The Fourth Season

Parental Advisory Rating: L, N, AC

Break out those V-Chips, everyone!


Created, Produced, Directed and Written:

Fanatic and TNovan


Episode Two: Sympathy for the Devil

"I think it’s just terrible," a lady with a pinched face says into the camera, "what was done to those two little, innocent babies." She sighs dramatically. "I can’t believe the police gave them back to those two lesbians," she whispers the last word, as if speaking it would make her one.

I sit there seething. My fingers tighten around the handle of my mug. My fingers are turning white, and I can see the veins standing up under my skin. Bitch.

"It’s not right!" the witch continues. "I mean, those children deserved a chance to be raised right, in a Christian home, with someone who could provide them correct moral guidance."

"Jesus H. Christ!" I hurl the porcelain mug against the wall, satisfied when I hear it shatter. I follow it across the room, enjoying the sound of the remnants being crushed under my boots.

"Harper," Kels says softly, understanding my anger.

"That fucking bitch kidnapped our children in violation of a court order! She fucking took them out of the state, away from their mother! And that bitch has the audacity to say that our children – our children – were better off with her?" I look around for something to let my anger out on, but with the mug destroyed, all that is left is my wife, who looks a bit irritated by my outburst.

"Harper, I know why you’re angry, and I know why you’re upset, but we knew this would happen. We knew we would be outed; that there would be people who would come out against us, no matter how wrong what my mother did was." She pushes herself up from the couch and comes over to me, taking my hand. "What we have to do is stay calm and face these people, not sink to their level. If we let them see our hurt and anger, it will give them more ammunition to use against us."

I know she’s right, but it doesn’t make me like it. "Fuckers." I glance over my shoulder at the television where another idiot is talking.

"It’s not like they’re a family or anything," some bastard is saying.

"To hell with all of them," I growl. "They don’t know a damn thing."

"You’re right, they don’t." Kels slides her arms around me, nestling close, immediately calming me. "So why does their opinion matter? It shouldn’t. We are a family." She squeezes me tighter. "We have a huge family with more love and support than any of them has ever known; otherwise, they wouldn’t be spouting such stupidity."

I shake my head. "It wouldn’t matter if it were just me. If the only person they hated was me. But when they say these things…" I take a deep breath, and fight back the tears I can feel threatening. "When they say you’re not their mother, or that our babies would be better off with anyone else …" I stop, unable, unwilling, to continue.

"Harper, honey, I was the one in labor for hours. Trust me, I know I’m their mother. I also know," she adds gently, rubbing my back in soothing circles, "that you’re their Mama, and that they need and love us both. Only we can teach them what’s important, the rest doesn’t matter."

I allow myself to be soothed by her words. Placing my lips by her ear, I tell her what is in my heart. "I swear to you, you and the children will never regret our life, our choices."

Kels pulls back so she can look me in the eye. "I never have, and never will, regret the choices I made that put me in your life and in your arms."

I close my eyes and hold her close to me again. If only we could stay like this forever and make the world go away.


* * *


The phone rings, and I pick it up. Robie is supposed to call today. "Kingsley," I bark into the receiver. I’m already back at work, which doesn’t thrill me, but makes Langston happier than anything I’ve ever seen before. During my absence, a number of pieces have stalled or gone off track. Worse still, there are no headliner stories in the hopper. Not good during sweeps month. No wonder Langston was anxious to get me back.

"You filthy whore," some woman whispers.

I roll my eyes and make a tick mark on my desk blotter. Up to eight already today. At this rate, I’ll beat yesterday’s thirteen. I would love to know how these idiots are getting around our supposedly secure screening system. "I think the word you’re looking for is lesbian, actually. Traditionally, a whore sleeps with multiple men."

She is thrown off by my reply, not expecting me to react that way. "You bitch. You whoring bitch."


Much better.

Back to work.

I look through the various pitches that have been made in the last couple of production meetings. Most are horrible. I separate them into two piles – the truly atrocious and the potentially workable. It’s a fast process. There are three pitches that have promise. One I especially like.

The phone rings again. "Whoring bitch," I answer.

"I thought Kels had redeemed you," Robie laughs.

I chuckle, relieved that it is Robie. I’ve put up with hate crap all my life, but it does get to be old. "Robie, how are you?"

"Apparently better than you."

"That wouldn’t be hard, Robs. Between the shit hole I’ve found in place of my office, and my wife and children being at home while I’m here, and a ton of cranky phone calls, it’s been a day."

"I can make it a little better. We’ve filed charges against the judge with the judicial ethics committee."


"Now, I’m insulted," he teases, knowing my comment was directed at the judge and not him. "We’ve made a motion, obviously, to have the visitation case dismissed, seeing how the bitch is standing trial on kidnapping charges. How are the kids, by the way?"

I smile for the first time today. "Perfect. Collin laughed. A real, honest-to-goodness, deep, whole-hearted laugh. He had cooed happily before, but my boy laughed at me yesterday."

"It won’t be the last time."

"Bite me. And Brennan has discovered her hands and feet. When she’s not chewing on her toes like a Yoga master, she is shaking her rattle to wake the dead. We may have to rethink that particular toy." It was driving Kels crazy last night since our girl wouldn’t stop shaking it.

"I hid all noisemakers when Clark was eleven months old. It was that or be committed to a mental institution."

"How’s baby Kelly?"

"Lifting her head and smiling all day long. She’s completely doted upon by her older brother, Christian. And, before you ask, Rene is wonderful."

He knows me well. "Good. Thanks for your help, older brother." I wait for the automatic response.

"Big brother."

"Uh huh. Bye."

We hang up, and I feel one weight come off of my shoulders. I want that judge to pay for what he did to us.

There’s a knock on the doorframe of my office, and I glance up to find Langston there. He looks shorter than normal. His shirt sleeves are rolled up to the elbows, and his tie is askew. He rubs the face of his watch and then looks over at me. "Kels needs to come back this week. I can’t afford to not have my anchor back. Especially with all this in the news, we need her face on screen. The longer she’s off, the more likely the network is going to want to keep her off."

I understand his reasoning, but I don’t know if my wife will. "I’ll talk to her about it tonight. Needless to say, it’s been a difficult time for our family."

Langston rubs his jaw. I can tell he’s trying to carefully choose his next words. "I need to know quickly where I stand, Kingsley. Kelsey is top notch. I want her back, but if she’s not coming back, I need to make some decisions."


He comes in and sits down in my visitor’s chair, surprising me. I thought with that said we would be finished. "No matter what she decides, Harper, I need you here."

I still my movements, understanding now the true meaning behind this visit. He’s here to negotiate. Too bad I’m not ready yet. "I can’t make any deals until after Kels and I talk."

He frowns, suspecting what Kels reply might be. "You have a great career, Harper; don’t toss it away."

"I don’t plan on doing that. I have a family to take care of, as well as a real passion for what I do. Having said that, there’s nothing I won’t do for my family." That is bone deep true. I would walk away from everything for them. Nothing else would make sense without them. To have a career, but not the three I love best, would be a hellish existence. We have money, we have family, and we have no debts. I could – and would – walk away from everything to keep them next to me.

Langston senses that the conversation is over. "I’ll look forward to our conversation later."

You probably won’t.


* * *


I glance at the speakerphone and wait for her to say something.

"Beth? Did you hear me?"

"I heard you. I don’t quite believe it, but I heard you. Are you sure you want me to do that?"

"I want you to be prepared for that possibility." I lean back in my chair and sip my tea, watching as the computer slowly filters through my financial files. "How much will it cost me?"

"Does that really matter?"

"No. I only want to make sure I can get out if I want out."

"Oh, you can. Don’t sweat that. It’ll take some fancy footwork, but that’s what Foster and I get paid the big bucks to do. You give us the word, Kels, and you’ll be unemployed in a matter of seconds."

"Now, that’s a comforting thought. Thanks. And I don’t intend to be unemployed. Simply on to different things."

I can hear Beth sigh. "Kels, can I give you my personal opinion?"

"Can I tell you to go to hell if I don’t like it?"

"Haven’t you always?

"Then feel free."

"You’re making a huge mistake giving up your career now so you can stay home with the kids. Come on, Kels, that is so not you."

"Go to hell." I lean on my desk and click the mouse to open an email from my dad. "Don’t tell me what’s me and what’s not, Beth."

"Kelsey, I’ve known you for a long time, and the change is…"

"Is the best damn thing that ever happened to me. If you, and the rest of the world, don’t like it, then you can all just…"

"Okay, okay." She sighs again and begins tapping her pen. "Don’t you think that maybe you should give it a little more time? I know you’ve been through a lot and that your emotions are pretty raw right now."

"Beth, are you my attorney or my fucking therapist?"

"I’m merely saying…"

"You’re trying to control my life like everyone else from my mother to the damned network. Well, guess what? I’m taking back control. In the last year of my life I’ve nearly been killed, seen my wife nearly blinded for life, given birth to the two most important people in my life, and had them kidnapped by that insane bitch who claims to be my mother. Excuse me if I’m a bit on edge!"

I clear my throat, forcing myself to relax. I know all this isn’t Beth’s fault, and I shouldn’t be taking it out on her. I really have no one to blame but myself. You live in a closet for too long, and you have to expect the air to get stale. Time to blow the damn door off the hinges.

"I’m sorry, Beth. Please get everything ready, will you?"



* * *


I hang up from the call with Beth and lean back in my chair, closing my eyes for a minute before I hear a very familiar sound. It’s my son giving someone what for. That he gets from me.

I glance over and find Brian standing in the doorway with Collin. "He wants his Mommy."

"I can hear that." I get up and go get my son. "What’s got ya’ so grumpy, Fuzzy?" I run my hand over his head and watch as he brings his hand up to chew on it. "Do you miss Mama? Yeah, it stinks, doesn’t it, that she has to go off to work and we get to stay home?"

With the mere mention of Mama, he grins, drools and bounces. This boy knows his Mama. Then his eyes go wide, and he grabs my shirt, seeming to try and pull us closer together.

"Oh, no! You’re not biting my nose. I know that look." I glance at my watch. Why not? "Brian?"



"Go get the babies ready, will you, and give our ‘escort’ a call. Tell them we want to go to the studio."

"No problemo." He takes Collin, retreating from the room, and I take a seat. I direct dial Harper’s office number.


"Hmm, imagine that. I was dialing 1-900-HOT-BABE," I tease.

"I can do that too. What do you need, Sexy?" Harper drops her voice to its lowest register.

Oh, yeah, that too. My mind begins to wander with all the possibilities. Okay, back to the subject at hand. "Your son just told me he would like to buy you lunch. You free?"

"I knew getting him that Amex would get us into trouble. And how soon can you three get here?"

"I think we can be there in about forty minutes or so. Uncle Brian is getting everyone ready. We only need to wait for the car to come. Hopefully, the press will have been chased out of the garage by this time. Did you have any problems leaving this morning?"

"Uh, don’t watch the six o’clock news today."

I rest my head in my palm and lean on my desk. "You know, if you keep antagonizing them, they’ll keep bugging you. You need to learn not to tease the animals, Harper. God, how long have we been in the business? You should know this."

She’s quiet for a moment. She knows I’m right, and she hates it. I can almost see her sticking her tongue out at the phone. She says, "My opinion of the Fourth Estate is slipping rapidly. I rather feel like a hypocrite these days."

"You too, huh? Hard to be objective when the shoe is on the other foot, isn’t it?"

"I don’t think the shoe is on my foot, chér, I think it’s up my ass."

"Hmm, sounds like a hard day." I sigh and trace my finger across my desk. "How about we come take you for a little Cajun lunch and a couple of beers, and then you can decide if you want to call in sick this afternoon."

"I’ll take you up on the lunch and some lovin’ from you and my kids. But I better show up here for the afternoon. Langston would pitch a fit if I don’t come back."

"Okay, Stud, that’s your call. We’ll be there in a bit. Love you."

"Love you tons, darlin’."


* * *


The Delta Grill has become our favorite place for lunch lately. Good music, cute waitresses, and Cajun food. Not much more one could want in a place. The server greets us by name and leads the four of us to a round table. Our bodyguard discreetly goes to the bar and takes a seat there.

Our waitress then brings over two infant seats, and we get them set up for the twins. I am holding Brennan and Collin and don’t intend to let them go until I have to.

"They’re getting so big," the pretty southern actress-to-be coos. She drops the menus off on the table, but they are unnecessary, we know what we like. "I’ll be back in a minute to get your order."

"I missed you all this morning," I confess.

Kels reaches over and takes Brennan into her arms. "We missed you too. Fuzzy was all kinds of bent that you weren’t home when he woke up."

The comment stabs me to the heart. I wanted to be home. I kiss my son’s forehead. "I can relate. I was cranky too." I pause and think back to my conversation with Langston. "Of course, I wasn’t the only person at the studio in a nasty mood."

"We figured a mini Mama rescue was in order." She deposits Brennan in her chair after we order lunch. Pan seared salmon and blackened steak. "So what else is new? Who was pitching a fit this morning?"

"Langston. He wants to know when you’re coming back."

"Ah, that’s the million dollar question. Or, as Beth would tell me, that’s the four million dollar question, isn’t it?"

"What’s the four million dollar answer?"

Kels hands a rattle to Brennan and takes a deep breath. "I don’t know."

"You’ve worked a long time, paid a lot of dues, fought hard to get to where you are. Do you want to walk away?" I see her about to object, so I quickly add, "It’s not that I don’t know you can do anything you want to, but do you really want to have to start over again?"

"I don’t see it as starting over, Harper. I see it as trying something new. How long do you think it’ll be before the network simply decides that they don’t want a dyke on the air and fires me anyhow? I may as well walk away on my own terms."

Collin begins gumming on my shirt button. "I hate to see that happen, chér. That’s all."

"I know, but with the trial coming up, you know what kinds of things are going to be said. It’s not like we can walk in there and deny any of it." She rubs my arm gently. "They still frown on perjury the last time I checked. Besides, I’m tired of living in a closet. I’m sorry I drug you into it with me in the first place."

"Darlin’, I enjoy small, enclosed spaces with you." I reluctantly place Fuzzy in his chair, careful to strap him in tightly. "It’s your career, but it’s our family. What shall we do?"

"What did Langston say about you? Is there any indication that you’re in trouble? Because you know I want you to continue doing what you want, regardless of what I decide to do."

"I don’t want to decide them separately, though, Kels. Personally, if you leave, I think I should leave. Then we can get out of this town and go back home. If you stay, I stay. And everyone who doesn’t like it can kiss my ass."

"Harper, you are an award winning producer. You’re at the top of your game before the age of thirty. I don’t really want to be the one you look at in five years and say, ‘I gave it up for you.’ I’m openly admitting that I’m ready to give up my career because it feels right for me. To be honest, I don’t think it’s right for you. You’ll miss it too much. You’ll regret it, then you’ll resent it, and, in the end, you’ll resent me."

I reach out and take her hand in mine, intertwining our fingers. "I am not thinking about retiring, chér. I know me too. I love adrenaline. I love a good story. And I can’t see me sitting home, as much as I would love to be with the kids. What I am saying is there are jobs in lots of cities. Who knows? Maybe a New Orleans station is looking for a news director."

"When this whole ugly mess is over, I want to go home, Harper. I want to take our family and leave. But, in the meantime, you can tell Langston I’ll come back to work next week."

I lean over and kiss her cheek. "Is New Orleans home?"

"You know it is." She nudges me playfully.

I bump her back. "How’d I get this lucky? A woman who loves New Orleans, Cajun food, my family and me? Never thought I’d hit four for four."

Kels grins. "New Orleans is beautiful, Cajun food is terrific, your family is wonderful, and, as far as you go," she pauses dramatically, letting me anticipate her teasing remarks, "well, what’s not to love?"

I am surprised. I thought I was being set up here. I puff up a wee bit and enjoy my moment. "Exactly. That’s what I’ve always said."

Kels snaps her fingers. "That’s where I heard it."


* * *


Collin and I are on the living room floor together. I stand him up and watch as his feet flail around to discover the floor. Once they make contact, he briefly is able to bear his own weight, still supported by my hands. "Oh, good boy!" I praise him. "You’re such a big boy!"

Drools runs down his chin and onto his shirt.

"You are!" Mindless of the drool, I lean down and press kisses to his cheek and neck. He, of course, wraps his little hands in my hair.

"Will you never learn?" Kelsey asks from the couch.

I was thinking the same thing myself. "No," I mutter, my voice muffled by my boy’s skin. He turns his head and begins gumming my hair.

"That’s attractive." I hear Kels place Brennan on the floor and come over to us. "See, Brennan, this is why when you have babies, you will need to tie your hair back before you go near their grabby hands."

"Little help, less lecture."

Kels chuckles and comes to my rescue. Finally. He protests as she disengages his hands, and I escape from his grasp.

"Why is it they like my hair so much?" I pull a strand of it over my shoulder and grimace as I squeegee out a quart of slobber from it.

Kels reaches out and plays with a dry strand. "Because it’s beautiful."

I actually blush. What the hell is wrong with me?

Kels presses her advantage. "Like you are." Her fingertips reach out and trace my cheekbone. Her lips follow. Before anything else can happen, our son reasserts himself, flopping forward to gnaw on Kels’ thigh, and Brennan begins a series of loud vocal exercises.

"Just think, this only goes on for eighteen years."

Kels groans.


* * *


The next morning, I wake up early with Kam’s wet nose pressed against my foot. I lift my head barely an inch off the pillow and look down at the German Shepherd. He licks my toe, and I jerk it back. Tickles.

"You want to go out, you big oaf?"

Another lick.

Great. I look over, and my girl is sleeping happily next to me. I tug the comforter up over her bare shoulder and swing my legs off the bed. I go over to the dresser and pull on underwear, sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Kam is right at my side, tail thumping happily on the floor.

"What? You think I’m taking you?"

Thump, thump, pant, lick.

"Uh huh, sure."

"Hon," a gentle voice calls from the bed.

"Sorry, baby; go back to sleep."

Kels pushes herself up on one elbow, her hair lopsided from sleep. "You going to take one of the guards with you?"

I walk over to the bed and sit on the edge. Kels flops back down on the mattress and looks up at me with half-closed eyes. "Since Kam is a trained guard dog, I think I’ll be all right, sweetie."

She gives a cute, embarrassed grin. "Oh, yeah; right."

I drop a kiss on her mouth. "Thanks for worrying though. We’ll be back after we stretch our legs some."


* * *


It’s early enough that only those of us who are insane people are jogging in the park. I had to put my roller blades away for the winter. Between the sand, slush, salt and snow, it’s impossible to not land on your can while blading.

Kam is so happy to be outside. He is practically leaping with joy, and running circles around me. With a loud bark, he begins pulling me along our usual trail. We settle into a comfortable rhythm. I hate running. I prefer almost any other type of exercise to running. Of course, Angelina Jolie recently said she got in shape for her upcoming movie by having sex with Billy Bob. I agree in principle, if not in practice.

I chuckle at the thought. I wonder if I could pass that by Kels as a new workout plan. I would be in such good shape. I would never miss a workout, that’s for damn sure.

There are a few other insane people out at this hour. We’re all bundled up and thinking warm thoughts. It was sixty degrees in New York last week. It ain’t that anymore. At home, they’re already running the air conditioning.


Kels wants to hang up her position here. She wants to start doing her own stories, work freelance, maybe consult. Basically, her main goal is to set her own schedule and be with the babies as much as possible. I can’t blame her.

But I can’t join her. She was right the other day. I do enjoy the pace of the office, the pursuit of a story, the fame and money possible. I love my children. I’d die for them without a moment’s hesitation. And I’d die without them now. The other week taught me that. Yet, I love my job.

If Kels quits, I need to decide what I’m going to do. We could continue living here in New York, with me working for ‘Exposure.’ It would make sense for Kels’ freelance work. This is the media capital of the world.

But if she’s not working full-time, wouldn’t she rather be around our family more? Why be two thousand miles away, when we can be two hundred paces? It requires, however, that I get the right job. Next on my career ladder is a news director position. New Orleans is number forty-one in the market. Immediately after Memphis, Tennessee, but a couple before Buffalo, New York. My seventh grade geography teacher, Sister Mary Thomas Catherine, always used to say ‘If you have a brother in jail and a brother in Buffalo, get the brother out of Buffalo first.’ It’s even funnier when you hear a nun deliver that line.

Not a bad market. Especially not for a twenty-six year old news director.

I shake my head. Am I really only twenty-six? Born in 1974. That’d make it so. Talk about a great birthday present last year. Not bad at all.

Kam growls low in his throat when another jogger pulls up beside me. It’s not unusual. A lot of us do that with a stronger runner, allow them to set the pace, push ourselves a little bit extra. I give a tiny tug on Kam’s leash, warning him to behave.

"Cold, isn’t it?" the guy grunts.

I glance over at him. He’s slight, but clearly not in shape. His breath is coming in ragged bursts, and he looks like he might pass out or puke at any moment. I don’t want to deal with either. I decide to ignore him.

"Bet it’s even colder in Vermont right now."

Kam and I both growl at the same time; neither of us likes what we’re hearing. I take another look at my running companion. I notice the butt pack around his waist and the wire dangling from it.


"Go away," I reply.

"How are your twins doing?"

I take a quick step to the right and cut him off. He has to slow down to avoid a collision with me. I gain an easy few paces on him.

"How do you answer the charge that they were better off with their grandmother?"

I almost stop. Almost. Almost explain to him that sharing blood is not the same as being related. My children will have nothing in common with that sick, weasely bitch, who managed to do only one thing right in this life; have my Kelsey. Everything else in her miserable existence has been a tragic mistake. I sometimes think that Kels took the last drop of goodness out of her mother at birth. What else could explain a woman so devoid of it now?

I keep running, moving further and further away from the reporter wanna be.

When I’m news director down in New Orleans, I’m gonna make sure that my people take up long distance running, for those people who are hard to interview.


* * *


Kam and I arrive back at the apartment with no more altercations with life forms rising out of the primordial ooze. I think the ones that were camped outside of our apartment building have finally given up. Or our security group convinced them to move along. I love those guys.

We come into the house hot and sweaty, despite the cold outside. Immediately, we both head to the kitchen for a long, cool drink of water. I almost envy Kam thisthat; his is already out and waiting for him. As I chug down a glass, Brian enters the room.

Mornings are never kind to our nanny. His hair, normally a little punky already, is sticking out in every direction, and his face is puffy and red. He waves in my direction, heads for the icebox and sticks his head in.

"Rough night?"

He moans. When he starts to remove his head, he has to remove a package of frozen vegetables and toss them back in. "I think I’m getting a cold."

If the sound of his voice is any indication, I’d say he’s already passed go. "So why are you sticking your head in the freezer?"

"So I can wake up."

"Go back to sleep, Brian."

He shakes his head, then clutches it, in obvious distress.

"Really. Go. Sleep. You can’t be around the kids like that." I only realize too late that it doesn’t sound like the most compassionate way to urge him to take care of himself.

The look on his face tells me that it did hurt him. "Okay." He turns to leave.

"Hey, Brian, sit for a minute. Let’s get you some breakfast. You know, feed a fever, feed a cold." I tug the corner of his T-shirt. "You’ll feel better with a little fuel."

He complies. I quickly pull together the ingredients and soon have two plates of scrambled eggs, bacon and toast ready to serve. I fill a large glass of orange juice and put it in front of Brian. "Drink. Eat."

"You have a wonderful bedside manner," he mutters.

"I know. I’m sorry for that, Brian."

He looks up, hearing the sincerity in my voice. "It’s alright. I feel so crappy, I take everything personally."

"What’s my excuse?" We both chuckle at my expense. Eating in companionable silence, I realize I need to be looking out for him more. He gave up his job, his apartment, in order to work for us. In a few months he’s become more than a nanny.

"This isn’t too bad, Harper."

I snort. "Gee, thanks. I do a mean barbeque, too, as you well know." At least he agrees with me. "Hey, Brian, I wanted to say thanks for what you did for us last week."

He frowns. Last week he was at Doug’s while the kidnapping scheme of Mother Stanton played out. "I didn’t do anything."

"Actually, you helped Kels and me more than you know. It’s funny, I kinda think of you as our third triplet; I think Kels does too. When the psycho bitch from hell – as I like to call her – took Collin and Brennan, I thought I might die. And, don’t take this wrong, every time I saw you, it felt worse."

He gives me a wry smile. "How do I not take that wrong?"

"It’s a compliment, really. You’re such a part of our children’s lives, that seeing you was a constant reminder they weren’t around. We didn’t ask you to be with Doug because we didn’t need you, Brian; we asked you to be with Doug because it broke our hearts to see you without them." Lest this conversation turn any more maudlin, I toss my napkin at him. "Now, get your infected and infectious ass out of here and into bed. We’ll see you in a day or two."

"Thanks, Harper."

I know what he’s referring to but decide to play dumb. "Just don’t expect eggs every morning. I don’t guarantee consistency."

He snorts. "That’s not what you tell Kelsey."


* * *


I look at the clock and it’s nearly nine thirty in the morning. Not that I’m complaining. I’m not; but I haven’t slept in until nine thirty for months. I stretch and realize that it felt really good.

Last night was the first night I’ve slept through without nightmares. The twins were so good last night too. They only got me and Harper up twice.

Now I’m more curious than worried. I know that Harper and Brian must have the twins and be up already. I don’t have to worry. Between my loving spouse, their Uncle Brian, the doormen of the building, the security in the lobby and our own security force no one is getting near my children without three forms of confirmed ID and a DNA sample.

Getting up and slipping into a robe, I run my hand through my hair, and head for the living room. I stop and smile immediately. Harper has both babies, and is crashed out on the floor with them both. They all three look very happy and content. Collin is sucking on his fingers, sound asleep. He must be dreaming of eating. Brennan is laying on her little back with her arms all stretched out to her sides. This is a child who believes in being comfortable. Harper is between them, out like a light, with a bottle clutched in her hand. It’s leaking all over her shirt. She’s such a mom.

I get a light blanket from the back of the couch and drape it over all three of my babies, and gently remove the bottle from Harper’s hand. "Sweet dreams."

Heading to the kitchen to make a breakfast and heat up water for tea, I take the time to fetch the paper. I wonder if we’re still front page news for the entertainment section, or if the continuing coverage Tom and Nicole’s break-up is shoving us to page two. Maybe if someone big died, we may even hit page three. Dale Evans was even put behind coverage of us.

Toast, tea and the entertainment section, and we’ll see where we stand. I’m pleased to see we’ve been relegated to page four. Half of page four, but page four, nonetheless. What evil things are Harper and I doing to out children today? So far, about the only thing we haven’t been accused of is sacrificing them to some kind of voodoo cult. Wait until someone figures out Harper is from New Orleans. Then it’ll be next.

Oh, I see my mother’s defense team is putting together an insanity defense. Unfortunately, I can’t argue with them. She’s crazy, all right, but crazy like a fox. She knew exactly what she was doing, and now she’s trying for eighteen months in a cushy country club hospital.

Lady, you had better pray they put you away for a very long time because you’ll never be safe from me. I will have my revenge for this latest stunt. You can do to me what you like, mother, but you have crossed the line when you brought Harper and the children into it. You’re going to see something out of me that you could never be yourself: a protective spouse and mother. So pray, mother. Pray they put you away for a long, long time.

A sound draws my attention to the doorway. Harper is standing there, rubbing her eyes with the palm of her hand.

"Good morning, sweetheart, your coffee is ready."

She grunts something in my general direction and heads directly for the coffee pot. After taking the time to down a cup of coffee, she joins me, automatically wanting the comics. "How do we rank today?"

"Oh, somewhere between the wicked witches of the East and West and Bonnie and Clyde."

"Are you Bonnie or Clyde?"

"Since you’re the ‘butch’ in the relationship, I guess that make me Bonnie. We’ve slipped to page four."

She sips her coffee. "Yea, page four."

"My thoughts exactly."


<fade out>



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