by R. M. Guitar
Chapter One Edited of a story I posted a few years ago. Start of the Heart family's story.
Kina Heart wakes to her husband's alarm. Everyday at 5 a. m. he gets up, kisses her forehead then goes to the attached bathroom. She listens as he gets ready for the day.
She closes her eyes, breathing deep. She concentrates on Thomas's mind. The only time she can read it is when he's too tired to close off.
She hears him drop something followed by an idiot, don't wake her.
Stretching, she gets up, going into the bathroom. "Morning."
Shi- "Good morning." He stops brushing his teeth for a moment. "Did I wake you?"
"No," she watches him. "Your alarm did. Don't get dressed. You aren't working today."
"I know," He smiles, tilting his head. What day is it?
"We have a few hours before I have to wake the girls for their psychiatrist appointment."
"Right." He rinses his toothbrush, putting away. That's today? "I remember."
And he's closed off again. I wish he could know. I wish I could tell him. She gives her tongue a light bite and presses her nails into her palm. Ugh! This is very frustrating!
"Kina." His firm tone pulls her back. "Did you hear me?"
"Sorry," she sheepishly smiles, "I spaced out. What were you saying?"
"I'm taking the boys to the science fair today."
She nods. "They'll love it there. Wanna shower with me?"
He gives her that sly smile. "Do I?"
Kina goes to the room across the hall, tying her snow white hair into a bun. The triplets are sound asleep in their colorful room. Nikki's bed is against the window. She's sleeps sprawled over the twin bed, her white hair is in knots.
The other two sleep on a low, wooden bunk bed. This makes it easy for Kina to get Zoey down. Especially when the toddler wants to be difficult.
Zoey is tangled up in her Stitch blanket. When the light flicks on, she turns over, mumbles something and covers her face. She tries to kick the cover off her foot only to tangle it more.
Kina internally laughs at her. She walks over to the bed. Cloey, lightest sleeper, throws off her My Little Pony blanket. It makes getting her ready no trouble at all. Her blond hair falls into her face as she stretches.
"Ma?" Cloey rubs her eyes. "What doing?"
"We have to get ready now." She gets the triplets' clothes out. "Zoey, you got yourself stuck again. Come on, time to get up." She slowly unravels her child, getting complaints in return.
"No, Ma." Zoey pulls the blanket over her face. "Not yet."
"Zoey We have to get ready to go."
"No, too early."
Kina sets the clothes on top of the wide dresser. "If you're good today, we'll get ice cream later."
"Ice cream?" Zoey bolts up, swinging her feet over the ladder, she climbs down, grabs the clothes and attempts to dress herself. The pants are put on backwards.
Kina shakes her head. "You need to get a new pull up on." She gets Zoey changed then puts the pants on right. Cloey already got herself dressed. She holds her favorite white rabbit, Cini. A stuffed animal she got for her 1st birthday.
Kina gently shakes Nikki. "Come on, baby. We gotta get ready to go."
Nikki sits up, her green- blue eyes barely open. The toddler doesn't argue with getting changed. She usually takes a long time to wake up.
Zoey tugs on Kina. "Ma, ready now. Let go."
"Almost, I'm helping your sister."
"Now. Let go." She goes to the door way, stomping her foot when Kina doesn't follow. "Mommy."
"I'm not done yet," Kina finishes getting Nikki's pull up on.
"Mommy, tome on." Zoey stomps her foot again.
"Zozo," Cloey shakes her head. "Don' do dat."
Thomas appears in the doorway, picking Zoey up. "Don't use that tone with your mother."
Kina carries the now fully dressed Nikki down to the kitchen. Thomas holds Zoey in one arm and Cloey's hand in his free one.
Their sons are sitting at the small, white, plastic kid's table, eating cereal. Kina sets juice down for them, giving the girls some frosted corn flakes.
Connor is done with his food first. He usually eats like he hasn't in days. No matter what the adults do, he won't slow down. "All done!" He announces.
Zoey stops splashing the milk around her. She scarfs hers down quick, coughing some of it up. She drinks some juice from her sippy-cup, finishing the rest. "Me too!"
Thomas shakes his head. "It's a miracle neither of you choke to death. You need to slow down every once in a while."
Kina rolls her eyes. "Try all the time. Well, let's get your hair brushed, Zoey."
"No. It hurt." Zoey holds up her bowl. "I want more."
"Please." Thomas stares at her. "We say please."
"I get more, please." She speaks in a demanding tone.
Kina takes her bowl, pouring her a small amount. Her and Connor are so much alike. They're both extremely hyper. Zoey, however, is more aggressive.
"Kina," Thomas puts down his paper. "Do we have dinner plans?"
"Yes, with the kids. You remember."
"What are you doing with the girls after the appointment?"
"The park and MacDaina's."
"Zozo!" Cloey yells when Zoey pulls her hair.
Kina goes over there. "Zoey Maddeline Heart, you say sorry to your sister right now."
Zoey takes off soon as she's free from her carseat. She laughs, wiggling her butt. She loves when Mommy has to chase her.
"Zoey!" Her mom pushes the other two in the stroller. "Zoey watch out!"
She freezes as a car honks, coming close to hitting her. She can't move. Someone picks her up quickly. She looks to the man. He's dressed in a suit and fedora. He reminds her of a police man from her mom's old movies.
"You okay, Little One?" He walks over to the others. "This yours, ma'am?" He also reminds her of Daddy. The dark hair is shorter, but his eyes are the same. Green.
"Alex!" She takes Zoey into her arms, hugging her tightly. "Thank Goddess you're here."
The older guy in the car rolls down the window. He looks as scared as Zoey felt. "Is she okay? Did she get hit? I didn't see her until I was close..."
Before Mommy can say anything, Alex speaks with a stern voice. "She's okay. You need to be more cautious." Zoey peeks over at him.
"Yes, Sir." The other man rubs the back of his neck. "I'm sorry. She's okay though?"
Another car honks at them. Her mom nods, still shaking. "Yes, you came so close! What were doing?"
"She just came out of nowhere. I'm sorry." Two more cars honk. "You sure she's okay?"
He nods then drives slower. Cars beep again. Zoey wiggles to get down, she doesn't want to be held no more. "Mommy put down."
"You have to stop running off." She sets her by Alex, going to her level. Mommy seems more scared than she is. "We always stay together, okay?"
"Okay, Mommy." Zoey clings to her hand and walks with her inside the big building. The glass doors open on their own. Inside, Zoey looks around the giant room. There's some boy reading to an older lady with glasses hanging from her neck.
Another man who's dressed almost like Alex, but without the jacket, enters the lobby. "Hello, you must be Kina."
"Ah, yes, I am, but... you are?" She barely turns to face him.
Alex gestures to the man. "This is John."
"Oh!" Mommy's eyes widen, she sounds surprised. "Oh my. I heard a lot about you."
Zoey tugs on her shirt, ready to leave this place. "Mommy, ice cream now. No talk to strangers."
"These two aren't strangers. It's Uncle Alex and his partner, John."
Zoey huffs, stomps her foot and speaks with a demanding tone. "Ice cream now. You said we can."
"Zoey." Mommy uses the I'm not playing tone. "You're meeting one of Mommy's friends then we get to go."
Zoey squints her eyes then gets ready to run again. Alex catches her and picks her up. She stares at him open mouthed. Nobody has ever caught her that fast. Not even Daddy.
"Shall we?" Alex carries Zoey with Mommy following behind them.
They go straight down a hallway with white walls and doors and turn right to a giant, silver elevator. Alex presses the button with one hand. Zoey takes this as a good time to wiggle free, she hates being carried. He doesn't let go, though.
They all step into the elevator and he presses number three. It lights up before the elevator starts to move. Zoey's tummy feels funny when it stops, like her insides drop some. She looks over to her sisters in the stroller. Cloey sips from her cup while Nikki seems confused. She just woke up all the way. Where we go? Zoey giggles at her instead of answering, it's always funny to see her like that.
They step off, turn left, go down another hallway into a place with toys and some other kids. Alex sets her down by a table with cars. John goes over to a lady behind a window who nods before typing on her computer.
Few minutes later, the lady opens the window. "Alex, you can take them back there."
They go through the door, take a left and stop. Alex knocks on the dark brown door to the right of them.
A woman who reminds Zoey of Esmeralda from Hunchback of Notre Dame answers with a bright smile. "Alex, I didn't think you'd make it."
Zoey pushes against Alex to get down. "Mommy, we go now."
"Why?" The pretty lady opens the door all the way. "You just got here."
Zoey hides her face in her captor's shoulder. "I go play dollies."
"I have dollies here."
"I no know you." She jumps back, pushing harder against Alex. "Or you. Put down."
Alex tightens his arms as the lady holds her hand out. "I'm Meredith."
"No." Zoey kicks her feet, presses her hands on her captor and rocks back. It almost works but the man puts his arm on her back.
"I go home. Mommy take me. Now, please?"
Mommy takes her from Alex, bounces her curl and speaks soft. "Miss Meredith is going to watch you for a little bit. It's okay. She's a friend of Mommy's."
"No!" Zoey glares at her. "You go, I go. Stay together. You said."
Meredith watches her. "You don't want to play games here? I have lots of things to do while you wait."
"No!" Zoey glares at her, clinging her mom. "Mommy say stay. Together."
Mommy sets her down in the room, her voice more stern. "You three are staying here for a little bit, okay?"
"Why?" Cloey speaks up, still in the stroller. Zoey turns to her unhappy. It don't matter why.
Their mom stands up straight, looking around the room. "Mommy has things to do. Miss Meredith agreed to watch you."
Cloey unbuckles herself, holding up her arms. "Okay, ma."
Alex pushes the stroller in then takes Cloey out. Zoey glares at her. Don't say okay! We no know the lady. Mommy 'sposed to take for ice cream! She hates how Cloey is so easy to let things go.
Cloey shakes her head, holding Cini, her rabbit, tight. Ma said if good, we can.
Nikki nods. Yeah, Zo.
Zoey stomps her foot, huffing. "Why not brudders too?"
Mommy gently tugs one of the curls again which tickles and Zoey can't help but to giggle. "Your father took them somewhere."
Nikki is also taken out of the stroller and set down by them. Sissy... Let Mommy go. We're together.
"I no wanna stay!" Zoey crosses her arms, stomping her foot. "Take home. Please!"
Nikki takes her hand. Play with me here.
Zoey stares at Nikki, pouting. "Fine. I stay. But only cause Sissy ask, not 'cause I want to, cause I don'."
The adults laugh, Mommy kisses their foreheads. "I'll be back in an hour or so." She exits with Alex and John.
Kina, now in a better mood from lunch with Alex and his friend John, waits by the door for Meredith to finish up. Alex took her to the diner across the street. John wasn't much of a talker, but she's happy to have officially met him. She's heard a lot of good things from Alex, though he forgot to mention his friend owns a gray fox named Silver. She found this out when she got to the car and saw the fluffy thing by the window, panting happily.
Meredith taps her arm and closes the door quickly, her tone's filled with worry. "While Alex helps clean up, I'll give you my report. Zoey doesn't like Cloey. At all. The way she acts and talks about her, it's a jealousy issue. She tried hitting her the moment you stepped out, but I redirected her attention."
Kina chews her lower lip. "I try to get Zoey to be behave. I don't understand why she would be jealous of Cloey."
"She doesn't understand, either. She gave me lots of reasons not to like Cloey, but it isn't any real reason. Just things kids say. One was 'Cloey eats all the cookies'."
Kina furrows her brows. "Cloey always gives Zoey hers."
"That's what Cloey said. I recommend a regular counselor and a nanny."
"Five kids plus a workaholic husband? You really need the extra hands and eyes to help. It'll be good for all of you, I'm sure."
"It's just..." Kina glances to the closed door, anxiety kicking up.
"Yes?" Meredith tilts her head.
"I don't know the first thing about finding one, really."
"Alex knows quite a bit of people. He can ask around for you if you need. You should also sign up for Mommy and Me classes. It'll be a bonding experience and maybe help the girls and you find some friends. Lots of mothers do dance classes."
"I'll think about it..." She glances to the door again. "I should get the girls back. Zoey's going to complain if I'm not in there."
Soon as she says this, John pushes the stroller out while Alex carries a screaming Zoey. "Put down! You meanie! I want Mommy!"
Kina takes her and holds her tightly. "I'm right here. You ready to go eat some MacDaina's?"
"Yeah! And ice cream!"
"Okay, we have to go to the van first, then." She sets her daughter down but doesn't let go of her hand.
Zoey looks around then pulls Kina all the way to the elevator. She looks at her daughter with surprise. "You remember the way?"
"Yeah!" Zoey beams up at her.
"Good girl, I'm proud of you."
Once the elevator stops, she picks Zoey up again. The toddler obviously can't be trusted in parking lots. Zoey doesn't fight it though, she hugs unto Kina.
Alex helps get the girls settles in. Kina turns to him. "Alex?"
"Kina?" He cocks his eyebrow, tilting his head.
"I need a list from you... If you can." She stares at her small feet.
"A list of what?"
"Live in or certain hours?"
"I wouldn't mind a live- in. But I can deal with 7 am to 5 pm Monday to Saturday. They'd get paid weekly."
"Okay, I'll look into it."
He pulls her into a hug. "Don't worry so much, you'll get wrinkles."
She lets out a small laugh. "I'll try not to."
"See you soon."
She gets in the car, drives to MacDaina's, lets the kids play for a bit then returns home. Kina puts the girls in the play room. "Behave." She warns before finding her husband in the kitchen. He has groceries unpacked and is working on putting them away.
"Need some help?" She leans in the doorway.
"Sure," he stops separating the food for a moment to give her a quick kiss. "What's the verdict?"
"That'll be good for you guys." He starts separating the snacks. Half of the crackers, fruit snacks, chips in a pile for school lunches; the other half for bedtime snacks. Popcorn set aside for family nights.
"And... I'm getting a nanny." She takes the lunch snacks and puts them in the top cabinet.
"Nanny?" He stares at her, surprised. About damn time.
She freezes for a moment, speaking slowly. "Yes, a nanny. You work too much. I need someone to help."
"It's just a surprise." He moves the cereal into the cupboard above the fridge. Given that you're too damn stubborn. "Dave may let me have every weekend off now."
"Right," she gently bites her tongue, it's unusual for her to read his thoughts so easily. "If he does, take it. You need a break from time to time, you know. Spend it with your family."
"I'll do it." Thomas rolls his eyes, taking her hands. Especially if it gets you off my back. He spins her then pulls her into a dance. "You know I love you, right?"
He shakes his head and gives her his goofy half smile. "Then I'll have to show it more often. Let's take the kids to Chuckle Cheese tonight."
"Wasn't that the plan?"
Thomas lays on the bed, glancing over to Kina. "So, Chuckle Cheese was interesting. Didn't know Alex has a partner. I thought he was always a solo act. How did they meet?"
"Why am I just now hearing about this? That was- what?- five years ago?"
"Three. He was in the academy for two years."
Thomas stares at the ceiling. "Three years. Three years that he never said anything about his partner."
Kina turns onto her side, staring at him. "Tom, Alex doesn't talk about work often. He doesn't want anyone to worry and I'm sure some things are too horrid to speak about."
"But his partner. This guy's really special to Alex, I can tell... Why wouldn't he say anything to his best friend?"
She rolls her eyes. "Because work life is different from home life. You know, they say partners are closer than even spouses. All on account that they go through a lot together."
"You believe that?"
"I do." She squeezes his hand, teasing him. "Don't tell me you're jealous?"
"Jealous? What do I have to be jealous about?" My best friend having another best friend? Childish.
"Cause he has another best friend?"
Tom stares at her for a moment, his eyes narrowing before he looks back to the ceiling, "Childish."
Kina laughs at him, nuzzling his neck. "This is what I miss most. These moments. Our little talks."
He holds her tightly, kissing the top of her head. "Dave says it's time I slow down. He seems to think that 'a 24 year old shouldn't work like he's 40 with no life'."
She swallows down the hope building in her. "Does this mean you'll work less? And get weekends off?"
Thomas closes his mind of at the question. He answers with an indifference. "Twelve hours Monday to Thursday. Friday is five to six hours. Weekends off unless there's an emergency."
Kina wishes she could read his thoughts right now. He's so tense as if he's hiding something. Her suspicions can't be resolved like this.
She pulls the colorful quilt she made up, wraps around him then whispers, "I love you."
"I love you too."