(To read the first part of this, click HERE...)
We didn't have to wonder about our visitor for long. No more than a minute after she arrived, Beast'sbelle came in again and flipped on the overhead light. She had that look on her face again, the one that was an attempt to look nonchalant and casual but was brimming with excitement underneath. Beast'sbelle should never play poker...not that I've played it myself...but you get my point.
"Robby, Belle, I wanted to introduce you to someone. This is Emilie, and she's here for the holidays. I was wondering if you two might keep an eye on her for me for a while."
I looked back and forth from Beast'sbelle's casual yet beaming glance to Emilie's shy little face. We were being set up. Beast'sbelle was trying to arrange our lives again, just as she had originally tried to get Robby and I together, and the way she had hoped to get Isabella and Ben together, too. At least she had waited for Rapunzel and Eugene to ask her for their first daughter (although she kind of forced their second one on them).
I took a closer look at Emilie. She had Robby's eyes and my hair and complexion. If there had ever been a child made for us, she was it. There was no way this was a coincidence.
I tried to hold back my anger. This was downright unfair! Obviously, Beast'sbelle had seen this little doll and thought "oh, she'd be perfect for Belle and Robby" and decided to take matters into her own hands. Couldn't she have at least asked us about her first? I mean, it would be one thing if we had gone to Beast'sbelle and asked her to find us a child. Then this scenario would have been perfect. But we hadn't, and now she was toying with all of our emotions. And I didn't believe her line about Emilie "being here for the holidays" for one minute. I was sure that she'd figured if we just met Emilie, we'd fall in love with her right away and everything would be hunky dory and peachy keen.
Not that I had anything against the little doll. She seemed very sweet. I just didn't appreciate being backed into a corner like this. For the most part, Beast'sbelle is pretty cool...but when she meddles like this, it drives me crazy!!
Robby was either completely oblivious to the human's schemes or was just his normal, unruffled self. He gave Emilie a charming smile.
"Hi, Emilie," he said gently. "I'm Robby." He held out his hand so that she could shake it.
Emilie blushed as she lifted her hand, and we instantly saw why. There was no way she could take the hand Robby offered to her with the way her arms were molded. She clamped her jaw in concentration and seemed to strain every inch of her being, trying to reach Robby.
A look of compassion came over his features, and he reached over and took her hand so she didn't have to stretch any farther. "It's very nice to meet you," he said warmly.
He let go of her hand and introduced me. I gave Emilie what I hoped was a friendly nod. She responded with a hesitant smile, but her eyes immediately wandered back to my husband.
Robby started chatting with her. I watched in amazement as he brought up anything and everything he could think of, putting forth every effort to make her comfortable. This from my husband, the doll of few words. I had known he would be good with children, but I hadn't realize just how wonderful he would be!
Emilie sat down right next to him with a huge smile on her face, hanging on his every word. She didn't say much, but she didn't seem as uncomfortable as she had been when she first arrived.
I watched the two of them with growing disbelief. Sometime during their exchange, Beast'sbelle crept out of the room. I didn't miss the happy grin on her face. I wanted to scream.
"Well, she's sure a cutie!" Rapunzel whispered in my ear.
I nodded slowly, biting back the harsh words I wanted to say. It wasn't my friend's fault that our lives were being tampered with.
"I just wish I'd been given a little warning," I finally added, trying to stay calm. "I am not ready to be a mother."
Rapunzel looked at me in surprise. "Beast'sbelle just said she was visiting, didn't she?"
I turned to Rapunzel and raised one eyebrow. "And you actually believed her? Doesn't this all strike you as a little bit fishy? I mean, look at her! She looks like she could be our daughter. I seriously doubt all Beast'sbelle wanted was someone to watch her for the holidays!"
Rapunzel looked thoughtful. "I suppose Beast'sbelle might have had an ulterior motive. Still, you should give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she just thought this was a way you two could experience parenthood without fully committing to it."
I laughed scornfully. "Yes, and maybe pigs fly."
My friend chuckled. "Just try to relax, Belle. Beast'sbelle wouldn't force you to do something you didn't want to do."
"No," I agreed, "but I could see her thinking that she could influence me by putting me in the presence of an adorable little girl that looks like she could be my daughter."
"Well, there are worse things than parenthood, you know," Rapunzel said, looking up at Eugene and smiling. "It was tough at first, but we've gotten much better at it. And it's so wonderful."
I decided that now was not the best time to bring up that much of the ease of their parenting came from the fact that their children had been in a drawer for the last 6 months. Pascal had done more parenting than they had. Then I ducked my head, ashamed of my unkind thoughts. They did love their children, that was for sure. I didn't need to be rude to them because I was feeling tense.
I turned back to Robby and Emilie, determined to move on to other thoughts. Emilie was standing up in front of Robby, explaining something to him in animated tones. Now it was Robby who was hanging on her every word. And in that moment, I realized with panic that my husband would probably be completely fine with taking this little waif under his wing. He was clearly smitten with her. Which would make me the bad guy in the situation.
I did NOT like this. Not one little bit. I had nothing against Emilie herself, of course, and I would be kind and polite, but I would NOT put forth the effort to fall in love with this little doll. I was NOT ready to be a parent, and nothing Beast'sbelle did could make me change my mind!