Part 1338 – Secrets Laid Bare

Hildreth sat in the passenger’s seat. “Hey.”

“I don’t want to talk about him.”



He sat back in his seat.

There was a tense, silent moment between them.

He side-glanced at her.

She stared straight ahead, all sharp prickles and sullen silence.

Yet, he couldn’t help but smile as a perfectly random song took over his mind.

And he just had to sing it out: Frankie Lymon’s “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” He tapped his hands against his legs. His rhythm was hopelessly off, but his pitch was spot on.

A smile tweaked the corners of her mouth. Especially when he hit that first “Tell me why” and nailed it good.

Which was all the encouragement he needed to sing it all the way to the end.

When he reached the end, she leaned over and kissed him. “You win, Mayhew. I’ll go see why my Mom wants to talk about him.”

“Love you, Els. I’ll stay here and let you fierce Vansing women duke it out.”

She laughed. “I am not going to duke it out with my mother. We don’t have that kind of relationship.”

“Huh? Wait. Now, I’m really confused. Does ‘duke it out’ mean something totally different to you than it does to me?”

She shrugged. “Probably.”


She smiled. “I’ll be right back.”


Elsie got out of the car and folded her arms across her chest. “What is it? Why do you want to waste time talking about him? And today of all days!”

“Elsie. Your father wasn’t perfect. I’ll be the first to admit it. There were many things he could have done better. He could have handled better.”

“Skip the introduction and get to the point.”

“Well, that’s the thing. The point I want to get to can’t just be blurted out. It needs a whole big build-up, so you can understand.”

“Fine. Do it your way.”

Clarice took a moment to collect her thoughts. “Before the trainers came, they sent us a note, demanding that we give you up. Your father was set against it. He knew what a hunter’s life is like. The danger. The fear. The nightly uncertainty. He tore up the note and threw it away.”

Elsie unfolded her arms.

“They sent two more letters. The last one threatened to take drastic action and involve Child Protective Services. They would have found a way to keep us from ever seeing you again. That’s why your father relented. He surrendered you.”

Gerald approached the trainer. “I have decided. Elsie. Come.”

Elsie clung to her mother. “Mommy.”

“It isn’t her choice, Elsie.” He held his head a little higher. “It’s mine. Come here. Now.”

Elsie shook her head. “mommy.”

“Clarice. Please. Help.” 

Clarice exchanged a long look with her husband. 

He broke eye contact with her too quickly.

Her heart hurt as she understood.

This is killing him. “It’s okay, Elsie. Come on. Let’s go over to dear old dad.” 

Elsie held her hand as tight as she could. 


He made eye contact with her again. “I know what I’m doing.” he said softly. 

“Gerald, please.” Clarice spread her free hand above his heart. “She’s scared.”

Gerald set his jaw in that ‘End of Conversation’ way that drove Clarice nuts. He backed away from her. “We’ll talk about this later. Not here. Not now. Elsie, give me your hand.”

She looked up at her mother.

“Clarice. Help.”

She hugged her seven year old daughter. “Elsie. Go to your father. It’s okay. He won’t send you away.” She gave her husband a meaningful look. “He won’t.”

Elsie reluctantly obeyed.

“I…” His voice caught. “I’m doing what’s best for us. For all of us.” He handed her over to the trainers.

Clarice heard the tremble in his voice as he said, “Take her.”


“But. There is more. Yes, he refused to visit you. He couldn’t let go of what he had done.”

“He could have called.”

“Well, there’s the thing: He kept waiting for you to call him.”

Elsie blanched. “Why? Why didn’t he call me? I was waiting for him. Every day, I waited for him.”

“He was afraid that if he called you, you’d end the call before he could even finish saying ‘Hello, Elsie’.”

“Of all the stupid, irresponsible—”

“But then, on your sixteenth birthday, he…”

“I know. He died. As a final slap to my face.”

“He died on his way to see you.”

6 thoughts on “Part 1338 – Secrets Laid Bare”

    1. This reveal was a long time coming. Mostly because I wasn’t fully sure why her father not only handed Elsie over, but was so brusque about it. Then, as I was typing this chapter, the pieces jut fell into their proper places, which made me so happy. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I know. It made me happy to fill in that hole, but I felt really bad for Elsie at the same time. It actually gave me that sinking “Ah, shoot” feeling when I wrote that last line. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

  1. 😲This whole scene is so well written I feel so bad for Elsie myself. I’m glad you waited a long time for the reveal. It packed a better punch at this time in the story. Big applause, friend

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I agree with you. If I had revealed this information any sooner, it would have lost some impact. It had to wait for the right moment to be told.

      I had included that whole flashback in one of the earlier chapters, but it was from Elsie’s point of view. I liked the idea of including it in this chapter, but from Clarice’s point of view, to show those small nuances that seven-year-old Elsie hadn’t noticed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s