Laird Learns About Antonia

Laird was on his way home when he ran into his Aunt Margery. She was so happy to see him that she broke into a big smile and gave him a big hug. “It’s so good to see my favorite nephew,” she exclaimed.

He smiled. “It’s good to see you too, Aunt Margery. How are you?”

“I’m fine, thanks. Happier now that I have bumped into you. I haven’t seen you since New Year’s Day. How’s that lovely wife of yours?”

“Martina is doing well.”

“And the baby?”

“The baby is fine. So far it has been a textbook pregnancy.”

“Good. I’m relieved to hear that. Come, let’s go outside and talk.”

He followed her out of the building. They went to where there were some steps and she sat down while he remained standing. “You’re looking young and sprightly,” he told her. “No men beating down at your door as yet?”

She laughed. “You cheeky devil, you. I’m perfectly happy being without a man in my life.”

“That’s what you say now but wait until the right one comes along and you’ll sing a different tune.”

“Never mind my love life.” She stared at him. “Laird, are you gaining weight? Your face looks fuller than I remember. It’s Martina who should be gaining weight, not you. She’s eating for two.”

“I’ve been eating very well since I got married, that’s all.”

“You and Martina should look into having a housekeeper–someone to cook your meals, do the housework, the laundry, etc. Martina will have her hands full with the baby and she’ll need all the rest she can get.”

“I’ll talk to her about it this evening.”

“Of course, I’d be more than happy to pitch in.”

“Thanks, Aunt Margery.”

“Have you two been house hunting as yet?”

“Yes. We’ve been to several places in the countryside. We liked a few of the houses but have put in an offer for the one in Cookham, Berkshire. It’s about a 52 minute drive to London.”

“That’s wonderful. I hope you get it. Let me know how it turns out.”

“I will.”

“We’re all so very happy about the baby–well, all of us except for Antonia. She’s back home from the hospital.”

Laird stared at her. “The hospital?”

“Yes. She had a collapse and your father had her admitted to the hospital because she needed psychiatrist help. Didn’t your father tell you?”

“No, he didn’t. Tell me exactly what happened? Why did Antonia needed to be hospitalized?”

His aunt told him everything his father had told her, including Antonia’s dream about him which repulsed him. She concluded with, “I told your father that I always suspected that there was something odd or off about Antonia and I saw clear evidence of it that summer when Karson celebrated his fifteenth birthday. Do you remember Emily Lancaster?”

“Yes.”

“You were sweet on her.”

“I guess I was because I was very sad when she and her family moved to Cornwall.”

“Well, I saw Antonia giving her the evil eye. It gave me the chills. I kept a close eye on Emily after that.”

“Why? Were you afraid that Antonia would harm her?”

“Yes. I realized that your step-sister had a propensity to harm anyone whom she perceived to be her rival and she knew that you were sweet on Emily. It still gives me shivers when I remember the look she gave that poor unsuspecting girl. I saw that look again.”

“When?”

“On your wedding day. I saw it when she looked at Martina.”

“You saw her give Martina the evil eye?”

“Yes. Laird, keep an eye on Martina when Antonia’s around.”

Laird’s expression darkened. “If Antonia lays a finger on my wife, she’ll wish she’d never been born by the time I’m done with her.”

“Now, Laird–“

“I meant it.”

“Please don’t mention any of what I told you to Martina. We don’t want her worrying about anything.”

“I won’t tell her. And I will make damned sure that she’s never alone with Antonia.”

“I suggested to your father that he take her somewhere for a while–far away from London and from Martina and you but he wasn’t sure that Antonia would want to go anywhere with him because he had her committed to a psychiatric hospital.”

“I think it’s time she moved out and found her own place but Dad still feels responsible for her. He wants to take care of her. Maybe he’s lonely and needs the company. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that he and my mother hadn’t adopted Antonia. The four of us were perfectly happy before she came into our lives.”

“Your mother wasn’t happy, Laird. She wanted to have another child, a daughter this time but she couldn’t. No one, not even your father could have talked her out of adopting Antonia. It’s too bad that her decision resulted in so much heartache. Anyway, it’s no use dwelling on the past. What’s done is done. You just keep an eye on Martina and everything will be fine. I must be getting along now.” With Laird’s help, she rose to her feet. “I’m not as sprightly as I used to be, I’m afraid.”

“Did you drive?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll walk you to your car.”

“How sweet of you.” She beamed up at him and tucked her arm in his as they set off to where she had parked her car.

Source: TimeOut

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