The Third Season

Parental Advisory Rating: L, N, AC

Break out those V-Chips, everyone!


Created, Produced, Directed and Written:

Fanatic and TNovan


Episode Nine: Stuck on the Way to the Top

"Kingsley," I grumble into the phone. I don’t even bother to pick up the receiver. I need both my hands to finish looking at these tapes. I’m gonna kill Bruce. I swear he’s screwing up just to make me crazy.

"And how is my favorite daughter-in-law today?"

My head swings around and I stare at the phone. "Matt?"

"You have more than one father-in-law?"

"Umm … no …" But I also didn’t have one that referred to me as a daughter-in-law until now either. "What’s up?"

"My blood pressure. Guess who just left my office?"

I can feel the chill from here. I shiver. "The Ice Queen?"

"In all her frosty glory. The good news is I have in my hands the negatives for the pictures. Well, I hope they’re the pictures. I ah…had my secretary take a quick look to confirm they were pictures of Kels. I really need you to confirm that they’re ‘the’ pictures of Kels. I’d rather not look at them. There are some things a father would rather not know about his daughter."

I have to laugh. "I’m sure I’ll find that out in a few years."

"Oh, yeah. So can you and Kels come out to the house for the weekend? Amanda and Claire would love to see you. Claire is crawling around now and she’s keeping us hopping. You could come hop with us. It’ll be good practice for you. We’ll even get in a round or two of golf. You owe me a chance to get even."

Hmm, I’ll bet Kels wouldn’t mind a nice weekend in the Hamptons. "I’ll have to ask the wife, but as far as I’m concerned we’ll be there."


"Matt, how much do I owe you for the negatives?"

"That’s the funny part of it. They didn’t cost me near as much as I figured. Seems she’s desperate for cash. You wouldn’t by any chance know how it happened that her bank accounts are frozen, would you?"

"Who me?" I can play innocent when I want to. "I’m a news producer. You’re the banker with low friends in high places, remember?"

"Right." He clears his throat a bit. "Well, whoever is responsible has really put her panties in a bunch."

"Oh, thanks so much for that mental image."

"How are my daughter and grandkids?"

"Your grandkids are great. Your daughter is a cranky, moody woman who craves really odd food at the worst possible times of the night. But I love her and wouldn’t trade her for the world."


* * *


It’s time to come clean with Kels about my campaign of terror against her mother. Especially given Matt’s call today. I will admit to not just a little glee upon hearing that her bank accounts were mysteriously frozen. A quick call to Hayward confirmed that he was the man behind that inconvenience. Of course, in a day or two, it will be all cleared up for her. But, until then, she had to degrade herself and ask Matt for help. I bet my father-in-law enjoyed giving her a reaming when she came begging for dollars.

I find Kels working on the script for the upcoming broadcast. "Got a few minutes?"

She kooks up at me and smiles in what I can only describe as complete adoration. My knees feel a bit weak in her presence. My God, I never knew this is what love could do to someone. "For you? Always."

With that invitation, I enter, close the door behind me and beckon her to the couch. We snuggle, as per our usual policy on couches. My hand slides under her blouse and onto her stomach. I feel Collin or Brennan give me a high five in welcome. "I have somewhat of a confession to make."

I am heartened when this does not provoke any type of response other than a contented hum. "What?" she finally asks.

"Your mother visited the station last week. The same day we received those lovely photos of you." I stroke Kels’ arm lightly, idly playing with the downy hair that covers her forearm. "Seems she’s the source behind them. I don’t know how she got hold of them, Bear is looking into that for us, but she has them."

"My mother? Guess there goes her attendance at the mother-daughter broadcasters’ luncheon."

I laugh at the absurdity of that notion. One day, when I’m doing my philanthropic work, I’m going to donate an animal to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans in Mother Stanton’s name. I just need to figure out what species eat their young. "This is probably a good thing. In fact, I’m betting she won’t want to attend with you."

"Really? Why?" Kels leans back in my arms and studies me. "Is this where the confession part comes in?"

I nod. "Yup. You know how your hormones have been a tad out of control lately?" I am being gracious in that assessment, and I think my girl knows that. She nods meekly, her green eyes conveying a bit of mirth. "Well, mine seem to have been off the chart, as well. As I know you’ve noticed. I seem to be a big, walking and talking attitude, intent on protecting you and the children at all costs at all times. In fact, Bruce is damn lucky to still be breathing oxygen on his own."

Kels snorts. "This is true. But back to the subject at hand."

"So, after your mother paid me a little visit, I decided that it was best to fight fire with fire."

"Oh no." She shakes her head ruefully. "What have you done?"

"Let’s just say that the next time Mother Stanton returns from a trip to Europe, I can pretty much guarantee her being strip searched."

Kels explodes with laughter. She is gasping for breath, doubled over, holding her stomach. For a moment, I am concerned as I see tears stream down her cheeks. However, her expression of utter delight keeps me from calling the paramedics. "Oh my God!" she finally manages. "Tell me you’re kidding?"

"Nope. It seems her name has found its way onto a list of suspected smugglers."


I smile. "Nah, nothing so bad. Just plants and exotic animals. Still have to search her though. You know they found a guy in customs just last week who had ten reptiles in his shorts. Literally."

"People are completely nuts."

"This is true and it keeps our job security."

Kels rubs her belly, I assume to calm down the twins after her last outburst. "What else did you do to her?"

Oh, I like that out. What did I do? Not much. Between Gerrard, Matt, Hayward and I, though, we’re making Mother Stanton’s life a slow trip to hell. "It seems her properties are listed as for sale. And she’s ‘desperately seeking Susan’ in the Village Voice personals."

"You did not!"

"Single White Older Female seeks Younger White Female for a fling, possibly more. Do you like fine dining, opera and the museums? Are you wanting someone who knows how to be discreet but treat her woman well? If so, call me."

"You gave her home number?"

"Nah, her business number. I thought her assistant might enjoy hearing some of the responses as well."

"What else?"

"That isn’t enough?"

Kels leans up and kisses my jaw. "Tabloid, I know you. You never do anything halfway. I’m guessing that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Am I right?"

My girl knows me, that’s for damn sure. "How much do you want to know?"

She closes her eyes. "That answered the question."

"Let’s simply say that if your mother is the Titanic, I’m the piece of ice that’s gonna bring her down."

"Why, Harper? I mean, she’s the alpha bitch of the universe but why take time out of your life to make hers miserable?"

She deserves to know, I suppose. Deserves the truth more than a convenient or considerate lie. Deserves to know the type of woman who dares to call herself family to my girl. "She stepped way over the line with me, Kels. During her little visit to me, she told me to take the twins and leave you."

There is stunned, pained silence. I imagine Kels’ question regarding my response.

"I told her to go fuck herself. I also told her that every day I pray that you never leave me. And that I bless the day you came into my life. If I have one dream come true in my lifetime, I am so grateful it’s you, Kelsey Diane." I kiss her hair and hold her close to my heart.


* * *


"Welcome to the Columbia University School of Journalism. I am Professor Sharon Lowes, Bernstein Professor of Applied Journalism. Tonight we have a very distinguished panel here to discuss with us Sensationalism in Journalism and Violence in the U.S. From my right, our panel members are: Benjamin Kaplan, metropolitan editor for the New York Times; Duncan Weiss, senior producer of the television newsmagazine True TV; Harper Kingsley, senior producer of the newsmagazine Exposure; and Carolyn Roberts, chief correspondent for the media watchdog FAIR.

"The old adage in television news is: if it bleeds, it leads. It is estimated that nearly fifty percent of all events portrayed on news broadcasts, both local and national, are ones of violence. Nearly seventy-five percent of all Americans use the television as their primary source of news. This means the average American is fed a continual diet of depictions of murder, rape, assault and other violent behavior.

"Numerous studies have shown the casual relationship between watching violent content on television and behaving in an aggressive manner afterwards. This is especially true of teenagers. A report released less than a month ago by the FTC shows that, despite the fact they are underage to watch R rated movies and to purchase M rated videogames, eighty-five percent of all marketing of such products is directed precisely at the under eighteen population.

"Other studies have shown that the single most significant factor in decreasing the likelihood that teenagers will use violence as the first choice in problem solving is the input of their parents. Yet, we are a nation whose children are being raised by the television.

"Further complicating this landscape is the fact that there are no ethical guidelines in place for the depiction of violence in news programs. We routinely show children being gunned down in their schools, families being held hostage in their homes, and police beatings in the local neighborhoods.

"So, let me ask our distinguished panel, when we look for the suspects in the next school shooting, should we simply be looking in the mirror?"

Note to self: the twins don’t get to watch television until they go to college. Until then, Disney movies are the worst things they get to watch. Even thought I read that the house that Mickey built shows drinking, smoking and carousing in their movies. Oh well.

Duncan Weiss, of my old show, leans toward his microphone. "I think before we even begin to condemn the news agencies for depicting life as it really is, we should be looking to Hollywood and their depiction of violence as a form of entertainment. We present reality; they create it. I think we are in far less a position of having inculcated this behavior than the major studios."

"But," I interject, "is what we are showing the way things really are? FBI statistics indicate that violent crime is, in fact, down in almost all major metropolitan areas. Yet, what leads the six p.m. news broadcast? It’s not that New York is such a safe city to live in. Though Rudy would like for it to be."

"Well, of course not," Duncan replies. "The news is to inform. People know that things are better. What they don’t know is that their neighbor was gunned down earlier this morning."

Carolyn Roberts of FAIR snorts. "I don’t know if that’s quite true. I think if you asked the average person after watching the six o’clock news, or one of the weekly newsmagazines, that you would hear a much higher degree of pessimism than you would expect for a country that is enjoying record peace and prosperity."

"Of course," Benjamin Kaplan of the New York Times counters, "others would argue that this depiction of violence and its aftermath is cathartic and it actually keeps people from doing the same. That people watch the news for a release and an affirmation that they themselves are not as bad as their neighbors."

"I think there needs to be some intellectual honesty about what is fueling the phenomenon. Like it or not, the news is a business. And, like all businesses, we are expected to return a profit for the investment our networks make in us. That’s commercial revenues. The more sensational the program, the higher the fee we can charge for them. It’s that simple," I say, knowing this will not necessarily make me popular on the panel.

Professor Lowes nods. "It’s that simple, but is it that ethical?"

I smile. "I don’t think it’s wrong to engage in business for a profit. However, I believe there are steps that we as an industry can take to minimize the impact of the violence we do show. The first is that we should do a bit more moralizing about the violence than we do. We shouldn’t be quite so objective in our reporting. Our horror, our revulsion, our indignation at these events should be clearly portrayed. Yes, it takes away from the neutrality of the news, but it safeguards our humanity."

"Was this your position while working on True TV?" Duncan asks, wanting to get a dig in at me.

"Hardly, Duncan, you know that. We worked together. However, life changes everyone. I am about to become a parent for the first time, and I can tell you that has significantly altered my worldview."

Carolyn Roberts, seated beside me, examines my stomach. "You look awful good for a pregnant woman."

"I’m adopting." Wow, that’s the best explanation I could ever think of. I gotta remember to use that one more often.

"Congratulations," she replies.

"Thanks. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me."


* * *


I think I might like living in New York in the fall. This is a beautiful season. Up here on our balcony, overlooking Central Park, my girl in my arms and there’s not much that I lack. Nina Simone is singing in the background ‘The Folks Who Live On The Hill’ and we are snuggling in our hammock. Even though it’s suspended between two poles, instead of two trees, it is still wonderful. I have pushed Kels blouse up to reveal her tummy and I am playing with a penlight over her skin.

Wherever I shine the light, one of the two twins gives a kick or a jab. I watch little fists and feet stretch the skin of her belly. It’s like playing tag with them. How fun is this?

I shine it on the left side and one of them gives me a high five. I go to the lower right and the other says hello. I blink it twice and get two jabs.

"Enough," I am warned.

I flick the light again.


"Hmm?" Flick.

"Do you really want to have me light up one of your extremities?"

I smile rakishly. "Darlin’, you light up my extremities all the time."

Kels laughs and very carefully takes my penlight from me. "It’s a good thing I love you, Tabloid."

I steal a kiss and then kiss the twins. "I know. I’m the best thing that ever happened to you, chér."

I am rewarded with the light being shined directly in my eyes. "That may be but if you keep annoying me with this … you’ll be able to turn it on and off in ways you never imagined."

"I do have many talents," is my smug reply. I love playing with Kels.

"You better hope fantastic muscle control is among them if I have to take this away from you again." When Kels is teasing me, the corners of her eyes crinkle in the cutest fashion.

I reach for the penlight, stretching over her stomach, feeling a kick for my effort. "Does that mean I’m getting it back?"

"Do you promise to behave and let them go to sleep now?" Mommy Kelsey reporting for duty.

"Five more minutes?" I bargain. She should get used to this type of pleading early. In a few years, we’re gonna be double teamed.

"Harper," she explains patiently, "for me there is no such thing as five more minutes. God knows, I love the three of you more than my own life, but if you don’t behave and let them settle down now, I’m going to ground you until you’re thirty-five. Now, be nice to your wife and put the toy away."

"You wanna play with other toys?" I have to ask. I have a reputation to maintain.

Kels pauses and a slow, sexy smile emerges. "Only if I get to use them on you."

"Sure you know how? Or do I need to show you first?" I am, of course, teasing. My girl knows her way around the bedroom. And the living room. And dining room. And bathroom. And balcony. And …

"Oh, trust me, Tabloid, I know how."

I carefully climb out of the hammock and then help my wife up. We share a slow kiss, full of promise. "All right, but remember … you have to share."


* * *


Harper is going to absolutely flip out.

I reach out and open the door to the emergency phone, glancing over my shoulder at Frankie who is going to hit the floor any second. It’s going to be a long day.

"Hello?" Great, the phone is dead. It’s going to be a very long day.

It’s not that I haven’t been stuck in an elevator before. I have. Just not while I was seven months pregnant, with a young man who’s going to hyperventilate at any given moment.

Still, I’d rather be here than anywhere near Harper when they tell her. Fortunately, Kendra is out of town on assignment. She’ll just get to hear about it later.


"Yes… Ms. Stanton… eh… Mrs. Kings… eh …" he stammers, looking at everything but me.

"Kelsey, just call me Kelsey." I sigh. "Look, we could be here awhile so you need to relax. Can you do that?"

"Sure." He nods, but I don’t believe him for a second.

"Franki… umm, can I call you Frank?" Let’s make the kid feel like an adult. That will probably help things along quite a bit.

He finally gives me something that sort of looks like a smile. "Yeah, sure. I’d like that."

"Okay. Frank, this really isn’t a big deal, as long as we don’t panic. We need to stay calm. They’ll get us out. It may take awhile, but they’ll get us out." Let’s hope Harper doesn’t kill everyone before they get the chance. I reach over and hit the emergency button. Hopefully it’s working. "Well, Frank, we may as well get comfortable. It could be a while. Could you give me a hand here?"

He looks at me for a moment, like he’s afraid to touch me when I hold my hand out to him.

"I want to sit down. I need a hand," I explain.

"Oh, yeah! Sure." He takes my arm and helps me to the floor of the elevator. "Sorry."

"No problem." I pat the floor. "Join me."

He strips off his jacket and sits down next to me but not too close. He hands me his jacket. "For your back. I know my Mom was awful uncomfortable when she was pregnant with my sister."

I tuck his jacket behind me. That is better. "Thanks, Frank. How many brothers and sisters do you have?"

"Just a younger sister. She’s six now."

"If she looks like you, I’ll bet she’s cute as a bug."

He blushes and looks at his shoes. Just as I’m about to try and make his life a little more uncomfortable I hear her.


I’d recognize that pounding anywhere.


* * *


I am walking into the editing bay when I hear Brian’s familiar pitter patter. It’s terrifying that I can now identify him by his step. I pause and wait for him to call to me. Who else could he be visiting? I turn, fold my arms across my chest and give him an intimidating look. "What?"

"Uh …"

I shake my head. I didn’t mean to scare him that much. He’s gotta learn to lighten up since he’s … living … Oh God … with us. "What, Brian?"

"Everything’s fine," he says, holding his hands up.

That’s not good. "What do you mean by that?" I bark, taking a step forward.

He stumbles backward. "Jeez! I said everything was fine! At least, for the moment." Brian looks around for support. He finds none. "There’s been a little complication."

Complication? The twins! I toss the tapes on a file cabinet and begin running for Kels’ office.

"She’s not there!" Brian calls after me.

The hospital. Oh my God. I head for the elevator bay. I find Langston standing there talking to one of the building’s superintendents. Before I can push the down button, Langston puts his hand on my arm.

"We’ll get her out of there soon," he assures me. My puzzled look must be plain. "Kelsey and Frankie are stuck in Elevator 4."

Brian slides to a stop behind me. "You are in good shape." He bends over at the waist and blows out several deep breaths. "Do you run every day?"

I give Brian a look that conveys more than annoyance. "What’s happening?"

The super shrugs. "We’ve been having some problems with number four. It seems to be stuck between floors. We have someone from SafeT Elevators coming to help us get it moving again."

"My wife is pregnant," I blurt out, forgetting that not everyone in the building knows about our relationship. The super gives me a look indicating he is a bit shocked I have a wife. "With twins. I need her out of there. Immediately."

"I understand. She’s perfectly safe right now. It shouldn’t be much longer."

I refrain from rolling my eyes and banging my head against the wall. "Can I talk to her? Don’t all the elevators have phones in them?"

Brian cringes. "Theirs isn’t working, apparently."

"It seems that nothing is working," I growl, stepping toward the super.

Langston reels me back in. "Kingsley, she’s fine. Let’s not add to the stress level here."

I pull my cell phone off my belt and punch in the speed dial for Kels’ phone.

Brian holds up the ringing phone. "She didn’t have it with her, Harper. She was just going between floors for a minute."

"Next time," I poke Brian in the chest, "you hang it around her neck if you have to."

"It’s hard to plan for situations like this. It is a unique circumstance." Our nanny protests. He better not try some lame ass excuse like this about something with the kids.

I glare at him.

"Next time, I promise." He crosses his heart with his index finger.

"Can we get the phone to her?" I ask the super.

He shakes his head and sighs. "Damn movies. I mean, all of them show a trap door at the top of the elevator and how easy it is to climb in and out of them. Reality doesn’t work that way. It’s a side panel. It take at least an hour for us to pop it from another elevator and we do that only as a last resort. After the SafeT guys come, if they can’t get it working, we’ll call in the fire department."

"Let’s cut to the chase and call the fire department right now."

Langston shakes his head. "Harper, we play by the rules unless we have reason to believe Kelsey is in any danger."

"How do we know that if we can’t speak to her?" I pronounce each word very carefully as if speaking to a child.

"Actually, down on eight, if you call out, they can hear you there. Seems they’re stuck between seven and eight."

"Why didn’t you say this before, Brian?" I take off for the stairwell. "Call me with news."

I bolt down the five flights and count off the elevators. I stand in front of the one I think must be number four and I bang on the doors. "Kels!"

Muffled, through the metal and space and stress, I hear, "Harper?"

"Are you okay?" God, I wish I was in there instead.

"I’m fine," she calls back. "Frank and I are just hanging out."

"How are the twins?"

The answer comes in a tone I recognize as almost condescending despite the metal. "Well, since they could care less about the situation, they’re fine." I have been duly chastised. Doesn’t make me feel any better whatsoever, though.

"Do you need anything?" I ask, out of force of habit.

"Let’s see … yeah, a catered lunch would be nice. Something from the Russian Tea Room, I think." She pauses and I can hear Frankie laughing in the background. Just wait until I get my hands on him. "Come on, sweetheart, it’s not like you could actually get anything in here, but thanks for asking. Just try to find out how long it’s going to be, okay?"

Several people walking past me snicker. All right. I’ve made enough of an ass of myself, I suppose. My girl is okay. My kids are okay. Deep breath. Calming thoughts. I will have Robie sue SafeT Elevators for everything they’re worth. "Okay," I call back. "Give me a few."

"Well, Tabloid, I’ve got nothing else better to do at the moment but wait."

My wife, the comedian. "Love you," I call to Kels and then I call Brian. There better be some good news for me. That’s all I can say.

"Love you too. Just get me out of here."


* * *


I look at my watch. It’s been about an hour and a half. An hour or so ago it started getting really warm in here. I notice I’m having a harder time breathing. I’m taking slow, easy breaths, as I don’t want to send poor Frank over the edge. He’s been doing a really good job of not panicking.

Harper isn’t helping. She’s been calling down every fifteen minutes or so and I don’t want to tell her I’m having problems here. Not only will that scare the hell out of Frank, but it’ll make the life miserable of anyone who has to deal with Harper. I feel the sweat trickle down my back and I glance over to my cell mate. The poor kid is simply melting. "We’re gonna be out soon." I offer giving him a pat on the leg.

He nods. "Are you okay?"

"I’m as good as can be expected. Remind me to suggest they put a bathroom in these things."

He laughs a little. "Ms. Kingsley’s gonna be real mad, isn’t she?"

"I’m betting yes. But not at you, this isn’t your fault."

"Yeah, I’ve been sitting here thanking God for that."

I have to laugh. My darling spouse’s reputation is firmly intact. Come on, get us out of here.


* * *


Mr. SafeT Elevator Man decides that he is unable to fix things. I could have told him that almost two hours ago. Finally, the NYFD, a.k.a. New York’s Bravest, are called.

It appears that they are stuck in traffic.

I am down in the lobby waiting, along with Langston who is trying to keep me calm. It’s not working. I can tell by Kels’ tone that she is not feeling great. All I can say is she’s going straight to Doogie’s when we get her out. No ifs, ands or buts.

When they do come in, the SafeT guy gives them the low down quickly. A few of them take off toward the stairwell, another to the room where the controls are located. SafeT comes over to give us the update. "It’ll be just a little while longer. They’re going to take elevator three out of commission and go up and get them out."

"How long?"

"Half hour. Max."

"This has been completely unacceptable," I inform him. "If anything is wrong," I don’t have to finish my threat.

Langston claps me on the shoulder. "Let’s wait over here, Kingsley."

We do.

I call Doogie’s office and let them know we’ll be paying an unexpected visit this afternoon. I send Brian home to make sure the house is fine and stress free for when I take my girl home in a bit. Langston seems to understand I am taking the rest of the day off. Maybe tomorrow too.

My heart leaps when I see the elevator door open and one of the firemen steps out, calling for a stretcher. Behind him, I see Kels sitting on the floor of the elevator, resting against another fireman. Frankie steps out of the small space, taking deep breaths of air.

I rush in and kneel by my girl. Her hair is damp with sweat and she is breathing shallowly. "Hi, chér. How are you?"

Kels gives me a smile. "A little underdone. If you’d given me another half hour or so …"

I kiss her forehead. "I’ll check your pop up thermometer later then." I place my hand on her belly. "The kids give you any trouble?"

"No, they were really good. Not a peep out of them. And you know how cranky kids can get in situations like this."

I hear them bring a gurney in the building. "Not to mention senior producers." I reach around and gently help her to her feet. "Come on, let’s go see Doogie. He’s been lonely today and asked if we could drop by."

"Right." Sarcasm full on. "I’m betting he was sitting in his office just hoping for another visit from us. I don’t know who’s going to be more relieved when Brennan and Collin come, me or Doogie."

I lift her onto the gurney and step to the side, allowing the paramedic to get her settled. I don’t leave her side or release my hold on her hand, however. "Me. I will be the most relieved. The rest of you seem to enjoy scaring the hell out of me on a daily basis."

"Someone has to keep you on your toes, Tabloid. We know what a slacker you can be."

I laugh. "That’s me."

"We’re ready to go," the paramedic informs us.

Good. I want my family somewhere safe.


* * *


"Here drink this." Doogie hands me a bottle of juice after my exam. I’m glad to accept. After my little ordeal today, I am craving liquids. I had to beg to keep him from doing an IV. Those hurt.

"Is everything okay, Doc?" Harper is practically towering over the both of us.

"Yes, Harper. As to be expected, Kels’ BP is up a bit and so is her temperature, but they’ve both come down steadily. She’s fine, but…"

"But what?" We both ask at the same time.

Doogie sighs. "I think it’s time for you to stay home, Kels. This could have been deadly. It’s time for you to stay home, rest and relax."

"But…" I start to protest.

Before I can get out another word, Harper is next to me. "No argument, Kels. None."

"Harper, I just took the desk…"

She puts up her hand and pulls out her cell phone. Pressing a button, she waits for a moment. Who in the hell is she calling?

"Hi, boss. Yeah, listen…"

She’s telling on me? She’s tattling back to the boss? I know my mouth is hanging open, but I can’t help it. I can’t believe she called Langston. She smirks and hands me the phone.


"Kelsey, do what the doctor says and don’t argue. And don’t make me order security to keep you out of the building."

I can’t win. I’m simply outnumbered. "All right." I sigh and hand her phone back to her.

Then I remember the ice cream place that’s open twenty-four/seven about fifteen blocks from the house. I think I’ll be craving ice cream at three am for the next week or so.


* * *


I decide to go in to work today, despite wanting to stay home with my girl. I left Brian behind in my stead. Though I hardly consider that a fair trade off.

Last night, my Little Roo wouldn’t admit that her ordeal took a lot out of her, but I could tell it did. She only moved from the couch to the bedroom when prompted. The rest of the night she leaned against me, when I wasn’t being sent to the kitchen for more juice.

She’s definitely unhappy. This promotion to the desk is a big deal. To have to go off it so soon is not good. And I need to do something about that. An unhappy Little Roo means unhappy Baby Roos which means a very unhappy Harper.

I gotta fix this.

But, first, I have to deal with Bruce. He’s late with a piece and I get the pleasure of kicking his ass and getting him to work on it. I would give anything for Langston to not make me work with him. Kendra, Sam, I like them both a lot. I might even deal with working with Brenda, as long as we don’t have any overnight stays for awhile. Somehow I bet she picks locks on hotel bedrooms.

I grab the latest version of the piece and head over to Bruce’s office. God, I hope he’s not there. I can leave it on his desk, write a quick note of instructions and hopefully not interact with him. Can I do this the rest of my career here?

I knock on his office door and, not hearing a response, open it up.

And stop.

"Shit," I mutter.

I may be struck blind because I see Bruce’s naked ass as it pumps up and down and … God help me … into Jac.

How drunk is she?

I mean, there’s not enough alcohol in the world for me … but, I suppose that was true to begin with.

"Fuck it! Kingsley!" Bruce screams.

I step back outside and shut the door. "Lock it next time!" I call back. It’s not that hard, buddy. I take off my glasses and for the first time wish I had remained blind after the little accident.

If I stop at St. Patrick’s tonight, will the new Cardinal sprinkle holy water on my eyes and purify them from this horrific sight?

I hustle down the hallway, anxious to be as far away from that scene as possible. Oh, Kels, is gonna enjoy this little bit of information tonight. And I don’t even want to think of Brian’s reaction. I might want to bring home ear plugs. The boy squeals like a stuck pig when he hears something particularly funny.


* * *


I stop on the way home for the essentials: a fresh bouquet of Freesia and a wonderful dinner prepared by Marco at Rino Trattoria. Kels and I discovered this little gem the other day at lunch. I practically had to drag Kels back to the office. Seems the twins have a huge pasta craving lately. Guess they’re not on the Atkin’s Diet.

So I am returning as the conquering hero tonight. My girl will be thrilled with me by the time I’m done.

What to share first?


* * *


Looking up from the computer screen, I reach out for the phone without looking at the caller ID. It’s probably Harper anyway. She hasn’t called in the last twenty minutes. She’s overdue.


"Kelsey, it’s Rachel."

"Hi ya, Sis." God, I’m glad I resisted the urge to start the conversation with some remark about phone sex. "How are things?"

"Things are great here, Kels. That’s why I’m calling. I wanted to let you and Harper know, Luc and I are making application to adopt."

"Rach, that’s great! I’m so excited for you." I lean back in the chair, ready to relax and hear all about it. "What’s going on? Give me all the details."

"You have time? I’m shocked to find you at home actually. I figured I’d leave a message."

"Yeah, well," I sigh a little, "that’s another story. Let’s just say I have all the time in the world."

"Is everything all right? You and the babies…"

"We’re okay. We had a little incident and we got put on house arrest. I’ll tell you later, right now you tell me about the adoption."

"Okay, well after the cruise things really got back on track for Luc and I. We started talking, and after that it was easy." We share a laugh. "All right, all right as easy as communication with any Kingsley can be."

"Thank you," I tease. The one thing my sisters and I agree on is that sometimes the Kingsleys are plain hard headed.

"So, anyhow, we decided that there are lots of children out there who need a home and a family and we’ve got lots of love to give."

"Oh, this is so cool. You guys are gonna be great parents. So what is the agency saying?"

"Well, we decided that we don’t have to have an infant. The agency said that since we don’t have any qualms about age or race or anything else for that matter, hopefully within a few weeks we should see some results. They showed us a file on two little boys, ages two and four, Luc just fell in love with their pictures."

"What about you?"

"Oh, I think they’re wonderful. I was just surprised at the way Luc reacted. They’re all he talks about."

"Any chance of you fostering them?"

"We’re checking into that too."

"Rach, this is great. You’ve got to keep us updated."

"We will. So now tell me about the ‘incident’."

I groan. "Well, there was this elevator, you see."


* * *


I step out of the elevator in our building, grateful that I did not suffer Kels’ fate of yesterday. Although, I would have been set. I have plenty of food and drink to last for days, months even. I can’t quite phrase it that way with Kels though. She’s a wee bit sensitive about how much she’s been choking down lately. Eating for three … hundred.

Somehow I manage to get the front door open and step inside, calling out for my girl. "Honey, I’m home." God, I love saying that.

Kels appears at the end of the hallway. "So you are." She comes over and tries to help with the sacks. I pull them out of her grasp.

"Uh huh. These," I produce the flowers from the top and hand them to her with a flourish, "you can carry. Nothing else."

She gives me a look and a kiss on the cheek. "Have a good day?" Before I can answer, she continues. "Want to hear about mine? Know how many tan tiles there are on the splash board on the bathroom sink. Tabloid? Plenty of time to count them now that I can’t leave the house."

I ignore this little gripe as I continue on the kitchen. I put the bags down on the counter and then turn around to face my spouse. I get down on my knees and push up my football jersey which has become Kels’ top of choice lately. "Hi, Brennan. Hi, Collin. It’s Mama. I am so glad you two can’t talk back yet." I kiss her belly and wait for the swat to my head.

There it is.

"I have news from home."

I glance up and wait for it to be shared. "Yeah? Tell me about it, chér. Did you little boyfriend call and flirt with you?" I still can’t believe she loved Christian before she loved me.

"Oh, nothing that good." She tugs me to my feet and I oblige. "No, Rachel called today." Kels takes a couple plates down from the cabinet. "She and Luc are trying to adopt."

"A dog or a kid?"

"Children, Tabloid."

"As in more than one?" I am impressed. Seems like Luc might be getting his act together. At long last. "That’s wonderful."

"They don’t know for sure, but, apparently, there are two little boys they’re both crazy over. You’re going to be an aunt again. Rach is so excited."

I laugh. "Just what our family needs – more boys. Poor little Brennan … how will she ever survive surrounded by so many of them?"

Kels gives me a fond look. "You somehow managed all right. We’ll just teach her to take no guff."

I kiss Kels’ nose. "Like her Mommy." I carry the plates over to the dining table. "Wanna hear my news? Though it might cause you to lose your appetite." I mock shiver.

"My mother is pregnant again?"

The comment is so unexpected, I howl with laughter, nearly dropping the food I am now carrying. "Hardly! I hear Immaculate Conceptions went out of style a couple thousand years ago. But, you are on the right track. Guess who’s getting some office nookie?"

"I better know who’s not getting office nookie," I am teased. Kels taps her foot and gives me an arch look.

"Ah, my green-eyed monster … er … girl." I wave my wedding ring in front of her eyes. "I thought we were the only hot couple on the show, but I was wr … wron … not exactly right." I do my best Fonzie imitation.

"Yeah? Lawson on her knees already? I figured she’d last at least a month."

Ooo, meow. I refrain from the hiss, knowing it wouldn’t be received well. "No, she hasn’t bought her knee pads yet. And, let’s just say, there’s a certain couch I’ll never be sitting my ass on ever again."

I pull out Kels’ chair as she sits down. She gives me a playful look and cracks her knuckles, ready for Twenty Questions. "Okay, let’s see. Heterosexual couple, I’m assuming, right?"

"You assume correctly."

"Hmm … okay, it’s not Sam. He’s a family man. And Kendra is seeing someone fairly steady, I think. So that leaves …" Her faces screws up in distaste. "Oh gross! Bruce and someone. Please tell me it’s not Bruce."

"Sorry, babe. Believe me, I wished I were still blind for that brief moment. Now, what type of person would consent to let him get anywhere near her?"

"Okay, I know who it is. You know what we need when people like Jac and Bruce get together?"

"Birth control?"

"That’s a start, but I’m thinking chlorine in the gene pool."

Okay, I nearly snort my iced tea out my nose. "God, I love you."

"I love you too." My girl is indulging me, I can tell. "So, how’s the outside world, Tabloid? By the way, for your information, there are twenty-seven and a half tan tiles in the bathroom."

I smirk. "Just think of how well you’ll be doing on your counting by then, sweetheart. Oh, and guess what I have in my wallet."

"It had better not be a picture of me without my clothes."

"It’s not." I lie. Kinda.

"Well, what is it?"

"A condom," I tease. Just to see her reaction.

Now Kels nearly snorts her juice out her nose. I have had my revenge. "You grow something I’m not aware of?"

"Nah." I reach into my pocket and pull out my wallet, withdrawing the key card to our floor at Exposure. "This is for you. On Thursday night, from seven to eleven, it works."

"Oh, Tabloid, what have you done? Did you threaten Langston? Did you kill Doogie?"

"No. I just promised them that you would be absolutely good the rest of the week. So you get a four hour reprieve every week."

"Ooo, I am so keeping you!" Kels launches herself at me and lays a big one on me. Oh yeah, that’s nice. "Thank you! So I get to do the show?"

"Every week until our little munchkins arrive."

"Let’s hope I don’t go into labor on the air."

I wave my fork at my wife. "Uh huh. You are going to calmly inform me some beautiful winter morning that I need to drive you to the hospital. We’ll call Mama and Papa, and Robie and Rene, and grab your bag and go. I want absolutely no theatrics out of you. Understand?"

"Got this all planned out in your head, do you? You know I could go into labor anywhere at anytime."

I reach over and place my finger on her lips. "Not in my world, babe. Not in mine." I then reopen my wallet and pull out a series of pictures. "And I don’t have one naked picture of you … I have a bunch."

"Hmm, so you do." She looks them over. "You’ll have to tell me how the couch is for sleeping."

I wince. That is the equivalent of being banished to Siberia in our household. "How about I trade these for the real thing?"

"You could if I looked like that, but since I don’t …" One perfectly manicured fingernail taps the portraits. "Where did you get these anyhow? My mother show up again?"

"In a manner of speaking. We have back the negatives now. Nothing to worry about." I clasp her hand. "And, sweetheart, you are the most beautiful woman in the world to me. Pregnant. Not. Clothed. Not." I leer.

"You’re sweet. You’re deluded, but you’re sweet. I’ll keep you for the next seventy years or so."


<fade out>


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