The Third Season

Parental Advisory Rating: L, N, AC

Break out those V-Chips, everyone!


Created, Produced, Directed and Written:

Fanatic and TNovan


Episode Six: Correspondence Courses

The nurse has taken Kels to a lab to do some extra tests. This makes me nervous and jumpy, but Doogie ordered them, so he must feel they are necessary.

I’m pacing the hallway watching the door to the lab, when I see Doogie go into his office. I’ve been meaning to have a talk with him after our last visit here. I wander down the hall and listen at the door to determine if he’s speaking to anyone. When all I hear are papers rattling, I knock on the door.

"Come in," he calls.

I push open the door and step inside. His office is pristine. Everything is lined up at right angles, the files are clearly labeled, even his paper clip cup looks organized. An office I can respect. He looks up, retrieving a file from the top of a stack. "Hi, Harper. I was getting ready to see Kelsey." He’s surprised to see me, I can tell.

"I know, but your nurse took her to the lab." I lean against the wall, the empty chair having not been offered to me. "Kevin, what’s going on? Why the extra tests?"

"Just precautionary, Harper, I assure you." He waves me into the chair. "I’m very pleased with the way Kelsey is responding to the meds."

"She’s trying really hard to do everything right."

"I know she is." He gives me what I suppose is meant to be a reassuring smile. It doesn’t work.

"Listen, I know it’s your job to be honest with your patients and to answer their questions, but the next time Kels asks you a question, how about trying to be a little more gentle? You scared the hell out of her. It took me the whole afternoon to calm her down. To be honest, you scared the hell out of us both."

"You both have reason to be frightened," he counters, setting aside the file. For someone who looks at young as Doogie does, he manages to still convey a sense of authority with ease. "I’m sorry if I upset Kelsey, but you both needed to understand the magnitude of what could go wrong."

"I understand it all too well. After that discussion, Kels was terrified she was going to die and not see our babies. Granted, I’m not a doctor, but it seems to me that by tossing that out there, you’ve made it nearly impossible for her to relax and…"

"Harper," he interrupts, just as I am getting going, "Kelsey needed to be told so that we could take care of this and keep it from getting that serious and advancing to the point of being problematic."

I sigh. "I know that. Just do me a favor, reassure her everything is all right. She listens to everything you say and takes every syllable to heart."

"I promise you, I will let her know that everything is looking real good. For her and the babies."

"Thank you. Those three are my life, Kevin."

He smiles gently and glances over at the framed photograph of his wife and daughter. "I know what you mean."


* * *


I meet Harper in the exam room. She’s sitting in a chair, flipping through a magazine idly. I had wondered where she had wandered off to. I was surprised when she wasn’t waiting for me outside the lab. It was nearly impossible getting her to not come in with me. The nurse leaves us and Harper reaches out and pulls me close, lifting my shirt. "Salut, ma biche, les petites.  Vous avez bien manquez Maman." Hello, my sweet, little ones. Mama missed you.

I smile, running my fingers through her hair. She’s decided the children need to be taught French beginning now. Apparently she read in one of our baby books that kids do better learning two languages from birth if each parent speaks to them exclusively in one. So, she gets French/Cajun and I get English. I hope she doesn’t find out Brian speaks Spanish. I love Brian, and he’s a good friend, but I don’t want him talking to my stomach. "Missed them? How about the carrier?" I tease a bit. "Hmm, did you miss me, Tabloid?"

"Absolutely." She’s not very convincing considering she’s still kissing my tummy and not even looking at me.

"Sure." I give her neck a scratch. "I don’t believe you for a second, Tabloid. Let me get undressed here."

"Oh yeah." She leers and leans back to enjoy the show.

"I swear, you are the only person in the world who can have lewd thoughts in a doctor’s office."

"Nah, there’s a whole club of us." She wiggles her brows at me. "There’s even a support group dedicated to us."

Once I’m settled back on the table, she leans over to rub my tummy with one hand while the other combs through my hair. Oh yeah, she definitely knows how to relax me. Then she leans over and kisses me. Okay, that’s not relaxing me, but I do like it.

Kevin enters the room and clears his throat. "That’s more the Kingsleys I know," he says with a huge smile on his face. We manage to disentangle for the exam. "Hi ya, guys! How was your cruise?"

"Absolutely delightful." I sigh. "I want another please."

He laughs, beginning the exam. "I’m glad you had a good time. Everything looks really good, Kels. Your blood pressure is down and you certainly seem very relaxed." He gives Harper a significant stare.

"If I get anymore relaxed at the moment, I’m going to be a lump for the next two or three months."

"That would not be a bad thing, Kelsey." Kevin finishes up then prepares the ultrasound.

Harper chuckles when I jump as the gel is applied. "Laugh it up, Tabloid, and I won’t let him take any pictures."

"Be nice, Little Roo." She leans over to look at the monitor, pushing her glasses up slightly. She’s so damn cute about these babies. I don’t know anyone in the world who’s going to be a better mother.

"Huh, well, what do you know?" Kevin says after a moment.

Harper’s whole body tenses. Don’t worry, baby, he’s playing with you. I can tell. "What?" she asks, unable to resist.

"Just look at this," he instructs and points to the screen.

"What is it?" Harper’s tone is worried. Come on, Kevin, don’t make me get involved here.

"Your son is not quite so modest today." He moves the wand on my stomach and highlights more of our baby. "Say hello to your boy."

"A boy?" The smile on Harper’s face is brilliant as she moves closer to see him. She traces his outline on the screen. Then she turns and kisses my cheek. "We’re having a son too, Little Roo."

I reach over and caress her cheek. "I heard, Tabloid. Brennan and Collin Kingsley. Now we can add their names to the mailbox in New Orleans."


* * *


I take a cup of tea into the meeting with me. This is not going to be pretty. Several people are going to come out of the conference room very pissed off. I, however, don’t intend to be one of them. No, I will be the object of their hatred.

Langston gives me a grin when I enter. He asked me to come a little early so we could talk. "Good afternoon, Kelsey. How was your doctor’s appointment?"

"It was great! Harper and I found out that our second baby is indeed a little boy."

He laughs. Langston pours a cup of coffee and then settles on to the couch with me. "Yes, I know. As a matter of fact, everyone on the floor knows. Kingsley’s very excited. Last time I saw her she was mumbling something about ordering a football jersey."

I have to join him in his laughter. "Yes, she seems to think that we now have a future star quarterback for the Tulane football team. And watch out, our daughter is apparently going to be the first female president."

He nods. "Sounds like a typical new parent."

"I just want healthy, happy babies."

He sobers for a moment. "Is everything all right there, too? You know how rumors get around the news room. I’ve heard some pretty disturbing things about your health. Are you ready to take the desk?"

I take a deep breath, reminding myself this isn’t a threat. I have a signed contract. This is genuine concern. "Yeah, I’m fine. The babies are fine. I have about six to eight weeks I can give the show before I have to take my maternity leave. I think being behind the desk will be a big help."

"I had hoped so. One of the many reasons I recommended you for the spot." He sips his coffee. "Kelsey, I don’t normally share my private life with my staff, but I know what it’s like to lose a child. My wife and I lost our son in her fifth month. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on anyone. I certainly wouldn’t want to see what would happen to Harper if anything were to happen to you or those children."

I look at him seeing for the first time a real human being and not only the boss. "Thank you for sharing that with me. I’m sorry about your son." My hand caresses my side where my own son’s movements once again remind me of his precious life and how fragile it still is. I don’t know what I’d do if something were to happen to either Collin or Brennan now.

"He would have been sixteen this year, and it still hurts. You never get over it." He takes a deep breath and takes my hand. "So, you take care of yourself and those babies."

"I will. Thank you, again."

"Now," he releases my hand and becomes the executive producer again, "let’s figure out the best way to watch Bruce swallow his tongue."

"I just want a front row seat." Now how Fire Breathing Dragon Bitch was that? Old habits die hard.

"As anchor of the show, you get all the best seats." He winks at me and stands as the rest of the staff comes filing in.


* * *


This should be interesting. I position myself near the front of the room where I can have a wonderful view of everyone’s reactions. No matter what I want to see Bruce’s dumbfounded expression when the son of a bitch learns he didn’t get the job.

The talent has taken the best seats in the room. Kels is on the couch, next to Langston. Kendra and Sam place themselves at the conference table, nestled in the high back leather chairs. Bruce plops down in an overstuffed chair near Langston. The rest of the producers are disbursed around the room. We’ve seen this type of meeting any number of times. All it means is that some of the talent is going to be pissed and we’re going to have to deal with them that way for awhile. They don’t really pay us enough for all the ego crap we have to put up with.

I look over at my girl and give her a ghost of a wink. Enjoy your moment, sweetheart.

Langston crosses his legs and taps his folder against his knee. "As you all know, Larry has left the show due to personal reasons. I have chosen his successor and I want all of you to give her your full support."

I watch Bruce blanch. Yup, it’s either Kels or Kendra. Not you, asshole. I look over at him and give him my best shit-eating grin.

"Just about any of you could have taken the desk. We have a top notch news team here and we’re number one for a reason. I don’t want this transition to slow down our momentum, or send us in any direction but forward. There will be a few logistical issues as Kelsey will be taking maternity leave a few weeks after she assumes the desk."

He says it so nonchalantly that people almost miss the announcement. Bruce doesn’t. He looks like he might pass out. I now give him my full, unadulterated, fat cat grin. Bite me, buddy.

"While she’s out, we’ll rotate the desk. But, until then, the helm is hers. Congratulations, Kelsey. This is a well-deserved promotion."

Kels smiles her thanks to Langston and looks around at the others. Bruce won’t meet her eye, but Sam and Kendra utter their good wishes. Jac Daniels and the other senior producers leaves the room quietly.

Oh, boy, it’s gonna be fun around here for awhile.


* * *


I kiss the new anchor, in the privacy of her office, and head over toward Langston’s. He asked me to stop by after the meeting to go over the upcoming shooting schedule. My assignments have altered now that Kels has taken the desk. Of course, I, too, had a new contract to sign. Foster worked hard on my behalf. I received a nice raise and a healthy bonus.

I already miss working exclusively with Kels though.

I laugh, amazed at myself. For goodness’ sake, Harper, you gonna have her hold your hand when you cross the street next? I am still chuckling when I approach Langston’s office and hear Bruce screaming at the big guy.

"Jesus H. Christ, Richard! First, you side with the powers that be when they want to hire the dykenamic duo. Then, after Stanton gets up close and personal with a turkey baster and gets knocked up, she gets promoted to anchor? What in the hell is going on here? And let’s not even go into the fact Kingsley’s so fucking deluded she actually thinks the little lab rats are hers. I’ve given four years of my life to this damn show! I deserved the anchor spot."

I step into Langston’s office and close the door behind me, carefully putting myself in front of it. There’s no escape for you, asshole. Your ass is mine. "Would you care to say that to my face?"

Bruce turns around and folds his arms across his chest, trying to increase his size. He doesn’t intimidate me. Not by far. "Sure. Not a problem. I deserved that damn promotion based on seniority."

"I don’t give a fuck about the job. I want to see if you’re man enough to insult my wife and my children to my face. Or if you’re just a sniveling, little, whiny-assed, jerk off who can only get it up when no one else is around? Personally, I’ve heard it’s the latter."

Langston steps around his desk. "Listen, you two -"

Bruce and I ignore the interruption. "Kiss my ass, Kingsley. You and your girlfriend, or wife, or whatever the hell you want to call her, can both go to hell. She doesn’t deserve that promotion and the only reason she got it is because the network wants to use the pregnancy thing to their advantage. Too bad the world thinks she’s fucking some guy."

"Oh, really? I thought it was because she has more awards than you can count, Brucey-boy. Having floppy hair isn’t really a compelling reason to award you the desk." I take a step closer. "For the record, she’s my wife. They are my children. And I’ll rip your tongue out and feed it back to you if you insult any of them again, you self-righteous prick." My hand curls into a fist. I will hate to break my wrist again, but it’ll be worth it.

"Fuck you, Butch. I don’t care how many awards she’s won. And I don’t give a rat’s ass about the parentage of those kids, although I’m sure it was an adventure for Stanton. As far as you’re concerned, I think you’re full of shit. She’s got you so whipped you can’t breathe without her fucking permission."

I am about to crush his nuts – being raised in a family of boys taught me to fight dirty – when Langston interposes himself. "Enough!" he shouts, putting a hand on Bruce’s chest. "Kingsley, get out of here. Go cool down."

"At least, I have a woman. One I don’t have to pay for. Or get high or blind drunk." I take a step back and breathe deeply. "Sorry, Langston."

I ignore the epitaphs Bruce is hurling at me as I leave.

I step out into the hallway and gulp down air. I came so close to losing it. God, I wanted to kill him. I wanted to rip his throat out and let him fall to the ground, gasping for breath.

My kids will have to put up with this shit. All their lives. Because of my decision to love their mother. Brennan, Collin, I’m so sorry. I never meant for you to have a hard row because of me. I never wanted you to have anything but the best the world has to offer.

Of course, your mommy is the best. And your Nonny and Grandpere. And all your uncles and cousins. At least, you will know the love of family in your life. I can’t give you everything, but I can give you that.

I discover myself heading to Kels’ office instinctively. I want to make sure they’re all right. Even though I know nothing has happened to them.

I knock on the door frame and wait for Kels to look over at me.

She cocks her head to the side and studies me. "Hey, get in here and close the door," she says, her voice light, but her expression worried. "Since when do you knock?"

I manage a smile. "Just checking in on my favorite anchor." I do step in the room and close the door, giving Brian a look that communicates no interruptions.

"Well," Kels sighs, "I’m up to my ears in paperwork at the moment." She tries to get out of her chair, but can’t quite manage. I watch her struggle briefly and then reach out to her, even as she reaches to me for help. It feels so good to hold her hand, if even for a moment. I pull her to her feet, wondering where it is she is going. "Remind me to order a new chair," she says wryly, then slides into my arms. "Now, tell me the truth, what’s wrong?"

I hold her as tightly against me as I dare. When I feel the majority of the poison siphon off of me, I answer. "A bad dose of reality, I guess."

"Harper, sweetheart," she guides us to the couch, "tell me what happened. You’re shaking."

We sit, but I don’t let Kels get away from me. "I scared myself. Bruce was his typical fucking, asshole self and I nearly went loose on him. I almost hit him, Kels. And I know that fucker would have had me arrested on assault and battery."

"I knew he was going to go to Langston and complain." She reaches out and strokes my arm gently, leaving goosebumps in her wake. "I’m sorry you got caught in the middle of it. You know he’s an idiot. And I’m glad you kept control." I am rewarded with a kiss on the cheek. "However, I am going to have to fine you big time."

My girl gets me to smile. "Only three bucks."

"Ooo, not for that word, Tabloid. That word is a ten spot per use." Kels nudges me in the side and holds out an imperious hand. "Pay up."

"Hmm … that wasn’t your opinion the other night."

I count the different shades of red that dance across her features. I still got it. I may be getting older, and married, and about to be a parent, but I can flirt with my girl. "Yeah, well," Kels stammers, "there is a difference between the heat of passion and the heat of anger. You keep it up, and I’ll cut you off until our children are born."

Now that’s a real threat. "How much did you say? Twenty-one dollars?" I reach for my wallet and peel off the bills, handing them over. "Kels, I can’t stand the thought of anyone ever hurting you or Brennan and Collin. The mere idea nearly sends me over the edge. I don’t know how I’m going to handle all of this. Without landing in jail, that is."

"Did he threaten the babies?"

Ooh, I have awakened the lioness. I meet her serious gaze. "Not really. Just said a lot of hateful things. If he had threatened them, chér, I would be in police custody, because he would be dead."

"Harper." I focus in on the feel of her hand on mine. "People are always going to say hurtful and hateful things. We know that from experience. We just have to let Brennan and Collin know that we love them. It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks. We have to teach our children to rise above it."

I feel my chest tighten with fear. "Never leave me, Kels. Promise me that."

"I’m not planning on going anywhere. You wanted me, you’re stuck with me." Kels squeezes my hands.

"Did you ever notice the inscription in your wedding band?" I ask, surprising even myself with the shy tone in it.

"Of course I did. I notice every little thing you do. Haven’t you figured that out yet?" She sighs and shakes her head. "Like I said before, Harper, I know more about you than you think."

"You think you’re so smart." I lean over and kiss her forehead.

"I had to figure you out, Tabloid. I had to get past all that bluster and bravado to see your heart." She once again snuggles against me. I don’t know if I will ever want to leave this office today. This is too nice. "It was the night you came into my room in Los Angeles that you really told on yourself." She pats my chest gently.

"You heard that?" I remember that night. It was during the time Kels was being stalked and she was so scared. We were new friends then, certainly not lovers. I was sleeping on her couch, providing bodyguard services, of sorts. I went into her room, noticing the light was on much to late, and I found her curled up on her bed. She had looked so small and fragile. I knew right then I would never want to be without her. I had touched her hair, briefly, and whispered my promise to protect her forever.

"Uh huh. Every sweet word."

I groan. "You never said."

"There are some things that a woman knows to keep to herself. The fact that I had found your heart was one of those things."

"Tout mon coeur pour toute ma vie," I whisper, echoing the words of her ring inscription. That is so true. She has my whole heart for my whole life.


* * *


I finally tear myself away from Kels and go do my job. A job which has changed considerably now that she has the helm. Gone is my exclusive arrangement working with her. I am back in the pool of producers and can be assigned out on any story with any correspondent. Though I’m doubting if Langston will be teaming me up with Bruce anytime soon.

Frank appears in my doorway. He smiles broadly. "You must be excited."

"Sure am. I’d take you over to congratulate her, but I don’t want to have to call the paramedics again."

He has the good grace to blush. Since that incident, he won’t go anywhere near my girl. I don’t quite understand it. You’d think he was straight with the reaction he has to her. I suppose it’s not much different from Erik and Brian fawning all over her. I am married to a fag hag. Go figure.

"I hear you’re having a boy."

I beam. Collin Lee. I gotta go pick up one of those mini-footballs for him soon. It’s never too early to get him prepared for Tulane. "That we are. We got lucky with a complete set on the first try."

"First? Planning on more?" he asks, genuinely interested and not just nosey.

I give him an enigmatic grin. "I don’t know if I want to bring that up with Kels at this particular moment. I think she’s getting a little tired of this whole pregnancy thing. But, I am from a family of five, if that gives you any idea of my preference."

He snickers. He’s imagining my girl’s response to that idea.

"Frank, you ever do any on-camera work?" I have an brainchild.

"Yeah, in class. They made us rotate assignments, so we each took turns broadcasting, copywriting, editing, producing, directing … and Aunt Kendra has shown me a trick or two."

"You any good?"

"I …" He looks at a complete loss for how to reply. "I guess."

I narrow my eyes. "Frank, no bullshit here. You know what being good means – it means your Aunt Kendra. Now, give me the story. Are you any good? Or should you be behind the camera for a reason?" I give him a direct appraisal. He’s a good looking kid, sharing Kendra’s genetic lottery winnings. His voice is vibrant, not given to adolescent squeaking or breaks. His teeth are perfect. This is an important concern for racehorses and correspondents.

"I’m good."

I smile. "That’s what I wanted to hear. I have an idea, Frankie. And you’re the man."

He laughs. "I’m the man?"

"Oh, yeah. I’m think you’re the Voice of the New Generation."

"I’m gonna do a Pepsi ad?"

Hmm, I better work on that tag line.


* * *


During a break in class, after finishing a lesson in how to breathe, I lean back into Harper and tilt my head back to look at her.  "Tell you what, Tabloid, why don’t you take over now?"

"Meaning what?"

"Meaning I’m not wild about this whole labor, pain thing. I think you’d handle it much better."

She laughs and kisses my forehead.  "No, I don’t think so, sweetheart.  I’m afraid of that kind of pain and the whole process looks far too messy for my tastes."

"This from the woman who leaves clothes and towels on the bathroom floor?"

"I’m getting better.  I hung up my towel this morning," she defends.  I refrain from mentioning the fact she left her T-shirt and shorts on the floor.

I pat her thigh.  "It’s okay, Tabloid. You’re a slob, but I love you."

"Okay, little miss cap off the toothpaste, toast crumbs in the butter, I
love you too."

So she has a point. I close my eyes, feeling Brennan and Collin squirming around.  I know they’re trying to get ready for their imminent appearance in a few weeks. The way they move around, I figure they’ll come out walking, maybe even running.

"Are you okay?"

I look up at Harper again.  "Everything is fine.  Collin is having tackling practice again. I think Brennan is swinging from my rib cage by her toes."

For some reason my dear spouse finds this humorous and begins laughing, ending in a snort. This gets a few strange looks from our classmates.  Stranger than normal, that is. What a group we’re with. At least the militant ones are leaving us alone. Could it be because my spouse looks like something out of soldier of fortune tonight? She’s wearing camouflage pants, a black T-shirt which is one size too small, and biker boots. I don’t know what’s up with this whole intimidation thing she’s got going, but it’s on full force whenever we’re not in the studio.

"You think it’s funny now, but I know, for a fact, I’m allowed to be mean to you during labor and there’s not a thing you can do about it."

"Are not."

"Are too."

"Are not."

We’re in fourth grade. "Want to bet?"


"Okay, how much?"

She grins at me, when she realizes I’m serious.  "Hmm, how about five freebies from the cuss jar verses breakfast in bed for a week?"

"I get breakfast in bed for a week if I win?"


"Okay."  I straighten up and get the attention of our classmates.  "I have a question for everyone. Tabloid and I have a bet on the answer." They all smile and a few chuckles can be heard around the room. Harper is known for her rambunctious nature here in class. "I say I’m allowed to be mean to her during labor and there’s nothing she can do about it.  Am I right or not?"

The responses vary from "Oh yeah" to "Absolutely" to "No hiding from it, Harper" and the like. She drops her head and groans. 

I settle back into her again, pulling her arms around me. "We’ll have ham and eggs, wheat toast and juice in the morning, Tabloid."


* * *


Several days later, Langston and I are having lunch in the tower. Interestingly enough, with Kels’ promotion, my stock has gone up too. Perhaps we both needed a bit more independence at work. Though I’ll never regret the deal we came here under. Kels and I needed the time together.

"How is the transition going from your perspective?" he asks. I can tell from the tone of his question that he’s already had this conversation with other members of the crew.

"It’s good. Kels is ready for it."

He shrugs, unimpressed with that analysis. "Of course, she is. I wouldn’t have chosen her otherwise. Now, tell me how the transition is going for the rest of the crew?"

"Kendra and Sam are fine. Both have privately conveyed good wishes to Kelsey. You know the ones who are unhappy. My crew is set and ready to go on any new piece. I, personally, am looking forward to working more with Kendra and Sam. The stories we’ve already done together were damn good, if I do say so myself."

Langston nods approvingly. "We’ll be needing to hire another correspondent, you know, to fill out the complement. Who would be on your short list?"

"I’d be looking for someone to balance the show." He waves his fork, indicating I should continue my analysis. "We have a good ethnic blend already. We’re a bit skewed in the age category, however. I’d be looking for a young correspondent, someone in her early twenties."

"Her?" Langston queries.

"Keep the balance of correspondents – two women, two men."

"And her look?"

"I’d go All-American." God, Kels is going to hate me.

He takes another bite of his pasta primavera. "Names, Kingsley, give me names."

I’m glad I thought about this earlier. "My top three would be: Anna Huber, currently at an affiliate in Dallas; Emma Weller, currently at a ABC affiliate in Philadelphia; and Brenda Lawson, currently on a cable news program in New York."

He nods, thinking through my suggestions. "I agree with you on Brenda and Anna. Emma is still too green."

I shrug. "She is, but she has nice hair."

He looks up at me and laughs. "That’s all that matters with a meat puppet, eh?"

I give him a baleful look. Thank you, God, that Kelsey is not here right now. "I think sometimes inexperience gives you the chance to mold talent the way you want them to be. Of course, too much success, too early, gives them additional hubris, which certainly isn’t needed." I shrug. "All I want is someone who wants to tell the story. I can package it for them."

"Who would you hire?"

"Brenda. Young, good Q rating, from the south originally, and she has several good hard news pieces under her belt. After her, I’d pick Emma. She’s trainable."

Langston wipes his mouth and sets the napkin down on the table. "Okay, now tell me about your idea for young Frank."


* * *


"Hey, Stud."  I give her a little poke in the ribs as she unlocks the door to the apartment.  "I have a surprise for you in the apartment."

This causes her to move a little quicker to get inside.  I have to laugh. "Relax, it’s not a new toy or anything that exciting."

She mumbles something that I bet I could fine her for. Since I didn’t quite hear it, I’m gonna let her slide.  "It’s in the living room.  I put it there before we left this morning."

"You’re a sneak."  She dashes down the hall for the living room.

"I’m about to be a mom.  It comes naturally after the fifth month," I call. I hang up my jacket and pick hers up from the table to hang it up as well.  Better get used to picking up clothes now.

I follow her to the living room.  She has found the box and is wasting no time in getting it open.  She takes a moment and then pulls the snuggle pack from the box.  She looks to me then moves across the room to lay it over my stomach.

"What are you doing?"

"Checking it for fit.  There’s not enough room for them both, Little Roo."

I actually laugh.  "It’s for you, silly, and it’s only designed to hold one.  I have a matching one.  Like it or not, Harper Lee, you have to share them."

She picks up the snuggle pack and notices the two little kangaroos I had embroidered on it. "Ah, God, that’s so sweet." I am the recipient of a very nice kiss. "Why do I have to share?  You got to carry them for the last nine months."

"Because I said so and I’m the mom, that’s why," I tease her as I leave the room to get changed.

She calls after me, following me to our room, "You’re the mom?  What am I?  Chopped liver?"

"No, not at all, sweetheart."  I kick off my shoes first, then proceed to take off my blouse.  Sweats, here I come.  "You’re the mama.  The babies listen to you.  You listen to me."  I emphasize the last line and offer a smile.

"You think you have me wrapped around your little finger, don’t you?"  She menaces across the room playfully.

I turn my back and undo the hooks, letting my bra slip to the floor.  "You mean, I don’t?"  I pull a T-shirt from the dresser, and turn around as I unfold it. 

She snatches the T-shirt and ogles me. She is so damn good for my ego.  "You don’t need to gloat about it."

I slide up next to her and take my T-shirt back while I distract her with a kiss.  I go into the bathroom.  "I wasn’t gloating.  I was clarifying the facts.  That’s what a good anchor does, love."

I can hear her laughing at me now.  God, life is good.


* * *


The wardrobe mistress tugs on the sleeve of the jacket one more time.  "I think I got it now."

"Yeah, it’s hard to get a good fit now that I’m more stomach than anything else.  I’ve given up trying."

"Well, we got the jacket thing whipped.  Now we need to get you to make up."

I groan.  I hate make-up.  Always have, always will.  Don’t know why, can’t explain it.  I just do.

I head to make up and I find the chair empty and ready for me. I take my seat and close my eyes, waiting for it to be over.  Maybe I’ll catch a nap.  You learn to do that after so many years.  I can sleep about anywhere.

Yup, I dozed off. 

I glance at my watch when I feel the apron being removed from my chest.  Forty minutes to go before we know if the network mad a huge mistake.  I’ll be interested to see my overnight numbers in the morning.

"All set."  The make-up artist holds my jacket and I slip into it. 

The script editor sticks his head in the door.  "You got a second, Kels?"

"Aaron, for you I have all the time in the world.  What’s up?"

We start for the studio and he hands me some new pages.  "We made some changes."

"Of course, you did," I say, taking a bottle of water from a cooler.  "Life wouldn’t be right if I didn’t get new pages a half hour before air time."

The sound tech comes over with my body mike to wire me up.  I sip my water and study the script changes while he puts it on me. He better not try any of the nonsense Harper used to while wiring me. Aaron sticks close by in case I have any questions.

Speaking of Harper, I feel her looking at me and I glance up.  Standing right behind camera number one is my better half.  She’s grinning from ear to ear.  She should be home in bed.  She’s been here since about seven this morning.  Fifteen hour days make for very long ones and she’s been putting in her fair share of them.  But I had a feeling she’d be sticking around tonight. It’s my first night on the desk. 

Hope I don’t fall on my face and embarrass the hell out of us both. 

I stretch a bit trying to relax.  Even Brennan and Collin must know this is big.  They’re behaving and not distracting me too much.

I walk over and take my seat and the set comes alive with crew taking light measurements and checking equipment.  I place the transceiver in my ear, which allows me to hear direction from the production booth.

God, I hope Harper isn’t wired for sound tonight.  I look up to her and she grins at me again.  If she stands any taller, her head is going to go through the ceiling.

"Thirty seconds," I hear them say and I adjust in my chair.  Why do I always want to run my hand through my hair right before we go live? 


Okay, it’s now or never.


This is what you’ve worked your entire career for.




I love you, Tabloid.

"One.  Cue Kelsey.  Camera one."

I turn.  "Good evening.  I’m Kelsey Stanton.  Welcome to Exposure…"

<fade out>


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