I watched as Abram brought my last suitcase up from his SUV, and immediately felt like crying. This was it. Abram would leave, and I would be alone here, at this all-too-beautiful-house... and without my husband.
“Don't fret so, Neeve.” Suddenly Abram was in front of me, his hand on my shoulder. “You look about as white as a ghost.”
A small smile crept to my face. “I'm okay, Abram. Thank you so much for letting me stay here....”
“Ach, don't think on it. You're welcome here.”
A comfortable silence fell between us, and I wrapped my arms around myself. 'For as much as everyone's been telling me that this is the right decision, you would think I'd feel better about it.' I thought, biting my lip.
“Neeve, you're downing me!” Abram smiled, but quickly turned serious. “You will be fine here. Safe, most importantly. What did Lawrence say when you told him you were leaving.”
“Erm... well... see Abram, I...”
Abram cocked an eyebrow at me. “Neeve? You did tell him, jah?”
I looked down at the worn boards under my feet.
“Abram, I know....” I trailed off, and shook my head. I was just so much easier without having to tell my husband that I was leaving. Not that he wouldn't find out, but even a few precious hours without confrontation sounded good enough to dissuade me from saying anything to him before he left for work that morning.
“You need to tell him.” The tone of Abram's voice left little room for negotiation. “If you're worried about it, you could go to the police after that, get an order to prevent him from coming around....”
“No, Neeve. I am surprised you haven't already gone. With what he did to your face, I think the police would be hard pressed not to lock him up....”
“No. I just... I'm not going to do that. I'll tell him I'm leaving, but that's it. He won't come around, Abram. This is Lawrence. He's not some crazed lunatic.”
“Those bruises of yours say different.”
I took a deep breath. “No. I won't do it.” I crossed my arms over me, holding them tight to my chest.
Abram sighed, turned around and walked to the other side of the porch, shaking his head. I wasn't stupid – I knew what Lawrence was capable of, but to file a report? Get a restraining order? It was all too much for me to deal with. All I wanted was to get away from that house, and for him to leave me alone.
“Fine,” Abram said after a moment, and walked back towards me. “Fine, Neeve, but I go with you when you tell him.”
“What? Abe, I can handle this...”
“I know you can handle it. But you will take me with you. Just as a precaution.”
“Neeve.” There was that tone again. I heaved a heavy sigh.
“You use that tone with your kids? That must be why they don't ever act up.”
He cracked a smile. “Jah. Wonderful-gut children I have – mannerlich kinner.” He looked thoughtful a moment, then turned to me with a glint in his eye and said under his breath “It is the tone.”
I smiled, and hugged him. “Thank you, Abram.... well, danke, rather.”
I could feel a laugh rumble though his chest as I held him close. “Jah, Neeve. You are welcome.” He released me from our hug, and said “Now, over to Lawrence's office?”
“I know, I will. Tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? But when he gets home and you aren't there...”
“He's got a big meeting tonight, he won't be home until the wee hours of the morning, if he decides to come at all. Tomorrow we'll go, okay?”
Abram studied me for a moment, then nodded. “That sounds fine. Well, Miss Neeve, I must go. I need to start looking for a babysitter....”
“What happened to Karen?”
“She isn't able to take the children for more than a few hours, and I'm... well, I'm going out of town for a few days.”
I gasped, “Oh Abram, I could watch the kids.”
“Ach, no. You've had enough excitement lately....”
“No, really, Abram, I wouldn't mind. I'd like it, actually.
“But Anna Mae is out of school for the summer, and Nellie's a handful, and Luke's just getting used to our routine...”
“I don't mind, really! They could keep me company, and Abe? I'm a pediatric nurse. I know how to handle handfuls. And I promise I'll make sure Luke is well taken care of.”
I appealed to his practical side, “It would be easier than interviewing for nannies, wouldn't it?”
Abram sighed. “Jah, it would....” Finally, after a moment, he nodded. “You're sure about this?”
“Jah!” I mimicked him, and he laughed.
“Alright. Danke shoen, Neeve. We'll pick them up tomorrow, after we talk to Lawrence.”
“After I talk to Lawrence.”
He smiled, nodding, and turned back towards his SUV. Despite everything, I smiled too. I love Abram's kids, and was thrilled that I would have company in the old beach house. And despite my protesting, having Abram there when I tell Lawrence that I'm leaving will be a great comfort.
For the first time since I decided to leave my husband, things are finally starting to look up.