Disclaimer: See Part 1
1. Copyright: These are all my characters. Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved. Send comments to JLNickymaster@yahoo.com
“Helloooo, anyone hoo…ome?” Doreen lowered her voice dramatically to a whisper on the last syllable as she stuck her head into Becky's office and found her fast asleep on the leather sofa. Glancing down at her watch, she smiled noting the early evening hour of four o'clock. “Poor little Becky girl! All worn out.” she chuckled.
The three younger girls, following behind their mother, filled up the entry foyer with their lively presence. They stopped rustling the large shopping bags they all carried as Doreen shushed with a finger to her lips, pointing toward the tall figure sprawled across the office couch. Becky rolled over onto her side with a low groan.
“Let's let sleeping beauty rest for now. You girls come with me and I'll introduce you to my boss's latest house guests and your new neighbors.”
Kathleen, Kristen, and Kelly McCullen tromped down the hallway toward the main living room where the sound of kid's voices and a TV could be heard. The girl's stepped into the room and found five children staring back at them.
“I see you've survived the tour and Becky's cooking.” Doreen gave a grin to the audience of children sitting around the couches and chairs in the living room. “I'd like to introduce my daughters to everyone and then I'm going to go make something truly delicious for dinner.”
She pointed to the oldest girl. “This is my 17 year old daughter Kathleen. She will be going to UC Berkley next semester.”
Kathleen set the designer store bags down next to the entrance and stood backup, topping her mother with a few inches. A quick brush of her short bobbed hair behind one ear, she relaxed her long arms and hooked her thumbs into styling low cut blue jeans at the belt loops. An athletic build with lanky limbs, she was a burgeoning young woman. Her youthful heart shaped face was freckled, brown eyes sparkling with friendliness. Large silver hoop earrings dangled, matching the small grouping of silver bracelets on her right wrist. She gave a quick little wave to the group as Doreen pointed out Manual, Natalie, Penelope, Trevon, and Terry by name.
“And this is my other daughter Kristen, she is 14 years old. She will be attending your high school, Manuel.” Kristen smiled shyly and tossed her shoulder length brown hair. She pulled her little sister in front like a shield, as she felt all eyes regarding her.
“The youngest is Kelly.” Kelly grabbed a single braid of her two that were swinging and fiddled with the end as she was introduced. Her lightly freckled cheeks showed a flush as Doreen pointed out the twins. The boys gave each other a brief look, and then simultaneously reflected matching grins back toward Kelly. She looked downward.
“Are Danny and Gwen upstairs? I'll just go pop in on them to check and then I'll be in the kitchen. The girls have a ton of things to hand out to all of you. I'd like you to let me know if anything doesn't fit or if you need something else.”
Five pairs of disbelieving eyes were suddenly locked on the bags.
“Kathy and Manuel can distribute everything, right guys?” She gave Manual a smile and the boy looked nervously back at her.
“Sure Mom”, Katherine responded, easily. “We got it covered. Manny you grab those three first and I'll take these two. We have more out in the car. Kristen and Natalie can go get those?” Manual swallowed and looked between the lead Katherine was dishing out and the pleased smile Doreen was giving as she nodded agreement. Standing up he shoved the paperback book into his leg pocket and moved toward the eldest girl. Doreen gave a quick wave and left the room hearing ‘oohing' and ‘ahhing' over the new jeans, colorful T-shirts, socks, packaged underwear, and more.
She'd spent her morning shopping for everyone and as much as she would have liked to watch their faces she didn't want them to feel required to thank anyone. She easily managed to entice Gwen and Danny to come downstairs to share in the fun, eventually leaving to go to the kitchen.
Becky heard a whisper from behind where she stood panting heavily, in the middle of her workout room. She paused in the rapid punch sequence of uppercuts and jabs. The urge to turn around washed over her but she hesitated. A whisper of her name and she stopped the workout completely. A hand touched the middle of her back. She began to turn only to stop at the soft ‘no'. Tentative fingers slid electrically down her perspiring skin and clasped her hand, twining warm fingers within her own.
“Don't what?” she replied, her voice heavy with deep breaths from her workout.
“Don't turn around.”
A bold hand clasped the Gee belt and loosened the black cloth. Cool air swept over her damp naked skin, raising goose bumps. Whether from the chill or from suddenly acute awareness, Becky shivered. She couldn't stop the tingle of sudden desire as she watched a palm slide upward to cup her breast. Her nipple hardened tightly as a fingernail lightly skimmed over the tip. Blood rushed downward making Becky sway with the sudden onslaught. She sucked in air to match her rising needs.
A pulsing beat pounded within her body. The recently hard workout couldn't even compete to providing the sudden rush of blood thumping rapidly through the rush in her ears. She couldn't seem to calm down. The woman's touch sped up the pace and she felt those hands press into her body, touching, teasing, and calling for her. The desire was overwhelming, weakening her legs strength. She trembled. A smaller body pressed up into her front and their bodies pressed together, a mouth rising to join with her own. Hesitating, softly, Becky felt the caress of heat; a warm breath skimming intimately over her now parched lips. She wanted this kiss more than anything. She'd been waiting for this kiss. She wet her lips with a quick touch of her tongue. Their kiss would be exhilarating.
The thumping grew louder. It became pounding. The doorbell rang into the office and Becky jerked awake.
With panting breath she gulped in air, rubbing hands over her face. Gazing at the empty office room, she looked around for her dream lover. She jerked into a sitting position at the knocking that came from the entry foyer. Her office seemed boiling hot and way too small. Pulling the damp tank top away from her body she tried to calm down, regaining her equilibrium and normal body temperature. The subtle scent of forgotten passion weaved through her senses. The harsh reality of the interrupting doorbell chimed again. A huff of frustration and Becky stood, shaking off the arousing fantasy.
Intercepting Doreen, Becky waved her off and headed to answer the door. “It's probably Michelle with the EMT services to pick up Gwen” she realized as she quickly glanced at her watch. How'd it get so late?
It was Michelle. She carried a huge box through the door, her muscle arms bulging. The supplies of additional vitamins for the children and supplements for added nutrition in their meals filled the contents.
“Where are the muchkins and I've brought the vitamins. Wow, Becky, you looked wiped out.”
Becky rolled her eyes and pointed toward the rec room. “You can talk to them in there.” She watched Michelle make her way down the hallway toward the noise of the children. Becky headed to her bathroom in the opposite direction. She needed a splash of water to wake up or cool off. Twenty minutes later, she headed toward the rec room herself and almost ran into Michelle just walking out.
“I've given them a heads up to take the vitamins and let them know Dr. Cella will be giving them all a checkup in a week or two.” Although the kids had made faces they seemed agreeable for vitamins looking and tasting like gummy bears. Michelle also eased into the operation for Gwyn. “How about after you two eat dinner we take a ride over to the hospital? Dr. Cella will be checking you in tonight and tomorrow we will go over all the steps for Gwyn's physical therapy.” Danny breathed deep and nodded. Gwyn just gave a small nervous smile.
Becky let Michelle lead her back to the dining room, after a quick glance into the room to see the kids still breaking open the bags and clothing Doreen had purchased. Michelle pushed Becky into a chair and lifted the stack of plates off the side board to help Doreen setup the table.
“Becky, I'm not so sure you understand what you are taking on. These kids lacked a balanced diet for some length of time. They show early symptoms of malnutrition with anxiety and mood swings. You are going to have to get the kids outside more in the sunshine and also make sure they rest for an hour or two during the day. School will help with resting their bodies while they study but on weekends they will need naps. Their lack of physical exercise and general nutrient malnutrition was not healthy at any rate. But, the vitamins and Doreens great cooking will repair things in good time. Sabrina has made arrangements to visit for the next few months, every two weeks. The children and the little mother to be will need to be checked out.
Becky nodded and ran a hand through her already rumpled hair.
“Whatever it takes! There is no reason for the kids not to improve. I'll make sure they follow the guidelines Sabrina set up for them.”
Michelle set the last spoon and pulled out a took the pitcher of sweet tea from Doreen as she entered the room. “I'll take that off your hands, Mrs. D. I could use a cold cup.” Michelle poured the tea from the pitcher as if she'd been working as a waitress all her life. A few ice chunks fell into the glass and she moved the filled glass over to Becky.
“Charlene mentioned to Sabrina you have some work for her to do. Sabrina knows you are brilliant but wants to remind you of the simple things. Charlene cannot lift anything and she needs to rest a lot. Her body was in a critical state of malnutrition and she has clear signs of anxiety, irritability, disorientation, and although she is pregnant now she can't remember when her last period took place. Doc has given me a list to give you for some over the counter low risk medicines she is allowed to take during her pregnancy. Sabrina said Charlene may need a sleep aide and there are some on the list she recommends. I highly recommend you go purchase a few books on pregnancy and read through the stages as well as the possible needs of the mother and child. You're about to have fun times, my friend.”
Michelle toasted with her glass of tea and Becky took a sip of the cool liquid a little more nervous than before Michelle made that statement.
“I'll make sure she has what she needs. I'm hoping she will feel like cataloging the contents of the East Wing. My parents were fanatic about their collections and I've barely touched on some of them. If Charlene ever wanted to travel she will be taking quite a few trips to Greece, Egypt, and Mexico in those rooms:”
Becky gave a little sigh at the magnitude of the project but she just had no idea where to start. Hopefully Charlie would find a way.
Becky set her glass down and pressing the intercom button to the rec room she cleared her throat. ‘
“Dinner will be ready in about five minutes. Why don't you guys use the restroom and wash your hands and face. Come on in the dining room when you're done.”
“That's gonna take some getting used too, I'm sure.”
Becky smiled. The intercom was a gem and she kept it regularly maintenance under contract. Not that she'd used it much living here by herself but it was starting to come in handy again.
Dinner was boisterous, all the children talking about new clothes and the school supplies Doreen brought for them. They were racing back and forth with conversations on the prospects of having the supplies. Becky regarded the group in good spirits and enjoyed their excitement. With Doreen's three girls keeping the conversations going smoothly, Becky let her thoughts drift to the one person not around to enjoy the almost normal setting, if not for the fact there were ten young children and a nurse now eating at her dining table. Soft blonde hair and bright blue eyes seemed to reach into her mind and transformed into the fantasy woman from an hour ago. She shivered at the delicious thought.
“Ms. Becky, are we going to see Charlie tonight?” Danny asked as he bit into some garlic toast sopped with spaghetti sauce.
Becky blinked as she realized his thoughts were in line with her own, although hopefully not in the same context.
“Yes. We will go see Charlie. I just need to make sure her doctor says its OK.”
He nodded and his drooping shoulders seemed to straighten up with the prospect. Becky took a look around the table and realized the rest of the group was showing a bit of jealousy. Frowns and sighs were heard.
“In fact, I'll make arrangements for everyone to go see her tomorrow. I know she wants to see you guys too. She just seemed a little tired and Dr. Cella thought it best if she rested. Perhaps you guys can use some of the art supplies to draw some pictures for her tonight and we can put them on her hospital room wall to look at? Becky glanced at Natalie with an eyebrow raised.
“Can we?” Natalie looked ready to run to the art room right away.
“It's fine by me, after we get finished here and clean up a bit. But, make sure you help the boys out and maybe Manual can pick out a few books for Charlie to read? I'm sure there is something she might like in the library.”
Manual narrowed his gaze at Becky and questioned the knowledge that Becky was aware he liked to read. Becky didn't acknowledge his focused stare, continuing to eat her spaghetti with fork and spoon, twirling the length neatly.
“I can draw her a dog.”
“I can draw her a cat.”
“She really loves animals.”
Becky tucked that bit of information into her rapidly growing arsenal of information about one Charlene Jordan.
Gwyn clung tightly to Becky's broad shoulders, being carried in her arms through the strange hospital. Her brown eyes looked everywhere trying to capture all the activity. Busy nurses in busy animal print and wild crazy patterned scrubs wandered into and out of rooms in the pediatric ward and seemed to avoid collision while writing on clip boards and talking to each other. The hallways were wide and the rooms seemed filled with kids, parents, and ultimately strangers to Gwyn. She glanced down at Danny every once in a while to make sure he was nearby. He was glued to Becky's side and his much shorter legs pumped rapidly as he kept up with her long stride. His eyes were wide too and looking all around.
Becky pointed out the nurses station and the recreation rooms and some of the lounges. All in all it seemed sort of upbeat for a hospital. Most of the kids in the rooms had some family or someone with them. But Gwyn was feeling a bit sick to her stomach at the idea of going to sleep. Manual told her they put her to sleep and when she wakes up her leg will be better. She heard him talking to the twins about his appendix being taken out when he was in his third foster care home.
Becky slowed before a door and out stepped Michael. He grinned at the three of them and nodded to Becky.
“All ready for you guys. Hope you enjoy it.”
Becky switched Gwyn to her other arm, giving her a perch to see before them. Reaching down she guided Danny to move in front of her.
“This will be your room together for a little while until Dr Chella says Gwyn is ready to come home. Hopefully it wont take too long but in the mean time, I wanted you both to be comfortable.” She pushed open the swinging door and Danny and Gwyn caught sight of the decked out room inside.
“Wow, cool!” Danny exclaimed as he saw the cheerful interior with twin beds, a seating area with a desk, the private bathroom, and the multiple wall posters of famous athletes that hung on the walls. His bed was covered with basketball themed sheets and pillow case. Gwyns was covered with forest animals from the Bambi move. Both children pointed out what caught their eye and pleased them. Becky nodded and listened to them chatter as they explained why the fawn was so cute or that Micheal Jordon was really good at three-pointers.
She put Gywn down on her bed and gave her a little frown.
“Unfortunately, Dr. Chella said you cant try and walk on your leg once you arrive here. So she brought you a chair to wheel around in.” Becky grabbed the small wheelchair from behind the door and set it near the bed. “I think your nurse is going ot come and give you lessons on how to get from here to the chair so for tonight you are to stay in the bed. Alright?”
“Danny will be albe to help you wheel around. He can push the chair once you get the nurses permission. But, no funny business you two. ‘We want her leg to heal and we w=ant you both safe.”
She gave them a serious look and they both nodded.
Danny stood next to the bed and looked at the wheelchair and then at Gwyn.
“We will be careful.”
Becky showed them the bed control for Gywns bed, as well, explaining Gwyn would be bed bound for a few days right after Dr. Chella fixed her leg. Looking at her watch, she noted the time at 8pm already. The kids were slowing down and fighting the need to rest.
“I have one more surprise for you but I have to go get it. You two stay put for a bit. Give me 10 minutes. If you need anything push that button there. It will ring the nurse.”
Danny managed to find a cartoon channel on the overhead TV and they both were getting into it when Becky left the room. Long strides ate up the path to the adult care ward where she paused outside Charlie's room. She took a deep breath and knocked.
“Come in?” A timid response replied.
Pushing open the door, she scanned the room from left to right her eyes returning to Charlie who sat upright in her hospital bed, a newly furnished robe wrapped around her thin shoulders. The other clothing items Doreen had purchased for her were spread across the bed and some were lying on the nearby chair as well. Blue eyes were overly bright, hinting at recently shed tears, but her facial expression was full of stubborn rebelliousness. Becky ignored the rebel and hoped the tears were caused by a lessening of anxiety. Maybe the gift would be one less stress. She played off her thoughts and hoped to avoid causing a major stir between them about the clothes. Asking Doreen to pick up basic clothing for everyone was a top priority on the list of things to do. Charlie was no exception. Becky only remembered a two foot long duffle bag, which couldn't possibly hold very much.
“Hi! I was hoping you were awake. Dr. Chella asked me to give you a quick ride over to the pediatrics wing to visit some new patients there.” Becky smiled and let her gaze meet Charlie head on.
Comprehending the fact that Gwyn and Danny were at the hospital, Charlie gasped and whipped the thin blankets off her legs. Without qualm, she flashed her new pajama outfit to Becky as she scooted her way to the edge of the bed. Becky couldn't help but purse her lips in amusement as she caught sight of yawning lambs.
“Hang on. Let me get a wheelchair.” Becky snagged the generic wheelchair from out in the hall and wheeled it next to the bed. She leaned down and locked the wheels. Charlie carefully moved her arm and situated the IV lines as she moved over to sit in the chair.
“Where are your slippers?” Becky asked as she looked around the room?
“I left them in the bag. I thought you could return them since I can just wear socks?“
Becky shook her head slightly. Getting the designer clothing bag from beside the chair, she noticed a few unopened packages and the shoe box inside. She pulled the fluffy slippers out, quickly disposing of the plastic tie between them, and kneeled down in front of Charlie to assist putting them on her feet.
“Slippers are warmer and have rubber soles so you won't slip on the hospital floors. I am sure Doreen will feel much better if she knows you are wearing the slippers.” Becky explained calmly as she watched Charlie slip her feet into each shoe reluctantly. Charlie bit her lip and finally gave a nod.
“Using Doreen wont always get you your way, you know?” Charlie stated flatly as Becky released the brakes and turned the chair to begin pushing her out of the room.
“Yes, I know. But, it worked this time.” Becky gave a cheshire grin as she moved smoothly into the public hallway.
“Hmm!” was the only reply she heard from the patient.
“Hi, you guys. Oh my goodness it's so good to see you!” Charlie practically yelled as Becky opened the door to Danny and Gywn's room. Danny and Gwyn were just as excited.
“Charlie, we missed you so much. Danny told me you were OK but we were still scared.”
“Everyone says they miss you. Ms. Becky says they are all gonna come visit in a few days, though. Check out this poster of Michael Jordan? Isn't it great? Trevon and Terry are gonna be completely jealous.”
“Oh, what is that thing above your head?”
Charlie shrugged at the IV line and began to explain the device while Becky eased the chair into the space between the two beds. She watched Charlie carefully as the smaller woman stood and gracefully sat down beside Gwyn on her bed. Removing the chair to park it beside the far wall out of the way, she stood uncertain of her actions. She frowned at the unexpected feeling of loneliness. She didn't want to interfere in Charlie's visit but she wasn't exactly part of the party. Before the other three seemed to register her departure, Becky slid out the door.
But, Charlie noticed. She felt a passing sadness rise to the surface of her consciousness, knowing Becky Barton probably saved her and the children's lives. But she just couldn't bring herself to give into and accept the act of kindness. She didn't even recognize the rise of her bitter beliefs swimming to the forefront of her thoughts, maintaining the strong realization that people would eventually let her down. She couldn't give in, could she? She briefly thought of asking Danny to go get their benefactor so they could all share this time together. Charlie couldn't help but noticed the loving warmth of Becky's brown eyes as they took in Gwyn's small figure; the way she tucked in her blanket and patiently explained her answers to their question to both the children. But, she didn't. She was glad to see the tall dark figure removed from the room. Her stomach wasn't taking all of the massive changes that were happening so fast in her life, and being around Becky seemed to ensure a stronger churning. She ignored her inner demons and let the children pull her into their world. She listened to Danny and Gwyn talk about the new clothes they were given and their brief stay at the huge house Becky seemed to live in. Gwyn let her know she was scared but Becky told her earlier she would sleep through most of the ‘fix' on her leg. So she was not so scared anymore.
Charlie hugged on the little girl and smiled warmly at both children. Her heart was lighter after connecting back with them. She couldn't wait to see the others. She nibbled her lip with worry over her ever circling thoughts of doubt.
Becky felt a little bereft from the close comfort of the charming little group she left behind her. The constant reminder of being on the outside of Charlie's family; however miss-mash it was formed, vaguely reminded her of her foster status in her early grade school years. Being a foster kid, in one home after another, having to constantly move around, made attending school an act of suffering. With state budgeting changing and the foster system constantly modified, she changed schools over seven times through three grades. Kids were mean and were never trusting to strange new children. She was never on the inside of any groups or projects. Even the teachers regarded her with pitied looks and sighs of frustration. Although she realized now the system was taxing those teachers and it wasn't her they were frustrated with, she learned to never stand out and be counted. She cultured a façade of blending into the background to make it seem as if she was a regular. She sucked up the anger and fought the pain of jealousy until she was saved by her adoptive parents who seemed to see her regardless of all the other children. Only then was she given that opportunity to find her true skills. Her new father showed her his computer, which he purchased on a whim and never used, and from there it was history for Becky. She breathed in computer programming, finally feeling that satisfaction from a job well done and slowly learning to build long term friendships along the way. She sighed as she ran a hand through her hair. Hopefully, she would turn out to be as supportive for these children. And adding Charlie plus a new born was really making her feel a bit lost. What was I thinking? She is going to have a baby. In less than nine months. What do I know about babies?
More than you know, my dear. Just take some time to learn about mommy's first .
Becky nodded silently agreeing with the voice in her head. First things first, new Mommy's and pregnancy?
She guided her steps with a little more authority as she headed for the small hospital gift shop and moved to the section containing new mothers information. Besides the many and diverse pamphlets on the latest news for pregnant women, there was also a multitude of pregnancy books and an entire baby book section that went from naming, thru first shots, and on past walking stages. She pulled out one thick pregnancy book tentatively and looked at the smiling woman on the cover. The womans eyes resembled Charlies blue depths and the book was retrieved completely. Another beside it fell crooked into the slot and forced Becky to pull it out. She smiled as she noticed the full white cover with cartoon drawings. Calvin and Hobbes was a favorite of hers. She looked around the shop to make sure she wasn't being watched and grabbed the cartoon book as well. Checking her watch, she found a seat in the back corner to skim through the chapters giving the trio a good half hour before she returned.
The hospital door swung open quietly as Becky stepped into the now dimmed lighting of the room. Gwyn and Charlie were spooned up together and sleeping on one bed. Danny was in his own bed, under the covers, his dark skin contrasting to the white of the sheets drastically. He looked small in the twin size bed. Becky moved in and silently grabbed the wheelchair for Charlie.
“She looks a little better, you know.” Danny spoke into the quiet. Becky looked at him.
“Charlie looks a little better. She was always frowning and real upset. She laughed a little tonight.”
Becky gave a little smile and rolled the chair between the beds. “Maybe you and Gwyn were so funny you made her laugh?” She paused as he reached out and touched her arm.
“Thanks Ms. Becky. She may take a while to say it but just the same. Thanks.” His yawn broke through the last thanks and Becky reached over to tuck up his blanket. He rolled over onto his side facing away from her and gave a soft ‘nite'.
Becky reached down to lock the brakes and when she stood up she was caught by dark blue eyes staring at her. A slightly nervous flutter caused her to look down with some misplaced guilt but she looked upward again quickly.
“I promised the night nurse I'd have you back before ten, looks like they tired you out a little.”
Charlie looked at her quietly then slowly unwrapped her arms from the small form she was tucked around. Gwyn stirred and looked over at Becky once, then checked for Danny in the other bed.
“Remember, if you need anything, just push the button. The nurse will come help you OK?” Becky moved the bed remote, wrapping it around the raised rail on the other side.
“Do you want to take a quick trip to the bathroom, Gwyn? I can…” Charlie began and stopped at Becky's shake of her head. “Becky can help you.”
Gwyn raised her arms trustingly and Becky lifted her easily. She gave a brief look at Charlie and the locked chair but new she wouldn't be able to stop her from moving from one to the other. She took the little girl into the bathroom and helped her sit on the pot. She was half asleep and was quickly finished. Becky helped her stand at the lower sink that was built for the smaller children in the ward. Gywn easily washed and dried her hands. She lifted her arms again and Becky brought her back into the main room leaning her down to get a quick kiss from Charlie. She tucked her back into bed and moved to release the brakes on the wheels.
She eased Charlie out from between the beds.
“Goodnight guys. We will see you tomorrow, I promise.”
Continued in Part 6
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