“So, as soon as I realized I knew her, I grabbed the files and headed back over here.” Dan’s knuckles were white as he gripped the glass of soda. “When I got here, I realized you guys were still at the hospital and Trixie and Jim had left.” He looked so lost, like the orphaned teenager he once was, that Helen reached across and squeezed his hand. “I was going to come in and tell you everything, Mr. and Mrs. B, but the lights were out and I didn’t want to bother you.”
“When have you ever been a bother, Daniel?” Helen questioned.
He smiled at the closest thing to a mother he had. “I wound up going to see Uncle Bill. We talked everything over. I’m still not sure why your name is on the birth certificate, Mart, but I do know I had, well, relations with Myriam’s mother.”
“Relations? Nice euphemism there,” Mart said sarcastically. He was going to continue his diatribe when Diana laid her hand on his arm.
“Dan, how long ago was this? When? Where? There are just so many questions,” she said softly.
Taking a deep breath, he pulled a note pad from his back pocket. Flipping it open, he began, “As best as I can remember, we met at Book ‘Em, last August, I think. I need to go over there and see if they still have any records.” Dan made a notation on the pad. “I remember hooking up with her. Uh, sorry, Mr. & Mrs. B,” he apologized softly. “Well, we never got much past ‘babe’ and ‘honey’ that night.”
Mart was sitting with his elbows on the table, hands fisted in his hair. It was killing Dan to see his best friend like that.
“Mart, man, I’m so sorry…”
Mart’s head shot up, his blue eyes piercing into Dan’s. “Wait! I remember something. You dragged me to Book ‘Em to celebrate Sesquipedalian Journal buying my story, remember?”
“That’s right. You’d stopped by my place to get your mail,” Dan said, picking up the memory. “You had a bunch of envelopes from magazines and newspapers.”
“I opened and tossed the rejection letters on the table,” his friend continued. “The last one I opened was SJ buying my story about Bobby playing in the fall league hockey championship.”
“They bought a big-worded story about hockey?” Trixie asked, amazed.
Mart looked affronted at his almost-twin’s comment. “Yes,” he said with a snarky tone to his voice. “Even people who understand words of more than one syllable can enjoy sports.”
Trixie stuck her tongue out at Mart, making him crack a slight smile.
“OK, let’s focus,” Peter commanded, glancing between his children. “What happened after you opened the mail?”
Mart slouched back in his chair and took a bite out of the cruller he picked up from his plate. After a minute of chewing and thinking, he continued, “Dan suggested we go to the pub to have a beer to celebrate the funds. He even paid.”
Dan smiled at that. “Hey, I had been paid that day.”
“Yeah, you had,” Mart agreed. “The place was packed for that very reason. It was also full of those women who chase after cops and firemen.”
“What is it they’re called, Trix?” Honey broke in curious.
Trixie frowned at Dan. “Badge bunnies. Just like the ones who follow rodeo cowboys are buckle bunnies.” The frown turned into a glare. “You didn’t pick up a couple of them, did you?”
The room gasped at the question, and Diana covering her mouth with her hands.
At the same moment, Mart shot out of his chair with such force it fell over. “Oh, hell no! You did not just ask that. I did not do anything but have one beer, one single beer, at the bar with Dan and then I left.” Dropping to one knee by Diana’s chair, he gently removed her hands from her face. “I have never looked at anyone but you, Di. Never!” he affirmed, before kissing her softly. Drawing his head slowly back, he ran his eyes lovingly over her face as he trailed a finger along her brow to brush a dark strand of hair behind her ear. “OK?” he queried softly.
Di’s watery violet eyes softened as she returned Mart’s look. Nodding her head, she wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in his neck.
“I’m sorry, guys,” Trixie apologized. Her eyes pinned Dan to his chair. “I was asking Mr. Mangan if he was picking up badge bunnies.” Crossing her arms across her chest, she skewered her friend with her eyes.
Dan blushed darkly under his tan. “Damn it, Trix,” he growled. “I wasn’t seeing anyone and was feeling lonely. My best friend was talking day and night about his wonderful woman, the love of his life since he was a boy. The woman who he had to run home to Sleepyside to see so he left me standing in a bar.” Slapping both hands on the table, Dan stood and leaned over the table, staring into Trixie’s face. “Damn straight I picked up a badge bunny. I picked up Elizabeth Charles,” he yelled. “And that little girl in there is most likely my daughter.”
“I’ll get her,” Helen advised, hurrying out of the room.
Dan dropped his chin to his chest and closed his eyes as he worked to control his breathing. Feeling a callused hand rest lightly on his forearm, he said quietly, “I apologize. I didn’t mean to yell, but this whole situation has me on edge.” The hand gave his arm a couple of reassuring pats. Dan opened his eyes and looked into the understanding brown ones belonging to Peter Belden. The man he respected greatly gave him a slight nod of his head and one last pat on his arm. “I truly am sorry. Being lonely was not a good enough reason to pick up some woman in a pub just because I have a badge.” Dan sighed heavily and then straightened up as Helen returned with Myriam. “That was the turning point for me. I called Chief Molinson and then I requested an inter-agency transfer to Sleepyside from NYPD so I could come home. I needed people around me again who have values and integrity.”
Trixie jumped up and ran around the table. Throwing her arms around Dan, she hugged him tightly before stepping back to look at his face.
“Listen, Danno. No one, and I repeat no one, is judging you or what you did. I’m only worried about any possible repercussions to your health from having unprotected sex with a badge bunny,” she said worriedly. “Have you been checked out since then?”
“That’s the problem, Trix,” Dan answered. “I don’t know whether Myriam could be mine or not because I wore a condom every single time.”
A stunned silence met his response.
Brian spoke up from where he sat by Honey. “Was there a tear or a leak?”
Peter glared down the table at his son. “I don’t believe we need that kind of detail,” he said gruffly, clearing his throat and running a hand over his face. “We need a game plan to find this woman but we also need for Dan to go get a cheek swab to get it to the lab.”
“I can go with you to the hospital, Dan,” Brian offered. “I can make sure they are expedited to WGen for processing with Mart and Myriam’s.”
“Thanks, Brian,” Dan acknowledged with a nod.
Bobby had been sitting silently watching the drama and emotions swirl around him. He learned a long time ago, if he kept his mouth shut, they let him stay. It was when he opened his mouth and said something that they treated him like he was still six and couldn’t keep ‘seecruds’. But there was a detail missing that was bugging him and had to ask, “Hey Mart, why were you getting mail at Dan’s place in the city?”
Mart righted his chair, placing it close to Di’s. Pressing a kiss to her forehead, he sat back down and grinned at his younger brother. “So you caught that detail, did you?” He placed his arm around Di’s shoulder and pulled her closer. Turning to his sister, he couldn’t resist teasing her, “Sister dear, I think Bob found a clue you missed.”
Watching Trixie’s curls start to twitch, he truly smiled for the first time since the festivities at Raoul’s. He explained to the group, “I decided to submit some articles to several magazines. I wanted to keep it private, so Dan let me use his address. He collected numerous rejection letters for me before that last batch when I received the acceptance letter from Sesquipedalian Journal.”
“Well, I think it’s a priori assumption that Elizabeth got Mart’s name from the letters and leapt to the conclusion that Dan was Mart. Not a difficult leap, under the circumstances,” Honey said processing the details in her analytical lawyer fashion. “And that’s how his name got on the birth certificate.”
“Very logical, madam lawyer,” Mart said. Leaning forward, he asked, “What is the game plan for the day?”
While the others discussed their game plan, Trixie took Dan by the arm and led him into the dining room.
“What now, Freckles?” he said tiredly.
“I was just wondering,” Trixie said anxiously. “Um, er, should you call Bonnie and go see her to tell her what’s going on?”
Dan shuffled his feet and looked uncomfortable as he answered, “She called this morning. She’s on her way to Kentucky. Her grandma fell and took her mom down with her. Grandma’s got a broken hip and arm. Her mom has a broken leg,” he explained. “She’s taking FMLA and going back home for the foreseeable future.”
The lost look on Dan’s face tugged at Trixie’s heart. Wrapping her arms around him again, Trixie consoled, “It might be better to know the answer to the test before you talk to her anyway.”
Dan held her loosely in his arms and rested his chin on the top of Trixie’s head. “I don’t know where we stand right now, Trix. Definitely friends, but I thought she might be the one. We get close and then someone or something drives us apart.”
“Well, maybe right now it just isn’t meant to be, Dan,” she reasoned. “Get your answers and decide your course.”
Dan and Trixie turned and looked toward the kitchen doorway where Jim leaned against the doorframe.
A ginger eyebrow quirked and a crooked smile appeared on his face. “Something you need to tell me, babe?” he asked with a wink at Trixie.
A giggle escaped before Trixie could form a solemn face. “Yes, Jim, there is,” she answered, eyes twinkling. “Dan is attempting to lure me away with the baby as incentive.”
“Huh!” Jim groused, stepping over to where his special girl and his friend stood. Crossing his muscular arms across his strong chest, he playfully scowled at his friend. “Mangan?”
Grinning, Dan released Trixie and stepped back with his hands in the air. “Hey, Jim, I know better,” he answered. “She’s been yours forever.” He sidled away toward the kitchen doorway. “Of course, I never had to pull a shotgun on anyone to get them. Just sayin'. . .”
“Mangan!” Jim threatened with a grin and took a step toward him as Dan slipped through the door.
Gathering Trixie into his arms, Jim pulled her tight against him and began nibbling on her neck. “So a baby is a lure for you?” he asked, between kisses and nibbles.
Trixie giggled as he reached the spot behind her ear that was extra-sensitive to his kisses.
Jim raised his head and locked his eyes with the blue pools of hers. “I can give you all the babies you want, sweetheart. You just say the word.”
Trixie swept the tip of her tongue across her dry lips. “Word,” she sighed, watching the flare of fire in the emerald eyes she loved so much. “But I think Daddy would prefer it if we were married first,” Trixie advised with a wink before sobering. “Especially under the circumstances.”
Jim’s lips captured hers in a slow, deep kiss. As he tasted her bottom lip, he murmured, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with us practicing.”
Meanwhile, in a corner of the kitchen…
“How are you holding up?” Mart whispered to Di, running a gentle finger around her ear to hook her hair behind it again.
Di sighed deeply and flashed her concerned violet eyes to look at his pale, tired face. “I’m doing OK,” she answered slowly. “I’m just worried about you and now Dan.” She cupped her hand on his face as she continued, “I just don’t know if I can stand to wait for the tests results to come back.”
“I know,” Mart agreed. “The next few days will seem like forever. I wish there was some kind of instant test…”
“Mart!” Di exclaimed. Turning toward the table, she loudly asked, “Brian, did they do blood work on Myriam?”
“Of course they did, Di,” he answered. “Why?”
“What’s Myriam’s blood type?”
Brian smiled at Di’s excited demeanor. “Myriam is type ‘B’.”
Di smiled and clapped her hands together happily. “Then Mart can’t be the baby daddy. He is type ‘O’,” she said.
Brian’s smiled faded. “I hate to burst your bubble but if the mother is a B blood type, then Mart could still be the father.” Seeing the shocked look on Di’s face and the despair on Mart’s, he quickly added, “But we all know he isn’t. The waiting time will pass quickly, especially if we’re out looking for the mother.”
Dan watched as Di’s face crumbled for a brief second before she pasted on a sad smile.
“Darn,” she said. “Well, it still may be added proof.”
“I know another way to get some proof,” Dan said into the silence. “Brian, are you ready to go with me? The sooner we get done at the hospital, the sooner we’ll have the answer.”
“Sure, Dan.” Brian kissed Honey on the top of the head as he stood. “Let’s go.”
At a hotel across town …
“Beth? Beth? Come on, girl.” The man gently shook the arm of the woman lying in the darkened room.
“My head hurts,” she groaned out.
“Beth, sweetie, it’s OK. I’ve called for an ambulance. We’ll get you all fixed up,” he said softly so as to not add to the pain in her head.
“Paramedics.” A deep voice called out through the door.
Our lovely editors of Joycey, Kelly and Mylee make our stories sooooooo much better with their edits and suggestions. If there are boo-boos left in this story, they belong to us, Jenny and Jo.
A sesquipedalian is a person given to or characterized by the use of long words. There is a Sesquipedalian Live Journal but not an actual magazine that we could find. The designation is employed with veneration to all the individuals who distinguish and utilize multi-syllable words.
A priori assumption (ah pree ory) Noun from Latin, an assumption that is true without further proof or need to prove it.
FMLA - Family and Medical Leave Act
Book ‘Em is the name we picked for the cop bar near Dan’s home and work. To the best of our knowledge, there isn’t one.
Background is from allfreebackgrounds.com
Header and dividers created using MS Clipart manipulated by Jo
Word count – 2432