III. THE WEDDING AND BEYOND
Weeks later, we were wedded. Though they objected to it initially, Hal’s nephews had come around and gave their blessing. Their objections had not been caused by their lust for his money. No, they had no desire to inherit such a large amount of money. They’d already been given his business. Rather, they’d assumed that I had been after his money. But after the dinner the night that followed his proposition and my acceptance, they realized that I wasn’t after anything. They realized that I merely wanted to give their uncle what he sought.
Their blessing meant a lot to Hal. In this, it also meant a lot to me as well. I didn’t want a rift to form between hall and his nephews. They, as a result of their blessing, accompanied him as dual best men. It was, indeed, the best day of our lives. We became happy newly weds, and set off on a brief honeymoon.
When we returned, life seemed to regain some semblance of normalcy. Though I still went to work, I spent a lot of time with my Hal. I found that he was such a gentle person that I wanted to be with him. I wanted to give him more than he’d ever had. I wanted to bear him some children. I wanted to be a real wife. I wanted us to be a real family.
It was totally amazing. I’d never experienced such feelings before. It was as if something deep inside me had awakened. Something inside me had changed, freeing me from lust just for a little while. I was no longer being driven by my sexual desires. I was being driven by the instincts of a married woman. I was beginning to act like a loving wife.
I was experiencing love. That was all there was to it. Everything I had done lustfully in the past, I now did out of love for Hal. It felt natural to sleep with him, alone…though I do admit that our marriage was anything but normal by most standards. It just seemed normal to us. I loved him dearly, just as he loved me. We found what we needed in each other.
Seven months after we married, I gave birth to Todd Maximillian Grimes. Hal knew that Todd was not his, but he adopted him nonetheless. The attending doctor, as it would be each time I would give birth, was doctor Jeffries…my friend. He knew immediately whose child Todd really was. Everybody did. Still, he was, and still is, a much-loved addition to our family.
Five months after Todd’s birth, I finally visited Hal’s bed. His stamina surprised me. Never before did I ever think that an old man could ever last that long in such an amorous act. But, he did and without breaking stride. It didn’t even seem to bother his heart.
IV. PHILIP CLINTON
Nine months later, Hal’s first biological son was born. We named him Philip Clinton. With two children, our family had begun to grow. We’d started to look the part of being family. I was the proud mother of two beautiful boys who would inherit all that Hal and I left to them. In the months that I recuperated, I returned to work in a limited capacity. I advised Hellena on certain accounts, and did case work on the side. I wasn’t allowed to do anything heavy or strenuous. But I did what I could and helped as best I knew how. Just as I was getting to where I was able to work in a greater capacity, I got pregnant again.
At six months, I was forced to take to bed rest. This did nothing for my career, but I didn’t care. It didn’t matter that all I’d worked for was slipping away. I had more than enough money to see me through the rest of my life. I didn’t actually need to work, but insisted on doing so in order to keep myself busy.
By the end of yet another nine-month stretch, Sandra Divine was born. At six pounds, she was seemingly a featherweight compared to her brothers at their births. She was absolutely beautiful. Everyone surrounded her, wanting to see her. This was just a natural reaction that had happened with each, so I didn’t worry at all.
Six months later, I visited Hal’s bed for the last time. The night was like no other we’d spent together. He went on for what seemed an eternity, not stopping to rest. Indeed, it was the best night I’d ever spent with him.
When I awoke the next morning, he had died. Finding him, my own life felt as if it had ended. Everything I had loved was gone. I had no one to keep me from hurting myself. I had no one to love. Not like my children, but rather as a woman loves a man. I loved my children, and still do, but I needed a man to love and to keep me in line. It was just something I needed.
As they buried the man I loved, I couldn’t bring myself to admit that he was really gone. I was inconsolable. When I learned that he’d left his fortune to me, I made arrangements that it would go to the children when they were old enough to handle such an inheritance. I had had no need for such a sizable sum of money. Therefore, I split it into several smaller trust accounts. Four of these had the names of my existing children on them. The rest were left in my name until a further date.
In the following months, my life fell apart. I went into seclusion for almost a year, then my friends stepped in to break the spell. As it neared my twenty-fifth birthday, Dr. Clinton Jeffries appeared at my doorstep. He claimed he was there to take me out dancing. He did, but first, we went out to dinner. Then, after a delicious meal, we danced. When he got me home at midnight, I invited him in for the night.
When I awoke the next morning, he was already gone. My world had not ended as I’d thought, but rather, had only paused. Clint had shown me that. Amid the time that I’d spent mourning Hal, our last child together was born. I named her Brenna LuAnn. She, too, was a beautiful bundle of joy. But at the time, I was too busy mourning to take notice. With Clint’s intervention, I’d suddenly found where my focus should’ve been. Indeed, I should’ve been focused on my children. I knew that now. I didn’t know how I could’ve been so blind.