Written by: TVM (firstname.lastname@example.org) & CJ Ames (email@example.com)
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Sammler-Manning Manor, early morning
Cori rose from a deep sleep just as daylight broke into her basement bedroom. Rolling out of bed, opening her door and walking into the hallway she noticed two things: Passion's door was closed and Marley was missing from her bed. Worrying at that development she quickly went thundering up the steps into the kitchen to find Marley sitting on the counter (playing with her new toy cars) and happily watching Lily cook breakfast.
"G'day mate," Marley said as Cori smiled and joined her little sister.
"G'day mate," Cori repeated as she leaned down and let Marley kiss her chin, Lily smiling as she watched the two.
"Ms. Lily make me pancakes," Marley said proudly. Lily heard the same thing that Cori did, prompting her to ask, "What happened to me being Mommy?"
"You Ms. Lily," Marley said with a bright smile. "Me love you, Mommy was mean."
"She called you Mom?" Cori asked as she joined Lily by the stove.
"Last night she had trouble sleeping and Steph brought her up to sleep with me and Rick and she called me Mom," Lily said. Cori noticed that Lily was clearly hurt in that moment. "AWWWW she's only four she'll figure it out."
"I still love you, Mom," Cori said as Lily smiled brightly. "A lot more than my other... that woman who raised me. You loved me when you didn't have to and she was... really mean."
"Cori we don't have to talk about this," Lily said as Cori wiped away some tears from her eyes. "I know what those memories coming back did to you."
"Makes me appreciate what I got now a lot more," Cori said as she hugged Lily again. "I love you and dad so much you just wouldn't believe it."
"You know most teenagers find that kind of embarrassing to admit," Lily pointed out as Cori blushed.
"Big deal," Cori said as Rick came into the room. Prompting Cori to run over and hug him the same way she had Lily a moment earlier. Rick smiled as Marley paid seemingly no attention to anyone as she now crawled around on the corner making race car noises with her cars. "I love you Dad!"
"Good to know, now what's for breakfast?" Rick asked as Cori gave him a dirty look and he laughed.
"You don't love me huh old man?"
"Old man?" Rick asked as Cori gave him a challenging smile and he noticed for the first time the merging of what he thought represented Cori's old and new personality. "Since when do you call me that?"
"Dad!" Cori said with a sweet smile as she hugged him again. "I love you Daddy!"
"Oh OK, Cori I love you too," Rick said as Cori grinned brightly. "I just saw the mail coming up the road why don't you go and check it, k?"
"OK," Cori said, Stopping just out of the kitchen and adjusting her house shoe.
"How's my wife doing?" Rick asked Lily as he joined her by the stove.
"Had a few more pains this morning," Lily commented. "I think the baby is about to make it's grand entrance."
"Cool!" Cori said excitedly as she walked off down the hall now moving free and easy Rick noticed as he came back to the table. Cori slipped on her ball shoes at the front door and walked out to the mail box and waited for the mailman to come back down the block to their box when she spotted to her surprise what she thought looked like Jennifer, ZoŽ's friend heading back inside of Rayne's place. "What would Jennifer be doing taking Rayne's mail in?"
"Howdy," Came the voice that shook Cori back to reality as she saw the mailman, Harold, sitting directly in front of her now. "Thinking long and deep about the world's problems are we?"
"Not likely," Cori said as she took the mail. "Just wondering about something that's odd."
"Like? I love odd facts" Harold asked.
"I'm wondering why my friend's mail is being checked by someone else," Cori said as she pointed to the 'Stillwater Ranch'.
"You mean the Stillwater place?" Harold asked. "That young blond headed lady has been there three or four days in a row now I've observed."
"Seriously?" Cori asked.
"Yes indeed, name's Jennifer Connelly, Peggy is her mother if I'm not mistaken," Harold commented. "Is that right?"
"I guess, Jennifer is a friend of my sister, ZoŽ, well she's like my sister... anyway," Cori rambled. "It's complicated."
"You were the girl hit by the drunk driver some months ago on that corner," Harold said confidently. "Good to see you've recovered nicely."
"You're nosey," Cori blurted out. Then covered her mouth in surprise as Harold laughed. "I'm sorry I didn't mean it that way."
"I take an interest in the lives of the people who I serve," Harold commented. "Nosey I am."
"Bye," Cori said as he drove off. "He's nice."
"Cori you coming in?" ZoŽ asked from the front porch as she nodded and came up the lawn. "Mom and Rick got worried when you didn't come back."
"I'm fine, they worry too much," Cori said as ZoŽ nodded her agreement. "Did you know that Jennifer Connelly girl is staying with Rayne Stillwater?"
"Nope," ZoŽ said. "But I did see Jenn's mom leaving like two days ago or so. Why?"
"Harold the nosey mailman told me," Cori said.
"He is nosey, really nosey," ZoŽ giggled. "He bought me a pair of socks for my birthday last year. Gave them to Mom and said his daughter and me looked to be the same size. Weird but nice."
"Why would Jennifer be staying with Rayne?"
"They flirted in the hallway at school a few days ago and sat by each other in Poetry club," ZoŽ commented. "Why? I thought you said you and Rayne were just friends."
"We are," Cori said.
"Cori a little jealous?"
"Nooooo, Cori not a little jealous..." Cori said in a mocking tone as ZoŽ grinned. "...Cori heartbroken."
"Oh you poor baby," ZoŽ said as she hugged her and both laughed. "Joey rubbed off on you."
"She did," Cori said as her and ZoŽ walked back inside to be met by a smiling Marley as she walked past them onto the porch. Cori stopped and followed after her little sister as ZoŽ headed back inside to the kitchen. "Hey where you going little Miss?"
"I wait on Sarah and Grace," Marley announced. "Day coming for breakfast."
"And how do you know?"
"Day called me, boogerhead," Marley said with hands on hips as Cori fell back in the chair laughing. Sarah's mustang appeared on the horizon a moment later and pulled into the driveway as Marley went charging down the walk and stopped at the end, Sarah and Grace getting out. Sarah held her arms out but was surprised when Marley ran around the car and straight to Grace and promptly got swept into the older girl's arms. "You not Sarah's girlfriend no more."
"I'm not?" Grace asked as Marley smiled proudly, both meeting Sarah at the front of the car.
"You Grace," Marley said as she shook her head. Grace kissed her cheek in a slobber as Marley wiggled in her arms and giggled. "Stop it, boogerhead."
"And who is that?" Grace asked as she pointed to Sarah.
"Dat your girlfriend," Marley said as Sarah stuck out her tongue. "What her name?"
"Why you little..." Sarah said as she snatched Marley from Grace's arms and began to tickle her. Marley squealing in laughter.
Walking back inside a few moments later, the girls found Lily was just about to put breakfast on the table. Cori took her place next to Rick with Passion on the other side. Jessie and Stephanie came in a moment later with Katie joining the crew last.
"Morning," Jessie said as she was trailed by Stephanie.
"Morning," Stephanie said as the two sat down at the table.
"Where's Katie?" ZoŽ asked and saw her friend just coming down the hallway.
"Here she is," Katie giggled as she joined the rest of the family in the kitchen.
Cori looked around and smiled as the table this morning was filled, completely so. A warm feeling coming over her as she looked to Passion and then her Mom and Dad and realized in that moment that this was what she had always wanted. Rick looked over a moment later and wondered if Cori was feeling OK but smiled himself when she simply laid her head on his shoulder and sighed contently before beginning to eat herself. For the first time in what seemed like her entire life, Cori felt like she was happy. Truly happy.
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Book Lovers
"Thanks for picking me up this morning, Judy," Joey said and followed it with a long yawn. "Mom and Dad are out of town, again, and I dreaded riding the bus."
"Not a problem, my Assistant Manager," Judy commented as she pulled into the spot directly in front of Book Lovers and both got out. "After such a late night I'm surprised you were up for this."
"This place is basically my life now that I'm over with Cori," Joey said as Judy let them inside. Joey's phone started to vibrate in her jeans pocket. "What's up anyway... damn it, hold on. Hello?"
"Joey honey are you home?" Regina asked.
"No, Mom, I'm at the shop with Judy, why?" Joey asked and followed it with another yawn.
"We need to talk and I can't wait till I get home," Regina said as Joey's stomach dropped out. "Joey honey?"
"Just tell me what it is Mom!"
"Your father and I have received a great offer to work together for the first time," Regina said. "We're gonna head up a new office for Blockbuster Corporation."
"Cool, here in Chicago?"
"In Brisbane, Australia," Regina said as Joey's lip dropped and her face went pale white with shock.
"Australia, Joey," Regina said. "We have to leave within the week to get things up and running if we want the job. We want this badly too, we can finally be a family again."
"Half way around the world from everyone I know," Joey said in protest. "Did you even think about me for a second?"
"Joey the world does not revolve around you," Regina said.
"But it sure does around you," Joey said. "I'm not going."
"Don't be crazy Josephine," Regina said in a calm voice. "You're only 17."
"With a job and a Senior in High School," Joey said. "You think I'm not making plans? I'm four hundred bucks away from getting my own car and if I have to I'll live under a bridge."
"I also have a girlfriend or I did," Joey said and shaking her head. Judy piling books into boxes by the computers and listening with concern. "Whatever..."
"We'll talk about this when we get home," Regina said. "I'm not gonna spend all day fighting with you on the phone."
"You're right cause I'm out of minutes, bye Mom," Joey said as she snapped her phone shut. "FUCKING BITCH!"
"Excuse me?" Henry said as he came through the arch now connecting 'Book Lovers' and 'Step by Step'. "What's up?"
"My parents are losing their minds and decided they're moving to asshole Australia and I'm going with them," Joey said as she fought back tears.
"When did you get here?" Judy asked Henry as both joined Joey by the front counter.
"Two hours or so," Henry said. "Joey you OK?"
"I'm not going," Joey said. "I don't care what the hell they say."
"When they get back you bring them by and maybe I can help," Judy said. "I'll go to bat for you Larue. You stuck with me through some tough times and I will you too."
"I know," Joey said as she hugged Judy. "You never did explain what you needed me for."
"August Dimitri and Joanna Christianson's book signing," Henry said.
"Joanna Christianson?" Joey asked as Henry picked up a copy of 'Goldenheart: The Thousand Mile Ride' and pointed out Joanna's name. "WOW! I went to school with her and just saw her yesterday and she hates me now... oh boy."
"What's oh boy?" Judy asked.
"Marissa and Joanna hate each other," Joey said. "I mean Joanna hates Marissa for some stuff that happened in school. Name calling and other stuff. She is not gonna be happy about Marissa being here."
"Marissa and Joanna?" Henry asked.
"Marissa was pretty mean to her," Joey said. "She did apologize when we went down there yesterday but Joanna refused to forgive her."
"We could have Marissa host the cocktail in the alley and just make sure her and Joanna stay clear of each other," Henry said. "I'll run interference."
"My big strong hunky beau," Judy said as she hugged Henry and kissed him.
"Beau? What is this the fifties?" Joey asked as Judy stuck her tongue out.
"Get back there and start unloading those books," Henry said as Joey laughed and ran off to the back of the store and the piles of boxes containing August's novel.
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Sammler-Manning Manor, late afternoon
"I'll get it!" Cori said as the door bell rang and she got up and walked to the entrance and saw a face she wasn't too excited to see. She walked into the entrance and out on to the porch. "Hi!"
"Cori, my sweet, how are you?" Jean asked as she took off her gloves and started to touch Cori's face. Cori turned her head away. "Are you still mad at me?"
"What are you doing here?" Cori asked flatly.
"I came to see you and Passion sweetheart," Jean said. "I thought I'd see you at your fathers funeral but I guess not..."
"Kile was not my father," Cori said. "Stop saying that, please?"
"Cori Tyler, yes he was," Jean said sternly. "If you had given him a chance you would have loved him..."
"I have a Mom and dad and they love me a lot more than he did," Cori said. "They visited me every day in the hospital, they took me to therapy every day, they even let me live here when they didn't have too. They love me."
"I get that," Jean admitted. "As hard as it is to hear you say that I get it."
"You seem different Cori, more grown up or is it aggressive?" Jean asked.
"I got some of my memory back and it wasn't good, well some of it wasn't," Cori said. "And I don't wanna talk about it cause up until now I was having a pretty good day."
"Out here Pash!"
"What's up mate... hi Grandma Jean," Passion said nervously as she looked up at her Grandma. "How are you?"
"I'm on cloud nine," Jean said as she hugged Passion. "How are you coming along after your father's passing?"
"It was hard for a few days but I'm getting better," Passion said as Cori took her hand and laced their fingers. "Having Cori makes it easier."
"I thought I'd see you at the funeral," Jean offered gently.
"I couldn't go, I couldn't face it and Rick and Lily said it was my decision," Passion said. "I said goodbye in my own way."
"That's not good enough," Jean said in an uncharacteristic snap of anger. Taking a moment to calm herself before going on. "You could have at least come and let your father's family see you. You don't know how many people asked me about you and Marley."
"I just lost my Dad, sue me for not wanting to fly for 16 hours to attend a 15 minute service," Passion said with anger in her voice. That turning to tears as she trailed off. Cori hugged her.
"Why are you so mean?" Cori asked Jean as she hugged Passion. "Can you please just leave?"
"I come with love in my heart and it always goes so terribly wrong," Jean said with a tired heartbroken look. Marley ran out the door at that moment, chased my Stephanie.
"No no, boogerhead," Marley giggled as Stephanie chased her onto the lawn. Stephanie catching her as she tumbled to the grass with both laughing.
"Yesss yesss, Mar bear," Stephanie said as she tickled the little girl now. Finally stopping as Marley looked up and asked Stephanie as she looked at Jean, "Who dat is?"
"I don't know," Stephanie said as Jean came closer with an awe struck look in her eye.
"My name's Jean, I'm your Grandma, you don't remember me?" Jean asked as she knelt down the best she could. Marley nervously moving back into Stephanie's lap and wrapping the girls arms around her. "What's wrong?"
"You not my Grandma, she was mean to me," Marley said as Stephanie rose with her in her arms as Jean rose as well. Jean being surprised when Cori came to her aide, so to speak.
"Mar bear this is Grandma Jean," Cori said as Passion trailed her. "She's not mean, she's nice. Right Grandma?"
"I sure am, and I'm sorry for being so pushy," Jean said as Passion shrugged. "Can you forgive a stubborn old lady who's set in her ways? Maybe let me take you three out for coffee?"
"It's OK, I'd like to have a Grandma again," Passion said as she moved next to her. "One who didn't hate me for stuff I couldn't control."
"What do you mean my child?"
"Grandma on my Mom's side blamed me for Grandpa's death and never forgave me," Passion said as Cori hugged her from behind.
"That's why that sweet little angel thinks I'm mean," Jean said in shock as she hugged Passion and Cori. Marley listening silently.
"You know if you try I'm sure Marley will love you too," Stephanie said as everyone looked to her.
"What do you say Mar bear?" Cori asked as Marley looked to be deep in thought.
"You buy me toy?" Marley asked pointedly as Cori laughed before she covered her mouth.
"I'll buy you the biggest toy money can buy," Jean said as Marley smiled brightly.
"Come inside and visit for a while?" Passion asked with a hopeful smile.
"My heart's desire," Jean said as she followed Cori, Passion, Marley and Stephanie inside.
** ** ** Meanwhile in West Lafayette, Casa De August
"Wonder why he wanted us out here?" Joanna asked as her and Brittany pulled up in front of August's house. The house which now sported a completed second floor that featured not one but two new bedrooms. August came out of the house as the two got out of the car.
"OK, Miss Anger, we need to talk," August said as he met Joanna by the passengers side.
"Huh? What did I do?" Joanna asked as her heart dropped into her stomach.
"Eli and RaeAnn filled me on the little screaming match you had with this Marissa girl," August said pointedly. Joanna slammed the door to the car as Brittany arrived by her side.
"I hate her and no amount of Dad talk is gonna change my mind," Joanna said.
"Well see here's the problem," August said. "Judy at Book Lovers in Chicago informs me that Marissa is now an employee of hers."
"Yeah I heard that too baby," Brittany said. Joanna looked to her girlfriend. "I told you she seemed a lot different."
"I don't care."
"Well you better care cause we have a book signing there tonight," August said. "And I'm not taken you if you're gonna make a scene and embarrass me."
"It's my book too, my name is on the by-line."
"Yes it is Joanna Marie," August said as he cupped his hands around the back of Joanna's neck and made her look him in the eye. "And this is where you leave the past in the past and grow up. We need this to go good for the book to sell really sell. You wanna be successful?"
"Of course I do," Joanna said.
"No one is gonna buy a book from an angry red headed lesbian," August said as Brittany started laughing out loud.
"You're not my Dad!"
"I'm naming my kid after you, remember that?" August asked. Joanna trying not to smile as August touched his forehead to hers. "So you listen to me partner, I'm not afraid to kick your butt if I got to, you hear me? Cause I love your hard head more than you know and hating someone is not healthy."
"OK, message received," Joanna said softly. "I won't say anything to her if she doesn't start."
"You're good," Brittany said to August as he smiled. "You'll be an amazing Dad."
"Oh good lord that kitchen is hot. Hi," Karen said as she came out of the house and spotted Brittany and Joanna. "What's wrong?"
"August is being mean to me," Joanna said as she ran up the steps and hugged Karen.
"I'm so sure," Karen said with a roll of the eyes. "Maybe he was talking some sense into your head?"
"Yeah he was," Joanna said. "And with my head it takes a while cause it's pretty thick."
"You're getting big, girl," Brittany said as she joined the others on the porch. Karen looking down and sighing.
"I'm too old to have another baby," Karen said as Brittany hugged her.
"Nooooo you're not, and you got a great support system," Brittany said. "Me and Joanna are gonna spoil her rotten."
"Be so much fun too," Joanna said as August came back up the steps.
"We on for tonight?"
"We are," Joanna said.
"We'll eat and then head for Chicago," August said. "Karen you feel up to coming?"
"Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss your guys big night for anything except child birth," Karen said as the porch erupted in laughter.
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Sammler-Manning Manor
"Mom we'll be out front," ZoŽ said as she stuck her head in the kitchen. "Mandy and Shady called from the airport and they're on their way over."
"With traffic in this city they should be here by Tuesday," Lily said as ZoŽ laughed. Walking down the hall and joining Katie for the walk outside. Both girls coming to a stop at the end of the driveway just as a car went by with a real estate sign in the back.
"Why didn't they just let us come and pick them up?" ZoŽ asked as she looked at Shady's purple Pontiac that was still parked on the edge of the grass.
"Shady said they had an airport shuttle and they'd drop them off here," Katie said. "Weirdoes."
"We're dating weirdoes alright," ZoŽ giggled as the car that went by a moment ago came to a stop at the far end of the block. The woman got out and planted a large sign in the front yard. "You got a house for sale."
"Where's a horse for sale?" ZoŽ asked as Katie giggled and pointed. "Looks like a nice house too."
"You ever been inside?"
"Nope, I think an older couple lived there ever since we moved in," ZoŽ commented. "Two bedrooms I think, they had grandchildren."
"Let's walk down and talk to the woman," Katie said. "Huh?"
"Why?" ZoŽ asked as Katie linked her arm and dragged a reluctant ZoŽ along anyway. "Katie, why?"
"How would you like to have me and Shady living on the same block?" Katie asked as they walked.
"I thought you guys wanted live in the same house," ZoŽ giggled as Katie groaned at the lame joke and the two crossed the road. The older blond lady with the name tag of 'Helen Harper' walked to the end of the driveway to greet them.
"Can I help you ladies?"
"Place for sale?"
"It is, very nice house with an attractive price," Helen commented, handing Katie a print out with all the information on the house. "Two bed, two full bath, updated kitchen, it's a steal ladies. Are one of your parents in the market?"
"Actually her and girlfriend are," ZoŽ said. Helen seeming taken back by that announcement.
"That's not a problem is it?" Katie asked.
"Only if you can't afford financing," Helen said. "Otherwise I see no problems."
"I don't think financing will be a problem," Katie said.
"You don't?" ZoŽ asked.
"Donald said if we wanted to move he'd make sure we got set-up," Katie said, ZoŽ nodding her agreement. "This is a nice place too."
"It sure is sweetie and at a great price," Helen said. "And the owners are dying to sell it, soooo if you like what you see, I'd advise you to make an offer as soon as possible."
"Can we get a tour?" ZoŽ asked as Helen smiled.
"Open house?" Katie asked as Helen nodded. "My girlfriend is coming over in a few minutes and we might stop back by."
"Feel free, just ring the bell," Helen said as she walked off and ZoŽ and Katie made their way back down the street giggling and pushing each other before they where stopped by a sight that neither had expected. Jennifer and Rayne were just coming down the steps of the Stillwater place and headed for the car.
"Jennifer Connelly?" ZoŽ said as the foursome met at the back of Rayne's car. "Someone's moving on eh?"
"Shut up ZoŽ, hey Katie," Jennifer said as she looked down.
"What's going on Jenn?" Rayne asked as she got the girl to look up. "You OK?"
"Katie's dating Sam's sister," Jennifer said.
"So? It's kinda obvious this Sam girl doesn't wanna be with you," Rayne said. "So I don't see the problem."
"Remember I told you they were flirting?" ZoŽ asked as Katie nodded.
"Can you please not tell Sam? At least not right now?" Jennifer asked.
"Why does it matter? Sam has a boyfriend and now you have... a girlfriend?"
"She's staying with me for a few days while her Mom is out of town," Rayne said. Then touched Jennifer's cheek and shocked both ZoŽ and Katie when she leaned in and kissed the younger girl. "Hello!"
"Oh yeah," Jennifer said with a beaming smile.
"Now lets roll cutie pie we're late already," Rayne said as her and Jennifer turned to the car.
"See ya ZoŽ," Jennifer said in a daze as she joined Rayne in the car before they drove off a few moments later.
"Sam is gonna lose it," Katie said as ZoŽ laughed as they crossed the road and onto the Sammler-Manning lawn.
"Now why would she care, remember she's straight?" ZoŽ asked as both laughed.
"She does like Michael, I think," Katie commented as a car turned the corner and both girls grew nervous and excited at the same time as it pulled into the driveway and stopped. Shady and Mandy got out a moment later as ZoŽ and Katie ran to meet their respective loves. The driver pulled out and drove away a moment later.
"Miss me?" Mandy asked before ZoŽ kissed her. "MMMMM yahoo."
"Oh god shut up," ZoŽ said as Mandy wrapped the girl in her arms. "Please tell me this is not gonna ever happen again?"
"Nope, Dad murdered the entire family in a fit of rage," Mandy said as ZoŽ laughed and took her hand as they walked towards the house. "I missed you."
"You better have!"
"Those two are nuts... about each other," Shady commented as she now held Katie in her arms, hugging her from behind. "You miss me?"
"I did, of course," Katie said, sighing contently when Shady kissed her neck. "Wanna know the best thing about this weekend?"
"You and ZoŽ hanging out?"
"Yeah that was good," Katie said and looking down nervously for a long moment. "Me and Jessie are friends...I think."
"Good!" Shady said simply as she hugged Katie tighter. "I know how you hurt over that."
"I tried not to let on."
"Yeah I know," Shady replied. "But you don't love someone this much and not know them pretty well."
"I never got to know Jessie this well," Katie said. "Or anyone else I've dated."
"Joey was my only other girl," Shady said softly. "Unlike you huh?"
"Shady Lynn don't start," Katie said as Shady giggled. "Sarah, Jessie and a girl named Bre-Ann Morgan."
"Bre?" Shady asked.
"I went to Summer camp when I was 12 and we hit it off," Katie said. "She wasn't gay but we did kiss a lot. Haven't heard from her in like five years."
"House for sale?" Shady asked absentmindedly as she looked down the road and saw the same sign that ZoŽ and Katie had seen earlier.
"Huh?" Katie asked and then following Shady's eyes. "Oh yeah me and Zo walked down there a few minutes ago and talked to the lady selling it and she says it's a nice house and at a good price."
"So?" Shady asked in confusion.
"Well... ok don't say no right away?" Katie asked as she took a few steps onto the grass and nervously turned back around. Shady looked at her with nervousness in her eyes. "What do you think about moving? Here, on this street, into that house?"
"Have you lost your pretty mind?" Shady asked as Katie laughed and rejoined her.
"No I haven't," Katie said. "But we were talking about moving out of the Palace."
"Into the pool house," Shady said. "Give me a second to get used to that idea."
"This has nothing to do with Jessie either," Katie commented.
"No one said it did, except you," Shady said pointedly.
"Well I thought you might have been thinking that," Katie said with a shrug.
"And I wasn't," Shady said with a kiss. "So deal with it, Singer."
"So you don't wanna move?"
"What's so special about this place?"
"It'd be ours," Katie said as Shady smiled brightly and kissed her. "MMMMM!"
"I love you Katie Singer," Shady said. "And if I'm not insane, kind of an iffy question, but if I'm not I think you just said... in not so many words, that you wanna spend the rest of your life with me."
"I did not," Katie said as both laughed. "Seriously... UMMMM... I can see that."
"You're about to make me go running onto the porch and screaming my love out for you again," Shady said. Katie simply kissing her. "Let's go and check this place out?"
"Yes!" Katie said excitedly as she pulled Shady along down the road. Cori and Marley arrived on the porch as Marley practically dragged Cori out the door and then down the lawn.
"Marley stop!" Cori said as she sat down in front of her little sister. "Where are we going?"
"To get a puppy," Marley announced.
"Where from the puppy factory?" Cori asked.
"Nooooooo," Marley said with a head shake. "Pashy talked to that girl over there!"
"Who?" Cori asked as she looked down the road and saw one gorgeous creature raking leaves on the lawn a few houses down and around the corner. "Hello!"
"Hi," Marley said with a friendly wave as Cori laughed.
"Since when do you know her?"
"PASHY!" Marley squealed as she went running to her sister on the porch. Passion took a seat in the chair and said, "Hold on Wylan, ok?"
"What Mar bear?" Passion asked.
"Girl with da puppy is outside can we go see if she has it yet?" Marley pleaded.
"We'll go in a minute ok? Let me say goodbye to Wylan," Passion said.
"BYE WYLIE!" Marley screamed as Passion laughed. Cori scooped her little sister into her arms and walked away with her.
"She's so cute," Wylan said.
"She is," Passion agreed. "So you were gonna ask me something?"
"I will when I get ready," Wylan said. "Besides I got practice and you got a puppy run to make. I'll see you tonight?"
"I hope so," Passion said with a huge smile. "Bye."
"So what's this puppy thing about?" Cori asked as Passion came bouncing over on cloud nine.
"UMMMMM... oh yeah... me and Marley went walking yesterday and that girl, name's Camille," Passion commented. "She said something about having a puppy and if we wanted one we could have it when it was old enough."
"Come on Cori, please?" Marley asked as she looked up at Cori.
"We still gotta ask Mom first," Cori said.
"Ms. Lily love me she say yes," Marley said confidently. "Come on please?"
"Oh yeah one other thing..." Passion said. "Camille likes girls."
"Why don't we go down and talk to her?" Cori asked Marley.
"I love you new sister," Marley said as she hugged Cori's legs and then dragged her down the lawn and across the road before Cori picked her up and crossed onto the sidewalk. Passion lauged as she headed back inside to get ready for her date. Cori noticed the girl was dressed conservatively in jeans and a baseball jersey as she was putting her puppy on a leash as it barked excitedly. "Cute puppy."
"Huh?" Camille asked as she looked up and saw Cori and Marley stop at the edge of her lawn. "Oh hi."
"This is my sissy, the pretty one," Marley said as Camille smiled at her. Then pointing to the puppy Marley said, "Dats Pepperoni. Her a girl Cori."
"Pepperoni?" Cori asked as Camille grinned. "Named your dog after a pizza topping?"
"Very funny," Camille said without a smile.
"I was kidding," Cori said as she sat Marley down and let her little sister go charging across the lawn. Camille smiled as she released Pepperoni and let her go chasing after Marley. "I really was kidding. I'm sorry."
"It's ok," Camille said. "I'm just gun shy."
"Someone shoot you?" Cori asked as Camille laughed. "What?"
"No, no, I mean... like... nervous?"
"OH OK that makes sense," Cori said. "Why?"
"Was picked on a lot at my old school back in Texas," Camille said. Her accent just then really becoming noticeable to Cori. "Kinda why we moved."
"Why did people pick on you?" Cori asked as Marley's laughs and Pepperoni's excited barks came from the side yard.
"Mean and cruel..."
"Gay? My sister Passion mentioned it," Cori said as Camille blushed.
"Guilty, she dragged it out of me too," Camille said.
"She is nosey," Cori said as Camille smiled. "So people being nice to you since you been here?"
"Mostly," Camille said. "Jennifer down the block was nice and I met Rayne she's nice too. And Joey Larue, she's funny."
"All the members of the lesbian dating club!"
"Girl with the cute little sister say what?" Camille asked. "Lesbians?"
"Joey is my ex-girlfriend."
"Place is crawling with lesbians," Camille said as Cori grinned.
"Most of them are taken though, except me," Cori said with a grin.
"Maybe if you're nice to me you will be too," Camille said. "My name's Camille, which you already knew, friends call me Cammy."
"My friends call me Cori," Cori said as her and Camille laughed.
"Funny," Camille said. "Passion said you got a big family."
"Mmmmm hmmmm," Cori said. "Kind of like full house with one dad instead of three."
"Full house? I love, love that show," Camille said.
"Me too, when I came out of my coma that was one of the shows that for some reason I just loved," Cori said.
"You were in a coma?"
"Uhn huh," Cori said. "Amnesia too, most of my past is still a mystery."
"I sometimes wish I could forget some of the things that happened to me," Camille said. "But hey life goes on and no reason to sit around and cry about the past."
"Always make new memories to replace those bad ones," Cori said as her and Camille smiled at each other. Marley's giggling became louder as she now ran back into view with Pepperoni on her trail. Marley ran to Cori and hugged her knees, but as Cori tried to pick her up her back gave out and she whimpered as she slumped to the ground.
"What's wrong? What happened?" Camille asked in a panic as Cori took a deep breath from her knees and held her back.
"It's ok, side effect of being plowed by a mini-van," Cori said as Marley hugged her neck.
"Cori ok?" Marley asked.
"Yeh sissy is ok," Cori said as Camille helped her back to her feet.
"Sure you ok?" Camille asked as she absentmindedly rubbed Cori's lower back with one hand.
"Yeh, it just hurts," Cori said. "I better get home."
"I should walk you home," Camille said with a worried look. "You look a little unsteady right now."
"Actually I'm ok," Cori said as the smile left Camille's face. "But you could come and help me with Marley?"
"Love too," Camille said with a bright smile. "Come here my girl, come here Pepperoni."
"Can her come too?" Marley asked as she pointed to the dog. Camille simply nodded and smiled as she offered her hand to Marley and smiled when the little girl took it happily as all four now turned back towards Sammler-Manning manor.
Cori, despite the pain in her back, felt like life had gotten so much better on this day and for some odd reason she had a sense of something really wonderful had just begun. Even if she wasn't able to quite figure out what it was. It still felt really good to feel this good. She smiled as she met Lily by the front door a few moments later and introded Camille and hugged her Mom and held on for a long moment. Lily got a smile of amazement on her face as she quickly moved Cori's hand to her expanded stomach a moment later as she felt the baby kick.
"My little sister or brother just kicked," Cori said as she squealed in excitement and hugged Lily again.
"Yep, life could not get better than it is right now..."