to something a little more unapproachable, “You know your father. He’s probably off doing something or other. I told him you were coming to town and he promised he’d be here for when you arrived but…” but he was probably drunk, Rhett followed up in his own head. Ah, what a glorious family of vices and issues they all were. His father was a rampant alcoholic and his siblings were a vast array of gluttony, lust, and hubris. Rhett, meanwhile, had been an addict in his own right and came with a plethora of confusing and jarring personal issues— leaving him somewhere suspended between anxiety and rampant depression. Maybe his family didn’t have the same travesties the Madisons had, but they were broken all the same.

    “Well, what a shame,” Rhett concluded, “Well, I was going to go show Eliza around the farm. Would you like help with the dishes?” he truncated breakfast, deciding enough chitter-chatter was enough for the time being. They’d assault them both come dinner again, he was certain.

    “Oh, no, no. You two run off and enjoy,” the easy smile on his mother’s face returned, “Tomorrow night is the Johnson’s rodeo, I insist you two come.”

    Rhett could only smile with concern, not entirely sure Eliza was ready for everything that was a ‘rodeo.’ “Yea, we’ll see how we’re feeling. Thanks for breakfast, mom.”

    “Rhett?” she asked as she stood, “Let’s talk later, just mother son, like we used to.”
    • Love Love x 1
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