The Rossini residence was once again full of people. It reminded Melia of her younger years when she had to take care of her many siblings. Every day was noisy and chaotic. Every day there was a huge pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen and bathrooms full of puddles. Every day she listened to complaints about borrowed clothes, broken toys and last pieces of cake that should be eaten by one kid but ended up in the belly of another.
But this time, she somehow liked it.
Maybe it was because of all the help she was getting.
Devi was great with the kids. She was spoiling them with attention, stories, gifts, trips to the park…just about everything an aunt could offer. And the little ones loved her immesurably for that.
Maybe it was because of her new hobby.
Before the kids were even born, Melia joined Upper Crust, a club dedicated to foodies and passionate amateur cooks. It was made for her. She found friends there, lovely people willing to discuss recipes all day long. Club gatherings were a perfect opportunity for her to just get away from the family madness and enjoy what she loved without stress and hurry.
And maybe it was simply because these kids were hers and she considered them the most marvelous, miraculous human beings that ever touched the surface of the earth.
Meliacouldn’t help it – her heart just melted anytime she heard such genuine, warm claims from her children. Nothing in the world could compete with that feeling. It made motherhood worth it.
But the kids were not the only reason that made the house feel crowdy – other relatives loved the place, too, and they often stopped by to hang out.
Damon was, obviously, visiting very frequently. He lived in Willow Creek, practically two streets away and he was a stay-at-home Dad, so he had a lot of time on his hands when his kids went to school. He often came to see Melia and Devi before lunch, when he was on his way from grocery store and he usually brought gossips and sneaky tips about hiding vegetables in kids’ favourite meals.
Then there was Dory. She sometimes appeared out of nowhere, greeted everyone and played with the kids and their toys – especially the toys, really – for awhile, before leaving again without further information.
Other times, she didn’t show up and they only found out about her presence in town because neighbors told them. Or because she wandered around the park and pretended to be a crazy homeless person.
The rest of the siblings lived further away – Camilla and Castor were in Oasis Springs, Evander was in Windenburg – so their visits had to be planned ahead.
That’s why the whole family was surprised to hear Camilla knocking at the door in the middle of one summer night.
She looked disstressed and scared, tears welling in her eyes. Her little daughter Carlie was by her side, sleepy and confused.
Melia quickly escorted them inside. She sent Carlie upstairs to play with Etta and Tori in their room. Then she sat down with Camilla and smiled at her to hide her worries.
But before she could finish the question, Camilla burst into tears, enraged.
And before Melia could answer, Camilla continued: “It’s just…I don’t even know how to tell you.” She exhaled heavily, with a blanked expression on her face and just sat there queitly for a second.
Then, she talked.
“So…yeah…here’s the thing. I woke up today because Dom’s phone was ringing like crazy. I wondered why he wasn’t answering, until I realized he was in the shower.
“I was worried – I thought something bad happened when the caller couldn’t wait for awhile. So when it ranged again, I took the phone. The screen said M was calling. I had no idea who that might be, but I thought it was serious…so yeah, I picked up.”
“It was a woman, an angry one. She said something like – Dom, what the plum? Where are you and why is a woman answering your phone? Just come home already, the kids are really worried about you.”
“I knew what it meant, I knew who she was. I checked a few calls of his, I looked up some photos he had there. It was his wife. She was a pretty redhead. And his kids – two beautiful girls, around my age. MY AGE, MEL!!”
“But I was already late, so I decided to talk to him in the evening. I was telling myself that maybe it was just a big ol’ misunderstanding, you know. Maybe it was his ex-wife, or something.
“But when I was walking back home from work later, I saw Carlie sitting outside the trailer.”
“When I hear that, I lost it. Cheating is one thing, but sending your little kid out of the house in the middle of the night because of your affair? Who on earth does THAT?! I was so furious, Mel, you can’t imagine!
I rushed inside and there they were.”
“The girl screamed, when she heard me, she jumped out of bed and just disappeared. But I saw enough of her to realize that it was not Dom’s wife. She was a redhead, too, but really young. Way younger than me.
I guess you can imagine what followed. I yelled and cursed and cried and yelled again.”
“He tried all the stupid excuses on me like ‘Darling, it’s not what it looks like!’ and other stupid sh*t, but I was barely listening to him. Just a look at his plumming face was making me wanna vomit. Bastard!
In the heat of the moment, I even threw him out of the trailer!”
“After that, he, of course, reminded me that the trailer house was actually his property, so yeah…he was just suggesting that I am the one who should leave. I hated him and his arrogant little face so much in that moment. I couldn’t believe I was capable of so much hate. And I swear I was ready – so ready – to strangle him.
“Carlie was just so scared, you know? So scared and little and helpless.I’d do anything in that moment to comfort her. To protect her.”
“So I brought her here. Just for awhile, I promise. Until I figure out what…what to do.”
Camilla dried her tears and looked at her sister. For a second, Melia was fighting the urge to say ‘I told you so’. But she knew Camilla didn’t need to hear that.
Camilla thanked her and stood up to find her daughter. Before she left, she looked at her sister sadly.