After the fiasco of the wedding, Olivia had kept mostly to herself in her own cabin. She felt a distance between her and her brother, but she knew it wasn’t his fault. He seemed distracted. His despair was obvious. Feeling like she needed to close the gap between them, Olivia went to the house to find Quincy, hoping he might be home eating his lunch. She was about to open the screen door when she saw Madge.
Cold chills shot through her body. Her irritation was evident. That’s why she’d tried to keep to herself. She didn’t want to create more strife than there was already. She’d seen a drastic change in Quincy. He was losing weight, and he very seldom left the house, except to work the farm. Even so, the farmwork was backing up, and he didn’t have the cows or pigs slaughtered. He needed to get all the work done before the winter season, and she wasn’t sure Adam could help him get everything done.
Olivia hesitated, unsure if she should go inside or not. Then it was too late. Madge had seen her.
“Why, Miss Olivia, don’t you look a sight,” Madge said, approaching the door. “Would you like to come in for some nice, cold sweet tea? The kind your brother likes so much?”
The reference to sweet tea was deliberate, and Olivia knew it. She’d drugged Quincy with sweet tea, and now she was mocking them both.
Olivia rushed into the house. Unable to control her anger, she shouted, “You whore! Tramp!” When Olivia got within striking distance, she balled her fist. With straight accuracy, Olivia punched Madge in the right eye. “You harlot; get out of my brother’s house! You’ve done enough damage!”
The blow rocked Madge. After she settled herself, Madge casually sat back down. “It’s you who should leave,” she said. “This is my house now, and you know it.”
“Over my dead body!” Olivia screamed. She grabbed Madge’s wig and pulled as hard as she could. “I’m going to whip your conniving ass! You’ve done enough damage to this family. I’m not going to let you destroy my brother with your lies.”
Once Olivia got Madge to her feet, she struggled to keep her own balance. “I’m not afraid of you like your men friends are!” She wanted to grab the scum by her long neck and wring her head off. “I’m going to slap you so hard that when you quit rolling your clothes will be outta style.”
Both women bumped into the credenza and knocked the hurricane lamp on the floor. As the fight continued, other pieces of furniture were turned over. Soon, the entire room showed signs that a fight had taken place.
Madge scratched Olivia’s face with her long fingernails. But she was unable to do much damage. She twisted her body around hoping that she’d dislodge Olivia’s hands that were entangled in her wig. The more she twisted, the tighter Olivia held on to it. “Let me go! I’m going to kill you!”
Madge reached above her head and grabbed Olivia’s left hand that was embedded in her wig. She was going to throw Olivia over her head to the floor. But Olivia had other ideas. She opened her mouth widely and chomped down on Madge’s forearm like a rabid dog. Olivia had zoned out. She was incensed with Madge. She hated everything about her.
“Ouch! Let me go! Are you crazy?” Madge shrieked loudly. “Is that all you got?” She refused to relinquish her hold on Olivia’s head. “I’m going to rip your eyes out!”
“I hope you ate your breakfast, because it’s going to be an all-day job whipping my ass!” Olivia knew she was getting tired, but she refused to let go. “Don’t let your mouth overload your tail!”
As Olivia struggled with Madge, she saw something strange. The woman’s belly seemed to have come loose.
“What the hell?” Olivia stepped back.
Madge hauled off and hit her hard, knocking her almost senseless. Olivia dropped to her knees and shook her head.
“Stop it! Both of you stop it!”
Olivia looked up to see Quincy standing in the living room, his hands on his hips, the anger obvious in his eyes and in his voice. She glanced at Madge. She was hunched over and panting.
“Quincy, help me! Get this lunatic off me!” Madge screamed at the top of her lungs. “Olivia is going to hurt our baby!”
Olivia stared hard at Madge’s belly. Had she really seen it move, or was it a trick of the eye?
“I don’t want any more fighting,” Quincy said. “You hear me? You both hear me?”
“I’m sorry, Quincy,” Olivia said. “I don’t know what got into me.”
“You better be sorry, you—” Madge yelled.
“Shut up, Madge,” Quincy said.
“You wouldn’t be here at all if you hadn’t raped Quincy,” Olivia hissed. “You must really be hard up. What does my brother have that your other lovers don’t have?” Olivia stood still before continuing. “You don’t know yourself. Quincy can’t make your tarnished name and reputation anew. You’ve destroyed both on your own. And you’ll never get them back, whether you’re married to Quincy or not.”
“Olivia!” Quincy said. “That’s enough!”
Madge shortened the distance between them. “I’m going to make you eat all those words. I can be anything I set my mind to. Being a good wife to this country bumpkin is going to be a snap. I’m going to prove you wrong this time, Olivia. You might’ve gotten Adam, but Quincy is another matter entirely. He’ll never let anyone raise his child.”
Without saying another word, Madge sat down.
“I want you to leave,” Quincy said to Olivia. “No more fighting. It’s bad for the baby. Come on, sis, let’s get you out of here.”
“I want to see Momma first,” Olivia said.
“You two promise to be good?” he asked.
Neither woman spoke.
“I can’t take this anymore,” Quincy said. “Kill each other for all I care.” He stormed out of the house.
“Now you see what you did?” Madge asked. “You made your brother feel terrible. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Olivia wanted to kill Madge on the spot. “I pity any child you have. You don’t have the scruples to raise a child the right way. What are you going to teach him? How to drug and rape someone?”
Madge rose from her seat and walked over to Olivia. With an open palm, she slapped her sister-in-law. She grabbed Olivia by the head and tried to run it into the doorjamb.
But Olivia figured out what she was doing and dug her feet into the throw rug. Her action propelled Madge forward, and she crashed into the living room wall.
When Madge hit the floor, her false baby belly broke loose from her body. When it hit the floor, both women looked at each other.
“So, this is my niece or nephew!” Olivia laughed like she was possessed. She couldn’t believe any woman would stoop this low to get a husband. Once she stopped laughing, she turned her cold eyes toward Madge. “You were going to concoct a story that you lost the baby. With all your deceitful ways, I’m sure you can think of a good story about how you lost it. Quincy is innocent, and I don’t want him hurt.” Olivia couldn’t believe Madge had created this sad ruse to force her brother to marry her.
“That’s none of your damn business.”
“You’re a piece of trash, Madge!” Olivia slapped the other woman so hard the wig finally flew across the room. It landed near the false pregnant belly. “You’re going to do exactly what I tell you to do. You’re going to go see your doctor and get him to authenticate your miscarriage. If you do anything to hurt Quincy, I’m going to tell him everything. You better thank God that I saw the baby belly hit the floor instead of Quincy. He got every right to end your sorry life right now!”
“What’s to stop me from saying you caused my miscarriage because of our fight?” Madge asked. “Ever think of that? Quincy would blame you for the loss of his baby.”
Madge’s words held a ring of truth to them. The idea that Madge would have walked around for months with a fake baby belly was almost too bizarre for belief. In fact, as Olivia thought about it, she doubted anyone would believe her. Quincy had said that he and Madge weren’t sleeping together, so there would be no way he’d know she’d duped him. And if she did convince him, Olivia was almost certain her brother would kill Madge and be sent to prison.
“I guess I can’t stop you from doing that,” Olivia said. She tried to keep her emotions in check.
“That’s right. You can’t. So back off, Olivia!”
“I’ll back off for now. Just break the news to Quincy gently. Don’t hurt him too much. I don’t know how much more of this he can take with his heart condition,” Olivia said.
“It really would be a shame if he dropped dead,” Madge said. “Wouldn’t it?”
Olivia stalked out of the house, her thoughts and emotions in a jumble. She went back to her cabin and tried to rest, but she kept seeing that awful woman in her mind’s eye. The lady was a monster, and she was living in her brother’s house.
What can I do? What?
A short time later, she heard a knock on the door.
“Olivia? Olivia, you in there?”
She got out of bed and answered the door.
“Quincy, I’m so sorry,” she said, giving him a hug.
“I know you are. Can I come in for a minute?”
She closed the door and faced her brother.
Olivia dropped down into a chair in the living room. “I’m sorry, Quincy, for my behavior. That woman can work a saint’s last nerve.”
“Quincy, there’s something I need to tell you. There was a good reason for the fight. Madge is pretending to be pregnant. I know for a fact that she isn’t pregnant at all. She was wearing a baby bump under her clothing. While we were fighting, it dropped to the floor. That’s why I whipped her lying ass!”
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