I woke up feeling cold and to the sound of birds. I was not in my room. I opened my eyes and saw that I was outside of the B&B. What time was it? The sun wasn’t up yet. I had to get back to the B&B, or I would get into a lot of trouble.
Maybe I shouldn’t go back. Who knows what Mr. Steve is going to do to me? So, what if I was good at the piano. That’s not what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to pursue that part of me. That part of me had come from my father, and it would be too painful to rip off the bandages that had been there ever since I was five.
But what about Momma? If I ran away she would be heartbroken. I sighed. I didn’t want to run away. All I wanted to do was get under my nice warm sheets, snuggle up, and have pleasant dreams.
I knew where I was at so it wasn’t hard for me to get back to the B&B. I looked at the clock on my way in. Ugh, it was six A.M. I sneaked back into my room and got under the covers. I stayed in there until ten A.M. and not once did I go to sleep.
“Here,” Momma said handing me a note.
“Somebody left me a note?” I asked taking it. “Who?”
“Your father,” Momma said walking away.
I thought maybe it was another letter from my father but instead it turned out to be from Mr. Steve.
Something has come up and I had to go to New York City this morning. I would rather do this person to person, but you weren’t up yet. Maybe it’s for the best. I’ll probably be gone two or three days. When I get back, we WILL talk about last night and we WILL start looking for a piano teacher.
“He doesn’t have the decency to sign ‘love’,” I whispered. I tore the note and threw it in the trash.
“Natalie?” Momma asked as I walked towards the steps.
“Natalie, what did the note say, honey?” Momma asked. “What’s wrong?”
Everything I thought as I closed my bedroom door.
“Your father sure sounded excited over the phone,” Momma said. I sighed as I put her salad on the table. I really wished Mr. Steve would be staying that extra day in New York City. I didn’t feel like talking to him. I really didn’t feel like talking to anyone. But as a waitress I gotta put on a nice face for everyone. Expect my face was tired and worn. It had a pretty smile on it, and all you would think was that I was growing and needed more sleep. You wouldn’t imagine that sweet little Natalie was battling with insomnia and sleepwalking. You would never know that she had such a dislike for her stepfather that when she found herself outside of the B&B that she thought of never going back. Yup, that was the Natalie nobody but I knew.
“He didn’t even tell us why he was going to New York City,” Abby said.
“New York City,” Jaci said. “I wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s probably a very nice place to visit.”
“I’ve been,” Momma said. “It’s loud and noisy, but the shopping is amazing and Central Park is fabulous.”
Mr. Steve burst through the restaurant door with the biggest grin on his face. He looked like he hadn’t gotten any sleep last night, but my eyes still had more circles around them than his.
“Mr. Stewart,” Mr. Steve said walking up to him. “thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Mr. Stewart said. “I meant everything that I said, and you deserve everything that’s coming.”
“What’s going on?” Momma asked with fear in her voice.
“I got the job!” Mr. Steve smiled. He hugged Momma.
“What job?” Momma asked. She stole a glance at Mr. Stewart. Mr. Stewart was smirking. Oh, no. If Mr. Stewart was involved in this it couldn’t be good.
“I went to New York to apply for an accounting job for one of the business,” Mr. Steve said. “They were looking for a new accountant and Mr. Stewart recommended me, a math teacher, for the job. I was interviewed yesterday and they hired me today.”
“Wait…so if you got a job in New York City,” Abby started. “That means you’re moving!”
“WHAT!” I shouted. Jaci didn’t say anything. She got up from her seat and ran out the door. Timmy ran after her.
“Moving? What no!” I shouted. I couldn’t leave Florida. No. Never. Florida was HOME. It was MY home.
“Well, um,” Mr. Steve said looking down. He had to know that this wasn’t good for our ‘relationship’.
“Moving?” Momma asked. “Couldn’t we have talked about this first?”
Momma walked away, and I looked at Mr. Steve.
“You are unbelievable!” I screamed. “Do you have to destroy everything?!”
Everyone in the restaurant was looking at me, but I didn’t care. This was the Natalie I had become now. They were shocked by this new Natalie. Most of them looked shocked to see me talking to Mr. Steve like this. To them Mr. Steve was my father. To me he was a destroyer of my life.
“Natalie, I..I..I thought if anything you’d be happy about moving to such an exciting place as New York City,” Mr. Steve clearly shocked.
How could he think that? Did this guy even know me? I loved Florida. This was my home.
“Do you even know me?!” I screamed. “Happy? Happy!? I will have you know that I hate the idea! I hate it! I don’t want to move to the city! I want to stay here! How could you think for one second about moving us to the city?!”
“Natalie!” Aunt Jane scolded. I ran up the stairs but not before tears started to flow. When I got to my room and slammed the door and locked it.
An image of Mr. Steve’s hurt face came into my mind and I cried some more. Move? No way? Mr. Steve would come to his senses soon enough. If there was one place that was an exception to the heaven everywhere rule, it was New York City.
“Natalie, you had no right to talk to your father that way,” Momma said to me. I tried not to start crying again. I was sitting on Mr. Steve and Momma’s bed. Ms. Donna had given Mr. Steve the key to my room and he carried me in here.
“He’s not my father,” I mumbled. Momma ignored that. Mr. Steve winced.
“I know the idea of moving came as a shock to you,” Momma started, “but you don’t yell at your father. Do you understand me?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said trying not to cry. Momma hugged me.
“The thought of leaving scares me too,” Momma whispered. “We don’t particularly need the money but…”
I sighed. Of course this was about money. God, why couldn’t teachers make more?
There was a knock on the door.
“Come in,” Mr. Steve said. His voice was flat and shaky. He was probably still recovering from my screaming.
Jaci walked into the room and looked at me.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Jaci said. “Am interrupted anything?”
“Not if you’re here to talk about New York,” Mr. Steve said flopping on the bed. “I think I just became public enemy number one in this town.”
“Well, what I’m about to say has something to do with New York,” Jaci said closing the door and walking towards the bed.
“Let her rip!” Mr. Steve shouted tiredly. “Tell me I’m a monster! Tell me I’m a destroyer! Tell me that you hate me! Get it all off your chest.”
Jaci looked at me. Her look said, “What did you do?”
“Um, I think you should have asked us first. I mean with modern technology you could have at least called,” Jaci said calmly.
“That’s it?” Mr. Steve asked sounding surprised. “Natalie called me a destroyer. Abby called me the killer of all things good and said that I bring out the worst in people especially my family members. Your mother gave me a long talk about marriage and the importance of communication. And all you say is you should have called?”
“Yes,” Jaci said. “Now back to what I came back in here to say. Timmy asked me to marry him, and I said yes. And you can’t stop me.”
Jaci didn’t say, “And you can’t stop me” angrily or anything. She said it sweetly like she always said things.
“Why would I stop you? You have my blessing,” Mr. Steve shrugged. “You’re eighteen. You’ll be nineteen before the years over. You can do whatever you want. You can stay here in Florida. I’m sure somebody would be willing to let you stay with them.”
“No,” Jaci said. “I’m going with you. You haven’t given me away yet.”
Mr. Steve looked at me. The look on his face said, “Why couldn’t you be more like Jaci?”
“You just don’t stop do you?” I asked getting up. Mr. Steve stared blankly at me.
“I’m sorry if I’m not tactful like Jaci. I’m sorry if I’m not as smart and as ambitious as Abby. And I’m sorry if I’m not as sweet, innocent, and Steve worshiping as Megan. I’m me Natalie. The girl who doesn’t seem to have a place in your family. The girl who’s feelings you never think of!” I cried. I walked out the door.
“Steve, you are a fool,” I heard Momma said.
“What did I say?” Mr. Steve’s voice asked.
“Even I know what you did wrong,” Jaci’s voice said. She wasn’t critically. She was sweet and polite.
I wasn’t sweet or polite. I didn’t want to pursue my musical talent and that’s something Abby would totally do. I defiantly wasn’t like Megan. If there ever was an example of childlike faith she was one. She ‘respected’ people older than her (well most of the time). What was I then? Oh, yeah. The middle child.