Once Maya truly understood what had really been going on her whole life, making the decision for her future came with ease. After seeing the counselor that morning, she made a plan and set that plan into motion.
Seeing Eddy had also been good she realized. It was the last bit of stress weighing down her shoulders, and she was glad they were able to part ways as friends. She took care of making the call to her lawyer and gave him the details for the paperwork. Closing her phone, she smiled and continued on her way to the dorm.
Maya stood in the middle of her room surrounded by boxes, and took stock of all her possessions. She had labeled the boxes as charity and keep, but after that didn’t know where to begin. As focused as he was on her future, it still made her a little sad to see her present day life go. She began by opening up her dresser drawers and dumping the contents on her bed. Then she opened her closet doors, grabbed handfuls of clothing, hangers and all and began dumping them into the boxes labeled charity. Anything she had acquired due to her relationship with Eddy ended up in those boxes.
She did pull out a few chosen pieces, which she gave to both Paris and Margaret. They were clothing pieces both the women had admired, and she knew they would love to have. Maya wasn’t going to miss any of these clothes, for she didn’t think she was going to need any fancy designer clothes where she was going. Plus that meant that she would get to go shopping for a whole new wardrobe!
When she was done, the charity boxes were full to bursting. There wasn’t much in the keep boxes, and even less in her closet.
The jewelry went next. These she decided to place downstairs for all her room mates to pick and choose what they wanted. When they were done, she took the leftovers to the consignment store. She asked the owner to send the profit to the hospital in Sunset Valley, to be given as a donation for the new children’s ward. The only piece of jewelry she kept for herself, was the heart locket from Ian with Jin’s picture inside. That, she would never let go for anything in the world.
She was already feeling much better, less burdened, but there was one more thing she needed to do. She grabbed a garbage can, dragged it up to her room and sat down in the middle of her floor. From under the bed and in drawers, she pulled out all the magazines, pictures and photo shoot portfolios she had accumulated over the past eight months. One by one, they all made it into the trash. She worked until she had cleared her room of all the items that acted as a record of her time as a celebrity. She wanted to begin her life with a clean slate.
After that, she had one more very large personal possession to deal with, and she was actually feeling a little guilty giving it away. However it was just too big an item to travel with, and she knew exactly what to do with it.
“Hey Chloe. How are things?”
“Maya! It’s so nice to finally catch up with you. Things are good. How about you?”
“I’m great. How is your father?”
“He’s great. So great, that my father has been making short visits to the store. He looks so good Maya, you should see him. It’s almost like a miracle you know.”
“I’m so glad! Does that mean you will definitely be returning to college in the Fall?”
“I think so. My father keeps talking about it, but I don’t want to get my hopes up until the doctor gives him a clean bill of health.”
“Well I know it will happen, and with that said, I have a favor to ask you. I need you to take my car.”
“Your car? No, I can’t! That is too big a gift!”
“You have to take it, cause there is no way I am giving it back to Eddy and I can’t take it where I am going.”
“So you made up your mind then? Are you sure?”
“Definitely sure, and what a big relief it is. Now help me and take my car!”
“I will! Thank you! When I think of you, I will imagine you standing there fully at peace, with the wind blowing through your hair.”
“I shall miss you Chloe!”
Maya breathed a sigh of relief. The car was her biggest possession and if Chloe didn’t take it, she didn’t know what she was going to do. She was happy knowing that Chloe would have wheels when she returned to school. In the meantime, she had made arrangements with the school to keep the car at the dorm until Chloe returned in the Fall.
Feeling very pleased with all the hard work done, Maya decided to treat herself to a shopping spree. She was now in serious need of a new wardrobe since she had emptied her closet. She needed clothes that were comfortable, but she wouldn’t care if they got dirty. That wasn’t something that she could get in University Town. So hopping in her car, she drove over to Sunset Valley, all the while thinking that she could drop in on some friends to say goodbye, while she was there.
Three hours later and arms full of bags, Maya was just about to load her car, when she was approached by a young man on the street.
Maya stiffened. For the first time ever, she heard her married name spoken aloud by another. She turned, expecting to see a reporter, but instead she found a very young man.
“Mrs Bell, my name is Luke. I’m a friend of your husband Ian. We need to talk, and Mrs Landgraab would like to be involved in that meeting. Would you be so good as to follow me to her house?”
He then reached across and handed her a piece of paper, which was a note written in Nancy’s handwriting, on her letterhead. She agreed to follow him. He indicated that his car was just across the street, and he would drive ahead, meeting her at the house.
All the way there, Maya wondered what could be so important that it took such drastic measures to get her to visit the house. A sense of foreboding came over Maya and she mentally kicked herself for letting her guard down, and allowing herself to be so optimistic. Her life it seemed, never went that way.
“Maya I asked Luke to bring you here because we have some things to talk about that I fear will be very upsetting for you.”
“Mrs Bell. My name is Luke Hemmings. I’m not sure if you will remember, but this isn’t the first time we have seen one another.”
“No. I do recognize you. I have seen you here in Sunset Valley and also in University Town. I just assumed that you were a reporter or paparazzi.”
“You would be correct in that I have been following you around, but I don’t work for the press. Mrs Bell, I was hired by your husband. I’m a private detective and your husband hired me in September to do some semi protection for you, and to follow Eddy Mullins to gain background information on his activities.”
Maya sat there for a moment and just stared. She didn’t know how to respond to what she had been told. She began to shake her head. Ian wouldn’t do this.
“I don’t understand. Ian wouldn’t do this,” she looked to Nancy. “Why would Ian do this?”
“Mrs Bell,” Luke said, gaining her attention. “You need to know that Mr. Mullins is not the man you think he is.”
“Nancy?” Maya said turning to look at her again.
“Stop! Could you just stop? Please stop! I, I-wait!” Maya put up her hands indicating she needed everyone to just stop. Heart pounding in her chest, Maya just needed a moment to gather herself before he continued on again. She had this sinking feeling, that whatever sense of security she had established for herself, was just about to come crashing down at her feet.
Looking up at Luke she said, “Could you just call me Maya? This ‘Mrs Bell’ is really starting to freak me out a little. I feel like I have been backed into a corner here.”
Luke looked to Nancy before clearing his throat and beginning again. More softly he said, “Maya. Based on information provided to me by the Landgraab family, I have been following Mr Mullin’s activities since September of last year.”
“Seems a little silly though. I mean, what could Eddy have done that would warrant my needing protection? You make it sound like I have been in danger.”
The silence rang in her ears as the implications of that statement slowly began to sink into her mind.
“Now wait Mr. Hemmings. I don’t think that statement is entirely accurate, do you? Maya look at me.” Nancy took Maya’s hand. “We would never have let anything happen to you and to be accurate,” she said giving Luke a stern look, “we have only had to be cautious with your safety for the past few weeks. But since you and Eddy parted ways, it hasn’t been as big a concern had it been if you were still together.” She took a breath and let go of Maya’s hand. “Perhaps it is best if I start from the beginning.”
To be honest, I don’t think he thought that my father would really disown him. But he did, and as quick as the ink met paper on their marriage certificate, my father’s signature went down on a new will. The new will completely shut my brother out of all the family funds and he was essentially left penniless.”
“Things became very bad between Eddy’s parents almost immediately. Eddy’s mother was already pregnant with him when they got married, and as soon as she found out the money was not there, her true nature came out. She was a terrible mother, painfully so, but my brother tried as best he could to give Eddy some semblance of a loving family. I knew this, because I stayed in contact with him, seeing him in secret, fearful of my father’s retaliation. It wasn’t long after that, we lost my mother. I don’t think she ever got over the loss of her son.
“By the time Eddy was ten, she had broken my brother down to this pitiful man. She ran off with a very rich man from another town, leaving Eddy behind. My brother was so devastated, that he couldn’t care for Eddy, so Geoffrey and I took Eddy in to live with us. Under our care, he seemed to blossom. He spent a year with us and then returned to his father, who seemed to be doing well and getting back on his feet. Every summer after that, Eddy spent his holiday with us and we enjoyed having him. But when Eddy came during the summer of his sixteenth year, we learned a horrendous truth. During a routine audit of our books, we discovered that every summer, Eddy had been stealing very large amounts of money from us. Which led to finding out that Eddy had been recruited by the Karma Simptra Spa and had spent the summer working for them as a male prostitute.”
Maya gasped and then immediately felt sick.
“When we found out we told him we wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behaviour. The way he looked at me Maya, that evil look; I could have sworn I was looking at his mother all over again. He refused to stop and we immediately kicked him out. We had hoped he would leave town and go home, but the spa set him in his own apartment and the behaviour continued on. Geoffrey and I were horrified. Not being parents yet ourselves, we had hopes that someday Eddy might take over as head of the family. Imagine how we felt when we learned all about our blessed nephew.”
Nancy took a moment to allow Maya to absorb this news.
“It didn’t end there either. Eddy quit school and continued to work full time for the spa. He began to spiral further and further down until he got himself into real trouble by gambling all his money away at the tables; first here in Sunset Valley, and then Monte Vista. He formed the band and started earning an income. However, he had gotten himself involved with some very shady people. One of which is that band manager of his. Jerry bought out the debt and now fully owns Eddy, who was very slowly, and I mean slowly beginning to pay the debt off. When he was kicked out of the band, Eddy lost one source of income.”
Maya couldn’t believe everything she was being told. That sickening feeling she had when she found out Eddy had cheated on her, came back in full force. Deep down she knew something just wasn’t completely right with Eddy,but she could never quite put her finger on exactly what it was.
“Wait. You said he lost one source of his income when he was kicked out of the band. He has another?”
“That is the part I’m sure Nancy is not wanting to tell you. It seems Mrs Bell,” he stopped when Maya gave him a look. “Sorry Maya, it seems that Eddy never did stop working for the Karma Simptra spa.”
Maya bolted up out of her chair and started backing away. “No, no no no. That can’t be. He was with me.” Looking to Nancy she screamed, “You should have told me! Why didn’t you tell me? I thought you were my friend!” Maya made a dash to the bathroom and promptly threw up. Nancy ran after her and rubbed her back as Maya leaned over the toilet. “I didn’t know Maya. I swear, I didn’t know. There is more to tell you. But we will wait till you are ready. You freshen up and I will make a pot of tea to help settle your stomach.”
More? Maya thought. What more could there be? So far she had been told she had spent eight months with a man who lied, cheated, stole money and chose to sell his body as a method of income. Was there something else left?
Tears began to fall down her cheeks.
Tears that she had refused to shed for weeks now, ever since she found out that Eddy had cheated on her, with Illeana Montegrande.
When she was done crying, she pulled herself from the floor and splashed her face with cold water. Her eyes were still red from crying and her face was puffy. She also had developed a headache behind her eyes and she was sure, she didn’t want to hear anymore. She went in search of Nancy and a blessed cup of tea to help calm her nerves.
Once Maya was half way through her tea, she turned to Luke and said “You might as well finish it, before I change my mind.”
Nodding his head he began. “The Karma Simptra spa is a network of small spas all linked together and under one common ownership. Which means that Eddy didn’t just work for one, he worked for them all. It took me some time to get this information because as you can imagine, the spa has a very strict policy on sharing information. Their line of work, specialises in catering to the rich and wealthy, which makes the need for confidentiality greater than anywhere else. I did manage to find a few reliable people who were willing to talk to me. Apparently Eddy is one of their more favored employees, and is highly sought after by many of the female clients.”
“Which means my dear,” Nancy interjected “That while Eddy was travelling around from town to town for the band, he was also working for the spas in those towns while he was there.”
Maya’s head began to pound even harder at the thought of Eddy doing that behind her back while they were dating.
“However it gets worse. It turns out that while Eddy was staying with us all those summers and stealing our money, he was using it to gamble with. But apparently he didn’t learn much because after he was kicked out of the band, he went back to his old ways. Eddy now owes another large amount of money to another shady person. We don’t know if Jerry knows that but what we do know, is that one of them has put a contract out on Eddy’s life.”
“We have to tell him! He needs to know his life is in danger!” Maya insisted.
“No, we will do no such thing. What we need to do is keep you safe. I know you met with Eddy the other day. Did he ask you for money?” Nancy asked.
“No, he didn’t ask. I did offer him the money when he told me how hard it would be to start up another band.”
“How much did he ask for?” Luke asked and Maya told him.
“So what do we do?” Maya asked, thinking only of Eddy.
“You will stay here, out of sight for now until we decide what to do.”
“I can’t stay here. I have school and a room full of boxes I need to deal with, and projects that need to be finished, not to mention exams.”
“Maya, listen to me. The minute you agreed to give Eddy money, he would have called one of those two people to tell them money was on the way. By Eddy making that phone call, he put your life in danger and until we figure out what to do, you should listen to Nancy.”
“But Eddy-” Maya was stopped by the shake of Nancy’s head.
“I’m going to leave you now Mrs. Landgraab. Thank you for your assistance in this matter. Maya, I know this has all been a great shock. I have no desire to thrust more onto you this evening. But I am going to leave this envelope with you and let you decide when you wish to open it.” With that he passed the envelope across the table and left through the side gate.
“I’m going to go inside and throw something together for our dinner,” said Nancy breaking the silence.
“No, not for me Nancy. I don’t think I could eat a bite. I’m feeling exhausted and all I want is a bed.”
“Are you sure my dear?”
“I am thank you. Please say goodnight to Geoffrey and Malcolm for me. Good night.”
After changing her clothes, Maya paced back and forth in her room staring at the envelope on her bed until she could stand it no longer. She climbed up onto her bed and emptied the contents over the bedspread.
Inside were pictures of Eddy. Eddy, entering spas all over the country. Eddy, in compromising positions with all kinds of women. Each photo was dated, so she was able to put together a time line and know when each rendezvous happened. A great deal of the activity had happened during their time apart, but there was definitely a lot of evidence of him “cheating” on her before and after she was in Sunset Valley.
She considered whether working as a prostitute could actually be considered cheating, but decided it didn’t really matter. It was more the lying in that case. It was clear to her now that he never really cared about her. She was a target. A target for her money and for what she could provide for him, all in her eagerness to be famous. She wished that she had never bought that lottery ticket. She felt like such an idiot.
She couldn’t leave it like this. She had all these unanswered questions that couldn’t be explained by pictures. The only person she was going to get those answers from, was in University Town and she knew she was never going to sleep until she did. Somehow she was going to have to get out of this house to do so. She sat upon the bed and waited.
Maya listened carefully until she heard Nancy and Geoffrey head to bed. As they were early risers, they always went to bed at nine. She gave them an hour after they had retired to bed, then she quietly left the house. It was only an hour drive to University Town and lucky for her, Eddy was a night owl. She could get there, find out everything she needed to know, and get back to the Landgraabs long before they woke up.
She only hoped they didn’t hear her leave.