Six: The Beginning

Start from the beginning

Aimee exits Eloise's room with grudging reluctance on her face. "I have to say I'm impressed."

"You didn't really think I would've left the house as is, do you?" I roll my eyes. Thank you, Sacha and Iris.

She crosses her arms, and I can see that she looks exactly like Jemma (without the blue hair). In fact, all of them look alike—button nose, round cheeks, long eyelashes.

"So," she says, "this is it, huh? Are you sure you're ready for this?"

I stare at her in disbelief. "Ready? Ready is my middle name."

She sighs. "Well listen—I need them back in January all in one piece. Got it?"

"I'll try to turn the meat grinder off in the mornings so they're not tempted to put their fingers inside."

"And I want you to make sure they're getting good grades—I enrolled them at Percival—and you'll go to all of their PTO meetings, and—"

I hold out my hands. "Woah, woah, woah, what? You never said anything about getting involved like that! And Percival? Really? That's where all the snobby "hey, look at me in my Ferrari" people go!"

"You're gonna have to be involved, Bev! That's what this whole thing is about!"

"No way!" I nearly shout, but then lower my voice so the girls don't hear. "This was never in the contract, Aimee."

She draws herself to her full height, her brown eyes flashing in a maternal way I've never seen before. "I get it. Believe me, you're the most self-absorbed, careless person I know! And if I had the choice between entrusting my most precious possessions to you or to PeeWee Herman—I might choose PeeWee. But right now, you're all I have. We've never been there for each other, but this one time, I need you." Her lips form a thin line and I know she means business. "And those three girls in there need to be loved, Beverly. If there's any good left in you, I beg you...give it to them." Her voice drops to a whisper. "Their father isn't going to last much longer and they know it. When they come back to me in January, he might not even be alive. So this six months better be filled with all the love you can give...because it's going to be so hard for them when Calvin dies." Her eyes fill with tears, even though she tries to blink them away. "And I wish, more than anything, that I could be there for them right now, but I can't. You're all they've got."

I swallow hard, fear threatening to clutch at my heart. All I can do is nod. "Okay," I say quietly. "I'll try."

Aimee gives a trembling smile and draws me into a hug.

I stiffen. "Yep. Okay. That wasn't in the contract either."

Aimee sniffs and pulls away, fishing a piece of paper from her purse. She unfolds a list and I frown. "Here—here's their schedule."

"Schedule?" I echo, taking the list and turning it over. My stomach sinks down to my feet.

7:00 Wake up song!

7:15 Breakfast!

7:30 Don't miss the bus!

I can't take anymore. There are way too many exclamation points for one list. "Seven a.m. is for the birds, sis. Not for me. And what the heck is a wake up song?"

"Oh," Aimee laughs, "it's for Dusty. She'll tell you about it. And I'll text you all the things you need to do for the PTO—it's important for you to be at the school with them when you can."

"Right." I nod absently. I told Aimee that I would try. And that definitely doesn't include following her stupid schedule.

When she turns her back, I stuff it inside a potted plant and follow her to Eloise's room, where all the girls are gathered and looking at one of the board games Sacha bought.

"Alrighty, my loves," Aimee announces, getting down to her knees and hugging the girls close.

"I want you all to be on your best behavior," she instructs, "help Aunt Beverly wherever you can—Jemma, that means you too. I love you all so, so much, and don't forget I'm only a phone call away if you need anything."

She kisses them all and smooths their hair away from their foreheads.

I watch curiously. Where did she learn all of that? We never had anyone who cared for us like Aimee cares for the girls. Did it just come naturally, or was she born with it?

Finally, she stands up and surveys me. "Take care of them."

"Look, if Dr. Spock has anything to say about it, I'm there," I say, cringing as I'm crushed into another hug.

"Goodbye, girls!" she calls, blowing kisses all the way down the stairs.

The girls hang off the bannister and wave like their husbands are getting on the train to war.

"Bye!" they shout.

Aimee disappears out the door and we all listen in baited silence as her Suburban starts up and fades down the street.

My house is left in still quiet again—but now it's awkward, considering three more people are inhabiting it.

"So," I say, "do you guys like TV, or...?"

But the girls turn to one another, completely ignoring me.

"Do you want to play that game?" Eloise asks.

"Only if Dusty's on your team," Jemma says. "I always lose when she's on mine."

"Fine."

They disappear back into the bedroom, and a satisfied grin spreads across my lips.

This is going to be easier than I thought.


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Hey guys! I'm sorry for the crazy posting schedule! Life is a little upside down right now XD Anyway, I really hope you're enjoying this story! I was so nervous to post it, but I think you guys are enjoying it?? 

~How do you think this will affect Beverly and Aimee's relationship?

~General thoughts?

The adventure officially begins! Thank you so much for reading! {Don't forget to comment, vote, and share!}

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