Charlotte could barely give herself the motivation to wake the next morning, even though sunlight was streaming through the windows. Her bed just felt too warm and cozy. Besides, she thought to herself as she buried herself even further under the covers, the moment I go downstairs, Mother will just start bothering me about one thing or another...

Charlotte suddenly sat up in bed. Mother isn't here, she remembered, everything flooding back to her now. Her mother wasn't there, not to ridicule her or to boss her around or tell her what a miserable child she was being. As much as Charlotte already missed her home and Luc, she was relieved to be away from all of that.

And best of all, Helen had planned an outing for the pair of them! Charlotte grinned and threw off the covers, running to get dressed. It had been years and years since her own mother had even taken her for a girls' day out. In fact, the last time Charlotte had been on a shopping trip with adult it had been with her school friend Jacqueline and Jacque's mother. But it still hadn't felt right. Charlotte had felt like the third wheel of the trip. But today, she decided as she slipped a pastel-striped dress over her shoulders, today would be wonderful. Helen was so intent on having a relationship with Charlotte, and Charlotte was going to make sure she enjoyed it immensely. She nearly skipped down the stairs to the dining room, fantasizing about what the dream would be like...

"Oh, there you are, Charlotte!" Helen said with a beaming smile. She stood at the dining room table, hurriedly stuffing papers into her bag. "Good morning. I hope you slept well?"

"Yes, thank you. My bed is so comfortable!" Charlotte told her with a grateful smile.

"Wonderful! I do love my feather bed, as well," Helen grinned. She snapped her bag shut and put on her hat. "Now, I'm so sorry darling. I know I promised we'd have a girls' outing today, but I'm afraid I've been called to the theatre early for some extra rehearsals. This show isn't coming together quite as nicely as I would have hoped, but I do have a commitment to the cast and the company. You understand dear, don't you?" Helen walked over to Charlotte and put an arm around her shoulders. "I promise, love. The very first day I'm free of rehearsals and performances, I promise we'll have our shopping trip and lunch. Maybe we can even go see a show at the theatre, hm? Wouldn't that be nice?"

"Oh yes," Charlotte agreed, forcing a smile on her face. "That would be wonderful, Helen. You must go to rehearsals. It's your job."

"Oh, Charlotte. Sometimes theatre just isn't a's my life," Helen told her with a small smile. "I wouldn't give it up for the world, but it is very...time consuming. I'd like to spend more time with my family." She gently tapped Charlotte's nose with the tip of her finger. "I must be off. I'm sure Mrs. Gates will accompany you if you still want to go out today. If not, please feel free to make yourself comfortable in the rest of the house. It's yours too, now." Helen gave her one last smile before saying goodbye and turning for the door. And then she was gone.

Charlotte let the fake smile drop from her face. She sighed and sat heavily at the dining room table. She couldn't help but feel disappointed, even though Helen did have a good reason for cancelling their trip. It was Helen's job. Charlotte couldn't blame her for going to work. But still...memories of her own mother flooded Charlotte's mind.

I can't come see your school show, Charlotte. I have a performance, too. Which is more important?

Charlotte, please stop sulking. I know it's your birthday, but we need to prioritize our time. Daddy and Luc will have supper with you today and I will take you to buy a present when my show finishes.

Don't you dare cry in front of me, young lady. I will not condone it. You know I detest bringing children to the theatre, and this is exactly why...

Charlotte shook her head, as if trying to erase these terrible memories. Helen didn't seem one bit like her own mother, but like always, theatre seemed to be getting in the way. But at least Helen was making an effort. At least Helen seemed to care.

"You should come to expect it, you know," said a voice from the doorway. Charlotte turned sharply. Standing there was the young man from last night. He seemed sober now, but dark circles lingered under his eyes, no doubt from the alcohol. He was handsome though, Charlotte decided, with his chestnut brown hair and blue eyes.

"What?" Charlotte asked the boy.

"Helen tends to make promises she can't ever keep," he said matter-of-factly with a shrug. "But probably even more annoying than that is Lewis, who insists on keeping his promises."

Charlotte was immediately piqued by his comment. Who was he to tell her how tactless Helen was or how annoying Lewis could be? These people had taken her in when she had nowhere else to go. Why did this boy think he could tell her otherwise?

"Well, since you were eavesdropping on our conversation, you must have heard Helen say that she had to go to rehearsals," Charlotte said defiantly, her temper beginning to flare. "It's her job. That's a little more important than a shopping trip."

"I heard," he replied dismissively. "I just don't want you to get your hopes up. They're quite as wonderful as I'm sure you're imagining them to be in your head."

"And who are you to say that about them?" Charlotte asked. She sized the teenager up-he wore plain slacks and a button-up shirt. He didn't give off the air of anyone fancy. How could he be criticizing Lewis and Helen? He was probably just a servant! He probably didn't even know them! "Lewis and Helen have been nothing but wonderful to me. They were so gracious to take me in like this when I couldn't go anywhere else-"

"Yes, my parents do give off wonderful and gracious impressions," he cut her off with a smirk. "I think half of London would agree with you. But unlike me, half of London wasn't raised by the lovely Careys. Therefore, I don't believe they could have full impressions of my parents." He raised his eyebrows at Charlotte, as if imploring her to argue her point further. But Charlotte was too surprised to even comment.

"I'm Jack. Jack Carey. I'll bet you didn't know Lewis and Helen had a son." Jack chuckled at Charlotte's shock, only angering her further. "I don't suppose they like to mention me to a lot of people. I've heard the phrase troublemaker associated with my name quite often. Or perhaps it's because I'm hardly home. There's too much to do outside of this house, and nothing interesting enough to keep me in it."

Charlotte searched Jack's face for something to remind her of Lewis' quiet kindness, or Helen's sweet cheerfulness, but although she could make out Lewis' dimples in Jack's cheeks and the same cornflower hue in his eyes as Helen's, there was nothing about this boy that resembled his parents' pleasant dispositions.

"No," she finally told him with a straight face. "Nobody ever mentioned you."

"Not surprising," Jack told her. "Although I knew you were coming a long time ago. Probably before you even knew you were coming, in fact." He gave her one more look before turning. "You'll learn what I mean about my parents. Sooner or later. Nice to meet you, Charlotte." He said her name a bit distastefully, as if it put a bad flavor in his mouth.

Charlotte watched him disappear down the hall, angering bubbling inside of her. Maybe it was the snide tone in his voice, that smirk, or his completely disrespectful attitude about his parents that angered her so. In any case, Charlotte was sure that although she was very fond of Lewis and Helen, she was not so enamored with their son.

Letting out a frustrated groan, Charlotte ran upstairs to her room and flopped onto her bed with her book. Some things seemed like they would never change, she mused as she settled into the pillows.

There was a faint knock at her door. "Come in!" Charlotte called without enthusiasm. Both the disappointment and Jack had put her into a rather foul mood.

Mrs. Gates poked her head into Charlotte's room. "Are you alright, dear?" she asked in her kind voice.

"I'm fine," Charlotte told her in as light of a voice as she could muster. She hid behind her book, hoping Mrs. Gates would just leave her alone. But instead, Mrs. Gates walked to the bed and took the book from Charlotte's hands, setting it on the bedside table with a smile.

"Come down to the kitchen with me. I could use some help baking," Mrs. Gates implored. She held out a hand to Charlotte.

The last thing Charlotte wanted to do was work in the kitchen. But she sighed and rolled off the bed, following Mrs. Gates out the door and downstairs.

"Helen was a poor, struggling actress," Mrs. Gates told Charlotte as they rolled up balls of cookie dough and placed them on baking sheets. "She was eighteen years old, living with a crowd of roommates, working odd jobs, and dreaming of starring in London. But one day she came across Lewis, and he knew it was just meant to be."

"Where did they meet?" Charlotte asked interestedly, hoping it was as romantic as her own parents' story had turned out to be.

"Lewis was almost finished at the university. He was writing his final play, which would be performed for critics and even producers who could fund the show in London. He was late for class one day and was running down the streets of London when he ran into Helen. He dropped all of his papers and was quite frustrated with himself...until he spotted Helen." Mrs. Gates smiled at Charlotte. "He was not thinking of himself, but of his play. He knew she would be the perfect lead actress. He cast her. The play was a sensation and Helen shot straight to stardom, as the theatre people would say."

"With just that one role?" Charlotte asked, surprised. After looking through her mother's scrapbooks for years and years, Charlotte had always assumed that actresses had to get started in minor roles before getting lined up for the leads.

"Yes, just that one," Mrs. Gates told her. "Before she knew it, she was being cast as Lady Macbeth, Nora in A Doll's House, and so many more. But she always found her way back into Lewis' plays. They just couldn't stay apart. They were married only two years after they met, when Helen was twenty." Charlotte's eyes widened at this. "And it was only later that year that Helen became pregnant. She had to quit theatre during her pregnancy. I think it disappointed her greatly. By the time Jack was born, Helen was terribly depressed. Lewis was so distraught. He insisted she go straight back to theatre. She is happiest there."

"How old is Jack, Mrs. Gates?" Charlotte asked.

"Seventeen. He'll be eighteen in just a few weeks. I've known him since he was just a tiny baby," she said proudly. "He was named John, after Helen's brother. But from the moment he was born, we all knew he was more of a Jack."

"Is that why you came here? To take care of the baby?"

"I suppose so. My husband David was the Careys' chauffeur from the time they were married. They employed me shortly afterward, and Helen encouraged me to put Topher right in the nursery with Jack, even though he's two years older. "

"That was nice of her," Charlotte said, dusting the flour off her hands.

"It was. People don't come any nicer than the Careys," Mrs. Gates said. "My husband died ten years ago in a car accident, the same one that injured Topher's leg. They were running an errand for the Careys. I don't think Lewis ever really forgave himself for David's death, even though he had nothing to do with it. But ten years later, they're still taking good care of Topher and me."

Charlotte scoffed. "Jack sure thinks they aren't so nice."

Mrs. Gates laughed. "Jack is just Jack. The sooner you accept that, Miss Martin, the sooner you'll come to understand who he is."

"I'm not so sure I want to understand him," Charlotte confessed to Mrs. Gates. She blushed, feeling badly for saying this. But Charlotte didn't understand why Jack acted the way he did. And although she was intrigued by him, she wasn't about to let on.

"Charlotte," came a quiet voice from the door. Lewis stood there in a suit and tie, looking quite handsome. "Could I speak with you, please? I'm sorry to interrupt, Mrs. Gates," he told her.

"Yes, of course," Charlotte said. She took off her apron and followed him out into the hallway. "I didn't know you were home, Lewis."

"I only just arrived," he told her. "I had a meeting at the theatre, but I didn't have to stay all day. Helen wanted for me to let you know that the family is going to be attending a party at the theatre, tonight. It's quite an elaborate event. We wanted to know if you would like to join us there."

"Oh, Lewis!" Charlotte cried, a smile breaking over her face. "Yes! I've never been to one!"

"Good," Lewis said with a smile. "I know we both wanted you there. Please be ready to leave by 7 o' clock. Helen is having a formal gown sent to the house for you to wear." He smiled at her again before turning and walking down the hall to his study.

Charlotte followed him there. She couldn't keep her curiosity at bay any longer. She was grateful to the Careys for everything they had done, but she couldn't shake off the dreadful feeling that they had kept Jack a secret from her.

"Lewis?" she asked, walking into the library. Lewis sat behind his desk, reading some papers and petting Little Bear with the other hand. Little Bear had taken a liking to Lewis, who called him Lucky.

"Hm?" he murmured, immersed in his paperwork.

"Lewis, why didn't you tell me about Jack?" Charlotte asked.

Lewis looked up in shock. "You met Jack?" he asked.

"Yes," Charlotte told him. "He came home late last night while I was reading. And then I met him this morning in the dining room." She frowned. "Why didn't you tell me that you and Helen had a son? And that he lived here?"

Lewis took off his glasses with a sigh and rubbed his eyes. "I'm sorry we didn't say anything last night, Charlotte. But you had such a long journey and so many changes at once...we just didn't want to burden you with another bit of news. Helen and I had already decided we weren't going to mention Jack until you were settled in. We just didn't want to burden you with any more." Lewis' eyes were so kind and his voice so comforting that even though Charlotte was still slightly angry she hadn't been told about Jack, Lewis' words still made her feel better. "Why don't you start getting ready, Charlotte?" Lewis asked her. "I'm sure Mrs. Gates will be available if you need any help. I'll see you tonight."

"Yes, Lewis," Charlotte told him with a small smile. She began to leave the room.

"Charlotte!" Lewis called after her. "How do you like your books?"

Charlotte grinned and turned back to Lewis. "I love them. Thank you."

"Always a pleasure, Charlotte," he said, smiling back.

Charlotte left the library and walked up the staircase to her room. As she walked down the hall, she noticed Jack walking toward her. It was so odd, knowing that this grumpy young man was sharing a home with her now. He was nothing like Luc. But nobody could ever be like Luc.

Charlotte didn't say anything to Jack as she neared her door, but she was startled when he didn't even acknowledge her. Finally, Charlotte said something.

"Your parents said we're all attending a party tonight," she told him in a straight voice. "Seven o' clock."

Jack paused for a moment, but didn't even cast a glance at Charlotte. He muttered, "Of course," and retreated into his own room, which was directly across the hall from Charlotte's.

How did he manage to anger her so much? Charlotte groaned and shut herself into her own room, leaning back against the door. I have Helen and Lewis, she thought to herself, trying to calm down, and they care about me. They care about how I feel and what burdens I have to carry. I don't have to give two thoughts about Jack. I'm going to a party tonight, with theatre stars and playwrights and all kinds of amazing people. He can't ruin this night for me. This night is going to be perfect.

Thank you so much for reading this chapter! I'm so grateful for every read, comment, and vote I get! :) If you are interested in beta-reading or editing, please let me know! I would love to polish it up. And if you get a chance, please just leave a quick note or vote. It means so much to me :) have a nice day! New chapter soon!