Darren was stunned by Skylar’s bizarre behaviour, but he knew something wasn’t right and he took her threat seriously. “Fine, Skylar,” he said with a deliberately soft voice, “I’ll give you some space.”
As soon as he left the house, Skylar called out, “Okay, the coast is clear! You can come out now.”
Skylar’s boyfriend came out of the powder room where he’d been hiding. “Wow, that was a close one,” he joked.
“I don’t think you understand the situation,” Skylar hissed at him. “If anyone finds out about us, I’ll lose everything!”
“No one’s gonna find out anything,” he promised. “But I don’t know why a big fancy house and a fancy family name would mean so much to anybody.”
“It’s not just that.” Skylar turned her back briefly as she contemplated all the things she was terrified of losing.
“Let’s get going–hurry,” her boyfriend suggested.
She quickly got dressed and the two of them left together.
“I’m telling you, Jack, someone was in our house last night,” Iris said to her brother when they arrived home after school.
“No way,” Jack argued with her. As they approached the front door, he said, “Don’t make noise and wake up Dad.”
“Well let’s play in the yard then,” she suggested.
Jack was always keen to run and climb around on things, so they played in the backyard together. Iris just could not shake the bad feeling she had though, so she was grumpy.
“I’m going inside,” she announced and headed toward the back door.
As she drew nearer, she heard her baby sister crying.
She called for her parents, but neither of them came. She used her cellphone and was able to reach her father. After hanging up the phone, she tried to soothe Lily. “Daddy’s on his way home!” she said and did her best to distract the hungry infant.
Darren was in total disbelief when he got the phone call from Iris. He took care of Lily as soon as he got home, and then made something for the older children to eat.
“I just can’t believe your mother would do something like this,” he said after getting the kids seated for dinner.
Iris spoke up and told him, “I think she went crazy or something. Maybe it’s that postmortem depression.”
Darren tried not to laugh. “Postpartum depression,” he politely corrected her.
“Don’t talk bad about Mom!” Jack warned his sister with a harsh glare.
“No one’s talking badly about your Mom,” Darren reassured him, “and I don’t think she’s suffering from any depression. I just don’t know why she would ever leave you kids home alone.”
“But why weren’t you here?” Jack needed to know.
Reluctantly, Darren explained that Skylar made him leave in the morning. “Right now, it doesn’t matter to me why your mother did what she did. What matters is that I know you’re all safe when I can’t be here.”
Darren phoned Daria and said, “I’m having a family emergency. Can you come over?” She agreed and came straight over.
“Oh, thank you so much for coming!” Darren said and kissed her on the cheek.
“It’s no problem at all,” she asserted.
When she looked down briefly, Darren looked down too and noticed she was wearing slippers. He laughed and asked, “Did you just get out of bed and run over here?”
“Of course, you said it’s an emergency.”
“It is,” he confirmed. “I don’t really know what’s going on. This morning, when I came to tell Skylar that I want a divorce, she was acting totally weird, and then she kicked me out of the house and threatened to call for help. I took that to mean she would say I did something to her.”
“Oh my gosh,” Daria gasped.
“Sometime after I left, Skylar left too. She left Lily home alone and wasn’t here when Jack and Iris got home from school either. Can you look after my children for me tonight?” He was just about to explain his work schedule when Daria already accepted without hesitation.
Darren brought Daria inside and introduced her to the kids. “Jack, Iris, this is Daria from next door. I asked her to come over and watch you guys tonight, okay?”
“What if Mom comes home?” Jack inquired.
“If your Mom comes home, then she’d probably be very happy to have someone here to help take care of the baby and stuff,” Darren suggested to his son.
“Okay, that sounds reasonable enough.” Jack decided to not cause any problems once he felt convinced that no one was going against his mother in some way.
“I love you guys,” Darren said as he headed out for work. “Have a nice time!”
The kids said goodbye to their father, and started getting to know their new babysitter.
She told them some funny stories and cleaned up the dishes. “I’ll take out the garbage for you,” Jack offered.
Daria thanked him and asked if he needed any help from her, but he declined and went upstairs. Iris approached Daria and said, “Those are some fancy bunny slippers.”
“Why, thank you.”
Iris grinned and continued, “I think a person with slippers like that might know a unicorn story or two.”
Daria smiled back at the sweet girl and said, “You’ve guessed right, little one!” She was honoured and truly delighted to read a bedtime story to her sweetheart’s beautiful daughter.