SPRINGHILL MANOR - FOYER
me?" Joyce stammered with awkward nervousness. "I don't...think
I heard you correctly."
"Oh, I think you heard exactly what I
said!" Naomi spat. "This precious little
baby, here, is my
son---my son with your husband!"
"Well!" Helga gasped with a slight look
of amusement. "I didn't know he had it in him!"
shut up," Joyce snapped as she turned to shoot the housekeeper an angry
look. Realizing that she had to play this exactly right, she paused and
took a deep breath and then put on her best charming face. "Naomi,
dear, I admit that this is quite a shock, but...well..."
"Yes?" Naomi eyed her suspiciously.
"Let's go into the library where we can chat
and be more comfortable," Joyce explained as she carefully led Naomi out of
the foyer. "And where we can be alone to talk." She turned
and shot Helga a hateful glance.
they stepped into the library, Joyce pulled the large wooden doors closed so
that they might have some privacy and then turned to face Naomi who had made
herself more than comfortable on the large, cushioned sofa. Meanwhile, not
wanting to miss out on something good, Helga quickly positioned herself right
outside the door and listened carefully.
"So...you and my husband had an
affair," Joyce began hesitantly. "I assume that this was while
we were living in New York?"
"Yes, that's right," Naomi
nodded. "I was singing at The Blue Pelican. It's a little jazz
club right down on..."
"I'm familiar with it, yes."
"Well, anyway, I was singing there and
Thornton would come in several nights a week." Naomi paused and
brushed a lock of hair out of little Aubrey's face. "Of course, I
didn't notice him at first. He just approached me one night and we started
talking after one of my performances. I had never met anyone quite so
knowledgeable and intelligent in my entire life. At the time, I didn't
really know who he was or how famous he was."
"I'm sure," Joyce nodded, not quite
sure how much of the young woman's tale she should believe.
"Well, despite our differences, there was an
immediate connection between us," she paused and took a deep breath.
"It was like something I'd never experienced before in my entire
life. We...just got caught up in the moment and had a torrid love
"So, Miss Jackson---Naomi---how long did
this...affair...last?" Joyce sat down in an adjoining chair
and kept her eyes locked on Naomi.
very long," Naomi sighed with a shake of her head. "He...got
called away on business. Something to do with a movie, I think.
I...I tried to find him. I tried to track him down, but I just didn't have
the means to do it and I lost him." She hesitated as she glanced down
at her son. "It was only after he left that I found out that I was
carrying his child. I...tried to find him. I wanted so much to tell
him, but...but I couldn't! Finally, I...I found out that he'd moved to
Albanyville. That's when I came here. I came to tell him about his
"But when you got here, you found out that
he'd died," Joyce nodded as she carefully began to assemble the pieces of
"Yes," Naomi muttered softly before
popping her head up to look directly at Joyce. "I know this is rather
scandalous considering...well...our differences."
"You mean the fact that you're Negro?"
Joyce asked bluntly. "I'm sure you realize that that isn't exactly
the best thing for my husband's memory to be saddled with. In fact, it
paints him in a rather unflattering light." She paused and carefully
sized up the situation. "However, we can't change what's been done,
"No, I guess we can't."
"Actually, it's good to finally meet you,
Naomi." Joyce kept her eyes trained on the young woman and her child
the entire time she spoke.
"W-what?" Naomi stammered with more
than a little shock. "You...you knew about...your husband's
"Of course, I knew!" Joyce laughed
heartily. "I'm not blind nor am I stupid. I knew that he was
seeing some backroom torch singer in New York. I confess that I didn't
know...specifics." Like the color of Naomi's skin.
"But I knew."
"Why should I be? Men in my husband's
position have extra curricular activities all the time," Joyce nodded and
then leaned back in her seat to take an almost queenly appearance.
"Of course, they don't always have their dalliances with little Negro
girls. Also, although I knew about your relationship with my husband,
there's no way to prove that this child is his."
"But...but...Aubrey is Thornton's
son!" Naomi insisted firmly. "There wasn't...anyone
else!" She paused for a moment to regain her composure.
"All I want is what's best for my son---Thornton's son. He
deserves his share of his father's legacy."
"Well, even if I were to agree with
you," Joyce sighed, "I'm afraid that you're talking to the wrong
"What? But you're his widow!
Surely you're the one who controls his estate!"
"That would be the logical
conclusion," Joyce sighed with a roll of her eyes. "However,
Thornton in is infinite wisdom---or senile foolishness, however you'd like to
view it---completely cut me out of his will. I have no control over any
part of my husband's estate. That all went to my ungrateful daughter and
"Yes. You see, my daughter Sara
connived her way into my husband's bed and then conned him into cutting me out
of the will and replacing me with her and her husband." Joyce's jaw
tightened as the thought about the injustice of it all. "Sara
is the person who actually owns this house and controls all of my husband's
estate." She stopped and leaned forward in her seat to eye Naomi
closely. "I really do sympathize with your situation. I believe
your story. Your son should get what's rightfully his, but there's
nothing I can do." Lifting her finger to her chin, she thought
"Unless what?" Naomi questioned
curiously. "What are you talking about?"
"Like I said, I sympathize with your
situation. You should receive everything that should be rightfully
yours," Joyce nodded. "And I'm prepared to help you get
everything that you deserve."
Naomi leaned back into her seat, more than a
little shocked by Joyce's offer. Meanwhile, the wheels in Joyce's head
began to turn as she thought about how should could best use Naomi and her child
for her own advantage.