Mart and Diana walked back to Crabapple Farm, feeling lighter and united. “I know it’s been crazy and we have bigger problems to solve, but I would really like to head over to our new place to finish painting the bedroom and hanging the curtains. Is that terrible of me?”
Mart stopped his fiancée on the back steps and turned her to face him. “Sweetheart, you have dealt with more in the past twenty-four hours than you should have in twenty-four years of marriage. If you want to go hang curtains, we’ll go hang curtains.”
Rising up on her tip toes, she gently kissed him. “I wish we could Mart. I’ll go hang the curtains. You have to go finish up with Raoul.”
“Ugh! How did I forget that?”
Di smiled brightly. “Raoul texted me this morning. He’s finished with Jim, Brian and Dan. You just need to select your cummerbund and tie, but BLT still need to be fitted. I can call my brothers and let them know you’ll be by to get them in a half an hour. Sound good?”
“Whatever makes you happy, my dove.”
“You make me happy, Dr. Thesaurus.”
Helen Belden went into the den to find a tableau of peacefulness. Jim was sitting in the corner of the couch, with a gurgling Myriam cradled in his arm and Trixie curled up next to him, her head resting on his shoulder, as she snored lightly. “I see everything is well in hand in here.”
Jim looked up and gave her a lopsided grin. “So far, but I think Myriam is going to want to eat very soon.”
“I can’t believe you got Trixie to slow down enough to nap.”
“Miracles do happen. Did you need something?” Jim asked.
Helen tucked a stray curl behind her ear. “Actually I do. I was hoping you could go to the attic and get the changing table and crib down. Peter and I discussed it and we’d like Dan to stay here until this is all straightened out. He needs to spend time with his baby girl and until the courts say it’s OK, she’s got to stay with us. So, I’d like to set up the guest room for them.”
“No problem, Mrs. B. I’ll go up right now if you’ll take the baby. Have you heard from Brian and Dan yet?” Jim inquired, easing Trixie off his shoulder before handing the little girl to Helen.
Shifting the baby to her shoulder, she rubbed small circles on the baby’s back. “No, and I expected them back by now. I’m going to make her some lunch. Trixie, sweetheart, can you wake up now?”
Jim gently shook his sleeping girlfriend, brushing a curl back from her forehead. “Trix, you need to get up now. We’ve got some work to do.”
Trixie sat up and rubbed her eyes. “I can’t believe I fell asleep.”
“Well, to be honest, you’ve only been asleep about twenty minutes.” Jim smiled, stood and held out his hand to pull her up from the couch.
Myriam let out a fitful wail. “OK, we’re off to have some lunch. Trix, would you go up with Jim to the attic. I’m sending you two on a mission. Jim there should be a box of linens, too. We’ll need those as well.” Helen headed out of the den calling over her shoulder, “Thank you.”
Twining his fingers with Trixie’s, Jim pulled her into the hallway and headed for the stairs. “Shamus we’re on a crib caper.”
Smiling at his antics, she quipped, “Ah, the case of the heirloom cradle.” She opened the door at the end of the hallway and flipped the switch. Climbing the narrow stairway, she led the way up to the Belden’s full, but organized attic.
Coming up behind Trixie, Jim wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her back into his embrace. “Babe, I’ll deny this if repeated, but your mom kinda scares me. This attic is crazy organized.”
Looking around, along the back wall there were large clear plastic totes, each labeled with a Belden’s name. “Oh, Moms got so tired of the mess up here. Year after year, she’d organize and clean during the white elephant sale. And year after year, we’d stir a mess up looking for something important. A couple of years ago, she bought these jumbo totes and we got to keep anything we wanted. Her only rule was it had to fit in the tote.”
“Aww. What’s in Trixie’s tote?” Jim asked, kissing the side of her neck.
Trixie chuckled. “I don’t even remember. It’ll be like a time capsule when it gets unpacked. I do remember shocking everyone when I put in that strawberry pincushion from the sewing kit Aunt Alicia gave me. But I couldn’t throw that away. It’s special.” Looking around the attic, she located the antique baby furniture under the far eve. “There’s the Jenny Lind.”
“The who?” Jim asked, looking around.
“The crib, silly, that’s the style. Can you carry the sides and I’ll get the end panels?”
“You sure, babe? I can make two trips. Why don’t you find the sheets and stuff?”
Trixie turned around to look at her tall boyfriend. “Seriously, Frayne? Am I looking frail again?” She flexed her bicep and jokingly punched him in the arm.
Backing up, and rubbing his arm, he raised his hands in defense. “OK, OK, I give. Sorry. You can carry the side panels and I’ll look for the sheets.”
About to make a smart aleck comment back, she was stopped when she heard a car pull up in the driveway. Moving to the dormer window, Trixie saw Brian and Dan getting out of the car. “The guys are back from the hospital. I wanna know what they found out and what took so long.” She grabbed an end of the crib. “Ready?”
Jim shook his head, knowing he was beat. He took the sides of the crib. “Lead the way, Shamus.”
The two of them carefully carried the parts of the crib downstairs. As they approached the kitchen they could hear Brian and Dan talking to Helen. Impulsively, Trixie shouted, “Hey, wait on your story. We want to hear, too. We’ll be right there.” They put the crib parts into the downstairs guest room quickly and hurried to the kitchen.
Jim held the door for Trixie and followed her into the kitchen. He was pleased to see Dan sitting at the table with Myriam on his shoulder, patting her firmly on the back. A huge burp broke the silence of the kitchen.
Dan smiled. “That’s it. Let it all out.”
“So, what happened?” Trixie asked, pulling out a chair and taking a seat at the table.
“Well, we can say it was interesting,” Brian commented dryly from the counter where he was brewing fresh coffee. Between the two of them, Dan and Brian recounted their afternoon.
“So after waiting and waiting and waiting, we found out that Beth Charles passed away in the ER before we had a chance to speak to her,” Dan said morosely.
Brian stood up and got the carafe of coffee. Pouring some for himself, he gestured with the pot to the others. After Dan nodded yes, Brian poured an extra-large mug for him. “The medical examiner said there would be an autopsy. The results should be back in 48 hours or so. Preliminary tox report from the hospital will be available soon. Doc said he’d let me know, unofficially.”
“So, what do we do now?” Jim asked. “What will Child Protective Services do?”
Brian sat back and sighed deeply. “Well, right now, we don’t need to do anything, in my opinion. Moms and Dad are certified foster parents, so Myriam is cleared to stay here. But I think we don’t do anything until we get the DNA results back.”
Watching Dan holding his gurgling daughter, Trixie looked sideways at Jim. He was looking at his friend holding a baby, but it was as if he was perplexed and trying to work a confusing problem out. She reached under the table and squeezed his hand and smiled brightly at him as he turned to look into her sapphire eyes. Turning to the group, she said, “I think we should have Honey get on this as soon as possible. She’s our resident family lawyer. Because when the DNA comes back proving that Dan is in fact Myriam’s…”
“Brenna,” Dan interrupted, looking up. “I’m going to change her name to Brenna.”
Helen, who was sitting next to Dan, stood up and gathered the happy baby in her arms. “That’s lovely...Brenna. What about a middle name? Have you thought about that?”
Touching the downy curls on the baby’s head, Dan said, “I think we should keep Myriam. It fits her.”
Controlling herself had always been a challenge, but Trixie had come a long way since the impulsiveness that put her in danger as a teenager. However, she was fairly vibrating with impatience. It was Jim’s turn to squeeze her hand and silently communicate his support. She giggled and took a deep breath. “Brenna Myriam Mangan. It’s perfectly perfect.”
“Sorry for interrupting your thought, Trix. You’re right, we need to talk to Honey and see what she suggests,” Dan said. “By the way, where is the rest of the gang??”
“Di dispatched Mart to take Bobby and the twins to see Raoul for their final fittings,” Helen explained with a grin. “As much as you boys like Raoul, I think Mart will be glad when this piece is done.”
“Moms, he won’t be happy until the whole wedding is done and he’s eaten his fourth piece of cake,” Brian responded with a laugh.
“Dad went to the Save-A-Bunch to pick up some more supplies for Myr--, er, Brenna,” Trixie continued with a grin. “He’s securing a supply of food, diapers and all kinds of baby needs.”
“Mrs. B, I’ll pay you back for everything you’re spending on Brenna,” Dan began quietly.
“Dan,” Helen interrupted. “Westchester County CPS will reimburse us for any out of pocket expense until it is determined who her legal guardian will be,” she explained, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Peter and I discussed it and we feel you should stay here with us and Brenna until the ruling is made. That way you can bond to her and participate in her care.”
“Wow, Mrs. B,” Dan sighed the words. “You don’t know how much I appreciate that.”
Helen brushed the hair off his forehead and placed a motherly kiss there. “We think of you and all the Bob-Whites as our children, dear,” she answered gently as the back door opened.
“Yoo-hoo,” they heard Honey call quietly from the service porch.
“In here,” Brian replied with a grin. “Brenna’s awake, so you don’t need to whisper.”
“Brenna?” Honey queried, following Sherlock into the kitchen carrying a portfolio and her iPad. “Do we have another baby?” she added, looking around the room as she set everything down on the table.
As Dan explained the name, Helen fed the baby a bottle and Trixie began to pull cold fried chicken, potato salad and Watergate salad from the refrigerator.
Smiling broadly, Honey acknowledged, “Dan, that name is perfectly perfect for her and so beautiful.” Turning to Helen, she asked, “When will everyone be back from their errands, Mrs. B?”
Helen glanced at the clock before answering. “I think they should all be home in a couple of hours. Di was taking her sisters for their final fitting today, after she finished at the house. Peter should be home any minute. Why do you ask?” she questioned, shifting the baby to her shoulder and alternately rubbing circles and gently patting her back.
“I sure hope it’s OK but, while I was home getting my things, I called Mr. Rainsford at home to see make sure we were covering all the legal steps we should to protect Dan and Brenna,” she explained, running a hand nervously through her short hair. “Then I explained everything to Daddy and Mom,” she added looking worriedly at Dan. “I didn’t want to betray a confidence or anything but, if there is any information that can be gained from their contacts in the world of the rich and infamous, then we need to know it.”
Jim, Trixie and Helen watched closely as Dan took in the details and ramifications of what Honey had said. “We need to contact Chief Molinson, too,” he finally replied.
His friend laughed nervously. “I already called him,” Honey said. After gracing Helen with an apologetic look, she continued, “Dad, Mom, Mr. Rainsford, Mr. Reynolds, Regan and the Chief will join us here at three-thirty.” A determined look entered her eyes, when Helen handed her the baby. Running a gentle finger across the baby’s soft cheek, she vowed, “We’ll come up with a plan to get to the bottom of this and get Brenna a home.”
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.
Jenny Lind furniture is known for its floral motifs, legs shaped on a lathe, split spindles, and other hallmarks of earlier periods. Named in honor of the famous Swedish soprano Jenny Lind, who toured American with the American showman P.T. Barnum during the period of this style’s introduction.
iPad is a line of tablet computers designed and marketed by Apple Inc., which runs Apple's iOS.
Watergate salad, also referred to as Pistachio Delight, is made from instant pistachio pudding, canned crushed pineapple, Cool Whip, and miniature marshmallows. It got its name in the 1970’s from reportedly being served at the Watergate Hotel. Cool Whip is an imitation whipped cream topping made by Kraft Foods.
Background is from allfreebackgrounds.com
Header and dividers created using MS Clipart manipulated by Jo
Word count – 2164