The Last Hurrah!

By

J.W. Heart


Disclaimers: Any physical resemblance between these and another known couple is well... where it ends really. The rest is mine, all the pain, all the heartache, all the uses for duct tape... all mine.

Sex: Yes... at least once. Between women no less. So if you're under 18 or live some place where material such as this is illegal... damn! Move or grow up.

Thanks To: Alec Rene who kicks my butt when I need it and puts up with my grammar good, bad or non-existent.

This is part 4 of a series I suggest you read Summer of Need, Meanwhile Back at the Ranch and Winter of Discontent before you carry on to this one. If you don't well... I don't have a map and you might be forever lost.

As always comments, queries, and concerns for my mental health can be directed to Wildheart@tm.net


"Trace, I don't think those coals are hot enough?"

"Well...how hot is hot enough?" As we know my cooking skills begin and end with the microwave. So when Shannon sent me out to watch this new grill, I of course had to drag Dawg with me.

"Hotter than that," she said pointing to the little white briquettes. My buddy Dawg stuck around after Christmas...I know you were wondering. It's been an interesting 8 months...I'll get back to that...just relax.

Now as I said I know nothing about grills but I did think you needed flames in order to char something. So silly me...I listened to Dawg. I should have known something wasn't right when I saw JT backing away from us.

" Trace, that's not a good idea," little bit warned. You know the world would be a better place if we listened to our children more. At least I would have been in a better place.

But did I listen...no! I picked up the lighter fluid and headed to that grill like I knew what I was doing...which I didn't. It was then that I saw JT take off in a dead run towards the house.

"That's it Trace, pour it on, let's get this fire burning!" Dawg, the pyromaniac, had this wicked gleam in her eyes.

I popped open the bottle of lighter fluid and pointed the nozzle at the white coals. It registered somewhere in my pea-sized brain that JT was yelling for her Mother but I didn't let that stop me. With a quick squeeze I sent a stream of fluid all over those coals...That's the last thing I remembered.

I woke up sometime later when I heard someone say....

"Don't worry her eyebrows will grow back." These are not comforting words especially to someone just waking from a coma. I don't care that I was only out for a couple of minutes...it was a coma damn it!

I managed after a time to focus on my surroundings. What I saw made me want to slip back into my dreamless little coma world. First, I was still in the yard. I knew that because I was pretty sure no matter how much I wished it...the after-life probably didn't look like the Evening Star. My other clue that it was still my yard was the grill. That evil, gas-pumping piece of iron that was used to sear raw flesh, was now a mangled, smoking, grotesquely twisted piece of lawn art.

The other sights that cause me to cringe were that of the people standing around. There was Syd, who was smacking the prone figure of my friend Dawg and yelling some very unlady-like things. Then there was Shannon.... Oh boy! By the look on her face I'd be better off if I'd been killed. She was standing with Rudy. Now Rudy I should probably explain...

Ok where to begin? Rudy is Dr. Rudy Todd, she's Dawg's cousin. She's also the one responsible for my wife's current condition. I like having someone to blame ...beside myself. You see I lost the baby war. Of course...I was double-teamed and hounded until I gave up just out of the need to preserve my own sanity. Had I known what living with a pregnant woman was like...I would have opted to go insane. It would have been quicker.

Anyway, Shannon won and we're pregnant. I love the way they say, "we're" pregnant. They mean that you know... it truly is a shared experience. The only problem was...Shannon got all the hormone excuses for being a stark raving lunatic and I got...Morning sickness, swollen feet, bad skin and a bladder the size of a walnut. The last one... we shared.

We also got our very own baby Doc. Pretty cool huh? Well it would be if Rudy weren't such a pain in the ass. Personally I think the woman needs to get laid...seriously. I know it's her personality that keeps all the women she dates from coming back a second time. I mean, the woman is gorgeous...don't tell Shannon I said that. Those hormones have given her a serious case of MPD. In any case Rudy really is something to look at... from a distance. Her long dark hair and those deep brown eyes have woman falling at her feet. And then she opens her mouth. But hey...Shannon likes her and more importantly trusts her...so I live with it.

Now where was I? Grill...mangled, Syd beating Dawg, Shannon pissed, Rudy, Oh Yea! I was coming out of my coma and heard the eyebrow thing. Well naturally I reached for my eyebrows to see if, in fact, they were gone as I had heard...mine were still in place, much to my relief.

No one was paying attention to me as I lie there with possible internal injuries recovering from my coma. Well...the puppy was there. Ah... the puppy, I still call her that; Syd hates it...I don't care. Puppy is now 8 months old and she did grow out of the naked Sharpei thing. She has these big dark innocent eyes and a sweet, always drooling, face. But the thing that gets me is her hair. It's dark like Dawg's but...well...have you ever seen one of those static electricity things they make you touch in school? You know the ones where your hair stands on end while you have your hand on the thing. Puppy's hair looks like that...all the time. I've seen Syd wet it down only to have it pop right back up there the minute it dries. It's sad really. I often worry about having her in the house during thunderstorms. I mean...if the kid has that much static electricity running through her...she's a lightening rod in the making.

So I wasn't alone in my suffering, I had the puppy sitting next to my head. Of course I would have been much more comfortable if she hadn't been poking me in the face.

"Up," give her a break, she's only 8 months her vocabulary is somewhat limited.

Of course this alerted my already upset, pregnant, hormonal wife that I had risen into consciousness. I groaned...I know she heard me groan. She ignored it...and grabbed me up by my somewhat singed shirt, her green eyes filled with tears. I would have been moved by her concern if she hadn't started choking the life out me.

"Of all the stupid, moronic, asinine, brainless..." Okay yes they all amount to the same thing but do you want to point that out to her? I didn't think so.

"I'm ok Shan," I was hoping this would calm her obvious fear. I'm going with her being afraid rather than her wanting to actually kill me...call it denial but it helped me sleep at night.

"What were you thinking?"

"Well Dawg said..." I tried to answer, I really did.

" I should have known this was your fault!" Syd screeched as she smacked Dawg again. Dawg for her part was sitting on the ground looking completely dazed and rubbing her forehead, where her eyebrows used to be.

"No flames...need flames to cook," Dawg must have been hit in the head with a piece of flying grill shrapnel because she had reverted to Neanderthal sentence structures.

"What she said," I had to agree, basically because I really don't understand what happened.

"It was a GAS grill idiot!"

Ohhh.........now it makes sense... well sort of.

Rudy checked me over and said it was ok for me to stand. She's a quack...I had just come out of a coma and she wanted me to walk it off. Is she a Doctor or a football coach? But I had little choice as Shannon jerked me to my feet. For having a grill explode in my face...I wasn't feeling to bad, but I would never let Rudy know that. She might think she was right or something.

So there I stood, my arm draped across the shoulders of my pregnant wife, our daughter staring at me like I was officially insane and the puppy drooling on the grass. I looked at my eyebrow-less friend, ok that's enough to crack you up right there. Here's the picture. ...6'2 inches of solid Dawg, that's not the funny part...her dark eyebrows were gone...totally as were her bangs. In fact...she had no hair in the front. She wasn't bald...just looked like JT got a hold of the sheers and gave her a hair cut...a really close one.

Rudy stood back from us taking in the whole scene. She had become a part of these gatherings 6 months ago when we went to her about this baby thing and she and Shannon had become friends. I didn't know then that she would become a permanent fixture in our lives.

"This is the worst case of Anal-Cranial Inversion I have ever seen," I would have been offended ...if I knew what the hell she was talking about.

"Huh?" Ok not my wittiest comeback but hey...coma...remember.

"You two," Rudy pointed at Dawg and I, " Have your heads up your asses."

I would have hurt her then, I swear I would have. But honestly...I just wanted to lie down. So Shannon, being the sweet kind woman that she is, never mind that she was choking the living hell out of me earlier... took me in the house. As I walked through the door I heard Syd and Dawg talking over the somewhat distressing ringing in my ears....

"Grill...BOOM!"

" I know Dawg...I know."

Chapter 2

You know the worst part about being "pregnant"? Well I'm not so sure Shannon finds this as tragic as I do but still... The pregnant woman's body, while beautiful in it's own right ... does not fit into the VS underwear anymore. It's important for you to know that under no circumstances should you let your wife know that you miss her in the sexy black teddy with the garters. Nononono... this earns you a one way ticket to the couch.

Yes that was from personal experience. How her white baby doll nightie got into my sock drawer I'll never know but there I was holding it up staring longingly, thinking of a more erotic time, when she walked in.

"Trace what are you doing with MY lingerie?"

You ever have one of those times when you knew whatever you said was going to get you in trouble? So there you are trying to decide on an answer that would lead to the least amount of possible destruction... or nights on the couch. Let me tell you something, "Thinking of another time," is NOT the correct response.

"Another time? Another TIME!"

...Obviously not the time for honesty. "Well you know Shan," I smiled at her hoping that my charm would diffuse this situation. I held up the article of clothing for her inspection and wiggled my eyebrows hoping she was thinking about the same night I was... she wasn't.

Instead of a stroll down memory lane with me as I had hoped she burst out in tears. "Trace, I can't believe you're so insensitive."

"Oh honey," I came towards her trying to console the woman although I had no idea what I had done wrong, but I vowed to shred that damn thing the second I had a chance.

A woman's hormones are tricky on a good day, which we've discussed in the past. This whole pregnant thing adds to them an entire retinue of possible irritants and disasters that will of course be... your fault. However, there are days that make the whole thing worth the insanity and pain. That first ultrasound picture with the little hands and feet is one of those days. Hearing the baby's heartbeat is another good day as is the first time it moves and you just happen to be close enough to feel it. I had my head on Shannon's lap that first time so our little "angel" actually kicked me in the head. I just hoped it wasn't a sign of things to come.

Okay so hormones make women do some pretty odd things and this occasion was no different. One minute I was trying to hold my distraught wife, afraid that seeing the small piece of lace and silk she had worn only months ago had been her undoing. The next... she was undoing, the buttons on my shirt that is.

"Off!" My still sobbing wife demanded.

"Umm Shan?" I admit I was confused by the sudden change but then again, I'm not stupid. I stripped and am not ashamed to say I let her have her way with my body... twice. Yup, some days those hormones are a good thing.


Things had been running pretty smoothly in our lives since Christmas. Dawg and Syd decided to spend the next couple of years in the states and let Syd's family run the sheep station. Dawg wanted to be closer to her own family for awhile so there they were. Now if you remember Dawg has a large family of which she is the only female and Syd refused to live to close to the brood so... they live with us. It was Shannon's idea and as we know, Shannon gets whatever Shannon wants. Shut up! It works for us and I'm NOT whipped.

I kind of like having my friends with us actually. With Dawg around I'm not the only one in trouble. Dawg is the first true friend I've ever had outside of my wife that is. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your outlook that can be both good and bad. And by true friend I don't mean the kind you can call at 4 AM to get bail money. I mean the kind that is sitting right there with you in the cell while you try to figure out where to get the bail money, that's a true friend. We haven't had to do the whole bail thing yet... it was close but we were released to our wives so it doesn't count. All in all I would have rather stayed in jail that time.

Syd and Shannon decided to go shopping, something Dawg and I would rather not do. So we were left to our devises for the afternoon and the kid was in school. The phone rang about 1:30...

"Oh hello Mrs. Kline." JT's teacher sounded slightly exasperated. "Shannon's not here." Thought I should deter her from asking for anything to do with the much-dreaded PTA. I'll do anything but sit with a bunch of whining women and talk about unsafe playground equipment.

"She what?" I was stunned as JT's teacher explained to me that my darlin, little angel had taken a whack at one of the other students and was now asking me to come and pick up my little violent offender. "Umm... ok sure, I'll be right there," I said as I hung up the phone staring at nothing.

"What?" Dawg finally asked pulling me from my confused stupor.

"JT clocked some kid at school and we need to go pick her up," I explained in a rush as I moved to the door with Dawg right on my heels.

"Oh Shit!"

No kidding! Shannon was going to go ballistic and I'm sure it's going to be... my fault.

By the time we reached the school I was more than a little worked up. I know my kid and she wouldn't just go off and pop someone for no reason. I was sure there was a story behind all this and I was going to get to the bottom of it! Grr... Protective? Yeah just a bit.

We ran into the Principle's office and sitting in those little plastic chairs along the wall was my little slugger. I stopped dead in my tracks. Her blonde head was down but I could see her holding an ice pack to her face and I saw red. They didn't tell me she had been hurt and I was ready to rip people apart. It was only Dawg's steadying hand on my shoulder that backed me down a bit. I calmly walked to JT's side and knelt down.

"Hey little bit."

She looked up at me with big green eyes brimming with tears, her nose was still running and what I was certain would soon become a big ole black eye had started to form. She looked terrified, like I was going to go off her or something. Which I guess you can't blame her for really. No kid likes to have a parent called by a teacher.

"What happened?" I asked her softly hoping that it would ease her fear. That little bit of gentleness was all it took and my little one threw herself into my arms. By now I'm pretty good at catching small flying bodies so I was prepared. She wrapped herself around me and started crying so hard that I could feel her tears soaking through my shirt. Not much you can do at times like this so I do what I always do... I held on and rocked her.

Dawg however, was not as complacent about things. In fact if I had to hazard a guess I would say she was down right pissed. That's a guess mind you but it was accurate considering she had the principle pinned against the wall, standing on his tip toes so he could meet her eye to eye.

"What the fuck happened here?" I heard my very large friend growl. "No one said she'd been hurt." Ahh... being a parent does some strange things to you. I see Dawg was starting to feel that Momma Bear thing as well. I pity the puppy's future teachers, friends, boyfriends... anyone really.

"Put me down," the man demanded his face turning bright red. Whether that was from Dawg choking him or his embarrassment I don't know.

"You better talk little man," I told him not wanting to feel left out of the whole threatening his life thing. "She's got a hair trigger and you can never tell when she might go off." Okay that was mean but what the hell, he deserved it. For her part Dawg just growled.

It was about then that Mrs. Kline came in carrying another bag of ice. "Oh My!"

I stood up taking JT with me and marched over to the woman hoping she had a reasonable explanation for all of this. "What the hell is the matter with you people?" I demanded. "You call to tell me she hit someone yet she's the one in here holding ice to her little face. Did you forget that fact?" I was not a happy camper besides this bitch wasn't going to have to go home and explain this all to MY wife.

"She did hit someone Trace he got in a lucky punch after I called you. I had to take him to another room to keep them apart," she explained quickly. Probably hoping to get it all out there before she got herself clocked.

"Why JT?" I mean damn, we were good parents, and we taught her hitting isn't right. Okay so we'll forget that Shannon likes to beat on me for the moment.

"In JT's defense Trace you should know that she was defending her friend at the time." Mrs. Kline offered.

Okay now I'm confused, I know... duh. JT saved me from the headache forming behind my eyes.

"He pushed Kalea down and hurt her knee real bad," my little tearstained, blacked girl explained. "I got so mad Trace," she continued, her little body shaking with what I assumed was outrage. "He's a big kid and big kids ain't 'posed to push little kids," JT finished emphatically.

Okay here's where this whole parent thing gets kind of blurry. The almost adult in me says that no matter what there is a better way to handle things than with violence. The other and usually more predominant part of me, is jumping up and down and applauding my tiny bruiser for her stand against the bully. As is usually the case when I'm about to make a very bad choice I hear the voice of my brilliant and beautiful wife ringing in my ears. I've learned to listen to that voice.

"I know you were trying to help your friend little bit but hitting is never the answer," I explained, still not totally convinced myself. I knew it was the right thing to say because Mrs. Kline smiled at me. You know that "hey that's pretty good for a moron" smile.

"I know," JT sighed. "I'm sorry."

Mrs. Kline was about to say more when the door of the office flew open and in charged a man whom was not at all pleased.

"Who the hell beat my kid up?" He screeched. His rather round face was red and if you looked close you would swear he actually had steam coming from his ears.

By now Dawg had released the principle and was standing off to the side watching the whole thing.

I know what happened next is going to sound strange but I swear it's the truth. My little girl raised her head up off my shoulder and looked the angry man right in the face. "I did sir," she stated in all her nobility.

Now I don't know about how other parents would feel right then but I was proud of my kid. The man however must have been insane because he flipped.

"Come here you little brat I'm going to beat your little ass but good," he yelled reaching for JT who was still in my arms.

I freely admit that it was at this moment that I lost all control of my higher brain functions. Dawg had come up behind me and I pushed JT into her arms. I then turned back to the man who had just seconds before threatened to harm my child and with everything I had in my body I hauled off and... hit him square in the face.

I'm not a weak woman nor am I that small so the impact of that punch rocked the man back onto his heels, just before he crumpled and fell to the floor.

Still kind of lost in my haze I could just barely hear Dawg behind me. "That's why we don't hit JT, people can get really hurt."

Chapter 3

When the police took us in they were rather leery about putting the cuffs on Dawg but they didn't seem to have the same trouble with me. So there we sat in the little office, all three of us lined up like common criminals. I was lost in thoughts about whether or not Shannon would kill me or just cut me off, which by the way, would have been worse.

"Trace?" Dawg whispered pulling me out of my misery.

"Yeah?"

"We need to get bail, do you have any cash on you?" She looked at me pleadingly.

"Umm... no." I hadn't thought I would need enough cash on me for bail, silly me.

We both sat in silence and I know we were thinking the same thing. How to get out of here and NOT have the wives find out. Calling Maggie was out; she would have Shannon on the phone as soon as I got the words "in jail" out of my mouth. Rudy would have the same affect so she was a "no" as well. The painful truth hit us as the same time.

"We have to call the girls," we said in unison. Maybe they should just lock me up, I'm pretty sure Shannon wouldn't be able to get through the bars to murder me. It was then that I had a flash of brilliance. Okay so maybe that was a bit strong but I had an idea at least.

"JT, call your Mom," I told her. Both she and Dawg looked at me like I'd lost my mind. Which... might have been true.

"Huh?" they responded together.

"She won't yell at JT," I explained like I meant it. What I figured was, if JT called then I would be granted a reprieve until she actually got here. Which was all right by me. Dawg picked up on it right away and agreed, JT just stared. Finally she shrugged her little shoulders in resignation and had me dial the cell phone.

"Mom? Umm... Me, Trace and Dawg need you to come to the police station," the little blonde told my wife, repeating things just as we had worked out. "And bring money." She listened for a minute and I wondered what was being said but being the coward that I am I didn't ask. JT pulled the phone away and said the Shannon wanted to talk to me. I shook my head and told her I couldn't because I was cuffed to the chair and couldn't hold the phone. What? Well it was true... and we did go over the whole "coward" thing right?

"She cant Mom the cops have her handcuffed to a chair." I just groaned... I was going to be so dead.

JT finished her call and sat down, "Mom's comin," she sighed. The kid knew we were all screwed. Maybe they would let us all share a cell.

Have you ever seen a pregnant woman on a tear? I knew when she came through the door, not because I could see her but rather because I saw grown men with guns and body armor dive for cover.

When I finally did catch sight of her well... I was terrified actually. She stood in the middle of the room with her hands on her hips; her little belly rounded with the gentle swell from our child growing within and a glare that would have stopped my heart if it hadn't been pumping furiously. Her face was red, as were her eyes coincidentally. All in all... she was beautiful. We have covered the "I'm not right" thing in the past just let it go.

"Hi baby," I said smiling brightly hoping my charm would soften her a bit... it didn't.

She started to advance on me taking slow purposeful steps, her nostrils flared, I saw that little vein throbbing in her forehead and I started to look for a place to hide. Unfortunately I was still cuffed to the chair so basically I was a captive target. I just closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable... and waited... and waited. It never happened. The explosion, the destruction, the mayhem, none of it occurred. I gathered enough courage to open one eye and take a peek at what was going on. Shannon had JT sitting on one of the desks checking out her newly forming shiner; Syd was standing beside them with the puppy on her hip, listening intently as JT talked to them.

"Do you think we could get a cell together?" Dawg whispered. See; she knew that's the only place we'd be safe too.

"Shut up!" Shannon yelled at us and... we did.

Now as I sat there speculating on my would-be demise the man that was pressing charges against me walked into the station. In his wake was a boy, if you could him that. This kid was huge, by no means should he have been still in grade school, I think the beast was old enough to shave. It might have been the stress or my impending death but in any case I looked at that kid and I busted out laughing. That grade school gorilla was sporting a brand new black eye and a split lip. Yes I know it was inappropriate but hell...

The man, whom I assumed to be the little thug's Father, was not looking so good himself. My punch had at the very least bent his nose if not broken it. Unfortunately he did not find any humor in this situation and in his embarrassment he lunged at me.

I'm not exactly sure what happened after that, one minute I thought I was going to be beaten to a pulp and the next my vision was filled with an absolutely gorgeous sight. My wife's ass. I'm guessing that the man in question was familiar with pregnant hormonal woman because when I did see him he looked more terrified than I did.

"You will not touch a hair on her head," Shannon growled as she poked the man in the chest effectively backing him up with each jab. "After what I've heard from my little girl about you and your bully of a son, Im half tempted to let her free to finish that redecorating job on your ugly face," she threatened.

Then my little wife did something I didn't think possible, she grabbed the man by his nearly broken nose and dragged... dragged the whimpering man to JT. "You see the size of this child," she stated. "Now do you see the size of that beast you call a son," the poor guy just nodded through the tears in his eyes. I knew her hold on him had to sting like hell. "You're going to drop the charges and then go home taking that brut with you and teach him why he shouldn't beat up on little kids," Shannon finished with a final yank on the man's nose.

By this time the officers moved to rescue the whining man, a bit to late if you ask me. The guy was on his knees holding his nose and all but crying for his Momma. As they approached my wonderful wife she growled at them, backing them all up yet again. "Let her out of those cuffs," she demanded.

I just smirked as they all rushed to do her bidding. It was nice to see I wasn't the only one that she could order around. I sat there rubbing my wrists and waiting for her next edict to be issued forth. But none came. In fact she just picked up our kid and ... left, taking Syd with her.

Dawg and I got off our collective asses and ran out after them but all we saw was taillights as they headed out of town. Two things hit me right then. One, this was by no means the end of my pain for my involvement in all of this. Two, we didn't have a truck to drive home. It was still parked over at the school. Dawg just shrugged and we started walking... what else could we do?


The mind is a funny thing. Not funny ha ha but its funny how many things it can come up with in a relatively short period of time. By the time got back to the ranch my mind had run through several imagined scenarios, each one worse than the last. In my wildest dreams I wouldn't have guessed what happened in reality. Nothing! That's right, not a Gods be damned thing and it scared the hell out of me.

I was on pins and needles for three days waiting for the bottom to fall out but it was just business as usual around our house. I just knew when I least expected it, probably when I was in the shower, naked and defenseless, I would be faced with a fully outraged Shannon. I started taking JT's little ducky with me. Don't laugh, have you ever been squirted in the eye with soapy water? It was the only weapon I had. But Shannon never said a word, not a peep, an utterance.

On the third day I was running on pure paranoia. The stress got me and I cracked under the pressure.

"Shannon I think we need to talk about what happened," I felt the best way to end my suffering was a direct approach. Okay so I was talking to her from the other side of the room... near the back door... and I had the truck keys in hand.

"What are you talking about honey? Nothing's happened," she stated sitting calmly at the table sipping her decaf.

I eyed her curiously, either she's slipped a cog or she's in denial. Maybe all the baby hormones finally fried her brain. So I continued with caution. "You know, JT fighting, me fighting, jail. Tell me if any of this is ringing any bells."

She looked up at me with those luminous green eyes burning a hole straight through my heart and scorching my soul. Okay so she's already marked my heart and soul but it sounded good. I could see nothing to give away her real feelings about any of this. "Umm honey? You do remember what happened right? I mean JT still has that black eye," I hoped that would jar her from her obvious abnegation. It didn't, she just continued to stare at me.

"Come on Shan Im dyin here. I know you're pissed the least you could do is yell or something," I know that's stupid, begging to be yelled at... duh.

She stood and walked to me slowly, "Been driving yourself crazy waiting for me to explode about this huh baby?"

"Uh huh," I answered, it was true.

"Not able to sleep, relax, eat?" She asked while slipping her arms around my neck. I just hoped she wasn't planning on choking me to death.

"Nope," I sighed wrapping her in my arms.

She pulled my head to her shoulder, running her fingers through my hair, soothing my tired brain. I love when she does that. "Then I think I've proven my point," she whispered in my ear and with a sharp nip to my earlobe she left me standing in the kitchen... alone and a little aroused. Sick remember.

Damn but she got me and she didn't even have try hard. But she was right; I got the point I worry her she worries me. Evil little thing isn't she.

Chapter 4

I don't know how it happened or why I was elected but somehow I was roped into teaching JT how to operate her first moving vehicle. In other words, Shannon told me to teach her how to ride a bike. We had gotten the little blonde carbon copy of my wife, a bike for her birthday and had yet to even attempt to teach her to ride it. Personally I think she was trying to find ways to keep Dawg and I out of trouble while she and Syd went to the mall. Never the less I took up the challenge, after all I did promise to teach her to drive if Shannon handled all the personal girl talk stuff.

I know JT's is a bit young for all this and it might be my influence but she hated the whole training wheel thing. So always being one to help the ladies in my life I set out to teach her to ride the bike, sans training wheels. I mean how tough can it be to teach a 5 year old to ride a bike right? Besides I had Dawg to help me. I know what you're thinking... so stop laughing already.

So there we were in the driveway....

"I dunno Trace she's kinda little for this don't you think?"

"Hey she's the one who says only babies use training wheels, I'm just helping her along. Besides I took precautions." See you need to think these kinds of things through, like if the kid gets broken during some such activity well... it does not bode well for familial harmony if you know what I mean. And... Wife... pregnant...hormones...enough said.

I looked down the driveway where JT's brand new bike was parked in the bright sun and I called for the kid. She stepped out the door, ok she waddled out the door. I told you I took precautions. There stood my kid, her little blonde head covered by my motorcycle helmet. Yes I got the motorcycle. It doesn't have an engine but it makes me feel good to think that one-day I might get to actually ride it. But my preparations did not end there oh no... I, in my infinite need to not sleep on the couch, had wrapped strategic parts of the child's fragile small body in ... bubble wrap. Secured of course by about a roll of duct tape.

Ok I am not insane, if they can send you something as breakable as a hand-blown, antique oil lamp globe through the US mail, wrapped in this stuff, it can damn well protect from things like skinned knees, broken bones and me ... from sleeping on the couch.

"Trace I think I changed my mind," JT stated nervously. Why do the women in my life get so nervous about my ideas?

"Come on kid it'll be fine," I said trying to convince her. She wasn't buying it. I think the mangled grill lawn art was disrupting her confidence. "How about if I show you how to ride first?"

"You don't gots a bike," she reasoned. She was right I didn't have a bike but I couldn't let her chicken out here. It was then that lightening flashed through my brain and I was struck by an absolutely awesome thought.

"Dawg get the truck," I told my big friend before I took off towards the barn.

We met up about ten minutes later with all we would need to show JT how easy it was to ride. I pushed my motorcycle carcass out of the barn and grabbed a rope. Dawg backed the truck up and I tied the bike to the bumper.

"Ok now watch how easy this is," I told my little girl. "Let's go Dawg!"

I jumped on the motorcycle and with a hard jolt we were off and running. Dawg was doing her best to take it easy as we road around the field, Dawg at the wheel of the truck and me on the bike. JT was standing there in awe, of the actual event or the real live display of stupidity, I don't know.

"Faster," I yelled feeling confident and reckless. And Dawg put the pedal to the floor.

I don't know what possessed her or me for that matter but we decided this activity was nearly daring enough so we started pulling figure eight's in the drive. You can probably guess where all of this is going to end up but I'll tell you anyway.

I actually saw it before it happened, on one turn at the bottom of the eight when I was nearest to the barn I saw the rope let go. Unfortunately that was the exact time that Dawg jerked the wheel to make the sharp turn and all I could do is close my eyes and let go hoping the grass would either soften the impact or I would die instantly.

What they say is true you know, you do see your life flash before your eyes. Mine was kinda short. One minute I was air born the next I was laying on my back looking at the sky for the second time in as many weeks. I don't really recall the impact but according to JT it was awesome, I'll take her word for it. I do remember seeing the barn flying towards my body at really high rate of speed.

I wasn't alone for very long JT and Dawg ran to my side. Such loyal friends I have.

"Trace? Are you dead?" I heard JT ask.

I groaned; it was the best I could do.

Then Dawg's big head was filling my field of vision. "Hey, do ya know who ya are?" she asked.

"I'm Batman," I knew who I was but I love that commercial.

"You need to go to the hospital." Dawg, the master of the obvious, stated before she took of towards the house leaving me with JT.

"You're bleedin trace," JT sobbed. I hate to scare the kid like that, not exactly one of my more stellar moments.

I took stock of my body and found that everything seemed to be in semi working order so I wrapped the kid in my arms trying to comfort the little one. "I'll be alright...hard head... ask your Mom."

I saw my motorcycle as we pulled out of the drive on the way to the emergency room. It hadn't even got a chance at new life before it was so cruelly ripped away from its future. So sad... now it sat in the yard along side the grill. Just another piece of twisted metal with no purpose or reason.


We were fast tracked through the ER, not that my injuries were that serious really but I think I'm a preferred customer. In any case it got us home in just over two hours, still not fast enough to beat my wife back.

I walked in the back door as JT raced past me into the living room where Shannon and Syd were. I looked down at the table as I stumbled by and caught sight of the note Dawg left just in case we didn't get here first.

Hey,

Motorcycle... rope... Trace... barn... concussion... ER.

Be back soon

D

I'm sure it was a great comfort to my wife.

I wandered into the living room where obviously everyone was congregated, sure enough there was Syd sitting next to Dawg ... beating her in the head. JT and puppy were on the floor watching the whole scene with interest. Now on the couch was my wonderful wife and kneeling at her feet holding her wrist was Rudy.

I know I had a concussion but at that moment I thought it was having a heart attack as well. Shannon was pale and looked a little pained as Rudy sat quietly taking her pulse. It was another life defining moment for me. In the last few weeks I had blown up a grill, been in jail and now I've crashed into the barn resulting in a head injury. My wife is pregnant and here I am pulling stupid stunts like I've got nothing to lose. I've got everything to lose and so do they. The people who depend on me, Shannon, JT and our new baby. What would they do if something happened to me? The shame I felt was overwhelming, I was selfish and irresponsible and now I may have pushed Shannon into losing the baby. That was the only thought in my head.

I rushed to her side with tears streaming down my face. "Baby?" I questioned. I knew my voice was cracking under the strain of emotion but I didn't care. Nor did I care that everyone was watching me have a breakdown.

Sometimes there just aren't words enough to express things and understanding is reached through the heart rather than the head, this was one of those times. Shannon must have seen the look of absolute panic, remorse and shame clearly written on my face. Our eyes locked and in that moment we both understood that thing's would be different. She didn't need to get upset and I didn't need to beg for forgiveness we just knew.

She reached for me past a disgruntled Rudy and I held her in my arms.

"I'm so sorry angel," I cried into her blonde hair.

"I'm ok Trace just feeling a bit... tired," she explained stroking my face lightly.

"I love you," you can never say that enough, you should remember that.

"Love you too," she whispered and then smacked me on the ass. "Don't you ever do anything that stupid ever again."

Okay so maybe it wasn't a total understanding....

Chapter 5

I helped my wife up the stairs to our room and settled her in for the night while our friends took care of the kid. Shannon had fallen asleep almost immediately and after tucking the covers in around her I returned to the kitchen for food. I found Rudy sitting at the table drinking a beer when I entered.

"Don't you have a home of your own?" Hey give me a break! I have a head injury and my wife is sick, I was grumpy.

"No beer there," she shrugged.

"Then buy some," I sighed. Usually Rudy and I would do this round and round again thing but right now I just wanted to eat and go cuddle with Shannon.

Rudy was unusually quiet and when I sat down she just stared at me, it was unnerving.

"What?"

"Why are you and Shannon having another baby when you don't really want one?" She asked me while pinning me with those damned dark eyes.

"What the fuck are you talking about?" I'll admit that I might have been reluctant about all this baby stuff at first but well... umm... I want that child as much as Shannon does. There I said it. I love the little critter growing inside my wife and ... I was pissed. Secretly I knew that Rudy had a big crush on Shannon, not that I could blame her but... Mine!

"You don't deserve her you know," she said quietly. I don't know how many beers she had drank or if she had just lost her little mind, I think it was the crush thing talking.

"I know," I smiled. It was true in a sense in my opinion no one deserved her but she was mine... I intended to keep it that way. "But make no mistake she's mine Rudy and contrary to what you want to believe, I love her and the baby." I hoped that would shut her up because the next step was to kill the doctor and I was pretty sure Dawg might get a bit miffed if I shot her cousin.

Rudy snorted indignantly and I know she was about to say more but a large hand on the back of her neck stopped the words.

"Think you've had enough Rudy," Dawg drawled. I don't know where she came from or how long she'd been listening but I was glad it wasn't me that would be tossing the good doctor out of the house tonight.

With my head pounding I returned to my dinner and let Dawg handle her cousin. I didn't even look up when I heard the back door slam. In fact I didn't looked up until I heard the chair scrape across the floor and Dawg sit down heavily.

"Sorry bout that Trace. She didn't have any right talking to you like that," Dawg apologized for her cousin.

I shrugged; I knew where Rudy was coming from which is why I didn't argue. "She thinks she's in love with Shannon Dawg. Can't blame her really," I smiled at my friend.

"She's just lonely and I think she sees what you and I have, it makes her want it for herself," Dawg reasoned, it was good reasoning really, quite insightful.

"Just wish she would direct that energy into finding one not already attached," I mumbled. I may have understood, didn't mean I liked it.

"Well you know Rudy, if there's a short cut to be had ... she'll take it," Dawg laughed.

"To true."

I left Dawg sitting at the table as I stumbled up the stairs to our room. I was tired and the Rudy drama had added to my already pounding head. I slipped into bed beside my sleeping wife but much to my dismay, I couldn't close my eyes. Between my own revelations that evening and Rudy's words my mind was spinning.

I had found recently that when sleep was elusive if I read it tended to calm me. So I reached into our nightstand and pulled out the book. If you tell anyone this I swear I'll hunt you down and break your legs. I flipped on the little light beside the bed and opened the book to the mark I left the last time, right there in the J's of the "Baby Names Book".

Often times late at night I would take this book out and read through the names. I would flash on the future with each name read. What the child would be like, what kind of person would she be. I was positive it was a girl. A small blonde with laughing green eyes just like the other two beauties in my life. It comforted me... yeah I really did want this baby, no matter what Rudy thought.

"Jadzia," I whispered in the dark thinking I was alone in my thoughts.

"We're not naming our baby after a Star Trek character," Shannon murmured beside me.

"Then I guess seven of nine is really out," I laughed which earned me a gentle slap on my arm.

Shannon turned to me, taking the book from my hands she tossed it onto the nightstand.

"Hey I was reading that," I exclaimed.

"I have a craving," she whispered against my neck.

I was used to midnight craving even though it usually meant a trip downstairs or heavens forbid a drive to the local "stop and rob". I threw the covers off and started to rise when a small hand stopped me.

"Not that kind of craving," Shannon purred seductively.

Oh! Well not one to refuse my wife anything I returned to our bed and wrapped my arms around her. "Are you sure we should be doing this?" I asked as her hand slid up my stomach.

"I'm fine baby, I just need you," her words spoken softly against my bare skin.

I've discovered over the last few months that you should take what's being offered when it's offered because honestly... it might be weeks in between. Another revelation that I've recently uncovered is that making love to a woman who is with child can prove to be somewhat tricky. Breasts that were before an erogenous zone are now off limits for the most part. They've become tender and swollen; the later was not something I complain about. Positions you once found it easy to get into are limited due to the addition of another yet unseen person sharing your bed. Luckily, I'm adaptable.

Leaning over, I kissed Shannon softly at first. Taking the time to revel in the softness of her lips before slipping into her mouth to taste the sweet interior. My tongue stroked hers slow and thoroughly, swallowing her low moans.

I reached for the hem of the thin cotton gown she wore and eased it up her beautiful body. My wife has always been a sexy woman but her pregnant state with her rounded tummy and full breasts ignited by passion in a way unlike any other. I ran my finger tips along her heated flesh as I inched the material higher. I felt her shiver from my delicate touches and when I reached her breasts I cupped her gently, causing a sharp hiss of pleasure to escape her.

"Yes," she gasped.

I lowered my mouth to the hard tip and sucked it greedily into my mouth feeling her arch into me. Never releasing my prize I removed the gown leaving her gloriously naked before me. Her hands raking down my back as she started to rock against my body. I continued my ministration to her tender breasts, lovingly sucking and licking each nipple in turn as she tried to find solid purchase against me. I could feel the evidence of her passion coating my thigh as I slipped between her legs.

"Oh Gods yes," she rasped, her movement becoming more frantic.

I pressed against her wet center holding her hips and moving with her. Unfortunately our child had taken up much more space and it made the contact, while exciting, not quite enough to reach the release she was looking for.

Shannon sighed in frustration and stopped her movements, going lax beneath me. "Damn!" she cried into the dark the frustration clear in her voice.

"Roll over baby," I urged. When she was on her side I curled up behind her pressing myself to her exposed posterior making sure she felt the hot, wet evidence of my own arousal. I knew she had gotten the point when I heard her groan and grind her hips back against me. "That's it baby just let me drive," I assured, determined to give her the pleasure she sought.

From this new position I had full access to the front of her body and I didn't lose a second as I began my explorations. My large hands covering her breasts as I moved in time with her hips, sliding over her. I gently kissed her neck, nibbling on the tender flesh I heard her moan and push harder against me.

"Please," she begged. Her breaths ragged as she panted in her excitement.

Releasing her breast I traveled over her tummy moving lower until I found my hand in the damp nest of curls at her apex. I carefully slipped my fingers between the sodden folds of her sex causing her to arch into my hand.

"Oh Gods! That feels so good," she panted.

I took my time exploring her, coating my fingers with her essence, and finally I brushed my fingertip over the hard throbbing bundle and she gasped before beginning a rhythmic thrust with her hips. I continued to stroke her gently, never speeding up or slowing down. Keeping the pressure light and even as I rocked my own hips against her backside.

I knew she was getting close but I wanted to hear her say it, I wanted to hear her ask for it. I didn't have to wait long. She reached up with both arms pulling my head to her neck pushing her ass back against me hard. "Gods woman!" she cried.

"What do you want Shan?" I asked innocently knowing full well what she needed.

"Go inside me Trace, I need you," that was what I was looking for and I slipped my fingers deep into her core.

She tightened around my fingers effectively trapping my inside her slick channel and began to drive down on my fingers. I moved into her deep and hard, stroking her in time with her own thrusts rocking with each move of her hips. Our passion raced higher leading us both to the ultimate pleasure and when I knew I wouldn't last much longer, I moved my thumb up over her extended clit and pressed against her.

I felt her close in around my fingers as the first waves of her climax tore through her body. She screamed out my name as she drove herself down on my fingers and I felt hot, wet flood of her release as it covered my hand. Hearing her, feeling her like this, seeing her head thrown back and her breasts standing proudly in the moonlight was all it took to bring my own climax crashing down around us and I groaned into the back of her neck.

Once our bodies had stilled and the harsh breathing had been brought under control I released her, moving from her slowly and wrapped her in my arms. "I love you," I whispered in the dark.

"Mmm... love you too," she slurred as she succumbed to the call of Morpheus.

Yup gotta love those hormones!

Chapter 6

So I was feeling pretty good in the morning I had all my needs met. Granted I have few real needs but they are as follows. Sex, sleep, shower and food. They don't have to be filled in any particular order but if I get all 4 in the same 24-hour period I'm good to go.

I wrapped my arms around my wife as she stood at the sink, kissing her exposed neck. "Morning sexy."

"Feeling pretty full of yourself," she laughed bumping me with her hip.

"Glad someone is feeling good this morning," Syd growled as she walked into the kitchen, dropping into the closest chair.

It wasn't a pretty sight. Her normally wild hair looked like a small animal had taken up residence. She had dark circles under her eyes and I think she slept in her clothes.

"You look umm... tired," I said striving for a diplomatic way of telling her she looked like hammered shit. She just glared. Obviously she didn't appreciate my good mood.

"Trace leave her alone," Shannon demanded as she took the chair next to Syd. She wrapped her arm around our friends' shoulders and with her other hand attempted to smooth her rat-infested hair. If critters run out of there I'm gone. "What's the matter Syd?" My wife asked gently.

Syd sighed deeply and dropped her head to the table with a rather loud thump. I'm not sure what she said but it sounded like... teething.

Shannon must have understood the whole concept because she sat there rubbing the woman's back telling her it was going to be all right. I thought it best to leave them to whatever it was they were talking about, I obviously had no clue. I did have a sneaking suspicion that I would be learning about the topic at some date in the near future. I would rather it be a surprise.

What shouldn't have come as a surprise was that we, meaning Shannon and I, were babysitting the puppy that night. Shannon decided that our friends needed a night alone, I agreed to this for one reason only... paybacks.

So there we were watching the 8-month-old monster as she gnawed on anything that got close enough to her mouth. In one little fist she had one of those teething biscuits, which Shannon swears by and I think are a satanic plot created so that infants everywhere learn the joys of cement. Don't laugh... have you ever come across one of those things after its been gummed and left to dry on a flat surface? I've made my point.

By 10 PM I was ready to throw in the towel. We had tried everything from that teething gel which by the way, doesn't work. To the old carrot from the freezer trick. Well Shannon tells me its an old trick I personally do not remember my teething days so I couldn't tell you.

I was sitting there holding the whimpering, snot nosed child, as she drooled cookie cement down my neck and decided enough was enough. Shannon had pleaded exhaustion due to her condition and went to bed an hour before. Personally I think she just abandon me using that as an excuse. Like I said she got all the excuses I got all the bull. In any case I was done with this whole fiasco and took the puppy into the kitchen.

Now what I'm going to tell you can go no farther because if Shannon, or Syd for that matter, ever finds out about this I'll be killed. I'm not proud and I was desperate so I called Maggie and when I was done with our conversation I knew I either had a really good cure for this or a one way ticket to jail for child endangerment. But I was desperate like I said.

I rummaged through the cupboards until I found the bottle hidden in the back still about half full of amber liquid. I looked around to make sure that no one would be walking in and without shame I spiked the kids' bottle. Not a lot... just a small shot in some juice. And then a bigger shot for me; hey I deserved it after tonight.

I resettled the teething child in my arms and popped the whiskey-laced bottle into her cute little mouth and know what? She dropped off to sleep in about a half an hour. Her little brown eyes grew heavier and heavier until she just... passed out. I picked up her limp body and carried her to the crib in Syd and Dawg's room. No! I do NOT feel any shame so just drop it.

I grabbed the baby monitor and headed to our room where I intended to sleep until noon. That was not to be the case. At about 3 AM I heard sounds coming from downstairs and in my fog I thought the puppy needed help. So I got up not even bothering to throw on a robe. Hey she's 8 months old even if she knew what she was looking at she would just think it was lunchtime.

What I found as I descended the stairs may have just scarred me for life. In the soft glow of the fireplace was Syd spread... naked... over a chair. One which I will never be sitting in again. And Dawg was between her open thighs. Now I tried not to look as soon as I realized what was happening and that scene in itself would not be my source of nightmares in the future, no. It was Dawg's naked ass hanging out there that was going to destroy my psyche. That is just not something you should see your friends doing. Especially when you have to live with them and you eat over the same table in the morning. The whole table thought sent another shiver through my body... nope not even going to go there.

I headed back up the stairs with two thoughts. One, I would never again be going downstairs in the middle of the night. If someone broke in they could have whatever they wanted. Two, I think the whole thing just might have made me impotent.

Chapter 7

So with harmony restored to the household life seemed to be running smoothly. The nightmares only lasted a couple of days and Shannon proved to me I wasn't impotent, she's such a good woman. Of course with our lives and my luck we all know it was to good to last. And it didn't...

I never understood about that whole soul mates thing before. You know how some people just know when their partner is in trouble across town they suddenly get a flash or some such thing. Anyway, I was riding the fence in the south pasture with Dawg. Shannon being on the home stretch of this whole pregnancy thing wasn't able to do this stuff so she was at home ... nesting or something. Syd had taken the puppy to the doctors' office. I swear it wasn't because of the liquor laced bottle ... Geezz give me a break.

I'm riding along minding my own business, my mind on nothing, I know not much new there. And it hits me! I suddenly have this overwhelming panic attack. My heart is thundering in my chest, there's a ringing in my ears, I started to sweat and shake and I just knew... Shannon was in trouble. Without word or reason I took off towards the house like a herd of Avon ladies were after me. I know it freaked Dawg out but being the true friend she is she just chased after me.

When I got to the house I noted the dark blue sedan parked in the drive but didn't think much of it. I jumped off the horse and headed for the door when I heard JT scream. Now, several things happened all at once here and it gets a bit confusing. It shouldn't surprise you that something like that would happen, especially around me.

I heard a car door slam behind me and that must have been Syd arriving with Rudy in tow. I'm guessing here because I didn't see them I was rather intent on finding out why my kid was screaming. I threw open the door and rushed into the house yelling for Shannon. She wasn't in the living room so I made my way to the kitchen. Now again, I don't really know how this all happens this is just my part. But I came into the kitchen to find MY wife wrapped in the arms of another woman. A woman I didn't know and Shannon was crying.

"She made Mom cry," JT yelled from her corner of the room. Well that's good enough for me; make Shannon cry, die a horrible death.

I stalked up to the pair and was about to tear the woman away from my wife when I was pushed to the side by what I can only describe as a speeding train. From out of nowhere Rudy appeared and in seconds had the woman in a headlock, dragging her from the room. I made no move to follow figuring Dawg and Rudy would handle it and my job was to see to my wife. Who by the way was just standing there ... mute.

"Shannon?" I questioned softly not knowing if she had been hurt or what. She said nothing. "Honey are you ok?" she finally looked at me with those big green eyes filled with unshed tears.

"She loves me," she whispered.

Now I don't know who she was talking about, whether it was the woman or Rudy but in either case I was not amused. And I was about to say something to that effect when Shannon grabbed my arm practically pulling it from the socket as she yanked me to the door following Rudy and the unidentified female offender.

"Shan?" I tried to question met again with silence as we continued to the porch.

Now there in the yard was Rudy. She had the woman on her stomach spread eagle on the ground while she straddled her hips basically pinning the woman down. Who was by the way putting up a valiant effort to get away from the good doctor.

"Trace make them stop!" Shannon yelled looking horrified.

I really hadn't seen any proof that it should stop and so long as they were both fighting it out in the yard they were no where near my wife, which made me happy.

Shannon grabbed the front of my shirt as she has a tendency to do when she's upset. "That's my sister," she hissed. "Make them stop!"

It was then that Dawg joined us on the porch and she heard the declaration. To say we were stunned would be a gross understatement. Besides I was still not convinced that she shouldn't be beaten to death for all the things she had done to Shannon in the past.

Dawg smiled, never one to resist a good jibe, she turned to the scene in the yard. "Rudy its no wonder you can't keep a woman," she yelled. "You should have pinned her on her back."

I laughed. I couldn't help it. Shannon was appalled.

"She couldn't keep a woman if she had her pinned, tied down and rendered unconscious," I heard Shannon's sister yell from her imprisonment between Rudy's thighs. Damn! Being a smart-ass must run in the family. She was still fighting for all she was worth but Rudy had size on her.

"Hey good idea! Do you want some rope Rudy?" Dawg yelled back being her ever-so helpful self.

"Don't you dare!" The blonde pinned beneath Rudy growled.

"I don't know Dawg. That one seems pretty wild, maybe handcuffs and a whip would work better," I added finally joining the game.

"Ooooo... now there's an idea I can get behind," Rudy replied almost a bit to excited.

"You would," the woman on the ground snorted.

Now until this point my lovely wife had just been beating me on the arm trying to get my help. I think seeing that her sister wasn't actually being hurt kind of broke the tension.

"I don't know guys, she might actually enjoy that," my wicked wife rejoined. I love that evil woman... just thought I'd add that.

"Oh God Shan! Not you too," the captive sister moaned.

"What can I say," Shannon shrugged still chuckling. "I've been with the barbarians to long." I think we would have taken offence but we were all laughing too hard.

I watched the scene in the yard. Rudy straddling the woman known as Shannon's sister, while the woman in question bucked beneath her. What had been a rather comical situation started to look a little well... erotic actually. I know; I'm not well.

By the look on Rudy's face I would say that all that wiggling was starting to ignite a brush fire... if you know what I mean. I figured it would best to relieve them both of the obvious discomfort.

"Hey Rudy, I think Shannon wants her SISTER to live another day. You might want to let her up," I hollered, hoping she got the point.

"Sister?" Rudy croaked.

"Rudy meet Macy, the woman you're umm..." Shannon supplied not very helpfully.

"Sister?" Rudy said again trying to grasp the vastness of the potential disaster that lay ahead.

"That's right you jackass," Macy cried once again trying to dislodge Rudy's larger body.

"Hey! Stop that..." Rudy gave a pained moan, although I suspected it had less to do with pain and more to do with the woman's shapely ass pressing against her.

"Quit playin with the straight chicks Rudy," Dawg laughed. "How many time do I have to tell you that."

It was then that Macy snorted and Shannon busted out laughing. Ok I know something was going on and I missed it. So ... I looked at my little wife hoping for clarification. She looked up at me and raised one blonde eyebrow in challenge. Ok I get the point... guess being a smart-ass isn't the only thing running in the family.

"Time to let her up Rudy," Dawg called trying to end the game.

"I cant," Rudy stated still trying to hold the wildcat down. "If I let her up now she's going to kill me." It was a blaring statement of the obvious.

"You're damn right I'm going to kill you! Get the fuck off me!" Macy screamed struggling even harder. Yup... Rudy was going to die.

"Stop moving," Rudy moaned. "And don't swear there are children here."

It was Syd, the voice of reason that finally ended the whole affair. She marched up to the struggling pair and latched onto Rudy's neck dragging her off Shannon's sister. She placed herself in between the two women so that when Shannon's sister spun around to attack Rudy she couldn't get to her.

"I'm going to kill you, what the hell did you do that for?" The woman demanded.

It was then that I took stock of the fuming woman. You know if I had been paying attention earlier I would have seen the resemblance. She was a bit taller than my wife but they had the same blonde hair only hers was longer. It was the eyes though that gave it all away. Twin chips of green fire sparkling in the mid day sun. Actually it was more like deadly lasers trying to cut through Rudy's flesh but you get the point.

This is where Shannon turned to me and said "Trace, this is my sister... Macy."


Once Macy had calmed down and we had placed Rudy under protective custody, things became a little more reasonable. Syd had brought out beverages and we were all seated on the porch waiting for some sort of explanation, which by the way, didn't come. I did notice that Shannon seemed to be a little more relaxed around her sister than I had thought she would be. I would have to ask her about that later.

Macy just sat there staring at our little group of miscreants. She swept over us one by one, her eyes landing on Rudy, she growled, sending Rudy to hide behind Dawg and I. Like I was going to protect her... Ha!

Her gaze finally came to rest on Shannon and I saw her face soften as she stared at her little sister. "Who knocked you up?" she asked.

"She did," Rudy and I said at the same time pointing at one another.

"Please tell me its really blue eyes there?" Macy pleaded with Shannon looking a little sick. I guess the idea of Rudy and Shannon made her stomach turn. Come to think of it, made mine turn as well.

I wrapped my arms around my wife and child as Shannon leaned back into me. I figured if Macy had any issues with our relationship we should get it all out now. She didn't. To her credit she smiled softly and nodded.

"Who are you?" JT demanded. I forgot the kid was there.

Macy seemed a bit taken aback by the sudden appearance of our oldest. Shannon being the ultimate Mother came to the rescue with an explanation.

As my wife explained Macy's relationship to our child, said child just glared at her Aunt.

"I think you're in trouble," I whispered to Macy.

"She's what? 5? How much trouble can I really be in?" she whispered back.

I snorted; the woman had no idea. This would be fun.

Chapter 8

As it happened Shannon's explanation seemed to placate our child a bit. She still seemed leery of her Aunt but didn't protest much. The rest of our evening was relatively calm except that we now needed a place for Shannon's sister to sleep. Dawg suggested we send her home with Rudy. For which she got punched in the arm by Rudy, smacked in the head by her own wife and a deadly glare from Macy. Seemed like a good idea to me... what do know. Shannon settled it all by declaring the nursery the new guestroom.

I guess I was too tired to even close my eyes and still a bit shaken by the days' events. Rather than taking out my book I left the bedroom and headed to the kitchen for a glass of milk. Sitting there in the soft glow of the stove light was Macy. I wasn't so sure I really wanted that milk after all but it was to late, she had seen me.

"Have a seat Trace," Macy said kicking a chair out for me.

I got my milk and resigned myself to having a conversation with a woman I wasn't too sure I liked yet. I sat down and stared at the table occasionally taking sips of my milk.

"You don't like me do you?" she whispered.

"Cant say if I do or don't. I know what Shannon has told me and to be honest... it doesn't look good for you," I told her. I figured honesty was the best way to go here. I didn't want her to think I was going to be an easy mark or that I was going to allow her to treat Shannon badly.

"I guess it wouldn't look good," she sighed. "I came here to see if I could change that."

I was a little surprised because my first thought was that she was here to carry through her threats about JT. Remember the letter with the newspaper picture? Yeah I knew that's what you all were thinking too.

I told her as much too. She just stared at me like I'd sprouted wings out of my ass and then I saw a dawning of recognition in her eyes and she started to laugh. "Oh my God! That picture was just to funny," she chuckled.

I have to take a second here to say a few things. This was NOT the woman I expected Shannon's sister to be. In my mind I had her depicted as this 10 foot tall, fire breathing bitch from hell. With claws for hands and red, glowing eyes and horns sprouting from her head. In other words she looked just like my second grade teach Mrs. Bloom. Damn that woman was scary.

That wasn't the case. Macy in all truth looks a hell of a lot like my wife, especially as we sat there in the dim light of the stove. Her laughter was genuine and her eyes were clear and steady as she held my gaze, which indicated to me that there were no untruths there. Basically I was just very confused.

"But I thought you wanted..." I started hoping to shed some light on my confusion.

"That I wanted to take my niece away from my sister?" Macy questioned.

"Well... Yeah."

"No," the woman sighed. "I was hurt and maybe a little bit angry, but I wouldn't do that," the woman explained looking like she had been struck. I was still confused and it must have shown because she continued. "See trace, Shannon had spent weeks with me and while I'll be the first to admit it wasn't when I was at my best I still thought she knew that I had changed. When I saw that picture I couldn't believe that she kept something like that from me especially after..." She stopped, tears filling her eyes.

I had a sudden urge to comfort her but well... not my wife. Instead I reached out taking her hand in my own. "After what?"

"Did Shannon tell you why she spent that time with me?" Macy asked wiping the tears from her eyes.

"You were sick," I told her, which is what I'd been told.

"Ovarian cancer," she whispered. Pain still evident in her voice.

"Oh," well what the hell would you say? Geezz.

"Yeah, so I can't have children of my own. Finding out Shannon had JT hurt, not because I wanted her for myself but it would have been nice to be around to spoil her."

I settled down at the table and spent 2 hours talking to my sister-in-law. I asked about their childhood and why she acted the way she had. To which I got a story not unlike Shannon's really. Macy, being the oldest, felt it was her job to please Daddy after their Mother had died. She admitted to me that she idolized the man when they were young. She wanted to be just like him. However, the General had always let her know that she would never be good enough. He took the fact that both of his children were girls as a personal affront.

When Shannon had suffered because their Father found out about her sexual preferences Macy, who also felt the same yearnings, shut herself off. She freely admitted as well that somewhere along the way she lost sight of herself. She was the dutiful daughter and on the career fast track, Daddy still wasn't happy. Even after he died she kept up the front, striving for some self-imposed perfection that she would never reach. I asked her when that changed and she told me.

"8 weeks of chemo and radiation; spending days over the toilet expecting at any moment to see a lung come up. Losing weight and hair, watching people who claimed to be friends walk out of your life. The only person who stood by me through the whole horrible thing was my baby sister. I had turned on her, abused her by ignoring her pain, I abandon her to a man that wasn't worth the spit it took to say his name but she was there. You want to know what finally made me WANT to change... Shannon," Macy finished leaving no doubt about her devotion to the sister she had hurt so long ago. And I believed her, I knew Shannon's power to change the world, it didn't surprise me in the least.


The following morning found me at that same table watching Syd make breakfast when Rudy came through the door in the same clothes she wore the day before.

Syd turned and smirked. "Hot date?" she asked as Rudy slid into a chair.

"Yeah with twin boys at about 4 this morning," Rudy yawned.

"Tell me the truth Rudy, you only became a baby doc so you could have a legitimate reason to be between a woman's legs huh?" I teased.

"Oh yeah right, that always the best time to see a woman spread out before you," she chuckled. "It's a true test of my lesbianism at times."

I had to agree, after seeing the puppy born I didn't know how Rudy could go through that time and time again.

"What's for breakfast?" the dark headed doctor asked Syd as she got up and grabbed herself a cup of coffee.

"Whatever you can find to cook at the hole you call an apartment," Syd replied.

"There isn't any food there," Rudy said, sighing over her coffee. "Besides, you have to know how to cook and I went to the Trace school of cooking."

That's right, Rudy and I share a trait, neither of us can boil water. Kind of scary when you think that she can deliver a breach child and perform surgery yet she's blown up two microwaves in the last 4 months.

"Well you're not going to just sit there and watch then, get up here and help me," Syd demanded.

I just chuckled thinking I was the privileged one. I was wrong.

"Trace! You too! Get me some flour out of the pantry," the mean woman ordered. Damn! When did I lose control in my own house? Shut up! I like to pretend I had it at one time.

I wandered into the pantry still grumbling about the entire situation, deciding it was all Rudy's fault. I heard the puppy cry from the other room and Syd tell Rudy to keep stirring. I just assumed she was off to fix whatever the problem was. I was about to step out of the pantry when I saw Macy enter the kitchen, wearing a T-shirt... only a T-shirt. It was one of those long sleep shirt ones but it still left a lot of leg.

"Well, well seems the brute is domesticated," Macy laughed her voice dripping with sarcasm.

I saw Rudy flinch when she heard the woman's voice. Now Rudy is never one to just let things go, she likes having the upper hand in all situations so I figured she was going to let loose with her usual brand of paybacks. When she turned I saw her dark eyes open wide in surprise as she took in Macy's attire and she promptly... dropped the bowl of eggs she was stirring. It shattered on the floor but the big dumb doctor just stood there staring at the smaller woman.

"Way to go grace," Macy chuckled.

Rudy pulled herself from her stupor and finally noticed what happened and then did something I've never seen her do... she blushed. "Oh sorry," she whispered.

Oh my God, pod people had taken Rudy and left us with a subdued, stammering, klutz. The transformation was just short of amazing. I knew that look she had on her face. I'd seen it on Dawg when she first saw Syd and I had seen it in the mirror many times since.

Rudy dropped to the floor trying to clean up the mess which unfortunately put Macy's shapely legs right in her, face and the blush deepened.

Now Macy might have been oblivious I don't know but for some reason she took pity on the stumbling doctor and bent to help her with the clean up. This of course only fueled an already burning fire for poor Rudy. Macys' t-shirt had a rather loose V-neck and when she bent it gave Rudy a clear shot of her breasts. I saw the dark haired woman bite down on her lip... hard.

It was then that Syd came back into the room with the puppy on her hip. "What the hell?" she exclaimed.

Macy stood; much to Rudy's relief I'm sure and excused herself to go dress. Rudy watched from her crouch on the floor as the woman walked out of the kitchen, not missing a single twitch of Macy's hips.

I finally left my little hiding spot and reentered the kitchen. Rudy stayed on the floor staring at the doorway and I felt it my responsibility to well... torture her mercilessly.

"Rudy you're drooling," I said reaching down to close her mouth, which was still hanging open. Then she looked up at me with those eyes, those big, damn brown, puppy dog eyes. Damn! Damn! Again just because. My torture was going to have to be set aside as I realized that the poor doctor had just been bowled over by a small blonde with a big attitude and a great ass. I knew exactly how she felt.

Chapter 9

Here's a little known fact; the 7th month of pregnancy is when you can officially have your wife declared insane. I'm sure other pregnant women have displayed this newfound insanity in various ways. My wife revealed hers by insisting that we buy a new grill. That's not the insane part, she wanted Dawg and I to "learn" to use it. I had neither the inclination nor the guts to go near one of those gas pumping, flesh burning, eyebrow stealing pieces of iron again. However, I also didn't have a death wish, which is what would have happened if I had told Shannon ... no.

So there we were in the yard with the new grill and I was thinking it might not be too late to declare my vegetarian conversion. Oh Shannon isn't stupid; she was running the grill. Dawg and I were on either side... watching. Shannon kept slapping me with a spatula for not paying attention to her running commentary about the joys of grill cooking. Frankly, I just didn't care that much. I can only take so much droning about a subject I have no interest in anyway and this was just too much like cooking so my attention wandered.

On the large wrap around porch of our home was Syd. She was sitting in the rocker holding the puppy as JT sat at her feet playing with the new puzzle that Aunt Macy had gotten her. Ive got to say our oldest is going to be a great big sister, Lord knows the kids' had enough practice with the puppy being around. Every time she picked up another piece of the puzzle the puppy reached for it doing that baby grunt thing that I've learned is actually a command. JT without even thinking just handed her each piece for inspection and then carefully pried it out of a slimy little fist before it made it into the drooling, still toothless cavern we call her mouth. The kid has patience I'll give her that.

Macy sat on the steps watching her niece with a definite pride. I was happy to see her starting to fit into our little group; Shannon needed her family around. Macy looked at peace sitting there watching the kids, well she did until the big, black Suburban pulled into the drive signifying Rudy's arrival. I could have sworn I saw her roll her eyes when the long, lean doctor jumped out of the jacked up SUV.

Rudy didn't look half bad today, she'd actually managed to go home and change her clothes after her early shift and her long dark hair still wet from her shower hung down her back. The brilliant white shirt she wore accentuated her naturally golden skin. Which left nothing to the imagination as far as her other assets went. The whole look was topped of by a pair of Ray Bans. She was dressed to impressed and seeing Macy's reaction... I really couldn't tell if it had worked or not. Looked like Rudy had her work cut out for her with that one.

I love Sunday afternoons with my family especially when Shannon gives up and lets me play with my friends. Oh don't look that way she gets me back for it later, trust me. Now after the food had been cooked and eaten and we had the usual water fight during the clean up, we were all settled on the porch.

Shannon had taken a cushion from one of the chaise and lay down next to me with her head on my lap. This was just a ploy to get me to rub her back, I knew that and ... I obliged. Dawg was spread out in the other chaise, sound asleep, complete with drool. I think that's where the puppy gets it. The puppy in question had her little head resting against her Mother's chest as Syd rocked the sleepy child and JT surprisingly had her head on Macy's thigh, much to her Aunt's delight. Although I think it shocked her when my kid pulled up her shirt and asked her Aunt o tickle her back. She does that when she's tired, don't look at me I didn't started... no matter

Shannon says. Rudy, for her part, just leaned against the rail trying hard to look cool. All in all it was a very peaceful scene.

Until the phone rang. Syd stood and transferred the puppy to Rudy who took her place in the rocker. Now Rudy might be an abysmal failure with women but kids loved her. I think they saw through that rough, brash exterior and saw the giant, insecure child within. I know, pretty damned insightful of me huh? The puppy raised her head at the hand off but seeing who had her she just smiled that goofy baby grin and snuggled into the doctor's arms. I watched the scene thinking that our new little one was going to be in very good hands when it was time. And if you tell her I said that I'll hurt you. We can't have Rudy thinking I might like her. That would just never do.

I wasn't the only one taking in the scene with interest. Macy had noticed the hand off as well and now sat there contemplating the obvious contradiction of what she knew of the doctor and what she was seeing here. I saw her green eyes soften as Rudy cooed at the sleepy child and smile when the baby snuggled deeper into the safe embrace.

"You're good with her," I heard Macy say quietly. She almost seemed surprised.

Rudy just shrugged and started stroking the puppy's fine hair. Her tough girl image cracked a bit more. "I like kids," she finally responded. "Of course I better since I'm with them all the time."

"Please don't tell me you're a teacher or something because I don't think I can handle the thought of you teaching the next generation," Macy quipped.

Rudy looked a bit hurt but she covered it quickly. "No, I just bring them into the world. I leave the rest to people who have the compassion to love, even when it gets tough," she shot back, staring right at Macy.

Ouch! I didn't know how much Rudy knew about Shannon and Macy's past but that barb was meant to hurt and she scored a direct hit.

Macy flinched at the doctors' words "Sorry, I didn't mean it like that," she apologized softly. "What do you mean you "bring them into the world"?" she asked looking totally bewildered. Didn't we tell her who Rudy was? Guess not.

"Rudy's a baby doc," I explained from my position on the porch. "As a matter of fact she's going to be delivering your new niece," I added suddenly and inexplicably feeling the need to defend Rudy. I know, freaked me out too.

"You're DOCTOR Rudy?" Macy questioned.

Rudy gave her the patented Todd smart-ass grin; the same one Dawg uses when she's right and the rest of the world can go to hell. "That's right," she drawled wiggling her dark brows comically. "Got me a diploma and everything."

Macy for her part just looked a bit stunned. I don't think her image of Rudy included her to be an educated woman with the ability to bring life into the world. "Wow."

With the situation somewhat diffused I sat back and again observed. Dawg was now snoring as was my wife and oldest child. The puppy was drooling on Rudy's shirt, who didn't seem to notice or care. And there was a sudden change in Macy's demeanor. She relaxed a bit and really started to talk to the good doctor. In words with meaning rather than the sharp barbs and hurtful comments. As a matter of fact the two spent the rest of the afternoon in conversation.

When Dawg woke she tried to join the conversation but was ignored which she wasn't used to so she looked to me; all I could do was shrug. This continued into the evening even after dusk had given way to full on night and Rudy had been relieved of the puppy. They sat on the porch side by side still deep in conversation even when Shannon grabbed my hand and led me upstairs, not before she flipped on the porch light. When I was getting ready for bed about an hour later I peeked out the window and saw that Rudy's truck was still in the drive. Guess that attraction Rudy felt wasn't just one sided.


If I felt like the doctor lived with us before I was wrong. Rudy started showing up for breakfast and dinner ... everyday. And sometimes lunch when she had the time. It wouldn't have been bad but the poor woman was making no progress with Shannon's sister, at least to me it didn't look like it. They hadn't even progressed to the hand holding stage yet. So much for Rudy's big reputation. I think she had finally met her match.

Our wives had demanded the night before that they be left to sleep in, not that it was a big deal but they also wanted Dawg and I to watch the children, which meant... feed them. It would also happen that Rudy would be stopping by for breakfast so we figured between the three of us we could manage to feed two small children. Ok so I was wrong. The sum of our cooking skills was making coffee and toast, and the later was iffy.

It was Rudy's brilliant idea to make oatmeal. Lucky for us it came in little packets with directions and everything, including that it could be done in a microwave which worked for me. So we agreed. Oatmeal should never be cooked 10 packets at a time. You need to use a bowl that left enough room for it to expand and you should never and I do mean ever put it in there for 20 minutes. It was a messy lesson but one well learned.

So we finally got the oatmeal cleaned off the front of the microwave, the inside didn't look good either but you can close the door so no one would ever know that. We all had our rubbery little oats and sat to eat. Now the puppy has taken to trying to feed herself lately which is her way of asserting her independence I guess... so we let her. When breakfast was over there were oats on the table, floor, ceiling, overhead light, refrigerator and believe it or not smeared across the bathroom mirror. I think that was what first tipped off the girls that some major disaster had struck the kitchen.

In any case, when they came in, the proverbial shit hit the fan. By the end of the whole breakfast tirade Dawg, Rudy and myself were grounded from the house for the rest of the day.


 

So as we stood in the yard staring back at the house we were just banished from it struck us all that we really had... no place to go.

"Why did I get kicked out of the house?" Rudy whined. "They aren't even my kids."

"Guilt by association," I told her.

"So now what are we going to do?" Dawg questioned. It was a good question. What would three grown women do for an entire day as they were banished from their home and left to fend for themselves in the world? The answer was simple really...

"Road trip!"

Chapter 10

The details get a bit sketchy here and I'm afraid they may be lost forever but I'll do my best. Now we drove around for a while, stopping at Rudy's so she could change out of her formal doctor clothes as Dawg called them and that's where we drank the first beer... it was 11 AM.

Now when you have three women stuffed into the cab of a pickup truck, especially women the size we are you can only ride around for so long. We lasted in the cramped space until about 5 PM and that was after a trip to the diner for lunch and ... another 6 pack. About 10 miles out of town there's this little wooden shack with an old neon sign hanging on a post by the road, it read "The Dew Drop Inn".

Yes! Of course we stopped. Dawg and I had been in many bars like this all over the world, small, dingy back woods bars in the middle of nowhere. This one was no different right down to the John Deer tractor in the gravel parking lot. All in all, your basic rednecks place.

It would be just our luck or maybe not, that on this particular night the little drinking establishment touted a karaoke contest. Yeah I know, Yeehaaa! But hell after 3 pitchers of almost cold beer and a shot or two of whiskey we just knew we could sing better than most of these cowboy wannabes. And don't look at me that way; I'll give you even odds that you've felt the same way at one time or another.

I can't say that I'm a good vocalist but then again I've never been booed off a stage before. Not that I've been on any recently but Shannon likes it when I sing occasionally. So we joined the little contest. I have to say here in my defense, that I should never have drunk that third shot of whiskey. We took the stage when our turn came up and this was well... Not sure really but it was dark outside and the music had gotten louder so it had to be around 10 PM.

We had chosen our song not because we were being jerks or even insensitive but rather because it was the only one all of us knew the words to. Had I known how things would turn out I would have done a solo. Now Dawg and Rudy make a pretty good back up and we were going along all right but for some reason the locals seemed to take offence at our choice of music... you see we had chosen... "The Asshole Song" by David Allen Coe.

I agree that it probably hadn't helped that Rudy had not so politely turned away about 4 men, telling them they were the reason she dated their wives. I will also say that Dawg's domination of the pool table and humiliation of another 3 men didn't help either. I will not say that I was innocent in all of this; some biker took offence because his woman was trying to feel up my ass and I told her if she wanted a woman that bad she should look into having that sex change finished. I believe that all of these things probably aided in what happened.

We had finished singing and we hadn't done a bad job either, but the room was deadly silent.

"That cant be a good sign," Dawg slurred. I agreed and it was then that I tried, I swear I did, I tried to get the other two out of the bar as fast as I could. Not fast enough as it turns out.

After a quick stop at the table so Rudy could finish her beer, and yes I blame her for this whole thing, we had gotten to the door when a chair came flying by my head and crashed into the wall. And the games began!

The last I saw of Dawg before I took a ride over the bar, she had the biker up against the wall doing some major redecorating on his face while his half female bitch jumped up and down on her back. I lost Rudy right from the start when one guy grabbed her arm and she gave him a spinning kick sending him flying into his buddies.

I cant say how long the meelay lasted, all I know is that eventually I crawled through the blood and broken glass to the door and finally made it to the parking lot. It didn't take Dawg and Rudy long after that to stumble out either. Actually they came out running, well, they thought they were running in any case. We knew it was time to cut our losses here so we piled into the truck and headed home, provided we still had a home.

I wont say that driving drunk is a good thing for any reason and I feel shame for doing it that night but ... I was the only one who could figure out how the pedals worked. It was a slow paranoid ride home for me; I kept it to what I thought was a reasonable speed. Which was probably about 10 mph. And just to be on the safe side I drove with the door open, don't laugh in my mind it was the best way to make sure I stayed between the lines.

When we pulled into the driveway at home I was never so relieved in my life. Mostly because I had to piss like a racehorse. We all piled out of the truck with me trying to shush the drunken fools, ever notice how loud drunk people are? I didn't want them to wake my wife. Ha!

I started for the porch when I noticed we were one person short of our trio and dragged Dawg back to find Rudy, who was crawling in the dirt saying she couldn't feel her feet. When I finally got them both moving in the same direction the sight that met me in the glow of the porch light made me think we should go back and look for Rudy's missing appendages.

My wife stood there wearing a long cotton gown back lit by the porch light, hands on her hips and fire shooting from her nose. Okay so not really but you get the point. Beside her was Syd and she really did have the whole fire thing happening and filling out the trio was Macy in the back just shaking her head.

We must have been a pretty sight with our ripped up, blood stained clothes. Both Rudy and Dawg sporting split lips and I had a nice shiner starting. Not to mention my jaw hurt like hell. But I tried to straighten myself out and without missing a beat flashed Shannon my best charming grin "Honey, I'm home," I slurred.

She was not amused. I think she flew down the steps because I never saw her take a step and before I knew it she had a hold of my ear yanking my up to the porch.

"Syd, you take yours and Macy you take the left-overs," she commanded ... and they did.

Syd latched onto Dawg and all I heard was a painful yelp from my large friend. Macy sighed as she passed me to gather Rudy, who was still crawling. I heard the doctor as I was pulled into the house still held by my ear.

"You are soo beau... beau... pretty."


The morning after found Dawg in back in our own kitchen, without wives or children. They left early that morning saying under no circumstances were we to leave the house. I hadn't planned to anyway so no big loss there. I hate hangovers; the older I get the worse they get. It just doesn't seem fair. So I sat at the table with my head hung over a cup of steaming coffee, quite sure my eyes were going to bleed from my head and I looked to Dawg. She looked worse.

Finding it to difficult to speak we just sat in silence wishing that it would all end either in relief or death, I don't think it mattered.

The kitchen door swung open but... no one entered. At least I didn't think anyone did until I looked at the floor where I saw Rudy crawling on hands and knees to the chair. I glanced up at Dawg and she grinned, it was a silent agreement to put aside our own pain and... exploit Rudy's.

"Hey there sunshine!" Dawg said smiling brightly. Oh god that must hurt, I admired her control.

Rudy just glared and grunted.

I got up and fetched the miserable doctor a cup of coffee; placing it in front of her I patted her head... hard. "What's the matter?" I questioned innocently. In reality I was doing all I could not to heave my cookies on the table.

"You two aren't human," she grumbled.

It was then that Macy walked in on the scene; she stopped taking stock of the three of us. I wondered briefly what she had done with the good doctor the night before as far as where she bedded her down.

"Well if it isn't the prisoners," she laughed. "I'm your warden today and the girls left a list of things they want you to do. Starting with the stalls," the blonde said a bit to cheerfully. Rudy just looked up and smirked. It didn't last long...

"Oh don't think you're getting out of things Doc," Macy continued running her fingers through Rudy's hair. She grabbed a hand full and pulled Rudy's dark head back, "you're helping them," she said kissing the woman on the cheek.

I didn't get any kisses this morning, Damn! Hell I'd be lucky to get a kiss in the next 6 months. Yes I'm pouting, shut up!

I think it was then that it hit Rudy. Cleaning stalls in the barn, in the heat, with no ventilation I heard her groan and she looked a little green. Actually I wasn't feeling so good myself.

Rudy just rolled out of the chair and stumbled out the door saying something about needing the bathroom.

"Is she gone?" I asked Dawg, she nodded, and I dropped my head to the table as Dawg just fell from her chair and collapsed on the floor.

Macy stepped over us both as she left the room. "Better get to work," she said laughing all the way out the door.

Chapter 11

It was just as horrible as I had imagined cleaning out those stalls. Between the smell and the heat it was a really good thing I hadn't eaten any breakfast. On a good note, by the time the girls got back I had sweated all the alcohol from my system and was feeling a damn sight better than I had.

Dinner was a quiet affair both Dawg and I were still in well... the doghouse so to speak. I just kept my head down thinking it best to try to fly under the radar for now. Unfortunately my wife and I share a room. I know... duh. It was there that I expected Shannon to unleash on me but she again surprised me.

"Don't go off like that again and not call me ok?" my small wife said once we were tucked into our bed.

"Okay," I agreed and that was that.

She reached for me and I went willingly into her arms, holding her tightly under the covers. I kissed her blonde head and she hugged me tighter.

"Trace?"

"Yes?" I knew that had gone to smoothly, damn!

"We really need to come up with a name for this baby," she sighed.

Huh? Okay maybe I missed a turn here. You know women talk in left turns. One minute you're cruising along and all of a sudden they are two states away on an entirely different road. "Name?"

"Yes, you know, they give them to children so they don't go though life as hey you," she laughed the little smart-ass.

I started to reach for my book when she stopped me. "I actually have an idea about that, I just want to know how you feel about it," Shannon told me. She had risen up on one elbow staring down at me biting her lip as she does when she's nervous. It made me wonder if we were about to name our child Iccabod or something. Frankly I didn't think Iccabod Crane O'Dell had a very good ring to it.

When she told me her idea it confirmed for me that my wife is as brilliant as I give her credit for being. I loved the name and I loved her for thinking of it. And no I'm not telling.


A few days after our drunken night Shannon approached me about a payback of sorts. Seems our ladies wanted their own night out, with us, much to my surprise. Shannon reasoned that it might be the last chance we get for some time and since she was right, again, I agreed. So after having convinced Maggie to watch over our little darlings we all piled into Rudy's suburban and headed to the nearest... lesbian bar. Which by the way was an hour out of town.

"I don't see why I have to drive," Rudy whined. She was just pissed because Dawg was in the front instead of Macy don't feel sorry for her.

"Because you have the biggest vehicle," Dawg shot back.

"Well you could go buy one. Trace is going to need a bigger one anyway for that brood she's breeding," Rudy commented. She was right; my truck just wasn't going to accommodate two car seats and still leave room for a driver. It was something Shannon and I had planned on remedying over the weekend.

Dawg just smacked her cousin in the back of the head and the matter was settled. The rest of the ride was peaceful, well... except having to stop three times so Shannon could go to the bathroom. Bladder... walnut... baby... you get it.

I was a bit reluctant about going back out to any bar with my "friends" after our last little outing but with the girls along I didn't figure there would be too much trouble. As it turned out we had a good time. No one drank much and I didn't touch a drop. Shannon couldn't because of the baby so I joined her in abstaining.

You ever have one of those nights you know you will never forget? The music is perfect, the conversation is good and your lady looks like an angel. This was that night for me.

Shannon may have been 7 months pregnant but it didn't detract from her beauty, it added to it in my eyes. Her blonde hair glowed like a halo. Her green eyes glittered with her good humor and held the adoration she felt for me. I know, I'm a lucky bitch. I held my girl and danced with her all night. We laughed and sang to each other, we cuddled and made plans for the future. It was definitely going to be one of my best memories.

The evening ended much better than it had started. When we all climbed back into Rudy's SUV the tensions were gone, the laughter continued and Rudy, wasn't whining. Mainly because she got to sit in back with Macy while Dawg drove. I had my arms wrapped around my wife as we listen to soft jazz on the radio and watched the light rain that had begun to fall. I was at peace, fulfilled and happy and looking forward to my tomorrows.

And then I saw the headlights coming at us over the yellow line...

Chapter 12

I heard Syd scream and felt the truck turn as Dawg yanked the wheel trying in vane to avoid the collision, I felt the impact on the drivers side and heard the sounds of crunching metal and breaking glass. The rest is cloudy.

I must have hit my head but on what I don't know, I came to finding myself on the grass in the median. It took a second to understand what had happened and then one thought echoed in my mind... Shannon!

I jumped up and felt suddenly dizzy but I took a gasping breath then went in search of my wife. The scene was a mess. A big blue pickup full of teenagers had run the light and crossed the line, I think Dawg's first thoughts were to make sure the truck didn't hit on Syd's side so when she turned that wheel it brought the drivers side around and she took the full impact. Unfortunately it was also the side my wife had been closest to. It must have been Rudy that pulled me from the SUV because I could see her in the dark, through the rain as she helped Syd to the ground. Macy was standing to the side pale and obviously in shock. I could hear Syd calling for Dawg and it was then that I looked at the Suburban.

It was nothing but mangled sheet metal from the front quarter panel to the back of the passenger door and both Dawg and Shannon were still inside. I headed for the wreckage determined to get my wife out of there when a strong hand stopped me.

"You can't get her out Trace," Rudy shouted.

"I can't just stand here," I shouted back. Was the woman stupid? That was my wife and child in that mess.

"She needs a back board and neck brace. I don't want to move her until EMS gets here," the doctor tried to explain.

I didn't really care what she wanted I needed to get to Shannon so I grabbed her shoulders and started to move her myself. Two strong arms came around my waist and I jerk around ready to lay into whoever it was but I found Syd, holding me against her. She had tears in her eyes and I realized that she felt the same as I did... useless.

"Let Rudy make the calls here Trace," she pleaded. Sometimes logic and reason are the best way to go even though it doesn't seem to be the fastest route.

I held onto Syd as we stood there along side of the accident in the rain, watching as the EMS and Fire Dept. used the Jaws of Life to cut the doors off the Suburban. It seemed to me to take forever; each second that ticked by lasted an eternity. Finally they had gotten Dawg free from the wreck and loaded her still form onto a stretcher. Syd went to her side, sobbing as the put my friend in the ambulance.

"Go with her Syd," I heard Rudy say. "I'll meet you at the hospital."

It took another 15 minutes to get Shannon out of the twisted carnage. I couldn't get close to her for all of the EMS workers and Rudy getting her stabilized. After they had her loaded and ready to transport Rudy ran up to me...

"You better ride with us," she said taking my hand, as I moved toward the ambulance. "Trace, its not good," she sighed and then I saw the tears in the doctors eyes. I got the meaning; it might be my last chance with my wife. I climbed into the back numb from the shock.

I held it together pretty well until I saw my beautiful wife lying there on that stretcher. She was covered in blood, her clothing had been cut away, she had tubes running into her. I gently took her hand and even though she was unconscious I talked to her all the way to the hospital.

We pulled up to the ambulance bay of ER and 4 people rushed out to help and I was again pushed aside. It wasn't until I heard Shannon cry out for me that I even moved from the spot. I raced to her side listening to Rudy say we had to make it quick.

I knelt beside her and kissed her hand, "Its going to be okay baby," I assured her.

She looked to me with those bright green eyes filled with tears. "Promise me," she whispered.

"It's going to be alright, you'll see," I repeated.

"No, promise me Trace," she said again in a stronger more demanding tone.

I didn't want to make this promise, I never wanted to make it, not now not ever and certainly not without her. But she pleaded to me and I couldn't refuse. "I promise baby, I'll never leave them alone and I will always be there for them for the rest of my life," even now her thoughts were for her children.

I watched as they took her away, rolling her down the long antiseptic hallway toward the trauma rooms. It was another hour before I saw Rudy again. In the mean time I had paced every inch of the ER threatened several nurses and scared a few orderlies.

Rudy came out of the trauma room covered in blood and I felt sick at the sight.

"Dawg is up in surgery but it looks like she's going to be alright. She needs a lot of work done to her knee and she has a broken collar bone but it could have been worse," she told Syd and I as she ran a shaky hand through her hair.

I opened my mouth to ask about my wife, almost afraid to know. She turned to me and gave me a trembling smile. "It's a girl Trace. She's small but healthy, considering. They took her to neo-natal," she explained. "Shannon has to go up to surgery, she's lost a lot of blood and we need to get in there and see what the damage is," she squeezed my hand for reassurance. "I'm going to be right there with her, I promise."

I nodded knowing that if I couldn't watch over my brave little wife that Rudy certainly would.


That was three hours ago and I still hadn't gotten any news. I was sitting in the nursery holding my newborn daughter marveling at the miracle. She was so tiny having made her entrance into the world at a whopping 5 pounds. The nurses tell me that if she had been full term the kid would have come out walking. I was amazed by the tiny infant in my arms, her perfect little hands and cute little nose and... red hair. Yeah I don't know where that came from either.

They, meaning the nurses, gave me a bottle put me in a gown and sat me in a rocking chair to feed the infant. They all seem to think her eyes will be blue, like mine. I would have preferred green. They had come to me with the forms we needed to fill out to name the child and I just stared at them. This wasn't the plan. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. Shannon should have been filling these out, I was supposed to bragging and handing out cigars.

"What are you going to name her?" the nurse asked softly.

I thought for a minute about the conversation Shannon and I had just a few nights before and I smiled. "Cameron ... Cameron Sydney O'Dell," I told her. That's the name Shannon had picked out.

The woman grinned and filled in the name making it all official and I went back to rocking my lifeline, my little piece of Shannon. I sat that way for what seemed an eternity before I saw Rudy come through the double doors at the end of the hall outside the nursery. She looked exhausted, her face was drawn tight and her eyes were red.

She came first to Macy who had been looking in on me and her new niece from time to time and I watched them in the hall under the harsh lights. I knew when I saw Macy crumple to the floor; tears filled my eyes and splashed down onto the soft red hair of my new daughter... I just knew.

Epilogue...

13 months later...

"Trace God damn it! It's been long enough. You need to get out and join the world," Dawg yelled as she drug me from the house and tossed my ass into the back of the car.

"I need to stay home and take care of my family," I shouted back still struggling in vane.

"Shut up! You're going," she huffed as she slammed the door trapping me in the car. Its sad that a woman who still walks with a limp can basically pick me up and put me where SHE wants me. I hate that.

"Fine! I'll go but I don't have to like it," I pouted.

"Whatever."

I really didn't want to go. I hadn't gone anywhere but to the store and home since... that night. It was there I felt the safest and that's where I wanted to be. I didn't think my so-called friends had any right to yank me from my own little haven.

We drove for about 30 minutes and then... stopped. I had to groan, the sign by the road said "The Dew Drop Inn", Oh God not again. And much to my dismay it was, karaoke night. I grumbled all the way through the front door and glared at the bartender when I ordered a shot.

Syd tossed one of those damn songbooks in front of me and I just eyed her evilly. She laughed... the sadistic bitch. All in all I was miserable; okay it wasn't that bad but I wasn't going to tell them that. After listening to several people mangle some, what used to be, good songs and of course about a pitcher of beer opened the book.

I surreptitiously glanced at my "friends" before writing down my selection thinking if I changed a word it would express things perfectly. I got up quietly and handed it to the guy running the show. Then sat back down to drink yet another shot of liquid courage. When my name was called I took the stage and began...

The only ground I ever owned was sticking to my shoes

Now I look out my front porch at this panoramic view,

I can sit and watch the fields fill up with rays of golden sun

Or watch the moon lay on the fences like that's where it was hung,

My blessings aren't in front of me; it's not about the land

I'll never beat the view from my front porch looking in.

There's a carrot top that can barely walk with a sippy cup of milk,

A little green-eyed blonde with shoes on wrong cuz she likes to dress herself

And the most beautiful girl holdin both of them

Yeah the view I love the most... is my front porch looking in.

I sang the words while looking directly at the face of the most wonderful woman in the world, my wife. Shannon smiled back and then laughed all of her love and devotion shining in her eyes. That really is the most beautiful view in my world... Gotcha didn't I!

The End

May, 2003

Return to the Academy

Additional Disclaimer: The song "From My Front Porch" is by Lonestar and I've used it without permission. Sueing me would prove to be useless as I have absolutely nothing of any value.