The one thing Maya had learned about the wealthy lifestyle, was that it took a lot of clothing changes. One outfit for breakfast tea, then she changed into her painting clothes. Another outfit for the afternoon to receive any guests and then formal wear for dinner. She was surprised to find out that even for the cook’s night off, formal wear was required even though all they ate was macaroni and cheese and sat at the island in the kitchen.
The house was all a bustle of energy and goings on for the celebration of Christmas. Malcolm, the Landgraab’s son was excited for Christmas morning and all his new toys. Geoffrey was looking forward to some much needed time off with his family. Nancy was very busy attending all the parties and galas, some of which she was involved in the planning. Christmas Eve, the family attended the annual Christmas gala at City Hall for the whole town. The event was packed and Maya, feeling uncomfortable in the crowd, feigned a headache and went back to the empty Landgraab home.
Standing by the Christmas tree in the formal living room, she felt out of sorts and more than a little sad. This was her first Christmas ever without her family and she wondered how everyone was at home in China. Which led her to thinking of Jin. Her mother had many Christmas traditions that Maya had grown up with and she wondered what things Ian would be doing with their son. Rubbing her temples she thought that perhaps she did have a headache after all. She walked to the window and said goodnight to her family, wishing them all well, and turned in for an early night.
The next morning she had only just risen when she head a knock at her bedroom door.
“Come in, ” she replied.
“Merry Christmas.” Nancy came in and gave her a big hug. “I have a present for you!”
“A present? For me? But we agreed no gifts.”
Maya opened the card attached to the gift and read
To My Dearest Wife,
Merry Christmas Maya
So you never forget
Love you always
“Oh, ah, I think I will open this later.”
Nancy looked at her quizzically but turned to leave the room. “All right then. Breakfast is just about ready. See you in a few minutes.”
When Nancy shut the door, Maya opened the box to reveal a beautiful silver heart locket, with purple gems and diamonds embedded in a line on the front. She opened the locket to find a picture of her son and tears began to roll down her face. My beautiful boy! I will wear it always!
But wait! How did Ian know where she was?
Outside Maya’s door, Nancy leaned her head quietly against the wood, listening to Maya opening her gift and softly crying. Ian would be pleased to know that she had such a reaction to seeing both the card and Jin’s picture. It wasn’t over! Maya just hadn’t figured it out yet.
Things were going as planned and Maya seemed to be enjoying her time in Sunset Valley.
Maya had managed to stay out of the spotlight for most of her stay in Sunset Valley until one reporter did a story on her volunteering in the children’s wing at the hospital. Maya had wanted to give thanks to all the members of the town for their gracious hospitality and decided to entertain the sick children at the hospital. She felt it was the least she could do as everyone had been so gracious. The story was picked up and before she knew it, Sunset Valley was full of paparazzi. She supposed it was inevitable anyways, when news got out about the unveiling of the mural they were bound to come. She just wished she could have had her whole vacation away from the flashes of cameras and reporters constantly trying to talk to her.
She wanted to spend the the remainder of her time just hiding out at the Landgraab’s, but Nancy wouldn’t hear of it. So she was dragged to every charity event in the town. The most exciting surprise was that she had been asked to provide a painting for an artist exibition night at the local art gallery. She was thrilled and got to work right away. She considered painting the absolutely spectacular view of the town from the backyard of the Landgraab’s home. But she wanted to do something different, unique to herself. She had just finished sketching it out and couldn’t wait to start choosing colours and shades to make the painting come to life. Shaking her hands to relieve the soreness of holding her pencil so long, she walked to the window and was surprised to find the sky had turned dark.
The night sky drew her out of the house and she stood on the edge of the property near the cliff. Staring up at the stars, thoughts of her vacations end and her return to university weighed heavily on her mind. She was grateful for her time in Sunset Valley and would miss all the people who had welcomed her into their little town. She almost dreaded leaving for she knew how different it all was going to be when she retuned to school.
Startled, Maya spun around at the sound of his voice.
“Eddy. What, what are you doing here?”
“What am I doing here? What are you doing here? Here of all places!”
Maya backed up a space from him, sensing the anger radiating off his whole body. Eddy was so angry he was almost shaking.
“Do you have any idea how crazy I have been looking for you? Then to find out your here!”
“Did it ever occur to you that I didn’t want to be found? You shouldn’t be here Eddy. This isn’t a good idea. If your aunt and uncle knew you were here, they would not be happy.”
“I don’t care! I never would have thought you could be so cruel. You know how I feel about them! How they feel about me! Of all places I could have found you!”
“Contrary to what you may think Eddy. Staying here has nothing to do with you.”
“Of course it does. It all has to do with me. Everything. You think I cheated on you so you go to the one place you know would hurt me the most!”
“I didn’t ask to stay here Eddy. I needed a place to stay. They called me. They asked me, even knowing that I am dating you. Or at least I think they know. Doesn’t matter. Fact is, I’ve done nothing wrong.”
“Neither have I!”
“I didn’t sleep with Katie,” he said a little quieter. “I didn’t. It was just one of those stupid party game dares that went too far. I never would have done it if I hadn’t been so juiced.”
“How am I supposed to believe that? Katie has been sniffing around after you for months Eddy. How can I know for sure?”
“You can ask her yourself. Come back with me.”
“No. I’m not going anywhere with you. I still have commitments here. And beside I was very clear with you. If Katie is still around when I get back, we are done! I really don’t want to do this right now. You should go.”
“Yes, you need to go.”
Maya turned to see Nancy standing there with a none too happy look on her face.
“Maya, come back with me,” he pleaded.
“She is not going anywhere. Least of all with you.”
“Fuck you aunt. This has nothing to do with you!”
“And Maya being here has nothing to do with you! I know you would like to think otherwise. But contrary to your common opinion, the whole world doesn’t revolve around you! Now just go. Or I will be forced to call the cops.”
“You knew. About Eddy and me.”
“Of course I knew dear. I don’t approve but I have always known. Doesn’t change the way I feel about you at all.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“Ach, don’t be sorry. You have nothing to be sorry about. Hmmm, I never thought he would have had the nerve to show up here. Guess I was wrong. Oh well, no harm done.”
Looking into Maya’s face she saw the indecision in her eyes.
“I asked you to stay here because you needed a place to stay. But I also thought getting away from Eddy would help to give you some perspective. He is not the man you think he is Maya. Chip off his mother’s block he is. His mother may have left him and he may hate her but he is a lot like her. He doesn’t love you Maya. He never will. He is just using you.”
Nancy sighed. “No I guess you aren’t ready to see things clearly yet. I just want you to be careful. I’ve known that boy his whole life. Watch yourself with him. That is all I ask.”
Maya nodded her head. “I will try.”