Great stories about good people caught in difficult situations.

Chapter Five Hundred and Sixty-seven : That thing we call love


“What I’m saying is that this thing has happened to you,” Dr. John Drayson said.

“Sandy being injured?” Nash asked.

“Being in love,” John said. “You may as well settle in and see where it takes you. You can always get out if you need to. But you should stop torturing yourself to try to make it happen. It’s happening.”

Nash nodded.

“Now, I have something serious to talk to you about,” John said.

“This wasn’t serious?” Nash asked.

“Oh it is,” John said with a smile. “Just a little different, I guess.”

“What?” Nash asked with more force than he intended. John raised his eyebrows and Nash laughed.

“Sandy can’t make you feel better,” John said. “Not right now. She’s too sick.”

“What do you mean?” Nash asked.

“She is your mom,” John said. “The most natural thing in the world would be for you to go to her and want her to forgive you or help you with all of this… angst. If she were well, you’d strategize what to do, talking it over, get some yummy baked goods, and eventually feel better. But she cannot do that right now. She’s too sick.”

Nash nodded.

“That’s why you haven’t been able to see her,” John said.

“Oh.” Nash looked down at his hands. “Noelle and Charlie too?”

John nodded.

“You need to be happy and light around her,” John said. “Nash, you must know that she is not mad at you.”

“I do?” Nash asked.

“Of course you do,” John said. “You are mad at you. She’s not mad at you. You know that.”

The silence became heavy and the car filled with pressure. Nash snorted and shook his head.

“She cannot help you with this stuff,” John repeated. “Not right now. Later, maybe, but not now.”

Nash looked at him.

“Did you tell Teddy that?” Nash asked.

“I did,” John said. “Teddy is just as upset as you are, but he’s trying to accept that he made a mistake.”

“I made a mistake,” Nash silently mouthed the words.

After a minute, he nodded.

“I made a mistake,” Nash said. “It’s certainly not the first one.”

Nash sighed. Nodding his head, he added, “I can live with that. I can do it.”

“I know you can,” John said. “And Nadia?”

“I think it’s over,” Nash said. “She doesn’t want to be with an addict.”

“Maybe you should talk to her,” John said. “Share your plan with her. Give her the opportunity to talk to combine her plans with yours. Work it through with her.”

“Trust the magic?” Nash asked.

“Use the magic,” John said. “You didn’t ask for this to come into your life. But it’s here now. So you may as well deal with it because, even if you spend a lifetime with Nadia, it will be over and done with soon enough.”

Nash gave a little grunt. They drove the rest of the way to O’Malley’s house in silence. Nash thanked John and got out of the car. He’d almost reached the door of the house when Nadia came out of the house. Nash smiled at her and held out his hand.

From the stop sign near the house, John watched Nash invite Nadia for a walk. He grinned as they started off down the street.


Friday evening — 6:56 p.m.

“You’re not eating?” Noelle asked Nelson.

Nelson had come home with Ava. He was sitting at the bar between the kitchen and the den with his laptop open. Ava was standing in front of him while she made a salad.

“I have a date,” Nelson said, without looking up.

“He has a date with Blane,” Ava said in a sing song voice. “They are going out for fancy dinner.”

Nelson turned in his seat to look at Noelle. His eyebrows pinched with concern.

“You know that Blane and I are together,” Nelson said.

“Really?” Charlie asked as he came through the room. He picked up a stack of plate. “You mean the two of you making out in Arizona wasn’t a fluke?”

Nash and Teddy laughed as they came into the den. Charlie left with the plates.

“When were we making out?” Nelson’s face flushed with color. “You…”

“They’re just giving you shit,” Tink said as she came in from the dining room.

She put her hand on Nelson’s shoulder.

“The only thing you should know is that we are on ‘Team Blane,’” Tink said to Nelson. Looking at Maresol, she said, “Tortillas?”

Maresol pointed to the tortilla holder. Tink picked it up and left for the dining room.

“Says who?” Nash asked. “I’m on Team Templar.”

Nash started slashing at the air with the knives and forks in his right hand.

“Team Blane?” Nelson asked, just a step behind. “There’s a Team Blane?”

“You are not on Team Templar,” Noelle said. “You’re on Team Blane.”

“Says who?” Nash asked.

“Me,” Noelle said.

“You are not the boss of me,” Nash said, pointing at her with the silverware.

“So you think,” Noelle said with a laugh.

Ava set the bowl of salad on the bar and Noelle picked it up.

“Dressing?” Noelle asked.

Ava pointed to the refrigerator.

“I’ll get it,” Teddy said, his hand full of cloth napkins.

“What about Team Nelson?” Nelsom asked.

Maresol opened the refrigerator and took out the dressing. She shook her head at Teddy.

“I’ll come back,” Teddy said.

“Better thinking,” Maresol said.

Teddy left for the dining room. Charlie reappeared, and Maresol gave him the salad dressing.

“I’ll be on your team,” Nadia said.

She came in from the exercise area where she’d been swimming.

“And not Team Blane?” Ava asked with a laugh.

“Oh, there’s a Team Blane?” Nadia asked.

Ava and Nadia laughed while Nelson tried to figure out what was going on. There was a knock at the door.

“Shower?” Maresol pointed Nadia to her room. “Be quick.”

Nadia nodded and jogged off.

“I’ll get it,” Noelle yelled from the other room.

A few minutes later, Blane appeared.

“You sure you don’t want to stay?” Maresol asked.

“We’re off to have much inferior food,” Blane said.

“Inferior food?” Nelson asked.

Blane looked at Nelson.

“What?” Nelson asked.

Laughing, Ava put her hand on Blane’s arm.

“We’ve been messing with him,” Ava said.

Nash came back in. Holding out pot holders, Maresol nodded to a serving plate of New Mexican style enchiladas. Nash took the pot holders from Maresol, picked up the enchiladas, and left the room.

“Boy that looks good,” Blane said.

“Smells divine,” Nelson said.

“You can stay,” Maresol said.

“You might have to fight for food,” Bernie, Seth’s father, said as he entered the room. “These kids eat more than their weight in food. Hi Blane!”

Bernie held out his arms, and Blane hugged him.

“Where are you off to?” Bernie asked when they stepped back.

“Capital Grill,” Nelson said.

“Is it nice?” Bernie asked.

Blane nodded.

“Shall we?” Blane asked.

Nelson closed his laptop and stuck it into his backpack. Blane picked it up.

“I can carry it myself,” Nelson said irritably.

“See, that’s why we’re not on Team Nelson,” Charlie said in a loud whisper. “So cranky.”

“Team Nelson?” Blane asked.

“Just go,” Maresol said.

Charlie looked at Maresol and asked, “Anything else?”

Maresol nodded to the pitcher of water. Charlie picked it up and went to the dining room.

“Have fun!” Ava said.

Blane nodded and followed Nelson out of room.

“Captial Grill is very nice,” Seth said when they were in the entryway.

At the door, Nelson turned to Blane.

“Did you know they had Team Blane and Team Nelson?” Nelson asked.

From where he stood, Blane could look into the dining room. Nash and Teddy were laughing. Tink was shaking her head, and Noelle looked worried.

“Of course,” Blane said with a straight face. “Everyone’s on Team Blane.”

“What?” Nelson asked, incensed.

Blane laughed. He opened the door, and they left the house.

“You think they’ll work that out?” Bernie asked the laughing kids.

“Nelson’s so gullible,” Nadia said coming into the dining room after her shower.

“What do you mean?” Charlie asked. “There really is a Team Blane and Team Nelson.”

“What?” Nadia asked. “Really?”

She looked at Nash, then Teddy and Noelle. They nodded in unison.

“No, there isn’t,” Ava said when she came into the dining room. She pointed at the teens. “Sit.”

They found their seats and sat down. Seth came in and took his place. Maresol brought a covered casserole. For a moment, they were silent as Maresol said her prayers.

“There is so a Team Blane,” Noelle said.

“Is not,” Nash said.

“So,” Noelle said.

“Enough!” Maresol said. “This is dinner. We don’t fight at our meals. We use them for enjoying each other’s company and learning about our days.”

Appropriately embarrassed, everyone fell silent. They began to fill their plates with the amazing smelling food.

“Team Blane?” Seth asked when everything was quiet.

Everyone started to laugh.

“No,” Maresol said. She pointed at Seth. “We are not starting this again.”

“Starting what?” Aden asked at the door to the dining room.

“Nash, make a place for your father,” Maresol said. She turned to Aden. “I wasn’t sure if you were eating with us.”

“She’s asleep,” Aden said.

“What’s asleep?” Charlie asked.

“Sandy,” Aden said.

The teens turned to gawk at him.

“She’s in their hospital room,” Aden said. “You didn’t know?”

Aden looked at Maresol , Ava, and then Seth.

“We figured you could use some private time,” Seth said.

“Mom is here?” Noelle asked, standing up.

“Sit,” Aden said. “Eat. Sandy is asleep.”

“How did she end up here?” Charlie asked. “Where were we?”

“It’s something John Drayson worked out,” Aden said. He was passed the enchiladas “She arrived while you were in school. John didn’t tell you, Nash?”

“No,” Nash said.

“We had no idea!” Noelle said.

“I came with her,” Aden said.

“She’s resting now,” Seth said.

“It’s unlikely that she’ll wake today,” Aden said. “Moving from the hospital took everything out of her. Was Blane here?”

“They just left,” Seth said.

“He’s coming back here after dinner,” Aden said. “He’s going give Sandy a treatment. Jill’s brother Steve is coming over after that to get her settled for the night.”

Everyone fell silent. For a few minutes, the only sound was of them eating.

“So when can we see her?” Noelle’s voice broke the tension.

Everyone laughed.

“Tomorrow,” Aden said.

Noelle cheered.

“What about Rachel Ann?” Nash asked.

“She’ll be here tomorrow,” Aden said. “She’s having a sleep over with Katy and didn’t want to miss it.”

“She blew off being with us for Katy?” Noelle asked.

“You would have,” Nash said.

“Yea, but … ” Noelle said with a grin.

Everyone laughed.

“Today was my day volunteering at the Museum of Nature and Science,” Bernie said. “I am helping to clean some of the bones from the Snow Mass site. And I can tell you. Those Mammoths? They were really… mammoth.”

Everyone laughed at his well-timed joke, and their usual, weird dinner atmosphere returned.


Friday evening — 7:36 p.m.

“I swear I will never get this,” Valerie said under her breath to Jill.

Valerie held up a tangle of yarn and knitting needles. Jill nodded in agreement.

“Now, Valerie,” Jill’s mother, Anjelika, said. “Human beings have been knitting since the beginning. You will surely learn.”

Valerie rolled her eyes to Jill, and Jill grinned. Anjelika looked at Jill. Her smile dropped immediately.

“You’re doing better,” Anjelika said.

Jill smiled at her mother.

“That’s the piece Delphie knitted, right?” Valerie whispered to Jill.

Jill nodded, and the women laughed. They had had an early dinner and were upstairs in Jill’s loft having a “girl’s night.” Delphie was making an effort to teach Katy, Jackie, Maggie, and Rachel Ann how to knit. Of course, the little kids were making pot holders on little plastic looms. Oddly, Rachel Ann picked up knitting right away.

Delphie came over to look at what Valerie had done. She scowled at Valerie.

“You used to be able to knit,” Delphie said.

“When,” Valerie said.

“Pre-Mike,” Delphie said. “You knitted me a scarf.”

“I did?” Valerie looked off into space for a moment. “Huh. I’d forgotten that.”

“You don’t apply yourself,” Delphie said. “Why don’t you try a bit?”

Valerie gave Delphie a patient smile, and Delphie grinned. Delphie turned looked at Jill’s work. The Oracle shook her head.

“Is there a craft that you enjoy?” Delphie asked.

“I’m hopeless?” Jill asked.

“Child of the Titan God of Destruction,” Delphie shrugged. “It’s not hard to see why creating things might require that you take some extra effort.”

“I make great kids,” Jill said with a nod to Katy.

Katy had been working with Delphie almost since she moved into the Castle. Katy was working on a shawl made out of blue alpaca wool she’d bought at a yarn festival.

Delphie gave Jill a long look.

“You’re trying not to say that it’s because of Celia,” Jill said.

“I would never discount you that way,” Delphie said with a grin.

Having listened to the entire exchange, Valerie burst out laughing. Jill grinned.

“Get to work,” Jill said to Valerie.

“You know what else you make well …” Delphie said.

“Brownies?” Jill asked.

“If you insist,” Delphie said with a grin.

Laughing, Jill got up. She went to see how Maggie and Jackie were doing. They both showed her the beginnings of lovely potholders. In spite of her young age, Rachel Ann was knitting with some fat needles and thick grey yarn. She held hers up for Jill to see.

“I’m making a blanket for my Mama,” Rachel Ann said in her soft, sweet voice. The child’s eyes welled with tears. “She’s very sick.”

“I bet this will help her get well,” Jill said.

Rachel Ann gave a quick nod of her head. Jill touched the child’s face and she smiled.

“I get to see her tomorrow,” Rachel Ann said. “My brothers and sister, too. But not Sissy.”

“Sissy is in France,” Jill said.

“I talked to Sissy tonight,” Rachel Ann said with a nod. “On the computer.”

“How fun,” Jill said. “I talk to my brother when he travels on the computer.”

Rachel Ann gave Jill a bright nod and returned to her work. Jill checked in with Katy, who thoroughly enjoying being the expert.

Just another wonderful night at the Castle.

Jill grinned at her daughter and went to make brownies.


Friday evening — 9:36 p.m.

Honey awoke when M.J. came into the bedroom. He went into their bathroom before taking off his clothing. He crawled into bed.

“How did it go?” Honey asked.

“Good,” M.J. said. “Everyone seems in good spirits. I think it will be an interesting trip.”

“Are you mad that you aren’t going?” Honey asked.

“Mad?” M.J. asked. He leaned up on one elbow. “Not at all. I mean, it’s always hard to see them go. I hate missing out. You know? My team is off to Poland to look into an old mine and I want to be there.”

“Because that’s more fun?” Honey asked.

“Because they are my team,” M.J. said. “I also want to be here for you. You’re just getting strong enough to actually spend more time out of your chair. We need to keep working on your strength and coordination. I wouldn’t miss that for the world. Especially for an extra trip. I’m gone enough as it is.”

“You’re sure?” Honey asked.

“I’m a complicated guy,” M.J. said. “I can want to be with my team and want to be with you at the same time.”

“Sure but …” Honey said.

“No buts,” M.J. said. “Plus, I’m sure they’ll need my help from here. It’s only me and the White Boy. We need to keep things running at home and deal with all of the technical stuff.”

“You’ll be able to monitor from here,” Honey said.

“Right,” M.J. said. “They are ahead of us, so it will be some late nights and early mornings.”

“Is Chris coming here?” Honey asked using the White Boy’s given name.

“Probably,” M.J. said. “Or we’ll go to the Factory.”

“When’s his surgery?” Honey asked.

“Tomorrow,” M.J. said. “I’ll go with him but really he should be fine.”

“And you’re sure he told Yvonne that he was getting a vasectomy?” Honey asked.

“She’s been pushing him to do it,” M.J. said. “Alex said that she’s the tiniest bossiest person she’s ever met.”

Honey smiled.

“Every time she says that I wonder how much time she’s spent with you,” M.J. said.

“Hey!” Honey laughed.

“You’re mostly running that job site. Another month and it will be all yours,” M.J. said. “You’re going to college and raising Maggie while I’m off playing soldier.”

“I have a lot of help,” Honey said.

M.J. looked at Honey for a long moment.

“People ask me what it’s like to live with my wife’s family,” M.J. said.

“And?” Honey asked. “What do you say?”

“It’s really great,” M.J. said. “Sometimes, I think I’d like to have my own home. But …”

“There’s no way we’d have all of this on our salaries,” Honey said. “Fresh organic food from the gardens. Free daycare almost anytime we need it. Someone to help me. People who clean the house once a week without fail.”

M.J. nodded and leaned back.

“It’s just that idea of ‘making it,’ you know?” M.J. asked.

“Oh,” Honey sighed. “I honestly think we have it made. No need to make it.”

M.J. smiled.

“Why are you unhappy here?” Honey asked, her heart racing with anxiety.

M.J. was asleep. Honey scowled at him.

She wondered how many times a man had awoken his woman with some issue that only left her awake and worried about whatever bullshit he’d brought up. She pushed him on the shoulder, and he awoke.

“Wha …?” M.J. asked.

“Are you seriously thinking of moving?” Honey asked. “Getting our own house?”

“Moving?” M.J. asked. “Why? Are you saying you want to move? Really, Honey, this is a great place for us. We have everything we need.”

Honey groaned and lay back. When she looked at him, he was grinning.

“You’re a jerk,” Honey said.

He laughed.

Denver Cereal continues next week…

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