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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINE
A hand touched Sandy’s shoulder. Through her tears, she looked up to see Abi. The fairy was wearing her pink Fairy Corps costume and carrying the ridiculous silver wand.
“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Abi said.
“That was you?” Sandy asked. She jumped to her feet and slapped at Abi. The fairy raised her arms to protect herself. “I thought I was going crazy!”
After a moment, Sandy sniffed back her tears, nodded to Abi, and sat down. She stared at the wall for a moment.
“You’ve been here this whole time?” Sandy asked.
“Not right away,” Abi said. Sandy glanced at the fairy. Abi’s face was a mask of regret. “I really didn’t mean to upset you.”
“I know,” Sandy said. “I’m just…”
“Crazy?” Abi said with an anxious smile. Sandy laughed and nodded. “I had to save Yvonne from that horrible financier.”
“I thought Jill’s grandfather, uh, Otis, took care of him,” Sandy said.
“My sister Mari was first in line,” Abi said.
“Mari and Otis?” Sandy raised her eyebrows.
“I know,” Abi said. “I thought the very same thing.”
“Anyway, I was there and then I came here,” Abi said. “Fin’s in Olympus trying to save Hedone.”
“I thought Tanesha and Jill did that,” Sandy said.
“Fin was there too,” Abi said. “He’d never let Tanesha go there on her own.”
“He had to stay behind to make sure nothing fell apart,” Abi said. “You have no idea what a mess it is when Olympia is in disarray. It affects everything in our world.”
“I don’t really know how it all works,” Sandy said. “I used to think they were just stories.”
“Fin’s ex is an Olympian,” Abi said.
“Are you worried…?” Sandy asked.
“Um…” Abi said. “I mean, we’re married now.”
“You think that getting married will make him cheat,” Sandy said.
“Should I tell Tanesha?” Sandy asked. “She has no patience for cheaters. It might help.”
“His ex is Jill’s step-sister, Hecate,” Abi said with a nod.
“I hate her then,” Sandy said with a loyal nod.
“She’s okay,” Abi said. “Actually, his women have all been these truly incredible women, well, except…”
She pointed at herself. Sandy shook her head Abi’s indication that she wasn’t amazing. Abi gave an affirming nod.
“You should hear what they say about me in the court,” Abi said.
“How bad can it be?” Sandy shrugged.
“Bad,” Abi said.
“Well, forget them,” Sandy said.
Abi gave her a sad shrug and Sandy hugged her.
“Is that why you never married?” Sandy asked.
“You must be worried now that you are married,” Sandy said.
Abi nodded. Sandy nodded that she understood.
“I didn’t want to get married either,” Sandy said.
“You didn’t?” Abi asked in a surprised voice. “But Aden is so wonderful and loves you so much!”
“I could say the same for Fin,” Sandy said.
There was a noise at the door and Abi disappeared. The nurse came in to check on Sissy.
“Don’t you worry, dear,” the nurse said. “Your sister is getting better.”
“How can you tell?” Sandy asked.
“Experience,” the nurse said.
She gave Sandy a hug and left the room. Sandy was scowling at the door when Abi appeared again.
“She’s right,” Abi said.
“Who’s right?” Sandy asked.
“The nurse,” Abi said. “Sissy’s getting better.”
Sandy nodded because she felt like she should.
“No really,” Abi said. “Sissy’s going to be fine.”
“I worry about that too!” Sandy said. “If she’s fine, she’s going to lose a year in ballet. The ballet company has already said they have to replace her. Sissy’s going to have to come home to get better. If she comes home, she’ll never be the ballerina she wants to be. Plus, it looks like Ivan’s going to stay in New York.”
When Sandy finished, Abi gave Sandy a hug.
“Sissy’s ballet career is going to be just fine,” Abi said.
“Is that a fairy skill?” Sandy asked.
“Oh, no,” Abi said. “We fairies suck at telling the future. Delphie told me last night that Sissy was going to be fine.”
“Delphie,” Sandy scowled. “She also says that Ivan and Sissy belong together.”
“They do,” Abi said.
“Ivan is about a hundred,” Sandy groaned. “Sissy’s just a kid!”
“Ivan’s not that old,” Abi said. “And your sister is not a child.”
“How’s it going to work with Sissy in Denver and Ivan here?” Sandy shook her head.
“Why does it bother you?” Abi asked.
“Oh…” Sandy sighed and sat down. She picked up Sissy’s hand again. “When Sissy was in the eating disorder clinic the first time, her therapist said that Ivan had molested Sissy and that’s why she had an eating disorder. Ivan was furious. Sissy denied the whole thing. My mom… well, you can imagine.”
“Your sister’s in love with her teacher,” Abi said. “And Ivan loves Sissy. Plus, he’s incredibly handsome.”
“Have you seen him dance?” Sandy asked.
Abi shook her head.
“It’s like fluid sex,” Sandy said. “The women swoon.”
“But not you?” Abi asked.
“No,” Sandy said. “And, in case you’re wondering, I’m not sexually or romantically interested in Ivan, and I’m not jealous of my sister.”
“Eating disorder treatment?” Abi asked.
“Second one,” Sandy said. “Ivan’s been the topic of much therapy.”
“He’s very handsome,” Abi repeated.
“He is,” Sandy said.
“So…” Abi said. “Why aren’t you interested in him?”
“He’s not my type,” Sandy said. “Plus, he’s always been so good with Sissy, since she was a little kid. You should have seen them meet.”
“What happened?” Abi asked.
“We were at Seth’s,” Sandy said. “My Dad…”
“Mitch,” Abi said. “He was just here.”
“I’m sure,” Sandy said with a nod. “Anyway, Mitch was in his last days, and Seth arrived from Russia with Ivan. Sissy and my dad were really close. She was lying on his bed telling him some random story about the picture she was coloring.
“Ivan was on crutches,” Sandy said. “He was in the gulag when Seth found him. Honestly, he was in pretty bad shape. Seth opened the door to Dad’s room and Sissy looked up. Ivan crutched in. Sissy said, ‘You’re finally here’ or something like that. Ivan’s English wasn’t great but he said something like, ‘I’m sorry it too so long.’ She said, ‘That’s okay. We have the rest of our lives.’”
“Really?” Abi asked.
“Right,” Sandy nodded. “I was embarrassed so I hustled her out of the room. When we got to the kitchen, I asked her why she said that to the handsome man. You know what she said?”
“No,” Abi shook her head.
“She said, ‘He’s my prince. We’re ‘sposed to be together,’” Sandy said.
“How sweet!” Abi said.
“Kind of crazy, I know,” Sandy said. “But when I apologized to Ivan later, he said almost the same thing. Something like, ‘We belong together.’”
“Wow,” Abi said.
“You really think she’s going to be okay?” Sandy asked.
“Even with fairy help, it will take some time for her to heal,” Abi said. “This is a grave injury. Healing is what Sissy needs. When she’s able, she can have anything she wants.”
“She won’t be a ballerina?” Sandy asked.
“Fairy?” Abi put her hand on her chest. “Suck at prediction?”
“What does Delphie say?” Abi asked.
“She says that Sissy will dance throughout the United States and the big stages of Europe,” Sandy said.
“And that doesn’t comfort you?” Abi asked.
“I just…” Sandy started to cry again.
“I know,” Abi said.
Abi put her arm around Sandy and Sandy cried on the fairy’s shoulder for what seemed like forever. When she was spent, Abi insisted that Sandy rest and that she would keep watch. Sandy took up a spot on the couch and fell sound asleep. A few hours later, Ivan shook Sandy awake.
“Sissy has opened her eyes,” Ivan said. “She’s awake.”
Sunday night — 9:25 p.m.
Dionne looked up when Bumpy came into the house. He gave her a slight smile and a nod before taking off his heavy overcoat, hat, and sweater. She got up and they hugged.
“I saved some dinner for you,” Dionne said.
“Good,” Bumpy said.
He followed her through their modest home to the kitchen. She took a chicken breast out of the oven.
“Chicken?” Bumpy asked.
“Heart disease is an bitter master, doctor,” Dionne said with a smile.
“Hmp,” Bumpy said.
While he used the restroom, she plated the chicken and added some steamed broccoli and roasted Brussel sprouts to his plate. He came out and washed his hands at the kitchen sink. She carried his plate to the dining room.
“But we have pie?” Bumpy asked.
Dionne chuckled and nodded.
“Thank you, Lord, for this meal and pie,” Bumpy said with a chuckle.
Dionne smiled and he started to eat. She waited for a few minutes for him to eat before asking him about his evening.
“So?” she asked.
“Oh,” he said. He nodded and ate some more.
“You’ll tell me eventually,” Dionne said.
Bumpy set his fork down and sighed.
“I wish I was a drinking man,” Bumpy said.
“You’ve been a drinking man,” Dionne said. “The problem is that when you’re a drinking man, you have a lot of drink and not a lot of life.”
“There is that,” Bumpy said.
He picked up his fork and started eating again. He’d eaten all of his chicken and most of his Brussel sprouts before she asked about his night again.
“So, it didn’t go well,” Dionne said.
“It’s over,” Bumpy said. “That’s all I can say.”
“I know what you want me to say,” Bumpy said. “I should say that we’re lucky the boys don’t have to do real time. We’re lucky the DAs office was able to separate the boys who purchased the videos from those who committed the rapes. We’re even lucky to be beginning the end of this thing.”
“You’re right, I do think those boys were lucky,” Dionne said.
“And their mothers,” Bumpy said.
“Their mothers are relieved,” Dionne said. “You made this happen.”
“We both did,” Bumpy said with a nod.
“So why are you upset?” Dionne asked.
“The boys spent the better part of the winter in jail,” Bumpy said. “You should have seen them. It was like they were numb. They stared straight ahead with dead eyes. They didn’t say a word. They followed their mothers to their cars.”
“The boys are coming into tomorrow?” Dionne asked.
“For checkups,” Bumpy said.
He turned his focused to his meal. She got up to get him his pie. He looked up when she returned.
“Apple?” Bumpy asked.
“Peach,” Dionne said.
“Do you think those boys were… injured in jail?” Dionne asked.
“It’s possible,” Bumpy said. “But…”
He moved the plate with pie on it in front of him.
“I think they saw their futures evaporate,” Bumpy said. He snapped his fingers. “Gone.”
“They have it back now,” Dionne said.
“I hope so,” Bumpy said. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.”
“And the day after and the one after that,” Dionne said. “This is just the beginning of their second chance.”
“That’s the truth,” Bumpy said.
“You and I,” Dionne nodded, “we used up every corner of our second chance.”
“That’s the truth,” Bumpy said.
“These boys will too,” Dionne said. “Don’t worry, Bumpy.”
He gave her a slight nod and finished his pie.
“Bed time?” Dionne asked.
“Yes ma’am,” Bumpy said. He followed her to the bedroom.
Sunday night – 9:35 p.m.
Hoping not to wake Jacob, Jill shut off the bathroom light before opening the door. She crept across the bedroom and slipped into bed. She’d no sooner pulled up the covers when Jacob reached over and turned on the bedside lamp. He looked at her with sleep groggy eyes and blinked.
“How is she?” Jacob asked.
“Which she?” Jill asked.
“Right,” Jacob chuckled. “There are a few shes.”
He lay back down and closed his eyes. Jill was sure he’d gone to sleep when he opened his eyes.
“All of them,” Jacob said. He sat up so that his back was against the bed board. “Heather?”
“She’s resting,” Jill said. “The nurse said that Heather fed the new baby with breast milk from the break milk bank.”
“Is he in the room with her?” Jacob asked.
“Not yet,” Jill said. “He’s healthy enough, but she’s not. They want to discharge him, but where would he go?”
“Here?” Jacob asked.
“Would that be all right?” Jill asked.
“It’s all right with me,” Jacob said. “What does Edie say?”
“The more the merrier,” Jill said. “Mack will keep going to the Marlowe School but he’s…”
“Coming here as well?” Jacob asked. “Fine with me.”
“Thanks.” Jill leaned over to kiss him.
“Sissy’s was conscious for a few hours today,” Jill said.
“This afternoon?” Jacob asked.
“Right,” Jill nodded. “You were with me when Sandy called.”
“How is she?” Jacob asked.
“Healing,” Jill said. “She’s in a lot of pain so she’s on a lot of meds. The doctors are pleased, but Sandy is worried.”
“I’m sure,” Jacob said. “And Noelle? Isn’t that where you just came from?”
“I was downstairs helping Noelle get settled,” Jill said. “And, she’s okay. Not great, but okay. Seems like she had equal doses of awesome times and awful times in New York. She’s glad to be home. She’s going to be home the next couple of days while she gets settled again.”
“Good idea,” Jacob said. “And how are you , my princess?”
“Good,” Jill said. “Glad everyone is on the mend. Is it awful to say that I’m glad that horrible financier suffering?”
“Not to me,” Jacob said.
“No more hassles from that Exeriri Genetics,” Jill said. “Go Otis!”
“Go Otis!” Jacob said. “Way to use your psychopathy for good!”
Jill smiled. Jacob held out his arm and Jill rested against his shoulder.
“Are you sorry you’re not treated like a true Titan princess?” Jacob asked.
“Honestly?” Jill asked.
“No,” Jill said. “Plus, I think everyone has a little Titan in them.”
“Oh yea?” Jacob asked.
“A little Titan. A little Fairy. A little Olympian,” Jill said. “When I was there, in Olympia, I really got that these people were the first people. Not human really, but close. They had kids with their sisters because there wasn’t anyone else.”
“Like Noah,” Jacob said.
“Adam and Eve’s sons,” Jill said. “There’s lots of people now so we lots of choices. But we’re all…”
“A piece of Olympia,” Jacob said.
“Or Fairy Queendoms or Titans or…” Jill nodded.
“Makes sense,” Jacob said. “So it’s okay to have a normal life, not a royal life?”
“Normal life sounds wonderful to me,” Jill said.
“Me too,” Jacob said. “Of course, by saying that we’re saying: ‘Let the drama begin’.”
“Good night, my love,” Jacob said.
“See you in the morning for the next round of drama,” Jill said.
“God, I hope it doesn’t start that soon!” Jacob said.
Sunday night – 9:35 p.m.
“You should wear velvet more often,” Jeraine said to Tanesha as he came up the stairs to their bedroom. Jabari was asleep on the bed and Tanesha was packing her backpack for class the next day.
She gave a slight shake of her head and went back to packing.
“You know.” Jeraine put his arms around her waist and kissed her neck. In a low intimate voice, he said, “You’re still wearing the tiara.”
Tanesha gasped. Her hand went to her head where it found the tiara. Shaking her head at herself, she turned to him. She pulled the tiara off her head.
“You are my princess,” Jeraine said.
“And you are mine,” Tanesha said. She set the tiara on his head.
He laughed and adjusted it to a jaunty crookedness.
“Can I wear the earrings too?” Jeraine asked.
Tanesha’s hands went to her ears.
“This is some fancy stuff,” Jeraine said.
“Family crest,” Tanesha said as she took off the diamond earrings.
“Real diamond and jewels?” Jeraine asked.
“I think so,” Tanesha said.
“And they’re yours?” Jeraine asked.
“I guess so,” Tanesha said.
“We should put them in the safe,” Jeraine said. “I mean, I know you’re a fairy and all now, but there’s lots a folks who wouldn’t mind trading these for groceries.”
“You mean like us?” Tanesha asked with a smile.
“Hey!” Jeraine said with a smile. “I’m making good money. It’s you who’s mooching off the world.”
“Me?” Tanesha asked.
“Rich daddy and all,” Jeraine said.
Tanesha looked so indignant that Jeraine laughed.
“Shh.” Tanesha gestured to Jabari. The boy opened his eyes. Seeing Tanesha, he smiled and went back to sleep.
“He really missed you,” Jeraine said.
“I missed him,” Tanesha said. “And you.”
“Oh yeah?” Jeraine asked. His voice was mocking but his face showed his delight.
“Yeah,” Tanesha said with a grin.
“Look.” Jeraine pointed to Jabari. “He has the same look on his face.”
Tanesha smiled at Jabari’s face.
“It’s sweet how he mimics you,” Jeraine said. His voice was neutral.
Tanesha squinted and turned to look at him.
“That is what it is right?” Jeraine asked. “Just a mimic, right.”
“Well…” Tanesha started. She glanced at Jeraine’s face. He was laughing at her. “How long have you known?”
“Since he was born,” Jeraine said. “Annette told me she used your eggs to get back at me.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” Tanesha asked.
“Why didn’t you?” Jeraine asked.
“I didn’t know.” Tanesha scowled at him. “In fact, I didn’t know anything about him until just this year. And anyway, why didn’t you tell me? And why in the world would you give that horrible woman access to our child?”
“Because I’m an idiot,” Jeraine said.
“That’s the truth,” Tanesha said with a smile.
“Hey, at least I didn’t pretend I wasn’t his parent,” Jeraine said.
“I never pretended I wasn’t his parent,” Tanesha said. “I was a biological donor!”
“Why did you do it?” Jeraine asked.
“I needed the money,” Tanesha said. “Yvonne needed to go to rehab. It took me forever to talk that horrible Alvin into letting her go. I had to find the money for it.”
“Alvin didn’t want her sober,” Jeraine said.
“No, he did not,” Tanesha said. “Speaking of Alvin, Rodney wanted to know if he should pay you back for buying mom from her keeper.”
Jeraine’s face twisted with disgust. He put his hand on his stomach.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” Jeraine said.
“Because I didn’t buy a human being,” Jeraine said.
“That’s what happened,” Tanesha said with a shrug.
“No, it’s not,” Jeraine said. “I paid a man to get out of town. That’s what I did. I did not purchase a human being. No.”
Jeraine shook his head.
“No,” he repeated.
“Okay,” Tanesha raised her hands in submission.
He sniffed at her.
“Why are you so hot about this?” Tanesha asked.
“The man I’m named for was a slave,” Jeraine said. “By my own choice, I gave my life to the record company. My God given gift to sing and write songs was a slave to their machine. My dad says it was an unconscious replay of the trauma my great-grandfather went through.”
“Your grandfather was a share cropper,” Jeraine said.
“And?” Tanesha asked.
“You’re not so far from slavery either,” Jeraine said.
“I’m aware of that,” Tanesha’s voice was laced with impatience. “My mother was a sex slave to a rich white politician named Alvin.”
Jeraine stared at her for a moment.
“Ah, Miss T, I’m sorry,” Jeraine said. “I’m an idiot.”
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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