Parting of the Ways Part 6- Family Surprises

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Carmen Vega was still in a state of shock a day after being told that she and her twin sister Juanita were now the daughters of their aunt Dorothy thanks to the simplified adult adoption process. Dorothy was their idol, the member of their family who was stronger than all others and who escaped from their clutches before the family could keep her down. She gave back to the family in the form of Deborah, with the two seeing how much pain and suffering their family truly gave others by seeing them heap it on Deborah while they were powerless to stop them.

Carmen was a level-headed woman who knew that she could do better with her life. She and Juanita vowed to one day leave their home and find their place in life even if it meant never seeing their relatives again. It took their father being imprisoned for kidnapping Deborah to finally ask for help from Dorothy, a plea she happily listened to leading to their new start in life.

The two kept to themselves until being forced to join others their age in activities that Dorothy's friends' kids had planned. The two were reluctant participants, they feared their father's teachings on hatred and conforming to his beliefs may have been imprinted in them. It was through exposure to Deborah that the two saw that they were not their father and they were their own people, ladies who could do amazing things if given the right support.

The twins were lucky to have been introduced to their future lovers over the course of the previous summer. Juanita and her girlfriend Zoe James fell in love at first sight. It was sweet to Carmen, her sister had an eye for beauty and Zoe was drop dead gorgeous with long blonde hair, large breasts, a trim figure, and subtle muscles on her arms. It was tough not falling for Zoe herself.

Two weeks later Carmen was given a shock as she was introduced to Addison Carter, a local woman like Deborah but without a fresh start across the country. The two were fast friends and spent much of their time together whenever Carmen wasn't working. Addison proved to be the friend Carmen needed and through her she dealt with a lot of grief and guilt over finally getting a good life.

In the fall Carmen moved in with Addison to allow Dorothy a chance to be with her new daughter, Polly. Addison welcomed Carmen as a roommate and the two grew even closer as friends. It didn't take long before Carmen realized that this closeness was more than friendship, she was falling in love with Addison and Addison herself was fighting her true feelings for Carmen. Polly accidentally got the couple to admit their feelings for one another and make their relationship official, giving them what they needed most- a soulmate.

The couple were inseparable after declaring their love for one another. Zoe and Juanita were the same only they didn't have the complications of transitioning and pregnancy risk that Addison and Carmen had. Still, you would always find one alongside the other with only classes and work separating them.

As late Spring bloomed the couple finally consummated their love. Both were virgins making it all the more special them. They went at it all night with both finding what gave the other pleasure.

In late June, just after the adoption was announced, Carmen started to feel sick to her stomach each morning. Addison grew concerned as the sickness wasn't letting up after a couple of days. Carmen asked her new mother to take her to the doctor, hoping that it wasn't serious but fearing the worst.

Dorothy suspected that she knew exactly what the problem was but kept it to herself as Carmen needed a bit of maturity and the shock. The two greeted Carmen's doctor and once she explained the symptoms the doctor gave Dorothy an odd look. Dorothy smiled and nodded, she knew but Carmen didn't.

The doctor slowly asked "you have been sick in the morning for the past month. Have you had aches and pains throughout your body? Have you had your period recently?"

Carmen's face fell as the color drained from it after hearing that last question. She looked at Dorothy who was smiling brightly at her. Carmen gasped as she explained "I missed it this month. I had it in early May but not this month. I'm two weeks overdue."

The doctor sighed and explained "there's little doubt in my mind that you are pregnant, young lady. Missing your period is a huge warning sign. Your morning sickness should clear up over time, I want to conduct a test to ensure that you are pregnant and it's not something else that looks like pregnancy."

Carmen clung closely to Dorothy as the test was conducted and it came back positive. The doctor asked about the father, getting concerned looks from both. She sensed a touchy subject and asked that they be honest with her and if need be they could discuss possible outcomes such as adoption or termination if it was an issue.

Carmen shed a tear as she admitted "my girlfriend is transgender. We didn't think she was able to produce anymore sperm due to her hormones. I don't know how she will react to the news."

The doctor gave her assurances that it was alright. Carmen couldn't terminate the pregnancy, it was Addison's child and she was going to deal with the issues no matter what. Dorothy gave her full support, with the doctor prescribing vitamins and a diet for her to combat the sickness.

At home Carmen broke down. It was scary to her, being a mother was something she hadn't thought about. Addison loved her but would she want her now that she was pregnant with their child?

Dorothy was fighting herself. She loved this feeling, she was helping her daughter deal with the biggest step in life and giving herself a special moment she never thought she would have. With a biological daughter unable to have children naturally, another daughter who is in love with a transgender boy, and a third who is not likely to ever have children due to her own issues with being an unwanted child this was an unintentional gift to her.

Dorothy called Addison and asked that she come over when she got off work. Carmen had to call her boss and get the night off as well, with Juanita covering for her. Juanita wasn't told yet, this was between Carmen and Addison until they were ready to tell their friends and family.

Early afternoon Addison drove over to Dorothy's home and was greeted by a teary Carmen. Dorothy sat them down and had Carmen tell her "I'm pregnant. We weren't careful when we made love and now we are going to have a baby. I'm sorry, Addison. I didn't want this to happen to us."

Addison had tears in her eyes at what she was told. It was the greatest thing she had ever heard, her wildest dream coming true. She asked sweetly "I'm going to be a mother? Of your child? We are going to have a baby together?"

Carmen nodded slowly, causing Addison to hug her tight. She happily blurted out "I can't believe it, I am so happy. I love you, Carmen. You have given me something I never believed I would get- motherhood. A child of my own creation. Thank you."

The two hugged while Dorothy gave them their privacy. Her own tears started flowing, it was just so touching that the two would find love then find themselves becoming parents. She fought the urge to tell more people about this but she was able to rein in her urges for the couple's sake.

Addison knelt down on one knee and offered her ring to Carmen. Carmen immediately gasped and said "YES!". She flung herself at Addison causing her to topple over. Dorothy spotted the ring and hugged both, with Addison being called "daughter" by Dorothy sending her into a fit of tears at being called that by a loved one for the first time.

Carmen finally calmed down enough to call her friends and tell them the good news. Within seconds Dorothy's phone rang with Zoe trying to get the details from her. Dorothy just laughed it off as being inevitable and blaming herself for accidentally telling them to have sex while they lived together.

At home the couple were visited by Juanita who demanded to know why they got engaged without telling her first. Carmen pulled out a plastic strip, went to the bathroom, came back a few minutes later and showed Juanita the results. Juanita was speechless, with Carmen hugging her tight for being concerned about her.

Addison looked at the silent Zoe who was fighting her own struggle. Addison pulled her into her room and asked if she was alright getting a somber "I was going to propose to Juanita. I love her too much to not have her as my wife. I don't want to steal Carmen's thunder by doing it before you are married."

Addison hugged her as Zoe wept into her shoulder. Looking at Juanita Addison asked "did you hear or does she need to feel terrible for another few days until she gets the courage to ask again?" Juanita moved over to Zoe, kissed her on the lips, and said a firm "I love you too. I love my sister but some things are more important than waiting. I will happily become Mrs. Juanita James."

Zoe took out a ring she had hidden in her purse and put it on Juanita's finger. Juanita felt bad that she didn't have one for Zoe but the sentiment was there and the ring actually didn't fit Juanita all that well. Zoe let out a small giggle over the ring sliding off as she added "it's our family ring, mom wanted us to use it like your sister's family uses their own family ring. It was tough getting it out of Sheila's hands but she gave it up."

The two couples embraced and kissed their loved ones. Zoe and Juanita drove home where she showed off Juanita's engagement ring prompting her sisters Sela and Isobel James to squee in glee. They weren't happy that they were the only ones who were single with Zoe telling them that they were trying too hard to find guys and that Mr. Right would come to them.

The next day Carmen broke her own news to Sela and Isobel followed by Polly and Deborah. Polly was overjoyed, she was going to be an aunt to two now and was getting another two sisters and two that she already cared a lot about. Deborah shed a tear at the news but with her newborn son she knew that sometimes miracles happen to good people. She loved Addison like a sister so having her be the mother to Carmen's child was perfect.

The couple asked Deborah, Polly, Juanita, Dorothy, Sela, Isobel, and Zoe to witness their small marriage ceremony at city hall. It was in keeping with their private nature that they only had their closest friends and relatives there, with Deborah's husband Patrick keeping a close eye on their son while the ladies underwent the ceremony. The ladies thanked him for doing that, knowing that if he didn't they would have a screaming newborn with them or have to answer Patrick's mother's probing questions about why she needed to babysit on such short notice.

The only members of their extended family who knew about the event outside of the Vega and James ladies were Addison's landlords, Jorge and Victoria Castillo. The couple deflected any questions about where the ladies had gone and kept others from trying to come by to visit them before they were ready to announce to the world that they were married. They were happy that they were doing the right thing and making their love official and giving their child two parents even if both were women.

The ceremony was short and moving as both signed the license with Alison informing Carmen that she was taking her name so she no desire to carry her mother's maiden name anymore. She felt more like a part of the Vega family than she had ever felt as a Camp or Carter family member.

The ladies sent out mass texts to their friends and unofficial relatives, and as expected they received immediate calls from the teens with the adults holding off until they could speak directly. Zoe's parents called Zoe direct and asked her if she was going to do the same or if she was going with a traditional ceremony. Zoe didn't know how to react, crying as she told them "I don't know, I don't want to upset grandpa. He doesn't need the attention a wedding would bring."

Addison hugged her while Juanita took over for Zoe. Juanita was to the point, telling them "she wants a traditional ceremony at home, with all of our friends and family. She knows her grandpa will not care but she didn't want to upset him anyhow. She deserves to be the center of attention, can you help her?"

Zoe's eyes lit up as Juanita said that. She knew her too well, with Juanita kissing her cheek calming her down. Alexandra and Paul James were happy that Zoe had found her true love and she knew her well. They quietly told Juanita that they would handle things from there, they just needed to relax.

The news spread and soon Addison and Carmen were visited by the teens of the Finn Family. The fact that Carmen was pregnant caught them by surprise but the fact that they were living together and in love that news shouldn't have been so surprising. They were most upset that the couple had eloped without them with Addison and Juanita seeing just how valued they were as the teens were genuinely disappointed that they couldn't help them or be there to see their big moment.

The only ones who didn't visit were the Baileys. Sheila and Ian were trying to keep their distance from the others as they had dropped hints that maybe they should start a family. Ian wasn't ready yet and Sheila didn't want to feel like she was following the trend as it was now three, possibly more babies born or being born on the horizon now that Carmen was expecting.

The couple did have fun trying to keep Sheila's cousins at bay as they planned Zoe's wedding for her. Zoe simply knew they would do a lot but keep things tasteful and simple. She herself was a nervous wreck with Juanita having to calm her and keep her occupied as only a lover can.

Sheila simply had the ceremony at the James home in Endicott, invited the Finn Family as well as friends of Zoe and Juanita who weren't part of the family but close to the couple, and had Patrick Peterson serve as the father of the bride for Juanita as is the duty of an older brother. They contacted Juanita's boss and got him to cater the wedding as his favorite sous chef couldn't go without his cooking her wedding meal and as he was part of the wedding anyway it was fitting. Thinking it over, Sheila got the bright idea to have him give away Juanita instead of Patrick allowing him an even larger part in the ceremony.

The only issue for the couple was who Sela and Isobel would bring as their escorts. Neither had dated seriously and the guys they dated turned out to be classic elitist jerks. Endicott guys were not the best guys as their money was all they cared about and flaunted it to anyone who would pay them attention.

Ian had a big smirk as he asked the ladies if they would settle for a couple of nice young guys who were good conversationalists and who had a lot of experience with people who had money but were trying to be humble. The guys intrigued them, which Ian saw as a great sign. He told them he'd arrange a date for them if they kept an open mind about them, knowing they were hooked over the idea.

Two nights later the ladies were introduced to Sebastian and Fabian Perez, the newest Winnisimmet Police officers and close friends of Ian. The ladies blushed as they were handsome and they had seen them several times in the past four months working their beats and driving around. The duo had joined the force after being let go by the Pullen Point Police and had a strong record for being good people, with the ladies having witnessed their abilities firsthand from afar and liking what they saw in them.

Ian knew they were liking the guys already. Sheila saw the spark between them and had to hold off grinning widely as the ladies fought for words. Sebastian and Fabian were tall, dark, and handsome and while identical twins, they were completely different people in personality and interests.

Fabian took a liking to the quiet, introverted Isobel while Sela and Sebastian were quick friends who spent much of the afternoon walk and meal chatting about multiple things. Isobel and Fabian actually shared a class at the university which she hadn't realized until he mentioned something she had done in class the previous April. She didn't remember him but she did remember a student who sat near the front who took copious notes who rarely spoke unless prompted by the professor.

It was a surprise that he was in a business class but he was trying to earn his degree to increase his salary and earn better shifts. Isobel listened intently and understood him well, he was trying to make a name for himself to set himself apart from Sebastian. They were very similar yet it wasn't until they had been put together that their similarities shone brightly.

Sela and Zoe were great siblings but Isobel had spent years trying to shed her father's past as she became a member of the James family thanks to her mom's marriage and her adoption. Then she needed to appear to be the supportive big sister to Zoe through her own adoption and battle with her sexuality. Fabian understood this all too well, being from Winnisimmet and living in then working in Pullen Point gave him those same feelings of having to prove himself to others while trying to help his family keep up to the standards of the town.

Sela stole glances as Fabian and Isobel and chuckled to Sebastian about them getting so close. Sebastian shrugged it off, his brother was the loner who had few friends but had a heart of gold so finding someone like him was hard to do. He did admit Fabian was a good match for Isobel if he didn't blow it by trying too hard to be someone he wasn't.

Sela sensed trouble and asked what was bothering him. Sebastian tried to evade the question but Sela was exceptional at getting things out of you so he had to explain "Fabian has never had a girlfriend let alone had one talk to him as a person. He is going to blow it with your sister, he is just too awkward around women and so unsure about himself that he will clam up if she starts to ask tough questions that he doesn't want to answer."

Sela saw Isobel all but cuddling next to Fabian. She let out a small giggle and countered "she is falling for him. He isn't doing anything to act like a normal guy which is what she wants from a man. He's trying to be friendly with her, that's exactly what she wants in a man. She wants a guy who is kind and caring, one who has the same interests as her and who is himself. They are good together."

Sebastian hugged Sela and kissed her cheek. She was the ideal woman for him, there was something about her that made you feel better and the way she treats others reminded him of a caring aunt. He didn't know about her nursing interests but it only made her all the more special to him.

Ian looked at Sheila's shocked face as her two cousins may have just found their counterparts. Ian grinned widely at doing something that meant a lot to Sheila, especially as both guys were good friends of his and who actually had their eyes on the ladies for a while but couldn't find the heart or nerve to ask them out. Zoe's wedding gave them the drive to ask them out, with Ian happily facilitating it.

Zoe herself tried hard to keep occupied. Her business professors had obtained an internship for her but the job vanished as her sexuality and the fact that they couldn't use her to cadge state contracts were made known to the owners. To help her out Addison had her come to work with her. She and Addison spent a lot of time working together as she tried to lessen Addison's workload leading to Addison's bosses hiring Zoe as an assistant making her volunteer work a paid job.

Addison was now able to focus more on the office while Zoe handled simple tasks such as copying papers, transcribing notes, and fetching lunch. It was like a normal internship, in fact it was just what she had hoped her job would have been before it vanished. She learned the ins and outs of an active and growing business.

Addison and Zoe grew closer which then made Zoe's job easier as Addison knew what she needed to do while Zoe knew when to step in to help her when things were becoming chaotic. Their bosses saw a diamond in the rough in Zoe and cultivated her business sense giving her a glimpse into her future.

Things were going well for Carmen and Addison until Carmen's first OBGYN appointment. The obstetrician, Dr. Vaughn, recognized Addison and objected to Carmen being pregnant by someone she didn't agree with and made their appointment a miserable experience. The ultrasound technician was the only one who didn't care about Addison being transgender, she simply performed the needed test and handed over the results to Dr. Vaughn without a word.

Dr. Vaughn refused to treat Carmen with Addison by her side. She knew Addison from when she was a baby and was close to her mother, which meant that after she left her mother would know that she was going to be a grandmother and her "son" was the "father". Addison hated to think that she was causing Carmen trouble and left, seeing Carmen in tears but knowing she needed this appointment more than she needed Addison's presence in the office.

As she was leaving Addison saw her longtime gender counselor, Dr. Edith Bell, waiting for the elevator. Edith asked what she was doing there and upon hearing the news she told Addison that she needed to go to the appointments and if Dr. Vaughn refused to treat her wife she was in serious trouble. Addison didn't want to cause problems but Edith was adamant that she was doing what was right not wrong and Carmen and the baby's health mattered more than pride.

Edith made a discrete check on Dr. Vaughn and found that she was responsible for other mothers changing doctors and leaving the hospital as patients. Dr. Vaughn was a bad seed who had broken the cardinal rule of doctors- do no harm. Dr. Vaughn was harming the mother and possibly her child and it needed to stop immediately even if it cost the hospital time and money.

The following week Addison went with Carmen to her appointment, this time knowing that there would be a confrontation. Dr. Vaughn saw her and announced that she needed to leave. Carmen told her that she was her wife and she needed her support, which Dr. Vaughn ignored as she started calling security.

Carmen started to panic, hyperventilating at Addison possibly being arrested. She started to feel woozy and fainted, causing chaos as security arrived with Edith close behind. Edith ran late but her arrival saved Addison from arrest as she told security that Addison was Carmen's wife and as the parent of the child had a right to be there and had done nothing against any law or rules of the hospital thus could not be arrested by them.

Edith shook her head at seeing several doctors helping Carmen as she came to with Dr. Vaughn being told to stay back away from her. Addison rescheduled the appointment while Carmen was examined down in the emergency room with Edith ensuring that they had a different doctor and that the one who was supposed to see them was removed from any further contact with Carmen.

As she finished Addison's mother, Harper Camp, arrived with a dour look on her face. Spotting Addison she realized that the story was true, her youngest child was going to be a parent and had given her a grandchild. Harper was torn, this was her flesh and blood but she had given her something none of her siblings were able to give her.

Harper waited for Addison to say something but Addison was forthright and admitted "I'm married, we are expecting a child in February, and yes she is fine with who I was and what I am becoming. She is an amazing woman who right now needs my support." Addison left but Edith asked that Harper accompany them, there was a lot to talk about and she could tell Harper needed to hear it.

Downstairs Carmen was given the all clear, she simply needed rest and relaxation for the next few days to get her blood pressure down. Edith introduced Carmen to Harper with Carmen holding her tongue as she wanted to say something nasty to the woman who made Addison's life miserable. Harper saw something in Carmen that she had not seen in her other children, she was defiant and actually loved her wife and was trying hard to protect her feelings from getting hurt again.

Harper asked the ladies to come to dinner with her, there was a lot to discuss and she needed to hear it for herself after hearing nothing but second and thirdhand rumors for the past two years. Edit encouraged the two to go, knowing that this was the olive branch Harper needed to extend to show that she was trying to understand her daughter. The couple agreed, but had to tell Juanita, Zoe, and Dorothy where they were as they were awaiting the appointment's results.

At the restaurant Harper asked about Addison since graduation, not knowing her story and only hearing falsehoods and half-truths from her husband. Addison sighed and explained "after dad threw me out I had to get a job for the summer until I was able to move into the dorms. The scholarship paid for everything but I needed clothes right away. I saw Dr. Bell and started to transition. After the Spring semester ended I was offered an internship in England and from there was offered a new job with an investment firm as their office manager. I was given an apartment to live in as a perk, that's when dad and my brothers tried to take me back home but were threatened with going to jail if they came back."

Harper wasn't aware that her husband had done that, in fact he said Addison had become a prostitute living off sex to pay for drugs when she asked him about her. Addison knew her father had lied, so she explained "he was humiliated by the police, the chief saw them trying to hurt me and had restraining orders placed against dad and my brothers. He was humiliated by my neighbors, they protected me from them before the chief was able to get the order in place and dad run off. Dad didn't try to come back, he was told that he would lose his business and home if he tried it again."

Her husband was nasty when it came to Addison but Harper never envisioned that he would harm her. Seeing her in near tears Harper asked about after that. Addison continued "I became friends with Carmen and her sister and their friends. They are great people who don't care that I am transgender. Her sister grew closer to them and when she moved in with them they suggested Carmen move in with me since we go to the same school. We started to fall in love and eventually it led to us becoming pregnant. We love each other and after we got the news of her pregnancy we were married at city hall. I am sorry mom, but I am taking her name so our children don't have to ever know dad or my brothers."

Addison shed a tear, adding "he was going to kill me if I didn't return home. His reputation was ruined because people knew I was friends with some important families and that he had disowned me for being a transsexual. My bosses' families are close with a lot of people but I never knew they talked about me. Dad said I ruined his business, he was going to get revenge and rebuild the business but he was stopped before he could hurt me. My brothers barely stopped themselves from getting hurt because of dad. You know they are exactly like him, they were almost put in jail thanks to dad."

Harper felt for her daughter. She had it rough growing up the dainty son of the tough truck driver but she never envisioned he would hurt her. She shed a tear at hearing just how much more her husband had cared about his reputation than his own children. He was willing to kill one child and allow his sons to be arrested just to get revenge on his youngest, the one who didn't follow in his footsteps. It opened her eyes as a mother to how little she knew about her family.

Harper clasped Addison's hand then Carmen's. She looked at the two and offered a somber "I'll ask about what happened. I have to hear it myself. I don't think we will survive this as a couple after hearing the turth. I love you and I didn't agree with your transition but you are still my child and I would rather you be happy than live a life of misery. I never stopped loving you, and I see that I should have been there to protect you better. That changes today. I want to be part of your child's life, you are the best thing to have happened to me and I can't let you go through this without help. Please, let me."

Carmen hugged her tightly. She was accepting of Addison as a daughter even if she didn't agree. She wanted to understand her as a person, she was trying to reach out to her in her time of need. Addison had to give in as Carmen was making it clear that she was fine with her mother-in-law opening up.

The trio left for their homes with Harper insisting that her friendship with the doctor was finished after the way she treated her daughter-in-law. She had known her for years but never expected that she would ever put her patient at risk just to push away someone. She was a hypocrite as she was all about care for children yet she would deny care to a pregnant woman who was with someone she didn't approve of. That was not the woman she had known.

At the Camp home Harper asked her husband Stanley about something that happened 11 months before. Stanley grumbled for a bit then shot out "that pathetic excuse for a son was prancing around in women's clothes and sporting large fake breasts. I told him if he didn't come home he was going to have a problem but he said leave and called the police on me. I tried to reason with him but he started screaming for help. I tried to reason with the cops but they said i was in the wrong and if I ever returned they would arrest me. I want nothing to do with that freak. He's killing my business and if I ever see him again I'll strangle him for what he has done to me. He deserves nothing less."

She was visibly sickened. She asked calmly "where were the boys?" His reply was just as gruff, an angry "they ran off scared as soon as they heard the cops were being called but couldn't get past the porch. They didn't have the balls to drag their brother out like they were supposed to, I had to do it."

Harper held her tongue but as soon as she was alone she started crying. Her husband was a tough man to live with but he was an absolute monster inside. She had stopped loving him years before and stayed together because of their kids but she never envisioned he would go after Addison. But to do so and use their sons to do it and blame them for it failing was hard to comprehend yet she knew it was the truth. Stanley Camp was not the man she knew, he was just an overgrown bully.

Her will to stand up for herself grew. She would make amends with Addison even if her sons refused to have anything further to do with her. She loved her children but they were old enough now to make their own mistakes and Addison so far had done everything right in life including finding a wife and starting a family of her own among people who supported her and loved her.

She hadn't noticed it but ever since seeing Addison earlier she hadn't thought of the name "Adam". Seeing her daughter in the flesh had made the memories of Adam make sense. There never was an Adam, Addison had always been there underneath the surface and getting away from the Camps had allowed her to be who she truly was.

It was a defining moment for her. Her daughter had endured an unimaginable hell for years and she had helped contribute to it with her neglect and timidity at standing up to her husband. She was a beautiful woman now, Addison was what she had always envisioned her daughter to be. She was growing into a slender, taller version of herself yet she still had her mother's looks which warmed Harper's heart.

The next morning Harper packed her bags and moved out, asking her daughter if she could stay with her until she could find a place of her own. Through tears she apologized to Addison for treating her wrongly over the years and not seeing her true self. Addison hugged her tightly with Carmen taking Harper's bags to Carmen's old room while mother and daughter sat down in the living room embracing and crying to one another.

Harper's phone rang and she tried her hardest to come up with a solid lie. She finally steeled herself and told her husband that she had gone out to visit some people she had met the day before and would be out of touch until that evening. Stanley bought it but Addison told her that she needed to move fast before he realized that she wasn't coming back home and tried to force her to come home, whether she wanted to go or not.

Carmen asked if she had talked with a divorce lawyer, getting a solid "I didn't think about it. I just up and left. I can't live there with him anymore, not after knowing the truth about him and the boys."

Carmen had an idea and asked her mom for advice. Dorothy just smirked and told her firmly "call Ricardo. He won't be intimidated by that monster and will be just what she needs to deal with things. And keep her comfortable, she has to be close to breaking down from all of the stress. She is strong, but not strong enough to hold together."

Carmen next called the family's resident lawyer, Ricardo Vincent. Ricardo listened intently to what she said, offering no opinion yet before finally telling her "she will have a struggle but it's clear that he is abusive towards the boys and Addison. I'll get someone to investigate him, I have a feeling that he is probably trying hard to cover up some shady dealings in his business. From the sound of things, he probably also has a mistress on the side which will give her a lot of leverage against him."

Harper was dumbfounded at Ricardo's beliefs but it was plausible since he never has sex with her anymore, not since he started doing long trucking runs to Maine and New York. It amazed her that she knew very little about her husband yet he knew every little thing about her. Then it dawned on her- her friends were close to him and knew her only through him.

This was another humiliation to her. Addison didn't want to say it but she added a solemn "he's been having affairs with your friends for years. The boys are all aware of them, they kept their mouths shut because dad would ensure they were hurt physically and mentally. I didn't say anything because nobody believes a word I say anyway. I'm sorry mom, but the doctor was his first and longest mistress. He probably already knows I was at the hospital and may have left with you yesterday."

Harper felt betrayed but it was just as she had always feared. Her husband was close with her friends and neighbors, now she knew why. She feared that he may even be the father of their kids but she doubted he was dumb enough to knock them up and risk their affairs being exposed.

Mother and daughter bonded throughout the day as Ricardo's investigators sought out information about Stanley and his activities. It wasn't a surprise to Addison that Ricardo had hit pay dirt almost immediately. Stanley was indeed having affairs and he was caught on camera with Dr. Vaughn proving Addison was right about their relationship.

The business Stanley ran was a shell, he actually had next to nothing in assets except a warehouse/office building, a few trucks, and had a hefty bank account that his wife didn't know about. His real source of income was illegal gambling and transporting stolen property in his trucks. He was on top of his taxes but he lied about his income making him liable for tax fraud once the right people were informed.

Harper just knew that he was going to prison now. Her sons were going to get blamed but he was the brains of the business with them doing whatever he ordered them to do. They were reluctant helpers, he used their family ties to get them to do the dirty work while he benefited from the illicit money.

Ricardo went for the throat and got the bank to freeze his bank accounts including his business account. Harper would be seeking everything, including the money he had hidden away from her. Ricardo knew she would likely only get half of what he owned and force the sale of their house but it was enough for her to live comfortable for the rest of her life.

Harper was fine with whatever Ricardo was going to do. She didn't care anymore, she had what she needed most in Addison. She would miss her sons but they had chosen to become like their father and with them guaranteeing their support for him this was essentially the end for her as a Camp.

Addison asked if she was going to revert back to her maiden name, getting a meek "yes" from Harper. Addison looked at Carmen who nodded at her, then asked "do you want me to remain as a Carter? I changed my name legally to your maiden name after I started to transition, I was going to change it to Vega but I don't want to insult you further by doing that after causing all of this to happen to you."

Harper hugged Addison tightly, answering with a quiet "I would love nothing more." Carmen saw the love in her eyes and added a quick "I guess I should take your name now, it wouldn't be right. Mom doesn't mind the name Vega being assured to be retired once Polly marries, we are still her daughters."

The next morning Carmen and Addison made the trip to Family and Probate Court to change Carmen's name. Harper joined them as did Ricardo. Ricardo was filing the divorce paperwork and seeking a name change for Harper but was also trying to stick close just in case Stanley tried something.

The paperwork was filed with the foursome heading back to the apartment. Outside though, they spotted Stanley waiting down the street. What was worse was he was with his sons, giving Addison a strong sense that they were about to be hurt badly now that he had nothing else to lose.

Ricardo slipped inside the apartment below and made a couple of phone calls while Addison dug out some paperwork from her purse. Carmen had Harper go inside and wait in her bedroom while they sorted out the mess. As expected, as soon as he saw Harper with Addison Stanley came walking towards the apartment with his sons in tow.

Carmen grinned as she saw two police cruisers coming up the street without lights on. Stanley grabbed Addison, tossed her down the stairs, then rushed inside to get his wife. Addison's brothers did the same, kicking her while she was down while smacking Carmen across the face in full view of the officers.

That little act prompted Ian, Sebastian, and Fabian to grab the trio and haul them to the ground while placing them in handcuffs. A fourth officer went inside followed by a sergeant. Stanley was in the process of striking his wife multiple times as he was grabbed, brought down to his knees, handcuffed, and pulled outside.

Ricardo just grinned at the officers who shook their heads at him not doing a thing. Ricardo simply stated "I'm just a humble lawyer, you are the cops. I can't stop on my brother's toes and do his job for him." Ricardo was laughing as they tried to respond with Ian telling him "Chief, he knew you'd come running to protect Carmen and Addison. He knows you wouldn't forgo showing off to your parents. It's your job, even if you don't get to have any fun anymore."

Stanley growled at them, yelling that he'd get them back as soon as he got out. He claimed "I have guys who will be happy to take out a couple of pigs who don't know where to keep their noses out of." Ian just grinned as the towering 6'8" 300 lbs. police officer asked "you realize you just threatened Jorge Castillo's son, on his porch, in front of his lawyer son, and heard by all of his neighbors? There isn't a gangster or wannabe mafia capo dumb enough to go against Jorge or his family. You were read your rights, that's an additional charge of threatening police officers added onto your existing assault and battery charges as well as 209A violations."

The Camps were hauled away while Harper, Addison, and Carmen were looked at by EMS. The three were fine with just some minor swelling and bruising that was documented. Carmen was used to taking hits so they were nothing to her, but Addison was shaken while Harper needed Carmen's hugs.

A short time later Harper endured phone calls from her sons demanding to be bailed out then had her so-called friends call her to demand she account for her actions against Stanley. She enjoyed putting them in their place and informing their husbands about their infidelities. Addison held her hand as she endured the phone calls, without her strength her mother would have broken down but she had both her daughter and daughter-in-law with her to ease the pain.

It took a couple of days but Ricardo's lawsuit against the hospital was settled in Addison and Carmen's favor as there was no defense and it was witnessed by a fellow doctor and various staff. When questioned Dr. Vaughn lied then tried to blame Addison prompting her to give them no choice but to suspend then outright terminate her. The workload was tough without her but it opened up a new position that was filled by a younger, caring doctor who was a huge help to Addison and Carmen.

The name change was quickly approved for both Carmen and the newly dubbed Harper Carter. They didn't celebrate it, instead moving on with their lives. Mother and daughters got along well with Harper enjoying how much Addison was like her despite their two years apart. Addison was the daughter that she had always wanted but Stanley had denied her, she regretted not knowing the real Addison until then.

The divorce was swift as the assault was hard to deny. The family's assets was divided up with Stanley paying a hefty $20 million to Harper then another $12 million in back taxes. Harper simply took it in stride, opting to remain with Addison and Carmen until the baby was born before moving out on her own.

Stanley immediately saw the state go after him for tax fraud with the IRS getting him for tax evasion. He had multiple assault charges piled on top of the tax issues ensuring that he received a stiff decade in prison once he pleaded out to all charges. His sons were little better, their assaults netted them two years in jail, hefty fines, and being blacklisted by every trucking company on the eastern seaboard.

Harper started to turn into a big help for Juanita as she planned the wedding while Zoe added her own flair which Harper was able to interpret to the others. Harper was well suited for the job of planner, going so far as to be the go-to person for tough choices that neither bride could make on their own. She, Alexandra, and Paul were able to hammer out a lot of the details that were then fine-tuned by the brides with the ladies being satisfied at their decisions.

Sela and Isobel used Harper as a sounding board for their dates as they were too embarrassed to talk with their parents about Fabian and Sebastian. Harper had to fight her glee as it was great fun to her to try different ideas while keeping things simple. The two couples grew closer thanks to Harper and actually jumped ahead in their relationship under her careful guidance. To Harper, it was another part of motherhood she missed out on by not being able to know Addison as a girl growing up.

Fabian and Sebastian were like surrogate sons to her. They were the opposite of her trio: they were well mannered, treated the ladies as equals not sexual beings, and actually cleaned up after themselves instead of insisting the ladies do it for them. The twins tried to act like it was no big deal, but did admit that it was all due to their parents forcing them to act like adults making her smile at their parents raising them right.

The wedding was Labor Day weekend with everyone expected to be there, well except the four who were stuck training out in Texas and Missouri. Even without them it would be a full audience with Zoe and Juanita insisting that the whole group attend as they were the family they needed. The teens were like their little sisters and their parents were the aunts and uncles they wished they had, not including all of them wasn't an option.

Harper was given the honor of acting as the coordinator for the wedding with all of the teens and kids listening to her more than anyone else. She was getting snickers at the respect they were showing to someone whom they barely knew and who they had disliked based on Addison's unflattering remarks. She didn't hold the ill will against them, it was rightfully earned and she hoped knowing the real Harper helped shatter that image and repair the damage her husband had done.

Carmen's pregnancy proved to be something bigger as Carmen was found to be carrying twins rather than a single baby. Addison had to be held tightly by her mother as the news hit that she was a mother of two little ones not just one. Carmen felt even better about the pregnancy, she didn't need to undergo fertilization but the option remained open if they wanted to try again in the future.

Harper was shocked that they were having twins, not knowing that Carmen and Juanita were actually twins themselves. She just chuckled as it was so fitting that they would end up as parents to two after Addison had gone so long thinking she would never have someone. It was perfect, simply perfect.

It was just what her daughter needed in life. She had a beautiful wife, a great job, a home, and a mother who loved the real Addison. She felt pride in seeing that she was wrong to be against Addison's transition, it was actually the best thing to happen to her.



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