Welcome to Love's Legacy: Frankie & Jonny

The start of the story can be found
here and it can be navigated by using the menu to the right or by selecting newer post or older post at the bottom of each chapter. It may not be updated with quite the frequency of Edge of a Broken Heart but I will do my best to post at least once a fortnight.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Chapter 5

Jon stood at the door of the Park Avenue apartment, his right hand leaning on the door jamb, his fingers tapping an anxious rhythm against it. He had managed to bypass the doorman and was now standing in the foyer on her floor. He was a bundle of nerves. He couldn't remember the last time he had been so nervous. In fact in twenty five plus years of performing and public appearances nothing had ever affected him as much as this one moment.

It had taken him exactly twelve hours to reconcile himself to the fact that he needed to see her again and less than two to act on it. It had just gone midday and here he was at her door after just a few well placed phone calls to retrieve the information he required. The drive home from the Gala the evening before was uncomfortable to say the least.

Initially he thought it would be fine. The ride home spent in stony silence. Dot dealt with these matters in one of two ways, an immediate tirade of – usually well deserved – abuse, or she ignored it all together. It seemed she had chosen the later in this case. As a result Jon got all the way into their bedroom and was half undressed in his complacency when it started.

Dots voice had a hard edge when she spoke. "Well?? Are you going to say anything?

"What's there to say?" Fuck she's pissed. This is not going to be good. Jon rolled his eyes. Hell, it's gonna go there anyway. May as well get it over with!

"Just go right ahead and take it there Dot. I know you want to." How many times had they had this same conversation about his fidelity – ironically in the very early days, the focus of those conversations was usually Gina. But hey, it wasn't like she was some kind of saint either, Dot had had her dalliances over the years.

Dots voice was measured when she spoke. "It's more a case of have to than want to. She's yours isn't she?"

Jon's jaw snapped shut in an effort to quiet the misplaced rage that threatened to escape. It didn't work. "I fucking KNEW it." He exploded. "You always have to assume the worst don't you? What the fuck is with you Dorothea?"

"What the fuck is with you asshole?" She spat back "It was pretty fucking obvious to me!"

"Give me a fucking break would you? For ONCE?!?! Why does it always have to come back to this same old bullshit Dorothea? If you're so sure I fuck around on you why do you stay?" He knew what was coming in response to that and cursed himself for asking it.

Her answer came in a calm resigned voice. "You know very well I don't give a fuck what you do anymore... But those kids.... they mean more to me than my life. If suffering through this intolerable marriage with you keeps them happy and oblivious...well, I'll find a way to tolerate it. But do not for one second think that I am oblivious to anything. For once Jon, admit the truth. This time it can't be denied. What's that saying? ...The proof is in the pudding. Well let's say I got a good taste tonight."

Jon had no justified response. He just wanted her to shut up so he could think. "Just stop Dorothea, you're embarrassing yourself." As if he could be that lucky.

"I'm embarrassing myself am I? You are the one with the illegitimate child and you think I am embarrassing myself? I don't think so!"

"Don't you fucking dare say that shit to me. You don't know what the fuck you're talking about?" With Jon's raised voice and colourful language Dot was glad that the children were asleep in the other wing of the house.

"Oh come on Jon." Dot wasn't sure if her husband was being difficult just to irritate her or if he was truly in denial. "I am not blind. It's obvious. All you have to do is look at her. And I assume when you were upstairs you weren't discussing the weather."

"It's none of your fucking business what we were discussing. As far as she's concerned you're on a need to know basis. And right now I don't think you need to know shit." Jon heard the words come out of his mouth – need to know - and realized immediately that they were an echo of what the girl had said to him earlier. If he wasn't so irate he may have found it amusing. "You just do what you're best at baby. Keep your nose out of my business and everything'll be fine."

"Fine Jon,... have it your way. But know this one thing" Dot stood before him now only inches away, an icy stare frozen in place, her forefinger poking him in the chest. If this mess you've created in any way touches our kids... God fucking help you. Because I can promise you this, no soul here on earth will have a chance."

Jon fisted his hand at his sides to prevent himself from slapping her hand away. Instead he took several steps backwards, in the direction of the bathroom. "Don't even go there Dorothea. You don't have anything to be fucking threatening me for, so you know this one thing... nothing and I mean nothing will touch those children but if you want to start making idle threats in an attempt to take me down,...well, when I am through with you, you won't have so much as a pot to piss in."

Dot ignored his threat. She had heard it all before. It had been a long time since things were right in their marriage. "I know what I saw Jon. And when you are ready to be honest with yourself, you will know it too!"

"I don't give a fuck what you fucking think you saw. Like I said...need to know, baby. So just shut your mouth. It has nothing to do with you!"

Jon spun and took the two remaining steps that would find him in the sanctuary of the bathroom. He slammed and latched the door behind him, then stood in the middle of the room seething. He couldn't even close his eyes...every time he did he saw red. He now knew the meaning of the saying. He moved to the vanity and leaned on it with still fisted hands - the skin over his knuckles strained and white – looking down into the basin. He took several deep cleansing breaths in an attempt to abate his anger. Slowly he began to calm down.

It was several long minutes before Jon could look up into mirror in their bathroom. He feared what he might see there, afraid to see the monster he knew he became in a fit of rage, a monster that seemed to rear its ugly head more and more often lately in relation to his wife. He wondered when exactly things had gotten so bad.

When Jon finally did look into the mirror, the inconsequential thing he noticed first surprised him. His hand found the old faded tattoo on his left arm. Gina had always called him her Superman... the tattoo was kind of a tribute to her in an oblique kind of a way. Absently, the thoughts of Gina evolved into thoughts of Frankie.

Jon stared intently at the face before him in the mirror. The girls face flashed in his mind's eye as he studied his own features, so similar yet so very different from hers. There was no doubt in his mind that she was Gina's daughter. That was a given. But could she really be his? The image of her piercing blue eyes assailed him - his piercing blue eyes, only in a female face. He thought of his daughter...his other daughter Stephanie and then startled abruptly as he realised his thought pattern...other daughter...he had more than one. He knew then without a shadow of a doubt... Frankie was his!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chapter 4

"Well that's ok 'honey'" she said emphasising the term of endearment he had used on her "I have no intention of 'doing' my father!"

Frankie spun on her heal the second the words were out of her mouth and strode away. She had taken all of five steps when a firm hand grasped the top of her arm and spun her one hundred and eighty degrees.

"Be very careful about making claims like that before you have all the facts honey."

"Oh I have all the facts I need...and plenty I never wanted to know thank you very much." Frankie muttered.

"Please keep your voice down" Jon spoke through clenched teeth as he began to lead Frankie through the house to find an empty room.

"Why? Are you really that ashamed of your past?" Frankie tried to pull away as he continued from room to room becoming more and more agitated when he found each of them occupied. He steered her towards the stairs.

"Look I don't know who the fuck you are, or what the fuck you're trying to accomplish here but you're barking up the wrong tree darlin'" he whispered menacingly in her ear.

"Really? Am I? Well if you can tell me telling me that you and your wife have always been totally monogamous...even before marriage I will drop this right now." Frankie squirmed in his steely grasp and winced "Ouch"

His reply came in a measured voice "Leave..my..wife..out of this"

"Look, you know what...it really doesn't matter either way." Frankie said. They were now in an upstairs hallway overlooking the living area below and he was leading her to the room at the far end. "I have no interest in pursuing a relationship with you anyway, so if you will kindly release my arm I will be on my way" Frankie struggled against him but he wouldn't have it. Why couldn't I just keep my stupid mouth shut? She thought.

"Oh I don't think so honey" He manoeuvred her into the room which was obviously the master bedroom. As distracted as he was, he didn't notice the set of eyes following him through the railing from the living room below. "Look, like I said I don't know what the fuck you're trying to do here but if you think you can make some kind of ridiculous claims on me you are VERY mistaken"

"I'm not making any claims at all...not on your time, or your money, or on anything else....I was just stating a very unfortunate fact." Frankie yanked her arm free of his hand and began to move for the door. She felt uncomfortable being alone with him. She had done lots of research since figuring out the truth and was of the impression that his temper was somewhat volatile, especially when something posed a risk to his family. And what constituted more of a risk than an undiscovered love child.

Jon moved to step between Frankie and the door and she took an automatic step back. Was that fear he saw in her eyes? Fuck could I handle this any worse? He worked to calm himself before speaking again. When he did, his voice was cool and controlled. "Ok, I'll bite. Who the fuck do you think you are?"

"Oh, I know who I am. Your daughter...Frankie McKenzie. I'd like to say pleased to meet you but...."She trailed off.

"Yeah, sorry hon, never had anyone with that last name." A wave of relief washed over him, it would prove to be short lived. "I mean, I'm flattered that, well, you know, but...sorry..."

"Actually I'm the one who's sorry. You would remember my mother as Gina Romeo"

The name hit him like a physical blow.

Frankie couldn't help but feel amused as she watched the bravado crumble and the colour drain from his cheeks.

"Gina?" The question in his tone was unmistakeable; it was all he could manage.

"Yes that's right"

"Gina....is your mother?"

"Yes...are you a little hard of hearing? All that rock music taking a toll is it?" She asked derisively. "Gina was my mother and you" she paused , searching for the right words "...you were, unfortunately my... sperm donor."

Jon walked over to the window and stared blindly out over the party that was taking place below. Frankie's use of past tense was lost on him as memories of the past assaulted him. His thumb and forefinger massaged his furrowed brow as he contemplated the possibility of her claims.

"No... that's not possible" he concluded aloud turning to face her.

"So then you and she never...." Frankie, for the briefest of seconds, considered that she may be wrong before he spoke again.

"We were only together the once." He said disbelievingly, shaking his head.

"You seem like a relatively intelligent person to me. I don't need to give you a biology lesson do I? That's all it takes. Just once. That's all it took. What rotten luck huh? One quick fuck and...congratulations you're a daddy"

Jon bit down hard on his lip to prevent some glib comment from spewing forth from his mouth. He turned away again, deep in thought.

"Where is she? Did she put you up to this?" He asked, looking through his tortured expression reflected in the glass. A torrent of emotion was washing through him. He had no interest in this girl and her lies yet he was fascinated and excited by the prospect of seeing Gina again. He had thought of her often through the years, and had even spent a small fortune in Europe trying to find her to no avail.

Frankie ignored the first question. This conversation was, henceforth, strictly need to know... and he didn't. "No she did not! Can we please just forget this little exchange? I never intended for this to happen. I just didn't want to give you the wrong idea. Though why I cared what you thought of me, I will never know."

Jon looked at this young woman a little more closely. There was a resemblance to Gina. Or was he just imagining it, wishing it to be true. She had been his best friend but it had been so very long. Had time slowly robbed him of his memories of her? Had it dulled the image of her that he kept safe in a corner of his brain? He thought not... but then it had been... how many years had it been?

"When is your birthday?"

"November 14" She answered quickly.

"What year?"

"1989" She answered just as quick. He was expecting the hesitation of uncertainty.

"Fuck!" He cursed softly, almost inaudibly, almost. The last time he had seen Gina was Valentine's Day 1989. It was the first and only time they had made love.

"Falling into place is it?" She said smugly.

"Ok look, I don't know what you want from me..." She interrupted him then

"I told you...Nothing!" She almost yelled it. "Not a god damn thing. Why would I want anything to do with the man that ruined my family...my life."

A look of confusion crossed his face as she continued to speak.

"As far as I am concerned I will be quite happy to walk from this room and never see you again. In fact at this point that is my sincerest hope. To me, you are just a reminder of everything bad in my life."

"I haven't ruined anything." He said the confusion he felt now evident in his voice.

"If only you knew." She whispered quietly as he talked over her.

"And if you feel you should walk away... please be my guest. I do not need your brand of melodrama in my life. If I want that I'll go back to acting. Besides, I am sure this won't be the last I'll see of you."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"There is no way you being here tonight was just a fucking coincidence! Now let's get this clear I am not admitting anything here, but I'd like your mom to call me. I really do think that it's pretty pathetic that she sent a child here to do this."

"I told you she didn't send me. I am working! Though if I knew you would be here I would have made other arrangements."

"Right honey! And what exactly were you "working"? His expression hardened again. His jaw was clenched and she could see the muscles twitch slightly beneath the skin. Her lies just kept getting bigger and more fantastic the longer he listened.

"I run the McKenzie gallery. Think about it. I am sure you recognise the name. You were a client of my fathers"

"You... run... the McKenzie Gallery" He said incredulous. "Give me a break will ya kid. How fantastical is this story going to get? You're barely out of high school"

Frankie winced at his words. It was a thought that often plagued her own mind and it disconcerted her that he thought the same.

"Well that's something we agree on. Though unfortunately I am sure when my dad wrote his will he wasn't expecting to die so soon." Her voice cracked on the word "die". She still had trouble coping with the new reality of her life.

Jon blinked once very slowly "Your dad...is...dead?"

"You obviously don't read the society pages...yes nine months ago. Killed in a car accident."

"I'm ....sorry" He was quiet for a moment. His dipped his head closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. Could I be any more of an ass?

"Is... Is Gina....ok?"

"Well she couldn't be worse off than she was when she was with you." Frankie snapped, the pain of her father's passing now raw in her chest.

Jon showed little reaction to her comment but she noticed his jaw tighten almost imperceptibly.

"I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish here but if you think you have some kind of claim on me you're gonna have to show me something more than just... well what you look like and an interesting coincidence as far as dates are concerned. I'd suggest that if you want to continue this discussion you call my attorney."

Jon pulled his wallet from his back pocket and handed her a business card. Frankie didn't even bother to look at it before she was tearing it into tiny shreds, the pieces falling to the floor like snow.

"You really haven't been listening have you?" She asked exasperated.

The audacity of her actions astonished him. A low chuckle, born of shock and admiration, escaped him. He stood there staring at her, studying her and waited for her to shy away from his intent gaze, but she held firm her eyes meeting his in a very familiar, very disconcerting gaze.

"Frankie.... That's not very feminine. I can't imagine Gina naming her daughter that. Is it short for something?"


He assumed as much but that did nothing to lessen the shock when it was confirmed.

Frankie, seeing his reaction thought she'd go one better. "Frances Gina Carol to be precise"

"Frances....Gina....Carol?" His mother's name. Now this was going too far.

"Yep that's what I said. I really do think you should have your hearing checked."

"And you've got proof that is your name?"

"What would I gain from lying about that?"

Jon shook his head in amazement...The lengths people went to.

"Tell your mother I said hello. I'm sure you...or she...can find me if you need me"

"Don't hold your breath" Frankie shot over her shoulder as headed for the door.

"Can I ask you one question before you go?"

"Why not..." she said exasperated, her hand on the door knob, her escape from this nightmare imminent.

"Why now? I mean, I haven't heard from Gina in ... in nearly 20 years. Is it because...her..."He had trouble with the word husband ... that's funny, he thought. "...your father is dead now?"

"How many different ways can I say this. I told you already....I didn't want this...I didn't plan it. It was just an unfortunate twist of fate."

"You're not answering my question. Did she plan it? I mean... it wouldn't be that hard to find out I was gonna be here tonight." He said probing.

"I told you no. I was working. That's all. There was no plan. No premeditation."

Jon was finding it very difficult to swallow that this girl claiming to be his daughter was here by coincidence. The doubt was plain on his face.

"If you don't want to believe me, that's fine. Talk to Cary, Jon...the donation was planned over a year ago with my father. I'm just following through." Cary Elwes had been pivotal in the planning of the Gala. Frankie had observed him talking to Jon earlier in the night.

"Yeah well, just tell your mom to call me... if she wants to... discuss things...or whatever" He looked down and played with his wedding ring as he spoke, was that a trace of vulnerability she detected in his voice.

"Like I said, don't hold your breath. I can guarantee she won't."

It was Frankie's parting comment. Jon looked up to see the door click closed behind her. He let out a deep breath he didn't know he'd been holding.

Dot watched the young girl emerge from the upstairs bedroom and rejoin the party as if nothing had happened. It would never cease to amaze her, the brazen nature of these young women that found her husband so very irresistible. So irresistible in fact, that they were willing to fuck him not fifty feet from his wife.

This girl was different somehow though. There was not the glow that she had witnessed countless times before on the faces of her husband conquests. This girl looked almost... disappointed...sad. Maybe he was losing his touch, she thought smugly. That would serve him right.

A few minutes later the door opened again and Jon emerged. Dot turned quickly away, she didn't want him to see her watching him. She moved to a secluded corner of the house where she could observe him unnoticed. He stood at the railing now, looking down upon the party, searching the crowd. She watched as his attention focused and followed his line of sight. It was her...again. That was unusual. Once he'd had his fun Jon usually lost focus very quickly, but he was staring at this one intently and it wasn't just the usual lust in his eyes. There was... confusion and... admiration.

Jon caught sight of her from upstairs. Frances.... his daughter...could it be true? He studied her closely. The way she moved. Graceful, fluid. The way she charmed every person she came into contact with. It was effortless, natural...so much like himself. And hadn't he approached her in the first place because she reminded him of Gina. The woman she claimed to be her mother. He shook his head in denial. That didn't mean a thing. So maybe Gina was her mother...that alone did not make him her father. But if everything else she had mentioned was true...well wasn't that just too many coincidences?

Making his way back downstairs he kept her in sight. She flittered from group to group. Laughing here, complimenting there as the company required. He couldn't be sure but she did seem to be working, just as she had informed him. He searched her features intently, looking for any small resemblance to himself, but she was her mother all over. It was a sham... he was almost sure of it. It had to be. And then her gaze caught his. Steely blue eyes stared at him with curiosity, eyes that perfectly mirrored his own.

"So... once wasn't enough then. It's not enough that humiliate me when you leave the party to screw a woman young enough to be your daughter. Oh no... you have to continue your fixation in front of all of our friends." Dot stood behind him and spoke through gritted teeth, just loud enough so that only he would hear, a fake smile plastered on her otherwise furious features.

"It's not like that"

"Really? So please...tell me what it is like? Tell me why she is different to the dozens of women you've fucked just like her. Jesus Jon...I know we have an arrangement but for fucks sake can't you at least be discrete." She nodded at an old acquaintance as they passed by...Jon managed a tight smile.

"This is not the place to discuss this Dorothea." He began to move away from the annoyance that was his wife, crossing the room. Frankie was still working the party and he had lost sight of her.

"I say it is. What makes her so special that you are willing to risk your reputation? Was she that good? Or is this revenge for my comment earlier?"

"I'm not that petty Dot and I really don't give a fuck what you think anymore. I am only with you now for the kids."

His comment hit hard. "Nice"


"So did she just suck you off? ... It was quick. Oh maybe your stamina isn't what it once was?" She asked hoping to get a rise out of him.

"I didn't fuck her."

"Just a blow job then...explains what you are still so interested. She must have a magic mouth."

"Her mouth never came near me. Neither did the rest of her body. The reason I am so interested is because she is..."he hesitated.... my daughter...no not yet, not without proof, "Gina's daughter."

"Gina who?"

"My Gina"

Dot stiffened visibly and winced at his phrasing...my Gina. That stung. She stood frozen for a moment then a silent 'Oh' formed on Dorothea's lips. She had only ever tolerated the woman who had clearly been in love with her man.

"Where is she? Gina, I mean. I assume she wants something. To be coming back into your life after all this time." Though she didn't know the whole truth - could it be called that – no, the whole story, Dots words reflected perfectly his thoughts... "Why now?"

"No idea...The girl said it was a coincidence." He motioned towards her as she stood before a painting, obviously discussing its finer points, a clipboard and pen in hand. "Apparently she is working."

"I suppose that's possible" Dot conceded. "Stranger things have happened."

She studied the woman from across the room but was unsatisfied with the view. She began to stroll in her direction.

"Dot... What are you doing?" Jon was immediately at her side when Dot began to move in the girls direction.

"Going to talk to her... What do you think? Gina was my friend too you know." The look on Jon's face told Dot that he very much disagreed with that recollection.

"Leave her be" he hissed.

Jon's thinly veiled threat was enough to spark her curiosity and propel her those last few steps to the girl. Dot tapped the young woman on the shoulder and waited for her to turn. When she did – a warm smile on her face - Dot recoiled in shock. It took her less than one second to assess this young woman and determine what Jon had been unable to believe. This was her husband's daughter.

It was unmistakeable. His eyes peered at her from this unfamiliar face. Perfectly straight white teeth flashed in a stunning smile. Her hair was the same colour as his and as she stood there pen in hand - poised over her clipboard in a pose reminiscent of a secretary - her pinkie finger protruded recognizably crooked from her hand.

Dot took a moment to reconcile her thoughts before she spoke. Still her voice was shaky when she did.

"Sorry... I didn't mean to interrupt your work. We're just on our way out, but when Jon told me you were Gina's daughter I just had to say hello. You are very much like your mother...just as beautiful" And too much like your father. It was like her past had come back to haunt her. There was no way that Dot could remain in the same place as this...this person. She needed to escape and it had to be now.

Frankie stood stunned unable to speak...What had he told her? What should she say? Sorry just didn't seem appropriate and she couldn't handle another confrontation tonight. Even now she was struggling to remain composed under Jon's distant – he was on the other side of the room hedging ever closer to the exit - but watchful gaze.

As if attune to Frankie's thoughts and feelings Dot continued quickly, her words rushed, her voice beginning to crack. "Any way like I said, we are just heading out but I wanted to tell you to give my regards to your mom...it's been way too long." And I'd like nothing better than to keep it that way.

Before Frankie could even utter a word the woman was gone. She watched as Dot crossed the room to her husband. She watched the tight set of Jon's jaw and the deep scowl as his wife approached. When she reached him she indicated, none too subtly, that it was time to go. Without as much as a backwards glance the pair headed out the door.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Chapter 3

"Hey Daddy" Frankie said quietly.

It had been a couple of days since she had spoken to her father and she missed him terribly.

She sat down on the cold icy grass, the waning autumn sun offering little warmth now. It was a month since that fateful night of which Frankie had very little memory. The night two police officers arrived on her doorstep to inform her and her mother that her father had been killed in a motor vehicle accident. That was the precise moment that her memory faltered. Fortunately for Frankie, her already over taxed brain had shut down on hearing that awful word, she was already under so much stress that apparently her mind had decided she was incapable of dealing with more.

Frankie had regained 'consciousness' a week later in the midst of her father's funeral. At the gravesite, just as the coffin was to be lowered into the earth, she shocked all present when she moved to its side, laid a kiss where her father's head would be and whispered "I'm sorry Daddy. I love you."

The weeks since had been agonizing. Frankie could not bear to look at her mother, how could she? She had killed her soul mate just as sure as if she had been driving the offending vehicle herself. Every time she looked into her mother's sorrowful eyes, she could see the hurt and the pain, and knew that she put it there.

Frankie learnt that in that first week she had been almost catatonic. She wouldn't accept food. She wouldn't talk. She wouldn't leave her room. Sophie came to the house and dressed her for her father's funeral, her uncle Peter had practically carried her to the mourning car, then into the church and later to the gravesite, supporting her with a strong arm around her waist. Beth was as strong as she could be for her daughter, but she was fighting her own demons, and didn't have the strength required to pull Frankie out of the depression she had fallen into.

"Sorry I didn't get here yesterday..I had to meet with the lawyers." She said almost inaudibly. "Why Daddy? Why would you leave the Gallery in my care? You know I'm not ready for that."

"Yes you are baby....do you think I made that decision lightly?" Came her father's response in her mind

"I just don't know what to do. Mom is a mess Daddy. She puts on a brave face for me during the day but every night I hear her cry herself to sleep. I don't know how to help her. I can't help feeling that she blames me for what happened...she insists she doesn't but....but how could she not..." Tears ran freely down her cheeks now.

"No one blames you baby...least of all Mom" his voice came again.

"But it was my fault daddy. If only I didn't ask you to come home....if only...." She trailed off lost in thought for a moment.

Frankie felt she was losing her grip on reality but she didn't care. Sitting here by his grave she felt closer to him than anywhere else, and as long as she could hear his voice, she would continue to visit as often as she could. She had been every day since the funeral and each of them was much the same. She would sit on the grass beside the fresh gravesite and pour her heart out to her father. He had always been the one to listen when he was alive....she felt a dull ache when she thought of him. It was like there was a hole where her heart had been.

"It was an accident baby...nobody's fault...it was just my time" the voice said gently.

"No Daddy NO" She said just a little too loudly...people visiting a grave a hundred or so yards away looked to her with concern.

She lowered her voice again. "It wasn't your time! Mom needs you....I need you. I don't think I can survive without you. We are lost without you. And the gallery Daddy...who's is going to take care of the Gallery. I know you think I'm ready Daddy...but I'm not...I don't want to be."

"If it wasn't for that stupid letter...." She started.

"I'm angry Daddy" She said through gritted teeth "If it wasn't for HIM you would still be here. I guess can't really blame the letter....or her. She was just reaching out. But I can blame him. If he hadn't left her...." She trailed off.

"Honey don't judge what you don't understand...I'm sure there were reasons...."

"What could make you abandon your child? I haven't looked at that box since that day Daddy... I can't. It hurts too much. Not because of what she said. I think I can understand why Gina did what she thought was best...but how could she defend him Daddy? What kind of man could do that? I just can't understand it. I can't believe that he didn't know of my existence...or at the very least, that he doesn't know now. He must...surely he found out when she died. Someone would have contacted him...wouldn't they?" Frankie brushed the tears from her cheeks. "I guess that means that he just never wanted me. I bet I was just an inconvenience to him...well he is nothing to me and he never will be"

"Besides all that if I hadn't opened the box then...I wouldn't be sitting here now...we'd be on our way to dinner as usual"

She sat silent for a long time as she composed her emotions.

"Uncle Peter came past today" She said, her voice still a little shaky. "He's been great. Did I tell you that he has been there every couple of days since you di.... left us. He brings food.... that Aunt Edie cooks of course...and he fixed that leaky tap. You know... the one Mom asked you to fix ages ago. The cable went out and he organised for that to be fixed too. He has been really wonderful!"

"I'll reopen the Gallery on the weekend. I promise. I know it's time. Sophie has been taking care of things...but it's been easy since it's been closed. Some charity called her today...said you pledged an item for an auction next year...she had no idea what they were talking about, and neither did I, but I guess that really wasn't an unusual thing for you to do. You were always working for one charity or another. I just hope there is still a Gallery next year to make good on the donation."

"I'm going to do my best to make you proud Daddy" the lump caught in her throat again "I'm going to do my best to be the person you always wanted me to be. I'm going to work really hard and make every day count...just like you told me at Graduation."

Frankie sat silent again for long moments while memories of her time with her father flooded back to her.

"Oh Daddy.... I know you always said 'Sometimes we don't understand why things happen the way they do, but there's always a reason. It just takes time to figure out what it is'. I know you always said that Daddy but it's just not true this time...nothing good can come of this" The tears that had settled flowed fast again, choking the words in her throat. "How are we supposed to go on without you? What do we do now?"

"Just live baby...Just live...One day at a time!"

Frankie rose from her father's grave side, kissing her fingertips and touching them to the cold hard stone that marked his resting place. But instead of returning to her car she walked a little further into the cemetery. She was in an older section now, it was a little care worn and neglected...the people resting here had largely been forgotten long ago. She placed a single yellow rose at the feet of the marble angel that watched over her mother. It had been a long time since she had been here, and she was worried that she may not find it again...but the beautiful stone angel showed her the way. It always had.

As a child she had visited this place often with Branson and Beth. They wanted to ensure that Frankie knew and understood her heritage, that she understood the sacrifice that had been made in order to give her life. By the time her teen years had hit, Frankie was less than enthusiastic about her weekend visits to Gina. It was hard enough coping with one mother let alone two and she had refused to come. Today was her first time back in over five years.

Frankie stood awkwardly by the grave, unsure how to behave. She really only had one thing to do here, and she knew it was silly...irrational even but she felt uncomfortable asking something of this woman she never really knew and had neglected for far too long...this woman who had given her life.

"Hi Gina. I know I don't come here near enough. And I don't know if it makes a difference if I do or don't. I'd like to think you can hear me though..." Frankie began. "I wanted to say thank you for the letter. I'm sorry we never got to meet. I really would have liked that...getting to know you at last." She paused "But I really came here today to ask a favour...can you please take care of Daddy for me. He shouldn't even be there yet...but then again neither should you. Life so unfair...."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chapter 2

A week after her eighteenth birthday Frankie returned home after an early dinner with her father at the Waverly Inn in the West Village. It was a regular Wednesday night date, just the two of them. It had been that way almost as long as she could remember, while her mother attended her charity meetings, Frankie and her daddy, as she still called him, had daddy/daughter night. After dinner Branson McKenzie had a few details to take care of for an exhibition at the gallery the next day, so he took the car and sent his daughter home with a driver.

Beth McKenzie looked up from her paperwork when she heard Frankie enter the room. She sat at a small writing desk in the den. Her face had been stripped of cosmetics and her auburn hair fell around her shoulders. At forty four years of age she had managed to retain all the beauty of her youth, her figure remained unchanged in form from her twenties, never having borne children. Her skin possessed a porcelain like quality that sat in stark contrast to her brown, almost black eyes and her full red lips.

Frankie admired her mother from the doorway, and hoped she looked half as good at the same age. She moved to her mother's side and placed a kiss on the top of her head.

"Hey Mom" She said simply.

"Good evening Frankie" Her mother responded a little more formally. She despised the nickname her daughter had adopted as a small child but had learned long ago that to resist was futile. "How was your dinner with Daddy?"

"Same as usual...he's gone down to the Gallery for a bit. He said to tell you he won't be too late." Frankie began to retreat from the room.

"OK, thanks honey... Oh I almost forgot, there is a package for you on the kitchen bench. I think maybe you should take it somewhere quiet honey. It's from your mother." Beth had always known that this day would come, and while she felt no threat to her relationship with her daughter, a strange pang of uneasiness settled upon her. She watched her daughter walk away, down the hall towards the kitchen.

Frankie sat at the kitchen bench and stared for a long while at the package that lay there unopened. She lifted it gingerly and gave it a little shake; there was movement inside, quite a bit of movement in fact which indicated that the box wasn't very full. With a shaking hand she began to peel back the plain brown paper wrapping until she came to a plain postage box. On top of which a sealed envelope sat, her name scrawled across it in rushed script. Hesitantly she opened it and read...


Wednesday, November 14, 2008

Dear Frances,

My name is William Hutton and I was your mother's lawyer at the time of her death. Enclosed in this box you will find all of your mother's possessions at the time of her death, and a letter. This letter was intended, by your mother, to be given to you on your eighteenth birthday. Let me make it clear that when she wrote this letter she fully intended to be here for your birthday, and it was written in the hopes that you would wish to find her. I sincerely hope that this letter does not cause you too much distress. The contents of the box, though not much, were all that your mother possessed and are now yours to do with as you wish. If you have any questions or I can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me. I have enclosed a business card for your reference. I wish you well in the future.


WR Hutton

Frankie dropped into the nearest chair, the contents of the box before her contained all her mother held dear. Not only that but it contained a message from the grave. She didn't think she would be able to do it, open it...at least not alone. She considered the box for a long while, before deciding a course of action.

"Mom...Mom...could I see you in here for a moment." Frankie yelled down the hallway.

Beth appeared in the doorway to the country styled kitchen. "What's wrong honey?"

Frankie handed the lawyers letter to her mother and waited for her to read it. When she was finished Frankie spoke "I didn't think I could do it alone. Could you open it for me Mom...please"

Beth hesitated for a minute before speaking "Are you sure honey? This is a huge deal. I mean, it's from your Mom...are you sure you want me to open it?"

"No you're my Mom...she was my mother. I am thankful that she gave me life, I am sorry that she is not here to share it, but the fact remains that you are the one who raised me. So while she loved me...and I love her for it, YOU are and will always be my only Mom."

Beth smiled gently at her daughter, her eyes glistening with unshed tears. She slid the box across the bench and settled it before her and again she asked, "Are you sure you want me to do this?"

Frankie nodded. Beth opened the box gently and inspected the contents. There was not much to speak of but each item was well worn and obviously much loved. She first removed a photo, it was of a young woman, full of joy and hope. She passed it across to Frankie.

"You look like her honey" She said smiling. "She was a stunning young woman"

Next she removed a tape. "I wonder what is on this. I don't think we even have a tape player anymore."

"No, we don't. Maybe I can borrow one from somewhere? Maybe Uncle Peter has one....he had all that old music playing at Aunt Edie's party"

"Hmm maybe" Beth said absentmindedly as she pulled out a bundle of well worn soft brown leather books. She pulled on the string that held them together and picked up the top one, thumbing through its worn pages. "Oh honey these are journals...Gina's journals. This should give you an insight to her, and the person she was"

"I'm not all that sure that I want to know" Frankie took the journal her mother offered and opened it to the front page where a photo had been wedged. She pulled it out and examined it closely. The only person in the picture she recognised was her mother. She flipped it over and read the tidy writing on the back.

June 1984

L to R: Paul, Dave, April, Doc, Rich, Me, Jon, Diane, Teek, Obie, Alec, Snake, Danny, Marie, Tony


Some of the faces looked a little familiar, though she couldn't place them. She focused her attention on her mother. Her smile didn't quite reach her eyes in the picture, not like in the other one, but she was a beautiful woman none the less. She laid the photo carefully back in the pages of the journal and put it aside as her mother examined the final object in the box, a plain white envelope.


"Are you sure?" Beth asked. Frankie nodded her affirmation.


Beth carefully opened the envelope and pulled a letter from its folds. A small gold locket fell from it and landed on the bench. Frankie examined the locket as her Mom began to read her mother's words.


My Dearest Darling Little Girl,

I guess you aren't so little anymore. I asked this be given to you on your eighteenth birthday when you would be, perhaps, old enough to understand what I did and why.

I was so excited to find out I was pregnant with you. In fact it was the happiest day of my life. I love your father dearly. We have been the best of friends for many years, but I loved him from the moment he walked into work that very first day. I was working at The Power Station back then, a small recording studio in New York as a session singer and his cousin had given him a job there as a gofer. For me it was love at first sight, but to my dismay your dad had a girlfriend then. I was happy to be his friend just to be close to him.

Relatively quickly, through our mutual love of music (even then I knew he would be a star....he's a very prominent artist now, and if I'm any judge of talent, he'll be a legend by the time you receive this letter) and our similar backgrounds we forged a close bond. We've always been the best of friends; at the start, to him I was just one of the guys, I'm not sure when that changed. He came to me with girl trouble, and I did the same when I needed a man's opinion. We've shared a lot of great times, your dad and I, and some not so great ones too.

We spent many a late night alone at the studio, while we both cut demo's, providing feedback for each other, working the board and even laying down each other's backing vocals when needed. His girlfriend never really understood those long nights, the commitment and the drive to succeed that was so very strong in him, in both of us.

Let me tell you that your father is the most passionate, driven individual I have ever met. There is never an obstacle too big; there is never anything that can't be done. When I am with him the world is full of possibilities. And honey, he has the biggest heart, always giving and so very loyal.

So I am sure you are asking why? If he's so great why aren't we a family? Why aren't we together? Well my love, it was never through lack of wanting that on my part, but unfortunately the fates had something else in store for us. Your father's music career took off, as we always knew it would. He was travelling all of the time, touring...promoting. He and his girlfriend broke up and for a while we got closer...we even went out on a date or two but the time commitment and stresses of touring soon put an end to that.

Your dad became more and more successful and we saw each other less and less, though we spoke on the phone every other day. He began to date a young starlet, but it ended badly and he soon went back to his first girlfriend seeking the familiar.

Yet we remained close through it all. I sang, uncredited, on his bands albums, I knew his family, I met and fell in love with his band...well most of them anyway, and one in particular, now he's like the brother I never had. And that almost brings us to the present day, and how you were created.

It was February, Valentine's Day to be precise, could it have been more perfect. Well maybe it could, but at the time it didn't seem so. The day before your father and his girlfriend had had another argument over the lack of time he spent at home, she had told him they were through...again. He called me looking for understanding, distraught and confused. He flew me to Alabama, where his band were performing, and we talked for hours, about his feelings and what he was going through... and he said he wished she was more like me. Well that was enough for me, I was sick of standing by watching her hurt him so I told him how I felt, that I loved him, that I always had, that he deserved better than her, that he deserved me...He asked why I'd never told him before, and then he told me that he loved me too. That was the night you were conceived...the first and only time we made love, I'll spare you the details my darling, but it was a magical meeting of souls and a night I shall never forget.

The next morning he flew to Georgia and I flew home. It was the end of April when I finally realised I was pregnant. We had both been busy and hadn't communicated in a couple of weeks. As soon as I got home from the doctors, I rang and left a message for your father but he never returned my call, I rang again the next day and his best friend, the man I considered my brother, answered the phone. He told me that your father had gone and married his highschool sweetheart in Vegas on a whim; I guess she had changed her mind and gone back to him again. I told my "brother" that I was taking an extended trip to Europe to visit with family and I would contact them on my return. They believe I am there now.

I was crushed, not only for the loss of him, but for the loss of you, for without him I have no means of supporting you properly my darling, so I organised this adoption. I hope one day you can forgive me, my heart. This is not something I ever wanted, but I know it is for the best. The parents I have chosen for you are good people, they will love you and raise you like their own and have agreed to give you this letter on your eighteenth birthday, so you may find me if you so choose.

Now, if my assumptions about your father prove to be true, and he is still active in his career, this revelation has the potential to be devastating to his career, so I have not decided to disclose his identity here. I fear I have already disclosed too much. Instead I ask that if you wish to know more, please contact me and together we can find him. Who knows, when this letter reaches you he and I may still be good friends...I hope that to be the case, because above all else that is what he has always been...but at the moment it just hurts a little too much to see him, so I intend to stay away for a little while until the pain isn't so raw.

It is breaking my heart to say this goodbye to you. I have treasured every moment of your growing inside me, the first tiny flutters of movement, to the amusing bouts of hiccoughs, to the very first time I heard your tiny heart beat and saw your precious form on the sonogram. Had things been different you would have been named Frances-for your father, Gina-for my mother, Carol- for your father's mother. It is with the deepest regret that I say goodbye to you my precious, precious girl. My Frances Gina Carol, know that you are in my heart, that I think of you always and I hope that one day we will meet again.

With all of my love and all of my heart, always and forever,

Your mother

Gina Romeo

Frankie sat with silent tears streaming down her face for long moments after her mother, both of them really, stopped speaking. Beth moved around the table and wrapped her little girl in her warm embrace but she did not move, did not respond. Her cell phone vibrated in her pocket, her dads special ringtone began to play. She fished the phone out of her pocket and flipped it open.

"Frankie" he began before she even had an opportunity to speak "Where are you? Did you get home safe? You didn't call. I've been worried sick."

Her voice was shaky as she answered "Sorry Daddy! I got distracted." She swallowed hard on the lump in her throat.

"Frankie... honey? What's wrong?"

"Daddy, can you come home?" She choked out.

"What happened baby?" he asked anxiously.

"I just need you home...please"

"I'm on my way baby...give mom the phone"

Frankie handed the phone to her mother as a strangled sob escaped her.

"Yes dear?" her mother said into the phone then paused.

"She got a letter from Gina today" she said simply.

Another pause.

"I'll tell her. See you soon" pause "I love you too honey. Bye"

Snapping the phone closed Beth turned to her daughter. "Daddy's on his way, sweetie. He was just getting in the car when he hung up."

Beth did her best to comfort her daughter until her husband got home. While she shared a wonderful relationship with her daughter, Frankie had always been somewhat of a daddy's girl, and Beth knew that he would provide the best support for her now.

An hour had passed when the doorbell rang.

"It's about time. I didn't think traffic would be bad this time of night." Beth said lightly as she made her way to the door. "I wonder will your father ever remember his key"

Frankie, in her urgency to see her father, pushed past her mom in the hallway and swung the door wide ready to launch herself into her father's waiting arms. But in the place he should have been two uniformed officers stood stiffly.

"Mom?" Frankie's tone was questioning as her mother came up behind her.

"Can I help you officers?" Beth asked a tremor of fear in her usually smooth voice.

"Ma'am, I'm afraid there has been an accident....."