Jack entered the kitchen and gave the toddler a peeved look. This one wasworst because she could move around and she was more vocal. Snowie’s hairwas the perfect mix of his natural black hair and Agnes’ blond hair. Jack lookedat the cake longingly, the tot had already seen him, she would demandattention any second, but just maybe it wasn’t too late to run out of the room.
Snowie, in all her innocence had no idea of her father not wanting her around.She was fascinated by the tall, hard man who she often saw in her house. Hermother had told him to call him Daddy but the closest she came to that word wasDada. She took the man’s look of bemusement the first time she raised up hershort arms to him and shouted ‘Dada’ to be one of approval, and she noted thatwhenever she referred to him as ‘Dada’ she got attention.
The one she called ‘Mama’ had taught her lots of words and as soon asSnowie comprehended the meanings, she began to put them together, sherealized that the more words she put together the easier it was for Mamaand Dada to understand what she wanted.
Jack busied himself strumming away on the guitar, however, he looked on as hisdaughter said words and giggled uproariously when her mother clapped inapproval. Jack lowered his head to hide his smile, he hated to admit it but he wasactually fascinated by the toddler and his annoyance of her was quickly turning toadoration. The first time she had called him Dada his heart nearly melted.
Since then the little girl said ‘Dada’ and lifted her arms to him whenever shewanted his attention. She would snuggle her head against his neck or try tohug him with her short little arms. Eventually, her parents noticed that Snowiepreferred her father to her mother, especially when she was sleepy, she wouldcry and throw a tantrum until Jack tended to her.
Jack set about teaching Snowie her life skills, although her mother finished thelessons, Jack decided that he would give himself credit for trying. He alsorefused to admit that he’d fallen in love with the girl, telling himself that he wasonly teaching her so that she could hurry up and grow up.
Meanwhile, Agnes spent her time with her son Claus. It was obvious that thelittle boy and his sister shared a lot of the same features. Agnes’ big gray eyes forone, and possibly the same reddish-brown hair.
Agnes started when the bedroom door flew open, an exhausted Jack came in andset Snowie on the floor, she was already bathed and ready for bed. Agnes hid hersmile as she watched her husband hand the toddler the bottle roughly, knowingthat his roughness was only a show for her. She had seen the way he interacted withthe girl. “Be sure to put her on the potty before you put her in her crib.”“Whatever.” Jack grumbled.
He did as he was bid though, the little girl chatted animatedly as she didher business. There were a million questions, some impossible to answer.Jack explained to her for the hundredth time why she had to be a big girland learn how to use the potty.
When he put her in the crib, Snowie’s bottom lip spread, she knew that her Dadawould be leaving her soon, the lights would be gone and she would have to sit andbe bored in the room with the other baby who squirmed and cried a lot.
Agnes looked at her reflection in the computer screen. She looked older than sheactually was, the stress of living with Jack had started to take its toll on her. Hersister worried as Agnes had taken to calling her whenever there was a problemwhich was often. Agnes had also taken up writing, sometimes just venting viaMicrosoft Word was all she needed to lower her blood pressure. Agnes called herjournal style book Dear Snowie. She wrote so that her little girl would learn not tofall for a man who would not treat her like the princess she was.
Gunter sighed as he looked at the screen. Agnes was telling him about herbook, she had just documented the day’s events. Today was one of the goodones, Snowie had kept Jack distracted so Agnes had some peace from thetemperamental man. Like Cornelia, Gunter had asked his sister-in-law to movein with them, he worried about her and her children. But Agnes wasdetermined to seem independent when they could clearly see her breaking.
As he had promised all those years ago, Gunter had done his research on Jack Winter andwhat he found was surprisingly insignificant. Sure Jack was not the kind of man any parentwould wish for their daughter to marry but he was not a hardened criminal. His crimesincluded misdemeanors, petty theft and a couple DUIs and DWIs, but nothing like Gunterhad expected to find. To be on the safe side he began to document his many conversationswith Agnes, just in case something happened. And seeing as how he was down in age, hemade sure that his son Mortimer could access his computer.
After another heated exchange with her husband, Agnes found herself on Cornelia’sdoorstep. She needed another break from the two crying children and her moodyhusband.
Mortimer let her in and immediately trapped his aunt at the table so he couldtell her about his upcoming birthday and his best friend Bella. Gunter was in thebackground typing away musing at how his son would probably marry the girlwho was his constant companion.
As soon as Gunter stepped away from the laptop to turn in for the night, Agnestook the seat he’d just vacated, plugged her jump drive into the USB port anduploaded her files to Gunter’s hard drive. She had this sense that something badwas going to happen, a nagging feeling she just couldn’t shake. Of course shewould not tell the Goths about it or they would never let her leave. When she wasdone she mounted the stairs to the guest bedroom, changed into the night clothesshe kept there and crawled under the covers.
At home Jack was not having a good night. Both of the kids were irritable, Snowierefused to sleep and Claus was being fussy because he’d been constipated for twodays and it made his tummy uncomfortable.
The next day Jack was as miserable as his children, this intensified when he wasforced to make his own breakfast in a messy kitchen. Agnes was still not at home andhe was highly pissed, he was sure to let her know exactly what was on his mind thesecond she stepped through the door.
After another day with the children Jack was at his wits end, although they allowedhim to get to bed earlier he was still in a bad mood, the spot beside him wasempty, Agnes would have a lot of explaining to do.
At the Goth house, Agnes was putting the finishing touches on her book. With abeaming smile she folded the laptop and spun in the chair. “What’s wrong?” Sheasked when she saw Cornelia’s face.“You slept here last night, you’ve been here all day and it looks like you plan onsleeping here again. Agnes, I’m worried about your children, perhaps you shouldgo home and check on them.”Agnes sighed, Jack would be furious and she was not in the mood for a fight butshe missed her children and she was also worried about them. “I’ll call you once Iget everything settled.” Agnes told Cornelia as she went upstairs to change.
Jack stormed out of the kitchen, Claus was upstairs wailing and Snowie had passed outfrom exhaustion on the rug in front of the stairs. Jack hated babysitting but he didn’tmind doing it for a few hours, or even over night, this stunt Agnes had pulled wasridiculous. He scooped Snowie up so haphazardly that the girl was startled from her sleepand she began crying along with her brother. The frustrated Jack began shouting at bothof his kids, he dumped Snowie into her crib and completely ignored Claus then hestormed into the bedroom.
When he woke up the next morning he was unpleasantly surprised to find Agnessnoring lightly beside him, he walked around to her side of the bed and shookher roughly. Agnes jumped up, and drowsily stumbled into him.
“Two days Agnes, you’ve been at your sister’s for two days. Have you forgotten that you’vegot a family to take care of? I can’t even begin to tell you how pissed off I am. Do you haveany idea how hard it is to take care of a sick baby and an energetic toddler on your own?”“I’m sorry Jack. I was busy?”“Busy? Busy!” Jack flung his arms in the air. “Busy with what? Your job is to clean thishouse, cook the food and take care of the children.”
Agnes got in his face. “That’s bogus and you know it. I practically raised Snowie bymyself and I am raising Claus alone. If your want somebody to cook and clean upyour messes go hire a butler. I’m sick and tired of being here and having to deal withyour bull shit.” Agnes took a breath. “You know what, I’m taking my kids and I’mleaving.”
Before Agnes could continue Jack brought his hand across her face, how dare shethreaten to leave him. Agnes fell backward, the back of her head hitting thenightstand. “Woman you must be crazy if you think I’ll let you go anywhere.” Jackshouted and stomped working himself up into a rage.
Just as quickly as his rant had started it subsided. Jack realized that he was getting noreply which was unlike Agnes. “Aggie?” He called looking down at the woman whowas curled into the fetal position, blood haloing her head. Jack fell to his kneesscooping up his wife’s body. Guilt and fear gripped his heart like a vice.
“Oh God! I’m so sorry, Aggie open your eyes. Aggie? Agnes.” He ran his fingers throughher hair, tears clouding his eyes. Even before he’d even met her he’d planned on killingher and now that it finally happened he missed her. Panicking, Jack jumped to his feetand looked around the room, he grabbed the telephone and called 911. “Yes, I needhelp, my wife slipped and fell, she hit her head and I can’t wake her up.”