Saturday, June 18, 2016

Chapter 118

The packing up and moving all of Stephanie’s belongings from her college dorm room was a family event.  Lexie and Stephanie were wrapping her glass items in newspaper, while Jesse and Jon were moving her computer, media center and television. Jake and Romeo, were loading her shoe boxes into the trailer.  Her clothes would be the last to be packed.  Stephanie had left some stuff for her roommate Ali and they hauled a large amount to the dumpster.  Finally they were on the road again, Lexie was driving Stephanie and half of the stuff going home, Jon had the boys in the truck they rented with rest of Stephanie’s belongings. They were due for the first visit to Seaforth in two days, Stephanie wasn’t too excited about that.

They stopped along the way home for lunch, and to see if they could lose the few paparazzi that were following them, putting them home late. Pulling in the alley way they started to unload the car first and then the truck. Dinner that night was sandwiches and chips then homework session followed.

Jon and Lexie headed to the office, they still had mail to go through.  Martin had called Jon on the way back and told him he had gotten a letter from Dorothea’s lawyer and he had faxed it to him. 

Lexie took her stack of mail and went through it. She had promo illustrations to review and approve for her new book.  She also had some writer’s group convention invitations. Lexie consulted the calendar to see the ones she wanted to attend. Any events during the allotted time Stephanie would be in the rehab were declined. She sent them back to her Editor to forward her apologies or she could use Sally to write the letters. Of course she would pay her for extra time.

“Hey Rockstar, what are we going to do with Stephanie things she won’t need for Seaforth?”  Lexie put her mail away and went to the sideboard bar to get wine for Jon and soda for hersef.  She went around the desk and sat on the edge.

“We can donate it to Habitat, or mom could sale at one of her yard sales.  And the money for Stephanie’s extra expenses  at Seaforth. I didn’t look to see if they had a snack shop, you know for candy and anything they need.”  He watched he perched on his desk. His mind began to wander, he thought about their upcoming second honeymoon. Now moved a week due to Stephanie and rehab family meetings.

“When we go on Monday, we can check it out.  There is a list up on the website of what she needs to bring with her, but you know they don’t list everything.”  He sipped his wine and watched her sipping her soda.  “I’m sorry we had to postpone our anniversary, I know I was looking forward to being alone with you in London.”

“I was looking forward to it too, but family always comes first.”  She leaned down and gave him a kiss.

“Last night, in the kitchen, did you see anything different in Stephanie?” Jon asked Lexie.

“I hope I did, but since she had sort of shut me out for so long, I’m no longer sure.”  Lexie got off the corner of the desk and st on his lap. “To be honest I just don’t know.”

Jon shifted in his chair to make sure he could hold her better.

“I guess we’ll see how it goes at Seaforth.”  He handed her the lawsuit paperwork, “I’m amazed how in the whole wide world, Graham and Dorothea found a lawyer to take their case.”

“Under duress, they’re going with that plan?  They were going to lose their house and she had to go out and get a job instead of sitting home.”  Lexie read over the legalese and rolled her eyes.  “Did you see both our names are on here? Why is she coming after me?  Has this got anything to do with that she wasn’t called to the hospital?”  Lexie remember how upset she was with her about not being called first, and how she had berated Stephanie and herself when she flew out of the hospital parking lot.

“I think it might have something to do with it.  Hell I have no idea. I guess we need to go to the source and see what the hell is going on.”  He gave her a hard kiss on the neck and stood her up.  “Call Martian and have him set up a little meetings of the generals, I’m gonna go talk to Steph.”  He walked out of the office and Lexie sat in his chair and called Martian.

Jon headed upstairs to his daughters room, knocking he waited, no answer.  He opened the door and walked in, the room was empty. Shaking his head he checked the other rooms, all the other kids were accountable.  Heading down to the kitchen he noticed the puppy box was empty, he went out the kitchen door, down the steps to the alley way and spotted her with the puppies and Snowball. They had brought an old play gaited area to use when the puppies and Snowball needed to go outside.  She was sitting on a box watching the puppies playing chase momma around the pen.

“We used to do that with you kids when you were little, take you out by the river and let you run off your energy before bed.  It worked.”  He looked over her shoulder.

“They’re about ready to go to the forever homes.”  Stephanie said softly, as if Snowball would be unhappy her puppies were going to leave her soon.

“Yeah, when you get through with rehab, just Snowball and Charcoal will be left.”  Jon squatted down and patted Snowball on the head, as she danced around for his attention.

“Dad, about rehab.”  Stephanie started. “I’m not looking forward to going to Seaforth.”  She finally got out.

“I know, but Steph, it’s where the college and Martian think you should go.”  Jon pulled up another crate and sat down beside her.  “It’s where I think you should go.”  Jon watched as the words sunk in.

“But why Seaforth, why not the one uncle Mookie went to in Utah or California?”  Stephanie brushed a tear from her eyes.

“Baby girl, I saw what those did to Mookie, they weren’t that good, he’s still having problems.  I don’t want you to ever go back to the hospital because of drugs. I don’t want you to smoke pot, pop pills or sample other people’s drink in case they put something in it.”  Jon pulled her close in his arms and rocked her as she cried.

“I’m so sorry Dad, I’m so sorry.”  She cried as her Jon rocked her.

That is where Jesse found them.

“Dad, Mom said to come on in, Hank the doorman said there are paps hanging out in the front.” Jesse said as he looked up and down the alley way.

“Okay Jess.”  Jon let Stephanie go as she wiped the tears off her cheeks.  “Let’s get Snow and her pups in.”  They worked together to pick up the puppies and Snow. Heading up the stairs Lexie met them at the door.

“We’re safe, don’t think we were seen, but thanks for the heads up.” Jon handed her Snowball as he carried Charcoal and one of the other puppies.

“Martin said to call him.  I think he might have some news.”  Lexie cuddled the Snowball close as they put the puppies in their pen then turned to look at father and daughter.  “Steph, do you want to help me tomorrow, go through some of these boxes to see what you want to keep, and what you want Grandmother B to sell in her yard sale?”  Lexie asked as she leaned her hip on the counter after she added Snowball to the pen.

“Sure, but I don’t think anyone would want anything of mine.”  Stephanie squatted down by the puppies and watched them settle down and snuggled to Snowball.

“You have books, hardback and paperback. You’re like your dad, you take great care of them.”  Lexie squatted down beside her.

“So, I take care of my books, why would anyone want them.”  Stephanie looked over at Lexie.  She never noticed that Lexie had hazel eyes, it never even entered her mine what Lexie really looked like.  If she let her hair go back natural, she would have the same color hair as her mother and Lexie, but Lexie had more red in her hair than brown.

“Books that have unbroken spines or turned down corners, no water damage, are worth more in resale.”  Lexie looked up noticing that Stephanie was looking at her, sort of like a scientist looked at a bug under a microscope.  “First editions are worth more than other editions.  I leaned this in college when I tried to get a refund on a history book.  I used to study in the bathtub and wet fingers ruin pages.” 

Jon watched his two ladies talking, baby steps, must be working.

“She still ruins books in the bathtub.” Jon laughed as Lexie actually blushed.  He stopped buying her first editions after he found a lot of them with water damage. 

“When I need to tune out the muse and get some work done, I close myself in the bathroom and fill the tub with bubbles and soak and read.”  She looked up at Jon and gave him the stink eye.  “Don’t you need to call Martin?”

Jon laughed holding up both hands and backing out of the laundry room.

Stephanie started to leave the laundry room, Lexie followed her out but stopped at the bottom of the stairs.

“Hey Steph, want to call a couple of girlfriends and see if they want to help us tomorrow after family lunch at your grandparents?”  Lexie called up to her before she got to the top landing.

“Really?  I can call and asked two of my friends to come over?”  Stephanie was shocked, she was still grounded and it would be a big bend in the rules to have a friend come over.  Should she call Sarah to come over or would she would even speak to her? She thought about it.

“Two or maybe a couple more, there is still a lot of stuff to go through.”  Lexie told her looking up at the girl, paused halfway up the stairs.  “Your cell is in my bedside table, just put it back in say about two hours.”

Another bend in the rules, if Lexie keeps this up the grounding rule will be totally broken.  Stephanie hurried back down the stairs and flung her arms around Lexie in a big huge.

“Thanks Mom.”  Stephanie whispered through her tears.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Chapter 117

Jon froze by the door. This didn’t sound like it was going to take a short answer to make her happy, Jon thought.

“Sure baby girl.”  Jon started back to the chair beside her.

“If things were different, would you have fought to stay with Mom?”  She asked him quietly.

He sat there a few seconds, letting her question sink in.  In his mind went back to the day Dorothea had told him that it was over.  Her lawyer had served the divorce papers to drive the nail in. He knew that she had been seeing Graham for months or even years while he was on tour, granted he hadn’t been celibate all that time either. He had tried to make a go of it, the family trips to St Barts, and whatever else that made her happy, it failed.

“Steph, there were times before the divorce, that I’ve tried.”  Jon started, and sifted in the chair.  “I took that year off, we did St Barts and Europe. We tried to make it work.”

“But,” Stephanie shifted in her seat. She remember the trips, but also the yelling, when they thought they weren’t being heard.  Graham had showed up in St Barts.

“No but’s we just had to end it before it destroyed you and your brothers.  I could take the blame but it was mutual. She had Graham for several years, as long as I closed my eyes, and when your mom was happy and she kept the fighting to a minimum.”  Jon explained.  “I knew it was going on, when I called her on it, even followed her to his apartment.  All she could tell me was that it was my fault for touring so much.  She said it felt like I couldn’t wait to get away from her. We just couldn’t make it work.”

Stephanie thought hard on what he said, her mother had said just about the same thing when she asked her.

“You and Lexie seem to be able to work things out.” Stephanie more made a statement than asked a question.

“Yeah, she has her writing and her book tours, and I have the band and concert touring.”  Jon thought about what he had just said to her.  They did have a good marriage, they both did something they loved to do.  Lexie’s new editor was a dream, which made it more harmonious, not like how it had been with her former editor.

There was a knock on the door and Lexie stepped in.

“I’m not in the mood to cook tonight, I was thinking about pizza and salads.”  Lexie suggested.

“Pizza would be great.”  Stephanie said getting out of the chair and going to give Lexie a hug, before heading out of the office.

“I don’t think you’ll get any arguments from the boys.”  He held out his hand to her.  When she took it, he pulled her on to his lap.  “Have I thanked you for handling everything here till I got home?” He let her cuddle in his arms.  “I do, you’re one strong woman, Lexie.”

“It’s all smoke and mirrors Jonny, I was so afraid of what I would find when I got to the hospital, or that she would not open up to me and let me take care of this.” Lexie sighed and put her head on his shoulder.

“I think she’s finally had her eyes opened and maybe grew up just a little.” Jon told her as he took her hand in his and raised it to his lips.

“I hope so, I don’t want to see her ruin her life.  She has a long way to go to get to that place she needs to be in.”  Lexie said softly as watched Jon fight to keep his eyes open.  “Why don’t you go on up to bed and rest till the boys get home, and I’ll wake you up for dinner.”  She got off his lap and drew him up from the chair.  Standing at the bottom of the stairs, she watched him slowly make his way up to bed.

She went into his office and made the calls she needed to make then went up to the nursery to spend time with the trio.

Dinner with the family was a zoo, the boys were excited that their dad was home. Everyone was talking at the same time.  Stephanie went back up to her room, while the rest of the family did homework with Lexie and Jon looking online and through flyers on Seaforth.  They made arrangements to go for a visit in a few days, giving Jon time to rest.

Sometime around midnight, Lexie went down to the kitchen to get a snack. She and Jon finally celebrated his homecoming till they were both satisfied.  Jon was snoring when she left the room. She remembered that she had hidden a pint of Chunky Monkey in the back of the freezer, behind the Brussels sprouts bag.

After getting a spoon she sat down at the bar and took off the lid.  Ahhh! Nothing like a Gastric Orgasm to follow a few actual ones!  Taking her first spoonful she heard footsteps on the stairs.  She looked up from her ice cream just as Stephanie walked into the kitchen.

Stephanie was shocked to see Lexie down in the kitchen, she thought she’d still be in bed with her dad. The ice cream in front of her meant that she would be down there for a while.

“Grab a spoon, it’s good that the boys don’t like frozen Brussels Sprouts, or it would be gone.”  Lexie said as she ate another spoonful. “I haven’t eaten off this side.”  Pointing her spoon to the still full side of the container.

Stephanie went and pulled out a drawer and got a spoon and went over to the bar and sat down beside Lexie.  Lexie turned around so Stephanie could spoon out the untouched spot.

“Thanks, I thought you would still be in the bed with Dad being home?”  Stephanie dipped her head a little and stuck a spoon of creamy banana ice cream in her mouth.

“I left him snoring his head off.  I guess I need to get used to wearing earplugs.”  Lexie laughed and when Stephanie started to relaxe.

“Yeah he snores like that when he comes back from London, the weather does him in.”  Stephanie took another spoonful.

“Good to know,” She put the spoon down in the lid and sat back and watched her bought and paid for daughter.  She had to stop thinking like that, but Stephanie never made her feel motherly.

“I want to thank you.”  Stephanie said putting the spoon down.

“Thank me for what?”  Lexie asked shocked with this turn of events.

“For being there when I needed you.  For going to the hearing today, I know I haven’t been very nice to you lately, and I’m sorry for that.”  Stephanie looked up at her mom, and she was her mom, legally.

“I know it was a shock when I married your dad and later adopted the four of you.  And I know that, you and I never really got off on the right footing, but I would never turn my back on any of my kids.  As hard as it is to believe, I would not be the mother I am to the trio, if you four had not trained me to be a good mother.” Lexie told Stephanie noticing that what she had just said, was the truth.

Stephanie took another bite of the ice cream and thought about what Lexie had said to her. Putting the spoon back down as she reached for a napkin.

“I sort of thought mom and dad would get back together, but now I can see he really loves you, and I know you love him.” Stephanie told her.

“Yes I do, I love him very much, just as I love all seven of my children.”  Lexie wanted to reach out to Stephanie, but she was afraid she’d pull away.

Just when she was about to give into the temptation, the overhead light came on.

“That’s where you are.” Jon said as he rubbed sleep out of his eyes.

His hair was sleep rumpled and his sweatpants hung low on his hips, and Lexie couldn’t love him more than she did right now.

“You caught us Dad, Lexie hide some ice cream and we’re having a girl’s confession session, sort of like my roommate and I used to do.”  Stephanie got up and put her spoon in the sink.  “Thanks Mamma Lexie, Night Dad.”  She kissed her dads cheek and headed up the stairs.

Jon turned and watched Stephanie head back upstairs, then turned and looked at Lexie.  He started to say something but Lexie stopped him.

“Baby steps Rockstar, Baby Steps.”  Lexie said as she felt tears burn the back of her eyes.