Anna's call to Jacob causes concern. Bob and Claire share their news.
“Hello?” Claire answered on the fourth ring.
“Hey.” Christa greeted her, “Did I call at a bad time?”
Claire smiled happy that Christa had called. “No, not at all. Bob just left for the grocery store.” She did not add she was supposed to be getting ready for dinner. Just thinking about telling Bob’s family the news was still very frightening and she was trying to put it out of her mind.
“Wow.” Christa laughed, “My husband just left for the store too.” She paused a moment trying to find the right words. “Uh, so have you talked to Anna?”
“I spoke to her earlier.” Claire was immediately concerned. There was something in Christa’s voice that seemed wrong. “Why?”
Slowly Christa told her about what had happened earlier at Frank’s house. She ended by saying, “It just bothers me, I guess. I mean I know this information won’t matter to Gee but I hate that the others distrust Anna, you know?”
Claire sighed, “Yes I understand perfectly. I know often Bob does not understand my relationship with Anna and that troubles me greatly. I wish I could tell him the truth, I wish with all my heart he knew why Anna is so special to me.”
“She is special.” Christa agreed softly.
“You are missing the connection you two share.” Claire said knowingly. “I understand it is difficult for you as the bond is still so fresh.”
Christa thought a moment before answering, “You know at times I hate to think that they way I feel towards Anna is just because of the bond.” She tried to explain her feeling, “It’s like that cheapens the feeling.”
“Think back to how you felt about her before.” Claire urged.
Christa leaned back against the sofa cushions and closed her eyes, “I felt something the first time I met her. I knew she was different.”
“And you felt friendship for her before you knew the truth?”
“Yes, definitely.” Christa answered.
“The bond only strengthened that friendship.” Claire said softly. “It is not the only reason you care about her.”
“No, it’s not.” Christa said opening her eyes. “But I need to ask you something. I know you and Anna have had the bond for many years.”
“Yes.” Claire wondered what was troubling her friend.
“Maybe you can explain to me why sometimes out of the blue I think about Anna. I mean it’s more than just thinking about her. I get these feelings.”
Claire’s heart rate suddenly quickened, “What kind of feelings?”
As much as she hated to admit it she told the truth, “Bad feelings. Like something bad is happening or going to happen.”
Claire sighed, “At times you are actually picking up on Anna’s emotional state.” She paused then decided to share a personal story with Christa. “When Anna went with Gee to California, when he went back to see the doctor?”
“That was when Anna healed him. It had to be done before he went to see his doctor. I am not sure what exactly happened but I am sure Anna was forced to prove to Gerard she is a Healer.”
“Oh shit.” Christa said frowning, “That must have been brutal. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult that was for him to accept.”
“Very difficult.” Claire confirmed. “Whatever it was she did affected me directly. Bob and I were at the grocery store. I was just reaching for a jar of salsa when a blinding pain overcame me. I dropped the jar shattering it on the floor.”
“Pain?” Christa asked.
“Not so much physical as mental. I could feel Anna’s anguish.”
Christa closed her eyes again, “So should I be worried? I mean why do I feel so nervous?”
“Perhaps it is because of what has happened to Gerard. It is my hope Jacob will be able to shed some light on the situation. The mere fact someone from the Healer world has tried to harm him is extremely troubling. It might be you are simply picking up on Anna’s concern.”
“I wonder.” Christa muttered softly. “But when you talked to her she sounded okay?”
“She was fine.” Claire wanted to but her mind at ease. “She told me that she and Gerard are at her home in Vermont for a few days. Anna loves that house so I am sure they are happy.”
“That’s good.” Christa said still unable to shake her concerns. “Did she say anything about Jacob?”
“I was unable to speak to her about that.” As she spoke she heard Bob entering through the kitchen door. “And now my husband has returned.” She wanted to make sure Christa understood their discussion must cease for now.
“Tell him hello.” Christa sighed. She had hoped to speak more about Anna. This uneasy feeling she had seemed to be growing stronger.
“What’s wrong?” Gerard asked glancing up from his sketching.
Anna sighed; she too had been sketching until a few minutes earlier. “I am not sure but I feel worried about Jacob.”
Gerard set his pencil down then stood, “Why don’t you give him a call? I’m gonna head down to the kitchen and make myself a sandwich.” He knew Anna had arranged for the caretaker to stock the refrigerator for him before they’d arrived.
“I think I will.” Anna stood then pulled her cell phone out of her pocket.
“Great.” Gerard walked over and dropped a kiss on her lips. “How about after you call him we take a break? We could grab a blanket and head down to the stream.”
Anna smiled, “That sounds like a lovely idea. I will be down shortly.” She waited until she heard his footstep on the stairs to punch in Jacob’s number.
“Yes?” He answered in a chipped tone.
“Hello, Jacob.” Anna sat back down. “Have you returned home?”
Jacob used his free hand to straighten the items on his desk that had been disturbed by the girl. “Yes, Annabelle. I am home.”
“Oh.” Anna was confused by his almost angry tone. “Have I disturbed you?”
Jacob tried to gain control of his emotions. As a Pure he understood what he had done earlier meant nothing and yet when he thought back to the girl laying on his desk he felt regret. Using mortals in that manner bothered him greatly. “I am just straightening my desk.”
Anna smiled believing nothing was wrong, “Jacob your desk is always very neat.”
Unexpectedly his anger snapped. “It was neat until I fed.”
Jacob’s hand tightened on the phone. “I fed, Annabelle. One of the blood bounds came, I fed as I fucked her on my desk.”
Anna was completely shocked by his words. Not only by the fact Jacob had fed from a mortal something he rarely did since the synthetic blood had been introduced, but also by his graphic words. She remained silent unable to speak.
Her silence only made Jacob angrier. “You are shocked, Annabelle? Do you not understand as a Pure feeding from mortals means nothing to me?”
“Jacob what is wrong?” Anna’s voice trembled.
“Nothing is wrong.” He roared. “Now is there a reason for his call?”
Tears came to her eyes. “No, I am sorry I disturbed you.” She whispered.
Leaning back in his chair Jacob felt his anger fading, “I am sorry, Annabelle. I should not take my anger out on you.”
“I do not understand. Why are you angry? What has happened?”
“It is a long story. One I feel it is time I share with you but not over the phone. When you and Gerard return we will discuss this matter.”
“Should we return immediately?” She asked quickly. Her Maker’s welfare meant the world to her.
“No, you only just arrived there. I know you had planned on staying a few days and that is perfectly acceptable. Do not worry about me, Annabelle.”
“That is easier said than done.”
“Is Gerard with you at the moment?” Jacob asked suddenly.
“He is downstairs.” Anna answered standing once more. “Would you like to speak to him?”
“No, it is not necessary.” Jacob sighed, “When you return I will speak with both of you.” He paused, “Together. No more secrets.”
“Are you really okay, Jacob?” She asked softly. “Please, tell me the truth.”
As much as he wanted to tell her the truth, that he was definitely not fine, he lied. Let her enjoy her time alone with Gerard. “I command you to stop worrying. I will see you in a few days.” With that he disconnected before Anna could respond.
Bob set the plastic grocery bags on the counter then turned towards his wife. “I thought you’d be ready to go.” He said softly tying not to sound impatient.
Claire sat her cell phone down then sighed, “Sorry. I was about to change but Christa called.” As she explained she felt guilty. She had been sitting, lost in thought, for over an hour before Christa had called.
“Oh.” Bob pulled out the carton of milk then opened the refrigerator door. “So how is she?”
“She is fine.”
He threw the bag of sweet corn in the crisper drawer. “So why’d she call?”
Since she could not tell him the truth she said instead, “Oh, she just wanted to talk.”
Bob closed the refrigerator then turned to look at his wife. “She just called to talk? She didn’t want anything?”
The stress building because of the impending family dinner, the guilt she felt about lying to her husband, her concern over Anna, all boiled to a head. “What? Do you find it odd she would wish to simply talk with me?” She asked angrily.
“Whoa.” Bob threw up his hand, “Calm down, Hon.”
Claire stood “I am calm, perfectly calm.” She lied as she began to pace.
Bob sighed, “Uh, well we need to get going soon. I told mom we’d be there at six.”
Glancing at the clock Claire saw that it was ten after five. “I will change.”
“You really look fine.” Bob said moving towards her. “It’s just a family dinner and no one dresses up or anything.” He liked Claire’s jeans and red silk blouse she was wearing.
Claire looked down at her clothing, “I should change.” She said more to herself than Bob. “I…” Suddenly she burst into tears.
Bob was at her side in a moment, “Hun, it’s gonna be okay.” He whispered as he pulled her into his arms. “My family is gonna be happy about our news.”
“Oh Bob what if they are upset? What if they think we have no known each other long enough to be married with a child on the way?”
Bob kissed the top of her head and his arms tightened around her. “That ain’t gonna happen but if it did it wouldn’t matter. This is our life, Claire. We’re happy and that’s all that matters.” He took a step back so he could look into her eyes, “You are happy, aren’t you?”
She nodded. “Yes, very happy.”
“Then dry those tears, fix your makeup and lets go. Carol called a few minutes ago and told me Granny Clark is gonna be there too.”
“My mom’s grandma. She’s a hoot and I know she’s gonna love you.”
Claire gave him a puzzled look, “You’re great grandmother is a hoot?”
Bob nodded, “Yeah, that’s the only way I can describe her. Granny Clark will tell you she’s old as the hills.” It has easy to hear the love in his voice as he spoke about her. “She lives down in Kentucky so none of us get to see her that often. Man, the stories she tells. I’m really glad she’s gonna be at mom’s. I can’t wait for you to meet her.”
“And you believe she will be happy you are married?”
“Yeah.” He nodded, “I’m sure she will. Now, come on lets get going. Mom’s making fried chicken.”
Claire nodded then moved towards the bedroom to get ready. As she left Bob sighed. He hated that she was so nervous about telling his family their news. In his mind he was sure they were going to be happy but Claire’s nervousness was starting to rub off on him. He just wanted to tell the family and get it over with so he could enjoy dinner.
“So, gonna tell me what’s wrong?” Gerard asked after he and Anna had spread out the blanket on the shore of the creek. She had been almost completely silent on the trip from the house.
Anna sat down before answering. “I am worried about Jacob.”
Gerard sat down next to her. “Why?”
She wasn’t sure how to respond.
“Did he say something that worried you?”
Anna looked over at him then blurted out. “I asked if I’d disturbed him and he said he had just fed from one of the blood bounds while he fucked her.” Jacob’s words had upset her so badly she couldn’t keep it from Gerard.
“Wow, he said it that way?” Gerard asked in shock. Even he found it difficult to believe Jacob had spoken those words.
Anna nodded. “Yes.” She went on to explain, “Since the synthetic became available Jacob so rarely feeds directly from a moral.”
“Yeah but he actually said he fucked her? Man, that doesn’t sound like Jacob.”
Tears appeared in Anna’s eyes, “Yes, I was so shocked I did not know how to respond. He sounded so angry. I finally asked him what was wrong and he said that when we return he will speak to both of us.”
Gerard sighed believing it must have something to do with Judith.
“You know something.” Anna said looking directly into his eyes.
“Sugar, Jacob told me some things he didn’t want me to repeat. But since he said he’d talk to us when we get back it sounds like he’s planning on telling you too.”
Anger coursed through Anna. “Why would he tell you and not me? I am his child why would he keep things from me?”
Gerard thought a minute before answering, “Anna, you do get that Jacob is lonely, right?”
“Lonely?” Some of her anger faded. “Why would you think that?”
“Because he is.” He said softly knowing this was just going to upset her more.
“But that can not be. That is a human emotion. Jacob is a Pure he does not feel those emotions.” But even as she spoke the words she remembered telling Jacob he sounded lonely when they’d spoken last night. Could he truly be feeling that emotion?
Gerard realized he should not have made that comment. There was a chance Jacob was not going to reveal the complete truth to Anna. He tried to backtrack, “Look, it just seems that way to me. I’m probably wrong.”
Anna stared at him.
Opening the basket he’d brought from the house he took out the bottle of wine he’d found in the kitchen and busied himself pouring two glasses. He wanted to find some way to change the subject.
Anna watched him closely. “Gee, what are you not telling me?”
He handed her one of the glasses. “Sugar, I already told you I can’t repeat anything Jacob told me in confidence, it wouldn’t be right.”
She wouldn’t let it go. “Did he say he was lonely?”
“No.” Gerard answered quickly glad that he answer was the truth, “He never said that.”
Anna nodded. “I do not understand what is going on with Jacob.”
Gerard was happy when she took a small sip of her wine then sat back to stare at the gently rolling water of the creek. He hoped the topic of Jacob would not come up again until they returned to the Pure’s home.
Dinner was just being set on the table as Bob and Claire entered the house. They were quickly escorted to their places and sat down. Bob introduced Claire to the few relative who had not met her before but saved her introduction to Granny Clark until last.
“Granny, this is Claire.” He said smiling.
Claire gave a small smile to the white headed woman seated directly across the table.
Granny Clark’s piercing blue eyes bore into Claire. “Good to meet ya.” Her Southern accent very pronounced.
Suddenly dishes were being passed around and the chatter around the table grew. Claire tried to calm her nerves listening to the happy conversations around her. Still she could feel Granny Clark’s eyes on her.
“So.” Bob said feeling the time was right, “Claire and I have some news we want to share.”
Bob’s mother looked up and smiled, “Wondered when you were going to tell us.”
Bob gave his mother a surprised look but she just laughed.
“Well son you both are wearing wedding rings.”
Around the table congratulations we’re being called out. Claire smiled feeling a small amount of nervousness fading.
Bob relayed the story of their Vegas wedding once the noise had died down. He finished up by saying how much he loved his new bride while he took her hand under the table and gave it a tight squeeze.
Feeling very happy he looked over at his beloved Granny Clark but noticed she was still staring at Claire. He saw that Claire seemed to know this too.
“Well I’m just glad I don’t have to take a stick to ya.” She said looking over at her great grandson.
Bob gave her a shocked look. “What?”
Granny Clark leaned back in her chair. “I don’t cotton to these folks who have babies out of wedlock.”
The whole table suddenly fell silent.
Bob glanced over at his sister believing she must have revealed Claire’s pregnancy but she shook her head.
“You’re pregnant?” Bob’s mother asked looking over at her new daughter-in-law.
Claire looked down at her plate unable to speak.
“Well of course she is.” Granny Clark scoffed. “Just look at her.”
Bob tightened his grip on Claire’s hand ready to defend her.
“Bobby, calm down.” Granny Clark said looking at him. “No one said it ain’t great news. Lots of young folk put the cart before the horse.”
“We found out she was pregnant after we got married.” Bob said wanting to make it clear the pregnancy was not the reason they had married so suddenly.
Claire raised her head to look at the woman across from her. “How did you know?”
A smile appeared on Granny Clark’s wrinkled face. “Honey, I could see it in your eyes. At first I thought it was just love for my Bobby but then I could tell it was something more. Pregnant women in love have a special light in their eyes.”
Claire was speechless.
Bob’s mother broke the silence, “Now that you mentioned it granny I do see it.” She reached across the table to touch Claire’s arm. “Welcome to the family, daughter.”
Tears sprang to Claire’s eyes. She looked around the table at all the smiling faces. “Thank you, Mrs. Bryar.” She whispered.
“Honey, if you’d like you can call me mom.”
Claire stared at the woman feeling overcome by emotion. She had never in her wildest dreams believed she would be part of a loving family. She blinked back tears of happiness, “Thank you, mom.”
Bob leaned over and kissed her soundly while his family cheered.