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  • 1. Fortune’s Fancy Chapter 1 part 4 A Legacy by Nicbemused andsimself Nicki Bemusedwith possible commentary by Other Characters
  • 2. There was something about her dreads that made Brenda feelmore in touch with the natural side of her, and her new outfit wasready for everything from a long hike in the woods to a funkyparty. She was totally satisfied.
  • 3. And Bryan wasn’t too bad himself.“Looking good, bro. Way better than that vesty thing you hadearlier.”“Yeah, well, the blue and the cargos are better than the red andthe shorts too, I guess. Dunno about the dreads.”“Hey, lay off the hair.”
  • 4. Of course, I should have realized that Brenda was going to want to ask somequestions and, while she wasn’t shy, they aren’t really questions you ask yourparents.“Ms. Bemused, I heard some townie kids saying something about at least one of ushaving babies. How d’you do that? Does it have to do with boys?”And that was how I ended up explaining woohoo to Brenda. Humph.
  • 5. Apparently Bastien overheard the question. I gotto tell him too.“Ms. Bemused, I think it would be really cool tohave kids, but does it really happen like that?”
  • 6. Later that evening, Brenda and Bryan got down to the serious business of practicing their dance moves.You had to have some game when you went to highschool. And, well, theirs needed some work.“Brends? Are you going to ask anyone out?”“I think I want to look around a little, see what feels right. Then I might go for it. I don’t know though,hanging out sounds good but I don’t really want a particular boyfriend. You?”“A guy’s gotta be seen with somebody. You know?”“I don’t think social status is a good reason to date. You should really want to be with them.”“I’m a guy. Wanting isn’t a problem. I could want anyone. If I’m going to go out with somebody, I wantsomething else out of it too. Besides, I want to know, and girls won’t let you unless you go out with them.”“Girls exist for more than furthering your knowledge. And that kind of wanting isn’t what I meant.”
  • 7. After they were done practicing, Bryan spent the rest of the night on the phone. Leif served burgers toeveryone else for their birthday family dinner and Bastien had some questions for his newly teened sister.“So, Brends. Why were you asking Ms. Bemused about woohoo?”Brenda stared straight ahead, not looking at her clearly appalled parents. For some reason her mother waslooking at her father with disbelief.“’Cause I wanted to know. We have family life class next week in school and I wanted to be smart for once.”“Are you sure that woohoo is the thing you want to know the most about?”“Better something than nothing.”“Brenda, you remember what I told you about thinking hard about what feels right and is right, don’t you?How it isn’t always the easy thing?”“Yes, Papa.”“Keep remembering.”
  • 8. The next morning, Alex and Leif took a rare few minutes to talk before they got up to getready for work.“I cannot believe how quickly the children are growing up. It is as though we live upon aspeeding train. Did you hear Brenda and Bryan last night? And then Bastien’squestions?” Leif was beginning to feel as though they’d missed a few important stops.“I did. I don’t know what we can do though. Brenda has a good head on her shouldersand Bastien has a good heart. They’ll be OK. I worry about Bryan.”“I am not much worried about Bryan. I worry about those around him, but not him. Theother two, I worry about them getting hurt.”They had to start getting ready for work, then, but they agreed to meet for lunch.
  • 9. While their parents were talking, the kids were out practicing theirdance move some more.“Hey, Brends, look at the baby doofus.”“Don’t make fun. He’ll figure it out. It isn’t like we’re all that greatourselves.”
  • 10. “Sure we are. Hey. Brat. Watch us!”“Ignore him, Bastien. You keep doing your own thing.”“Stop encouraging the brat, Brenda. He’s never going to be as cool as us and you know it.”“He’ll catch up and he’ll find what feels right to him. He doesn’t have to be just like you orjust like me.”“You and your stupid feelings. Nobody cares about feelings. They only care if you know theright stuff to look cool.”Brenda shrugged and kept dancing. She wasn’t going to convince Bryan anyway.
  • 11. Alex was only twenty minutes late for lunch.“I am pleased to see you were able to tear yourself away from the paper.”“Sorry, Leif, I’m sorry. My boss needed to talk to me for a minute.”“Sometimes I feel that I am not as important as your boss, as though our relationship is not asimportant.”“No, Leif, of course not. You and the kids are the most important things in my life!”“Have you heard our children? They do not seem to think relationships are important. And Ithink that we have taught them that.”Alex didn’t know what to say. In a way, Leif was right. They hadn’t been taking time foreachother recently and the children must have noticed. “Can we just eat lunch? I love you andI do value our relationship so I don’t want to spend this time with you fighting.” He lookeddoubtful and Alex wondered what she could do to prove she still valued them.
  • 12. When she got back to the office, Alex thought about what Leif hadsaid. It was true that she had been spending an awful lot of timeat the office and she could see how he might feel like she didn’tvalue their relationship, but he hadn’t said anything either, so itwasn’t like it was all her fault. Still, she knew he’d been wanting toget married and she wondered if that might make him feel better.
  • 13. She decided it would and, when she got home that day, she proposed. Shecould see that he was thrill and he accepted happily. Poor Brenda, though,was totally embarrassed by the display her parents were putting on. No oneelse’ parents ever had marriage proposals right outside on the sidewalk foreveryone to see. Why did they need to do that anyway, they werecommitted already? Everyone knew that. Bastien thought it was cool thatthey were going to be a regular family.
  • 14. Brenda didn’t mind as much once her mother asked her to help her shop for adress.“Why don’t we both look around while we’re here. I can’t get married in any ofmy old formals and you have great taste, Brenda. Besides, we don’t get to domuch with just the two of us.”“If you really want.” Brenda was thrilled, even if she was too cool to show it.
  • 15. “Hey, mom? There are tons of dresses here. What kind do youwant?”“Nothing too fussy or structured. Something simple, but long andromantic.”“Maybe this one?” Brenda pulled out a dress.
  • 16. “Oh, wow, you look totally gorgeous! You have to buy that one!” Brenda was usedto seeing her mother in practical, businesslike clothes, but in that dress her motherlooked beautiful and delicate.“You think?” Alex watched as Brenda nodded vigorously. “Yes, I think you are right.Now, lets find you something.”It didn’t take them long to find a dress for Brenda and both women left the boutiquehappy with their purchases and eachother.
  • 17. The wedding was held not long later in the bridal chapel in oldtown. There weren’t many guests, just the children and the chapelstaff really, but Alex and Leif were happy with it. They supposed itwas a bit unusual to get married when they had a child and twoteenagers, but Leif hoped it signaled a positive change in theirrelationship.
  • 18. After the wedding the party went upstairs to the reception room,where Leif cut the cake.“Brends, now that our parents are married, this makes uspractically squeaky clean, doesn’t it?” Bastien was excited aboutthe whole day.“Lady, I hope not.” Brenda muttered under her breath.
  • 19. Alex couldn’t stop laughing when Leif turned and tried to shovethe cake in her mouth. She’d been afraid that the wedding wouldmake them some old married couple, but it seemed like Leif wasstill willing to be a kid with her. The staff didn’t seem to mind thesilliness either.
  • 20. When they got back home after the party, the boys stayed outside while Alex andBrenda went in to get Alex out of her dress. Leif was still very excited and led Bryan andBastien in their first smustle.“Papa, the suit arms are too tight for me to do that move!”“It seems that you are growing again. Perhaps a brick placed atop your head wouldslow you down?”“Papa!”“Hey! Papa! Hey! Watch me!”
  • 21. Unfortunately the late night had caused them to catch a chill and they were allforced to eat soup so that they could be well for Bastien’s birthday.“Are you ready to be a teenager?”“I really really am! It’s no fun being the smallest! I want to do everything Brendsdoes. And Bryan too I guess.”“Well, try and wait for us to get home.”Bastien nodded, but he was doubtful. Marriage hadn’t changed his mother much,she was still always at work.
  • 22. When the time came, Brenda had made sure that everything was ready. She hadtold Bastien he should invite a friend, so he had, and she had made a cake for him.It was Brenda who made Bryan get off the computer to come cheer for his brotherand Brenda who glared at Bastien when he said, “Hey, brat, this isn’t going to reallymake you as good as us, you know.”“Shut up, Bry. It’s his birthday, be nice to him for once.”“Fine, whatever.”“I think I’m ready! I don’t think I can wait any longer!”
  • 23. Everyone backed up, knowing what would happen next.Bastien got ready to blow out the candles and leap intoteenhood. Then he heard a car pull up. His parents werehome! They’d at least tried to make it!
  • 24. Brenda went to get them to hurry up, but it was too late.Bastien couldn’t wait any longer and with one long breathhe blew out the candles and entered a new life stage.Apparently the cosmos thought it would involve a great dealof athletics.
  • 25. Bastien, however, wasn’t quite as keen on the athletics fashionas fate was, so he changed into something more suitable. Sure,the clothes were a bit conservative, but they fit his personalityand plans for the future.
  • 26. With both their parents home early, the teens had a rare family dinner.“Papa? Since we’re all teens now, can we go down to the diner after schooltomorrow?” Brenda took advantage of the family time to gain permission for anouting. When Bastien was younger, the twins had always had instructions to “comehome directly from school and watch your brother.” which Bryan and resentedmightly. The diner was where all the local action was and he felt like he should beallowed to become part of it. Brenda had felt it less keenly, she figured that ifsomeone wanted her badly enough, they’d find her.
  • 27. Having gained permission from their parents, the threeteenagers went to the diner after school the next day. Itwas the first time any of them had been as it had only beenbuild just before the twins had become teenagers and theyhadn’t been allowed to go before now. They had heardgood things about it from the other kids at school, though,and had hopes of a fun afternoon of hanging out, seeingfriends, and maybe meeting new people.
  • 28. Brenda was looking for some music related fun. She loved to dance and thoughtthat the best way to get to know guys was on the dance floor. “Beside,” she said,“fast dancing is the best way to figure out if you want a guys hands on you withoutthem getting offended if you decide you don’t. Nobody expects one dance to leadimmediately to the photobooth. Though it could.” She added thoughtfully.
  • 29. “What do you mean one dance could lead to the photobooth!” Bryan was indignantat his sister’s casual attitude. He could be casual, she couldn’t.Brenda was embarrassed she’d said that loudly enough for Bryan to hear. “Um…”she tried to think of something to say that would distract him. Fortunately, hedistracted himself.“Hey! You mean if I dance with a girl, even once, we might go to the photobooth?”“Sure Bry.” Brenda hurried away before he could get back to thinking about her.
  • 30. Brenda spend most of the afternoon dancing with boy after boy.She didn’t make any trips to the photobooth though. She decidedshe didn’t feel ready for that yet. Bryan, on the other hand, playedvideo games and pinball. For most of the afternoon there wasn’tanyone he was interested in meeting. Bastien drifted, talking tolots of people but never really settling down into a conversation.
  • 31. Just before they had to leave, though, Bryan did meet a girl. Gossip saidthat Meadow was a pushover for a guy with a smooth line so he calledher gorgeous and asked for her number. She blushed and asked wherehe went to school. When he told her he went to the private school shethought about it and said, “The private school only accepts good boys,right?” and then she gave him her number.Honestly, Meadow. Don’t you learn?
  • 32. The next day was Saturday, so Brenda made them breakfast whilethey waited for their parents to wake up. She wanted to be a chefwhen she grew up, so she practiced as much as possible.The three of them decided they’d had enough togetherness andmade separate plans.
  • 33. There was a Starvoyage marathon on the Scisimfi channel today and a meteor showertonight, so Bryan decided to stay home. That didn’t, of course, keep him off thephone or from using his rather well developed imagination. His daydreams weren’tones he could share with his mother.He did, however, promise to pummel his siblings if either mentioned why he’d stayedhome.
  • 34. The meteor shower was beautiful with strand after strand ofglittering starlight streaking its way across the sky. He thought, fora moment, that he saw one glitter moving in an opposing directionto the others, but when he tried to focus the scope in, it was gone.
  • 35. Brenda decided to go hiking. She always felt like she could thinkbest when she was close to nature and being in the wildernesshelped her instincts run true. She could listen to her heart and herthoughts together when there weren’t any other people aroundmaking noise.
  • 36. On her way to her hike, Brenda dropped Bastien at the diner. Hewas hoping to meet some new people, but he ended up playingvideo games all day. At least they had pretty good burgers.
  • 37. Brenda and Bastien met at the beach before heading back. Theyboth liked the laid-back atmosphere and hanging out in front ofthe waves relaxed them.
  • 38. They talked a bit about their days while they relaxed. Brenda explained thepeacefulness of the woods to Bastien and he told her about not meeting anynew people. One of the things that bothered him sometimes was thateveryone they knew had known the twins first. Brenda told him not to worry,he came off great in comparison to Bryan. The both laughed, but Brenda wassad. She loved her twin and wished he was less of a jerk.
  • 39. When they got back, Brenda sent Bastien in without her.There was a friend from the woods she wanted to greet.Alone.
  • 40. Most of the time, though, the siblings didn’t go off alone. They were happy tohave their house full of their friends and all the local teens knew that Mr. andMrs. Destin kept a full fridge and weren’t home a lot and even when he washome, Mr. Destin was usually on the phone to the art gallery or the musicconservatory where he sometimes played piano in the evening. It was a goodplace to hang.
  • 41. Not only that, but Brenda made the best snacks and wasn’t shy aboutresponding to a flirt or two. As long as a fellow didn’t try and get too serious,she was cool with whatever. Trying to control her was a quick trip to shut-downsville though.Bryan buzzed from girl to girl, but the nectar he wanted to sip the mostbelonged to oh-so-blonde Chloe. Bastien just wished Chloe would notice him.
  • 42. While the teens were trying their social wings, Alex was being contacted by an oldacquaintance. One day she opened her email and there was a message from hermother’s lawyer asking her to meet him for lunch. He was in a nearby city and he hadsome news she needed to hear. Worried, she agreed to meet him at one of the city’sfancier dining establishments.“Thank you for meeting me, Lexie. It’s important that you hear what I have to say.”“It’s Alex, Mr. Matlock.” Alex looked at him, puzzled and apprehensive. “We haven’tcorresponded in almost two decades. What is it that is so urgent?”
  • 43. Robert Fortune Junior, heir of Robert Fortune senior, and his sister Belinda graduatefrom highschool and head for the Academie. Belinda has spent the last year studying inFrancim in preparation. The family has also recently adopted a baby cousin when herparents passed away. We wish them good luck in future endeavors.“You know that your eldest set of siblings has reached their majority and full access totheir father’s papers?”“Yes. I try and keep track of them when I can.”“Well, apparently whatever they found had made Belinda furious. She’s swearing tofind you had make you sorry for what your mother did.”
  • 44. Back at the office, Alex considered the rest of the conversation.“I should probably contact them, now that they are old enough to understand whathappened.”“I wouldn’t advise it, my dear, Belinda is quite out of her reason when she speaks ofyou. I have heard her in my partner’s office, berating Andrew for failing to track youdown.”Alex had thanked him for his advice and the rest of the lunch had been full of casualcatching up and then they had both gone on their separate ways.She looked at the screen in front of her and wondered if she should take his advice.Then she pressed SEND.
  • 45. She would have had even more doubts if she could have seen the way her emailwas received.“That BITCH! I can’t believe she emails me and offers me her love after all theseyears! As though father didn’t tell us what she did! Like I’m going to trust her!”Belinda didn’t return the email. Instead she forwarded it, with the IP address to herprivate investigator.
  • 46. Brenda didn’t have her mother’s worries. Her worries were those of a normalteenage girl. All the boys flirted with her which she thought was nice. It was a fungame to pass the time. And kissing, she found, was even more fun than flirting.Chris was the first boy she kissed. It was the first kiss for both of them, and theyboth liked it a lot.
  • 47. Chris wasn’t the only boy Brenda kissed, though. She wondered ifthey all kissed the same, so when another boy tried to kiss her, shelet him. Some things were the same, but some were different.Both kisses felt good and the boys seemed to like them too.Hmmm.
  • 48. But two wasn’t enough for a good comparison. Besides, kissingwas still fun. So when another classmate wanted a kiss, she kissedhim as well. He was not as good as the other two had been. Shethought maybe he wasn’t really into her? Brenda didn’t know,only that she’d liked the other kisses better.
  • 49. Chris, though, she knew he was really into her. She had toldeveryone that she wasn’t interested in a relationship or in goingtoo far casually, but Chris still came around and talked with her.He seemed to be interested in what she said and alwaysconsidered her words carefully before putting out his own ideas.
  • 50. He was also the one who noticed when she had had a bad day orwas tense and stressed out. Sometimes he would just be silly withher, but sometimes he would offer to give her a backrub too. Ofall the boys she’d kissed and flirted with, it was Chris that Brendatrusted the most.
  • 51. And so, when he asked her to go “as friends” with him to his cousin’s wedding,Brenda agreed. He didn’t want to go by himself and she didn’t mind doing him afavor, especially since he was probably the person she liked best outside herfamily and he always helped her out.She was surprised, though, when dancing with him felt so right. That togetherthey felt right.
  • 52. A few days later, when he suggested they go to the little ice-creamplace above old downtown, Brenda agreed and when he offeredto pay, she didn’t argue.
  • 53. When a slow song came on and he suggested they dance, Brendaagreed to that as well. His arms felt good and when they movedtogether, everything seemed to flow.
  • 54. And when he took her home and kissed her at the door, the nightthe was perfect. Neither of them said “date”, but they both knewwhat this was.
  • 55. Brenda wasn’t even surprised when he snuck over later that nightand left her flowers. The card though, that surprised her. It read,“You are the best friend I have. The only friend I want to kiss. Thismight not be right forever, but it is perfect right now and the worldglows brighter when I am with you. –Chris.”
  • 56. He was the only boy Brenda ever snuck up to her room.
  • 57. Bryan was learning all about girls at the same time Brenda waslearning about boys. And just because he liked Chloe didn’t meanhe didn’t like other girls too. Sometimes he talked with Sophieand she was OK. Cute enough, but sometimes she was boring.
  • 58. Bryan also talked with Emily. He talked with her a lot. Especiallywhen Chloe wasn’t around. She was great, but for some reason hefelt it was better if the two girls weren’t over at the same time.
  • 59. Chloe, though, was the challenge. The pretty girl he chased hardestand most. Every time he’d flirt with her, she told him she wanted to befriends. That she knew how he was. That she needed to know that hewas serious. That neither of them were ready for a “real” relationship.He, of course, told her they were, that he thought she was fun andcharming and exciting.
  • 60. When they came back from summer break to their last year inhigh-school, though, he thought she was the hottest thing he’dever seen. He’d always thought she should do something with herhair and whatever she’d done made her totally hot. He took herout, told her she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen and,when they got back to the house gave her her first kiss.
  • 61. Eventually she agreed to sneak up to Bryan’s room.“Just kissing? Right? I like kissing you.”“Baby, you make me so hot, but I’ll stop whenever you tell me to. Imean, I’ll hurt, but I’ll stop if you tell me.”
  • 62. “You love me, right?”“You are the best girl friend! I can’t even tell you how much I careabout you!”
  • 63. Emily, though. Emily was around a lot too. She was cute and fun,even though she wasn’t beautiful. She was easy to talk to. Shewas easy to dance with.
  • 64. She was easy to flirt with.
  • 65. And easy to kiss. She didn’t try to make demands on him and didn’t try andmake their relationship too much. She told him she like him, and they couldhook up, but it wasn’t forever. He never mentioned Chloe to her andthreatened his siblings with an immediate and perfect memory of all theirembarrassing transgressions and a very large mouth if they mentioned thegirls to each-other.Brenda simply could not believe her brother. Really, he was kissing Emilyright in front of Papa.
  • 66. In fact, everyone was pretty much appalled by Bryan’s behavior. Every night Chloe wasn’tthere, Bryan invited Emily over. Brenda was tempted to tell Emily. They were friends andshe knew that Emily wasn’t really serious about Bryan and that she wouldn’t want to bethe other woman in any relationship, but Bryan’s threats kept her mouth closed. Bastiendidn’t know what to do. He was disgusted that any guy who had Chloe would be playingaround at all and he didn’t want her hurt, but he kind of wanted Chloe to find out andbreak up with Bryan. Emily was OK, but he knew she wouldn’t take it too hard.
  • 67. In fact, I was appalled enough that I broke my non-interference policy.“Emily! What do you think you are doing playing around with Bryan? Don’t youknow that he’s is involved with Chloe? He’s cheating on her with you and it’s goingto break her heart!”“Geez, Mom, of course I’ve heard those rumors. I’m not deaf. I asked him about itand he says they’re just friends.”“Em, I think you should ask around more. I don’t think they are just friends and Ican’t believe you’d want to see anyone hurt because of you.”
  • 68. Apparently Emily worried about that all night because at theearliest possible moment, she gave Bryan a call.“Um, Bry? Hi. I just wanted to ask you. I mean I heard. Um, youand Chloe? Just friends, right?”
  • 69. “Geez, Em, you aren’t getting’ heavy on me, are you? Yeah, Chloe and I are just friends, theway you and I are just friends. We’ve hooked up some, but it isn’t like we’re engaged oranything.”“Oh, um, good. I just thought I should ask.”“Well now you know. Oops, got to go, the bus is here.”“You are such scum, Bryan. I swear to the Creator that I’m never going to let some guy do thatto me.” Brenda was beyond disappointed in her brother.
  • 70. Despite his sister’s judgment, Bryan thought he was pretty hotstuff.“Yeah, dude, you are so totally the man. Two girls at once andboth of them totally on your string.”
  • 71. Bastien was spending some time working on his romantic skills aswell. He wasn’t really serious about anyone, though, andeveryone knew it. He wanted Chloe, but his brother had her andwas screwing up the relationship unforgivably. Creator take him,Bryan so selfish.
  • 72. While his children were out practicing their romantic skills and messing up their lives,Leif was at the music conservatory, playing the piano and pondering his messed up life.He’d thought that Alex’ proposal meant that she was going to spend more time on theirrelationship and she had, at first. Then she’d returned to her old habits. He, however,was not going to return to his. He was not going to stay home and pine for her. Two orthree nights a week, now, he played for the dance lessons or a concert, then went to alocal restaurant to eat before going home. He met a lot of people and he was less lonely.
  • 73. One night when he was stopping for a bite, one of his daughter’s friends slid into thebooth beside him put a hand on his thigh and asked if he ever thought about cheatingon his wife.Leif lifted her hand off him and scooted further over. “It is not necessary for you toworry for me. I should never do such a thing. I am happy in my marriage and love mywife very much.” He pretended he had not understood her implications. Even if hehad been looking for an affair, she was much too young. And he wasn’t looking for anaffair, was he?
  • 74. Leif had a concert the next night, but he decided to invite Alex to join him for dinnerafterwards. Sitting in the restaurant they had the first serious conversation they’d had abouttheir relationship in years. Leif told Alex about the girl the night before and how her approachhad made him realize that he was lonely enough that maybe he wouldn’t have turned downthe right woman asking him. Alex was hurt and she didn’t admit to him that perhaps she’dhad a few too many lunches with her boss. She admitted it to herself, though, and thatalthough things hadn’t gone further yet, they could have. They both committed to actuallymaking time for each-other and this time, each was serious. Every morning they made timeto lay together and talk, they always had dinner together if Leif was playing, and Alex didn’t goout to lunch with her boss any more.
  • 75. As the end of their senior year approached, Brenda knew she needed to talk toChris. She invited him out to the ice-cream parlor and they held hands as theylooked down over Old Downtown Enhearten.The spring air was perfect for romance and they held hands as they looked out, butthey both knew.
  • 76. After they ate, they got up to go home, but Chris said, “Wait.” andpulled her into a dance. “It’s beautiful up here and we shouldhave another memory of tonight.”He was right. The view was gorgeous and the dance was perfect.It was the right way to end the meal. They danced until it startedto get cold.
  • 77. When Brenda and Chris got back to Brenda’s house, they walked together into the backyard and stood talking. Brenda took Chris’ hand.“You know I care about you. Probably more than I care about anyone else except myfamily.”“But.”Brenda smiled at him. He knew her too well. “Yes, but. But we both know this isn’tforever. I love you, but I’m not forever and only in love with you and you aren’t foreverand only in love with me. We’re both going to college and we’ll meet new people and Idon’t want either of us to get hurt.”
  • 78. “Yeah. It’s time, I guess.”Brenda could tell that, like her, Chris was sad, but not heartbroken.They hugged each-other for a long time, then Brenda broke away.She looked back and waved when she got to the house and thenwatched from a window until Chris got into his car.
  • 79. When Brenda broke up with Chris, Bryan decided he should probably dosomething about Chloe. She was hot and everything, but he didn’t want ahigh-school girlfriend weighing him down when he went to college.Figuring she wouldn’t made too much of a scene if he broke up with her inpublic, he called and asked if she wanted to go to lunch. She agreed to meethim at a café in the city.
  • 80. He got to the café very early and decided to eat then so that he couldleave once he was done. When she arrived, he took her to the backpatio to, he said, “wait for a table.” As they were “waiting” Bryanturned to her. “So. Chloe. You know I’m almost ready to graduate,and all. And, like I know you have a year left at school. But, like, thething is, I don’t really believe in long distance relationships. Theynever, like, work.” Uh oh, she was starting to look angry.
  • 81. “But Bryan, I’m sure that we could make it work. After all, we’ve beeneverything to each-other. You said that we’d be each-other’s first and onlyand that you’d care about me forever.”“Chloe, I will care about you forever, but I don’t think we can keep datingwhile I’m at college. It wouldn’t be good for either of us.”“It’ll be OK, Bry. I can wait until we’re in school together again. There arevacations and phone calls and everything.”
  • 82. OK, enough was enough. “Listen. I tried to let you down easy, but you aren’tlistening to me. I don’t want to go out any more. We’re over. Find someoneelse and be happy. I’m going to college in a couple of months and you aren’t.You can’t afford college and besides, you’re going to be here for another wholeyear. It’s done. We’re done. You’ve been a nice ride, but it’s over.”As he spoke she looked angrier and angrier.
  • 83. “Bryan Destin! I cannot believe you are saying that to me! I’ve been a nice ride?! A niceride?!” She seemed to run out of words.Maybe he should have put it differently, but he’d tried to let her down easy and shewouldn’t go. She should have figured it out. Really it was her own fault he had to be soblunt.Chloe had recovered her words while he’d been thinking. “I hope you fail college andcome home in shame. I hope you get struck by lightening. I hope you need somethingfrom me some day just so that I can spit on you when you ask for help. I hope your bitsfall off! I hope I never see you again!” She turned and ran out of the restaurant.Well. That had gone well.
  • 84. Bryan was glad for the end of the year party the next day. A friend of theirs had a cabin outin the middle of nowhere and they were all meeting there for a huge bash. That cabin hadeverything. Ev-Ry-Thing. Beside home was kind of cold right now. He’d had a few things todo in the city and by the time he’d gotten back home, the word had clearly spread. Brendawas on the phone when he came in and she’d taken one look at him and said, “Jerkface. I’mnot talking to you.”Bastien must have heard as well because he shook his head at Bryan, rolled his eyes, andsaid, “How are we even related?” Neither had said anything else.
  • 85. The party was in full swing when he got there. Brenda had drivendown with Bastien earlier, deliberately leaving him to cage a ride.Fortunately Emily had been going his way. She was more funanyway.
  • 86. Nobody else seemed mad at him, so maybe Chloe had only toldBrenda and Bastien about what had happened. Brenda seemedunhappy with Emily as well as him, but whatever. There were girlsto do and things to see. Em had indicated that she might beaccommodating, at least. It was the last party, he was going tohave a good time.
  • 87. In fact, Emily was quite accommodating. What did he care if Chloehad shown up.
  • 88. Brenda wasn’t sure what to do when she saw Chloe come throughthe door just as Bryan was dragging Emily into the back room. Shetried to head Chloe off, but the other girl had clearly seen whatwas going on and wasn’t having any of it.
  • 89. All she could do in the end was to pretend she wasn’t watching asChloe cast a long sad look at the door Bryan had disappearedthrough before she turned and went back out the door she’d justentered.
  • 90. “I cannot even believe you did that! You knew Chloe was going tobe here and you still went off with Emily.”“Dude! Relax! We’re broken up!”“You broke up yesterday.”“So? Broken up is broken up.”
  • 91. With graduation nearing, Leif and Alex had more serious topics for their faithfully kept early morningtalks. Alex needed to start thinking about who was going to inherit. The contract she had withBemused Construction stated that she needed to decide by the time the kids were through college.“Well, what do you think? The twins have graduated so we need to decide soon.”“I am thinking more that you need to decide, holder of the contract.”“Stop it and help me. First, Brenda. She’s reliable and dependable, but I don’t think she’s themarrying type. Second, Bryan. He’s. Well, he’s smart. Third, Bastien. He’s bright, ambitious, drivenand reliable, and wants a deep family bond.”“I think not Bryan. I am most distressed to say this of one of our children but he is, as I overheardBrenda say on the phone yesterday, ‘kind of a dick.’ The other two, they are good friends. We mightwatch them at university and if we have not decided by the end, ask them to discuss it.”Alex agreed that that was probably the wisest plan.
  • 92. Brenda was thinking deep thoughts as well. She could feelcrispness starting to creep into the air up in the hills and knew thatit would be the same at home soon. She loved her walks, but shewas starting to get restless. It was almost time to move to the nextstep, she thought. Yes. Moving on would feel right very soon.
  • 93. One day after a walk Brenda went back to sit near the pond and she knew it wastime. The late afternoon air was crisp with approaching fall and she was ready.Bastien came to sit near her. “You look like you are thinking serious thoughts.Mind if I join you?”“And what serious thoughts are you thinking, most beloved of youngerbrothers?”He shook his head. “Nope. You first.”
  • 94. “OK. Me first. I think it’s time to for Bryan and I to head forcollege. It feels right and you know how my feelings are.”“I wish you guys didn’t have to go. Or, at least, that you didn’thave to.” Bastien sounded sad.“It’ll only be a year, and then you’ll be with us again.” Brendawould miss Bastien too.
  • 95. “But what will I do without your wisdom guiding me through theshark infested social waters. Or, you know, if I have a questionabout girls.”“You’ll call me on the phone, like a normal person.”“Yeah. I guess.”
  • 96. “Sounds like maybe you have a particular question?”“Chloe.”“Oh, Lady, not still?” Brenda had watched Bastien moon over the girl for years but thoughthe’d given up.“I know you think it’s silly or some kind of competitive thing with Bryan, but it isn’t. I really dolove her. But how do I. I mean, with the whole Bryan thing…”“You can’t make it easy, can you. OK. Well, first you’ll need to be patient. She’s hurt andangry right now, and you are just going to remind her of Bryan. Second…”Bastien listened while Brenda talked, trying to memorize her advice. He really would miss hera lot and not just for her advice on girls.
  • 97. When she finished trying to talk Bastien through his strategy, Brenda wentin and told her parents and Bryan that it was time for them to go. Shecalled a cab and when it arrived, she and Bryan got in and took off.Watching her two oldest, Alex wondered how they would fare, how hersiblings had fared, out in the wide world by themselves.
  • 98. Belinda and Robert had done some studying at the Academie, ofcourse. It wouldn’t do for them to get kicked out after all. Theyhad standards to uphold. However, most of their studying was notof the academic kind.
  • 99. Robert had spent a great deal of time studying anatomy. Femaleanatomy. Mostly of the floozy kind. He had appalling taste inwomen. Mindy, for example, would never do. Their father wouldbe doing triple lutzes in his grave if Mindy ended up the mother ofhis grandchildren.
  • 100. So, to prevent parental spinning, Belinda introduced Robert toMorgan Tribet. She was a sweet girl of appropriate family and shewas pretty enough if you liked red hair, and Robert did. Besides,her greatest ambition in life was to have and care for children andthat was exactly appropriate for Robert’s wife. He would need anheir.
  • 101. Fortunately it seemed like she’d chosen well. They got along splendidly and Robertgave up chasing floozies altogether. Success, just as she liked it. She ignored thesickening sweetness they spread all over the dorm and went about her ownbusiness. Not that her father would have approved of that either, but she wascareful to prevent any further little problems from cropping up and she worked quitehard at her classes when she wasn’t distracted elsewhere.
  • 102. Before long, Robert asked Morgan to marry him and she joyfullyaccepted. No one would be mentioning that this happened in adorm room next to a bed with very freshly rumple sheets. Really,no need to talk about that.
  • 103. Belinda had studied quite hard. In fact she finished a year beforeher brother did. It was, she figured, time to move on. The dormieswere not bad looking, but things were becoming tense. If only theywould not become so emotional. She did so like blonds though.None of the family came to her graduation, but Belinda was notparticularly disappointed.
  • 104. When Belinda arrived back, she discovered why her step-motherand siblings had not attended. At an appallingly late stage in life,Bunny had been delivered of a child. The father did not appear tobe in residence or in evidence. Belinda wondered if child supportwould be forthcoming or if they were expected to be responsiblefor the child. She called her lawyer.
  • 105. Andrew Barrister, her lawyer (formerly her father’s lawyer), hurried directly over toassure Belinda that her father’s estate bore no responsibility for little Dulcie. The babywould carry the Fortune name, unfortunately, as Bunny carried it, but everyone wouldknow the child wasn’t a true Fortune. Bunny could care for the baby out of herwidow’s portion if she wished but once her true Fortune children were grown, it wouldbe Robert Junior’s choice whether she could continuing residing in the mansion.Andrew put an arm around Belinda and told her not to worry.
  • 106. Belinda was not entirely certain who had begun things, but shediscovered that Andrew was quite good on a couch and that a skirtwas really most accommodating for such a situation.When they had finished, Belinda began to work on her nextpriority, finding Alexandra. Her PI had been most helpful.
  • 107. Belinda had just begun to search for her despised older sister’s whereabouts whenshe felt an unpleasant sensation in her middle. Hm. It seemed she had not beenquite careful enough in preventing little unwanted occurrences. Given the timing,she was certain that she had acquired this one before she had visited with Andrew.However, the dormie who had probably contributed to her state was both poor andunsuitable. Therefore, he was not a possibility. And she could not stain the familyname. It would be obvious if she went away again and brought back a baby.
  • 108. Belinda waited a few days and then called Andrew and asked himto come visit. When he arrived, she explained her, their, difficulty.He was, of course, somewhat distress by this event as he was alifelong bachelor. He said he needed some time to think. He wasan old fashioned man, however, and she knew he would do theright thing.
  • 109. And in the end he did. Later that day, Andrew called and invitedBelinda out to a rather tacky, she thought, restaurant and askedher to do him the honor of accepting his proposal of marriage. Sheaccepted, of course.
  • 110. Andrew and Belinda (nee Fortune) Barrister are please toannounce their marriage. They were married at the bride’s familyhome where they will reside with her stepmother, 5 siblings, oneadopted sibling, and her stepsister.They were married rather swiftly for a society couple, but the bridewas able to wear her very slim wedding gown.
  • 111. Not quite long enough after the wedding “their” daughter arrived.Andrew had no inkling that the child wasn’t his and Belindaintended to see that it remained that way. She was, she supposed,glad that she hadn’t had a boy. It seemed poor form to pass oneman’s child off as another man’s heir. Yes, it was much better thatshe had had a girl.
  • 112. Caroline Barrister makes her first appearance in the society pagesas her parents welcome her home.Andrew was very happy with “his” little girl. He was so happy thathe began hinting about trying for a boy. Fortunately he was soondistracted with other events.
  • 113. Robert Fortune Jr. Graduated from the Academie this week. Hereturns home with his fiancee Morgan Tribet (also newlygraduated). Ms. Tribet’s family are the well known PalmbayTribets and no doubt both family welcome this excellent alliance.They plan to marry privately at the Fortune estate as Ms. Tribet’shome was destroyed in a recent hurricane.
  • 114. Now that she was delivered of the baby, Andrew insisted that thetwo of them take a honey-moon. He said that it would be goodpractice for Morgan to take care of the baby. As she had not yethad much luck finding Alexandra, Belinda acquiesced. A trip to theislands couldn’t do that much harm.
  • 115. Belinda found Andrew to be quite solicitous the entire trip. He paidclose attention and took very good care of all her needs. She foundhim quite sweet. Perhaps she might think of giving him an heironce she’d finished with Alexandra.
  • 116. While Belinda and Andrew were gone, Robert and Morgan had amarvelous time getting to know the children. They’d been barelymore than babies when Robert and Belinda had left for universityand so Robert was learning as much about them as Morgan was.The both enjoyed children a great deal.
  • 117. By the time Belinda and Andrew returned from their very lengthy honey-moon, Robert and Morgan were very anxious to marry. Bunny had notallowed them to share a room the entire time as it was “a bad examplefor the children”. Robert had nearly asked her what she thought baringan illegitimate child was, but he held his tongue and, once Belinda andAndrew were back, they were swiftly married in the living room at home.
  • 118. Robert Fortune Jr. and his wife, Morgan (nee Tribet) Fortune are pleased to announcetheir marriage. The couple was married privately at the Fortune family home wherethey intend to reside. Mrs. Fortune’s family reports that they are very please with thewedding but they were distressed at being unable to attend the ceremony due to sometrouble in their yacht’s engine room when they were halfway between Monte Carloand Gibraltar which left them temporarily stranded at sea.
  • 119. Very shortly after her brother’s wedding, Belinda discovered that she was againwith child. When she counted back, Belinda was irritated to discover that Andrewmust have been attempting to conceive his heir during their trip. He had notconsulted with her at all about this. She was nearly certain she had discoveredher despised sister, but now she was unable to move her plan forward until shedelivered.
  • 120. Ah, well, at least now she could enjoy herself without the risk of anobviously non-Barrister baby. It would be best if Andrew did notfind out, however.
  • 121. Alex was sure that things would go well for Brenda and Bryan. Brenda had goodinstincts and Bryan always took care of himself. They would both be fine and, ifthey weren’t, she and Leif were only a phone call away.Bastien felt very alone as he watched the taxi drive away. He wasn’t sure what hewould do without them around and it would be an entire year before he couldjoin them.
  • 122. Next time in Fortune’s Fancy:Are Alex and Leif finally solid?Does Bastien make it through by himself?Do the twins pass or play too hard?What exactly is Belinda’s plan?

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