Chapter Seven - Back To The Real World

Saturday, June 6


   "This is completely stupid Michael! Having to cut our time in France extra short."
    "I'm sorry Beautiful. My cousin is here. I basically had her break into my house so she had a place to sleep."
    "Why didn't she get a hotel?"
    "No idea. But she's here and I needed to be back."
    "Why is she even here? You never did tell me."
    "She's the new science teacher."
    "Oh! You're a teacher and she's a teacher. That's cool."
    "I'm not a teacher. I'm a psychologist."
    "Shouldn't you be working in a loony bin or something then?"
    "Many places hire people with a psychology degree Beautiful. Not just loony bins."
    "My butt hurts."   
    "This cab has a plastic seat. My butt hurts."
    "I'm sorry."

    The cab ride home was long, stupid, and boring. The driver was Indian and was listening to some bollywood music. It was kind of catchy. No, not really. Michael and I only spent a day and a half in France. We had to leave like ten or so hours early. Waking at two in the morning is stupid! I wonder how my mom is doing. She made a weekend out of a one day catering job. Which is cool. She deserved a mini vacation; she works really hard and has been stressed out lately. I was the one stressing her out the most.

    "I wanna cut my hair."
    "How short are you thinking of cutting it?"
    "How about short like yours?" I answer as I grab a hold of his hair and pull it a little.
    "Mmmm... How about, no. I hate short hair on women."
    "Shoulder length?"
    "I like how it is now. Just cut a little bit off and style it different."
    "Layers! You know different lengths to add volume? Never mind."
    "Just don't go get a bob cut please. Leave it long for me."
    "What about a different color? Like green with purple and hot pink stripes? Acid zebra!"
    "Like that old zebra bubble gum. What was it called?"
    "Fruit stripe."
    "There you go! And no. No zebra stripes."
    "Oh, come on Michael! You like the zebra stripes."
    "Not in hair I don't."
    "I'm hungry."
    "You eat like a cow you know that?"
    "I like food!"
    "Seriously, how are you not obese?"
    "I don't eat junk. I eat healthy, and I don't drink sugary things."
    "Grilled cheese is not healthy. Bread makes you fat."
    "My mom buys the gluten-free bread."
    "Ah, so what are your plans for the rest of the day?"
    "I am going to raid my piggy bank and go get my hair cut."
    "You have a piggy bank? Are you sure you're seventeen?"
    "It's a shoe box under my bed. You don't have a piggy bank?"
    "I have a bank I keep my money in. With a credit card."
    "Let me borrow $20 so I can get my hair cut."

   He pulls a $20 out of his wallet and then pulls it back when I reach for it.

    "What do I get if I give you $20?"
    "Not much. Hand jobs alone are $50."

    We both laugh.

    "What do you want?"
    "How about just a kiss?"
    "Kisses are $30."
    "I owe you $10 then."

    Of course I give him a kiss on his lips.

    "Thank you Beautiful."
    "You're welcome Love."

    We finally get home. Hours later. But thank god! Because I have to pee and then eat. As Michael and I unload out bags and start walking toward the house, I notice a little girl in front of my house picking my mom's flowers.

    "That little girl is picking my mom's flowers!"
    "She isn't hurting anything Beautiful."

    I was about to respond to Michael when he yelled at the little girl.

    "Uncle Mike!"

    She does a full sprint and literally flies into Michael's arms and gives him the biggest little girl kiss ever!

    "Uncle Mike?" I ask.
    "Oh. This is my cousin's daughter Bethany. Beth, this is my neighbor Elizabeth."
    "Hi Lizabeth!"
    "Hello Bethany. How old are you?"
    "I'm eight. How old are you?"
    "I'm seventeen."
    "Cool! You get to drive a car and everything huh?"
    "No, I don't drive. I don't have my license yet."
    "Why not?"
    "Okay. Enough questions. Where's your mom?"
    "Inside making me a peanut butter and grape jelly samich. Come on let's go!"
    Bethany wiggles her way out of Michael's arm and run toward the house.

    "Oh, my god! She's fucking adorable Michael!"
    "Yeah, she is. You want to come over and meet my cousin?"
    "Yeah! Just let me put my bags inside and go pee then I'll be right over."
    "All right."
    "You have my bag."
    "Oh. Here you go."


    I'm actually really excited to see my cousin. Been over a year since I've seen her and Bethany. Can't wait to hear what she has to say about what's been going on back home. When I walk in both Sadie and Bethany are at the table eating peanut butter and jelly.

    "Well, well, well! If it isn't Mr. Tall tan and handsome" She says as she walks over and gives me a hug.
    "And you're still Little Red! You shouldn't have your car parked on the street. Park it in the neighbors space, she isn't going to be home anytime soon."
    "It's fine where it is Mikey."
    "Come on Red! Mikey is so ages ago."
    "All right... Jr."
    "Uncle Mike mom!" Bethany says with a mouth full of food.
    "Please don't talk with your mouth full Beth. So how was France? Your mom told me you took a cute blonde girl with you. Is she your new girlfriend?"

    Damn it! I knew my aunt Sophia would call my mom.

    "She's my neighbor's daughter. She had to go out of town for the weekend, she told me to keep an eye on her. So I said fuck it lets see if she would like to go."
    "How old is she?"
    "Seventeen. She's going to be one of your students."
    "Okay. Can we go over and meet her?"
    "She's coming over here. She wants to meet you. She's putting her bags away and coming over."
    "All right. So has your mom talked to you about Regan?"
    "No. What's going on with her?"
    "Let's just say your dad's old Porsche is no longer with us."
    "She stole my dad's Porsche?! His pride and joy."
    "Well, she tried to. She made it into your parents living room and right out into the pond in the backyard."
    "Holy Shi..."
    "LAUNGUE!" She interrupts looking back at Bethany.
    "Oh, right! Sorry. So when did all of this happen?"
    "Thursday around 1am. That's why I was unable to make it here until last night."
    "Man! I guess I need to call my mom later and apologize."
    "How long has it been since you last seen Regan?"
    "Close to three years. How does she look these days?"
    "She dresses in short skirts, small tops, and her hair is purple."
    "That sounds terrible."
    "You should take a weekend and go see her Michael. She needs you."
    "Who's Regan?" Elizabeth says from the front door.

    I didn't even hear her walk in.

    "Regan is Michael's..."

    I shoot Sadie a look that said, "Don't you fucking say it!"

    "...friend back home. She's going though a real bad divorce and she's really tore up over it."
    "My mom is the top psychologist there. She can talk to my mom if she can't get a hold of me."
    "She knows. Anyway! Elizabeth, right? I'm Sadie and jelly face at the table is my daughter Bethany."
    "Nice to meet you. So, new science teacher huh?"
    "Yeah. Michael got me the job and told me you're one of my students."
    "I am. And just to let you know beforehand, I am absolutely horrible at science."
    "Well that's okay! I'm a good teacher and I have no problem staying in after class to help anyone who needs it. Just ask!"
    "Okay, thank you."

    Elizabeth's phone starts ringing, and I'm standing here nervous as hell that Sadie is going to say something to Elizabeth that I don't want her to know just yet.

    "I'm sorry you guys, it's my mom. I'm gonna to step outside and take this."
    "No problem." I reply.

    Sadie's tone of voice sends shivers down my spine. Here it comes.

    "Beth, if you're done go upstairs and wash up. Then color in one of your books. I need to have a talk with your Uncle Mike."

    Sadie waits until she hears the sink above us turn on before she turns to me and starts ripping me a whole new asshole.

    "What the fuck are you thinking Michael?! That girl is seventeen!"
    "What are you talking about? Nothing is going on between us."
    "Bullshit! I've known you my whole life. I know that look! The one you gave that girl. It's the same way you used to look at Leah. How long have you been seeing her?"

    She does know me better than anyone. I can't lie my way out of this one.

    "A little over a week or so."
    "Are you sleeping with her?"
    "Oh... My... God! This gets out you go to jail Michael! A teacher just got fired for doing the same damn thing you're doing! What is wrong with you?!"
    "I know Sadie. I just... I can't shake that girl. She's amazing. I'm in love with her believe it or not."
    "Why didn't you want me to tell her who Regan is?"
    "She doesn't need to know about Regan yet. I'll tell her eventually. But right now is not the time."
    "Does she know you're pretty much royalty worth like 4 billion dollars? Or the huge mansion you live in back home. Which by the way I was at before I came here. Your salt water pool attracted star fish. I helped your dad get them out."
    "Yeah. They like my pool. And no, she doesn't know. I haven't been 100% honest with her."
    "Obviously. How old does she think you are?"
    "Twenty four"
    "Wow, she must not be very observant. You took her to France, to the Garden House. There's diplomas and certificates all over the walls, with dates and your name on them. If she took a second to look at them and add it up, she would've realized you're really twenty-seven years old."
    "Yeah, I know."
    "Why are you lying about your age, anyway? Girls do that."
    "I wanted to get to know her outside of work. I thought she wouldn't want to be hanging around with someone damn near ten years older than her."
    "I love you Michael, I really do. But I don't support this. It's your life and if you're happy then that's all that matters. But you really need to come clean with her. Before you get deeper into this relationship. Because the longer you wait the more it's going to hurt her."
    "Yeah, I know. Excuse me, I need to go out back and have a smoke."

    My first cigarette in almost three days. Man it's good. As I sit down to enjoy it more millions and millions of thoughts run through my head. Sadie is right. She's always fucking right. Elizabeth needs to know everything. I need to come clean. I look up and see her through the glass door with her phone to her ear. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt her. After I finished my cigarette, I crawled under my car to reconnect the starter.

    "Whacha doin Uncle Mike?"
    "Fixing something so I can go for a drive."
    "Oooo! Can I come? Pretty please Uncle Mike?"
    "Not this time Beth. But next time you can. Anywhere you want to go! Promise."
    "Pinky promise?"

    She holds up her pink and I link mine with hers.

    "Pinky promise, with sprinkles and cherries on top! Now you get back inside and tell your mom I'll be back later."

    I crawl back under my car to finish what I was doing when I see Elizabeth's shoes out of the corner of my eye.

    "How was your talk with your mom?"
    "It was okay. Her and Jim are having a great time. Told her I was going to get my hair cut, she said to wait for her because she wants a haircut too. So here's your $20 back."
    "Keep it. Go put it in your piggy box under your bed."
    "I seen your wallet Michael. This is the last of your cash."
    "It's fine Elizabeth. I can get more out of the bank if I need to."

    After a long silence Elizabeth crawls under the car with me.

    "Are you okay Michael?"
    "I'm fine. Just need to go for a drive."
    "Okay. I'll just go back inside and hang out and watch some T.V I guess."

    Before crawling out and going inside, she kisses me on the cheek and whispers, "I love you" in my ear. Before I could even say it back, she was gone. I finish up, grab my smokes off the table and get in my car and drive out to Willowglen. Ruins of an old amphitheater. Anyone else would see this and think it's ugly. Not me. I think it's beautiful. I pull out my phone and go to my mom's contact information. Before hitting the call button, I find a nice spot to set. Hopefully, my mom can help me.

    "Bonjour chérie."
    "Hey mom. How are you?"
    "I'm fine dear. Why do you sound so down? Are you alright?"
    "First off, let me say I'm sorry about Regan. I'll pay for everything, I'll get dad a new car."
    "No need darling. We have it taken care of. Tell me about the young lady you took to France."
    "That's exactly why I'm calling you. I'm torn in so many ways that I can't find which way is up. You're the only person I can talk to. Please don't be angry with me."
    "I'm listening."
    "Her name is Elizabeth. I'm her guidance counselor at the school I work at."
    "How old is Elizabeth?"
    "She'll be eighteen in a few months."
    "Okay. I'm going to be honest with you. It's very unprofessional what you're doing Michael. I'm sure you know that. I met your father when I was eighteen; he was thirty-one. So, I can't say anything about her age. So I won't. You know what happens when certain people find out. Are you okay with that?"
    "Yes. I am okay with that. I love her mom. Even though we only have known each other for a little bit over a week or so. There's something about her. I just want her."
    "Your father and I got married exactly one month after meeting. Sometimes you just know, and nothing else matters but them. You would flip the world over for them."
    "I haven't been honest with her. I've lied to her for my own gain really."
    "What did you lie about?"
    "My whole life."
    "She knows nothing about you?"
    "Not much."
    "How much do you know about her?"
    "Everything from her favorite color to her shoe size."
    "And what are you neglecting to tell her about yourself?"
    "My wealth mostly. I don't want her to want me for money. Like Leah did. I lied about my age about Regan. Things I feel she wouldn't like."
    "How old did you tell her you were?"
    "Twenty four"
    "I see."
    "What kind of advice can you give me mom? Help me, please."
    "Okay. Are you sure she loves you? As you claim to be?"
    "Yes. 100%."

    "Then tell her the truth. Everything. If she loves you like you say she does, nothing else should matter."
    "What if she leaves me?"
    "It's better to have love and lost, than to have no love at all darling."
    "Can you come see me next weekend?"
    "Of course."
    "I need you to bring some things with you. If that's possible?"
    "What do you need?"
    "Everything about me, your family, dad's family. Bank records, birth records, everything."
    "I'll certainly do that darling."
    "And bring Regan if you can."
    "I'll bring Regan as well."
    "I'll make all the arrangements and send you all the information."
    "Sounds great."
    "I'll talk to you soon mom."
    "Je te aime mon chérie."
    "I love you too mom."


    I wonder what's wrong with Michael. It's obvious he's upset. I didn't push it. I just left it alone. I look at my phone and realize Michael's been gone for over three hours. I open a new text, then close it.

    "He's upset just let him be Lizzy." I say aloud to myself.

    I make myself comfortable on the couch and start scrolling though all the pictures Michael and I took in France, then realized I need to get these pictures off. So I go into my room and get my flash drive out of my shoe box under my bed and head on out to the computer. Play it safe, and transfer all these pictures off my phone. When they were all done, I noticed old pictures I had forgotten about. Pictures of me and all of my friends in Monterey and pictures of me and my dad. I instantly start crying. Hysterically. I start yelling at the computer screen.

    "Why dad! Why did you fucking leave me and mom alone?! Why?! We need you! I need you!"

    To this day I don't understand why I survived the crash. The car flipped so many times. We both had on our seat belts. I was so angry I grabbed the computer screen and threw it, breaking the back sliding door. With every ounce of hate I had inside I just screamed as loud and hard as I could and fell to me knees. Still crying when the front door flew open, all I could make out was a red blur. It was Sadie.

    "Oh my God Elizabeth! Sweetie what's wrong?"

    Kneeling in front of me I grab her around the waist and bury my head in her chest. Finally, I was able to get my words out.

    "Where's Michael? I need him."
    "I don't know sweetie. Here let me call him... It went straight to voice mail."

    Getting angry all over again, I pick myself up off the ground and start throwing anything I could get my hands on. Breaking the T.V, front door, the front window, and whatever else before Sadie grabbed a hold of me.

    "Let me the fuck go!"
    "Elizabeth! Listen to me, I'm trying to help you. Please tell me what's wrong."
    "I need Michael!"
    "Sweetie please let me help you."
    "Help me by getting Michael!"
    "He isn't answering his phone."

    I go limp and fall to the floor again. Sadie still holding on to me falls to the floor with me. She begins to say something when her phone starts ringing.

    "Michael where the fuck are you?... You need to get home fucking now! Something wrong with Elizabeth... I don't know! She won't tell me. She wants you. She needs you Michael... Okay, Hurry!... Elizabeth, sweetie? Michael is on his way."


    Pulling into the driveway I notice broken glass everywhere and shit that was inside is now outside. What the hell happen? When I walk into Elizabeth's house it looks even worse. Sadie is on the floor holding Elizabeth in her arms.

    "Go back next door Sadie."

    On her way out she gives me a tight squeeze on my shoulder. I pick Elizabeth up off the floor and carry her into her bedroom and lay her down on her bed. I lay behind her and pull her close.

    "What happen Beautiful?" I whisper in her ear.
    "Why did my dad have to leave me? I was in the car too. Why am I here and he's not. He's supposed to be here to protect me and my mom."
    "I don't know Beautiful. I don't have that answer."
    "I needed you Michael. And you were gone."
    "I know. I'm sorry. I'm here now. Tell me what you want."
    "Just stay and hold me until I fall asleep."
    "I will Beautiful."
    "My flash drive is in the computer. Make sure you take it out for me please?"
    "All right."

    It takes Elizabeth not even five minutes to fall asleep. I get up and head next door. I need to say thank you to Sadie and ask her for some help.

    "Is she all right Michael?"
    "Yeah. She's asleep. Thank you for staying with her."
    "I had to. I was standing at the kitchen sink doing dishes when that computer screen came flying at me."
    "Shit, she managed to break my door too."
    "It's just a crack Michael. It'll be fine."
    "Yeah I know, but I'm renting this place. So I need to get it fixed."
    "So what happen to her that made her flip out like that?"
    "She said to make sure I took this out of the computer." I set the flash drive on the table.
    "A flash drive?"
    "What's on it?"
    "I have no idea. Maybe something with her dad. She was talking about him when I took her to the room."
    "Did her dad leave them?"
    "He died in a car accident."
    "She's so angry, because she was in the car and he died and she didn't."
    "That's so sad."
    "Yeah. Can you grab the broom and help me next door?"
    "Rent me that house I have open on your laptop. My credit is shot and Beth and I can't stay here forever."
    "I'll call tomorrow."
    "I'll give you the money, I just can't get it in my name."
    "That's fine."

    It took forever to clean everything up. Luckily, I still had some boxes from the move, so we used the to patch up windows.

    "Michael, help me with this rug. There's glass all in it and the vacuum won't pick it up."
    "What are we doing with it?"
    "There's a dumpster right around the corner. We can toss it in there."
    "Can we shake it out?"
    "I don't know. If it was my rug I'd toss it."
    "Whatever you think."

    We each grab one end of the rug and start walking to the dumpster.

    "So where did you go earlier Michael? Was it something I said?"
    "Yeah, but nothing you said was bad. Everything was true. I went for a drive to think, then I called my mom."
    "The Chief! What did you guys talk about?"
    "Elizabeth, my feelings for her, and how I been lying to her."
    "What did the chief say?"
    "First, she's okay with me seeing Elizabeth. Only because she was young when she met my dad and he was like thirty. She also said what I'm doing is unprofessional, and that I should tell her the truth. If she loves me now thinking I'm a twenty-four-year-old minimum wage schmoe, then nothing else should matter."
    "Better to have love and lost, than no love at all Mikey."
    "That's what my mom said."
    "She's a wise woman, you should listen to her."
    "I did. She's coming out next weekend. She's going to bring all sorts of paperwork. Birth records, and whatever else she can think of to show Elizabeth who I really am."
    "Good luck."
    "Oh! She's also going to bring Regan with her."
    "Regan is going to hate Elizabeth. You know that right?"
    "I'm well aware she's going to hate Elizabeth."
    "Again, good luck!"   

    So we get to this dumpster to toss the rug, and it was not around the corner. It was damn near a block away. We toss the rug and head back to the house to finish patching up windows as good as we could.

    "You going to answer your phone Red?"
    "That's not my phone."
    "It's Elizabeth's phone. It's her mom. Hold on."

    "Hey Amanda."
    "Who is this?"
    "Why do you have Lizzy's phone? I told her to keep it by her for when I called to let her know we landed safe."
    "Oh, late flight. It's almost 3am."
    "It was cheaper. Are you at my house with Lizzy?"
    "I am. I hope you don't mind, but my cousin is here with me. She helped me clean your house."
    "Clean my house? Did Lizzy have a party? Is she passed out drunk?"
    "No, Elizabeth is fine. Your house, not so much."
    "What happen to my house?"

    I hear Jim in the background ask, "What's going on?"

    "Elizabeth had an episode. I wasn't home when it happen. But my cousin was, and she stayed with Elizabeth until I got back."
    "How bad is it?"
    "Is this not her first episode like this?"
    "If she threw things and broken things, then no it's not her first episode like this."
    "Front door, back door, T.V, two windows, coffee table, computer, and my back door."
    "My cousin and I cleaned everything up and patched up the windows as good as we could with some cardboard boxes. I'm having my door replaced, I'll make sure yours gets replaced as well. A long with everything else. New T.V and everything"
    "No, that's okay. I'll figure it out."
    "You told me to keep and eye on Elizabeth. I was gone when all this happen. Please let me help you Amanda."
    "You have a minimum wage job at a high school. How are you going to afford to fix your door and mine plus replace everything?"
    "When we get off the phone get on your internet and Google Olivia BeauSoleil-Avalon. That will answer your question."
    "Okay. Well, can you stay there until I get back? Feel free to sleep in my bed if you get tired."
    "Of course, but I think I'll take the couch."
    "Whatever you're comfortable with. I'll see you soon."


    Of course Lizzy would have an episode while I'm gone. As soon as I get off the phone with Michael, I do a Google search on Olivia BeauSoleil-Avalon.

    "What are you looking up Mandy?"
    "Michael said he's going to replace everything Lizzy broke. When I asked how he said to Google Olivia Beausoleil-Avalon and it would answer my question."
    "BeauSoleil... If I remember my French history from college right, BeauSoleil is a family with a lot of money. Like the family goes back as far as Henry IV time."

    I start to read aloud what I found.

    "BeauSoleil dates as far back as February 27, 1678, Novelle France. The current known family still living in France, Sophia Marie BeauSoleil, Marie Ann BeauSoleil, and Joseph Cesaire BeauSoleil. Daughter Olivia Ann BeauSoleil currently lives within the US with current husband, Michael Elwin Avalon Sr. and son Michael Elwin Avalon Jr. Olivia is the eldest daughter of Joseph and Marie BeauSoleil. Even though she left France, she is the heir to 85% of wineries, glass making factories, and other companies and restaurants though out the south of France. BeauSoleil family net worth is estimated to be 2.6..."

    I pause and look over at Jim.

    "2.6 BILLION! Dollars. Oh, my god!"
    "Mike Avalon? My school’s guidance counselor? No way! Let me see."
    "Look! There's a picture of him!"
    "Well, I'll be damned. He's buying the beer next time."
    "I live next door to a freaking billionaire! He didn't even buy the house, he's renting it."
    "Richie Rich Rich."
    "Filthy stinking rich."
    "Are you still going to let him fix your house?"
    "And a new T.V. A big one."
    "Don't be greedy Mandy. Let the man buy you what he said he was. If he asks, "Hey what kind of T.V do you want?" be like, "Yo! I want that 80 inch plasma!"
    "My house is way too small for a 80 inch T.V."
    "Mine isn't."
    "Ha! No, no! You're right Jim. I'm not that type of person. I'll tell him to get whatever and not to go overboard."
    "Good. I don't want to marry a gold digger with a sugar daddy on the side."

    I look down at the ring Jim gave me over the weekend and smile.

    "All I need is, Lizzy, you, and this little baby in my belly and I'll be the richest woman in the world."
    "That's my girl."

    I lean in and give Jim a kiss on his lips.

    "Michael is fucking loaded though!"

    In a high-pitched teenage valley girl voice, Jim replies.

    "Like, Oh My God! I know!"

    We both bust up laughing as we pull out of the airport and head home.