Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chapter 81: I'll Be There

"Let me take your shoes off," Rainier says as Portia stretches her leg out onto his lap.

Her shoes drop to the floor and she gives a little moan as Rainier massages her foot. She smiles, just a little, and that in turn makes him smile, because it's been days since he's seen any hint of happiness from her.

It doesn't last long, of course. They only just returned from her mother's funeral, and grief hangs in the air.

"It's like I never even knew her," Portia say, tears welling up again, her smile gone. The police reports have been made public, and Portia has had to learn more about her mother than any girl should know.  "How did this happen? What went wrong?"

There aren't any answers to questions like those, so Rainier doesn't even attempt it. All he can do is hold her as she cries, soothe her words with mean nothing, and wait for time to dull the pain.

"The public defender he's been assigned is one of the worst lawyers I've even encountered," Corrine says, "He's going down, there's no doubt about that."

Bill nods vacantly. Though Corrine has often brought his family's legal issues into bed, it only now feels wrong to talk about anything to do with his wife while he's with her. It's only a few days after Mercedes is buried that LAPD catches the prostitute she had been with on her last day of life in a sting operation. If nothing else, he'll be convicted for prostitution and drug possession, but the D.A. wants a manslaughter charge;there haven't been any high profile gang arrests lately, and elections are coming up.

"Bring your crying daughter to the witness stand, and manslaughter is a slam dunk," Corrine continues.

"Portia stays out of this," Bill says, turning to sweep Corrine down against the pillows, "If I were here to talk business," he says, "I would have met you in my office."

It's past midnight, and Rainier is working at home, trying to make up for the hours he's lost by being with Portia during this family crisis.

"My father hasn't come home yet, and his phone is kicking me straight to voice mail," Portia sobs into his phone as soon as he answers its ring. "I'm so afraid, something has happened to him. my mother."

"I'll be right there."

She greets him with a tight embrace when he arrives, crying onto his shoulder. "I called the police, but they said they can't do anything," she sobs.

"I'm sure he's fine," Rainier assures her as they sit together in Bill's office to wait. He suspects, but doesn't say, that he's probably with someone, that his phone has been turned off so he's not interrupted. "He'll be home any time now, you'll see."

Portia tries to share his optimism, but her fears won't dispel so easily, and in moments she's crying again. "What if...what if he's lying unconscious somewhere? He might die while we're just sitting here," she sobs.

"Don't do this to yourself," he says softly, caressing her neck, "This is hard for you, I know, losing your mother. And it's hard for him to, to lose his wife. He just might need some time to himself. When my father..." Rainier starts, but drops it just as quickly.

"When your father what?" she prompts him, he tears momentarily drying as her curiosity takes hold.

It's not something Rainier likes to talk about, but if it will distract her from her own fears and misery for even a moment, it's worth reliving it for her. "My father had a hard time after my mother died," he tells her, "He stopped working, stopped living, really, beyond just going through the motions. He'd disappear for days, sometimes. It got so bad, I had to go live with my aunt. He didn't like being around me, because I reminded him of what he lost."

"That's so sad," Portia whispers, "What happened to him?"

"He became ill," Rainier says vaguely, because telling her how his father drank himself to death probably isn't the best thing to help her right now.

He tilts her face toward him for a gentle kiss, "Don't worry about your father. He's a strong man, and he loves you. Everything will be all right," he promises.

He coaxes her  down to rest her head on his lap, holding her while the hours pass. With every minute that goes by, Rainier's anger grows. Though he spoke to her of patience and tolerance, Rainier has neither for a man that would leave his child sleepless with worry, without so much as calling her with some excuse for his absence.

When Portia finally drops off into sleep, Rainier carries her up to her bed.

She makes a feeble protest as he lays her down, insisting that she wants to wait for her father, but he shushes her with a kiss and a caress. "You need to sleep," he whispers, "I'll wait for your father."

It's yet another hour of waiting alone before Bill comes in. Rainier confronts him as soon as he's in the door. 

"What are you doing here?" Bill demands.

"I'm here because your daughter called me. She's been sick with worry all night, afraid you were dead in some hotel room. What were thinking, staying out all night without letting her know you'd be gone?"

"This is none of your business!" Bill yells at him.

"Anything to do with Portia is my business," Rainier answers, his voice cold, hard and edged with anger. "I don't care what you were doing, or who you were doing it with, but you can't just leave Portia here to worry about you like that."

The words cut through Bill, sharpened by his own guilt. He fell asleep with Corrine, but that's no excuse. His long standing affair surely contributed to the growing distance between himself and his wife. If he had been with her more, rather than with his lover, if he'd been paying attention to her, he might have seen the signs. The self doubt eats at him, and he knows he's in the wrong here, but he can't bring himself to admit it, and instead turns the anger outward toward the man accusing him of the crime he knows damn well he's committed.

"Get out," Bill snarls, "Out of my house. Out of my life."

"I'll go, for now," Rainier says, walking out the door, "But I'll never be out of your life. Remember this; I'm the one your daughter calls when you've failed her."


  1. So it seems they did indeed have an open marriage. I wonder when things went wrong, and why they couldn't fix them, did they even love each other? They must have. I hope they did. Sorry, just thinkng out loud, I'm just a romantic at heart like that and my heart can't help but grieve for Mercedes and Bill as a couple.

    I adore Rainier more and more with each chapter, Portia's found herself a gem, he's so good to her.

    That Corrine, I can't believe how callous she was, suggesting they put a grieving Portia on the stand just to win the case.

    Bill needs to pull himself together for Portia's sake, she's lost enough already. No more pain for her.

    Wonderful writing as always, and equally beautiful shots.

    1. Thanks, Val! I always appreciate your comments. =D
      It wasn't so much an open marriage as they both cheated on each other. And maybe they both sort of knew the other wasn't faithful, but I wouldn't say it's something they agreed on, it just kind of happened as their marriage crumbled. But they did love each other, despite their problems.
      Corrine is pretty callous, but she's a lawyer and she thinks like a lawyer.
      Bill really should pull himself for Portia's sake. She is lucky to have Rainier there, but she needs her father too.

  2. Bill, what the hell are you thinking???? You are ignoring your daughter's pain and grief don't get mad and Rainer for calling you out on your crap. He better get things straightened out because as much as he hates to admit it, Rainer is right and Portia needs him right now.

    1. I know, Bill is being completely selfish at a really bad time for his daughter. And you are right, he had no business getting mad at Rainier for calling him out for it.

  3. I actually agree with Corrine on putting Portia on the stand to get the harsher penalty, but I respect Bill for trying to keep her out of it.

    At least until he fell asleep with his mistress. Thats just a dick move! Especially if his wife's funeral was earlier that day! (Assuming everything happens on one day instead over multiple days). He should have been at home with Portia and I hope he realizes what an ass he's being and try to fix it before Portia begins to hate him.

    1. The funeral was actually a few days before. I wrote one line in there about how the arrest happened a few days after Mercedes was buried, but that's easy to miss. Even so, Bill has picked a crappy time to not be there for his daughter. Given what happened to her mother, of course she's going to get freaked out of her surviving parent is gone all night and not answering his phone.
      Portia won't be too pleased with him if she finds out where he was, or that he's been unfaithful to her mother all this time.

    2. I hope she finds out both those things. : )

      I mean, it would be tragic and might break her heart. But she'll heal. And Bill needs to have a wake up call that will make him admit that he fucked up.

    3. There's a pretty high chance of that happening. ; )

  4. Oooh. That last sentence. SICKBURN

    1. LOL, yeah, Rainier did burn Bill hard with that one. And totally deservedly.

  5. I love Rainier. If only.... *sigh*
    Portia's Dad is really being the angry grief stricken husband.
    I rather hope that they don't get that man for murder since the overdose was her own doing. I know he ran away, but, he didn't do anything wrong really.
    Loved the update :)

    1. : ) Thanks, Fae!
      I agree with you, I think it would be harsh for Brian to go down for manslaughter on this.
      And, yeah, Rainier, lol.

  6. Rainier is just amazing. Simply amazing! I enjoyed watching him put Bill in his place because that is what needed to be done. Sure he can admit his guilt to himself but admitting it openly to say his child is a matter completely different. How then will he explain his absence to his little girl? I do hope this is something he can see past for himself to help the one that needs it most. Bill blames himself when he shouldn't. He never prompted his wife to cheat he just never stopped her when she did. Perhaps that is a reason for guilt alone but it's not like giving a bottle to a known alcoholic. Mercedes would have found her vice with or without his help.

    Portia is really feeling the sting of everything now and it's so sad and heartbreaking to watch. She's hurting over this and has only Rainier to turn to for guidance. I really hope Bill heard his words and takes action. Portia needs to know she still has one parent at this point and he is making things seem rather hopeless for the both of them.

  7. Oh, SNAP Rainier...
    ...sorry, I just had to say that. I love him when he's sassy. Bill needed to hear that.

    Poor Portia. I can't imagine having to find out a parent's dirty secrets so soon after their sudden death. What an awful situation to be in.

    I feel bad for Bill in a sense. I mean, he obviously has issues to work through, too. But when you are the parent, you have to be able to balance your own grieving with making sure your children are all right. Bill's just lucky that Rainier is there for Portia, so she isn't turning to less healthy alternatives to deal with her grief.

    Also, I'm really happy that Justin didn't have to be dragged in for questioning. Whew!