Creating Two New Novels. Writing One Chapter Weekly. Podcasting As I Go. Welcome to The Experiment.
Chapter 4, Part 1 Summary: We learn why Dominic allows Lily to date women. And, it’s a bad day all around for Dominic, Carson, Lily and Ava.
Jane’s Favorite Line: “I don’t have to ask. I’ve seen porn before.”
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Chapter 4 Part 1
Dominic did a quick calculation in his head. He arrived at the conclusion that today was not going to be a good day for him.
“I hope to have sex way before then.”
Those last words of Lily’s sparked a slow burning fire of irritation inside of him that Dominic knew would simmer all day long.
“Thank you,” Lily murmured. Her body had ceased shaking thirty seconds ago. Her eyes were still closed and, if Dominic had to guess, her fingers were still inside of her, but motionless. Both rooms – his and hers – had become comfortingly quiet after Lily’s last few verbal expressions of pleasure faded. The proof of this was displayed by Rusty’s reentering the room and lying down at Dominic’s feet. Anytime Lily’s voice hit a certain octave, it worked better than any dog whistle or shock collar would at causing Rusty to tuck his tail between his legs and dart out of range.
Lily was overly relaxed now. Dominic knew she would drift off to sleep within the next few seconds. Without saying goodbye, he logged off. The scene of Lily, her head becoming heavy with sleep and starting to droop to the right, was cut off. The picture of the two of them at Navy Pier took its place.
Dominic became nostalgic for that moment in the picture. Just the two of them. But in reality, he knew it had never been just the two of them. He had gotten Lily pregnant when she was sixteen and he was twenty-one. They had always been at least three. But he married Lily out of love, not because of Nathan. Nathan, however, was the reason he agreed to let Lily explore her bisexuality. Generally, where Dominic came from, the women were the ones who trapped men with a baby. In their case, Dominic didn’t want Lily to feel trapped. He didn’t want her to feel she had started life too young and never got the chance to experience life the way she wanted to live it. But Lily never stopped wanting to live it this way. With both a male and a female in her life romantically. Dominic didn’t know what to do except to continue to love her. At least she had never talked of wanting more than one of each. And Dominic filled the male quota.
Rusty’s head shot up. A split second later, he hurried to legs and dashed out of Dominic’s office.
“What’s up, Rusty? Daddy’s been gone too long?” Dominic could hear Nathan rubbing the dog’s head and the dog in turn washing Nathan’s face with its tongue.
Damn it. Dominic sighed. If he had sped up his sexy time with his wife by two minutes, he would have left the condo in plenty of time to avoid having to interact with his son for another twelve hours at the earliest. How ridiculous would it look if he slid under his desk until his son passed by the open office door?
“Lets get you fed.”
Dominic stood his ground. He would not hide from his seventeen-year-old son. Well, actually, he stayed seated. He decided the massive glass desk acting as a barrier provided the best protection for his son’s life.
Nathan had halfway cleared the opening of his dad’s study before he noticed Dominic was inside of it. Dominic pretended to shuffle through a stack of papers, giving his son the opportunity to pass unnoticed. The moment of truth had come…and Nathan hesitated. He couldn’t decide if he should rush back out the front door or quicken his pace to his room before he caught his dad’s attention. He made the decision to push on when Rusty, impatient with hunger, barked his command to be fed.
Damn it. Both boys thought. Dominic had no choice but to look up.
“Hey, son. Didn’t hear you get up.”
“I just got in.”
“Explains why Rusty’s hungry.”
Nathan squatted down to the dog and rub both of its ears. In the animated voice people only use with dogs, and no other animal he said, “Rusty’s always hungry. Aren’t you, boy? Plain greedy.”
The dog licked Nathan’s face in agreement. Nathan stood. “I’m a go get him feed.”
“Don’t work too late.”
“You sound like your mom.”
Shoot! Slip of the tongue. Dominic almost made it home free. “She says, ‘hi’.”
“ ‘Hey’,” Nathan replied dryly and turned to leave.
Common sense said to let him go. To let it go. But, perhaps, misery does love company. “Don’t you want to know how she’s doing?”
Nathan turned to walk away from the door. “I assume she’s having a blast.”
The disgust dripped from his son’s tone. It was an unsavory ingredient added to the simmering irritation his mother sparked earlier. “You don’t have to assume, you can ask.”
“I don’t have to ask. I’ve seen porn before.” Damn it. It was too early to deal with this mess. Why hadn’t that last red light caught him? He could have just missed his dad and avoided him for another twelve hours.
It was pointless to hope that his dad hadn’t heard him, but he could keep walking towards the kitchen as if he hadn’t heard his dad call his name. Nathan decided to go with that plan. The golden retriever followed him, happy to be one step closer to breakfast.
Nathan hadn’t heard his dad call his name, because Dominic hadn’t called it. Dominic had known Nathan would reply to his question with the same smart mouth he inherited from his momma. It was his fault for egging him on. That and the desk had done its job. A bruise was developing on each of Dominic’s thighs from slamming them against it when he shot to his feet at his son’s words.
Carson wasn’t having the best day either.
“How long will you be here?” His back was to the phone on his desk. He sat with his chair facing the window, watching the leaves on the weeping willow blow in the wind.
“It’s just a stop-over. Seven till ten,” Kate’s voice sounded full and happy. “Plenty of time for dinner, if nothing else.”
Seven. Carson never missed dinner with Ava and Sarah. Never. Come hell or high water, the three of them sat down at that table together Monday through Friday. The one thing didn’t change after Ava decided to become a lesbian. It was the one thing Carson would not let change.
A laugh that sounded as young as the adult intent behind it filled Carson’s ears. Kate no longer had him on speaker. He could picture Kate lifting the phone to her ear as if she had an important secret to tell. “If nothing else.”
Seven. Carson had never missed a date with Kate either. Out of all of them, Kate was his favorite. She passed through the town half a year ago and happened to pass right by Carson. Nothing attracted Carson to her more than the fact that she knew nothing about him. Nothing about his work, how much money he made, his reputation around town and she sure as hell didn’t know about his and his wife’s shared preference for females. Her ignorance of that last detail alone made it easy for Carson to over look the woman’s flaws. He purposely decided she was big-boned versus fat. Her hair was bone-straight versus thin. Her being forty-seven and him being only thirty-five made her mature versus old. Her voice was unique instead of annoying and so on and so on and so on.
“Yes, Kate,” he exhaled extremely annoyed at having to choose. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to change my schedule around for tonight.”
“Really?” There wasn’t a hint of disappointment in Kate’s screeching voice. “What’s going on tonight?”
“I have out of town guests visiting. I’m not sure if I can trust them to behave on their own.”
Kate laughed. “Well, we can look at this one of two ways. It’s only three hours. Nothing to lose sleep over. I’ll see you next time. Or, it’s only three hours. How much damage can they cause?”
An image of Ava and Lily in a lip lock flashed before Carson’s eyes. His eyes narrowed and his fist tightened. “That is the million dollar question.”
“Not at all,” Kate lowered her high-pitched voice to the point she sounded like a whispering chipmunk. “The million dollar question is how much damage can we cause?”
Lily was having a great day. She sat crossed legged on the hospital’s floor mixed in with Ava’s circle of children. In her arms, she held a beautiful, sleeping crack-baby. The nurse who handed the baby to her used a medical term for the condition that Lily didn’t quite catch, but she knew it meant crack-baby.
Initially entering the room, Lily had felt a wave of sadness for the children. So much so that she preferred to leave than face the reality that sometimes, life sucked. Even for the very young. Before she could make her exit, a fragile little boy pulled his wheel chair beside Ava and hugged her legs.
Ava lifted him out of his chair. She spun as she hugged him. “Do you have your books all picked out for me?”
“Good! I can’t wait to read them. And…” she switched the boy to her right hip and turned to face Lily, “I can’t wait for you to meet my best friend in the whole wide world.” Ava touched her forehead against the boy’s and whispered, “Other than you.”
“I’m Lily.” Lily willed her smile to look happy and not sad. The boy’s legs were in braces and dangled lifelessly in the air. Ava had to be using all of her own strength to hold him on her hip, because he was unable to lock on. His legs couldn’t be his only health problem because he was also extremely thin. Lily didn’t know how to further her introduction. Shaking hands wasn’t something you did with kids and pats on the head are for pets. But, he was sick. Lily didn’t want him to think she was scared to touch him.
The boy solved her dilemma. “I’m Roberto.” He held both of his arms out and leaned from Ava’s hip towards Lily.
“Whoa!” Ava quickly readjusted and smoothly guided Roberto into Lily’s arms. “Here you go.”
Once draped around Lily’s neck, Roberto squeezed for a big hug.
“I don’t know if you noticed, but we’re huggers in this part of the country.”
“I’ve noticed,” Lily said returning the hug and feeling a deep sense of contentment.
Lily, Roberto, the baby in her arms and about eight other kids sat in a tight circle listening intently to Ava read a book from Dr. Seuss, another from Maurice Sendak, and back to Dr. Seuss. The kids in Ava’s circle were all mild in temperament. Most were naturally so, but a few were made that way as a side-effect of their medications or were simply worn out from battling with their respective illnesses for so long. The more energetic kids were in Sarah and Emanuelle’s circle, who acted out the stories they heard. The two contributed one hundred hours a semester to volunteer work. The small town’s power couple, Lily nicked named them.
Forty minutes into story time, a ready-to-pop pregnant woman noisily entered the room. She nor her two young boys nor her toddler-age girl spoke a word, but the woman’s very presence was loud. Her orange jumper outfit wasn’t too quite either. She was truly ear-splitting in contrast to her youngsters. They were dressed as if they represented the president of the United States. Their mom, her blonde hair with ends died purple and tattoos peeking out from every exposed limb, look like a perfect representation of a Suicide Girl model. Lily liked her. Or, Lily would have like her if the way the female smiled and made a beeline straight for her hadn’t caused Lily to think better of it.
Three boys from Sarah’s group ran over to the newcomers while they were in route to Lily and circled the boys. “Sit with us!”
The popular youngsters looked to their mom for permission.
“Sure they can sit with you. Take Kaliey for me boys,” she spoke with the excited tone of the children as she placed the girl down on her thick, unstable legs. Without a hint of complaint about the wobbly tag-a-long, the girl’s barely-older-than-her brothers each took one of her hands and steady the girl as they made their way to the group.
The woman stood back up, teased out her half purple, half blonde hair using her fingertips and started for her target again.
“Hi. Can I sit with you?”
Lily looked up. If the girl told Lily she was pregnant with sextuplets, Lily would believe it. “Can you make it?”
“Yeah, I can handle it,” she reached out to steady herself on Lily’s shoulder. “Getting up is the hard part.” She did manage to sit down gracefully on the floor next to Lily. “There. All good.”
Lily let a smile flicker on her face and then pretended to be concerned with whether or not the baby in her arms was comfortable.
“I’m Chase. What’s your name?”
Even her whisper was loud. The kids didn’t seem to be distracted, although Lily thought Ava had picked up her reading pace. She couldn’t be certain.
“Is that your baby? Mine are right over there. Bailey, Nick, Kaliey, and unknown,” she said waving her hand over her belly. “Five, four, two, and eight months in the oven.”
“She’s not mine.”
Ava didn’t read faster, she skipped pages completely. She’d read the kids another book, but she wanted to separate Chase and Lily as soon as possible.
“Do you have any kids?”
“The end!” Ava’s raised voice caused both Lily and Chase to look in her direction. “I’m gonna take a short break and I’ll be right back to read the last book. Okay?”
“Okay,” the children replied in unison and immediately turn their attention to playing with one another. Ava walked over to Lily and Chase’s end of the circle, but remained standing. The two on the floor tilted their heads up towards her.
“Good morning, Chase,” Ava wore what Lily assumed was her, “smile and bear it,” grin that she had told her about earlier. “Would you like to read the next story?”
Chase smiled back. Hers was more of a, “show your fangs” smile. “You go ahead. I’m having a good time learning all about your cousin.”
The word “cousin” burst through Ava’s ears and shattered her eardrums. That was the only possible explanation for how a room with thirty kids could fall silent in an instant. Not completely silent. Her heart was beating inhumanly loud and each time she swallowed the noise amplified louder than Niagara Falls.
Lily wouldn’t have introduced herself as her cousin. She learned in the last twenty four hours how impossible that is for anyone to believe. Ava glanced at Sarah. She lay on the floor with her eyes closed. Emanuelle leaned over her for a kiss. Sleeping Beauty. Ava saw the kids laugh and mouth the words, “Gross!” and “Disgusting!” and “Ewe!” but no sound. Still no sound. Ava dismissed the thought. Sarah is a discerning child and Emanuelle is completely loyal to Sarah. Lily’s reason for visiting was safe with them. Then…where would she get that idea? Ava knew she needed to say something. Something. Now! What?
Ava’s smile didn’t waver, but the seconds ticked by. Lily’s heart went out to her. Ava hadn’t lied. She was not quick on her feet. Lily, fortunately, was.
“Based on the saying I thought it was black people who are suppose to look alike.”
Chase crinkled her nose in judgment. “What?!?”
Lily smiled her sly smile. The offensive approach always worked. Now to play innocent. “Oh. Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend. My husband is black and we have all of these ‘crazy white people’ versus ‘crazy black people’ jokes. It’s all in fun.”
“Oh, got ‘cha,” but she sounded uncertain.
Satisfied at leaving Chase stunned, Lily looked up at Ava. “Nice reading.”
“Not much to saying, ‘Green eggs and ham,’ fifty times. I’m was a pro by page two.”
Lily skillfully and gently wrapped her sentences around Ava like a rope in order to pull her back from whatever devastating place Chase’s words had took her to. Although Ava replied in her upbeat manner, part of her mind was elsewhere.
“But I had them asleep by page two. Proof is in the pudding,” she slightly lifted the sleeping baby as evidence. “Really, your good with kids, Ava.”
“You two don’t look alike at all,” just hearing Chase’s voice made Lily cringe. Hearing her make her way back to her relationship status with Ava made Lily want to put the baby down and take a swing. “I was only going by what Carson said.”
Did she place her hand on her belly? Was that on purpose or did the baby kick? Ava didn’t know. Her hands were starting to sweat.
Lily tried to speak before Ava took the bait but didn’t make it on time.
“Carson?” Ava’s dependable smile was on her face despite the slight tremble in her voice. “When did you speak to him?”
“I-” Chase slid her hand over her belly, “Good, Lord, this baby is strong! I bet it’ll be another boy. Another girl is unlikely. We were lucky to get Kaliey. Not a soul in Chad’s family ever had a girl.”
Ava’s smile trembled. Why could she hear Chase, but no one else?