May 26, 2015

Haley: Week Twenty-Six, Day Two

Living Green Tip #13:  It is common knowledge that exercise is important to human beings.  Walking with family, friends, or neighbors can be a social outlet!

"Hey Rach? Can we talk?" Haley asked, glad that she found Rachel alone this morning.

"Sure, what's up?" Rachel asked, glancing up towards her friend.  Uh oh, serious frowning meant Haley was tense about something.
Haley set Jason on the floor. "Go play so Mommy's can talk!" she said, pointing the boys towards the play area. 

"Come on!" Rio said, jumping to his feet and toddling at break-neck speed towards the blocks.  
Once the boys were safely out of hearing distance, Rachel  shot Haley a look. "Okay, lay it on me," she said.  "What's bugging you?"
Haley nibbled her lower lip and glanced down, feeling extremely nervous.  How was she going to say this?

"Come on Haley! Just spit it out!" Rachel urged.
 "Please don't date my brother!" Haley begged.  "I saw the way you were looking..."
Rachel interrupted her. "Wait. Hold up. You think I would date your brother?! He's a baby!"

In for a penny, in for a pound.  "You guys were flirting last night!" Haley argued.

Rachel snorted, "So?!"  Adding with her hand on her hip, "And what? So you have to protect your brother from Rachel-the-heartbreak?"

"It's not like that, Rachel! I just don't want you two to hurt..." Haley could tell she had hurt her friend's feelings.

Rachel waved her hand dismissively, "Yeah, whatever, Haley. Don't worry. Your baby brother is safe from me!"  She turned and her heel and left the room.

Haley sighed.  That hadn't gone well...


"This should be fun!" Haley said brightly as they all walked down Sim Lane towards the Skyborough Shops. They'd eagerly watched the new construction and were excited for the Big Opening. 

Rachel nodded, glancing down at Rio, who was toddling along beside them.  "This is so exciting, isn't it Rio!"

Maritza glanced between Haley and Rachel and shifted uncomfortably.  They seemed really upset with each other and she didn't have a clue why!


 "Oh!" Rachel said excitedly, "They're having an opening sale at Barney's!"
"Maritza? Do you mind watching Rio for me?" she begged, turning away from Haley.  "I wanna get something done. Maybe a tan or a makeover!"

Maritza snuck a glance at Haley. "Sure," she said.  "If..."

"Thanks!" Rachel interrupted, hurrying off before Maritza could finish her sentence.
"Rachel! We were supposed to stay together!" Haley called out, irritated with her friend.  They had planned on walking down Skyborough to see the new shops and finally stopping at the Little Corsican Bistro for lunch. 

"I'll catch up with you soon!" she called out over her shoulder.


Rachel headed into the salon and eyed the guy leaning against the counter.  "Hey girl, you come in here for some ink?" he asked.
Rachel shot a glance over towards the stylist and then back to the hottie.  "Umm... maybe..." she said playfully.  "What do you think would look good?" she asked.

The tattooist looked her up and down, "Girl, anything would look good on you," he drawled.


"Come on," Maritza said to Haley, "It'll still be fun to see all the new shops! Rachel will catch up with us soon."

"Ba-w-oon!" Rio cried, pointing up at the hot air balloon hovering over the new Sudsy Laundromat building.
"That's right," Maritza said, smiling down at Rio. "Ba-LL-oon," she repeated, echoing the L-sound.

Haley shook her head.  "I bet that laundromat uses so much water! It's better for the environment to wash at home and use the clothes line!"

Maritza nodded.  "I love the smell of freshly line-dried clothes!"


"Oh! Look! A consignment store!" Haley exclaimed, looking through the windows at the Sell n' Swap.  "It might be nice to clear out the attic for some extra space!  Especially since the kids are growing up so fast!"

Maritza shook her head, "No! There's so much family history up there! You can't get rid of any of it!"

"I'm ti-erd," Rio complained, steps slowing.


In front of the library, Rio collapsed to the ground in a full-fledged temper tantrum.  "I don't wanna walk no more!" he cried.  "I wanna go home!"
Maritza rushed to lift Rio up into her arms.

"It has been a lot of walking," Haley said.  "Maybe we should take a break."

Maritza nodded. "What do you want to do? Should we head home?"

Haley glanced up at the library.  "Maybe they have a toddler-time at the library," she suggested. 
Maritza made a face. She loved her roomies' kids, but toddler-time was not her idea of a good time. "Oookay.." she said slowly, willing to go along.

"You don't have to go if you don't want to," Haley said. "I can handle the kiddos. We can meet up at the bistro."

"Are you sure?" Maritza asked, setting Rio on his feet, already eagerly looking forward to heading to the park to look for any wildlife.  Too bad Mittens wasn't with her!
"We'll see you soon!" Haley called over her shoulder, following behind Rio as they headed inside.

"Come on, Auntie Haley!" Rio said happily, full of energy now that fun was within sight.

"Slow down!" Haley said, "Come hold my hand!"
Inside, Haley headed inside and pulled out a few kids art books to read with Jason and Rio. 


"Sit right here, girl," Shaye said, pointing to the chair.  "This is only going to hurt a little."  He winked. 
Rachel boldly took her top off and set it aside, then sat down on the seat.  Taking a deep breath, she glanced up nervously, watching him prep for her session. 

Shaye grabbed something that looked surprisingly like a gun and Rachel swallowed thickly, pulling back slightly.  "Are you sure this only going to hurt a little bit?" she asked hesitantly.

He smiled down at the newbie.  "Promise. Just a little pinch!" he said, adding, "But it's going to look hot!" His gaze strayed to her cleavage.


Maritza headed down Skyborough, intending on crossing over into the park when she saw the fire station.  She hesitated, thinking of Daryl...
She drew closer until she was standing in front of the doors.  It wouldn't hurt just to pop in and say hi, right? she told herself. 
"Hello?" she asked, stepping inside, looking around the empty room. 
Nobody answered.

Maritza was just turning to leave when a loud bell started shrilly ringing.  She jumped in surprise, her heart pulsing a mile a minute.
The doors at the end of the room burst open.
Daryl was rushing to answer the fire alarm when he saw her.  The girl from the park.  He stopped for just a moment, surprised to see her at the station.  Did she come for him?   The clanging of the fire alarm pulled him from his reverie, catapulting him into action again.  He couldn't afford to waste precious moments like this.
"Can't talk right now," Daryl said as he ran past, "Leave me your number!" The look in his eyes implored her.
She stepped outside and watched as he jumped on the fire truck with a few of his fellow firefighters hop up with him.  She saw him wave and then make a phone hand sign, holding his fingers up to his ear in the universal call-me sign.  The engine honked twice for her and then sped away.
Maritza stood still at the station, now silent and devoid of activity, amazed by the flurry of activity that had just played out in front of her. 


Maritza looked up as Haley walked towards her with Jason and little Rio toddling behind her.

"Auntie Ritza!" Rio called out happily, running up to her and throwing himself into her arms.

Maritza laughed, pulling Rio up onto her lap. "Did you have fun at the library?" she asked.

Rio nodded his head, laying his head on her shoulder. "Uh huh," he said. "We read Johnny Sp-ocket!" he chatted happily, telling her all about the books he'd read with Haley.
"Oof, Jason is getting heavy!" she said, sitting down and switch Jason to her other arm.  "What'd you wind up doing?"

Maritza met Haley's eyes and blew out a nervous breath. "I went to the fire station..."

Haley brightened, "Oh! You did?!" she squealed. "Did you talk to him?!" she asked.

Maritza chuckled, "Kind of," she said, telling about how the alarm went off right as she'd entered and how Daryl had been called away.
"Guys! Guess what!"Rachel said, hurrying up towards her friends.

Maritza and Haley glanced up in surprise. They hadn't even heard her approaching.
Rachel lifted her shirt up above her belly. "Look! I got a belly ring!" she sang happily.

Haley's mouth dropped open.

Rio laughed, pointing at his mother's belly, "I see your belly!"

Rachel laughed at their reaction.  Priceless!  She preceded her roomies into the bistro, calling out, "Come on guys, I'm hungry!"


"I can't believe they botched the recipe so badly!" Rachel complained as they left the Bistro.  She had not been happy with the quality of her meal, so she'd sent it back.  "That was not Goopy Carbonara!" she continued with disgust.  "I could make it better with one hand tied behind my back!"

Haley had never been so embarrassed in her life!  Everyone at the nearby tables had been glancing over at them and whispering.  She hated being the center of attention!  "Let's just go home," she said.
"One moment, miss!" someone called out from the doorway.
"I'd like to speak to you a moment!"

May 16, 2015

Haley: Week Twenty-Six, Day One

Green Living Tip #12:  Keeping indoor plants not only adds a nice green touch to our homes; some indoor plant species have proven to be effective filters for pollutants such as the above and carbon monoxide (an element of car exhaust).

Maritza headed over to Caleb's, grateful to have found  a friend that shared her love of science.  Before she'd met Daryl, she would've said he was everything she looked for in a spouse.  He was gentle-mannered, had a stable income, shared similar interests and was interested in having a family.  He might not have been a "hottie" (as Rachel had so kindly pointed out), but he was a good, kind man who she was lucky to have met.
So why did she keep thinking about Daryl?


***

The sound of a ringing phone disoriented Rachel.  "Wha?" she mumbled sleepily, reaching towards the end table with her eyes closed to silence it, managing only to knock it to the floor.

"Dammit," she swore as she chased after the phone, finally managing the coordination necessary to grab it and press "talk."
"It's too early!" she grumbled sleepily, assuming it was one of her friends.

To her horror, it was her boss.  "Is this Rachel?" Lynell French-Baker asked.

Rachel blinked, planting the phone more firmly by her ear. "Yes, this is. Hi, Lynell," she said, trying to figure out why her boss would be calling at 9 in the morning.  "I'm not scheduled this morning, am I?" she asked worriedly.

Lynell hesitated a beat before answering, "No, you're not. I was actually calling for another reason."

The silence stretched into an awkward pause as Lynell cleared her throat and launched into her well-rehearsed speech. 

Rachel squeezed her eyes shut with dismay.

***

Haley was surprised to see Rachel up so early.  Normally she slept in much later.  "Good morning?" she asked  hesitantly.  From the slamming of cabinet doors, she assumed something was wrong.

On cue, Rachel slammed the fridge door shut. "So, I've been fired," she announced sharply.

Haley's jaw dropped. "What?" she asked in surprise.  "Why?"
Rachel practically threw the eggs and other ingredients into the mixing bowl and began beating it viciously.  "Apparently, there's been a complaint!" she said angrily.  "Someone told Lynell that I'd broken up with Bernie, creating a quote, 'negative work-space,' end quote."
"Oh my gosh," Haley said, trying to keep up.  "Do you think it was Bernie?"
"Of course it was Bernie!" Rachel seethed, stomping over to the oven and sticking the waffles in to cook.  "I did not create a negative workspace! He did! He was so mean! But I guess since he's been working there longer, they decided to keep him instead of me."

Haley frowned. "I'm sorry. I know you liked working there."

Rachel flipped her hair over her shoulder and put her hands on her hips.  "Whatever, I can do way better than that deep-fried crap," she announced.  She opened the oven door and checked on her waffles. "Way better!"

***

Caleb anxiously paced by the front door for Maritza.  He'd invited her over to see his lab.  But, truthfully, he was hoping that he might work up the nerve to kiss her today. When they'd had coffee that morning, she'd seemed receptive to his advances.

Smiling, he hurried outside to greet her.  "Maritza! Welcome to my home!" he said, ushering her inside.
"This is it!" he announced once he'd hustled her into his lab.  He held his breath as he waited for her response. 

Maritza looked around the room in awe.  "Oh my goodness, it's wonderful!" she told him.  "What's that over there do?" she pointed. 
"Ah! That is my lab station!" Caleb told her excitedly.  "Right now I'm working on an experiment that will help houseplants thrive for a longer period of time without water!  Would you like to watch?"

Maritza smiled at his enthusiasm for his work.  It was easy to get caught up in his excitement!
Absently she wondered what made a person attracted to another person.  It didn't seem logical that someone could be so obviously right for another intellectually, but not romantically.

Caleb turned to her suddenly, thrusting a pair of glasses in her face.

"What?" she asked, taken aback by his sudden move.  

Caleb grinned, "Safety first!"
"Oh, of course!" she said, slipping the glasses on as he grabbed the first beaker.

 ***
"Mama!" Rio said, running across the room to throw himself at her leg.  "My mama!" he said, grinning up at her.
Rachel swiped at the tear that welled in her eyes.  "Aw, Rio! I love you!" she said, grabbing him and lifting him into her arms.   He was growing up so fast! It wouldn't be very long until he'd be starting kindergarten! And then only another ten years or so and he wouldn't want anything to do with her.
Ten years was such a short time! she thought sadly, wrapping her arms around her son and hugged him tightly before he was too old for mama hugs!

***

Maritza shifted impatiently as she watched Bernie continue mixing chemicals, grabbing new beakers and adding his previous solutions.  This wasn't as fun as she thought it might've been when she'd first seen his lab!  Surreptitiously, she checked her watch.  Maybe another 5 minutes and she'd make her excuse to...
Wait... she thought with alarm as she watched him start to add the two liquids together.  "Caleb!" she said worriedly, "I don't think you should..."

 ***

Wait! Haley blinked and stared hard at the gecko.  Did it just disappear and reappear?  "No, that's ridiculous!" she told herself, turning back to the canvas.  Who'd ever heard of a disappearing gecko?!
"You will NOT believe my day!" Maritza exclaimed as she stomped up the back steps.
The foul stench his Haley first. "Oh my... Maritza!  You smell awful!" Haley gasped, waving her hand in front of her face and trying to dispel the foul odor from her nose. 

"I KNOW!" Maritza fumed.  "I just got back from taking Caleb to the hospital!"

Haley gaped. "Is he okay?!" she asked with alarm.

"Yes, he's fine. He just got a little singed. The doofus mixed together two solutions that you're never supposed to mix! He's lucky he's alive!"

"I'm so glad you're both okay.  So? Is that why you smell so bad?"

Maritza growled. "This had better wash off," she said as she stalked to the back door, "Or I'm going to kill him."
On her way past the gecko habitat, she thought she noticed the gecko disappear and then reappear on the log.  She stopped and peered into the cage.  Very interesting, she thought absently.  I'll have to make a note of...

"MARITZA!" Haley complained, "Not to be rude, but could you hurry up and take that shower?! Remember, we're going out tonight!"

Maritza shifted her attention from the gecko to Haley. "Oh, that's right! I'd almost forgotten! This is going to be so much fun!"  She glanced at her watch.  She needed to hurry if she wanted to be presentable in time!

 ***

Haley slipped into her nice clothes, too excited for words.  She'd been eagerly counting down the minutes all afternoon.
"Maritza? Are you ready?" she called out when she saw Maritza in the office.

Maritza glanced back, "Yes! Let me just put this back together real quick!" she called over her shoulder, fiddling with the computer.
"Are you ready Rach?" she asked, skipping down the last few steps.
"I sure am, I was just sitting here with Jason and Rio!" Rachel said, smiling down at the boys.  "They were keeping me company!"
Just then Maritza bounded down the steps. "Ready!" she announced with a smile. 

Rachel glanced down at her heels and shot Haley a look.  "We don't have to ride the bikes in our pretty dresses, do we?" she asked hesitantly.

Haley laughed. "No, we can take a taxi this one time!"

 ***

"It's so beautiful!" Rachel whispered in awe, staring at the Spanish Estate. "How much do you think it cost them?"

Maritza sniffed, "Rachel, you're not supposed to ask things like that!"
"I'm just wondering!" Rachel protested.  "It's not like I asked them!"

Haley rolled her eyes. "Guys, can you please not bicker tonight?"  Her roomies mumbled their agreement.

Then Rachel glanced back up at the house and back towards Haley. "Do you think this means I can repaint my room now?"

Haley sighed and headed quickly towards the front door.  She was so excited!
***
 
Her family had moved back to Sunset Valley!
Handing Jason over to her Dad, she gave her mom a big hug, fighting back the tears that were welling in her eyes.  "I've missed you so much," she said to her mom.

Her mom laughed, tears running down her face, "I'm so happy to be back," she said, squeezing Haley's hand.  "And look at my grandson! The pictures and videos haven't done him justice!"
"Hey! What's all the crying about?" a young man said as he walked in the entryway. 

Haley stared in surprise at her little brother.  "Ian! You've grown!" she gasped.
"Come here," Ian said, wrapping his sister into a bear hug. 

It was so good to have her family together, Eva thought with a watery smile.

 ***

Haley was so happy to be surrounded by her family again.  She hadn't realized how lonely she'd been without them!  They'd talked for hours, settling into the sitting room after sharing a tasty meal.  She smiled as she watched her mom play with Jason in her lap.

"He looks so much like Ian did as a baby, doesn't he?" Eva asked Nathaniel.

Nathaniel grinned, "He sure does."

Rio stared at all the new adults that he'd never seen before.  He didn't think he was related to any of them...
Rachel turned and checked Ian out from the corner of her eye.  He'd turned into a real hottie!  And he was pretty funny, cracking jokes and casually flirting.  He'd joked that he had the best seat in the house as he'd scooted between Rachel and Maritza, winking at Rachel. 

Maritza hadn't even paid attention to him, though. She was too busy talking Haley's dad's ear off about lizards and nature hikes.
"Mama?" Rio said, coming to her side, "Hold me!"
Rachel lifted her son into her arms and he proceeded to nestle his head on her shoulder, playing with her hair. 

Haley glanced over.  "It looks like the boys are sleepy," she said with reluctance.  "It looks like we should probably call it a night."
Eva snuggled Jason again. "I could just cuddle with him forever!" she said happily.  "You've got to promise to come back and see us very soon!"  Her schedule had kept her too busy to make it down before now.  She felt like she'd missed so much time with her grandson already!
"I will, Mom! I'm so glad you retired and moved back here!" Haley said, getting up.
Rachel and Maritza stood to leave, as well.
Ian popped up quickly.  "I'll walk them to the door!" he said eagerly, moving to stand behind Rachel.
Rachel hugged her parents goodbye.  "I'll see you soon," she told her Dad.  "Come by any time!"