Dee Ottomas is 32; Dayle Ottomas is 11; Roman Bonacorrd is 30; Sharla Ruben is 47.
Samantha and Peter Ottomas are 74.
Previous Updates: Dee's household, and Sharla's family.
"You don't have to lie about it," said Roman. "I mean, if you want a night on the town, I'm good with that. You don't have to pretend you're going to your parents' place."
"But I am going to my parent's place," Dee said. "If I were going for a night on the town, I'd tell you."
Roman just shrugged.
"What?" said Dee.
"I dunno, you've just changed lately. You changed your job to work during the day and now you don't go out much in the evening at all... you hardly ever spend the night away, and when you do, you're going to your parents' house. What's that about?"
"Maybe I'm just sick of all that. Don't you ever feel that way? Don't you ever just want to give it all up and settle down?"
Dee laughed. "Suit yourself. I've got to get going or I'll miss my bus. Dayle's other grandparents will pick her up from school and take her back tomorrow morning. If anything unexpected happens, they'll call me and I'll call you if I need to, ok?"
"Ok... but, you know, her grandparents don't need to come all this way just because you're not going to be here. I can look after her, you know, I've done it before. And I've been looking after Remus and Kyla's kids since forever, I won't lose her or anything... "
"I know you won't!" Dee laughed. "But you shouldn't be stuck with my kid... and anyway, its good for her to spend time with her father's parents, especially while Adam's away. Now, I really have to go." She kissed his cheek. "I'll see you tomorrow. Have fun."
Roman shrugged again as the door closed behind her. There was no point in trying to understand women, anyway, although Dee always got to him somehow. Not to worry. With the apartment to himself for the next day, he didn't need Dee to remind him to have fun.
He grinned. She could keep her settling down thing, he was going to have all the fun he could get.
Dee wasn't a small-town person by any stretch of the imagination. She loved the city, and even living in Richmond was a bit too slow for her, although she stayed there because she believed the suburbs were a better place to bring up her daughter. But Bluewater Village... Dee couldn't imagine ever living somewhere so small and isolated again.
Even so, she found herself drawn back here, more and more now. Roman had been right, she was changing. Maybe it was because her parents were getting older... maybe it was because she was getting older... maybe it had something to do with watching her own daughter growing up. Whatever it was, rather than regarding it her duty to visit her parents, lately she found herself really looking forward to coming home.
She waved to her father over the fence, in his garden, just like he was almost every time she visited.
Perhaps that was part of what she liked - the predictability.
She knocked on the door, then let herself in, calling a greeting to her mother. Samantha rushed out into the hallway to meet her.
"I've got your room all ready," Samantha said. "Are you hungry? Lunch is nowhere near ready."
"I'm fine, Mum."
"Are you sure?" Her mother squeezed her arm. "You girls are so thin! Are you sure you're eating enough?"
"I'm ok, really..."
"I just bought some ice cream. Do you want some ice cream while you wait?"
So, just to stop all the fussing, Dee obediently sat in the kitchen and ate her ice cream, while her mother prepared lunch. It felt good, being here. It wasn't the house she'd grown up in - her parents had sold that when the kids had all left home, exchanged it for something smaller and more manageable, closer to town.
But it was enough like her childhood home, to give her a warm feeling just because she was here again, sitting in the kitchen chatting to her mother while she cooked, just like she had so many times when she was growing up.
They sat and talked while the food cooked.
"Dayle said to say hello," said Dee, "and to tell you she'd telephone you on the weekend."
"Tell her I'm looking forward to it," said Samantha. "Can she come stay with us for a couple of weeks over the summer again this year?"
"Of course," said Dee. "She's talking about it already. It wouldn't be like summer for her if she didn't."
"She'll be a teenager soon..." Samantha said thoughtfully. "Isn't it about time you gave her a brother or sister?"
"Well, you haven't got forever, you know... "
"But I don't want any more kids, you know that."
"So you say, but you never know! Just look at your sister... who would have thought Sharla would have another baby? And now she's got that lovely little boy... "
"Yeah, that was a surprise." Dee grabbed the opportunity to change the subject. "The photos of him looked so cute."
"I know! I just can't wait to meet him!"
"What, you... you haven't seen him yet?"
"No. Sharla's been too busy to come out here, and - "
"She's only an hour away! The baby's a month old, I can't believe she hasn't brought him to meet you yet."
"Well, we were going to get the bus up to Richmond, but it was hard to arrange a time with Sharla, they have so much on, so - "
"You shouldn't have to do that! She should be bringing the baby to see you. I can't believe she could be so - "
"Dee..." Samantha said warningly. Dee sighed. No matter what any one of them did, Samantha hated her children criticizing one another.
"Look, why don't we just talk about something else?" said Samantha. "Why don't we work out the dates Dayle can come visit?"
So they did, but Dee couldn't let go of it as easily as she pretended to. She knew exactly what she'd be doing the next day, when she got back to Richmond.
Dee was surprised when Sharla came to the door herself. In the few times she'd been there before, it was the butler who answered it.
"He's upstairs with Joshua and the baby," said Sharla. "God only knows why it takes both of them to change a diaper, but apparently it does." She gestured Dee into the living room. "So, what brings you here?"
Said with a tone normally reserved for the repo man, Dee thought. Well, there was no use pretending, to say that she and her sister didn't get on was a massive understatement.
She took a breath. "I've just been to visit Mum and Dad. You haven't even taken the baby to meet them yet."
"Well, we've just been so busy. Joshua works hard, we just don't have time to waste a day driving out to the back of beyond."
"When was the last time you visited them at all?" Dee asked.
"What has this got to do with you anyway?"
"I care about Mum and Dad, ok. I care about the fact that they're still waiting to meet their new grandchild. You play at being this perfect family, and you haven't even got time for your own parents."
"Look, you can't blame me for this, and they can't either. We offered to help them move up to Richmond when they sold the house."
"You only offered because you knew they wouldn't accept. You wouldn't want them living here anyway."
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"If they moved up here, people might find out that you grew up in the back of beyond. They might find out that your parents never finished high school, or that you had second hand clothes, or a house full of siblings you had to share everything with, or - "
"All right, all right, I get it." Sharla snapped.
"No, you don't get it," said Dee. "You don't get that you're hurting them by - "
"I'm hurting them? At least I've given them something to be proud of! You're in no position to talk about hurting them...do you think they like it that you have the reputation of a whore?"
"You and me both."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?
"Oh, come on! We both know why you really married Joshua. Why you married Cory Green, why - "
"Don't be rediculous. It's not like Cory had money back then. Even his father hadn't - "
"No, but he had a name. A nice, respectable name, a respected family... it must have really cut to find out that the nice, respectable people are as screwed up as the rest of us."
"Get out of my house."
Dee was on her way to the door before Sharla even finished speaking.
"With pleasure," she yelled back over her shoulder, almost bumping right into Joshua as he came down the stairs.
He nodded in greeting "Dee."
"Just leaving," she said, rushing out the door.
"What was that about?" he asked Sharla, after Dee had gone.
She shrugged. "I just don't understand her sometimes."
"Then don't even try," said Joshua, brushing his hand on her cheek. "It's probably not worth the effort. Just forget it ever happened"
She smiled back at him. She knew that wouldn't be too hard.
"It's nothing, really. I'm just tired," she said, picking up her drink. "I think I'll call it a night."
Roman was just as confused over Dee, when she got home that evening. She seemed happy enough, when her daughter was around...
... but after Dayle went to bed, when they settled down for a drink, she became unusually quiet.
"Did something happen with your parents?" he asked.
"No, nothing," she said, with a little sigh.
"Well, then what? Something isn't right."
"It's nothing, really. I'm just tired," she said, picking up her drink. "I think I'll call it a night."
Roman didn't know whether to believe her or not. She'd been like this a lot lately - saying things that didn't quite seem right, making excuses that didn't add up. In any other relationship, you might suspect a woman was cheating. But their relationship wasn't like that. There had never been any promise of fidelity, for either of them. They both had other partners, and they were both completely honest about that.
He watched her walking up the stairs. They didn't have a big, deep, emotional relationship like some people did, but he liked to think that they were friends enough that she might confide in him if something was wrong.
Dee took a long sip of her wine. She'd wanted to tell Roman, she really had. But it wasn't something you could share with a man like him. It wasn't something that he could understand. And even if it was, she wouldn't know where to start. With Sharla? With Joshua? With the time she first met him, back when she wasn't much older than Dayle was now?
She used to babysit Sharla's daughter, after the divorce. Sometimes, Joshua would come to the house looking for his girlfriend.
Sometimes, even though she wasn't there he'd stay anyway, to keep Dee company. It never occured to her then, that he might have deliberately come at times when he knew that Sharla would be away.
A teenage girl likes that kind of attention from an older man. It wasn't wrong, not really - she was sixteen, it was legal.
But he was almost 30, and he should have known better.
It was wrong, she knew that now. It was the first time a man had used her, but it was also the last. She called the shots now. People like Sharla could call her a whore all they wanted, but at least a whore gets to name her own terms.
Her daughter was growing up now, and it scared Dee, every time she looked at her. She knew the kind of evil men that were out there, waiting for the chance to take advantage of a young girl who didn't know any better.
Logically, rationally, she knew that Roman wasn't one of them. Logically, rationally, she knew he'd never hurt anyone in that way, least of all a child. But it was hard to be logical and rational, where her daughter was concerned.
The stakes were just too high.
Notes on Dee and the Ottomas family here.