The following day, Mother came home from work looking very sad. When Jeff didn’t turn up for work that morning or answer his phone, she sent another junior detective to his house to find out what was wrong which was when they discovered that he died as a result of a gas leak. I was clever enough to ensure the stove didn’t look like it was tampered with. It’s true when they say you can learn to do pretty much anything over the internet. It seemed like she was fond of the stupid, sexist pig and I actually felt a little bad that she had to lose one of her colleagues.
I offered to do the cooking since she was so upset and didn’t feel like doing it. I needed the practice anyway now that I was going to be a mother. I wanted to feed my child more than mac and cheese and fish tacos at dinner so I knew I had to improve my cooking skills to be able to prepare nutritious gourmet meals.
When the dinner was finished I had to beg her to come to the dining room to eat with us and after a while she did but she pouted the entire time. She kept asking no one in particular how it could have happened and how it was so tragic what happened to Jeff. She even blamed herself for not checking in on him sooner as if that would’ve helped him in any way since he died last night. Of course, she had no way of knowing exactly when he died as the autopsy still had to be performed otherwise she’d know there was nothing she could have done to save him.
I wasn’t worried at all about being implicated in his death as I was sure it would be ruled an accident, but I was really bored talking about him. I couldn’t just change the topic since she was grieving and it would be perceived as cold. Thankfully, Zachary came to the rescue. “Danielle, there’s something we’d like to tell you, something that might cheer you up a little.”
“Would you like to tell her?” He asked, gesturing in my direction.
Hell, why not. “Mum, we’re gonna have a baby.”
Her face lit up like a Christmas tree. “That’s wonderful news! Oh, I’m going to be a grandma! Congratulations! This is so exciting!”
That got her in a good mood and then I realised that I could use my baby as a means to distract Mother from her vendetta against Dad. In no time after learning I was pregnant she even started making plans to redecorate Jackson’s old room for the baby. Pretty soon there was no more talk about Jeff and according to Dad, she didn’t get some other detective to follow him either. We were in the clear and business resumed as usual and I was very happy about that.
I was also happy and a bit scared when Zachary and I learned we were actually going to have twins. No wonder I was getting so big. I thought my pancake cravings were the culprit but as it turned out I was eating for three. Some days were exhausting. I would come home from the store feeling like I just ran an all-day marathon because I was so tired and hungry all the time.
“I need these babies out of me now!” I told Zachary one afternoon right after yet another bathroom stop.
“What? You’re only in your second trimester.” Zachary said.
“I know but this is hard. I’m so tired and hungry and I always need to use the bathroom. It’s like these babies are dancing on my bladder all day!”
“Let me talk to them.” He cleared his throat and deepened his voice to sound intimidating. “Listen here you two this is your father speaking. You will stop being so troublesome to your mother or she might end up refusing to give you a little brother or sister.”
“You’re crazy! Like that’s gonna stop them.”
“Hey, I’m their Dad. They’re gonna have to listen to me. My kids will not be troublemakers. They’ll be little angels, won’t you?” He started rubbing his hands on my belly and almost like magic they stopped moving around as much as before.
“Looks like it worked.”
“See, they’re little angels. They always listen to Dad.”
They better start listening to me too cause I’m not about to be pushed around by my own children especially while they’re still inside my body.
Dad was also thrilled to learn that he was going to be a grandfather times two. He even helped me pick out a couple of names for the babies, one of them being his late mother’s name.
I started feeling like everything was back on track but as usual, when things start going well in my life something happens to throw it all off balance.
One day Leni came to the store and started chatting up my husband. Any other person would not see anything wrong with a sister-in-law talking to her brother-in-law but this situation was different. She didn’t say a word to me since my wedding day after she threatened me, passing me straight and acting like I wasn’t even in the room. To say she was giving me the silent treatment would be an understatement. It didn’t bother me that she was avoiding me. If anything, it was nice not having to hear her annoying voice for a change. But now she was using her annoying voice to fish for compliments from MY husband! Who does she think she is?!
“Oh really? You don’t think this outfit makes me look boring?” She practically purred.
“No, you look great. It’s not boring at all. It suits your personality.”
“Would you say it’s sexy?”
“Sure, yeah. You look great Leni. I don’t think you need that makeover at all.”
How dare she?! She knew I was there and within earshot. She did it on purpose just to mess with me and he had no idea what she was even doing and that alone was pissing me off even more! Here I am pregnant with your babies and you’re chatting up my sister and telling her she’s sexy like that wouldn’t bother me at all!
“I know what you’re trying to do Helena and it’s not going to work!”
“What are you talking about?” She asked.
“Is this your idea of payback? Flirting with my husband? Zachary loves me and he won’t cheat on me for the likes of you!”
“Whoa, wait a minute!” Zachary interrupted. “Gemma, you have the wrong idea…”
“Exactly Gemma, I’m not flirting with him. Why would I flirt with your husband?” She made this face like she was so innocent but it didn’t fool me at all.
“You’re obviously hormonal and it’s making you paranoid so I’m leaving. I’ll see you later Zachary!” She waved at him.
“Later Leni.” He said with a smile on his face. Why was he smiling at her? He barely used to talk to her before we got married so why are they suddenly acting like they’re best friends or something?! Was I reading too much into this? No, I wasn’t! I trusted Zachary but Leni was the one who couldn’t be trusted. It was obvious she was trying to steal my husband away from me because she’s too crazy to keep a man for herself.
“What is wrong with you Gemma?” Zachary turned to me. “Leni and I were just talking, there’s nothing going on for you to be so upset.”
Knowing that fighting with Zachary was exactly what she would have wanted I decided to play the pregnancy card to make things right with him. “I’m sorry honey it’s just that my hormones have me acting all crazy. I guess I just feel a little undesirable, that’s all.”
“Come here.” He pulled me close and kissed me softly and then I realised it was stupid of me to even think that Leni’s charms could work on my husband. If she wanted revenge she would have to come up with a better way to get it because stealing my husband was not even an option. He loved me deeply and eternally and nothing and no one was going to come between us.
Maybe I was truly overreacting to think Leni was flirting with Zachary because not too long after that incident I came home one evening and found her and Ayden making out in our brand new hot tub. I wondered what she told him to make him want to reconcile with her. I couldn’t ask her because we don’t speak but in my opinion, Ayden’s stupid to go back to that crazy girl. Good for the two of them I suppose. Crazy people deserve to be together.
The next bad thing was when Mother accosted me one evening after I got home from the store. “Gemma, we need to talk.”
She was not in a good mood so I figured Leni complained about me for some reason. “Ok, let’s go inside first.”
“No, we’re gonna talk right here and you are going to answer my questions.”
I knew it had to be serious. She sounded like she was about to accuse me of something and it made me wonder if she figured out my big secret. “What’s this about Mum?”
“Were you at Jeff’s house the night he died?” She asked point blank.
I smiled hoping to hide my shock at how she knew that. “Why are you asking me that question?”
“Just answer me, yes or no.”
“No, I don’t even know where he lived.”
“A neighbour came forward and said that they saw someone matching your description leaving his house the night he died. His time of death was between 8 pm and 12 am and you didn’t come home until after 9 and I remember that because Zachary was worried that night and wondering where you were because you left the store hours before and weren’t answering your phone.”
“I was at the doctor’s, Mum.”
“I checked it out. You left the doctor’s office around 6 pm. So where did you go, Gemma? To Jeff’s house. But why? I think it’s because you were trying to help Stephan.”
“I haven’t talked to him since my wedding.”
“I’m sure you’re lying about that too. I’m sure you’ve been in cahoots with him the whole time. I became suspicious when you invited him to the wedding. You of all people forgiving someone for abandoning you, it doesn’t seem possible unless he didn’t really abandon you in the first place. I checked your phone records Gemma and you’ve been receiving calls from burn numbers every other day since high school. I’m willing to bet this whole house and everything in it that those calls were from Stephan and since I know the kind of person he is I’m also certain he’s still committing heists and you are somehow involved.”
Wow. She was good. I probably should not have underestimated her investigation skills. “Mum, your imagination is running wild. I’m just gonna go inside and get something to eat because right now you’re scaring me with your crazy accusations.”
She really is a genius to have figured us out. No wonder she moved up the detective ranks as fast as she did. However, it did take her this long to realise what was happening under her nose so perhaps she wasn’t that smart. Obviously, she was blinded by her love for me which is why she couldn’t see it sooner. If that nosy neighbour didn’t come forward she never would have suspected me. Damn! And I thought I was so careful. I tried walking away but she pulled me back to stop me. “It’s only a matter of time before I get enough evidence to prove my theory.”
“Evidence? How could you think that of me Mum? What would I have to gain from killing Jeff? How would that help Dad at all if I really was trying to help him?” Then I made sure to turn on the pity voice which always worked on her. “I’m your daughter and I’m pregnant and you’re accusing me of committing such a heinous crime. I don’t get it. What have I done to you to make you distrust me so much?”
“Cut the crap, Gemma! You’re not going to pull the wool over my eyes anymore with your sad eyes and pouting. I’ve allowed you to get away with so many things over the years out of guilt but not anymore. What would you have to gain? Your store! That’s it, isn’t it?! You’ve been using the place to launder his money! With Jeff following Stephan, he couldn’t perform any heists which meant you wouldn’t get your cut of the money, so you took Jeff out of the picture!
“Oh Watcher! I can’t believe this! It’s no wonder why your store was so successful in such a small space of time! I’m so disappointed in you, Gemma! I did not raise you to be like this… to be like him!”
“Does Zachary know what you do? Is he involved? Gemma this is wrong! You’re a criminal, you know that?! What about your twins? How can you possibly raise them well if this is the kind of thing you’re doing?”
“Stop it! I haven’t done anything wrong.”
She stared at me as she tried to calm down with deep breaths. “You really don’t think so, do you? You really don’t think you’ve ever done anything wrong, only what’s necessary, right? Just like him. How could I have been so blind to not see that you’ve become everything I was afraid you’d become?”
“I’ve had enough of this. You’re just talking a bunch of nonsense and I’m too tired to argue with you, Mum. You’ve really hurt me tonight and I won’t forget this. You’ll see soon enough how wrong you are about me.”
In truth, I was terrified because she was right on the mark and all she needed was proof to support her theory and then Dad and I would be screwed!
The thought of it made me feel faint so I went straight to the kitchen and whipped up some pancakes hoping that by filling my stomach with delicious syrupy goodness I would then be able to come up with a plan to fix this mess. But before I could even put my fork into it, my water broke.
I had gone into labour!