June 30, 2016

Haley: Week Twenty-Nine, Day Six

Haley rolled over, sighing when her hand brushed Johnny's empty spot. 

He'd accepted the position in Bridgeport and was working on a rotation now - 3 weeks in Bridgeport and 1 week, home with her. 

He was due back tonight or tomorrow night, depending on whether he got out of the office on time this evening. He was still learning how to manage all the paperwork that being a lieutenant entailed.
Haley tossed the covers off of her.  She wouldn't sleep any longer this morning.  She was worrying too much.

Johnny would only have this back and forth schedule until the end of Jason's senior year.  She didn't want to uproot him before he graduated from high school.  He'd taken it so hard when Rio moved out and she wanted to keep things as normal as possible for him.
As normal as I can keep it with a new baby on the way, she thought absently, rubbing her protruding stomach.

The doctor called it a geriatric pregnancy.  She scowled.  Apparently any pregnancy over 35 earned that insulting name.  She was nearing 38.  They'd had all the testing done and were expecting a healthy, happy baby.  But still, Haley worried.

After 6 months, Haley was finally getting used to Johnny being gone...
But at least she had plenty of time for her artwork!  She received numerous commissions for artwork that kept her busy. 

In fact, the Chun-Monroe Family Endowment for the Visual Arts recognized her for exceptional achievement in the field of painting.  She proudly hung the reward certificate up in the living room.

Slipping on her shoes, she padded outside to her garden.  She was so proud of the work she'd done to make Sunset Valley a greener city.  Perhaps she could make a difference in Bridgeport, as well...
Smiling, she tended to the garden, weeding, watering and harvesting the fresh veggies.  She couldn't wait for all her perfect plants to fully bloom!  She had fresh fruit - watermelon, grapes, apples and limes.  She had delicious veggies - tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh lettuce!
She placed her surplus into wicker baskets, then stood up, wiping the dirt from her hands.  This had quickly become one of her favorite parts of gardening - sharing the produce!

Haley loaded a few of her baskets on the back of her bike and set off to make her deliveries. 
She rang the doorbell at Ms. Beach's house, then waited for a response.
"Bless you! These tomatoes look perfect!" Evelyn Beach said, taking the basket Haley had handed her. 

"I'm glad you enjoy them. I threw in some extra strawberries for you. I know how much you love them!"

"Oh, you're such a dear!" Evelyn said, pressing a small tip into Haley's palm.  "I'll see you at the community garden, dear!"

She rang the doorbell at her second stop.
"Thank you, Haley! I've been needing more eggs and lettuce for my morning smoothies."

Haley's eyebrows shot up, chuckling as she handed him Rodrigo Gaither his basket.  "I've never tried that combination!" she admitted.

"Well, you should! Great protein kick! My dad, the pro-ball player, Gino, used to swear by it!" Rodrigo told her.

Haley nodded. "I'm just going to take your word for it!" she told him with a shy smile.

"You don't know what you're missing!" he called after her as she headed down the steps.

She pedaled towards her last stop.  But, she didn't have a produce basket for this house.  This was purely pleasure.
Rio opened the door and smiled warmly at his tia.  "Tia! Come in!" he told her, taking a step back.  "It's so good to see you!"
Haley stepped inside and gave Rio a quick hug, then turned to Nadine and little Caitlin.  "She's more beautiful every time I see her!" Haley grinned. "Can I hold her?" she asked hesitantly.
Nadine happily handed the newborn over, sighing deeply.  "It's so nice to have help once in awhile!" she said.  "I didn't realize she would cry so much! And not to complain, but Rio's at the base an awful lot!"

Haley smiled, rocking Caitlin in her arms and snuggling the precious baby.  "I was lucky, I always had Rachel and Maritza to help when the babies were younger," she said with a fond smile. 

She heard Rio scoff and knew what he was thinking, that Rachel couldn't have been much of a help.  She turned towards him.  "We were barely 19 when your mom had you, and only 20 when I had Jason.  We learned a lot about babies on our own.  Although, thank goodness we had Grandma Sonja!"

Rio shrugged.  "It doesn't matter," he told her.  It didn't matter what Rachel did or didn't do - he was going to do it better.  He was going to be there for his family. 

"Will you come in and stay awhile?" Nadine asked, hoping to smooth over the conversation and lead it away from Rio's mom.  He was still very sensitive about her.
Nadine led Haley into the living room and everyone sat down.  "So, how are you guys doing? Is everything going okay?" Haley asked, content to hold the now-sleeping baby.
Nadine sighed blissfully as she sat down, turning towards Rio and leaning against him as he slipped his arm around her.  "Wonderful!" Nadine announced happily.  Rio turned his head and kissed the top of her head and Haley smiled.

They were going to be just fine.

"So? How's Jason? Is he still mad at me?" Rio asked, concern etched across his face. 

Haley hesitated. "I don't think he's mad at you.  It was just a big adjustment for him. But, he's doing better.  He's stayed really busy with the team this year."

Jason headed into the school gym.  "Hey guys," he said, noting that teammates George Legende & August Wells were already hard at work. 

He was a little bit late after a make-out session with Vita under the bleachers.  They were still going hot and heavy.  They'd passed up 2nd-base and 3rd-base and were fast approaching a home run. She dropped hints that Prom was going to be the big day.
He slipped onto the weight bench and began working his quads. 
Coach Logan stepped up and began drilling August.  "Come on Wells! Push it like you mean it!" he said, getting in August's face.  "You think those puny muscles are going to win us our next game? You've gotta hustle like Black-Wolff more!"

Jason smirked, working out a little bit harder than before.  He had to prove he was the best.

"Hey man! Nice workout!" Jason said, bumping August on the shoulder in a show of support.

August flinched away from him.  "Damn. My muscles are burning!" he complained.  "Coach worked me hard. Why doesn't he ever get onto you like that?"
"Cause I'm MVP!" Jason bragged.  "And I've got the trophies to prove it!"
"Oh, shove it!" August said, making a face.  He was so tired of Jason bragging all the time!
"Whoa, what's up?" Jason asked, surprised by August's tone.  "I was just joking around!"
"I get it, alright! You're better at football!" August said.  "Quit rubbing it in my face!"
"Dude! I didn't mean to! I think you're great at football! We work well together, right? I throw. You catch and run!" Jason said earnestly, pantomiming throwing the ball and doing a victory dance.

August blew out his breath and chuckled.  God, it was so hard to stay mad at Jason.  And he really wanted to hate him sometimes.

Jason headed inside, dropping his gym bag by the front door.  "Hey mom!"  he said with a wave.

"Hey sweetie," Haley said, returning his wave.  "How was practice?"

Jason shrugged. "Pretty good," he said.  "Coach said I was doing real good this year."
Haley turned back to the counter and continued prepping the salad.  "That's great, Jason! You should tell Rio!" she tossed out casually.

Jason slid into the barstool and shrugged again.  "Yeah, sure. I'll let him know," he said dismissively.  "Hey, do you think I can have some money to buy Vita a birthday present?" he asked. 
"Sure sweetie. How much do you need?" Haley asked, putting a salad in front of him.  She turned back and grabbed a plate for herself and sat down next to him. 
"$100 should do it," Jason chirped. 

Haley sputtered a moment, too surprised to respond.  "I don't know if that would be an appropriate gift at your age," she said cautiously.  "What on earth are you planning on buying her?!"

Jason grinned, shoving a few large bites of salad into his mouth.  "She said she wanted this awesome diamond necklace from the jewelry store.  It's a little expensive, but I don't want her to think I'm a cheapskate!"

Haley laid her fork down.  "I don't think not buying an expensive present makes you a cheapskate," she told him.  "Perhaps there's something else she'd like that's more reasonable."

"Aw, come on, Mom. She loves diamonds and I wanna make her happy!" Jason protested.  Man, it was so hard having to go to his mom for money! If he had a job, he could just buy Vita whatever he wanted! 

Haley was already shaking her head. "I'm sorry, Jason. I just don't think that's an appropriate gift to get her at this point."

Jason jumped up. "Fine! Just ruin my relationship, why don't you!"  

Feeling annoyed, he jumped on the treadmill that had been shoved in the back corner of the attic.  Best thing to do when you were pissed was to blow off some steam...

"Hey there sexy lady," Johnny said, stepping into their room.
"JOHNNY!"  Haley spun around, so excited he was home. 
"How're my girls?" he asked, loving rubbing her belly. 

Haley smiled.  "We're wonderful now that you're home," she told him.  "We missed you!"
Johnny growled low in his throat and crushed her against him.  "I missed you, too.  Christ, being apart is killing me.  How long until Jason graduates?" he asked in between kisses.
"Not soon enough..." Haley groaned as their clothes hit the floor.

June 29, 2016

Haley: Week Twenty-Nine, Day Five

Jason got out of bed, stretching as he sat up.  He glanced up at the top bunk, surprised Rio wasn't there.  Rio always slept later than he did...
Did he even come home last night? Jason remembered that Rio hadn't been in the room when he crashed last night.  Man, he was going to get in trouble!

He decided to cover for him...

Johnny sat down next to Jason.  "So, what're you up to?" he asked.

"Just watching the game," Jason said, glancing at him.  "Wanna join?"

Johnny settled back on the couch. "Sure, who's playing?"

"Llamas vs. Gnomes," Jason said, turning his gaze back to the game.  "Gnomes are up by 5 points."

Johnny made a face. "Come on Llamas!" he said, concentrating on the game and rooting for his team.
Jason's jaw dropped.  "You root for the Llamas?!" he asked with surprise.  "Lame!"

Johnny chuckled.  "You can't live in Bridgeport and not root for the Llamas!"

Jason scowled.  "Well, we're not in Bridgeport!"

Haley waved her hand in front of her face as she came in from working on the garden.  "Oh! I'm so sweaty! It's so hot out there," she said, lifting her hair off the back of her neck.

"Hmph!" Jason said, sitting back in his seat and facing forward to watch the game.
Haley smiled and sat down in the armchair.  "So who's winning?" she asked, watching the players run around on the field.  It all looked silly to her.  But, Jason loved watching his team, the Gnomes, play. 
"Where's Rio?" she asked, "Is he still upstairs?"
Jason turned to face his mom with a startled look on his face.  "Uh..."

Something's not right, Johnny thought, turning to face Jason.  "Where's Rio?" he questioned the kid.

Jason turned scarlet red.  "Uh... I don't know..."

"Jason..." Johnny pressed with a no-nonsense stare.

Jason caved.  "I don't think he came home last night..." he admitted in a small voice.
Haley gasped.

Johnny squeezed his eyes shut and prayed for patience.  "And you're just telling us now?!" he demanded.  "Christ!"  Quickly, he jumped up and pulled his phone out.

"Are you ready to tell them?" Nadine asked when she noticed that Rio was hesitating at the front step. 
Rio gulped as he stared at the front door.  Tia was going to be so disappointed in him...

"Yeah... I'm ready," he said, steeling himself for the coming scene.  I'm eighteen now, he reminded himself.  I can make my own decisions...

"I'll call my buddy on the force to have him keep an eye out," Johnny said, flipping through his contacts.  "Dammit.  I should've seen this coming after we spoke last night..."
"Hold on, I'll try calling him again," she said, pushing re-dial.
The phone began ringing by the front door.

"Tia?" Rio said, opening the door with Nadine on his heels.  He looked between his tia and tio cautiously, noticing that they were panicked and making phone calls.  Probably not a good sign... 
Johnny and Haley whirled around.  "Rio! Thank God!" Haley said, releasing a sigh, then angrily demanding, "Where were you?"  Her gaze flicked behind him to where Nadine stood.

Rio shifted nervously. "Err..."
"I... we... have some news..." he started warily.  Rio shifted again, obviously uneasy about whatever news he had to give them.

He glanced back at Nadine with a stricken look.
Nadine stepped up and took hold of Rio's hand.  "We're having a baby," Rio announced quickly, getting courage with her standing beside him.
Shocked, Haley and Johnny looked at Nadine as she rested her hand on her slight baby bump.  "I've been hiding it from my dad, but I'm about 13 weeks," Nadine told them.

It was then that Haley noticed the golden ring on Nadine's finger. 

Rio noticed where Haley's gaze was stuck and hurried on, "We just came from City Hall.  We're married."  He reached for Nadine's hand again and squeezed.  "No one will keep us apart ever again."

"Never," Nadine agreed, squeezing his hand back and grinning happily.
Haley stared, shocked silent.  She opened her mouth and then closed it again.  Rio was married with a baby on the way?  She glanced back at Nadine's baby bump and then over to meet Rio's gaze. 

Rio chewed his lip while he waited for Haley or Johnny to yell.  "Well... say something!" he said nervously.  "But, it doesn't matter what you say! We thought it all out last night.  I'm enlisting in the military and Nadine's going to stay home and raise the baby and they have family housing near the base where we can all stay."

Haley felt tears welling in her eyes.  Rio was going to have a baby and he was moving out.  Reaching up, she cupped his cheek.  "It feels like just yesterday you were a little boy," she said sadly.  But he wasn't a little boy anymore.  Truth be told, he'd been forced to grow up long before now.  

Rio met Haley's gaze, slayed by the tears he saw in her eyes.  She was as close to a mom as he had ever had.  "Tell me you're happy for us. Tell me we're going to be fine," he said, anxious and worried.  Despite his assertions that he was 18 and now an adult, he was still scared spitless.  And if Haley didn't think he could do this on his own...

"I am so happy for you," she told him, knowing what he needed.  "And you're going to be fine." It wouldn't be easy for the kids, but they genuinely loved each other and she knew that Rio would be a steady rock for both Nadine and their baby.  "You're going to be absolutely fine!"
Rio made a low noise in his throat and then threw himself into Haley's arms, giving her a fierce hug and squeezing his eyes tight against the tears burning in his eyes. He felt his fears and worries melting away in the face of Haley's conviction.   If Haley believed in him, then he knew everything was going to be fine.

Taking a deep breath, Rio stepped back and wiped at his eyes.  "I should go tell Jason..." he said, glancing towards the stairs.  "Is he upstairs?"

As Rio headed up the stairs, Haley and Johnny sat down with Nadine in the living room.  Haley clasped and unclasped her hands.  She'd only met Nadine a handful of times and wasn't sure what to say...
Meanwhile, Nadine sat nearby shyly, playing with the hem of her shirt and avoiding eye contact with the other adults.  She kind of wished she'd gone upstairs with Jason...

"Hey Jas..." Rio said as he rounded the corner into the attic, the room he and Jason had shared for as long as he could remember.
"Dude! Where've you been?! Did you spend the night with Nadine?!" Jason asked, bounding up off the bed, excited to see his best bud.  "Lucky dog! I tried to cover for you!  Boy!  Mom's going to kill you for not coming home last night!"
Rio swallowed heavily.  "Yeah, I saw Nadine last night," he said, trying to decide where to start.He blew out his breath.  This wasn't getting any easier to tell.  "Um, I found out she's pregnant.  We got married this morning."
"Oh man! That sucks! We're not going to be able to room with each other!"  Jason said. "You're probably gonna take Rachel's room, huh?  It's still got the crib in there!"
Rio glanced away.  "Actually, I enlisted.  We're moving to base housing," he said quietly.
"Wait. You're moving out?" Jason asked. "You can't move out! We had so many plans! It was going to be me and you, together forever!  I was gonna be a superstar athlete and you were going to be my manager!"

Rio held his arms out plaintively.  "Those are kids' dreams, Jas."
Jason clenched his hands in fists. "It's not a kid's dream!" he argued, his voice rising.  "I'm gonna be a superstar someday!"  He fought down his growing panic.  He couldn't believe Rio was leaving.  They were blood brothers!  They were gonna do everything together!  "God! I can't believe she tricked you into marrying her!" he said heatedly.  "Why'd you have to go and marry her?! We could've just raised the baby here! She could've even stayed if you wanted her to stay! There's plenty of room!"

Rio shook his head.  "No, I want to have a normal family.  I want my kid to know his mom and his dad.  I don't want to raise him like we were raised!"

Jason shook his head.  "I can't believe you're just gonna leave."
"Aw, come on, Jas.  It's time to grow up," Rio said quietly. "Look, we'll always be brothers. I'll give you some time to cool off, okay.  I'll call you when we're settled, okay?"

"Whatever."  Jason shrugged, looking away from Rio.

Jason threw himself down on his bed angrily.  "It's time to grow up, Jason," he said nastily, mimicking Rio.  "I want to have a family."   He plopped his chin in his hand.  "What the hell was wrong with the way we grew up anyways?" he shouted down the stairs, knowing that Rio was already gone. 

Now everything was going to be different, he sulked.
"Do you want to talk?" Haley asked, quietly coming upstairs.

Jason turned further away from his mom, giving her his back.  "No," he snapped.
Haley sighed and sat down on his bed beside him. "He's going to need us, you know.  It's not easy to be so young when you have a baby," she told him.  "And he's going to need our support."

"If he wanted our help, then he should've stayed here," Jason said angrily.  "He just couldn't wait to leave!"
Haley sighed and squeezed Jason's shoulder.  "He didn't do any of this to hurt you, you know."  She paused, dreading the thought that came to mind.  "Jason, you're not... having sex with anyone, are you?" she asked tentatively.

"NO!" Jason squeaked, rolling his shoulder away from his mom's touch. "God, Mom!" His cheeks and tips of his ears burned bright red.  He couldn't believe his mom was asking him about sex.  "Geez!"

Haley pulled her hand back and sighed.  "Okay. Well, we can talk later," she said, standing.

Haley sent in reinforcements.  "So, you wanna talk about anything?" Johnny asked.
"No! Go away! I don't want to talk about sex with you!"

Johnny smothered his chuckle.  "Good. I don't want to talk to you about sex either," he told Jason. 

Jason rolled his eyes and threw himself back on the bed, pouting.
Jason glanced down and saw the football on the floor.  He had an idea...
Leaning down, he grabbed the ball and held it up.  "Wanna toss the ball around?"

Jason scowled at Johnny.  "Fine," he said grudgingly.  "I need to practice anyway."  But he wasn't going to enjoy it.

Jason pulled his arm back and snapped it forward, letting the football loose.
It flew at Johnny at an incredibly fast speed.
Johnny caught it and felt his hand sting from the impact.  He shook his hand out and grinned back at Jason. 
"Christ, kid. Nice throw!" Johnny said, tossing it back to Jason.  "You've got a killer arm."
"Yeah?" Jason asked, proud to hear Johnny's praise.  Not like Johnny knew anything about football, but still...

"Hell yeah, Jas!" Johnny said. "You're going to have all the scouts looking at you senior year!"

Jason grinned, catching the ball and throwing it back to Johnny, making sure to toss it as hard as he could.  See, Rio, he thought.  It wasn't just a kid's dream! He was going to be a superstar!