February 29, 2016

Haley: Week Twenty-Seven, Day Five

Living Green Tip #22 - The holiday season is often dubbed a time of excess.  Americans create up to 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and the New Year than they do throughout the rest of the year.  Find alternate ways to wrap gifts - use newspaper, butcher paper, old calendars or posters to wrap gifts.

Haley glanced around the room.  It was Snowflake Day and family and friends had converged in their livingroom.
Rachel was busy flirting with her boyfriend, Clinton.
Haley suspected it had something to do with the fact that Shaye had brought his new girlfriend Kea. 

Even Maritza had her new "special friend," Dr. Wyman.  Maritza refused to concede that they were dating, even though they were romantically involved and saw each other as often as their schedules allowed.  She worried about the impression it would send Darryl, Jr.
"Isn't she beautiful?" her brother Ian asked, grinning at his newborn daughter, Sally.

Haley rocked the tiny newborn in her arms.  "She's perfect, Ian."  She glanced up at her brother with a sad smile.  "I wish Mom and Dad were here to see it."

Ian nodded, reaching out to toy with Sally's small fingers.  "Me too," he agreed quietly.

Shaking her head slightly, Haley turned and smiled at her sister-in-law Cecelie.  "Do you want me to show you where the crib is?" she asked.

Cecelie sighed thankfully. "Oh that would be great! I almost brought our playpen, but Ian told me that you'd probably have something here we could use."

Haley laughed, "And more!"
"UNCLE IAN!" Jason yelled, bounding down the stairs.  "You're here!"
"What's up, little man?" Ian said, sharing a shaka bra gesture with his nephew. 

"Mom got me some dress up clothes! I've been pretending to be an astronaut-prince-assassin!"

Ian chuckled.  "Whoa, that sounds pretty serious!"  He glanced up and saw Rio.  "Oh my gosh! You're grown since I saw you last! What are they feeding you?!"

Rio nodded towards Ian.  He'd tried, but he'd never quite been able to pretend that Ian was his uncle, too.  Even though Ian had been nothing but nice & trying to include him whenever they did something with Jason.

Rio glanced across the room and grimaced.  Great, Shaye was here.
When Shaye saw Rio come down the stairs, he squeezed Kea's knee and headed over to see him.  "Hey, look at you! You've had a growth spurt!" Shaye exclaimed.  "How've you been?"
Rio shrugged.  "Fine," he mumbled.  Why was everyone telling him how big he'd gotten? He hadn't changed that much!

Thankfully he was saved from having to answer any other questions when Tia Haley called out for everyone's attention.
"Time to open presents!" Haley called out.  "Everyone take your seats!"

"That's from me, honey," Rachel told Rio eagerly. 

"My own video game console? Awesome!" Rio said, surprised when he opened the box. 
Rio sat back down in his seat, right next to Shaye.  He looked down when he felt Shaylynn tugging at his leg.  She'd hooked her arms around his and her Dad's legs.  

When she saw that she had his attention, she smiled.  "My Rio!" she told him, then glanced towards Shaye.  "My Daddy!"

Rio turned his gaze to Shaye and shared a smile.  Then, realizing he was smiling at the man who'd abandoned him and his mom, he frowned and turned a cold shoulder.

Shaye sighed heavily, watching Rio shut down.  He'd hoped the kid would chill after a few years of being mad at him, but apparently Rio still hated him.  
Kea's squeal brought his attention back to the party.  "Baby! You shouldn't have!" she cheered, holding up the earrings he'd bought her.  "They're beautiful!"

"You're welcome, babe," he said with a smile. He happened to glance towards Rachel at that moment and saw the sour look on her face.  Maybe having a shared holiday wasn't the best idea.  He'd thought that they were all mature enough to share the holiday with Shaylynn. 

Across the room, Clinton glared daggers at him.  "Open my present, Rachel," he said, pointing to the blue and orange striped box.  "For our three-month anniversary."
"Awww, baby, that's so sweet!" Rachel said, hopping up and grabbing the present.  When she opened it, she gasped with pleasure.  Even louder than Kea.  "Ooo... diamond earrings! You shouldn't have!" she cooed, blowing Clinton a kiss.

Once the presents were all opened, everyone mingled around the room, chatting with old friends and making new acquaintances.
Rachel found her little sister in the kitchen.  "Can you believe that he brought his girlfriend?" she asked indignantly, shooting a nasty look towards Shaye. 

Rose rolled her eyes.  "Why not? You brought your boyfriend."

"Yeah, but it's different! This is my house!" Rachel argued.

Rose just shrugged.  "I guess."

Disgruntled, Rachel glanced back over at Shaye.  Normally she would've had this conversation with Haley and Haley would've taken her side.  But, she and Haley weren't speaking right now. 
She saw Shaye and his blonde bimbo chatting with Rio and for some reason, it made her blood boil.   "I've had enough of this!" she snapped, marching over to their side. 

Grabbing Shaye's elbow, she hissed in his ear, "Can I talk to you outside, please?"

Shaye sighed and let Rachel lead him outside.

"What?" Shaye snapped.  Apparently they weren't going to be able to make it through the holiday without a fight.
"I cannot believe you brought her!" Rachel snapped right back. 

Shaye sighed. "Look, Haley said it wouldn't be a problem since you were bringing your boyfriend."

"Of course Haley would say that," she muttered darkly.
"What is  your problem?" he demanded, ironically echoing Haley's accusation from the night they argued.  "Everyone bends over backwards to make sure you're happy! You get to flit around doing whatever you want in Rachel-la-la-land!"

"I do not flit!" Rachel growled, crossing her arms.
Shaye sighed heavily.  "Look, I didn't want to do this on the holiday. But, I've been thinking..." he trailed off uncomfortably, reaching up and rubbing the back of his neck. 

"What?" she pressed him impatiently.  "Spit it out!"

"I don't think our co-parenting situation is working.  You're hardly ever at the drop-offs and pick-ups.  I usually see Haley."

"So?" she asked nervously.  "What I do on my time isn't your concern."

"Yeah, but it concerns Shaylynn and that concerns me," he said sharply.  "Look, I think I should have full custody.  I discussed it with Kea and we were going to file the paperwork after the start of the new year."
Rachel felt like she'd just been sucker-punched.  "You're going to what?" she asked, feeling sick to her stomach.

"Aw, Rach. Come on, you don't even want to be a Mom. You want to go out and have fun!" Shaye said, trying to convince her why Shaylynn would be better off with him.
Rachel angrily jammed her finger in Shaye's face.  "DON'T," she said sharply, "tell me what I want from life. I might not be a perfect mom like Haley. But, I'm Shaylynn's mom and I love her!"

Shaye held his hands up.  "Then I guess we'll have to let the courts decide," he said sadly, awkwardly adding.  "I'm really sorry."  He headed inside to tell Kea it was time to go.

Rachel stormed inside, seething.  She looked around and found her sister.  "Rose, I need your help. He's going to take Shaylynn from me and I'll never see her again!" she sobbed.
Rose held up her hand. "Whoa. Wait a minute. Who's taking her? What's going on? Tell me slowly."
"Shaye just told me that he's going to file paperwork for full custody! He's going to take Shaylynn from me!" she cried.  "How could he do this to me?!"

Rose bit her lip.  "Are you sure that's not what you want?" she asked cautiously.

"Why does everyone keep asking me that?!" she ranted angrily.  "Of course that's not what I want!"

"Okay. Okay! I just had to ask!" Rose said.  "If he files, I'll represent you.  But, he might not actually do it, so don't get yourself worked up about it."
Rachel took a deep breath, wiping at the tears in her eyes.  That was easy for her to say! she thought bitterly.  Although, she did feel better knowing that her little sister, a legal baracuda, would be representing her.  There's no way he'll win, she reassured herself.
Stepping away, she glanced at the most recent photo she had of her and Shaylynn.  They'd taken it a week ago.  Raising her finger to the photo, she traced Shaylynn's figure.  She couldn't lost herShe was her only tie to Shaye...

February 28, 2016

Haley: Week Twenty-Seven, Day Four

Living Green Tip #21 -  Lateness says volumes about your character and work ethic.  Add 5 minutes onto even your most conservative time estimates.

Haley woke early and went through the house collecting the dirty clothes.  Honestly, boys could be so messy!
She smiled softly when she saw Mittens curled up on Rio's discarded clothes.  
Mittens meowed irritably and rolled over in it's sleep when Haley scooped up the clothes and added them to her laundry bag. 

 Rachel hummed as she prepared breakfast waffles.

"You're up early today," Maritza noted, filling Mittens' food bowl.  "Do you work today?"

Glancing over her shoulder, Rachel grinned.  "Nope. I have today off!"

"Cool.  Do you have any big plans?" she asked.

"If I convince Haley to watch Shaye for me!" she said lightly.  "Cross your fingers!"

Maritza rolled her eyes instead.

"Quit playing around and get the eggs," Rio told Jason when he noticed he was playing with the chickens.  "It's cold outside! I wanna go inside!"

"Yeah, okay!" Jason said amiably, trotting around to the back of the chicken coop where the eggs were.
 He scooped out four eggs.  "Come on, let's go!" he said, taking off towards the front door.

"Jason!" Rio called after him.  "Don't run and drop those eggs!"  Sheesh.  That kid ran everywhere!
Jason ran inside and chucked his jacket down on the ground when he came in.  "Yum! Pancakes!" he said excitedly, racing to put the eggs on the counter.  "Oops, I broke one, Mom."

Haley sighed.  "Put it in the compost and make sure you wash your hands really well."

Jason did, then hopped up on the bar chair.
"So? Are you ready to meet your mom's boyfriend tonight?" Jason asked Rio.

Rio shrugged.  "I guess. It's not like he'll be around long anyway."

Jason snickered.  "I wonder if he's rich! Like a millionaire.  Maybe he'll take you up in a helicopter!"

Rio rolled his eyes.  "Right. I'm sure."

"Oh!" Jason said, lighting up, "Or maybe he's a secret agent and he's undercover. Wouldn't that be awesome?"

"Shut up, Jason."

"Boys! School bus!" Haley called out as the adults finished their breakfast.

"I hear Darryl crying. I need to go get him," Maritza said, pushing back from the table.

Rachel stood, too.  "Can I talk to you, Haley?" she asked. "I have a big favor to ask you!"

Haley took a breath and tried to reign in her temper.

 "So, I was kind of hoping you could watch Shaye today," Rachel said, rushing to add, "I'll take your chores for the next week!"

Haley sighed. "Rachel, you don't do your chores unless I bug you!" she lamented.

"Please!" Rachel begged.  "This is my only day off this week! Come on, you're already watching Darryl!"
Seeing Shaye reaching for her, Haley took the little girl in her arms and bounced her on her hip.  "I don't mind watching Shaye, you know that.  You're still doing dinner over here tonight, right?"

Rachel nodded. "Sure!  It'll just be for a few hours. I'll spend the morning with Clinton and then we'll come back here. I'll be back before Rio is home from school!"

"Promise, Rachel."

Rachel clapped her hands together and kissed Haley's cheek. "I promise!" she said eagerly, rushing off to get ready.

Haley sat down with Shaye.  "So what do you want to do?" she asked the little girl. 

"Itsy bitsy!" Shaye said, moving her little fingers like the little spider.

With Darryl gurgling happily next to her, Haley began to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider with Shaye.

At least 10 times later...

"Itsy Bitsy!" Shaye called out happily again, clapping her hands.  "Again! Again!"

Haley hid her smile.  "Again? Wouldn't you rather do Pat-a-Cake? Or Ten Little Ducks? Anything?"

"Itsy Bitsy!" the toddler replied firmly.

Rachel eagerly hurried up Clinton's walkway.  A full day with Clinton alone! She couldn't wait until Shaye was ready for school so she wouldn't have to ask Haley for favors.  Psht! Haley liked to act like a saint since she hadn't dated since Jason was born.  8 years was a little bit too long to go without sex in her opinion!
The moment she walked through the door, he pulled her into his arms and starting kissing her.  "I thought you'd never get here!"

Rachel reached around Clinton's back and started pulling his shirt off his head.  "I told you Haley would watch her!"

Together, they stumbled up the stairs.

Rachel wasn't the only one with a romantic rendez-vous.  "I'm glad you agreed to meet me," Dr. Wyman said.  
He glanced towards the Science Facility with a wry grin.  "I didn't really expect our first date would be here, though."
"I thought it might be fun to show you around.  I sold some of the specimens I created to the science lab when I moved.  They have them on display with the artistic renderings that Haley created."  Her smile fell.  "Unless you'd rather do something else," she finished lamely.  She was so stupid.  Why would he be interested in her unfinished project?

He reached for her hand.  "I'd love to tour the science facility with you.  It sounds amazing," he told her.
"This way, then!" she said eagerly, reaching for his hand with a small smile. 

Haley checked her watch and sighed.  It was almost 1 pm and Rachel wasn't home yet.  "Come on, sweetie. Let's take a potty break and then I'll call your mom."

I knew it!, Haley thought irritably the third time Rachel didn't pick up the phone. Rio was due to be home any minute now and Rachel and Clinton still hadn't shown up.  She knew Rachel was going to flake out!

Maritza unlocked the door and headed inside.  "Hey. I'm home!" she called out in greeting.  "How was my little man?"
Haley turned around with a smile. "He's been an absolute angel," Haley told her.  "So? How was your date?!"

Maritza grinned widely.  "It was nice," she said coyly.  "We went to see my specimens and then toured the science facility.   He said he'd give me a tour of the hospital for our next date," she laughed.

Shaking her head, Haley laughed with her friend.  "I guess if it works for you!" she teased.

Maritza looked around.  "Is Rachel home yet?"
Haley frowned and shook her head.  "No. Not yet," she answered, her voice laced with irritation.  "And I've tried calling her three times."

Maritza let out a low whistle.  "Oh no, Rio's going to be so disappointed.  She might show up in time, though!" she said, trying to look on the positive side.

"You know better than that," Haley said coldly.

Rachel jumped from bed, "Omigod!" she cried out.  "Look at the time!" She scrambled to the floor, looking for her bra.

Clinton leaned back against the pillows. "What's the big deal? We'll take him out for pizza another night.  Just call them and tell them we got hung up and then come back to bed!"

Rachel popped up, wriggling into her bra.  "No! I can't! I promised! Dammit! I can't believe I fell asleep!" she said fretfully.  "Where did my shirt go?"

Clinton sighed, seeing that he wasn't going to be able to talk Rachel back into bed with him.  "I think it's on the stairs."

Rachel slipped into her jeans and then hurried out the door.  "Come on, get ready!" she panicked.  "We have to go!"

Hesitation passed over his face. 

"What?" Rachel asked, stopping.  "What's wrong?"

"I just don't want the first time I meet Rio to be when I've kept him from his mom..."

Tears sprang to Rachel's eyes. "Clinton! You can't change your mind! I told Rio we'd have dinner with him tonight!"

"I know, sweetie," he said, standing up and holding her hand. "But he's already going to be mad at me for dating his mom.  Maybe I can meet him another night."

"Fine," Rachel said in a clipped, angry tone.  "Whatever. I have to go."  She found her shirt on the newel post and slipped it on, slamming the door on her way out.

Haley and Maritza sat down with the boys for dinner.  Haley shot the sullen Rio a sympathetic look.  "You know your Mom.  She probably lost track of time.  I know she was really looking forward to having a nice dinner with you and her boyfriend."
"Whatever," Rio said.  "I didn't want to meet him anyway."
Haley glanced across the table towards Maritza. 

Maritza took a shot.  "I know you were really nervous about meeting Clinton. You know you can talk to us if you need to," she offered.

"I don't care," Rio said, not meeting her gaze as he continued eating.

"What if he's actually a prince from another country and he wants to lay low and he met your mom and fell in love with her. When they get married, you'll be a prince, dude!"

Rio just ignored him.  

Rachel raced in the door at breakneck speed.  She saw everyone getting up from the dinner table and felt a spurt of irritation.  "You ate without me?!" she complained without thought.
Haley snapped, crossing the livingroom to her friend's side within seconds.  "Do you ever once think about someone other than yourself?" she demanded angrily.

"What is your problem?" Rachel asked, taking a step back.

Haley fisted her hands at her sides.  "One - you promised me you'd be back before Rio got home from school," she said, holding up one finger.
 "I'm sorry I'm late! I fell asleep!" Rachel interrupted.

Haley ignored her, plowing on, holding up a second finger.  "Two - you didn't answered your phone the million times I called to see if you were okay!"

Again Rachel interrupted, "Look, you know I'm a heavy sleeper! I can't help it!"

"And three - you broke your promise to Rio!" Haley finished, shoving her three fingers in Rachel's face.

"Clinton said..."
"STOP IT!" Rio yelled loudly from the kitchen,  shaking from anger.  Haley and Rachel turned towards him with their eyes widened. "Stop fighting! I don't care.  I. Don't. Care!"
With a quiet sob, he ran upstairs, "Just leave me alone!"   Haley watched Rio run from the room and felt untold guilt for arguing with Rachel in front of him.  She wanted to go after him, but was worried he needed a little space.

Rachel glanced down at the floor.  Tears pricked her eyes again and she swiped at the tears uselessly.  "I got here as soon as I could!" she mumbled to the room.

Haley glanced back at her friend with a frown.  "Well, it wasn't soon enough," she said, stalking upstairs.

With emotions running heavy in the house, Maritza swept up Darryl in her arms and headed to their room.  "Don't worry, I'm never going to leave you like that," Maritza promised her son, holding him tightly against her.  Sometimes she just didn't understand Rachel at all.
Jason headed into the room they shared in the attic.  "Hey Rio," he said as he climbed up the stairs.

Rio sighed heavily.  "What?" he asked with annoyance.  
"I wouldn't like my mom dating either," he told him.