"Girls, let's go sit at the kitchen table; I need to talk to you about something serious. Bring your brushes so you can wash them before we get started."
Because of his voice and expression they said nothing; just put down their paint palettes, took their brushes in hand and meekly followed him into the kitchen.
Suddenly Liara was filled with concern that Jenny might be physically ill--seriously ill--especially since she had remained upstairs.
Loni Faye was terrified that her father would say they were getting a divorce.
Once their paint brushes were clean and laid out on a towel by the sink, the girls joined their father at the table.
"First of all, you two need to know that I love you both very much, and I love your mother. This is something that started out being separate from our lives together but can no longer remain that way. You know now that your mother had four children from her first marriage."
"Yes, Daddy," Loni Faye said.
Liara nodded, looking worried, and asked,
"Is Chelsea okay? We haven't been over there for a while."
"She's fine as far as I know. And you have three half-brothers that you haven't met yet."
This was old news and they just waited for him to come to the point.
"The thing is," he swallowed as he looked at Liara's little sweet face growing more tense. This was more difficult than he'd even thought it would be, but he went on, "You have another half-brother that you don't know about and that you haven't met, Liara. But it's likely Loni Faye knows him."
Loni Faye looked at him like he'd lost his mind,
"I know him?"
"Probably, he goes to school with you."
Suddenly the girls began to pepper him with questions.
"Who is he? What's his name?"
"I'll get to that in a moment," He addressed Loni Faye.
"So Momma had a fifth baby?"
"No," he answered Liara, "This boy is not your mother's son. He is my son with someone else."
"Were you married before like Momma was, then?"
"No, baby, Momma is the only wife I've ever had."
He glanced at Loni Faye who returned his look, worry on her face. She was guessing what he was talking about, but how would he explain this to Liara?
"Before I married your mother, there was a period when we broke up and decided to go our separate ways," Lonnie said.
"Was that when Momma was pregnant with me?"
He nodded. He knew Loni Faye thought that he and Jenny had chosen to get pregnant; she did not know that her mother had deliberately set out to get pregnant without telling him. He didn't really want to tell her now when it could affect her relationship with her mother. And she might even start to think he had not wanted her. He had not known but once he knew--he wanted her.
"Yes, it was. Unfortunately we were both acting like idiots, I was running away and your mother was...well, let's say she was trying to deal with the way I was then."
Liara still looked confused but said nothing.
"So during that time I dated several women. I didn't know it then but one of them got pregnant, but never told me. Not until a few years ago. She had a son and wanted me to know because she had just told him about me. He wanted to see me, although he was a bit torn, and I definitely wanted to see him. He was eleven years old and I started taking him places and getting to know him. He's 17 now and a senior. His name is Heath Ottomas.
Both girls looked stunned,
"But, Daddy, I know Heath. We're both in band!" Loni Faye burst out, "How will I look him in the face again?"
Liara almost whispered,
"I know Willow and Rocky Ottomas."
"That's right, Willow is his half-sister and Rocky is his half-brother," Lonnie nodded, "Are they in the same class with you, Li?"
"Um, Willow is older she started high, but I guess Rocky is younger," Loni Faye answered for Liara, "But we had her over for a play date with Liara a couple years ago. Daddy, why didn't you tell us?"
"Because I was a coward about dealing with it," he admitted honestly.
The sisters looked at each other; they knew who he was scared to tell. That's why he and Momma had a fight and that's why she hadn't come back downstairs. Loni Faye could see why her mother would be upset; but she was totally devoted to her father. And she had been resenting Jenny's constant jealousy of Lonnie for a while.
Liara didn't seem to be worrying about any of that,
"A brother--a real brother we could actually talk to," she suddenly looked hopeful, "Can we meet him? Does he know about us?"
"Yes, he knows about you. And I would like to have him come here, meet you and get to know you and I'd like you to get to know him."
Lonnie was beyond surprised when Liara, usually more reticent than the outgoing Loni Faye, clapped her hands in delight.
"I can't wait!"
Loni Faye frowned and ventured,
"What about...you know...what about Momma?"
"I'll handle that," he assured her quietly.
She shook he head doubtfully,
"Heath is way popular. Um, are you sure he'll want to come?"
"Sweetheart, as far as I can tell you are "way popular". It's a miracle you don't happen to hang out together."
"No, I'm a band geek, but he's like a triple-threat Superboy; he's not just in band, he plays football and basketball, he's on the debating team and the swim team. All these girls are after him but his girlfriend, Maddie, is the only one he pays attention to. I'm not saying he's stuck up because he isn't, it's just..this is so weird. I can't believe he knew and I didn't. I feel like a dork."
"It's not either weird, Loni!" Liara protested, "I always wanted a brother. When can we meet him Daddy?"
"Hopefully as soon as I can arrange it. Now, I suggest you don't talk about this with your mother until and unless she brings it up herself," Lonnie regretfully warned them.
"Don't worry about that," Loni Faye muttered darkly, "I'm not suicidal."
Liara looked at her father solemnly and then pantomimed "zipping" her lips and locking them with an imaginary key.
"I understand; your lips are sealed," he couldn't resist smiling, "I think now it might be good to get this off your mind for a while. Would both of you help me in the kitchen? I'm going to make breakfast for dinner--sausage pancakes or western omelets?"
"Pancakes!" both girls chorused, smiling.
Lonnie suddenly remembered that not much interfered with youngsters' appetites for sweets, even after an emotional revelation.
"Go wash your hands then, and put the brushes back in the studio," he said as he headed to the refrigerator.
Next blog update: Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 12 He Ain't Heavy...