A Place to Dance

Ali Vali



Please See Chapter 1 for Disclaimers



Chapter 4

"You’re all right, Jolly. I never have taken the time to tell you that. All those miles I cover, the one thing I never worry about is Mimi." Ricky stopped working when he saw her step outside to survey the progress they had made in her absence.

Jolly put her hands in her pockets and rocked on her feet as she looked at the studs of the new roofline. "You knew about this?" she asked, cocking her head toward the studio. Inside Mimi was setting up a new canvas trying to salvage some of her paint.

"You mad and just not saying? A baby’s a big commitment and not everyone’s up for the long haul." Jolly arched her brow at his philosophy considering how often he was gone. "I didn’t say I was a shining example of parenthood, I just figured you would be. No matter what life throws at you, Jolly, you’re a stand up guy. Taking responsibility even when you didn’t need to is how best to describe you. Is that what that was in there? Mimi decided for the both of you and now it’s too late to be honest about how you feel?"

"This is a little unorthodox granted, but I think she would’ve stopped taking the pill if I’d different equipment. Am I mad?" Jolly looked at the whirlwind with the fast brush and laughed. "Rick, had anyone else done this I’d be half way to the state line by now because I’d have seen it as a trap to get me to commit."

"But with my daughter?"

"I don’t believe entrapment was her motive. Mimi would leave me before she’d manipulate me into something I didn’t want. What’ve I discovered about myself these past few months though, is she could ask me to wail at the moon naked in the middle of that park," Jolly turned around and pointed. "And I’d ask her for how long just to see her smile. I just wish I’d been here so she wouldn’t have had to do this alone. How about you?" She reached out her hand and slapped Ricky on the back. "Some little person starts calling you grandpa, it’s going to ruin your long haired hippy image."

"You forgot freak."

"No I didn’t. I just think Anthony’s more of a freak than you ever thought to be. Now knock off for the day and go take a shower. I made dinner reservations and I’d like to get something into my system before Mimi tells me she invited her mother to come and live with us, or something else as bizarre ." She looked at Mimi painting and snapped her fingers just remembering something.

"I’ll meet you two at the loft," said Ricky as she dropped the hammer into the box at his feet.

"Baby, put down the brush," ordered Jolly from the door of the studio.

"I’m not finished."

"Mimi, you’re done for the day." Jolly put her hand up to stop the ‘but the paint is a pain to mix’ argument. "Pregnant women are not supposed to be inhaling paint fumes. Think of this as your time to experiment with water colors."

The brush ready for its next stroke on the canvas fell to the pallet next to her. It was the one thing Mimi hadn’t figured into this whole equation. No painting for the next eight months would drive her insane.

"I don’t like water based paints," whined Mimi. The trembling lip and watery green eyes were the beginning of what Jolly came to refer as Mimi’s blue phase in shades of red.

The next morning Jolly sat next to Mimi as they waited for the nurse to call them into a waiting room. They had successfully celebrated Jolly getting a year older and were waiting to see if Mimi owed her a sweater as a backup birthday gift.

"Ms. Mulle." The receptionist opened the glass partition and called out the name. None of the staff commented when Jolly followed Mimi in holding her hand.

Two nurses attended to Mimi quickly, getting all the necessary tests out of the way before sending the doctor in to see her. It would still be a couple of days before they would receive the final confirmation, but as soon as Dr. Eschete saw them, they would have an idea if they needed to start buying baby clothes.

"Good morning, Mimi," Ellie Eschete opened the door and walked in reading the chart the nurse had handed her. She noticed Jolly when she looked up to smile at her patient. "I’m sorry, it’s been a rough night. My partner Sam and I delivered eight babies that started arriving about ten last night," Ellie explained accounting for the dark circles under her eyes. "My name’s Ellie Eschete," she held a hand out to Jolly.

"Nice to meet you, doctor, I’m Mimi’s partner, Jolly Andolini."

"Are you ready to be a mommy you two?" asked Ellie.

"You tell us," countered Jolly.

"Start stocking up on diapers, guys, we’re having a baby. I’ll call you in a couple of days with the final lab results, but the preliminary stuff says we’re on our way." Ellie jotted some notes in Mimi’s chart and wrote out a script for vitamins and tried to ignore the kiss Mimi was giving the tall stunned woman she had come in with. The doctor figured she would just wait for their next visit to get any talking accomplished.

Ellie stuck a list of instructions and the script in Jolly’s hand before waving and walking out. Any more successful one timers and she and her partner Sam could start to refer to themselves as the stork. It helped when the patient trying artificial insemination was as young and healthy as Mimi. It was heartbreaking to watch the other couples they saw month after month pass with no luck.

With one last look at the happy couple, Ellie closed the door and headed to her next patient. Jolly and Mimi reminded her of another couple she and Sam were following. She could only hope they had as much good fortune.


"Tell her not to be late. The appointment’s at eleven so I’ll meet her at the doctor’s office. Daddy’s giving me a ride over there, so be sure you mention that too or she’ll freak if she gets over here and I’m gone. Thanks, Christy." Mimi hung up the phone and fell back against her pillow, convinced Satan had invented morning sickness.

It had been almost eight weeks and while Mimi was getting bigger, she wasn’t gaining much weight. Jolly had been her salvation since she took such good care of her, but she and Tim were so busy, Jolly was in worse shape than Mimi. The two things they had been looking forward to were the completion of the house, and their first ultrasound. The house was another month away before it was inhabitable, but the test to see the baby was that morning.

"Not feeling good, huh?" Ricky sat on the bed trying not to move it too much. He and Jolly had been taking turns taking care of Mimi in the mornings until the nausea subsided. It was strange but from the hours of noon till about six in the afternoon she was fine.

"If I had a gun, I’d ask you to shoot me numerous times. Let me take a shower and get dressed. Maybe if I can look this kid in the eye and explain how much I hate throwing up, they’ll take pity on me and stop."

Ellie walked in to find Jolly running her fingers through Mimi’s hair in an effort to make her feel better. These big tough women turned into such nurturers when their spouses were miserable. The petite doctor had always attributed it to the partner’s nesting period. One day soon she and Sam were going to have a little talk. Being on the receiving end of one of those head massages for the reason Mimi was getting one was looking better all the time.

"I promise it goes away. Until then let’s look at how cute he or she is and it’ll help take your mind off the misery." Ellie squirted gel on Mimi’s midsection and placed the wand down to take a look. It was her first time using the new unit the sales rep had loaned them which showed the womb in 4D.

The monitor showed incredible detail with a reddish tint to the black and white that made it look more like a photograph. The baby wasn’t distinguishable as a tiny person just yet, but when they were, Mimi and Jolly would be treated to some special images in the coming months. The new technology was like nothing Ellie had seen. The brochure the rep had left them showed pictures of children in their second and third trimesters that you could’ve sworn were done in a studio their faces were so clear.

Ellie moved the wand, pressing down in the right spot getting the position she wanted. The image that came up made her lean forward and stare at the screen. She moved the wand a fraction to the right and pressed again. "Could you excuse me a minute, I’ll be right back."

Jolly went back to running her fingers through Mimi’s hair but this time it was to make herself feel better. Doctors leaving the room without explanation never meant anything good. Didn’t they teach them that in medical school?

"Hey, guys, this is my partner Sam Casey, and she’s just going to take a look," explained Ellie.

"Is there something wrong?" Jolly asked for the both of them. Mimi was taking deep breaths trying to keep the cracker she had eaten during the car ride over down.

"Jolly, right?" Sam asked holding out her hand. Jolly nodded and shook hands with the tall smiling doctor. "Ellie just wants me to confirm something for her, but there’s nothing wrong." Sam sat down and picked up the wand putting it where Ellie pointed. When the image came up Sam thought about how much she loved her job. She smiled up at Ellie and nodded her head.

Ellie leaned against Sam’s back and pointed to the screen. "Every so often a fertilized egg will split and it results in twins."

"We’re having twins?" asked Mimi, momentarily forgetting her nausea.

"Let me finish. That happening results in identical twins. The other way twins come about is when you release two eggs during ovulation and both are fertilized. That results in fraternal twins."

"So we’re having twins," asked Jolly looking at the screen trying to decipher what Ellie was saying. The only thing she could compare the image to was a modern art exhibit Mimi had taken her to a year before. If there were children to be found up there, they certainly weren’t sitting up and waving.

Ellie leaned further into Sam so her finger would reach the screen, wanting Jolly and Mimi to follow along with what she was about to say. "See this area here?" Ellie pointed to the right portion of the screen while Sam held the wand in place. "One sack means the egg split and you’re having twins." She drew a circle around the image with her finger and highlighted the two little guys swimming contentedly inside. Both Jolly and Mimi looked at the two tiny squiggles on the screen through teary eyes and smiled.

Sam looked at Jolly and saw the look of wonder mixed with fear and couldn’t help adding to the news. "But you see this spot here?" Her finger moved to the left of Ellie’s. "Another separate little guy makes for triplets. They just won’t all be identical."

The image went back to a blue screen when Mimi rolled over to look for Jolly. Blue eyes looked up at Mimi from the floor as Jolly tried to remember how she got there. It had been the second tap on the screen by Sam that had made the architect slide off the chair.

"The house isn’t big enough, baby, and I’m only working on one crib," said Jolly. The thought of where to put more space already working in her head along with adding to the furniture they would need.

"Are you ok?" Mimi asked concentrating so much on Jolly that she missed her doctors sharing a kiss behind her. The two medical professionals loved coming in and telling parents that they were having multiples. Pregnancies like this added more complications but they also added an air of excitement.

"I’m fabulous," answered Jolly.

"And I’m fertile it would seem." Mimi rolled over and looked at the screen where their children had just been. If all three of them turned out to be as hyper as Jolly, running around nailing on things, she would never get to paint another thing even after they arrived.


"We have to finish this thing by Sunday, people, so work with me. If I have to go back to the loft and tell Mimi she has to climb those stairs one more day, one of you has to stay and hide the kitchen knives." Jolly had given everyone an assignment and instructions on how to get it done. They had decided to add an extra bedroom for Ricky and add space to the ones they had already completed. That was almost done and all that was left was the small touchups that would finish the job to Jolly’s standards.

Ricky, Pam and the guys who had come from the crew all headed inside to finish putting up molding while Tim and Jolly headed for the roof along the back to finish putting up the gutter system. If a spring downpour came and swamped Mimi’s flower garden, Jolly didn’t even want to think of the consequences. Her partner had taken the barren yard when she moved in and turned it into what looked like a living painting there were so many colors. The blooms and their various hues were an essential part of Mimi’s paints. When crushed and mixed with linseed oil, they created the vibrant paints that marked her work.

"How’s the little mommy doing?" asked Tim adjusting his tool belt. He and Pam had tried talking Mimi into letting Pam stay with her for the morning, but Mimi had said all she planned to do was sleep so there was no need.

"She’s five months pregnant with three children and she’s normally a size bigger than a squirrel, how do you think she feels?" Jolly was tired and irritable and felt bad as soon as the words left her mouth. Just because she wasn’t getting any sleep, was no reason to take it out on her cousin. "I’m sorry, my hormones must be flaring in sympathy."

"I know what it’s like, buddy. Just wait until she has them and then the real hormonal fun begins. Grab that side over there and let’s get this last piece on so we can go inside. I don’t want to be out here when it’s ninety degrees."

They climbed on to the roof on separate ladders carrying two sections of gutters. Behind them the normal Saturday crowed paraded around the park enjoying the beautiful weather. Jolly turned to tell Tim about how well you could see the babies moving around making her miss the hazard right under her feet.

Tim watched in horror as Jolly’s foot slid out at an odd angle on the small pile of wet leaves at the edge of the roofline when she turned to face him. She did a flip on the way down and landed on her back with a thump so loud it made him wince in sympathy. The thought to poke fun at her clumsiness died away when he saw that she wasn’t moving and her breathing was becoming labored.

"Pam!" The name was ripped from Tim’s throat as he clamored down the ladder. The terror in his voice had his wife outside in no time followed closely by Ricky. "Call 911 and tell them to get over here fast." Tim moved closer to Jolly and made a point not to touch her. "Pam, go now."

"What happened?" demanded Ricky. He moved to Jolly and went to touch her head.

"Don’t touch her until the ambulance gets here. Jolly, I want you to try and relax. That might help you breathe." She was gasping for air now and her skin was starting to take on a bluish tint. Both men almost slumped over with relief when they heard the sirens in the distance.

"Mimi." Jolly drew in enough air to force the name out of her mouth. The pain in her chest was overwhelming and for some reason she couldn’t get enough air.

"Don’t you worry about her, Jolly. I’ll take care of everything until you get home from seeing the doctor. Relax for me, ok?" begged Tim.

"Love her."

"I know you do, buddy, and she does too." It took an act of will not to shake her when Jolly’s chest stopped moving. The idiot hadn’t even dropped her hammer on the way down.

Pam came back leading three paramedics rolling a stretcher into the yard. They started barking out orders and radioing in to the hospital, but at least they were working on her and that made the three on lookers feel better.

Tim threw Pam his keys as he grabbed Jolly’s off the new kitchen counter. He and Ricky were going to follow the ambulance, which left Pam to go back to the loft and get Mimi.

"Tim, do you think I should? I don’t want to upset her," said Pam. They watched them load Jolly into the back so there wouldn’t be time for a long discussion.

"If you don’t tell her now and something happens later, it’ll be that much worse, honey. So yes, you’ve got to go and let her know. Call me and I’ll let you know where they take her."

Pam was surprised to find Mimi sitting up in bed as if knowing Pam was on her way over. The nervous brunette put on a smile she didn’t really feel like and tried to be as soothing as possible. "You get any sleep?" asked Pam.

"Don’t tell me y’all are finished already? Had I known the kids would be throwing a soccer tournament this morning I’d have come over with you guys, because I sure as hell didn’t get any sleep."

The phone hanging from Pam’s belt rang and she reached to answer it with a shaky hand. The name on the screen was Tim. The call could only mean they had arrived at the hospital. "Ok, we’ll be there in a few minutes. I promise we’ll be careful, it isn’t that far away." Pam hooked to the phone back and looked at Mimi. She couldn’t think of another reason to delay, or of a good way to break the news. "You have to get dressed, sweetie."

"What’s wrong?"

Pam told her, trying to leave out some of the details hoping when they arrived at the hospital Jolly would be fine and conscious. Tim was waiting for them at the doors of Charity Emergency wanting to bring Mimi straight to where she would find Jolly. The last he had seen of his cousin was when they had wheeled the gurney into one of the rooms and a slew of people dressed in scrubs had followed it in. The paramedics had explained on their way out that all trauma cases were brought here first no matter if they were indigent or not.

"Where is she, Tim?" Mimi held on to her midsection and tried not to think the worse, but the glassy eyed looks she had gotten from Pam on the way over were starting to worry her.

"They took her in for an examination but they’re not finished yet, so they asked Ricky and me to wait out here."

"What in the hell happened?" demanded Mimi. Her father tried to calm her down as Tim tried his best to describe what had gone wrong. He was almost finished the story when a tall doctor stepped out of the exam room and looked toward the waiting area.

"Who’s here for Jolly Andolini?"

Mimi stood up so abruptly that she almost fell forward. "Can I see her?"

"In a minute, ma’am. Let’s first discuss what the problem is and what we have to do to fix it, ok?" The tall doctor led Mimi back to her seat and took the empty one next to it so the woman wouldn’t have to crane her neck to look up at her. "I want you to relax so I don’t have to admit you as well. First off, my name is Harry Basantes and I just finished looking at Jolly’s x-rays. The fall managed to break three ribs on her right side, two of which punctured one of her lungs. That explains why she couldn’t breathe well and was turning blue."

"She turned blue?" Mimi looked at the three people to the other side of her knowing they had left some parts of what happened out of the version they told her.

"Ma’am, are you related to Ms. Andolini?" asked Harry.

"She’s my partner, doctor. Is she going to be all right?"

"She’s going to be fine. We’re going to move her into surgery in a bit and fix those broken bones so she can be in top shape to take care of the little one you have on the way. Why don’t you wait here and I’ll be out as soon as we’re done. What’s your name?" Harry sat with her hands on her knees glad she had come in to do rounds for a vacationing attendant. The woman sitting next to her didn’t need any more stress.

"I’m sorry, Mimi Mulle, doctor. Thank you for talking with me. And it’s three little ones, not just one, so see if you can implant some sense into my partner when you put her under."

Harry laughed and couldn’t believe the coincidence. "I’ll try my best, but you’d be happy to know my partner says the same things about me to anyone who’ll listen, so don’t be too hard on her. Do you want to see her before we take her in? We have her sedated but I believe she’ll feel better hearing your voice."

Mimi followed Harry into the room where they were prepping Jolly for surgery. She leaned against Harry for support after seeing all the equipment they had attached to Jolly to help her breathe. "It’s not as bad as it looks, Ms. Mulle, I promise," Harry told her.

"Jolly, I know you can hear me, love. You’re going to be ok after this nice doctor fixes you up, so don’t make things anymore complicated in there, ok?" Mimi ran her fingers through Jolly’s hair and kissed her forehead. "And if I see you on the roof again anytime soon, I’ll personally kick your butt."

"Maybe you can get her to pose for more paintings while she’s recuperating?" suggested Harry.

"What do you mean?"

"My wife bought the painting ‘Wings of Love’ at the No Aids party this year and I just assumed it was of Jolly. You’re that Mimi Mulle aren’t you?"

"Yes, I’m sorry, I didn’t stay long enough to meet the people who purchased my piece. I’m glad it went to a good home." When Harry said wife, Mimi gave a silent thank you to the heavens. Here with her was someone who knew more than medicine, she understood she and Jolly’s relationship. "Thank you for letting me see her. I’d of gone nuts if I’d had to wait out here for hours."

"We’ll take good care of here, Mimi. We promise. Jolly really does look worse than the injury she sustained."

"Thank you, and I really am sorry for not taking the time to meet the two of you that night. Especially after the big check you wrote to bring my piece home."

Harry led her back outside to the waiting area so she could take care of Mimi’s partner. "You don’t have to apologize, Ms. Mulle, it’s not the time to talk about the painting. I just wanted to let you know how much we’ve enjoyed it. Do you need anything? I could have a bed brought out for you if you like. It made my wife feel better to have her feet up when she was pregnant for our first."

"How many children do you have?" asked Mimi, liking this soft-spoken doctor who understood what Jolly meant to her happiness.

"I have a son, Jackson and another baby on the way. If you ask the mean looking nurse over there, she’ll show you pictures of Jack and my wife Desi." Harry pointed to the nurse’s station before getting up and leaving instructions for Mimi’s comfort.

The surgery was quick and could have been done by one of her students, but Harry had stayed and performed it herself wanting to make Mimi feel better. She put Jolly in room and let Mimi and Ricky stay the night not wanting the pregnant woman staying alone. Jolly was drugged enough to make it through the afternoon and night without waking, so hopefully all three of them would get some rest. Harry was confident, that barring any complications, Jolly could be sent home in the morning.


Harry arrived home to find Desi walking to the house with Jack perched on her hip. The odd thing about the picture was they were both covered in what looked to be mud. Only hearing the last part of what Desi was saying, she could tell Jack had done something he should have reconsidered.

"Jack, I can’t believe you did that." Desi sounded like a woman who was on her last frazzled nerve.

The reprimand was lost to deaf ears as Jack turned his attention to the only person who could get him out of the bind he was in, "Doccy."

"Hey there, little buddy," said Harry to Jack before turning to Desi. "Sweetheart, isn’t he a little young to be playing in mud?" was her question as she took the baby from the miffed looking blonde. The muttered answer Harry got was too low to hear, but it sounded like a curse having to do with her and fault. It was best not to delve any further so doctor and son just watched Desi scoop a glob of grayish brown substance off her forehead and throw it in the grass before going into the house.

The slamming kitchen door didn’t faze Jack in the least as he tugged on Harry’s ears to get a hello kiss. "Son, it’s not a good idea to try your mother’s patience when she’s three months pregnant. You have an endless supply of cute quotient, but mine’s running a little low. The fact you look like me makes your little adventures my fault."


"Yeah, cute stuff. Let’s go cheer up your mother." The downstairs was quiet being it was Sunday afternoon and Mona was out with her family for the day. Harry stepped into Jack’s room and stripped him out of the soiled jumper he had on then put him on the floor so she could take her scrubs off.

Desi opened her eyes to the naked duo at the door and felt her frustration melt in the hot water of her bath. It was an impossibility to stay mad at either of her brunettes. Harry wiped the clay off Jack before taking a seat next to the tub waiting for the water to cool so they could join Desi.

"How was your day, darlin’?" asked Harry.

"I know I’m not supposed to be taking a bath, but it couldn’t be helped. Your son…"

"My son? You both end up covered in mud and he’s mine?"

"It was clay, honey, not mud. Clay that was up to an hour ago, Kenneth and Tony’s anniversary present. A present, I might add, which took me all morning and most of the afternoon to make. Your son crawled over and put his hand down on the wheel control and sent it flying into every corner of the studio. So yes, at this moment he’s all yours." Desi looked at her miniature Harry smiling up at her from Harry’s lap and lifted her hands out of the water. "Come on, Jackson."

"Now that he’s clean and cute he’s yours again?" Harry crawled in and sat behind them.

"And Mona calls you a bonehead." Desi smiled when two soft lips pressed against her temple and Harry’s hands went to the swell of her mid section. "A boy or a girl?" asked Desi.

"Doesn’t matter. Look at how good the first one turned out. Can you imagine what we’ve accomplished now with a little practice?"

"You’ve almost made all my dreams come true, Doccy," said Desi turning her head to get a kiss.


"I wanted two little guys like this, so don’t worry, you’re half way home. How was work?"

"Did a small surgery, met someone you’d like to know, then I came home to my two mud bugs."

"Clay, honey, try and remember that because you get to watch your prodigy while I recreate that woven style bowl. Who’d you meet?"

"Mimi Mulle and partner."

Desi turned around holding Jack between them so she could look at Harry. Jack took the move as an invitation to stick his hand in Harry’s mouth. "You know Mimi Mulle?"

"We’re ike dis," answered Harry holding up two crossed fingers and talking as best she could around the little hand in her mouth.

"Tony and I missed out on her first show since she had contracted with Griffin Studios. She’s not hurt and in your debt is she?" teased Desi.

"Listen to you. I’m married to an art shark."

"I don’t wish ill upon her, I just want her stuff hanging in our place so tell me."

"She’s not hurt, but she does though think I’m wonderful."

Desi held up one finger and threatened, "Harry, don’t make me count to three."

"Her partner, Jolly Andolini, fell off their roof this morning breaking three ribs and driving them into a lung. Not pretty, but not fatal. I wasn’t scheduled but I took her in and fixed the problem. Jolly should be set to go home tomorrow."

"You’re so sweet. She was really upset huh?"

"The woman’s very pregnant with triplets, so I would’ve stood on my head if it would have calmed her down."

Desi shivered thinking about more than one kid at a time. They didn’t want to know the sex but the one thing she did know was there was only one swimming around in there. "Can I go to rounds with you in the morning?"

"Don’t even think about it, Desiree. The hospital is not the place to be cutting art deals."

"I just want to meet her, honey, not twist her arm into showing at Basantes Gallery. That painting we bought is one of my favorite things in the house. If I wanted to arm twist, I would have asked to bring Tony along."

"How about I ask them over when Jolly gets out? Then you and the fruitcake can pitch all you want."

Desi didn’t answer, just stood up and stepped out of the tub to grab a towel. Jack came next when she lifted him out and wrapped him in another bath sheet. "Get out of there and get on the bed."

"Where are you going?" asked Harry.

"To put Jack in a sleeper for his nap and then I’m coming back so you can perform your marital duty." Harry moved so fast, any built up insecurities about her waistline on Desi’s part vanished.


"Jolly, come on, honey, wake up for me." Mimi stood by the bed and held an unresponsive hand. The doctor had been right, Jolly had slept through the night without any visible pain, but now Mimi was ready to see those blue eyes.

"What are you doing standing up?" The voice was raspy, but to Mimi it sounded like heaven. "Well?" Jolly asked winching a little when she tried to take a deep breath.

"I was trying to wake you up, blockhead. You just wait until you get out of here. You do realize your children and I’ve been worried sick about you?" The move Jolly loved so much had gained some flair with Mimi’s pregnancy, but those beautiful hands on Mimi’s hips still looked sexy to the architect.

"You threatening to give me the pinch?"

"You’ll be lucky I don’t hit you over the head with a hammer," teased Mimi. She tried sitting on the bed next to Jolly but couldn’t quite get all the way up. Ricky helped her out by picking Mimi up and laying her next to Jolly. He slipped out of the room to give them some privacy, happy to turn his daughter back into Jolly’s care. "I’m glad you’re all right."

"I’d fear for my life otherwise," Jolly joked with her. With Mimi pressed against her, Jolly could feel the babies moving around.

"You promise you’re all right?"

"Cross my heart, baby." Harry walked in on the two kissing and not wanting to break them apart, studied Jolly’s chart until they were done.

"Looks like another satisfied customer," said Harry as soon as their lips came apart. "Let’s take a look, and hopefully we can send you home to recuperate."

"Harry, thanks for coming back so early," said Mimi trying to sit up.

"Like I said, my partner Desi is a big fan, so I’m under strict orders to provide my best bedside manner and invite you two over for dinner. Jolly, you might not remember me from yesterday, I’m Harry Basantes and I did your surgery." Harry stuck the chart under her arm so she could shake hands with Jolly.

"Thanks, I feel a lot better than I did after that fall. I’ve jumped from higher spots, so I feel like an idiot I didn’t land on my feet." The fact the doctor hadn’t asked Mimi to move from her spot made Jolly take an instant liking to Harry.

Harry put the chart down and lifted the hospital gown up far enough to see the incision. "I would recommend ladders from now on until these set. Any more broken bones and Mimi might just make you wish death was imminent."

"I promise, Dr. Basantes."

Smoothing down the gown and readjusting the bedding, Harry turned her attention back to Mimi. "How are you feeling? Want me to call your doctor before you head home with Jolly?"

"I feel fine aside from looking and feeling like a walrus."

Harry laughed at Mimi’s choice of animal, expecting to hear cow or beached whale. Must be an artist thing, she thought knowing Desi’s favorite was hippopotamus. "You look great, and trust me, the figure you were used to seeing in the mirror comes back. If you doubt me call my house and ask my wife."

"You have children?" asked Jolly.

Harry pulled a picture from the pocket of her lab coat and handed it over. Both Desi and Jack were smiling at the camera sitting on their favorite picnic spot on the front lawn of the house. "Lucky for you I left my wallet in my other coat. This is Jackson and Desi Basantes, or Jack and mommy as they’re known at home."

"They’re beautiful," said Mimi.

"Thank you, and I’d be lying if I said I disagree with your assessment. You’ll be happy to know Desi enjoyed the experience so much we’re trying it again."

"Congratulations, Dr. Basantes." Jolly looked at the picture Mimi had handed over and suddenly couldn’t wait to do the same when their children arrived.

"Please call me Harry, and I was serious. I’ve been instructed to invite you both over for dinner when you’re able. I had to run out of the house and hide Desi’s keys to keep her from coming with me today."

Jolly handed the photo back and laughed. Desi sounded a lot like a blonde she knew. She accepted the invitation for the both of them when Mimi smiled and nodded her head.

"I have to warn you in advance, if you do come over be prepared to look at that painting from the No Aids event in our dining room. Though after doing your surgery yesterday, Mimi forgot to put that freckle you have on your abdomen," said Harry in all seriousness.

"What freckle?" asked Mimi.

"I’m kidding. Take care and someone will be back in to bring you downstairs. I’ll leave your scripts with the discharge nurse, then all you’ll have left to do is make an appointment with my office to have the stitches removed."

Ricky came back from the cafeteria when it was time and gave them a ride home to the loft, helping them both up the stairs when they arrived. He left to finish what they had started the previous day hoping to move into the house before Mimi got any bigger.

"Want anything?" Mimi asked Jolly.

The patient had been propped up by a mountain of pillows on the bed and was looking rather lonely. "If I asked real nice, would you sit on my face?"

"I would but with all this extra weight I might kill you." Mimi sat at the edge of the bed and put her hand on Jolly’s leg.

"How about a kiss then? I might not be up for killer sex just yet." Mimi laughed before rolling over and giving Jolly what she had asked for.

"I love you, Jolly, and I can’t wait for you to meet these guys." Mimi put her hand over Jolly’s. The big hand over her mid section was helping to calm the babies down.

"You think I should buy a bigger wallet now?"

"I feel sorry for anyone needing house plans four months from now. When do you think we can move into ours?" Mimi had a sudden urge to strip all her clothes off and eat cheesecake off Jolly’s chest. She hoped all these weird notions would go away after the babies were born.

"Missing the studio?" asked Jolly.

"Our bed would come in first."

"Soon, baby, soon." Jolly kissed Mimi’s cheek and tried not to think about running her hands along Mimi’s body. Ellie had put the brakes on that kind of behavior after the fourth month point because of the triplets.

"Tell me you miss it at least?" asked Mimi.

"How long do you think we can get Ricky to baby sit after you give birth?"

"You’re good for my ego, honey."

"I’ve joined blockheads anonymous to try and spruce up my image. You’re younger than me so I have to do whatever I can to keep you interested."

"You’re a sexy nut, Jolly, so you have nothing to worry about. What I need from you is access to our babies’ room so I can get moving on the walls and ceiling."

"Let me go and I’ll give you something to help you with the preliminary sketches." Jolly moved down the stairs slowly with Mimi fussing at her the whole way. The lap desk had been finished for three days and Jolly had planned to give it to Mimi as a house warming gift. She grabbed it along with a sketchpad.

"Oh, Jolly, you are so getting lucky when I can see my feet." Mimi ran her fingers along the fish and other sea creatures Jolly had included along the border of the wood. The center had been sanded and polished until it gleamed, and on the underside a thick pad had been covered with soft suede. It always amazed Mimi how much effort and thought Jolly put into the things she made for her. Mimi leaned against Jolly for the rest of the afternoon talking about their future plans and sketching.

At the house Ricky and the work crew worked hard to finish everything the girls had in mind. By noon of the next day they had moved everything that had been packed from the loft. After a brief argument over whether or not Jolly should go to work, Mimi made her way to the large babies’ room. She calmed down after Jolly promised not to drive to any construction sites and spend the day in the office with Tim and a few clients wanting to finalize plans.

Ricky smiled seeing Mimi with a drawing pencil in hand creating the same underwater haven she had created for Jolly. He was putting a tarp down so his daughter could paint away at the almost completed walls. The room was also a new addition, and the way Jolly and Tim had designed it was almost genius thought Ricky. Just like with everything else in Jolly’s life she had considered how well the space could be utilized in the future as well as what would make Mimi happy now.

The room was large enough so it could be subdivided if they had what she jokingly referred to as a mixed litter. To bear the weight of the ceiling they had put pillars, which later could be replaced with solid walls. Mimi had thought for weeks on what to paint, so like Jolly had planned, the art would grow along with their kids. The end product was fish, a blue sky for the ceiling along with a wall of trees that would resemble the park that bordered their yard. Now all she had to do was talk Jolly into going furniture shopping to fill it up.

Mimi stopped mid way in bringing a parrotfish to life when someone knocked on the door. The last person she expected to find on their doorstep was Sophia Andolini, Jolly’s mother. The first Mrs. Holland had left for the Alabama gulf coast as soon as the divorce was final and her children had chosen to stay with Anthony. Jolly talked with her every couple of weeks, but it was seldom that Sophia ventured out of her beach cocoon. It was a strange relationship she and Jolly had, but Mimi never pushed considering the relationship she shared with her own mother.

"Mrs. Andolini," greeted Mimi.

"I’m sorry for not coming sooner, dear, but Jolly said the house was a mess." Sophia put her hand on Mimi’s active midsection and tears came to her eyes. "It was more like I was afraid of any more rejection."

"Mrs. Andolini, that’s unfair. Jolly lost out on relationships with her siblings to take your side. That and also that I would kick her butt if she disrespected our kids’ grandmother."

Sophia’s smile appeared and she hugged Mimi. "I’m glad she woke up and found you, Mimi. My wish for you is they bring you as much happiness as I got when I had Jolly. You know that’s how she got her name."

"I was always curious about that. Come in and tell me about it." Mimi led Sophia into the kitchen.

"Jolly must be in heaven." Sophia looked around the new fully equipped kitchen. The oak cabinets were filled with all of Jolly’s pots and pans, as well as the ingredients she needed to create the dishes Mimi loved.

"Thank all that’s holy one of us likes to cook. I don’t think we would have done such an extensive renovation if I had owned a frying pan when she first moved in. Now tell me a story."

"All those years ago when they put Jolly in my arms, I felt such a profound happiness the name came to me. Jolly connotes happiness so I went with it. I figured if I named her Happy she would never forgive me. Considering how much teasing she’s gotten over Jolly, I’m glad I went with my second choice."

Mimi laughed thinking about what Sophia said. Life held no guarantees, but one she was sure about, was that Jolly would be there to bring bundles of happiness as long as her body drew breath. "That might be my new nickname for her," said Mimi.

"I’ve also come bearing gifts." Mimi called her father from the workshop out back to unload Sophia’s car. The two old friends greeted each other before Ricky went out to the Suburban parked out front. They had gotten to know each other during the two divorce hearings they had gone through because of their cheating spouses. Their relationship grew after those unhappy times because of their children.

Ricky brought in two wrapped pieces of what felt like wood. It was Mimi’s turn to cry when the old blankets came off and she recognized the carved pieces. Only one other person had the style and technique that Jolly possessed when she made something like what she was looking at. He had been Jolly’s teacher, her grandfather.

The two pieces, which made up the head and foot of Jolly’s baby bed, had been carved by Sophia’s father as his gift for his first grandchild. She didn’t know what possessed her to take it with her with she left Anthony, but knowing how Jolly felt about the elder Andolini had made Sophia take the time. Francois had taken a blank slate of cypress and carved out every fable and popular bedtime story for his granddaughter’s entertainment.

When Jolly walked in from work she found Mimi running her fingers along the Cat in the Hat holding his goldfish friend. It was an act she vaguely remembered doing as a child.

"She kept it."

"She loves you and wanted to pass it on to her grandchildren," said Mimi loving the expression on Jolly’s face. "I want you to fix it so we can hang it in the babies’ room. Your mom didn’t bring the railings and I couldn’t make the choice between the three as to who gets to use it."

"The specifications for baby beds have changed through the years so don’t worry about having to choose." Jolly’s fingers joined her partner’s in running along the smooth wood. "I started thinking about this bed from the day you told me about our babies."

"I just hope they don’t use it to teethe like some people," said Sophia from behind them. She cried again when Jolly swept her into a bear hug and just held her.

Sophia stayed in the new guest room after Jolly cooked dinner and they had a chance to talk. Any fear of putting Ricky out was unfounded when Jolly showed her Mimi’s father’s permanent room at the back of the house. Jolly had put a separate entrance so he wouldn’t feel so hemmed in, hoping to encourage him to stay longer.

The slow steady breathing coming from Mimi later that night signaled Jolly to get back to work. If she wanted to finish her surprise, she was going to have to ignore the pain in her side and put in some late nights. The soft tapping from her hammer prevented Jolly from hearing the shop door open admitting a late night visitor.

"It’s nice to know that if you’re having an affair, it’s with wood and not some other blonde who will remain nameless," said Mimi.

Jolly looked up from what she was doing and frowned. "You’re supposed to be sleeping, and I’m supposed to be surprising you."

"That’s the chance you take for leaving the other side of the bed cold," said Mimi putting her hands up. "So, surprise me." The hands went a little higher in expectation.

Jolly shook her bowed head before getting up and standing behind Mimi. She turned Mimi around to look toward the back of the new workshop. The workroom had been the first thing finished in the new renovations and Jolly had been hard at work on creating memories for their children’s futures.

"For baby number one," she pointed to the bed. The concept was the same as her grandfather’s with the addition of some new character. "For baby number two." The headboard was finished and Jolly was almost done with the other. All that was left was the carving for bed number three.

"You know something, Jolly?"

"What’s that, baby?"

"All those years of waiting for you were worth every minute. You’ve given me so much love, and all these tangible things that’ll live on for years to come. All the love your pour into these pieces will inspire a lot of Andolini carvers for generations to come." Mimi stepped closer to the finished bed and ran her fingers along the wood. Even though she was looking forward to having their family there was one thing she had neglected to ask Jolly. "You aren’t mad I didn’t give us more "couple time" before we started a family?"

Jolly walked Mimi to the new recliner by the worktable, and eased her down. "You were smart with the timing before I got too old to play with them, and I’m planning on "couple time" for the rest of my life. So no, love, I’m not mad at you. I love you for doing this." With a quick flick of the lever the chair went back so Mimi could get comfortable.

"Where’d this chair come from?" asked Mimi before pulling Jolly down for a kiss.

"Knowing you so well, the surprise was you held out this long before coming out here." The answer got her a pinch along with a sleepy audience that visited every night until she was done. All they needed now were children to put in the beds Jolly had made.


Their doctor’s appointments moved to a once a week schedule as Mimi’s mid November due date got closer. The usually energetic, good-humored blonde was marking off the days on the calendar they kept in the kitchen hoping the days would click by faster. She swore even the act of sleeping made her tired, and as she added more weight to all the pounds she’d gained, the more short tempered she got with Jolly. When the architect took it in stride and just smiled when Mimi complained, the angrier the expectant mother got.

"You ready to go?" Jolly had cleared her morning at the office to come and take Mimi to see Ellie and Sam.

"Once you find and put on my shoes. Then I’ll be ready." Mime sounded irritated enough already so Jolly turned and headed toward the bedroom for shoes. "I remember a time when you walked in and kissed me hello first," was the yell Mimi sent Jolly down the hall with.

"I tried kissing you last night and you told me to take a lap around the park," said Jolly as she knelt and put Mimi’s shoes on.

"Did you fall off the roof again? Just because I was tired last night, you don’t want to kiss me ever again?" The bottom lip started to quiver and Mimi’s green eyes got extremely glassy.

Shit! I can take the crabby Mimi, but tears are a different story. Jolly knew better than to say another word before soothing the hormone induced hurt feelings. She stood up and leaned over the large belly to reach Mimi’s lips. It was as long, soft and longing as Jolly could make it without putting her libido into overdrive. Chunky fingers combed Jolly’s hair back when they broke apart making her smile. I knew the old Mimi was locked away in there somewhere, thought Jolly.

"I’m sorry I’m such a bitch lately."

"Baby, you’ve got every right to be in a bad mood. I’d of killed somebody by now." Jolly tried her best to commiserate with her swollen partner without sounding condescending. "Let’s go and get this doctor’s visit done so you can come home and take a nap."

Jolly kept her eyes on the road but as they passed, she pointed out their newest construction site on the way to the doctor’s office. The fact she now spent her days trying to keep the neighbors happy during the day and Mimi when she got home in the afternoons made her want to laugh. The owners of the older homes always circled the wagons whenever there was new construction on the few vacant lots left in uptown New Orleans. So far they seemed pleased with the style of house Jolly and Tim had designed.

When they pulled up to the clinic Jolly got out and walked Mimi to the elevator before going to park the car. Jolly walked in to find Mimi sitting across from another petite blonde who she could tell was pregnant, but not as far along as Mimi. What made Mimi smile was the sight of an older African American lady chasing after an active dark haired little boy.

He would run and knock some magazines on the floor before running to the blonde and crash into her legs and slam his hands playfully on her lap. "Honey, stop throwing all those books on the floor and making Mona pick them up."

"Doccy, mama."

"I know I can’t wait for Doccy to get here myself. You want mama to read you a story?" She pulled a book out of the diaper bag and sat the toddler in the chair next to hers. Mimi reached and held onto Jolly’s hand wishing for the day she was doing the same thing with their three.

"Mimi, Jolly, how are you?" Harry Basantes had walked in and saw the couple listening to Desi read a story to Jack. Mona was sitting on the other side of Desi with her eyes closed grateful the little menace was taking a reading break.

"Hey, Dr. Harry, we’re doing fine in the broken bones department, just waiting to fill up all the extra rooms I added onto the house. What are you doing in here?" asked Jolly.

Harry pointed to the crew sitting across from them but wasn’t able to get anything up before Jack stood in his chair and screamed, "Doccy."

"Hey, little buddy." She had to run forward before Jack just walked off the edge of the chair. "This motley crew belongs to me." Harry held Jack as she sat next to Desi, kissing her wife before she made introductions.

"See, Jolly, you’re supposed to kiss the girl before anything else," said Mimi.

"I’ll take note, honey."

"Guys, this is my wife Desi, our son Jack and our live in grandmother, Mona. Everyone, this is Jolly and Mimi Andolini."

"It’s so nice to meet you. Harry’s told me so much about you and I hope she conveyed how much we’ve enjoyed your painting, Mimi." Desi got up and shook hands with the two women.

"Like I told Harry, I’m glad it went to a good home."

"Have you been working on anything new?" Desi ignored Harry’s arched brow mean to stop her from bothering the artist.

"Triplets," said Mimi in a teasing voice. "I’m sorry, I was joking. I was working on a new series but standing in front of an easel has been replaced by standing in front of our refrigerator. The only painting I’ve been doing is in the babies’ room. Maybe after I give birth I can come by your gallery and talk to you and your partner about hosting my next show."

"You know our gallery?"

"I keep all my clean brushes in one of your pieces and we have another one in the bedroom I use for all the flowers Jolly buys me, so yes I know your work. The gallery I know from all the bragging Harry did about you when Jolly was in the hospital. She said you and Tony would be the perfect choice if I wasn’t happy with my current arrangement."

"We’d love to talk to you anytime you want, and I’d love to see what you did for your upcoming gang." Desi wanted the nurse to come and call either them or the Andolini couple in so she could thank Harry for what she did.

Ellie walked out instead and grabbed Jack from Harry. "How’s my godson?"

"He acts just like that overgrown adolescent there," Mona pointed to Harry. "If you want, he can come to live with you for a while."

"Mona, you’d be the first person to knock me down if I tried to leave the house with this sweet boy." Ellie hugged Jack tighter and turned to Mimi and Jolly. "And how’s my population explosion doing?"

"Counting the days," answered Mimi. She looked up at the baby her doctor was holding and it made her want to cry. All this misery she was going through would be worth it if in the end she held such a precious gift who looked as much like Jolly as Jack looked like Harry.

"I’ll bet. Why don’t you and the fainter come on back and let’s take a look at the brood."

"One little incident and I’m labeled for life. Just wait until someone looks at your ultrasound and tells you college is going to cost you $200,000 a year." Mimi was starting to enjoy the visits with their two doctors. It seemed they saved jibes for Jolly and loved teasing her about the first ultrasound Mimi’d had to check on the progress of her pregnancy.

Desi handed Mimi a card before Ellie escorted them to a room, thrilled that the artist’s second show was almost assuredly on its way to opening in their studio. Her other half had obviously downplayed her sales pitch to Mimi and Jolly when talking about Desi. Mona took Jack without asking why having seen that look on Desi’s face before.

"Harry would you like to show me to a room, please?" Desi grabbed the front of the white lab coat and pulled Harry toward the inner office. They didn’t need an audience for the thank you the generous doctor was going to get from her wife.

One of the nurses just smiled as Harry followed Desi into an empty room and closed the door. "Have I told you lately how much I love you?" asked Desi.

"You’re pretty good about that so I have no complaints."

"Well I do love you, even when you’re out playing Santa and getting me stuff I want."

"I had ulterior motives." Harry helped Desi on the exam table and stood between her legs.

"What’s that?

"I love the little crab puffs you have at all those openings, so I thought this might be a good way to get some."

Desi leaned her head to the side to give Harry more room to nibble knowing the food line was just a joke. "So it had nothing to do with making me happy?"

"Of course it had to do with making you happy, woman. I’d think by now you’d know I’d dance naked in the OR if that’s what it took to make you happy."

"Don’t get crazy on me, Harry, and don’t stop what you’re doing."

In the next room Jolly and Mimi looked at the screen staring in fascination as two of the babies sucked their thumbs. Ellie was moving the wand getting a good look at each little face letting the expectant parents get a glimpse of what was waiting at the end of the pregnancy.

"Mimi, I can’t begin to tell you how important it is for you to take it easy for the next month or so. You’re pressure is just slightly elevated but nothing we have to do anything about now. Think of this as Jolly’s time to wait on you and fulfill your every whim." Ellie finished up her exam and jotted some notes into the chart in her hand. Sam and her were keeping their fingers crossed that Mimi would at least last until the first of November.

"No problems there. If there’s one thing this pregnancy’s done for me is that I’m never alone. Having Jolly working from home is going to make me dread the end almost, but then I have to go to the bathroom so often it’ll be nice to get my bladder away from the constant attack it seems to always be under from these guys."

When they got home from the appointment, Christy was waiting in the kitchen for Jolly. The assistant didn’t mind the trips to the house to bring her boss all the files and records she needed for upcoming and current projects. Jolly got Mimi comfortable on the sofa with a drink and a blanket to watch television before turning her mind toward Christy and business.

"Christy, I need the folder on the Pearl property first. There was a message on my voice mail this morning saying they’d finally come to a consensus on the style and are ready to proceed."

"You got it boss." Christy dug into the box she’d brought over with her to find the first of all the files Jolly had asked for. "What to place a bet on who caved?" In her short time with Jolly and Tim, the assistant was familiar with the argument the Pearls were fighting. The first time it had happened she’d been shocked when the wife had chunked Jolly’s stapler at her husband after he disagreed with her on how many bathrooms they needed.

"If he knows what’s good for him and he’s smart, Mr. Pearl caved."

"Why do you say so?" asked Christy standing next to Jolly’s chair with the folder she’d asked for.

"Because no woman no matter how great her husband is, wants to live in a house that reflects just his personality. He should just add a study to the plans and be done with the process."

"You speak from your personal experience as a husband?"

Jolly laughed at the sarcasm dripping from her assistant’s question. "No from my personal experience with designing and building Tim and Pam’s place."

"How about with Mimi?"

"Any disagreements we had during our renovation were quickly resolved so there was never a problem."


"No, any disagreements we had were quickly resolved with my giving in."

They both laughed when a loud, "Ha!" was heard coming from the direction of the den. "Jolly Lee Andolini, God could strike you down for telling lies that big."

Christy really laughed at Mimi’s reprimand. "Boss, Mimi must make a mean soufflé."

"Mimi’s beautiful and she paints divinely, but she can’t cook. So no, she can’t boil water much less whip up something as complicated as a soufflé." Jolly leaned back in her chair thinking how strangely off course their conversation had gotten.

"I just thought she’s done such a good job at whipping you, it would transfer into the kitchen."

It was Mimi’s turn to laugh when Christy ran past her with Jolly hot on her tail. If she had to be stuck vegetating at least she’d have entertainment. The funniest part was Jolly had been right. All the changes Mimi had wanted were incorporated into the house. "You guys are going to have a great life. I know I do," she said with her hands over her midsection as she spoke to their unborn children. She meant every word since having Jolly around would be like having an always willing playmate at their beck and call. Mimi went to sleep as the sound of laughter rang through the house. Her dreams carried her to a time when it would be three little children Jolly was chasing.


Continued in Chapter 5

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