By: Girl Bard
Disclaimer: Please see part 1. Enjoy!
December 10th, 2000
The multitude of brightly colored birds compete for their place on our window feeder. We just put it up a few weeks ago and already have a loyal following of songbirds.
I love watching them, as does Jaden. But surprisingly, their most devoted subject is Bella. She is content to lie on the couch and gaze intelligently at them all day, almost like a cat.
She has completely adapted into our household, and both Jaden and I cant even remember what it was like to not have her with us. Its funny how quickly we can adapt to things in our life.
When Im here, with Jaden, sometimes I cant even remember what it was like to live in Ohio with my parents. I dont really think about who I was back then.
"Hey Trouble, you ready?" Jaden asks, interrupting me from my musings. I sigh and roll my eyes dramatically, letting her know that my nickname isnt appreciated.
Even though its fitting.
Jeez. So I slipped outside in the snow and accidentally elbowed Jaden in the nose. I didnt mean to, and I really didnt know that an elbow could break a nose, resulting in her having to wear this ugly white plastic protective thing for two weeks.
"Im really really sorry." I tell her as I slip on my coat. She smiles at me the best she can with her huge nose protector as she ushers me out the door.
I do feel really horrible. Besides the fact I elbowed her and made her fall down into a huge snow bank, I almost blew my cookies when I saw her holding her hands to her nose, her face covered in blood. I was so sick and horrified that I couldnt even help her up and she flailed around in the snow bank like a dead fish while I screamed my fool head off. Well, not like a dead fish because a fish that was dead technically couldnt flail. But you know what I mean.
So poor Mr. Santos, our downstairs neighbor who was out shoveling the walk had to come and help her up and back into the car so I could drive her to the hospital. He was even kind enough to bury the blood-covered snow bank.
I thanked him by making cookies for him and his wife. I thought it was fitting.
"Are you sure youre up to this?" I ask, wondering if she really is.
"Yeth." She answers, her voice nasally. "I thaid we would get a tree so we will." She pauses. "It will be fun."
I try in vain not to grin, the corners of my mouth disobeying me. Its not funny, it really isnt. I know her speech is impaired because of the pressure on her nose. But I cant help but giggle.
"Go ahead. I know you want to." She allows and I get it out of my system. When my giggles finally subside I look at her apologetically.
"I am so sorry. I really didnt mean for this to happen." I tell her honestly.
"Grath, I know. Thopt it already, youve already done enougth, waiting on me hand and foot. Bethidh, ith nith not to go to work." She finishes and I look at her confused.
"Huh?" I ask, wondering what in the hell she just said.
"Nevermind." She answers, starting the car. "Leth get a tree."
Im just not going to speak. For the next two weeks Im going to be completely mute. It sure beats saying everything with a lisp and having people look at me funny or try not to laugh.
It reminds me of Stinky Fergueson in the 4th grade. I think his
real name was John or something, but everyone called him Stinky. You know that
kid in school who always smells like urine and dirty socks?
That was Stinky. And I felt bad for him, because not only did he have an odor problem, but he also had a lisp. Which led him to be called "Spitting Stinky." That was really mean of us, especially since Im the one who gave him that nickname.
Kids are really mean, including myself. I was a grade-A asshole in school. Now, when I look at kids I can always pick out the ones who have a really crappy home-life. Theyre always the ones making fun of the other kids and being jerks. I guess when youre a kid and you get shit from your parents and nothing is going right for you its easy to take it out on less fortunate kids.
Thats what I did. But back to poor Stinky. We made his life hell because of the way he smelled and spoke, and boy do I regret it now.
Karma. Itll bite you in the ass every time.
"This tree?" Graces sweet voice calls my attention back to her. Shes pointing at a tall bristly tree with huge branches. I shake my head and lead her away from it.
"Too tharp." I tell her, knowing she wont understand. As expected, she cocks her head and regards me, her eyes confused.
I place her hand on the bristles, poking them gently into her skin. "Tharp. Ow." I tell her again and she understands, gracing me with a beaming smile.
Smiling at her in return, I ignore the pain of my stupid nose brace as it digs into my skull. The only thing good that has come out of this "injury" is that I havent been allowed to patrol. Seems the good citizens of Boston wouldnt really respect a cop with a white nose brace on her face and would choose rather to laugh and point at me while Im doing my best to protect and serve them.
So Ive been able to stay at home and spend more time with Grace. Its been lovely, and I never realized how much I didnt like my job sometimes until I didnt have to go.
Its actually really concerning me. Ive always been so dedicated to my work and put my entire heart and soul into what Ive done. I guess now Im realizing there are more important things in life than a career and I have little desire to be a workaholic anymore.
Maybe Im getting burnt out. It happens to a lot of cops. I just never thought it would happen to me. But the entire series of events that led to Grace getting shot and killing Aron really freaked me out. I dont like thinking her life is in jeopardy because of me and being a cop in a crime-filled city is sure to result in a lot of people with grudges. And that scares the crap out of me.
"This one!" Grace shouts and I follow her voice to the perfect tree. Its tall and full, like all good trees, with the longest and softest needles possible.
I nod eagerly at her and she grabs my hands in delight. "Stay here, Ill find the tree guy." She tells me as she trots off in her search.
Watching her cute butt scamper away, I admire her lovely legs clad in a pair of dark comfortable jeans and boots. Her coat is unbuttoned, her scarf is awry, and her golden hair practically glows in the early moonlight.
Its cold out, and her pale face is flushed from the thin air. She looks stunning and all I want to do is take her in my arms and kiss her senseless.
But the huge nose brace kind of puts a damper on that. I cant really do anything with my face for the next week or so without risking the healing of my nose. If I fuck it up worse I might have to have surgery and thats not good. So it ruins the mood, to say the least.
And Im not thrilled about that at all. At least Ill have it off by Christmas.
Waiting for Grace to come back I look up at the crisp night sky filled with a thousand stars. I never thought Id be here, picking out a tree with my girlfriend. Its pretty cool.
But I feel guilty for the good that I have in my life. I gave so many people so much crap, and still do. Ive only been to see my grandmother who raised me a few times since the onslaught of her Alzheimers. I go and visit my old horse more than I see her. Its so difficult though; she doesnt know me anymore and usually gets agitated whenever Im around. All she does is ask where her grandson is and I sit there, knowing that because of me shell never see him again.
My mother is who knows where, my father long gone. My brother is dead and Ive made no attempt to visit any of my extended family either here or back in Australia. Completely isolating yourself from the past has both its advantages and disadvantages, while I dont have to deal with seeing with family, I still carry around the internal pain and guilt.
I guess I cant decide which is worse.
Grace bounds back to me, followed by a gawky looking teenager. She is grinning as she tells the kid what tree to cut and load up and without any further discussion he effectively begins to saw it down.
Shaking my head sadly I take Graces hand. She looks at me inquisitively; her round eyes a deep green in the moonlight.
"Whats the matter?" She questions, her voice soft and gentle like a lovers caress.
"Ith awful, cutting a tree just for Chrithmas."
She pats my hand. "I know sweetheart, but its what they are grown for and besides, well take it out to the woods after so it can be a home for bunnies, okay?"
I smile as best as I can with my stylish nose protector. Yeah, bunnies. Thats at least better than leaving it out for the trash.
The tree guy looks at us quizzically with our freshly cut tree in his hand. I give him an intimidating glare and he hastily heads toward our car, Grace leading the way.
December 19th, 2000
"Spots?" Graces voice whispers to me, coaxing me from my deep sleep. I groan and sluggishly open my eyes.
"Yeth?" I am immediately more alert when she doesnt respond right away. "Whath wrong?" I ask as I bolt upright, ignoring the sharp pain to my head and nose.
"Nothing, I was just thinking. I didnt mean to scare you." She admits and I lie back down, relieved as I take her in my arms.
"Whath were you thinking about?" I ask as my heart slowly returns to its normal rhythm. She is quiet and still in my embrace but I do not rush her. Shell tell me in time.
She sighs, a sound that makes me want to protect her from everyone and everything that could possibly hurt her. I tighten my hold on her and feel her relax more completely into my embrace.
"My family." She finally mumbles and I realize its a response to my question.
"Your crazy mother?" I probe and she shakes her head against my chest.
"My real mother. Laura Greene."
Oh. I dont really know what to say to that, so I sympathetically squeeze my arms around her in an impromptu hug and wait for her to continue.
"Do you think she thinks of me? Does she wonder where I am or what Im doing? Does she even care at all about me?" Grace rambles, her voice sleepy. I know from the time she woke me up that shes half asleep. Shes quite proficient in the middle of the night, sometimes waking me to theorize about politics or the state of society.
In the morning she has no memory of the conversation.
But I sense that this is a different matter. Grace is so guarded about this during daylight hours that by speaking of it now it is less real or less scary. Look at me, sounding like a psychologist after a few months of therapy. I roll my eyes at myself and wait for her to continue.
"I think Id like to meet her and her family. Just to see them, you know?" She says and I raise my eyebrows in surprise.
"Would you go with me? To Chicago?" She asks, her voice tentative and unsure.
"Of courth." I tell her. "Leth go Thurthday and Friday." I finally get this fucking nose brace off tomorrow, well, rather today, at my doctors appointment and get re-x-rayed to see if I need surgery. Regardless, the doctors orders have been to not go back to work until after Christmas. Grace and I can hop on a plane and fly to Chicago for a few days, check her real mother out and be back here in plenty of time for Christmas.
"Thank you." She mutters softly and I feel her body relax back into mine.
She has fallen asleep. I continue to hold her close, relishing in the very essence of her like a child holding its most precious gift.
Her breathing is deep and slow as I gaze up at the ceiling. Sleep will not come for me again tonight, it is already almost 4:00 am and I can feel the restlessness of my muscles. I havent been running in the mornings as usual because the pounding is really painful for my nose, but I think Ill start again today.
Its still dark outside, the sea barely visible except for the occasional white cap rushing to the shore. They look like horses, almost, and suddenly I am transported back to when I was a young child, sitting on my grandmothers lap as she read "The Last Unicorn" book to me. I cried, hearing of the unicorns stuck in the great sea because of their fear. Looking out at the rolling ocean, I can almost see the white creatures rushing gallantly for the shore, only to be pulled back again.
Her voice, lilting and soft despite the heavy accent washes over me like a warm rain shower. She was such a good grandmother, knowing how my love of horses and completely accepting it. She did so much for Jonah and I, never raised a hand to us in anger and worked herself ragged trying to provide for us the best she could.
I was so ungrateful. I was a little girl who wanted her mother and I saw my grandmother as a babysitter. I wish I were more understanding, but I was a child. Children dont know how to understand. They just know what they need.
Even as an adult, I never regained the closeness I shared with my grandmother as a child. Jonahs death scarred her as much as it did me and after we became almost strangers, despite living in the same house. When I left for college, we would call or write, and after I graduated and was accepted on the force we barely spoke.
She was smart and wise with her money. She bought this house as an investment and converted it into apartments before selling off each unit individually. Ill never know why, but she gave me this unit.
Before I could thank her she was off, back to Australia to see her family. We wrote each other more, even spoke on the phone despite the outrageous bills. She urged me to come and visit her, but work was more important to me at the time and all I thought about was working as much as I could to advance my career.
Then she was diagnosed with Alzheimers. My great-aunt traveled back here with her and she stayed with me for a year. We enjoyed each others company and I liked having her here when I came home from work. She loved hearing about my day and the horses until her memory started failing and she became fearful of being alone.
I tried everything, in-home nursing and care, but nothing helped. It finally reached the point where I had no choice but to find a full-time Alzheimers care facility. It broke my heart to have her there, and I visited as much as I could, but I thought it was more difficult for the both of us. It seemed to be a nice place, all the patients were clean and well fed and they had a pleasant staff and lots of activities.
She forgot who I was. Sometimes, when Id go and visit she would look at me, her blue eyes so startlingly like mine, and Id swear she knew exactly who I was. But then shed scream and yell for me to get out, she only wanted her grandson.
It was too painful, I wasnt able to deal with my feelings of Jonahs death, especially to try and explain it to her over and over. So I gradually stopped visiting.
I miss her. I think she and Grace would have gotten along really well. My grandmother didnt know I was gay, but I know she would have accepted Grace into her heart like another granddaughter.
Tears well up and spill out of my eyes unchecked. I dont bother to wipe them away; these thoughts have been too long bottled up and finally deserve to be out in the open.
As if she senses my sadness, Grace frowns in her sleep and drapes her lithe body further over mine, as if to protect or comfort me. She doesnt need to try; the mere presence of her in my arms is the comfort I need.
I so admire her goodness. The simple fact she would take time out of her Christmas vacation to go halfway across the country and seek out the mother she never knew just to give her a chance makes my heart ache for her. She is so trusting and hopeful, such a bright ray of sun compared to myself. I smile through my tears, remembering little things about Grace that made me fall in love with her; the way she nervously tried to flirt with me upon our first meeting, the overzealous letters and phone calls she made, her inquisitive and intelligent ever-changing eyes, and the softness of her lips as they curve into a smile.
Maybe Ill go and visit my grandmother tomorrow. If Grace has enough courage to seek out Laura Greene, I can visit my Nana.
But Ill still see if Grace wants to come. I know she will.
"Im gonna wash that man right out of my hair, Im gonna wash that man right out of my hair, Im gonna wash that man right out of my hair and send him on his way!" I sing loudly over the spraying shower. Suddenly the shower curtain swings open and I yelp as the cool air hits me.
"Whath man?" Jadens voice asks as the shower stall suddenly becomes more cramped due to the addition of her tall frame.
Not that Im complaining. I wrap my arms around her and turn our bodies so she can have her share of the hot water. She moans in appreciation and I plant soft kisses over her chest and arms.
"How was your run?" I ask, admiring her toned and now wet body. "Any pain from your nose?"
She shakes her head as she ducks her face under the water to loosen the tape holding the brace on. Then she gingerly peels it off and reveals her entire face to me.
Goddess, how Ive missed looking at her without that ugly white thing covering half of her face. Her nose looks perfectly normal, all the bruising and swelling has faded and it looks fine.
"Well?" She asks, raising one eyebrow to show off her sculpted cheekbones.
"Youre beautiful." I whisper reverently before smiling.
She wriggles her face slowly, making all sorts of funny expressions before settling into a smile. "It feels pretty good, not too much pain. But it will feel even better to be able to speak without a lisp."
I grin in agreement. Jaden has long complained about how the pressure of the nose protector causes her speech to be impaired.
"Poor Stinky." Jaden mutters before ducking her head once again under the water to rinse her hair.
Stinky? Is she saying that I stink? I ignore the thought as her breasts sway gently in front of me due to her arms being over her head as she washes her long hair.
Whoever said that being short was a disadvantage never dated Jaden. My height puts her breasts at the perfect level and I use this opportunity to gently take her nipple in my mouth, my hand going immediately to caress the other breast.
"Oh God." She mutters as I continue my loving ministration of kisses and touches. I look up at her and smile, enjoying the sight of her eyes darkened to a deep blue with desire.
I move my mouth to her other breast now and gently trail my left hand down her defined stomach muscles to the gentle swelling of her hip. I tease her with my hand, moving it down between her spread thighs and around her lower stomach. Her hands tangle in my hair as she encourages my mouth to continue its attention to her full breasts.
The phone rings, startling both of us. "Ignore it." Jaden commands and I never stop my soft touching.
My hand has found its home now, nestled between her legs I gasp when I feel how wet and ready she is for me. We both groan when I push my fingers inside of her and as I lower myself to my knees, unable to keep my anticipation to taste her at bay, the answering machine picks up.
"Jaden? Grace? God, please pick up! Its Diana, I need you! Please! Are you there?" Dianas seriously freaked-out voice is loud enough to be heard over the shower.
I regretfully remove my hand from Jaden and stand up.
"I better get it, it sounds serious." I tell her and she nods understandingly. I step out of the shower, carefully but quickly and wrap Jadens robe around my wet body.
I run over to the phone and pick it up. "Di? Its Grace, are you okay?"
"Thank God youre home. Listen, Im sorry to spring this on you but I need you guys to watch Kasey. They just called me from Beverly hospital, Joe is there and hes about to go into surgery!"
"What? Is he okay? What happened?" I ask her, alarmed at the thought of Joe being hurt.
"I dont know, he went snowmobiling with his cousins today and had an accident. They said he broke his legs, I dont know I have to get down there. Im sorry to call you, but you live the closest. I dont want to take Kasey, shell just be upset and if something bad happens and hes not okay I dont want her seeing that " Diana rambles, her normally strong voice sounding very scared and small.
"Dont worry about it, were glad to help. Ill be there in ten minutes, okay?" I tell her calmly, trying to soothe her nerves.
"Ill drop her off, youre on my way to the hospital." Diana says and I hear her pick up her keys.
"I will be waiting downstairs." I tell her as I hang up the phone. Poor Diana, I bet shes really freaked out. A light bulb goes off in my head and I pick up the phone and dial information, getting the number for the hospital.
"Jaden, we need to get Kasey!" I call to her and hear the shower turn off. A few seconds later Jaden scampers into the bedroom to get dressed.
When Im connected to the hospital operator, I request to speak with Dr. Eva Tejada and am immediately transferred. I dont have to wait long before Eva picks up the line, her smooth voice sounding professional.
"Hey Eva, its Grace. How are you?" I ask, trying to keep the nervousness out of my voice.
"Im well Grace, nice to hear from you, although a bit unusual. Is everything okay?" She questions with understanding. Ive never called her at work before, and I am just grateful that she is working her shift now.
"Well, Im not sure. Dianas husband, Joe was brought in because of a snowmobile accident. She is on her way, but no one will tell her anything. Can you help me ease her and Kaseys mind?" I ask, crossing my fingers with hope that she can find the information.
"Sure thing, hang on please." She tells me and puts me on hold. I anxiously hop up and down due to the cold and my nervousness.
Jaden emerges from the bedroom clad in jeans and a sweater. "Ill be downstairs." She says, and I realize she must have overheard my conversation with Diana.
"Thank you sweetheart." I call to her as Eva picks up the line again.
"It is nothing Grace, you dont have to call me sweetheart." She kids and I giggle nervously. "Really, he will be fine. He broke both of his legs and needs surgery to repair a torn ligament in his ankle. Nothing life-threatening and he is strong and should heal fine."
Relief floods over me as I thank her profusely. "Im sorry to have to call and bother you, I know its unprofessional to ask you to do this."
She chuckles. "Think nothing of it, I like you and Im glad to give you
good news. Tell Diana to look me up when she gets here and Ill be able
to give her more information, okay?"
"Thank you Eva, thank you so much." I tell her, grateful for such a good friend.
"Youre welcome. See you soon, okay? Sam sends her love." She replies.
I tighten Jadens robe around my body and throw on a pair of tall boots. Clomping down the stairs I find Diana jumping out of her car while Jaden removes a scared Kasey from the back seat.
"Mama will be back soon, okay? You stay with Jaden and Grace." Diana tries to calm her, but Kasey is having none of it, clinging to Jaden like her life depends on it. Diana hands me a bag. "Here are her things, Ill call when I know anything. Thank you for watching her, Ill try to send someone to pick her up later."
"Wait, Di, I just spoke with Eva at the hospital. Joe is fine; he broke both his legs and needs surgery to repair his ankle. He will be okay. Eva said to find her at the hospital and shell talk with you."
Diana closes her eyes briefly. "Thank God." She says, looking instantly relieved. "Thank you for calling, I really appreciate it."
"No problem. Tell Joe we said hello. And dont worry about Kasey, well keep her overnight." I tell her as she thanks us once more before getting back in the car and speeding out of the driveway.
"MAMA!" Kasey screams as Diana drives away. Jaden awkwardly tries to comfort her but she just continues to scream, giant tears rolling down her fair cheeks.
"Lets go inside and have some hot chocolate, okay Kasey-girl?" I tell her smiling and she looks at me perplexed.
"Pixie-head, why do you have a robe on outside?" She asks, hiccupping as she continues to cry.
I laugh as I take her from Jadens arms. She wraps herself around my neck and cries into my shoulder.
"I have a robe on because I was so excited to see you that I didnt even have time to get dressed! You should be thankful I didnt run out here naked!" I tell her and she rewards me with a small giggle. A small, temporary, giggle.
"Daddy." She wails mournfully.
"Hes okay, I talked with Dr. Eva, you remember her from Thanksgiving? She looks like Jaden but with darker skin?" Kasey nods into my shoulder.
"Well, I just called her and she said your daddy will be fine. I promise you, okay?" She nods again. "Well, lets go inside and get warm, Ill put some real clothes on and well sit with Bean and Bella and drink hot chocolate."
"Yay." She says softly and I look at Jaden and smile as she holds the door open for me. I climb up the stairs, careful not to trip with the scared little girl in my arms.
Part 9: To be continued ..
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