A Place to Dance

Ali Vali



Please See Chapter 1 for Disclaimers


Chapter 5

"Are you comfortable?" Jolly put one more pillow behind Mimi’s back before moving down to rub her feet.

"I’m as good as I’m going to get for the night I guess. Can we talk about something while you carry out your nightly pampering?"

"Is something wrong?"

The blonde held out her hand suddenly wanting Jolly close to her. "Nothing’s wrong, honey. I was just thinking about what comes next."

"Hell of a time to think about it now, isn’t it?" Jolly moved so she was pressed up against Mimi’s back with her hand on her partner’s large midsection. "That’s an easy one though. We bring these little guys home, love them, then set them loose on the world some day."

"It’s that simple, huh?" Her voice was light, but her grip on Jolly’s hand was too tight. There was something else on Mimi’s mind.

"What’s wrong, love?"

"I want you to promise me you’ll be ok if something happens to me."

Jolly sat up a little so she could see Mimi’s face. "What do you mean, if something happens to you? What’s going to happen to you?"

"Honey, I just want to talk about this so it won’t be on my mind later. During child birth there’s a million things that could go wrong, and if they do, I want to know you’ll be all right. We’re going to have three children and they’re going to need you."

"Mimi, I really don’t think I want to have this conversation with you now. You’re young and healthy, nothing’s going to happen to you."

With a grunt Mimi rolled onto her back and lifted a hand to rest on Jolly’s cheek. The same wave of depression that rolled over her every time she looked at her ring finger minus the diamond Jolly had given her swamped her again. After her fingers started their imitations of sausages she’d had to remove it or face pliers to pry it off. The ring now rested at the end of the platinum chain Jolly had gotten and Mimi was counting the days when she could wear it again.

"Promise me you’ll be ok and I’ll drop it."

"I promise, but trust me, it won’t be necessary." Jolly kissed Mimi’s palm and smiled. "Now promise me you won’t waste anymore time on this."

"I can’t help it. There’s nothing to do all day but lie here and imitate a slug, so the weirdest things just pop into my head. I have some more to do in the babies’ room, but after I mix the paint I need, I’m too tired to use any of it." The tears the little tirade caused didn’t bother Jolly as much as they did at first. Having a pregnant partner had been a lesson in emotional trauma of every proportion.

"You know what I wish?"

Mimi wiped her face with the edge of the sheet and shook her head, "What?"

"I wish I could make love to you." What Jolly thought was a compliment only made Mimi cry harder. "Baby, I only said that to make you feel better. I miss you is all. Why are you crying?"

"I was just thinking what my body’s going to look like after this. You may never want to touch me again I’ll be so hideous." The word hideous was dragged out so long in Mimi’s whine, Jolly thought she would pass out from a lack of oxygen.

"So the truth comes out does it?" Jolly tried to sound stern as she moved behind her partner again to hold her.

"What?" Mimi asked through a hiccup.

"You must think I’m some sort of old leach who married you just for your body. A hot blonde who fulfills my every desire and sexual fantasy."

"You mean I don’t?" The teasing tone Jolly was using got Mimi to stop crying.

"And then some, sweetheart. Only you’re so much more to me."

Mimi leaned further into Jolly loving the way the warm body behind her made her feel wanted. "I’ve loved you for so long, Jolly. More than anything I want to be whatever will make you happy."

"Love, you don’t have to do anything special to do that. The day we met I was busy being angry at what I felt was one more imposition on my father’s part. I had met your mother a couple of times before that so I wasn’t holding out too much hope her spawn would be much better. How surprised do you think I was when I laid eyes on you?"

An embarrassed giggle escaped Mimi as she remembered that luncheon. Jolly had made her so nervous she couldn’t stop talking the most important thing she remembered was Jolly didn’t laugh when she confessed to the young architect she was going to be a great artist.

"I was some stupid kid huh?"

The valet looked at the old truck with a mixture of disdain and disbelief. One of the perks of the job was driving the kind of cars he could only afford with a winning lottery ticket in his hand. He already drove a piece of crap; he didn’t want to have to park one.

"Should I just pull it around myself, or are you taking a break?" The tall woman standing next to the open cab door pulled him out of his revelry.

Maybe her other car is broken, thought the restaurant employee when he got a good look at the expensive suit she was wearing. "No, ma’am, let me just grab a ticket." He ripped one off the booklet he carried around in his back pocket. "Name?"


"You’re certainly tall enough to be a giant," the young mean joked.

"How original." With a frustrated hand running through her hair, Jolly dropped the truck’s keys into the kid’s hand and started for the door. Stopping and turning around when her hand was on the knob. "Try to not put any dents in it."

He put his hands on his hips and tried to figure out if she was joking. There was sawdust falling from the cab floor from the open door, and it was hard to find a place on the vehicle that wasn’t dented. "You’re kidding right?"

"Don’t let my name fool you, kid. I’m not at all happy to be here, so no, I’m not kidding."

Great another one of those places where people like to be seen and serves tiny food. I see a trip to a good burger place after this. The thought occurred to Jolly as she waited for the hostess with a foreign accent to help the couple in front of her. Her father loved frequenting restaurants like this especially now that he had the attractive Kelly hanging on his arm. "It could be worse I guess. She could be nineteen."

"May I help you?"

"Yes, you can pour me a very large drink with vodka and whatever you want to mix in with it then give me directions to the Holland party."

The hostess put her hand up and motioned for Jolly to follow her. From the sound of the table they were headed to, her father was holding court as his new subjects were informed of the laws of the land Holland built. Two of the three blondes she didn’t recognize were shaking their heads hanging on Anthony’s every word.

"Jolly, how nice of you to join us. Only thirty minutes late. It’s a new record for you, isn’t it? I thought I told you this was important?" Anthony spoke in a low chilling voice, one he used as a means to intimidate.

"I’m here, aren’t I? That should supercede when I arrived."

"Jolly, I want you to meet your new family." Kelly stood and went to stand behind her eldest son before the situation got too explosive. "This is Richard," pointing to her the next child, "That’s Henry, and on the end there is Madeline."

Each of the boys stood and shook her hand to be polite. Their mother had told them enough about Jolly to know that to align with her was the quickest way for Anthony to write you off. There were two empty chairs and the Mulle boys were happy when Jolly chose to sit next to their sister.

"Hi there. Having fun?" Jolly asked the young blonde.

"It beats having to do this at some sporting event or something else just as hideous. Is your name really Jolly?" Mimi put her elbows on the tabletop and smiled at the new arrival.

"It’s really Jolly, and if you don’t like sports it may hinder your chance at becoming a full fledged Holland."

"I’m a full fledged Mulle, so that’s not a problem."

The rich laugh spilling out of the tall, good looking newcomer made Mimi happy for some reason. It was when Jolly wiped away a tear that she noticed how blue her eyes were. "That’s a good thing, Madeline. You should always try to stand up for the things you believe and you love."

"Please call me Mimi."

With no menu ever looked at by anyone at the table the appetizers arrived and Anthony’s order of "Eat," set everyone’s fork in motion except for Mimi’s. "I don’t like caviar so you’re welcomed to mine if you like." She pushed the plate toward Jolly. For her part Jolly ignored her plate as well and took a sip of the drink the waiter had delivered. With a snap of her fingers the brunette got the man in charge of their table to come back.

"Could you bring the young woman and I a menu and take this back from whatever fish lost it?"

"What’s wrong with it?" Anthony asked with food still in his mouth.

"We didn’t order it, so we’re sending it back."

"I already ordered for everyone to save time." Richard Mulle plucked a piece of lettuce off his shirt when Anthony spit in his direction.

"That was sweet when we were two, but we’re all big now and just like in houses, people have their own tastes in food."

The man at the head of the table looked like Jolly had just hit his last nerve, but in the interest of getting through the lunch he let it go. Quiet conversations followed after more food was brought out, but Mimi could have cared less. She answered all of Jolly’s questions and tried to mix in a little humor with her answers so she would get one more smile out of the newly minted architect.

"What do you want to do when you get out of school, Mimi?"

"I’m going to be an artist. I love painting and I want to see if I can make a living at it."

"She’s going to be a decorator, that’s something more practical," Anthony boomed from his end.

"That’s right, Mimi. Your father’s an architect so you’ll have a good built in clientele." Kelly looked at Anthony as she answered getting him to curl his lips up in a smile.

"My father’s a construction worker and he said he’d help."

"The guy’s a deadbeat, so I wouldn’t count on it, girlie. I’ll pay for school, but not for no artist. That’s nothing but a waste."

"If that’s what you’re interested in, Mimi, I’ll help you."

Jolly had seen the fire in Mimi from that first day. Her father had thought her offer of help was a boast to get under his skin, but nothing could have been further from the truth. She had wanted to give Mimi the world to see her happy. It had never been a sacrifice to provide the means to making her dreams come true. "More like a warm, funny, bright kid who stole my heart in one afternoon. I’ve loved you for a long time and it was never the way a sister loves a sibling. For a long time I was afraid to admit even to myself how I felt about you."

Mimi turned her head wanting to see Jolly’s face. "Why? You had to know how I felt."

"No, I didn’t know. For years I cooked every Monday, escorted you to art openings and cuddled with you on the sofa when we watched movies. I thought that’s all I could hope for, and it would’ve been enough if you were happy with your life. To be totally honest though, the thought of you with someone else would’ve killed me." A warm set of lips pressed to hers stopped Jolly’s confession for a long sweet moment. "You know what made me realize I had to take a chance?"


"It’s more like who. Christina."

Mimi pinched Jolly’s arm for mentioning the woman’s name in their bed. "Just for future reference, honey, when you’re trying to make me feel better it’s not a good idea to bring up old flames."

The tall body behind Mimi shook the mattress with laughter. "I’m mentioning her name because she’s the one who made me face just how often you’re on my mind. The thing that makes me the happiest now is I can finally admit to myself that I plan my life around you. I’ve done it for years but it makes me happy for you to know you’re the center of my world."

"You know something, Jolly?"


Mimi kissed her before answering. "I wish we could make love too."

"Soon, baby. I promise."


"Call me if you need anything, and I mean anything. I shouldn’t be long." Jolly stood in front of the closet tucking in her shirt. She had an appointment with Harry that morning to remove her stitches. She was upset with herself for not accepting the doctor’s offer of coming to the house to do it. After their long talk the night before Jolly wasn’t anxious to leave Mimi alone.

"I’m sure you wont’ be long, I’ll be ok. Stop worrying so much."

"Just remember, Madeline, there will be no birthing of babies until I get back."

Mimi laughed and crooked her finger at Jolly to get her to get closer to the bed. "When you get back I’m tempted to defy Ellie and throw caution to hell. If an orgasm lands us with some kids and the ability for me to hug you, I’m all for it."

With a gentleness Jolly always used with Mimi she ran her hand over the expanding midsection. There was movement under her fingers, and like it always did, the awe of what it represented choked the architect to the point she couldn’t speak. "We’ll be fine, love, we promise," Mimi swore. Jolly nodded, loving the adoring look Mimi was giving her.

At the doctor’s office Jolly didn’t have to wait didn’t have to wait long, and was surprised to see it was Harry who came out to escort her to an exam room. "The pain almost gone?" asked Harry as she removed the bandages on Jolly’s chest. The x-rays showed her ribs were setting nicely pleasing Harry with her progress.

"I’ve tried to ignore it so it’s not too bad. It’ll be nice when I can start swinging a hammer again and it not bother me."

"Won’t be long now. I should’ve recognized you name as quickly as I recognized your partner’s. Some friends of ours got you to design their house for them and they’re always raving about it."

They continued talking about different topics as Harry probed Jolly’s side, finally landing on Mimi and how she was holding up in her last trimester. "You told her you wanted to make love to her?" asked Harry. She spoke slowly like Jolly was mentally challenged as she pulled the stitches out of her chest. Having been where Jolly found herself it was easy to poke fun.

"Well I thought it would be a compliment. You know, since we can’t. I didn’t want her to think I find her hideous as she so lovingly put it last night. Do the hormones eventually calm down?" Jolly laughed when Harry let out a laugh of her own. She had looked so down when she got to the office that Dr. Harry had been giving her some friendly advice on how to deal with pregnant partners.

"Trust me, buddy, she doesn’t want you to comment on her body one way or another. If you tell her how beautiful she looks, she’ll think you’re just being nice. On the other hand if you don’t ever comment on it, she’ll think you’re disgusted." Harry shook her head remembering Desi breaking out into tears more than a few times after a compliment on how beautiful she looked.

"So good doctor, what’s your best advice?"

Harry used a small set of tweezers to gently remove the sutures on Jolly’s chest. The tight weave she had used would help minimize the scar. Some doctors didn’t take the time anymore using the universally acceptable staples, but Harry didn’t want Mimi to have a visual reminder of the traumatic accident every time she saw her partner’s chest.

"There’s no good advice here, Jolly. Pregnant women are like fingerprints. No two are alike, so there’s no rule of thumb. With Desi the things that made her feel better were threatening me with imminent death if she gained another pound or if I got close to her if she wasn’t in the mood, and chicken salad. She ate so much of it I was waiting for her to lay an egg instead of going into labor with Jack. In the end I think she loved the stuff more than me, but it made her feel better so I wasn’t complaining. The one thing to remember is keep all conversations away from her body if at all possible when she brings it up. You bring it up, and be honest about what you see. Unless you’re an idiot, you’ll agree with me and there’s nothing more beautiful on this earth than the sight of your partner carrying your children."

"But I do love the way Mimi looks now." She accepted her shirt back from Harry and started to get dressed. The nurse who had assisted Harry laughed softly at her predicament before stepping out so they could finish their talk.

"I know you do, and if you tell her that often enough eventually she’ll believe you. Desi and I agreed to have only two kids, but you’re right, if I could talk her into five, I’d love it. We were separated by circumstances for a long time, so you can imagine the joy of getting her back was unbelievable. But seeing her carrying our second makes me sit and cry sometimes just like the first time around. I know physically it’s hard on her, but she’s just beautiful right now." As Harry made the very personal admission Jolly nodded her head in agreement. In the hall, out of sight, Desi wiped a tear away. For the millionth time since finding Harry again she thanked God for the life she’d been gifted with.

"Talk about me like that and I’ll give you six little namesakes," Desi said softly from the doorway.

"You weren’t supposed to hear that, but it’s true nonetheless. Jolly, you remember Desi right?"

"Nice to see you again, Jolly. How’s Mimi holding up?" Desi stepped in and leaned against Harry’s seated form. "I can’t fathom having three in one shot. She must be miserable."

"I think we passed miserable about two months ago, but Mimi’s a trooper. Aside from being tired and not being able to find a comfortable spot in any position, she’d doing great. Maybe I can call Mona and get her recipe for chicken salad."

Desi laughed but she understood. "Why don’t you two come to dinner tonight? If Mona can’t cheer her up with a good meal she’s a lost cause until labor sets in."

"Thanks for the offer, but I doubt she’ll want to leave the house unless it’s on fire. I’m betting though, she’d love company. Why don’t you all come to our place and I’ll cook? Bring Mona and Jack too."

The doctor could feel her wife’s excitement at being that much closer to Mimi’s art collection. "Are you sure?" asked Harry.

"I’m positive. Mimi’s not finished with the babies’ room but she’s dying to show it off. It’s not canvases but I keep thinking about three small blondes looking at those walls as they drift off to sleep. I’ll bet they set off on some great nighttime adventures with the inspirations their mama’s provided them."

"I’d love to see it, Jolly. What time do you want us?" asked Desi.

"Come whenever you like this afternoon. I’m working from the house now so if after Harry’s appointments are done is good for the two of you, come on over, we’ll be waiting. Mimi will be thrilled she’ll have someone to talk to besides me."

"The way that girl looks at you makes me think you could be reading stock quotes and she’d love you anyway." Harry stood up and shook hands with Jolly before she left. "What brings you down here, beautiful?" she asked Desi, as she leaned her against the exam table.

"Our boy had a play date with Mona and his little buddies at the park so I thought I’d take my brilliant spouse out to lunch if she’s available. Though, after hearing all that nice stuff you said about me, could I interest you in a hotel room instead?"

The lab coat Harry was wearing opened slightly as her partner ran her hands up hers sides. The move made Harry step closer until she felt the swell of their growing baby between them. "For once in my life I wish I dug ditches for a living."

Desi pulled away from the line of kisses she was placing up Harry’s neck and looked at her in total confusion. "This ought to be good, please go on."

"It’s raining outside today so I’d have the day off, but since I chose a profession that works inside, I have a huge patient load this afternoon. Considering what I’ve got in mind for you it’s going to take me longer than lunch to get done." The kiss that followed the declaration made Desi moan into Harry’s mouth.

"We could go sit and make out on the sofa in your office."

"Feeling frisky today, are we?" Harry took her hand and pulled Desi toward her office.

"I was just thinking we only had a couple of weeks on that old swing when we were kids. It’s nice sometimes to just pretend life after that would’ve followed the course we were both hoping for."

There was a wistfulness in Desi’s voice that was an echo of the young woman who’d dreamed of being courted and romanced, only to be thrown into a miserable situation. "Miss Thompson, would you like to have lunch with me?"

The use of her maiden name was odd, but Desi was willing to play along. "I don’t know, don’t you have to study or something?"

"If you say yes I don’t think anything else is important enough to keep me from going. I promise to walk you home after we’re done." Their joined hands sawing between them, both of them enjoying the reminiscing and pretending.

"Are you going to try and kiss me? I have a curfew after all."

Harry stopped in the hall close to where her staff kept the charts they’d need for the day. "I promise to get you home on time, but I can’t promise I won’t try to kiss you."

"I accept."

"Margaret, could you please reschedule everyone until after two? Please apologize for me, but it can’t be helped." Harry couldn’t help but notice the woman’s large smile as she asked. It was a verification she’d been listening to their conversation.

"Honey, I can’t let you do that. I’m just being hormonal." That Harry would even consider going through the trouble of rearranging her day was enough for Desi. "We can just eat in the cafeteria. I now you’re busy."

Before Harry could respond to Desi’s bout of guilt, Margaret did it for her. "Mrs. Basantes, can I say something?" Desi nodded her head. "Offers like this don’t come around very often, so take an old woman’s advice and just go. Don’t worry about anything else, because in the end you’ll both remember a day of fun more than Harry will remember seeing patients she has scheduled today when you’re both old and gray."

"Thanks, Margaret," said Desi gripping the woman’s hands.

"One more thing," Margaret’s voice stopped both of them on the way to Harry’s office. "If she tries to kiss you, Miss Thompson, I’d say she’s a safe bet. One of those you don’t want to let get away."

"Oh letting her get away is my last intention."

Margaret watched them step into her boss’s office as she leaned against the counter with a happy look on her face. Another one of Harry’s nurses stepped out of an exam room after finishing with a patient finding Margaret’s expression interesting. "What’s the smile for?"

"I was just thinking about how Dr. Basantes was before Desi came along. Remember the girls?"

The younger woman nodded. "I wasn’t around here for very long before that, but yeah, I remember. They didn’t stay around long, did they? It made me think for the longest that Dr. Harry was a bit of a player."

"The thing is none of them stayed around, but not for their lack of trying. She was waiting and I’m glad she didn’t have too long a stretch before she got back what she lost. Desiree Basantes is a very lucky young woman, but I’m betting it’s Harry who pinches herself every morning. I’m just happy for both of them."

The couple at the center of their conversation stepped out of the office holding hands and laughing. They were a long way from the teenagers who had started their relationship on a porch swing years before, but the feelings they had back then had only grown and strengthened through the years.

The younger nurse standing with Margaret waved at the departing pair. "I’d say they’re both pretty lucky."


"Honey, shouldn’t you be cooking something if you invited them over?" Mimi yelled her question down the hall as she contemplated if she could get away with not wearing a bra.

"Everything’s marinating and waiting for the grill so don’t worry about it. Do you need any help?"

Struggling into underwear that looked like something her grandmother would have love, Mimi wondered again why Jolly hadn’t moved out after watching her body expand to scary portions. "Could you…" Soft lips pressed to her shoulder as Jolly’s hands came around as far as they could on her naked middle.

"You are so beautiful." The kisses moved further up Mimi’s neck. "You get more beautiful everyday." A snort escaped the woman being complimented but it didn’t discourage Jolly. "I’m sorry if I haven’t been convincing before now, but you are." Slowly she moved Mimi to one of the comfortable chairs they’d gotten for the master suite.

"You’re incredibly sweet, and incredibly prejudiced. I feel far from beautiful."

Jolly knelt in front of Mimi and kissed the surface of the warm haven that held her children. "For a long time I’ve enjoyed building things. Places where people enjoy the holidays and their families. Places where they make love and dream of starting a family, but it’s never mattered how well I drew the plans or mitered the wood around the doors, what mattered was what those places became once I handed over the keys."

For the first time in months Mimi forgot all the discomfort and focused on Jolly’s voice. "What did they become, love?"

"Homes. I can only provide a pleasing space, honey. The people who move in are what make it a home. I never truly had a place I felt that way about until I woke up next to you." Jolly kissed one of the pudgy hands resting on the arm of the chair before going on. "You’re beautiful to me because you’re giving me all the things I thought were out of my reach. You, beautiful, are my home and if you finish with the granny panties I have a surprise for you."

"You shit. You had me tearing up until the last part." Mimi threw the bra she’d picked out at Jolly’s head as something occurred to her. "Would you hate me if I don’t breast feed?"

A person could get whiplash having a conversation with my girl, thought Jolly. "I could never hate you, honey. Besides you’ve go plenty of time to decide, and since I don’t come with a tap it’ll be up to you to make that decision."

Tears welled up in the pretty green eyes, but unlike in the beginning, Jolly held Mimi’s hand and waited. Their cause would come spilling out shortly if she gave her a chance. "It’s just that putting on a bra is an exercise in pain. If someone, I don’t care how small, bit down on my nipples it might drive me over the deep end."

It was hard not to smile, but Jolly had a mental image of getting strangled with the underwear on her head so her face stayed neutral. "I think after a few times those little suckers toughen up, sweetie. That’s what it said in the book anyway. Either way, they’ll be fine. I was bottle fed and I’m no a serial killer."

"Toughen up? What exactly does that mean?" A look of horror swept over Mimi’s face.

"I’m thinking that’s a Desi question when she gets here. Come on, don’t you want to see your surprise before you have to share it with the world?"

"Help me?" Mimi plucked the beige instrument of torture off her partner’s head.

"Surely, and later if you want I’ll volunteer for sucking duty to get these babies ready."

Mimi looked own to what seemed like some other woman’s breasts Jolly was cupping and laughed. "You’re a person in need of help, Jolly, but I love you because you are."

Walking slowly and leaning heavily on Jolly, Mimi followed her to the babies’ room. The walls were almost finished and after she got rid of the extra weight Mimi was planning on completing her first gift to their children, but that didn’t matter now. What did were the three new additions not in the room when she’d walked by that afternoon.

With the same attention to detail her grandfather had taken great pride in, Jolly had finished the baby beds. They were far apart enough to ensure the others could maybe sleep through a sibling’s crying, but close enough so Mimi could appreciate what Jolly had accomplished. The multitude of characters flowed from one bed to the other making them all inter connected. Famous cartoon rivals chased each other from one foot board to the next, but evenly divided so no bed was more important than the other.

"Oh my God, baby, they look great." Mimi had seen them slowly come to life in Jolly’s workshop, but they looked totally different with stain and varnish.

"Your dad helped me with the ten coats of finish he insisted on, so remember to thank him. Do you really like them? It’s not too late to order something else. We’ve got at least two months."

The blonde turned in Jolly’s arms and rested her hands on the strong chest. "I love them and so will our brood. You know what I spend my days thinking about besides my next trip to the bathroom?"

"What, love?"

"I picture three little brunettes with big blue eyes trailing after you with tiny hammers in their hands. I bet our yard has the only tree house in town with a functional elevator if I know you."

Jolly laughed as she led Mimi to one of the rockers in the room. "I don’t think so. I told Desi and Harry this afternoon that they’d be little blondes. All of them with paint brushes and palettes telling some hyper dog to sit still. Their mother’s a creative genius so I want them to be just like you." If there was going to be any rebuttal from Mimi it was cut off by the doorbell. "Sit and I’ll be right back."

Mimi waited until she heard the sounds of Jolly greeting their guests before letting the grimace of pain mare her face. It was the second jolt of extreme discomfort to rip across the bottom of her abdomen in as many hours. Mimi thought of telling Jolly but her tall overprotective spouse was on edge enough, and they were both looking forward to spending the evening with the Basantes couple.

"What a great house, Jolly," said Harry as Jolly led them back to the babies’ room.

"It’s getting there." Jolly laughed watching Desi look at the large canvases they had hanging throughout the house, including the one Mimi had given her the night of her opening. Hanging in their home was a history of Mimi’s progression as an artist. "This through is my favorite room," said Jolly walking into the nursery.

"Wow," said Harry and Desi together. The room was filled with color with only one small patch left undone.

"Jack would love this." Harry walked to a wall of sea life and ran her finger along the back of a dolphin.

"We were looking forward to some seeing him Mona again. Did they get a better offer?" teased Mimi.

"Jack has a case of the sniffles, so Mona forbid us to take him out in the night air. I think she’s still skeptical about my having actually attended medical school. Whatever the reason, it was easier to give in than to argue about it with her." Desi stepped closer to Harry and patted her on the chest. The day Mona stopped giving Harry a hard time would be the day she stopped drawing breath.

"Let me go light my coals. Why don’t you keep Mimi company for a bit, Desi?"

With Jolly’s back to her, Mimi took the opportunity to breathe deeply. You three calm down in there and I won’t have to get rough with you and lay off the chocolate tonight, she mentally chastised the three active little bodies under her hands.

"Since I’m our resident grill master let me help," offered Harry.

"Then your resident art master’s probably interested in seeing some of my wife’s work." Jolly looked back at Mimi with a smile.

"Mimi, this is beautiful." Desi stood in the middle of the room and spun slowly in a circle. The young artist had created a wonderland that would be just as pleasing when the triplets turned twenty. "I’m sorry, we’ve been here admiring your work and I haven’t asked you how are you doing?" Desi remembered her manners and turned her attention back to Mimi.

"Someone seems to be sitting on all of my vital organs, but aside from that I’m great, and thank you for your compliment. I wish it was done, but I can’t stand being on my feet for more than ten minutes at a time anymore. Hell sitting up is taking its toll." She moved around in the chair trying to find a more comfortable spot then just gave up. "Look at what my sweetie finished today."

Desi looked a the beds and figured if the children Mimi was caring tapped into just half the talent their parents had combined, they’d be prodigies. "What a wonderful place to raise children." Her fingers ran over the wood finding it smooth and warm.

"Want to go and make sure our other halves haven’t set the yard on fire?" Not that Mimi didn’t enjoy Desi’s company, but she had the sudden desire to be near Jolly. It felt like something just popped and gave way when Mimi stood. Her next statement was to thank Desi again for her kind words on the room, but the warm gush of fluid down her legs gripped her with fear. "Desi, could you run and get Jolly for me?" Mimi’s question finished in a whisper as her world turned black.

Desi turned around in time to see Mimi crumple to the floor. The comfortable shoes Jolly had placed on her feet just moments before were covered in blood. It seemed surreal since the request the blonde had just uttered had been said so calmly. Not familiar with the layout of the house, Desi stepped into the hallway and screamed, "Harry! Jolly!" The sound of running feet let her go back and kneel at Mimi’s head.

When the architect who reminded Desi so much of her beloved Harry turned the corner the sound she made reminded her of a wounded animal. The sight of Mimi lying in her own blood was enough to make even Harry blanch a little.

"Mimi, what’s wrong?" Jolly looked at Desi with tears streaming down her face. "What happened?"

"It doesn’t matter now, Jolly." Harry placed the unconscious woman on her back and lifted her knees. One quick look under the hem of the dress Mimi had on confirmed she was still hemorrhaging. "I need you to keep it together and help me. Do you understand?" Jolly nodded but she looked lost. "Desi, get Ellie and Sam on the phone. Tell them I’ll meet them in the hospital in the first OR I can book, so tell them not to dawdle."

"It’s too soon," said Jolly softly.

"Buddy, I don’t want to scare you but we need to get Mimi to the hospital now. Come on, Jolly, grab her feet. We don’t have time to wait on an ambulance."

"I can’t lose her."

"Don’t talk like that, Jolly. Just do what Harry says, she’ll be fine." The ringing in her ear stopped and Ellie’s voice filled Mimi’s ear.

"Lift her legs, Jolly. Come on dammit, don’t make me slap you." Harry didn’t mean to sound harsh but there was so little time before Jolly’s world came crashing in around her. Losing a child was hard for any couple but there was a real possibility the architect would lose everything she loved that night.

"Ellie, it’s Desi. Listen very carefully you have to meet Harry at the hospital now. We’re at the Andolini’s and something’s gone wrong with Mimi." She tried to keep up as the two tall women carried the blonde down the hall. Mimi had yet to regain consciousness and it was starting to worry her.

"Desi, talk to me and tell me exactly what’s going on." Ellie slipped her shoes back on and searched for her sweat pants. They had just gotten back from the hospital and she was getting ready to jump in the shower.

"Ellie, it’s Harry. She collapsed and she’s bleeding. I’m not familiar enough with these things but from what I remember of my rotation in med school, I’d have to say her water broke. There was a clear fluid mixed in with the blood. How far along is she?"

"Just barely seven months. I don’t know until I see her but we might not be able to stop the labor if that’s true."

"I think you have to worry about her first, and the kids will work themselves out. Get going and I’ll try to have everything ready for when you two get there." Harry drove like she was trying to outrun death down the quiet streets. Behind her and Desi, Jolly held her partner begging her to wake up.

"Please, Mimi, you can’t do this to me. You can’t leave me all alone." She could feel the seat of Harry’s SUV getting soaked beneath her and with the puddle slowly went Mimi’s life force.

It was a nightmare when they reached the Emergency Room and they wheeled Mimi away from Jolly into a trauma room. Desi took her by the hand and led her to the waiting area wishing they were at Charity rather than the posh interior of Mercy. If they were at the state hospital there might be a chance of getting comfort from the charge nurse Sally.

"Don’t worry, Jolly, Harry’s not going to let anything happen to her if it’s in her power, and Ellie and Sam should be here any minute. Do you want me to call anyone and tell them what happened?"

"I should call her father and my cousin Tim and his wife."

Desi put her hand on a broad shoulder and rubbed comforting circles along the cotton fabric. "Just give me the number and I’ll call for you." The group she called almost beat Desi’s doctors to the door and looked just as sick as Jolly.

"Mona, listen we might be gone for awhile, there’s been an emergency." Desi explained what had happened and smiled when Mona offered to pray for Mimi and Jolly for the rest of the night.

"Jolly," Harry’s voice broke through the tension in the waiting room just long enough to ratchet it up another couple of notches when they saw the grim look on her face. "Ellie and Sam wanted me to come out and tell you they’re taking her into surgery. I’ll let them explain exactly what happened, but she was bleeding pretty severely and they have no choice but to go in and fix the problem." The nurse behind Harry handed Jolly a clip board and pointed to the places she had to sign.

"But she’s going to be all right, isn’t she?"

"It’s too soon to tell, buddy. We just have to wait." Harry’s eyes filled along with Jolly’s at the thought of this happening to her. "She’s young and I’m sure she’ll pull through. Mimi has a lot to live for."

They all sat and waited for news, Pam sat between Jolly and Tim holding both their hands. Doing so made her realize how similar they were to each other. Each had long elegant fingers; the only difference was the calluses on Jolly’s. It made her wonder if Jolly and Mimi’s children would inherit Francois Andolini’s hands as well. Would they even live out the night for any of them to find out?

"Jolly," Sam’s presence in the doorway was like a cold hand ripping Jolly’s chest open. She wasn’t a fearful person by nature but all this was scaring the shit out of her. It had been over three hours since Mimi had disappeared behind the steel doors of the Emergency Room.

"How is she? Can I see her?"

Sam moved and sat on the other side of Jolly and put her hand on her shoulder when Tim moved to another seat. "Something caused the wall of Mimi’s uterus to rip, which sometimes happens in cases of multiples. What doesn’t usually happen though is the rip to be sever enough to bleed like an artery wound, but that’s what happened and that’s why all the blood."

"Why wouldn’t she wake up?"

"It might have been her body’s way of dealing with the pain, but it’s a good thing it happened since it slowed the blood loss some. The thing about what happened, Jolly, is we had to go ahead and deliver the babies so we could get to where we could repair the damage. Congratulations, it’s a girl three times over." There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as Jolly just bent over and buried her face in her hands. She had always imagined finding this out to be a time of happiness not because it served the purpose of saving their mother’s life.

"How are they?"

"They’re small, really small so don’t get too alarmed when you see them. I wish I could give you better news but we’ll have to wait at least forty-eight hours until I can give you more definitive answers. All four of your girls are in critical condition, but they’re fighters so don’t give up hope."

"Can I see Mimi?"

"Ellie’s finishing up now, but I promise as soon as she gets into recovery you’ll be her first visitor. If you want though, there are three other ladies who can’t wait to meet you." Sam didn’t want to force her but more than anything she wanted Jolly to agree since, like Mimi, the babies might not live out the night. The suffering woman deserved to see them while they were still breathing. In the end it might be the only happy memory she would have.

The staff lent Jolly a pair of scrubs so she could strip off the blood stained clothes she was wearing. In the neonatal unit three incubators sat side-by-side holding the only patients they had in the ward for the moment. The staff had washed her hands until they stung but it was so Jolly could touch the paper-thin looking skin.

She moved closer and looked at the first baby wearing a pink sock looking thing on her head and socks on her feet. The tiny waif was lying on her stomach looking like she was panting for breath. Jolly stuck her hands in the holes along the side and put her finger on the baby’s foot noticing the small appendage was almost three times smaller than her digit. She pulled the cap off and laughed through her tears when she saw the little wisps of blonde almost white hair. It was the same color of the baby pictures Mimi had at home of herself.

"Hey, little one, you have to hang in there and get bigger so your mama won’t be worried. She painted a room for you at home that I can’t wait for you to see. She’d be here but she’s busy getting better herself, so don’t be mad at her. Mama loves you very much."

Jolly moved to the next child and repeated the talk. The tears fell harder when she found the same hair and looks of the first baby. The first two she thought had to be the identical twins. The last child had slightly darker hair, but still the blonde locks of her mother. Their eyes had been taped shut so Jolly would have to wait to see if her dream of what they would look like had come to pass.

"Come on, Jolly, Mimi’s done and we want you to go in and talk to her. I believe she’ll hear you, and we need to get her back from the place she’s gone off to, understand?" Ellie held her hand and walked the gentle giant to recovery. Her partner looked small lying on the stretcher with a multitude of tubes sticking out of various parts of her body. The problem they would be fighting in the next couple of days was the tremendous amount of blood Mimi had lost, and making sure there was no other bleeding to complicate things further.

Jolly sat next to the bed and waited until she was sure words would come out of her mouth before she moved closer. Mimi looked so fragile just laying there her chest barely moving. When she picked up her hand it felt cold and lifeless so Jolly pulled it under the blanket.

"Hey you have to stay warm. We have a whole bunch of girls in the next room who are going to need you and I can’t have you getting sick. You did it, baby. We have three beautiful girls who look just like you. I wish I would’ve made a bet with you now since I told you if given a choice they would want to take after you."

The soft-spoken woman used her free hand to wipe her face and running nose before continuing. Jolly often spent her mornings talking to a very asleep Mimi so this was no different. "Mimi, I want you to concentrate on getting better. I maybe didn’t tell you enough before now, but I love you more than anything or anyone else in my life. There are so many promises I have yet to make and keep to you, so I would hate for you to miss that. The other thing too is we have three girls to name, and I swear if you don’t wake up soon I’m putting Curly, Larry and Moe on the birth certificates."

No one came up to bother her as Jolly sat in the same position holding Mimi’s hand for over four hours. She spoke of things they needed for the house, and vacations they had gone on together before they’d become a couple. With each passing minute the dread in her heart grew. Jolly was no doctor, but four hours was more than plenty for her partner to have opened her eyes.

"Please, Mimi. I need you to open those pretty green eyes for me. I need to tell you some more stuff, or you can wake up and tell me to shut the hell up." On the other side of the bed a nurse moved the blanket down to expose Mimi’s arm for the blood pressure cuff. The red had seeped as high as Mimi’s thighs and with a quick push of an alarm button the medical team came rushing back in. The bleeding had started again.

"What’s happening?" Jolly’s cries were lost on the rushing professionals pushing Mimi away from her again. Harry appeared next to her again now wearing the same outfit Jolly had on, and led her back to the anxious family. "Where are they taking her?"

"The bleedings started again, so she’s headed back to surgery." In all her studies and practice of medicine, Harry wished there was some magic line someone would come up with that would make situations like this more tolerable for the families left in these sterile looking rooms to wait.

"I’m going to lose her, aren’t I? She was just saying how she couldn’t wait for this day to come so I could hug her again, and she could hold those babies and rock them. That’s not going to happen is it?"

"You can’t give up on her so fast, my friend. This is a time to have faith in Mimi and her will to stay with you. If she doesn’t, it won’t be for her lack of trying. When you came in with your accident and I got to meet her, Mimi touched me in a way people seldom do. The life she exudes explained a lot about the person who painted that canvas hanging in my house. I can’t imagine someone like that just quitting so early in the game that is her life."

Desi handed both of them a cup of coffee before taking a seat next to Harry. Her feet were killing her and her back hurt, but like everyone else who had been there since the beginning, she didn’t want to leave Jolly alone. Almost like her partner had felt her discomfort Harry took her hand and offered a shoulder for her to rest her head on.

"My love, you’ve got to be heading home." She pressed a finger to pouting lips before Desi got started and talked her into staying. "I can see those grimaces you keep making, it means your back hurts and I’m not taking any chances with you. Please don’t ask me that, especially not tonight." The voice was a low whisper but Desi heard the fear in them. What was happening to Mimi and Jolly could just as easily be them.

"I can’t leave until I know she’s ok, honey. Please don’t ask that of me. I know I’ve only spoken to Mimi a couple of times, but I like her and Jolly. They need as much support as they can get right now."

"We can stay, but you’re lying down for a little while. Come on, I’ll go with you." Harry explained to Pam and Tim where she was taking Desi not wanting to bother Jolly anymore. The architect was sitting with her eyes glued to the doorway Sam had come out of earlier. "I’ll have the surgery nurse keep me informed and as soon as I hear anything, I’ll come out and tell you all. Just have them come and get me if you need something before that."

"Thank you, Dr. Basantes," said Pam.

"Please call me Harry. I know this has been a hectic night, but this is my wife Desi." Introductions were made and they watched as Harry led Desi to one of the doctor on call rooms.

"Jolly?" Ricky stood up and put his arm around his daughter-in-law’s shoulders. "Stop beating yourself up over this, Jolly. You don’t have to answer me but I can tell you are. Sometimes stuff just happens but like that young doctor said, you’ve got to have faith in Mimi. She loves you and she’ll fight her way back."

"Thanks, Ricky, and I know." It was more to appease him than herself, but Jolly didn’t feel like talking to anyone.

It took another three hours and twenty pints of blood but they stabilized Mimi as much as they could after stopping the bleeding. The staff let Jolly sit with her a little while longer before she was moved to the Intensive Care Unit where visitation was a little more strict. Jolly walked off by alone and waved her family off when they tried to follow. "I just need some time alone. Don’t worry I’ll be fine."

The chapel was on the second floor and because of the early hour it was empty. At any other time Jolly would have taken time to appreciate the old pine pews and woodwork someone had put into the space. Now all she could was sit and cry into her hands wishing she had the day to do over again.

Two floors above her Mimi tried to find a way out of the darkness. She kept calling to Jolly but there was no answer and she could’ve have sworn she had heard her voice earlier. The only answer was to sleep until Jolly came back so she surrendered further into the darkness.


Concluded in Chapter 6

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