Disclaimers : See Part 1

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Part 4 of Loose Change Series - The Addy and Karen series.
(01) Turning on a Dime
(02) New Quarters
(03) One Little Bit
(04) Joint Venture

 

Joint Venture

By

K-Morgan

kmorgan.5674@yahoo.com

(Feedback is appreciated)


Part 13

Addy's campaign meetings were very animated. She had a lot of the younger crowd on her side. They too wanted to see Altee at 21 st century standards.

The younger crowd was always ready go door to door with flyers and to give people information on Addy's platform. The platform was simple. She wanted to bring better transportation to town and start new services. This included a plan to start a bus line to the city, a ride share system, road improvements including the purchase of proper equipment for inclement weather, regulate sheep crossing (for obvious personal past reasons) by placing guard rails in certain areas of several roads.

However, her most important issue was to bring better medical services to town. Dr. Naylor's small clinic was the only medical facility in town, and he was already seventy nine years old. If anyone had a serious injury or medical condition, they had to go to Edinburgh for treatment. There were no specialists or even an optometry shop where a pair of eye glasses could be ordered, or repaired. The growing area population required better medical services, and she wanted a regional hospital in the vicinity.

In addition to the younger crowd, Alex and JP were on the campaign committee. Karen joined them, as her work permitted. On one particular night, as the elections got closer, they were taking about how to win more votes.

"I think we should give out samples of Scotch at the door."  JP proposed.

"Uncle JP, you can't do that!"

"Why not?"

Karen spoke.  "Because it's illegal and inappropriate."

You can't buy peoples' votes, Uncle JP, and you shouldn't have alcohol in voting areas." Alex added.

Karen gave him a killer look.

"We'll, it was just an idea."  JP returned the look with a narrowed-eye ‘I-hate-you' look. Addy saw them and immediately called them aside.

“I need to talk to JP and Karen in private, can we step outside for a minute?” They were in the Manor's house rec room which was the area of the house formerly occupied by the Inn 's restaurant. The rec room was a huge salon, with multiple sitting areas.

“It better be for just one minute because I'm not wearing my coat and it's already cold outside.”

“Suck it up, JP. A little fresh air may be good for your brain.” Karen had no mercy when it came to JP. With the years, Karen's patience with him had diminished and it was Addy who was always acting as referee, and mediating matters.

“Alright, the two of you better have a one-on-one out here and end this childish quarrel or you are not going back in there. I don't know if you have noticed, but some of our campaign workers are young kids and they need to see a good example. Not two bickering adults. And certainly not one suggesting we give free booze to voters! Are you out of your mind, JP? Booze for votes? And handed out by underage kids? Stop this, okay? It's not funny.” Having said that, she walked back inside.

“She's right, JP. We need to be serious about this. Winning is important. She wants the medical services for the town and I think we should help her. We are not getting any younger and we need doctors in town.”

“I guess she's right. I will be a good camper. I will try, at least. Some of us cannot help to have extraordinary ideas that other people may find too common, or absurd. She's something when she gets all mad. Isn't she? I guess I'm going to have to give you some credit for taking her on. She's a ball of fire, so demanding. Is she like that in —.”

“Stop talking before you put your foot in your mouth and maybe mine too from the kick I will give you!”

“Okay, Okay! There's no fun around here anymore!” They went back inside.

"I suppose free pony-rides for voters' children are out of the question as well?"

"Yes, JP, we can't do that either."  Addy added.

Everyone was laughing at JP's new idea.  "So what can we do?" A desperate JP asked.

"This is going to have to be done the old fashion way. I'm just going to go out there and talk to everyone."

"Social media! That's the new thing."  JP added. “I'll be tweeting everyone, that's what I will do!” Everyone was laughing again.

"We can do that." Karen commented. "You can tweet all you want to, except I don't

Know how many voting age people around here would even know what tweeting is about, or if they even have cell phones."

JP was really bummed out. "I guess we do need to improve things in this town! Maybe even start a social media class at the library.”

Karen didn't even bother to reply. In fact, she avoided looking at him and looked at Addy and smiled in a very strange way which Addy totally understood as an ‘I could kill him but I won't, at least not now' look. Addy chuckled.

“So, my dearest, Adriana, how can I be of service to you, since nothing I say today appears to be acceptable?" JP announced.

Everyone thought JP was a joke and continued to laugh every time he opened his mouth. He really was. JP was dramatic and flamboyant even a ‘good morning' from him took an air of eccentricity. He also dressed flashy. In a subdued town like Altee, JP was like a billboard sign in Vegas. Today he was wearing neon green corduroy pants, a yellow sweater and a red scarf to protect what he called ‘his delicate throat' from the ‘harsh winds of the north'.

At least today, he was not wearing gloves, which he often wore to protect his hands from the ‘elements'. When Alex was five, she asked Addy what were those ‘elements' that Uncle JP was always talking about. Alex thought that he needed protection from someone. Addy laughed and explained to her that he meant the weather.

“Why can't he just say ‘weather' like everybody else?”

“Honey, because he is Uncle JP! And if he doesn't give things his spin, it wouldn't be him!”

“He is weird!” Alex proclaimed, and Addy laughed.

Today, it was Alex who came to his rescue. She adored him. To her JP was like another child. "You can help me assemble, the buttons to pin on people?"

He rolled his eyes. "Oh, alright!  I don't want some people saying that I was not cooperative." He looked at Karen. “Besides, Alex, you are my favorite family member.” He looked at Addy. “Sorry, Addy. Out with the old, in with the new!” He waved his hand in the air. Alex looked at Addy smiling and Addy rolled her eyes, and then she spoke to the group.

“By the way, for those of you who were not present at the first Town Hall meeting but might have heard what happened with Mr. Glass, I would like to make my position clear. We are not going to be confrontational regarding personal issues. We are going to remain focused on the issues of the campaign. If some of our citizens have a problem with my personal life, that is their problem. We are not going to make it ours.” She looked at JP and Alex when she made her last statement.

Alex was thoughtful and quiet.

“You okay, Alex?” Addy asked her later when she approached her.

“Uhuh.”

Somehow the answer was not too convincing.

**

Election Day in Altee was pretty simple. The polls were open at seven am. The only polling place was the Town Hall. The polls would remain open until seven pm unless all registered voters were accounted for earlier. If that was the case, the polls would close immediately after the last vote was cast, and the counting would begin.

It was manual voting and manual counting. There were two representatives from each of the candidates and Mrs. McKenzie and Mayor Hutton were the ones in charge of overseeing the entire process. Mr. Potter was the one who would pull out each ballot and read it out loud. He was selected for this task because of his proper diction and communication skills. His many years calling Bingo at the church had established him as an excellent communicator.

Once Mr. Potter pulled out the ballot, he would read it and pass it on to the representatives of the candidates who would then give it to Mayor Hutton for confirmation, and he in turn would give it to Mrs. McKenzie to record it.

When Addy learned how the process worked she was astonished. “Another thing we need to change. I cannot believe that in this day and age, we are still doing things like that! It's going to take forever. I'm sure it will not be accomplished in one night.”

She was right. The process was not completed until three days later. The matter was delayed for many reasons. Even the matter of whether the ballots, once extracted from the box, should be passed left or right was an issue that took some time to be resolved. It was decided that because Mr. Potter was right handed, the ballots should move towards the right. That decision required that the room be rearranged so that all the representatives could sit on the right and Mayor Hutton and Mrs. McKenzie at the very end.

Then the polls were not able to close until seven pm because Mrs. Ulla could not leave her house until six thirty because she was waiting for the delivery of her new glasses in the mail, She claimed that without her glasses she would not be able to read the ballot, and therefore could not exercise her right to vote. The polls closed at seven pm and the polling group worked until eleven pm. At that time, the group was exhausted and they stopped counting and broke for the night. The ballots and records were placed in the bank vault for security reasons.

The next day, when they went to pick up the ballots at the bank, they were told that the power was out and the vault could not be opened until the power came back on. It took all morning for the power to come back. They weren't able to start to count again, even after the power came back, because it coincided with their lunch hour, a time which was unquestioningly observed by all. At two pm they regrouped and continued counting.

Around four o'clock that afternoon, the constable arrived to check on how the process was going. As he opened the door, to enter the room, a wind gust blew the door open and pushed the other door panel open as well, and the wind blew into the room scattering all the ballots everywhere. There was an immediate commotion.

“Oh no!”

“Shut the bloody doors, you idiot!”

“Hurry!”

Mrs. Kempton, one of Ms. Simmons representatives, who was an elderly lady, was so startled by the gust of wind, the ballots flying everywhere, and the yelling, that she nearly passed out and required medical attention. It took Dr. Naylor forty minutes to walk the two blocks from his office to the Town Hall to come and check on her. She was diagnosed with a case of over excitement, and was declared to be fine to continue with her task. As Mrs. Kempton waited for medical attention, all others in the room rushed to pick up all the ballots. While they searched and picked up ballots, Mr. Thomas, who was Mr. Glass' representative, cursed and demanded a recount of all votes, or to declare the election void. He claimed that the situation was one susceptible to foul play.

Mayor Hutton called to order, and all the ballots were gathered. They agreed to stop for the day to rest and to resume activities the next day when everyone had calmed down. Even with all the protests and ranting from the candidates' representatives, on the third day, the count was completed.

“Mrs. McKenzie would you, please, read out the numbers?” Mayor Hutton requested.

“Certainly. Let's see. I have 120 votes for Mr. Glass. I have 145 for Ms. Simmons, and I have 435 votes for Ms. Marcos, for a grand total of 701 votes.” She had a weird look on her face.

“What do you mean 701 bloody votes? How could that be? We only have 700 registered voters!” Mr. Howell proclaimed. He was Mr. Glass' other representative.

“So what does that mean?” Mrs. Kempton, who was Ms. Simmons representative asked.

“That means that someone voted twice and the election is flawed!” Mr. Thomas proclaimed shouting out loud. “I demand a recount!”

“Now look Thomas, we've been here for the last three days counting votes. I am not about to spend another three just because we got one extra vote! No matter how you look at it, no recount is going to make up for the difference of either Simmons or Glass as compared to the over 250 votes that Marcos has on each one of them. I say we call it for Ms. Marcos, and leave it at that! So, I make a motion to declare Ms. Marcos the winner. Anyone here seconds the motion. James and Sarah both spoke up to second it, as they were Addy's representatives. The other representatives had to agree with the Mayor's point and they also second the motion.

“Mrs. McKenzie, would you please seal the election and call Ms. Marcos and let her know that she has won?”

“It will be my pleasure.” It was pretty obvious who had gotten Mrs. McKenzie's vote.

She called and communicated the news.

She hung up the phone and euphorically made the announcement to her party of two. “I won!”

“Yes!” Alex immediately jumped from her chair and ran to her mom to hug her. Together they twirled and jumped and screamed. Alex began to joke that the announcement should be made with a town crier like in the old days. “Behold, people of Altee, hear the name of your most beautiful and best Mayor ever: Ms. Adriana Marcos!”

Addy and Karen laughed. Alex was marching up and down the family room making all kinds of gestures and announcements pretending to be the town crier.

“It took three days to count 700 votes. It will take six months for everyone to know who the new Mayor is.” Karen joked.

Addy immediately exclaimed. “Oh no! I'll have James call the town paper immediately and make sure they have that piece of info. Things are going to change around here!” James was her campaign manager.

Karen laughed. “Good idea. I think this is the only place in the world where people have to call their newspaper to give them the news to print. Honeybunch, I'm afraid it might require a second term to bring Altee to 21 st century standards!”

Alex laughed.

**

There was no immediate campaign celebration. The campaigners had gone home frustrated after midnight on the day of the election when they got word that the count would not be finished that night. And then when they again gathered on the second day still waiting for the news, but none came again, they went home equally disappointed.

When the news finally came, there was no one to celebrate. Addy called all of them to thank them and invited them all to dinner at the Manor house to celebrate. The dinner was catered by Andre and Margo Russoo, the former chefs at the Inn of Scotland, who now had their own restaurant in Edinburgh . It was a fun and rewarding night for all. And much to JP's dismay, there was no alcohol served.

**

The next day the newspaper had the announcement on the front page. Addy was proclaimed the new Mayor by a ‘landslide'. Soon after, she assumed her new job. There was not much of an inaugural ceremony. She was well-known in town and stopping to chat with the ten public servants in town didn't take all that long.

The peaceful reception did not last for long. Controversy soon ensued when Mr. Glass claimed fraud and demanded a recount of the votes. Addy still took office, as the recount went on. This time it took three weeks, since they were ‘down' in the number of pollers. The ‘down' people were not there because they didn't want to put up with the nonsense. James was one of them.

Still they had quorum and the recount went on. In the end, they got a whole new set of numbers, but still the numbers put Addy ahead by a great margin. Mr. Glass was outraged and demanded a second recount. This time the request was denied. He was advised to take the matter to court if he was so sure that there had been fraud. He never did, but he spent the next four years bickering and complaining about everything.

Soon after the election, Addy began to make the necessary moves towards achieving her goals. She met with people and was always on the phone or going somewhere. However, no matter what was on her plate, at four o'clock she'd quit whatever she was doing and went to pick up her daughter at school and take her wherever she needed to be to participate in all her extracurricular activities. She never allowed her work to interfere with what she always deemed her priority – her family. She was very clear. Her priorities were always Karen and Alex.

**

In the midst of the horse-raising part of their lives, and later Addy's mayoral campaign, Karen had slowly inched her way into school affairs. She continued to fund different projects and even offered financial services to the school to advice on capital investment options. And when a child fell on the playground, and the parents filed a lawsuit, Karen offered her legal services and the matter was settled with no legal fees to the school. She then remained as legal and financial advisor. It was not long after that there was a school board vacancy. Mrs. Rosalind Thompson had finally gone to meet her long dead Samuel.

Karen saw her opportunity and took it. She immediately announced her interest in the position, and the matter was put to a vote. By now she was highly influential with the PTA and with some of the members of the board in the business community. Karen was very savvy and she could work a room when she wanted. She wanted the board seat. She was resolved to bring change and to never again have anyone go through what they went through. In a very small way, she was making her mark in the world. Needless to say, she won their vote and became a member of the school board. St. Claire's was never the same with Karen's infusion in the mix.

“Congrats, my gorgeousness! You did it!”

“I told you I was committed to make things change. I'm going to have that school filled with gays and lesbians left and right!” Of course, her comment was made in jest and it got the expected reaction from Addy. The brunette opened her eyes and smiled in astonishment. Karen chuckled

“If I didn't know you better—.” Addy said pointing a finger at her.

“But you do and you know that what I really want is to bring change to the school's backward thinking. So, while you have a whole town to change, I will concentrate on changing things at school. Which may even be a harder job considering how stubborn and backward those people are!”

“I'm afraid that we have uphill battles ahead of us. But for now, I will say that I'm proud of you for taking the school on. You are my hero, Blondie.”

If having infiltrated the school board hadn't given her enough satisfaction, nothing compared to the satisfaction of knowing that she was Addy's hero. That was more than enough for her.

As soon as she became a board member, Lord Chesney resigned. In his own words, he ‘would not be part of the school's downfall'. Soon after, the older majority became the minority and things began to change. Financial assistance was offered to lower income minority candidates and the school advertised in diverse circles and students with different backgrounds began to be admitted. There were many other changes that added to the school vibrancy.

**

When Alex was in 6th grade, she was eleven years old, and it was then that the dreadful moment happened. Karen received a call from school to come to pick Alex up because she had gotten in a fight. Karen called Addy, who had gone to the distillery on a business matter before heading to her new job in town.

“Addy, I'm going to school to pick up Alex. Apparently she got in a fight.”

“What?! Our Alex? What happened? How? I'm coming home. Wait for me.”

“Yeah, I don't know what's going on. Maybe it's better if you come. You are better at handling this stuff.”

“I'm on my way.”

“JP, James, I need to go home. I don't think I will be coming back today.”

“Oh! My God! I can't believe you guys are still in honeymoon mode!”

Addy didn't answer. She and Karen had resolved not to talk to JP about their private affairs, and she brushed off the comment. Besides she was in a hurry to make it home and to Alex. They were both private by nature and when it came to their relationship, the matter was totally exclusive. Any matter concerning Alex was also personal and kept close to their chest.

Addy ran home extremely worried. She couldn't imagine what would have made Alex get into a fight. This was totally out of character for her. She had never been in trouble at school and it was almost unthinkable to associate the name Alex with the word fight. The two just didn't go together. She was a fun, loving, agreeable child and would never fight anyone. Addy thought that something really bad must have happened. This was serious. Addy arrived home within five minutes of having talked to Karen. Karen was waiting for her outside the house. Addy, stopped the car, Karen got in and they drove away.

“Did they say what happened?”

“No. They just said she was fine and that she was in a fight with another girl, and to come pick her up.

“Any thoughts?” Addy asked.

“The only thing I could think of is that someone might have brought us up.”

“What do you mean?”

“Lesbian moms, two moms?” Karen's mind was already going at full speed.

Addy was quiet. “This never happened before.”

“There's always a first time, Addy. And you really didn't think that she would be insulated from a judgmental world all her life, did you?”

Addy remained quiet and serious. “Let's keep an open mind, Ker, and not assume.”

“Okay.”

They had just been to the parents' night the night before and Alex seemed fine with everyone and was very proud to show them around and the things she was working on.

When they arrived at school, they immediately went to the office and were directed to Mr. Stetson's office. Alex was sitting outside.

When they saw her, they immediately ran to her. Alex looked at them, but immediately brought her eyes down to a focal point on the floor. “What happened, sweetie?” Alex did not respond. She kept her eyes down.

The principal came out of her office when she heard talk outside. Karen turned to speak to the principal. “Mr. Stetson. What happened?” Karen asked with a worried face.

“We really don't know Ms. Larsen. Alex is a model student. We were hoping that you might be able to find out. Neither girl has spoken at all. Fortunately for all, Mr. Swenson, the PE teacher was walking by and stopped them before either one got hurt.”

Addy looked at Alex and thought about the karate lessons and what blows she could have given the other girl. In her mind she was thankful that the other girl was not hurt and that the parents would have no reason to sue them. She knew Alex could deliver powerful kicks. Alex was already a green belt.

“We will find, out. Can we take her home now?”

“Yes.”

While Karen was talking to the Mr. Stetson, Addy sat next to Alex. Addy noticed that Alex was looking at her also from the corner of her eye, but she didn't say a word.

“Are you hurt?” Alex nodded in the negative. She had scratches on her arms and face and a couple of red spots on her face. Her shirt sleeves were torn and her pants had mud all over. She had definitely rolled on the ground. “Are you going to tell me what happened?” Addy asked.

Alex turned away from her and she noticed that tears fell. Alex said nothing, and Addy did not pursue her inquiry.

Karen came out of Mr. Stetson's office. “Come on let's go home.”

They all walked out and got in the car. Still not a word from Alex.

“Alexandra, could you, please, tell us what the hell happened?” Karen sounded somewhat upset at this point, probably because of Alex's silence. She had expected Alex to come clean immediately and the silence was eating her up.

Alex still wouldn't open her mouth.

“So, you are not going to talk, are you? Is there any reason why you are not sharing this information with us?”

Addy was driving and could see Alex's face in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were filled with tears and looked away the minute she realized she had been spotted in the rear view mirror. Addy looked at Karen and gave her a signal, a slight nod of the head. She wanted Karen to stop the questioning. Karen stopped. There was silence all the way home.

The minute they got home, Alex went up to her room. Karen went after her and Addy after both. Alex slammed the door, partially on Karen's face, and locked it. Karen was mad and was about to demand entry when she felt Addy's hand on her arm.

“Don't. Leave her alone. She needs time. Let her cool off.”

Karen looked at her. When it came to Alex, Karen always followed Addy's lead. Addy had experience raising children and had been successful. Addy could see the anguish on Karen's face and the tears in her eyes.

“What about us? We need to know what happened. We need to help her! Our own child doesn't trust us!” She whispered to Addy in an angry tone. Karen was fuming, but it was out of anxiety. She hated when a situation was out of her control. When she couldn't fix things for the ones she loved.

“She does. She needs time and space. Give it to her. She's growing up. We will know what happen. Trust me. Come on, let's go downstairs.”

Before they left, they could hear Alex crying in her room. Karen looked at Addy alarmed. “We all need to cry. Come on, baby, come with me.”

“Ker, can I ask you to let me handle this one?”

Karen looked at her. “Is that what you want? Why? Are you sure you can handle it alone?”

“If this has to do with what you suspect, I'd like you to remember that years ago you asked me to be ready to deal with it. I'd like you to know that if that time has come, I'm ready.”

“Oh Addy!” Karen's voice trembled.

“I've been preparing her also for the talk. I've been watching her since the campaign. I've noticed her reactions to things that have happened and we've been talking about people's prejudices and about some people not accepting other people's way of life.”

“Why didn't you tell me?”

“Well because it was not a planned thing. I've talked to her as opportunities presented themselves here and there.”

“I fear the worst, Addy. You know she's stubborn. She's a little mule, and I fear we are going to get kicked in the ass. Are you prepared for this?”

“I am. I told you I would be, didn't I?”

Karen pursed her lips. “I thought you'd forgotten.”

“No, I don't forget important things.”

“I think we are over our heads. This is unchartered territory. I know you can work miracles with people, but our little monster is one tough cookie.”

“Something for which I'm thankful, sweetie. Let me handle her. If I need your help, I will let you know. Please, trust me. We have a great daughter. I'll put all my money on her.”

Karen nodded. “If there's one hand that you have to win, this is the one. I'm going to make something to eat. They had been out on the patio. When Karen went inside, Addy remained sitting on the swing outside looking at the ocean.

Alex finally came down from her room. She was apparently hungry and straight to the refrigerator and took a juice box and some cookies from the island. She looked at Karen, but said nothing and walked out to the patio where Addy was. She sat next to Addy.

Karen smiled form the kitchen. In a way she felt at ease. She was, at least, happy that her dream had come true and that Alex was so much like Addy. She was certain Addy would find a way to get through to her.

She sat in one of the kitchen stools and waited. She couldn't cook while in that state of nervousness. She decided to just sit, wait, and pray. She looked outside hoping for the best, but knowing that World War III was about to start outside her kitchen and there was nothing she could do to stop it. Unfortunately, that didn't make her feel any better. She still couldn't believe how calm ‘Ms. Fierey' Addy was taking it.

“I always thought this was a great view. I took me sometime to realize that the best view in the world was from my own backyard. It didn't matter if it was from the cottage or here. Sometimes we have the very best in front of us, but it is not until we stop and think about it that we realize it.”

“Aren't you going to ask me what happened?” Alex spoke.

“I already did and you chose not to tell me, so now I'm undecided.”

Alex looked at her puzzled. “I thought you wanted to know.”

“I want to know because I'm your mom, and I love you and I'm supposed to help you resolve your problems, but on the other hand, I don't want to pry.” Addy paused. “I mean, I've known you all your life and I know fighting is not your thing. So, I figured whatever made you fight must be a pretty big thing. Then I'm also worried that you might not want to tell me and then what will I do? Do you want to talk about it, or not? If you don't want to—.”

“M'Addy, I do want to talk about it with you.”

Addy had been holding her breath, but this answer was a relief. She really had faith in her daughter. She felt a little bit of a triumph here.

“Well, Alex, before you say anything, let me just say a couple of things here that I'm sure you already know. First, your mother and I have never kept secrets. We have a loving relationship based on mutual trust. Second, no matter what you say or will ever do, she and I will always love you just the same as the day we decided to bring you into this world, and….we will support you and stand behind you 100% always no matter what. So, now I'm ready to hear whatever you want to say.”

“This girl saw you and Mom together last night at the parent's night and asked where was my dad, even though she already knew I don't have one. She only asked to poke me. I said I didn't have a dad. Then she laughed and said ‘yeah, I forgot your moms are lesbians, are you a lesbo too?' The way she said it was hurtful, and she said in front of everyone. I pushed her and she pushed me back and all of a sudden we were fighting.”

“So, the fight began because she said that your mothers are lesbians?”

Alex nodded in the affirmative.

“Umm.”

Alex looked at her.

“Well, Alex, you know you and I always talk about everything and I never keep things from you. I've always been about the truth, so—.”

“Mom, I know. We've sort of talked about it.”

“Yes, but never directly, in a mature way. You are a very smart girl, Alex. We've never needed many words. But today, we are going to talk.”

Alex was very attentive.

“But, before we talk, let me ask you this…did that girl say something that wasn't true? Are your mom and I lesbians?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have a problem with that?”

“No. You guys always told me that love is love, no matter who you love. I understand about one woman loving another. I actually love the way the two of you love each other. I have nothing against lesbians.”

“So, then, if she spoke the truth, why did you fight her?”

“I didn't like the way she said it.”

“How did she say it?”

“She made it sound wrong. She made me feel bad.”

“Were you sorry, ashamed, what?”

“It's odd, it's different. Most kids have a mother and a father. I have two mothers and no father.” Alex was upset. “You guys are not like everyone else's parents. I have no problem with you guys, but other people don't like it.”

Here came the speech, and Addy's moment of glory or doom. “Alex, I was married to a man once, Laurie and Joey's dad. I divorced him. I've been with your mother now for, let me see, you are eleven….more or less seventeen years….wow! How time flies! Anyways, I love your mother like I have never loved anyone. There's absolutely nothing in this world that I wouldn't do for her. I cannot possibly tell you how much I love her because there are no words to describe it.” She paused and looked at Alex who was sort of smiling.

“You came into this world because of our union. You are a fortunate child. You were born into a home who wanted you. We wanted you even before you were conceived. Mommy Karen and I sat down and we talked about having you.” Addy smiled remembering those conversations. “Planning you was not easy, it took a lot of work and a lot doing.” Addy paused and smiled. Addy looked at Alex and wondered what could be going through her head, and she absolutely loved the way her daughter was smiling at her. “How your mom got pregnant is a wonderful story which I will love to tell you some day. What I need you to know and understand now is that when two people really, really love each other, nothing else should matter.”

Alex was mesmerized listening to Addy.

“We thought of everything when we decided to have you. In fact, we knew perfectly well that this moment, this very moment that you and I are having here, would happen.”

Alex furrowed her brow wondering. “How could you?”

“Because we know how things are and we know that a lot of people are prejudiced. That will never change. It's a fact of life. We just have to deal with it.” Addy looked to the distance. “There are all sorts of prejudice, race, ethnicity, homophobia, and tons of others. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, Alex. We cannot change that. But we can do something about how we live our lives and what we make of it.” She paused.

“So this is how it is for you, whether you like it or not this is your life.” Addy put her palms up as if to show. She paused again. “You have two mothers, and yes we are lesbians. We are your family. We also happen to love each other and have been happy beyond belief for the last seventeen years. We have also raised a wonderful smart child, whom we love more than our own lives. We are proud of our love, our accomplishments and of you.”

Alex was looking to the horizon now.

“That is your reality. People may not like it, and you may not like that people don't like it, but that is what it is. The way I see it, you have two choices at this point in your life. You are a bit young to be making life changing choices, but you are one smart tough kid, and we are going to allow you to make your choice. So here are your choices. One, you accept your family for who we are and love us to death like we love you. That means admitting the truth and learning to deal with people. That also means no more fighting with anyone. Your other choice, which is a bit more drastic, is to go away to boarding school and keeping your family hidden.”

Alex looked shocked that Addy would propose such a thing. Her eyes were huge and she looked anxious.

“I mean if you can't deal with your life as it is because you are ashamed of it, or feel so miserable that your life will be ruined, maybe that alternative would make you happy. In a boarding school none of your friends would ever get to see us or have to deal with us. No one would ask you questions because no one would know us and you would only see us on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and in the summer.”

Addy was dying inside as she was saying these words. Deep down, she knew Alex would never accept that, but she had to make the offer. Karen knew part of what Addy would say and was dying inside the house, praying, just praying that Alex would be the child they thought they'd raise.

Alex heart raced.

“M'Addy, you want me to go to boarding school?” She got off her seat and seemed almost ready to cry.

“No, that is the last thing I want. Losing you would be too painful. What I want is for you to stay here with us where you belong. But, we also want you to be happy. We don't want you to be miserable or much worse, ashamed of your family. We will do whatever we need to do to make you happy, even if that means letting you go.” Addy choked on her last word s and had to pause. Alex didn't miss it.

“You don't have to decide immediately, it's a very difficult decision for someone so young, so take your time. Remember what I've always told you. Life is full of choices, and the most important thing is to learn to live with the ones you make.”

Alex was visibly shaken. She kept looking at Addy. Addy was calm. Addy later said that she felt as if the hand of God was on her shoulder because the calm she reflected at that particular moment with her daughter was not of this earth and was certainly totally unlike her.

Alex was pierced. She had the face of one who had seen hell and heaven on the same day. Her eyes were bloodshot and teary. Her face reflected despair, she was trying to hold her ground and look determined, but her eyes were filled with love and her body longed for a hug from the woman sitting next to her whom she adored. But nothing came from Alex. No emotion whatsoever. What Addy saw she couldn't believe. It was as if she was watching Karen's poker face.

The look made her anxious, but at the same time proud that her child was holding her ground and that she was not giving in to stupid emotions as she would have. She had a few moments of fear, but she hoped that her daughter wouldn't let her down. It was good to see that Alex could keep the - this is not affecting me look - but she knew also that Alex had a huge heart. She had made sure all these years that it would be there for when it was needed. Today it was needed.

“I have nothing more to say, Little Bit, just tell me what you want to do.”

Alex swallowed. She said nothing and walked away towards the house, walked pass Karen who was in the kitchen and went up to her room almost running at this point. In her room she cried.

Karen was watching her from inside the house. Karen knew that Addy needed some time and that if she went to her now, they would both end up crying. She stepped by the door to make sure Addy could see her. Addy saw her, but didn't move from the patio swing.

If she lost this one, it would be a devastating defeat, probably her worst. It was late evening already. This time of the year the nights were crisp and it got dark soon. Some time passed since the talk and Addy was still sitting by herself outside. Karen came out at last and hugged her. “Dinner is ready.” They held each other for a while and then walked inside still hanging on to each other.

Addy went to the refrigerator got a bottle of water and came to the table to sit. Karen was already sitting. They looked at each other. Not knowing what to say. Karen broke the silence. “Addy, whatever happens, we are one. It will be okay.”

Karen's tone was reassuring, but nothing was good enough at this moment. Addy didn't respond. She didn't want to talk. She felt very fragile. Karen knew that Addy was in worse shape emotionally than she revealed. She knew that Addy was feeling a bit defeated, not having seen any results from her talk yet. Karen knew that later tonight, she would be crying in her arms but felt like embracing her and giving her comfort at that very minute. Knowing better, she'd wait until they were in the private cocoon of their bedroom, when both would let go and be themselves.

Suddenly, they heard footsteps coming down the stairs. They stared at each other in expectation.

“May I sit down?”

“Yes, you may.” Karen was the one who answered.

Alex did not sit immediately. She stood up and looked at Addy in the eye.

“I'm not actually very hungry. Just need to talk to both of you.” Both women were totally absorbed looking at Alex's face. Like Karen, she could keep her composure in the worst circumstances. It was Karen's poker face for sure. A face Karen also recognized.

“Okay.” It was actually Karen who responded because the lump in Addy's throat wouldn't allow words and Karen knew better. However, the green young eyes were fixed on Addy. Cutting her like blades. Addy was barely holding up to the intensity of the green bloodshot eyes. God, I'm too old for this!

 

“There is no choice for me to make. I think you only put it that way because you know that I would never choose to go to boarding school.”

Addy remained serious. Karen had a hint of a smile inwardly acknowledging how smart and well poised Alex was. She was truly her pride, even in the worst moments.

“I was in my room not thinking about any choices. I was thinking about how to deal with things and about what to tell you. I'm happy here. I'd like to stay here. This is my home and where I belong. I'm sorry for the trouble at school. It won't happen again. I will think about ways to handle things.” She looked at Addy. “Without fighting.”

Addy brought her hand to her mouth. She went from near panic to overwhelming euphoria. She couldn't even look at Karen for fear of breaking down. Karen was petrified also.

Addy nodded, she could hardly speak.

“Thanks, Alex.” It was all Karen could say.

Alex was still fixed on Addy. It was as if she needed to say more.

Addy looked nervously at her. “Anything else you need to say, baby?”

“Yes.” Alex paused. “All the kids in my classroom are always talking about how much they hate their parents, and about how much they wish to be all grown up and leave home. They all have mothers and fathers. I'm the only kid in my classroom who doesn't hate her parents. They always wonder how come I like to do things with you guys. I never thought about it until today. I guess I'm the lucky one.” She looked at Karen who was breathing very fast, and then she looked at a very choked up Addy and smiled. “M'Addy?”

“Yes, Alex?” Her voice trembled some.

“I don't want to be anywhere but here. I love you, and I love mom. I'd be terribly sad if I went away.”

Addy breathed deep, gathered strength and smiled. “Come here!”

Alex ran to her arms. “We wouldn't want you anywhere else but here, Little Bit. This house would be very empty without you.”

“We love you, Alex.” Karen added.

“I know.”

“You do understand that there will be other instances in your life where people will—.”

“I know and I don't care, M'Addy. I will not let people make me feel bad for things I feel good about. I won't. I will never let that happen again.” Alex was getting ready to leave. She still looked troubled and nervous.

Addy manage to speak. “Can I possibly have another hug?”

Alex smiled and crashed into her, and cried. “I'm sorry M'Addy. I'm sorry I upset you and mom.” Karen was also in tears at the other end of the table.

“It's alright, baby. It's alright. I think Mommy Karen might need a hug too.” Alex looked at Karen and smiled. It was very unusual for Alex to see Karen in tears. The vulnerable Karen was always reserved for Addy. It was so unusual that Alex could hardly believe it. Alex went to Karen and hugged her as well. Karen kissed her on the head. “Mommy?”

“I am very proud of you, baby girl.”

Alex pulled out of the hug. “Thanks, Mommy. I'm proud of you too. I better go study now.”

“Go.” Karen swatted her gently in her butt.

The minute she disappeared, Addy rested her forehead in her right hand, her elbow on the table. Karen got up and went to her. Addy pressed her head into Karen's stomach, and Karen caressed her head and raked her hair between her fingers. She also kissed her on the head. Karen knelt in front of Addy and Addy caressed her face. “We have a great daughter, Ms. Larsen.”

Karen was overwhelmed with emotions and rested her head on Addy's chest wrapping her arms around her. “Adriana!” Addy held her and they cried in the quiet stillness of the night.

If there were ever any other incident with Alex at school, they never heard of it. Certainly, there was no more fighting. Alex simply lived and handled her life. She was always proud of her moms and never denied the fact that they were lesbians. And if ever she was asked if she too was a lesbian, she gave them the honest truth. “I don't know. I guess if I am, I'll know some day.” She found out that people hardly knew how to reply to an honest answer, more so when the answer obviously indicated that whatever she would be didn't matter to her because either way was fine. People always liked her honesty and openness.

**

A few days later Karen received a phone call. “Yes, I can. When? Tomorrow at eleven am is fine. I'll be there.” This had never happened before. The Women's Imaging Center wanted her to go in again to repeat the mammography on her left breast. She was concerned, but she was more concerned about telling Addy. She didn't want to worry her. But she had to know, so she would tell her after dinner.

“Addy, I need to tell you something, but I don't want you to worry. They say this happens a lot.”

Addy was very attentive. “What is it?”

“I have to go in for another check on my mammography. The left breast picture was not right.”

“Oh! It's alright. It happened to me a couple of times years ago. Don't worry it's probably nothing. When do you have to go?”

“Tomorrow at eleven.”

“Do you want me to go with you?”

“Nah! I'll be okay.” Karen went into the living room a lot more relieved thinking how well Addy had taken the news. Addy was a box of surprises. Sometimes a small thing triggered a monumental issue and then things Karen thought were important seemed almost casual to her. Karen always preferred the casual treatment. It was Addy's unfounded fears, and exaggerated concerns she had difficulty understanding.

She went the next day and got the results that same afternoon. They wanted her to see her doctor. When she told Addy, Addy didn't look so casual anymore.

“I'm going with you this time.”

“Yes, but let's not panic. This is why we have this torturous thing they call a mammogram done every year, so they can find things when they are still small and can be taken care of.”

“Yes, I agree. I've known many people who have had biopsies and they turn out to be nothing. But let's not go there yet. I will be going with you though. I want to hear what Tiffany has to say.” Tiffany was the Ob-gyn who had delivered Alex, and the one they always went to for their annual exams. Addy wouldn't show it but she was concerned. She also knew Karen and knew she was putting on the happy face but she was already dreading the worst.

Tiffany talked to them. “Karen, they found a little something and we need to do a biopsy to see what it is. Don't worry, a lot of times this turns into nothing, but it's better to be safe and take a look.” She referred them to the surgeon who would perform the biopsy. He was a friend of Tiffany's and was in the same building where she had her office.

“He's good, Karen. You will be in good hands.”

As they left Tiffany's office, Karen's mind was already on overdrive. Addy took her arm and they went out hanging to each other. They never cared what people thought of them holding each other. Karen's mind was speeding by the second. She thought that this was going to be it for her. She was already thinking whether she would go through treatments or maybe just accept her fate. She didn't want to put Alex and Addy through the treatment phases and then have it be for nothing but to last a few more months. She wouldn't have that, but she also knew that Addy would fight everything until the very end.

That night at home, she began to look over her will and became lost in her thoughts. Addy knew this behavior. She had seen it before whenever Karen was under extreme stress.

“Hey, Blondie. Want to talk?”

Karen looked at her very seriously. “I'm freaked out, Addy. What if—.”

“Don't start! I don't want to hear any of that! That's not what I want to talk about!” Addy got up and started to walk. A few seconds into her walk, she stopped and turned around. Karen was still sitting pretending to read her will, but her mind was miles away. She got up and walked towards the thinking tree. Addy followed her at a distance.

“I'm sorry, Ker. You get on my nerves sometimes with your dreadful ‘what ifs.' Talk to me about whatever you want.” Addy sat next to her, took her hand and continued to talk.

“I know you are scared. I'm worried too, I won't lie to you. But I would like to think positive and think that all will be alright. We will face this like we've always faced everything. Together, Ker. Always together.”

Karen caressed her hand. “I'm not worried about me.”

Addy rolled her eyes. “Don't you think I know that? Do you think I don't know you after all these years? I know what is going through your mind. I know you too well.”

Karen smiled and kissed her hand. “What if I have to have a mastectomy?”

“We'll get through it.”

“But, it won't be the same. I won't be complete. It's not fair to you.”

Addy looked at her. “Is that what you are worried about?!” Addy seemed outraged, she got up and continued to talk while pacing in front of Karen. “Karen sometimes I can't believe you! Do you think that kind of thing matters? Honey, this may come as a surprise to you.” She paused and chuckled. “Is not your tatas that have kept me here all these years!”

Karen chuckled.

“If that had been the case, I'd consider myself a total loser!” Addy proclaimed still joking. She wanted to lighten things up for Karen and she was achieving her purpose because Karen was grinning.

“I don't want to burst your bubble, but those tiny things you call breasts, are not your greatest attribute!” She chuckled again. She was also trying to minimize the importance of that part of her body. Karen continued to grin.

“Thanks for making me feel so good about my tiny things!”

“Ker, what I'm trying to say is that you are a whole package. I love the whole of you and nothing will ever affect that. Nothing, baby! Can't you understand that?”

Karen nodded. “It could be worse.”

“Oh! Here comes more dread! Give it to me!” She sat again. “Yes, it could always be worse. And we could get struck by lightning right here, right now, under this tree, or better yet this tree could fall on us, or an airplane engine may fall from the sky right now! What I'm trying to say, Ker, is that nothing is ever guaranteed and that we have to take each day with whatever it brings. I need you to be at peace with yourself. So, even though I hate myself for saying this, I will say it, if it will make you feel better. Alex and I will be fine. You know that Alex will always be fine with me. She's my daughter and I love her and I promise that I will see to it that as long as I have a breath of life in me, she will always be fine. I can't promise more than that. She has a family with Joey and Laurie also, you know they love her.”

“I know Addy, I know. And you?”

Addy got up and walked away. She was decided not to crumble. “I have a child to raise.” She paused and looked at Karen. “Ker, let's just deal with this like we deal with everything else. Okay? Please!”

“Okay, baby. Okay.”

“I will go with you tomorrow for the biopsy. And we'll take it from there. Now come here. Let me hold you.” Addy could feel the engine like tremor in Karen's body. It was the usual whenever she felt helpless when facing certain situations.

That night, neither one of them slept well. They'd wake up every other minute cuddled, kissed and caressed each other. At one point in the middle of the night, Karen got up. She was looking out the window into the night. She felt Addy come up to her.

“Sorry, Addy, didn't mean to wake you.”

“I was not asleep.” She stood behind Karen and ran her arms around Karen's waist and placed her face over Karen's shoulder.

“We've had a great life, Addy. You've made me happy.”

“Ker, don't make me cry, please. I love you, and I think that you will live longer than I will. I really do, so stop this shit!” Addy was about to break down. Karen turned and could not hold her any tighter. “Okay. Okay.” They kissed and cuddled back into bed.

Karen thought that if it came to it, a mastectomy would be terrible, but not the worst. But what if the cancer had spread? She'd have to go through all the chemo and radiation treatments and in the end, it might not make a difference. The thought of putting Addy and Alex through all that was agonizing and then what if after doing everything the inevitable happened? The thought of leaving Addy on her own was pure torture. She had always felt her responsibility was to protect her family. What would they do without her? Bottom down she knew that Addy was a strong woman and that Alex would always be alright with her. She was certain of that, but she would not be around to see Alex grow up into a woman, and she would not be around to love and care for the one she loved more than her life, her Addy.

There were times when she needed to cry, but didn't want Addy to see her, so she cried in the shower. Addy found her a couple of times in the shower and got in with her the two times, clothes and all. “I love you Addy. Why did I have to love you like this? Why did you have to be the very best always? And why do you love me? You don't even like my breasts!” Then they'd both start to laugh at the same time while kissing and caressing each other.

“Look at me, all dressed and wet in here, this is why I love you, you make me do crazy things!” Karen laughed even harder.

“You've made me laugh through life, Addy. I've often wondered what my life would have been without you, and I thank God every day for bumping into you that the day at the gym. You are the very best of my life. I wouldn't even have Alex if it weren't for you. I had her for you and yet she gave me life too. She's yours Addy, she's yours. She's the gift of my love to you. Don't you ever forget that! She's a part of me that you will always have.”

They held each other and cried then laughed again when they realized Addy was dressed in the shower. “Take my clothes off. Let's make the most of this shower.”

**

The day of the biopsy, they dropped Alex off at school and then continued to the hospital. It was an outpatient procedure. They never told Alex the details. When Alex asked why they were both taking her to school, they told her that Karen was going to have some tests done and that James was going to pick her up after school. Alex seemed satisfied with the answer, or at least she got the message that nothing else would be said. She knew the moms always told her everything, but she also knew that they could keep things to themselves. Karen looked back and she saw her reflection in the face of the young one sitting on the back seat. Karen could never deny she was Alex's mother. It was almost incredible how much they looked alike. They smiled at each other. Then Karen looked at Addy and back to the front. Karen's worry was visible. Alex kept looking at her knowing that something was wrong and wishing her moms would tell her.

They arrived at school and Alex got out. “Have a good day mommies and Mommy Karen, you'll be fine.”

“Thanks, sweetie.”

“Remember that uncle J is going to pick you up today! Please text me when he does.”

“Yes, M'Addy. I will.”

Alex walked into the school and when they no longer saw her, Addy continued to drive.

On the way to the hospital Karen's eyes welled and she looked out the window remembering all the wonderful things that had become her life. From her demeanor, Addy knew what was going through her head. She had studied her every expression and every mood for so many years, she knew every one of her gestures. Addy took her hand and immediately Karen's fingers tightened around hers.

They made it to the hospital. “Okay, Blondie. Let's get this over with!”

Addy was trying to lighten things up. “Hey, gorgeous brunette, come here!” She grabbed Addy by the arm and brought her close to her.

“Green eyes, I need to remind you that we are in public, so unless you want to be arrested for indecent acts don't rattle my cage. After all, it wouldn't be the first time I've made love in the back seat of a car!”

Karen grinned. She knew too well what Addy was talking about. “I love you, Latin woman! You rattle my cage every day! I love you more than life.”

“I know! Why do you think I've kept you all these years?” She kissed her. “Come on, babe. Let's do this and put it behind us. We need to get on with our lives.” She untangled herself from Karen and both exited the car.

Karen checked in and a nurse took her inside. Addy went in with her as far as they let her. They looked at each other before Karen went in. “She will be fine, ma'am. It's a short pain-free procedure.” Addy remained outside. Her heart seemed to have stopped. She sat on a chair and felt empty. She tried to put on a happy face, and to be strong for Karen. She knew Karen needed that, but inside she was dying. She had said many prayers and had also done her share of crying in the shower when Karen couldn't see her.

She got up to walk and found herself in front of the chapel. She went and knelt to pray. What could she ask God for that God didn't already know? Her heart was in pieces. She leaned her head against the back of the pew in front of her and placed herself and her loved one in the hands of God.

A few minutes later, she was back in the waiting room area. A nurse came out and told her that all had gone well and that Karen was in the recovery area.

“Can I see her?”

“I will come and get you when you can.” About an hour later the nurse was back.

“You can come with me now.”

When Karen saw her, she grinned. Addy came to her side and held her hand and leaned in to kiss her. Karen could tell that Addy was anxious. She had bags under her eyes. Addy's face was very close to hers. “Gorgeous! Don't take advantage of me!” Karen whispered and grinned.

Addy smiled back, still holding her hand. “No. I won't now. I'll do it later.”

“I'll be out of commission for a while now, until this thing heals.”

“I'm in no hurry. You know I like it slow!” She raised her eyebrows suggestively and then winked. Karen melted in a sweet smile.

“Would that wink ever not rattle me?”

“I hope not!”

When the doctor came to talk to them, Addy stood up. “We need to wait until tomorrow for full lab results, but I didn't see anything wrong with what I removed. I think everything is fine. I see no reason for you to stay here overnight, unless you prefer to stay.”

“If it's all the same, I would really like to go home.”

“Okay, I will release you to the care of this lovely lady here. The nurse will give you all the instructions for care, and the prescription for pain medication and antibiotic. Take the pain medication as needed.”

“Thank you, doctor.”

The release took about two hours. They had to get all the forms, instructions and medications.

“There's got to be something wrong when getting released from the hospital takes as long as the procedure itself!” Addy joked.

“Hush! Take me home, baby. Did Alex text?”

“Of course, do you think I'd be so calm, if she hadn't?”

Karen smiled.

 

“I'm going to drive slowly because I don't want to go over any bumps on the road.” Having said that the car hit the first pothole. “Shit! Sorry, babe.”

Karen chuckled. “Don't worry.” Addy had a bad reputation for driving through pot holes and also for not seeing speed bumps and running over them, making everyone jump up and down in the car.

“Just look out for speed bumps!”

“Oh! So you are in a funny mood now?”

Just then, Addy went through a speed bump. “Ooops! Sorry. I didn't see that one!” Then there was another. “Shit! I better pay attention. Not talking anymore.”

Karen leaned her head back and chuckled. Addy looked at her and smiled.

“I guess it's always bumpy with me.”

“Yeah, but we always make it, and it's never been a boring ride.” Karen looked at her, took her hand and smiled. Addy smiled and her eyes got all watery. Karen kissed her hand. “Don't cry now! Drive us home. And look out for cows!”

They made it home, and Addy helped her out of the car because she was still groggy from the medications.

“Up to bed! I'll bring you some soup if you are hungry. I made it yesterday.”

“Um huh! Alex?”

“Going to call her now to tell her that we are home, and that James can bring her home to us.”

When she came back from calling Alex, she found Karen asleep. Addy took off her shoes and pants and covered her with the blanket. Then she lay on her side looking at her. She remained there until she heard the door. Then she went downstairs. Alex was there and James was with her.

“Is mom okay, M'Addy?”

“Yes, she is, baby.”

“Can I see her?”

“She's sleeping. She's still medicated, but she's fine. Thanks for picking Alex up, James.”

“Addy, it's our pleasure to have Alex with us.”

“We went to Upton to eat at that new Italian place! It's really good M'Addy. You and mom should go.”

“I'd better head back home, Addy. Do you need anything?” As they were starting to walk towards the door James asked. “Is she going to be okay, Addy?”

“I think so, James. The doctor said he saw nothing wrong. We'll know more tomorrow. Thanks for everything and tell JP thanks also.”

“No problem sweetie, you know you can always count on us.”

When Addy came back in the house, she found Alex sitting in the kitchen eating ice cream.

“Don't you ever get full child?”

“Uncle JP wouldn't let me have dessert. He has this thing about not getting fat. I feel sorry for Uncle J sometimes. I don't think he gets enough food at home because he always eats a lot at the restaurants.”

“He doesn't want you gaining weight.”

“But I don't, M'Addy and you know it. I'm into a lot of sports and I'm a growing child and need nourishment.”

“Good nourishment, not junk!”

“It's not like I'm eating junk all day.”

Addy gave her the look.

“So are you going to tell me what's wrong with mom, or am I going to be hearing this one from third parties? Look, I'm not nosey and I allow people their privacy, but I've seen you and mom moping and I think sometimes the two of you have even been crying so I'm worried, okay? I'm thirteen and I think I should be told the important things that are going on around here.”

Addy looked at her beautiful daughter who was the spitting image of her mother. She had grown so fast. Where had all the years gone? All those beautiful years.

“You are just like your mother. Direct and to the point. But you are mine, you know?”

Alex looked puzzled unable to make sense of Addy's words.

Addy chuckled looking at the puzzled face. “One day, not far from now, you are going to be sitting on that same stool and I'm going to tell you love stories that will tear your heart out and you will then understand why I love the sleeping beauty upstairs beyond the limits of anyone's imagination, and you, Alexandra Marcos Larsen, are the living proof of my love and hers.”

“Can't you start me off now with something?!” Alex made a face.

Addy chuckled and gave her another look “Hand that ice cream over?” She took a bowl and served herself some ice cream too. Alex smiled.

“Your mother had a mammography and they found a little something in one of her breasts. She had it removed today.”

Alex opened her eyes in panic. “They removed her breast?!”

“No! Are you crazy? The little thing they found. It was a minor surgical procedure, outpatient.”

“Is she going to be okay?”

“The lab results will be in tomorrow, but the doctor said he saw nothing wrong. Of course, your mom won't believe anything until she gets the all-clear tomorrow.”

“She's been worried. I could tell. I didn't think she wanted me to know so that's why I didn't ask. But she's been looking at me funny these last few days.”

Addy smiled. “She loves us too much.”

“I think she loves you more than she loves me. I always wish that when I grow up I find someone who loves me like you guys love each other. I think you guys are love personalized. It's so cool! Out of this world. Hey, do you think she'll sleep until tomorrow?”

Addy enjoyed the conversation with her daughter. She laughed thinking that Alex thought they were ‘cool.' She thought Alex was an amazingly open-minded child. “I hope so, Alex. She needs to rest.”

“Tell me one of those stories you say would tear my heart out.”

Addy smiled. “Okay, here's one. Do you remember one time when we were talking in the car about types of love and that you didn't believe someone could love someone so much as to not care about themselves and risk it all for the other person?”

“Yes, you never gave me your thoughts on that one. Why?”

“Because my opinion differed from yours.”

“Okay, I said that type of love could not exist because doing something like that would be going against the human innate instinct of self-preservation. I'd like you to know that my belief is well-founded. Self-preservation is, biologically proven to take charge in aggravating circumstances. So, I'm not just making this up.” The blonde encyclopedic mind spoke.

“Oh, I have no doubt, sweetheart. You are a very smart thirteen-year old, and certainly know what you are talking about.”

“So then, what is the basis for your opposing view?” Alex said with a tone of victory in her voice, thinking that her argument was solid and that Addy had nothing to support her position.

Addy chuckled looking at the triumphant looking Alex and remembering Karen's same attitude. She was undeniably the blonde's daughter! “On facts.”

“What facts are you talking about?”

“Your mom has never told you how she got that scar on her arm, has she?”

“No. I figure that what happened must have been awful and that she'd want to forget about it and, although I asked, I never got an answer, and then I didn't want to pressure her to tell me. Why?”

“It's not the hurt or the scar that she wanted to forget, but what almost happened. You see, Alex. I'm here today because of your mother” Addy then proceeded to tell her the story of her Range Rover going into the frozen lake and how Karen jumped in to save her.

Alex was so astonished that her eyes had gotten teary a couple of times. “So, Alex, somewhere in the depth of that lock, there is an orange Range Rover with a broken driver side window. It's still there. It went in so deep, it has never been recovered. All the proof left is me being here and your mother's arm. So, whenever you see her scar again, let that be a reminder to you that true love does exist. I found it in your mother. She is an extraordinary woman.”

“Wow!”

“You can say that again. Wow doesn't begin to describe your mom. She's a lot more than wow! But I'm very partial, as you can see. Now off to bed, young lady.”

“Call me if you need anything. Good night, M'Addy.” She came over and kissed Addy.

“Good night, baby. Don't stay up too late.”

Addy went to bed that night very mindful of her loved one. She woke up every couple of hours to check on Karen, who was sleeping like a log with all the medication she had taken. Karen had the small incision below her left breast covered. Addy smiled looking at Karen's bare breast. Her breasts weren't huge, but they were cute. She turned off the light and went back to sleep.

In the morning, she was up before Karen. It was Saturday and Alex was already eating cereal. “Sorry M'Addy, I was hungry and couldn't wait for breakfast. I can eat whatever if you make it. I'm still hungry. How's mom?”

“Mom, is still asleep, and since it looks like you are have already eaten something, you are going to have to wait a bit until I can make that ‘whatever' that you want because I'm going to make some coffee and bring it to your mom with her pills.”

“Okay, I'll wait.”

“Thank you.” The phone rang. “Can you get that?”

“Where's the phone? Don't worry, I found it here in the family room.”

“Hi Laurie, how are you guys? Yes. She's fine. She's in the kitchen making coffee. Hold on let me get her. M'Addyyyyy!!! It's Laurie!”

Laurie chuckled at the other end of the phone having to pull it away from her ear, when Alex screamed.

Alex brought the phone over and handed it to Addy.

“Bye Laurie!”

Addy filled Laurie in and talked to her for a few minutes only because she wanted to go see Karen who was probably up now on account of Alex's scream.”

**

When Addy went upstairs, Karen was already sitting up in bed. “Hey! How are you feeling green eyes?”

“Like shit! It hurts.”

“I have your pills here and some coffee.”

“Thanks.” She sat up and realized she was nude.

“Not even in my sleep and ill state, can you stay away from ravishing me?”

Addy chuckled and raised her eyebrows. “You wish! But don't worry, that tiny incision won't take long to heal and that's when I'll have my way with you. In fact, I may do things to you, you cannot possibly imagine. Here, let me help you put on a shirt, your daughter has been asking for you and might want to see you. I'd rather if she didn't get my reserved view.”

Karen grinned and chuckled as she carefully put her arms into the oversized shirt. “You are going to have to help me here, baby. I don't want to stretch this arm too far.” Addy helped her and kissed her. “You are also going to have to tell me what are those things I can't even imagine because, frankly, I don't think there's much we haven't explored.”

Addy again chuckled. “Tonight I'll give you all the details. I'd better go now. I've been looking at that breast for too long. I need to go and make some breakfast”

“What do you want pancakes, or an omelet?”

Karen chuckled. She knew that Addy was trying to make her feel better. What are you making for Alex?”

Addy grinned at Karen's teasing. “The hungry one said she would eat whatever. So, what do you want?”

“Then an omelet, please.”

“Coming right up. Lay back and call if you need anything. I'll tell her she can come to see you now, so get decent.”

“Hey! I'm always decent!”

Addy gave her the look, and Karen smiled.

**

After breakfast, the doctor called. All was normal. The results were negative.

Addy sat on the sofa speechless and began to decompress. “Are you okay, M'Addy?”

“Yes, honey. The test results were negative. Mommy is fine.”

Alex came to her and hugged her. “M'Addy!” Addy hugged her and kissed her. Her eyes were all watery. “Let's go tell her.”

They came into the bedroom. Karen was reclined on a mountain of pillows.

“Tell her Alex.” Karen looked at both of them expectantly.

“The test results were negative. You are fine.”

The green eyes on the bed shifted from Alex to Addy and became deep pools of tears, which immediately began to flood her face. The brown eyes were also wet. Alex came forward and kissed her mom. “You are okay, Mommy, you are okay.” Karen looked at her daughter and welcomed her kisses, but her eyes went back to the brunette who stood reclined against the door in a severe emotional state.

Karen called for her and Addy came forward and hugged the two blondes on her bed. Alex pulled out of the embrace and noticed how emotional the moms were. She realized they needed a moment to themselves and she excused herself. “I'll leave you two alone so that you can smooch a bit. Call me when you are done with the kissing.” She left the room.

The women chuckled at their daughter's comment. “I think we've damaged our child.” Addy stated. “No. I think she's lucky to know she has parents who smooch!” Alex smiled. She was still in the room. Alex was barely outside, when she overheard Karen's first comment when they thought she was out of the picture.

“Woman of my dreams and of my life, I love you.” Alex went downstairs smiling. Yes, she was lucky, very lucky.

 

Addy came forward and sat close to Karen who had just sat up in bed. Addy was still unable to speak. Karen knew that Addy had her usual lump in her throat that wouldn't allow her to say a word. So she brushed Addy's face with the back of her hand and spoke. Her green eyes looked bright and eager. “Got the lump, Huh?”

Addy nodded.

Karen smiled and spoke. “I cannot love you more than I do already. I never want to leave you, my Addy.” The green eyes misted when she saw tears run form the brown ones.

Addy came forward and kissed her. And they leaned their heads against each other and hugged and cried for a little while.

“No more crying, Blondie. You are okay! I'd better go check on Alex. Do you need anything?”

“No. I have everything.” Everything!

 

**

Three days later, Karen was back to normal in terms of her psychological and emotional state of mind. “How are the tiny ones this morning?” Karen had just come downstairs and Addy was busy in the kitchen making some sort of omelet. Addy began to call Karen's breasts her tiny ones.

Karen smiled. “After so many years, this is what you are going to call them? They are fine, and they are not that tiny.” Karen stuck out her tongue.

“True, but I came out losing in this deal.” She paused, pushed out her chest to show off her own.

Karen smiled. “You are right. Maybe that is why I love yours more than I love mine.” She chuckled.

“So, are the tiny ones ready for some action?” Addy continued with her jest trying to cheer up Karen in her convalescence stage.

“No, sorry. At least one isn't.”

“Hum! Does that mean the other one is? How interesting. I wonder if I can constrain myself.”

Karen laughed. “Addy, stop it! You are not getting near me!”

“Hum, let me make a note of that, this is a day to remember. What day is today?”

Karen chuckled. Addy came and kissed her on the cheek. “Do you need anything?”

“No. I'm fine.” Karen placed her elbow on the kitchen counter and rested her face on her hand and stared at Addy with a smile on her face. Addy continued with her chores.

“Are you going to be looking at me all day?”

“Yes. That is all I want to do today, and probably the rest of my life. I want to savor every moment of my beautiful life.”

Addy came close and brushed her hair back. “I'm flattered that you are savoring me, green eyes, but the problem is that you are turning me on and that presents a serious problem since you can't do anything about it. So, go sit in the family room and rest.”

“Who says I can't do anything about it?”

Addy gave her a questioning look. She cocked her right eye brow in her usual way.

“I said mine are not ready for action, but that doesn't mean yours aren't.” She wiggled her eyebrows. She knew that gesture would get to Addy.

Addy smiled and came forward and pretended to straighten her shirt collar. “Very funny Ms. Larsen. I would take you on, and I might have to if this convalescence lasts too long, but for now, I think we should play it safe for the sake of the tiny ones. I'm going to give you a rain check.” Her tone became serious. “I don't want you getting hurt. We can wait. Won't be the first time I wait for you.” Her look was very naughty.

Karen smiled. “Okay, but if there's imminent need, let me know and we'll figure out a way. It wouldn't be the first time we've circumvented physical impossibilities.” They smiled remembering the times during the pregnancy when Karen was huge and still they found ways to please each other.

“I have to go now, Ms. Larsen. Before our minds begin to get creative. I have a meeting in town with the Health Department Commissioner. Remember?”

Karen smiled and gasped. “I almost forgot! Go get ready. I'll finish cleaning the kitchen. Go!”

When Addy came back downstairs, she looked stunning wearing her tan suit and orange silk blouse. Her gold loop earrings and her bracelet and, of course, her gold and diamond band on her left finger completed the picture of a highly sophisticated, vibrant woman with an air of youth.

“Maybe I should go with you and make clear to all those city people that this turf has a ‘taken' sign on it. You look stunning, baby.”

“Thanks, sweetie.” She came over and kissed Karen. “But I don't think you need to reclaim your turf. It's well claimed already. Ta ta!”

Karen smiled still looking at the door closing in front of her.

To be continued in Part 14

 

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