Written by: TVM (firstname.lastname@example.org) & CJ Ames (email@example.com)
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Book Lovers
"We'll be getting started in just a few minutes folks," Henry told the still growing crowd outside of Book Lovers as August and Joanna walked on inside with Karen and Stephanie, who'd arrived just a short time before. Karen, Stephanie, August and Brittany disappeared out into the back alley where Judy was hosting a private party that was just for V.I.P. invitees. Jessie joined a very nervous looking Joanna at the front as she looked out the window at the crowd. Jessie noticing that Joey seemed to be almost depressed as she sat behind the counter staring off into space.
"Hey there," Jessie said as Joanna looked back. "Miss Author."
"JFine, what's up?" Joanna asked with a nervous smile. "Where did Brittany go?"
"In the alley out back with Judy," Jessie said as Henry came back in and stopped by the two girls. "Are we a little nervous?"
"Oh yeah," Joanna said as she held her hands up and showed Henry they were shaking.
"OK, here's some advice, just imagine everybody naked and that way they'll be a whole more nervous than you," Henry said as Joanna laughed at the stupidity of that suggestion. But got a knowing smile on her face as she looked to Jessie and grinned.
"Don't you dare imagine me that way," Jessie said as Joanna shrugged and looked back to Henry and said, "Now that's some breath taking advice."
"I guess," Henry said. "Just try and relax?"
"Will do," Joanna said, feeling her nerves calm considerably as Jessie pushed her and both laughed. "JFine all over."
"GRRRRRR," Jessie said as Joanna smiled. "You're lucky I don't whip you."
"Hey!" Joey said as she joined the twosome.
"Hey!" Jessie said.
"Where's your girlfriend at? Haunting the alley?" Joanna asked Joey as Jessie laughed. "She's gotta be here and I might as well get it over with and see her now."
"She quit about two hours ago," Joey said as she wiped away a few tears. "She dumped me."
"Lucky you," Joanna said.
"Joanna Marie, have a heart," Jessie said. "What happened? I thought you guys were doing good?"
"Rayne, my ex, came by earlier with her new girlfriend, Jennifer, I think it's her girlfriend and I lost it," Joey said. "Anyway, I went outside and demanded that Rayne leave and one thing led to another and before I know it I was in a serious screaming match with her and Jennifer. Somewhere along the line it slipped out that I still loved Rayne. I guess that wasn't good news to Marissa. Who knew."
"I swear you're still funny even when you're heartbroken," Jessie said as Joey half smiled. Joanna breathing a sigh of relief at the news of her arch enemy not being in the building. "So you still love Rayne?"
"That's what my mouth said," Joey replied. "I'm so insanely confused right now that I'll be lucky to be able to work the cash register let alone figure out what the hell I'm gonna do after tonight."
"Maybe you get back with Cori?" Jessie suggested.
"No," Joey said simply as Judy came back in from the outside. "Won't work I don't think."
"Are you OK?" Judy asked Joey and then looking over her shoulder and saw someone coming down the sidewalk that she recognized. Two people actually.
"Good enough," Joey said as she walked off with Joanna back to the counter.
"When did Cori's little sister get her a semi-famous boyfriend?" Judy asked as Passion and Wylan stopped outside and chatted with a few of the growing crowd.
"Wylan Keller, I met him one night at the Cat House downtown, it's a blues club."
"He plays great," Jessie said. "You should get him to play for the party out back."
"Why not, it's a bit late but we could charge like fifty dollars for a V.I.P ticket that includes a meet and greet after with August and Joanna, plus music from Wylan Keller?"
"Who's gonna watch it?"
"You and Stephanie?" Judy asked. "Give you each ten percent of the take?"
"Sure, I'll tell Steph," Jessie said as she walked off. Judy opened the door as Passion smiled and walked inside with Wylan.
"Hey, my adopted Niece and her handsome boyfriend," Judy said. "Wylan right?"
"Yeah," Wylan said as Judy closed the door.
"How would you like to make some money tonight?"
"Sure," Wylan said. "How?"
"Play your guitar for a private party, take a few requests and all" Judy said. "I'm having a private party out back and I'll pay you fifteen bucks a head if you'll do it."
"Pash?" Wylan asked.
"Why you asking me?"
"I'm on a date with you and we kinda had plans," Wylan said. Passion smiled and kissed him before replying, "You need money for rent and this might pay great, food comes before me."
"Not in my mind it doesn't," Wylan said as Passion blushed.
"Go get your guitar and make some money."
"Yes Ma'am," Wylan said as he practically ran out the door.
"I like him soooo much," Passion said in a giggling, bouncing around voice. Judy laughed and hugged her.
"How about you help Joey at the register?"
"I can't go to the party too?"
"All the family is invited, help Joey for a while and I'll switch out with you?" Judy asked. Passion agreed with a nod of the head as August came over with his sports jacket now in place. "Pash this is the famous August Dimitri."
"Hi," Passion said as she hugged Judy.
"The newest member of the Sammler household I take?" August asked as he shook Passion's hand.
"That'd be me," Passion said. "I love your book by the way."
"Thank you," August said in surprise.
"Is Joanna around? I wanted to meet her too," Passion asked.
"Her and Joey were out back and here they come," August said as Passion smiled and ran to greet Joey with a hug. Joey smiled for the first time since the Marissa incident as she saw the girl she had come to adore, relaying the whole story of what had happened earlier, sprinkled in of course with Joanna's commentary.
"I'm sorry," Passion said as she hugged Joey. "I still love you."
"You to Pash," Joey said. "You guys hanging out?"
"Uh huh," Passion said.
"Help me at the counter?"
"Love that idea," Passion said as she linked her arm with Joey's and the two walked to the front. Joanna and August finally taking their places at the table as Judy sat the books up by the front door for people to purchase as they came in by the register. A few minutes later, the register was ringing non-stop and the place was humming with activity.
** ** ** Meanwhile @ at the Palace
"Daddy?" Shady asked as she stuck her head into her fathers office after he said to come in. "You got a minute, it's important?"
"Always!" Donald said as Shady and Katie walked in hand and hand. "What's up?"
"We're thinking about moving out," Shady said bluntly.
"No, you're not," Donald said in a matter-of-fact way, Katie giggling.
"What do you mean?"
"You are barely eighteen Shady," Donald said as he came around the desk and sat down on the corner facing the girls. "What's the point in leaving home and everything you know. I allowed your girlfriend to move in."
"We think it's time we start our lives together," Shady said as she showed Donald her and Katie's laced fingers. "We've even got a nice house picked out and all."
"You know it's annoying when you get condescending," Katie said. "We're serious."
"What brought this on?" Donald asked a few moments later.
"Katie and ZoŽ found the place, it's on the same street as ZoŽ's family," Shady said. "And we drove by it and it's beautiful on the outside with a yard and pool and a bunch of other stuff that I can't think of."
"It's also got two bedrooms so Sam could stay over when you're out of town," Shady said.
"What's the point? You've got the run of the place now," Donald said. "We both know you're not gonna be happy without space to roam in Shady."
"This is something we really want," Katie said. "Let us try it out for a while and if it doesn't work we can always come home."
"I don't get it and your sisters are not gonna be happy," Donald said. "But if your dead set on it."
"If you say I'm like Mom I'll seriously punch you," Shady said as Donald laughed.
"You are, before the money went to her head," Donald said. "You don't remember that I guess. I barely do."
"So, you wanna come with us and check out this place?" Katie asked. "You're the closest thing I've got to a dad, soooo, maybe come along and nit pick it till Shady blows her top?"
"Katie Singer!" Shady said with a finger point. "I can very easily dump your big mouth."
"I dare you, Red," Katie said as Donald laughed, Shady trying to hide a smile. "You want him to come along, you know it."
"I'll get my car keys," Donald said as he left the office. Shady turned to her girlfriend and smiled.
"You really wanna do this?" Shady asked.
"Yesss I do!" Katie said. "I'm planning my life with you now, Shay!"
"You just wanna be near..." Shady said and stopped for a dramatic pause, making Katie think the name of her ex-girlfriend was about to pop out, "...ZoŽ!"
"Why not?" Katie asked with a relieved smile. "Me, you and her in a threesome?"
"There's a thought I've never had before," Shady said as Katie laughed.
"No, huh?" Katie asked.
"If she wasn't dating Mandy..."
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Sammler-Manning Manor
Lily watched from the corner of the living room with a smile at the interaction of Cammy and Cori as they laughed, traded pokes and just acted like normal teenagers who liked each other. She was thinking how it was so much different seeing her with anyone but Joey and couldn't help being thankful that it wasn't Rayne, a girl she simply didn't trust. The back drop of all this being the constant pitter patter of Marley's feet as she ran up and down the hall with Cammy's dog Pepperoni trailing her and barking happily. She smiled once more as she walked off into the kitchen.
"I've got the DVD downstairs in my room, Dad bought it for me," Cori said as Camille smiled. "Come on we'll go get it."
"I think I'd rather wait here, your Mom wouldn't like it I bet if I went down," Camille said. "OK?"
"She wouldn't mind," Cori said. "Or you don't wanna go?"
"I don't know you that well yet," Camille said. "Maybe I should go home."
"Nooo, please? We're having fun," Cori said. "And Marley is still playing with Pepperoni. I'll go get the movie, OK? You wait here?"
"Good idea," Camille said as Cori handed her the remote and left the room. Camille flipped through a few of the channels as Sarah and Grace came into the room trailed by Marley and Pepperoni. "You guys wanna watch something?"
"No we're headed out, but can you check Fox57 for the weather?" Grace asked.
"Sure," Camille said as she flipped over to the channel and saw that a special breaking news report was on-going. Sarah feeling her body go numb as she looked in shock at the screen. A fire truck sat in front of a building, Sarah's building on Mulberry Road. The building she'd lived in her whole life up until now. Grace hugged her girlfriend protectively as Sarah looked on. Marley stopped and looked up at the TV.
"...a fire swept through three floors of the complex before firefighters were able to successfully contain it," Tony Tucker said, the in-studio anchor. "This is the building that was believed to be at the center of a bidding war between several local contractors in their quest to re-shape the skyline in that part of the city."
Lily arrived in the living room just as Mandy and ZoŽ came down the steps and saw the display on the TV. Seeing it was Sarah's building a cold chill ran down ZoŽ's spine as she looked to see Marley standing by the TV and watching calmly.
Rick and Cori came back down the hall chatting. Everyone looked in shock at the scene on the TV. Camille watched in confusion. Cori sat down and struggled with the memories of what that building meant. But her memory wasn't exactly serving her at this moment, but she knew it had something to do with Sarah and Grace by the way they were looking at the TV. Camille whispered, "Someone you know in the fire or something?"
"My building just burned down," Sarah said softly, the shock wearing off a little.
"...Tony it appears that the first floor is largely undamaged as are the sixth, seventh and eighth floors," Travis Star (the reporter) said. "Back to you."
"Baby it's OK, they said it was only three floors," Grace said. "Your stuff is probably, OK? And since when is your building at the center of a bidding war?"
"I don't know, Jamison said he would call if he heard anything," Sarah said. Jamison being the guy that Sarah had agreed to let sell her building, Grace noted.
"That's your building Sarah?" Cori asked.
"Yeah," Sarah said.
"I'm sorry," Cori said.
"I know, it's OK, all I care about is Grace is OK," Sarah said as Grace hugged her protectively.
"Marley predicted that," ZoŽ finally said as all attention turned to her. "On the porch just a few minutes ago. She said Sarah's building got all burned up."
"Ohmigod, she did," Mandy said.
"Dat Sarah's building, it got burned," Marley said as she pointed at the TV. "Right?"
"How did you know that?" Sarah asked gently as she got on her knees in front of Marley.
"Carl told me," Marley said simply. "I told you him not lie to me."
"WOW!" Sarah said in shock. Cori came over and sat down by her little sister and pulled Marley into her lap and hugging her. Pepperoni crawled into Marley's lap as everyone laughed.
"Marley, this is important, OK?" Cori asked gently.
"Did you see that on TV earlier?" Cori asked.
"No, Ms. Lily was cooking and I was helping, I not watch TV in a long time," Marley said.
"Look what it says on the news scroller," Camille said as she pointed at the TV. "The fire department was called to the fire less than an hour ago. I've been here longer than that. No way she could've seen it on TV."
"Marley knew about the fire before anyone?" Rick asked.
"What it looks like," Grace said.
"Just like she knew Kyle was in that accident," Cori said. "Think she's psychic?"
"Noooo," Grace, Lily, Rick and Mandy said at the same time. Then laughing.
"Carl told me," Marley said again. "Him told me to dat da Cubs are gonna win da World Series this year."
"Well, now we know she's not psychic," Rick said as the room filled with laughter.
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Book Lovers
"So my incredibly cute best friend in the whole world who single handedly made me feel so much better..." Joey said into Passion's ear in a whisper, grinning at her a moment later. Passion returned that smile with confidence. "...think you can wait on some people solo and let me get a breath of fresh air?"
"Go and don't be gone long cause I'm not being paid and I still wanna see Wylan play for a while," Passion as she waited on another in a endless line of customers.
"Back in a few," Joey said as she walked out and slowly made her way through the crowd that now made it's way all the way down the block. Joey stepped outside and walked the other way down the sidewalk and just wanting a few minutes to herself. She wouldn't get it.
"UGH, all I want is five minutes and I'll get back to work you bunch of fucking losers," Joey seethed under her breath, taking a deep breath she turned and got a major shock... her parents were just getting out of a car that looked really expensive. "Mom, Dad?"
"Hey baby," Regina said as she met a shocked Joey with a hug. "What's the crowd for?"
"Hi Dad," Joey said solemnly. Being the first time she'd seen her father in months. "Or do you prefer being called, Dave?"
"Always the comedian," Dave said. "Book signing huh?"
"Yes, book signing, big crowd, the guy is a private partner of Judy and the new Co-owner Henry," Joey said.
"What happened to Jake Manning?" Dave asked.
"Well about 20 chapters ago he was run out of a town by the mob," Joey said pointedly. "But you wouldn't know that cause you've not been home in months. Dave."
"OK Joey, I get it that you're mad," Dave said. "But I'm thinking you're gonna be really happy when I tell you what I've got."
"These!" Dave said as he pulled out a pair of car keys and pointed to the car behind him. "That's yours."
"You better not be shitting me old man," Joey said as she grabbed the keys and ran to the car and looked at it in excitement. "Imagine me rolling into school in this bad boy."
"You'll look great in Brisbane," Dave said.
"Oh yeah... what did you say?"
"We're moving to Brisbane and that is your pay off if you go," Dave said. Judy came to the door of Book Lovers and saw Joey talking with what she knew was at least one of her parents, she started slowly to walk towards the three.
"Are you nuts? I have friends and... I had... a girlfriend... whatever, I'm not leaving just so you can go and chase this pipe dream," Joey said. Knowing she had wounded her father. "I'm not leaving."
"Josephine Janine Larue," Regina broke in. "I don't wanna hear you using that kind of hurtful language."
"BITE ME!" Joey said. "I just had my heart broke and if you wanna a fight by hell you're gonna get one."
"Heartbroke?" Regina asked as Judy stopped a few feet away and listened intently.
"You're going and that's final," Dave said in a voice that was meant to cut off all conversation.
"Dave, didn't you hear her?"
"She is a drama queen, just like you," Dave said. "Seal your lips Regina. I don't wanna hear it, you, me and my lovely daughter are going home to pack and then at seven a.m. we are getting up and going to the airport. Where we will board flight 417 bound for Brisbane, Australia. Then me and you will go to work on our project and our lovely daughter will drive her new car to her Exclusive new private school. That's what's gonna happen."
"That was a mouthful Dave," Joey said. "You got several parts of it wrong, like me going. I'm not."
"Yes you are," Dave snapped. "Besides you don't have anywhere to stay because we've already put the house up for sale."
"She can stay with me," Judy said. All attention turning to her. "Joey can stay with me... and for as long as she wants."
"And you are?" Dave asked.
"She's my boss," Joey said as she smiled at Judy. "Hell she's almost like a Mom."
"Good way to argue your point Joey by alienating both of your parents," Regina said.
"Then go to Brisbane, everyone knows that's the toilet of Australia."
"I'm serious, she can stay with me, she already works for me," Judy said as Joey hugged her. "Save me a lot of trouble having to go half way across town to pick her up every afternoon."
"It is not every afternoon."
"Every... afternoon," Judy said. "Even gotta give her a ride home."
"I'm not leaving my seventeen year old daughter behind in Chicago," Dave demanded.
"I'm 17 Dad, what are you gonna do? Tie me up and stuff me in a trunk?" Joey asked. Flipping the car keys back to him. "You can keep your shiny new car, I'm staying and that's final."
"I don't know what to say," Regina said. Dave by now was fuming and seriously hurt. Joey turned her back to her parents and hugged Judy.
"JUDY," Henry screamed from the front door. Motioning to her as if to say 'hurry back'.
"Look we've got a seriously important event going on and I have to get back and I need my Assistant Manager," Judy said.
"You're the Assistant Manager?" Dave asked.
"Yep I'm third in command behind the old lady and the black dude," Joey said with a smirk. "I think they're holding me down cause I'm white."
"Shut up," Judy said as she pushed a laughing Joey away. "You're fired."
"She says that all the time," Joey giggled.
"I had no idea you were being counted on," Dave commented.
"Big time too," Judy said. "Joey's basically the reason that we turned the place around."
"Tell him another one, that was a good one," Joey giggled.
"It's true, she met this Marissa girl and because her and Joey became friends it led to a lot of good things," Judy said. "I need Joey and she wants to stay."
"We'll call you when we get on the ground in Brisbane," Dave said simply.
"You're on your own," Dave said. "You can stay, but you're on your own. I'm not sending money back here when you could be living with us..."
"Then go," Joey said. "And don't think for a second I'm gonna miss you... Dave."
"Dave, Joey..." Regina tried. But her husband was having none of it as he fumed and stormed off.
"Just go," Joey said as she turned to Judy and hugged her. Regina quietly followed after her husband, reluctantly.
"Thanks," Joey said.
"It's OK," Judy said. "Your new bedtime is 8 o'clock."
"Yeah right, the bars don't even open till nine," Joey said as both laughed and turned back towards Book Lovers.
** ** ** Meanwhile @ Down the road from Sammler-Manning Manor
"This is it," Katie said as Donald pulled up in front of the house that Katie and Shady had been telling him about. All three got out and were met by a very pleasantly smiling Helen, the realtor, as she came out of the house.
"Welcome, Welcome," Helen said. Extending her hand to shake Donald's, "I'm Helen Harper the realtor and you are?"
"Donald McCree, the red headed troublemaker's father," Donald said as Shady gave him a dirty look.
"She has shown herself to me to be a very pleasant young lady," Helen said. Shady grinned smugly.
"That's because you just met her, " Katie said.
"What is this pick on Shady day?" Shady asked as Katie hugged her and laughed.
"So can we have the tour?" Donald asked. Helen nodded and motioned for them to follow her as she lead them inside. First to the rather expansive living room which was just off the front entrance, only down a couple of steps. That lead directly into the kitchen which was already stocked with new appliances, and a small breakfast nook that sold Shady the moment she saw it. The back stairs were just off the kitchen and the hall that lead back down to the front entrance. The second floor featured two bedrooms, one, the master that wasn't overly large but stole Katie's heart as she flopped on the bed and prepared for a nap. The house's only bathroom being the next stop, it being in between both of the bedrooms.
"Only the one bathroom?" Donald asked as they arrived back outside a half hour or so later.
"Well, yes, but you do have room to expand on the first floor if you choose to," Helen said. "And that pool."
"And no basement to speak of or attic," Donald said. "Girls I don't know."
"The house does have it's drawbacks..." Helen said as she looked at Katie and Shady, "...may I be frank?"
"The house is not perfect, no house is, but for your daughter and her lovely friend..."
"Girlfriend," Katie inserted.
"OK... it's a perfect starter home," Helen said. "Katie, is it?"
"Uh huh," Katie said.
"You have friends down the road? That pretty ZoŽ girl you were with last time?"
"Like my best friend," Katie said. "It would be nice to be on the same street as her."
"And Dad, Mandy practically lives down here anymore," Shady said. "Lily has taken over where Mom left off."
"I'm sorry, your mother has passed?"
"No, tucked away in the loony bin," Shady said, Katie stifling a giggle at Helen's shocked response. "Look, Dad, we love this house. This is what we want."
"Yep," Katie said as she wrapped Shady in her arms and the two smiled at each other.
"Who do I write the check out to?" Donald asked as Shady squealed and lifted Katie off the ground. Katie giggled as she pushed her girlfriend away and ran off down the yard as Shady chased after her. Katie slowed as she sprinted across the road and turned as Shady slowed but still crashed into her and sent both tumbling to the ground in the grass of the Sammler's neighbor.
"Katie?" a voice asked as the squealing and laughing stopped and both Katie and Shady looked to see Cori standing by the road with Marley's hand in hers. "Hi!"
"Hey," Katie said as she tried to get up and was dragged back down by Shady. Marley giggled as she watched.
"What are you two doing wrestling on the grass?" Cori asked as Shady got to her feet and pulled Katie up.
"We... are... moving in," Shady said as she kissed her girlfriend. Then pointing to the house with Donald and Helen in front. "Right there."
"Can I come visit you?" Marley asked as she shielded her eyes from the sun and looked up at Shady.
"You sure can," Shady said with a sweet smile. "As soon as we get moved in me and Katie will come and get you. Might not bring you back."
"No, no, boogerhead," Marley said with an animated shaking of her head. "Cori come and find me."
"Yep, love my little Mar bear," Cori said as she picked her up, Marley smiling smugly.
"Where you two headed?"
"My friend, Cammy, went home for dinner and Marley and me were going to the pop machines," Cori said.
"You look like you were never in an accident," Shady said.
"Yeah I got better," Cori said.
"Her got a big mark on her back," Marley said.
"Mandy has a scar on her back too," Shady said.
"I hate mine still," Cori said. "So, when do you think you'll be moving in?"
"With the way my Dad operates... today," Shady said as everyone laughed. Donald, a very pleased looking Donald, coming across the street to join his daughter, smiling pleasantly at Cori and Marley.
"Hi Mister," Marley said with a friendly wave.
"Hi yourself," Donald said. "And who are you?"
"I'm Marley, I'm four," Marley said. "And dat is my new sissy Cori."
"Hi," Cori said.
"Nice to meet both of you," Donald said.
"Cori is an old friend of mine, the one who got into the accident I told you about?" Katie asked.
"Oh yes, well you certainly look to be all healed up," Donald commented as Cori smiled.
"Yeah, I'm pretty good now," Cori said. "All things considered, I'm happy."
"Me too," Marley said as everyone laughed.
"Getting over Joey I see," Shady said.
"We both needed a break and she's with this new girl so it's cool," Cori said flatly. "You buying that house?"
"I just did," Donald said with a smile. "I paid the lady exactly what she wanted plus a bonus, a good one too, if she rushed the paper work and got it to me by tonight."
"Is that possible?" Katie asked, Shady laughing knowingly.
"It is when you're name is McCree," Shady said and kissing her girlfriend. "We better go home and pack."
"I help you move in," Marley offered as Shady grinned.
"I think you'd get in the way more than help," Cori said to her little sister.
"Probably," Marley commented. Cori laughed.
"And where are you two ladies headed?"
"I bummed a dollar off my Mom and we're going to the soda machines," Cori said.
"Bum a dollar? That is so unfair that a sweet girl doesn't have money of her own," Donald said as he pulled out his money clip.
"Cool ghost mister," Marley said as she admired Donald's shiny gold money clip. The one with the large GR on it with a ghost symbol in the background. Donald smiled and stripped off two bills and quickly put away the clip and placed one of the bills in Marley's hand and offered the other to Cori.
"I can't take your money, that's a hundred dollars!" Cori said.
"Take it, Cori, it's OK," Shady said as Cori smiled and took it, admiring it and knowing she'd never in her life had that much money, well as far back as she could remember.
"Are you Santa Claus, mister?" Marley asked as Donald laughed.
"I am not," Donald said with a poke to her stomach. "I'm a sucker for a pretty smile and you two have stole my heart in a matter of seconds."
"They live right there Daddy," Shady said as she pointed to Sammler-Manning Manor.
"I'm sure we'll see you again," Donald said. "Girls I guess we should be off. Packing to do and all."
"Hire someone to do it Daddy Warbucks," Katie said as Donald offered a warning look as the three turned to head for the car. Night was falling as Cori watched them drive off a few moments later.
"Bye Daddy Warbucks," Marley said with a wave to the back of the car.
"You are impossibly goofy," Cori said to her little sister as she set her down and the two walked to the end of the road and got the sodas they'd come after in the first place and slowly walked back. Marley happily slurped her soda as she walked on the sidewalk beside Cori, stopping when her sister did. Cori glanced over as they passed the 'Stillwater Ranch'. Cori's eyes opened as she saw Rayne and Jennifer through the slanted openings in the blinds covering the downstairs glass doors, on the bed and involved in a VERY private moment. Cori moving in front of Marley to block her view. The two, as Cori noted, were not wearing a stitch of clothing and seemed to be having fun. "WOW! Some people are really bold."
"What you see Cori?" Marley asked. Cori snapped her eyes away and taking Marley in her arms as she tried in vain to shake the images of what she'd just seen from her mind.
"Nothing, Mar Bear," Cori said gently.
"Why we hurry Cori?"
"Mom will be getting worried if we don't get back," Cori said as Marley smiled and sipped her soda. Cori was doing the same and almost spat it out when Marley asked, "Is it OK if I call Ms. Lily, Mommy?"
"Her not mean to me like my old Mommy," Marley said. "Can I?"
"She would really love that, she loves you," Cori said as they turned the corner and walked up the lawn of Sammler-Manning Manor.
"I love her too, I love Daddy too," Marley commented, neither noticing the shadowy figure now sitting on the porch until they'd turned the final corner and walked onto the porch itself. Cori looked in surprise, almost shock, at the person who sat crying on the porch.
"I know..." Cori said to her sister and then set her down as Marley smiled and said, "Hi, Joey!"
To be Continued....