Friday, December 30, 2011

Chapter 2.6: Our Faye

"Marriage," Ryan repeats to Audrey.

"Mawidge," she replies cheerfully.

Ryan sighs and shakes his head. Already on edge, he feels his remaining patience wearing thin. He stands up and stretches, and then, for what feels like the hundredth time tonight, he pulls out his cell phone and checks his recent calls. No new messages.

"Where could she be?" he asks Audrey as he carefully picks her up. "She should have been home hours ago."

"Mawidge," she says, smiling up at him with bright, innocent eyes.

Ryan laughs and kisses her on the cheek. "Let's hope not. We need our Faye, don't we sweetheart?"

"Mawidge," she repeats again.

Ryan frowns as he gently sets Audrey down in her crib. Perhaps he shouldn't have taught her that word.

A couple of hours later, Ryan hears the slam of a car door and the familiar tap-tap of Faye's shoes on the pavement outside. He sets down his book and patiently waits for her to walk through the front door.

"You're home late," Ryan casually observes.

Faye's voice sounds faint and distant. "Yes. I- I lost track of time."

Ryan stands up and walks over to her. "Are you okay?" he asks softly, his face full of concern.

"Yes," she replies vacantly. "I'm fine."

Ryan isn't convinced. "Faye, you don't have to pretend with me. I've known Wesley Mason for years, and I've seen the way he treats women. You did the right thing, breaking it off."

"He didn't even care," she tells him quietly. "He said it was for the best and then asked me to leave. I just... I thought he cared about me."

"Oh Faye," Ryan whispers. "I'm so sorry."

He watches her closely, his eyes wide with worry, and as she begins to cry he instinctively reaches toward her and brushes a tear off her cheek. "He doesn't deserve you," he murmurs.

Faye laughs, but it sounds hollow and weak. "He doesn't deserve me? Or I don't deserve him?"

"You deserve so much better than him," Ryan replies, his eyes locked on hers. "Faye, there's something I've been wanting to tell you." He takes a deep breath, bracing himself for rejection, but before he can speak she interrupts him.

"R-Ryan," she stammers. "I- I don't f-feel so good..." Grabbing her stomach, she turns and runs toward the bathroom.

Ryan hesitates but quickly follows after her, stopping just outside the bathroom door. He can hear her violent upheavals even through the thick walls.

"Are you okay?" he calls out.

Faye lays down on the floor and takes a deep breath, allowing the cool tile to soothe her flushed face. "I'm fine," she answers weakly. "I'll be fine."

"Are you sure? I can-"

"No," she snaps. "Please. I'll be fine."

But she isn't fine. As the days turn to weeks, Faye finds herself getting sick more and more often. At first, she blames her illness on food poisoning or the flu, but the longer she waits the harder it becomes to deny the truth.

She is pregnant.

As soon as her normal clothes stop fitting, Faye decides that she can't hide it from Ryan any longer. She has been avoiding him ever since the night she broke up with Wesley, ever since she started getting butterflies in her stomach every time their eyes meet.

She takes a direct approach, not wanting to play games with him. "Ryan," she begins slowly. "I'm pregnant." He doesn't say anything, so Faye continues. "I will pack my bags and leave as soon as you've found another nanny to take my place. If you want, I can leave now, but I feel that for Audrey's sake you should hire someone before I go. I don't trust daycare, and I'm not sure how well she'd adjust to-"

"Do you want to leave?" Ryan interrupts.

"Excuse me?" Faye looks taken aback.

"Do you want to leave?" he repeats.

"Well, of course not," Faye replies. "I love Audrey, but once the baby arrives-"

"It can stay here too," Ryan finishes. "Audrey loves you, Faye. She's attached to you now, and I... I don't want to have to train another nanny. Besides," he adds, "I'm sure Audrey would love to have a little playmate to run around with."

"Oh Ryan!" Faye exclaims excitedly, pulling him in for a hug. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"

Holding her close, Ryan breathes in her faint scent. Cherry blossom, he thinks with a smile.

With her due date quickly approaching, Faye finds herself in desperate need of cash. On her nights off, she often heads down to the local park to busk for a few extra Simoleons.

Tonight, Faye's sister Anastasia shows up.

Elijah, Faye's father, died yesterday. Faye has been so busy caring for Audrey and worrying about her pregnancy, that she didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. Anastasia seems to be taking the news particularly hard.

Faye takes a break from busking to chat with Ana for a minute. When she brings up her pregnancy, however...

Ana doesn't take the news well. Apparently, she and her husband Derrick have been trying for a baby for quite some time and haven't had any success yet.

Faye consoles her distraught sister.

But when Anastasia asks to feel her baby bump, Faye refuses. She fears her jealous sister's temper.

Ryder, Faye's grandfather, is also at the park this evening. His good friend Jedidiah tries to cheer him up after Elijah's death, but the only thing Ryder can think about is how much his son would have enjoyed this park. Elijah always did love the great outdoors.

Nadira Sabo stands nearby, watching them grumpily. They're in her way, goddammit.

Back at home, Ryan puts Audrey to bed. As he kisses her good night, he can't help but think about how much Faye has done for his little daughter, how much she's done for both of them. Ryan wonders if Wesley knew about her pregnancy, if he would change Faye's mind about staying. He hopes not.

"We need our Faye, don't we sweetheart?" he whispers to Audrey.

The toddler yawns and lays down, her weary eyes struggling to stay open. "Faye Faye," she repeats sleepily.

Challenge Notes:

I always struggle to create a realistic time frame for Sim pregnancies. I never know whether to play it off as nine months or three days. It's more believable to write it as though it happened over nine months, but that's always so hard when you only have three days to take pictures.

As for my challenge updates, Ryan is still at level 2 in the medical career, and Faye only busks when I feel like it. I am really running low on cash right now, but I'll figure it out (I hope). Ryan's "hobby" for the Hobby, or Obsession? goal is reading, and Faye does painting. Although, I'll admit, I'm a tad bit behind on their hobbies for the past couple of weeks, but I will make it up soon. I just forget sometimes, lol. The It's So You miscellaneous fun will be complete once Faye's kid reaches childhood. I'm not going to makeover my nursery right now, so the children will just have to wait to have redecorated rooms. Plus I have no money at the moment. Haha.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chapter 2.5: Bedazzled

"And why are we here again?" Faye asks as she sits down at the bar.

Heath sighs dramatically. "Because, Faye. You never go out with me anymore," he complains. "It seems like you're always busy babysitting that little brat. Even on your nights off, you've been staying home with the kid, and I'm sick and tired of being less important than a two-year-old."

Faye opens her mouth to argue, but now that she thinks about it Heath has a point. She has been rather preoccupied with Audrey lately, and it's been several weeks since she's seen her good friend.

"See?" Heath pouts. "You're not even disagreeing with me."

"Of course you're important to me," she says, carefully avoiding his accusation. "It's just... Audrey is in such a delicate phase right now, and she requires a lot of my attention."

Heath frowns, his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Why do I think your absence has more to do with the doctor than the kid?"

Faye blushes and looks away. "It- It doesn't!" she retorts, not quite making eye contact. "Ryan is nothing more than my boss. We're just friends. I mean, he's Audrey's father, and that's all. The relationship is entirely professional."

Heath snorts. "Entirely professional? Since when did you start calling him 'Ryan'?" he wants to know.

Faye shifts uncomfortably. "He's much more relaxed now than he was when I first started," she replies defensively. "He prefers to be called Ryan now."

Heath rolls his eyes. "You wanna fuck him and you know it."

Faye looks shocked, so Heath back tracks. "Not that I blame you, love. A handsome, wealthy young doctor? I'd tap that."

"Heath, you're not gay!"

Heath grins. "Honey, for him I would be!"

While Heath gets into a heated argument with the bartender about the hottest lifeguard on Babe Watch, Faye tries her best not to act bored. Unable to stand it any longer, she makes her excuses and gets up to leave, but just as she's walking to the door a young man stops her.

"Hello," he greets her with a gleaming white smile.

"H-Hello," Faye stutters. Normally so confident and self-assured, Faye feels her stomach tingle nervously, and she wonders if her heart has just stopped beating. He's gorgeous, she thinks as she tries not to stare. From his perfectly sculpted hair to his glowing sun-kissed skin, she's never seen someone who looks so... polished.

"My name's Wesley."

"I'm Faye," she replies breathlessly.

"May I buy you a drink, Faye?" he asks smoothly.

"I- I- No," she says, shaking her head. "I was just about to leave."

"So soon?" He locks eyes with her. "But I was hoping for a dance."

The image of Audrey and Ryan flashes through her head. "You're sweet, but I-"

Heath interrupts her. "Of course she wants to dance!" he yells from across the room. Faye glares at him, but he ignores her. "Faye LOVES to dance! Faye, dance with the dude! Dance, monkey! DANCE!"

"I'm sorry," Faye whispers to Wesley. "He's a bit drunk. And mentally disturbed. Apparently he didn't get hugged enough as a child..."

Wesley chuckles. "I don't know. He seems pretty smart if you ask me," he says with a wink. "Just one dance? I swear I don't bite."

Faye hesitates. "Well, maybe just for a minute..."

"So where are you from?" Faye shouts over the music as they walk out onto the dance floor.

Wesley grins. "Nowhere special," he replies. "I'm a citizen of the world, you might say."

Faye laughs. "Okay, then. What do you do for a living?"

"Nothing, right now. I'm exploring my options," he says, running his eyes over her body.

The way he looks at her, the hungry passion in his eyes, makes Faye feel all tingly inside. "Why are you in Appaloosa Plains?" she wants to know.

"To get away for a while. From... people," he adds after a second.

"Well, how informative," she responds dryly. "You're quite the mystery, Wesley."

"I know," he replies, flashing her his most charming smile. "Enough about me though. Where are you from, beautiful?"

Faye feels a shiver go up her spine as their eyes meet. "Appaloosa Plains," she tells him proudly. "Born and raised."

"Really? And what do you do here in such a small town?"

Faye pauses. Wesley seems so sophisticated, so out-of-her-league; she doubts that he'd be half as interested in her if he knew that she worked as a nanny.

"Nothing special," she retorts at last.

He chuckles. "And who is the mystery here?"

As the bar begins to shut down, Wesley leans in and grabs Faye's hand. "Do you wanna come back to my place?" he whispers.

Faye frowns. "Wesley, you seem like a great guy, but I-"

He gently places a finger on her lips to silence her. "I won't take no for an answer," he grins.

Back at Wesley's house, things quickly begin to heat up. With a purposeful look in his eye, he pulls Faye toward him and runs his hand along her back, slowly tracing the curves of her figure.

"Wesley, I-"

"You're so beautiful Faye," he whispers, his hand moving lower and lower down her back.

"Thank you," she replies softly. "But-"

"Babe, there's no need to be shy," he says, gently grabbing her ass.

"Wesley!" she pulls away, shocked. "I don't even know your last name!" she blurts out.

To her surprise, he begins to laugh. "I don't normally get that response," he admits, his eyes twinkling. "Mason. My last name is Mason."

The name sounds vaguely familiar to Faye, but she can't seem to place it. "I'm Faye McKinley," she tells him.

"Well then, Ms. McKinley. I must say, I've enjoyed spending the evening with you."

Faye blushes. "Yes," she agrees. "But I really must get home now."

His face falls. "Already?"

She nods.

"What about a kiss good night?" he asks hopefully.

Faye is more than happy to oblige.

"When can I see you again?" he wants to know.

"I don't know," Faye whispers.

"Well, where do you live? How can I reach you?" Wesley asks.

Noticing the clock on the wall, Faye gasps. "It's 4 o'clock in the morning?!" She sounds shocked.

"Yes, but-"

"Oh! I really must go," she says as she heads to the door.

"But, Faye! I don't even have your number!"

"Bye Wesley!" she calls over her shoulder.

The next morning while Audrey plays in her room, Faye sits down to talk with Ryan. After her evening with Wesley, she feels tired and cranky and oddly guilty, as though she's betrayed Ryan by spending time with another man.

"You got in late last night," Ryan casually observes.

"I don't have a curfew!" Faye snaps. "I can get home whenever I please."

Ryan frowns. "Where were you?" he asks, trying to keep his tone impassive.

"Nowhere," Faye retorts. "It's none of your business anyway."

Ryan looks surprised. "No need to be so touchy, Faye. I was just trying to make conversation," he tells her.

"You don't need to keep track of me!" Faye responds angrily. "I may work for you, but you don't own me!" she yells. Then she storms off to Audrey's room, leaving a worried Ryan to wonder what he said wrong.

Faye emerges a couple hours later, and to her horror she sees Wesley and Ryan standing together in the living room, talking in hushed whispers.

"I had no idea," she hears Wesley say.

"Yes, she passed right after Audrey was born. Cancer, of all things."

"I'm so sorry, Ryan. I wish I knew she was sick. I would have come sooner."

"I appreciate the sentiment, old friend. How is your father?" Ryan asks.

Faye tries to quietly slip away, but Audrey begins screaming "Dada! Dada!" and both men immediately turn towards her.

"Faye!" Ryan's whole face lights up when he sees her. "Wesley, this is Faye McKinley and my daughter, Audrey."

Wesley frowns and looks from Ryan to Faye and back to Ryan again. "Wait. You're dating Faye?" he asks, confused.

Faye turns bright red. "No, Wes, it's not-"

Ryan interrupts her. "How do you know Faye?" he scowls.

Wesley hesitates. "We hung out last night," he says at last. "Faye, you didn't tell me you lived with Ryan Romulus."

"I don't!" Faye replies defensively. "I mean, yes I live with him, but not like that! Wesley, I'm Audrey's nanny..."

Wesley laughs, relieved. "You had me worried there for a minute, babe. I thought you and Ryan..."

"No!" she giggles. "He's just my boss."

"Excellent," he smirks. "I'm going to be in town for a few weeks, and perhaps you could show me around sometime?"

Faye leans in. "I'd love to," she whispers. "What would you like to see?"

"How about the inside of your-"

Ryan clears his throat. "Maybe Audrey and I should just-"

"Good idea," Wesley interrupts, not taking his eyes off Faye. "Why don't you go put the kid to bed or something, Ryan? I'm sure Faye wouldn't mind having the afternoon off."


Ryan stares intently at Faye. "Fine, but can I-" he begins.

Faye smiles at him. "Thanks, Ryan! I owe you one!" she says, quickly handing Audrey to her father.

Wesley and Faye spend the entire afternoon together.

...And the entire evening as well.

Faye sneaks out early the next morning while Wesley sleeps. She feels ashamed of herself and overwhelmed by guilt. She barely knew him, after all.

The following evening, Ryan gets home from his shift at the hospital earlier than normal.

"You slept with him," he says it more as a statement than an accusation.

"Why do you care, Ryan?" she snaps.

"Do you even know who he he is?" he asks, his eyes full of tender concern.

Faye sighs with exasperation. "Of course I know who he is. Wesley Mason."

"The Wesley Mason," Ryan corrects. "Heir to the Mason family fortune and a favorite among the tabloids for his numerous infidelities. Faye, he's married."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chapter 2.4: Please, Call Me Faye

As part of her deal with Dr. Romulus, Faye gets two nights off a week from her duties as Audrey's nanny. On these evenings, Ryan hires a local teenager to babysit, claiming he's far too busy to care for the child himself.

One such Friday night, Ryan arrives home late from the hospital, after experiencing a particularly stressful day at work. He is looking forward to spending a nice, quiet evening locked up in his study with an interesting book in his hands. As he walks through the front door, however, he is immediately greeted by the piercing screams of an angry two-year-old. 

"Faye!" he calls, not realizing she's isn't home. He starts to look around for her, but as Audrey's cries get more and more desperate he feels himself instinctively head for the nursery. He opens the door and peers in, hesitantly approaching her crib.

Audrey pulls herself up and holds her arms out, begging him to be picked up. Ryan frowns but reluctantly lifts the child out of her crib.

He places her on his hip, as he's seen Faye do so many times before, and begins awkwardly patting her back, trying his best to calm her largely subdued cries.

"There, there," he soothes. "No need to fuss. I've got you now."

She yawns and lets out a small hiccup, her tears all but dry by now. Ryan watches her closely, and for the first time he notices how much she looks like him.

"Everything but the eyes," he murmurs, gazing at her hauntingly familiar face. She inherited her mother's purple eyes, he thinks sadly.

Then, Ryan gently lays the drowsy toddler on his shoulder, softly rocking her back to sleep. She smells a bit like lavender, he notices, and her tiny hands feel so smooth against his rough skin. Audrey yawns again, and as her breathing becomes slow and steady, Ryan realizes he doesn't want to let go. He never wants to let go.

The next morning Faye wakes up, dresses herself, and walks into the nursery, expecting to encounter a cranky toddler and a day full of chores. She does not, however, expect to see this.

"Good morning, Ms. McKinley!" Ryan greets her, sounding uncharacteristically cheerful.

Faye stops dead in her tracks. "Dr. Romulus? What... How... Why are you here?" she blurts out.

Ryan grins. "Audrey woke up early this morning, and I heard her crying. I hope you don't mind my interference."

"Mind?" she sounds shocked. "No, not at all. I apologize for not hearing her myself. I promise, I wont let it happen again..."

"Not a problem, Ms. McKinley. Toddlers will be toddlers, after all."

"I can take over now, if you want to get on with your day," she offers.

"Not necessary," Ryan replies. "I've been thinking, Ms. McKinley, that I want to spend more time with my daughter. Would you mind if I tagged along with the two of you today?"

Faye quirks an eyebrow. "Are you sure?" she asks nervously. "I mean, I don't really have much planned, except for maybe a visit to the park this afternoon, but..."

"The park! What a wonderful idea! We should pack a lunch and have ourselves a picnic," he suggests.

Faye watches him in amazement, wondering what brought about this sudden change of heart. She decides not to ask, however, enjoying his new exuberance.

At the park, Faye lays down the blanket and sets out the picnic basket, still totally baffled by Dr. Romulus' behavior. While Audrey plays with her teddy bear a short distance away, Ryan and Faye munch on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

"So, Ms. McKinley," Ryan begins as he sits down. "Have you lived in Appaloosa Plains your whole life?"

"Yes, sir," Faye replies shyly. "I grew up here."

"I see. And why have you stayed? Familial obligations? A close-knit group of friends? A boy, perhaps?"

Faye blushes. "My family, I suppose. I honestly couldn't imagine living anywhere else."

"I must admit, it's a beautiful town."

"Yes," Faye agrees. "But someday, I'd at least like to see other parts of the world. France, in particular, seems wonderful."

Ryan's face lights up. "France? I spent many of my formative years studying medicine in a small village in the French countryside."

"Really? I hear the scenery is just stunning!"

"It is, and the people are quite welcoming as well. I met my wife there," Ryan adds, his voice turning hard.

Faye frowns. "Genevieve?"

He nods, and the conversation grows quiet.

"You really loved her," Faye observes after a minute.

"I did," Ryan says, his face emotionless.

"How did she die?" Faye asks quietly.

He looks up, meeting Faye's innocent gaze. "Cancer," he says at last.

Faye gasps. "Cancer?" she whispers. "But I thought... Didn't they eradicate it years ago?"

Ryan shakes his head. "No, eradicate is too strong a word. Many centuries ago, doctors found a way to vaccinate against it, to stop the disease from ever being able to metastasize. However, in exceedingly rare cases the vaccination proves ineffective for certain individuals. There have only been three cases reported within the last five years, and my wife, Genevieve, is one of them."

Faye watches him with worried eyes. "I'm so sorry."

"I don't need your sympathy," he snarls. "I don't need anyone's sympathy."

Faye feels her temper flare. "Perhaps not, but what about your daughter?!" she retorts. "Audrey needs her father, now more than ever, and if you can't snap out of your grief long enough to realize that, then you're going to regret it."

Faye gets up and dusts herself off. "I want to help," she adds softly. "I hope you know that."

Faye promised Audrey that she'd let her have a go on the bouncy ride at the playground, and even though Audrey doesn't actually know how to talk yet Faye lives up to her word. Audrey squeals with delight as the toy scooter bounces up and down.

"She's quite a happy child, isn't she?" Ryan asks as he watches her laugh and play.

"Yes," Faye replies, smiling. "She's very bright, too. She's already master that little peg box in her bedroom."

Ryan stands there silently for a minute, his gaze turning from Audrey to Faye. "Do you want children, Ms. McKinley?" 

"Someday," she answers after a second. "When I find the right person to have them with."

"They will be very lucky children indeed, to have a mother like you."

Faye looks up, startled by the unexpected compliment. "Thank you," she says, blushing.

Ryan meets her gaze head on, sending shivers through her body. "You're welcome, Ms. McKinley."

"Please," she smiles. "Call me Faye."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chapter 2.3: The Nanny's Lullaby

Monday morning arrives, and Faye eagerly packs up her belongings and heads to her new residence, the home of Dr. Ryan Romulus and his daughter Audrey. Dr. Romulus greets her at the door with his usual frown, and after a brief tour of the house he shows her to her room.

"I imagine you find your accommodations satisfactory, Ms. McKinley?" Ryan asks stiffly.

"It's very, um... pink," Faye replies.

"My wife re-decorated some of the bedrooms before we moved in," he explains irritably. "Pink was her favorite color."

"She had good tastes," Faye responds. "I love pink."

Ryan stares at her with cold, hard eyes. "Before you begin unpacking, we need to review the house rules." Faye nods, so he continues. "No guests. No parties. No loud music. I expect dinner when I get home and a clean, tidy house to come home to. I want the baby asleep by 7 o'clock, and I will not tolerate any crying or fussing from her. My laundry needs to be washed, ironed, and starched once a week, and my bed should be made every morning before noon. If the plumbing breaks, fix it immediately. I cannot stand a cluttered, messy, or loud house, Ms. McKinley, and I trust that you will keep the place in tip-top shape."

Faye nods again and tries not to roll her eyes. His list of demands seems unreasonable at best; at worst, they seem impossible.

Nevertheless, Faye is determined to make this work. She does not want to move back in with her mother and father, and she loathes the idea of getting a "real" job. Still, she hopes she can keep her brooding boss happy.

After their conversation, Dr. Romulus leaves for work, and Faye decides to get acquainted with her new charge. She's never in her life held a baby before, but as Audrey rests her sleepy little head against Faye's shoulder, Faye can't help but smile. Perhaps being a nanny won't be so terrible after all, she thinks.

The next morning, Faye wakes up early and cooks a batch of waffles for breakfast, hoping to impress Dr. Romulus and win some early favor.

"They're burnt," Ryan observes as he sits down at the table.

"Yep," Faye answers cheerfully, forcing herself to smile . "Enjoy!"

Dr. Romulus hesitates, not quite sure how to respond, but after a second he picks up his fork and slowly begins to choke down the charred dough.

Five painfully long, awkward minutes later, Faye decides to break the silence.

"Audrey made the cutest little noise yesterday," Faye gushes.

Ryan ignores her so Faye tries again. "I swear she's gotten bigger since I got here! She felt heavier this morning than she did last night."


"Okay. Fine," she says at last, sounding exasperated. "If you don't want to talk about your daughter then what shall we discuss? The weather?!"

Ryan sets his fork down and calmly turns to Faye. "Ms. McKinley," he begins in a tone of forced patience. "This is not social hour at the zoo. This is my home, and you are my employee, and as such I expect you to behave accordingly. If you cannot follow my rules and respect my boundaries, then I shall be forced to dismiss you and find someone who can."

Then he gets up and pushes his chair in, his fancy leather shoes clicking neatly on the polished wood floors as he walks away.

Over the next few days, Faye struggles to adjust to the demands of her new job. She's never had to cook or clean before, and she's definitely never had to unclog a toilet or fix a leaky sink.

Worst of all are the dirty diapers and 3:00 a.m. feedings. Faye never realized how exhausting it was to care for an infant. Sometimes, when Audrey won't stop screaming and the house is a mess and she is tired and lonely and homesick, Faye just wants to give up and quit and go home.

But then Audrey will lay her tiny head against Faye's chest and close her innocent little eyes, falling asleep to the sound of Faye's lullabies. It's at moments like this when Faye wonders how she's ever going to say goodbye to this sweet, helpless baby.

After his stern lecture that first morning, Faye tries her best to minimize contact with Dr. Romulus and eat her meals alone. Whenever they do sit down together, she purposely avoids conversation. After spending her days alone with a fussy baby, these silent nights feel excruciatingly unbearable.

One afternoon while Faye is busy doing her chores, she notices a framed photograph sitting on the dresser in Ryan's bedroom. Although she's seen it several times before, today something about the picture catches her eye. As she moves closer, she realizes that the woman has the same bright purple eyes as Audrey does.

"What are you doing?"

Faye jumps backward, startled by Ryan's presence. "Dr. R-Romulus," she stutters, her heart racing. "I d-didn't see y-you there."

"What are you doing?" he repeats, his voice sharp.

"I- I saw the picture, and I... Is that your wife?" she blurts out at last.

"Get out," he murmurs so softly Faye has trouble hearing him.

When she doesn't move, he steps closer. "I SAID GET OUT!" he yells again.

Frightened, Faye runs out of the room and into her bedroom, slamming the door closed behind her. After a minute, she hears his car pull out of the driveway, and she knows he's gone. She quickly finishes up her day's chores and puts the baby to sleep, spending the rest of the night hiding out in her bedroom. Finally, at about 1 o'clock in the morning, she hears his car in the driveway again.

She doesn't know why, but she suddenly feels the need to speak with him, to give him a piece of her mind. She sneaks out of her bedroom and quietly tiptoes into the living room, preparing herself for a fight. However, as she approaches him, something stops her dead in her tracks. Ryan stands alone in the corner of the dimly lit room, his body crumpled up like an old paper airplane. She hears his heart wrenching sobs and sees his tear-stained face, and instead of anger Faye feels overcome by sympathy for the grieving father.

And so she silently slips away, leaving Ryan alone with his pain.

The next morning Faye wakes up with a new resolve. Dr. Romulus has never taken much of an interest in his daughter, and Faye wants to change that. It's the only way he's ever going to heal, she muses. If he can learn to open up to Audrey, then perhaps he can learn to open up to the rest of the world. To me, she thinks before quickly silencing that thought.

"Dr. Romulus," she begins hesitantly.

He doesn't look up from his book. "Yes, Ms. McKinley?"

"I want to apologize. For yesterday. I shouldn't have been so nosy."

He remains quiet, but Faye can tell that his eyes have stopped moving along with the text.

"I would like to extend an invitation," she continues. "For you to join Audrey and me when she blows out her candles. Her birthday is tomorrow, as I'm sure you are aware, and I know Audrey would love to have you there. We both would."

Ryan clears his throat. "I'm afraid I have back-to-back surgeries scheduled," he tells her.

She nods, trying to stifle the painful disappointment.

Ryan glances up from his book and frowns. "I will see what I can do, Ms. McKinley," he says at last. "I will try."

The day of Audrey's birthday comes and goes, and Ryan never makes it home from the hospital. With no time left to wait, Faye forces a smile and brings Audrey to her cake.

And with only her nanny to cheer her on, Audrey becomes a toddler.

Challenge Notes:

After Melissa's comment on my last last chapter, I am now perpetually hearing Ryan speak with a British accent. Lol, I don't know if you all got that vibe or not, but in my head he talks like Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Not that y'all have to imagine him that way, but in my mind it's stuck now. But, like all the characters in my legacy (so far), he's actually supposed to speak plain old American English. Oh, well. =)