1. Copyright: These are all my characters. Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved. Send comments to JLNickymaster@yahoo.com

Trouble Times Ten

Chapter 3

Charlie’s pulse raced as she watched the wide shoulders and broad back walking away from her. A sudden weakness had her quickly leaning back against the wall, a vicious dizzy spell rushed through her body. Shit! I need to focus. Who the hell does she think she is? Oh my God, Gwen could have been raped. That sick bastard. Who is this woman? Can she really help us? I can’t trust anyone…can I? Charlie felt so weary from the multiple confrontations that had occurred today. Her thoughts bounced back and forth. She could barely think straight. She also didn’t like the fact that the kids seemed to be wary and seemingly calm about dealing with the intrusion of strangers. She grimaced as her pulse pounded in her ears, interrupting her thoughts. I guess pizza is a big equalizer.

“Where is Bec….are you alright?” Sabrina stepped out the front door and helped Charlie back into the slight privacy of the kitchen. She grabbed a chair pushing Charlie into it. Her concerned medical gaze ran over the shorter woman from head to toe. A quick touch of cool fingers rested against a warm forehead. Charlie didn’t even feel the need to jerk away. Sabrina ran professional hands to hold Charlie’s neck and tilt her head up to look into her eyes. Charlie blinked wearily.

“What time do you have? I have to be at work by ten P.M.”

“You’re not going anywhere. Your thin, tired, and look exhausted. You should be in bed.” Sabrina deduced as she continued to check the blood pressure cuff was staying secure on the arm she held. Unfortunately, the child size cuff fit perfectly. Sabrina pursed her lips to refrain from further comments. She popped a thermometer into Charlie’s mouth to stop any excuses or protests from being spoken.

“I’m putting you on house rest. I know you think working will take care of these kids but what would happen if you work yourself to death? Who would take care of them then?” Sabrina locked eyes with the weary blues sitting in the chair. Charlie dropped her gaze first.

“Where did Sab…oh, there you are.” Becky suddenly appeared into the kitchen. The somewhat spacious area became claustrophobic as the two larger women stood blocking the only exit. Charlie fought the urge to expel the pizza trying to rise in her gorge. She blanched at the acidic taste rising. Her face became white as she removed the thermometer out of her mouth with a shaking hand.

“I need…out!” She pushed the doctor to the side blindly as she headed toward the exit. Becky pressed herself against the wall as Charlie shot by her.

“Well that was interesting.” Sabrina lifted the thermometer that was suddenly shoved in her hands. She read the elevated temperature of the young woman and nodded at the reading. “She’s running a fever. She needs a full medical, Beck. You need to convince her to visit me at my office or figure something out before she collapses. I can’t really assess her completely here and I have better equipment there. From just my basic observations I’d say near acute malnutrition, high anxiety, dehydration, overload of stress, and from that immediate reaction to confinement I’d guesstimate some additional issues of an unstable psychological state.”

Beth jerked her head back toward Sabrina at the last revelation. Her concerned gaze met equal concern from the Pediatrician.

“What does that mean? She isn’t crazy! Did she say anything?” Becky looked at the doorway where Charlie had ran through.

“She’s not crazy, Bee! She’s unstable, emotionally. She acts like she was frightened by someone or something. She and these kids don’t seem to trust anyone but each other, although, Danny is a fountain of information, when you get him talking.” Sabrina gave a tight smile. Becky took a step toward the doorway but Sabrina called her back.

“Let her have a breath of air. She won’t go far from these kids. She adores them and they her.” Sabrina shook out the thermometer and with a cotton ball swab and alcohol wiped it clean. She dropped it into the little case and put the case into her old fashioned Doctors satchel.

Nodding Becky resisted the urge to follow the younger woman. She sat down heavily into one of the kitchen chairs.

Sabrina shook her head at the thought of the young boy and the one he protected. She listened to the young kid reflect on Gwyn’s circumstances as if it was a natural situation. His take on life seemed optimistic but she was clearly finding that point of view included Gwyn in every part. She was barely able to touch a tool or Gwyn without complete explanation. The eerie part was clearly his immediate understanding and his ability to ask more question that seemed so adult.

“Gwyn is whole other story though. She is badly in need of a very simple surgery that will correctly fix her torn ligaments and allow her leg to support her body’s weight. But the physical therapy that she will need to do afterward is going to take some time. She will have to stay at the hospital for at least six weeks.”

“The problem I see is her little bodyguard, Danny. He is never going to let her leave for that long.” Becky pulled out a small note pad from her back pocket and used the pen she always carried with it. A quick general calculation of the hospital expenses and the additional charges of Gwyn staying for physical therapy were written down. Becky doubled the amount and snapped shut the small notepad.

“Perhaps we can let Danny go with her? Put her in the children’s living wing and we can put in a second bed. Becky remembered Sabrina mentioning the living wing where long term patients stayed with their family members. I’ll throw in the new designs for that Asthma Wing you’ve been looking to build.” Becky bribed away the negative reaction from the tall blonde.

“You play dirty, Bee. I’ve only mentioned that addition to you twenty times. Michelle will kiss you to death when she hears you’ve decided to draft the layout. I’ll go talk to them. Although I don’t think Charlie will be too happy but it has to be done.”

Sabrina clipped shut her satchel and back handed Becky’s upper arm as she passed by her heading out the kitchen. Becky’s smug grin didn’t dissipate one inch. She’d already completed the first draft on that design and was currently revising it to include more room for rehabilitation equipment.

Becky headed toward the living room to see how Michelle was making out examining the children. For some reason she was beginning to think any choices she suggested to Charlie would be immediately denied. Must be the whole trespassing skill you’ve elected to perfect, Bee. She knew Sabrina’s medical word would justify the changes taking place with Gwyn’s situation. She didn’t want to add to any fears or anger from the two still very distrustful people that felt the need to look out for Gwyn’s best interest.

Another issue was beginning to grow in her mind as she read over the initial notes Michelle had taken of the two girls and the three boys.

“They’re underweight and showing signs of hyperactivity.” Michelle’s soft comments were stated with a concerned voice as she moved to stand next to Becky. Becky replaced the slender file and took the one being handed to her. The tattooed physical therapist continued with her verbal observations.

“The girls, Natalie and Penny, are overly quiet and the boys, Trevon and Terry, are rambunctious, but easily tired. This is a clear indication of malnutrition, probably lack of proper vitamins and too much confinement. They need more outdoors exposure. The living conditions of this apartment alone are too sparse.”

Becky kept picturing little Gwyn having her arm twisted by that criminal landlord. Even her apparent ease at accessing the complex was added to the negatives of a growing list. But, she promised no authorities. Glancing up from the manila folder she found Manuel’s overly diligent stare. It was as if she personified someone he thought was evil. She pursed her lips and set down the folder. His eyes flickered to the door and back to her.

Come on, Bee. Remember how you tamed those wild tigers in the boardroom? Find a little finesse here and calm that boy down before he does something stupid.

Looking around the room, she brought her eyes back to him. “You know, I promised Charlie I wouldn’t report you guys to the authorities? I don’t break my promises. I just want to help.” The chattering from the other kids quieted in the room. Manuel just stared. Becky touched her fingers to her forehead, rubbing. She tried to relate to the intense fear she saw streaming out of the young mans eyes. Dropping her hand she placed it over her chest.

“I know the foster system” she practically growled her disgust. “I was raised in it, too. Even now I can’t get rid of some of those memories that I had to live through when I was younger.” She paused to add emphasis to her next words. Her voice was richer with warmth and love as she continued. “But, some people came along and gave me something that helped.” Becky smiled at all the kids looking back at her as she took a few steps toward the listening boy. The other kids remained quiet sensing the battle between the stranger and their friend.

“Nobody helps us. We are forgotten. You’re a liar.” His sullen tone was almost too calm with the bitterness of knowing. Becky caught him sliding his hand down near his waistband. She remembered her protective trick at twelve, when she used to carry a blade in her boot.

Keeping her tone warm and inviting she related the positive turn in her life. “I got help from the ones that became my foster parents, my mom and dad. They found me in a sea of kids and they gave me so many things it almost makes the bad times forgettable.” She stepped closer and squatted down to his level on the ground.

“Most importantly, they gave me the three things I knew would help me survive anywhere? You want to know what that is, Manuel?” She lowered her voice to add an intimacy to their conversation. He just stared, as if daring her to tell him.

“They gave me time, love, and hope. In the time I spent with them I learned the wrong and right things to do to become a better person. I saw through them a real love that can exist between two people, one where you know it’s good and right and strong. And the hope they gave me, made my life become bearable. Bearable or tolerable, kept me from going back into that world I should have never been in. I was able to find my way, which was not where I was headed when I first met them.”

Manuel fidgeted with his waistband and dropped his gaze to stare at his knees.

“I can offer you some of what they gave me. I’d like to offer you these things. But, I need you to understand…” she paused as if hearing her mother’s voice in her head from twenty years ago repeat itself as clear as a bell. “…it’s a two way street! We will both have to figure it out and learn along the way. I can’t promise to not make mistakes. But, I’ll learn from them.”

Manuel met her eyes briefly and he seemed to relax back against the wall. His hand moved away from his waistband and he looked over at the other kids.

“You sure you can do all that, lady?” His teenager came out in full force as he looked back at her in challenge.

Becky blinked and realized she wasn’t so sure. A moment of complete panic sent a tremor through her system. She quickly moved to lean against the wall beside the young boy and take a look at the rest of the kids that had begun talking among themselves again as if nothing ever took place.

“Well, between you and me, Manuel…” she looked over to see Charlie and Sabrina walking into the living room. “…I might need your help just a little”, she sighed running her hand through her hair. The boy smirked at her response and nodded his head knowingly. As curly as Becky’s hair was naturally she was sure she was going to look like a porcupine before the day was over.

Blue eyes regarded her across the room and took in Manuel’s more relaxed posture. Charlie was truly surprised at his calmness. It took her a few months to get close to him due to his obvious physical abuse from his previous foster parent and his shattered mental state. She still hadn’t gotten the entire story out of him. And here he was sitting next to this stranger who was changing their lives. What was it about this woman?

Charlie took a good look at the tall woman sitting on her living room floor. She had one knee up and an arm resting over it. The glint of a gold watch peeked out from beneath the sleeve of her shirt. The strength of her muscles showed in the flexing of her leg. Charlie couldn’t seem to take her eyes from the large hand that was lifted to run through unruly black curls. Could she really help? A wave of weakness swept over her and Charlie felt the walls moving closer. She stopped following Sabrina to lean against the nearest surface. Her knees seemed to buckle.

“Grab her, Sabrina.” Becky stated as Charlie started sinking downward. “That’s it. I’m declaring an emergency.” Becky boomed to the entire party. “Everyone go to their room and grab an overnight change of clothes. We are going back to my house.” Charlie was leaning heavily against Sabrina’s arm as Becky ordered the kids to get moving.

“You just can’t…” Charlie began to protest as the kids left the room and Becky drew closer. Again, she began to feel a panic rise but not from claustrophobia. Her pulse raced as she watched the strong features nearing and she couldn’t find the strength to look away. A shiver of nervousness clenched her stomach.

“Yes…I…can”, Becky stated clearly. I said I was going to help and I am. My house is plenty big enough for all of you and at least there they will have warm blankets, food, and security.” Becky walked over in front of the little blonde and before Charlie could protest she leaned down to pick her up. Charlie automatically clutched at the broad shoulders and strength holding her.

Holding Charlie within her arms, Becky frowned at the incredible light weight. Nodding her head toward the door, she quickly asked Sabrina to assist with opening it.

“She is going to ride with you to the hospital, Sabrina. If you wouldn’t mind please go get your car and bring it around front. I’ll bring her down.”

“I’m fine. I was just dizzy. Put me down.” Charlie felt weak and exhausted but tried to argue anyway. The arms tightened at her words. The bands of steel were firm but the hands were gentle. She lost her focus as a light cologne scent invaded her senses.

Regardless of her mixed desires, she wasn’t released until fifteen minutes later, when she was carefully deposited into the backseat of a very nice car and told to stay put, just like a dog. Her anger rose again, but the death glare she gave Becky did nothing as the tall woman confirmed with Sabrina the possible time it might take to get the kids settled. They spoke over the roof of the car while Charlie stewed.

Shutting the door from the outside, Becky leaned down and paused, looking Charlie over through the open window.

“Charlie, I promise I’ll take care of the kids and you need to promise to take care of yourself. Eat, sleep, do what you need to get healthy. The children trust you and will need you. I’m really sorry I am overbearing. Plus I can be really stubborn but it seems we have something in common after all. Sabrina is going to take you to the hospital to get a full checkup. I’ll set the kids up and come see you. Sabrina will set up a space for Gwyn and Danny and they can be checked in tomorrow. I’ll see you later tonight to update you on everyone.”

Charlie frowned and stared straight ahead.

“You can’t just take over like this.” She gritted out between clenched teeth.

Becky stared at the petite woman’s profile. The overly grown blonde silk tucked behind one ear, the long blonde lashes over such blue eyes, and the determined jut to her small chin spoke of bravery and stubbornness.

“Don’t be afraid, Charlene.” Becky urged softly. Then she extracted her head and slapped the top of the car. Sabrina looked into the rearview mirror and made sure her passenger was settled before moving out into traffic.

“Don’t worry” she stated looking into the tired blue eyes looking out the window at the residence. The blue gaze was focused on the retreating form that headed back into the apartment complex. Sabrina miss took the expression of confusion for one of worry.

“Becky is one of those rare people. If she says she will do something she is going to do it.”

“Rich people have that luxury, don’t they? They can also push the poor people around?” Charlie’s snide remark had Sabrina firmly breaking and turning to face Charlie in the backseat.

“Becky has earned every penny of her money through blood sweat and tears. She works hard and deserves respect. I understand you’ve been in a dire situation lately and you have a lot of issues to deal with. She can be your best friend or your worst nightmare but she will take care of those kids. Don’t judge her money. Take some time to judge her and you’ll find she is the cream of the crop. Who else would you know that would take on eight dependent people under their wing without reservations?” Charlie dropped her gaze at the feeling of frustration flowing through her. She realized these women were all doing their part to help her and the kids. Before she could utter any sort of apology, Sabrina turned around and without another word drove to the hospital.

Bounding back up the stairs to the apartment, Becky relayed over the cell phone to Doreen her immediate needs to bring home the seven kids. Doreen heard the impatience in her boss’s voice and left all the questions unasked, telling her she would contact Mike right away to reroute to the house. Becky wrote the number to a cab company down in her handy notepad and told Doreen they would be there within the next hour. She walked into the apartment to find the kids, all with meager belongings stuffed into school backpacks. Michelle was herding them back into the living room. Giving the cell phone to Michelle she handed over the cab company and asked her to order two cabs.

Becky went directly back toward Gwyn and Danny and shrugging back on her jacket she carefully picked up Gwyn and tucked her back into the safety of her jacket. Danny latched on to her side and carried both their backpacks.

An hour later seven scared children were brought to the front of a very large mansion. The cabs were paid off and the two adults were met by Doreen and Mike to help lead the children into the grand foyer.

Doreen met them and instantly let her motherly side come to the forefront.

“Becky Anne Barton you’ve brought me a passel of beauties. Are any of you hungry? Mike just dropped off a ton of groceries and I’m sure we can whip up a sandwich or something more.” Doreen and Michelle herded the two girls and the twins to take off their simple jackets. She pointed to Michelle to show the way and pushed them toward the dining area off to the left.

I’ll just be a moment, Doreen. I need to find Gwyn here a nice soft bed to sleep in. She and Danny will take their meal in their room.”

Doreen nodded. “I’ll have Alex fix them a tray” she spoke of the in house chef Becky kept employed six days a week. “But, both of you need to get a move on. Nobody is going to skip this meal I’m fixing. It includes everyone.” Becky looked down and found Manuel, surprisingly at her other side. He looked up at her and then around the huge entry way. His hyper awareness was evident.

“Unfortunately, Manuel, I think she means you and me. She’s like this all the time, very bossy and usually right. Get used to it!” Becky stated rolling her eyes theatrically. Manuel’s lips twitched for a second but the smile didn’t stay. He nodded and moved toward the others. Becky felt a grumble of hunger take that moment to speak volumes in her stomach. She sighed.



After tucking Gwyn into the bed, she explained to Danny the intercom system at her bedside. She had it installed when her parents were alive. It ran throughout the house and could notify the kitchen, the office, or the staff, that they were needed. She ran a hand over his head and touched a quick finger to Gwyn’s sleeping features. “I’ll see you two later. I need to go check on the others and make sure Charlie is doing alright.” Danny sleepily nodded and laid his head back to rest on the twin bed beside Gwyns.

Within an hour of them all having eaten, Doreen had the two girls situated into their shared bedroom and both were given robes and nightgowns. Doreen had simply pulled out her own girl’s change of clothing she stored at the mansion for them when they came to visit. Making sure they were headed to bathe and cleaning up, she took off to see to the boys.

Running a bubble bath she got the twins to dive in and enjoy the suds. She asked Mike to watch over them while she showed Manuel to another area where there was a shower available. With a promised from the young Latino to wash thoroughly, she eventually found Becky and Michelle downstairs in the office. Becky was just getting on the phone. Michelle was finishing up writing some notes into the manila folders she had started on the kids.

“You’re going to have to fill me in but every one of those children needs some attention.” Doreen shook her head at the neglect she could clearly see on their childish frames. “They are too skinny, and I’m going to have to get them more than just food. I think I’ll call Alice in to help me tomorrow.” She spoke thoughtfully, mentioning the part-time housekeeper they employed. “Those boys need haircuts and new britches. The girls need new shoes.”

“Whatever you need, just do it. I have to go to the hospital and make some additional arrangements for Gwyn and Danny” Becky lifted the receiver to her ear.

Doreen moved over to the brandy decanters and pulling out an orange juice bottle from the small mini-fridge. She twisted off the top and poured it into three glasses. Delivering them to the other two she motioned a toast and then drank hers down. For once, her matron image was a little mussed. Becky smiled at her.

“May I speak to Dr. Chella, please? This is Becky Barton.” Becky sat down into her leather backed chair and released a breath, running a hand through her already mussed hair. “I ran across them at an apartment a few blocks from here. I was…” Becky felt a little warmth run up under her collar. She cleared her throat and continued. “…shopping and happened to be at the right place at the right time. Little Gwyn has an injury and Sabrina is going to be taking care of her. Danny will go with them. For now, I think the rest of them mostly need nutrition and care.”

Doreen nodded in agreement. “Lot’s of care, Becky. I hope you are ready to deal with all of this.”

Becky began to nod when Sabrina answered the call.

“How’s Charlene doing?” Becky asked before Sabrina could say her name.

“Bee? We are running tests right now. As I said earlier she is weak, running a fever, totally exhausted and she needs to build up her strength. She will definitely be staying overnight, possibly two or three nights if I can keep her in the bed.” Becky heard Sabrina’s name called over the intercom in the background.

“I’ll keep you updated. I did find one thing interesting above all others.” Sabrina sounded very serious. “Our little guardian of the masses is pregnant.” Becky sat up straight in her chair abruptly.

“What?” She asked in that commanding tone that had belayed astonishment toward so many half-assed scheme artists being introduced in her boardroom.

“Yes, pregnant. She is about two months along and I don’t think she even knows it. I’d like to explain this to her but…” Sabrina hesitated to cause more risk to the young woman’s already fragile situation.

“I’m coming over. I’ll be there within the hour. I just need to check on…” Becky hesitated, realizing she was about to sound parental, “…the children.”

“Ha-ha, my poor Bee! Checking on the children? How not like you!” Sabrina laughed in her ear. Becky looked at the receiver and tisked.

“Well so far it has been the most excitement in my life in months.” Becky related to her long time friend and ex-lover. She noted Doreen and Michelle exchanging smiles at the remark.

“I’ll be going there as soon as I’ve finished here.”

“Alright, Bee. She is resting for the moment and she needs all she can get of that.”

Becky said her goodbye and set the receiver down on the cradle.

Pregnant? Wow! What the hell? What was she thinking? Looking up at two of her dearest friends she stood and swallowed down her jig of O.J.

“Lets get these kids settled and I’ll run you over to the hospital, Michelle. I can’t thank you for all your help.

“I’m sure it’s not the last you will need” Michelle held the file folders in her hands and stood as well. She handed them over to Becky and watched her place them into a polished leather briefcase that was lovingly oiled, a gift from Becky’s mother.


Danny felt his heart beating loudly as he heard someone near the bedroom door. The room was large and had a lot of nice things around it but he had been a bit afraid to turn on the light and check it out more closely. Gwyn had moaned a few times but she did that often in her sleep. He heard a soft tap and then the door opened halfway to reveal the dark gaze of Becky.

She put her finger to her lips to keep him quiet as she entered and check Gwyn for any fever. The little girl barely seemed to be breathing but she leaned into the warm hand.

Becky moved over to Danny’s bed and motioned for him to lie back down from his half sitting position. She knelt down and whispered to him.

“I had Alice give her a few baby aspirin in her drink so she would sleep a little better. Dr. Chello said that would be alright. I just wanted to let you know you can find the boys right down the hall. The girls are around the corner from them.”

Danny just nodded a little and looked steadily at Becky.

“I’m going over to the hospital to talk to them about Gwyn. I’ll check on Charlie while I’m there and make sure she is doing fine. Is there anything you want me to tell her?”

Danny let the large hands of the nice woman pull the bed covers up to tuck him in.

“Tell her we miss her. Gwyn really likes to get that kiss goodnight she gives.” His young warble let Becky know Gwyn wasn’t the only one missing that kiss.

She ran a hand over his puffy hair and hope it soothed him.

“I’ll let her know. Would you think she would like a substitute kiss goodnight?”

Danny thought about it and gave a tiny twitch of his head. Becky smiled and stood up tall to turn and give little Gwyn a kiss on the crown of her head. Then she turned to him and leaned down to give him a quick kiss. He smiled as she walked away. His heart slowed down as he fell back into a safe slumber.

A soft tap on the door made the three boys stop talking. The room lights were off but a little light shown from the attached bathroom. They were talking about the nice furniture and the huge house. Manual’s warning of “don’t get used to it” had the twins sighing in tandem.

“Are you guy’s okay for the night? Do you need anything?” Becky asked as she walked into the partially lit room. She bent over to pick up a single tennis shoe from the middle of the floor.

“What time do we need to be ready to leave tomorrow?” Manual stated flatly from the shadows covering his bed in the corner. Becky looked over at him and just barely made out his darker form from within the pile of dark covers.

“Well, I just found out Charlie is not feeling well and Dr. Chella wants to keep her at the hospital for a few days. I was thinking you should stay here for the week and when she comes back we can all talk about it. Is that alright?”

She moved over to the twins who were tucked into twin beds head to head along the far wall. She put the shoe down next to one that was near the first boy’s bed. He giggled. The other twin shushed him.

“I’ll check with the doctor to see if we can all visit her in a few days.” Manual grunted acknowledgment.

She started to go turn off the bathroom light but realized it had been turned on purposely. Her gaze swept the room and she made a mental list to buy some night lights.

“Doreen will probably come and wake you up in the morning to take you to breakfast you so try not to wear her down. She has only been dealing with girls in her family. Trevon…Terry…you two behave for her, please.” Becky smiled at the duo. “Follow Manuel’s good example.”

She waved over at Manuel and walked back to the door.

“Sleep well.”


Becky tapped on the girl’s temporary room and opened the door. Natalie, the older girl, was sitting on her side of a double bed, brushing her long brown hair. The lamp showed her pale features. She paused watching Becky come in. Penny, the younger of the two, was curled up on the other side of the bed and fast asleep already.

“I was just checking in to make sure you two didn’t need anything?” Becky noticed the duffle bag stuffed into the small sitting area beneath the window contained a bunch of papers with drawings on them. The crayon colors were vivid and bright.

She noticed Natalie biting her lips nervously.

“Are you the artist in the group?” Becky smiled warmly.

Natalie’s little nod and brief smile, was heartening.

“Penny likes music a lot and I like to draw.” The young girl explained as she tucked her hair behind her ears and set the brush down on the nightstand.

“My mom loved painting. She used to say color is what makes people feel. Course she also told me to eat my vegetables.”

The girl giggled and covered her mouth quickly. She brought her hands down when Becky chuckled.

“Doreen will be up here to wake you see about breakfast. I’m going to go check on Charlie and I’ll see you tomorrow. Alright?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Natalie said as Becky came around and switched off the lamp for the yawning girl. She walked back out of the room and heard a soft ‘night’ spoken from within.

“Night, honey.”

After dropping Michelle off at her condo, she headed for the hospital. Entering the lobby she passed a small gift shop and paused to purchase some fresh carnations. Putting them carefully into her briefcase she headed for the Pediatricswing. She knew Sabrina would be performing her own checks on children in the ward. Becky smiled at the new role in her life. Even for a single night it had made her realize something she didn’t know she’d missed out on.

Standing at the nurse’s station was the tall blonde doctor she sought.

“Fantastic, you’re here. And, before you ask, Charlie is still sleeping. So I’d like to show you the room we have available for Gwyn and Danny. Want to take a peek?” Sabrina smiled at Becky as they walked down the hospital hallway.

“Thank you, Sabrina. I’d love to take a look. And I brought the children’s files for you as well.”

Entering the next wing of the hospital the two tall women made a striking pair, one so fair and one so dark. The staff noticed them as they moved into the living wing of the patient ward. Here individual rooms were shared for long term illnesses. This particular wing was children only. Usually a parent or loved one were able to spend a lengthy time with their child since they were allowed to furnish a living style within the rooms to suit the needs of both patient and parent. The list of amenities also included paintings and music and children’s personal belongings brought in from home. The room Sabrina walked them to contained mural walls of bright colors and animated creatures. It was well placed with a broad window and some sitting space. Becky could almost see why Gwyn and Danny might enjoy their stay with minimal complaints. She hoped Charlie would find the arrangements satisfactory.

Sabrina led the way over to another L-shaped portion of the wing where adults were being watched over carefully. This portion of the hospital was very active and staff were stepping into rooms and updating patient charts throughout the late evening hours.

Sabrina quietly pushed open a hospital room and widened it to allow Becky within. The dark room was partially lit by the soft under-lighting of a nightstand near a hospital bed. The metal rails were partially up and a tall privacy curtain was pushed back to see the small occupant of the single bed.

Charlie slept with a monitor hooked up softly beeping. Her finger was taped with the temperature gage and a drip was steadily pouring into her arm providing the needed nutrients her body craved. Becky thought she looked almost paler than before, lying on the starched white sheets. Sabrina softly touched her forehead and read some of the monitor data. A small smile let Becky know things seemed normal for the moment.

Unclipping the locks on her briefcase she withdrew the flowers and found a small empty jug on the far shelf. Pouring some water from the bathroom she fluffed the flowers and left them on the far side of the room for the woman lying so still. Sabrina held a small pen light to read some of the remarks being listed on the chart she retrieved from the shelf near the door.

“She is defiantly going to feel lethargic tomorrow. The high protein and vitamin rich drip we’ve been providing is going to help her body but it will feel like Thanksgiving afternoon to her senses.”

“Is there anything I need to do for her or Gwyn?” Becky spoke softly as she moved a nearby chair over and sat down by the sleeping patient.

“I don’t think you can do much more, Bee. They need some time and this one is going to be required to take extra steps to limit her activities during her pregnancy. She is going to need proper care.”

Both of them paused at the sniffle they heard coming from the patient. Sabrina reached over and turned on a soft lamp beside the bed. Charlie turned her head away from the beam. Her big blue eyes held tears that were welling up.

“Pregnant? Are you sure?” She whispered.

Becky leaned over and held the girls loose grasp with her own. Blue eyes closed and Charlie swallowed.

Sabrina nodded and hummed affirmative. “About two months now, I think.”

Charlie trembled and turned completely on to her side away from the doctor as if trying to deny the truth of her diagnosis.

“I ca..can’t be pregnant” the hoarse tone of her voice was filled with complete denial. “He said he used a condom…” Charlie released Becky’s hand and pulled the hospital cover all the way up underneath her chin. The shoulder shivered beneath the blanket. Sabrina and Becky looked at each other in worry.

“Charlene? Right now we need you to focus on getting back to health. Do you hear me?” Sabrina rubbed Charlie’s shoulder and tried to calm her down. “If you want I can arrange for you to talk to someone about this? But, you still have some options. It’s still early enough in the pregnancy to terminate if you’d like? But, I’m going to recommend you wait a week before making any rash decisions. All you have to do is just tell us what you want to do?”

Becky reached over and pushed her fingers through the blonde silk softly.

“Don’t leave.” Charlie whispered. Becky shook her head.

“I’m here.”

Sabrina left the room quietly as Becky moved a chair over near the bed and held the cold hand lying limply on the bed cover.

Continued in Part 4.


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