Note to readers. I posted chapter thirty-one last night and I will post three more chapters, one each night for the next three nights as a Christmas bonus to my readers. Make sure you scroll down and read chapter 31 first.
“I cannot allow you to do anything that might jeopardize the health of your child,” Greta said.
Annie snorted a petulant little laugh. “Is that so?”
Greta stared icily. “Yes, that’s so.”
“I’ll do what I want.”
“Your father has instructed me—”
“I don’t give a fuck what he told you.” Annie turned on the woman, her eyes bright with fury. “Tell him if he wishes to hand out instructions he can come in here and do it himself. Well go, tell him. I’ll not take instructions from his whore.”
Greta’s hard stare only deepened.
Annie was dressed in white shorts and a loose-fitting T-shirt and she’d been busy clearing the furniture from the center of the east wing floor of her father’s house when Greta had come into the room. She was now on her knees rolling up the carpet.
“Why on earth are you doing that?” Greta asked.
“I don’t want to get paint on it,” Annie replied.
“Paint?” Greta said clearly stymied.
“Not that it’s any of your business but I’ve decided to paint.”
“You want to . . . paint?” Greta said. “The contractors were here less than six months ago—”
Annie shook her head in irritation. “I’m an artist,” she said, even as the look of confusion deepened on Greta’s dark visage. “Oh, I forgot, my father doesn’t recognize that aspect of his only child’s life so he probably never mentioned it.”
“Artist?” Greta said, as though she’d never heard the word before.
“That’s right,” Annie said, getting to her feet and brushing her dusty hands together. “I paint pictures.”
“Pictures? Pictures of what?” For some reason Greta could not wrap her brain around what Annie was telling her.
“Anything I fucking please.”
“You don’t have to be crude.”
Over the course of the last three weeks or so Annie’s dislike for Greta had deepened into something close to hate. It wasn’t any one particular thing that caused the emotions in her; it was a combination of things, she decided. First, it was obvious to Annie by now that Greta was sleeping with her father, probably had been since long before her mother had been killed. But that wasn’t the whole thing. Who her father chose to sleep with was his business. She just wished he could have waited until her mother’s bones were cold in the grave before he became so obvious. But more than that, it was the greedy way Greta looked at her pregnant belly, which was now starting to show in all its glorious splendor, and the way in which she doted over her, trying to make her eat and exercise, like some demented coach from Hell.
“How long have you been doing this . . . this . . . painting thing?” Greta asked, as if she hoped it might be just a temporary distraction.
“Do you think I just sit around the house all day long like a spoiled little rich bitch while my husband works to support me?”
“This is something you’re serious about then?”
“This is something I’ve always been serious about,” Annie told the woman. “I have works at several New York galleries. Actually I have a show scheduled.”
“Oh, dear,” Greta said. “Not before the baby’s born I hope.”
“Yes,” Annie replied. “In September, actually.”
“You’re not still thinking about doing it, are you?”
“I most certainly am,” Annie said, becoming more and more irritated by the moment. “My husband’s dead and I’m not just going to wither up and fade away. I plan on living my life.”
“We’ll see about this,” Greta said, turned and marched out of the room.
When the woman was gone Annie continued on with the business of making the room paint proof, covering the furniture and spreading a sheet of thin canvas on the floor. When that was accomplished she went about the business of sorting through the paints and brushes she’d had delivered day before yesterday. She would not let Greta, or her father, for that matter, sway her in her resolve to continue on with her work. She knew she’d never stop grieving for Doug, but realized that grief was a debilitation emotion and would no longer allow it to control her life. She needed to think, she needed to plan her next move, which was her inevitable escape from the bounds of this wicked place. How she could have let herself once again come under her father’s spell she could not adequately say. She knew now that the future of her child, and probably her own future was in jeopardy, and what better way to think then to work. Yes, she would work, and think, and get strong, and plan her strategy. And when the time came she would run for her life and the life of her child.