One Mo’ Time
By Carrie Ryan and K.Darblyne
Copyright © 2014 by Carrie Ryan & K.Darblyne
"Talk Is Cheap, We've Got Something Money Can't Buy...So Baby Won't You Love Me Like You Do Just One Mo' Time"–Written by Steve Brown
Date: February 7
“Yes, we can handle that. Promo deals and CD release parties are a particular specialty of Brownstone Records.” Brooke thought of her wife, Sam, the driving force behind that particular end of the business and was unable to suppress the smile coming to her lips. “No, I’m sorry, we don’t supply groupies. Your band will have to supply their own fan base. We’ll get the word out to them but Brownstone won’t ever be a part of false representation in any way, shape or form. Of that, I can guarantee you one hundred percent,” she assured her client. “I deliver what I promise. Your band will get the best send-off in the music industry as any of the other companies out there, maybe even better with our distinctive personnel. All they have to do is commit to being the best musicians they can possibly be. The rest is up to fate.”
Brooke rolled her eyes at the man’s constant rehashing of the phone conversation until the soft sound of whistling grew louder intriguing her curiosity. She turned toward the door to see it opening and her talent scout, Peter stepped into her office.
Peter abruptly stopped whistling. “Whoops! Sorry, Boss. I didn’t know...”
She held up her finger, then pointed to a chair. “I assure you, my words are as good as any legally binding contract. Yes, I’ll have that contract in the mail for you to look over by the end of the week.” Brooke rolled her eyes as the discussion on the other side droned on. “I’ll do that. Yes. Talk to you soon. Tell the group I can’t wait to start working with them.” Brooke hung up the phone. “Long winded son of a bitch,” she muttered before turning her attention to the man seated across from her. “Hey, Pete, did you need something?”
“Yeah, well…it’s about something coming up in the near future. Actually…like in a week or so.”
Brooke pulled up her calendar on the computer. “Hmm…We’ve got the CD release at midnight on February 10, scouting that new band in Fairfax on the twelfth and the tour’s kick-off on the sixteenth, unless you’re referring to the studio session work.”
Peter cleared his throat. “Yeah, I know about those. What I don’t know about is,” He ran over and closed the door to Brooke’s office. “I…I don’t know what to do for V-day.”
She watched her friend and employee carefully as he ambled back to the chair and sat down. “V-Day? What in the hell is V-day?”
“You know…V-day. This is the second year were dating and I don’t think I’ll make the same kind of brownie points with Crystal carrying a bunch of flowers and a heart-shaped box of chocolates no matter how big they are. What should I do?” Peter stared hopefully at his friend. “Come on, you’re the mastermind here. Help me out.”
“Well, you could do what I did and get a…” Brooke stopped short. “Oh my god!” She raked her hands through her hair, pulling at the base of her skull until her elbows met her desktop, bouncing with each word. “I forgot about Valentine’s Day. I am so in trouble. Damn, how did I let that slip by? There’s never enough time anymore.”
“Brooke, what do you mean there’s not enough time? It’s a week away. Hell, any fool knows that flowers will die if you buy them too early.”
“Not flowers, pal, the Melting Pot. Sam said something about wanting to go there several months before Chase arrived. I promised her that we would go on Valentine’s Day.” Brooke looked over at Peter. “Dude, reservations for V-day are made a year in advance.”
“There’s always next year.”
“Oh, that’s not good enough. I’m walking on egg shells for the last few weeks. I can’t tell her I forgot to make the reservations. I’ll be in the doghouse.” Brooke pushed off her desk and started to pace. “Hell, I’ll be under the doghouse.”
“You, under the doghouse? I find that hard to believe. Sam loves you, Brooke.”
“Oh, I know she loves me. It’s…well…she’s been a pinch hormonal lately.”
“Hormonal? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Two or three nights ago we were in bed and Sam said that she was hot so I turned on the fan and got back in bed.”
“Next thing I know, she’s cold so I turned off the fan, got her a blanket and went back to bed. I didn’t know she was trying to be…you know…romantic.” She watched as Peter pulled out a notepad and started writing frantically. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Taking notes,” Peter smiled back at her. “I figure I can learn from your mistakes just as well as if they were my own.”
“Fine,” Brooke wiped her face with her hand. “It turned out that Sam accused me of not thinking that she was attractive anymore and Chase started crying. Next thing I know, Sam was crying and soon enough, every living thing in the house was crying.”
“Not a good thing, right?”
“No.” Brooke thought for a moment. “She’s stressed, Peter. I really wanted to give her a special night. Now what am I going to do?”
“There’s always Pizza Hut. They got an all you can eat—”
“Really, Peter? Oh God, you definitely need help more than I do.” Brooke covered her eyes with her hand in an attempt to remain calm. “Do you love her?”
“ME? Sam? She’s your wife. Besides, why would I admit that to you? I’m not nuts or have a death wish.”
Brooke reached over and slapped Peter on the shoulder. “No dumb ass, Crystal. Do you love Crystal?”
“Oh, Crystal,” Peter reiterated. “Yeah…well, more of a yes.”
She watched, stunned as Peter danced around in a little macho dance move.
“We get it on,” he winked.
“So you guys ‘get it on’?” Brooke started ticking things off with her fingers. “She stays over at your house at least three times a week. You cleaned out your dresser and closet space for her. You refer to Aunt Sandy as ‘Mom’ and you two have been ‘getting it on’ for over a year. I said…do you love her?” She watched as Peter stared blankly back at her. “You must love her otherwise you wouldn’t care about the flowers and candy.”
“Okay,” Peter acquiesced with a pained look on his face. “I’ll say it. I love her. Brooke, if you so much as breathe a word of this outside these walls, I’ll…I’ll…” he slumped back into his chair. “I’m a whipped puppy, aren’t I?”
“No more than the rest of us.” Brooke accentuated her answer with a hearty laugh. “Absolutely, you’re whipped but hell, it takes one to know one.”
“Gee, thanks for keeping me company down in this hell hole of happiness, Brooke.”
“Anytime, my friend. Anytime,” she studied Peter.
“I still don’t know what to do. I mean, can flowers say it all like the advertisements claim? I’m thinking not.”
“Do something special. Plan a whole night for her. You know she works those mad hours at the hospital. Cook her a nice candlelit dinner, pour her a glass of wine, draw a bubble bath for her, serenade her. Do something special so she knows how you feel.”
“I think I still remember how to make fried mush, but that’s not very romantic.”
“Call my Mom. I’m positive she’ll help you with the dinner, if you ask her nicely.”
“I never thought of Mrs. G.”
Brooke rested her hand on Peter’s shoulder. “And if all else fails, you can’t go wrong with jewelry.”
“Jewelry is nice, but don’t you think if I bring out a box that doesn’t have a ring in it, Crystal will be disappointed? I’m not sure I’m ready for the ring thing yet.”
“Then, how about a bracelet or necklace? The boxes are longer and won’t be misconstrued. Therefore, no awkward moments.”
“Hmmm…Crystal does have a nice neck. Long and sleek…”
Brooke let Peter think about it for a few seconds. “So, what’s it going to be?”
“Yeah, that’s it. I’ll get her flowers, candy and a necklace.” Peter got up from his chair and headed for the door. “Thanks, Brooke. I knew you’d have the answer.”
“Glad I could help, Pete.” Brooke watched as he whistled his way out her door before turning to look out the window. “Now, what am I going to do for Sam?”
Brooke swung around in her chair only to see her long-time employee, Ida, standing in her doorway. “What’s up, Ida?”
“Did you leave your phone somewhere again?”
“I don’t think so…” Brooke searched her pockets. “Here it is. Damn!” She shook it and winced. “Dead battery, I guess.”
“I thought so. You have a call on line two, Brooke. You might want to take this one.”
“Oh shit! Thank you, Ida.” She grabbed for the phone and punched line two. “Brooke Gordon, here.”
“As if I wouldn’t recognize that voice. I hope you’re having a good day without me.”
“Sam. Hi, baby. How’s your day going? I sure do miss you.”
“And I miss you too. Although, what I really would like to miss is being knee deep in poop.”
The cacophony coming from the phone made Brooke yank the phone from her ear.
“What was that, Dar’lin?”
“I’ll tell you what it’s not…quiet. I think I miss that the most. It doesn’t help to keep the noise factor down here at home since Mario fathered the demon spawn litter from Hell.”
“But you have to admit they are cute pups.”
“Cute, yes. Quiet, no. Anyway, I just wanted to remind you if you still intend on taking me out to the Melting Pot on Valentine’s Day that we’re going to need someone to keep an eye on things here. Do you have an idea what time our reservation is for? I’m sorry, Brooke, I know I shouldn’t be bothering you with this at work. I should just call the restaurant and ask myself.”
“Shit, shit, shit,” Brooke cursed under her breath. “Yeah, hon, the Melting Pot. I…uhm…I need to double check the reservation time. Now, as a babysitter, we could always ask C.C. if she’d mind playing grown-up for the night.”
Sam laughed heartily. “C.C., a grown-up? That will be something different.”
Brooke caught a glimpse of Ida outside her door and started to snap her fingers to get the woman’s attention. Once done she held up a finger and scribbled a message on the back of a contract before holding it up for Ida to see—Melting Pot, V-day, dinner, any time.
“Huh?” Ida squinted and looked rather puzzled.
Brooke quickly ripped off the piece of paper and folded it, making a paper airplane. With a flick of her wrist, she lopped it into the air and watched it sail across her office and through the doorway.
“And to think you’re the CEO of this company.” Ida plucked the paper plane out of the air and unfolded it. “Is this some kind of joke, Brooke? You know that place is booked a year in advance.”
“Sam, I’ve got another line ringing. I’ll be right back.” Brooke muted the phone. “Ida, please. Please, just call and see what they can do, even if it’s not for Valentine’s Day. I’ll take the next available date. Even if it has to be before the fourteenth,” Brooke pleaded with clasped hands.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. I may be a magician-of-sorts, but you’re asking for a miracle.”
“Ida, if you can make this happen, I’ll…I’ll give you a month’s salary as a bonus on top of your quarterly.
“It’s your money, but I’m not counting on it.”
Brooke unmuted her phone.
“Brooke, are you still there?”
“Yes, Baby, I’m back. I’m sorry, but Ida needed my approval on something.” She raised her voice so that Ida could hear her. “So she could get to work on it right now.”
A few moments later Brooke looked up to see Ida returning to the doorway with a message of her own for Brooke to read— April 1 at 10pm. Table for two next to the kitchen.
“Excuse me, Darlin’. Ida, can you please request a sooner date? Tell them I’m willing to pay for the inconvenience.”
“Oh, you’re going to pay but I don’t think it’s possible, short of killing someone.”
Brooke hurriedly muted the phone. “If I don’t have a table in that restaurant on Valentine’s Day someone will be killed…ME! Please, please, please,” she fiddled with the buttons on the phone unmuting it again. “Sorry about that, Hon.”
“Hey, Sis. What’s up?” C.C. poked her head into the doorway. “What’s with all the strained faces around here today? Did someone forget to eat their prunes today?”
“Brooke, is that C.C.? Why don’t you just tell her now about the babysitting and let me know what time we’re leaving for the restaurant later. No rush. God knows I’m not going to be able to do anything about it until that night. Besides, I’ve got a little present or two for you afterward.”
Brooke gulped. “Uh…sure, Sam. I’ll ask her. Present or two you say?”
“Yeah, let’s just hope I’ll be in the mood to…oh, no you don’t. You’re not getting that out of me now. I’m not going to spoil your surprise. Not when I’ve planned it this long.”
“Love you, Babe.” Brooke hung up the phone and proceeded to bang her head on her desk. “I’m so screwed.”
“And since when is that not a given?”
Brooke lifted her head to see her sister sauntering into her office before plopping into a chair.
“I could have told you that the first time you acquisitioned my dorm room for your…”
“Hey, hey, hey,” Brooke cautioned. “I’m not talking that kind of screwed, dear sister. I said I’m screwed not screwing.”
“Oh, sorry. Guess I did miss that ‘-ing’ there. So, why are you screwed? Did you not bring enough kibble home from the store for that mob of Mario’s demons?”
“No. Sam wanted me to get reservations at a specific restaurant for Valentine’s Day since we didn’t really get to do a lot last year. I was so busy with everything going on lately that I…” Brooke took in a breath and let it out. “I kind of forgot. Now, the earliest date Ida can get me in is April first.”
“April Fool's day. At least it is a holiday.”
“Seems I’m the fool here.”
Brooke cleared her throat and mumbled out, “HhmRruhrunhrt.”
“Where? I don’t think I know that one.”
Resigning to her fate, Brooke threw back her head and looked at the ceiling. “The Melting Pot, Chase.The Melting Pot.”
“Oh god, why there? You're screwed. That place is like the A list for all of Virginia. I don't think you're going to have any luck with that one. You'd have to be something special to geta reservation there now at this late date…or someone special.”
“I know. I'm going to have to think of somewhere else. Dammit, all Sam wanted was to go to that restaurant. I was on the phone with her when you got here. She was calling to ask about the reservation time. Speaking of... if I can manage to get us dinner reservations, could you uhm... you know... come sit at the house? I know you've probably got plans with Jeff or something, but worst you can say is no, right?” Brooke waited for her sister’s answer.
“Hmmm...let's say that by some odd reasoning...twist of fate...miracle perhaps, you do get this reservation at the Melting Pot. What's it worth to you?”
“What’s it worth to me,” Brooke sat up straighter. “Monetarily speaking?”
“Moola, cash, sawbucks, call it what you will.” C.C. smiled. “However you want to pay it out.”
“Sam wants this. Money is no object,” Brooke stated and kept rambling on. “But Ida has already tried. If you could at least come stay at the house to take care of things for a couple hours while we're out. Jeff can come with you and I'll send you two to Atlantic City for a weekend on me.”
“And if I could get you a reservation?” C.C. countered. “You can’t go to Atlantic City without gambling, you know.”
“I’ll give you spending money. Call it two hundred in mad money. Use it any way you want.”
“Phsssft! That’s not mad—“
“Three hundred if you say yes in the next two seconds.”
“YES!” C.C. offered her hand over the desk to seal the deal.
“We have a deal,” Brooke shook on it. “Now as for restaurants, I’ll need a suitable replacement.” She eyed her sister. “No pizza joints or low life dive bars.”
“Okay, my usual places are all eliminated.”
“Oh, and I’m supposed to tell you the time to be at the house so Sam and I can make our reservation.”
C.C. laughed. “You tell me the time? You don’t have one yet.”
“That’s right Chase. Rub it in.”
“I was always good at massages.” C.C. winked and smiled mischievously. “But, hey, that’s not helping you here. Let me see what I can do and I’ll trust your compensation will be just.” She got up and headed for the door. “Oh, and Brooke, if I do get this one right, you’re really going to owe me big time.”
Date: February 12
C.C. paced back and forth across Jeff’s living room. She was aware of his eyes following her as she walked from one end of the room to the other; back and forth, back and forth, tapping her cell phone in her hand with every other step. She considered changing her route so as not to wear a hole into the carpet until she looked down at its burnt orange appearance and decided that one more hole wouldn’t actually hurt it.
“What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking that I hate to lose.”
“You win some,” Jeff maneuvered his game controller bringing a giant fireball to the video screen. “You lose some. It’s all part of the game. You just keep playing until you get better.”
“Getting better is not the reason here. I really wanted to get that reservation for Brooke and Sam. God knows they deserve it.”
“And the money wouldn’t be so bad either.”
“Yeah, that too.” C.C. thought harder. “I know I called before, but I’m going to try again. She stopped pacing long enough to unlock her screen and punch in the listed number for the popular restaurant. After the third ring, and third eye-roll, a woman’s voice finally answered.
“Good evening. Thank you for calling The Melting Pot. This is Floriana, how may I help you?”
C.C. cleared her throat and tried to sound as professional as possible. “Good evening. This is C. Chase Gordon. I’d like to make a reservation please. I have a very important client coming into town and they deserve the best”
“Absolutely, Miss Gordon. Did you have a specific date in mind?”
“Well. I don’t want to bother you with trying to give me anything right away. My client should be in town all weekend, so how about something then, perhaps Friday?”
“Two days from now? I’m afraid I won’t be able to accommodate your request. First of all, we book four months in advance with Fridays and Saturdays booked solid as far as six months in advance. On top of that Friday is the 14th and that night’s been booked solid for months. You’ll be lucky to get in anywhere other than an IHOP on Valentine’s Day.”
“Damn. This is for something VERY special. It’s really a VERY important client.”
“I’m sure they are very important, Ma’am but really, my hands are tied. There’s nothing I can do.”
“Please? Money is no object. I’ll take anything you have available, anywhere at any time. Isn’t there anything you can do?”
“Ma’am, all I can think is to take your number and see if the hostess on call can let you know if anyone should happen to cancel. Or I can give you a reservation for another evening?”
“No thank you. It specifically had to be that night. Thanks though.” With that said C.C. hung up and plopped down onto the couch next to her boyfriend.
“No! Damn it.” C.C. folded her arms over her chest and stewed about the situation. “What’s so special about Valentine’s Day anyway?”
“Whew!” Jeff continued playing his video game, his eyes never leaving the T.V. screen. “I’m glad you’re telling me this now before I went out and got you that box of chocolates.”
“You mean you’re not taking me to dinner?”
“No. Remember, you have the calendar marked ‘Babysitting for Brooke and Sam’. See, I do notice things.”
“Yeah,” C.C. sighed. “But I still need a dinner reservation for Brooke.”
“Why not try one of their other locations?”
“No good. I’ve already called the other one in Newport News. I even called the Richmond and D.C. locations. Figured if it came right down to it Brooke could just fly herself and Sam to whichever spot could get them in. But they’re all booked. Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. Why should they go out of their way to give me a table that night? I need to make sure it’s beneficial for them to have me.”
“Babe, how are you going to make it beneficial for them?” Jeff stopped playing his game and looked over to C.C. “What do you have to offer a national restaurant chain?”
“Thanks a lot. Mr. Romance himself. I know where you fall on my food chain.”
“I didn’t mean it that way, C.C. and you know it.” He leaned in and gave her a peck on the cheek before going back to his game. “I just meant what notoriety would they get from someone like you as opposed to say…Charlie Sheen?”
“A lot more than his ranting and ravings, drug induced running of the mouth could…” C.C. paused letting an idea mull around in her brain. “Jeff, you’re right. I can’t offer them anything, but I bet we can think of someone who can.”
“What? Who? What are you doing?”
Hurriedly, C.C. dialed the restaurant again. Covering the microphone with her hand, she quickly thrust the phone at Jeff. “Quick! When she answers, say you’re some celebrity!”
Jeff backed into the corner of the couch. “Why me?”
“Because you’re the only other person here.” C.C. shoved the phone into his hand when she heard the faint voice of the hostess begin to answer the call.
“Good evening. Thank you for calling The Melting Pot. This is Floriana, how may I help you? Hello? Is anyone there?”
Reluctantly, Jeff spoke into the phone. “Hello, this is Bruce Campbell and I’d like to make a… Hey!”
C.C. quickly grabbed her phone from his hands and disconnected the call. “Really, Jeff? Bruce Campbell? She’s not going to know who Bruce Campbell is!” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath then exhaled and dialed the restaurant once again. After several rings, a familiar voice answered. At the last possible second C.C. disguised her voice with a thick British accent.
“Hello. I have been tasked with acquiring a reservation for my employer for Friday, the 14th of this month, for 7 o’clock sharp that evening. Wales, party of eight. Please add it to your schedule immediately. Thank you, I’ll hold.”
“I’m sorry but we’re all booked up that evening. I’ll be happy to give you a reservation for another evening?”
“No, no… that just will not do. Prince Harry will NOT be pleased in the least. He will only be in town for the evening as he is passing through on his way to a charity event in Chicago.”
“P-p-prince… Prince Harry?”
“Oh, yes. He will be most unhappy. He’s quite the fan of your establishment although for the life of me I cannot discern why. Oh well, sorry to have troubled you.”
Without giving the hostess the opportunity to reply, C.C.disconnected the call. She looked over to Jeff who once again was self-absorbed with playing his game. She kicked at his ankle. “What did you think? That should make her think twice before refusing me a table.”
“That’s right, Babe.” Jeff laughed. “You showed that hostess. The next time,” he moved his finger making air quotes. “C. Chase Gordon calls, she’ll know better than to let her go because of a phone call she took from Prince Harry’s assistant.
“Laugh it up, Bub. You ain’t getting any tonight.” C.C. teased. “Hmmm… who can we be now? Ahhh...I got it." CC dialed the restaurant again. “Jeff, remind me to give you Randi’s number so you have it when I get arrested for prank calling."
"Good evening. Thank you for calling The Melting Pot. This is Floriana, how may I help you?”
This time C.C. put on her best Mississippi accent hoping it would be the one to score her the reservation her sister so desperately coveted. “Hey there! I was hoping I could ask ya to reserve a spot for me. I’m gonna be in town next week and I just LOVE y’all’s fondue! Seriously, you guys do wonderful things with your cheeses and chocolates.”
“Thank you, ma’am. It will be my pleasure to assist you. What evening were you thinking of dining with us?”
“Well, Valentine’s Day! When else? Myself and a few others will be having a late night at one of the local studios there. I’ll need to reserve a table for two to start. But that’ll probably turn into a third, once Beyonce gets in. She’ll be on a later flight, you see. So it’ll just be me and Demi to start.”
The phone was silent, sending a sick feeling to the pit of C.C.’s stomach.
“Yes, Demi and I will be there closer to noon. Beyonce’s flight doesn’t get in until 7:20. We’re hoping Miley decides to come with her. So I guess we could potentially be a foursome that evening.”
“I am SO very sorry, Ma’am but we are completely booked that evening. There’s really nothing I can do short of taking your number and giving you a call if anyone should happen to cancel. And again I am TRULY sorry Ms…”
Shocked and in need of inspiration, C.C. turned to Jeff who had paused his game.
“Don’t ask me,” Jeff whispered. “I don’t know what goes on in that head of yours.”
“Are you kidding me?” C.C. slapped Jeff’s shoulder with her hand. “You tell me you can’t offer me a spot in your restaurant and you expect me to tell you my name?” She paused for effect. “It’s Britney… Bitch,” then promptly hung up the phone.
Frustrated, C.C. sat down and leaned back into the couch, staring at the ceiling. “I just don’t know, Jeff. I don’t think I’m gonna be able to pull this one off.”
“There’s always tomorrow, C.C.”
“Yeah, right. You’re still not getting any.”
Date: February 13
“Hey, boss lady.”
Brooke looked up from staring at her computer to see Peter standing in her office doorway. “What’s up?”
“You want to see what I got for Crystal?” Peter held up a long thin jewelry box.
“Sure, show it to me now. I may not get a chance to see it later.” Brooke minimized the calendar on her computer only for the ghost image of the number 13 to linger on the screen. She patiently watched Peter fumbling with the box as he walked into her office.
“What do you think?”
“Nice. I’d say you’re going to make a lot of brownie points with that tomorrow.”
“Yeah, it cost me enough but I think Crystal will like it.” Peter turned his attention to Brooke. “So, how did you do?”
Brooke stared at her empty hands. “Not nearly as good as you did.”
“No luck with getting a reservation, eh?”
“Nope. Nada. I’ve even got C.C. working on it. No reservations to be had anywhere.”
“Damn! So, what’s your plan B?”
“Plan B?” Brooke raked her hands through her hair. “Sam will be the boss and I’ll be dead.”
“Do you see me laughing?” Brooke’s glare meant business.
“You want Crystal’s bracelet?” He offered her the box.
“Thanks, Peter, but I’m not sure that Sam would appreciate it coming from you.”
“How would she know?”
“Love, Peter.” Brooke looked at him. “It’s inscribed.”
“Oh yeah! I forgot about that.” Peter stuck the box in his pocket. “So what are you going to do?”
Brooke looked around the room for inspiration. There on her desk, she found it. “Ida,” she yelled as she jumped up from behind her desk with the object in her hand and headed into the doorway. “Ida. Where are you?”
“Is something wrong, Brooke?” Ida hurried down the hall and met Brooke in the doorway.
“Do we have any more of these?” Brooke held the square object in her hand. “I’m talking lots more.”
“Yes, in the office supply room.”
“I want them all,” Brooke demanded. “Now, while I still have time.” She watched silently as Ida looked nervously from Peter then back to her. “I don’t have all week, Ida. I need them now.”
“Could it at least wait a few minutes until I buy a box of cookies for the break room off this cute kid that just stopped in?”
Brooke smiled. “Bring her here, I’ll see her too.”
“What are you thinking, Boss?” Peter asked.
“Plan B, Peter. Plan B.”
Date: February 14
Sam reached out for Brooke only to come up empty handed. It wasn’t like the woman to forget to kiss her good morning.
“Ah…I bet the baby was crying and she got up to feed her.” Sam sighed, content to know her wife was so loving and considerate. “Love ya’, Brooke,” she said running her hand over the pillow next to her. “What the…” Sam opened her eyes and tried to focus on the paper attached to the pillow. It took her a minute or so before the marking on the paper morphed into letters, then words.
“Don’t worry, Darlin’, I’ve got this feeding for both Chase and the pups. Catch another hour of beauty rest even though I know you don’t need it. You’re beautiful and I love you every day of my life,” Sam said aloud. “Such a charmer, Hon.” She nuzzled into Brooke’s pillow, savoring the scent of her lover as she glanced over at the bedside clock and did a double take.
“Nine in the morning.” Sam flipped the covers back and jumped out of bed. “Forget the beauty rest, I’ve already slept in long enough. If I hurry, I might be able to get a shower before the baby wa—” She stopped short hearing Chase’s cry coming in stereo from the baby monitor and the nursery across the hall. As if on cue, Sam’s nipples began to ache.
“Dang it anyways!” She cursed under her breath. “Good thing I pumped last night. Chase, baby, Mommy’s coming just as soon as I warm up your bottle.”
Sam made her way down the stairs and into the kitchen. She stepped around Mario giving him a pat on the head and gazed into the dog bed complete with mother and pups.
“Good morning to you and your pups, the demon spawn that they are.” That’s when something caught her eye. “What the hell, oops, I mean heck. Come here you little…I said, come here.” Sam reached in and plucked one of the pups up into her hands, then turned it over to exam its belly. What the…Brooke. You’re a darling but I don’t think the belly of a puppy is the right place for putting post-a-notes,” Sam gently tugged it off the puppy’s fur and read it.
“I love you so much I can feel it all the way down in this puppy’s belly.”
“Okay, let’s see the rest of your demon litter.” She took each pup individually and checked it over. One by one she plucked post-a-notes off of a tail, then off of another pup’s ear, and so on until every litter mate had been examined. When Sam had placed the last puppy back in with their mother, Mario came over to her and sniffed at the notes. “What’s the matter boy, did she get you too?”
“Arf,” Mario barked and proceeded to walk in a circle in front of Sam to show off his brightly colored post-a-note stuck to his butt.
“Oh…” Sam reached down and peeled it off before hastily reading it. “No butts about it, I promise not to father demon spawn ever again, Mommy. I woof you.”
“How sweet,” Sam said as she scratched behind Mario’s ear. “The only thing I’ve got to say is thank the Gods for post-a-notes. She could have used glue, Mario.”
Sam turned her gaze to Mario’s bitch. “I guess she knew better than to mess with you. We mothers have to stick together.” Sam laughed at her own joke. “Yeah, I’m getting C.C.’s sense of humor now with all these hormones raging in my body. Speaking of which, milk. That’s what I came in here for.”
She turned to the fridge and opened the door. Sure enough on Chase’s milk bottle was another note. Sam tugged it off and read it. “Tell Chase to go easy on the supply. They were mine first and if I could share, so can she. Love you!”
Sam wiped her face with her hand. “And why am I not suspicious when Brooke gets herself off to work without waking me up? That woman, you just got to love her.” Sam took out the bottle of breast milk and reached for the pot to warm it in. “Hmm…no note. Imagine that.” She filled it with water and reached for the lid only to find another note stuck to its knob.
“Don't forget the pot holder, Babe. Don't wanna burn your hand again. But feel free to set my heart on fire anytime you'd like.”
The shrill cry of her child broke the mood. “Okay. I’m coming, Chase.” Sam slipped the bottle into the water and headed for the stairs.
“Heart on fire,” Sam muttered as she scooped the baby into her arms. “There, there, Chase. Your Momma has a warped sense of humor but a good heart. I bet she sat up last night and wrote them all out so she could just go around and paper everything.” Sam patted the bottom of Chase’s diaper. “What the heck? She even papered you, that silly woman.” She plucked the note off and read it.
“Mommy, I will try to not give you too much trouble today. I am a baby after all so, I’m still learning the ropes. I can’t make any promises from this end.”
Fearing the worst, Sam quickly looked over the child’s arms and legs. No notes could be found. Then she turned the baby over. There on the back of her head, holding the tiny ponytail in place was a barrette with a tiny post-a-note stuck to it.
“What is this, Brooke, a coin toss?” Sam gingerly pulled it off, making sure not to get any of the baby fine hair stuck to it. “I just thought the top end would be more attractive and not quite as stinky.” Sam sniffed at the baby. “Momma’s right. You are stinky. Let’s get that changed before we get you your bottle.”
Sam proceeded to start undoing Chase’s diaper and stopped short. “Good Gods, I hope she didn’t put one in there.” Seeing no ultra- bright colored paper, she made quick work of the change. “Just as soon as Mommy washes her hands, we’ll get you that bottle.”
Without hesitating, Sam flicked on the bathroom light and was blinded by the iridescent glare of post-a-notes stuck to just about everything.
“I knew Brooke was thorough but this is…well,” she looked down at the roll of toilet paper and started pulling them one by one as she read the single word off each sheet.
Sam’s heart started to melt with the implied sentiment.
Sam looked over into the mirror. Sure enough another note was there.
“Babe, you shouldn’t even bother. You’re already perfect.”
She turned on the water and reached for the soap dispenser, again another note for her to read.
“No sense in washing your hands, I’m in your blood.”
When she was done, she looked at the light switch where another note waited for her to read it.
“Turn the lights out. I’ll turn you on tonight.”
“Promises, promises,” Sam smiled. “And I’m holding you to them, Brooke.”
The sound of the doorbell brought Sam out of her daydream. “Oh, no,” she grumbled, “Not the doorbell.”
It was already too late. Mario howled and it started the rest of the pack with their tiny high-pitched cries. A second later came the series of rapid knocks followed by Mario charging to the door with some of the more adventurous pups trying to follow right after him. Next, Chase started screaming at the top of her lungs so as not to be left out.
Sam picked up Chase and headed for the front door trying to beat the rest of the pack. “I’m coming,” she yelled. “Good God, don’t ring that bell again.”
At the bottom of the stairs, Sam attempted to quiet the noise. “Sshhh! Everyone, quiet.” She eyed Mario between glances through the side panel windows of the door. “It’s alright, Baby,” Sam cooed, then opened the door. “Yes?”
“Special delivery. Hey, did you know someone left a post-a-note on your door?”
“It figures.” She looked past the massive bouquet of flowers in his hand to the brightly colored post-a-note stuck on the man’s finger. “I think that one was for you.” Sam pointed to the note.
“Hmmph…” the man looked at the note. “Do not ring door bell. Soft knocks only. Demon Spawn inside. Ring bell at own risk.”
On cue, Mario positioned himself between Sam and the delivery man and growled, “GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!”
“Mario, stop that. He’s not here to take any of your puppies. Sorry,” Sam offered. “New father.”
“Oh, I get it. How many do you have?”
“More than enough.”
The deep throated growl sent the nape of Sam’s neck into hackles. “Mario!” Sam chastised the dog. “Here, let me take this,” she plucked the note from his hand and stuck it to her forehead. “Now the flowers,” she said. “I’m sorry but I don’t have anything right here to give you for a tip.”
“No problem, Lady. Everything was prepaid.” He placed the bouquet into her hands. “You have a nice day.”
Sam juggled the flowers and the baby to try to shut the door.
“Here, let me get that door for you.”
“Thanks, and ah…bye.”
Sam made her way to the kitchen to get the bouquet of flowers into a vase and watered. She slipped out the card and read it. “With all my love, Brooke.” Sam nuzzled into Chase and laughed. “Momma sure does love us.”
Now that that task was accomplished, Sam retrieved the baby bottle from the water and tested it for temperature. “Guess whose bottle is ready?”
Ding-dong. The sound of the doorbell split the silence.
“Not again!” Sam spun around and pointed a finger at Mario. “Not a peep out of you or any of your spawn.”
“Aruuuuuuugh…WOOF! WOOF-Woof!” The howling started and the mad dash to the door commenced.
“Why do I even try?” Sam brought up the rear and looked out the door’s window. “No one’s there. I guess they got the wrong house.” She turned to walk away and the doorbell rang again.
Chase’s high-pitched cry renewed the pack’s howling.
Standing knee deep in a litany of puppy uproar and baby crying, Sam yanked open the door to see a small child waiting patiently on the porch.
“Special Delivery, Lady.”
“Uh ha. The nice lady asked me to bring it at lunch time. Are you Samantha?”
“Yes.” Sam watched as the child turned and waved frantically to the car in the driveway.
“It’s her, Mom. Bring the box.”
Sam looked on curiously. “What box?” She watched as the woman retrieved a box from the trunk of her car and carried it up onto the porch.
“I’ll just put this inside for you.”
“You might want to just slide that over the threshold.” Sam moved a few of the pups with her foot to make room. “Thanks.”
“Here, this goes with it too,” the girl offered her an envelope.
Sam took it and closed the door. “Well, at least it’s not a post-a-note, but then again, I could be wrong.” She opened the envelope to find another post-a-note.
“Just a little something sweet for my Sweetie, but never as sweet as you.”
“Ahh! How sweet.” Sam pushed the box with her foot and closed the inside door. “Hmm…Thin Mints. Chase, your momma is so good to me. I swear when you get to know her, she’s not one bit as crazy as she seems.” She looked over to see Chase cooing, with wide eyes. Suddenly the face changed.
Sam sniffed and made a face of her own. “Yeah, well, not everything brown is chocolate, either. What do you say we get you changed and give your momma a call?”
Chase barred down again then smiled.
“Let’s hold that thought for a few minutes until we’re sure you’re done.” Sam addressed her other charges. “Mario, gather up your troops. We’re heading back to the kitchen.”
Date: February 14
C.C. walked into Jeff’s apartment tossing her purse down on the couch next to the man.
“You’re done with work early,” Jeff commented not letting C.C. get in the way of his game as she walked in front of the screen.”
“I couldn’t stay there any longer. I always wondered what Catholics felt like. I guess I know now.”
“I don’t understand,” Jeff muttered. “Yes, die!”
“Not you, Babe. I was talking about the…”
She watched as his reaction turned to one of guilt. “See, now you know how it feels to be Catholic.”
“Are you feeling guilty for not getting that reservation or guilty for missing out on the weekend in Atlantic City?”
“Yeah, and the money, too!”
“So, what are you going to do about it? It’s not like you haven’t tried, C.C.”
C.C. thought about it. What could she do? “What time does that restaurant open up?”
“I don’t know. Doesn’t dinner start around four?”
“Then they’d have to be there now getting ready.” C.C. stopped pacing as an idea came to mind. “I can only do a few impressions but I’ve got one more celebrity I can try.” She turned and flashed a smile in Jeff’s direction. “And this one…this one is the Holy Grail.”
“I believe in you, Babe. I know how much your sister means to you. All you can do is give it your best shot. I’m sure she’ll understand if you can’t.”
“I’m not worried about her. I’m worried about how Sam’s going to take not getting her Melting Pot dinner in her hormonal state. We could be going to Brooke’s funeral the day after.” C.C. looked Jeff in the eye. “Take note, buddy boy, and remember for future reference.”
Caught off guard, Jeff remained silent. “I’ll…I’ll just get back to my game now,” he said. “And let you get back to keeping your sister alive.”
C.C. mustered up her courage and reached once more for her phone. She knew the number by heart and soon the familiar voice was once again on the line, only this time C.C. mimicked it word for word having heard it several times already.
"Good evening. Thank you for calling The Melting Pot. This is Floriana, how may I help you?”
“Hey there, this is Kim! Khloe, Kourt & I are thinking of opening up a ‘Dash’ in Virginia Beach where we’ll be scoping out some new digs. We’re only in town for the day though. I have to get home to Nori. Even with my Mom over-seeing things, I still don’t trust Kanye with a diaper. We just love your restaurant though. So we’ll take a quiet table for three tonight.”
Laughter erupted on the other side of the phone causing C.C. to pull the phone away from her ear.
“That is the best one you’ve done yet Ms. Gordon. Let me ask; are you a professional actor per chance?”
C.C. cringed. She’d been caught. “How… how did you know?”
The hostess giggled. “We have caller ID, ma’am. It’s a little strange for so many famous people to call from the same number, don’t ya think? Bruce Campbell… Prince Harry, I really liked that one. You almost had me with the Britney Spears/Beyonce one. But the Kardashians, now that one was very funny.”
“Look, I’m sorry. Truly, all I wanted to do was score a reservation for my sister and her wife. They just had a baby and Brooke…she’s my sister, she’s been so busy with the kid and taking care of Sam… that’s her wife by the way. My sister, that is, not their baby. Oh well, anyway Brooke forgot to make the reservation that she promised Sam she would for Valentine’s Day and I know you guys book months in advance but my sister and her wife are the very epitome of Valentine’s Day for the love of...” After taking a quick breath to compose herself C.C. added, “PLEASE…please don’t call the cops.”
“Ms. Gordon, calm down and relax. We just had a cancellation between Beyonce and Kanye. I have a booth available between five and six o’clock this evening. Your perseverance paid off.”
“We’ll take it!” C.C. jumped up from the couch and proceeded to do a happy dance. “Thank you so much. Seriously, thank you. Oh, wow…you really have no idea how much this means.”
“And the name the reservation will be in is…”
“Brooke L. Gordon.”
“Brooke L. Gordon. The Brooke Gordon? Well, why didn’t you just say so? I love her music! Next time, you might want to lead with her name first.”
C.C. rolled her eyes. "No, thank you. Next time my sister can do her own impressions. If you thought mine were good, you should hear her do Stevie Nicks."
After disconnecting the call, she tossed the phone to the couch and grabbed Jeff in one easy motion. “Dance with me.” C.C. pulled him up and started singing. “We’re in the money, we’re in the money; we’ve got a lot of what it takes to get along! We’re in the money, The sky is sunny; Atlantic City and Brooke’s money won’t do us wrong!”
“You’re making that up, aren’t you?”
“No, it’s really a song.” C.C. laughed. “My parents sing it all the time.”
“Yeah, well…most of it. I just made that last half of the verse up to fit the occasion.” C.C. brushed off his skepticism. “The real verse says something about the depression way back in the dark ages. What are you looking at your watch for?”
“I’m just wondering how much time Brooke and Sam will need to get ready for that 5 o’clock reservation?”
“Oh crap! That’s today isn’t it?”
“In a littleless than two hours.”
C.C. grabbed her phone and hit Brooke’s number on speed dial. “Come on, pick it up.” She started pacing. “Brooke’s going to kill me if I got her a reservation and she misses it all because…” She stopped pacing and looked over to Jeff. “I wonder if she left her phone somewhere. The one time I need her.”
“Well, if you can’t get her, call Sam.”
“Oh no, no, no, no, no. Not good.” C.C. shook her head violently. “What to do? What to do?”
“Call work and talk to Ida.”
“Now why didn’t I think of that,” C.C. made the connection and waited for someone to answer.
“Brownstone Records, Ida speaking.”
“Yeah, yeah, Ida. Cut the crap. Where’s Brooke? She’s not answering her phone as usual.”
“Who else? Look it’s important. It’s about her reservation.”
“The one she doesn’t have.”
“No, the one I just got her. I don’t have time to play a thousand questions here.”
“But inquiring minds want to know.”
“Isn’t that what you have Jeff for?”
“I’m getting nowhere here fast.” C.C. redirected her approach. “Ida, is Brooke there?”
“Nope, she just headed home with a piddly homemade card in her hand and muttering something about picking up Chinese for her last meal.”
C.C. grabbed Jeff’s arm and looked at his watch. “Got to go, Ida, I’ve got an execution to stop.”
Leaving her office in the early afternoon, Brooke flew through traffic or what little there was, making several stops along the way. She pulled into her driveway and stopped, eyeing the jeweler’s box on the Passenger’s seat and smiled.
“It may not be the Melting Pot but I’m pretty sure Sam will like it.” She picked up the box and tucked it into her coat pocket. Gathering the bag of food and her briefcase before exiting the truck, Brooke looked up at the door of her home. “I can do this. Yeah, keep saying it and you’ll believe it too.”
She opened the door a crack and stuck her head inside. Her first instinct was to yodel out her usual “Honeys, I’m home” but she stopped short, having been told that it often times woke the baby.
“Babe?” Brooke’s hushed tone was just barely louder than a whisper. Hearing no barking or crying, she opened the door wider. “Babe?”
Sensing an eerie silence, Brooke ventured inside. “Some watch dog your brood is, Mario. Must be nap time for everyone.”
She pushed a mound of post-a-notes out of the way on the hall stand and set the bag of food down. “Hmmph…looks like she missed some.”
She walked into the living room to see more post-a-notes stacked up on the end tables and three quarters of the coffee table. Mentally, Brooke compared the amount of post-a-notes. “Damn close to getting all of them,” she muttered turning to see Sam starting down the staircase.
“Hello, beautiful. How was your day?”
“My day was pretty busy, what with all the papers I collected from around the house and dogs and baby not to mention answering the doorbell several times. I just want to know when did you ever find all the time to write so many love notes?” Sam stopped and placed a hand on her hip. “You did write them all, didn’t you?”
Shocked, Brooke stood motionless and blinked. “Of course I wrote them all. I…uh…I wrote some at work, some during a conference call or two, some while I was sitting in traffic, some while you were sleeping, and ah…some while I gave Chase her bottle last night.”
“Just testing you, dear,” Sam patted Brooke’s cheek as she passed by. “I knew they were all from you. Who else would reference butts? Only you,” she back handed Brooke’s butt with a love tap.
“Hey!” Brook breathed a sigh of relief. “Sorry, Darlin’. I didn’t think about how much work it would be for you to actually get and read them all. I guess I got kind of carried away. Hey, I even put a note on the door and asked that the doorbell not be rung.”
“Nice thought, Brooke, but they rang it anyway. Speaking of the note on the doorbell, thanks for the lovely bouquet. It was quite an armful.” Sam motioned to the vase of flowers engulfing nearly half of the dining room table. “Thanks for supporting the Girl Scouts, too, Brooke. If you’re wondering, I’ve already packed most of that case into the freezer.”
“I’m glad you like them.”
“Every time I eat one, I’ll think of how much you love me.”
“Good, cause I do.” Brooke leaned forward and kissed Sam on the nose.
“Play your cards right and I might share a few with you.” Sam winked.
“That would be yummy.” Brooke kissed her on the lips. “How’s our girl?”
“She’s doing good considering her signboard status and before you can ask, the puppies are fine too. Mario included. Aren’t you home a little early, Hon?”
“Well…I thought it would be nice to get home to you and get the weekend started earlier than most. You know, it is Valentine’s Day.” Brooke motioned to the bag of food in the foyer. “Can I interest you in some Chinese?”
Sam pushed her playfully. “What and spoil my dinner? No way. I’m going to enjoy every morsel of food tonight at the Melting Pot. Speaking of which, when is C.C. coming over?”
“Yeah, the Melting Pot. I…uh…” Brooke stalled, looking over to the bag of food. “She’s uh…you know C.C., maybe I should call her.”
“Brooke, are you hiding something?”
“Who me?” Brooke watched as Sam’s gaze stayed riveted to her pocket. “Oh, this…well, I was going to ah…later…you know…”
“Brooke, I swear you’re so shy sometimes.” Sam toyed with box in Brooke’s pocket.
“Oh, hell, I may be dead later. Why don’t you open it up now?”
“Notes, flowers, candy…well sort of, now this. You’re a little over zealous this year. You know, Hon, you don’t have to try to make up for last year.”
“I’m not. Well, not really.” Brooke took the box from her pocket and handed it to Sam. “Go ahead. Open it.”
Sam untied the ribbon and opened the box. She was met by sparkles of glittering lights.
“Brooke, this is lovely. I never expected this. You really do love me.” Sam threw her arms around Brooke and hugged her.
“Do you like it? Really? I…uhm…haven’t seen a color like this before.” Brooke took the box from Sam and proceeded to put the necklace around her wife’s neck, then kissed her shoulder. It’s called Lapis Lazuli. A semi-precious stone but the color is much more rich than a sapphire.” She kissed Sam on the lips. “I’m sorry if you ever questioned my love for you.”
Sam blushed. “No, it’s just that sometimes the routine is just that. I know you tell me all the time you love me. You really made a statement today with all those notes, flowers, and cookies. Now you give me this,” She fingered the necklace. “…and you’re taking me out to dinner. What more could a girl want?”
“Yup, dinner at the Melting Pot.” Brooke could feel the beads of perspiration forming on her brow and her heart began to race. “Hey, I…uhm…I have something else for you, Darlin’.”
“Wait right here. I’ll be back.” Brooke stepped away and retrieved something from her briefcase. She turned and offered it to Sam. “Here you go, Darlin’.”
Sam slipped the card from the envelope. “Oh, look its Chase’s ultrasound on the front.” Sam reached out and reeled Brooke in for a kiss. “You made this, didn’t you?”
“Yes. What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with the whole family?”
“You know I’m saving every card you give me so I can look back years from now and see the progression of our love story.”
Sam opened the card and started to read it out loud in unison with Brooke.
“You keep my heart beating again, and again, and again.”
“I…I think I’m going to cry.” Sam wiped her eyes, then covered her mouth with her hand. “Brooke, you’ve made this day one of the best days of my life. It’s right up there with the first time we met, our wedding day, and the day we became a family.”
“What, you didn’t like our first kiss or the first time we…?” Brooke wiggled her eyebrows.
“I didn’t say that.” Sam blushed. “They were…you know, special too. All in all, it’s still too much sometimes to comprehend.”
“Nothing will ever be too much for you. I wanted today to be perfect for you since it was shot to all hell last year. Damn hormones,” Brooke muttered. “Not your hormones, Honey, I was referring to mine.”
“Remember, it was those damn hormones that got us Chase.”
“How could I forget? It was those damn hormones that almost made your mom like me. Although it was only because she thought I was dying at the time.”
Sam buried her face in her hands. “How can I ever forget it? Speaking of forgetting, what time is our reservation for? Maybe I don’t want to wait for later to give you my gift.”
“Yes, at the Melting Pot, the finishing touch to Valentine’s Day.”
Brooke rubbed her forehead. “Sam…Baby…I need to tell you something.”
Brooke squirmed under the pressure. “The Melting Pot has been planned for a long time and well…Chase came along and I uhm…”
The loud thud of the front door being smashed into the wall set everyone jumping, and dogs barking.
Brooke swung around at the sound, startled to see someone entering her house.
“Damn you, Brooke. Where’s your phone? Did you forget to charge it again?”
“Phone?” Brooke searched her pockets. “I thought I … guess I don’t.”
“Great, you forgot it again.” C.C. closed the door. “The Melting Pot has been trying to get a hold of you. They moved your reservation up to 5 instead of 6. Something about tripling the jackpot or some other game they have going on. I don't know.” She pushed her sister out of the way. “Sam, you've got to hurry. It's 4:10 now.”
“Yikes!” Sam took off running up the stairs. “Dinner’s at five, I’ve got to get ready. Give me fifteen minutes, Brooke. C.C., can you attend to Chase?”
“Yeah, I’ll get her in a minute or two.” C.C. proceeded into the foyer. “I know, I'm late but hey, C.C. runs on her own time. I see you’ve come through with my usual payment for house sitting, Chinese. Thanks, Sis.” C.C. picked up the bag and perused its contents. “Yeah, this will do. Oh, Jeff loves those spring rolls.”
Dumbfounded Brooke stared at her sister. “But…how…when…?”
C.C. turned around and snickered. “It’s all in who you know and what they’re willing to pay. Perseverance counts. You know me. You’re willing to pay,” she smiled cheekily, “I persevered.”
Brooke quickly looked up the stairs to make sure Sam was not within earshot. “Seriously, C.C.”
“You got it. Not the best table in the house but it’s a table at the Virginia Beach Melting Pot.”
“I can’t even begin to thank you.” Brooke closed the gap between them and hugged C.C.
“Anything for you, big sis.” C.C. waited until she was released from the hug. “Just remember, you owe me. Now, I finally get the upper hand.”
“You name it. The sky’s the limit. You want to go to Vegas?”
“Nah, Atlantic City is good enough. I’ll save Vegas for another time.”
“Trump Plaza then?”
“Sure, why not. Your money will spend there just the same as anywhere.” C.C. started to saunter away toward the kitchen. “Oh, and Brooke?”
“I suggest you make your own reservation for next year. I’m out of connections.”
Brooke laughed. “But I’m not out of money.”
May all of your Valentine Days be ones to remember. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to revisit some characters that we’ve grown to love. — Carrie Ryan and K.Darblyne