Morgan and Savannah continued to hide their relationship from everyone. It wasn’t that they were ashamed of being together; they just weren’t quite ready to deal with the paparazzi invading their privacy and the increased bullying at school quite yet. They decided that they’d reveal themselves as a couple when it felt right to them.

Besides, Morgan thought to herself. It wouldn’t be fair to have the press snapping pictures of me on William’s birthday. The poor kid doesn’t get enough attention as it is. His birthday should be all about him, at least.

Morgan made her way downstairs to help her mother with the decorations for the party. It would just be the household at William’s birthday party today. Margaret didn’t want her son to feel overwhelmed by all the reporters and whatnot. He always shrieked in fear whenever he was around too many people. Still, he deserved to have a proper family party, with balloons and decorations and people cheering him on.

“Is William’s room all ready for him?” Margaret signed to her daughter. Morgan nodded, grinning. It had become sort of an unofficial tradition in the Charm family for the older sibling to pick out the new decor for their younger sibling’s room when they aged to a child, as a surprise present.

“I just put the new bed covers on this morning. I think he’ll like it,” Morgan signed back. She’d put a lot of effort into designing her little brother’s room and really hoped that he’d be excited when he saw it.

“Birfday! Birfday!” William shouted happily, clapping his hands together and giggling. Margaret smiled and snuggled her son.

“You’re growing up too fast, little man,” she teased, lightly pinching his nose. Miraj, Matilda and Thaddeus joined Margaret and Morgan in the dining hall to celebrate baby William’s birthday. “Make a wish, Sweetie,” Margaret whispered before leaning down to help her son blow out his candles. Morgan thought her baby brother looked adorable with his cheeks all puffed out, a look of the utmost concentration on his face, as though blowing out those candles was a world-shattering task.

Margaret set her little boy on the ground and stood back to admire just how big her son had grown. A tanned young boy with chocolate brown hair and dark brown eyes was grinning ear-to-ear at his family. Morgan frowned at his appearance. With each passing day, Morgan and her half-brother looked more and more alike, yet William was the spitting image of her step-father. Had Miraj lied to her when he told Morgan he wasn’t her real father? Why would he do that? She looked inquisitively at her step-father. He just shook his head.

“Talk to your mother,” he mouthed silently to her. Morgan scowled. Some advice that was! She’d never been able to get a straight answer about her father from Margaret, and now even her step-father wouldn’t tell her anything. She wasn’t about to go see her real father and start planning picnics with him, for crying out loud! She just wanted a name. OneΒ measlyΒ name so she’d know why her, Miraj and William looked so much alike, even though she shouldn’t resemble either of them.

“Mom, can I eat cake now? Pleeeeaaaasssseeeeee????” William begged, tugging on Margaret’s pant leg. She laughed and ruffled his hair.

“Just one piece. You have school tomorrow and I don’t want you awake at three in the morning, hyped up on sugar,” she warned him. William nodded and sat down beside his sister to eat his special birthday cake that his grandpa made just for him. He sat with his mom and sister, chatting excitedly about school. Apparently, he was very eager to make the honour roll, but was a little afraid of being around so many people. Morgan just raised her hands to sign to him that he’d be just fine at school, when an outraged shriek caught everyone’s attention.

“HOW DARE YOU?!?” Matilda’s angry cry rang throughout the house. Alarmed, Margaret, Morgan and William all bolted to the source of the commotion to see what was the matter. Matilda had always been a bit off her rocker, but she normally didn’t have angry outbursts of that magnitude.

“Grandma?!?” William shouted, skidding into the room where Matilda was angrily shouting at Miraj. Miraj looked very taken-aback. He had a look of mingled hurt and shock on his face.

“Matilda, please! You misunderstood! Just calm down and we can talk about this! It’s all just a big misunderstanding!” Miraj pleaded, but Matilda did not calm down.

“How DARE you… you… you… GROPE ME in such a way!” she cried. “You are married to my daughter! I would never hurt her or my husband that way! I used to think you were a good young man, but you’re nothing but a lust-filled scoundrel, taking advantage of a poor old woman like me!” she shrieked.

“Matilda! Please! I didn’t mean for it to come across that way–” Miraj tried to argue. Margaret pushed herself into the argument.

“What is going on?” she demanded. “Miraj, what did you do to my mother?” Matilda pointed an accusing finger at her son-in-law.

“HE TRIED TO TOUCH ME INAPPROPRIATELY!” she screamed.

“No!” Miraj protested. “Margaret I’d never do that! I love you, you know that! She was having a bit of trouble getting up the stairs so I put my arm around her waist to steady her and help her upstairs and she misinterpreted what I meant! I swear!”

Margaret looked from her husband to her mother with a pained look. Two people she loved and trusted were telling her two completely different stories. One of them had to be lying, but why? Why would Matilda lie to her only child about this? Why would Miraj do something like that to hurt his wife? Nothing made sense and she put her face in her hands and let out a frustrated sob. Miraj stepped forward to comfort her, but she pushed him away. “Don’t touch me!” she snapped. “I- I don’t know what happened here, but my mother would never lie to me. Maybe it didn’t happen exactly the way she says, but you still upset her and I can’t ignore that. Just… go… I don’t want to see you right now!” she shouted, breaking down into sobs. Morgan stepped forward to hug her mother, but she shook her head. “No, it’s okay, Morgan. Just take your brother somewhere quiet. He shouldn’t have seen this,” Margaret sniffled.

“Come on, Will,” Morgan whispered, taking her brother’s hand and leading him upstairs. He looked shaken and confused.

“What happened, Morgan?” he asked. “Why are Mom and Dad mad at each other? Why is Grandma mad at Dad?” he asked. “Did I do something bad?” he asked. Morgan sighed. Why did kids always blame themselves for their parents’ problems even when it had nothing to do with them?

“No,” she signed to him. “You didn’t do anything bad. Mom and Dad aren’t fighting because of you. It’s grown up stuff that you’re still too young to understand,” she tried to explain. William still looked sad and confused, so Morgan tried to change the subject to cheer him up. “Hey, want to see your new room?” she signed and William brightened up.

“Yeah!”

Morgan opened the door to her little brother’s room and he ran inside, his eyes wide with excitement. “Cowboys!” he shouted happily, running around, looking at everything and exploring his new space. Morgan had chosen a Wild West theme for her brother’s room. His wallpaper was a sandy yellow with cowboys on bucking horses and cacti spattered across it, with matching bedsheets, lamp shades and a rug. His new bed, desk, dresser, mirror, and bookshelf were a deep, rich oak, so his whole room had a very western feel. “This is so cool!” he beamed, hugging his big sister. “Thanks!”

“You’re welcome,” she signed, smiling. She looked at her watch and saw that it was late. William should be in bed. There were still angry shouts and crying coming from downstairs and Morgan figured everyone else had completely forgotten about William and his birthday, so she got him ready for bed and tucked him in herself. “Happy birthday, Will,” she whispered, hugging him goodnight before turning off his light and going to her own bedroom to sleep.

“‘Night…” William yawned, already dozing off.

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