I looked up from my science book. Momma and Mr. Steve were standing in front of me looking serious.
“Yes?” I asked.
“We need to talk to you,” Momma said sitting down on the couch.
“About what?” I asked. My voice sounded shaky and I have no clue why.
“Natalie, how would you feel if I told you that Steve was adopting you?” Momma asked. Her voice also sounded shaky.
“Mr. Steve is adopting me?!” I shouted standing up. I was finally able to stand on my foot again but at this moment my foot was aching and so was my heart.
“Yes, I’m adopting you and Megan,” Mr. Steve said. “And your mother is adopting Jaci and Abby.”
I ran out the door and sat on the porch and started to cry.
“Natalie,” Momma said walking out of the house and sitting on the swing next to me.
“I don’t want to be known as Natalie Matthews,” I sighed. “I don’t ever want to forget my father’s name.”
“Oh, Sweetheart, that is not mine or Steve’s intent,” Momma said squeezing my hand. “If you read this I think you’ll understand better.”
Momma placed a letter in my hand and walked back into the house.
If you’re reading this it’s because I’m dead and your mother is getting remarried. Natalie, don’t be upset or hate this man. I want your mother to be happy and I have given her my permission to get remarried if I die.
I also have made it a requirement that this man adopt you. Don’t scream my dear, Natalie, I’m going to tell you why I want him to adopt you. If I die it is very likely that it is not an accident. Your mother is also in danger. Now your mother has asked me not to tell you this danger here but has assured me that someday you will find out.
Natalie, I know that the upcoming days are going to be hard for you but I want you to try to be happy for your mother. That’s an order. I also want you to use your new name with pride. That’s also an order. Through all of this remember that I love you and wish that I could still be with you.
Your Daddy, Alexander Baldwin
I sighed. How could I say with pride ‘Natalie Zoey Matthews’? I looked down and noticed there was a P.S.
P.S. Natalie, you may think that using your new name will be more than you can handle but I know you can do it. I would never ask you or your mother to do something I didn’t believe you could do.
I let tears escape my eyes. If my father thought I could do it then I could do it.
“This is a mighty long list,” I said reading the wedding guest list. Momma, Abby, Jaci, Mrs. Stewart, Emily, Mrs. Rivers, Sean, Ms. Donna, and I were in the restaurant planning the wedding and Momma’s bridal shower.
“It is not,” Momma said. “We’ve gotten lots of RSVPs back which is good since this wedding was such short notice.”
“LET ME IN!” Someone pounded on the restaurant’s door.
“I wonder who that could be,” Ms. Donna wondered out loud unlocking the restaurant door.
Grandma Shirley marched through the door and a blonde woman who I had never seen before walked in behind her.
“Clarisse!” Momma shouted jumping out of her chair and hugging the woman.
“Riley!” The woman shouted hugging Momma back.
“Mother told me that you have six children,” Momma said. “It can’t be true.”
“It is,” Aunt Clarisse smiled. “This must be your daughter Natalie.”
Aunt Clarisse smiled at me and I smiled back.
“I cannot believe you Riley Anne Walters!” Grandma Shirley shouted. She pulled the wedding invitation out of her purse.
“I thought you would want to know,” Momma said. “I’m sorry if it offended you.”
“What offends me is that you didn’t tell me about this!” Grandma Shirley shouted. “I could have been helping you all this time! Well what’s been done has been done. Your father and brothers are coming up a little closer to the wedding.”
Everyone in the room just blinked (even Aunt Clarisse stared at Grandma Shirley).
“Who’s your maid of honor and who’s planning your bridal shower?” Aunt Clarisse asked Momma.
“There is no maid of honor,” Mrs. Rivers spoke up. “But I’m planning the bridal shower.”
“Can I help you?” Aunt Clarisse asked. “And I would love to be the maid of honor.”
“It’s been waiting for you,” Momma smiled.
“And of course you can help me,” Mrs. Rivers smiled. “You know more about Riley than I do!”
“Now I must know all the details! The wedding is in a month and I just got the invitation!” Grandma Shirley shouted.
“Here,” Momma said handing Grandma Shirley the wedding planning book.
“You’re dresses are being made by a sixteen year old girl?” Grandma Shirley asked looking disgusted.
“Hey! I’m eighteen!” Jaci shouted getting defensive. I was taken aback. Jaci usually didn’t talk like that to anyone.
“And I’m helping,” Mrs. Stewart said. “And so is Joan and Jessie-Maria.”
“Who’s Jessie-Maria? And why in the world is her name so long and weird?” Grandma Shirley asked.
“I’m Jessie-Maria and I prefer to be called Sean,” Sean said speaking up but her voice still sounded mouse-like.
“Why would you want to be called a boys’ name?” Grandma Shirley asked.
“Um, Mother, you said Papa and John and Cael are coming up closer to the wedding,” Momma said. “Does that mean Clarisse and you are staying in Florida?”
“Oh course!” Grandma Shirley shouted. “Why would I drive from Pittsfield every day when I can just stay at the B&B?”
This was going to be a long three weeks.