Portia remained on the farm until the girls turned five. The simple life wasn’t really her thing, but she’d stayed there to provide a sense of stability for the twins. Quinn and Clara loved Bernie and the farm, but by the time they reached the age that children would normally go off to school, Portia had started to feel restless.
Portia moved the girls to Austin, where she found a little house and started working in real estate. The country was beginning to recover from the famine, but millions of families were still displaced and looking for work. Hundreds of thousands of homes had been abandoned or foreclosed on, and the federal government was offering subsidies to families looking for affordable housing.
Portia was a natural in sales, and she eventually moved on to selling much larger homes. Three years after she moved to Austin, she had the good fortune to meet a much older, much wealthier man named Emilio. Emilio was bewitched by Portia, and the two were quickly married.
Emilio was indifferent to Quinn and Clara, but in other ways he was just the sort of husband that Portia wanted: rich, handsome, and chronically absent. This allowed her to do what she wanted — shopping, socializing, and spending his money on horseback riding lessons for Quinn and Clara.
Emilio’s company specialized in business revival. They helped businesses that had gone bankrupt during the crash rebuild their workforces and their reputations. Emilio’s work required him to travel constantly, and soon Portia began to suspect that he was having an affair.
When she confronted him about it, Emilio became angry and defensive. They started fighting whenever he was home, and occasionally their fights turned violent. Around Christmastime, they had a bad falling out, and Portia returned to Carlsbad for the holidays.
Bernie and Simjay were still living on the farm, but they hadn’t seen Portia or her girls in years. Bernie was shocked and delighted to be reunited with her old friend, but she immediately realized that something was wrong. Portia wasn’t the cocky badass that Bernie remembered. She was beat down and exhausted and in desperate need of a change.
When Bernie learned what was going on with Emilio, she gave Portia a hard reality check. She told her that she needed to end the marriage immediately and get her girls away from Emilio. For once, Portia listened without arguing, and Bernie understood why she’d come back.
Portia returned to Austin and promptly filed for divorce. The court battle lasted for well over a year, but soon she began collecting alimony and moved the girls to Chicago.
Portia bought an apartment and hired a private tutor for Quinn and Clara. She was without a man once again, but she finally had what she truly wanted: money, independence, and a good life for her girls.