Chapter 2, Part 2
Operation: Destroy the Khadra
The challenge of my life was upon me, as we entered Khadra territory for the second time. This would be no cake walk; it was in the end of my 6th month of service I was looking forward to my one year of service so I could go on leave and see my family and friends again.
Two hundred men against 3,000 surely to odds were not in our favor; we held fast and were making progress toward our objective; wipe out the Khadra before they could deploy their terrorist attacks and find where they were keeping our informants.
I did not think we would be here so long 3 months later and we were still here, little did I know tonight would be the longest night of my life, My squad received orders to push deep into the center of the Khadra. We push forward at twenty hundred hour. I was glad this mean it would soon be over yet we may not be able to take it.
I said my prayers found a sheet of paper and wrote my farewell letter to my dad and friends I placed it in my pocket.
The time arrived.
Sgt: ok men tonight we push for the center, failure is not, repeat not an option. Move out!
In my ear piece I here the sounds of war and chaos: sgt: “Keep moving!, keep moving!” , “Man down!” Repeat Man Down!”, “I’m hit!”, “Sniper second floor!”, “keep Moving!” “Grenade!”, “Starks, 3 O’clock sniper!” “I’m on it!” “Sniper Down!”, “Clear Move!”, “I’m hit!”, “Medic!”, “Sniper north east doorway!”, “On it!”, “Enemy down!”,
“Under heavy fire!”, ”Under heavy Fire!” ,“Enemy reinforcement moving up from north east!”, “I’m hit!” Man down!”, heavy fire south!”, “Enemy down!”, “Grenade!”, “Enemy reinforcement South!”, “We need choppers!”, Repeat we need choppers!”, “Enemy down!”.
“This is dispatch copy that,… Choppers on way… ETA 15 minutes”.
This went on for hours however it felt like days.
“Under heavy fire from Building on right!”, “Starks, enter building on right!” “On it sir!”, “Jenkins same building second floor!”, “On it sir” “enemy down first floor secure” “enemy down second floor secure”, Starks to your right out the window”
“Enemy down” “Starks, new objective, take your squad and secure our tank, head north east one mile don’t let the enemy over run our tank”, “copy heading north east, Status: we have four men left in squad A heading north east”
“Enemy down” Enemy down”, “This is Starks met objective, tank is secure!”,
“Hold your position Starks, keep tank secure till mechanic can repair tank.”
“Copy, we are still surrounded four men left but tank is ok Sir! ”.
“We are sending you reinforcements Starks, don’t let enemy over run tank”
“Copy awaits reinforcement!”
“Reinforcements have arrived Sir! Holding position,”
“Choppers have arrived, “Enemies fleeing, Repeat “Enemies fleeing”
“Good job! Okay boys we are going home!”
Operation: Destroy the Khadra complete on our way home.
The sergeant was promoted to ssgt (staff sergeant) and I was promoted to LCPL (Lance Corporal) what a year it has been.
I was a little shaken-up over the ordeal and had nightmares so I had to see a shrink for a few weeks however; I was looking forward to going home for a month.
“I’m fine, really I am” I said trying my hardest to convince her I was fine and ready to go home.
I just need to make sure of that Starks she replied, she asked me many questions some a little personal but I answered them wanting to hurry and get this over with.
One night I heard someone call my name, I turned around to find the good doctor walking towards me.
Sup Doc? I spouted out, how are you Anthony? She asked. I just fine you can just call me Tony I said in a friendly voice, Ok, Tony it is and you can call me Lian she replied softly.
Tony: “So what brings you out this way, and are you leaving or something?”
Lian:” I was looking for you actually, we are heading into town for a few hours and I thought you would like to come with, I already Okayed it with your Sergeant.”
Tony: “Thanks but no thanks think I will take it easy tonight.”
Lian: “Ok maybe another time then.”
That was odd I though. But I went back to my bunk and fell asleep.
It was getting close for the time for me to go on leave; I was getting very excited about seeing my friends and family again.
The day before my departure Lian came into the office to see me. I hope you are well she stated, I’m fine thanks I said with a smile.
Lian: “I was just thinking about you and thought I would stop by and make sure you were ok” She said softly, “I’m fine ready to get out of here” I said excitedly.
Lian: “You have my card, if you need anything; have bad dreams or just need to talk you can call me day or night” she whispered.
Tony: “Oh, Ok, I will thanks, but I am doing fine really” trying hard to reinsure Lian he was ok.
“Wow Starks, she got it bad for you”
Tony: “Nah she just wanted to make sure I was ok.
The next day I was on my way home. How much have we all changed over the year I thought to myself as I departed for home?
Well it’s time to honor the pack that was made 1 year ago.
I was in the library the morning I got Stormy's reply. Even though it was still Winter Break for another few weeks, I was taking advantage of the fact that at least half the student body had left on holiday. The campus was quieter with no classes going on.
"Friends....right." I muttered to myself as I reread Stormy's email. "Just friends..." I looked around again, thankful that no one else was here to see the American talking to herself. I knew she was right about everything of course - I had to talk to them both but it wasn't something I was looking forward too exactly. I had absolutely zero experience with telling a guy I just wanted to be friends....okay well there was Tony but that was different. What if I was reading the signs wrong? What if I said something and they both scoffed at me like I was insane for even assuming...my mind veered in several directions as I drummed my fingers on the table.
I was so distracted by my thoughts that I didn't hear or see him approach the table until he sat down beside me. I closed my laptop where Stormy's email and my empty reply were still on the screen and gave him what I hoped wasn't an awkward smile. "Hi Colin." I said as I slipped my laptop into my bag. "Bye Colin." I added with a weak laugh. He tilted his head to the side and watched me curiously as I exited the library in more haste than necessary.
My heart was pounding as I slipped into the ladies' common room. I'd like to think it had to do with the fact that I ran up three flights of stairs but I knew it was mostly Colin. "Friends" I muttered again. "Just friends....maybe he doesn't even like me like that...just friends." As I was muttering, Amelie crossed the room and raised her eyebrow at me. I suppose it was okay to acknowledge my existence if I was acting crazy. She said nothing and walked into our room. I wondered, briefly, why she was even here seeing as I thought she'd left for the holidays but I didn't give it much thought. She walked back out of our room and the common room a few minutes later, not even looking at me this time. I pulled out my laptop again and started to search for hotels. I wanted to offer Stormy space here at the castle but since Amelie wasn't as gone as I'd thought, that option seemed out. I wasn't ready to make a reply to her boy advice so I sent her a list of small inns and B&Bs in the village. There weren't any major hotels around here but the Inns were more charming anyway.
Despite my efforts to avoid both Colin and Sean - or rather the inevitable conversation - I seemed to run into them both a lot. Of course seeing as the campus was lacking students it wasn't hard to see why but it's a castle! After a heavy flirt from Sean in the hall, I knew I had to say something. I found him painting and stopped in my tracks, watching his easy and graceful strokes. He was very good and watching his hands dance across the canvas was mesmerizing.
I wanted to chicken out right then. Why couldn't we flirt? Why couldn't there be more? Sean was a great guy and fun to be with! As I thought of all the pluses, Tony's face danced into my head. Tony. That's why. I loved Tony, I still do even if he was thousands of miles away. Of course I'd barely heard from him in the last 6 months but he was in training and busy with...my thoughts trailed off to all the unknowns of what Tony might be doing. I had no idea where the military had sent him but the thought of something happening to him sent shivers through my body. All this flew through my mind as I watched Sean's paintbrush glide across the canvas. He turned to me before I realized I'd made a noise. "'Ello Mols." he said using the nickname he'd given me. The smile that spread across his face was true and gorgeous.
"Er..." I said as the link between my brain and my voicebox seem to have severed. I looked down at my feet and fought against a blush creeping across my face. "Want to go for a walk?" I asked mostly to the floor. I knew my face must be flaming red by now and refused to look up. I didn't say anything as we crossed through the castle and courtyard and out of the outer walls. By the time we got beyond the castle, I looked at him and gave him a small smile. I stopped walking at some point and considered taking his hands but thought better of it. "Did I tell you about Tony?" I asked suddenly. Sean looked at me confused but after a moment, he nodded. "He and I...we dated for four years - high school sweathearts and all that. We broke up before Graduation...not because we were mad at each other or anything." I paused trying to think of the words.
"You're not ready." he said with a typical Sean smile. Nothing seemed to wipe that smile from his face, at least not as long as I'd known him.
"No." I said softly. "I'm sorry Sean - you're a great guy but..." I trailed off again.
"It's alright Mols." he said giving me a tight hug. "Take your time." he said as he released me.
"Thank you Sean." I said feeling confused again. On the one hand, I'd done what had to be done and he'd taken it very well. But there was something tainting it, a sadness due to a missed opportunity perhaps. "I have to go pick up my friend from the airport." I said shuffling my feet a bit. I gave him another quick hug and jogged back toward the castle. I wanted to take my new scooter but it wasn't suited for two people so I hailed a cab.
I spent a couple days alone with Stormy before bringing her to the campus to meet my friends. One of them had put together a picnic basket and they were waiting for us in our spot in the courtyard when Stormy and I arrived. I'd briefed her on my talk with Sean (and the after feelings) before we got there. "Guys, this is Stormy." I said as we approached the group. "Stormy this is Colin, Sean and Deidree."
We had a fun little picnic and the group pepper Stormy with questions about Crescent Bay and fishing. Sean, who enjoyed fishing as well, told her about a few choice spots around here that she should try before heading home. After the picnic and when it was time to get Stormy back to the Inn, I waved to my friends. As soon as we were clear of the walls of the castle she turned to me. "How do you get anything done?" she asked and we both laughed. We laughed most of the way back to the Inn as well. It was great to have her around.
Eventually Stormy had to go home to Crescent Bay but not before we made a few plans about the first big meet up. I wondered if it would fall through - everyone makes promises to keep and touch and all but it doesn't always happen that way. Winter Break ended and all the other students swarmed onto campus, ending our quiet little haven. I didn't talk to Colin about, well, whatever it was I was feeling. He didn't give me any clues that suggested he felt the same way so I decided to just stay quiet until the need arose. As the weeks passed, my thoughts for Tony changed slightly - instead of remembering him decked in his football gear, I thought of him in a military uniform and geared for war. I started watching the news obsessively but without much information to go on as to his unit, I really wasn't sure what I was watching for except to torture myself. My friends could see that something was weighing on me but I didn't talk to them about it much.
"Enough!" Sean exclaimed as he swung open the door wide into my door room. I was relaxing on my bed and Amelie looked at him disapprovingly at first and then shyly. Colin wasn't far behind him. "What are you two doing here?" I asked startled. "This is the women's dorms!" There were strict rules about the dorms here. Amelie said nothing but looked annoyed again. Colin grabbed my hand to pull me out of bed and Sean turned his winning smile on Amelie to warm her icy glare. She was putty in his hands in a matter of seconds.
"You're coming with us!" Colin said with a small smile. "Someone mentioned it was your birthday and you will not be in bed at 9PM on your birthday. " he said. "Now get dressed!" I saw him give me a once over but didn't say anything as I pulled out clothes more suitable for going out.
The guys left and Amelie looked dazed as she watched Sean leave the room. "You could come with us." I offered. It was the most I'd said to her in one setting all year. She looked at me surprised but shrugged. I wasn't sure if that was a yes or no so I just went about changing.
They dragged me to a bar where Deidree was serving drinks. She grinned at me as I was dragged in by Colin and Sean - both ready to inflict "birthday fun" on me. Amelie had tagged along but had remained silent the entire trip. I wondered once again if she ever spoke.
"Happy birthday." Deidree said sliding me a tall glass of...something. I didn't ask what was in it and merely drank. I nearly choked on the first drink - it had a high alcohol content I could tell. I tried to look cool but I could see all three of them watching me and grinning. Yeah they were laughing at me but I didn't care. By the time I finished the drink, it no longer made me gag and Deidree offered me another. I accepted it and could feel a buzz hitting me by the time I got to the bottom of the glass.
A little unsteadily, I slid off the barstool and got my footing. Colin eyed me as I found my balance and then I smiled at him and took his hand. I'd spied the dance floor in the room behind the bar and heard music playing already so I led him back there. Sean and Deidree (on a break) followed up as well. There is nothing more entertaining that slightly drunken dancing - okay there probably is but right there, in that moment, it was the funniest thing ever.
Deidree eventually had to get back to serving drinks and Sean was left partnerless. Amelie was still sitting at the bar quietly so he went over to her and asked her to dance. She practically fell out of her stool to accept and follow him. I giggled at how much her crush was affecting her. She was always graceful and poised when I saw her - with her nose stuck way in the air. But tonight she was hopelessly clumsy and shy.
We stumbled back through the front doors of the castle around five in the morning. Colin and Sean made sure Deidree, Amelie and I got back to our dorms okay before they found their own beds. I didn't wake up until after noon - having missed three classes. When I did wake up, the loud buzzing in my head told me to go back to sleep - so I did. And that's how I missed my afternoon classes as well. It was near dinnertime when I was coherent enough to get out of bed without falling. I showered and made myself look somewhat human and then curled up back in bed with my laptop. My email was full of birthday wishes, most of which I ignored. I replied to the important ones though before I ran out of steam again and went in search of caffeine.
The birthday night didn't erase my thoughts and fears about Tony but it did help bring me out of my slump. I knew I couldn't spend so much time and energy dwelling on it and I'd had so much fun with my friends that night. I still worried about him but I turned off the news and forced myself not to think about it as much. Sean and Amelie continued their flirty banter making her a more tolerable presence in my life. I wondered, not for the first time, why Sean had left her off his list. Eventually the flirting turned into more and suddenly she was darn near pleasant. "Good morning." Amelie said happily as my eyes popped open one morning near the end of the semester. I blinked at her several times and her smile faltered a bit. I instantly felt bad about doubting her and smiled back. "Morning Amelie." I said climbing out of bed. I wouldn't necessarily call her a friend but from the moment she and Sean started dating, the icy exterior toward me melted. It was a start at any rate.
My final exams were brutal but through it all I looked forward to going home to Crescent Bay to see my friends. The pact held and the meeting had been planned. All I had to do was survive finals and get on a plane home. Of course looking around, I felt like I had two homes. This place was a home to me as well and I had good friends here. I folded up the last of my things and closed the lid on the last piece of luggage. Everything was ready for me to head home for the summer. Deidree and Sean were staying in France for the summer, Sean with Amelie and Deidree and I had rented a house off campus together for next year. Deidree was moving in early. I'd sent much of my luggage there to sit for the next couple months since I didn't need to take it home with me.
The night before I left I found I couldn't sleep. I'm not sure if it was nerves, excitement or what exactly but I pulled on my robe and a pair of socks to protect my feet from the cold stone floors that still existed in much of the castle. I crept out of my room, not wanting to wake Amelie and wandered down the stairs - not really sure where I was headed. I realized as I passed through the large dining hall that I was headed for the kitchen. I could use a midnight snack I guess so I continued on my way. When I entered the kitchen, I figured I'd be alone - who else was up at one in the morning looking for food. But there was someone holding the door of one of the large fridges open.
"Colin?" I said recognizing his build and the hair.
He turned around so quickly, the milk he was holding nearly slipped from his hands but he recovered. "Molly!" he said as his surprise turned to a sweet smile. "Want some cereal?" he asked holding up the milk.
"Sure." I said going for the bowls. I set them out and while he poured out two bowls of cereal, I hunted down a couple spoons. There was a small table situated in the kitchen for staff so we took our snack over there and sat together.
"I couldn't sleep." I said between bites answering a question Colin didn't even ask. He nodded as he ate his cereal but didn't press me for more details.
A few times I was sure he was watching me eat but by the time I looked up he was looking at his bowl and was in the midst of taking a bite. I shook my head at my foolishness - or maybe it was hopefulness? Over the semester, my feelings for Colin had become easier to understand but neither of us ever broached the subject. This time it was me that wanted to be more than just friends but if he wanted that he didn't show it so I said nothing. Every time I was with him I felt aflutter of nerves and elation and it was worse when we were alone...like now. I focused entirely on my cereal because all ability to make small talk had left me without some sort of buffer like Sean or Deidree there.
"Is Amelie more tolerable now?" he asked with a knowing smile.
"Hmm? Oh yeah! She said good morning to me last week!" I said with a chuckle. That line of conversation reminded me of something I'd been meaning to ask. Colin had taken both out bowls to the sink so I was alone at the little table. "Hey Colin," I said turning in my chair to face him, "Why didn't Sean flirt with Amelie....I mean before now obviously? He flirts with everyone..."
Colin looked over at me and appeared to be thinking - on what exactly I wasn't sure. Maybe he'd never noticed Sean's behavior or maybe he was trying to think of the answer. "Amelie and I saw each other last year." he said finally. "Sean thought it might upset me I suspect."
"Saw each other...like dated? You and Amelie?" I said processing this. My face must have betrayed my doubt because he laughed.
"Yes, Amelie and I dated." he said, his voice full of mirth.
"But you two are so....different." I said still struggling to wrap my mind around this new information. Colin merely shrugged but was still smiling. I stood up and walked over to him. "Thanks for the meal." I said.
"At your service." he said with a slight bow. The butterflies started up again every time the 'English Gentleman' came out like that and I had to brace myself against the counter. "I can cook things other than cereal you know. Perhaps when you get back..." he trailed off and looked away from me. It was one of the first signs to me that he might just like me the same way I liked him. I didn't trust myself to speak so I didn't. He looked back at me, his eyes looked fiery. Without thought, without warning, his lips were on mine. This kiss was gentle and soft - much like the first day I'd met him when he'd kissed my hand. It was a quick kiss and over before I was ready for it to be.
"Molly I..." he paused, looking at me anxiously. My eyes must have looked like round saucers to him as I looked at him still in shock. He took a steadying breath and took my hand in his. "I know you're not ready and I know you're going home to your friends and your...Tony." he said, changing his mind quickly about how to reference Tony. "When you're back, and when you're ready - if you want - " he added with a shy smile "- I'd very much like to cook you dinner." he finished with a wink. He put my hand to his lips and kissed it gently. "Until then, as ever, I am at your service as your friend." he said.
No response came to my lips. I wasn't sure what to say. Part of me wanted to scream "I'm ready now" and resume the kissing but I didn't. I wasn't sure it was the truth and I didn't want to say that unless I was sure...or more sure at any rate. "Oh Colin...." I said still fluttering on the inside. I put my arms around him and hugged him tightly.
I didn't let go for several moments, I wasn't sure I wanted to but somewhere in the distance the clock tower told me it was now two in the morning and I had to be at the airport at six. I pulled away slowly, clasping his hands and looked into his eyes. "Thank you." I said softly. I leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. Our hands were still clutching as I moved toward the door. As I let go of his hand I felt a pang of regret.
I didn't sleep any between two and five when my cab arrived. I didn't sleep in the airport while I waited for my plane and I didn't sleep for the first half of my flight. I had been up well over twenty -four hours and we were over the Atlantic when my eyes finally closed, my body having succumb to exhaustion - but my mind was wide awake and Colin and Tony battled for the spotlight in my dreams.
Married life has been so great! Axel and I have been so happy, just floating through the remainder of our honeymoon. China was fabulous and although I wish we didn’t have to leave when we did. I do look forward to going there again.
Axel’s job has been progressing well. He has recently been promoted to Con Artist. Achilles was very happy at his son’s successes in the “business”.
I have been keeping up on my music and I have recently become quite a painter as well. I have had a few of the pieces I’ve painted actually sell for quite a hefty sum of money. Who knew that being creative could bring in so many simoleans?
I have been quite busy at home as well because…well, because Axel and I are parents. It seems the night we consummated our marriage, in China…in that tomb…well, I got pregnant. My pregnancy went very well. Axel made sure I kept off my feet as much as possible. We read all the books we were supposed to because, let’s face it. We are going to need all the help we can get.
One of my many trips to the Spa, I saw mother there. I couldn’t wait to give her the news. She was thrilled with the prospect of being a grandmother. She kept going on about how it was about time and all that stuff mother’s always say to you.
Still, it was nice to see her again. I will have to make it a point to visit Sam and Dean as well. I am sure they will be happy to know they’ll be uncles.
The months progressed normally. On one of our visits to the pediatrician, we were asked if we wanted to know the gender of the babies.
“Babies? What do you mean babies?” I was beside myself. I mean, I am thrilled to be a mother, but would we be able to raise two babies? The doctor laughed, “Yes, Ruby. Babies, you are having triplets.”
You can imagine the shock I was in. I couldn’t believe it. Me? The girl no one ever thought would even get married is now pregnant with triplets! Dr. Caulder told me that I was having a boy and two girls. Axel just held my hand and smiled. I could see the fear in his eyes though. This was going to be some wild ride.
One evening, while I was watching tv in the living room. Axel was outside working out. He had been arrested a few times last week.
I told him he was getting out of shape and that he needed to be able to outrun the cops. So, he was practicing his martial arts when he heard my yell. He immediately ran into the living room, where he saw a puddle on the carpet. “Honey, my water just broke.”I said through my breathing. Axel freaked a bit, but soon got himself under control.
He called Achilles and asked if he could drive us to the hospital. Axel wanted to sit in the back seat with me to make sure I stayed calm. I still I was under more control than he, but let him have his moment. We arrived at the hospital and I was immediately wheeled into the emergency room to begin the birthing process. I was sweating and yelling and I felt like I had 3 ten pound watermelons in my uterus. I just wanted to kill Axel for doing this to me. I am sure I said some things that weren’t very nice or ladylike, but even the purest woman will go mad giving birth, right? Looking back I feel so sorry for him. He was put through a lot in the following weeks to come, yet he remained strong though it all.
In the emergency room, Dr. Caulder got to work quickly to ensure the babies were all delivered safely. He had advised me in our various appointments that if the babies were to come early, which a lot of triplets do, I would more than likely have to have a C-section performed. We were already prepared for whatever came our way this night. I was just praying everything went well and my babies would be healthy.
The nurse gave me an epidural to help with the pain and we started pushing right away. The pain was unbearable. I still wonder how we woman do this, day after day. Giving birth is one of the most painful things a woman can experience and yet some do this multiple times, but I digress.
Dr. Caulder allowed Achilles and Axel to stay with me during the birth of our first child. It was great to have them both near me. Axel held my hand throughout the whole event and Achilles just wiped my brow with a wet cloth. The doctor told me to give one final push because he could see the head crowning. I pushed with all my might until I heard the sweetest sound in the world, my baby’s first cries.
My joy was short lived as Dr. Caulder told me the other babies were too early. I was told they were going to stop my labor and I was given steroids to help my unborn baby’s lungs. I wanted to see my poor babies now, but Axel kept reminding me they wouldn’t survive if they were born this early. This meant I had to stay in the hospital for a while. The steroids, the doctors told me would take up to two or three days to take effect. Axel couldn’t stay with me all the time, because he had to go to work, but he visited me every day.
My family came by as well. There is nothing like a little trauma to bring everyone together.
Mom was thrilled to be able to hold Byron though, my little boy. He was so beautiful. The doctor let Axel cut the cord. I’ll never forget the look on his face. It was a combination of fear and joy. It was truly the sweetest thing ever.
The days seemed to drag on. There is so much you can do in the hospital, only so many books you can read. Finally, the day for my C-section had arrived. I don’t know if I was more scared or happy to be done with the whole thing. I was wheeled into the Operating Room with a bunch of doctors and nurses. The one thing I’ll remember the room was FREAKING cold!! What, don’t they have heat in this place? They have you in a thin little gown, sitting on a metal table…um what’s wrong with this picture? Anyway, it was cold. I am sure I mentioned this to Axel a number of times.
They allowed him to come in with me, but for the safety of me and the babies he was the only one allowed. They led him to a little room where he washed up and put on his scrubs. He looked kind of funny. Little eyes peeking over his mask. Still, I am so blessed he was there for me.
I was given an epidural to keep me numb from the waist down. I wanted to be awake so I could hear my babies’ first breaths and cries. They placed a drape over my chest, thank God for that. No way would I have wanted to see my insides on the outside. Axel stayed at the head of the “bed” and rubbed my arms and head. He kept me focused on him with stories of him at work and the exploits of some of the guys. All the while, I kept feeling this annoying tugging and pulling in my lower abdomen. I can’t describe how odd it felt.
Finally Dr. Caulder held up a beautiful baby girl while a nurse held up the other. I looked at their tiny little hands and toes and I couldn’t believe they were finally here. The nurses quickly took them away to clean them up, because they were born so early, they were immediately placed into incubators to aide in their improvement. The steroids I had been given prior to the operation were going to be beneficial in their lung development.
Dr. Caulder soon set about stitching me up. When he was finished the nurses brought our beautiful babies over to us. We weren’t able to hold them, but just looking at them lying there, so tiny, so fragile. I couldn’t believe how blessed Axel and I truly are. Axel kissed me on the lips and then on the forehead. His lips were cool on my warm skin, it was refreshing. I guess I finally fell asleep, as I woke up in my room. Mom and Dad were there as was Achilles. Sam and Dean stayed behind to watch the girls, but they sent their wishes for a speedy recovery.
I was kept in the hospital for another three days while my stitches healed. It was tough to leave my little girls, but I knew this was the best place for them. Dr. Caulder said I could come and visit them as much as I wanted. He thought if all went well in their development we could take them home in as little as four weeks. Four weeks? It seemed like such a long time. But I did have Byron to care for in the mean time. He was such a sweet baby boy. Axels’ pride and joy he is.
The weeks rolled on. Axel continued to gain promotions and it wasn’t long until he was promoted to a Cat Burglar. Now any other woman would be appalled at the job their husband has chosen, but really, if you knew Axel, you’d see this really is the only line of work suitable for him. And he really is good at what he does. Guess it’s in the blood.
I continued with my music and painting. I kept little Byron nearby. The music seemed to soothe him whenever he was fussy. I hope to pass on my love of music to him.
Finally the big day…I get to take my little girls home. It’s been a long three weeks. We went to the hospital and Dr. Caulder was waiting for us in the NICU. He was looking at the babies, giving them a final checkup to see if they were indeed ready to go.
He said that they had gained weight surprisingly fast and were able to breathe on their own. He saw no reason why they couldn’t go home today. He gave us a list of things to watch for and he also gave us some supplies to take home. I gave him a quick hug and expressed my thanks to the whole hospital staff for their dedication to helping us.
Axel helped me load the girls into their car seats and we were on our way. I sat in the back; I just couldn’t get enough of them. My little angels and they were coming home.
During the girls’ stay at the hospital we had set out decorating the rooms for them. It was so cute, all the pink colors and the cute animals. I just knew they would love it, if they could talk that is.
Axel was ever the loving father. He got up to feed them, he changed their diapers. He was the picture of fatherliness. I think I feel more in love with him then.
Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months, the triplets were healthy and doing well. Axel and I couldn’t be happier. I mentioned that I had my High School reunion coming. He would have to watch the kids without me. I made sure I left a number to my Mother’s house, plus he had his whole family right next door if he needed anything. I felt bad leaving him alone with three babies, but this was something I had to do I wanted to honor the pact my friends and I had made that day.
I was so excited to see everyone again. How much have the others changed? What stories have they to tell? It was difficult to sleep, I had dreams of my friends and the good times we had in school. I was lost in the pleasant world with my friends. We were going to be together again. I couldn’t wait!
After my time spent with the military at Tony's request, I returned home. I wish I had been able to spend some time with Tony. But it wasn't to be. They moved fast on the information that had been retrieved from the "Black Tongue". I hope Tony returns safely. I pray he returns safely.
My father was not exactly pleased that I had rushed off to aid the military at Tony's request. However, Tony was not the reason for his uneasiness, but the Khadra.
"Boris, I wish you had told me what you were up to before you ran off," he began. "The Khadra network is far greater than the information retrieved by the military from the Black Tongue. They have sister and fledgling organizations with contacts everywhere, poised to take up the banner. They are most assuredly aware that it was you that decoded the information. I suggest you lay low and stay out of sight for a while. At least until we can get a feel for what they are up to."
"I'm not about to cower in some bunker somewhere, Dad." I replied, trying to remain calm and civil. I know he has my, and the organization's, best interests at heart, but I was not going to be treated like a child. Looking back, I would have done it again.
"I wish you would heed my warning, just this once," he pleaded.
"I don't see how I can, Dad. I have classes that I need to attend."
"Boris, you know I can arrange for you to miss those classes and still stay enrolled. Just leave it to me," he stated, as if that were the end of the discussion.
"You just don't get it, do you Dad? This is something I want to do on my own. For myself. I want to accomplish something without your help or interference. Is that too much to ask? I know I will make mistakes along the way, but I would appreciate it if you would let me fix them, not you or The Company," I said, on the verge of begging. I could tell from the softening expression on his face that he was going to give in.
"Alright, Boris. I will leave you to make your own way. I will make sure Damon and The Company do not actively interfere," he assured me. "However..."
Oh here come the ands, buts and where for art thous...
"...if I think for one second that you are in over your head, I will step in. You can take that to the bank. You are my son. I love you and do not want anything to happen to you. Do you understand ME?" He asked quite pointedly.
"Yes, Dad, I understand. I will do my best to remain out of trouble. I would expect no less from you." I gave him a quick hug and headed up to my room to put my things away.
I guess I can't really blame him for his over-protectiveness. Axel has moved out and he and Ruby are married, and has little control over what he does. Well that's not entirely true. Axel always was one to let our fathers fix everything for him. But at home, I get to be the child, the baby, the one to be coddled still. Hooray for me. I really can't complain, though. I have a very good life. I want for nothing. I only have to ask, and it's usually mine. However, I am determined to make it on my own merits.
I returned to school, not wanting to miss any more of my classes than I already have. They weren't all that interesting, but I was determined to stick it out and get my degree in Computer Programming. Not that it would make a difference, I still wanted to earn the degree. The information presented in these lower level courses was very basic. I had learned all of this, years ago. It never hurts to get a refresher course, though, right?
Martin is enrolled in the physics program at the university, so we see each other quite often, having some of the same basic courses together. Most of the other people in my classes I only know by their first name. Alex and Jeff are from Sunset Valley, Carl and Eliza commute from Riverview, and Chang is from China. Imagine that, all the way from China, just to attend our small university. He's part of the Cultural Education Exchange Program (CEEP, pronounced 'keep'.)
We meet for lunch often. I still chuckle at the time we ran into Dad at the Bistro for lunch. We asked him to join us. It was the first time Martin and Dad had met. It was quite fun watching the two of them, attempting not to converse without offending each other. I eventually broke in and came to their aid, much to the relief of both. Once the awkwardness of the situation wore off, they got along famously. It seems Dad knew Martin's father, Everett Dozier. Dad described him as a common burglar.
Oh, Yeah, Martin still wears that Star Trek shirt! Of course it's a larger size now, but still a red one at that. Every Trekkie knows what happens to the red shirts! I just pray he is never sent on an away mission. *chuckle*
The rest of the gang from the Chess, Computer and Astronomy Clubs have all enrolled at different schools here in the States and abroad.
I think we all need some familiarity in our lives on a daily basis. Tony's off slaying dragons, Molly's at a prestigious art school in France, Ruby has a husband and career, and Stormy's very busy with holding her family together. Ranna's gone back to Egypt and Jing made it quite clear she wasn't ready to leave China. While we all still stay in touch (as best we can), it's nice to have a friend still around. Martin is my best friend from the nerd/geek circles, so I'm especially glad he's the one still here.
In my spare time, I still work for The Company, Alfred Shipping Supplies & Equipment Storage. I perform "specialty" jobs for my fathers and other
Spring break was rapidly approaching. I was feeling closed in here, and wanted to go somewhere during the break. I decided to give Martin a call to see if he was game for a junket.
Hey, Martin, I was thinking about getting away for spring break. Want to come with?" I asked.
"Sounds like a plan to me, but it depends on where you have in mind." He said with an interested tone in his voice.
"How about somewhere quiet. My father has a job for me in Riverview that week. I've made some inquiries and have secured a nice house just outside of town. Here, I'm sending you a picture."
"That sounds great," Martin replied. "That's quite a cottage, Boris. How big is that place."
"It's a three bedrooms, with a writing study and an artist's studio. I'm told the living room has an extensive library."
"Sounds like the perfect place for a couple of bookworms like us. I can't wait to get lost in some pages." Martin quipped. He and I would spend many hours together at the library reading. What boring dates we would have made.
"Yes, it does. I'll finish making the arrangements and get back to you with the specifics." With Dad's contacts, it was easy to get things arranged, with little effort, and in a short amount of time.
The arrangements were made. The timetable set. We were set to head out for a week of peace and quiet. That was the plan.
The last day of class before Spring Break was upon us. I was eager to head out to Riverview for some much needed solitude. From the looks of it, so was Martin. As soon as I finished my last class, I headed over to Martin's to pick him up. His last class ended an hour before mine and went home to get his things together. As I drove up to his house, he was at the door waiting with his things. He was definitely eager to get away.
The drive to Riverview was pleasant. It was a nice day for a drive. Not too cold nor too hot. The trees were a luscious green and the flowers were in full bloom. This clime was perfect for year-round foliage and beautiful blossoms in a variety shades and hues. It looked as if a prism had exploded over the landscape, and left behind it's rainbow of color.
After a several hour drive, we arrived in Riverview. We stopped in town to gather some groceries and sundry items. On our way out of town, we took note of any facilities we saw along the way that might provide some decent entertainment. There was a theater, library, museum, bookstore (most definitely a stop for the two of us) and a saloon/arcade downtown.
We continued out of town, turning south on Industrial Road, passing the stadium, hospital, the airbase, a research facility, and several business and storage buildings. I made a mental note to check out the research facility. Almost sure to be something there to whet a geek's palette. I drove past the fish hatchery and made left on to Farm Valley Road. I pulled into the drive of the first house on the left side of the road, the house I'd acquired for our retreat. As we exited the car, a portly gentleman appeared from between the house and garage. He introduced himself as Terrence Yancy, the realtor with whom I had made the arrangements with. He seemed like a nice man, balding with a comb-over. He was also too eager to turn over the keys and be on his way. Very peculiar.
We made our way into the house to settle in, putting away the groceries and unpacking our bags. We took some time to walk through the house and then proceeded to tour the grounds. The house was beautifully landscaped, the lawn mowed and neatly trimmed. Flowering bushes a many colors and varieties lined the front walk. Martin decided to go paint after spying the easels and well stocked art studio looking out on to the expansive back yard. As I continued around the front towards the drive, I was met be a man wearing a kerchief upon his head.
"Excuse me, may I help you?" I asked.
"Hi, you must be Mr. Michaels. Glad to meet you," he said, stretching out his hand to shake.
I took his hand and shook, asking, "You seemingly have me at a disadvantage. Just who might you be?"
"How rude of me. Please forgive me. My name is Denis Slater. I will be your maid."
"I asked for no maid. I am sorry, but your services will not be required. I shall compensate you for the day. You needn't return."
"I'm sorry, you misunderstand. I am not in your employ, nor are you paying my wages. I was sent to be in your service."
"May I inquire as to who sent you, then? And what is your purpose here?"
"I was sent by ASSES!"
"Oh, please forgive me, I am not to refer to The Company as such. I was sent by Alfred Shipping Supplies & Equipment Storage. Your father, to be exact. I have been directed to keep an eye on you and your guest, and ensure your safety."
"Fine! Go about your business for now. I will get to the bottom of this," I replied, as I retrieved my phone from my pocket. I dialed the number and waited for an answer.
"Hello Boris, I've been expecting this call."
"Yeah, hi Dad. Why?"
"I believe you to be in danger. Is it really so bad of me to want to see to your safety? Please indulge me this one favor," he pleaded.
"Alright Dad, but I would appreciate you talking to me first in the future. It's unsettling to have strange people showing up out of nowhere! Please let me know what you're plotting, in advance next time!"
"Yes, you're right, Boris. I'm sorry. I will TELL you in advance next time," Achilles said as he hung up the phone.
"Dad! Dad! DAD! Gah! He does that on purpose! TELL me in advance. Yeah, no discussion Boris this is how it will be. Damn him!"
Having accepted my father's "eyes," there was little else to do except make the best of this week. The "job" Dad had for me here was little else than hacking into the local "warehouse" computer and gaining access to their agenda. Easy as pie. In just a couple hours, I had the information encrypted and on its way home.
Martin and I spent most of the time at the house reading, painting and resting. I came to like this house so much, I have inquired about purchasing it for myself.
Remembering that there was the Soil and Water Research Facility near town, Martin and I made a point of paying a visit. We learned that they were working on a new kitchen appliance; food replicator. I had to check it out. After talking in length with the research team, I was allowed to test one of the prototypes. It is one amazing gadget. One can cook a meal, store it in the replicator and the replicator can produce another 10 meals of the same quality before needing to be reprogrammed. The preparation time is nil. Press a button and seconds later, a hot meal for all. I must get one of these to take home.
Our weeklong respite came to a close all too quickly and without incident. Looking back, I'm glad my father had sent someone to watch out for us. Okay, so it wasn't my safety as much as his cleaning that I enjoyed. Anyway, time to head home. I had already begun the process of purchasing this home. I have made arrangements with Dad to have Denis will look after it in my absence.
Little else happpened the next couple weeks. I attended a protest, which my fathers also showed up engage in. It was for some nonsense about installing computerized something or others in many of the public facilities in town. I paid little attention to what the protest was for. I was there merely out of boredom.
Shortly after the protest, in April, there was a knock on the door just as I was passing in the hall. I answered the door, surprised to see Wan Mao standing there.
"Mao, what brings you to Crescent Bay? Oh, where are my manners, come inside."
"Thanks you, Boris," Mao seemed distant.
"How have you been, Mao? The baby, whose is it?
"Boris, I don't know where to begin. First of all, the baby is your son. You and Jing have a son."
"What? Mine? A son? Jing?" I had so many questions and this is all I could get out. I was confused. "Where is Jing?" I needed some answers, but I did not want to offend Mao.
Boris, let us sit down," Mao prodded.
"What? Jing?" I could not seem to speak in full sentences, much less complete thoughts in my excitement at having a child. "When? How?"
"Boris, please let us go in and sit down."
I was too emotional to think straight and motioned for Mao to continue. "Mao, Please!"
"Very well. Jing found out several months ago that she was pregnant. She was told that the chances of the baby surviving were very slim. She wanted to tell you, but did not want you to get false hope. she knew you would be shattered when the baby was lost."
"How could she not tell me? I love her. where is she, Mao?"
Mao continued, "Boris, please! The pregnancy was fraught with many difficulties for both Jing and the baby. She had much pain and anguish throughout. Our doctors held out little hope for the baby. They did not think the baby would survive to term. She forbade me to call you. I had to honor her wishes.
"But by some miracle this little guy held on to his fleeting life. In my heart of hearts, I know he wanted to meet his father. He was born strong and healthy, much to the surprise of the doctors. I brought him here to you, as Jing cannot care for him anymore."
"Cannot care for him...why? What are you saying, Mao?"
"Boris, as I stated earlier, Jing was having difficulty throughout the pregnancy. The baby came full term. The birth was too much. The birth took its toll on Jing."
"What are you saying, Mao? 'Took its toll!' Has something happened to her? Mao, tell me! Tell me now!"
"Boris, Jing died shortly after giving birth. There was nothing the doctors could do. It was as if she had given all of her strength to the baby, so that he may live."
"Oh, my God, Mao! This can't be! Jing dead? No, I cannot accept it! Where is she? I must go to her. Mao take me to her." It was all I could do to fight back the tears that were welling behind my eyes. Several teardrops seeped out and slowly rolled down my cheek. How can this be?
"Boris, Jing is no more! She loved you more than anything. She has made way in this world so that her baby... your baby could live on. Boris you must accept this." Mao also had tears streaming down his cheek.
"Mao, what shall I do? How can I go on without her? how can we go on without her?"
"You must find a way, Boris. We will find a way. Jing will live on in your son. Take him Boris. Love him, as you loved Jing. Protect him, Boris."
Achilles had been in the library and had overheard everything. He had taken it upon himself to call and have some baby furniture, diapers and other supplies delivered right away.
As the furniture arrived, Dad made his presence known and directed the delivery persons up to my room. I followed behind carrying the baby. Mao and Dad were close behind.
"Mao he is so beautiful. And small. I don't know if I can do this alone. What's his name? Oh, Mao this is my father, Achilles. Dad, this is Mao, Jing's brother."
"I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Michaels. Ning. his name is Ning, Wan Ning. You CAN do this, Boris. You must."
"As I am pleased to meet you, Mao," Achilles nodded. "Boris has told us so much about you and Jing. Alone? You're not alone, Boris. We will do this! I raised you and Axel, I'll help you raise Ning. He will have a good life." I handed Ning to his grandfather. The smile on Dad's face was the biggest and brightest I had seen from him in a long, long time. Although we have our disagreements, I am very proud to have him as my father. No, as my DAD.
"What are you immediate plans, Mao? When will you return to China?" I asked.
" I do not want to return home just yet. There is too much of Jing there. I am not sure where I am going to go. but it will not be directly home."
"You will stay here with us," Achilles offered. "I will not take no for an answer."
"Thank you, but I couldn't possibly intrude. I have little money to offer and few skills. I only know my garden."
"Please stay with us, if just for a while. You need to get to know your nephew, as I'm sure he would want to know you."
"You will stay and that is the end of it. You are family now. You are welcome to stay as long as you like," averred Achilles, like a peacock spreading his feathers to show who is in charge. "I'm sure you can find something around here to occupy your time with. I'll get a room made up for you. Make yourself at home."
"Thank you for your hospitality, you are most kind. I would like to stay for a time."
"Where are you Sunny?!" I called, as I went from room to room looking for her. It's been about an hour since I asked her to help me locate luggage I remember we had lying around the house somewhere, and I haven't heard a peep from her since we started this task.
"I'm up in the attic!" hollered Sunny, in her high pitched voice.
I frowned because I haven't been up there in ages! I ran up the stairs, taking two at a time, towards the barely lit attic. When I got there, I heard soft little humming noises coming from the right and walked over in that direction. Sunny was in the far corner painting on an old easel that I remember Mom said came with the house, amongst a few other things, and dust. Lots of dust. I even noticed the suitcases on the floor just before I stood behind her to peek over her shoulder at what she was painting. It was nice. She was using paints Santa gave her for Christmas.
"That looks good Sunny. You should keep it up." I told her as a means of some big sisterly encouragement.
"Yeah.." paused Sunny. "At school, we paint sometimes during Art Time. I like painting alot." she finished saying, going back to her humming.
I looked down at the luggage Sunny failed to tell me she found... inpsected them while coughing fom the dust, to make sure they were in working order and lugged them down to my room for packing since i'm leaving to France tomorrow . As I packed, I went over in my mind what I told my family to do while I was away. I asked Dad to take Sunny to go see mom this weekend, and for Sunny to be a good girl, and I told mom i'd be back in a week or so. The only change I saw on Mom's expressionless face, were her eyes. They looked sad, and I quickly explained why I was going to France and told her Sunny will still come by to visit over the weekend with Dad. I'll miss her.
I took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly, viewing my surroundings after the cab zoomed off, leaving Molly and I on the curb in front of Gabroveni Inn with my luggage. But after selecting what each of us would carry, we hauled my belongings inside. The inn was charming but quaint, you know.....had that old feeling and look to it. I smiled and rolled my eyes thinking, I SHOULD be used to "old", as old as our house is back home. I laughed to myself and banged one end of my suitcase into the wall leading towards the check-in desk.
I was a little embarrassed and quickly looked around to see if anyone would give me that "watch where you're going look" while Molly said, "Geesh Stormy, careful much?" The both of us snickered. So, after check-in, we headed to my assigned room, dropped the luggage any ol' place on the floor and began to poke around.
We were facsinated by the cute little toiletries left in the bathroom and how they made one washcloth into the shape of a swan. We giggled some more and after a while, Molly suggested we get something to eat at Le Petit Cafe, only a short walk from the here. On our way to the cafe, we we were pointing out things and people that caught our interests and Molly took pictures for us and a couple for an assignment that was due in a few days. When we arrived at the cafe, Molly ordered for us, going on and on about how the quality and taste of ratatouille here was "to die for".
We found a nice little table just outside the cafe amidst a variety of beautifuly scented potted flowers. We talked about Tony, Ruby, and Boris as the waiter served us. After we finished eating, I leaned back in my chair, a little stuffed, but a few minutes later, we decided to criuse the nearby shops for souveniers and to walk off a little of what we just finished eating. All the while we laughed, had other people take our pictures, made wishes at the water fountain, and had a blast until evening when Molly went back to the dorm and I slept comfortbly in my little room.
The next day, in the early afternoon, when Molly came over, we went over some of the brochures we picked up at the different shops the previous afternoon. The one that caught our interests the most was for the museum called La Gallerie d'Art, because in the pamphlet there were pictures of Egyptian and Chinese artifacts on display. The cab didn't take long to pick us up and the ride to the museum was nice.
I looked out the windows staring at the different styles of buildings, and how they also differ greatly from the ones back in Crescent Bay. When we arrived at the grand museum, made of what looked to be mostly stone and brick, sitting on acres of lush green land, accompanied by scattered trees, I sighed and said to Molly, "I wish the rest of the gang was here with us." "I wish that too Stormy, especially then I would be able to talk to Tony and see where we stand in our relationship." Molly shrugged, and looked up at the clear blue sky and said, " Sure we broke up, but I can't help but wonder what he could be doing right now. So many questions runs through my mind, such as, what dangerous missions he could be on, or is he getting to know some other woman...." Molly trailed off. I put my arm around Molly's shoulder as we walked inside the museum. "Molly, soon we will all get together and catch up on what we've done since graduation. You will be able to speak to Tony then. See where things are between you two. " The both of us approached the Chinese section of the museum. We took turns reading the description of each of the statues and other objects on display. As we walked down the wide carpeted hall to the next room, Molly said, "I am very attracted to Colin. I think about him almost as much as Tony. The whole 'let's be friends' you suggested has been on my mind for awhile now. I know I should do what's best. And tomorrow Stormy, you will meet my friends." "I'm looking foward to it " Stormy smiled and winked at Molly. They finally reached the section where all the Egyptian relics were on display. "Wow!" they said in unison. They took turns once again reading the discription of the items on display and wondered if the Cursed Sarcophagus of the King was real or just a "likeness" of the real thing. It took a few hours to look and read over everything on exhibit at the museum.
Afterwards we taxied back to the shopping district close to the inn I was staying at and spotted a camping equipment shop. I automatically headed that way, grabbing Molly's hand, dragging her with me. "Hey!" Molly yelled, but when she realized where we were going, she groaned but laughed as we walked inside to look around. The saleswoman came up to us and asked if we needed any assistance in finding anything. I smiled at her and said "No thank you, we are just...." I stopped in mid-sentence when all of a sudden I noticed fish mounted on the walls of the store behind the merchant's head and a nice painting of a man fishing away. Excited, I asked her, "Do you know the best place for me to fish and how do I go about getting a license to fish?" The sweet saleswoman chuckled and helped me with everything I needed for fishing and camping. Molly watched me test some of the equipment brought to me, and soon helped me carry my new purchases back to Gabroveni's, a block down the road. We chatted in my room for a bit before she made her way back to the dorms that night.
My third day in France brought me to Molly's university, Conservatoire de Lorient. She first showed me her dorm room and a few other places on campus, as she gave me a history lesson of the old castle, turned school for fine arts. We also talked a little more about her concerns regarding Colin and Sean. The time came to finally meet her friends, whom were very friendly and made me feel quite welcomed. After watching and listening to both Colin and Sean for a while, I was able to grasp why Molly was smitten by the two. And yes, especially Colin. It was his nice calm demeanor, english accent, extremely handsome face, and his captivating eyes. So yes, I get it, and understood Molly's feelings. But more importantly, Colin seemed caring and sweet. A tough decision to make. Molly is going to have to follow her heart and use wisdom.
Sean was interested in fishing as well. "So, I hear Bleu Roi du Lac is an excellent place to camp and fish" I casually mentioned to him. I am not about to tell him I am going there to camp just incase we was some undercover insane serial killer person. "Yes, you are correct." he replied with a huge grin that reminded me of the Chesire Cat. "That place is best for catching crawfish, snails and frogs, and very secluded." he concluded with a wink of an eye and a few wags of the brows. I smiled for his sake but looked at Molly and gave her an "is he for real" look. She smiled back at me, suppressing a giggle. We all chatted a bit more during the picnic, said our goodbyes and I headed back to the inn to grab my camping and fishing equipment.
I called the cab to come pick me up, then hauled my camping eqipment downstairs to the lobby so I could write a quick email using one of their computers to my family, Boris, Tony and Ruby. The cabbie honked his horn for me, saw me struggling with my stuff and offered to help. Thirty minutes out of town, I checked into a nice little camping spot surrounded by trees, flowers and large rocks right directly in front of the lake. It wss getting dark, so I got the fire pit going and sat there gazing at it, thinking of mom. Will she ever come home? What are all my friends doing at this moment? After an hour I put the fire out, went inside the tent and slept until first light.
The following morning I crawled out of my tent to a crisp cool morning. There was a light layer of dew on my tent, nearby flowers and rocks. I stretched my back and legs, put on a warm sweater, then headed towards my fishing equipment, anxious to get started on catching a few rarities I am not able to find at home. I got my pole, nets, and bait ready to go within half hour and cast the line into the lake. I waited a while before settling my pole onto the fishing pole holder, then went to go freshen up, using this new gadget called "Shower in a Can". After putting on fresh warm clothes, I grabbed some granola bars to munch on and a magazine to read while I sat on one of the rocks that was still wet. To my right, a good distance away, I could make out a couple of people getting their fishing equipment together. After an hour I saw a tug on my line from the corner of my eye and I ran to grab the pole before it flew off the holder and into the lake. Whatever was on the other end of it was strong enough to cause me to almost lose my footing, but I wasn't going to let this fish get the better of me! I reeled the line in, yanked the pole back to make sure I still had him, and reeled the line in some more. That fish was a fighter! But so was I! I grinned broadly, excited wondering what I was about to catch! When the end of the line was closer to land I reached for my net as well but it was out of arms reach! "NOO!!" I yelled. I had the pole in one arm, spazzing from God knows what was hanging on the other end of it and my other hand two feet away from the net! I'm quite sure i'd be pissed off if I got a hook rammed through my lip while trying to have a peacful lunch too, so I thought to myself. I then went on and held the pole with both hands again, forgetting about the net, because I am not about to lose this fish, or my pole for that matter! I laughed out loud, as my heart raced with anticipation as I tried reeling in the line once more, but it hardly budged. I was afraid the line would break, however, I was determined. For some reason I started walking into the lake, holding on tightly to my pole as water started to fill my calf high boots. I stopped going any futher when the water level went just above my knees....I stood there and waited... and finally, after what seemed like forever, the fish on the other end relaxed a little. Here was my chance I thought to myself. I started to reel in line ever so slowly. I picked up the pace a little more bringing my catch closer to me, but it started to fight again and I stopped until it relaxed again. I kept this action up and slowly backed out of the water until I pulled out a giant frog. My jaw dropped because I couln't believe how strong this frog was. It was huge though, and iI'm quite positive that Sanders could sell whatever I bring home to him......
I camped out for two more days, catching a decent amount of frogs, snails and crawfish, and when I got back to the inn that evening I packed all my belongings. Molly hung out with me at the airport the next morning. I hugged her good bye, and thanked her for the wonderful time and told her once again things will work themselves out between her Tony and Colin. I was finally settled on the plane for the long ride home.
Hours later I walked in my partially lit house exactly at midnight, put down all my luggage, properly wrapped and stored fish, and any other extra items acquired from France, when a thunderous noise came rushing down the staicase almost knocking me over, wrapping her arms tightly around my waist. My little Sunny sunshine......