When Nate heard about their unexpected guest, he hurried home from the party immediately. And there, on the white micro-suede sectional, sat Evelyn Percy.
"Mother," he addressed her tensely, sitting down beside her.
Her eyes were green and luminous, not unlike his own, except for the small bags underneath them. Evelyn was tired. It had been a long ride. "Nathaniel, please. We can talk about this tomorrow. If you'll show me where I will be staying, Charles will bring my bags in."
She let Marilyn lead her to the guest bedroom, leaving Nate who was nervously anticipating what the next day might hold for them all.
Evelyn climbed into bed with a smile. Tomorrow she would right the wrongs of her husband and re-unite her family.
* * * * * * *
"So, Mother, what brings you to our humble home?"
Evelyn had been there for only a little more than twelve hours and was already getting comfortable. She had walked Go to the bus, fussed over Lilly and helped Marilyn make breakfast. Under the circumstances, they could have hardly asked for a better house guest.
"I decided it was time to meet my grandchildren and daugher-in-law," she said. "I've been meaning to, but late is better than never."
"What about Father?" asked Nate. He had a bad feeling about this. About all of this.
"Your father is under the impression that I am at a weekend retreat at the Hidden Springs Day Spa," laughed Evelyn dismissively. "What he won't know won't hurt him."
"But surely, he will put two and two together?" Marilyn wanted to know.
Evelyn's face grew hard for a second but only for a second. "He only asks questions he wants to know the answers to, my dear," she said softly.
* * * * * * *
Nate sighed. "Okay, are you going to tell me the real reason you're here or not?"
"We have recently acquired a new theatre in Bridgeport and your father and I want you to manage it! You could take the Penthouse on Herald and Fifth - the entire family could fit. It has three bedrooms, a beautiful view of Downtown and it's been paid off for ages. I would love showing the city to Marilyn and the children."
"Would you rather have the family home in the Worthington Hills? We could always move to the pied-à-terre on Parkway..."
"Please stop. I love you, Mother but Marilyn and I are staying here in Hidden Springs," said Nate, firmly.
Her face fell. "Your father said the same thing."
"Yeah, well that's one thing I can agree with him on," he conceded. "How is the old geezer, anyway?"
"He's doing well. He's still very angry with you for walking out on him."
Nate laughed. "Yes, I could kind of tell when he cut me off shortly after I moved here."
"You left us, Nathaniel. We had only your best interests at heart," she said coldly.
"Pops must not have got the memo, but you have to actually first possess a heart to do that," he spat out bitterly. "I remember being promised to the Danforth girl when I was younger than Go. All because dear old Dad needed that deal with Mr. Danforth."
"We got Danforth, you got a Beamer for your 16th birthday and now you're married to Marilyn Freaking Astor so everything worked out in the end!" Evelyn laughed.
"I didn't marry her for her social status. When we met, she was living in what was little more than an outhouse. And she thought I was a homeless fisherman!" he cried. "I love her."
Evelyn rolled her eyes, as if speaking to a child. "Honestly, Nate? A homeless fisherman? I'm surprised you were able to snag a wife with such an impeccable pedigree. Marilyn is from one of the oldest of old money families in Hidden Springs. Love isn't always the most important thing."
"You're right. It should be the only thing," he choked out, outraged. "But I wouldn't expect you to understand. The only thing that is holding your marriage together is that you know you make more if Father croaks than if he divorces you and screws you over with that damn pre-nuptial."
His mother looked away, stung.
"I'm so sorry I hurt your feelings, Mother," Nate said in a softer tone, calming down. "But I like my life the way it is."
"What, as an indie artist who signed on to our rival label, Monster Records, and then retired after but two albums?" she sniffed.
He tried another approach. "You know, it's getting to be about two. Don't you normally eat lunch (Xanax and Porfidio margaritas) around this time? I know a great place ten minutes away that I think you'll enjoy."
Evelyn's eyes lit up. "I'll go grab my purse and hat!"
When she returned, she immediately started babbling away, quite forgetting their little spat. "This is a lovely home, but this land was never supposed to be anything more than the servants' quarters. Is this really where you want to raise your children? And what about boarding schools? While we're on the subject of Gabriel, what kind of name is 'Go' for a child, anyway?" Nate could only chuckle as they walked out the door.
Some things never do change.
* * * * * * *
Evelyn had gone home after lunch. Their parting conversation still left a bad taste in Nate's mouth. Apparently, his parents had made trust funds for Go and Lilly. His mother had claimed that they didn't want the grandkids to suffer for their father's actions, but Nate knew better. Because there was one catch - to redeem their money, Go and Lilly were required to go to Bridgeport when they became adults. The old bastard was counting on a Bergdorf to continue the family business and since Nate wouldn't pony up, maybe his progeny would take the reins.
But Bridgeport was the furthest thing from Nate's mind at the moment because he was playing football in Fairyfolk Park with his son, who for just a couple more years, would think it was cool to hang out with his dad.
They had stopped for a quick breather, when Go grabbed Nate's arm. "Dad."
"What's up, kiddo?" Nate asked, following the little boy's gaze.
Go panicked. "Don't look!" Nate whirled around and bent down to his son's level.
"What am I supposed to not be looking at?" Nate whispered conspirationally.
"That." Mr. Bad Attitude was actually blushing!
After a couple of moments, Nate, very seriously asked his son, "you think it's safe now?"
"Yes, but don't let her see you staring at her," warned Go.
Nate turned around to find a little girl sitting on the swings behind them.
And even at the age of seven, Go knew that he had finally found something that was worth painting.