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

Trouble Times Ten

Chapter 4

Becky woke up to a soft squeak of tennis shoes on the linoleum floor behind her, a nurse checking the machine readings for the patient. The dusky morning light filtering in from the window glinting on the metal frame of the hospital bed, reminding her where she slept. She lifted her chin slowly, raising her head from the abnormal position of sleeping in a chair and winced at the strained neck muscles. Flinching, she straightened in the chair, her back muscles playing the accordion with painful movements.

Charlie lay in bed staring at the tall woman who obviously stayed the entire night at her bedside regardless of comfort. She took in the features of her benefactor closely. The dark curly hair was wild with waves and thickness. Dark thick eyebrows and a high forehead rested over strong features. Dark eyes watched the nurse move around and finally returned to collide with her stare, realizing she was awake.

“Morning.” Becky husked out trying to wake up and not sound too lost. She felt a little startled to find Charlie looking so intently at her. The puzzlement in those eyes had Becky questioning if there was something wrong on her face? She rubbed over her features with a brisk hand in response, blinking to clear the cobwebs.

“Why are you here?” Charlie’s hoarse dry voice cracked as she questioned her hospital room companion.

Becky stood up and reached over to pour a small cup of water half full and pop a straw in it. Lowering it for Charlie she let the fragile looking woman take a sip.

“I thought you could use some company.” Becky smiled down, a complex feeling of worry and something else troubling her stomach. She softly smoothed a stray strand of hair back from Charlie’s forehead.

Charlie sipped the cool water and felt her chaotic thoughts slow at the gentle touch. The grogginess and extra nutrition were hitting her hard. She had awakened to see sleeping beauty in a chair nearby and for a moment she thought of safety. The recognition of such a rare emotion made her grit her teeth in denial. She just couldn’t accept such a false promise.

Childishly, she fought the strange emotions, ignoring their precious message. Instead she spent the next few minutes letting her eyes roam over the dark haired woman; her tall form slouched awkwardly into the cushioned chair, black curly hair just drifting down to frame the strong features. Mentally, she ignored the sparks of attraction toward her subject and replaced the warmth of safety with that of troubling curiosity. She began to nibble her lip in worry. What was going to happen to her? Or to the kids? Oh my God I’m pregnant. Then her bedside companion had awoken and with drowsy eyes gave her a little smile, a dimple forming charmingly. The butterflies fluttered wildly in her stomach. And now she was being nice. The cold liquid felt heavenly on her dry throat.

The nurse moved to the opposite to the side of the bed and Becky stepped back. Efficiently, the drip levels were checked as well as the injection site. Charlie was forced to look away from her dark haired Samaritan.

Once the squeak of tennis shoes disappeared out the door, quiet descended. Becky moved to stand in front of the window looking outward, her expression seemingly remote.

“I haven’t forgotten last night’s medical revelation. How could I?” The last statement was barely whispered. Charlie closed her eyes as she recounted her predicament. She managed to roll onto her back and began to try and sit up.

Becky moved to assist her and grabbed the wall remote to show her how to raise the electronic bed. Charlie frowned as she took the device. Becky was being too helpful.

“My Dad was in a hospital bed for a month before he died.” Becky explained where her bedside knowledge came from. Charlie grimaced at her ungrateful thoughts. That’s two for two, Charlie. Keep going and you’ll ruin your chances. She disregarded the actual thought of just what exact chances she was ruining? Charlie struggled trying to ignore the irritation from Becky being so helpful.

“I’m not used to being…looked after. I can do things on my own.” Charlie explained to Becky.

A short nod and Becky walked back over to the window to stare outside. The day was getting lighter.

Charlie found a somewhat comfortable position and stared at the drip putting liquids into her arm. Not only was she not used to having someone care for her, she wasn’t used to even being looked at. That was the real puzzle. Becky seemed so ….observant. Charlie almost felt ridiculous at the mixed feelings she was dealing with. She couldn’t seem to trust this strange woman but deep down she felt Becky might be someone you could count on. Even her friends stood up for her. And, after all, she was looking after the kids too. But who in their right mind would take on all of her kids and not want something in return.

As if reading her thoughts Becky responded.

“The children are doing fine. I’ve got my house keeper and a few others helping them out today. I’ve let them know they are welcome at my house. You and I need to come to an understanding about this. I don’t think you will be able to remain at your last residence and I just can’t accept the children being homeless. I’d like all of you to stay at my house until we can figure out what needs to be done. But, until then, there is no pressure to worry about it. They will be taken care of.” Becky glanced over at Charlie who was sitting in the bed as if the world was on her shoulders. “I wasn’t really sure about their schooling at this time but I figured you’d be able to fill me in. Just give me the name of their schools and I’ll update them on their absences.”

Charlie felt relief flow through her. Mental exhaustion over their welfare was always riding her coattails. For once, she would not be suffering from worry over the children’s situation. Then a trickle of guilt filled her. She was responsible for the kids. She told them she would take care of them. How am I going to do that…pregnant? She bit her lip, her thoughts racing with a slight panic at the realization, once again, of her pregnancy.

Once again, Becky was slightly ahead of her in thought.

“Would you like to contact the father?”

“No,” exploded out of Charlie with a blast. “He would not be welcome or have any interest in a baby. Getting pregnant wasn’t in the…let’s just say it was a complete mistake.” Charlie tried to explain. But, she realized the explanation would probably sound weak and disgusting to the strong woman before her. Somehow she didn’t think Becky would look upon her positively for sleeping with the store manager to keep her job. His blackmail to fire her or sleep with him was not a choice. She needed that income badly. Sleeping with the bastard seemed a small sacrifice. She did the deed once and thankfully the sleezeball never bothered her again. Fortunately, his interest lay in conquering woman and she was conquered. She’d been disgustingly thankful for his lack of interest.

Becky watched a slew of emotions race across Charlie’s face. She couldn’t quite read them but the overall fact was she was pregnant. Someone had to take responsibility.

“Do you have any idea what you might do?” Becky broke though Charlie’s reverie and asked the one question Charlie had not been able to focus on.
Blue eyes lifted up to meet the dark gaze across the room. A slight nod of the reluctant patient told Becky Charlie had made a decision about having the baby.

“I know in my heart I cannot just abort a baby. I just can’t…” Charlie’s eyes filled with tears and Becky stepped closer to the bed in silent support. She didn’t want to say anything but she agreed. The choice to abort was a choice that loomed darkly in her thoughts. Even with all of the ugliness of her youth she still felt blessed to be allowed to live her life with her true parents, once they found her. Besides if her birth mother had taken a different route Becky would not be around to be able to help anyone today.

“I was thinking about adoption or looking into that. God knows I’m not exactly able to take on a child.” Charlie hesitated, her thoughts scrambling. She voiced the thought hating the sound of it. “I could at least offer the baby to someone who was able to provide and care for it. Maybe they’d let me keep in touch?” Charlie’s lip trembled with the awesome loss she suddenly felt over the idea of just letting her own baby disappear into the world. She slumped back into the bed and curled her body protectively around her pillow.

The dejected posture of Charlie made Becky want to gather the smaller woman up and protect her. The feeling was so strong she took a step back from the bed and shoved her hands into her slacks. She felt such helplessness on how to resolve this situation. A spark of an idea floated in her head and she tried to latch onto it. In the back of Becky’s mind she was almost able to understand a vague idea that not only scared her to death but thrilled her beyond words.

“I could help you have this baby?” The words were spoken before Becky could control herself.

“Oh really?” A small moan of derision escaped Charlie. She almost buried her head beneath the pillow she clung tightly to, wanting to block out the next few minutes of stupidity she knew Becky was going to state. She just knew Becky was about to say something totally ridiculous. What did a rich single business woman know about pregnancies, babies, or any of the ups and downs in between? Charlie closed her eyes to hold back a tear from escaping at the cruelty of her situation. She didn’t know much more herself. More than anything she would love to raise her own child and be able to show a kindness that the world had never shared with her. She could show her child love.

“I mean…” Becky stumbled over all of the thoughts pouring out of her head and through her mouth “…realistically, I could provide for all of you. You, the baby, the kids…I can help you.” Charlie lifted her eyes to the strange woman beside her. Becky struggled on. “The baby won’t be born for nine months and you and the children could stay with me, at my house. I’ve got the room and the money. I could…help you.” Dark eyes refocused on the stunned blue looking up at her from the bed. Becky ran a nervous hand through her hair trying to figure out why she just offered this woman an opportunity to live in her life.

Because you’re lonely, sweetheart, her mother’s voice whispered a sad lament in her thoughts, echoing her own deepest fears.

But, even as Becky voiced what sounded like the perfect solution, she felt a light headedness strike her at the possibility that she would be changing her world, drastically.

What do I know about a pregnant woman?
Buy a book , the voice whispered with a laughing tone.
Am I doing the right thing? Am I being unrealistic?
Yes, but it will be alright.
What if she says No?
She won’t, her mothers tones brooked no argument.

The brief conversation she held with her conscience or possibly her dear departed mother, she wasn’t sure, was concluded with the certainty that the offer being made was too good for Charlie not to take her up on.

She felt slightly drained at the internal conversation. Up until today, she thought she might not ever find someone that she felt could share her world. Casually looking for a partner who could be a lover and a wife while sharing companionship, she’d never even come close to her ideal. But she understood what family meant. She missed hers terribly. She sometimes wondered if this were the reason for the vocal diatribe her mother constantly seemed to bring into her thoughts. Just the lingering wishes of her sanity trying to keep her mother close even after death.

And until this moment she really had not considered the possibility of ever having a family again. At least with Charlie and her foster children she could offer them an opportunity to live correctly and live safe. And with Charlie pregnant, it was a chance for her to experience something of the life she felt she might never know. Helping Charlie made sense to her and she really wanted to see…her thoughts became jumbled with a mixture of distant images of Charlie glowing with that maternal happiness, heavy with child, tender with love. Becky sank back down into the nearby chair and ran shaking fingers through her unruly hair. You need to get a grip. She doesn’t even know you. And you don’t know her. Becky scolded her run away train wreck of sweet wants and desires.

“Are you crazy? I don’t know you. I…” Charlie voiced her overwhelming refuting remarks to the obviously hasty plan. Her mind was swirling with the open window Becky had just provided. And the looks crossing over Becky’s face, shed tried to interpret, made her stomach flutter. A warning swept through her as she mentally noted the underlying tension that rose between them at times. She couldn’t ignore she found her benefactor extremely good looking and she knew without asking Becky was cultured with an education who obviously had means and methods to afford a child. But seven more? And she was pregnant?

At a much deeper level the quickly voiced plan made her feel a wave of relief. It would allow her some time to think and it was time she really needed. Her hand swept over to her flat stomach and she felt her heart pause at the enormity of the situation. She would also have some time to figure out what she and the kids would need to do. Her mind pictured every one of the children and the way the medical exams had confirmed her own unvoiced fears of under-nourishment. As much as she’d been doing it hadn’t been enough. Her thoughts turned bleak. What about the future? She couldn’t let that happen again and here was someone willing to give more than any other person had done before. Why? What would she want? What could I give? A brief hesitation at the thought and she realized she might be able to figure out a future for her little one and the future of the children she swore to provide for. She bit her lip and struggled with how to voice her thoughts.

“Can I work for you? Will you pay me?” The room was too quiet after her whispered request. Charlie didn’t look at Becky because she didn’t want to see a rejection. But she knew she would never be able to take care of the kids the right way unless she had some sort of funds to get them on their feet. Only a day into the history of her unborn and she was already realizing she would need to find a way to trust someone. Her hand remained on her stomach trying to feel the change that was taking place in her body.

Becky nibbled her lip in instant worry. Do pregnant women work? What could I have her do? From the moment she’d met Charlie she knew Charlie was fiercely protective of her children. She was also completely independent and fighting the world to make things work. Passively accepting the gift Becky was trying to offer would go against her ethics. Becky felt a surge of unhappiness realizing Charlie would only except if she was able to offer something into the agreement. The deeper regret at having this beautiful woman go through such a tough trial made Becky blink at her own thoughts. She is beautiful isn’t she? Glad you noticed. The ghostly whisper of her mother’s voice floated into her mind. How could I not? Becky quickly responded. She shook her head to rid herself of the meddlesome figment. Becky hoped the passing of time during Charlie’s pregnancy would give her an opportunity to show all of them they were not obligated nor were they “forgettable” as Manual had stated.

“I have a job for you to do. I’ll pay you a salary to catalog and organize my parent’s collection. But, I will only do this if you understand that I would like to be involved in the pregnancy and be able to care for you properly. No overdoing anything and you have to have Sabrina check you regularly”, Becky stated calmly. Charlie felt tears well in her eyes at the momentous turn of events taking place in her life. She was making a completely illogical decision to allow this stranger to change her world so drastically.

“Everything will work out, Charlene. I promise you.” Becky watched once again as that cold wall of disbelief rose on Charlie’s features. A gritting of teeth and a semi-rigid body posture made Charlie look almost angry. Then she became limp with something akin to defeat in her drooping shoulders. A brief nod of agreement was all Becky was given to strike the deal.

Becky strode into her house, her thoughts a million miles away or at least a few miles back at the hospital. She’d left Charlie drifting off to sleep, exhausted from her decisions. Before leaving the hospital she left a written message to make arrangements with Sabrina to have Michelle pick up Danny and Gwyn to bring them over to the hospital. Becky promised to have them ready and waiting that evening. She quickly made a few notes on her notepad, stray thoughts of tasks to complete for Danny and Gwyn’s hospital room to make it more kid friendly.

Arriving home she walked through the front door and quickly crossed to her office. She set the briefcase down just inside the door and heard the TV playing next door in the small family room. Glancing down at her wrinkled clothes she made a beeline for her master suite on the opposite side of the residence. A quick shower and a change of clothes, she felt ready to go greet her new house guests.

Entering the right entertainment wing of the large residence she moved near the informal living room and peeked inside the doorway.

Gwyn was wrapped up in a blanket sitting in a wide fully cushioned chaise lounge. Danny sat on the foot of the lounge where Gwyn’s small form didn’t reach. They were staring at the TV which showed cartoons. Sprawled out on the floor were Trevon and Terry, also absorbed in the tube. Natalie was intently sketching something on some white paper spread over the matching ottoman to Gwyn’s perch. Penelope seemed content to watch TV cartoons beside her. Becky just caught Manual shoving something into the crack of the couch as he saw her standing near the door.

“Hi guys. Charlie wanted me to tell you she can’t wait to see you this week and she was feeling much better today.”

The kids all seemed to release relieved breaths.

“Fortunately, she will be seeing Danny and Gwyn today when they go over to the hospital to get Gwyn’s leg fixed.” Danny nodded solemnly and Gwyn gave a nervous smile. Becky reached down and gave Gwyn’s head a soft touch of reassurance.

“You’ll be fine sweetheart. Dr. Chella is going to take real good care of both of you. Besides, Danny will watch over you.” Becky commented low voiced to Gwyn and Danny. Gwyn ducked her head down shyly.

Becky turned to the group and clapped her hands over her stomach, rubbing.

“Did everyone eat already? Cause I think I need to check in with Doreen before she scolds me for not eating properly?” The smaller kids giggled and Becky winked toward Manual, who rolled his eyes. “After I eat I’ll show you around this place and let you get a little familiar with the layout. Sound good?”

A mumble of yeah’s and sure’s and OK’s went around the room. Becky noted a little less energy and guessed the kids had been fed recently since they were acting a bit tired.

She left them to their resources and made her way toward the kitchen area. She found Doreen talking to Alice and writing down notes onto a yellow pad of paper.

“How were the kids this morning, Doreen? I asked them to take it easy on you.” Becky grinned. Doreen frowned and pursed her lips as she continued making her notes.

“Planning a meal for two is a bit different than for nine. I’ve forgotten how to cook for larger groups. Thank goodness my girls are still living at home and I make it a point to cook once a week. I’ve quadrupled the recipes and will probably manage to figure it all out soon.” She set her pencil down on the notepad.

Becky pulled the tablet closer and raised an eyebrow at the comments on the first page. Lifting one page to the next, another eyebrow raised as well.

Haircuts, school supplies, transportation arrangement, groceries – stock up, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair clips, underwear, training bras, socks, jeans, lunch boxes, and the list continued on. Becky was brought to a halt as she looked at details of the children’s needs. It’s amazing what they required.

“You might want to add these things to the list as well.” Becky pulled out her small tablet and turned to a fresh page to list the items she was looking for to get for the hospital room. “Gwyn and Danny will be heading over to the hospital to stay for almost two months while Gwyn gets her surgery and does the physical therapy.” Becky eyed the few items she had listed and shook her head. “There’s a whole new list I’ll have to create if what I’m seeing here is any indication.” She remarked, worried.

“Why’s that? Are you alright?” Doreen was keenly aware of the sudden pale features her boss sported. She looked like she was getting ill.

“Charlene, the young lady who is the lucky guardian of this crew, is pregnant. Unexpectedly pregnant, it seems.” Becky calmly laid the pencil down and ran a nervous movement of sliding her palms over the granite countertop. “I’ve decided to hire her to help on a project I have been putting off for a while. She will be living here with the others until after the baby is born and until she feels the need to leave. We have verbally worked out an arrangement.” Becky let her eyes slide upward to see how Doreen was taking in the news.

Grey eyes twinkled back at her, excitement evident in Doreen’s full smile. “I’ll put together a list of baby furniture and items she will be needing. She can stay in the Chalice Suite right near the nursery. Oh, how exciting, Becky Anne. Your mother would be ecstatic. There is so much to do? I’ll probably have to hire a decorator to help with refurbishing the suite and perhaps helping me rethink the room layouts for the children. We can’t have all those kids bunched up together forever. A baby! Oh my goodness, Becky. This is thrilling.”

I’d be more than proud, daughter of mine. It’s too bad you didn’t participate in the creation. But, a little meddling goes a long way in romance, don’t you think? A perfect mimicry of her mothers voice sounded within her thoughts. Shaking her head she focused on the new notes Doreen was rapidly writing down.


Doctor Chella checked off her clipboard the task of having the extra bed moved into the living area for Gwyn. She surveyed the efficient unit and thought she might get a small table and chairs for the corner area. Danny might have a little bit of time to work on some puzzles or something.

She smiled at the thought of the young boy. His dark skin made his smile seem so brilliant and his repeated attempts to pronounce medical terms kept her lips twitching with the need to smile. He was a persistent helper that was for sure.

“What has my favorite blonde haired doctor smiling so stunningly?” Michelle walked into the room with her relaxed walk; her white nurse’s pantsuit tight against her muscular frame. The white was in stark contrast to the colorful tattoo’s standing out on her arms. Her spiked hair was slightly green tinged today and a small eyebrow piercing was glinting from her face. She came to stand next to Sabrina’s statuesque form and jokingly leaned closer to read the clipboard while one of her hands slid down and stroked over the good Doctor’s scrub covered butt.

“I’ve been known to use anesthesia and perform surgery to remove unwanted appendages.”

“But you said you loved my hands last night.” Michelle’s lowered voice cruised sensually over her lover’s libido.

Sabrina shivered at her body’s instant response as she once again felt Michelle’s strong hands spreading warm oils over the length of her body. Her nipples tightened in response to the erotic teasing she received. “Last night was…exceptional, I’ll admit. I don’t know how you can make me feel so incredible. Your hands are fantastic.” Sabrina smiled down at her shorter partner and shared a moment of love between them.

“I’ll have to admit you do have a way with words. It must be your talented tongue.” Michelle wiggled her eyebrows mischievously. Sabrina felt a heat stir in her body even as she shook her head no.

“Only with you, my love, only with you. What brings you over here today? I thought you might be working with your stroke patients today. Was there a change in schedule?

Michelle just grinned and handed Sabrina the message from Becky.

“I’ve lined up an ambulance to ride over in and we will get Gwyn and Danny set up in here for the duration. I’ve received a call from Doreen to get the room size and let her know what they have to work with. Becky is buying some supplies for them so they can be a little more comfortable.

Sabrina nodded and quickly thought of something she might add to the mix.

“I have something I think I could offer Danny as well. He may be spending quite a bit of time by himself. I wouldn’t want him to get too bored.” She smiled at Michelle’s curious frown. “I’ll have to run home and get it for him sometime today. Give me a call on my cell when you leave to go get them, sweetheart. Would you mind?”

“Not at all, Bri. I thought you two hit it off. He is a very bright kid. Kind of reminds me of someone.” She reached over and stole the pencil Sabrina held in her hand loosely and then quickly tucked it behind Sabrina’s ear.

All throughout med school Sabrina held her writing tools behind her ears. It seemed she was never without one. When she and Michelle started dating, long after Sabrina and Becky were only friends, Becky managed to dig up some college pictures all presenting the serious doctor in pencil heaven with a serious case of pencil ear. It was a standing joke for them now after five years of being together. Michelle rarely missed a tuck and they both often grinned at the technique she’d perfected when she noticed how adorable Sabrina seemed in the more studious look.

“I’ll definitely give you a call and hopefully we can get these two kids settled in comfortably. I’d also like to have you check the vitamins and over the counter aides I’ve selected for some additional nutrition for the kids. I told Doreen I’d drop them off tonight as well. Do you have a few minutes to do that now? I’ve got the list right here.”

Michelle pulled the list of supplies out and handed them over the Sabrina. The discussed the additional medicine and made some plans to relocated around six that evening.

Winking on her way out, Michelle left Sabrina shortly after. Sabrina regarded the area where the kids would stay one more time before she frowned at her questionable memory. Where did I put that big hunk’n book, anyway?


With her multiple lists in hand Doreen looked over at Becky one more time.

“Are you sure you can handle them? I can stay and make sure you guys are all set?”

“Go, Doreen. I am perfectly capable of entertaining some kids for a while. This house alone will take care of the job. Some of these rooms will be regular baby sitters for these kids. Heck if it were a tad warmer the pool would be the first place I’d suggest. They all look like they need some sunlight.” Becky drummed her fingers at the housekeeper who continued to stall as if she would be unable to fend for herself with seven kids.

“I have my cell phone if you have any questions. Are you sure you don’t want me to call Alice and have her come over?”

Rolling her eyes, Becky grabbed Doreen’s shoulders and turned her toward the door.

“OK guys. Let me point out the obvious.” Becky herded the kids further down the hallway, carrying Gwyn in her arms. “We are on the East wing of the residence. My office in the first room, then there is the living room. Here on our right is the fascinating library. I’m sure you will all find this room captivating once you head back to school.” The children all groaned and moaned.

“Anyway, I have quite a large collection of different books since my mother and father were avid readers.”

“You got any science fiction?” Manual inquired, looking almost longingly into the room. Becky gave a small smile and hid it quickly before he caught it. She nodded, pointing toward the right side of the room.

“Far right wall. The entire right wall, and organized by author. Make sure you put the books back in place but you can take them up to your rooms if you want.” Manuel stood looking at the ten rows of shelves his favorite genre resided on. The quantity was too many to count. He noticed Becky looking at him and he quickly shoved his hands into his baggy pants and looked down.

The library contained an old fashioned rail ladder that a person could slide around the room and climb up on to retrieve books from the higher shelves. Different colors and shapes and sizes of books were resting all throughout the rich cherry oak wood bookshelves, interspersed with knick knacks of small statues, a globe, soft sconce lighting and a few odds and ends. Extremely comfortable chairs were arranged around the room and perfect lamp lighting over the chairs allowed an easy to read setup. Along the far wall was even a long table to spread out maps and larger books.

Becky guided the group toward a double doorway. She pulled open one side and held it while they all went inward.

“This is one of the entrances to the grand ball room. It’s for dancing and parties and as you can see leads directly across to the back gardens where the outdoor paths lead into the rose gardens.”

Trevon and Terry took off running across the large open space of the dance floor pressed their faces onto the humongous tinted glass windows that ran across the length of the far wall. The sunshine streamed down onto the colorful gardens and a sparkling water fountain was splashing upward in the middle of a courtyard, splashing drops around the statue of a child pouring water from his bucket. A giant pergola covered the concrete patio shading the benches and decorative furniture. Beyond the patio could just be seen one end of the blue depths of a pool.

“You have a pool? How cool is that.”
“It’s great. But it’s too cold to swim yet, stupid.” One twin remarked to his brother.
“I’m not stupid, stupid.”

Becky walked over to where the rest of the children were now pressing their faces into the glass.

“Would you guys like to go outside for a bit? Then we can have some sandwiches?” The chorus of excited agreement had Becky smiling energized.

“I’ll tell you what. Manuel is in charge for a little bit while I take Gwyn and get her fed and down for a nap. I’ll be back in 15 minutes. Stay out of the pool gate. It’s lock and I don’t want anyone getting hurt.” Becky opened one of the larger doors with a strong pull and gave the kids passage out to the patio.

They shot out laughing and ready to play. Danny looked undecided and Becky smiled. “Go on outside, Danny. I’ll make sandwiches for everyone and put Gwyn down for a nap. She will be OK, won’t you darling?” Gwyn nodded, lying her head comfortably down on the shoulder she was held against.

She watched Danny run to catch up with the other kids and shutting the glass door she took Gwyn into the kitchen. Making a ham sandwich she split it with Gwyn and they ate without fanfare.

Taking her up to her room she tucked her in and with a quick kiss goodnight Gwyn was fast asleep. Becky spent a few minutes in the kitchen throwing some sandwiches together for the crew and with a pitcher of orange juice punch Doreen had made for the kids, she headed back outside through the foyer and into the back area.

Arriving out onto the patio from the opposite side she carefully set down her bundles onto the patio table. She looked out over the expanse of the back area and saw the boys playing tag. The girls were moving over toward the flower pathways. Becky sat down and poured out the punch into some plastic cups and set out the paper plate with sandwiches piled high. Giving a sharp whistle she got their attention and they came back over to the pergola to plop down in various furniture.

“Grab a sandwich and drink guys. Take a break.”

Manuel sat eating his sandwich methodically; crust first then slowly into a circle. He glanced at Becky every now and then his brown eyes to curious in nature. She drank her punch and listened to the various conversations going on around the group. Natalie was trying to describe the colors of the flowers to Penelope. Trevon and Terry were telling Danny about the pool they used to have at one foster parents home.

“How come you have this huge house and nobody lives here?” Manuel asked, his mouth slightly full.

Becky wanted to explain to him her parents used to live here with her and they were quite the entertainers. The must have fostered through a couple hundred kids in the Bay Area, throwing fund raising parties and social events year after year. They would have still been at it if death hadn’t cheated the world of their goodness. Although her heart still ached at the loss she was happier feeling her parents were now together in their own wonderland.

Becky’s career, however, took her completely out of her parent’s environment and only allowed for various weekend trips to visit. She spent so many hours at work she often found herself on the office couch waking up to begin the cycle again. Her mother, although constantly worried about her working habits, understood she wanted to accomplish things. The wicked twist of losing both her parents before she could fully realize she was missing out on being more of a family with them was a just punishment in her heart. She worked to live a better life and when she finally could she was alone, with nobody to share it with. She settled with something almost believable.

“My foster parents were firm believers in building a foundation to call home. They built this house to help out other foster kids just like you. Unfortunately, they passed away a few years ago and I’ve been here all alone until I met you.” Becky sipped her drink trying to make sure she didn’t dwell on that sadness lurking around the corner from the loss of her parents.

The kids were looking sleepy and Becky decided they could all use a nap. She moved them inside and asked them to hang out in the living room. The cartoons were brought back to life on the TV and soon the twins were conked out on the floor. Natalie and Penny were leaning back against the couch drowsily. Danny let Becky know he was going up to his room to check on Gwyn. He looked so tired after eating she knew he would soon join his foster sibling in sleep.

Becky asked Manuel to watch the kids for a bit while she took some personal time. He yawned and nodded.

After a quick visit to her bedroom she changed into an all black loose fitting workout outfit and decided to hit the small gym she’d built on the West wing. A warm-up of stretching and breathing had her feeling more focused. She mentally began to make lists of things she would need to get done. Not the least of how she was going to accomplish helping Charlie actually “have” a baby. She’d have to contact her lawyer, Tammy Roberts to discuss her options with building a contract between Charlene and herself. A maybe she could buy a few books on having babies?

Lifting some twenty pound free weights; she alternated each arm curl as she pictured Charlie in that hospital bed. Such a young woman but definitely a woman, she smiled at her attraction toward the smaller woman. She was beautiful and Becky knew from the moment she laid eyes on her that something drew her to the blonde blue-eyed sprite. But that didn’t mean it was right to act on those feelings. Obviously, there was quite a bit of luggage to deal with, Becky grinned as she thought of the seven incredible children resting within her house. Besides, what would she see in me, an older recluse with zero patience for boredom? Hell, she probably hasn’t even slept with a woman, Becky. Get your mind out of the gutter.

But her mind slipped into the flowing waterway anyway. She felt those arms wrapped around her, breasts pressed against her and instead of being weak with illness they were strong pulling her closer. Soft pink lips were creating a scorching path of kisses from her broad shoulder to her neckline.

The cylinders of steel she was lifting clanked together harshly breaking her out of the sensual daze. She realized she had begun to pump rigorously up and down as her thoughts went south. She set the hand weights down feeling her arm as lead weights with fatigue. Way to go, Becky Anne Barton. You make one hell of a stupid ass, sometimes.

“Sex can make you stupid. Why, I remember when your father and I…” the teasing voice of her mother began to talk within her mind.

“No, mother. Don’t explain. Oh my God. I don’t need to hear this.” Becky spoke out loud to the laughing voice in her head faded away. Moving quickly over to a matted area she faced the mirrored wall began to go through her Judo Kata routines. The training exercises kept her focused and required strategy and persistence.

She ran through the easier practice routines trying to perfect her movements. As she moved up into the more difficult Kata she began to show her skills in the art. Picturing the exact position of a frontal knife attack and with speed and dexterity she captured the arm, moving into a grappling throw and standing to separate from the tossed enemy giving a short yell. Her hand thrust out to attack the downed opponent. Just one of the many demanding and rhythmic routines, she continued on with her self-training.

Thirty minutes went by and she wiped a sweaty brow with her drenched shirt sleeve. Standing tall she bowed to the invisible opponent and stepped back off the mat.

“What is that? Karate?

“That was so cool.”

“Is that what Danny was talking about?”

Becky aggressively turned and held out her hands toward the vocal crowd at her gym door. She released a breath upward moving a few damp curly black bangs of hair, the second she realized who they were. Her battle form relaxed and she waved the children inward.

Continued in Part 5.


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