Poison's Bend: Chapter 9
Warnings: language, violence
Ripp’s daughter came into the world in the wee hours of the morning; greeting the dawn with lusty wails that seemed far too loud to be emanating from such a tiny creature. A soft golden fuzz of hair covered her head; and her eyes were, surprisingly, the misty color of rain.
She was beautiful, and we named her Catherine.
“She has my father’s eyes,” Ripp commented softly, cradling the infant shortly after her birth. “My father’s eyes, but he’ll never...” He seemed unable to continue, and took a deep breath with his eyes closed, as though the thought of his father caused him grief.
True to his word, Ripp had swiftly dropped out of Fiesta Tech, and came to live with me just when I had begun my third trimester of pregnancy. And, although I had assured him we did not need the money, he had insisted upon finding a job, and had worked hard in his chosen field of music; making such an effort that it very nearly compensated for his lack of college education.
Young he might be; he had only recently passed his nineteenth birthday... but I knew Ripp was determined to make our own family a priority in his life, despite the history he had with his own father. Perhaps because of it.
“You know, Aerin... she’s the best goddamn thing I’ve ever done,” Ripp whispered to me one evening a few months after Catherine’s birth. Leaning over the bassinet, he pressed a finger into the baby’s tiny fist and felt the strong grip. “It’s like... like I've changed the whole world because I made her. That's fucking amazing.”
I leaned over his shoulder, likewise gazing at our beautiful daughter, and I nodded. “I know what you mean,” I replied.
“I want to get married to you, Aerin.” Ripp said unexpectedly.
My eyes flew open in shock and I turned to him. “What did you say?”
“You heard me. I want to get married to you.”
“But Ripp... you’re not... I didn’t....” It took me a moment to regain my composure. I was so surprised! “Listen,” I told him finally. “I want you to know that I didn’t intend to make you feel like you had to...”
He grinned and silenced my feeble protests with a passionate kiss.
When it was over and I was breathless, he smiled and laughed softly. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “and you’re right... sort of. I didn’t want to get married until I was a lot older, if ever, but I also didn’t think I wanted kids until I was a lot older, if ever, either.” He shrugged and gently lay his hand over our baby's downy head. “Catherine’s been the best fucking thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“Ripp, you can still be a good father and not be...”
He turned to me and cradled my face in his hands. “I know. But if I was so fucking afraid of having a kid and it turned out to be so good, maybe getting married might be a little better than I’d always thought it was, too.”
“Oh, Ripp, I...”
“I was going to make this big production of proposing," he said ruefully. "Candles... roses... dinner... the whole nine fucking yards.” He chuckled and lifted Catherine from her crib, cradling her gently in his arms.
“But here I am in my underwear, probably smelling of spit up milk and baby shit, and I’m proposing anyway. Aerin, will you marry me?”
How could he know he was sexier in that moment to me than he could possibly have been all dressed up with roses and champagne? The true measure of a man’s attractiveness lay so much deeper than the surface!
It was even more true for one such as Ripp Grunt.
“Oui, Ripp.” I said. “Oui! Oh, yes... I’ll marry you!”
Finally, I would have bliss... and the family I craved...
We were so happy.
It was such a shame our happiness was to be so tragically short-lived.
Before little Catherine even became a toddler, Ripp was dead.
I was completely devastated! His life had held such promise, and I had loved him so much!
I would have done anything for my young husband... anything in the world! Yet I hadn’t done the one thing I should have done long ago. I hadn’t discarded that old, ragged kite that had been left behind by those who built my house.
Such a terrible shame.
Yet how could I possibly have known what would have happened? It had never been an issue during my marriage to Pascal, who simply didn’t bother with such things. The kite had lain on the ground for ages... all throughout the seasons... forgotten...
Until it had been discovered by Ripp.
He must have been tempted by the strong breeze generated by an approaching thunderstorm, and my husband tried to fly that cursed kite. He must have thought he had time to play with it before the lightning began.
He was wrong, so terribly wrong.
I was overwhelmed by grief. For one so young, and to have had his entire life ahead of him; a life that had held so much hope!
And alors! Our poor daughter! Our poor little Catherine!
Why didn’t I throw that tattered old kite away when I first moved in?
My question remained unanswered.
And so, once again I prepared to bury someone I loved.
To Be Continued....