Fourth and Goal



For disclaimers: See Part 1

Chapter 3

Mike Sloan walked into his darkened house. He dropped his bags on the floor by the door and tossed his keys on the table. Wearily, he went into the kitchen to grab a beer. After opening the refrigerator door and getting his beer, he closed it only to see his wife Miriam standing there. He plastered on a fake smile and greeted her. "Hi baby."

"Don't you 'Hi baby' me, you son of a bitch," she hissed.

"Is that any way for you to greet your loving husband?" He asked, not bothering to mask the sarcasm in his voice.

"You haven't been a loving husband in a long time, Mike." She walked over to the counter and turned to face him. "I only have one question."

"And what could that be?" he asked, staring smugly at her.


"Why what?"

"Why did you hurt her?"

"Football is a dangerous sport. Sometimes people get hurt," he told her as he shrugged his shoulders.

"Bastard!" she spat as she slapped him.

His head snapped to one side and before he knew it he had slapped her back, knocking her to the floor. Mike gasped. "I'm sorry," he said softly as he tried to help her from the floor.

She slapped his hand away. "You are not sorry. Just as you aren't sorry for hurting her," she hissed as she stood on her own.

Why the fuck does she care? I've hurt as many players as have hurt me. Mike's anger grew as the memory of the night his wife spent with Rock flashed before his eyes. "Are you still fucking her?" he demanded, grabbing her arms.

"Yes!" she responded. It was a lie but he didn't know it. That should get under your skin, you self-centered bastard, she thought as she sneered at him.

His grip tightened as he drew her inches from his face. "I knew it!" he roared as he slammed her against the refrigerator.

Miriam gasped in horror as she saw fury on her husband's face the likes of which she had never seen before. "Mike, you're hurting me," she whimpered.

His eyes glazed over as the rage took control. "You don't know a damn thing about hurting …yet." He began to hit her mercilessly.

A few nursing assistants gathered around the nurses' station also known as 'gossip central'. It was the beginning of the morning shift and the assistants were questioning nurses Kay Miller and Eva Sampson about Rock.

"So tell us, what's she like?" the male assistant, Steven, inquired.

"What do you mean what's she like?" Nurse Miller asked. She chuckled at the way the assistants were waiting with baited breath to hear the 411 on the celebrity patient. Her demeanor then turned serious. "She's a woman who is here for medical reasons, not to be fawned over."

Nurse Sampson added her comments as well. "That's right. Ms. Rockwell sustained a brutal injury. She needs help and Kay and I expect you to conduct yourselves as professionals, not a bunch of groupies."

"You have to admit E, she is quite a looker," the female assistant stated. "How can you not be in awe of such beauty?"

"Because she's not here on vacation," Eva snapped. "The woman is paralyzed, and if her surgery isn't successful then she may never walk again." She paused, giving them a stern look. "Do not harass her. If you do, I will have no choice but to write you up."

The group started to complain, but was quickly silenced when the elevator doors opened. Kay groaned when she saw Dr. Andrews step onto the floor. She smirked and gave Eva a soft poke with her elbow. "Here comes Dr. God."

"Don't you people have work to do?" Dr. Andrews bellowed as he walked to the nurses' station. The nursing assistants scattered quickly.

Eva plastered on a fake smile. "Good morning Dr. Andrews."

"Give me the Rockwell chart," he ordered, not bothering to return Eva's greeting.

Asshole, she thought as she handed him the metal chart.

Kay gave Eva a knowing look as they both waited for the explosion that was bound to happen as soon as the good doctor opened the chart.

"What the hell is this?" he demanded. "Why is my name not on this chart? I'm Rockwell's doctor."

Kay mentally pumped her fist in the air as she heard the faint clicking of someone using a cane coming down the hall. She was thankful she wouldn't have to explain the situation to the condescending doctor. "Well doctor, you can ask the family member who requested the change. She's coming down the hall right now."

The vein in Andrews' forehead was pulsing as his anger grew. He knew that he had to get it under control so that he could make nice with the family and get put back on the case. All I have to do is sweet talk her and I'll be back in. I need this to finally get the monkey off my back for that debacle of a surgery I performed all those years ago. If I can get that Rockwell woman back on the field, I can write my own ticket and get away from this hospital, he thought as he got himself under control. He put on one of his best smiles and turned to greet the member of the Rockwell family that had him removed. His smile faded as quickly as it came when he saw who the family member was.

Johnnie's grip on her cane tightened when she saw Clayton Andrews and his two-cent smile. Thought you were gonna slide your way back into this, huh Andrews? She mused as she walked closer to her most hated enemy.

"Ms. Green," he began, " I don't know if you remember me but I'm Dr. Clay…"

Johnnie held up her hand. "I know who you are, Andrews. That's why I got you kicked off this case. I don't want you anywhere near my granddaughter."

"If I may have a moment of your time," he hurriedly spoke. "I am a more experienced surgeon now. I have documentation to prove it."

"I don't care if you got a letter of recommendation from Jesus himself," she spat, tapping her cane on the floor with every word. "No way, no how are you gonna be my little girl's doctor." She stepped closer to him, merely inches from his face. "You took something as simple as an arthroscopy and managed to fuck it up. Do you honestly think that I'll allow you to get near her spine?"

Kay and Eva sat back and watched the exchange with huge grins on their faces. They were happy to see someone chew Andrews a new asshole.

"Ms. Rockwell is an adult. I'll just go and talk with her," he said, barely able to hide the venom in his voice. He moved past Johnnie to go to Rock's room but immediately stopped when he felt the handle of Johnnie's cane hook around his arm.

"I told you, Andrews," she said through clenched teeth. "You're not gonna do a damned thing to my grandbaby. If you go anywhere near her I'll use this cane that you so graciously left me with to bash your head in. Are we clear?"

Andrews swallowed audibly and turned in order to release himself from her cane. "Crystal clear," he said quietly as he turned to walk away. There's more than one way to skin a cat, he thought as his mind hatched a plot.

Kay and Eva, who were all smiles, waited until Andrews turned the corner before giving each other a high five. Johnnie laughed at the antics of the two nurses.

"I take it that you're not a fan of that asshole," Johnnie stated as she leaned against the waist high desk.

"You got that right," Eva said as she looked up into dark brown eyes. "He's so arrogant."

"Amen to that," Kay added. "No one likes him."

Johnnie chuckled. "That's understandable. I do detest that man."

"What can we do for you, Ms. Green?" Eva asked her new hero.

"I just wanted to let you know that her teammates will be coming in and out of here today. If they get out of line, just let me know. I know just how to handle them," she said as she gently slapped the handle of her cane into the palm of her hand."

The nurses laughed, but stifled it when they heard the elevator doors opening again. They both got up and began to make their rounds.

"Gram!" a masculine voice boomed.

Johnnie turned around in time to be scooped up by Jarrod Buckner. He twirled her around and kissed her cheek. "We missed you yesterday."

"Boy if you don't put me down I'm gonna whup you with my stick," Johnnie said. JB dutifully put down his adopted grandmother. "How have you been, son?" she asked as she cupped his bearded cheek.

"I'm ok. How is Rock?" he asked her, his voice full of concern.

Johnnie sighed heavily. "She was ok yesterday, but today I just don't know. I guess it's finally sinking in."

JB looked down pensively at the floor. "I would have come yesterday, but I didn't think I should. I was in that dark place, Gram. I didn't think she needed to see me like that."

Johnnie nodded in agreement. She knew how JB felt about her granddaughter. They were more like brother and sister than teammates. She had to bail them both out of jail on a number of occasions when they got into trouble for fighting. JB had put a man in the hospital because he verbally attacked Rock. He was very protective of her, and she of him. "I know how you feel about her and so does she." She gave him a grandmotherly smile.

JB's fists were clenched tightly as he thought about the events of the previous day. "When I get my hands on that son of a bitch Sloan I'm gonna tear him a new asshole."

She looked up at the mountain of a man, pulling his chin so he could look into her eyes. "Listen to me, JB. I don't want you to be doing anything of the kind. Do you hear me? Let the league handle this. We need to be strong for Squirt. She's gonna need all of us to help her get through this. Are you listening to me, son?"

"Gram, the league will probably give him a fine or something. Sloan is a popular player," JB argued. "He's hurt players before and gotten away with it." His eyes filled with tears. "This was personal."

Johnnie released his chin. "What do you mean personal?"

JB shoved his hands into his pockets. "Gram, I can't say."

"Boy you better tell me what the hell is going on," she demanded.

"There's a history between Sloan and Rock," he reluctantly revealed. "Sloan is notorious for cheating on his wife."

Johnnie grasped his arm. "You don't have to say anything else." She figured that Rock had probably slept with his wife. Johnnie knew how her granddaughter was. She knew that Rock had a raging libido and was sought after by many women and Rock never turned a woman down. Johnnie shook her head. "How long ago did it happen?"

"Gram, that's the thing. Rock was with his wife in her rookie season. She told me about it being some sort of favor to Miriam to get back at Sloan. I know she hasn't touched her since."

"Hell, that was years ago," Johnnie whispered. "Why did he wait so long?" The private investigator in her was coming to the surface.

JB took his hands from his pockets and scratched his beard with his left hand. "I don't know, Gram."

"Guess we're gonna have to find out," Johnnie said. "Now let's go see Squirt."


Anton Margolies, a patient at the Carolinas Medical Center, had just been wheeled into the hallway of the physical therapy room. He noticed a young man sitting in a wheelchair waiting to be taken into the room. He smiled and extended his hand. "Hello there, young fellow. The name is Anton. What are you in here for?"

The young man shook his hand and returned his smile. "Hi. My name is Calvin. I got hurt on my job."

"Sorry to hear that," Anton said. "Who are you waiting to see?"

"Some guy named O'Hara," he told him.

Anton gasped. "Oh my God, you have Attilla."

Calvin furrowed his eyebrows in question. "Attila? No, I think the first initial is C."

Before Anton could respond, he heard the squeaking of shoes as someone was coming around the corner. He looked up and a broad smile grew on his face.

"Good morning, Mr. Margolies. How are you today?" Caitlin asked as she slowed down.

Anton straightened in his wheelchair. "I'm doing just fine, and you?"

"I'll be doing better after this day is over. I hate Mondays," She said, stopping just in front of his wheelchair. "I hear you're going to be leaving us soon."

The older man's smile faded. "Unfortunately yes."

"Well, don't forget the dance you owe me before you leave," she whispered as she patted his narrow shoulder.

"I won't," he beamed.

Caitlin looked over at Calvin. "Good morning, sir."

Calvin was leering at the gray-eyed beauty, noticing her full bosom and curved hips. "Uhm, sorry. Good morning."

She noticed the way the man was staring at her, but she shook it off. "Well, I better get going. I have to get my morning cup of coffee before I can start working. I'll see you later, Mr. Margolies."

"Have a nice day." He smiled at his friend as he watched her walk away. He then noticed the way that Calvin was looking at her.

Calvin watched her until he could no longer see her hips swaying in the morning sun. "Damn that woman is fine," he said as she shook his head. I hope that she'll be my nurse. I think I'm gonna need a sponge bath later."

Anton laughed quietly. "She's not a nurse. That was Attilla."

"What?" Calvin gasped. "That sweet young thing was Attilla?" He paused. "Then that means we'll get up close and personal. I can hardly wait."

"Let me tell you something about her." Anton took on a serious tone. "She's the best PT here and she takes her job seriously. She can be very pleasant, but if you goof around, she can get really mean."

"Oh, I think I can handle her," Calvin replied.

I've seen bigger bucks than you come in here and think they can run over Caitlin. They were in for a real treat. Anton chuckled to himself. "If you say so."

Caitlin smiled when she walked into the lounge and smelled coffee that only her friend Carlton, who she affectionately called Bluto, could make. She called him Bluto because he reminded her of an ancient cartoon character. "Morning, Bluto."

"Hey Shorty," Bluto greeted cheerfully as he poured a cup of coffee and handed it to her. "So tell me how you enjoyed the game yesterday."

She took the much-needed cup and sighed as she sipped the hazelnut delight. "It was ok." Caitlin shivered as she thought about Rock being hurt.

"I saw what happened on TV. I hope Sloan gets what's coming to him. He's such a bully."

Caitlin looked at her friend. "What do you mean?"

Bluto sat on the edge of the table. "This isn't the first time that he's injured another player."

"Then why is he allowed to play?" she inquired.

"Because he's a big attraction. He makes money for the league."

"That isn't fair," Caitlin spat as she slammed her fist on the table. "That's why I hate that sport."

Bluto was surprised at his friend's reaction. "Well damn, Shorty. I didn't know you felt so strongly about this."

"I'm sorry, Bluto." Caitlin blushed. Why am I so upset about this?

"Anyway, I guess I better get going, Mr. Margolies is waiting for me," Bluto said as he stood up. "You have a new patient today. I think he's waiting out by the PT room."

"Oh no," she sighed. "I think we've already met."

"That bad, huh?" He asked sympathetically.

"Yeah," she replied. "I guess Attilla will be in the PT room today."

Bluto groaned.

Chapter 4

Rock awakened to an empty room. She turned her head to look where her grandmother had slept the previous night. She sighed heavily as she lifted her hand to run it across her face. What am I going to do now? She questioned herself. If I can't walk, then I can't play. Football is my life. All I want to do is play.

Her eyes filled with tears as she bemoaned her predicament. "This is bullshit," she said aloud, wiping the tears from her face. Rock hated to cry. She felt that it made her weak, made her vulnerable.

Johnnie walked in and saw the look of despair on Rock's face. She held up her hand to forestall JB from entering the room with her. She walked over to the hospital bed and took Rock's hand into her own. "What's going on, Squirt?"

"I don't know what I'm gonna do, Gram," she revealed as her voice cracked under the strain. "What if I never walk again? I won't be able to play football anymore."

"Listen to me, baby," Johnnie said, her voice barely above a whisper. "You're going to be just fine. Spencer is one of the best surgeons in the country. He has handled some serious cases and helped his patients regain the use of their limbs." She paused and kissed her granddaughter's hand. "You will be on that field again. You will be playing the game you love so much," she assured her.

Rock wiped an errant tear from her cheek. "Thanks, Gram."

"Now that we've settled that, JB is here to see you," Johnnie informed her.

"He is?" Rock asked and then paused thoughtfully. "Is he ok, Gram?"

Johnnie smiled. "He's ok. I had a long talk with him, and he's going to behave himself."

"Good. I don't want him to get into any trouble behind this mess," Rock said. "Well, tell him to get his ass in here."

Rich laughter erupted from Johnnie as she walked over to the door and motioned for JB to come in.

JB pensively walked in and looked at his best friend lying paralyzed in the bed. Forcing tears back and clearing his throat, he finally managed to speak. "Hey buddy, how you feeling?"

"You can come closer. I won't bite," Rock teased.

"You scared the shit out of me yesterday," he admitted as he moved closer to her.

Rock smiled at him. "Sorry. It wasn't my fault."

A scowl formed on JB's face. "I know, and when I get my hands on that asshole I'm gonna rip him a new one."

Johnnie walked over to him and grabbed him by his ear. He immediately yelped. "What did I tell you earlier about that?"

"Ow, Gram. I'm sorry. I'll be good, I promise."

She gave his ear an extra twist for good measure. "You better not break your promise to me, boy. If you do, I'm gonna make you lay across the bed and whup your ass but good."

When Johnnie released his ear, his hand went up to it in an effort to soothe it. He knew that she meant every word of what she said. JB remembered the first time he met Rock's grandmother.

"Do you think she'll like me?" JB asked his new best friend.

"Yeah. Calm down for crying out loud." Rock told him. "You act like you're gonna ask for my hand in marriage."

JB laughed heartily. "Never happen, cap'n. We're both after the same thing."

"Damn right." she said as she pulled up to the farm. "Well, here we are."

He got out of the car and followed Rock up the steps and onto the wrap around porch. JB watched as an elderly woman with snow-white hair that flowed freely over her shoulders walked toward them from the other side of the house.

"Gram!" Rock shouted as she ran back down the steps. She picked the woman up and twirled her around.

"Put me down, Squirt before I whup you with my stick," The woman told her, smiling the entire time she was being held like a long lost doll.

'Squirt?' JB wondered, the smirk growing on his face.

Rock placed her grandmother back onto solid ground and turned to JB and growled. "You tell anyone about that and I'll kick your ass."

He laughed and walked over to the two women, extending his hand to the older one. "Hi, Ms. Green. I'm Jarrod Buckner. It's a pleasure to finally meet you."

"Well, this is an unexpected surprise. A boy with manners." Johnnie said as she took the larger hand into her own. "Maybe some of that can rub off on Squirt here."

"That asshole is worse than I am," Rock laughed.

Johnnie tapped Rock's backside with her cane. "What did I tell you about cussing in front of company?"

"I am a grown ass woman, and I can cuss in front of this fucktard. He ain't company."

"Go get me a switch," Johnnie ordered.

"For what?" Rock asked indignantly.

"Cause, I'm gonna whup your ass, that's why."

"You can cuss and I can't?"

"I'm grown, you are still a child just learning how to pee straight. Now go get my switch," she said a little more forcefully.

JB was amazed that his friend went off to get the switch. She returned with a long one. As Johnnie made her way to the house, JB turned to Rock. "Is she really gonna give you a spanking?"

"No. She's just doing this for show. I'm an adult now. She wouldn't dare whup me."

They walked into the cozy house and Johnnie turned to Rock. "Lay down across the day bed."

"Gram, please. Don't you think that I'm too old for this?"

"Nope. Now get your ass over on that bed."

"You're serious?"

"As a heart attack and twice as deadly."

"But Gram…"

JB watched in stunned silence as Rock lay across the bed. He stepped out of the house as her grandmother went to work Rock's backside.

JB shook his head, bringing him back to the present when he heard Rock calling his name.

"Where did you go, buddy?" She asked, concern shadowing the tone of her voice.

JB gave her a smile. "I was remembering the first time I met Gram, and how she gave you a spanking."

Johnnie and Rock laughed, remembering that day with fondness. "I didn't hurt her too much, JB. I was always the soft touch as far as she was concerned." Johnnie said. "Now, her Abuela was a different story."

Rock whole-heartedly agreed. "Yeah, now she really knew how to swing a switch."

Michael and Nadina's limousine pulled to a stop in front of the hospital doors. As Michael got out and stretched his long frame, he noticed the classic black 2004 Lincoln Navigator parked in one of the handicapped spaces. "Shit!" he spat.

Nadina followed him and silently hoped that he wouldn't notice her mother's SUV in the parking lot. When she heard his expletive she knew that he had seen it. "Michael," she whispered as she placed her delicate hand on his chest, "please don't get into an argument with Mama. You have to think of how Vali will feel."

"My love, I won't make any promises. It will be up to Johnnie if we get along. But know this, I won't tolerate any of her meddling."

Nadina sighed. "I know Mama won't start any trouble with you. She loves Vali and will do all she can to keep her happy."

"Well, I'll believe it when I see it," he scoffed. He took her hand and kissed it. "Let's go see our daughter."

They walked quietly into the lobby and over to the elevators. When they entered the elevator, Nadina thought about the closeness her daughter and her mother shared.

"I'm not going to Greece this summer."

Michael turned from the window in his study and looked at his daughter. "What did you just say to me young lady?"

"I said that I'm NOT going to go to Greece this summer," a thirteen-year-old Rock vehemently said. " Gram said that I could come and spend the summer with her and Abuela."

'That damned Johnnie.' "She had no right to promise you without speaking to us first," he snapped. "Your grandparents are expecting you to spend the summer with them."

Ice-blue eyes glared into her father's matching eyes. "You had no right to tell them that I would be spending my summer with them. I don't even speak the language."

He knew that his headstrong daughter wouldn't be bullied so he changed his approach. "Of course you don't speak the language because you've never bothered to learn it." He moved closer to her. "You speak fluent Spanish. You should have no problem learning Greek."

"Abuela made it fun," Rock argued. "Grandmother doesn't try to teach me."

"You haven't given it a chance, Vali," he reasoned. "If you would put forth some effort…"

"I know what this is all about!" Rock yelled. "You hate Gram and you want to keep us apart."

Nadina knew she was right. She just hated that the animosity between her husband and her mother was so obvious that her daughter saw it. "Your father doesn't hate Gram, Vali. They just don't see eye to eye on things."

Rock turned to her mother. "I heard him on the phone with grandfather talking about how much he despised Gram."

Nadina glared at Michael, who took a sudden interest in the floor. She knew what Rock was telling her was the truth.

Rock then turned back to her father. "I'm going to Goldsboro this summer to be with Gram and Abuela."

The woman in the middle, Nadina, hoped that Michael would relent because she knew that Rock wouldn't. 'I won't side with you on this Michael.'

Rock and Michael stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity to Nadina. She held her breath and waited for the explosion to occur.

"Fine. Spend the summer mucking out stalls instead of exploring Greece," Micheal huffed and walked out of the room.

Nadina sent up a silent prayer that Michael and Johnnie would behave themselves. The elevator doors opened and they stepped out. They walked over to the nurses' station. "Good morning," Nadina greeted the nursing assistant standing next to the desk. "Could you tell us what room Valeria Rockwell is in?"

The assistant looked up into a stunningly beautiful face. He knew immediately that she had to be Rock's mother. "Yes ma'am. She's in room 715."

Nadina smiled. "Thank you." She took her husband's hand and they walked to Rock's hospital room. She peeked in and saw her mother, Rock and JB. Mama looks well, she thought. She knocked quietly on the door and opened it.

Johnnie smiled. Nadina looks just like Alma. "Rock, your parents are here."

Rock looked over at her parents and smiled. "Hi, mom. Hi, dad."

Nadina rushed over to the bedside and kissed Rock's cheek. "How are you feeling, Vali?"

"Not so good, mom. I guess you know that for the time being I'm paralyzed."

"I know, baby," Nadina said.

Michael walked over and stood behind Nadina. "I'm sure that the doctors here are good, but I'll be calling in a specialist for you, baby."

"That won't be necessary," Johnnie interrupted. "I've already taken care of it."

Michael's eyes snapped up to meet Johnnie's. "What do you mean you've already taken care of it?"

Johnnie could hear the venom in his voice, but held her own temper in check. Not in front of the baby, asshole. "Just what I said. You wouldn't believe who was assigned to her."

"Who was it, mama?" Nadina asked.

"Clayton Andrews," Johnnie spat.

Nadina straightened and looked at her mother. "Wasn't he the one who…"

"Yes," Johnnie interrupted. "There was no way he was gonna operate on Squirt."

"I totally agree with you, Mama," Nadina quickly acknowledged.

"Thank you, Johnnie," Michael said through gritted teeth. Still meddling in my family's affairs, old woman?

"Why don't we step outside and discuss this," Nadina suggested, feeling the tension grow thick between Johnnie and Michael. "JB can keep Vali company until we get back."

"Gram? You're coming back, right?" Rock asked, almost pleading.

"Yeah, Squirt," Johnnie assured her. "Just gonna go outside and talk to your folks."

JB waited until they were all out of the room. "What the hell was up with your dad and Gram?"

Rock sighed. "Nothing but the usual. They hate each other." She paused. "At least they didn't come to blows this time."

Michael turned on his heels and faced Johnnie when they were in the hallway. "How dare you call in a specialist without consulting us first."

Johnnie's eyebrow lifted. "I told Squirt that I was gonna take care of this and I did just that." she growled.

"When are you going to start minding your own business old woman?" he yelled as he stepped closer to her.

"Don't let the devil fool you, boy!" Johnnie yelled back and closed the gap between them. "There may be snow on the roof…"

Nadina stepped between them. "We are not going to do this," she forcefully said. "Vali doesn't need this right now. We have to be a family for her sake."

Michael walked away from both of them with Johnnie's eyes boring holes in his back.

"Please, Mama. For Vali's sake, try to get along with him."

Johnnie's anger lessened as she looked into the face of her daughter. She had distanced herself from Nadina's life because she did not want her to have to choose between her and Michael. She cupped the beautiful face of her only surviving child. "You look so much like your mother, Little One."

Tears spilled from Nadina's brown eyes. "It's been a long time since you've called me that, Mama. I've missed hearing it."

"Not as much as I've missed saying it."

"It's been too long since we've seen each other," Nadina whispered as she embraced Johnnie.

Johnnie couldn't help but wrap her arms around Nadina. "Too long, Little One."

"Oh Mama, your shirt is wet," she said.

Johnnie chuckled. "Not a problem. Just the tears of my baby. It'll wash out." She paused. "I have an idea about Squirt's rehabilitation."

Nadina pulled back and looked up into her mother's eyes. "What do you have in mind?"

"I think that she should do her rehab at the Charlotte Institute of Rehabilitation."

"Why there, Mama?"

"I just have this gut feeling about one of the therapists there."

"Mama, are you matchmaking?"

Johnnie smirked. "Yes."

"You know Vali hates that."

"I know, but she needs someone in her life to settle her down. I'm not going to be here always, and I want to see her happy."

Nadina's expression changed. "Are you alright, Mama?"

"Yes, Little One. I'm fine," she assured her. "But I am getting on in years and I want my granddaughter to find the happiness that your mother and I had. The happiness that you have with Michael."

"And you think that this person could be the one."

"Just stay with me in Squirt's room tonight and see for yourself."



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