Chapter Twenty-One

It was already approaching 9 a.m. by the time Chris had gotten home, showered and eaten a bowl of cereal to quiet his stomach. He was meeting Kimberly at Applebee’s in four hours. He was tired as hell, having been up the last twenty-one hours, but then what else was new? He had no intention of trying to go to sleep for only three hours. He’d be better off just catching sail with his second wind and going with it.

Thoughts were traveling through his head faster than he could keep up with them. One of them was that Carly wouldn’t have to make the call to Kimberly as they had planned. He no longer needed the introduction. He still wanted to have Carly with them when he informed Kimberly of the actual danger she was in. And once the two of them had convinced her that the threat was indeed real, well, if two heads are better than one, three must be even better yet when they start trying to come up with ideas on how to beat this predicament.

Thunder boomed outside as the skies opened up once again, rain coming down in sheets as opposed to drops. Dawn had seemed to move right into dusk in a matter of two hours. It was darker outside now at 9:30 a.m. than it had been at 7:00 when Kimberly and Chris had sat in his van in front of the Billows’ place. Chris pulled open the shades as he sat down at his computer. The sun’s glare on the screen was not going to be a factor today.

He was hoping Carly would be online so he could update her on the latest events and find out when she might be available, maybe at the end of the week, Monday at the latest, to meet with him and Kimberly. Then he figured he could try to set that meeting up at lunch today. Timing, he thought, was going to be important.

As his Internet service connected, he didn’t see Carly’s name on his buddy list so he went to a weather website looking to see how long this rain was supposed to last. He wasn’t worried about tornados in Minneapolis; though it had happened once several decades ago, they tended to stay away from the larger cities. Eagan however, and the surrounding area, about this time of year, had flooded just three years ago as the snows from the north had melted and the Mississippi had overflowed its banks, though there had been no casualties.

The rains weren’t supposed to last more than another day at most and the Mississippi River, Chris discovered, was still about fifteen feet below flood levels. Shouldn’t be a problem there.

Chris was just pulling up the Minneapolis Star Tribune site to check local news when he heard a door creak open and saw Carly’s name pop up on his buddy list.

F8meNOT: Hey there sexy
LorettaC: hey! what are you doing up so early?
F8meNOT: got a date
LorettaC: no way!…I’m jealous! who with?!
F8meNOT: one guess
LorettaC: NO WAY!! with HER?
F8meNOT: yes…Kimberly…met her again on my
route this morning…she was actually
waiting for me
LorettaC: jeez louise Chris…you are a fast operator
LorettaC: so is she prettier than me?
F8meNOT: you’re still the sexiest lass I know
LorettaC: you are toooooooo sweet xoxo
And a good liar…thanks
F8meNOT: we’re meeting at Applebee’s at 1
LorettaC: did you want me to try to be there? or
would I just be cramping your style,
F8meNOT: very funny…not yet, though. I don’t want
to scare her too early. But I did want to
find out when might be good for you. I
was thinking I might try to schedule one
for the three of us when I see her
LorettaC: so I guess I don’t need to call her then, eh
F8meNOT: right…I was thinking if I don’t see any
fading before this weekend, Monday
would be a good time for us to meet…
we could even do it at ‘X’ again…I
liked that place
LorettaC: that should work for me
F8meNot: great…if we need to get together sooner,
I’ll make sure to let you know, but right
now Monday should be cool
LorettaC: uh-oh…one of the kids just made a bang
in the kitchen…brb

Carly jumped up from her computer and raced towards the crash in the kitchen. Johnny was on the floor crying, a wooden kitchen chair lying on its side and on top of Johnny, the cookie jar on its side on the counter, the ceramic lid beside it in two pieces.

Busted, Carly thought, but it looked like Johnny had already paid the price. She picked him up off the floor looking for bumps or cuts while caressing his hair trying to calm his tears.

"Oh honey. What happened?"

Between tears and heavy breathing, little Johnny said, "I was trying to put away the cookies and I fell."

Carly couldn’t help but smile. He looked like his young pride had been what was hurt the most. "You were trying to put them away?" she asked.

"Uh-huh," Johnny said, sobs simmering to a runny sniffle.

Carly grabbed a paper towel from the rack hanging over the sink and wiped his tiny nose. "So how did the cookies get out before you wanted to put them away?" she asked, still smiling.

"I don’t know," he sniffed. "They were just out."

"You didn’t take them out?"


"Do you remember what Mommy told you about lying, dear?"

"That it only makes things worse," he answered, now sniffing purely for sympathy. He wasn’t hurt.

"And are you trying to make things worse now?" Carly asked.

"I just wanted one," he finally confessed.

"Well, you could have had one after lunch," Carly said, making sure he was looking at her. "But since you told me the truth, you only made things a little worse instead of a lot worse. Now I guess you’ll have to wait until after dinner before you can have a cookie. If you didn’t tell me the truth, you wouldn’t get one at all. Do you understand?"

"I’m sorry," Johnny sniffed. "But does Sasha get one after lunch?"

"Well sure she does. She didn’t tell a little lie."

"But that’s not fair!" Johnny said, starting to cry again.

"Is lying fair?" Carly calmly asked, still stroking his hair.


"Then after dinner. And if you argue with me about it, then there’ll be none for you then either." She set him down on his feet. "Now help me pick up this chair. Are you okay?"

"Yes, Mommy," he said dejectedly, lifting one side of the chair while Carly picked up the other, setting it upright again.

"Thank you for your help, Johnny. Now go back in the living room and color with your sister. And make sure you two keep the colors in the books. I’ll fix some lunch for you pretty soon. Okay?"

"Okay." Johnny hung his head and turned towards the door.

"Oh, one more thing, young man," Carly said, waiting for him to turn back around and look at her. She put on a big smile for him, then said, "Thanks for telling me the truth. I love you, Johnny."

Johnny smiled. "I love you, too, Mommy." Then he turned and ran out the door looking happy again, the lost cookie already all but forgotten.

Carly looked at the broken lid on the counter top and sighed. The price for having kids, she thought. But still well worth it.

She was throwing the two piece lid into the trash as she heard Johnny exclaim from the living room, "Hi Daddy!"

Jerry’s home? What’s he doing…and then she remembered she had left Chris online waiting for her to return. She ran out the kitchen door into the den. The IM was still sitting on the screen. She looked to her left and saw Jerry kneeling down to the floor with his children in the family room. Walking by the computer, she quickly clicked on the ‘x’ in the corner of the IM canceling it off the screen and walked into the living room where her family was.

"I didn’t hear you come in," she said to her husband.

"Yeah. We sat around in the trucks for a while waiting to see if the rain was going to let up," Jerry explained. "But once the thunder and lightning started, boss said wrap it up and call it a day."

"Oh, well, good," she said, trying not to sound surprised.

"Not really," Jerry said, as he absently picked up a crayon to color with his son, not looking at Carly. "No work, no pay. Might have to work Saturday to make it up."

"Well we have today then instead. I was just getting ready to make some lunch. You hungry?"

"It’s only 10:15," he said, looking up at her for the first time since she walked into the room. "Maybe later," he added, turning his attention back to the Spiderman coloring book.

"Okay," was all Carly could think to say. She was trying to recall what the last couple lines on the IM had been. That was all he would have been able to see in the little dialogue box if he had looked. She didn’t think there had been anything there that would have looked bad, but she couldn’t remember for sure. And she had already destroyed the evidence. And she couldn’t tell from his demeanor.

Damn the rain anyway, she thought. She hadn’t heard his car pull in over the pounding pulse of the rain beating against the house. She turned back to the computer and disconnected her Internet service. She hoped Chris would understand. It wasn’t the first time, of course, that she had broken their line of communication unannounced. And now she’d have to wait until tomorrow to hear how his lunch with Kimberly went. Damn the rain.

Carly put on a smile and walked back into the living room. She pulled up a piece of the floor next to Jerry and watched her family color.

* * * * *

Chapter Twenty-Two


Front Desk

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As Fate Would Have It

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven