tales2apoint

…stories and poetry to touch, teach, & turn the heart toward truth.


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Story of Hope, Chapter 12 – part 2

As Cowboy trotted from the barn lot, pulling the small, two-person riding cart, Beulah Opalinksi grabbed her town hat and hurried out the front door of the small house she and Jamin shared. The morning was still young, but Edwin Swarth was reining Cowboy onto the narrow dirt road, just as she arrived at the edge of the front lawn.

“Whoa!” he commanded the gentle horse, pulling back slightly on the reins. Turning to Beulah as she approached the cart, he called, “Good morning! Need a ride into town?”

“Thanks, Eddie,” she replied, “I was planning to ask today if you or Elizabeth were planning to go into town soon, but I didn’t get over to your house before I saw you were already on your way! I do have some business to attend to, if you don’t mind some .”

Edwin and Elizabeth Swarth had been close friends of Beulah’s when she was a child, and they had kindly allowed her son, Jamin, and her to live and work on their farm since Jamin’s father had finally left them in the city. The blessing of their friendship was appreciated beyond what Beulah could possibly express, but they made it clear from the first day that it was their blessing to have the Opalinksi’s presence on the farm. Jamin was a hard worker, and had developed a truly delightful personality since he’d surrendered his old self to God. Likewise, Beulah’s gentle ways and motherly care were cherished by the Swarths and their six children.

Beulah aided Elizabeth regularly in the responsibilities of mother and farm wife, which was often much more than one woman could accomplish alone. From baking, cleaning, laundry, and babysitting, to feeding chickens, sheep, and cows, the women were never short on things to do. Edwin, Jamin, and two other part-time helpers worked no less diligently to manage the small dairy of nineteen milk cows and farm nearly three-hundred acres of crop land.

It was rare for Edwin to take time to travel into town, and even less usual for him not to take the large wagon to bring back supplies. Beulah inquired as to the occasion.

“Got some legal work to do in town that I wasn’t plannin’ on, and I just got supplies last week. So, I figured I could get there and back faster with old Cowboy than with the big rig. If you got something you need to get accomplished in town too, you might as well climb in. I should be in town for at least a few good hours. Will that suit your plans?”

“That would be just perfect! I promise not to hold you up. You tell me where to meet you and I will be there promptly.”

With that, Beulah climbed on board, and they circled back to the main farm house to inform Elizabeth of Beulah’s temporary absence. After hugs all around from the four youngest children, they started off to the big city. Beulah honestly had no idea how this day would turn out, but there were two things that she felt she really must do. She prayed as she rode in the gentle autumn sunlight that God would give her wisdom to carry them out with grace.

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Story of Hope, Chapter 12 – part 1

Black Tea in a Tea Cup on a Saucer on Plate

The steaming black tea tasted bitter on Monica’s tongue. She had allowed it to steep in the heated kettle a full ten minutes longer than usual, and it was strong. She felt a slight shudder at the back of her neck as she forced herself to palette the bitter liquid. She needed this.

Her heart was so dark with bitterness, that even a small outward display like the tea helped her to process it. She had allowed her heart to fully transition from resenting Oliver to despising him. She hated that man for all he had caused and allowed to happen to her.

Her emotions were soaring up and crashing down these days, so much that she felt completely out of control most of the time. She needed something to ground her, and hate had quickly become that anchor. The guilt of her own mistakes was much less severe when she focused on hating him, and that was all she cared about right now. She was tired of being guilt’s victim.

She knew she was unstable, but right now she simply needed to be that way. Her friend, Mrs. Townsend, understood that and let Monica hurt openly without reprimanding or lecturing her. Even though Mrs. Townsend didn’t know about what Monica had done in the harbor district, it felt good to know that someone accepted her without question. Mrs. Townsend was the only person Monica knew who allowed her to grieve over her pain. She was a true friend.

Conversely, Olly was the personification of everything Monica hated about her life—about herself. She couldn’t keep him in her life if she was ever going to move beyond her mistakes and regrets. She also knew she could never bring herself to forgive him for how he’d hurt her, much like she could never ask him to forgive her. That was simply how life would proceed to be.

No one Monica knew had ever divorced their spouse before, and she knew she would be severely judged—even ostracized—for her choice to permanently leave Olly, but she truly felt she had no other choice. None of them had gone through all she had experienced either. Let them judge! They could never understand.

After willfully sipping the tea for several minutes, Monica grew intolerant of the overwhelming acidity and finally disposed of it. The taste had been awful, but it had, nonetheless, strengthened her resolve to return one last time to the place she had called home for over half of her life. She would retrieve her personal belongings, leave a letter of explanation for Nina, and then return indefinitely to live with Mrs. Townsend.

With a sigh, she raised her chin and stood from where she’d been sitting.

It was time. She could do this.


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Story of Hope, Chapter 11

A soft sniffle broke through Olly's weighty thoughts as he walked with Nina away from Jamin. He looked down at his daughter's lowered head. In the corner of his eye, he noticed a gloved hand reach quickly and silently up to wipe something from her eyes. Nina was crying. His heart sank as he realized what he'd just done.

Why hadn't he even considered Nina's thoughts and desires during his exchange with her young friend back there? Did she think she was in love with this young man? Why hadn't Nina or Monica told him about Jamin? Why was Nina meeting with him in the streets after dark? Was their rendezvous really as innocent as they'd both claimed? He was not prepared for a teenage daughter! He was still very numb to the idea of Nina being sixteen years old. She was only a little girl in his mind, in his heart.

What would Monica be saying right now if she'd been privy to his calloused response toward the polite young man? He could see the disgust in her eyes now, and hear the criticism she would be hurling at him for not caring any more about his daughter's feelings. She was one to talk.

He could hear Monica's incriminating words from not even an hour ago proclaiming the severity of his absence. With fresh conviction, they came ringing back to his ears, and his heart sank deeper. Should he be keeping these two young hearts apart? Was he replacing his absence in Nina's life with anarchy? Did protecting Nina have to look this way?

Olly had already severed fellowship with his wife this night. He didn't want to lose his daughter as well!

Coming to an abrupt stop, Olly turned toward Nina and looked gently into her eyes. “Were his words truth?” he asked her before he lost his nerve.

Trying to look strong, she nodded, “Yes, Daddy.” There was no deceit in her face.

“And you feel the same way about him that he does about you?”

She nodded, hope growing.

For good measure, and to lighten the mood, he asked with a twinkle in his eye, “And you really are sixteen? That's not just in my imagination?”

She managed a small laugh, and rolled her eyes. “Yes, Daddy, I really am a big girl now–believe it or not–and yes, I like him very much. Will you just give him a second chance before he rides away and I may never see him again?”

Now he felt like crying, but he gave a slight nod, and looked behind them to where Jamin and his ride were clodding away. “Young man!” he called.

The clip-clop of the horse's hooves paused on the hard surface of the street, and Jamin's head spun in their direction. “Sir?” came the uncertain reply.

“I…may have spoken a bit in haste. If the two of you would like a few more minutes together, perhaps you could walk my daughter home. I will meet you there.”

Still looking at Jamin, Olly squeezed Nina's hand, which was still in his, then turned–head whirling–and started home. Before he rounded the corner of the street, he turned to look back at them once more, and smiled–just a little bit–when he saw Nina running toward Jamin's glowing face.

There wasn't much to compare in this world to the joys of young love.


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Story of Hope, Chapter 10

Were his fears about to come to full realization?

Jamin braced himself for what may come when he looked up and saw a burly red-headed man behind Nina storming across the street toward them. He’d never heard a description of Nina’s father–not even his name–but one look into that man’s eyes told him this was her father. That look was unmistakable, not to mention the haunting resemblance to Nina’s own eyes.

A prayer filled Jamin’s heart, as a groaning sigh escaped his lips. Nina’s face filled with confusion when he gently stepped away from her. She noticed the direction of his eyes, and her’s followed. A gasp escaped her soft, pink lips, when she caught the intimidating sight of her father’s approach.

“Daddy?” she started.

“Nina,” his voice was tight with concern, “I, uh, certainly didn’t expect to see you out here. I thought you were at Anna’s?”

“I was on my way home when…Daddy, I want you to meet Jamin.” She looked between them with unmasked hesitancy, but the honesty in her eyes and voice seemed to diffuse her father’s tension a little.

“Young man, it doesn’t seem we’ve had a proper introduction yet. I’m Captain Oliver Swarth.” It was obvious that he hadn’t said all he’d wanted to, but Jamin was deeply grateful that Captain Swarth was giving him a small chance to prove himself. He wasn’t about to let it pass.

“Sir, I’m pleased to meet you,” Jamin dipped his head respectfully. “My name is Jamin…Opalinksi. My uncle is a farmer several miles outside of town, and we have a produce stand at the city market. I had the privilege of meeting your daughter while working the stand several weeks ago, and came to town tonight in hopes of finding her. I was about to give up, not knowing her last name or where she lived, when I saw her walking here. I was also hoping to meet her family, and, well, it looks like my prayers have been answered. I hope you will take my word concerning my very honorable intentions toward your daughter. It would be my deepest regret to think that my interest might cause turmoil for your daughter or for you, and if that is the case I will seek to be as compliant as possible to your wishes as her father.”

Captain Swarth looked surprised at Jamin’s monologue, but any violent or negative reaction seemed to have been avoided. He hoped.

“Well, Mr. Opalinski,” Captain Swarth looked intently into Jamin’s eyes, “I appreciate your willingness to be upfront with me, and I’m sure you’re intentions are honorable enough for someone…of your age, but I’m afraid, honorable or not, my daughter is not available for your attentions at this time. Nina is not yet of an age that I consider appropriate for any relationship with any young man, honorable or not. So, you would excuse us, my daughter and I have a home to return to, as I imagine is the case for you as well.” He nodded, looked at Nina, and finished, “Have a good evening.” Captain Swarth turned to leave, arching his arm for Nina to take in her hand, “Nina?”

She seemed as stunned as Jamin, but followed silently with a soft nod. Her eyes met Jamin’s briefly as she turned. Through the bewilderment, he saw a regretful apology, and the swelling of silent tears. He attempted a reassuring smile, wishing there was something he could say, something he could do to change the events taking place before him.

Truth be told, though, the captain’s calm-spoken rejection of him had stung more painfully than any violent reaction might have. He was at a complete loss, and felt the verification of every fear of inadequacy he’d ever known. What was he going to do?

Trying not to lose his composure, he turned back toward Cowboy and climbed atop the saddle. He felt like a complete idiot now, with his stupid suit and worthless hat. It was no wonder the whole town had stared at him as he’d searched for Nina. He was just a naive, ignorant country boy, smitten by a girl he couldn’t have, and too ignorant to know it.

It was going to be a long ride home, and a very, very long winter. Jamin’s fears had become reality tonight, but they weren’t the fears he’d expected. This was much more devastating than he was ready to handle. 

Nina was the one person who’d been a real beacon of hope to him in the past couple of months. The thought of seeing her, of being around her, had been his fuel for waking up each day, for pushing through the fears and insecurities. It was her silent acceptance that had shown him who he could be. Did her father have any idea of what he’d just done to Jamin? Did Captain Swarth even care about Nina wanted? Jamin knew that Nina felt as strongly about him as he did her. She’d said it herself!

Why had Jamin chosen to remain quiet back there? Why hadn’t Nina tried to defend him, to defend herself? What was he going to do without her?


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Story of Hope, Chapter 9

In the time succeeding a serious conflict, the emotions left mangled in its stay are more complex and abundant than most humans are able to manage in a healthy fashion. This was certainly the case for Olly. How could his volatile interaction with Monica–which had just come to an extremely abrupt end–have gone so poorly as to have all but ended their entire twenty year relationship?

What had Monica done to him? What kind of monstrous things had she convinced herself to believe about him? How would he ever reconcile this betrayal–this lie?

There was little that proved to be more disabling to Olly than when someone simply didn’t listen to his words–or believe him if they did. He sought to be an honest man. Monica should have known that. Instead, Monica seemed to have rebuilt a very mangled version of herself in his absence, and had justified the complete removal of him from her new construction plans. He felt crippled by her rejection.

While she had been spending her years creating a world for herself without him, he’d been building one with her as his corner stone. He knew their marriage hadn’t been what either of them had dreamed about in the beginning. Over the past several years, since he’d become a sailor, there had been little about their marriage that had even seemed like a marriage. He knew this.

Aside from the rare letter and his times of leave, they never saw each other. He knew he’d been a lousy husband, but that had only spurred him on in his dreams of creating a better life for them. He’d held so long to the dream that things would get better, that he simply took it for granted. He’d never considered that Monica might not be there to live out those dreams with him.

They were dreams he’d dreamed for her as much as he’d ever dreamed them for himself. He’d saved his money year after year, every penny he could, to one day deliver his family together to a new place–a new quality of living. Monica wouldn’t have to worry about surviving anymore. She wouldn’t have to be alone without him again, like he knew she had silently desired for so many years.

That was something about Monica that he’d always admired. She rarely complained. He knew she had been unhappy all these years apart. For him, that had gone without saying. He apparently had been assuming blindly all along that she was holding on to his dreams as much as he had been. Though, looking back, he couldn’t remember ever sharing those dreams with her. She’d never known. She still didn’t.

He’d planned to come home in a grand fashion, swing her swiftly off her feet, and carry her off into the sunset. Instead, he’d come home and thrown her fragile world deeper into the darkness and bitterness she’d chosen for herself.

The reality of what she’d done came back to him with renewed freshness, now, and he began to feel the true gravity of what had taken place in his absence. He understood that she’d assumed it was a similar lifestyle of unfaithfulness that had carried him along all these years, but any man on his ship could attest to Captain Olly’s abstinence. It was a matter of regular discussion and scoffing among them. What sailor didn’t have whatever pleasure he desired? This had been the way his shipmates had seen things, and their lifestyles made that very evident–as did their general dissatisfaction with those lifestyles.

He’d been as honorable as he could have ever dreamed to be, and this was how she repaid him?

No. He wouldn’t allow himself to go down that path. Bitterness on Monica’s part had brought them much of the way to this place. His own bitterness would be of no benefit.

He needed to figure out how to fix this. He had to get his wife back! It was not over.

Oliver took to the streets, determined to prove to Monica the depth of his love and faithfulness. His reaction toward her had been strong and full of hurt, but his love and devotion remained unchanged, and she needed to know this. His mind was racing to think of where she might have gone. His heart was aching in its desire to know her love once again. How would he tell her? How would he show her the truth? What if she still didn’t believe him?

He was becoming a fool for her, and he felt like a young man again–trying to woo the woman he loved.

But why? Why did he love this woman who had betrayed him? What did Monica possess that was worth his love and devotion? What was his reason?

Was it the length of time she’d waited for him? Was it the fact that she’d cared for their daughter in his absence? Was it her beauty that smote him or was it the fact that she didn’t want him? Was she just some conquest to him, like the seas he’d sought to master?

With ease, Olly reasoned away each of these thoughts, and found his way to the true reason he sought her. It was because he loved her. That was it! That was the reason. She hadn’t earned it. She may never deserve his love. She may never even accept or reciprocate his love, but he still loved her. He truly was becoming a fool for her, and it was perhaps the most liberating state of being he’d known.

Olly smiled amid the gloom of his heart at losing his love. He hadn’t just lost her tonight. He’d lost her many years ago, and it had taken him this long to discover it. He realized again that he’d become a fool in more ways than one.

Olly smiled, though, because he now saw the truth as it was for the first time. He knew also that, by seeing the truth, he might actually find a way to embrace it and allow it to change him–to change them. Now that he had the truth, he could show it to Monica. She could see it as well!

Fully consumed in his hopes, he picked up his pace and began toward Mrs. Townsend’s house. That was where she would be. That was where he must go.

He never made it, though, because what he saw next stopped him still, and once again changed his life forever. He stumbled upon the sight as he nearly ran around a corner onto a new street. There, across this new street, just below a glowing streetlight, stood his daughter–his precious Nina–wrapped in the arms of smiling young man.


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Story of Hope, Chapter 8

Monica stormed out of the house, so mad she couldn't even cry. She nearly broadsided a young man in a tie riding a sturdy farm horse. In a less severe circumstance, she might have been tempted to laugh at his appearance.

In a lesser circumstance, she might have recognized him from the stand at the market. Right now, though, all she could think about was how mad she was, how bad she had it, and how much she wanted something terrible to happen to that man in the house behind her.

She stormed down three streets before she even began to think about where she was traveling. Her subconscious was navigating for her, though, because she was already half way to Mrs. Townsend's house, and that was exactly where she intended to go–and stay.

Monica could return for her belongings tomorrow, but right now she just needed to get as far away from Oliver Swarth as possible. She had little way of knowing what the future would hold, but regardless, she was fairly certain things were over between she and the man she once vowed to love forever. God help her.

Nina had enjoyed herself this day more than she had in weeks, maybe even months, but she knew nonetheless that it was time to go home and return to reality. The quilt would still be waiting for her next week, and Anna had already promised to work on some stitching each night to help quicken the project along. From the looks of things so far, it would be a real treasure for Anna's sister and her baby. Nina smiled as she considered it.

Her eyes drifted as she walked through the rising shadows of the city streets, able to catch just the tips of the cotton candy clouds glowing in the brilliant hues of the setting sun. A longing came over her then for a world much different from her own. This had been occurring more and more recently, and she couldn't quite place what was causing it to originate, or what it meant. She longed for freedom. She longed for security, the kind that she only was able to glimpse when wrapped tightly in her father's arms. She longed to feel loved–not to just know that she was loved somewhere deep inside, but to truly feel it throughout her entire being. She wanted peace in this world, and quite frankly, that troubled her. She truthfully didn't know how or where she would ever find it.

Jamin looked at the darkening sky and decided, with much downheartedness, that it was time to give up and go home. No one knew a girl by the name of Nina, and he couldn't believe that he'd never inquired about her last name or her parents' names. He'd been stupid to try to find her, he decided. What made him think she would want to see him, if she hadn't even told him her name?

Chiding himself for what was unlikely to be the last time, he gave Cowboy a nudge and started back for the farm. At least he would be done suffering the stares of these snooty city folk snickering at the country boy in suit and tie riding a farm horse around town. Folks could certainly be cruel.

A lone figure walked leisurely down the sidewalk to his right, and his heart skipped a beat. He recognized that cloak! Could it really be her right here in front of him?

He gingerly called out her name, and she paused, turned, and looked up at him with her sky blues eyes shining in the twilight.

She looked stunned to see him, but smiled shyly and breathed a soft, “Hello.”

“Hello, Nina.” Jamin replied almost just as softly. He was more than a little stunned that after coming all this way, he had no idea what to say to her. This was not how he'd expected to find her.

“What brings you to town?” Nina asked. She looked at him with a broad, genuine smile now, and he knew she was glad to see him. His heart seemed to jump a little.

“Actually,” he felt himself blushing, “I came to see you.” He sounded foolish when he came out and said it, but it was the truth.

Somehow, her smile grew even more. “Really?” she asked.

He laughed now, grateful for the slight break in tension. “Yeah, it sounds crazy doesn't it?”

“A little,” Nina replied, “but I'm glad you did. I was just thinking my day couldn't get much better, and then there you were!”

Now Jamin was smiling. “Where are you going?”

“Oh, I'm on my way home from my friend, Anna's, house. We are making a quilt for her sister's new baby, well it's not born yet, but…well, anyway…yeah. I'm just going home. Were you really looking for me? How did you plan to find me?”

“Well, I was just about to give up when I saw you.” Jamin explained. “It was a crazy thought riding around town asking people if they knew a girl named Nina, but I just really missed you. I had a free evening, so I thought I'd give it a try. Now that the harvest is over, I won't be at the market anymore, and I couldn't stand the thought of not seeing you again until next spring. You're a hard girl to find, though, you know! I was starting to think you didn't want me to find you–I mean, that maybe you didn't feel the same way about me, that I feel about you.”

His confidence was waning again, as his old insecurities came rushing back, but Nina's voice broke into his thoughts. “Would you think I was wierd if I told you that I think about you all the time? I didn't think I would see you again either, and I really didn't like the thought of that.”

Jamin was off Cowboy and holding Nina's hands in his before either of them realized it. “Well, I sure am glad I finally found you.”

 


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Story of Hope, Chapter 7

Nina loved to sew. Since she was a little girl and was learning for the first time how to line her pointy little needle up with where it needed to go in a huge piece of fresh fabric, she found herself readily consumed in the dreaming and stitching required for constructing a true masterpiece. The thing Nina loved most about sewing was that she could become truly lost in the process and forget everything else in her world–no worries as long as that needle was making its way properly through the seams.

Today, Nina’s friend, Ann, was working alongside her. Together they were making a surprise swaddling quilt for Ann’s eldest sister, Martha, who was expecting a baby in less than two months. Anyone less resolved than the two of them might have considered the task too ambitious, knowing the time limit and extent of detail they planned to put into the project. Nina and Ann, on the other hand, were not only confident of their abilities, they were altogether resolved! Martha’s baby, they reasoned, deserved no less than the best, and that was exactly what they planned to deliver.

As Nina stitched into the soft yellow cloth, she found herself dreaming about Jamin–something she did more than she would ever admit to anyone. She was wondering what he might be doing at that moment. Was he thinking about her? When would she be able to speak with him again?

She was still disappointed that she hadn’t seen him in nearly two weeks. She couldn’t help but worry if he was alright, and she’d kicked herself repeatedly for not speaking with his uncle last week at the market. If she hadn’t been so busy feeling sorry for herself, she might not feel so stuck right now!

If only there was a way to speak to Jamin without having to travel all the way out to wherever he lived. Before she knew it, she found herself dreaming of a world where one could fly into the sky like a bird and go wherever it pleased them. She imagined a world where one could write a letter, and no sooner were the words on paper than they were popping up in front of the person for whom they were intended.

Nina could hardly imagine such a thought, but in her dreams she longed for a world where life was only that much easier. Maybe someday, she thought. With a sigh, she turned her attention to Ann’s needlework, and asked her what she thought Martha’s baby would be like.

Monica sat down, and finally looked Olly in the eyes. The guardedness fell from her eyes, and was replaced by a darkness he had never before seen in her.

“Last month, things reached an all time low for us here.” she began. “We needed money, and I didn’t know what to do…” She paused, and looked down at her hands as tears filled her eyes. Olly felt a sense of dread inching its way into his thoughts as he weighed the possibilities of where this story could go.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she stressed again, “but when I was on my way to the market one day, I noticed some men outside the pub eyeing me the way men do, and it gave me a crazy idea that I thought might work.” She met his eyes again, begging for mercy. “So, the next night I snuck out after Nina went to bed and found some men on the other side of town who were willing to…” she choked on her own words now, and began to cry, looking dejected and alone–lost.

When the dots connected in his mind, Olly felt his heart sink. “How many times?” he dared to ask.

Monica looked almost relieved to have the truth out, though the hardness of her features was still present. She was only sitting about five feet from him, but the distance between them felt like it could span an ocean. Her reply came back flat and cold, “Five times. The fifth time Nina followed me, and I didn’t know it. She found out. We haven’t spoken a word to each other since.

The truth was finally out, and it bit deeply with heartbreaking pain. Behind it followed the questions.

How could she sell her body? Of all the ways she could have hurt him, how could she do something so shameful as to sell herself? And how could she do this to Nina!

The words exploded from him before he even thought about measuring his emotions. “Were you trying to hurt me? What did I ever do to deserve this kind of betrayal? Did you forget I still existed?”

She shot back, just as explosively, “What was I supposed to do? We didn’t have enough money, Olly! You left me alone with our daughter and we literally didn’t have any money. It was all gone. What choice did I have? What else could I have done? I was alone and desperate, with no better job prospects, and somehow it made sense at the beginning. I just thought…”

“You thought what?” He let it all go now, “You thought you would ruin my life the way you’ve convinced yourself that I have ruined yours? Well guess what, Monica, you ruined a lot more than you could have dreamed. You’ve ruined your own life, you’ve ruined our relationship, and worst of all you’ve ruined your relationship with the daughter you always dreamed of. Monica, that girl has put up with a lot from you over the years, but this time was more than just a mistake. You have shattered her! I have never seen a young lady so broken in my life.”

“Well I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of broken young ladies over the years! How dare you speak to me like this and expect me not to know that you’ve been sleeping around on all over the world?” Monica was ready for an all out vocal brawl, but Olly ignored her prod.

“I’m talking about our daughter right now. Don’t come at me with your jabs, just because you’re on the spot. Nina is strong, but I think you might have outdone yourself with her this time. I’m a grown man. I can take care of myself. I’ll get over it. I’ve made my own mistakes, I’ll admit, but that’s not what we’re talking about, Monica. The question you need to ask yourself is, ‘What are you going to do about Nina?’ She’s going to carry this around with her for the rest of her life, and the way she deals with it can be helped or worsened by you. That girl needs a mom, and right now she doesn’t have one. Do you want her to grow up the way you did? Are you willing to let her become a lonely, sorry mess like you, or are you going to do something about it?”

He’d gone too far, and he knew it. Monica stood up and walked out of the house. Olly didn’t see her for two weeks after that.