"You can tell me."
"But Mia says she didn't see Penina do anything." Doctor Browning told her.
"Mia is covering for her. And I don't think it's the first time."
"It also wouldn't be the first time that you've blamed Penina for something that was actually your fault."
"This isn't all in my head!" Jennifer cried "Sister Abigail was right. There is something wrong with Penina. And I don't care anymore if I can't prove it. I want her out of the house."
Gerard and Doctor Browning shared a dark look "So you're at a place where you would actually let someone take her away?"
"I'll do whatever I have to do to protect my children." Jennifer said.
"So will I." Gerard told her "That's why she's here." He gestured to Doctor Browning.
Jennifer looked at Doctor Browning and she said "I have reserved a place for you at a residential rehabilitation clinic about forty-five miles from here. They specialize in extended treatment for women who are relapsed alcoholics."
Jennifer gaped at them, shocked and angry. How much did they know? "What are you talking about?"
"I'll stand by you through this." Gerard said. He was pretty angry but tried to keep his voice comforting and calm "Valeria and Frank have already agreed to help look after the kids."
"Tell them not to bother." Jennifer snapped. She turned back to Doctor Browning "I'd like you to leave now."
"Jennifer, don't." Gerard produced the wine bottle that had been at the bottom of Jennifer's closet and put it on the coffee table. Jennifer looked at it as if it were a poisonous spider "The girls found it while they were playing in your closet."
"The girls?" Jennifer repeated in an amused tone "You mean Penina found it."
"Yes, Penina found it. Does that make a difference? Is she lying?"
There was silence. The silence was enough for Gerard who shook his head in disbelief and sat back in his chair "I... Didn't." Jennifer finally said "I brought two bottles. I poured the other one down the sink."
"But not this one." Gerard said, looking harshly at her.
Jennifer looked defeated, tears appearing in her eyes "I'm not going to rehab."
"I'm not going to leave you alone with the kids again until you do."
"I haven't had a drink in almost a year!" Jennifer cried.
Gerard sighed, frustrated. Doctor Browning intervened, her voice irritatingly calm and even "Relapse is very common in early sobriety. We can help you. But not until you drop this charade."
"It's not a charade!" Jennifer snapped, finally losing her temper "I wanted to drink it. You have no fucking idea how badly I wanted to drink it! But I didn't." She calmed down a little "I know I should've told you. I was just afraid of what you'd do."
"I wanted you to come to me." Gerard told her "That's why I didn't confront you last night. If Mia had gotten hurt this morning, it would've been because I trusted you to tell me if there was a problem."
"What happened this morning had nothing to do with this!" Jennifer yelled, pointing at the wine bottle.
"How do you expect me to believe that?"
"Mia, Jude and Eva are the only reason I'm still sober. I would never do anything to hurt them!"
"You don't think this behaviour affects them?" Doctor Browning asked.
"You know damn well what I'm talking about." Jennifer said. Her voice went low and tears started spilling down her cheeks as she continued "I look out at the pool and think..." She started talking to Gerard "When I try to imagine what would've happened if you hadn't come home early that day... It makes me want to kill myself. I would die before I let something like that ever happen again."
"Then why not throw both bottles away?" Gerard asked, raising her eye-brows.
"Because I need help." Jennifer whispered "I thought I could handle it myself, but I can't. I'll go back to therapy. I'll start going to AA meetings."
"That's not enough anymore." Gerard said "I told you last time what I'd do if this ever happened again. I'm trying to give you another chance."
"You haven't heard a word I've said." Jennifer sighed.
"I've heard enough. If it was just the two of us, that would be fine. But I can't let you be in a position where you could hurt the kids."
"I'm not the one you should be worried about!" Jennifer yelled "Seven people close to Penina have died in the past year! Mia was almost the eighth! Now how many more coincidences are you willing to ignore?"
"Jennifer, stop it." Gerard hissed "You're talking about a eight-year old girl. And right now she's making a lot more sense than you are."
"I know I haven't given you any reason to believe me. But you have to. I'm begging you!"
"I'm sorry." Gerard said softly "Maybe if you'd been honest with me from the start. But not now."
Mia, Eva and Penina were standing at the top of the stairs, just out of sight, watching them argue "I'll kill Mommy if you tell." She whispered to both of them. Mia was crying and Eva wanted to cry but was trying her best not too.
At that moment Frank came walking down the hall "Come on, I'll read you girls a story." He smiled "Let's go in Mia's room."
Mia quickly wiped her eyes and held out her arms. Frank lifted her up and the four of them went into Mia's bedroom.
Later that night Gerard walked Frank out to his car "You sure that Valeria won't mind?" Gerard asked "She's not going to like her being around."
"I don't care what she likes. You can't leave those kids alone while you're at work all day." Frank sighed "You're doing the right thing. Don't let her change your mind."
"I'll see you tomorrow." Gerard said, giving him a quick hug before letting him go home.
It was bedtime. Penina was humming in the bath. Jude could hear her from his bedroom. He crept out and past the bathroom. He shuddered as he heard her humming and ran as quietly as possible down to Mia's bedroom.
Mia and Eva were both in there. Eva was sitting on the bed, staring into space and Mia was drawing a picture but quickly hid it under some other pieces of paper when Jude walked in. Both girls eyes were red from crying. Jude closed the door. They could still hear Penina's humming.
"Are you okay?" Jude asked Mia, sitting down on the bed and putting his arm around Eva.
Mia nodded, stood up and sat on Jude's lap "Did Penina do something to crash the van?" Jude asked.
"No." Mia whispered, shaking her head. Jude looked at Eva. She shook her head too.
"It's okay." Jude told them "You can tell me. I saw her jump out before it started to roll. Eva, I know you saw her too."
Mia was suddenly terrified and Eva looked scared too "Did you tell on her?" Mia asked, her eyes wide.
"No way. Dad won't believe me. You have to do it with me."
Eva shook her head and started signing something to him. But Jude couldn't keep up "Wow, slow down. Look, Mia, did Penina do something to make the van crash?"
Reluctantly, Mia whispered "Yes."
"Then we have to tell Mom and Dad." Jude said firmly.
Mia burst into tears and was unable to say something else. Eva started signing something to Jude but he didn't understand. She got frustrated and punched his shoulder. Jude grabbed her arm "Stop it! She's going to kill us if we don't tell! Mom and Dad can protect us!" Eva shook her head "Why not?"
Eva looked at Mia and she nodded. Mia slipped off Jude's lap "Nobody can help us." Mia whispered. Jude looked at her and Mia went over and got the paintings she'd been hiding. Jude flipped through them.
They weren't very good but they were clear. In the first, Penina was standing at the top of a slide and Brenda was falling off the slide while Eva and Mia stood at the bottom watching. The next one, Jude's blood ran cold. It was of Sister Abigail's murder. Penina was stood over Sister Abigail with a hammer while Mia and Eva huddled under the bridge in terror. The last one was of Mia, Eva and Penina in the tree house. Penina was covered in blood "What did she do in the tree house?" Jude asked.
"She put the bad things in there." Mia told him, her heart thumping.
Suddenly Jude noticed that Penina's humming had stopped "She's coming." He muttered. He stood up and ran to the door "It's gonna be okay." He told them before leaving.
Jude ran back to his bedroom and shut the door just as Penina emerged from the bathroom. She paused, suspicious before heading back to her bedroom.