It was a week since the funeral, and Jack had not forgotten the sour looks hereceived from the Goths which is why he was not at all pleased to find Gunterstanding on his porch. “What do you want?” He sighed, suddenly too exhausted toeven be angry.“Can I go inside?” He asked, Jack motioned that the front door was open.
“Are you going to tell me what happened to my sister-in-law?” Gunter asked.“She slipped and fell, hit her head and died.” Jack replied as he had for the past week.“We’re both grown men Jack, can we stop playing games? I know you had somethingto do with Agnes’ death and so help me she will receive justice.”Jack stared Gunter down. “You cannot prove that anything happened other than whatI said, and I will make sure that it stays that way.” Jack was about to continue talking,but he changed his mind. He intended to kill the woman before he met her, butsomewhere along the line he fell in love with her. Agnes and their two children werehis family.
Gunter left without another word, Jack sighed as he made his way upstairs,Claus was yelling for attention. Jack knew that this would be another sleeplessnight, if he didn’t get rest soon he would go crazy. In a way Agnes had alreadyreceived her justice. Guilt and exhaustion were killing Jack, and he haddeveloped a bit of paranoia he cleaned everything, sometimes more thanonce, being careful to leave no evidence.
Jack’s days were spent taking care of the house and his children. Bills were piling up, hediscovered upon opening the mailbox that Agnes had bought shares in two localbusinesses, one had a payoff of two thousand dollars the other a payoff of five grand.Enough to keep the repo-man at bay and be sure that the kids had everything theywould need.
Jack realized that he was turning into a house wife, this would not do. Heneeded to find a woman to take care of his children while he planned onhow to stop his crime from being discovered. Three days after Agnes’funeral Jack had hired a maid, he figured that she was as good a womanas any other, after all they were the same.
The next day Jack got to work charming his maid. He was a different person since heaccidently killed his wife, his guilt made him nicer, but he was still Jack and in a minutehe had the poor woman eating out of his hand.
With the maid acting as both house cleaner and nanny, Jack found he had more time onhis hands and he had figured out how to keep his skeletons in the closet. At midday, Jackstrode into the police station with his resume in hand. His charm was turned all they wayup, by the time the interview was done Jack had himself a new job.
Not long after the fling with the maid started, Jack began seeing Agneseverywhere. He was sure that he had to be losing his mind.
Finding that the new woman in his life’s cleaning left his children slightlyneglected, Jack hired a baby sitter. Snowie especially took to the red-headedbabysitter Candy.
Meanwhile, Jack busied himself upping his logic skill so that he would be wellprepared for whatever situation he would meet at his job.
“Hey.” Kate greeted him, sighing as she sat down. “I’m done with the house.”Jack was annoyed at the interruption, but he hid his face until he was able tomask his feelings and set up the board. The two of them chatted and got toknow each other a little better as they played. However, Jack kept the mostimportant details of himself hidden, most importantly his hot temper.
Kate went to freshen herself up, while she was doing so a cake was delivered,Jack smiled, his baby girl would be growing up today. True she would still bepretty reliant on him, but she would gain some independence and be able to helphim with Claus. Standing in front of the cake Jack thought about all of theconversations they could have, without the girl having to pause to gasp themeaning of Jack’s words or trying to find her own.
From the corner of his eyes, Jack saw Agnes standing by, thoroughly freaked outhe set Snowie on the ground and bolted from the kitchen. Was he going crazy? Hehad to be. Perhaps it was his conscience. No. That was ridiculous. Jack remindedhimself that Agnes’ death was the plan from the beginning and tried to force awayhis feelings, they were stupid, useless and they were interfering with his life.Feelings could cause him a lot of trouble.
Kate came downstairs and found Snowie munching away on cake. She frowned,Jack was her ticket to wealth and an easy life, she just wished that he didn’t havechildren that she would have to share the money with should something happento him. There was a reason she was nearly fifty and didn’t have any children of herown. She observed the little girl whose face was covered in icing, it was obviousthat this girl was Jack’s heartbeat, his favorite so Kate knew she had to make nicewith this child.
Kate left the dining room after unsuccessfully trying to bond with Jack’s daughterand found him leaning against the fridge. His eyes bounced around the room, heseemed nervous. Jack caught her staring and pulled her to him, he pushed his lipsup against hers, the kiss was soft, sweet, passionate. Kate smiled against Jack’slips, she could get used to this.
Jack could hear her protesting, he kept his eyes closed tightly so that hecouldn’t see her. She was calling him crazy, demanding to know what he wasdoing. But he had to ignore her, get his head together to do what needed to bedone before Kate decided to leave for the night.
Jack dropped to one knee and robotically recited the words he had practiced. Katewas so excited she missed the lack of emotion, the woman grabbed the ring fromthe box and slid it onto her finger.
After the comotion in the kitchen had died and she heard the front door slam, Snowiecame back to the kitchen and made herself a bowl of cereal. She had just finished eatingwhen a loud noise from the laptop caught her attention. The girl’s eyebrows knittedtogether in curiosity, she slid from the stool and went to the computer.
She watched the game for a minute, then it shut itself down and a message poppedup on the screen. It was written in simple language with small words that were easyfor the girl to figure out. The message told her to go to the mailbox, Snowie paused,she knew that her father would be upset if he found her outside in the middle of thenight, but like all children, she became very curious.
The draft bit into the girl’s skin, but she ignored it and went to the mailbox, standing ontiptoes she managed to pulled the mailbox open. The book didn’t look like anything shewould like to read but it had her name on it and that interested her. Snowie ran intothe house and slipped the book Dear Snowie under her mattress. There, now Daddywould never find out that she’d been outside.
Snowie found she did not like sleeping in the yellow blanketed bed, she grabbed herpillow and went to her Daddy’s room and climbed under the covers with him. Feelinghis warmth next to her the girl was instantly comforted and fell into a deep, peacefulsleep.
Jack was awakened when Snowie rolled over and kicked him in the ribs, he wassurprised to find his daughter in bed with him and wondered if she saw the ghost too.He got out of bed and went to the room to check on his other child. Claus was quietlyplaying alone in his crib, he grinned widely when his father entered the room.“Hungry lil man?” Jack asked as he lifted his son from the crib and presented himwith a warm bottle. Claus was awake, this meant that Jack would have to be too.
Snowie found herself heading to school on her own the next morning, her Daddyhad to go to work and her little brother wouldn’t be old enough to join her for awhile. This motivated Snowie to make as much friends as she could so that shewouldn’t have to be alone.
Her niceness made Snowie likeable, it was her first day at school and already she wasinvited over to somebody’s house.
With his sister visiting with friends, his father on a date and the babysitterdistracted by the TV, Claus was left on his own, or so he thought until a glowing pinklady showed up and chastised him for playing in the toilet.
Claus toddled back to the room that had been his alone since his sister’s birthday, hewas just wondering when she would come back to play with him when she pushedthe door open and handed him a bottle.
Snowie watched lovingly as he little brother sucked down the warm liquid, when hewas done he smiled widely and placed his hands over his eyes. Giggling at thetoddler’s antics Snowie sat in front of him and covered her own eyes. “Where’sClaus? Huh? Where’s the baby? Peek-a-boo!” Claus laughed loudly at his sister andcovered his eyes again. It wouldn’t be long before the warm milk made him sleepy.
When Jack got home, Claus was already asleep, he tucked Snowie in andexplained to her that she had a new step-mom who would share his room.Snowie was only a baby when her mother died, so she was confused about whyhe wanted to share a room with the maid. Jack on the other hand was excitedfor the night with his new bride, but if Agnes had anything to do with anything,this union would not last.