Yes, gnash your teeth. Cry. Rend your clothing. I had to finish it. You’ll understand when you get to the end.
Declan sat with Lord Duncan while Bette cleared her desk. “James, I just couldn’t turn down the offer.”
“I understand. I’m just sorry to lose the best secretary I have ever had. Are you certain you won’t reconsider?”
“No. It’s just too much money, and for almost all the right reasons.” Declan ran his hand through his hair. “Granted, America is still a wild and wooly place.”
“Well, I’ll keep the toybox for you. Don’t want Customs rummaging through leather corsets, whips and that lovely strap on dildo.” Lord Duncan smiled.
Declan laughed. “Oh no. They’ll think bad enough about me when they see the last name.”
Bette walked in wondering what the laughter was all about. They explained, and she blushed.
Lord Duncan saw them off at Heathrow. It was a difficult departure. Although he’d never tell Declan, he loved Bette as much as he had any woman. In some ways, more.
Bette looked out across the grass of the little house they’d rented. Declan’s job had afforded them a decent place. “It’s so different. I don’t know if I’ll ever get use to driving here. And then there’s the shopping and the doctors and…”
Declan wrapped her in his arms. “Don’t worry love. It will be alright.”
“We should have said something before we left.”
“If we had, he’d have never let you go.”
Bette nodded. She gently rested one hand on her stomach.
“Lord Duncan! There’s a phone call from America. Sounds like Declan.” Violet stood next to the bed with his bathrobe in hand. He took it and headed down the hall to where the phone sat. He picked it up.
“Yes? Declan? Say that again?” Lord Duncan listened. “I’m what? Oh lord! Oh! Give Bette a kiss for me. And the baby too!” He sat down the phone and walked back to his bedroom. Just before he reached the door, he shouted his joy out loud.
“Jennifer! Front and Center!” Lord Duncan was still trying to train a secretary to his liking. Jennifer was the third woman. The first two hadn’t lasted a week. When there was no response, he walked over to the office door and peered into the room. It was empty. “What in the bloody hell?”
Walking down the hall, he started hollering for Betsy. He’d nearly made it to the kitchen before she appeared. “And what are you yelling for?”
“Jennifer has disappeared. Do you know where she is? Did she call in sick?”
“No. She quit and left in the night. That’s the third one you’ve run off.” Betsy’s tone was harsh.
“I… um. Fine. I miss Bette. She…”
“She spoiled you. I suggest that the next crop of subs that come in be looked over in case one of them is single and of a secretarial mind.”
“Fine, but what am I to do in the mean time? I need a secretary.”
“Bring one in from Headquarters. They’re use to being ordered about.” With that, Betsy turned on her heel and headed back towards the kitchen.
Lord Duncan headed back to his office and rang up Staff headquarters. Thirty minutes later, he had a secretary on the way. While he waited, he wrote a letter to Bette, thanking her for the pictures of the baby, their new home, and the scenery.
Subaltern Jones was efficient. He did what he was told and dealt with most of the work that Lord Duncan required. As for the other duties, Betsy stepped up and took over. When the phone rang, Jones put the caller on hold and went in search of Lord Duncan. When he didn’t find him, he returned and took a message. He gave the message to Betsy as it was nearly time for him to head back to the base. Betsy read the message and returned the call.
When Lord Duncan came into the house later that night, he found Betsy in the hall, sitting on the bench next to the phone. “Betsy, Whatever is the matter?”
She turned her tear streaked face up to him. “James, they’re gone.” Then she began crying once more.
“Gone? Who? What do you mean?” He sat down next to her as she never used his first name unless it was something dire.
Through the sobs, she explained. The police had called. There had been an automobile accident. Declan and Bette were dead. It had taken the police a bit to figure out who to notify and the babysitter had mentioned Lord Duncan. The police called and left a message with Subaltern Jones.
James walked over to the liquor cabinet and poured two stout whiskies. He handed one to Betsy. “What about the baby?”
Betsy sipped the whisky. “The British Consulate is picking up the baby and will deliver him here.”
“You are the legally appointed guardian.”
“I’m the baby’s godfather, but…” He finished off his drink and poured another one.
“Yes, and Declan apparently gave you full custody should anything happen. The consulate aide said that there was paperwork that will be arriving with the baby.”
James sat down heavily next to Betsy. “But… I know nothing of raising babies.”
Betsy gave him a look. “You raise soldiers and subs. It isn’t that different. You will need a nanny. I’ll see to it in the morning.” With that, she drained her glass, set it on the table and walked out of the room.
James sat there and quietly got drunk.
In the morning, he read the full report. Declan and Bette had gone out for the evening. They’d left the baby with a sitter and headed out. While the weather had been drizzly, it got worse and by the time they headed home, it had become a downpour. Declan had misjudged the speed of a lorry, and was clipped by it as he attempted the turn. The lorry clipped the bumper and spun the car right back into traffic. There was a three car pile-up. By the time the police got to the scene, Declan had died and Bette was rushed to hospital. She died on the way there.
In the mean time, the babysitter had gotten concerned when the O’Hara’s were late. She rang her parents who rang the police. When they discovered that there had been an accident, the British Embassy had been contacted. Due to the condition of the O’Hara’s, they were cremated. All of their possessions, their ashes and the baby would be delivered to Lord Duncan’s estate as soon as possible.
Lord Duncan yelled for Jones and began giving orders. From what he could estimate, he had three days to get ready for the arrival of the baby.
Workmen had completed the nursery in record time. Betsy was airing out the room when she saw the furniture van arrive. She went down to greet them and direct the delivery. She turned to where Lord Duncan paced. “Go do something! They’ll call when they are on their way!” When he didn’t move, she put both hands on his shoulders and shoved him out the door.
Lord Duncan walked into the nursery and inspected. He was desperate to do anything to occupy his time until the call came. It had been a hellish week, and no one had escaped his temper, not even Betsy. Luckily, she was use to him and groused right back. He was looking out the window, and wondering if they should install some safety grills, when headlights slewed across the drive. He sprinted out of the nursery and down the stairs. When he got to the main hall, Betsy was just opening the door.
“I thought they said they’d ring first!”
“I know. But, they’re here.” She stepped out of the way so that the two gentlemen in Burberry’s could enter. They exchanged greetings and then the first man stepped out and gestured towards the car. A slight woman got out of the car carrying a baby. At eight months, he was a fussing, wriggling handful. She walked into the hall and approached Lord Duncan.
“Here you go sir.” She handed the baby over to Lord Duncan who took the baby as if he were made of glass.
“Oh relax, you won’t break him.” She smiled.
Lord Duncan looked at the baby. A smile broke out on the baby’s face. “He’s… he’s got Bette’s eyes.”
Betsy smiled and nodded. “Shall I take him while you deal with the paperwork?”
“No. I’m fine.” He transferred the cooing happy baby to his hip and gestured for the two men to follow him into his office.
An hour later, Betsy escorted the men out the door and went to the office where Lord Duncan was playing with the baby. “Are you alright?”
“As alright as I will be for some time.”
“Was there much legal silliness?” She sat down and gestured for Lord Duncan to hand over the baby. He shook his head no.
“Not really. I’ve signed all the papers. I legally adopted the baby. They’ll file all of the documents and send me the originals. The only important paper was one that had been left in a safety deposit box.”
He nodded and handed her a letter. She opened it and began to read.
It seems so strange to call you that, but Declan said it was right. I want to tell you in person, but mum said never leave things to chance. She’s still not talking to us by the by. I’ve torn up versions of this three times. I keep thinking that I’ll never have an occasion to actually have this delivered. But, the nagging feeling won’t leave. In case anything should happen, you will know the truth.
You see, we discovered that Declan couldn’t have children. We decided that as you were often our partner in all kinds of fun, that we’d just not bother with contraception. I wanted to tell you as soon as I knew that I was pregnant, and yet… I couldn’t. I was afraid. Afraid that I might lose it. We’d tried so hard, and it finally happened. Declan got the job offer and then all the plans got thrown to the winds. Including talking to you.
Betsy stopped reading for a moment and looked up at James.
Our plans are to raise our child, and when he or she is old enough, introduce you as Uncle James. We figure that we will be back in England long before and can let you in on our lovely secret. Besides, we might want another child, and… I love you too!
Betsy finished the letter. It was such a Bette thing to write a love letter and then stick it in a box, never to send it. “Oh James.” Tears were running down her face.
James handed her his handkerchief. “I never knew.”
Betsy nodded. “You have a son.”
“I do indeed. Betsy, meet my son, David.”