Standing stiff, she says, “We need to talk.”

“Yes, we do. But Rosa will be here in a few minutes to begin dinner. We can talk after the kids are in bed. I need a shower, today was very long and I’m looking forward to getting into some clean clothes.”

Glancing around the bedroom, I take in the boxes sitting against the walls, unpacked. It looks like Lilith isn’t fully accepting the situation. That’s to be expected I guess. Though if this morning was any indication of how things will be, I believe she will become adjusted to her new life soon enough.

I walk back into the kitchen. Fresh from the shower, a pair of khakis and a polo have replaced my suit and tie.

My father never changed from suits and ties, never. He was far too rigid in his ways. I need to loosen up if I want the children to look at me as anything beyond their taskmaster.

Since I now have a family living here, I suppose I will have to be here more often than normal as well. Since I have taken on this house, I have used it as a place to lay my head, but that was the extent of it most of the time.

Rosa, the housekeeper and cook, has the kitchen filled with delicious smells. Steam is coming from the stove as she and Lilith talk.

Coming up behind Lilith, I wrap my arms around her waist. She stiffens against me as I nuzzle her neck. Placing a very light nip on her skin there, I say, “Go shower and get ready for dinner.”

Pulling away from my arms, she looks at me wide-eyed, “What?”

“You need to go shower then dress for dinner.”

“What do you mean?”

“Which part are you not understanding?” I ask. I’m confused. How is this even a question I need to address?

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing? And what’s with telling me what to do?”

“You’re to be dressed for dinner. Sweatpants and ratty shirts are not dinner attire.”

Taking hold of her hand, I pull her through the kitchen doors to the hall. Then I pull her along the route through the house to our bedroom.

This act of rebellion will not do at all.

Walking into the bedroom, I let go of her hand and pointing to the boxes, I say, “This is will not do. Unpack your things tomorrow. Make sure the children’s clothes are removed from the boxes as well. I want them cleaned. Tell Rosa before she leaves that you have a very big problem with your laundry and she will have it done.”

“I want all the boxes emptied in the next three days. Anything with Marshall on it or that belonged to him will be destroyed or returned. Your choice on what to do with those items.”

Next I point to the shower. “You are to be presentable for dinner. I do not ask you to dress formally but whatever you put on in the morning is not acceptable. Especially this.”

I consider her emerald eyes, they are on fire right now. She looks so angry I can tell she is barely containing her anger.

“You are absolutely beautiful. I want to see that beauty when I come home, not some slobby sweatpants.”

Leaving the room, I head back down the stairs to find the children. A nanny might be a good idea to have in the house. Someone who can make sure they are not destroying the place.

Dinner is a quiet affair with just us four until Evelyn decides we need to talk. She begins to ask every single question that comes to her little pink mind.

She bounces from why do we like green beans to how come her classroom has more chairs than desks. I didn’t know a child could ask so many questions while cramming food in her mouth so often she looks like a chipmunk.

Adam keeps looking at me curiously but keeps to himself while he eats. His only question is, “Will I still go to the same school?”

At the same time Lilith and I both answer differently. “Maybe,” and “Yes”.

Looking to her, I say, “Maybe. It depends on what the reports come back with.”

“No, they will stay in their schools. It’s what they know and they have friends there.”

Frowning, I look to Adam. “What do you want?”

“I want to stay.”

“We will talk about it tomorrow.”

Looking at me with the anger that hasn’t left her eyes since I sent her to clean herself up, Lilith says, “We will be talking about it tonight.”

Nodding my head, I say, “Among other things.”

10

Lily

On one hand, my children seem to be completely oblivious to the truth of our situation, and that’s a godsend. On the other hand, I hate deceiving them, and I definitely hate that they’re already starting to settle in.

I do not want to be here for the long term. I want my freedom back, I need it. We’re out of here the first chance we get.

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