The enrollment process is much quicker when you are able to pay your tuition in cash, as Kitty found out. Gavin was highly eager to have "his son's" mother advance her education level, which was probably why he gladly backed her effort with funding. Gavin had previously groaned whenever he had to fill in the "bachelor's" box for Kitty's education attainment on any paperwork for Guy. Gavin would do anything to make Guy look better, apparently including keeping up the farse of his personal relationship with Kitty. As for Kitty, any benefit she received from the matter was purely inconsequential to Gavin. It never had to be spoken out loud for Kitty to know that she was clearly a second thought in the Alton family. Kitty's academic plan was for her to attend grad school for the duration of the year in order to receive her likely final degree. This time around though at the university, Kitty could not help but notice that she was treated with hostility and was openly rejected by the campus culture that had once embraced her. Each day there she had to deal with both the students and the staff, who made snarky comments to her about her "privileged life" at every opportunity. Initially, she thought it is too funny to address, but as the confrontational attitudes she encountered became more aggressive over time, she started to realize how out of place she was there and looked forward to the year being over as soon as it started.
After a particularly trying day, Kitty confided in Gavin that she felt depleted by the jabs she was subjected to on campus. Gavin though could not have been less interested in her problems. He chided her instead about how she seemed to be making excuses in order for her to drop out. He went on to say that he had worried that sending her back to school would be a "bad investment." Kitty was hurt beyond words to the point that she turned in for the night early. She hadn't ever considered withdrawing from the graduate program, she had only wanted an ounce of sympathy from her partner, something Gavin was incapable of providing despite his other excesses. To Kitty it felt like no matter how trivial, Gavin never was there to back her up, rather he always seemed to be the first to put her down. For a moment before drifting off to sleep, she wanted to fantasize that Stafford would have been on her side had he been present. It was a stretch of rationality that Kitty knew to be true. Stafford would not have listened to her venting, to begin with. Stafford was the type of man to only tolerate conversations that ended with something in it for him. At least Gavin would be there for her enough to resent her for her failings. Stafford wouldn't put in the energy to resent her in the first place.
The following day, Kitty found an unlikely ally in her discontent, Opal. During her usual drop-in at the condo, Opal talked to Kitty saying that Gavin had mentioned that Kitty was not dealing with school well. Kitty tried not to be visibly annoyed by the fact that Gavin likely called Opal when she was asleep to complain about her to his mother. Opal then went on to explain that she sided with Kitty, a true rarity. Opal revealed to Kitty her opinion that after a woman turned thirty everything she did becomes criticized and that as a mature woman, she too often felt the brunt of society's judgment of older women on a regular basis. Kitty was astonished by this revelation, mainly because she finally had some common ground with Opal. For Kitty, Opal had always been this flighty picture of an empty nester that never found her own pursuits to nurture, so she intruded on her son's. Kitty had never realized that she could be part of the problem that Opal faced as an older woman. Kitty asked how she coped with the kind of pressures she described. Opal told her that she struggles more than she lets on. The words escaped Opal's lips with a tangible twinge of depression and defeat. Kitty felt bad for not realizing that Opal was secretly miserable, and a little frustrated that Gavin had never informed her that Opal needed a friend. Kitty had dealt with Opal as the hanger-on to Gavin that would team up against her, but now she saw things differently.
Opal took Guy to his preschool leaving Kitty by herself to get ready for the day. All while they were gone, Kitty thought of ways to make it up to Opal for the years of slights that she had visited upon Opal each time that she had dismissed her child's grandmother as a nuisance. Kitty might have been living a very separate life from Gavin but that did not mean to her that Opal was a throwaway relationship in her personal life. For once thinking of others and not just herself, Kitty waited for Opal to return with Guy before she asked what Opal would like to do for herself. Kitty told Opal that she was not just a person whose job it was to shuttle Guy around, they had the very preened nanny for that after all. Opal sat down when Kitty spoke to her as if she had to use all of her concentration to bring herself to answer. Opal in a timid tone told Kitty that she had been thinking for some time about moving into a retirement community in Florida, but worried that Gavin would try to talk her out of it if she asked. Kitty suggested that they take a family vacation to Florida. There they could take tours of the different communities that were available. Kitty assumed that it would take some convincing to get Gavin on board as he and his mother were thick as thieves. Much to her surprise though, Gavin agreed with them both when they brought it up that night over dinner as if he himself had tired of Opal's lingering around the condo too.
Two weeks later and after one direct flight, the Altons arrived in Florida. Kitty and Opal now were the bosom buddies while the nanny was the ancillary character, leaning on Gavin to direct her awkward presence. Opal in the boarding terminal pointed out to Kitty that she was concerned by how odd it was that Gavin and Guy would only talk to each other for the most part. Even the nanny was excluded from their dialog in the airport as the two huddled together waiting for their flight. It did not take long before Opal and Kitty started to both have a bit of a running joke at that nanny's expense, due to the woman's penchant for becoming distracted by any reflective surface. This came about after the nanny got left behind while adjusting her makeup in a storefront window, causing Kitty to have to go back and look for her. By the evening they had checked into their hotel on the beach and were unpacked in their rooms. Opal was exhausted as was Kitty, both feeling drained from the trip. Gavin though stayed up past Kitty and Guy's turning in, this struck Kitty as very unlike Gavin who was normally the first to go to sleep. Kitty didn't bother to dwell on such a minute discrepancy in the family routine as they were far from home anyway. She was glad to have the nanny as a tag-along so that she could enjoy some time to herself during the day. Kitty had wished that she could be on vacation with Stafford as at least he would have had some sexual interest when they were alone, in contrast to Gavin who had the sexual prowess of a geriatric eunuch.
The following day began in the early morning for the Alton family, just after sunrise. Opal had woken up first, followed by Kitty and Guy. They decided to let Gavin sleep in and did not disturb the nanny in her room a few floors down, but instead ate in the hotel's restaurant before going to the beach together. Kitty took a few things, as did Opal and Guy. Opal and Guy wanted to stay close to the hotel as both had a tendency to tire easily. Kitty taking advantage of the situation took a hearty swim after setting up in a prime location on the sand. When she came back to her towel, Kitty found someone's toy dog was in the process of chewing her scandals after it had defecated on her tote bag. She laughed as the little thing ran away seeing her approach. Opal and Guy were in a wading pool together nearby, making it easy for her to tell them her predicament on her way back to the hotel room. Guy smiled at her as she spoke. He might have been Gavin's son, but he did have her sense of humor, something Gavin overlooked. Kitty knew Guy was a good person despite the undertones of a power struggle between herself and Gavin. Guy would grow up one day and become his own person, a person separate from his parent's expectations. This thought gave Kitty hope as she went to clean herself up.
Kitty was in no hurry to do much just then as Opal wasn't scheduled for another tour of a retirement community until well after lunch. She took her time letting herself in the room, being sure to be quiet as she assumed that Gavin was still asleep. Kitty felt her swim was adventure enough for the morning. She crept into her room to get a fresh set of clothes to put on as she intended to take a hot shower. Upon opening the door though, she found a panicked semi-clothed Gavin on top of their naked nanny in bed. Not knowing what to say or do, Kitty grasped and then walked out. Kitty immediately took stock of her reaction as a pinch of anguish followed by a bit of relief that Gavin did finally do the deed with the nanny, how cliche she thought. This all was rolling through Kitty's mind as she was in a sort of shock while she walked with her dog feces-caked bag still in her grip back down the hallway toward the elevators. She did not even notice Gavin behind her as he ran to stop her in nothing but a button-down pajama top and a bath towel covering his waist. "Kitty wait!" he called. Kitty did not know what to say to him when she stopped, not knowing why. Gavin begged for her forgiveness, to which Kitty in a mumbling manner instantly granted him. "Be mad at me, I know I'm wrong," Gavin said to Kitty nearly crying. Kitty felt badly now that she knew their relationship was in this amount of disarray but could not pretend that she was any better than the nanny in this situation. She looked at Gavin who was distressed and told him, "I'm not mad, this was going to happen today, tomorrow, or eventually. We just have grown apart." Gavin took in her words and responded as if he were trying to hold back his anger at himself. "Anything, I'll make it up to you, just say how we can go on after this... I want you to know that I love her. We've been together since the beginning" Kitty thought about her terms, before saying "I need time, I can't just go back home and act like I don't know without time." Gavin nodded as Kitty went on "I'm going to go for a little and I'll be back as soon as this blows over." She didn't even know the specifics of her intentions but finished by saying "For what it's worth, I think you would be better off if you two stayed a couple. I'd be happier if you had someone." That was the last thing she said to Gavin as his partner. Gavin gave her a platinum credit card from their room before he promised to tell Guy and Opal that she had a family emergency. Kitty left without saying goodbye to their son and took a flight to Ohio.
When she exited the plane she was still in her beach cover-up with sand in her bathing suit. Her only bag was a purse. Kitty assumed that either Gavin or Opal would be good enough to pack her things back in Florida, not that she was too attached to them anyway. At the airport, Kitty went over her options as she walked to the rental car kiosk. Pam was a few hours away in a halfway house. If she went to see her sister, Kitty knew she could get a room near her and decompress for a few days when she was allowed to visit. It was the responsible thing to do for her son, to avoid making any rash decisions. The line was long for a rental car, Kitty could tell that she smelled like the Florida tide, the odor made her self-conscious. To distract herself, she wasted time scrolling through her cell phone to see if Gavin had called her. He hadn't. Kitty wondered if Gavin had jumped back into bed with the nanny after he had pushed his credit card into her hand in the hotel hallway. Before Kitty knew it she was calling Stafford trying to sound as cheery as she could. He answered quickly with a hesitant "Hello?" Kitty did not normally call him during the workweek, most of their correspondence was through text messaging. Kitty in a state of total spontaneity said as soon as she heard her lover's voice, "Stafford do you want to go with me to Seattle? I have two tickets to leave tonight." She could hear Stafford shuffle around in the background of his office before he answered, "Okay sure." She walked to the booking counter to make the arrangements as she filled Stafford in on the details.