The Third Season
Parental Advisory Rating: L, N, AC
Break out those V-Chips, everyone!
Created, Produced, Directed and Written:
Fanatic and TNovan
Episode One: The Kingsley Method
We sit in Patricia Radsons waiting room. Waiting. It seems like forever weve been waiting. These places would be better named torture rooms. Finally, after two weeks of looking like a bug-eyed spaced alien, I am going to be free of goggles, gauze pads and eye drops. And, perhaps, I will be able to see again.
I am not really counting on it. Even this morning when Kels administered the last of the drops, I saw nothing. I had hoped it would be different. I was disappointed. Kels knew how upset I was and she simply slid her arms around me and held me.
I know that no matter what happens, I have to hold it together. For Kels sake. For Brennan. For Shy Baby Roo. For myself. No matter the outcome, we have to make plans for the future. These babies arent going to wait for me to get my act together. In fact, if I dont, theyre going to show up early. Id prefer having them as a birthday present.
"Ms. Kingsley, will you come with me, please?"
Kels guides me as the nurse leads us into the examination room. Her hand covers mine on her upper arm, reaffirming our bond. I miss seeing my wedding ring.
"Take a seat and the doctor will be with you shortly."
I back up against the exam chair and take a seat. I listen as Kels drags a chair over beside me and she takes hold of my hand again. The only good thing to come out of all of this is I get to hold my girls hand a helluva lot more than I used to.
"No matter what, Harper, I love you."
I allow myself a small smile. "Thank you, darlin. No matter what, youre not getting rid of me."
Before Kelsey can retort and I know she wants to the door opens and someone enters. "Harper, how are you feeling?"
I recognize Dr. Radsons voice. "Pretty good."
"How are your eyes feeling? Any more discomfort?" Her voice draws closer and I imagine her leaning down looking at me.
I shake my head. "No. That ended a few days ago."
"Good," she replies. She swings some piece of equipment around the side of the chair. I can feel the presence of the instrument just to my right. "Lets take a look at them then." Very gently she removes the goggles and gauze. With a cotton pad she wipes under my eyes cleaning me up a bit. My skin is always so happy to be exposed to air again. "Go ahead and open your eyes, Harper."
I obey. Kels squeezes my hand a bit tighter.
Dr. Radson leans so close I can feel her breath on my cheek. She holds open my eyelid and examines my right eye. After a moment, she switches to my left eye. Pulling back, she says, "They look a lot better. The redness is almost entirely gone and the swelling is completely gone. Theres no sign of infection, which is always one of our biggest concerns with an injury such as you received. Kelsey, you did a good job taking care of Harper."
"Yes, she did," I affirm.
"Im going to do another slit lamp exam. Once again, youll need to sit forward and rest your chin here." She helps guide me into position. "You may see a bright light while Im examining you. It may be uncomfortable, but please try to keep as still as possible."
I could only hope to see a bright light.
When she looks at my left eye, I blink and pull back momentarily. "Doc?"
"Did you see something, Harper?"
I swallow hard, disbelieving. "I can see light," I whisper.
I hear Kels swallow a gasp.
"Good," Dr. Radson encourages. "Sit back for a moment." She moves the slit lamp and pulls over another examination device. She settles it in front of my eyes. "What do you see?"
"Two bursts of light, followed by another one."
"Good." I hear her move some knobs on the device. "And now?"
I squint, trying to get a better look. God, how nice it is to do that. "Its kinda a lighter blob on a dark blob."
Hmm guess I got that one wrong.
"What does this mean, Doctor?" Kels asks. Im surprised she lasted this long.
"Its a good sign," Dr. Radson states unnecessarily. "While I am concerned that Harpers vision hasnt improved more significantly, this does indicate that there is some functionality in the eyes. Whether or not it continues to improve, only time will tell."
I suppose being able to see that the light at the end of the tunnel is an on-coming train would be a good thing. Not quite the same as being able to see my spouses face again, but, I guess I should be grateful for even a little improvement. Being able to see light is better than a lifetime of darkness.
"I believe it will," Kels whispers as she leans in to kiss my cheek.
"Set up an appointment for next week. If there are any significant changes before then, come in and see me immediately. Otherwise, Kelsey, you need to continue putting in the eye drops for Harper. There is still a good risk of an infection. If that were to take place, the impact could be devastating."
Of course Kels will take good care of me. Shes ferocious about my eyes.
"Great." Dr. Radson puts everything aside and pats me on my leg. "Dont give up hope yet, Harper."
* * *
I give Kels directions to Café du Monde. We park by the Natchetz and walk past Jackson Square. Ive been here so many times in my lifetime, I can completely imagine the scene. I can see in my minds eye the young street performers, bottle caps on the soles of their shoes, tap dancing for tourist money. I see the mediums and psychics in various outfits enticing tourists to part with more of their cash. Rounding out the local entrepreneurs are the artists selling five minute portraits and oil and watercolor paintings some of which are actually quite good.
Café du Monde is packed as always. The tiny tables are put too close together making it difficult to navigate through them, especially for a woman pregnant with twins guiding a blind woman. I am wearing my darkest pair of sunglasses to both protect my eyes at Dr. Radsons insistence as well as give a visual cue to others of my disability. I dont have a white cane yet. I am not quite ready to completely admit defeat.
But, we still need to prepare for the future. One that may not include my sight.
Kels leads us to a table in the far corner. She puts me in a chair where I can feel both sides of the tent canopy at my back. Here we should be less jostled. And not have as many people pay attention to us. We order beignets and café au lait. Well, at least, I do. Kels gets her standard decaffeinated Earl Gray.
I capture one of her smaller hands in mine. "How are you doing, baby?"
"Other than I have a heater strapped to my stomach, Im doing okay."
God, I am an idiot. I wanted to come here because beignets have always been my comfort food of choice. Of course, I forget to think about my wifes well-being. "Im sorry, Kels. Lets get you home where you can be more comfortable." I start trying to get to my feet, banging into both the bar behind me and the table in front of me. Damn, this place is small!
Kels grabs my wrist. "Honey, Im sorry. Sit down. Im fine. Once we sit down for a moment, Ill be fine."
"Absolutely. These two just generate a lot of heat, thats all. Must be warm-blooded, like their Mama. Let us not forget that it is August and Im five and a half months pregnant. I wouldnt be comfortable in an igloo right now."
I smile. I really look forward to meeting these guys. "Are they active today?"
"Oh yes. Brennan is practicing for World Cup Soccer. And Shy Baby Roo is swimming laps. I cant figure out how they can be so active in such a small space." She takes my hand, placing it on her stomach, once again giving me that all-important connection to my children.
"Small?" I echo.
I receive a swat on my arm for my cheeky comment. "Careful, Stud, or youll be on the couch tonight."
I mock shiver. Truth is, I would hate to separated from my family like that. Even though Kels and I havent been intimate since my accident, we have still managed to snuggle despite bulging bellies and busted arms. Some nights the only that has kept me from bolting well, other than I couldnt find my own way to bolt has been the death grip Kels has had on me. Sometimes I think my wife should have been a pro wrestler. She knows how to pin me down to the mattress, thats for sure. "Cant have that."
"Nope, because Mama would side with me."
Our waitress returns with the small plate piled high with Gods gift to mankind. I can smell the powdered sugar and feel the heat radiating from the pastries. The waitress deposits my drink somewhere in front of me. Kels pays her and she disappears back into the crowd to wait on the next hungry table. The pattern here never varies.
"Coffee at nine oclock, beignets at three."
I aim high, knowing we ordered a half dozen of the treats, and my fingers are immediately coated with powdered sugar. I lift the beignet to my lips and bite in, mindless of the mess I am making. This is one advantage to being blind.
Kels laughs at me and leans over, dabbing at my lips and chin with a napkin. "Im glad youre enjoying those, Tabloid."
"I plan on enjoying all of them," I announce, knowing my girl wont touch them. A few bites and the first one is history. I lick my fingertips, making loud smacking sounds designed to get a rise out of Kels.
I am not disappointed. "Forget about holding my hand now."
"Liar," I counter, reaching out for her hand again. She gives it to me willingly. "So, babe, are you ready to talk about what were going to do?"
"Its still too early, Harper. Dr. Radson says "
"I know what she said. I was there too. God knows, I hope shes right and I do regain my sight. But, for right now, we need to plan on it not happening." I continue on so that she doesnt contradict me. "Obviously, I wont be able to continue on as a producer with Exposure."
"Thats not true, Harper. Your talent is in more than your eyes. Its in your gut, knowing when theres a story there. In your research, in setting up the story perfectly so that it captures audiences. Its "
I squeeze her hand to silence her. "I dont want to do it sightless." I shrug. "I would never feel confident. And, if I cant be that, I cant do the job. Fortunately, I happen to have long term disability insurance, so my income is assured, although at a discount."
"We dont lack for money."
"I know, but I feel better knowing that I can contribute something. The main question is what do you want to do? Do you want to stay on with Exposure? I can stay home with the kids and the nanny. At least, for awhile. Or, we can move here to New Orleans. We have a house, family, but no jobs."
"Harper, where would you be more comfortable? What would make you happy? You know Ive been questioning if I even want to renew my contract."
"You make me happy. I want to be where you are. And I want you to do whatever you want." One of us should be able to keep our career, just because I cant.
Kels begins chuckling and I am about to protest when she explains, "Hmm, I can see this is going to be a circular argument. Do you want to come home or stay in New York? Where do you think you will have more opportunities?"
"I think were back to the circular argument even with those questions. Maybe we shouldnt decide anything at the moment. You have a contract. Its only a few more months. I can keep myself busy." Itll probably take that long for me to learn to read Braille and use a guide dog. Kam is going to get a brother.
She leans over and kisses my cheek. "I think thats a good plan, sweetheart. I think were putting the cart ahead of the horse anyhow."
My wife. The eternal optimist. At least, where I am concerned. "Well see."
No pun intended.
* * *
I wake up early. The stress of the prior few days finally caught up to me last night. I fell asleep on the couch downstairs, and Papa had to help me up. I hope it was Kels that undressed me.
Kels is still sound asleep, snoring softly. Good, she needs her rest. I can take care of myself. At least, I need to learn how to. I kiss her shoulder and roll over carefully. God, I want this cast off and I want it off now. How many more weeks to go? Four at a minimum, six more possible. Pain in the ass while dressing.
I find my way very slowly and carefully over to the dresser and open the top right drawer. I extract underwear and a bra, extremely grateful that Kels and I keep our stuff separate. I can put these on, not a problem.
I step into the underwear. See, not a problem.
I try figuring out how to put on the bra. I know how, of course, but putting on one minus one functional hand
I go back to the dresser. I pull out a tank top and replace the bra. Thats better. I carefully thread my arm through it and then get it on. Next stop is the closet. I open the door and begin carefully feeling the clothing on the hangers. When I find a pair of jeans, I pull them off and hold them up beside me.
Hmm. It comes to my calf and has an elastic front. Im guessing this is Kels preggers pants. I carefully put them back on the hanger and rehang them in the closet. The next pair I find has no elastic, so I think I hit pay dirt.
Next stop, a shirt. Just about any shirt I have goes with jeans, so I randomly reach in and pull one out. Its the right size, so I got lucky. I slowly navigate my way over to the chair and sit down. Last thing I need is to try to put on my jeans, lose my balance and knock myself silly.
I decide to forego shoes for the moment. Kels wont ball our socks up because she says it stretches out the elastic. So my chances of finding a matching pair are between bleak and infinitesimal. I am thrilled to be up, dressed and somewhat together.
Now if I dont kill myself going down the stairs.
The smell of sausage cooking guides me unerringly to the kitchen.
"Well, theres my baby girl!" Papa greets me, getting up from his seat at the table. He walks over to me and gives me a kiss on the cheek. He gently assists me to the table, holding my chair for me. "Wheres your little gal?"
He squeezes my shoulder. "Good. I have to go in to the office for awhile. Were having a little gathering here tonight. I hope you and Kels dont have other plans."
I laugh. "Yeah, our social calendar has been overflowing lately."
"Good." He kisses me again and then goes over and lays one on Mama. I remember being so scandalized as a kid at the affectionate exchanges between them. Hell, as a kid, try as an adult. Thats one thing I learned from my father, never be afraid to show the world who you love.
"Mais oui, Mama," I reply eagerly. Someone who knows how to make sausage, eggs and cream gravy is a rare find. Especially in California or New York. I asked for gravy once with my breakfast and they brought me brown gravy. Brown gravy. My God, are people insane?
"You look good, mon Coeur."
After kissing me, she goes back to working at the stove. "Im glad youre letting Kelsey get some rest. She has needed it for herself, not to mention my grandbabies."
I hang my head. This is Mamas version of a sharp reprimand. "I know."
"How are you two doing? This is a hard thing to deal with in a new marriage."
I nod. "It is. But, fortunately, we have good examples all around us."
Mama works quietly and efficiently, finishing up breakfast. She brings over a plate which has such good-smelling stuff on it, I nearly swoon. "I am glad to see you are over the self-pity."
Good morning to you too, Mama. "Getting there."
"Eggs at the bottom, sausage at the right, potatoes to the left," Mama informs me. "I was about ready to smack you upside the head. Seeing you put your wife through that " she trails off, obviously too irritated to continue. "You may be blind, but you are not disabled. You are one of the most talented people I know. You will find your way."
Glad we got that settled.
"I am tired of the moping around. Your office needs to know how you are doing and when you will be going back to work," she starts up again.
"Mama -" I begin to protest.
"No! I have been quiet for two weeks and that was long enough. You need to dig deep inside yourself and find the courage I had hoped your father and I instilled in you. You think you are the first blind person involved in the media? Hardly!"
I nod, mutely.
"Eat! Are you not hungry?"
I cant keep from laughing. Only a mother can yell at you and then get mad youre not eating while being yelled at. "Oui, Mama. I was just afraid."
She snorts and I imagine the look which must be on her face right now. "You should have been."
* * *
"Come on, Tabloid" She tugs on my hand. "Lets go out and sit in the backyard. I have something I want to talk to you about."
"Anywhere but the hammock. Its too dangerous." I nearly killed my damn self getting out of it last time. I certainly dont want Kels getting into it again. I was stupid to let her the other day but I couldnt see past my own nose then.
"Agreed," she groans. "A hammock is no place for a pregnant woman. The birds who saw me struggle out of it the other day were so scared they still havent come back."
I cant help but snort a laugh at the image. It earns me a playful slap as we walk slowly out to the porch and down the steps. She holds onto my hand, guiding me out into the yard. "How about under a tree?" she inquires.
She helps me settle down with my back against the trunk. Then she joins me, sitting between my legs, relaxing against my chest. Kels brings my hand to rest in the spot where our babies are most active.
"Brennan is really going at it today, isnt she?" I ask, knowing I have no way of telling if its our daughter or Shy Baby Roo. I love the feeling of them playing and moving under my hand.
"I think she needs a sedative," Kels offers, snuggling into me.
"What do you suggest?"
"I think a story might do the trick. I think its time for us to start reading to them, Tabloid."
"I guess thatll be up to you now, sweetheart." That admission breaks my heart. I wanted to read them. I wanted to tell them bedtime stories. I have so many books already ordered for them. Now, I guess Kels and the nanny will get that privilege. Oh well, I will just have to make up better stories.
"Dont be to sure about that." She brings something up and places it in my hands.
Feeling it carefully, I can tell its a book of some kind. Upon further examination, I can tell its an early childhood book. Theyre always made from cardboard and have thicker paper. Then my fingers graze across something Im not familiar with. "Kels?"
"Its The Cat in the Hat, Harper. A special copy. Not only does it have the words in it, but its got Braille marks too." She places my fingers over the marks. "If it should come to it and I still dont think it will -, I know youre going to need formal training, but I thought this might be a good way to start. Ill read it and help you follow along and you can learn how to read this book to them."
God, I love this woman. I lean in and nuzzle the back of her neck. "Love you, Little Roo. Lets read this book to our babies."
* * *
At six oclock, the house is full. All of Harpers brothers and their wives have come over and are now seated in the living room. The kids are over at Gerrards house, being babysat by the elder grandchildren. Tonight is a special brand of Kingsley humor. I hope Im ready for it. Papa told me to just relax and let the good times roll. Oh, and to bring Harper downstairs.
That I can do.
Shes in our bedroom listening to music, relaxing. Music does calm the savage beast. My savage beast, though. I think Ill keep her. "Hi there, stud."
Harper looks up and gives me quite the grin. Shes been on her best behavior all day. I wonder whats up? "Hey, Little Roo."
"Want to come downstairs with me? I was going sit in the living room and watch a video. Id love to have your company."
She pushes herself up to her feet and extends her hand. "Ohh, an excuse to neck on the couch," she says happily.
" Like weve ever needed an excuse before." I begin leading her downstairs, the whole time her free hand is tugging at the back of my shirt. Its amazing how dexterous she is even with that cast. "Calm down, Tabloid."
"Oh yeah," she husks. "Im gonna calm down. Thats not the only thing Ill be going down, though."
My darling spouse has to say that exactly at the moment we cross the threshold into the living room. As the laughter erupts, I turn beet red and Harper stands shock still.
"Oh my God," she mutters.
"Perhaps, you should have gone to a podiatrist today, Harper Lee, to see about getting that foot removed," Robie calls out, recovering first among the siblings.
I note that even the tips of Harpers ears are red. "Umm, perhaps I should have mentioned "
"Its a family council meeting, eh?" she asks.
Papa puts a chair in the center of the living room. "Come on in and have a seat, baby girl."
I lead Harper to the seat and she sits down. She tries to make a grab for me, but I dodge out of arms reach.
"Youll be safe over here," Rene calls out, patting the chair beside her. Robie slides out of it and onto the floor between her legs.
Papa smiles over at me benevolently. "Were here to lend you a hand with this stubborn one, Kelsey, see if we can get a bit of sense drilled into her." He touches Harpers shoulder. "The Kitchen Conspiracy has been hard at work this week coming up on things to help you adjust to your current predicament. So, without further ado, let the game begin!"
"Harper," I call out quickly, "my love, I swear to you, I didnt have a clue." Perhaps my laughter isnt helping my case much.
She wags her finger in my direction. "I think thou dost protest too much. But Ill get you later."
"Perhaps Ill just sit here and be quiet," I mutter. Rene reaches around the back of my chair and squeezes my shoulders.
"All right," Katherine says, rising from her seat. She motions for Gerrard to move one of the small tables over in front of Harper. "Since you seem convinced that your eyesight isnt going to return -"
"A belief we dont share," Lucien calls out from his seat.
Go, Lucien. My brother-in-law gains several big points in my mind with that comment. I also notice that Rachel is now gracing her husband with more affectionate looks. I think Harpers injuries and may have helped the healing process start for them. Im sure everything were going through has made them take a second look at what could be taken away without any notice.
"We decided you would need some help transitioning. So, were here to have a feel-a-thon tonight." A round of cackles meets her declaration.
"Sounds like thats what she had planned for Kels," Jean snickers from the couch.
"Something you should be good at," Robie teases, "if you can live up to your reputation." Oh no, the gauntlet has been more than thrown down. My beloveds participation is assured.
"If you are successful, you win a pair of dark sunglasses and a cane," Katherine continues.
Jean stops her. "Actually, its not really a cane. Its Papas big umbrella. The best we could do in a pinch."
Katherine runs her fingers through Harpers hair. "The best we could do because we dont think youll ever need them."
My God, I love this family. Listen to them, Tabloid. Believe.
"So, how do we start this little game?" Harper asks, folding her good arm over her cast.
"We dont need a blindfold," Elaine notes.
"But, if we did, Harper and Kelsey would no doubt have one handy," Mama offers.
I bury my face in my hands as the entire room erupts in laughter. Im never going to live down her trip to New York.
"One of these days remind me to tell all of you what they consider art in New York," Mama continues, sipping from a tall glass of iced tea.
"Mama!" Harper groans, blushing bright red. "Ill have you know that thanks to that damn exhibit I can no longer enjoy a hot dog."
All of the brothers are rolling with laughter. I know they dont have a clue, but Harpers indignation and the way Mama is laughing is too much and its contagious.
"Here are the rules, Harper. Theyre simple. We hand you an object, you identify it. You get five right, and you can be blind. Less than that and its a no-go."
"Bring it on," is my spouses cocky reply. The first item they hand her is pretty simple. I figure its their way of breaking her in. Katherine places it in her hands and she makes a face. "Its a shoe."
"Which one left or right?"
She feels it, noting the subtle curve of it. "Left." Harper takes a sniff and makes a very dramatic face. "And its Robies."
Another round of laughter as Robies shoe is returned to him. "You think youre so smart," he comments, sliding the loafer back on. Rene bends down and kisses Robies head in consolation.
"I know I am. Better than you would do."
Robie snorts. "Mais non! I think not."
I shake my head. Did he learn nothing in all the years of living with my girl? Its about to get ugly.
Harper turns her head in Katherines direction. "Shouldnt I be playing against someone, Kat? To make it fair?" A round of whistles, stomps and hollers meets her suggestion. I take that it is approved. "Kels, darlin, can you run up to our room and get that blindfold you like to use on me? Seems we wont be needing it any longer."
I will kill her when this is through. Avoiding Mamas eyes, I quickly excuse myself and make a dash upstairs. Note to self: never travel with these things.
A few moments later, Robie is seated across from Harper, wearing our blindfold. The Kitchen Conspiracy is in a quick huddle, adapting to this change. Rene and I are left out as our spouses are competing.
The next item handed over is an interesting choice. "Feel it first, Harper, but dont say anything. You dont want to help Robie out, do you?" She shakes her head vigorously and feels it.
Katherine passes the item over to Robie. "This is easy," he declares.
"Then tell me," Katherine says, leaning down to hear his whispered answer. Once she has his, she looks to Harper. "What was it?"
"The family Bible. Thing weighs a ton and has thin pages."
Robie scoffs, "Its a telephone book."
"Fool, telephone books dont come with leather covers," Harper chastises him.
"Two for Harper Lee," Papa says. "Zero for Robie."
"Hey! I would have gotten the shoe one!"
Papa considers his protest for a moment. "One for Robie."
"Next item," Rachel announces drawing close with it. I shake my head. These people have no shame. She places it in Robies hands. He feels it and keeps tapping at the end. I fight the urge to lose it. Rene is shaking in the chair beside me, a hand firmly clamped over her mouth. "Times up," Rachel says, removing the object and handing it to Harper.
Harper feels it and grins slyly. With one push, she extracts the contents and swings it around her finger. "Im guessing I know what it is," she says smugly.
"Sure do," Rachel confirms. "Robie?"
He shifts in his chair, his cockiness diminishing. "I think its a mechanical pencil. You know, like they use at drafting tables."
Everyone howls with laughter. Harper shouts over the noise, "Mon Dieu! Havent you ever seen a tampon before, older brother?" With amazing aim, or just sheer good luck, she launches the wad of cotton at her brother. It hits him square on the chest. Robie jumps as if struck by lightning. He grabs it and throws it away. It lands on Lucien. Lucien tosses it to the ground and steps on it, as if it might somehow bite him.
I am gasping for breath.
"Guess you never give Ren a chance to use those, eh?" Harper queries.
For that, Rene gets out of her chair and goes over to slap Harpers arm. "You watch it, Harper Lee."
"Three for Harper, one for Robie," Papa confirms.
Elaine brings over the next item. I shake my head. I wonder how Tabloid will do with this one.
"I wanna make a side bet on this one!" Jean calls out. "Twenty says she cant identify it."
"Youre on," Gerrard replies. Money begins exchanging hands.
Harper gets the item first. She takes it in her hands and feels it, rubbing it between her fingers. Next, she brings it to her nose and sniffs, carefully. She hands it back.
Robie takes it and immediately blushes. He certainly has identified it. Elaine bends down for his whispered reply. Turning to Harper, she says, "What is it?"
Oh my poor baby. Shes never seen one before, I guess. At least, not up close and personal. More raucous laughter. Gerrard hands a twenty over to Jean.
"No, this would be a condom," Robie states. He turns his head to where Mama was last sitting. "I only saw these advertised once, Mama, I swear it."
Gerrard laughs. "Well, thats obvious, Robie. Otherwise, a lot of damn good it did you."
"Hey! Enough! Asse!" Rene reprimands, shooting Gerrard an evil look.
"Three for Harper, two for Robie." Papa makes a mark on a piece of paper, as if any of us would ever doubt him.
Next thing I know, Mama is over by Rene and I and pulling us to our feet. She motions for us to lift our shirts up to expose our bellies. Okay, this is not anything I ever imagined doing in front of our entire family. Mama then leads us over to our spouses. "Which one belongs to you?" she asks.
She puts his hand on my stomach and allows him to do a quick survey. Then she puts me in front of Harper. Harper immediately zeros in on the babies activities, as Brennan chooses this moment to give a healthy kick. She knows who we are. She lifts her eyes to me and, as her fingertips continue to graze where Brennan seems to be playing tag with Harper, for just a moment, I know we can still see each other no matter what happens. Those blue eyes cause me to fall in love with her all over again.
Next Mama puts Rene in front of Robie. He feels for a moment, before she is placed in front of Harper. We are then allowed to go back to our seats.
Mama bends down to hear Harpers answer and smiles. Robie is looking a bit stressed. Ooh, he better get this right. Rene would not like being mistaken for a woman carrying twins.
"I think the first one," Robie ventures, "was Rene."
"Hell, no, that was Kelsey," Harper corrects, amid the laughter. "My little girl even gave me a hello."
"Honey?" Robie calls out in a truly pitiful voice. He knows he is in deep trouble.
"Dont talk to me."
I lean over and hug Rene. "Theres a room free next door to us." Of course, I am very proud of Harper.
"Four for Harper, two for Robie."
Rachel approaches them once more. "Last chance to be blind, Harper. As you know, correct identification of people is essential. You will both get to feel the face of two people in this room. You will then have to correctly identify them. You can only feel their face, not their hair or anything else. Understand?" The two contestants both assent.
Elaine and Katherine walk over, their hair pulled back. They kneel down next to each chair and the feeling begins. I have to stifle a laugh when Robie nearly plunges his fingers up Elaines nose. She is not too thrilled either, but she manages to not make a sound and give away her identity. I wonder if that was his plan. Harper simply looks bewildered.
Elaine and Katherine switch places. Once again, Robie tries the finger plunge, now convincing me it was intentional. Harper doesnt look any less confused.
Robie whispers his answer to Rachel. Harper makes a face. "I think the first one was Elaine, and the second one was Katherine."
Not too bad. Just reversed.
Robie shakes his head. "No, the first was Mama. The second was Elaine."
Ouch! Elaine was just called Mama. Okay, it helps that Mama is a stunning woman and I hope I look that good when Im sixty and have five children and eleven grandchildren. But, I doubt if Elaine is liking that reply.
"Wrong," Rachel replies not bothering to soften the blow for either of them. She looks over at Tabloid. "Too bad, Harper. I always thought you looked damn good in sunglasses."
* * *
Kels and I head upstairs. All in all, it has been a great night. My family, in their own special way, has indeed shown me that I can and will overcome this hurdle too. I feel infused with a renewed sense of hope about my eyesight returning.
No matter what, Im smart enough to know I wouldnt be able to do anything without the love and the support of the woman walking beside me.
Where does she get her strength? First, the stuff in L.A. that would have driven most people right over the edge. Now this, and, through it all, she has never missed a step.
I tighten my hold on her arm. She has learned thats my signal for slow the hell down. I wonder how it is that she can still move so quickly given the expanse of her stomach. When she turns to me, I dont really give her time to speak. My hand travels up her arm, past her shoulder and neck, to her cheek. "Harper?"
"Shh." My thumb brushes her bottom lip, telling me where I need to be and I lean in. Bingo! Damn, Im good. Oh, she does taste sweet. Like the first time I kissed her in that little room. This time, we dont have to stop. Finally, I understand from her silent clues she would like to take a breath.
She gasps, her hands grasping my biceps. "My, my, Harper Lee. Where did that come from?"
"My heart," I whisper, my thumb tracing her bottom lip again.
I swear I can hear the smile on her face. "Youre sweet," she tells me, her own hand moving up to my cheek.
"Are you tired?"
"What do you have in mind, Tabloid?"
"Since I cant play peek a boo right now, how about a game of slap and tickle?"
"Only if I get to slap," Kels voice is low and dangerous in my ear. I feel her breath on my face. One of her hands is at my neck, tangled in my hair, and another on my back, gently grazing nails on the flesh under my shirt.
"Sure," I manage to squeak. How does she do that? I started this. How did it get turned around on me? Not that Im complaining or anything, but, Jesus, no other woman ever had this power over me.
"I may, just for kicks, add a tickle or two." She takes me by the hand, leading me into the unknown.
You know, there may be something to not being able to see. It certainly forces me to utilize my other senses more. I can smell her perfume like never before, the subtle scent intoxicating to me. Her skin is much softer than I had ever really noticed, it plays like silk under my fingertips. I can hear her heart beating from a mile away, so it seems. I listen to her breathe, hearing every little change of pattern, gauging her responses that way.
I hear the door to our room close, very gently, softly. Then her hands travel up my back. "You suggested a game?"
I nod like an idiot.
"Hmm, Ill bet," she starts again, leading me further into the room, "that I can find lots of fun stuff to do with you."
Well, quit talking about it, Little Roo, and get on with it. Talk is, as they say, cheap.
I am backed up against the bed, my legs hitting the edge. Under normal circumstances, Id fight the feeling of falling back. However, the mere thought of what my darling spouse has planned for me simply knocks my legs out from under me and down I go.
Im laying here trying to listen and figure out what shes doing. This is fun in a very odd sort of way. Kind of like having on a blindfold I cant take off. Even when we played around with a blindfold before, I tended to cheat and peek from time to time. Theres no peeking now.
As I feel her move in, standing between my legs, Im really glad I cant. Every nerve in my body is trying to escape, sending little jolts through me. Im not even naked yet. Damn, she is good.
Shes gonna kill me tonight. What a way to go, though! Theyll never get the grin off my face. Theyll have to have a closed casket to avoid embarrassing questions.
Soon I hear the thud of my boots hitting the floor after being pulled from my feet. Her fingers travel to the buttons on my jeans, slowly working them free, the back of her hand grazing along the skin of my stomach when she undoes each one. Shes trying to kill me. Through it all, shes not saying a damn word. I claw at the duvet on the bed. I can feel my nipples getting hard and I growl.
"Temper, temper," she teases.
"Bite me," I tease back.
"I will, dont worry."
She tugs on the waist of my jeans. "Lift."
I can do that. When I do, everything I had on is suddenly stripped off. It hits the floor with a soft thump. Hmm, naked from the waist down, blind and trapped in a small room with a horny woman. I think I had this fantasy once.
Her hands travel lightly from my knees to where my legs meet my torso. Jesus, I never realized how many nerve endings I had in my body. They are all screaming Kelseys name. Shes got a fucking cheerleading squad in there. Suddenly, my shirt pushed up past my navel and her mouth lands there, offering wet, warm kisses.
"Kels " I groan.
My good hand finds its way to her. Running my fingers through her hair, its all I can do to keep from getting demanding. The one thing Ive learned about making love with my wife is one does not demand. She who demands, suffers.
Ill try begging. In situations like this, it is the only reasonable response. "Please?"
I feel her nod and move down. She must be kneeling on the floor. I begin to wonder if shes comfortable, but then all rational thought is torn from my mind.
* * *
Lying in her arms, I am very content to let her hand travel over my body again and again. Shes learning, once more, where everything is. Boy, is she learning. I definitely give her an A plus.
Shes gonna graduate with honors at this rate. Just think, once she has her eyesight back, and after the twins come and I get this body back in shape, shell have to take a refresher course. Oh, poor me. I guess Ill have to tutor her.
I release a deep breath, wiping away a bit of perspiration that settled on my forehead. "Gee, Tabloid, now that I have found the top of my head "
She chuckles. God, shes so cocky. I love that about her. Id missed that about her.
"As I was saying," I give her a poke in the ribs, "I seem to remember you once told me, shortly after we got together, that you could make love to me blindfolded with one arm tied behind your back and it would be the best I ever had."
"Uh huh," she purrs, the smile widening on her face.
"You didnt lie."
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