Varvara decided to give Jared a chance because she’d been looking forward to a real date with him. She showed up at his place angry and frightened, but Jared’s plan to dance with her worked out remarkably well.
After dancing, he gave her a grand tour of his trailer and even boasted about some upgrades he’d made to the kitchen cabinets since her first visit. The tour concluded at the back of the trailer, where his bedroom was.
“I truly want to apologize to you,” Jared began. “I shouldn’t have put you in the position that I did, knowing Persephone was grooming you or something. It’s my fault that Persephone threatened you, and I feel it’s my responsibility to protect you.”
Varvara sat down on the edge of his bed, saying, “Oh Jared, I wouldn’t go that far. It’s not your fault.”
Jared sat beside her and continued, “I’m offering for you to stay here, with me. If you’re here, I could defend you from anything that woman could try to do.”
“You know, I’m not ashamed to admit that I really want to be protected by you! I can’t just run away and hide though, Jared,” Varvara explained. “There’s already one missing woman, and my housemates at Harmony House would worry about me.”
“Then contact them and let them know you’re safe, but staying at an undisclosed location,” he suggested. Varvara accepted his offer and he was delighted. “This isn’t the end of our date though,” he insisted. “I’m going to make something special for you and give you a little privacy.”
After calling Zaida to explain that she’d be away for a while, Varvara stood and looked out the window, becoming philosophical for a moment. Looking off toward the north, she couldn’t help but think of the vast wasteland that exists beyond the beauty she could see from that window.
Finally Jared called her to dinner. She returned to the front room. “Ta-da!” Jared said proudly as he presented the dish.
“What’s the matter?” he asked when he saw her sullen look.
“I can’t eat that,” she replied. “The pasta is too high in carbohydrates.”
“Oh, but I did my homework,” he explained as he served two plates and set them down.
“These are egg-white noodles but they taste the same! It’s really good, and I promise it’s safe for your special diet.”
Varvara trusted him. “Well, okay…”
“How is it?” Jared waited to hear.
“Oh, it’s really good! Wow, that’s amazing,” she complimented him.
They chatted and enjoyed their meal, and even though Varvara ate until she felt stuffed, she grabbed a glass of milk from the fridge after eating dinner. “I thought you were full?” Jared wondered. “Was it actually gross and you didn’t have the heart to tell me?”
Varvara didn’t even laugh at his joke. She just frowned and said, “I’m full, but…” He tried to encourage her to continue, and she started to feel embarrassed. “It’s stupid, but I want to be pretty for you,” she explained.
“Oh V, you are pretty to me!” Jared swore. “I want you to be healthy, but you don’t have to change the way you look.”
Varvara almost cried when Jared said that to her. She threw her arms around him and thanked him. “I didn’t care what people said about me before,” she explained, “but your opinion of me matters.”
Jared put the milk away and took his time to carefully express his opinion of her, in a way that could leave no doubt or insecurities for her to struggle with ever again.
Jared and Varvara became the second couple to share pillow talk about the Watcher that night when Jared revealed, “I have faith that you might be the answer to my most sincere prayer.”
The following morning, in Willow Creek, Iris Randall was dreaming about her mother.
Iris woke up from the dream and couldn’t get back to sleep, even though it was only just passed dawn.
She got dressed and noticed a book on her desk, next to the computer. She reached over and grabbed the book. She saw the author’s name was Skylar Randall, so Iris flipped it over.
“The sadness of the woe is almost too great to be contained within these pages,” Iris read the back panel description out loud.
That got the little girl curious about what type of book her mother had written and left for her to find. She quietly carried the heavy tome downstairs.
Iris sat down at the dining room table. Everyone else in the house was asleep, including baby Lily. Looking at the cover of the book, Iris firmly believed it contained the answers to all her questions about her mother.
For a moment, she wondered if she wanted to know, but then she realized she had to know. She gingerly opened up the book and began studying its words.
Iris felt slightly glad when she heard Jack wake up and come down the stairs. She put the book away and pulled out her homework instead. Jack grabbed breakfast, and soon Daria came downstairs as well.
“Daria, would you mind helping me with my homework, please?” Iris asked as Daria came into the room.
Daria was honoured to help Iris with her homework, while chatting with Jack as well.
After Iris finished her homework with Daria’s help, she closed her booklet and quietly said, “Thank you, Daria, for being here for us. Also, because of you, I feel like I can be myself more; like wearing the clothes I like to wear, and stuff like that.”
Daria knew she should’ve questioned Iris more, but she was surprised to receive a compliment like that from one of Darren’s children. Her first reaction was to say, “Thank you, Iris! It really means so much to me to be able to help you.”
“Will you help me with my homework too?” Jack asked Daria, diverting her attention from Iris.
“Of course,” Daria promised. Iris slipped out of the room and got ready for school, and Daria wasn’t able to talk to her about her mood.