Over the week that followed the incident, Susie came by and helped Natalia as much as she could. When she was not around, Tabby, Trent’s mother, did her best to help Natalia rise above what had happened. As time passed, it became easier for Natalia to return to some semblance of normalcy. Everyone knew, though, that there was no going back completely. The damage had been done and it had been permanent.
There was only going forward now. And going forward, Trent and Natty would have to build something that would overshadow the devastation caused by the letter. That would not be easy. But their love for each other would help them do so, if they focused upon it, not everything else.
To help, Susie began teaching Natalia how to play the piano. Natty was a quick study, and enjoyed learning. Susie was classically trained. She knew composition. She knew arranging. She was well versed in jazz as well.
She taught Natalia everything she knew. It was her way of giving Natty something she could use as therapy. Something to ease her mind when Trent was working. Something she could fill the house with.
At first, it was quite a racket. Charles smiled at the discordant noise. It was like having a child pounding at the keys again. And he took it all in stride.
Over a few short weeks, Natalia grew to become better at the arpeggios and chords. Soon, she was able to pick up on the simple tunes. Still, she knew it would take time for her to get as good as Susie. Not that she wanted to be. But it all took practice. something she was willing to put into it.
They sat, Natty and Susie, at the piano one morning as Natty practiced. Natalia stopped playing and looked over at her teacher. “Will you teach Matty how to play the piano when it is time?”
Susie smiled. “Yes. I could start any time you want me to. He is old enough to begin learning. Nothing too difficult. just allowing him to plunk along on the keys. But you must decide how soon. Not me.”
Natalia nodded. “I want him to learn music. I don’t mind if you start him now. It will help him, won’t it?”
Susie nodded. “Yes. And when he gets to go to school, it will help him learn. It aids in math, science and comprehension. It even helps with the creative arts like visual art and theater.”
Natalia looked at Susie. “When can he learn composition? And the other things that go along with music?”
Susie held back a giggle. “I will be teaching him the simpler lessons as I teach him how to play piano. The lessons will only get harder as he progresses through each level of lessons. Each level is geared for a different year. The only way to begin the next level before the next year is to pass through the first twelve to twenty four lessons within a few months. It is very rare that anyone, even a child, ever gets to another level before starting a new year.”
Natalia nodded. “I see.”
Susie looked over at her. “Still want me to teach him?”
Natalia smiled. “Yes. Maybe it will give him a better future than what I can teach him.”
Natty’s last comment made Susie wonder. What had Natalia meant with that last comment? Why did she have so little confidence in herself? Surely she hadn’t really meant that.
Tom found Michael’s phone number and dialed it. Natalia’s family needed to know where she was and that she was safe. He didn’t care if they had said something that had pushed her away. It was their right to know.
He took a deep breath and waited for an answer. “Michael Morrow? Thomas Goldman. I need to meet with you about your daughter Natalia. No. No. She’s alright. Fine is a little hard to guarantee, especially after her last scare. But, all the same, she is alive and physically healthy.
“Can you come to Omaha? Yes. Yes. I can meet you in Council Bluffs. Sure. Anywhere you feel is safe to meet up. I think she needs you more than she is willing to admit.
“Yes, I know she ran. I don’t care about the particulars. Rape is a horrible ordeal. One she should’ve never gone through. But it happened, and not because of anything she did or didn’t do.
“Even her relationship with Tobias had nothing to do with what happened. I have proof that what I say is true. A young man who was forced to watch gave a full accounting of the affair from its inception to its completion.
“No, I wasn’t present, but the man who killed Toffer French was. He was the one who was given the full story. Yes. Yes. I do know who did it. No, it wouldn’t do any good to pursue a criminal case. Knowing the man like I do, he probably went to war already. The CIA is always looking for men like him.
“OK. I will be looking forward to seeing you in two days. Is the Missus coming too? Good. I’ll have Susie throw something delicious together. Yes. You’re welcome. Until then. Bye.”
He hung up the phone. He knew he’d done the best thing he could have by letting them know where their daughter was. Now, he had to convince Trent and his mother to allow the Morrows to see Natalia. Maybe Mrs. Goodacres could help the Morrow come to terms with and understand how the rape had happened. He only hoped that it would not be too hard for them to accept for what it was, a unfortunate event that could happen to anyone. At any time.
He picked up the phone again. this time, he dialed the Goodacres. “Charles, I need to talk to you and the Missus. Can you meet with me? Tonight would be best. It concerns Natalia and helping her heal. Yes. That will be wonderful. Yes. Good. See you then. Yes. Bye for now. And thank you.”