Sharlee had already grilled some chicken breast and made a big pot of soup the night before to eat for their lunch today. So she set the soup simmering on the stove after she and Sky returned home. Then she went into Skylar’s playroom. She knelt down to Skylar.
“Of course we can make your favorites!”
She helped Skylar remove her boots and took off her own. Then Skylar went to get her chef’s hat and apron.
Sharlee had brought the mail inside earlier after she and Skylar had arrived home, but she hadn’t looked at it yet. While she waited for Skylar, she looked at the mail and saw a letter addressed to her.
Sharlee smiled at her baby girl thinking about the fact that Sky was the most important part of her life. She realized that she would not be able to accept the offer in the letter. It would not work out, and so she put the letter aside literally and figuratively.
They went into the kitchen together and started baking the cookies. They baked chocolate chip and also oatmeal with raisins cookies.
“Yes, lots more!”
Sharlee let Skylar add the raisins to the mixture.
“Another cookie, Mommy!”
“After lunch, Skylar.”
Skylar stomped off into the livingroom and asked to watch the “Rugrats.” Sharlee and Noah liked to watch any new show before they let Skylar watch it to make sure that it was appropriate, but Skylar had watched it at her last play date. So Sharlee decided to take a chance and let Skylar watch it while she finished cleaning up the bowls and pans that they had used to bake the cookies. She kept checking on Sky. Sky seemed to be enjoying the cartoon.
Skylar was looking at Noah with a serious expression on her face, and so Noah knelt down to talk with her.
“Was somebody mean to you?”
Noah picked her up, and they went into the bathroom to wash their hands.
“Thank you, Sweetie!”
“Babe, what’s this?”
“Oh, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s a letter informing me that I’ve been accepted to attend a special two week lab course in Albuquerque. I’m not going to do it though.”
Noah read the letter. It sounded like a great opportunity and honor for Sharlee. It would be a notch on her curriculum vitae and put her in higher demand when she started looking for a job in her field.
He knew the reasons why she wasn’t doing it. It was because Albuquerque was over an hour away, and it would mean a big cut in her time with Sky. However, he couldn’t let her pass this up without even trying. They would have to find a way to make it work out for her.
She soon saw where Skylar got the idea of throwing a temper tantrum. Skylar hadn’t done it since that first day, but Sharlee decided to talk with her about the characters on the show. Most of the characters were adorable toddlers, but one was a spoiled character called Angelica. It was her behavior that Skylar had imitated.
“No, that wasn’t very nice for her to do that, was it?”
“I dun think so.”
“I think it’s best if you don’t copy what you see on the television. If it is a show that has things that Mommy or Daddy want you to learn, then we will make sure to tell you. If it’s a show just to watch and enjoy, Mommy and Daddy will tell you then too. Rugrats is a show to watch and enjoy, but not to imitate. Do you understand, Sweetie?”
Niki unpacked the last box in her bedroom and looked around her. Although she was still upset because they had moved from Anne Arbor to Santa Fe, she had to admit that this was a nicer house than the one they’d had in Anne Arbor. At least here she and her younger sister, Deborah, no longer had to share a room.
“In a couple of months before school starts.”
“But this will be my senior year. We can’t move!”
Niki didn’t say any more then, but she was very disappointed. She’d have to leave all of her friends and her boyfriend! Things had finally fallen into place during her junior year, and she’d been looking forward to her senior year.
She’d known most of her friends since preschool, and she and Cody had been an item for the past two years. How could her parents make her give all of that up now!
Deborah had been excited about the move, and as soon as they arrived home, she found all of the information she could about Santa Fe on the internet. Now they were living in Santa Fe despite Niki’s protests.
Niki’s new bedroom included a windowed alcove that had been perfect for her studio. She started a painting. Over the years her painting had given her an outlet for her frustrations as well as for her creativity. It was her passion, and she had a natural talent. Niki’s father knocked at her door, and she told him to come inside.
He sat down near her.
“Niki, I want you to know that I understand how hard this move has been for you, but I promise that it is the best for us. Now, I’ll have the money to send you to whatever college you choose. My new position will be less stressful, and I’ll have more time to spend with you before you leave. I did this for all of us. I love you, Niki.”
From that moment on Niki was determined to make the best of it. She found an empty seat in her homeroom class on the first day of school. Most of the students around her had known each other for years now, and so she felt very alone and uncomfortable. She looked around the room and stopped on a face that was a little bit familiar.
Niki smiled and told Cara what she remembered. “You used to live in Anne Arbor and attended Anne Arbor Elementary! I remember you because I always thought that you had the prettiest shaped eyes!”
Cara recognized Niki too. They’d had different teachers, but Cara remembered admiring some of Niki’s artwork on bulletin boards at the school. Niki had done the same with Cara’s photographs. They checked their class schedules and saw that they had the same lunch period. They made plans to meet for lunch in the cafeteria.
At lunch, Cara introduced Niki to her cousin Kaylie and to some of her friends. Niki fit right in with the group. When she went home after school, she happily told her parents all about her day. Maybe living in Santa Fe would be alright after all. Her parents were relieved to see her so happy again.
George had recently received a promotion to Assistant Chief of Police, and he was telling them how relieved he was to have the whole process over now. Both he and another officer had been in the running for the promotion.
However, the other officer had used dirty tactics that had backfired. He’d illegally obtained information about Noah’s juvenile record and made it public implying that George had used his influence to have Noah’s record expunged. It had become evident that George had nothing to do with Noah’s case which had been tried in Bridgeport. However, the officer who made the accusation had clearly gained access to the information in an underhanded way. So he had bolstered the public’s trust in George’s ethics, and damaged their trust in himself.
Instead of harming Noah’s reputation, it had made him even more popular, giving him street credibility with older, hardened bikers and with younger men as well. Women saw him as a bad boy trying to go good because of the influence of a good girl, Sharlee, but still with an edgy side to his personality. Harley was pleased with the boost in Noah and Sharlee’s popularity and the ensuing increase in the sale of Harley products.
“Alissa, I’ve been very patient. Have you told Joy yet?”
Alissa excused herself from the others and then went outside to talk with Alex.
Alex was getting upset and raising his voice.
“Alex, I’m her mother, and I’m going to do what is best for my daughter.”
Alissa disconnected the call.
Alissa nodded her head, yes. “Dale, I’m too upset to go back inside. Let me have the car keys and I’m going home. You can get a ride home with George and Leslie.”
Dale handed her the keys. “You start the car and wait for me. I’ll make our excuses. I can see how upset you are, and I’m going home with you.”
Dale went inside and apologized to the others for ending their night early. He told them that something had come up but it was nothing that needed to worry them. Then he and Alissa drove home.
Alex was so upset with Alissa that he called his father. For the first time, he told his father that Joy was his daughter but asked him to keep it confidential. He explained why he was upset with Alissa. His father did not respond in the way that Alex expected.
“So you have known since before Joy was born, that you are her father?”
“Yes, and now that I’m back, we deserve the opportunity to have a relationship as father and daughter. If Alissa can’t manage to tell her, then I’ll do it myself!”
“You took that position and left the country making all of us think that you were dead. You knew that you would soon have a child. Yet, you trusted Dale and Alissa to raise her and nurture her for all of these years. They have poured a lot of time and love into making Joy the happy, well adjusted, loving child that she is today. You don’t have the right now to insist that they tell her according to your timetable. You’d better trust that Alissa will do what is best for your daughter or you’ll blow any chance at all of having a good relationship with Joy!”
Alex thought about what his father told him and decided that he needed to be patient for a while longer.
I’m sorry for such a long chapter, but I needed to set up the next storyline. I’m going to try very hard to update regularly again. Thanks for reading my story!