4 – Taken By Storm [The Byzantine Souls Saga]

About 6 Years Ago

On Christmas Eve, Danny brought home a tall, strong, beautifully fierce young woman– Everly Ryer. They met while she was backpacking through Europe with her friends. They were in Spain and decided to hit the clubs. Danny was at the same one making a business deal and the two hit it off.

She’s an heiress from old money up in Seattle, Washington. Her family’s estate was just outside the city limits and got passed down from generation to generation. As her parents only child she was set to inherit everything.

Though she graduated from Brown University with a B.A in Sociology, she ran and operated her own online boutique store selling, super expensive, vintage clothes. Fashion from ages past was her passion.

The chemistry between them that night at the club was SO explosive, Everly ditched her friends to stay in Spain, to see Danny another night, and another night, and another night… Only knowing each other for about a month, Danny popped the question, she said, they were engaged, and now on New Year’s Eve they were getting married.

Rachel watched her mother excitedly talk about ideas for the wedding with Everly at the dinning room table. That irked Rachel. It was only the four of them and they all sat at the dark, cherry wood dining table for eight, in the dining room. Mary always went all out for her special boy Danny. The only upside was Mary was showered, wearing actual clothes instead of pajamas, and actually didn’t act depressed. The extraordinary treatment Danny got sort of made it worth it to see Mary in such good spirits.

Mary left the table to go use the restroom, and Danny started clearing the table, which left Rachel to be alone with Everly.

Everly sat directly across from Rachel. Under the dim lighting of the dining room chandelier, Rachel avoided eye contact with Everly. The woman carried such a confidence about her she was intimidating.

“It’s a shame your boyfriend couldn’t be here… Keith was it?” Everly commented.

Rachel nervously took a sip of water. She actually just didn’t invite Skeeter. He was writing new music for the band and when he was in his creative vein it was best only to speak to him when he spoke to you.

“Actually Skeeter is my boyfriend… Keith is my best friend…”

Everly’s face contorted with confusion, “Why wouldn’t you be with your best friend? Isn’t the best of both worlds if your best friend happens to be the gender you’re attracted to? If my bff FiFi was a man, we would be married already!” Everly giggled and anxiously Rachel joined in. When Everly stopped making noise, Rachel followed.

“You’re wondering why we’re getting married so fast, huh?” Everly asked, staring at Rachel with scrutiny, which seemed odd. Shouldn’t Rachel be scrutinizing Everly?

“Love, right?” Rachel shrugged her shoulders. She quickly guzzled more water too cool down from feeling warm all of a sudden.

“Yeah… I guess I love him… but I’m pregnant.” Everly said.

Rachel spit her water back into her glass from shock. Actually, she wasn’t that surprised, but she was a little caught off guard Everly admitted it so quickly.

“My parents would give my inheritance away to charity if I ever had a kid out of wedlock. Hopefully, they won’t pay attention to the calendar.”

Danny entered the dining room with a tray filled with an assortment of dessert from cookies, to pie, to cake… Mary made her way back to the table holding a white, laced cover photo album in arm. Rachel rolled her eyes as she sighed. Mary was going to show her wedding photos to Javier… what a weird thing to do?! They’re divorced!!!

Rachel stood up, “It was lovely meeting you Everly…”

Highly upset, Mary whined, “You’re leaving now?”

“Let her go mom, we already exchanged gifts,” Danny said. He went up to Rachel and gave her a hug. Then he kissed her on each cheek.

Everly got up and made her way over to Rachel. She hugged and double-check-kissed Rachel just like Danny did.

“Well, goodbye then,” Mary pouted as Rachel snuck up behind her mom sitting down. She bent low and wrapped her arms around her as she rested her head beside her mother’s head.

“Love you mommy,” Rachel said.

“Love you too, honey…” Mary said patting Rachel on the arm.

Danny handed the three gifts for Skeeter to Rachel at the door, after she put her light coat on. It was 44 degrees outside, for the Old Pueblo, that was cold… Everyone said goodbye to each other again as Rachel shuffled out the door, carefully moving with ninja skill to not drop the wrapped boxes for Skeeter and her bags of gifts everyone got for her.

Danny’s Wedding Reception

The wedding was beautiful. It was at night, under the stars, in a courtyard at a fancy resort. Everly’s parents dished out a lot of money for the resort to cancel their New Year’s Eve plans and have the last minute-wealthy-heiress-shotgun-wedding.

It bothered Rachel… why Everly married the first guy that knocked her up… couldn’t she just have gotten an abortion. Rachel met Everly’s parents before the wedding… They were down to earth, liberals, with very progressive ideas, and thoughts about culture. Even if Everly wanted to keep the kid, Rachel was convinced there was no need to rush into a wedding to appease her parents.

But as the exchanged vows, and Mary’s Pastor married the young couple, the way they looked at each other, it was evident, they loved each other. They were in love and they wanted to be married.

To Rachel’s surprise, Javier, his second wife, and the twins were present. The girls ran up to Rachel, speaking in Spanish excitedly, the moment they saw her before the wedding started. They listened to the band’s music and thought she was the coolest big sister in the world. Javier’s wife, Catrina, smothered Rachel into a hug and in broken English insisted Rachel come to Spain and to stay with them for a little while. Not giving Rachel a chance to get to know her other family, Mary swooped in and dragged Rachel away to help rearrange flowers on the archway, under which Danny and Everly got married beneath.

The reception was held in a ballroom inside the fancy resort. The music, the drinks, the food, everything… was over the moon fantastic and surely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Rachel stood by the open bar most of the time.

Eventually, Keith cautiously stood beside her.

Rachel sighed putting her sixth glass of champagne down on the counter, unfinished.

“Hey Keith…”

“Just hey Keith?” He huffed holding his arms out to his side looking for a hug.

Rachel tittered as she walked into his embrace and gave him a huge hug… one that lingered, filled with all the love she had to give… it felt good. Skeeter wasn’t a hugger or very cuddly…

Letting Rachel go, he said, “That’s better…”

A slow song came on, Rachel didn’t know who it was, and Keith asked Rachel to dance. At first Rachel declined, not wanting to upset Skeeter or to make him jealous, but then she remember Skeeter wasn’t there. He couldn’t take one night off from creating new music.

A wave of sadness hit Rachel… she wanted to go home, lay in bed, and not get up… She couldn’t leave her brother’s wedding reception until he left to go on his honeymoon.

Instead, she went to the next best place to her bed. She nestled up close to Keith and rest her head on his shoulder, as they swayed to the music, perfectly in step with each other’s movements.

Keith said softly, “You know I’ll always be there for you, right? No matter what?”

“Yeah, I know…” Rachel said.

4 1/2 Years Ago

Three weeks late…

“[Bleep],” Rachel thought as she stared at the calendar on her cellphone.

For a while, Rachel’s been super hungry, a little sick here and there, and the victim of killer migraines… With Rachel taking up pot smoking again the increased appetite wasn’t out the ordinary, but Rachel usually doesn’t miss a period. Yes, she was on birth control, but it was the pill form and she forgot to take it a few times every month.

Since last month, she wanted  to switch to a different form of birth control she wouldn’t need to worry about not-taking-it-because-it-would-be-working-all-the-time… like an implant in her arm or something. It’s not like Rachel wasn’t entirely careless about failing to go to the doctor and to change her birth control, but the band has gigs every week, two to three times a night.

The band was currently a step or two away from getting signed by a label based in LA. And a big thing happened… Rachel finally broke up with Skeeter and Rachel started playing the keys herself… but there were a few gigs Skeeter had to play because they only had the venue because it was connection that landed the gig.

The label was hesitant to sign to Byzantine Souls without Skeeter, so the band had to prove they didn’t need Skeeter. Yes, the pressure was intense and living at home with her mother wasn’t helpful… Rachel barely slept. And to stop herself from jumping out of her skin, she still needed to cut to take the edge off. It was hot wearing long sleeves in the desert in the summer time, but if her mother found out she would get committed and Rachel could afford for that to happen right now.

“[Bleep],” she thought again… What if she was pregnant? She couldn’t keep the kid… She was not ready to be a mom… like ever…

Everly slid the pregnancy test box across the table table and Rachel instinctively caught with her quick reflexes. Rachel wasn’t sure why she confided in her sister-in-law… especially since babies were a tough subject with her…

She wasn’t pregnant before she and Danny got married. Turned out she had ovarian cancer, stage three, and she had symptoms in her body of pregnancy. Maybe Rachel had cancer?! Wait… that would be more of a dream killer than an unborn fetus… Everly got the news last month the cancer was in remission, but they took both of her ovaries and she wasn’t able to freeze any of her eggs… She and Danny will never biologically have children together.

“Do you need help taking the test?” Everly asked.

“No…” Rachel said picking up the test off the table as she stood up. She headed for the nearest bathroom in Danny’s huge mansion… It was like walking slowly underwater. Rachel couldn’t breathe. She had an ick feeling she was pregnant and she didn’t have the courage to breathe normally. She had to force herself to take a breath here and there.

In her mind, Rachel imagined the conversation she would have with Keith telling him she was with child.

Rachel: I’m pregnant.

Keith: Hmm…

Rachel: I know, I can’t get an abortion…

Keith: You could, but you know it wouldn’t be right…

Rachel: The law says it’s my right.

Keith: Yeah, but could you live with killing a part of yourself…? Could you handle all the what ifs, could haves, and should haves when you occasionally remember you were almost a mother? Could you purposely handle taking the life of an unborn child, when there are so many women out there who would do anything to be pregnant…

Rachel: I couldn’t handle giving my kid to strangers?

Keith: Who says you have to give your kid to strangers?

Rachel decided before she took the test. If she was pregnant… she would give the child to Everly and Danny… if giving birth wouldn’t [bleep] with music career on the horizon.

6 Months Later/4 Years Ago

“Do you Rachel Noelle Fernández take Keith Reginald Sparks to be your lawfully wedded husband?” The Justice of Peace, at the court house asked Rachel.

Six months ago, you couldn’t tell Rachel she would be marrying her best friend. Nor did she think she would be bold enough enough to get married at seven months pregnant going on eight.

Yes, Rachel was still giving her unborn child to Danny and Everly. The paperwork was already signed and arrangements were made, but she was marrying Keith because for the past six months he has been her rock and she fell in love with him.

He was just given the role as lead Pastor at a mega church in Los Angeles and he didn’t want to go without Rachel. They haven’t even kissed or have had sex, and she still didn’t repent and believe in Jesus again, but there they were getting married.

And because Rachel couldn’t go on tour immediately, the label that wanted to sign the band pulled out, but they’ve been independently releasing music and killing it! They actually make an income from their sales and they’re not known by hundreds of thousands anymore. Millions across America and Internationally download and stream the bands music.

The band decided moving to LA was the perfect move. They would have more venues, more exposure, and bigger chances to get signed to a monster label. Plus, a month after she had the baby, the could go on tour along the west coast. Every show was already sold out.

“I do,” Rachel said smiling feeling genuinely happy on the inside.

Keith said, “I do” too. And when the Justice of Peace announced them husband and wife, Rachel didn’t wait for Keith to kiss her. She locked lips with him.

It was evident Keith never kissed anyone before, but the moment was filled with most warm fuzzies a gal could only fantasize about. Marrying Keith was a dream come true for her.

About 2 Years Ago

September 3rd… Storm was born on the night of a storm. The wind in the Old Pueblo knocked over trees and nearly blew roofs off houses… That’s why Danny, Everly, and Rachel decided on the name “Storm” for the baby born at 19 inches, 8 pounds, and 3 ounces.

Today, that beautiful boy was turning to two!

The band got signed to gigantic label last year. They released their first album last month and they were set to start tour the first of the new year across America.

Rachel had it all… yet, her life felt emptier than when she lived at home with her mom, working two jobs, and only fantasized about becoming famous for music.

Captivated by her nephew, Storm, as he played on the living room floor with the new set of toy cars Rachel brought him… she thought of a song in her heart about him…

Everly yelled from the kitchen that it was time for cake. Rachel, being the nearest to Storm, went to pick him up. As she hoisted him into the air and then rested him on her hip, she regretted giving him away. She knew he was loved and he was cared for, but deep her in bones, he was hers, and he belonged with her.

There were kids in the world who actually needed to be adopted… Rachel gave Storm up out of selfishness. Plus, it was just weird having an aunt that was really your mom… that sounded like Soap Opera material, not real life.




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