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Scarlett Sinner (The Scarletts Book 2)

Scarlett Sinner (The Scarletts Book 2)

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You wanted Erin! You pig! And now you have her child. I wish for you a nice life with your son!Troy Scarlett realizes the hard way that some sins are bound to be revealed, like the child that he had out of wedlock with Erin, his wife's mortal enemy from college. Chelsea Scarlett was not happy with the status quo. She thought she was happily married to Troy for the past five years, but his secret child was not a part of the bargain. She was not taking care of the son of the woman she had so despised in college, nor was she ever going to play happy family with the woman's son. Will they ever be a family again or is the hurt too great for Chelsea?
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Chapter One

"Mommy, where do babies come from?" Troy froze and looked at Chelsea. It was not the question that was the problem. They knew that Dahlia was at that age when they had to answer questions like these.
He should have even anticipated it. They were at Malik's baby blessing party, and Dahlia had been following her uncle Yuri around, wanting to get a peek at the baby.
Please don't snap; he wanted to plead with Chelsea. After the question, she was holding herself as tight as a newly installed barbed wire fence.
His mother had begged her to come to the gathering, and that was the only reason she was there. She had barely acknowledged Troy when she arrived. She had driven her own car, arriving from her parent's place down the road. She was dressed in a crimson suit that was a shade too tight and fashionable.
Her hair was out in a loose, kinky spread of curls, with only a matching red headband keeping it out of her face. She had on makeup, but not the subtle, tasteful makeup that he was used to seeing her in; it was bright, brash and in your face. Very un-Chelsea like, very un-first ladylike, very rebellious. She was in the mood for war.
He had to grudgingly admit though, that he was fascinated with this new, spirited version of his wife. The years since they had gotten married had mellowed her somewhat, but now this was the Chelsea of old.
She had shed her demure, conservative look and was now back in fine form. Dressed as she was now and as made up as she was, he could see the resemblance to the model Iman that everyone kept telling her about. She had sharp cheekbones, full lips, and medium brown skin which was almost lustrous in appearance.
He watched in tension-filled suspicion as Chelsea turned to Dahlia and then looked at him with hatred blazing in her eyes.
"Ask your father, honey. He knows where babies come from. Apparently, he enjoys making them with whores."
"What's a whore?" Dahlia asked at the same time as those who were in hearing range gasped.
"Chelsea!" Troy's voice held a stern warning. "Don't do this here."
But the warning was like fuel to fire.
"Why not here?" Chelsea asked, her dark eyes flashing. "Because you want to keep up appearances? You want to hide what you did? What you did can't be hidden or undone, Troy Scarlett. You have ruined our family, and I am not going to laugh and smile and pretend that everything is a-okay."
Her breath caught in a sob.
His father reached out to her before Troy could and pulled her into the house. His mother took Dahlia by the hand and was trying to put a nice spin on the word whore. It sounded like an uphill task; Dahlia retorted with a why after every explanation his mother offered.
He felt Yuri's hand resting heavily on his shoulder as he turned to go into the house to confront Chelsea. He knew he would be in for some abuse from her waspish tongue, and he was dreading it. He drew in a deep, cleansing breath.
"Slow down, little brother," Yuri said softly. "Update me."
"Wait, wait," Terri called from under the white tent at the other side of the yard that was erected for the meal.
She had been in a deep discussion with Reuben and obviously had not heard what was said between him and Chelsea, but she could read their body language. Anybody with half an eye could see what was going on.
Troy’s marriage was in trouble.
He inhaled again, raggedly. He was happy about two things right now. One, his mother had only invited family, his cousins from Pops' large family that lived in Pedro and members from the immediate family were also there, including Yuri and Marla, the people of the hour, whose party it was technically. They were celebrating the birth of their child and dedicating him to God.
Yuri and Marla shouldn't have been hijacked with his family problems. He had officiated at their wedding two months earlier in a small ceremony in their backyard and then Marla had given birth to her son two weeks after.
He had participated in the christening this morning in the church where they all grew up. He had been one of three pastors. He was happy that none of the other ministers were here now to witness his wife going off the handle. That was the second thing to be thankful for.
To have them here would be to expose his issues to his colleagues, who would no doubt express deep concern over his situation. In no time his situation could reach the church conference, where it would be dissected and discussed.
He would prefer to personally break the news of this latest development in his life to the president of the conference, though by now he was sure that everybody knew that he was having marital problems. Chelsea had certainly not tried to keep up any appearance of marital bliss.
Even his cousins, some of them he had not seen in years, had heard that he had been hiding from social services and they wanted his DNA tested because of a mistake he made in college with a girl who had named other candidates for her child's paternity.
News traveled fast through the Scarlett grapevine, and he had not missed the pitying glances that his cousins had been throwing at him through the day. Even if they had not heard a thing, they would have picked up that something was wrong because Chelsea had not hidden the fact that she was unhappy with him.
She had sat at the back of church with a thunderous expression on her face. She had scowled every time he opened his mouth. It was a wonder that he could string two sentences together with such blatant disapproval aimed at him.
In the two months since he was back from doing his Master's in Canada, she had moved into one of the guest rooms of their modest home and spent every weekend with her parents in Treasure Beach.
They supported her wholeheartedly, as was their right, he supposed, but he was of the opinion that if Chelsea did not have their biased support their marriage could be well on the way to being healed.
Chelsea's mother, Katrina, was his chief detractor. She had always thought that her only daughter should not have married a young pastor. Katrina thought that Chelsea could have done far better than him; the life of a clergyman's wife was not what she wanted for her modelesque daughter, who had passed up a modeling contract in high school in favor of her studies. Katrina had never forgotten that.
She wanted bright lights and the fast pace of the fashion world for Chelsea. Throw in a billionaire businessman and a few glossy magazine spreads, and she would have been happy. Katrina had always wanted to vicariously live through her daughter.
And Troy had always feared that Chelsea believed that her mother's vision for her life was the perfect one for her.
This latest development in their marriage was an encouragement for Chelsea to leave him and forge the future she should have had.
The transformation had already begun.
Chelsea looked like a fashionista on the verge of breakout success. At least that was what his feverish fears were telling him.
He tried to squelch the heavy sigh that was building up in his chest, but he couldn't.
Yuri squeezed his shoulders in silent support, and Troy relaxed a bit. He was still too wound up to completely relax, though. His mind was in the living room.
He wondered what his father was saying to his wife. And what she was saying to him. Chelsea was in the kind of mood where she would have no hesitation to blast him to kingdom come, though his father would listen and sympathize.
He had always had a soft spot for Chelsea. His father hated the fact that Troy had gotten himself in this conundrum. He had said as much to him today.
Troy hated when his parents were disappointed in him. It actually scared him. He was the reliable type, the trustworthy type — the one who had gone into ministry to be a pastor. He was not supposed to be in this type of mix-up.
Even Troy was disappointed in himself. If he had a parishioner who had gotten himself into this kind of trouble, he would be disappointed too.
"Yes. Now. Spill it!" Terri said, panting a little. "Why is Chelsea acting like a mad woman? You did the DNA test, didn't you?"
"Yes." Troy nodded. "I told you I would."
"And is the kid yours?"
To the point, Terri was. There was no beating around the bush for her.
Both Terri and Yuri were looking at him, waiting in suspense for his answer.
"Yes." Troy sighed, "99.9% mine."
"Oh my." Terri was the first to whisper. She hugged him as if he had just announced that he had a terminal illness.
Yuri looked stunned as if he had given an answer that was completely unexpected.
"I was expecting you to say no," Yuri confirmed. "I thought Chelsea was just mad because you... er... got involved with somebody else in college. Not that you actually have a son."
"So where is he?" Marla had drifted close to them. She took the baby from Yuri and glanced at Troy with a confused look on her face. "I thought they hounded you for the DNA because they didn't want to put him in foster care."
"They didn't want to permanently put him in care." Troy rubbed the back of his neck, feeling hemmed in as he always did when he spoke about the situation. "They... ah... they temporarily placed him with a family."
"Where?" His mother had also joined the group.
They formed a semi-circle around him, blocking out the waning afternoon light, their faces all stamped with curiosity and concern.
"Montego Bay." Troy breathed out shakily. Whenever he thought about it, he felt a huge burdensome responsibility pressing on him.
He had another child. An honest-to-goodness child, his own flesh and blood, and he didn't even know him.
"I hate the idea that he is in foster care," his mother said, "when he has family that is willing to care for him."
"Me too." Troy cleared his throat. "I just...I can't deal with a new strange child, with a less than stable home right now. I thought I would wait until the beginning of the Easter holiday before I go and get him."
"Does Dahlia know about her new brother?" Terri asked, looking around for her niece, who was having the time of her life running through the grass with her cousins. None of this adult stuff affected her and for that Troy had to give thanks.
"I tried explaining it to her," he grimaced. "But I guess only when he comes around will she get the whole thing. That is what prompted the ‘where do babies come from’ question. She probably thinks that a new brother equals a baby. Not a boy who is a year older than her."
"So he's five," his mother whispered. "What's his name? When is his birthday?"
"How does he look?" Terri piped in.
Troy sank down on a veranda chair with them drifting closer standing around him. As if realizing that their stance was too claustrophobic, Marla sat beside him in the adjoining chair.
Yuri and Reuben leaned on the wall facing him. His mother and Terri were the only ones standing. Terri had her hands akimbo; she was looking at him as if he was in the witness chair in a courtroom. She looked as if she was brimming with unasked questions.
His mother was standing beside Reuben. She folded and then unfolded her arms as if she was not sure which pose to take. She was looking at him as if she had never seen him before. Like he was an alien from a different world.
Who could blame her? He was her precious pastor son. Until now, that had meant something to her and Dad.
Now, she was ashamed of him. He could see it in her eyes. But he was more ashamed of himself than his mother could understand. He had spent the last ten months hiding away from this situation. And the last couple of days had been hellishly terrible.
When he told Chelsea about the DNA results, she had been inconsolable.
She had told him in no uncertain terms that she was going to leave with Dahlia. She was not taking care of a whore’s brat.
He had spent the last couple of hours contemplating that he was going to gain one child and lose another. And he was going to lose his wife.
Though Chelsea was high-strung and incredibly selfish, he loved her. He had loved her ever since the first day she had smiled at him across the crowded school auditorium at orientation their first day of college. In that one look, he had known that she was the person for him. As clichéd and ironic as that sounded, that was how it was for the two of them—instant connection.
Terri snapped her fingers in front of his face. "How does he look? My nephew."
"I have no idea," Troy said sheepishly, as he glanced up at his sister. "No idea. I didn't want to know before...I was hoping that he wasn't..."
"Yours." His mother finished his statement with a sigh. "But he is. And he needs you right now."
"I wonder if he has red hair like me and Dahlia?" Terri mused. "It would make a striking combination on a boy."
Troy had not thought of that, Dahlia had reddish-brown hair, which was bright and unmistakably a trait from Pops. Pops' hair had been clay red, thick, kinky and wooly. Terri had inherited the red hair, along with his hazel eyes. Dahlia had only gotten the hair. She had brown eyes.
"Focus, Terri," Daisy said sternly. "Your brother hasn't answered the questions that are important…who cares how the boy looks?"
"What were the questions again?" Troy asked, feeling confused. He had always stopped himself from humanizing the boy because he didn't want to care but now he had to; his family was forcing him to.
"Name and birthday," Yuri reminded him, a note of sympathy in his voice.
"Todd... Irving. Birthday, May 6."
"Todd." Daisy smiled mistily. "Four letters like yours."
"Mom," Troy said softly, "Please stop. I doubt Erin was thinking about the similarity in number of letters to my name when she was naming him. She didn't even know who the father was."
"You want my opinion?" Reuben who was silent until now straightened up from the wall.
Troy spread his arms wide. "I am listening."
"Speaking as a person whose father ran away when he heard about me, all I can say is, every child needs an identity. You are his family. The conditions may not have been perfect when he was born but he is here anyhow, and he needs you.
"If Uncle Lloyd and Pops hadn't stepped in when I was born, I wouldn't even know that I was a Scarlett, wouldn't have met all of you. I would have lived right here in Treasure Beach, and nobody would know that I was a relative."
"Fat chance of that happening," Terri snorted. "You look just like Pops, Reuben."
Reuben glared at her for interrupting his point. "All I am saying is, I know Chelsea is hurting right now but," he lowered his voice, "you have to do the right thing. This child didn't ask to be born, so despite her diva behavior you have to..."
"Man up," Yuri growled impatiently. "Now that you know, man up."
Troy closed his eyes. "You guys cannot appreciate the situation that I am currently in. Working with my wife is like working with dynamite. These days she's volatile and hostile and plain vile. I should have told her about what I did with Erin back then. The trust is gone for Chelsea. This is not just a case of ‘manning up’, as you guys so succinctly put it. This is either my marriage and Dahlia or a son I don't even know."
Terri sighed. "If I were Chelsea, I would probably be upset too."
"I wouldn't," Marla said. "It happened when you two were not even together."
"For a week." Troy sighed. "It was just a week. But we had broken up so often by then I should have known that it wasn't permanent. When we got back together, I should have told her. That is what is eating up Chelsea right now, I think."
"Shoulda... woulda... coulda." Chelsea came to the doorway. Her eyes were puffy and red.
"It's too late now for wishes like that, Troy Scarlett. Fact is, you did not tell me. I did not have the chance to process this five years ago. If I had, this would not hurt so much, and I would not think that all of our marriage was a big lie.
"I am going home, Daisy. Thank you for inviting me to the christening. I wish you all the best in parenting, Yuri and Marla. Now, where's my child?"
"Chelsea." Troy stood up. "Please just..."
Chelsea held up her hand. "When I say home, I mean my parents’ house. I don't know when or if I will be talking to you again. Sometime this week, I will be coming to get my things from the house."
Her voice hitched. She walked toward the steps. "Bye, everyone."
"Can't you at least leave Dahlia to play with her cousins?" Daisy asked softly. "I'll personally carry her to the house later."
"Okay." Chelsea didn't even look back; she headed to her car and drove away.
"That is what I am working with," Troy said after a long, drawn-out sigh. "Anybody else want to offer any more wise advice?"