Friday, June 28, 2013

Brian Ottomas Ch. 24 It's Raining Kids Pt. 1

Brian and Meadow's house was a busy, noisy place most days and overflowed with activity and children of all ages. After school you would hear one or more kids playing the guitar, keyboard or drums in the music studio or out on the front porch, the TV or video games would be going full-blast. Often music poured from the various radios and CD players, in the kids' rooms. Between their dog, Elvis, barking to go out or barking to come in and kids heading out to the yard or trooping inside the screen door slammed all day. Meadow or Brook would have the sewing machine humming, and over all that people laughed, droned and yelled. On the wide porch there were usually kids playing Don't Wake the Llama or Mah Jong. Small children usually congregated in the upstairs playroom or outside on the playground.

Somehow the Ottomas family home had become a mecca for all the Pleasantview kids, even thought it was the farthest away from the center of town (except for the Cullen house buried in the trees and halfway up the mountain).

At suppertime the meal often spread across the long dining room table and over to the kitchen island because anywhere from one to four additional kids had been invited to stay.

Randy Hanzlik was a frequent guest at the house; he was in the same class as Rocky and they loved to play cops and robbers. The living room was especially good for this since there was a big over-stuffed sofa, two over-stuffed love seats and an over-stuffed armchair. All made for soft landings when one had been shot to death.

Their preoccupation with a life of crime meant that little North could have the video games all  to himself which was fine with him.

Raine and her friends, like Oona, still preferred the playroom and happily left the living room to the boys . When the weather was nice, of course, they played outdoors.

Brian still worked on keeping the spacious yard up between gardener visits and dog duties were divided between Meadow and Heath most of the time.

Following Heath's example Brook was learning to cook. But with so many people in the family and usually a couple guests Meadow made supper with her, grilling chicken outside while Brook made salmon or pork chops inside. The meals tended to be served with a different main course at each end of the table and the kids were used to seeing a big spread in between with plenty of vegetable offerings and fruit for dessert.


With the kids all in school, Meadow could now occasionally have a leisurely afternoon shopping and one of her favorite places was the Westbrook Candle & Gift Shoppe in Bluewater Village.

Elvis, while a huge scary looking dog if you didn't know better, was actually so laid back and friendly that even the gardener couldn't resist him. The usually tight lipped and grumpy woman was often seen petting and talking to him.

He loved to snooze in the sun especially when his family was out and about in the yard.

Brian was teaching his youngest son, North, to fish in their tiny pond. They usually threw the fish back. Meadow said they probably had the most tender-mouthed fish in the county and they should give the poor things a break and go fish at the park.

North had also expressed interest in learning the guitar and keyboard and was hinting that the family should get a real piano. There wasn't much more room left in the house though and certainly none in the music studio so it was unlikely his "hints" would prove successful. However his father was all for teaching him some other instruments.

Rocky used to love to play in the toilet and create watery mayhem as a toddler. Although he now stayed away from the toilet, thank goodness, when the sink recently overflowed he managed to stomp in the puddles for a while before he ran off to tell big brother Heath there was a slight problem.

"How long did you play in this?" Heath demanded when he went to the sink, wrench in hand.

"Huh?" Rocky hedged with an innocent look on his face.

"Your socks and shoes are soaked, squirt. How dumb do you think I am? Now the water has spread across the whole floor. Guess who's gonna mop it up?"


Heath had to laugh,

"Negatory. You are gonna mop it up as soon as I'm done so don't go anywhere."

Heath started banging on the faucet while Rocky watched. Ordinarily he looked up to his brother but sometimes he was as bossy as Daddy and Momma. Oh, well, next year he'd have his birthday and then they would all have to give him respect. He went to go get the mop and bucket, his shoes squishing with every step.

Ty Generica and Skylar Scott dropped by one afternoon and they and Brook and Willow ended up playing backgammon. Ty was giving Brook lovestruck glances but it was no use. She was friendly but nothing more because most of her attention and effort was into qualifying for University. She was thinking of going into design. She was sixteen and a junior so she had a while to go, but school and an eventual career still occupied her mind a lot. She liked male attention she just preferred to keep it casual. Brook knew what she wanted and was determined to fulfill her dreams.

Willow, on the other hand, changed direction every other week thinking perhaps she'd be a vet, or a model or actress. Lately she'd decided she would go to art school and become an artist, specifically painting.

"I can understand wanting to pursue that, Punkin, and your mother and I both think you're quite good," Brian told her, "But it's an unsteady profession for the most part; remember you want to be able to support yourself. You've been saying you want to have an apartment by the time you're 21."

"Oh, but I don't need anything big or expensive; I'll be so busy at work and going out. Just as long as there's a bed, a bathroom and a hot plate, I'll be fine, Daddy. I can just eat out a lot at diners and Bill's Snappy Service and fix ramen noodles on the hot plate," she dismissed breezily.

"A minimalist, huh?" Brian couldn't help smiling, "Well, you have plenty of time to decide. You may feel completely different by the time you graduate."

Nodding vaguely, Willow went in the living room and flopped down gracelessly on the love seat. Brook, who had been listening rather than watching TV, now sat down daintily on the adjacent love seat. She learned toward Willow and hissed,

"Really, Willow! Why do you say stuff like that? Endless ramen and cheeseburgers?"

"Sounds good to me," Willow replied stubbornly.

"Well, how are you going to paint if you have this dinky little one-room dump, probably with only one tiny window?"

"So I'll go to the park to paint!" she tossed off, "Besides, I have to go to art school first. I'll figure out something; you have to suffer for your art to be good."

Brook rolled her eyes, but her tone was a bit kinder,

"You're so infantile. I thought you wanted to be a vet."

"I did, but then I realized I'd have to go to school for forever. Anyway, I don't like to make plans and sink them in concrete like you. I might change my mind next year."

"Ha! You'll change your mind next week," Brook muttered darkly, "You're so random."

"Why are you giving me grief about this? Just worry about yourself, Miss-Hospital-Corners."

The girls glared at each other and went to their separate corners...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 12 He Ain't Heavy...

Lonnie had planned on calling Heath but had to run some errands in town first. While there he ran smack into the boy who acted polite but rather stiff,

"I know things haven't run so smoothly between us recently, Heath," Lonnie apologize, "And I know it's my fault, but I hope to rectify things. I'd like you to come to my house this weekend."

Heath looked almost stunned and Lonnie hurried on,

"I think it's well past time I had you over to meet your sisters."

Heath looked away a moment, quickly blinking back sudden and embarrassing tears.

"I already know Loni Faye, she just doesn't know I'm her half-brother."

"She does now. And both of them want you to come over."

Heath looked back and an eager look that nearly broke Lonnie's heart came over his face,


"You'll come then?"

"Well, if you think they want me to."

"I know they do and so do I."

With that they both became at ease and began to talk about other things, mostly Heath's school activities and plans for going to University next year. By the time they parted both of them were wearing big smiles.

Upon returning home Lonnie announced to the girls that they would meet Heath on Saturday. Jenny had already said she would not come down from her room. She could have gone shopping or across the street to her best friend Bobbi Jo's house. The truth was even though she did not want to see Heath, nor watch Lonnie with him; she couldn't bear not knowing what was happening. If she stayed up in her room and didn't play the TV she could probably hear how it went.

Saturday rolled around and when Heath arrived Lonnie was there to meet him on the walk. He seemed relaxed with his father; the way he used to be and Lonnie was relieved.

They came in the house and had just sat down when Liara came tearing into the room. It looked as though she was planning to take a header onto Heath's lap.

"Whoa, baby, take a breath," Lonnie warned and she stopped dead, her eyes riveted on Heath. He had never seen his youngest daughter so enthusiastic in front of a stranger, or almost a stranger. That was usually Loni Faye's department.

"Liara, right?" Heath grinned at her.

She nodded mutely and plopped down cross-legged on the floor, looking at him like she was afraid he would disappear in a puff of smoke.

 Lonnie Faye approached more slowly and cautiously. She rarely felt awkward in social situations, but she definitely did today. She knew who Heath was, of course, and he acted as friendly as he did at school, a confident easy smile on his face.

"Hey, Loni Faye, nice to see you."

She could not know, of course, but Heath felt equally off-balance, hoping the girls would accept him as a brother, but afraid to count on it. He told himself it didn't matter, but, of course, it did. Although he adored Brian, the man he considered his real father, he also desperately wanted to become close to his birth father. He wanted the approval of Loni Faye and Liara, but he was trying to act casual and yet to be himself just the same.

He decided to start with the subject of music, which both he and Loni Faye liked. As their conversation grew more relaxed Liara sat down right between them; assuring she would be closer to Heath and would miss nothing. She could hardly take her eyes off Heath; he looked so much like her daddy except his skin was even darker. In her opinion Lonnie was the most handsome father in the world and now she was pretty sure Heath might be the most handsome brother. Wasn't she lucky?

Loni Faye and Heath had been playing a video game when Liara couldn't stand it any more and told him,

"It's my birthday today, Heath. We're having cake and ice cream later, want to stay for supper?"

Heath looked from her to Lonnie,

"Well, I don't know..."

He hadn't asked about Jenny in any way, but Lonnie realized that Heath guessed it might be uncomfortable if he stayed.  Lonnie had told her she could either stay in her room or get over it and come down. Whether Heath stayed for supper or not shouldn't make much difference. Lonnie could whip up something for their meal without much trouble.

He nodded at him,

"We would love to have you stay."

Looking back at Liara Heath said,

"I don't have a card for you or anything."

"I don't care about that, please stay? Pretty please?"

Her sweet little face looked so earnest, how could he say no?

"Yeah, sure, I'll stay."

He remembered then that he had an extra ten dollar bill tucked away, maybe Lonnie Faye would get him an envelope. Then Liara could take the money to Wal-Mart or wherever and buy something she wanted. Ten bucks wasn't much, but there ought to be some sort of toy she could get.

When he agreed to remain for the celebration Liara started bouncing up on down on the sofa like a jumping bean. Lonnie looked at her, totally dumbfounded. It was hard to believe this was Liara, so quiet and usually so reserved with anyone outside her parents and Loni Faye. Yet he realized that from the moment she had learned she had a brother; she wanted him. Evidently not getting to meet and know Jenny's sons bothered her more than they realized. Besides, they were grown men while Heath was still in school and that made him more approachable in Liara's eyes.

Meanwhile Jenny sat up in her room mulling things over. Hearing Heath talk with her family filled her with sudden guilt. She began to realize she was being unkind to him and hurting her daughters as well.

Jenny loved kids and she just couldn't bear that she might upset any child, even one who was nearly an adult. In fact, especially one who belonged to Lonnie because, of course, she still was crazy about him. Really, it didn't matter what had happened so long ago; he was with her now, right?

So she made the decision to support Lonnie and befriend Heath.

To say Lonnie was surprised when she came downstairs was an understatement. In fact, both the girls' jaws dropped. She noticed the minute she came in Heath shot to his feet. He'd evidently been taught to be a gentleman in the old school way, she thought with admiration.

"Hi, Heath, I'm Jenny. I'm sorry I didn't come down sooner, but I had to finish paying some bills," she lied coolly as she shook his hand, "We're so glad to have you in our home."

"He's staying for my birthday, Momma!" Liara chortled, hopping from one foot to the other while Loni Faye looked at her in dismay.

"He is? That's wonderful--I hope you like chocolate cake with cream cheese icing, Heath," Jenny cooed.

"Oh, I like any kind of cake, ma'am. Thanks for having me."

She began to talk to Heath about his plans for college--he'd recently attended an orientation ceremony there with Brian, as had Loni Faye and Jenny. Lonnie Faye was actually nearly eight months older than Heath but since her birthday was in November the school system had held her back a year in school. It had worked to her benefit in her parents' opinion; she had always easily excelled scholastically and been a bit more mature than her classmates. This was how she came to be in the same class as Heath.

Lonnie was so happy at how Heath and his family was getting on he felt like singing. Then he looked over at Liara who was still agape, watching her mother and Heath, and said quietly,


She almost jumped and he patted up under his jaw indicating she should close her mouth. Snapping it shut, she blushed furiously. It wasn't the first time one of her parents had had to tell her that her mouth was hanging open.

"You look simple-minded when you do that, Li," Loni Faye had often warned her.

"I can't breathe if I don't leave it open! My nose holes are too small or something."

"Nostrils. And you can't just walk around like that."

"I'd like to see you live without breathing," Liara had grumbled.

But, never mind about that, her interest was caught again my Heath.

Scooping up the kitten Liara held her toward him and, interrupting his conversation with Jenny, she asked,

"Like my kitty?"

"I sure do."

"She's named Tangerina, but we call her Tangee. Do you have a cat?"

"No, we don't have a cat, but we have a big old dog named Elvis. He loves kids," Heath told her.

"He sounds nice, but no kitty? Well, you can share Tangee--you're family," Liara dimpled as Heath cuddled the kitten.

She was a cutie all right, Heath thought, no doubt about it. He had a feeling she'd get along perfectly with his kid sister, Raine. Maybe that would never happen but he couldn't help but wonder if there was a way.

"Well, I'm going to get started on dinner--I hope you like spaghetti and meatballs, Heath," Jenny smiled.

"Oh, yes, ma'am," he assured her.

Lonnie stood up, his eyes on hers,

"I'll help you."

He followed her into the kitchen. She'd made him very happy and he wanted her to know it.

Loni Faye didn't bring it up until her mother went in the other room, but then she began quietly asking questions about Heath's brothers and sisters. He didn't seem to mind at all and was happy to describe each one.

"We have three other brothers and a sister, but we've only met our sister. She's really nice and we go over there for the weekend sometimes," Liara blurted. She looked around then whispered hoarsely, "Momma was married before, but then she left and moved to this house. She was a diff...a diff...she was a difforcy, you know. then she married Daddy."

Loni Faye was mortified and said in a strangled voice,

"Liara Kaye! The word is divorcee--why don't you just get a microphone!"

Heath smiled at Liara who looked crushed and then said to Loni Faye,

"No biggie, lots of people are divorced and marry again. Kids are just blunt and they call'em as they see'em; at least I know my kid sister and brothers do.

Liara beamed at him, unconsciously batting her eyelashes, then turned furiously to her sister,

"You're not the boss, Loni Faye--DAD'S the boss. You're the not."

That cracked Heath up,

"Man, she's a trip!"

Perhaps Liara was more like Willow than Raine he chuckled to himself.

When supper was over, Lonnie brought out the cake they'd been hiding in his office and told Liara to make her wish.

His eyes were a bit misty as he watched his youngest daughter prepare to become a teenager. She looked at everyone and said quietly,

"I wish I would always be as happy as I am today!"

Everyone applauded as she blew out the candles, even Loni Faye, who said,

"That's a perfect wish, Li."

They all tucked into the cake amid talk of Liara going to high in two days.

Now when Loni Faye went on about people or events Liara would know what she was talking about. And she would get to see Heath and his sisters at school!

Lonnie looked at Jenny, a warm look in his eyes and she looked almost startled.

"Thanks, babe, you're the best," he told her.

Finally a soft smile appeared on her face. It would be all right.