February 24, 2017

Jason: Week Thirty-Four, Day One

"Well?!" Moudy called from the bedroom.  "Are you going to come out?"

Liz stared at her reflection and scowled.  "No!" she called back.

She heard him chuckle through the door.  "Are you going to make me come in there?" he called. 

Liz grimaced, rubbing her fingers at the corners of her eyes.  It felt like almost over-night, a hundred new wrinkles had popped up.  A sure sign that she was growing up.  "I'm coming," she sighed, turning from her reflection.
"Well? What do you think?" she asked nervously, running her hands over her cropped locks.
"You look great, baby.  Come here so I can see it up close!" Moudy said, beckoning her to the spot beside him.
Liz giggled as she hurried around the bed and jumped on the mattress beside him.  
"It doesn't look stupid?" she asked again.  She'd dyed her hair for so many years now that she wasn't used to seeing the natural color.  "It doesn't make me look like my mom?"

"Never!" Moudy assured her.  He ran his fingers through her hair.  "It looks nice."

Liz sighed, leaning her head on his shoulder.

"What do you think about my new facial hair?" he asked, rubbing his hand on his chin.

Liz rolled her eyes at Moudy's attempt to sport some facial hair.  "When are you going to shave?" she asked innocently.  At his mock-offended expression, she laughed. "What?! It tickles when you kiss me!"

"I'll show you tickles!" he teased, pulling her under the covers with him.
Liz squealed as Moudy, and his scratchy peach-fuzz, ran over her entire body.

After their morning quickie, Liz and Moudy headed downstairs for breakfast.  "I was reading the newspaper this morning and saw the dive bar down by Stoney Falls for sale," Liz said over breakfast.  "Isn't that crazy?"
"Oh yeah?" Moudy said.  

"Yeah, wouldn't it be cool to buy it and fix it up?" she asked dreamily.

"You know how much is it?" Moudy asked.

Liz shrugged.  "I dunno.  Way too much!" she said with a light laugh.  "I was just doing some silly dreaming!"  She laughed again.  "Can you imagine me as a Master Mixologist?  Ha!"
The idea wasn't as easily dismissed from Moudy's mind.  His job in life was to make Liz's dreams come true.  He had $30k saved up.  He'd have to see what he could do about getting some more...
Jackson glanced between his mom and his dad with a frown.
"What'd you guys do to your faces?" he asked bluntly.

Moudy chuckled, rubbing his hands on his chin again.  "What? You don't like my scruff?" he asked.  "Mom does!"

Liz blushed at the reference to their morning romp.  "Shut. Up!" she muttered under her breath, avoiding Jackson's incredulous gaze.

Jason woke up slowly, sitting up in bed with a sick feeling in his stomach. He'd f*@$ed up.  Bad.
He squeezed his eyes shut, the memory of his affair nearly unmanning him.  The moment the woohoo was over, he'd been overcome with immense guilt.  Too little, too late, he recalled with self-reproach.  He'd hustled Brenda out of the locker-room and sent her on her way. 
He threw his legs over the side of the mattress and buried his face in his hands.  Plumbbob, what was he going to tell Cheri?   He pressed his palms into his eye sockets, his stomach twisting in agony at the thought of telling his wife. 

"Idiot!" he swore roughly.
He wasn't sure there was any way he could fix this.

Lacie fluffed her hair, pursing her lips and fluttering her lashes at her reflection.  "I look totally hot," she said over her shoulder.
Macy scowled, rolling her eyes.  Her twin was so vain!  
Suddenly, Lacie spun around.  "You know,  if you did your make-up a little different."  She eyed her twin critically.  "Or maybe your hair..."
Macy stomped her foot.  "Shut up, Lacie!" she asked, stomping her foot on the ground.  There was nothing wrong with her hairstyle or her makeup!
Lacie frowned.  "I was just trying to help!" she said defensively. 
"Well, I don't need your help!" Macy groused.  
Lacie's face fell.  "Why are you being like this?" she asked with what appeared like genuine confusion to Macy.
Macy cocked her eyebrow.  "You're never nice to me," she told her sister.  "You've always been mean!"
"But we're both older now!" Lacie implored.  "Don't hold the stupid stuff I did as a kid against me!  Can't you find it in your heart to forgive me?"
Macy eyed her sister, hope welling in her heart.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if she and Lacie weren't enemies anymore?  That they could become best friends like twins were supposed to be?  "You mean it?" she asked quietly. 

Jason pumped the weights, reveling in the strain of his muscles bunching.  He focused on the ceiling, attempting to clear his mind. 
A knock on the door broke his stride.

"Hey, do you have time to talk before the game?" Moudy asked, striding into the room.
"Yeah, sure," Jason said, standing up.  "What's up?"

Moudy hesitated a moment.  "So, I was wondering if you might want to be a partner is a business venture..."
"Tell me more," Jason replied without pause.  Moudy was his long-time friend.  Jason had money to spare and wouldn't hesitate to help out a friend. 

It was the least he could do...

He glanced at his watch.  "Talk fast, though. I've got to head out soon..."

Lacie convinced Macy to come downstairs and watch a show.   She flicked the TV on, channel surfing before landing on Reality Challenge TV.  

The commercials finished and then segued into a new Bachelor Challenge, introducing a handsome Monte Vistan.

Something niggled in the back of Macy's brain and she squinted at the screen.  Wait a minute, she thought, staring at the bachelor...
"...Isn't that Giovani?" Lacie shrieked, completing Macy's thoughts. 

The girls looked at each other and squealed.  "Omigod! It is!!" Macy said excitedly, bouncing up and down in her seat.  "We know him! That's Giovani!"

"...on the next episode of Sunset Valley Love Lorn..."

"Sh!!! Sh!! Quiet and listen!" Lacie said, shushing her sister.
Macy bit her lip and watched the intro sequence.

"...and now Giovani is ready to take another chance at finding true love.  But, will he find true love in Sunset Valley?" the voice-over announced.

Lacie chuckled.  "What a loser! He has to find true love in a reality show!"

Macy sighed helplessly.  "I think it's romantic!" she told Lacie.

"You would," Lacie scoffed, earning a sharp glance from Macy.

Jason clapped Moudy on the shoulder.  "You got it, man.  I'd be happy to help you and Liz," he told him.

"I'll call my attorney on the way to the game and have him run down to City Hall to do the paperwork."
Moudy sighed with relief.  "Awesome.  Thanks a lot, Jas!  Liz is going to be psyched!"

"Anything for friends!" Jason said, grabbing his jacket and sliding it on. 

 "Okay, now close your eyes," Moudy said excitedly.
"Alright! Alright! My eyes are closed!" Liz said impatiently.  "Can I open them yet?" she asked.
Moudy surprised her by kissing her lips.  "You can open your eyes now," he told her.

Liz spun around and saw the dive bar.  "What?..."  she glanced back at her husband, sputtering in surprise.  "Thats!... Did you?... Is it?...  MOUDY!"

Moudy laughed.  "SURPRISE! We've got a bar!"
Liz raced inside.  "Omigod, omigod, omigod.  Are you serious?  Is it ours?" she asked, running her hand along the bar.
 "You like it?" Moudy asked.

Liz stared around the bar in amazement.  She glanced at Moudy anxiously.  "It's too much," she said.  "Are you broke?"

Moudy shook his head.  "We have a business partner.  Splitting proceeds 50/50."

Liz sighed.  "Jason?"

Moudy nodded.  "Yup." 
 Taking a seat at the bar, he grinned.
 "So? Do I get to be the first customer?" he asked.
 Liz grinned as she began mixing up some drinks.
She poured two glasses of Pink Pearl.  "Bottoms up," she said, placing the party drinks on the bar.
 Moudy came around to the back of the bar, handing a drink to Liz. 
"I'd like to make a toast," he announced, turning and grabbing a drink for himself.  Lifting the glass towards Liz, he announced to the empty bar,  "To Liz - the almost Master Mixologist!"
Liz threw herself into Moudy's arms.  

"You are the best husband in the world!"

Cheri had just finished cheering and watched her team head towards the locker room.  She'd lagged behind to talk to Anoki, but he was busy with the coach. 

Her phone chirped with an incoming text message.  She grimaced.  She should probably answer Jason's texts.  She'd been so busy with cheering lately, she hadn't had a chance to text or video conference as much as she would have liked. 

She was already dreaming of her next visit home.
She pulled her cell from her pocket and checked the message.
Scanning the text, she felt the blood drain from her face, leaving her shaky and weak.  
"Hey, you okay?" Anoki asked, coming up behind her.  He reached out to steady her.
"Oh god," Cheri whimpered with a sob, turning into Anoki's arms.

The home phone downstairs began ringing late that night.  Jason heard it ringing and shot upright.  Cheri, was his first thought. 
He barrelled downstairs, stubbing his toe as he raced to the desk in the dark.
With his heart in his throat, he reached for the cordless phone.  "Cheri?" he asked breathlessly.