Maggie's Marriage (The Cloverleaf Series Book 2)(7)

By: Gloria Herrmann


Standing up along with the other overzealous, proud parents and relatives, Maggie clapped her hands as Melanie exited the stage after a beautiful display of singing and dancing. Maggie felt herself burning with anger at Michael. That rage became more inflamed as she saw the sad and confused look on Melanie’s young face.

“Where’s Daddy?”

“I’m not too sure, sweetheart.” Maggie didn’t want to have to make an excuse for Michael.

She was fed up with his failure to be there for important moments like this one. She did everything she could do to remind him; she texted him, left a voicemail, several in fact, and she slipped a Post-it note into his briefcase that morning. What more could she do, besides going deep into Seattle’s downtown business district and kidnapping the man?



***



As Maggie sat in the heavy traffic, Melanie humming the songs she had just performed quietly in the back of the car, she thought about how to handle Michael’s latest failure to choose his family over work. She was fuming by the time she was able to pull into the parking garage of their condo. The smell of rain mixed with car fumes turned her stomach as she got out and went to open Melanie’s door. Melanie remained fairly silent. Maggie could sense her daughter’s disappointment, and it only spurred her own anger further.

Once inside, Maggie made a plan, and it wasn’t the most rational. Grabbing a small suitcase from the hall closet, she began to fill it with various clothing. Melanie sat on the couch and fiddled with her handheld game.

“Mel, how do you feel about seeing Uncle Liam?” Maggie asked.

The little girl’s face beamed with a happy light. “Yay! I would love to see him. Can we see Grams too?”

“I think we might be able to arrange that,” Maggie replied softly as she started to pack some of Melanie’s clothing.

This impromptu trip was just what she needed. She felt herself ready to explode from all of the week’s tension, and right now she needed to go home. Granted, no one had any idea she was coming to Birch Valley, but she figured she would make the five hour drive to her brother Liam’s cabin. She could always talk to him, and he might be able to help her sort out things. She felt lost, and knew that if she were to see Michael right now she would be engaging in an all-out war with him. Maggie had hit her limits, and she needed some space to clear her head. There was no place better than her quiet hometown.



***



The highway leading Maggie to Birch Valley was quiet, even with the weekend travelers on the main stretch. Maggie already started to feel herself relax as she put the car in cruise control and sped along the main route back home. Melanie had fallen asleep; she’d been fairly quiet all evening, even with the excitement of going to see her uncles and grandparents. Maggie knew very well how upset her daughter was, and that only made her that much more angry with Michael, who still hadn’t returned her texts or calls.

Thoughts about how she was going to deal with her husband when she got back plagued her. She hadn’t told him about the pregnancy yet, and guilt was starting to set in. Maybe if she had told him he would have made more of an effort. At the same time, he should have been there for Melanie, regardless. Maggie knew that Michael deserved to know that they were expecting another baby, but for some reason she was reluctant to share the news. She had let her secret well up inside her, and now she was bursting to tell someone.

Driving through the dark mountain passes and keeping a careful eye out for deer, Maggie began to enter the rural town of Birch Valley. The main street was lined with lamp posts, and the ancient storefronts stood like quiet giants in the darkness. No other cars were driving on the roads. Everyone was tucked away, cozy in their little homes. Maggie continued to drive through town and continued on the highway toward her brother’s cabin. He only lived about five miles away from the heart of the community where her parents and other brothers lived. Right now, she knew Liam was the one she wanted to see. She would go and deal with the rest of the family later. Maggie was close to Liam and knew that he’d welcome her no questions asked, no probing for information. He’d just be happy to see her. Liam was easygoing and liked to stay as far away from drama as possible. Maggie felt a twinge of guilt and regret showing up at his home this late. It was a little after one in the morning, she figured he would probably be asleep. Maybe leaving Seattle without calling ahead wasn’t the best option, but she had to get away.

As her car handled the hairpin turn with complete ease, she pulled into Liam’s gravel driveway. In the shadowy darkness she could make out the outline of the cabin nestled in the tall pine trees. There was a sting of cold in the air when she climbed out of her car. Melanie was still sleeping but started to stir now that the car had stopped.