CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED and FIFTY-NINE
Saturday afternoon – 12:45 P.M. City Park, Denver
“Mr. Colin?” Katy asked to Paddie’s Dad.
They had spent the morning playing at the City Park playground and were headed over to H2O Odyssey, the splash fountain, to cool off. Katy was holding Paddie’s Daddy Colin’s hand and Paddie was holding his other hand.
“Yes Katy?” Colin asked. “Do you want anymore sandwich?”
Katy shook her head. They walked along the asphalt path for a few more minutes.
“Mr. Colin?” Katy asked again.
“Yes Katy?” Realizing this was the second time she’d tried to get his attention, Colin knelt down to the small child. “What’s going on?”
“You remember when you told me to tell you if anyone was following us?” Katy asked. She leaned into him to whisper. “Someone is following us right now.”
“I asked some of my friends to keep an eye on us,” Colin ruffled Katy’s hair and stood up. They walked up the big hill near the box canyon of the DeBoer waterway.
“Daddy?” Paddy said when they reached the edge of the grass. The laughter and screams from the children playing in the splash fountain echoed off the Museum of Nature and Science and through the hilly bowl where they were standing on. Colin’s eyes scanned the activity.
“Daddy?” Paddie tugged Colin’s hand to get his attention. Colin looked down at him. “Katy knows your friends.”
Colin’s eyes blinked for a minute before he realized what Paddie was saying. Colin’s head jerked to Katy. Katy nodded.
“You’re saying someone else is following us,” Colin said.
“Who?” Colin’s head turned around to look from adult to adult. Not seeing anything suspicious, he looked back down at Katy. She pointed to a man standing behind the glass at the Museum of Nature and Science. “Anyone else?”
Katy nodded. She held up her hand to indicate there were five other people following them.
“What’s their plan?” Colin asked.
“They are going to try to take us at the water feature,” Paddie said. “We’re going to fight them off.”
“You know about this?” Colin asked Paddie.
“Katy told me last night,” Paddie gave his father a sweet smile.
“Where was I?” Colin asked under his breath.
“Don’t worry, Daddy,” Paddie said. “We’re prepared.”
Colin looked down at his brave four year old son and shook his head ruefully. Little Paddie and his psychic friend Katy were a force to be reckoned with. What was the world going to do when they got even a little bit older? What was he going to do? He smiled to himself.
“Can we go now?” Paddie asked.
“You have to make your phone calls anyway,” Katy smiled at him.
“You know where…” Colin started. “Oh never mind. You know everything anyway. Be careful.”
Paddie held out his hand for Katy. Katy grabbed his hand. In a way their mothers would never have allowed, they ran into the fountain wearing all of their clothing.
“Wait!” Colin yelled. “Your clothes!”
They were already sopping wet. Paddie danced to the middle and dared Katy to join him. Screeching with joy, she danced through the jets to him. With his eyes focused on their antics, his voice turned to steel while he called in reinforcements.
Saturday afternoon – 1:45 P.M. Tucson, Arizona
“Are you disappointed we can’t go to a fancy lunch?” Valerie asked Sissy.
They were walking down the hall to Aden and Sandy’s big suite where Delphie and Anjelika were taking care of Rachel. Noelle walked just ahead of them. Jill, Heather and Tanesha were following behind. Honey was at her room door. She was going to change for the pool and meet them in the suite.
“Not really,” Sissy said. “I mean a fancy lunch with a movie star would be fun, but those photographers are…”
Sissy flared her nose in disgust.
“Crazy,” Valerie said. “I know. They’re hoping I’ll have the baby right there so they can film the whole thing.”
“What did that man mean by asking if the baby was Wes’s baby?” Noelle asked. “Who’s Wes?”
“A jerk,” Valerie said. “He says crazy things to get attention and to make Mike mad. He’s had three girlfriends since we broke up and all he talks about is me.”
“Talk about crazy!” Sissy rolled her eyes.
“I know!” Noelle said.
Valerie smiled. There was nothing more refreshing than the insanity and drama of these two girls. Their mood swings made Hollywood’s drama seem sedate. Sissy gasped and put her hand over her mouth.
“Is Mr. Mike mad?” Sissy’s eyes filled with horror.
“No,” Valerie laughed. “He was there when we got pregnant. He knows who her father is.”
“Oh,” Sissy blushed. “Right.”
Giggling, Noelle opened the door to the suite and held it for the other women. Delphie was sitting on the couch feeding Rachel. Anjelika was setting up lunch. The women had ordered a feast of fresh fruit, salad, and tasty breads. Noelle ran to check out the festival of chocolate with chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate cake, chocolate cream pie and even a cooler of chocolate ice cream. Sissy joined Noelle to admire the desserts.
“We should have lunch first,” Sissy said trying to be the older sister.
“Why?” Noelle asked.
“Go ahead girls,” Anjelika said. “We can always get more.”
“See!” Noelle said. “We can always get more!”
Sissy hugged Noelle with joy and Anjelika laughed.
“Can I hold Rachel?” Sissy asked.
“Do you know how to feed her?” Delphie asked.
“Oh,” Sissy blushed. “No.”
“I’ll show you,” Delphie patted the couch next to where she was sitting. Sissy sat down. “You hold her like this. Right. Hold her neck.”
Rachel looked up at Sissy with her lovely eyes. Sissy felt a rush of love for the little creature in her arms. Wanting her bottle, Rachel fussed. Delphie put the bottle in her mouth and put her hand on the bottle.
“She’s a little too young to hold the bottle,” Delphie said. “But we want her to learn.”
Rachel gave a little cry and tears formed in Sissy’s eyes.
“I can’t do it,” Sissy said. “I’m not any kind of Mom. Look at my own Mom!”
“She just wants her Mom,” Delphie said. “We’ll never be a substitute for Sandy.”
“You can do it Sissy,” Jill said.
“Just relax,” Heather touched the back of Sissy’s head. “Don’t try so hard. She’s reacting to you trying too hard.”
“Millions of mothers, right at this moment, feel just like you do, Sissy,” Tanesha said. “You’re not alone.”
“Millions of mother’s don’t have a broken mother,” Sissy grumbled.
“I do,” Noelle said.
“I do,” Honey said as she rolled to the couch.
“I did,” Delphie said.
“My Mom is still a crack whore,” Tanesha said. “My gram raised me.”
“We’re not our mothers,” Jill said. “My Mom is awesome, but I’m not my Mom.”
“I could never be as awesome as my mom,” Valerie said.
“Try again, Sissy,” Delphie said. “Think positive thoughts and relax. Like we do when we’re looking at the bees.”
Sissy looked up at Delphie. Every Friday after work, she and Noelle helped Delphie with her beehives. Delphie taught them that when you think angry thoughts, the bees get angry. When you think loving thoughts, they’re calm. They’d even tried it and it really worked.
Sissy nodded to Delphie. She closed her eyes for a moment to focus her kind thought and gave Rachel the bottle again. Rachel sighed and began to nurse. Sissy beamed with joy. Noelle clapped. If the women ate or chatted, Sissy had no idea. Her entire focus was on the tiny bundle in her arms. When Rachel finished her bottle, Delphie showed Sissy how to burp her. Rachel spit up only a tiny bit. Anjelika took her from Sissy to put her back down.
“We waited to eat chocolate until you were done,” Noelle beamed. “You ready?”
“Go for it!” Sissy said. “But don’t eat too much!”
“Why?” Noelle asked.
“Because I’m your roommate,” Sissy laughed. “I don’t want to deal with you being sick.”
Laughing, Noelle picked up a plate and began picking one thing from every chocolate item. While the other women talked and laughed over the chocolate, Sissy got some lunch and settled in on the couch. Delphie fixed a plate of lunch for herself and sat next to Sissy.
“You know why it’s taking so long,” Delphie said in soft soothing tones.
“Mom doesn’t want us,” Sissy said with her mouth full.
“Sandy and Aden are fighting for you,” Delphie said. “I don’t think we should make Sandy tell you. Do you?”
“I already know,” Sissy said. “I was just hoping…”
“I was wondering what you really want,” Delphie said.
“I want Mom to love me. I want to live as a family,” Sissy said.
Sissy’s eyes were round and sad. Seeing Sissy’s pain, Noelle set down her precious chocolate plate and sat down next to Sissy. She put her arms around Sissy’s neck. Sissy took another bite of her salad.
“When you think about what you want?” Delphie’s voice was kind but firm. “Are you really thinking that you want your Mom to join your family with Sandy?”
Sissy turned to look at Delphie. She looked up to see Sandy’s girlfriends, Jill, Heather and Tanesha, watching her closely. She looked back at Delphie.
“I guess so,” Sissy said. “I want Mom to love me.”
“I know,” Delphie said. “And somewhere inside you know she can’t.”
“But Sandy paid for all this treatment,” Sissy said. “Treatment really helped me and Charlie! Why can’t it help her?”
She looked into Delphie’s kind face. Somehow, just looking at Delphie, Sissy understood.
“Mom can’t,” Sissy said. “She’s broken.”
“Yes dear,” Delphie said. “My mother allowed my father to use me to win at gambling. When he lost me to a monster, she never came for me. All I wanted was for my Mom to come rescue me.”
“That’s horrible,” Sissy said.
“I felt very bad about it for a long time,” Delphie said. “One day I was working at Herbs and Arts when my Mom came in for free a one-card reading. She didn’t recognize me and she didn’t really have any money. She told me she was dying. She wanted to know if she’d go to hell for the mistakes she’d made in her life.”
“Meaning you?” Sissy asked. Out of the corner of her eye, she felt the women in the room transfixed by Delphie’s story. Delphie usually said she ‘saw’ her mother once. She had never gone into this kind of detail.
“Meaning would she go to hell,” Delphie shrugged. “She was worried about her immortal soul, not me.”
“That’s terrible,” Sissy said.
“It’s terrible if you know someone like Celia or Sandy or any of the amazing loving women in this room,” Delphie said. “But for my mother? It was as close as she would ever come to assessing her life in any real way.”
“What did you do?” Sissy asked.
“I told her that I was giving free readings that day and God must have sent her in to see me,” Delphie smiled. “I did a full reading for her. You should have seen her, she was incredibly warn and thin as paper. She had deep wrinkles on her face, her eyes were clouded. Her hair was thin and gray. She wasn’t even the age I am now.”
“And? What did you say?” Honey blurted out.
Delphie looked up to see everyone looking at her. She blushed at their attention.
“It told her she would die the next day, which she did,” Delphie said. “I said her life of pain and sorrow, and I assure you she’d led a life of pain and sorrow, would pass. She would be safe and loved. Just before she left, I touched her hand and told her that her daughter loved her. She nodded as if she’d heard me, but I think she was already gone.”
“Then what did you do?” Noelle asked.
“I called Celia and cried,” Delphie said. “She came right away and we ate an entire carton of chocolate ice cream. The next day, Sam found my mother. She’d died in a filthy rent by the day motel where she’d clearly lived for a long time. There was evidence that she paid for the room through selling her body. Sam paid her motel bill and buried her next to my father in Leadville. Sam and Celia… They are my amazing family.”
“Who’s your amazing family, Honey?” Delphie asked.
“MJ, of course, Sam, Jake and Val, now Jill and Heather and Tanesha, Sandy, and Bambi, and…” Honey flushed. “So many people. When I lived in one of those horrible motels, I never thought I’d have even one person to love or to love me.”
“I know,” Tanesha said. “I lived in those places out on East Colfax, Honey, before my gram came and got me. My amazing family started with Gram and Heather, then Jill and Sandy and now…”
Tanesha held her arms out to include the entire room.
“I had an amazing mom,” Valerie said. “But I would never have survived the years after she died without Delphie and being mad at Dad and Jake and Mike and…”
Her big hazel eyes filled with tears. She shook her head.
“It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt,” Anjelika’s Russian accent sliced through the air. “It hurts a lot.”
“It’s hard to admit, but when it comes down to it,” Heather said. “You’re really better off.”
“I’ve been so worried,” Noelle said. “You keep talking about ‘moving home’ and… I don’t want to lose my sister. I have everything I want! A great Mom, a big sister, a two big brothers, a nice boyfriend and my Dad. I don’t want you to leave. I don’t want Charlie to leave. Nash has been really upset about it. He won’t tell you but we’ve talked about it. A lot.”
“Would you give up being Noelle and Nash’s sister to have your Mom back?” Delphie asked.
“You don’t understand!” Sissy said.
“We do,” Delphie said. “That’s the problem. We feel the same longing you do. I love my mother. I still do. But all I can do is love her.”
“I love my mother,” Honey said. “She really sucks at being a mother. But I love her anyway.”
“That’s all you have to do,” Tanesha said. “Love her.”
“Can you love your mother and let her be who she is?” Delphie asked.
Sissy closed her eyes to escape the women’s concerned faces. She gave a slight nod and Noelle cheered. Delphie kissed her cheek.
“Can I have some chocolate?” Sissy asked.
“Of course,” Valerie said. “Would you like me to make you a plate?”
“No, I’ll get it,” Sissy said.
She jumped up from the couch. She stretched her limbs and wiggled her shoulders. One at a time, the women hugged her. Noelle took her hand and showed her the chocolate cart. Sissy had just filled her plate when the boys came bursting into the room. While she watched, the chocolate cart was demolished by the locusts named Charlie, Teddy and Nash.
“Can I have some of yours?” Charlie held a fork out to her chocolate strawberry.
“No!” Sissy batted at his fork with hers. They got into an instant fork war. Noelle joined her defense.
“On guard,” Nash said.
Within moments, the kids were laughing and playing a fork sword war. Charlie had Sissy’s plate of chocolate in one hand while keeping Sissy away with the other when Sandy and Aden came into the suite. Sandy and Aden were hugged and chatted with as they walked across the room. When Sandy went to get Rachel, Aden snatched the plate of chocolate from Charlie’s hand.
“I do love chocolate,” Aden said. He picked up a strawberry and ate it.
“That’s mine!” Sissy said.
“We passed three carts of food coming in this direction,” Aden said.
A knock at the door brought the food.
“Listen you guys,” Aden said to Sissy and Charlie. “Before Sandy gets over here, I thought maybe we could talk. Sandy’s so heart broken, I’d hate for her to have to tell you.”
“It’s Ok, Shi-dai,” Charlie said. “Jake told me.”
“Delphie told me. I don’t like it.”
“I hate it,” Charlie said. “But I can’t change it. I mean I can give up everything I have now to try to be with her but… Jake told me to give him one reason why I’d do that. I thought for the whole horse ride back. I couldn’t come up with anything. We went to this cool cave where you’re supposed to let go of things. I let go of Mom there. It was hard but… Sam and Jake and Mike were… amazing.”
“I always wanted exactly what I have now,” Sissy said.
Aden hugged Sissy and Charlie.
“But I want some chocolate too,” Sissy said.
Aden gave her back her dessert plate. Before Charlie could steal it, Aden pointed him toward the other food carts where Teddy and Nash were swarming. Charlie jogged over.
“You’ll tell me if you want to talk more?” Aden asked.
Sissy nodded. She sat down on the couch with Noelle. Together the girls had almost polished off her plate when Sandy came back with Rachel. Before Sandy could say anything, Sissy began updating her about her amazing day with a movie star. Noelle ran to change into her bathing suit and Sissy joined her.
“So that’s it?” Sandy asked.
“For now,” Aden said. “We’ll have to watch them. And the trial…”
“Let hope she doesn’t go to trial,” Sandy said.
“We’re going back to change,” Tanesha said. “Come to the pool with us, Sandy.”
“I have to study,” Charlie said. “Mrs. Anjelika and I can watch Rachel.”
“You’re sure?” Sandy asked.
“I’d like to,” Charlie gave an impish smile. “Rachel’s my family too.”
Sandy hugged him. She changed Rachel’s diaper and put on a tiny one week old short suit. It was a little big, but Rachel looked really cute. She rocked Rachel to sleep. When she came out, the kids and Aden were at the pool and Anjelika was quizzing Charlie on his vocabulary. Sandy kissed Rachel’s cheek and set her in the bassinette next to Charlie. Charlie put his hand out to rock Rachel’s bassinette but never looked up. Sandy waved good-bye but they kept their focus.
Shrugging, she made her way to the pool where Jill had saved her a seat next to her and Heather. Tanesha gave her a virgin strawberry daiquiri.
“Was it horrible?” Heather asked.
“Worse,” Sandy said. “We saw the police cars coming to get her on our way out.”
“I’ll drink to that,” Tanesha downed her beer. “You know I’m drinking for four.”
“What?” Sandy asked.
“I’m not drinking,” Jill said. “You and Heather are still breast feeding.”
“Have to keep the universal balance,” Tanesha said.
“What’s happening with Cam?” Sandy asked.
“Oh girl,” Tanesha said. “You do not want to know.”
“She’ll tell us when she’s drunk enough,” Heather said.
Saturday afternoon – 2:15 P.M. City Park, Denver
“Zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo.” Paddie shivered from the cold water at the splash fountain. When his Mom, Julie, covered his mouth with the towel she was drying him off with Katy took up the call.
“Zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo, zoo.” Colin covered her mouth with a towel.
“What do you think, Jules?” Colin said. “Should we leave them like this?”
“Dad!” Paddie squirmed out of Julie’s grasp.
Running away from Julie and toward the zoo, he ran right into a man’s legs.
‘Paddie NO!” Katy screamed.
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