DISCLAIMER: All My Children and its characters are the property of ABC. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SERIES: The Stranger Series.
The Stranger Standing Before Me
There was so much to get done and Maggie Stone had little desire to do anything. There was a weight so heavy on her shoulders and over her heart that she feared it would never be lifted.
Death, death had become a despised friend these past two years. First was Frankie's murder by their insane drug lord Aunt.
Leo's courageous death over the water falls. Their crazy Aunt Vanessa caused more pain and death than Maggie wanted to recall.
Now her mother's accident and subsequent death, it was all too much.
Death truly had become a despised friend that wished to not leave her side. All the while Maggie begged him to. She couldn't take another loss. It would be the end of her. Her heart couldn't take another blow. Not so soon.
Maggie forced her eyes to open. Looking into the darkness of her rented room was better than watching memories play out in her mind's eye.
There was a sudden light that engulfed the otherwise dark room. Maggie flinched away from the bright light, blinking her eyes in an attempt to lessen the sting. The door to the main room of the suite remained open, even as she turned away from it. Hadn't that door been locked?
"What did you do? Pick the lock?" Maggie accused her cousin.
"Anna taught me a thing or two."
With a groan Maggie moved to burrow her head back into the pillows. "Go away."
"Sorry, I've let you sleep long enough. We have a meeting with your mother's lawyer in two hours. It'll take us about a half an hour to get there, so that leaves you with an hour and a half to get up and eat the breakfast I ordered for you." David informed the med student as he sat on the edge of her bed.
He listened to Maggie grumble into her pillow and smiled sadly at the young woman. He did not miss the blood shot eyes or the dark circles under those same blue eyes.
After Maggie remained unmoving David sighed. "I can reschedule the meeting."
Maggie turned her head out from the pillow she had burrowed into. "Don't. I'm up. You just need to leave the room."
"David, I'm not wearing much under these blankets." David's cheeks flamed.
"I'll be outside." Maggie found herself smiling as David rushed out of the room. "Breakfast will get cold, so hurry up."
Maggie saluted the closed door before curling in on herself to keep warm. She had a few more minutes.
"I'm sorry, I'm not looking, but I need to charge my cellphone." David came into the room once again, his eyes covered with one hand as he felt around the room with the other.
Maggie groaned even as she chuckled at her cousin's antics. She quickly moved to jump off the bed, sad to be leaving behind the warmth of the comforters. Once by the bathroom door she called over her shoulder to the cardiologist who was bumping into every piece of furniture in the room.
"David, you can open your eyes. I'm in the bathroom. The phone is on the bedside drawer."
With the information passed on and a quiet thanks given Maggie closed the door.
Maggie looked at herself in the mirror and shook her head. No amount of cover up was going to hide the circles under her eyes. Good thing she had eye drops packed away. The last thing she needed was to look like a vampire with bright red eyes and dark sullen circles under her eyes.
This was not her. She was not this person. She was the type of person that smiled at everyone. Easily laughed and cracked a joke. She was not the type of person to stare at her reflection and not know who was staring back at her.
Maggie Stone was not easily shaken. Yet here she stood, quaking with her sorrow and regret.
"Who are you?" Maggie asked of her reflection. The woman staring back at her gave her no reply, just stared back unwavering in her stare.
Maggie looked out the window as David drove them to Mr. Sanderson's office, Gwen's lawyer.
They had just left the funeral home and Maggie was still a little out of sorts from the meeting.
Maggie had expected a long sit in with the elder gentleman who ran the funeral home. She had expected that Gwen would not have already decided how she wanted her funeral. It didn't seem like something Gwen would do, or think about.
The meeting had been quick and short.
Somewhat surprised, Maggie had asked Mr. Davitz if they were talking about the same woman. She hadn't meant it to be offensive, not in the least, but the man had taken great offense. It appeared that Mr. Davitz was a friend of Gwen's.
Maggie didn't even know Gwen had friends.
Apparently Gwen had many friends. It shocked Maggie to see that those friends were not just the ones that would come home with Gwen after a long night of drinking. Mr. Davitz was one such friend that seemed for all intents and purposes much more together than Maggie could remember her mother being.
Gwen had the foresight to work out the details to her own funeral. Maggie wondered if she had done so long before Maggie left home, or if she had recently planned it after news of Frankie's death. Maggie shook her head. They had not even been there for the funeral. Neither of them were there and neither had say in the proceedings of it. David and Palmer, Maggie later found out, had taken care of it.
So Maggie's surprise was not in the fact that Gwen had planned her own funeral but that Gwen had understood Maggie might not wish to plan it or even volunteer to attend. It was harsh, Maggie knew, but how things ended between them left little else as a possibility. She knew that Gwen did not believe anyone would be here to plan her funeral.
The plans were already set and put into motion. There would be a wake this evening, and a small service at the church she had apparently been attending for the last two years tomorrow morning. Then the burial would be in Mercy Yard, the local grave yard the same afternoon as the service.
The silence in the car was broken by the sound of David's cell phone. Maggie didn't even look away from the window, just let it ring. She knew who it was.
David however did move when the phone rang and picked it up. Across the display screen came the number that had been calling for the last few hours. There had been several calls from this number through the night.
David stopped the car at a red light.
"It's Bianca." David stated the obvious.
Maggie didn't even turn her head away from the window her eyes following the structures that they passed. "I don't want to talk to her."
"Maggie " David pleaded, knowing that the young woman needed to talk to someone. She had hardly said anything to him since she had exited the shower nearly three hours ago.
"I don't want to talk to her right now David. I'll call her back later."
The phone stopped ringing, another voicemail surly being left. "See no use now. I'll call her back." Maggie turned to look at David for a moment, give him a reassuring small smile, before turning back towards the window.
One block down from where they currently sat at the light used to be a park that her and Frankie played at as kids. There they had met many friends. One friend that Maggie thought she would have forever. She had been wrong.
Maggie laughed, eyes closed and hands thrown up to the sky as she slid rapidly down the silver big kids slide. Frankie had been too scared to come down with her. She said she was afraid of heights, but Maggie knew better. Frankie climbed trees for fun, so it wasn't the height. It was the kids at the top of the slide just sitting there smoking. Maggie hadn't been scared. She was too excited to be scared. She had walked up the stairs with her head held high.
There were more stairs for the slide than there were to get to her classroom on the second floor of her school. She had smiled at the older kids as they looked at her. She said excuse me, like her mother taught her, and they moved out of her way without saying anything. She had stood at the top, holding onto the bar and stuck her tongue out at Frankie, teasing her sister.
Then, with a swing, she threw herself down the slide and laughed joyfully.
Instead of stopping at the bottom, her small legs being unable to touch the sand underneath the slide, she flew off the end right into another small body.
The two groaned at the initial hit as they crumbled into a mass of small limbs.
"What the hell?!" Maggie quickly jumped up at the exclamation and stood next to the boy she had knocked over.
"I'm sorry " Maggie whispered as she watched the boy get up. He was about a head taller than she was and had brown hair and green eyes.
"What's your name?" He asked tilting his head to the side.
"Maggie " Maggie never told anyone her real name, because they just laughed at her. Unless she was with her mother, then she had to say her full name.
"I'm Billy " He smiled as he dusted the sand off of his arms.
"Nice to meet you."
Billy nodded his head and bashfully smiled back, "Yeah, nice to meet you too."
Frankie walked up behind Maggie to see if she was okay. She had seen the two fall and the boy get up and tower over Maggie. If he did anything funny she was gonna kick him. No matter how much trouble she would get in with her mom.
"You okay, Mags?" Frankie asked as she looked at her sister and glared at the boy standing before them. If her sister had any scrapes or bruises her mother was going to kill her, thinking it was her idea to go down the big kids slide without her here.
"I'm okay " Maggie insisted to her sister before looking at the boy she had knocked over. "I'm really sorry "
"Your twins cool." He smiled at the two girls. "I'm a twin too."
"Really!?" Maggie asked excited. She hadn't met anyone that had a twin before. After all she was only eight.
"Yeah, but we're fat-ner-nal " Maggie raised an eyebrow as the boy had a little trouble saying the word.
"A fat a what?" Frankie asked with a bored expression.
"You know I don't look exactly like my sister cause we are fat-ner-nal."
"Oh " Maggie nodded her head, not understanding but that was okay. She'd ask her mother about it later.
"Billy are you okay?" Maggie looked up to see a concerned girl as tall as Billy rush up to him and check him over, much like Frankie had with her.
"Barbie, I'm fine."
Frankie snickered slightly at the nickname that didn't fit the brunette girl at all. Maggie smacked Frankie right in the gut causing her sister to double over slightly as she hissed. "What was that for!?" Frankie whisper yelled at her sister as she held her stomach.
"Be nice!" Maggie hissed back as she looked at her sister.
"Fine, whatever ." Frankie rolled her eyes and turned back to the siblings with a smile.
"It was an accident." Maggie supplied as she looked at the taller girl.
"Sure, you should be more careful though." The girl said with the same attitude Frankie often said things with.
Frankie looked at the girl with a smirk; she suddenly liked the girl but didn't like how she was picking on Maggie. She was the only one allowed to do that.
"Hey !" Frankie stepped up to the taller girl. "My sister said she was sorry. It was an accident. Maybe your brother should watch where he's walking."
The older girls face seemed to turn red. Billy moved towards his sister while Maggie moved quickly towards Frankie. Both siblings trying to keep their twins from becoming physical.
"I'm sorry, we are gonna go." Billy admitted sadly as he tugged on his sister's arm. "Come on Barbara!"
"That's right you better "
"Frankie!" Maggie pulled harder on her sister and brought her to the other side of the park. Once there Frankie seemed to calm down. "Forget about them, Maggie. Let's go on the swings. We have to be home soon " Frankie grabbed at her sister's arm and pulled her towards the swings forgetting all about the fat-er-nal twins.
"Maggie " David touched Maggie's shoulder and the young woman nearly jumped out of her seat.
"Oh god David ." Maggie groaned as her heart raced within her chest.
Maggie shook her head and rubbed at her eyes. "Don't do that "
"Sorry, but we're here." David pointed over his shoulder towards the shadow of the law office.
"Right " Maggie nodded as she unlatched her seat belt and stepped out from the rental car.
David shook his head and stepped out of the car, mindful to lock it as he shut his door.
This was not going well. Anyone who knew the young woman on the other side of the car could easily point this out. David wondered why he thought it would go well. The woman had lost her mother. It wasn't something that usually went smoothly.
The cardiologist sighed. He just wanted Maggie to know he was here for her. It seemed like she was willing to do this alone and he wanted her to know she didn't have to. He had tried to get through to her but it was nearly impossible to change the young med students mind.
Maggie looked up from her internal thoughts and met David's eyes. He had his own circles under his eyes and Maggie saw how strained he was becoming over this as well.
"You can talk to me you know." Maggie smiled sadly at her cousin.
"I know that."
"Then why are you so set on doing this on your own?" David questioned while slipping the keys of the rental car into his back pocket, his eyes meeting and holding Maggie's across the top of the car.
Maggie sighed, "It's not about doing this on my own." I don't want that, was left unsaid it was clear in her tone. "I just don't know how to " Maggie looked away from David, wanting to turn away from the shame of it all.
"I don't know how to ask for the help I need." Maggie admitted, her eyes fixed on the gravel under her feet.
David moved swiftly to the other side of the car and touched Maggie's shoulder gently. "You can ask me for anything I love you Maggie."
Maggie met David's compassionate eyes with tears in her own. "I " Maggie cleared her throat. "Have you ever heard the song I Dreamed a Dream?" David raised an uncertain brow, Maggie sighed again.
"It's a song my mother used to play. It's from Les Miserables. It " Maggie covered her mouth as a sob threatened to escape. "I can't I " Maggie shook her head as tears streamed down her cheeks even as she tried futilely to reign them in. "It's so hard to know to know that my dream isn't going to come true." Maggie looked up at David her hands grasping desperately at her own shirt above her heart as she met his eyes. "And I don't know what to do I just I "
David moved forward as Maggie lurched towards him. He wrapped his arms around Maggie's waist and held the young woman up as she burrowed into his shoulder and sobbed out her sorrow.
"I didn't give her the chance, David. I " Maggie shook her head as she grasped onto David's collar to keep herself on her own two feet. "I didn't pick up the phone."
David wondered who Maggie was referring to now. If this desperate sorrow and pain was alone for Gwen and their missed opportunities, or if it encompassed more than he could fully grasp.
For now it didn't matter. For now he let Maggie cry on his shoulder and held her tightly to his chest, offering the only comfort he knew he could give his embrace. He hoped the love and warmth of his embrace was enough to stave off the utter despair he knew lay waiting around the corner for this young woman. With everything he had he would make sure to help Maggie through this. He would not allow her to believe she was alone. They were all they had and he promised himself to honor that for the rest of his life.
It was twenty minutes later that the two cousins found their way into Mr. Sanderson's office. They rode the elevator in silence as Maggie attempted to compose herself using the reflective metal of the elevator doors as her mirror. David gave her a wistful smile as he kept his hand at the small of her back. The touch, apparently kept the young woman grounded.
"You ready for this?" David looked surprised at his young cousin.
"Me?" He asked turning his head to look at the petite woman.
"Yes, you." Maggie smirked at his confusion.
"What should I be ready for, Maggie?"
Maggie's eyes darkened for a moment before she looked at the closed metallic doors before her. "Just be ready."
For what, was left unsaid. He knew she wouldn't answer. He shook his head as he watched Maggie walk quickly from the elevator towards the reception desk.
"Mary Margaret Stone. I'm here to see Mr. Sanderson." Maggie introduced as she looked at the redhead sitting at the receptionists desk.
"Maggie?" Maggie's eyes widened as she turned to see the face of the voice questioning her.
"It is you!" Maggie found herself swiftly lifted into the mans arms. Maggie laughed, despite herself, as she was spun around and held tightly against the 6'4 man's chest.
"Bill " Maggie gasped, " but me down."
"Oh I'm sorry " Bill quicly deposited the woman on the floor and stepped back to look at her. It had been a long time.
"Five years has done a lot I see. What are you doing back in town? I came home and heard you left town." Bill explained as he couldn't contain the bright smile at seeing his old friend.
"I'm back in town for a little while. I um " Maggie shuffled her feet and took a deep breath, it was Bill. Bill would understand. "Gwen died."
Bill's eyes widened as he sucked in his bottom lip and bit on it. He shook his head for a moment before stepping forward at the sight of Maggie's returning tears.
Maggie laughed into Bill's solid chest as tears fell. "Just when I think I can't cry anymore."
"I'm sorry M&M "
M&M her old childhood nickname. "I am too Billy " Maggie whispered as she closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around Bill.
"No one's called me Billy in years "
"You'll always be Billy to me, no matter how old you are." Maggie informed as she pulled her head back and craned her neck to look up at the sympathetic face staring down at her.
The sound of someone's throat being cleared alerted the two old friends that they were not alone.
"Oh David, I'm sorry." Maggie pulled back from Billy's arms, using the tips of her fingers to wipe away the last of her tears.
"David this is Billy I'm sorry, this is Bill Allan. We grew up together." Maggie introduced and watched as David stepped forward to take a hold of the young man's hand. "Bill this is David Hayward."
"Oh, so you finally got snagged huh?" Bill asked, a little disappointed but by the looks of the man before him Maggie had found herself a good
"Ew, no, no Billy. David is my cousin." Maggie quickly informed.
"I take offense to that initial reaction." David informed as he met his cousin's eyes with a smile, glad to see a reflecting smile upon Maggie's face.
"Oh " Maggie and David both caught the hopeful edge to Bill's voice.
Maggie blushed slightly and looked down. Bill had always been a great guy and they had tried the relationship aspect and it hadn't worked. Though as Maggie looked at the grown man before her, grown mature two years older than herself she smiled. That was then, this could be now.
Maggie looked down; a guilt she hadn't even realized could sneak up on her crept quickly into her heart as she looked at the man. No, no this wouldn't work she knew that. She just didn't understand why. At least, she didn't think she did.
"Excuse me, Ms. Stone?" Maggie turned to the receptionist with a somewhat bright, if not slightly perplexed smile. "Mr. Sanderson will see you now."
"Maggie," Maggie turned to see Bill holding out a car. "Call me if you need anything. It was good to see you again, though I'm sorry about the circumstances."
Maggie gave her childhood friend an understanding smile, it was great to see him again. "I'll call you before I go home." Maggie promised.
"When is the funeral?" Bill asked quickly before Maggie could fully turn around.
David was already down the hall with the receptionist waiting beside a door. Maggie looked down the hall at David and waved him along. David only waited another moment before stepping into the lawyers office, three doors down the hall, Maggie made a mental note.
Maggie turned back to Bill, "It's tomorrow. There's going to be a service at "
"St. Edmunds?" Maggie raised a questioning brow. "I saw your mo" Bill stopped when Maggie's eyes slit at the term he was about to say. "I saw Gwen there a few times."
"The service is tomorrow at ten."
"I'll be there."
Maggie nodded and moved down the hallway glad to know there would be a familiar face besides David's among the crowd tomorrow.
Bill watched Maggie walk away and smiled sadly to himself before looking down at the folder he held under his arm. Back to work, he moved through the offices down to his boss' room. Hoping that if he played his cards right he might be able to keep in touch with Maggie this time around.
"Ms. Stone, I presume." Maggie inclined her head politely to the lawyer that stood from his seat at a round table and moved to take her hand.
"Mr. Sanderson " Maggie released the man's hand and moved to sit in one of the chairs that he gestured her towards.
"Let me first wish you my deepest condolences on your loss. Gwen was a wonderful woman."
Maggie had to bite her tongue to keep from replying. What did she really know about her mother anymore? What right did she have to speak ill of the dead? "I'm sure you can understand that I wish to get straight to the chase."
"Yes, of course." Mr. Sanderson sat down and frowned slightly, noticing the animosity in the young woman's stance. "It is really quite simple. Your mother has left everything to you. You are the sole beneficiary."
Maggie sighed, a part of her hoping that her mother had left something to someone else. It would just be a balm to soothe the ache she felt in her heart to know that her mother had someone in her life besides her that she loved enough to leave something behind to. Apparently, there wasn't.
"There are a few things you will need to sign. The deed to the house "
"I'll be selling it."
Mr. Sanderson's eyes widened. "I assumed you might want to "
"No." Maggie met Mr. Sanderson's eyes. "Would I need to talk to you about selling the house, or get my own lawyer?" Maggie asked as she looked over the papers Mr. Sanderson had passed down to her.
David was looking over some of the papers as well, now becoming aware it might have been a good idea to hire a lawyer.
"I can assist in you finding a real estate agent to sell the property."
"Thank you I "
"She can't sell that house."
The three occupants of the office turned to see an older gentlemen with pepered hair standing at the doorway.
"I'm sorry, this is a private "
"That house is half mine." The man exclaimed as he walked into the room. "My name is on the deed. I bought it with Gwen."
David watched as Maggie's eyes zeroed in on the man barging into their private meeting. He noticed her hands gripped tightly to the arms of her chair as her chest began to rise and fall quickly, a vein in the side of her neck pulsing as she stared at the man.
"Who are you?" David asked as he stood from his chair and moved to stand behind Maggie's, hoping his presence behind her would keep her in the chair and away from the man she looked at with murder in her eyes.
"I'm Richard Stone." The man informed as he stood in the doorway eyeing the younger man before him. David's eyes widened as he looked once more at the man standing before him. He looked nothing like Maggie. David wondered if that was because Maggie took after Gwen, he had yet to see a picture of his aunt.
Richard Stone looked at the man standing at the table beside a young woman. "Who are you?"
"I'm David Hayward, Gwen's nephew."
"Not you " Richard waved off David as he looked at the young woman. He smiled for a moment. "Mary Frances or Mary Margaret?" Richard laughed slightly, "I never could tell you two apart."
Maggie felt her heart pound against her chest in her outrage. How dare he how dare he show up.
"Get out." Maggie hissed as she met Richard Stone's eyes.
"Excuse me?" He looked taken aback by her anger.
"I said get out "
"How dare you " Richard sputtered as he stepped forward.
David moved to stand between Richard and Maggie but quickly realized Maggie was more than capable of standing up for herself.
Maggie hit her hands against the wooden table as she stood up with such force and speed that the chair flew backward and landed on its side. "How dare you!" Maggie moved towards the man that had abandoned her and her family when she was only four years old. "How dare you show up here. What right do you have to show up now!? Seventeen years later? Get out "
"I have every "
"You have NO right to be here!" Maggie pointed her finger at her father and pulled out of David's grasp as her cousin tried to hold her back. "You abandoned us all seventeen years ago. You have no rights here."
"That's half my house "
Maggie wondered if the man before her was deaf or stupid. Did he not realize she was willing to draw blood? Did he not understand the rage she felt boiling inside of her at his betrayal.
"No, I'm afraid not Mr. Stone." Mr. Sanderson interjected. "The deed was revised after you had disappeared for five years. Gwen paid the mortgage off and the property taxes independently for seventeen years. It is legally her home. After she finished paying off the mortgage she was able to revise the deed on the property. You have no legal standing here. Now, I suggest you leave."
Maggie watched as two large men walked into the room both wearing suits and menacing looks. Maggie couldn't help the smirk that formed.
"This isn't right " Richard interjected even as he 'allowed' the two security guards to show him out.
Once he was gone and the door closed David moved towards Maggie. Her entire body was shaking, he noticed her fisted hands and how she could hardly catch her breath.
"Maggie, why don't you come sit down "
"I that man he " Maggie shook as she eyed the door as if she could still see her bastardly father standing there demanding rights to a house he had abandoned as well as the people that dwelled in it seventeen years ago.
"Here " David led Maggie back to the table and another chair, picking up the one Maggie had knocked over in her rage once she was seated.
"I'm sorry about that, he shouldn't have been "
"No, he shouldn't have been. How did he even know?" Maggie asked aloud as she felt tears slide down her cheeks.
Maggie didn't even attempt to wipe them away not that she could even if she wanted to. Her hands seemed to be inert as they held onto the arms of her chair tight enough to leave her knuckles white.
"That would be my fault. I was required to send letters your mother wrote to several people as well as a notification that she had passed on. It was part of her last will and testament that they be mailed. Unfortunately Mr. Stone was one of those people." Mr. Sanderson explained as he looked down and watched as the young man that had accompanied Ms. Stone hand her a bottle of water.
"She knew where he was?" Maggie asked aloud, her eyes unfocused as they stared straight ahead.
It didn't make sense, if she knew where he was why hadn't she tried to get in touch with him? Why hadn't she told her that she knew where he was? Did it even matter? Maggie wasn't sure if it did or not. He had left them all. Maggie had been mad at him for leaving while Frankie blamed Gwen. Maggie never blamed Gwen, not even after all the years of taking care of her. Maggie had always placed the blame on Richard because he had been the one to quit. He had left his family and never come back.
Maggie saw Gwen, when she was little, crying in bed. She heard her mother cry for him. She couldn't blame Gwen, not when she had stayed. She hadn't left them too.
"Who else did she send letters to?" David asked as he sat down next to Maggie, noticing that she was staring off into space attempting to comprehend all that had just happened.
"I'm afraid that I "
"Who else did she send letters to?" Maggie asked, turning her head towards her mother's lawyer. "I have a right to know. I need to know."
"By law "
"By law you can tell me who she sent those letters to because she's dead. Unless she made you sigh a "
Maggie shook her head at David and turned pleading eyes on Mr. Sanderson. "Please, I just want to know if it's someone I should be looking for as well."
"I can only give you this " Mr. Sanderson picked up an envelope and slid it across the table. "She wrote that to you. She told me it has all the answers you could be looking for."
Maggie nodded her head and quickly moved to open the letter. Her blue eyes quickly scanning across the page.
Sadly, if you are reading this letter it is because I was unable to find the courage I needed to tell you about several things. I am sorry for that my dear. I never wanted to leave you with questions and no available answers.
Somehow Maggie knew that her mother had changed, if only because she had enough sense to write her a letter telling her the truth. Telling her all she needed to know, Maggie hoped. The woman she had come to know during her later adolescent years would not have been so kind or intelligent enough to do something like this.
First and foremost I wanted to tell you how sorry I am for all the pain that I caused you. I lost myself for so long that I didn't know how to begin to find myself again. I hurt you and I hurt your sister and for that I will be eternally sorry. I am not writing this hoping or asking for your forgiveness because I do not deserve it. I am writing this letter so that you can finally be told the truth.
Maggie looked at the letter curiously, the truth? What had she been lied to about?
The door to the office once again opened. This time three new occupants slipped into the room. One was trying desperately to keep the other two from entering the room.
"Excuse me, Mr. Sanderson, I'm sorry sir I couldn't stop them."
David stood from his seat and wondered what those two brutish looking men were good for it they continued to let uninvited guests into these offices.
It's about your father.
Maggie looked up from her letter to see the receptionist moving into the room beside two men. Maggie looked up at the two men standing in the doorway and sighed.
Didn't they know she was busy trying to find out what her mother had kept from her about her
"Ryan!?" Maggie exclaimed as she noticed the young man standing in the room.
"Maggie!?" Ryan seemed as equally surprised to see her standing before him.
"Should I call security, sir?" The receptionist asked from the edge of the room.
Mr. Sanderson seeing the recognition between the two guests waved off the young woman with what he hoped was a calming smile. Today was just getting all the more interesting as this meeting continued.
"What are you doing here?" Maggie looked around the room wondering what in the world was going on. She looked to David and saw his confusion at the intrusion and the intruder.
Maggie looked away from Ryan's face to look at the older gentlemen, with long white hair, that Ryan was holding up. The man was leaning heavily on a cane and seemed out of breath. He looked ill and Maggie felt a wave of compassion swiftly move through her.
"Yes, how do you know my name?" Maggie tilted her head to the side in question as she looked at the man. There was something familiar about him, she just couldn't place it.
The man smiled brightly and looked as if he were about to cry.
"Sir, are you alright?" Maggie asked as she stepped forward, seeing how uneasy the gentleman was on his feet even while being held up by Ryan's strong arms.
Maggie quickly grabbed a chair from the table and moved it closer to the intruding older gentleman and watched as Ryan helped him sit in the chair.
"Ryan what is going on?" Maggie asked of the young man she'd met while in Pine Valley.
"I wish I knew " Ryan shook his head. He really did wish he knew.
"Maggie can you "
Maggie nodded as she moved towards Mr. Sanderson's bar to grab another bottle of water while David went to help the man.
"Sir, can you tell me what's wrong?" David asked as he kneeled before the chair while taking a hold of his hand. His pulse was raising and sweat was breaking out across his skin.
"He has a heart condition." Ryan informed from where he was standing behind his employer.
"I'm fine " The impatience behind his words would have angered David had it not been for the breathless way in which he was forced to speak.
"Here, please let David help you. He's a doctor."
Ryan snorted and both David and Maggie glared at the man from where they were kneeling before his friend.
Maggie gasped when she looked up at the gentleman and saw him staring at her intently. It was slightly unnerving, but there was nothing sinister in the way he was looking at her. It was almost as if he was looking at her reverently, lovingly.
"You're just as beautiful as your mother." Maggie's eyes widened as she stepped back from the man sitting in the chair, who watched her every move.
"You knew my you knew Gwen?" Maggie asked her posture tensing as she eyed the man suspiciously.
"I did. I knew her very well, a long time ago."
David looked between the man sitting before him and his standing cousin. He found something strikingly familiar about the man but couldn't tell what.
"Oh how long ago?" Maggie asked curiously, wondering how he even knew about her mother. She didn't recognize him well enough to put him in any of her memories.
He was a stranger. He was a strange man that she had never seen before.
It was discomforting to know she had never met the man before her but he knew her and her mother and looked so very familiar.
"I " He seemed hesitant to speak about how long ago he knew Gwen. Maggie caught it and wondered why her heart was not sitting at the base of her throat waiting for the moment to jump right out.
"Your mother sent me a letter " As if needing Maggie to see the proof he pulled out the envelope with her mother's handwriting on it. "She wanted me to come."
Maggie nodded and looked to meet David's eyes as well as Ryan's. The way everyone was staring at her made her nervous, she leaned back with one foot stretched behind her as if she were going to take a step back. Her arms were crossed over her chest as she looked at the three men in front of her and her eyes landed on the man sitting before her.
"Why would she want you to come?" Maggie asked the question she figured everyone but Mr. Ill Gentleman wanted answered.
"She wanted you and me to meet." His voice was soft and gentle and Maggie wondered if he always spoke like that. The sound was comforting and the look in his eyes inviting and hopeful.
This confused Maggie. Her arms tightened around herself as she did take a step back from the familiar looking stranger.
"Why .?" Maggie felt her breath catch in her throat. Something telling her she already knew why.
"Because " This is where he seemed to falter.
"I think it's time to get you to a hospital." David interjected as he noticed how his unintentional patient flinched in pain.
"Who are you?" Maggie pushed her voice firm and demanding even as she stood halfway across the room.
"My name is Alexander " He began again as he took a deep breath and looked right across the room into Maggie's deep blue eyes.
Maggie gasped as her heart raced in her chest. Those eyes .it was like looking in a mirror.
Maggie's hand quickly shot up to her mouth as she shook her head in denial.
I am writing this letter so that you can finally be told the truth.
It's about your father.
She didn't even need Alexander to continue. Her mother's words in the letter enough. The identical eyes staring back at her were enough.
But somehow even knowing the truth without him saying it he revealed something she had never expected as well.
" .Alexander Cambias." All present seemed unwilling to believe this turn of events. "I'm your father."
It had been decades since he had heard the name. Twenty plus years it had been since he had last seen her.
Gwen Bennett, the woman that had captured his married heart all those years ago. She had been young and full of life. She had such hopes for life and a smile that could light up a room. Her sense of humor was quick and sharp just like her tongue should she need to use it to verbally assault someone. Her wisdom, even at her young age, had astounded him. Wise beyond her years, far wiser then he was at the ripe age of 19.
Old man, it had begun. An odd term of endearment but when he knew about the twelve year age gap, it wasn't something he found insulting. Not from her, not from Gwen.
I understand that you may be confused. I don't blame you. I've written this letter to you so many times over the years. At first I wanted to write to tell you how you could never come back. I wanted to be cruel and vicious.
He knew she could never be cruel or vicious. Not his Gwen, not her. There was a light in her that nothing could touch. He was sure of it. Yet, as he read the letter he found that the light that had shown so brightly in his lovely Gwyneth had dimmed. Dimmed, how such a vibrant light as hers had dimmed he soon became aware of as he continued to read the letter.
Then, I wanted to write you to beg you to come back but I couldn't. For your sake and for my own. Now though, things are different. I never did send you those letters. I never did call you to tell you. That is my fault. I thought that it would be better this way.
A part of him wished that she had written him. He couldn't say what he would have done but he imagined that he would have found the happiness he had only ever dreamed about. That life did not involve his deceased wife, but rather a smiling five foot four strawberry blonde with an hourglass figure and legs that went on for days.
Watching Gwen grow older, mature in new ways, grow wiser than could be imagined, that was a sight he would have loved to see. He imagined he would have rushed back to her, forsaken his duties and lived a long and happy life with Gwen. But her letters never came and she never called and his life had been long and hard and cold.
You were married, had your own child. I was involved and looking at a bright future away from the pit we met in, here in Green Bay. You were a businessman with expensive suits and tabs. I was a waitress at a local bar making ends meet and saving up for a college future I would never get to live.
It pained him. It truly did hurt him to know she never got the chance to live her dream. Never got to go away to college and get out of Green Bay. She had wanted to become a teacher.
He knew she had the brains for it. She certainly had the smile and enthusiasm to be a teacher. Sadly, after all this time, even when thinking about it at length, he could not remember if it had been high school English or college.
Shortly after you left Richard proposed. We were married in October.
Richard was the son of a butcher. He couldn't offer Gwen what he could. He knew this, but she had married him. Richard and Gwen had been dating for two years before he had come along. Richard was the man that apparently got to live out his fantasy life.
Even now, he knew that if he could he would trade places with Richard.
After everything, all the places he had gone, people he had met, he would give it all up to be in Richard's shoes. To have lived a life with Gwen in a small town, college town, big cityanywhere she wanted, where she taught at the local high school or college would have made him happy.
He was a smart man. He could have made things work anywhere. He would have gone anywhere Gwen wanted. Had she asked him for the moon he would have gladly gotten it for her. He loved her so, even now.
Living with Gwen would have saved him from becoming the cold man he was now. Of this he was sure. Her warmth would have kept this ice that surrounded his heart from forming.
Six months later I gave birth to twin girls.
He clenched the letter tighter in his hands.
Richard got the life he wanted with Gwen and the children he had only ever dreamed of having with her. Richard got to touch, kiss, and make love with Gwen.
They had children together. They got to raise those children together.
He had his own children, his sons but he had always wanted a little girl.
I wanted to make things work with Richard. As quickly as you had come into my life you were gone. We spent four wonderful months together. The most beautiful summer of my life. A summer fling was sadly all it had become. You never returned and I never tried to contact you.
I should have. For what little it is worth, I am sorry that I never did contact you. Sadly, as I write this letter I am in one of my sober moments. It has been three months since I have had any alcohol.
An alcoholic. Is that how life had treated her? Was life with Richard so horrible that she had to retreat to the bottle? Could he condemn her for such an act when he too had turned to the same substance?
Richard and I are no longer together. We have not been since the girls were four. He left us. He left me. I could not be the wife he wanted. He couldn't be here and live life with a woman that did not love him and raise twin girls
He wanted to strangle the man. Richard Stone, he would find him and cause him pain. He left Gwen alone to raise their children by herself. She would have only been twenty four at the oldest. Twins ! By herself! He would kill the man.
I decided that it is time to tell you. I had no right to hide it for so long. I hope you can understand that I saw no other choice and when I did it was too late. I had lost myself so completely that my own children did not recognize me.
He would. He knew in the deepest recesses of his heart, where the last remnants of warmth remained, that he would recognize her.
Richard left me because he could not stay and raise children that were not his. He loved me, but as time wore on he saw that I did not love him. I was destined to pine away for a man that I could never have.
I gave my heart so completely to you that summer that I had nothing left to give any other man that tried to win it. My heart was already taken, kept in the pocket of your expensive suit or briefcase. I wanted to tell you. I did, but I couldn't risk it, couldn't risk the rejection or spiteful words.
This killed him.
His children? Gwen had been pregnant with his girls? Their twin girls? He was the father of her children. She had raised their children alone.
He shook his head as a single tear fell from his eye. He had not cried since he was a teenager and his mother died. Now, he was an old man. He was so old that his own body was dying on him. Here, now, this is what he cried.
Gwen had never loved another. She had loved him. She still loved him. He was being given his chance now. His chance to be with the woman that still held his own heart, ice though it may be, after all these years.
They had to talk.
He needed to meet his daughters. They would be about twenty one now. Grown women, beautiful women, he had no doubt.
I wish I had told you sooner. I don't know what you would have done. Perhaps offer to pay me for my silence. I'd like to think that you would have returned to Green Bay to meet your daughters. Now, I will not be given the chance to know because I could not suffer the pain of your rejection.
He would have returned. He would not pay for her silence. Not her, god how he wanted her to know that. She was the only woman he truly loved with his whole heart.
I believe now, if I had been rejected by you, that I could have moved on. That my life would be different. That I would look in the mirror and see a woman I recognize, but I can't. When I look in the mirror all I see standing before me is a stranger. Someone that I don't know, or want to know stands there staring back at me. It scares me.
He knew what it was like to look in the mirror and wonder who was staring back.
He wondered if he could show her who she once was. He wondered if they could show each other who they once had been.
I do not blame you. I will not blame anyone for my own actions. I have to take responsibility. That is what they say at AA meetings. There is a lot that you do not know and there is too much for me to tell you in one letter. I must tell you this though, should you care to know. Our daughters' names are Mary Francis and Mary Margaret.
He felt his breath catch. She had named them after his mother and sister.
They prefer to be called by their nicknames, Frankie and Maggie. They were beautiful children. A handful I'll have you know. Frankie always had a way of pulling Maggie along into all kinds of adventures. The adventures often led to Maggie coming home with a scraped shin or bruised limb and at the worst led her to the emergency room with a broken leg and arm.
He felt laughter bubble up. Mirth he had not felt in years overtaking him at the imagined image of twin girls with strawberry blonde hair running amuck around the neighborhood.
Handfuls they sure were. He wondered how she had handled it. Had the bottle always been there to comfort her? Or had something changed? Was it something drastic that lead her to find comfort in the burning sensation of liquor as it slid down her throat?
He knew his, now he wondered what hers had been.
I was not always a bad mother. My girls did love me, once upon a time. I like to believe that they never stopped loving me, but learned to hate the stranger I became; the monster that I turned into after I turned to the bottle. I can't tell you when I turned to the bottle more than I should. I wish I could for myself but I can't.
I don't know when I started to drink just a little too much, or convinced myself that it was okay to drink so early in the morning, or I was only hiding my flask because I didn't want to share. I don't know when I thought it would be okay to come home so intoxicated that I couldn't take care of my own children.
He noticed water stains upon the paper and felt his heart clench. Gwen felt such pain over the pain she caused her own children that she couldn't sit and write to him about it without tears.
I don't know when I thought it would be okay to touch my children in anger and violence. It is a curse to live with knowing I was the one to hit my kids and give them the bruises that marred their skin but not remember why or when.
The reaches of alcohol had claimed her more fully then they had him. Yet, he had not been an ideal father either. He had missed games, recitals, practices. He had missed birthdays and holidays. His excuse had been work. Traveling for the job, to give them a better life, but he had missed so muchtoo much.
Then when he was home he was mean and cold and distant. He could not accuse Gwen of anything. He too had found himself responsible for a bruise or two on his sons.
He understood why his son never wanted to see him. Never called, why should his son make the effort he never had?
I tried to stop several times. I did stop several times, but then things would get too hard and I couldn't stay on the wagon. I tried, lord does know I tried. I'm trying now. I have no choice.
You see I lost my daughters love to alcohol. I promised myself that I would get better so that I could win their love back, deserve their love and trust. They both left home long before I could prove myself to them. Now, I won't get the chance with Frankie.
Why? Why wouldn't she get the chance?
Frankie was murdered two years ago. She was nineteen.
It was a few hours before he could finish reading Gwen's letter. He suffered from extreme chest pain. The doctors feared it was a heart attack. He feared it was his heart breaking clean in half. It hurt as if it were.
When he had been left alone again he had returned to the letter. He needed to know. He had to know!
Frankie had fallen in with the wrong crowd. She was shot and killed by a drug lord. She had a knack for getting herself (and Maggie) into trouble. Maggie was in school. She left to find and bring Frankie's killer to justice. I haven't spoken to or seen Maggie in nearly three years. She left for school when she was 18 and never came back.
Frankie, I had not seen her since she was 16. She left home in the middle of the night and I never heard from her again. I lost my chance with Frankie, so I've sworn that I would not lose it with Maggie. I've tried to contact her. She's in her first year of med school at Pine Valley University, she wants to be a doctor.
He could feel Gwen's pride radiating from the letter as well as her sorrow. The stains left by the tears that fell from Gwen's eyes scarred the paper.
I understand why Maggie does not want to talk to me or see me. I do, I cannot blame her.
I thought that if I got in touch with you that perhaps I could right two wrongs with one stone. Maggie deserves to know who her father is. To know that he did not leave her, that you did not know she even existed. It will not garner me any points, I can assure you. But she deserves to know who you are, who I once was. I know this is a great deal to take in. I apologize for that. I do hope that you will understand that I am not trying to get anything from you. I just want my daughter to have someone, to have family.
So, please old man, make one last stop at the Bay bar before moving on.
It took him a moment to realize that there was another page behind the two handwritten sheets of paper. It was computer paper, standard issue, and professional. He glanced at the page and closed his eyes tightly after scanning the paper.
I extend my deepest regret as I now must inform you that Gwyneth Stone has died.
"No no no ." Alexander Cambias shook his head back and forth as he gripped the paper tightly in his grasp, the words blurring as his eyes teared and the paper crumbled in his hands.
"Sir ?" The business mogul looked up to see the worried eyes of the young man that had taken to him rather quickly.
Ryan Lavery. He was a young man with troubles. Troubles that stemmed from women. He had warned the boy about women, had been giving him advice as he lay in this hospital bed after a heart attack struck him in the middle of the desert.
Ryan had been passing by on his motorcycle and had stopped to find out if he was alright, his car pulled to the side of the road as he fumbled with the small cell phone.
"I need to leave."
"But sir your doctors "
The hospital was full of doctors talking out their asses about statistics and giving percentiles. They didn't know the first thing about real percentiles and what changes he had. They were unaware of the strength a dying man could find in himself when one of his children was in need.
"Sir, you can't do this."
He glared at the young slip of a boy standing before him. This young man did not know who he was, what he was capable of, and he would prove it to all of them. He would show them what he was capable of.
He was sick of people telling him what he could and couldn't do. Damnit he deserved better. He should have all of their jobs for being such insolent pups.
This was his choice. He was not about to stay here a minute longer. Not now, not after reading the letter he still held tightly in his grasp.
"Ryan, I suggest you give me my cell phone. I have calls to make."
Ryan sighed and did as he was asked. "Can I ask why?" Ryan questioned as he handed Alexander his cell phone.
"A friend has died."
It was all he would give. He didn't know how to say the rest. How did one tell anyone that their children had been hidden from him? Kept from him by the love of his life? It didn't seem like a nice conversation to have and he didn't need to be bothered with finding the right words.
"Yes Tom, I need the jet ready."
Ryan's eyes widened at the mention of a jet. Private jet? How rich were these Cambias men?
"Green Bay, Wisconsin. An hour. No Tom, an hour. Get it done." With that he hung up and looked at the young man still gawking at him.
"Well don't just stand there. I need my clothes."
"Oh " Ryan jumped into action. "Right ."
" .Alexander Cambias." All present seemed unwilling to believe this turn of events. "I'm your father."
"Oh god " Maggie shook her head rapidly from side to side, closing her eyes as she did so. As if closing her eyes would allow her the grace to be uninformed of her parentage.
"I'm going to be "
Maggie ran towards the only garbage pail in the room and heaved.
This was not possible. It couldn't be. Then Maggie remembered her mother's letter, her own words. The way that her eyes were looking into themselves as she stared at that man.
Maggie felt a hand touch her back as she heaved into the trash can.
"It's okay Maggie " It was Ryan, but what did he know?
What did he know about this? It was going to be okay? Did he not know what this meant for her?
Maggie stood away from the garbage and kept her eyes closed as dizziness overcame her. There went the only food she had eaten in the last 48 hours.
"Here ." Mr. Sanderson stood looking guilty as he offered her a bottle of water and wet cloth.
"Thank you " Maggie took the offered items and regained her bearings. Holding the wet cloth at the back of her neck as she chugged some of the water wishing it was something so much stronger.
"Maggie, I'm sorry, but I really have to get Mr. Cambias here to the hospital." David informed from his position by her fath .Mr. Cambais' side.
"No, I need to stay here " Mr. Cambias eyed the man standing behind him angrily. "I'm fine."
"No, you're not." David informed gravely.
"Do you have a wheelchair?" David asked of Mr. Sanderson who moved over to the telephone and got in touch with someone within the building.
"One will be here in three minutes."
"Three minutes "
Maggie looked for the first time over her shoulder to see that Mr. Cambias was still looking at her. She shivered. No this was not possible.
"I hope you'll understand why when we get to the hospital I am going to request a paternity test." Maggie informed the man as she turned to him.
That would do it. Maggie smiled internally. That would prove that he was mistaken.
Maggie could hear her heartbeat in her ears and was surprised to hear it begin to fade.
She couldn't be related to that man she couldn't be related to that monster she not after it just it couldn't
Everything went black.
The sound of a monitor whining as it followed her heartbeat was the first thing Maggie saw as she opened her eyes. Her head was swimming and it felt as if she had a construction crew jack hammering at her skull.
"Ugh " Maggie groaned as she brought her hand up to her head and felt a slight sting.
Her eyes looked at her hand and saw she had an IV attached to her, with another groan Maggie turned to look around the room.
It was dark but she could make out that it was a shared room. There was someone in the bed across from hers. In the darkness Maggie couldn't make out if it was a man or a woman but right now she didn't care.
What happened? How did she get here? What time was it?
She had places to be and things to take care of. She couldn't be here right now. Gwen's wake .
"Calm down "
Maggie shifted her eyes towards the bed across from her.
"Your heart monitor spiked. There's nothing to be afraid of."
Maggie wondered why that voice sounded so familiar and almost comforting.
"I have places to be." Maggie informed as she pulled out her own IV, wincing as she did so. "I can't be here." Maggie threw her legs over the bed and moved to stand. Within seconds she was sitting back on the bed holding her head. A wave of dizziness overtook her. "Whoa "
"You're just as stubborn as she is " then the tone fell and Maggie imagined that the man was frowning. " was."
"Who?" Maggie asked as her head continued to swim about in fantasy worlds where lollipops grew on trees and bushes were made of ice cream.
What was the last thing she remembered?
She and David in the parking lot before going to see Mr. Sanderson wait no that wasn't right.
She had seen Billy! Billy had been leaving the offices as she was going in. They had been talking to Mr. Sanderson when she and David were interrupted by her
Maggie's eyes narrowed into the darkness at the imagined vision of Richard Stone.
Maggie turned her head like a shot towards the other bed in the room. She regretted it soon after as her head swam like the fishes again.
"You knew my mother?"
His answer was a laugh. This wasn't helping her get any answers.
"Who are you?" Maggie tried again.
The man chuckled from his side of the room and moved to turn on a light because before Maggie could voice any more questions the light on his side of the room filled the area.
Maggie's eyes took a few moments to adjust to the light and once they did she noticed the long white hair and compassionate blue eyes.
Maggie felt sick to her stomach.
Everything quickly came back to her as she looked into Mr. Cambais' blue eyes.
"Oh god..." Maggie bent over, attempting to put her head between her legs as she tried to remain calm.
"You should have left that IV in. They were giving you fluids." Mr. Cambias scolded, as if he had a right to.
Maggie took a deep breath and stood from her bed this time not needing to fall back onto it. "Fluids for what?" Maggie asked as she looked around the room for her shoes.
"You were dehydrated. Dr. Hayward asked them to put you on something to help."
Maggie shot the sickly man a look over her shoulder as she bent over to pick up her shoes.
"David asked them?"
Sounded just like him, but if she had been admitted she would have had an ID bracelet on. It was protocol. Looking at her wrist Maggie knew she hadn't been admitted as it was bare.
Then again, this was Dr. David Hayward, world renowned cardiologist, she was sure he could get anyone to bend a few rules if it meant he owed them a favor.
"Yes, we were all quiet worried about you."
Meaning David and Ryan and him.
"Why would you care?" Maggie spat out as she sat heavily down on her bed and slipped on her shoe.
He sighed, expecting this kind of reaction. "You're my daughter."
Maggie pointed a finger at him and her face formed into a sneer. "No, don't you say that. Don't even think about it. My mother " Maggie closed her eyes as she allowed the term to wash over her. "My mother would have told me. She wouldn't have lied like that "
Oh, how Maggie wanted that to be true.
"No!" Maggie shook her head as she glared at the man lying across from her. "I have places to be. I wish you well and would appreciate it if I never see you again."
Maggie moved towards the door without a glance back at her 'father'. She didn't need a father. She had been living without one for seventeen years what were the next sixty plus years?
"I'm dying ."
Maggie's hand stopped cold on the door handle. Her eyes squeezing shut as she let her chin fall to her chest.
All she had to do was walk out this door. All she had to do was open the door and walk outside.
That was all! She could pretend like she hadn't heard that and that. She could ignore that there was a distinct possibility that the man behind her was actually her father and he was dying.
It wouldn't be hard. She had ignored impassioned pleas from her loved ones before. That fact alone gave her pause as she stared at her own reflection in the door. She could hardly look at herself in the reflection now. If she was to ignore his plea, and he was her father, she would never be able to look at herself again, she was sure.
Maggie released the door knob but remained by the door her shoulders shaking as the hand that had been on the doorknob now covered her mouth.
Tears seemed to be the only constant in her life these last few days. Tears and pain.
After a few minutes of only listening to her own stifled sobs and the beeping of Alexander's heart monitor Maggie turned away from the door. She kept her eyes fixated anywhere but the man lying before her.
Maggie would not walk away again. She couldn't deal with more guilt upon her soul. It would crush her. Even if this man was not her father he had no one.
Michael Cambias was dead! Maggie felt her nails cut into the palm of her hand. That bastard was dead and couldn't hurt anyone ever again!
Maggie sighed. She would wait until she found out the results of the blood test.
Then then she would go from there.
"Did they run the blood ?"
"It came back as a match." He informed from his bed, Maggie shook her head as she caught sight of his smile.
"How can you be happy?" Maggie asked her voice rough as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"I don't expect you to understand " He informed as he shook his head his smile growing wider. " but I thought I would have outlived all of my children."
Maggie felt a pang of remorse for the man. Not for the loss of his youngest son, never for that, even now knowing he had been her half-brother. It was the thought of outliving all of his children that Maggie felt remorse for him.
"Do you know I was a "
"Twin, yes your mothers letter "
Maggie heard and watched as his face faltered and he shook his head and covertly wiped at his eyes. It made her relax somewhat. At least she wouldn't have to tell him about Frankie. That might have been too much.
Alexander noticed he was getting through, Maggie's stance seemed slightly more relaxed then it had been moments before. Seeing this he plowed forward.
"I loved your mother. I loved her a great deal and it pained me to leave her. Had I known that she was pregnant with you and your sister I "
"You would have what? Left your wife? You were already married. Had two children! You would have left them to marry my nineteen year old mother? Really? What would the press have thought of you then?"
Maggie had done her homework on Michael and his past.
"Yes, I would have. If she had contacted me, just once, I would have returned to her. The press be damned!" His face went from forceful conviction to a look of shame. "I wasn't in love with my wife. At one time yes perhaps we were in love. But that love dried up quicker than either of us could imagine."
Maggie shook her head but listened nonetheless.
"Then I met your mother on a business trip and " He smiled so bright Maggie actually felt compelled to believe him for a moment. Believe that he loved her mother enough to leave his first wife for her teenaged mother, but only for a moment. " and everything changed for me."
"I find it hard to believe that a powerful man such as yourself wouldn't know that you had two other children in the world "
Alexander Cambias laughed. He didn't know what else to do. The young woman, his daughter, stood before him looking so much like her mother it was uncanny. The resemblance, the way the young woman was nearly a carbon copy of her mother except for her eyes. Her big blue eyes, his eyes, stared back at him.
"What is so funny?" Maggie seethed, the man was laughing at her. Laughing!
"You are so much like your mother."
Immediately Maggie clammed up and Alexander realized that might not have been the right thing to say.
"I am nothing li "
"David, I need to see her !"
Maggie's eyes widened as she spun towards the now opening door. Maggie looked between the door and the man lying in bed further into the room.
Oh no Maggie thought as she moved forward and threw the door open startling the two standing on the other side.
Bianca's smile was like a soothing balm to the tatters that was everything about Maggie's life.
"Maggie " The younger woman moved forward, pushing passed a stunned David Hayward and wrapped the shorter woman in her arms.
Maggie sighed as she rested her head on Bianca's shoulder and subtly stepped further out of the room and closed the door behind her. It was almost frightening how comforting being in Bianca's arms was.
Bianca stepped away from Maggie so she could look her up and down. To make sure she was actually alright. She kept her hands lightly on Maggie's forearms as she gave her the once over before she met her friends eyes with a calming smile.
"Oh I was so worried. I got in and David said they needed to bring you to the hospital after your father showed up at the reading of your mothers will " Bianca shook her head in sympathy for her friend.
Maggie realized that David was shaking his head over Bianca's shoulder.
It quickly became apartment that Bianca was unaware of the change in her paternal figure.
"I'm so sorry, that must have been very difficult."
"I " Maggie cleared her throat. "It was."
So was this, Maggie thought. What in the world was she going to tell Bianca?
"David, what time is it?" Maggie asked as she looked at her cousin
"It's nearly seven." David looked at his watch and saw that Maggie's color was back, if only slightly.
"My mother's wake "
David reeled for a moment at the term. In all their time here Maggie had not yet referred to Gwen as her mother, just Gwen.
"Yes, we were just coming to get you. I've already arranged for the discharge." David informed shaking off his surprise.
"Bianca how did you get here?" Maggie asked, acutely aware that they still stood outside Alexander's room in Wisconsin, not Pine Valley Hospital.
"David picked me up from the airport." Bianca explained with a small smile as she brought her hand up to Maggie's cheek.
It was easy to see how truly affected Maggie was by all of this. Her eyes were blood shot and her color was not as vibrant as it usually was. Her voice was flat where it usually was full of spunk and her stance was tense and unsure. It was as if she were uncomfortable in her own skin.
Maggie leaned into Bianca's touch and brought both of her hands up to hold the younger woman's hand there. It was so warm. Maggie was hesitant to admit it but she had been so cold the last few days. She sighed at the contact and groaned in frustration when tears silently tracked down her face.
Bianca shook her head gently at the woman before her. She brought her other hand up to Maggie's other cheek and gingerly wiped away the tears that fell from her eyes. All Bianca needed to do was open her arms and Maggie nearly threw herself into them.
Bianca was uncertain how long they stood like this, Maggie snuggled into her neck as she cried for her loss. Bianca would have stood here in this moment for eternity. To have Maggie in her arms the older woman trusting her with her fears and pain. Bianca treasured Maggie's trust and friendship and her friend's devotion to her. Now it was her turn to return the favor, she would be here for Maggie like Maggie had been there for her all this time. She knew she couldn't be anywhere else. Not when Maggie was hurting.
Bianca placed a lasting kiss to the top of Maggie's head and closed her eyes tightly at the pain her friend was experiencing.
"Bianca " David placed a hand on the young woman's shoulder. " would you mind bringing the car around?" At Bianca's obvious hesitation to leave Maggie, David explained. "I'd like to check Maggie over one last time before we leave."
Bianca watched as Maggie pulled away from her and gave her a sad smile. It wasn't comforting but she knew that David needed to talk to Maggie. Hell, she needed to talk to Maggie.
Now that she was here she was going to make sure that Maggie didn't skip out on any meals during the day. Bianca touched Maggie's shoulder and squeezed reassuringly before she took David's keys and went to get the car.
Maggie and David watched as Bianca made her way down the hallway. It wasn't until they could no longer see her that Maggie turned to David, eyes full of new tears.
"David what am I going to do?" Maggie's desperation for an answer to her questions present in her plea.
"What did he tell you?" David asked as he looked hard at the door behind his cousin's shoulder.
"The blood test "
David sighed, "It came back with "
Maggie pinched the bridge of her nose. "Is he my father?" Maggie didn't want all of the medical terms she just wanted an answer. She trusted David to be accurate about this.
"Yes, he's your father."
Maggie took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she nodded her head.
"I um is he " Maggie looked down at the floor for a moment before meeting David's eyes. "Is he going to die?"
David frowned, "It's not looking good."
Maggie nodded her head and laughed bitterly. "I don't know how to handle this David."
"We can handle it however you want. No one has to know."
"By no one we mean Bianca."
Maggie nodded her head as she turned her head towards her father's room. "I'll um give me a few minutes?" Maggie asked as she moved back towards the door.
David stepped up towards her, afraid to leave her alone for whatever she was about to do. "Are you sure?"
"Come in and get me if I stay in there longer than ten minutes."
David nodded and stepped back, looking down at his watch. "Ten minutes."
Maggie smiled and thanked him before closing the door behind her.
Once back inside the room Maggie noticed that Alexander had his head turned away from the door. His breathing was somewhat labored and Maggie tried not to feel anything towards the man before her.
She cleared her throat as she moved into the room, his head immediately turning to look at her.
"I didn't expect you to come back." He informed with a sad smile.
"Yeah, well, turns out your family. I don't want to leave you alone to " Maggie's throat closed in on her as she found she couldn't continue.
"Die " He laughed sadly as he turned more fully to look at his daughter. "It's alright. I've come to peace with it."
"You have?" Maggie asked skeptically.
"Well " Alexander sighed. "No." He looked up at Maggie with a sad smile. "I had. I had come to terms with it. Accepted that it was my time. Now," He shook his head as he looked up at the ceiling. "Now I wish I had a god to pray to for more time. I'd have loved to know you."
Maggie's breath caught slightly and she refused to let herself cry. She quickly moved away from this subject. She was too emotionally drawn to handle this last shot at her heart. She needed just a little more time. Let her burry her mother before she had to worry about burying her newly discovered father.
"Your son " My brother, she still had a hard time accepting that news.
"Michael " Alexander supplied while Maggie felt an anger course through her at his name.
"He hurt someone "
Alexander shook his head while simultaneously nodding it. "Ms. Montgomery. I've I sent her "
"Money won't fix what he did to her!" Maggie fumed as she glared at the business mogul.
"I know. I " He looked down at his hands and was shocked to see his fingers fiddling with the blanket. He hadn't fiddled with anything since he was a lad. "I didn't know what else I could give her. I wrote her an apology. I I wanted her to know that what he did was wrong and although he was acquitted I did not " He looked up at Maggie with drawn eyes, dark circles under his eyes, his skin grey. "I am sorry for what he did. I know that doesn't change anything. I do, I just, wanted her to know I would help her."
Maggie didn't know what to say. She stood frozen before Alexander Cambias' sincere apology for the pain his son had caused.
"You you live in Pine Valley." He suddenly spoke up. "Are you close with her?"
Maggie saw a slight hiccup in her plan form. He knew where she lived. She hadn't wanted him to know. For reasons she could only amount to her fear that he would get better while still holding a fear that he wouldn't.
"I " Maggie cleared her throat as her shoulders slumped in defeat. "She's my best friend. I was there after I saw what he did I " Maggie shook her head as memories filed through her mind.
"He was not well " He sighed in defeat, had had accept this fact long before Michael had hurt Ms. Montgomery. "It's my fault."
"No." Maggie shook her head. "His actions were his own fault! He can't blame them on anyone else. You can't take responsibility for his actions. He had choices. He choose to hurt Bianca he choose to terrorize her."
"I'd like to believe you but " He knew fault lie with him. He hadn't raised Michael right. He hadn't raised him at all. He'd let others do it. "I am sorry " He immediately said as he met Maggie's eyes. "I am so eternally sorry for what he did to Ms. Montgomery."
Maggie wondered if she would rather him say Bianca's first name or if she'd rather he continue to call her Ms. Montgomery. He didn't know her. He had tried to buy her. What would money do for her now? Maggie sighed. It could help her take care of the baby.
Oh god the baby. Maggie felt sick to her stomach for a moment. What was Bianca going to do about the baby? What did Maggie feel about her possibly ending the pregnancy?
Nothing ! Maggie assured herself. She would support Bianca no matter what her decision. This child was Bianca's baby and she had no connection to it passed her relationship with Bianca. That was how it was in the beginning. That was how it was going to stay.
"I'm not like him." It needed to be said. For his sake or hers Maggie wasn't sure.
"Of course not! I never thought you were " Alexander informed. "You may share DNA but I know by looking at you, at hearing how you protect your friends, how you love your family " Alexander smiled and looked at Maggie in wonder. How could she think she was anything like Michael? "You are nothing like him. There was a darkness in him that I see nowhere in you. You have the light your mother had when I first met her. It's strong and vibrant and beautiful."
Alexander watched Maggie's chin quiver as she tried to stand strong against his compliments. "There is not an ounce of him in you. You two are nothing alike." He knew it. With everything he was he had already seen the difference in his two children. "You're more like Junior your older brother." There was a cloud that passed over Alexander's face that Maggie couldn't ignore.
"He was kind and generous. He was intelligent and wanted to help others. He had an energy about him. He couldn't keep still. He " His voice broke. " I think you would have gotten along."
"I " Maggie frowned as she moved towards Alexander and placed a gentle hand on the man's wrist. He looked so sad, so guilty. Maggie wondered if she looked the same now. Was she as broken and holding onto a guilt that could not be soothed?
"I'm sorry for your loss." Maggie watched Alexander look down at her hand as it remained on top of his own.
Maggie and Alexander remained as they were. Maggie standing uncomfortably before her father's bed while Alex stared longingly at her hand atop his, it was broken by the door opening.
"Maggie it's time to go." David informed from the doorway as he looked at his cousin and her biological father. It was odd, David was still having a hard time wrapping his head around it.
"My mother's wake " If Maggie sounded apologetic it was only imagined, she was sure of it.
"Will you come back?"
Maggie froze and looked at Alexander Cambias' hopeful gaze and she was unsure. Unsure of so many things.
"Yes." It was out before she could stop it and the smile that lit up from it almost made it worth the slip.
"I'd come with you if I could." Mr. Cambias offered.
"I know." Maggie didn't doubt that he would. He seemed so genuine it was hard keeping her walls up around him. Hard to do anything but believe what he was saying, even as every part of her being told her not to, her heart told her to trust him.
"I'll be back."
Alexander didn't ask when. It was enough to know that she would be back. He understood that she had other places to be, things to arrange and even if she never came back, it would be okay. He had seen her. He had spoken with her, seen her tears and even seen her smile. It would be enough. It had to be. But he could still hope she would be back. That she would be different than him, than her brothers, and she would keep her word.
"Goodbye Maggie, I " He sighed as she stood waiting for him to continue by the door, her cousin's shadow playing across her profile. " I love you."
Maggie saw his expectant face, and was sorry she couldn't return his love. Not yet. He hadn't earned it yet. All she could offer him was a smile and gracious nod. "Goodnight, Alex."
Alexander smiled as the door closed behind Maggie. It was something. His eyes drifted close into slumber and dreams of a life where he had watched that beautiful young woman grow up to be the woman she was today. They were dreams that gave him hope.
Hope that he would know his daughter. Hope that he could help offer her a future she could be proud of.
In the morning he had phone calls to make. There were many things that needed to be handled with little time to get them done. Hopefully that young Lavery lad was still around. He would need his help with this.
David watched Maggie lean heavily against the wall of the stairwell. She had refused to take the elevator. They were on the last flight of stairs leading to the garage where Bianca was waiting for them.
"Maggie ?" David placed his hand on Maggie's shoulder blade and waited. All he seemed able to do the last few days was wait.
"I can't let her know David. She can't know."
"No, David. Not yet. I'm not I " David sighed as he felt Maggie's shoulder rise and fall quickly as she gasped for air, panicking.
"Shh it's okay. I won't say a word. I swear to you I won't say anything until you're ready."
Maggie looked at David over her shoulder and offered him a grateful smile. "Thank you David."
"Don't worry about it I "
"No " Maggie shook her head as she turned to David. "Thank you for all that you've done. Thank you for being here, for helping me stay together. I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't come with me." Maggie looked down slightly embarrassed by her admission.
David cupped Maggie's cheek and waited until the young woman met his eyes. "I love you Maggie. You are my family. I want to be here be there for you."
Maggie smiled even as a tear slipped by unnoticed by the young woman. "Is that your way of saying you're welcome?"
David chuckled as he nodded and heard Maggie laugh lightly. "Yes, it is. Now " They both calmed themselves and waited a moment more. " you ready to go?"
"As ready as I'll ever be."
David watched Maggie take the lead and walk down the last flight of stairs and open the garage door. He hoped, as he followed her out and towards the car and Bianca, that she really was ready for this.
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