Chapter 34

Emily woke up to the sound of Brian’s voice, yelling. She could only assume that he was on the phone because his was the only voice she could hear. She didn’t want to eavesdrop, but she figured since he was yelling, he couldn’t really fault her for hearing.

“This is insane, Tom! You know that story isn’t true!” he yelled.

“What do you mean it’s in my best interests to cooperate? Do I have something to be worried about?”

“AN EXAMPLE?!?!”

“NO I WILL NOT CALM DOWN!”

“WELL MAYBE IF YOU’D DO YOUR DAMN JOB, I…..”

“HOW DARE YOU HANG UP ON ME YOU PIECE OF….hi Baylee!”

“No, Daddy’s not yelling, he’s just excited.”

Emily laughed at Brian’s attempts to trick Baylee and cover up for his yelling. She headed downstairs, starving and hoping to find something to eat. She was tip-toeing past the office when he saw her.

“Emily.” He said, shortly. “Come in. We need to talk.”

Emily took one look at his face and knew now was not the time to question him. She sat down across from him and waited.

“That was my lawyer on the phone.” When he stopped, Emily noticed his hands were shaking.

“What’s going on?” she asked, sensing some very troubling news.

“He was calling to give me a heads up. We’re going to be getting a visit from the Department of Children and Families today. They’re investigating Leighanne and me on leaving our child in the hands of a child abuser.”

“WHAT?” Emily stood up.

“Look, I know it’s crazy but it’s their job to react. Tom thinks they might be trying to set a ‘celebrity example’ to the public, to show that celebrities have to take care of their kids as much as anyone else.”

“That’s insane! They’re basing an investigation off of a tabloid article???”

“Yes.”

“They can’t do that!”

“Apparently they can. Tom informed me that it is in my best interests to cooperate completely or risk making it look like we’re hiding something. I’m afraid we have no choice but to do so.”

Emily sat back down, appalled. “I just don’t even know what to say.”

Brian sighed. He was angry. Anyone who knew him at all knew how much he loved his family. If he thought for a second that Baylee was in danger, he would put a stop to it immediately. In fact, he did just that when he fired Emily at the hospital. Sure, he was wrong to do it but it only proved his point.

“What’s going to happen?” she asked, softly.

“Most likely, a social worker will come to our house, talk to Leighanne, you, me, and probably Baylee. She’ll check out our house, make sure everything seems safe. She might even talk to neighbors, people that were on the tour, anyone who knows us. Then, they’ll have no choice but to determine that they were wrong to investigate and leave us the hell alone.”

“Are you sure they’ll determine that?” she asked.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he snapped.

“Only that what if they talk to someone who doesn’t like you. Some disgruntled stage hand or something that’d be more than happy to destroy your family.”

“Even if that did happen, there would be a thousand other positive reports to cancel that out.”

“Does Leighanne know?” she asked.

“She’s not home right now. I’ll tell her tonight.”

“Do you want me to watch Baylee while you talk to her?” she offered.

Brian looked at his watch. “It’s almost his bedtime. I’ll tell her when he’s asleep.”

Emily got up to leave the room. She stopped in the doorway. “I’m sorry about all this, Brian. I can’t tell you how much it means to have your support.”

Brian just looked at her, the stress written all over his face, as she went back upstairs. She wasn’t hungry anymore, and she suddenly felt like trying to go back to sleep and pretend that none of this was happening. She couldn’t sleep, of course, so she sat on the window seat again and looked out over the yard. Finally, she had to give into her emotions. She let the tears flow, knowing it was the only way she’d ever get to go to sleep. Then, with perfect timing, her phone rang. It was AJ.

She tried to calm herself down and make it sound like she wasn’t crying when she answered but her ‘hello’ was so unsteady that it was a dead give away.

“What’s wrong, Em? Are you ok?” His voice was filled with concern for her.

“You know how I kept waiting for something bad to happen? Well, it did.”

“What do you mean? What happened?”

Emily recounted what Brian had told her about the investigation. He didn’t speak as she talked, just listened and every so often, swore under his breath.

When she finished, he finally spoke. “This is so fucked up.”

Emily laughed through her tears. “You’re telling me. One minute, I’m in Ohio minding my own business. The next, I’m living with a celebrity in Atlanta getting his family investigated for child abuse and telling you of all people about it.”

“Me of all people, huh?”

“I didn’t mean it like that; it’s just that I never would have expected you to be the one I’d cry to. I don’t cry in front of people. It’s not my style.”

“I’m not people. I’m AJ.” He said, softly.

“I know. And I’m glad you are. What were you calling for, anyway?”

“Oh, I was going to tell you why I had to cut our conversation short earlier. You won’t believe what my dogs did!”

Emily laughed as he told her the mess his dogs had made in his kitchen.


Brian waited until Baylee was in bed to tell Leighanne. She knew something was up, he avoided her all evening and had that pissed off look to him that told her not to ask anything. She cried when he told her what was going on. Not really because she was worried, but because she knew what this must be doing to Brian.


Chapter 35

The next morning, there was a knock on the door. Brian answered it.

“Hello, I’m Maxine Grey with the Department of Children and Family. May I come in?” She held out her ID badge and Brian opened the door up and let her inside, putting on his best smile. She was an older woman, and she seemed to be friendly enough.

“Are you Brian?” she asked.

“Yes, I am.” Brian led her into the kitchen. “This is my wife Leighanne, our son Baylee and…”

“The famous nanny, I presume?” she cut him off, gesturing to Emily.

Emily could only nod.

“I’m sorry to have to intrude on your home like this. It certainly wasn’t my decision to investigate based off of a tabloid. Nevertheless, I still have a job to do. I’d like to start by talking with the two of you.” She nodded to Brian and Leighanne.

“I’ll take Baylee upstairs to play….if that’s ok?” Emily said, wondering if the woman thought it was ok for her to be alone with Baylee.

“That’ll be just fine.”

When Emily was out of earshot, she began her questions.

“How long has she worked for you?”

“Three months.” Leighanne answered.

“And you checked her references, I’m assuming?”

“Yes. I called all but one of her employers, Kent White being the one I didn’t call. She also submitted a background check and drug test. Everything came back clear as the sky.” Brian answered.

“And why didn’t you call Mr. White?”

“Because she told us what happened, and I verified it by doing a little research on him.”

“Have you ever had any problems since she’s been working for you?”

“Not a single one. She’s been very responsible with our son. She always lets us know if there’s a problem. She’s been great with him. Emily’s even teaching him how to play the piano.” Leighanne answered.

“Is it true that you fired her after he sustained a minor concussion in Los Angeles?”

Leighanne let Brian answer this one.

“Yes, I did but I’m sure my wife can tell you that I can be very irrational when I’m upset. I was worried about Baylee and mad at myself for not being the one taking care of him that day.”

“When did you hire her back?”

“I tried to hire her back the very next day but she went home and wouldn’t take any of my phone calls. I sent her flowers and I even stopped by to see her. Finally, she decided to take the job back.” He left out the part about her taking the job back as damage control. She didn’t need to know about that, he decided.

“Well, I think that about covers it. I’d like to speak to Emily next.”

“Certainly.” Leighanne went to call Emily down.

“Could you give us a few minutes?” Maxine asked Brian and Leighanne. They excused themselves to the den and tried to listen in on their conversation.

“Emily, I’m sure you know that these accusations against you are very serious.”

“Believe me; I am very aware of that.” Emily replied.

“And do you deny them?”

Emily couldn’t believe the nerve of this woman. “Of course I do!”

“Have you ever harmed Baylee?”

“Ms. Grey, I resent the implication. I love Baylee like my own. I would never hurt him, I’ve never even spanked him, never even threatened it. I felt horrible the day he got hurt.”

“And how exactly did that happen?”

“He started jumping on the bed. Before I could even ask him to stop, he fell and hit his head. He was unconscious for less than a minute but I took him right to the hospital to get him checked out.”

“Did you call his parents immediately?”

“I did. I couldn’t reach his mother because she was on a photo shoot. Brian was in a meeting so I called his cousin to track him down and get him there. We had only been there about fifteen or twenty minutes before Brian showed up.”

“And fired you.”

“Yes. He fired me. He was worried about his son.”

“How did you feel about that?”

“Horribly offended. About the same way I feel having you here asking me these questions.” Emily was getting very defensive.

“So why did you take back the job?”

Brian hoped she wouldn’t reveal the whole truth. “Because I love his son. Baylee and I have a bond that’s stronger than I’ve ever had with any of the other kids I’ve worked with. And I won’t lie to you; the money is great, as are Brian and Leighanne. It’s an honor to work with such loving parents. It’s a rare thing to come across in my line of work, which I’m sure you can sympathize with.”

Maxine nodded. “I’m sure you understand that I’m just doing my job here. I’m not accusing you of anything.”

“I guess from my position it’s a little hard to understand that.”

Brian was willing Emily to keep her temper.

“I do understand.” Maxine said, gently. “Now I’d like to talk to Baylee. Can you take me to him?”

“He’s upstairs.” Emily walked Maxine up to Baylee’s play room where he was playing with his blocks.

“Baylee, there’s someone I’d like you to meet. This is Ms. Grey. Can you say hi?”

“Hello. Are you friends with Miss. Emily?”

“No, not exactly. I came to talk to you!” Maxine said, cheerfully.

Emily excused herself into the hall where she found Brian and Leighanne waiting as well.

“Baylee, do you like Miss. Emily?” Maxine asked.

“Of course! She taught me to play piano, and once she took me to the zoo, and sometimes we go swimming and she even plays in the sand box with me.”

“That sounds like a lot of fun! Do you ever get into trouble?”

Baylee thought for a minute. “Yes, sometimes Miss. Emily scolds me when I do bad things and when I don’t listen to her or my daddy; I get put into time out.”

“What kinds of things get you into trouble?”

“Well, one time I left my cars out and Daddy hurt his foot on them. Sometimes I like to jump on the bed but Miss. Emily doesn’t let me do that. She says I might get hurt.”

“Have you ever gotten hurt doing that?”

“Yeah. I fell off once. Daddy said I hit my head and that’s why Miss. Emily took me to the doctor. Then he took me to get ice cream!”

“So you remember falling off when you were jumping?”

“Yeah, I remember.”

Maxine talked to Baylee for a few more minutes before deciding she was satisfied. She led Brian, Leighanne, and Emily back to the kitchen.

“You have a wonderful son.”

“Thank you.”

“I’m going to report back that there is nothing here to suggest abuse or neglect. In fact, I’m going to include that he seems to have a more loving home than most.”

“That’s it?” Brian asked.

“That’s it. You don’t have anything to worry about. Just keep your noses clean.”

“Thank you so much.” Leighanne said.

“Don’t thank me; thank yourselves for being such good parents.”

The three of them breathed a sigh of relief as soon as she was gone.

“Thank God that’s over with.” Leighanne said.

“Let’s celebrate.” Brian said.

“Celebrate what?” Emily said.

“That it’s over with!”

“You guys go ahead; I think I’m going to go upstairs.”

Emily lay down in her bed and took out her precious scrapbook. She flipped through his pictures, examining each one closely as she remembered when it was taken. She missed him terribly.


Chapter 36

At some point, Emily fell asleep and didn’t wake up until that night when Brian came in to talk to her.

“Emily?” he whispered, sitting next to her on the bed. “Are you awake?”

She opened one eye and peered up at him. “What time is it?” she asked, sleepily.

“It’s after nine.”

“At night?”

“Yes.” Brian smiled.

“I can’t believe I slept for so long.” She rubbed her eyes as she sat up.

“You must have needed it. Listen, I’m sorry to wake you up but I need to talk to you.”

“Is this a bad important or a good important?” Emily asked.

“Why don’t you take a minute to wake up and come meet me downstairs?”

“That bad?” Emily couldn’t imagine what had gone wrong this time.

Brian didn’t answer; he simply left her room, shutting the door behind him. Emily thought about simply falling back asleep, but decided Brian would come get her if she didn’t go down there soon. She went to wash her face with some cool water trying to prepare her for whatever impending doom she had to face when she went downstairs.

Emily found Brian and Leighanne sitting at the kitchen table, talking in hushed voices. She sat down across from them. “What’s going on?”

“It’s nothing new, just more of the same.” Leighanne said, trying to soften the blow.

“What does that mean, exactly?”

Brian sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “It means that there’s another story coming out about you as we speak.”

Emily froze. “What could they possibly be saying about me this time?”

“Well, your good friend Mr. White has released a statement saying that it was you abusing his children all along and he has some phony medical evidence to back it up.”

“Evidence?!?”

“It’s not evidence. Believe me; we’re on top of this. His so called evidence is some guy claiming to be their gardener saying he saw you hit them. The thing is, my lawyer Tom investigated this gardener. He was hired by the Whites through a local agency, but not until after you left. He didn’t even work for them at the time you were there. Kent should have checked his facts first. We also found evidence to suggest that this gardener was paid off, as he is now living a rather comfortable life in Florida.”

“But it’s too late, right? The story’s already out there!” Emily exclaimed, on the verge of a breakdown.

“Yes but so is our evidence. That story won’t stand a chance.”

“So why are they still going to run it?”

“Because that’s what they thrive on.”

Emily sighed. “Well, shit.” She finally said.

Brian and Leighanne laughed the tension in the room easing. “I’m sorry, Emily. I wish we could have kept all of this from happening. I really feel responsible. If I hadn’t fired you, maybe this never would have come out the way it did.” Brian said.

“You don’t need to apologize. You said it yourself; he would have gotten me one way or another. At least this way, I have you and your amazing legal team standing behind me.”

“We have some leftover pizza if you’re hungry. You didn’t eat anything all day!” Leighanne said.

“Thanks, Leighanne. I’m not really feeling hungry though. How is Baylee? Is he picking up on any of this?”

“He senses tension very easily but he doesn’t know what happened. He was confused with that social worker asking so many questions but I told him that she was just a friend. For the most part, he’s been staying very quiet and well behaved.”

“I’m sure I’m not helping, sleeping away the days.”

The phone rang and Brian got up to answer it.

“Hello? Who’s calling please? Just a minute.” He handed the phone to Emily.

“It’s for you, it’s your landlord.”

Emily could only imagine what would make her landlord call her this late in the evening.

“Hello? No, I changed my cell number. WHAT? Can you do that? Oh….yes, I understand. I’m sorry for the inconvenience. That fast? I guess I can….ok. Thanks.”

Emily hung up the phone. “Can this day get any worse?” she muttered.

“What now?” Leighanne asked.

“I just got evicted from my apartment.”

“What on earth for?”

“Well, the media is camped outside my door and it’s causing a disturbance to the other residents. So they gave me the boot.”

“How soon do you have to be out?” Brian asked.

“I have to move out this weekend. This is just great. Perfect. I’m supposed to move out with the media there waiting to chew me up and spit me back out?”

“No. We’ll hire someone to do it so you don’t have to be there.”

“Brian, those are my things, how can I let some strange people pack up my stuff?”

“Do you have a better idea?” he countered.

Emily thought for a moment. “No. Fine. What am I supposed to do with my stuff?”

“You don’t have that much furniture. We’ll store it in our basement for now.”

Emily nodded. “I’ll start looking for a new place tomorrow.”

“Why can’t you just stay here?” Leighanne asked.

“I can’t live here forever!” Emily exclaimed.

“No, and when that time comes you can still find an apartment. Come on, think of all the fun you’ll have. Late night talks on the deck, girl talk with Leigh, and Baylee would love it.” Brian said.

“But I’d be in the way!”

“Emily, you’d be here all the time anyway, this is no different.”

Emily sighed. “Fine. But this is temporary.”

Brian shook her hand. “Deal. You’ve got yourself a new landlord.”

“I’m going back to bed.” Emily said, feeling more depressed than ever.


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"Never Gone" is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

Copyright 2006
All Rights Reserved
No part of this text may be copied or reprinted
without the author's permission.

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