Days went by as the Hasslich family adjusted to Zara’s absence. Andalie’s relationship with Nash continued, Emmeline’s belly grew rounder, and Aurora jumped out of the crib, ready to take on the world.
Aurora has her father’s hair, her mother’s skintone, the trademark Hasslich eyes, and has gained the Perfectionist trait.
Andalie had taken her mother’s advice to heart and decided to take a more active role in her children’s lives. While her thoughts and desires still revolved around Nash (and Dean – always Dean), she made a concerted effort to prioritize her kids.
Unfortunately, Andalie’s newfound devotion to her family came to a screeching halt the day that Dean called and asked for a date. Yes, she was still with Nash, and yes, she had promised Aurora she would teach her to swim tonight, and yes, she knew it was wrong for her to go – to cast her family aside, to cheat on her devoted boyfriend, in favor of a man who’d only ever made her cry. But Dean was always on her mind, every night and every day, invading her thoughts and her .
Andalie was running out the door before she’d so much as hung up the phone.
Aurora: I’m never going to learn to swim! She doesn’t even care if I drown!
Emmeline: You know that’s not true, Aurora. Your mom is easily distracted, but she loves you so much! And don’t worry, sweetie, as soon as I have this baby, I’ll teach you how to swim. That’s a promise.
Andalie arrived at the park first and waited on the sidewalk for Dean. The minutes crawled by, and Andalie wondered anxiously if he would even show up at all. He was five minutes late, then ten, then twenty. And as she waited, she began her to question her decision to come. Was Aurora learning to swim without her? Was Nash wondering why she hadn’t called?
But when, at long last, she caught sight of Dean in the distance, her heart leaped and her doubts vanished. He was here and he wanted to see her and that was all that mattered – Dean was all she could see.
Dean: Hey Andrea, long time no see…. Is it just me or did you somehow get less ugly?
Andalie swooned at his heartfelt “compliment.” She didn’t even notice that he’d gotten her name wrong…..again.
Andalie: I’m so glad you called, Dean! I’ve missed you, you know. And Milo has gotten so big! You should come by to see him.
Andalie felt a pang of guilt at the mention of Milo – but she quickly rationalized her actions. Really she was here for Milo, to facilitate a relationship between father and son…Really she was going a good thing here, an unselfish thing…right??
Dean: Milo? Oh right, the kid! Sorry, I can’t keep track of these brats, you know?
Andalie: What do you mean you can’t keep track? Are there….others?
Dean: Come on, Anna, you can’t really think you’re my only baby mamma. I’ve got three or four other kids running around here somewhere – guess your Milo has a couple siblings he didn’t know about. Don’t ask me their names though, I sure as plum couldn’t tell you.
Andalie didn’t have the sense to be hurt, or even to feel sympathy for her son, whose father chose to ignore his existence. Nor did she recognize the similarity between Dean’s mistreatment of his various children and her own neglect of the family she had waiting at home.
All she saw was Dean. All she heard was that he’d chosen her. Over all the other women, he picked her.
She never noticed the older man passing by, let alone recognize him, when he’d changed so much since the last time she’d seen him. She was besotted by Dean, her attention focused solely on his blue eyes and confident swagger. She never saw the other man’s shoulders slouch, never saw his face fall, or the hurt in his eyes.
And as Nash walked away, crushed by her betrayal, Andalie saw nothing but Dean.