A/N: I can't believe the response I got to the first chapter. I thank every one of you that reviewed and I apologise for not getting to this sooner. No excuses. I hope you enjoy the continuation and you are not disappointed.
"Yes, hello..." The woman, who was clearly her mother, hadn't changed in eight years. She was still prim and proper, not a single hair out of place. Vivian noticed that as she had grown older she looked more and more like her mother. Vivian had no doubt not lived up to that potential. Her mother had always set high standards that her daughter had never quite managed to reach.
Justine took a visible step forward and stared at Vivian. "ViVi?"
Vivian shuddered at the nickname.
"Is that you?"
She nodded. "Yes, mother. It's me." Despite the rebelliousness of trying to be anything but what they wanted her to be, Vivian had worn clothes that would impress her parents, instead of the ghastly attire that she originally had left Georgia in, just to shock them. If she expected to mend bridges then she would have to let bygones be bygones.
"Well, I'll be. You came for money, I suppose?"
Vivian felt her back go up. "No. I don't need anything from you."
"Then what do you want, Vivian?" Justine ward demanded, her tone less than inviting.
Vivian winced. It stung, even after all these years of estrangement her mother could still hurt her with her loose tongue, her words full of deadly poison. Just once she would have liked to hear words of encouragement and love instead of distain.
Perhaps she really was wasting her time here.
"It's been a long time," she said, for lack of a better line.
Brett stood up straight and puffed out his chest, no doubt trying to appear intimidating, which didn't work. Brett hadn't changed that much either, bar a few wrinkles. Their money had obviously kept them healthy, at least on outward appearances and that was everything to the Ward's. "Do you want money?"
Straight to the point.
Vivian smiled. Edward possibly had more money than her family had or ever would have through the entire course of their lives. "No, dad. I don't want money."
"Why are you here then?" her mother gazed at her with suspicion.
Vivian was suddenly reminded of the reasons she had stayed away so long. After a considerable amount of time had passed, some people tended to forget the bad times and recall the moments of peace and love. As Vivian stood there, she couldn't remember a single time where her memories of this house were happy ones, with the exception of Lester.
It had been a mistake to come. "I...- my fiancé thought it would be nice to invite you to our wedding. He had this crazy idea that making amends would heal some of my wounds, and perhaps some of his," she said thoughtfully. "The past has a way of creeping into the future."
"Another bum, I suppose. You always were attracted to the scum of the earth."
Vivian didn't bother dignifying that with an answer. "I assume you're not interested, so I apologise. I won't bother you again."
She turned to leave, and her parents made no objects, she headed straight for the door with a heavy heart.
Outside, she forced the tears to stay behind her eyelids, blinking rapidly. Vivian didn't want to give her parents the satisfaction of knowing that they still had an effect on her, no matter how minute. As she walked back to the car, she heard the front door open and close and it was only when she reached the driver's side that she dared to turn around, her stomach a mess of butterflies and nerves.
"Your visit came as quite a shock to them," Lester said, crossing the circular drive way until they were a foot apart.
Vivian sighed heavily. "I think they made that perfectly clear."
"You just surprised them, Miss Vivian."
Vivian smiled, reminded of the way Barney Thompson, the hotel manager of the Beverly Hotel, often greeted her. He too, had been invited to the wedding and he had already gracefully accepted the invitation.
"I don't need this," she told him. "I have made a good life for myself, Lester. I have met a wonderful man who adores me. I am getting married to a rich, classy guy. Can you believe that?"
"I'm happy for you, Miss Vivian."
"This was a mistake..."
"Please," he begged. "Do not act in haste! Sometimes words unsaid speak with more volume than words uttered in a moment of fear. They have missed you, I assure you they have."
"I don't think so, Lester." Vivian didn't expect to be greeted with warm hugs (the Ward's had never been big on affection), but she did expect more than they had offered her. Curiosity more than suspicion would have been a good start.
"Give them a second chance, as life has so obviously given you."
Vivian nodded. He had a point.
"I have missed you, Miss Vivian. You were always like a daughter to me."
A tear rolled down her face before she could stop it, floored by the comment that had warmed her heart. "Thank you, Lester. I have missed you too." Buried deep in the recesses of her mind, Vivian had once thought of him as 'daddy Lester'. Perhaps one day in the future she would tell him that.
"Where have you been all this time?" her father asked, as they sat around the kitchen table nursing mugs of coffee and nibbling on biscuits.
Vivian remained silent. How could she answer that without disappointing them? They would certainly not understand why she had gone into prostitution. Vivian had worked through her own guilt over her chosen career path, and was daily grateful that Edward had saved her from herself.
"I was messed up," she said vaguely. "I was ashamed of the choices I had made. But 18 months ago, I met a man who changed my life. He was in town for business and we... meet and he invited me to keep him company for the week he was staying at the Beverly Welsh Hotel."
"That fancy place in Beverly Hills?" her mother asked, evidently impressed.
"Yes," she smiled.
"What's his name?" Brett asked. "Your fiancé?'
"He's no bum then?" her mother asked, this time an air of teasing to her voice.
"No, mama. Not a bum."
"Your mother and I would very much like to meet him," Brett nodded.
Vivian smiled. She was glad that Lester had talked her into coming back to the house. "He would like that."
"Good. When's the wedding?" Justine asked. Her subtle way of accepting the previous invitation.
It wasn't the happy reunion she had been hoping for, but the goal she had intended had been reached and for now that was enough, whatever the future brought, Vivian knew that she would never be lonely again.
A/N: Thank you very much for reading. Reviews are greatly appreciated.