Read Mending Hearts Online

Authors: Brenda Kennedy

Tags: #romance, #love, #military, #abuse of prescription drugs, #recovery addictions

Mending Hearts (20 page)

BOOK: Mending Hearts
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Brooke walks up to me in the kitchen and
says, “I thought you said the birthday boy wanted a small

He did; he wanted something
small with just family and friends.” 

Emma, I think he forgot how
much family and how many friends he has,” Brooks says, laughing as
she fills the cooler with more drinks. 

Chapter Six: Family Ties


I’m cutting the watermelon when Emma walks
out of the house with Brooke.

Daddy, is the watermelon
ready?” Raelynn asks excitedly. 

It sure is.” I pick up the
platter and offer it to her so she can pick out her own

Thank you,

You’re welcome,

Are you having a nice
birthday, Daddy?” she asks.

I am, thank you. I think
this is the best birthday ever.”

There’s a lot of people

Yes, Rae, there sure

She hands me a handmade glittery card, and I
kneel down so I am eye to eye with her.

I made you this for your

I reach out and take the card and watch the
glitter sparkle and fall to the ground. I think that she is the
sweetest daughter in the world. “You made this just for me? Thank

Sorry it doesn’t have very
much glitter on it. I ran out when I was making

The card is covered with
glitter and I can’t imagine where she would have put any more
glitter. “I think it’s perfect just the way it is,” I say honestly.
On the outside of the card is a picture of a little girl and her
Happy Birthday, Daddy
is handwritten in purple-colored pencil. I open up
the card and see a picture of
two moms, a
dad, a little girl, and a smaller boy. A lake and a sailboat are in
the background. I wonder if this is a picture of our family in the
backyard. It reads,
I hope you have the
bestest birthday ever. I love you, Raelynn

Thank you, Rae.” I hug her
and say, “This is definitely the best birthday

I watch her as she skips off, eating her
slice of watermelon.

The adults share stories of their childhood
or stories of children they know, as the kids play with bubbles,
color, and use the sidewalk chalk in the driveway.

Doris sees the glitter on
the table from my birthday card from Raelynn and says, “When I was
in school, some of us girls went to see the Disney movie
Peter Pan
and learned that
if you want to fly you need pixie dust. Once you have pixie dust
sprinkled on you and you think happy thoughts, you can fly. Sally
asked her mother, ‘Do we have any pixie dust?’ Her mother did not
know what she wanted it for, so she said, ‘Yes,’ and gave her some
glitter. The girl went out to the porch steps, sprinkled glitter on
herself, and thought happy thoughts, and then she launched herself
into space. She stopped believing in pixies.” 

We all laugh and I look around to make sure
Raelynn isn’t listening. I don’t need her believing that pixie dust
exists or that it’ll make you fly. 

Lilly tells a story about when Mason and
Madison were small. They were doing crafts with glitter for the
holidays, and the next day when she went to change Madison’s diaper
the contents were very sparkly. She said she about fainted but upon
further inspection she could see silver glitter. She says she
bagged up the dirty diaper and called the pediatrician immediately.
To her pleasant surprise, she found out that eating small amounts
of glitter is harmless. She added that from that day forward, she
stored the glitter with the glue and scissors.

Danny shares a story about Max when Max was
a small child. “Max was so talkative that I told him people get
only 10,000 words per month. When you reach the limit, you can’t
physically speak until a new month starts. Anytime he was
especially talkative, like on car rides, I would say, ‘Careful,
you’re over 9,000 words by now.’” 

James listens, and I can see he is wondering
if this is true about having limited words. 

Everyone laughs at Danny’s
story and Cheryl says, “On one long car trip, Danny and I decided
that we would not say a word until Max stopped talking.
He never did shut up.”

Emma and I walk around the
yard with the platter of watermelon slices and offer them to
everyone. We have cake and ice cream after everyone sings “Happy
Birthday” to me. A table is covered with cards and gifts.
I open the gifts and thank everyone.
Mason and Angel got me a new nameplate for my desk
at the office and dad and mom got me a gift card for Ruth’s Chris
We spend the rest of the day
mingling with our family and friends. Angel and Mason don’t stay
long and I didn’t expect them to. I’m glad to see them here as a
family. From the looks of it, family life suits him. I never
dreamed I would see him with a diaper bag slung over his shoulder,
but today he was carrying two diaper bags and a baby

Everyone helps with the cleanup before they
head home. Emma and I bathe the kids and do our night-time ritual.
Since the school attack at the school, Raelynn has been sleeping in
James’ room and he couldn’t be happier about that.

Happy birthday, Alec,”
James says. 

Thank you, James. Good
night, Buddy.” 

Happy birthday,

I turn off the bedroom lights and say,
“Thank you, Rae. Good night.” I leave their door slightly cracked.
I turn off all the lights in the house and make sure the doors are
secured before setting the security alarm in the house. Emma is
already in the bathtub, taking a bubble bath, when I return to the
bedroom. The lights are off, and the candles scattered in the
bathroom illuminate the area. I take a drink of my beer and ask,
“Is there room in there for me?” 

You want to take a bubble
bath with me?” 

I thought I would if we
both can fit.” 

She scoots up and the bubbles slosh over the
edge of the tub. “I’m not sure, but I think four people can fit in
here at the same time.” She giggles and I have to smile. Her long
blond hair is pulled on top of her head in a messy bun and the
bubbles cover her to her chin.

I think four people are two
people too many. I can’t remember the last time I took a bubble
bath,” I say as I carefully lower myself into the hot water behind
her. “On second thought, I don’t think I have ever taken a bubble
bath before.” 

Well, Mr. Collins. You
haven’t lived until you’ve soaked in a hot bubble

Emma slides back into me until her back is
against my chest. She relaxes and I lower my head and kiss her
hair. “This is nice; remind me I like bubble baths.” 

This is

The water feels different and it smells
relaxing. I close my eyes and ask, “What makes the water feel so

She moves her head slightly; I think she is
watching me. My eyes are still closed, and I have no intentions of
opening them. “It really is a science to make a perfect bubble
bath. I add some lavender oil in the water to soften it, then I add
lavender bath crystal to add fragrance, and I also add vanilla
bubble bath to make the bubbles. The lavender and vanilla candles
also add to the ambience.” She snuggles back into me and strokes my
arm softly with her fingertips.

Well, Mrs. Collins to be, I
think you have mastered the science of a perfect bubble bath.” Emma
turns around and kisses me passionately.

Before we go to bed, Emma brings in some of
the candles from the bathroom into the bedroom. She sits on the bed
with a beautifully wrapped gift in her hands and an even more
beautiful smile on her lips. “I didn’t give you your birthday
present yet.” 

I thought you just did in
the bath,” I smirk. 

She blushes and says, “That was special, but
that wasn’t your birthday gift.” 

I get in bed and say, “I have everything I
have ever wanted right here.”

She leans in and kisses me and says, “You
always know exactly what to say.” 

It’s because I speak the

You are a very hard man to
shop for, Mr. Collins. But I think I was able to get you something
you’ll love.” She hands me the very large and very heavy

I shake it and listen for it to

Alec, just open it. It
isn’t anything great, but I think you’ll like it.” 

I carefully remove the bow and paper and I
can only stare at the beautiful family portrait that Emma had made.
“Emma, this is beautiful. How did you manage to do this? We never
posed for this picture.” I stare at the picture never taking my
eyes off of it.

I had someone help me.
Well, I provided the pictures of each of us and I had someone
combine them into one photo. It doesn’t look Photoshopped, does

After picking up the large double-matted,
oak-framed photo, I carefully inspect it. “No, not at all. Whoever
did this is truly talented.” 

When Molly offered to help
me with this, I had no idea the extent of her talent.”

I look over at Emma, who is admiring the
photo. “Molly did this?” 

Yes, she did it in a matter
of a few days.” She looks at me and asks, “Does it make it weird
that your ex helped me with your birthday gift?” She ponders what
she just said for a moment and looks sad. “It’s weird, isn’t it?
I’m sorry.” 

Emma, I love it. Molly is
very talented and it’s not weird at all. She is obviously very good
at what she does. I have the perfect place for this,” I say with a

You do,

In my office, right across
from my desk. That wall is bare and this will look perfect

The next night when the kids
are asleep I turn the television on. The hit series
is on, and it has an
episode I really want to watch. Emma comes out of the kitchen
carrying a plate of grilled cheese sandwiches and two sweet teas on
a wooden tray. “What are you watching?” she asks as she hands me my
tea and a sandwich. 

An episode of

She sits down and says, “I haven’t watched
this in a long time. I used to love this show.” 

They were actually talking
about this episode at work last night. It’s actually a topic that
touches close to home.” 

Emma sits down and joins in on the show and
asks, “What are they doing with that tiny white cooler? Is this
episode about organ transplants?” 

That isn’t a cooler, it’s a
teeny-tiny baby coffin.” Emma doesn’t say anything but watches the
show with me. She holds my hand and begins to cry. I know this is a
topic that shouldn’t be a problem, but it is.

Measles? Are you kidding
me? The tiny baby lost his life from measles?” 

I’m afraid so. It was the
main topic at work yesterday. This episode isn’t a true story, but
it could be. Dr. Smith, the pediatrician from Pediatrics
Associates, lost a patient last week from measles,” I say looking
at her sadly. “The parents refused to vaccinate their infant. The
baby went to preschool with another baby who also wasn’t

These parents who refuse to
vaccinate their children. I will never understand

They obviously didn’t lose
a grandparent or a great aunt or uncle to polio.” I add, “The worst
tragedy that ever befell playwright and screenwriter Charles
MacArthur and his wife, actress Helen Hayes, was the death of their
daughter, Mary. She became seriously ill and was hospitalized when
polio symptoms appeared. On the first day in the hospital, she was
put in an iron lung so it could breathe for her. On the second day,
she looked at her father and said, ‘Help me, Pops.’ On the third
day, she died. One year after Mary’s funeral, Mr. MacArthur had
inscribed on her tombstone, ‘Here beneath this stone doth lie / As
much beauty as could die.’” 

That is so

Sad, but true. Fortunately,
vaccines wiped out polio in most of the developed world; vaccines
completely eradicated smallpox. If people would vaccinate their
children against measles, we could eradicate measles,
People who are
thinking about not vaccinating their children should search online
for photographs of people with smallpox. They should also search
online for photographs of children in iron lungs.” 

The next few weeks Emma is busy with wedding
plans and Raelynn shows small improvements every day. She is still
skittish being in public places, so we spend a lot of time at home.
We don’t force her to go anywhere; we let her decide when she is
ready to go in public. Other than school, where her grandmothers
teach her and James, she really doesn’t want to be anyplace else
but home.

We shop online from home for wedding things
so Raelynn will be included. Emma and the grandmas went out to shop
for wedding dresses while Raelynn, James, and I stayed

Emma and the grandmas researched wedding
dresses online but after seeing a number of side-by-side photos —
one of the beautiful wedding dress advertised online and one of the
actual wedding dress received in the mail — they decided that there
was no way they would buy a wedding dress online. 

BOOK: Mending Hearts
9.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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