The Final Goodbye By: J.L. Jacobs © 2015 (Full Length Book)

Out of sheer desperation, Sophia Lancaster flees her small town of Wellington, Ohio in order to become a mail-order-bride. Naive and full of hope, her world is shattered once again as she is quickly wed to Travis Ewing who seems to despise her from the moment they meet.

Over time, they fall madly in love with each other but Fate has other plans in store for them. This is a suspenseful and very emotional love story that is set in the 1890's where history comes alive. You will laugh and cry over Sophia's journey through hell and back as she fights for the only thing she truly believes in: Love.

*I love to hear your comments and feedback but please DO NOT POST ANY SPOILER ALERTS OR GIVE AWAY STORY INFO. This ruins the reading experience for others.* This is a rough draft version. This book is for mature readers over the age of 17 only. It does contain some profanity and a few graphic love scenes. The synopsis will be re-written, and I will be updating the book with edits.

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21. Chapter Twenty-One: That Damned Can of Worms

Chapter Twenty-One: That Damned Can of Worms

 

 

     After watching the carriage disappear down the road, Rachel shook her head in utter frustration with herself over having let Sophia leave like that. "Why in the hell did I have to open my big fat mouth?" she lamented to herself. She kicked her boot into a nearby snow pile good and hard, sending parts of it flying everywhere out of sheer agony over what she might have just done. She stomped towards the house in anger, not knowing what to do next. Her biggest worry was that her sister would go straight to Jeremy and they would run off with one another, leaving poor Travis and his two wonderful children behind. "After all,"  Rachel thought woefully, "hadn't Sophia and Jeremy been in love for such a long time?" Knowing Sophia and Travis had only been in love for a few months, Rachel felt that poor Travis didn't stand a chance. After opening the front door, she quickly disposed of her boots, coat, hat, and gloves, then headed upstairs to the bedroom and make-shift nursery that she shared with her husband and newborn daughter while they were staying with her parents for the duration of Sophia's visit. Nellie was sitting at the writing desk penning a letter when Rachel stormed inside the room. Instantly alert towards Rachel's mood and temperament, Nellie quietly shushed Rachel so as to not awaken the sleeping baby. Rachel walked over to the cradle that held her sleeping daughter and couldn't help but smile down at the wondrous bundle of joy that she and Joseph had created. Just seeing the newest love of her life helped to dispel Rachel's irate mood- but only by a little bit. She flopped herself down on the big bed and rolled over onto her stomach which was still a bit jiggly from giving birth only a week prior. Just lying on it felt weird even though she was wearing a larger sized corset, so Rachel rolled over to her side instead. She now had a throbbing headache and needed to have some peace and quiet. But no sooner did she close her eyes did Jocelyn begin to stir and fuss. Rachel sat up just as Jocelyn let out a loud wail. Her breasts seemed to have reacted to the sounds coming from the baby by becoming instantly fuller and much tighter. Nellie gathered her writing materials and quietly exited the room to give Rachel some privacy in order to feed the baby.

 

     Once the door clicked shut, Rachel got out of bed, walked over to the cradle, and picked up her hungry baby. She went over to the rocker in the room and sat down in it, then unbuttoned the top half of her dress to expose her left breast for the baby to latch onto. In the first few days after Jocelyn's birth, breastfeeding had been a breeze. But now, after a week, her nipples were so cracked and sore that when it came time to feed the baby it felt like sheer agony. Her mother advised her that this phase would soon pass, but Rachel sat there thinking that it couldn't pass quick enough for her! As the baby drank thirstily from her breast, Rachel once again closed her eyes as her headache raged on. She wondered where Sophia was right now, and if she was alright. She suspected that the rest of the family would be returning somewhat soon and when they asked her where Sophia was, how would she possibly respond to that? Perhaps Sophia just needed some time to herself in order to process all the information about Jeremy that Rachel had confided to her. After several minutes, Rachel turned the baby around in order to feed her from her other breast. As Jocelyn latched on hungrily to her right nipple, tears began to sting Rachel's eyes out of pain. As much as she loved her baby girl, she equally hated the pain she had to endure just in order to feed her daughter. Then she thought back to all those long hours of labor and cringed. If Joseph even once mentioned wanting another child, she feared she would have to physically castrate him! Men had it so easy... they don't have to carry the baby for nine months, they don't have to deal with the constant strain of sore and swollen feet, nor the endless backaches that seemed to plague pregnant women. They certainly do not have to worry about heartburn, excessive cravings, labor pains and pushing a live human being out of their private areas! And least of all, they don't have cracked nipples that felt as if they were about to break off with the pain that went with that! Rachel once again gritted her teeth as her closed eyes tightened up in pain. Everyone always said to her that the lack of sleep was the worst part of having a newborn. Obviously those people depended on wet nurses and didn't breastfeed their babies themselves! Thankfully she only had to do this for about five more minutes... she would get through this! Finally, after what seemed like forever, Jocelyn stopped suckling and Rachel's raw nipple slipped out of her little mouth. Gently cradling her daughter's head, Rachel placed a small cloth over her shoulder and laid her baby's head upon it. She began to pat the baby's back until a few dainty burps emanated. Next, she proceeded to change Jocelyn's dirty nappy and replaced it with a fresh one, pinning it in place on each side of the baby's hips. After she wrapped Jocelyn back up in her blanket, she cooed the baby to sleep, making sure to place her back in the cradle so that Rachel could finally lie down for a much, much needed nap!

 

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     Sophia sat in the carriage as it was parked outside the medical clinic where Jeremy had worked for so many years. If she had to take a guess, she would bet a whole dollar that he was inside there right this very minute. It was very cold inside the carriage but Sophia did not take any notice of that fact. Twice already, her parents' carriage driver, Stevens, had knocked on the door to make sure she was alright. Each time she confirmed that she was. Then he'd go back to his seat outside and would sit out there in the cold wishing and praying that she would get on with her business already so he could get a meal in his growling stomach and also get inside to warm up his frozen body. Sophia continued to sit there as her eyes remained glued to the familiar building where she had often visited her former-fiancé at over the course of their relationship. She kept mulling over and over in her mind what Rachel had disclosed to her, and knowing what she knew now, it was high time to do something about it! 

 

     She pondered over the fact that Jeremy had been in agony since they day he left her at the altar, and in all this time, she had no idea that he was still hopelessly in love with her and would be willing to annul his marriage just to be with her. Sophia absentmindedly toyed with the buttons on her heavy coat while unsure of how to proceed next. She was thankful that Rachel was honest with her about everything because it had given her the knowledge and empowerment to finally take some must-needed and long-awaited action! Of course when Travis found out about this visit, which he very well would, she knew full well that it would ultimately alter the course of her relationship with him. She knew that she loved Travis with her whole being, even in the relatively short amount of time they had been married. When she moved down to Texas, she never thought she would end up loving him but it had happened, and she was grateful. Even if it started off in a very rocky way. 

 

     When Jeremy had come to see her in that little room all those months before to tell her about his slip-up with that snake, Angelique, she had never felt so betrayed in all of her twenty-two years! Just thinking back on that day, as she reflected upon those life changing events, she still felt some bitterness towards him and his actions. How could he have been so careless? Thoughtless? Why had he chosen Angelique over her knowing full well he didn't love that woman? Angelique was the one who had intimate relations with a man before marriage, she's the one who should have been cast aside. However, it was utterly clear that the real thing boiled down to Jeremy's love and commitment towards the clinic. The very one that Sophia was now looking at. He had chosen the clinic over her by letting Dr. Milton's threats come between what was ultimately right and wrong. The clinic had been more important to him regardless of the cost and who he hurt in the process. Thanks to Rachel's hesitant confession, now Sophia understood everything so much better. Angelique had tried, no succeeded, in tearing her and Jeremy apart. But why? Then to learn that, that, that Jezebel had purposefully lied about being pregnant with his child? There weren't enough words in Sophia's extensive vocabulary to do a fair description of that situation any justice. Angelique may have won the battle but Sophia was even more determined to win the war! There would be no more waiting. It was time

 

     Sophia took in a deep breath of the crisp air and finally opened the door to the carriage. Within seconds, Stevens had hopped down from his bench at the front of the carriage to help Sophia with a waiting arm that she gladly accepted. He used his other arm to close the carriage door and they both wordlessly and carefully navigated their way through the snow covered patches of frozen ground in order to avoid any hidden ice patches. Sophia looked around her at the serene beauty of the scenery around her. Trees, with their snow covered boughs, along with the rest of the snow encased landscape that surrounded her, created a picture perfect painting in her mind. She quietly reflected that right now, down in Texas, the sprawling land was warm and inviting. As her baby moved around and kicked her from within, Sophia stopped gazing at her past so that she could do what her heart felt was necessary to move on with her future. With the aid of Stevens, she finished the last few steps towards the building. "I'll be back shortly." she said to Stevens, "Thank you for being so kind and patient with me." He nodded his head at her in acknowledgement and watched with a keen eye as she opened the door to the clinic and walked inside. He then went back to his seat in order to wait for the Missus to return. As Sophia walked into to an empty waiting room, the warmth seemed to envelope her freezing cold body. Only then had she realized just how cold she had been. With so many thoughts to distract her, Sophia wasn't even aware of how cold it had been out there. She instantly felt sorry for Stevens whom had to sit outside in these temps so while she took her sweet 'ol time thinking over everything. 

 

     Sophia stood there in the lobby for several moments just to warm up a little. The wooden chairs and benches in the waiting room were bare, and looking over to her right she spied the exact bench that her and Rachel had been sitting on only months before while they waited out that terrible storm. That particular memory had seemed like such a lifetime ago. The room was utterly silent with the exception of her own thoughts racing through her jumbled mind. Did she have the strength and courage to go through with this spontaneous decision? Was she doing the right thing or should she just turn around and leave the matter well enough alone? Her heart seemed to be at war with her mind and she began to feel her resolve dwindle just a bit. Images of the past entangled themselves within her mind. No, she fully decided, this had to be done! There would be no more opportunities left for her like this one while the rest of the family was at the ice skating park in Oberlin. She walked several paces further and jingled the little bell that sat on the empty reception desk, praying that Dr. Milton or Angelique wasn't the one to come from behind the door. It didn't take long before the large door opened ever-so-quietly with the exception of a slight creak of the iron hinges. As luck would have it, Jeremy appeared from behind the door that led to the examination rooms, looking worn and tired. When he realized it was Sophia who had interrupted his paperwork and blessed solitude, he stood there blinking his eyes rapidly in shock, trying to discern if this was reality or just some boozed induced imaginings that his mind was conjuring up. "Jeremy," Sophia said without further ado, "come with me. Now. Before we are seen!" He looked at this beautiful apparition displayed before his eyes. This was the love of his life, and she was here, and this seemed very real. Even if it was just a dream of his own making, he was willing to take whatever journey she was wanting to take him on be it in reality or not. He stood there in awe as he drank in the sight of her with her glossy hair pinned up underneath a hand-knitted hat of a pale rose color that perfectly matched the hue of her cheeks. Her blue-green eyes were staring directly into his own, as if to beckon him with unspoken words that he should abandon the empty clinic, and leave everything behind in order to go with her right then and there. His eyes lit up with joy as he quickly followed Sophia without any further hesitation back outside to the waiting carriage.

 

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     Meanwhile, back at the Lancaster home, there was lots of hustling and bustling going on as everyone returned from their ice-skating trip in Oberlin. There was an ice-skating rink right there in Wellington, but Louis thought that the newer family members would enjoy seeing a town outside of Wellington, and Oberlin wasn't that awful far away and it was a unique little town. Nellie had plenty of hot chocolate and coffee waiting as all the cold family members disposed of their outer garments and boots. The children instantly ran into the kitchen to claim their mugs of hot chocolate from Nellie, and the adults made their way into the cozy warm drawing room in order to sit down and relax. Travis was worn out but had really enjoyed the family outing where he was able to bond with Sophia's family some more. Ice-skating had been a new experience for Mikey, Hope, and even himself. The kids didn't seem to pay any mind to the cold temperatures as they learned how to whiz around the ice on the bladed skates. It took him quite a while to get used to the new experience himself, taking more than one clumsy fall after another which made the children laugh at him in delight. He was pleasantly surprised at how well they seemed to fit in with the bunch. Sophia's family had been instantly accepting of him and the children and had embraced them all into their family with love and kindness. He and Joseph shared a like-minded way of thinking, and he enjoyed talking with his brother-in-law thoroughly. Travis talked to him about his life in Texas and Joseph had made a promise that him, Rachel, and the baby would come to visit them at the ranch sometime this summer. Louis, Sophia's father, was an exceptionally smart man. At first, his booming voice and seemingly gruff demeanor took some getting used to, but Travis had easily learned that it was just a part of his overall personality. Actually, Louis reminded him of his own Pa with their hard working attitudes and ample girths. Lucinda Lancaster, after hearing all the noise down below, came downstairs with a cheery smile on her face as she sought out her grandchildren in order to hear how much fun they had.

 

     Louis offered Joseph and Travis each a glass of whiskey and they all drank it with relish as they sat in the two smaller settees near the fireplace. "Those kids of yours sure are great." Joseph commented to Travis casually while taking a sip of his whisky, "I sure hope Jocelyn turns out half as well." Travis smiled at his brother-in-law and raised his own glass to his lips, then took a small sip of the super smooth whiskey and replied, "I have no doubt in my mind that she will turn out just fine." The whiskey worked its way down to his abdomen by instantly warming him up from the inside out. "I'll tell you what!" Louis bellowed in his naturally loud voice, "I am not used to such exercise like that! I haven't been ice-skating in at least a decade, if not longer. What are you guys trying to do, put me in an early grave?" Joseph was well used to Louis's dry humor and retorted back, "Aww hell Lou, It'll take a lot more than that to get you there." Louis chuckled out loud, "You may be right on that one son. I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon. Especially when I have all these new grand-kids in my life to keep me kicking." Lucinda entered the room followed closely by Mikey and Hope. Travis had noticed over the last week that Mikey's inherent shyness dispelled with all the loving attention that everyone gave him. He could tell just from a glance at his son that he was really enjoying this trip. Hope, as one who always loved being the center of attention, was in her element. Lucinda seemed to really be quite taken by his little girl and vice versa. He sat there proud to have married into such a warm-hearted family which only made his love for Sophia grow even more. "Nellie will be serving dinner here shortly." she announced. Looking around the room, she noticed that Rachel and Sophia were not in there. "Did Rachel and Sophia make it back here yet?" she inquired out loud. Everyone looked at each other in question knowing none of them had seen the two women yet but it was Joseph who spoke up, "No, we haven't seen them Lucinda. I'll go check upstairs to see if maybe Rachel is up there with the baby. If so, I will send the women down forthwith." He set his not-quite-empty glass of whiskey down on the table next to the settee he was sitting on and got up to do just as he said. 

 

     Once upstairs, he quietly opened the door to his bedroom and saw that Rachel was sprawled out on the bed fast asleep. Giving a quick check inside the cradle, he saw that Jocelyn was also sleeping quite peacefully. He inched his way back to the bed and sat down on the edge of it in order to gently shake Rachel awake. Grumbling over the unwelcome intrusion, Rachel opened her eyes reluctantly to see Joseph was sitting there. "Hey sleeping beauty," he whispered, "dinner is about to be served. I was sent to come find you." "How long have you all been back?" Rachel asked him sleepily as a big yawn escaped her mouth. "Not very long. Maybe twenty minutes or so." Joseph replied casually, "Is Sophia napping as well? Perhaps you can wake her up and tell her about dinner on your way down?" With that, Rachel became instantly awake. She honestly had no idea if her sister had returned yet or not. "I th-think so." she mumbled, unsure of what to really say. What if Sophia hadn't returned? How in the world would she ever be able to explain her whereabouts when she wasn't even quite sure of them herself? "I'll go on down while you get your sister." Joseph whispered. He bent over to kiss his wife on the top of her light ginger colored hair and proceeded to leave the room. Rachel got up from the bed and stretched herself out, then peeked into the cradle to make sure Jocelyn was still asleep. She then checked her appearance in the mirror, taking a minute to fix her messed up hair before she headed to Sophia's room. Leaving her own door open so she could still listen out for the baby, Rachel gave a couple knocks at her sister's door before opening it up. The room was empty and the bed was perfectly made. There was no indication whatsoever that Sophia had returned back here at all. Her heart lurched and she started to become a bit panicked. Where in the hell did Sophia go? How would she possibly explain why she wasn't here?  Rachel stood in the empty hallway in order to stall for time. Even from upstairs where she was standing, the noises from down below could be heard quite well by her own ears. After standing there for several more minutes, she became alert as she heard footsteps coming towards her from the staircase. It was Travis. "Oh no!" Rachel thought to herself, "What do I do now?" Travis smiled at her when he saw her standing there, "We were starting to get worried about you ladies. Nellie just brought the supper dishes in. It's time to eat. Is Sophia still in her room?" Rachel looked guiltily down towards the thickly carpeted rug not wanting to respond to Travis's question. Not getting a reply from Rachel, he went to his bedroom door and opened it to see that the room was empty. "Rachel," Travis asked, beginning to feel suspicious, "Where is Sophia?" It took every ounce of courage in her to form a response to his question. "I am not sure." she replied meekly. Travis raised one eyebrow and looked at her pointedly, "What exactly do you mean by 'I don't know'?" he asked, this time much more firmly which made Rachel squirm. "I honestly do not know where she is at." Rachel said once again thinking to herself, What part of that did Travis not understand? He raised his hands in the air out of pure frustration. He knew instinctively at that point that Rachel was hiding something. "Okay, fine. Let's try a different question then." Travis said, trying really hard to keep his composure, "When and where did you last see my wife at?" Ugh, Rachel thought bleakly, the gig was up. She rolled her eyes and silently cursed her sister for putting her in this spot to begin with. "We came back early from lunch and after I got out of the carriage she, well, told the driver to take off. That's the last time I seen her, and as to where she went, I am not totally sure. She didn't bother to tell me that before she stormed off." Travis was growing more and more impatient by the second, partially out of concern for his wife's whereabouts, especially given to the fact that she was supposed to be staying off of her feet for the sake of their unborn child. 

 

     Joseph came up the steps right at that moment to see Travis and Rachel standing in the hallway. Travis was glaring at Rachel and Rachel was staring down at the floor looking quite guilty about something. From the looks of them, he could see something was going on. "Hey," he said with a bit of concern edging his voice, "everyone is hungry down there and getting pretty impatient. Is everything okay? Is Sophia not feeling well?" Travis and Rachel exchanged looks, then Travis spoke up knowing Rachel would not, "Apparently my wife is not even home yet. Rachel here says she took off earlier and has no idea where she went." Joseph seemed confused, "What? That doesn't make much sense. You two did go to lunch together, correct?" He asked Rachel. That was one answer Rachel could answer honestly, "Yes. We did go to lunch together." However, she left out the part about Jeremy and Angelique being there and how she and Sophia never actually got to eat lunch. But the less she had to tell the guys, the better. At least for right now. She was still trying to stall for time in hopes that Sophia would come though that front door. "So after you two went to lunch, did you go anywhere else or did you come right back here?" Jeremy questioned her. After knowing her as well as he did, he knew when she was up to something, and his gut told him she was definitely up to something. Rachel looked down at the ground once more as she answered, "We came straight back here." By this time, even Joseph began to grow frustrated with Rachel as he said, "So if you both came straight back here, and you are here and she is not, then where is she?" His raised tone of voice had woken up the baby who began to cry. "Oh hell!" Rachel practically shouted, "I already done said I do not know where she is! I got out of the carriage and she took off." With that, Rachel hurriedly went into her bedroom in order to sit through another ordeal of feeding the baby. Her raw nipples were not looking forward to it one bit and Rachel's headache from earlier had returned with a vengeance. Not only that, she was positively starving since she never did get to eat lunch earlier. "Sophia!" she swore in her head, "You had better get your pretty little bottom home real quick before I strangle you with my bare hands!"

 

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     Joseph and Travis showed up in the dining room, both of them equally frustrated with each of their wives. "Well it's about time!" Louis bellowed, "We're all starving waiting on you all and the food has been getting colder by the minute!" As Travis and Joseph took their seats, Louis piped in, "Where are my daughters at? Aren't they coming down for supper?" "Rachel is feeding the baby. Once she's done with that she will be down." Joseph answered shortly. Several pairs of eyes focused on Travis, all wondering where Sophia was at. "Apparently my wife is M.I.A." Travis said before anyone could verbally ask about her. "What do you mean by she is M.I.A.?" Lucinda asked, never having heard that term before. She assumed it was some sort of southern term. "She's missing in action Grandma." Mikey answered, "That's what it stands for." "Oh." she replied simply, "Thank you. That's a new one for me." Louis was growing impatient as his stomach grumbled in protest, needing sustenance right away, "Stop playing games with us. Where is Sophia?" Travis grew uncomfortable under the harsh glare of Sophia's father and felt himself squirm in his seat ever-so-slightly as he responded to his father-in-law. "Sir, I cannot possibly tell you where she is at. Both Joseph and I tried to get Rachel to tell us but she seems to be covering for Sophia. What for? God only knows, but Rachel is definitely hiding something. Good luck getting that information out of her." Lucinda tried to deflect the conversation from making a wrong turn by standing up and uncovering the serving dishes, "Well, then I suppose we can start eating. No use in making a fuss right now when we are all hungry." They all took turns passing around the various dishes and began to eat in silence, each person lost in his or her own thoughts. Hope ate her plate of food with remarkable speed then spoke up, "May I please be excused? I am finished now." Travis looked over at her plate to verify that it was, indeed, empty then nodded his head yes in approval. She quickly darted out of the room while everyone else continued to eat. 

 

     After another ten minutes or so, Rachel finally made an appearance at the table, helping herself to a larger portion of food than she normally ate, while saying silent prayers that she would not be grilled any further over Sophia's whereabouts. But luck wasn't on her side. Just as she took her first bite of food, Louis looked directly at her at said, "Young lady. I demand to know exactly where your sister is at. No more games. I want an answer and I want it now!" When her father was upset like this, she knew there was no deflecting him. "Father, as I have already told both Travis and Joseph, I do not know where Sophia is at." she replied wearily. For the love of gawd, all's she wanted to do was get some food into her system already! In that moment, just as Louis's temper was about to erupt at Rachel, Hope re-entered the room and sat back down at the table with a leather bound book in her hands. "Papa, what does cancer mean?" Travis about choked on his bite of food as his eyes instantly darted to his young daughter. He noticed the familiar leather journal that Sophia used to write in from time to time. Instead of answering her question, he got up from the table and walked over to where Hope was sitting and grabbed the journal out of her little hands. "Where did you get this from?" he asked her quite vehemently. Seeing her father upset with her made her eyes begin to tear up, "I got it from Sophia's writing desk. I thought maybe I could help find out where she was at Papa. But I couldn't find that out. But I do want to know what cancer is and why is she so scared to have it? Do I have it too? Because if I do, I don't want it. I don't much like scary stuff." Big, fat tears rolled down both of her cheeks which were now flushed pink. She had no idea that she just opened up a can of worms herself. Everyone at the table fell silent, and all their shocked faces gradually looked towards Travis for an explanation.

 

    Travis at onxe knew from the shocked, concerned, and frightened looks on the adults' faces sitting around the table that Sophia had also kept her secret from them. He had his suspicions but now it seems as if they have been confirmed. "I-I'm...I'm so-sorryyyy!" Hope began to cry out in earnest, knowing she had done something rotten. Lucinda got up out of her chair and walked over to pick up her Grandchild in order to comfort her. Carrying Hope with her, she returned back to her seat and sat back down, with Hope cradled against her as she gently rocked her back and forth. Hope was sucking on her thumb which she only did when she was really frightened or upset about something. The air in the room was positively charged with an abscess of emotions. Travis knew he had to speak up at once. He had no other choice. Looking over at his daughter, who's back was turned away from everyone as she cried, he said, "Hope, you understand that taking other people's things is wrong? How did you know to find Sophia's journal like that?" "She told me that was her b-book where she writes about whatever she wants. Sh-she never said I couldn't read it. I thought maybe she wrote down where she was at so we could go get her." came Hope's muffled response. Travis sat backwards roughly in his chair, feeling quite deflated of energy. "Travis," Rachel said in a choked sob, "What is going on with her? What... how... does Sophia ha-ha-have c-cancer?" He looked in shame at everyone. Louis looked like someone just punched him in the gut. His face was an alarming shade of deep red and there was a distinct blue-ish purple vein that bulged out of his forehead near his left temple that was pulsating rapidly. Rachel was sitting there rocking herself back and forth while tears streamed down her paler-than-normal face. Joseph was using one of his hands to rub her back up and down to help calm her down but he also had a look of overt concern on his face which had also turned quite pale. Mikey picked at his food while refusing to look up from his plate. He didn't quite understand what was happening but knew that it was something bad. Finally, there was Lucinda, Sophia's mother. Even though she had Hope cradled in her arms to provide comfort to his young daughter, she had tears of her own streaming down her face which was etched with worry. She all of a sudden appeared much older than her years to Travis's eyes. He sat there in a bit of shock himself. Even though he knew about Sophia's condition, he didn't quite feel this was a conversation to be having with her family like that, especially with his children present. "I honestly think we should wait to have this conversation. We have young ears at the table and I prefer to wait for Sophia to return before we continue even further." Travis said quietly. Louis shot up from the table in an instant which made his chair fly backwards, "We WILL NOT be waiting! I demand to know what is going on right this instant!" he shouted, as one of his fat fists punched out at the thin air, then slamming down his cloth dinner napkin at the table with such a force that it made a few of them jump in their seats at his show of temper. Hope began crying even harder out of fright. "Louis!" Lucinda yelled at him, "I demand that you sit down immediately and calm down! You're scaring the children!" she cried out. Mikey peeled his eyes from his dinner plate to look right at Travis, "I am not going anywhere Pa! I want to know what's going on with my Ma too!" he cried out in anguish mixed with a stout resolve to have his way in the matter. Travis sat there speechless at what Mikey had just said. He had just called Sophia 'Ma' which was a first. That just went to show how much he really did care for his step-mother. Part of Travis felt an overwhelming sense of joy at his son's declaration, wishing Sophia could have just heard that, and another part of him felt such a bitter anger that she wasn't here to begin with, leaving him there to face this situation alone. Of course, in her defense, she most likely had no idea that her secret would be revealed that way. "Travis!" Rachel cried out, "Stop stalling already and come out with it! Does Sophia have cancer?"

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