A Thousand Kisses

Part 5

By: Girl Bard


Disclaimer: Please see part 1. Enjoy!

October 28, 2000

Gracie stands before me, looking way too adorable in her bright pink puffy dress and tiara.

"Oh sweetheart." She exclaims mournfully before closing her eyes and giving in to her laughter.

"Hardy har. Get it out of your system." I tell her, my voice mockingly stern. I know I look downright stupid in this damn lion costume. This wasn't my idea and I think I'll get lots of satisfaction killing Diana and Joe for letting their kid talk us into this.

"I'm not laughing at you," Grace snorts between fits of hysterical giggles, "I'm laughing with you."

"I'm not laughing." I respond as I head into the bedroom to grab my satchel, causing her to giggle harder. I guess this is my own fault, when we went to try on the costumes last week I wouldn't let any of them see me in it. It fit, and I knew they would have enough fun at my expense during the party. Maybe if I would have showed them it wouldn't be funny by now.

Somehow I don't believe that.

But I'll have the last laugh. I have a surprise that even Grace doesn't know about and I can't wait to see her face when she finds out. Then I guarantee I won't be the only one made fun of. I put my surprise purchase in my satchel and head back out into the kitchen, only to be met by a still-laughing Grace. I grin cheekily at her and follow her out the door with the two dogs.

Poor Harry. He has no idea.

"You really do look beautiful." I mention to Grace as we make the short drive over to Diana and Joe's. "I've never seen you wear pink before."

"Get used to it, after being in this for an entire night I'll never wear pink again!" Grace exclaims, waving her magic wand around. "It is a fun costume though, and Kasey is going to have the time of her life having us all dressed like this." She adds, smiling. She really does like the kid and Kasey loves her 'Auntie Pixie Head' just as much. They are cute together.

"You think the dogs are going to cope?" I ask, wriggling my nose at her. This makeup is really irritating, as is the ruff of fake fur around my neck. The worst is this stupid wired tail that keeps getting in the way.

"Bella was really sweet about wearing her funnel on her head, and Bean likes Kasey so she should be okay about being in the basket. But you know it's only going to last a few minutes and when all the other dogs get here they'll be tearing around like maniacs." Grace adds and I nod in agreement.

We pull up to the house and Grace struggles to get her and the dress out of the Explorer. I put Bean in her basket and carry her to the front door as Grace fastens Bella's silver-painted funnel to the top of her head. We all do look great, stupid, but great.

The door opens and a miniature Dorothy squeals in delight, snatching the basket holding Bean out of my arms.

"Why look, Cowardly Lion! It's Dorothy!" Grace imitates Glinda perfectly and I try not to roll my eyes at the sheer absurdity of this entire situation.

"Glinda! How do I get back home?" Kasey questions, her brown eyes wide. Damn, this kid's good.

"Click your heels three times and you are home." Grace answers and Kasey clicks her little ruby slippers together and looks around in surprise.

"I am home! Thank you Glinda!" She answers; giggling and I yank on one of her braided pigtails.

"All right Munchkin, let's go see your mother." I tell her and she grabs my furry hand and leads me to the back yard.

"Jaden, you look really silly." Kasey tells me before running off to show Bean to all of her friends.

I sigh, at least appreciating her honesty, and brace myself for the howls of laughter that do not disappoint me once I set foot into the party.

Diana and Joe look perfect, decked out in their costumes, and while they can't stop themselves from pointing and laughing at me, I at least get the satisfaction that Joe looks like a total idiot. Most of the other partygoers are people from work and members of their family. Everyone's laughing, including Grace, and I finally just start laughing myself as I join them.

Hey, you only live once. You have to enjoy the times you look stupid as much as the times you don't. And I know this means a lot to Grace, and that's what matters. It's good for her to be able to let her hair down and enjoy herself and not worry about anything.

Besides, she makes a really cute Glinda. Her curly blonde wig and bubble-gum pink outfit make her look so carefree and I know she's going to have a fun night.

I'll have just as much fun, as soon as Harry gets here.


This is so much fun, the little kids here look so cute and somehow Joe and Diana managed to get all of the adults in costume. They really throw a great party and once again Jaden and I are having a wonderful time.

It's a cool and crisp night and I'm grateful for the countless ruffles in my costume. I'm sure Jaden's cozy and warm in her Lion's outfit, and she looks so adorable that every chance I get I'm snapping pictures of her to keep. I know I'll never get her to dress up like this again.

Stacey and Kim showed up, both dressed as Raggedy Ann instead of Raggedy Ann and Andy. We all thought this was hysterical and the only way you can tell them apart is by Stacey's tall frame. They look great and I was really happy to see them come. We've gone out with them and Joe and Diana and had a great time. Kim and Diana instantly became great friends, probably because they are so much alike. They're really funny together.

I asked Jaden if Steele was coming and she got that funny look on her face again before nodding affirmatively. It's killing me that I can't figure out what she's up to. I can read her like a book and I'm sure I'll find out as soon as Harold gets here.

Speak of the devil; I see his car pull up in the driveway. Jaden sees it too because she runs over to her satchel that she dropped unceremoniously in the grass and removes a plastic bag from it. What is she doing? I watch as she then gathers up Kasey, Joe and Diana. She looks frantically around for me so I trot over to her, receiving a grateful smile in return. She calls Bella to her side and re-fastens her Tin Man hat and tells us all to stand here and wait for Steele.

We all stand there and I shoot her a curious look, confused when she grins brightly in return. Oh Goddess, what has she done to poor Harold?

I get my answer soon enough, when a huge hulking man dressed as a monkey walks into the back yard. He looks at the group of us in surprise, his gaze further muddled when he sees me in my Glinda costume.

Jaden can't contain herself and begins to crack up as she removes a pair of dainty fairy wings from the plastic bag and attaches them to Steele's back.

I think that's when the joke dawns on all of us and it's impossible to tell who is laughing harder, us or Jaden. Even Kasey gets it, her high-pitched giggles heard above the din of our laughter.

The rest of the party catches on and we all just stand there snickering at poor Harold, who looks completely humiliated in his monkey outfit completed by fairy wings.

"I hate you." I hear him say to Jaden, which causes us to all laugh at him harder, and the next thing I see is a very pissed off flying-monkey and a guffawing Cowardly Lion wrestling in the grass.

Jaden collapses on the ground in laughter and Harold stands up, brushing grass and leaves off his furry costume. He finally begins to chuckle, his deep voice filled with good-spirits. He's too nice to really be pissed off, and it was a really funny joke.

Extending a hand to Jaden, he pulls her up and hugs her. She's still giggling and I know she must be really proud of herself.

I join them, hugging Harold and winking at Jaden. He points accusingly at me.

"This is your fault! Jaden told me that you wanted me to go as King Kong and you'd be the girl I save!" He tells me and I elbow Jaden in the ribs.

"Isn't she a fink? She set you up." I answer and he groans.

"I should have known. But you got me good." He praises Jaden who just shrugs.

"We needed you. Everyone knows the Wizard of Oz isn't complete without at least one flying monkey." She responds proudly. "I just can't believe you fell for it."

Steele puffs up his chest, trying to look as dignified as a huge man can when wearing a monkey suit and fairy wings. "I was doing it for you and Grace."

"Well, thanks Harold." I tell him, squeezing his hand. "It was a nice thought."

"Yeah," He answers sarcastically, "no problem."

The rest of the party goes by uneventfully, we did the normal Halloween things such as bob for apples and carve pumpkins. Bean won the apple bobbing contest, no surprise to me because she'll do anything for an apple. What can I say? She's a weird dog.

Bella made friends with Diana and Joe's dogs and seems to be really coming out of her shell. We have Sam to thank for that, she's been working wonders with us in our obedience class. That reminds me, I have to let Jaden know that we're invited over to Sam and her girlfriend's house for dinner next weekend. They are both coming to Jaden's surprise party I'm having for her on Tuesday and I'm looking forward to meeting Sam's main squeeze.

I need to speak with Harold about using him as a decoy to lure Jaden away from her party. I scan the party, looking for him. It's not difficult to spot him; I just look for the 6'5" man dressed in a monkey suit with fairy wings attached.

I excuse myself from Raggedy Ann and Ann for a minute and tear him away from his conversation with Joe's cousins. He looks at me gratefully before following me.

"Thanks, I mean, they are nice guys but all they want to know is if I kill people and what it's like to be on a stakeout." Harold tells me and I giggle. Joe's family is really, well, not to be mean, but they're dumb.

"Well, I have a way for you to get Jaden back." I begin and he immediately looks at me with interest.

"I'm all ears." He responds and I smile. He's the perfect guise and I know he'll love this as much as I do.

As I tell him the details of my plan he grins evilly and nods enthusiastically. I tell him I'll call him on Tuesday and he assures me he wouldn't miss it for the world.

Jaden has no idea what she's in store for. She thinks she's clever for pulling one over on Harry? Well, she's never going to figure out what I have planned for her.

October 31st, 2000

I finish dressing and pull my long hair back into a tight bun. Tucking a few loose strands behind my ear I move over to the bed to kiss Grace goodbye.

"I wish you didn't have to work today." She grumbles and I smile as I lightly caress her lips with mine.

"Sorry, just because it's my birthday doesn't mean I get the entire day off." I respond as I kiss her one last time.

"Happy birthday, Spots. I love you and you'll get your present when you get home." She answers back, trying to be seductive despite the fact she's half asleep.

"You already gave me my present last night, remember?" I retort and she blushes before hiding her head under the covers. "Bye, I love you." I bid her farewell and head off to work.

The day goes incredibly fast, probably due to the fact that we got our first snowfall of the season and everyone scurried home to get out of the weather.

I love days like this, where the world is so perfect and winter is almost upon us. I like all seasons, but winter holds some kind of magical appeal for me.

Maybe I'm just excited about spending my first Christmas with Grace. I think that's probably it.

Driving home in the freshly fallen snow is trying, simply because of the annoying people who are acting like they've never seen a snowflake in their life.

I feel sorry for the kids; this snow is going to put a damper on Trick-or-Treating. Grace has bought so much candy it's just ridiculous, seeing that we don't get many kids in our neighborhood. She merely smiled at me and shrugged, but I know she's just excited about having leftover candy.

I can't wait to get home to her. I want to build a fire in the fireplace and snuggle up. I don't know if she has anything planned for my birthday, she didn't act like it, but knowing her I'm sure she does. Maybe even a present or two.

My cell phone rings and I answer it carefully, keeping my eyes on the road at all times. "Hello?"

"Jaden!" Harry's panicked voice greets me.

"Steele? What's up, are you okay?" I ask, immediately troubled by his unusual upset tone. He's about the calmest guy you'd ever meet and I've never heard him upset.

"You have to get here and help me, I think I'm in serious trouble." He answers and before I can even interrupt he gives me an address, telling me he's at a hotel in Danvers.

"Be right there." I tell him and he pleads with me to hurry again before hanging up. Holy mother of hell, I hope he's okay.

I call the station and ask for Diana, and the other dispatcher tells me she just left. Groaning in frustration, I tell Sandy to radio Steele for backup for whatever assignment he's on. She assures me she'll be right on it and I tell her to keep it discreet in case it might make things worse for Steele.

I speed toward my destination, knowing it's going to take me at least 30 minutes to get there. I better call Grace and let her know what's going on, I know she'll worry but at least she won't be waiting for me at home.

"Gracie?" I greet her in my sweetest voice.

"Hey birthday girl! You almost home?" She answers hopefully and I wince before telling her the awful news.

"Actually, I just got a weird call from Steele. He sounds like he's in some kind of trouble and needs me to bail him out. I have to go to Danvers and I'll be home as soon as I can." I tell her quickly, hoping she won't be disappointed.

"Oh." She responds, her voice crestfallen. Feeling like an asshole I try to cheer her up.

"I'm sorry sweetheart, I will get home as soon as I can." I tell her before adding, "I love you more than anything."

"I know. I hope Steele's okay and I love you too." She responds. "Be careful, okay? Get here in one piece."

I smile at her concern. "Of course. I'll see you soon."

"Kay." She ends the conversation and I hang up my phone.

"Harry, you owe me big time." I mutter as I step on the ignition.


I set the phone down with a satisfying click. Smiling at Stacey and Kim I grab my purse and bid the dogs farewell.

"I take it she bought it?" Kim asks, her dancing hazel eyes matching her wide grin.

"Oh yeah. Hook, line and sinker." I respond, chuckling as the three of us head to Kim's car.

The drive to the hotel is short and Kim parks her car around back so Jaden won't see it. I told everyone else to park there as well and I am thrilled to see that Diana and Joe have already made it here, as well as Harold.

"Who else is coming?" Stacey asks and I rattle off the list.

"Practically everyone she knows. Diana was a godsend, helping me with this. Everyone she likes from the force is here, the people who own the barn where she keeps Studley, a few people from her extended family, and us." I tell them as we crunch through the snow in the parking lot.

"She's going to be surprised, I can't wait." Kim mentions, holding up her camera. "With her Cowardly Lion fiasco last weekend and now her shocked expression I'm going to have enough ammo to blackmail her forever." She grins evilly and Stacey and I roll our eyes in unison.

"You're sick." Stacey comments, affectionately ruffling her girlfriend's mass of blonde curls.

Kim snorts in response. "Please, you've never complained about my warped mind, so don't start now." She retorts to Stacey as she straightens her mop of hair.

We enter the function room and are greeted by everyone. Kim, Stacey, and I came over this afternoon to decorate and the place looks great. We hung crepe paper everywhere and got helium birthday balloons that are tied to chairs. The caterers have arrived and the buffet is laid out perfectly. The cake looks enormous, with a big number "28" candle on top and the music is already blaring.

"She's gonna pee herself." Kim comments before scooting off to visit with Diana. Stacey and I laugh as we make our way over to Steele, who is looking way too proud of himself.

"I should call her again, she should be here any second." He tells us as he dials the phone.

I yell for the dj to cut the music and ask everyone for silence as Steele calls Jaden.

"Jaden! Where are you?" He asks in total panic and Stacey and I are forced to muffle our grins.

"I'm inside the hotel, get in here and I'll tell you what's going on." He replies before hanging up.

He turns his attention to us; his handsome face lighting up in a huge grin. "She should be pulling into the parking lot now. I'll go meet her and bring her in."

I cheer and tell everyone to gather around the door. As Steele jogs out of the room we dim the lights and wait with anticipation.

My stomach is nervous, hoping we'll be able to pull this off. It wouldn't surprise me if Jaden has figured it out; she's really smart and always seems to be one step ahead of the game.

I make my way over to Diana and Joe who are trying to quiet a babbling Kasey. As soon as she sees me she smiles and I pick her up in my arms.

"Hey munchkin, we have to be quiet so we can surprise Jaden." I tell her and she puts her hand over her mouth.

"Atta girl." I praise her and kiss her forehead. "You stay here with me to surprise her, okay? That way she'll see you first!" I tell the little girl as I settle her on my hip. She nods excitedly and tightens her arm around my neck.

Everyone is dead silent as the door to the hall slowly opens. Someone flips the lights on and we all yell "SURPRISE!"

The door swings open wider to reveal a bewildered Jaden holding her gun in front of her defensively with a hysterical Steele behind her. Jaden's eyes are wide with surprise and she sheathes her gun as she surveys the entire crowd.

"Happy birthday!" I greet her, making my way to her with Kasey still on my side. Jaden looks stunned and as the music starts and everyone begins to talk the din of the room is almost too much.

"You little…" She begins and I shush her.

"Not in front of the child." I mention as Kasey throws herself into Jaden's arms.

"Fooled you." Kasey tells her before giggling and squirming her way out of Jaden's embrace.

"Yeah, we fooled you." I joke as I take my turn and throw myself into her embrace. "You okay?"

She relaxes as she melts into my hug. "I love you so much."

I nuzzle her neck and give her a squeeze. "I love you."

"Thank you for this, it really means a lot to me. No one's ever cared enough about me to do this before." She utters with such honesty that it makes my heart ache.

"Well, I do." I answer her and pull her down for a searing kiss, which she eagerly returns.

"Come on, lovebirds." Kim interrupts. "Let's get funky, I love this song." She dances away from us and Jaden and I can't help but laugh at her.

"Yeah, come on birthday girl, let's get funky." I pull Jaden toward the dance floor already filled with the guests.

Everyone is laughing and having a great time and as Jaden and I begin to dance I anxiously look forward to the future.


Part 6: Coming soon! Stay tuned and please email me with feedback!!!


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