A Daisy for Hannah Jane: Chapter X

From the ongoing novel A Daisy for Hannah Jane.

Rachel St. Louis, Copy Chief

A Daisy For Hannah Jane

Chapter X

“What? How? Why didn’t you tell me I’m now in love with my fiancé’s younger brother? Why don’t you have the same last name? I thought his parents… Oh, it can’t be true…” My voice trailed off, my head growing fuzzy. Lights dimmed and I realized I was hot all over.

“It’s all right, Janie, it’s going to be all right.” He took my hand when my eyes closed involuntarily. Rest had never felt so good.

“Please,” I whispered. A swift little tear trickled over my cheek and down my neck. “I need some time to be alone and think.” Think? About what? I need to know what’s been going on.

“No, Janie. I have to explain.” I opened my eyes. Jamison’s face looked distraught, as if it had been pinched by some big, evil hand. A pang to my chest confirmed that I’d hurt him.

Why didn’t he avenge Raymie, and why is he a whole social class above where Raymie and I had been? I never knew of Raymie’s parents, except for when he used to mention he was raised in a good home. God, I finally prayed for the first time in a long time, help me make it through.

I nodded curtly to Jamison and he squatted by my bedside slowly, wringing his hands and looking old. His light brown hair stood stiff, his jaw tight, his eyes everything but happy. Grimness lined his face, and I could see the layered years that face had endured.

“I know it makes absolutely no sense.” He looked around before leaning closer and lowering his voice. “My parents were born poor, just a bit outside of this town. They had to put Raymond up for adoption.”

I covered my mouth with my hand to stifle something – a gasp, a shout, a cry – and willed tears to leave my eyes. I couldn’t bear to think of what happened, or could have happened, to my beloved Raymie when he was small and helpless… something I simply couldn’t picture him as.

“It was extremely secretive,” Jamison reassured me. “Raymond was taken in by a nice, amiable couple who couldn’t have children. Their last name was Stoldings. My parents loved Raymond to their graves, Janie, but they couldn’t feed him. The Stoldings couple were an answer to my parents’ fervent prayers.

“The long adoption process was all hush-hush, and nobody knew of the event besides my parents and the Stoldings couple. Everyone else had figured the they were helping out the Jamisons for a bit.

“My parents became fearful people, wide-eyed like deer in the night. Tot hem, the world was dark and unforgiving.” He paused, looking at the tiled hospital floor with remorse for his parents. Is there a level of emotion to Jamison I hadn’t known?

If there was, he shoved it down and looked me in the eye once again. “My parents resolved to stay away from Raymond and the Stoldings so Raymond wouldn’t have to grow up knowing the pain of what his birth had caused, or anything else. Goodbyes were said when Raymond was about two, young enough not to remember, and my parents settled about ten miles from the town they’d been raised and married in. My mother was with child again when they were well-off. So I was born.”

God, help me understand. This is awful, just awful. “Your parents never saw Raymie after he was adopted as a toddler?”

“No, Janie, they didn’t,” he replied softly. “But my parents loved and trusted the Stoldings as if they were relatives.”

“And they didn’t take him back after they were wealthy enough to support themselves and you?”

He took my hand gingerly. “It doesn’t work that way. I’m sorry, Janie, they really wanted him back after having me.”

“Raymie knew nothing about this. Why didn’t anyone tell him the truth?”

“Because my father thought it was too late. We wrote to the Stoldings not long after my birth, but apparently, the barren couple really loved Raymond and didn’t want any intrusion to Raymond’s childhood happiness and innocence. My father said he had no reason to see his firstborn after that.”

“What a terrible man,” I blurted out, crying. I was such a baby. I have just insulted Jamison’s father. Oh, what have I done? Why me? Why me?

“I know it doesn’t sound good,” Jamison whispered. “My father developed some sort of illness and he ran away during the night while he was delirious. Nobody knew where he went or what happened to him. I’m all my mother has left.”

“Did anyone search for him?”

“Oh, tons of people. Even the doctor he saw, who lived five miles away! But no one found him, his body, nothing at all.”

“Jamison, I’m so, so sorry.”

“For what?”

Isn’t it obvious? “For causing you so much pain.”

His eyes smiled tenderly at me. It was like a secret code I couldn’t unravel. But I pressed on, feeling wretched for ever putting myself through their split family.

“Jamison, if you don’t want to go on with our courtship, I respect that. I’m sorry I pried and I’m sorry I caused you and your mother so much anxiety.”

His mouth tipped a grin. Why is he smiling? This is serious. “I never should’ve gotten involved with you after your own brother proposed to me.”

“You had no idea. My mother told me the whole story when I was a teenager. I tried to track my older brother down, excited to know I wasn’t an only child. My mother and I settled here almost a month ago when word of mouth told us where he was. He was in the war then.”

And he took a job from the first man he could find, probably. Sir Henry the deceiver. Neither Raymie nor Jamison deserved what had happened. It was surreal. They obviously shared the same compassion, though they’d never known each other. Fascinating.

He is sincere even when he is sacrificing his family’s integrity and sorrow to tell me about the past I never knew. Despite his kindness toward me, I felt something unfamiliar build in my chest. It was like a castle centered around my heart with ribs for outer walls. The feeling that built this castle, brick by brick, was completely foreign.

“You have the biggest eyes,” he said. “What’re you thinking about?”

“I don’t mean to be rude when I say this, but how can you brush off your family and your childhood separated from your only brother like that? Especially when he’s gone? And then there’s me. I won’t tell a soul about what you just told me, and like I said, if you want… Do you want to get rid of me…”

He dodged my gaze, pecked my cheek and froze when I did. Then he jumped up, eyes lowered, and all but booked it out of the room.