Zachary & Ciara Ch. 02bymspat©
Zach sat on the private plane, he chartered to take him, Ciara and his friends to Vegas where they would be married, thinking about what his future wife had revealed to them before they left Atlanta.
When she said there was one more thing that she needed to tell him before they continued on with his plan, he didn't expect what she told him. They went back out on the balcony.
"Okay," Zachary teased, "lay it on me."
"Emilee isn't my biological daughter," Ciara said deciding to just say what she had to say.
"What?" Zach said his face now sporting a surprised look. "I thought..."
"I lost my baby," Ciara said. "Emilee's mother was Cara, my identical twin and we were both pregnant at the same time." Ciara said continuing on with what she had to say. "Her parents Cara and Thomas, were drug addicts. They both became addicted to crack when they were in high school. My family tried to help Cara beat her addiction and Thomas' family tried to help him beat his addiction by placing them in rehab centers throughout the state of Georgia, even some outside of Georgia. But, Thomas and Cara would always find a way to contact each other, make plans to meet up and leave the centers. They would always steal something from either the center or another patient so that they could buy more drugs to feed their addiction."
"My goodness," Zachary said astonished at what he was hearing.
"Everyone in my family and Thomas' family hoped and prayed that when Cara found out, she was pregnant with Emilee that Cara would stop using because she knew what crack could do to the baby. Thomas' family hoped that if Cara stopped using it because of the baby that he would follow suit. But, that didn't happen."
Zachary's heart grew heavy with sadness and anger as Ciara continued with what she had to say.
"Crack had a hold on my sister that she couldn't shake or beat," Ciara said sadly. "Even knowing that she was pregnant and harming her child couldn't make her stop. My parents threw her out of the house, which didn't make sense because by the time Cara became pregnant she was living out of on the street most of the time, she rarely stayed at home. She said the disappointment, shame and hurt, she saw in my parents' eyes, whenever they looked at her was too much for her to bear."
Zachary watched Ciara as she stood up and began pacing as she continued her story.
"My family lost track of Cara during her pregnancy," Ciara said. "No one knew where she was for almost the full nine months until she showed on my doorsteps in labor. I had just gotten in from work and was about to slip a frozen dinner into the microwave when Cara banged on my door screaming that she needed me. My mother had told me that if she came to me that I should send her away and not have anything to do with her because she made her bed and she should be left to lie in it. That sending her away would force her to see what she was doing and she might wake up and straighten her life out."
Zachary nodded his head up and down understanding what her mother was hoping to accomplish.
"But I couldn't do what my mother said," Ciara replied. "Cara was my other half. Even though she was hitting below the bottom of the barrel, and she was doing it to herself and my little niece, I couldn't turn my back on her. When I opened the door to my apartment the person I saw on the other side was someone I barely recognized. She looked at me, her face wet with sweat, dripping with tears from her eyes, and said she was about to be a mother, collapsed in my arms, gave birth and died."
By this time Ciara's breathing had become labored, but she had some how managed to keep the tears that so desperately wanted to come out of her eyes inside.
Zach stood intending to go over to comfort her.
"Don't," Ciara said. "I promised myself that I would cry for her one time but never again."
Zach moved away from her, sat back down, and Ciara continued telling him how Emilee came to be in her care.
"When Cara collapsed in my arms her body released Emilee on to the floor," she said. "I was so shocked I couldn't believe what I was seeing had just happened. I told myself it wasn't real. That my sister hadn't collapsed on my floor and dropped a baby at my feet. I don't know how long I stood there before the sound of Emilee crying brought me back to my senses, and I realized that I needed to get medical attention for my sister and her baby. I picked up the phone and dialed 911, the paramedics came about five minutes later. When they arrived, I was holding Emilee, who was still attached to her mother, lying dead on the floor. One of the paramedics checked Cara to see if she had a pulse. I knew she was truly dead when he shook his head no to his partner. He then turned his attention to Emilee and went through the process of cutting her umbilical cord. He then reached over to take her away from me, but I couldn't and wouldn't let her go. She was the last connection, I had to my dead sister, and I just couldn't let her go."
"What happened next?" Zach asked when it appeared that Ciara had gotten lost in her thoughts and wouldn't continue.
"The police arrived," Ciara said, "and the paramedic that was trying to take Emilee away from me, walked me down to the ambulance with Emilee still in my arms. I rode to the hospital to get her checked out still holding her in my arms. When we reached the hospital a doctor came in to check Emilee to see if she suffered any health issues from the way my sister gave birth, and I held her in my arms, a nurse came in clean her up and draw blood. She said she needed me to lay Emilee down so she could clean her up and draw blood for some tests. I told her to draw the blood, but I would clean her up. I wasn't going to let my niece out of my sight. I felt that if I let her go I wouldn't ever see her again."
Zachary's heart went out to Ciara as the image she just painted appeared in his mind.
"I called my mother and father to let them know that their daughter had died," Ciara said her voice filled with pain and sadness when she spoke of her sister's death and Emilee's birth, "and I told them they had a granddaughter. They came to the hospital and were cooing and smiling over their new granddaughter until the doctor told them that her system was filled with crack cocaine. Then they suddenly moved away from the child, they were calling beautiful only a minute ago and were now looking at her, as if she had some horrible contagious disease that they could catch if they touched her and would kill them in minutes. The looks on their faces grew even more disgusted when the doctor told them and described some of the things Emilee would go through as the cocaine left her body."
"My parents made the decision that it would be better if we let the state tend to Emilee's needs, since they were more accustomed to dealing with children suffering from Emilee's condition."
"That was the first time I cursed my parents," Ciara said wiping away a tear that hung from the side of her right eye. "I called them cowards and snobs because they were worried about people continuing to talk about and remember the life Cara led if Emilee's condition became known. I told them to go ahead and leave the hospital. That I would take care of Emilee, and they didn't have to worry about her being around to embarrass them."
"How long before you adopted her?" Zach asked.
"Three months later," Ciara replied.
"Does she know?" Zach asked.
"Yes," Ciara replied. "I explained to her that her mother loved her, but she made the terrible mistake of becoming involved with and using illegal drugs, and it took her away from us and her."
"How did she take it?"
"About as well as a six year old could take it," Ciara said her eyes becoming sad as she remembered that day. "We cried, talked about her feelings, ate butter pecan ice-cream, and went to bed."
"What about her father?"
"He died of a drug overdose a week before Cara did," Ciara replied her voice becoming cold and emotionless.
"That little girl has been through a lot," Zach said his mind spinning when he thought about the things Emilee had been through, and she was only eight years old.
"Yes, she has," Ciara agreed, "and she still has more to go through with her legs being broken. But, I'm going to make sure she has everything she needs so that she can stand on her own two legs again."
"And I'm going to help," Zach said his tone sympathetic. "You won't have to do this alone."
"Thank you," Ciara said smiling at him, "but you don't have to do that. I just felt you should know about it."
"Anything else I should know?" Zach asked.
"I can't think of anything", Ciara said. "I'm telling you everything that I think anybody having me investigated might be able to find out," Ciara said. "I didn't want you to be caught by surprise."
"You expect to be investigated?" Zachary asked his tone showing his surprise at what she said.
"Zach, you're a rich man, who's coming home suddenly with a wife that no one knew you were dating," Ciara said a grin on her face. "An African-American wife, with a little girl. Of course I'm going to be investigated if not by your family, by someone wanting to know more about me."
"You like being prepared," Zach teased.
"To the utmost," Ciara teased back.
"I need you to buckle up sir," the stewardess said bringing Zach out of his thoughts. "We'll be landing in Las Vegas soon."
"Thank you," Zach said as he buckled up his seatbelt.
"You can still change your mind," Aaron whispered in his ear. "You don't have to do this."
"I know," Zachary said looking over at a sleeping Ciara, "I won't change my mind. I want to do this."
After the plane landed Zach woke up Ciara and they made their way to Vegas where they would be married. ****************************** "You may kiss your bride," the Justice of the Peace told Zachary.
Zachary leaned down, Ciara raised her jaw expecting him to kiss her on the cheek. Zachary lifted a finger up to her chin and gently and slowly turned her to face him, and he gave her a peck on the lips.
"Welcome to the family Mrs. Collins," he teased.
"Thank you, Mr. Collins," Ciara teased back.
Zach's friends started shouting congratulations as they tossed rice in the air and let it rain down on the newly, legally, married couple.
"I've performed many marriage ceremonies in my thirty years of being a Justice of the Peace," the Justice of the Peace said to Zachary and Ciara, his smiling face beaming at the couple, "but I have to say I have a feeling that the two of you are going to have a long and happy married life."
The man's words meant to comfort and compliment them sent a pang of guilt through Ciara's body, that made her feel so ashamed of herself for fooling him.
She turned away from him hoping he didn't see the shame she was feeling on her face or in her eyes.
"Thank you," Zachary said shaking the man's and moving towards the door with Ciara, so they could leave.
"Don't be nervous my dear," the Justice of the Peace said taking hold of Ciara's hand. "I know that this marriage might have more challenges than most, but it's obvious to anyone looking at you and your new husband that you're both in love with each other. So, I say have faith in each other, your love and everything will be alright."
"I will," Ciara said the sincerity in the man's voice causing the guilt she was feeling to almost rise up in her throat and choke her, "and thank you for those kind words."
"Let's go darling," Zach said slipping his hand into Ciara's as tears began falling from her eyes.
"We don't want to miss our flight."
"Have a happy life," the Justice of the Peace told them as they made their way down the aisle to leave.
"We will," Zach said back to the man.
Once they were outside the chapel Zach pulled Ciara close to him and put his arms around her.
"Sorry about that," he said his chin resting on her head.
"It wasn't your fault," Ciara told him moving out of his embrace. "I don't know why I started crying."
"A bride always cries at her wedding," Gideon said trying to joke and lighten the atmosphere.
Four sets of eyes turned towards him signaling that if he didn't shut up he would be in serious trouble.
"I think we had better get back to Atlanta," Ciara said. "I'm anxious to get back to Emilee."
"Alright," Zachary said pulling out his cell phone. "I'll call the pilot and let him know that we're on our way and that he should be prepared to fly us back." ******************************
"Mrs. Zachary Collins." Ciara said the name out loud to herself and couldn't believe it referred to her. They had been married a week, and she still didn't believe it.
As she looked down at the one caret diamond wedding set on her finger her mind went back to the day she and Zach were married.
A laugh flew out of her mouth when she thought about the look on Zach's face when he realized they were about to leave without their marriage license and the way he looked when he rushed back inside the chapel to get it.
Then Ciara realized that neither, she nor Zach had signed it and ran inside with Zach's friends to correct it. They all nearly collided with Zach who was on his way back outside to get her.
They all laughed as they made their way back inside the chapel where Ciara and Zachary signed the license then headed to the airport for the trip back to Atlanta.
When they returned that night Ciara learned that Zachary owned the hotel where her sister was the manager. That bit of information surprised her but it allowed her and Emilee to stay in the penthouse suite free of charge.
Zach and his friends had flown back to London a day after they were married, to deliver proof of their marriage to his father's solicitor, so that the first half of his one hundred pound inheritance could be released to him.
The other half would be released on the second anniversary of their marriage. Ciara and Emilee couldn't go with them because their passports weren't ready yet.
Zach called her when he arrived in London to let her know that his meeting with Aaron's father went as planned and that half of his inheritance had been released to him.
Before Zach left he hired a nurse to help Ciara with Emilee and he gave Ciara cashier checks so that she could get anything that she and Emilee needed for their trip to London. She, Emilee and the nurse went shopping for clothes for her and Emilee.
Their passports came three days after Zach and his friends left. Now, she and Emilee were all packed and getting prepared to head to the airport for their flight to London where Zachary would be waiting for them.
"I'm all packed."
Ciara turned to see Emilee and the nurse behind her.
"Are you sure?" Ciara teased.
"I'm sure," Emilee replied her voice a little shaky.
"Everything is going to be fine," Ciara tried to reassure her.
"I know," Emilee said. "I'm not scared, I'm excited to be flying on a plane for the first time and to be flying so far. All the way to another country. I can't wait to get on the plane."
"It is exciting isn't it?" Ciara said walking over and giving Emilee a hug.
"Are you excited mom?" Emilee asked.
"I'm very excited," Ciara replied.
"I'm going to be leaving now," the nurse said.
"Thank you," Ciara said paying the woman, including a big tip.
"The two of you have a safe journey," the nurse said looking at her check. Her eyes growing big when she saw the size of the tip Ciara had given her. "Thank you ma'am."
"Thank you," Ciara said as she walked the nurse to the door. "I appreciate all your help."
Just as she was about to open the door someone knocked on it.
Ciara opened the door and was surprised to see Zach, Aaron, Alexander, Gideon and Colin standing on the other side.
"Zachary!" Emilee said holding her arms up letting him know she wanted to give him a hug.
"Hello!" Zachary said going over and giving Emilee a hug. "How is my little munchkin?"
"I'm fine," Emilee said hugging his neck real tight. "Thank you for my clothes. I never had a wardrobe before."
"You're welcome," Zach said enjoying the way Emilee's eyes lit up as she talked about her new clothes.
"Mama, bought me a new doll too," Emilee said.
"You only got one toy?" Zach said.
"Mama, said that one toy would do for now," Emilee said, "She said I could get more when we arrived in London."
"Sounds like your mother made a very good decision," Zachary said.
"Hey, what about us?" Alexander said kneeling down beside Emilee, a sad look and a pout on his face. "Don't we get hugs?"
Emilee turned and gave each one of Zach's friends hugs.
"What're you guys doing here?" Ciara asked. "Has there been a change in plans?"
"No," Zach replied. "I came because I couldn't have you and Emilee take your first plane trip by yourselves, could I?"
"You all came here for me and mama?" Emilee asked.
"Yes, we did," Gideon said. "We heard that you were a little nervous about your first plane ride."
"Just a little," Emilee said shyly.
"Well, you don't have to be afraid even a little," Gideon said, "because we're going to be on the plane with you."
"Thank you," Emilee said.
"You're welcome," Gideon told her.
Zachary looked at his friends all fawning over Emilee his mind flashed back to the conversation they had the night after he married Ciara, and they were on a plane on their way back to London.
"Have you lost your mind Zachary?" Colin asked him. "You've married a woman, you know nothing about. Not only do you know nothing about her, but she has a child."
"Your mother is going to have you committed," Gideon said. "I can't believe you've done something so crazy."
"Crazy isn't the word for it," Alexander said joining the conversation. "Insane is the word for it. Your mom is going to blow a gasket when she finds out you've married a woman you just met and know nothing about and that the woman has a child. But, she's going to fucking, faint dead away when she meets Ciara and Emilee."
Everyone knew that Alexander was talking about Zach's mother's reaction to finding out that her new daughter-in-law and step-granddaughter are black.
"He's right," Alexander said, "the fact that Ciara and Emilee are black is going to be a hard pill for your mother to swallow."
"Ciara is my wife," Zach said his tone strong and unmoving. "Any problems my mother has she is going to have to get over them, because the marriage is done and there's nothing she can do about it."
"You, better be ready for your mother and Abigail to make Ciara's life a living hell," Aaron said. "Because, your mother isn't going to be happy about this nor will she just accept it. She's going to do everything she can to put an end to your marriage. Replacing Ciara with Abigail."
"I'm married," Zachary said, "my mother will accept the fact that Abigail and I, getting married isn't going to happen."
"Oh, ye of so little brains," Gideon said his tone mocking. "Your mother knows this isn't a real marriage, just as you do. To her Ciara is a speed bump on the road to her dreams, something to be dealt with, and she will do just that, deal with Ciara."
Zachary didn't want to admit it, but Gideon was right. His mother's reaction to his marrying Ciara won't be to welcome her into the family with open arms, but to learn about her by watching Ciara and figuring out the best way to get her out of his life.
But, he wasn't about to let that happen. Even though what he and Ciara had wasn't a real marriage, he wasn't going to allow his mother to disrespect it, Ciara or their relationship. He was going to protect Ciara and Emilee from his mother and Abigail.
"Earth to Zachary," Ciara said snapping her fingers in front of Zach's face and bringing him out of his thoughts.
Zachary looked down at her a worried look on her face.