Chapter Eleven: Topaz Again
"I can't think of anything else I need to get ready."
Topaz sat down on the end of her bed, a thoughtful look on her face. It was the afternoon of December 23rd, and she and Sylva were busy sorting out the last of the baby stuff ready for the big day. "I've still got a little over a week, and I'm fairly sure I've everything I'm going to need right at first. Dr Finnan has approved the location and everything's all set...I feel like I'm at a loose end now. It's almost like I've been building up to it these last few days, and now I've got to sit on my backside for another week and wait."
"Well, at least you are all prepared." Sylva reminded her, sitting down beside her. "And you've got your phone battery charged, too, in case you need to reach me. Jewel are going to have a busy Christmas this year, in terms of work...so I want to make sure you can get in touch if anything happens."
"My phone is primed and ready for all emergencies." Topaz agreed. "Though I'll only need it really if I'm taken by surprise and can't get downstairs. I don't intend on going out again before she comes - too many reporters flocking to get the first pics of Baby Jewel, and besides, it's just too much effort. I've plenty of my favourite films and I can curl up on the couch with a hot drink to watch them all whilst you're out working. I'm finding the quiet life suits me pretty good!"
"Well, don't get too used to it. In a week or so you'll be Mama." Sylva laughed. Topaz grinned.
"I know, but I intend to enjoy it while I can!" She responded. She pursed her lips. "All of this really makes me wonder what Mom would make of it - me having a baby, I mean. Technically that makes her Gran, although we don't speak, so I don't know if it matters either way."
"Do you wish she was here?" Sylva asked gently. Topaz sighed.
"To be honest? Yeah, I do." She admitted. "We were very close until she remarried, after all. Christmas was a special time - she and I would always visit relatives on Christmas Eve, but we'd spend Christmas Day just her and me. We'd open presents and I'd help her to make Christmas dinner..." She paused. "Yet now we don't even exchange a christmas card. It does make me sad, Syl. This baby is her granddaughter, and I guess I wish I had a mother to go to, you know?" She gestured. "If it were you, Mary would look after you and advise you and you'd be in safe hands. I'm fairly sure that Jetta would help Nancy, and I know that Carmen would be supportive of Copper. It's fine, deciding to have a baby and everything, but it does make you remember the empty hole. After all, once she was here, just like me, waiting and wondering what the future was going to be like. What if things go that wrong for me and my daughter, Syl? I couldn't bear it."
"Then don't let it." Sylva responded softly. "And maybe, if you feel like that about your Mom, you should get in touch with her?"
"No...too much water under the bridge now. I'd rather let sleeping relatives lie, if you don't mind." Topaz shook her head. "You girls and the baby - that's my family now. I did pretty good, all in all."
"What was your mother like? Was she pretty?" Sylva wondered. Topaz nodded.
"Very." She agreed. "I inherited my Dad's features mostly - so I'm told - but Mom was a real stunner when she was younger. I remember seeing the photographs. She was very glamorous and very creative, and she and Dad were extremely close. Him dying so close to when I was born meant that I was all she had to cling to...in the end, I suppose she spoiled me." She looked rueful. "I was very spoiled, Syl. You wouldn't know me. My year in Toronto changed me so much."
"I can't imagine you ever being spoiled." Sylva was startled. "What kind of things did you do?"
"I was pampered...I got everything I wanted, pretty much." Topaz glanced at her hands. "I don't say I was always the brat, because I wasn't, but I could be pushy and difficult if I didn't get my way. I'd always dress up and make a fuss of my hair and stuff, even when I was only six or seven, and Mom never stopped me. She wanted me to be happy, and have the best of everything. I went to a private school, and I'd often get to go skiing or whatever with family or friends, whatever the expense. She was my whole world, and I admired her so much."
A shadow crossed her face.
"But then she met Stephen, and things changed. His son, Tony...he hated me. He'd bully me and I'd yell at him...we were the worst possible match for step brother and sister you ever did see. I admit, I played up. I hated his rules, so I broke them at every opportunity. He set a curfew - I'd always make sure I was late home. He disapproved of drinking alcohol - so I'd hang out with friends in bars, even if I wasn't old enough to drink. He was big on impressing the risks of sleeping around and you know, legal limits and all of that." She looked sheepish. "So, one of the first things I did was to get laid at their wedding reception. Unfortunately for me, the guy was one of Tony's friends, so Stephen found out, and then grounded me forever. The war had begun, and it was a nightmare, Syl...I stuck it two years, but as soon as I was eighteen, I was clean outta there. Graduated, left. Bam, just like that."
"Your Mom must've been devastated."
"Well, she never came looking for me." Topaz shrugged. "So my guess is she was glad to see the back of me..."
"I've had enough of your attitude, young lady."
Aurora glared at her stepfather defiantly, her arms folded across her chest.
"So? You can stick it. I'm not your daughter and you can't tell me what to do." She shot back. "I only went to a bar with some friends. Sheesh! Anyone would think I'd robbed a bank or something! If it escaped your notice, I am an adult now! I've graduated high school and I can make my own decisions!"
"Whilst you live under this roof, you live by the house rules." Stephen retorted. "And that means curfew at twelve! It's half past two...I've had enough!"
"Maybe I've had enough of your house rules." Aurora was bitter. "Mom never used to set house rules. I could stay out at Jenna's or Natalie's till two or three, so long as I drove home and didn't walk out that late."
"Your mother's been soft on you." Stephen sighed. "Listen, you silly girl. The only reason the rules are there is to keep you from getting into trouble! I've heard some stories about you, and some of the things you've gotten up to this last year...and incidentally, eighteen is no age to be trawling bars!"
"So? I only had a coke!" Aurora put her hands on her hips. "And who's been telling stories about me? Tony, no doubt. He's holier than thou whilst I'm big bad Aurora! What's wrong, Stephen? Does it upset you to know that your stepdaughter isn't meek and innocent to the ways of the world?"
"You are no age to wind up pregnant, and you're damn irresponsible enough for it to happen!" Stephen thundered. "Don't you even care what happens to you? Don't you want a future?"
"I want you to butt out of my life." Aurora retorted. "Everything was fine before you came along!"
"What is all the noise down here?"
Aurora turned to see her mother at the top of the stairs, her dressing gown tied around her waist. "Rora, Stephen, it's late! Why are you yelling?"
"Aurora has just crawled in...five minutes ago." Stephen glanced at his watch. "It's the third time in a week, Lissa...I'm about to give up."
"I don't want to follow his rules." Aurora glanced at the floor. "He's not my father."
"He's the only father you have ever had, cherie, and he is only trying to do what is best for you." Melissa murmured. "I have spoiled you, and I'm sorry for it, but Stephen is right to set rules and curfews. He doesn't want you hurt...nobody does."
"Well, noone asked me if I was hurt by the fact you decided to marry him without consulting me!" Aurora spat out. "Noone asked me if I wanted to share my house with him and his delinquent son, did they?"
"No, I won't shut up. I've had enough." Aurora shook her head. "You know what? You can keep your house rules and your curfew. I'm going to grab my stuff and sleep at Jenna's tonight - she doesn't have an evil stepfather!"
"If you walk out of that door, young lady..." Stephen's tone was warning.
"You'll what?" Aurora demanded. "You'll hit me? Smack my bottom like a bad little five year old? Or kick me out? Hm?"
"Enough!" Melissa exclaimed. "Stephen, I will deal with this. She is my daughter, and this is my fault. It's time we settled this once and for all."
Stephen cast his wife a doubtful look, but obediently retreated into the kitchen, and Melissa padded down the rest of the stairs, taking her daughter by the arm.
"Listen to me, Rora." She murmured. "I have done everything I could to make your life happy. I could not give you your father, and I spoiled you - I was wrong. Stephen is a good man and I love him very much. Just because your father is no longer with us, it does not mean I am forbidden to love again."
"You used to say you loved him." Aurora whispered, tears pricking at the back of her blue eyes. "And that I reminded you of him...that I was special to you because of that."
"You will always be my little girl, cherie."
"Then why do you let Stephen harass me and Tony bully me!" Aurora demanded. "You don't treat me like I'm your little girl! You know what I think? I think you stopped loving Dad and you stopped loving me too, that's what I think! I think you'd be only too damn glad if I walked out that door and never came back!"
"I am your mother, I will not be spoken to like that!" Aurora had never seen her mother so angry. "Apologise, and go to your room! We will talk again in the morning."
"No, we won't." Aurora shook her head. "I've had enough. I'm outta here. I'm eighteen, I don't need you to tell me what to do and I sure as hell don't need Stephen. I know how life is...I can handle it. I'll go someplace new, get a job, and be fine. You'll see." She narrowed her gaze. "I'm not gonna come back, so don't expect to find me on the step this time tomorrow, okay? Then maybe you'll be sorry that you treated me so badly! If you won't love me, I'll find someone else who will!"
"That's so sad." Sylva hugged her friend tightly. "Aww, Topaz, don't cry!"
As a tear slid down her friend's cheek. "I know it must've been awful,
losing touch with your Mom that way, but you know, you could call her.
You could tell her about the baby, ask her to play a part in its life.
It isn't too late for that."
"I'm too proud." Topaz shook her head. "I said I would never go back, and I never will. End of subject."
She sighed, getting to her feet. "Come on. I want to count those baby socks again...I'm sure I'm still short a pair."
"Okay, if you say so." Sylva relented. "We'll count socks. Guess it's like me and my Dad, huh? Not ready yet to talk."
"Right." Topaz agreed. "But it's okay, Syl. I can handle it. For now, I'll take what I've got here in LA and be thankful. After all, there are so many with so much less than me!"
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
Chapter One: Back In Los Angeles
Chapter Two: Christmas Plans
Chapter Three: Like Old Times
Chapter Four: The Truth About Anna
Chapter Five: The Video Shoot
Chapter Six: Topaz's Sensation
Chapter Seven: Sadie's Tattoo
Chapter Eight: An Unlikely Team
Chapter Nine: Misfit vs Devil
Chapter Ten: An Old Flame
Chapter Eleven: Topaz Again
Chapter Twelve: A Christmas Present