It wasn’t the first time someone had remarked on the striking resemblance between Pattie and her adoptive parents, Anastasia and Herman.
Anastasia was always careful to maintain Pattie’s self-esteem and avoided any suggestions that she was adopted. She didn’t want Pattie to feel less loved or out of place. Gently touching Pattie’s cheek, Anastasia would often say, “It’s not about blood. It’s about family. You are meant to be our daughter, Pattie.”
Her words were ambiguous enough to avoid direct mention of adoption, yet intimate enough to imply a natural bond.
“Say hello to the ladies, Pattie.” Anastasia encouraged.
Pattie waved her little hand, her voice sweet and soft, “Hello, ladies.”
The women cooed and praised Pattie for her good manners and charm.
“Oh, I wish I had a lovely daughter like this.” One of them said.
“You don’t even have a man. Where would you get a daughter?” Lauren teased.
“Men are everywhere. If I can’t find the right one, I’ll just find one with good looks. I can have a baby, and raise her on my own.”
The women laughed and chatted, their banter filled with a sense of independence and empowerment. They were all successful, either being wealthy from family fortunes or self-made entrepreneurs.
Salma, an older woman, found herself struggling to keep up with the modern mindset of the younger women. She herself was a single mother and understood the hardships that came with it. Yet, she admired the young women’s ability to stand on their own feet.
The conversation was interrupted when Anastasia noticed Flynn and Feiman hurrying towards the back room. Feeling a sudden anxiety, she realized she hadn’t seen Katelyn or Grannie Anita for a while.
“Mom, have you seen my mother-in-law?” Anastasia asked Salma.
“No, I haven’t seen her since the opening ceremony.” Salma replied, “She greeted me and then she went towards the back room.”
Concerned, Anastasia stood up and said, “Mom, can you look after Pattie? I’ll go check on them.”
In the back room, Grannie Anita had nearly fainted earlier. Katelyn had been looking after her, trying to prevent her from making a scene in the main hall.
Grannie Anita, who had calmed down a bit, was now insisting on going to the front to find Herman and Anastasia.
Katelyn couldn’t stop her anymore, so she decided to call Feiman and ask him to bring everyone over. It was better to handle the situation before it escalated to the lobby.
At the sight of Feiman, Grannie Anita launched into a tirade, expressing her disappointment about his son’s foolishness and accusing him of putting the Salstrom family name at risk.
Feiman was utterly confused and worried about what had happened. He looked at Katelyn for answers, but she stammered, unable to explain clearly. Just then, Flynn and Herman arrived.
“Herman.” Grannie Anita began, smacking Herman’s shoulder as he approached, “You have really disappointed me.”