The Third Season

Parental Advisory Rating: L, N, AC

Break out those V-Chips, everyone!


Created, Produced, Directed and Written:

Fanatic and TNovan


Episode Three: Promotional Material

I take one last look at myself in the mirror. Okay, I’ve gained a lot of weight carrying the babies, but I had to. For them, and because of them. Overall, I think I still look pretty good. There’s not much gain in my face… ah to hell with it. If he wants to fire me, then so be it. I don’t need his damn job anyhow.

He’d better not have any designs on Harper’s job. Because if he does, he’ll have a fight on his hands. She didn’t do anything except agree to have a family with me.

I return to the bed and pick up my blazer. Slipping it on, I’m straightening my sleeves and collar when Harper appears in the doorway of our room. She lets loose a low, appreciative whistle.

"Oh, you look great. Why so dressed up? Why the power suit?"

"Langston. I have a meeting with him first thing this morning."

She chuckles. "He getting a second tour of hell today?"

"That’ll cost you a buck, even though it was used in the proper context. And, don’t think I didn’t notice that you kept referring to the Hoover Dam while we were in New Orleans. You and Robie weren’t fooling anyone." I tug on my sleeves. "I don’t want Langston to think he’s dealing with an emotional, pregnant woman. I want him to know he’s still dealing with the best damn correspondent he’s got on Exposure."

"Best damn correspondent ever. And we both owe the babies a buck."

"And I’m sure," I give her a kiss on the cheek as I move past her into the living room to get my briefcase, "you’ll be happy to pick up my tab."

"I always do," she comments from behind me, following me.

I finish packing up my case, only to have it snatched from my hand. "I can carry my own…" My words are cut off by a finger in my face warning me to be quiet and accept it. I do, with a little sigh. "Glass," I mumble. Then I give the finger and its owner a kiss. "Love you, Tabloid. You do realize that in less than an hour I could be unemployed?"

"So, if that’s the case, we’ll go home to New Orleans. I fail to see the problem."

I put my hands on my hips, assuming a motherly position. "Hmm, and what about your job, oh Senior Producer?"

"What’s that delightful phrase? ‘Take this job and shove it, I ain’t working here no more.’"

Now my own finger goes up, wrapping around hers and bending it back slightly. "Oh no! No way! Don’t you even go there. I will not let you sacrifice your own career, even if mine does go down the tubes. You’re far too talented to even think like that."

She smiles, indulging me. "Ok, sweetie. I won’t do that, I promise. But, I don’t think you need to worry about your job." She’s stroking my arms and looking deeply into my eyes, knowing that direct eye contact with her almost always calms me down. But does she have to be so damn sexy in those new glasses? I wanted to go to work mad, not horny.

Too late.


* * *


Brian meets Kels and I as soon as we step off the elevator. I hope it’s not bad news. We don’t need any more of that right now and I’d hate to have to kill him. Despite him just being the messenger and all. My girl loves the little nutcake.

"Welcome back, boss!" He throws his arms around Kels and gives her a warm hug, which she returns.

He stands back and gives me a big, old smile. "Hi ya, Stud! Looking good!" He winks, nudging me with his elbow.

"Behave." I hand him Kels’ briefcase. "She’s not allowed to lift a finger. If she needs something done and you can’t do it, you come get me."

"You got it." He shoulders her case.

"I swear…" Kels starts to protest.

"You do and it’ll cost you a buck," I tell her, even as I give the small of her back a rub.

As we all head back to her office, Langston meets us in the hall. "Kingsley." He extends his hand. "It’s nice to have you recovered and back. I’ve needed some competence in my life."

"Thank you." I manage to shake his hand even though the cast makes it difficult. He doesn’t even seem to notice.

When he releases my hand, he turns to Kels. "Stanton, are you ready to go upstairs?"

Oh shit. Upstairs isn’t good. They usually only hire and fire upstairs.

Kels, always the professional, doesn’t even show a hint of the anxiety I know she’s feeling. "Sure."

"Kingsley, I need you to get with Bruce. He’s got an assignment that has him completely baffled."

Not hard given the fact this is Bruce we’re talking about. "I’m on it." I take a moment to reassure Kels. Langston can yell at me later. "I’ll see you later." I give her a smile and a wink.


* * *


Well, this must be it. I’m fired. I didn’t mind the thought of leaving my job when it was something I wanted to do, but I’ve never been fired from a job. I’m not wild about it now either. I watch the boss, trying to get a feel for how painful this process is going to be. He’s got a great poker face.

"How’s Harper?"

How’s Harper? How’s Harper? You insensitive bastard, Harper is fine. You just saw her in the hall. You really enjoy this little cat and mouse game, don’t you? Trying to make me sweat and squirm. Well, forget it. I’m not going to give you the satisfaction. "She’s fine. Her eyesight has returned almost to normal and she’s really glad to be back to work."

"And we’re glad to have her back. A good producer is hard to find," he drones while watching the numbers light up as we pass floors.

Guess her job is secure. That’s something I don’t have to worry about anymore. Thank God.

Entering the conference room, I’m surprised to see it’s a breakfast meeting. I guess I’m being given a last meal. Funny, I had never considered myself a Christ-like figure before. Four places are set at the table. Langston moves to a chair and holds it for me. "Kelsey?"

"Thank you." I take my seat. I hate waiting. Get the axe and take my head off, will you?

"Kevin and Mr. Roth will be down in a few minutes," Langston tells me as he reaches over and pours a cup of coffee for himself, then gestures to me with the carafe.

"No, thank you." I clear my throat and decide to get it over with. "The head of the news department and the head of the network are coming down to fire me?"

He nearly chokes of his coffee, catching most of it with his napkin. "Fire you? Kelsey, we’re not going to fire you."


* * *


"Come on," I say to Brian, "let’s go wait in Kels’ office for the outcome." It’s gonna be interesting, to say the least. We can stay up here for a month or so until we can get some jobs sorted out down in New Orleans. Or, if Kels wants to stay in New York, I’m sure another network will snatch her up.

"Don’t you need to see Bruce?" he asks automatically, then stops when he sees my expression.

I shrug. "Bruce can wait. I want to find out what happens with Kelsey."

"You think Langston is mad at her?"

"He sent us a videotape while we were at home. Her pregnancy isn’t quite the secret we hoped it would stay."


I settle down on Kels’ couch and stretch out. I may as well relax. "C’est la vie. It was silly to think it wouldn’t have leaked out at some point."

"Hey, I may be out of line here, but …" Brian gets up and shuts the door to Kels’ office. "Look, if for some reason something happens and Kels is out of here …"


"I want to go with her. She’s wonderful. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that, stud." He sobers and rubs his hands on his thighs. "It was pretty hard here before she came. Being quite so out doesn’t go over so well in corporate America. Even in the performing arts."

"I’m sorry." I genuinely am.

"So, if she goes, I go."

And I get an idea. "Do you have any brothers or sisters?"

Brian looks confused at the complete change of topic. "Uh, yeah. Three sisters."

"Nieces, nephews?" This is my form of a nanny interview. At least, I am assured that Brian will not be coming on to me.

He nods, happily. "A baker’s dozen. Catholic. No birth control." He rolls his eyes.

I laugh. I know that type of family. I have it. "They love you?"

Brian’s jaw drops open and he stares at me for several heartbeats. He starts to speak, stops again and then shakes his head. "Of course!"

This would certainly help Kels’ anxiety about Brennan and Shy Baby Roo. Of course, she’d be ticked at losing her amazing assistant, but our children are more important. Now to go for the jugular. "You still living in that horrible Hell’s Kitchen apartment?"

"Yes!" He blows out a deep breath and crosses his legs. "The hot water was out again this morning. Last week, three times."

"How would you like to live on the Upper East Side?"

"Yeah, yeah, sure. You think Langston is really going to give me that big a raise?"

"No, I don’t. But …" Kels, honey, I hope you don’t mind about this. "How would you like to come live with Kels and I?"

He squints, trying to decide if I have lost it or not. "You want to adopt me? I mean, I’m flattered and all. Let’s see, Brian Dixon Kingsley. I wouldn’t be Brian Stanton, would I? I’d want to fit in with the rest of the family. Harper, Kelsey and Brian Kingsley. Has kind of a ring to it."

Lord save me. "Hardly. I think you’d be too damn expensive for us."

"Stud, I know you only want the best for your kids, of which I would be the eldest, and, fortunately, I only want the best."

"You only want the expensive. Look, I want to hire you as our nanny."


Don’t make me repeat this, Brian. "Having a hearing problem?"

"I get to be an au pair!" He claps his hands excitedly. "Can I wear a French maid’s uniform?"

I fold my arms across my chest. "Do you plan on doing any cleaning?"


"Then no."


"Oh, and no swearing in our household. Kels will fine your ass. And there will go your salary." We’ll negotiate the rest out later. I think I just did good. It’ll be nice to see a big smile on my girl’s face.


* * *


This is so completely not what I was expecting. I’m still reading through the paperwork given to me upstairs when the elevator doors slide open. A secretary who works on this floor with me gives my elbow a little nudge. "Ms. Stanton, are you going to your office?"

"Hmm?" I look up and she gestures. "Oh yeah, thanks." I stick my nose back into the paperwork and step off the elevator. I stop by the community kitchen and make myself a cup of tea. I could go back to my office with this, but I know Harper is there and I’m not yet quite ready to explain this to her. Leaning against the counter, I continue to read and sip my tea.

I think Brennan misses her Mama. I was given a kick that was a little less than comfortable. "Behave." I massage my side, trying to get her calmed down. "Mommy needs to get a grip on this."

I continue reading and Brennan continues her little tantrum. "So much like your Mama." I finally take a deep breath and decide to go fill my loving spouse in on the news.

When I enter my office, I find both my assistant and my spouse grinning like idiots. This scares me. It can only mean something bad. "What’s up, children?" My eyes shift back and forth between them, waiting for one of them to spill whatever it is they’ve cooked up.

"I’ll go make some coffee." Brian chuckles, then leaves us alone, closing the door on his way out.

I put my hands on my hips and tap my foot. "Well?"

"I’m about to make you a very happy woman."

"Harper, darling, Langston would have a stroke if he caught you making me a very happy woman. So why don’t you tell me what’s going on between you and Brian."

She bursts out laughing, pulling me into her arms. "I guarantee you nothing is going on between Brian and me. And Langston can bite my ass. But, sweetie, I solved our nanny problem."

"Our nanny problem? The way I see it. We have no nanny, therefore, we have no problem." I look at her and lift a brow. "Unless you hired the slut."

"I did. But not the one you’re thinking of."

Now I’m really confused. "Start from the top."

"Well, I started thinking ... I know, always the first problem ... and I realized that the person we are looking for needs to be someone we trust. And, I realized that the person we trust the most is - God help us - Brian."

"Brian? My Brian? You hired Brian to be our nanny?" I can’t help but pull away from her laughing. "Oh, well, that figures." I lean against my desk trying to control my laughter. "Now I’m going to have to break in a new assistant. They didn’t fire me, Tabloid. They want to promote me."

"Promote you? The only thing higher is ... They want to make you anchor, chér?"

I wave the new contract at her. "That would be the case, yes. They want me to take the desk."

Suddenly, I’m in her arms and the room is spinning. "Yes!" She then proceeds to kiss me quite soundly. The room is still spinning and I need to make it stop.

I gently pull back. "Harper, darling, put us down. Shy Baby Roo does not like this ride."

As my feet find solid ground, I also find Harper on her knees in front of me. She has pushed up my blouse and her lips are against my skin. "Do you know how great this is? Your Mommy is going to be an anchor of…"

I reach down and pull her to her feet. "Tabloid, I haven’t said yes yet."

"Why the hell not?" I give her the look. "Oops," she bends down and kisses my stomach, "sorry, kids."

"Because I wanted to discuss it with you first."

"Oh, ok. What do you want to discuss, baby?"

"My new contract will be for three years. Of course, I’ll make them give me the option of buying out, if I decide I want to retire. Big raise, big bonuses, but it’ll end our ability to work together exclusively. They’ll be presenting you with a new contract. You won’t be ‘my’ producer any more."

She sobers and nods. "What do you want to do?"

I take a deep, deep breath. "Well, I would finally have the job I always wanted. This is a huge deal. My new contract is, well, amazing, really." I can’t help but smile. "You wouldn’t believe the kind of perks you get when they give you ‘the chair’ around here. But I don’t want you to feel like I’m jumping ship on the contract we signed. I know that your new contract will be very lucrative. Roth is impressed as hell with your Peabody."

Harper gives me a huge smile. "Honey, this is what you’ve dreamed of and worked your whole professional life for. Do it. Take it. I am right behind you all the way. And proud as hell of you too."

"You’re sure?" I run my fingers under the lapel of her jacket. "This means we can’t move home anytime soon."

"You and our children are my home. Besides, I don’t see our house in New Orleans going anywhere. And Grandpa Stanton is up here."

"True." Now I’m in her arms leaning against her. "But so is my mother."


* * *


I hustle Harper out of my office, remembering that she has things she should be doing and I have people I need to call. Namely my agent and lawyer. Foster is going to stroke out when she sees the new salary. My commission alone will support her in style.

Before she leaves, she takes a moment to promise me a celebration I won’t soon forget. I glance at my watch. Damn, it’s only ten thirty in the morning. I’ll never make it.

I stare at the contract while I pick up the phone and dial. Time to make Foster and Beth earn the big bucks.


* * *


Returning the phone to the cradle, both of my calls complete, I buzz Brian.

"You rang?" He sounds positively giddy.

"Do you still work for me here?"

"Oh, I think I can finish out the week," he teases.

"Gee, thanks. In that case, can you fax a few things to my agent and my attorney? And, Brian, these are highly confidential documents. Don’t leave them for a second, okay?"

"You got it." My door opens. He smiles at me. "Tell me, Mrs. Kingsley, what does Stud wear around the house when she’s relaxing?"

"Not much." Oh God, I really won’t make it through today.

"Ooo, that should be fun. Neither do I."

My head drops. What have I gotten myself into?


* * *


Kels has sent me on my merry way. And what a day it’s going to be. It’s amazing the things that can get fucked up when you’re out on injury leave.

Larry is leaving the show it would seem because of personal problems. I’m betting the gambling thing has finally caught up with him. But I’m going to do some digging until I find out for sure. Call me curious.

I knock on Bruce’s office door. Wonder how he’s going to handle the news that Kels is getting Larry’s spot? Don’t see that going over real big. And, don’t think I won’t enjoy every moment of it. Might even see if I can tape his reaction. Just so I have something to replay whenever I get sad.

"Come in!" He growls.

When I enter, I see immediately the problem. He’s positively buried in research materials. "Langston sent me over to give you a hand in helping you find the story he assigned you."

He looks up, wanting to be pissy with me, but knowing better. I can make or break his piece and he knows it. "Thanks."

"No problem. That’s why they pay me the big bucks." I can be nice to him today. We’ve got the world on a string.


* * *


I stretch, sorting another pile of research material on the floor.

"So, you hear Larry’s leaving?" Bruce asks casually, making notes on a legal pad. He’s trying to feign disinterest and pump me for information. Fortunately, I know all the reporter tricks.

"That’s what I hear." I’m noncommittal as hell on this one. Until Kels signs on the dotted line, everything is very top secret.

"Hope Kelsey isn’t too upset when they pass her up for anchor."

Now he has my attention. "What makes you think they’ll pass her up?"

"Come on, Harper, girlfriend or not, you know they don’t give females the desk. Especially not pregnant females."

She’s my wife, not my girlfriend, asshole. "Yes, but you never know. You see, that particular female has two Emmys and a Peabody under her belt." Unlike you.

"Yeah and, from what I hear, twins, too." He leans back in his chair, folding his hands on his stomach. "Harper, I’m not trying to give you grief, but I think you’d better be prepared to take her out and buy her something expensive to make her feel better in a few weeks."

Now, he’s truly pissing me off. Let’s see if I can answer him and not kill him in the process. Or give his body another outlet. "First off, Bruce, I don’t have to buy off my girl. Ever. She’s a professional through and through. I respect the hell out of her and you would be wise to do so, too. Second, I don’t discuss my private life with you. Ever. But, let me clarify that she isn’t my girlfriend. She’s my wife and the mother-to-be of my kids. Don’t ever lose sight of that. And, third, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings. I’ve found that it’s best to never count Kels out of anything." I stop and breathe. I picture a beautiful forest, a bubbling brook, and Bruce’s head underwater as I drown him. A lovely pastoral scene. "Now, are you ready to talk about the fucking story? Or do you want me to come back some other time?"

"Easy, Harper. Hey, I think it’s great you’ve got that much enthusiasm for Kels. Maybe they’ll change the format and offer her second chair. As a matter of fact, maybe I’ll recommend it."

Yeah, right, when pigs fly. "I think it might be best if we all concentrate on doing our own jobs. Langston will do what’s best for the show."

"Yeah, I’m sure of it." He scratches out some more notes.

He already has, you bastard.


* * *


I am back in my office, going through several production notebooks, and trying to get caught up, when I hear a knock on my door. I glance at my watch. Geez. It’s already three-thirty. I bet it’s Kels with a sandwich for me. "Come on in."

The door opens and I find myself wrong. It’s Kendra and she isn’t bearing food. That’s too bad. Unfortunately, my appetite is now aware of what time it is. "Hi, do you have a moment?"


She steps back out the door and I wonder for a moment if she misunderstood my answer. Then Kendra steps back instead dragging a gangly teenager behind her. He’s a little taller than she is, and is beginning to fill out a bit. He has the same coffee colored skin as Kendra and gentle eyes. "This is my nephew, Frank. Frankie, this is Harper Kingsley, the producer I was telling you about."

He removes his hand from his jeans’ pocket and extends it to me. He has a firm handshake. That’s a good sign. "Nice to meet you, Ms. Kingsley."

I laugh. "Harper is fine. Pleasure to meet you, Frank. Your aunt was bragging on you to me earlier."

He blushes. "Ah, she’s biased."

"With good reason, I hear. So, what brings you down here?"

Kendra answers, "He’s going to intern with us for awhile."

Good. I’m glad things are working out for the young man. I assume this means he’s living with Kendra too. "Excellent. Who have you been assigned to?"

Frank glances at me and then at his aunt. "You."

Guess that’s in one of the memos I haven’t read yet. "Great. You any good at organizing things? And how are your computer skills?"

"Oh, Harper, this boy can organize. You should see CD collection. Not only is it in alphabetical order on the bookcase, but he has it indexed about a thousand different ways."

He shrugs. "I like computers."

"Good. Well, come on, let me introduce you to the other half of this team." This should be fun. Kendra said he was a bit in love with my girl.

"You mean Miss Stanton?" He pronounces her name with reverence.

I laugh. "That’s Mrs. Kingsley to you, Frank." It takes him a second, but he understands what I am telling him.

Welcome to the family, Frank. I have a feeling we’ll be adopting you too.


* * *


With Frank trailing behind me, we make our way toward Kels’ office. I glance back and can tell by his body language that he’s nervous as hell. "She doesn’t bite." That’s not exactly true, but he doesn’t need to know that. Besides, I like it when she bites.

He gives me a stiff nod. I stop and turn toward the young man, who is eyeing her office door. It’s all I can do to keep from laughing. I sort of feel sorry for him.

"Frank, it’s really gonna be okay. Kels is easy to talk to and she’s very friendly. She is, however, pregnant and she might be a tad bit grumpy, but it’s not her normal state of being. And it would have nothing to do with you." It’s all my fault, she says.

"Okay," he croaks, sounding a lot like you would expect a teenager to sound in this situation.

Her office door is open. I pause for a moment and listen before knocking on the doorframe. She’s in a meeting with a scriptwriter.

"I think if we move this section to the next page, right before the wrap up, it’ll work better. We don’t want to lose the section, but it doesn’t seem to work there." I hear her tell the young man she’s working with.

I stick my head inside her office. The scriptwriter is standing at her side, leaning against her desk. They both look up. "Kelsey, when you have a minute, I have someone I want you to meet."

"Actually, Ms. Kingsley," Aaron closes the script, "we’re done here." He glances down to Kels. "I’ll make those changes and send it back up in a couple of hours."

"Take your time, Aaron. I probably won’t get to it until tomorrow morning." He nods, then slips out past us.

I look to Frank. "Ready?" I bite back a laugh. He looks like death warmed over right now. Poor thing.

"Harper, what’s going on?" Kels asks from her desk, starting to rise.

I motion her to sit back down, which she does, resting her face in the palm of her hand. "This," I tug him into the office, "is Frank. He’s Kendra’s nephew and my new intern."

"It’s nice to meet you Frank." Kels stands up and offers him her hand.

She looks at me from over her desk as I kneel down and pat Frank on the face. "Is he okay?" She’s torn between real concern and laughter. Neither one of us expected him to faint.


* * *


I pull the Range Rover up in front of the network, stopping in a bus lane in rush hour. I am the driver every New York hates. Oh well. I have a hugely pregnant wife who just got a big-time promotion and we’re going to celebrate. The rest of New York can bite me.

I hop out and open the passenger door for my girl, giving her a hand up into the seat. The SUV is great for having a commanding view of the road, but bad for loading a woman carrying twins. I hustle back around, hop in and throw the vehicle in gear. This, at least, stops the honking. The swearing continues, however.

"Making friends again, Tabloid?" Kels teases.

"That’s me. Friendly."

"So …" she draws out the word and grabs up my little pal from the dashboard, "what’s the plan, Stan?"

"We have a lot to celebrate." I take him back, and put him where he belongs.

"Oh, yeah, like what?"

I cut off a cab. God, I love doing that. "We have a nanny hired."

"I should hurt you for that one." Kels reaches over and pats my knee, taking the sting out of her words. "I don’t even want to think about having to replace Brian."

Oh, I hope I didn’t mess up. "Did I …"

Before I can complete my thought, Kels interrupts. "He’s the perfect choice, sweetheart. I’m just messing with you." She grasps my hand and leans over toward me. "So, where are we going?"

"One of your favorite places."

"Oh yeah? Hmm … hints?"

I laugh. I hope she likes my surprise. "It has a great view."

"Windows on the World?"

"Not that great." Hard to top being over one hundred stories up. "It has great music."

"Ooh, the Rainbow Room?"

I chuckle. "But not live."

Kels pouts. She doesn’t like not guessing immediately. She thinks she knows me so well. "What else?"

"It serves amazing pasta with baby lobster tails." I can hear her stomach growl from where I sit. Bingo. That was a good order I placed.

"I know – Tavern on the Green."

"Nope. You’ll never guess. Just give up now."

"Hmpf." Kels folds her arms over her ample stomach. I bet I could rest my coffee mug on it nowadays.

I sure as hell better not try.


"The Tribeca Grill?"

"Nope, nope, nope." I pick her hand up and place a kiss on the back of it. "I thought you might like a nice, quiet, catered dinner at home. I have it all arranged. All we have to do is go home, get comfy, eat to our heart’s content and then … celebrate." I draw the last word out.

"Isn’t that what the dinner is about?" My girl is playing with me.

I turn her hand over and press my lips against her wrist, noting how her pulse picks up as I do so. "No. Dinner is about eating."

"Isn’t that what you were talking about?"

I kiss her palm. "In a manner of speaking."


* * *


I knew there was a reason I loved Harper, other than the fact that she’s beautiful beyond words and so damn sexy it should be illegal. I am now sitting in the living room, allowing that wonderful meal to digest and relaxing while she prepares something she swears will make me happy beyond words. Little does she know, I already am.

Taking the TV remote in hand I flip on the set. Switching channels, I stop when I catch a very familiar pair of eyes.


I haven’t been able to watch any of his movies since he was killed. The shock of seeing his face takes my breath away for a brief moment. Then he delivers a line, and the sound of his voice brings tears to my eyes. "I miss you, you little shit."

I know I should probably turn the channel, but I can’t bring myself to do it. In an odd sort of way, I’m enjoying seeing him again. It’s almost as if he isn’t gone, like I could pick up the phone and call him.

"Hey, Little Roo." Harper comes into the living room with two mugs of Mama’s special tea. She stops when she notices the movie. "I thought we could take these to bed and relax." Her expression is worried, as if seeing Erik might have spoiled our perfect evening together. Perhaps a few months ago that would have been true. But not now.

"Actually, could we watch this?" I pat the couch, inviting her to join me.

"Sure." She comes to me, placing the mugs on the coffee table, then settles in behind me.

I lean back against her, placing her hands where Brennan is being the most active. Automatically she begins rubbing the spot and Brennan seems to calm down. I swear, this child knows the difference between Harper and I already. And is playing favorites.

She holds me, allowing me to watch the movie. She’s quiet and respectful even though this has to be one of the worst movies ever made. I laugh and look back at her.

"It’s bad, isn’t it?"

Harper is diplomatic in her response. "It’s not good, but Erik is. I can see why he was about to break out. He did a good job with a lousy vehicle."

"He always did his best, no matter what kind of crap they handed him."

We watch in silence for a few more minutes. "Kels?" Harper’s tone is tentative, very unusual for her.

"Yeah?" I hope this isn’t upsetting her.

She gives my tummy another rub. "If Shy Baby Roo is a boy, let’s name him Collin, as tribute to Erik."

I turn in her embrace. Behind her new glasses, her eyes are gentle and searching mine. "Really?" It’s more than I ever would have asked of her.

"Yeah," she nods, "I can’t think of anyone I’d rather name a son after than your best friend."

I think that’s a slight exaggeration given her father and brothers, especially Robie, but I am touched at her concern for me. I lean up and give her a soft kiss, caressing her cheek when I pull away. "Thank you. I know if he had lived, you and Erik would have been the best of friends as well. So I suggest, should Shy Baby Roo be a boy, that we name him Collin Lee."

Harper’s smile is wondrous. "Collin Lee Stanton Kingsley?" She tries out the name, seeing if it fits. "I like it. Collin Kingsley. Sounds like a movie star."

I brush her hair back from her face. "If he looks anything like his Mama, he will be. I hope they get your eyes."

She laughs gently. "Nah, I want them to look exactly like you."

"Let’s compromise and do a mixture," I suggest.

"I love you, Little Roo. Heart and soul."

I get up from my spot on the couch, tugging her along with me. "Come on, lover," I click off the TV then turn back and give her a grin, "let’s add ‘body’ to that list."

She’s up so fast I’m afraid she’s gonna hurt herself. As we make our way to our room, she drapes her good arm around my shoulders, nuzzling my neck a bit. "You know, Tabloid, we really should think of another name for a little girl, just in case."

"Nargretris Triffle…" she mumbles against my neck.

"Another suggestion like that and you’re sleeping on the couch."


* * *


We’re lying in bed together, sated in two of the basic needs of all mankind. Kels is lying on her back, the sheet now resting over her lower body. The ample belly which contains our children is bare. Now very relaxed and very happy, I curl up beside her stomach. "This is Harper Kingsley, coming to you live from outside your mommy’s stomach," I say, in my best anchor voice.

Kels laughs and swats at my head. "They were just getting calmed down in there."

I ignore her. I am talking with my kids. "Today CBS announced that Kelsey Stanton Kingsley had accepted the position of anchor on their premiere video news magazine, Exposure. Ms. Kingsley, an Emmy and Peabody winner, has been on the show since the beginning of the year. About the promotion Ms. Kingsley said," I pause and look up at Kels for comment.

She gives me a very indulgent smile. "I am honored to be given this responsibility. Exposure is staffed by the best correspondents in the industry. Together we will continue to bring the people the insightful news analysis they have come to expect from us."

I kiss her belly. "Industry insiders report that Ms. Kingsley is also working on a project of her own. Recently, rumors have surfaced that she is expecting a child by the end of the year. When asked about this, Ms. Kingsley had this to say."

Kels barely keeps herself from laughing at me. "Yes, it’s true. I am expecting twins in time for Christmas."

I nod gravely. "Yes, in time for Christmas. It seems that Kingsley children know when to show up to get the gifts. Also, since they were conceived with a turkey baster, the children chose the holidays as the perfect time to meet their other parent. For dinner."

No longer able to contain herself, Kels begins laughing.

"In other news, the Kingsley household hired a nanny today. Brian Dixon, also known as Aunt Brian," this earns me another playful swat, "will begin his duties sometime in October. Brian, best known for his outrageous performance as Ms. Kingsley’s office assistant will be assuming the role of nanny to our precious Brennan Grace and Shy Baby Roo."

I am out to spout out more nonsense, when Kels interrupts. "Say that again," Kels whispers, pulling my hand onto her stomach.

Okay. What did I say? Oh, yeah, the nutflake. "Brian …"

"No, her name."



Was that what I think it was?

"Brennan Grace?"

Thump, thump.

"Is that you, baby girl?" No response. "Brennan?"


My little girl is using Morse Code to communicate with me. Damn, I knew these kids would be smart. "Shy Baby Roo?"


"Brennan Grace?"

Thump, thump.

Kelsey has never looked more radiant than when I gaze up at her now. "She knows her name," I whisper, more than a bit in awe.

"Even better," she replies, "she knows you."


<fade out>


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