THE LAKE APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM
"Stephanie, you are
not the one to
blame in any of this." Patterson rose from his position on the sofa
and walked over to her and again took her into his arms. "If anyone's
to blame, it's your mother. She's the one who did all of those horrible
things. If it weren't for that..."
"I can't believe that you're blaming
my mother for her own death!" Stephanie snapped as she spun around to face
him. "How could you?"
"I'm just saying that whatever trouble
your mother found, she brought it on herself." He looked at her
earnestly in hopes that she would understand what he was trying to say.
"That's all. Of course, she's not responsible for her own death, but
she is responsible for what she did before hand."
"I...I know you're right," she
sighed. "I'm sorry I took your head off."
"Under the circumstances, it's
"It's just that...well..."
She turned her head away and bit her lip. "On top of everything
else...as if what happened to Momma wasn't enough...now I have to figure out
what I'm going to do about school."
"School?" Patterson stepped
back a little and furrowed his brow as he tried to figure out what she was
trying to say. "I'm sure you're professors are going to understand
that you need to take some time off because of this. They aren't so
uptight and professional that they can't comprehend how difficult this is for
"Oh, no. It's not that." Stephanie paused and inhaled deeply. "It's just
that, well, I've been working in the admissions office just to pay for
school. Momma was working to take care of all of my other expenses---rent,
food, that kind of stuff."
"O-oh, I think I understand."
"There's no way I can support myself
and go to school just by work study!" She bit her lip and looked
away, hoping to hide the desperation that she was feeling. "I...I'm
not like you. My parents didn't have a ton of money to leave to me
"My parents didn't have a ton of
money," he laughed awkwardly. "True, my father made very good
money as a doctor, but we didn't live extravagantly. My parents were very
frugal. What they didn't absolutely need, they put back and saved. That's the money that they left to me in trust.
That's the only reason I can pay to live and go to school and take care of Todd. If it weren't for that, I don't know what I'd do."
"Well, I'm not as lucky as you
are," she sighed. "I...I guess I'm just gonna have to drop out
of school and find a real job."
"Oh, Stephanie, don't do
that." Patterson's eyes filled with concern and worry. "We
can think of something."
"There's just not enough hours in the
day for me to work to support myself, make money for school, and go to
school! Besides, I showed you my grades from last semester. I almost
feel like I'm wasting my money on school as it is."
"Well..." He rested his
chin in his hand a nodded as he racked his brain trying to come up with a
solution. "You could move into my house. There is that
spare bedroom. At least that would take care of the place to live
"Me? Move in with you?"
Stephanie gasped. "Have you lost your mind? I...I
couldn't! Paddy, there's no way we could live together!"
"We'd just be like roommates."
"But...but...no!" She shook
her head vigorously and waved her hands at the preposterousness of the
idea. "We can't live together! We're not
married! W-weren't not even dating!"
Patterson's face immediately fell.
True, they weren't "officially" dating, but...well, he had been
finding himself growing more and more fond of her. Actually, he was
beginning to feel much more than fondness for her.
"Oh, don't look at me like that!"
"W-well," he stammered, "I'm
just a little shocked, that's all. I never suspected you, of all people,
to suddenly turn so provincial."
"This is the new me that you've fought
so hard to bring out," she reminded with a slight smile. "Us
living together just wouldn't be right. What would everyone think?"
"I...I guess you're right," he
sighed. "It wouldn't look too appropriate. Well, don't
worry. I'll help you figure out something." He took her into
his arms again and held her tightly in an attempt to reassure her. He just
had to figure out some way to help her through everything.