Maggie closed the door as Noelle entered the room, she was beyond nervous.
"Noelle, I just want to say I am sorry. I am sorry you had to find out the way you did." Maggie looked at Noelle sincerely. She loved her so much. She had always considered Noelle to be part of the family. Noelle was such a sweet young lady and hurting her was the last thing Maggie would have ever wanted.
"I know you are. Maggie, I am going to say this as nicely as possible. What are you thinking? Are you even thinking?"
"Noelle, things in my life are complicated at the moment."
"I can see that. Maggie, you are married, you have a family, what are you doing?"
"Noelle, I am going to explain myself, not because I feel as if I have to but because I want to. I do not regret anything that has happed between your father and me. I love him more than I could ever say. I also love Mickey, but in a different way. Yes, I am legally married to Mickey, however, that marriage died emotionally a while ago. Mickey and I have been drifting apart for over a year now. I have tried to save my marriage, I have dealt with Mickey putting work first and family second, I have overlooked missed dinner dates, canceled vacations, long work nights, and neglection. Noelle, your father has become everything I need in life and everything I want. He has given me happiness that I have not felt in years, I hope I have done the same for him. Please understand I am not making excuses for my actions. I am guilty but I do not consider my love for your father and what we have created a mistake. I am thankful. I love Mickey, I do, but I am in love with your father."
Noelle was stunned. She had never heard Maggie be so open and so vulnerable. Standing before her was a broken shell of a woman her father had mended. She could see the love in her eyes and knew there would be no separating her father and Maggie. She racked her brain trying to understand the situation. She couldn't. She couldn't understand how it had gone so far. She couldn't help but feel some happiness for them both, however, some anger was still within her.
"Maggie, I am sorry. I knew things were bad, but I had no idea how extreme they had gotten. But still, Maggie do you have any idea what this is going to do? Melissa and Sarah are going to be heartbroken, Sarah especially. I know how close she and Mickey are. I just hope Sarah finds a way to cope with the situation and finds her place in a newly formed family."
The look in Noelle's eyes and the hurt and worry on her face told a different story to Maggie.
"Noelle, are we still talking about Sarah? Or are we talking about you?"
Noelle realized Maggie was seeing through her poker face.
"I don't know what you are talking about. Of course, I am talking about Sarah. It's her family that is going to be affected." Noelle paced the floor in discomfort.
"It's yours to Noelle. Noelle, I think you are concerned about Sarah but you are fearing for yourself also. Noelle, please sit down I would like to talk to you." Noelle was practically in tears. She was hurting and she knew Maggie saw through her. She couldn't hold the hurt and worry in any longer. She sat in the chair across from Maggie and Maggie gently grabbed her hands.
"Noelle, I want you to know you will never have to fear nor worry about your place in your family. I have loved you as my own since you and Sarah were able to talk. The moments with you and Sarah at the house together are moments I will cherish forever. However, I would never try to take the place of your mother. I will always be here to protect you and love you but I will never try to be anything more than what you want me to be. I love you, Noelle." Noelle was speechless. Maggie hit the nail on the head.
"Oh, Maggie!" She leaped into Maggie's arms frantically crying.
Maggie held Noelle until she had calmed down. Maggie knew something was bothering Noelle and hoped that she could help her in time.
"Mom has a new boyfriend that has moved into the apartment and I can't be there anymore. It's like she has completely forgotten I exist. She goes to work before I am wake up and comes home with her boyfriend when I am ready to bed. I never see her. I miss her, Maggie. I miss her and I am living with her."
"Oh Noelle, I had no idea. I am glad you shared that with me. I wish I knew how to help you but at the moment all I can say is this. I am here. I am here with open arms whenever you need me. I am sure I am not your favorite person but I will always be here." Maggie reached out once again and took a frantic Noelle into her arms. Noelle was trembling and there was nothing Maggie could do to help her. With so much going on in her own life Maggie's only concern was the hurt young girl wrapped in her arms.
When Maggie was able to calm Noelle, they made their way back to Neil's room. Neil sat at the table in his room staring into space. His mind was everywhere. He had no idea how to handle his life and the uproar his and Maggie's actions were about to cause. He thought to himself about Noelle, Sarah, Melissa, and Mickey. Especially Sarah and Noelle. What will this do to the family, the friendships, and the lives they have all known for so long. He was so wrapped up in his thoughts he didn't notice Maggie and Noelle had made their way back into his room.
"Penny for your thoughts…" Maggie said gently touching his shoulder.
Slightly startled by Maggie Neil jumped.
"Oh, I am sorry I didn't mean to startle you."
"No, no it is fine. I guess I was in another world. So how did your talk go?" Neil didn't have to ask the smiles and the comfort from two of the faces he loved most in this world was answer enough. Oh, how he hoped Noelle would understand and accept the situation.
"Good, it went well Dad. Just promise me you will be happy, that we will be happy." Noelle leaped into Neil's arms. She did her best to hold back tears but a few still managed to escape.
"Noelle, I promise. I am happy and I will do everything in my power to make you and Maggie happy for as long as I live." He held Noelle as close as he could. Having her in his arms meant the world to him. Maggie smiled at the warm moment between them and decided she would leave them alone. She snuck back into her room giving them time to embrace and catch up.
Maggie was back in her room and decided to begin packing some of her things since they were leaving the next day. As she was sitting some of her clothes in her suitcase the hotel phone rang. On the other end was a frantic Sarah in tears and practically screaming.
"Melissa, calm down. What's wrong? I can't understand you!" Maggie was now scared. Melissa was crying almost to the point of hyperventilating.
"Sarah… she's…mom… it's Sarah…" Melissa stuttered between cries.
"Melissa, is your father or anyone with you?" Maggie was confused and scared at the same time. She had to talk to someone that could explain what was happening as Melissa was in no shape.
"Yes, Jennifer is her." Melissa managed to answer.
"Put her on the phone sweetie."
"Yes, darling, what is going on?"
"It's Sarah. She is missing."
"WHAT?!" Maggie screamed. She felt her heart drop. Her world had fallen apart with those three short words.
"Yes. She and Carrie went to the movies. Carrie got home about an hour ago, but no one has seen or heard from Sarah."
"Okay, Jen I will be on the next flight to Salem. Please take care of Melissa! I love you!" Maggie hung the phone up and rushed into Neil's room.
"Neil! I have to get to Salem. Neil! Sarah is missing." Maggie frantically screamed.
"You can't be serious!" Neil was stunned he rushed to her and pulled her into his arms.
"This can't be true." Noelle cried.
Neil pulled Maggie and Noelle close to him. "Listen we have to stay calm. We will head back to Salem and we will find her. She will be fine. I just know it." Neil didn't know who he was trying to convince Maggie and Noelle or himself. His daughter was missing, the daughter no one knew about. He was worried and grieving in secret trying his best to keep his secret.
Maggie, Neil, and Noelle quickly packed and headed for the airport, and waited for the next flight to Salem.