|Losing It 7th in the FS Series
Author: Ms-Maggs PM
7th in the FS series.There's been lots of fun lately, but you never know when someone is going to lose it! If you didn't get enough Nick,Greg or Gris angst this season try here. GS,NOC,GrOC,BrLH,WC. CompleteRated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Chapters: 18 - Words: 173,905 - Reviews: 23 - Favs: 8 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 06-07-05 - Published: 04-29-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2372993
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Note: As of April 29th, all back chapters of the Feasibility Study Series have been posted in 6 installments (FS 1-71). This 7th installment, Losing It, is a WIP (starting at FS 72) and will have a new chapter added approximately every two days.
Written by: Ms Maggs / Edited by: KJT
Losing It – Part 1
August 21, 2005 (Day 121)
Mandalay Bay Hotel
Holding Tawny's hand, Greg strolled through the Mandalay Bay feeling like a million bucks. After a nice long discussion on his highly impressive, soon-to-published forensics paper, he had been able to impress his dad by sharing the news about the townhouse he and Tawny would be moving into soon…leaving out the part about getting it rent-free from his boss for dealing cards. Then he shared the wonderful news that he managed to save over thirty thousand dollars…neglecting to tell him 99.9 of the money was only received eight hours ago via a lucky pull at the Riviera. In the life of Gregory Hojem Sanders, too often the irritating son of a disappointed father, this day was turning out to be absolutely frabjous.
Mr. Sanders grinned like a Cheshire cat as he walked through the hotel with his successful son and the beautiful young lady he was certain would one day be his daughter-in-law. Although he loved his son unconditionally, there was no denying that over the years the boy tested his patience to an extreme. Thankfully, at age thirty, Greg finally pulled his act together and grew into the responsible young man Scott always wanted his extraordinarily gifted, but somewhat misguided, son to be. Not that he ever had any doubts it would happen…eventually…well, maybe a little doubt, but that was all water under the bridge now. In the life of Scott Franklin Sanders, too often the overbearing father of a frustrated son, this day was turning out to be surprisingly fantastic.
As Tawny breezed through the hotel, out of the corner of her eye she saw a radiant bride dressed in a billowy white gown on the arm of a handsome tuxedo clad man. The couple looked positively blissful and she instantly replaced their faces with hers and Greg's. It was only a matter of time until they would take that wonderful walk down the aisle, she was sure of it. With things going so well between Greg and his dad, he would no doubt work up the courage to drop the baby bombshell, and then the last roadblock to engagement would be removed. Well, except for the teeny tiny possibility that it wasn't Greg's baby. She re-figured her calculations. After the paternity test, Greg would tell his father and then the last roadblock would be removed. Understanding timing was everything she had no problem waiting. Well…as long as he didn't take so long that she could no longer squeeze her pregnant body into the flowing white gown of her dreams. Unless of course the baby turned out not to be Greg's, then she would settle for anything as long as she didn't lose him.
Smiling brightly as they came to a halt in front of the restaurant, Tawny took a cleansing breath through her nose. That's when she smelled it… raw seafood…the kind of horribly fragrant fish that pregnant women suffering from morning sickness never want to encounter…and certainly not when they're hiding the fact they're with child…especially not in front of their boyfriend's intelligent and observant father. In the life of Tawny Ann Cooper, too often a girl who was crushed by the rainbow while trying to launch herself somewhere over it, this smooth sailing day just turned into her typical nightmare.
"Here we are," Scott pleasantly announced when they reached the r.bar.cafe.
"Wow…smells great in here, Dad." Greg glanced around at all the people enthusiastically sucking down slimy oysters. "This was an inspired choice."
"Yes," Tawny twittered.
"Glad to hear it." Walking over to the hostess, Scott informed her, "Sanders, party of three, we have a reservation for 12:15."
"Yes, right this way." She gathered three menus and took off towards the back of the restaurant.
Gripping Greg's hand a little tighter, Tawny proceeded to go with the flow even though her stomach was churning. All around her people were slurping gelatinous mollusks from odiferous shells so she decided to keep her eyes planted on the floor. But even with her eyes averted, each step she took further into the rank establishment, her stomach seized up a little more.
"They have cooked fish here too, right, Dad?" Greg asked, aware that Tawny wasn't supposed to partake in raw fish while pregnant. "Tawny doesn't like raw stuff."
"Oh sure…there's even chicken on the menu."
"Great." Greg patted her back, relieved there wouldn't be any awkwardness. And when they reached the table, he even remembered to pull out Tawny's chair to impress both her and his father. In silence, he rejoiced over the perfection of the day. YES! I couldn't have my shit more together and dad doesn't suspect a thing about Tawny being pregnant! By the time this visit is over he'll be sold on Tawny and me. Then, when I get to California in a couple of weeks I'll break the baby news.
Scott smiled at his son's attentiveness. Becca was going to be even more depressed and bitter when she saw Greg in a couple of weeks. Turned out she could have had quite a catch if she waited for him to grow into his own skin. Silently he chided her. That's what she gets for not believing in my boy. She really should have had more faith, even when Greg was acting like a total lunatic, wearing eyeliner and singing those god-awful songs by that freakish little man who wore frilly shirts. What was his name? Oh right…Prince…then he changed it to that stupid symbol. How could I forget, because shortly thereafter, Greg threatened to change his name to the ampersand sign if I didn't back off about us playing in the father-son tennis tournament at the club. Then he went to a vintage clothing store and bought a bunch of those asinine pirate shirts just to piss me off and show me he meant business. Oh god…he looked like Captain Sexually Confused of the SS Effeminate and then Bev encouraged him by letting him borrow her silk scarves, because she didn't want to stifle his creative flair. And he wondered why Becca wouldn't date him? On second thought…I don't blame Becca at all.
When a waiter approached the table he pleasantly announced, "Hello, my name is Chad, welcome to the r.bar.cafe. Can I start you off with a drink and maybe our Special Sunday Shooter?" While he waited for a reply, he stared at Tawny…specifically at her breasts.
Her head swirling in sync with her stomach she only heard part of the waiter's question. "I'm sorry, what's your special today?"
With a delightful smile the waiter explained, "Our Sunday Shooter is a cocktail glass full of six juicy oysters swimming in a thick mixture of Grey Goose Vodka, Tomato Juice, Cocktail Sauce and Tabasco. Glides right down your gullet. Would you like to try one?"
"Uh…just a Sprite thanks." She forced a closed lipped smile as the putrid stench continued to work its black magic.
"Oooh! I'll have one of those!" Greg requested with anticipation in his voice.
"Make it two." Scott smiled and said, "And a nice tall glass of ice water in case any of those suckers gets caught in my throat. Then he turned to Tawny. "Would you like a different appetizer, Sweetheart? Order anything you'd like. Don't be shy."
As she contemplated the question she found herself mesmerized by a man at the next table who was hoisting a gunk-filled shell above his tilted head. Before she could turn away she saw him shake the ooze free and let it fall onto his outstretched tongue. In the process, some of the putrid juice slid down his chin and as if that wasn't already bad enough, she heard him choke, then proclaim, that one was huge…got caught in my throat.
Scott tapped her on the forearm. "Are you okay, Dear? You look a little vexed all of a sudden."
"Uh…" Swallowing hard she tried to think of an escape while struggling not to lose it. "I…I was supposed to phone a girlfriend who…" She paused to force the bile back down her esophagus then continued to drop hints for Greg. "…who is pregnant…she's feeling really sick lately. I felt rude interrupting our lunch to keep my promise…but now, I feel urgently different."
"Nonsense, don't break a promise on account of my impromptu visit," Scott pleasantly assured her. "Why don't you step out in the lobby and call her while…"
"OKAY!" With that she grabbed her purse and took off running. "Don't wait for me! It could be a long call!"
Scott looked at Greg. "That type of dedication to friends is an outstanding quality in a woman. Friendship is the backbone of marriage, Son."
"Yeah." Glancing over his shoulder he watched his best buddy rush out to presumably toss her cookies.
By the time Tawny reached the exit of the restaurant, she was in a full blown panic looking for someplace to hurl. When she saw a trash can near the elevator, she raced over, ripped off the lid and let loose…much to the horror of the many passersby on the bustling Sunday afternoon at the tranquil Mandalay Bay. After her third round of tortuous dry heaves she heard a familiar voice saying…
"Tawny? Can I help you?"
Holding her dizzy head, she turned her green face in the voice's direction. "Gil," She weakly greeted. "Yes…help me."
Luckily Gil caught her before she hit the floor. Instinctively he pulled her into his chest and smoothed his hand over her back. "Tawny? Where's Greg?" Now he felt even better about cutting the visit short at the mega-mansion.
When Ron finally closed the gap between himself and his son he saw a young sexy blonde pressed against Gil's body. "Whoa…now here's something I didn't know about you. All that talk about me hurting Sara…look who shouldn't have been casting stones. What…is your halo at the cleaners today, Hypocrite? You better not blame me for influencing you either. For the record, I'm appalled."
"What?" He stared at his father in disbelief. "She's my co-worker's girlfriend, not mine! I saw her vomiting in the trash can and when I reached her, she fainted. Did you think I rushed in here looking for a blonde and swept her off her feet in three minutes?"
Ron chuckled, "My record is two minutes and I assumed the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Sorry." When he heard the girl moan he asked, "What's wrong with her?"
"Morning sickness I assume." Gil pulled her away from his chest and gently tapped her cheeks. "Tawny…are you okay?"
When a hotel worker came over to remove and replace the trash can liner, Ron suggested. "Let's get her up to the suite where she can lie down."
"I doubt she's here alone," Gil commented as he took her over to a nearby bench. "Tawny…what were you doing before you got sick? Is Greg here?"
Finally out of her stupor she clutched Gil's shirt and rambled, "Greg's dad…he showed up in town without warning." Pointing in the direction of the restaurant she snipped, "He took us out to lunch at that disgusting fish place from hell!" Then she softened her tone. "The visit is going so well for Greg. His dad is so proud of him. I don't want to ruin the buzz. He can't find out Greg got me pregnant. His dad has lectured him about safe sex since Greg was fifteen! He'll lose it if he finds out he was irresponsible. But I'm so sick and I'm so tired. We haven't slept. We've been up all night since your party. What am I going to do? I'm supposed to be in the lobby making a call to check in on a sick pregnant friend. How can I pull this off?"
Considering his own past with a pregnant girlfriend and a disapproving father, Ron was instantly hooked by the story and taken with the young desperate girl who obviously loved her boyfriend dearly. "Here's what we do. Gil, you go into the restaurant and say you found Tawny in the lobby and she told you she was on the phone with her friend who was having a rough time. Then say she remarked it was very difficult to hear her friend in the noisy hotel, so you suggested she return with me to my suite and make her call from my land line. Tell them if she's not done before they are through with lunch, they should come up to the suite and meet her. She'll of course stay in the suite until they're done with lunch at the fish place from hell. Think you can pull that off…that is if you don't mind stretching the truth a bit, Gil?"
Tawny stared at the man with the plan and then said, "You're that guy who looked a lot like Gil, who was checking out Greg's mom when she was parking Greg's black Z here at the Mandalay last week."
"I'm Gil's dad by the way, and yes, I remember that gorgeous woman in the black Z!" Ron enthused and when he noticed his son's stare he said, "Hey, I'm old, but I ain't dead."
Tawny pleaded with Gil. "Will you do what your dad said while I go to his suite and rest? Pretty please."
Sighing, Gil helped the desperate girl to her feet. "Greg is going to have to tell his dad eventually, you do realize that, right?"
"Yes, but not today and not like this." With love in her voice she explained, "Greg is thrilled to impress his dad for once. I want him to have that feeling for more than a few hours. I'm positive he plans on telling him in California over Labor Day. So will you help?"
"Sure." Gil handed Tawny over to his father. "Make sure she doesn't fall."
"I'll take good care of her." Ron winked, "Remember…when stretching the truth it's best to say as little as possible."
"Thanks for the sage and unscrupulous advice, Dad," He grumbled as he headed for the fish place from hell feeling a little queasy himself all of a sudden.
When he arrived at the hostess stand he said, "I'm looking for friends of mine. If they had a reservation it would be under Sanders."
The young girl referenced her book and smiled. "Table forty-two, right this way."
As Gil followed the girl through the restaurant his appetite ignited.
"Gris?" Greg announced in a surprised tone when he saw his co-worker approach. "What are you doing here?"
"Gil." Scott stood and extended his hand. "How long has it been? Well, I guess since the lab explosion. Nice to see you again…and under much better circumstances."
"Yes." Gil returned the handshake. "I'm happy to report we've had a perfect safety record at the lab ever since the unfortunate event. And to answer your question, Greg, I bumped into Tawny in the lobby. She told me her friend was having a rough time and she was trying to talk to her, but it was too noisy. I suggested that she go upstairs with my father to his suite and make the call on his land line. She wanted me to tell you that she thought she'd be a while and make her apologies."
Scott pulled out her chair. "Why don't you join us in her place, Gil? I'd love to hear your perspective on my son's career switch from the lab to the field."
"Uh…" Then he noted the pathetic look in Greg's eyes. "Sure, I'd love to tell you what an outstanding job your son is doing in his new position." He pulled out a chair. "How about I start off by telling you how he saved my wife's life?"
His face exploding into a smile, Greg relaxed in his chair thinking…could this day get any better!
Meanwhile, in the private elevator to the Presidential Suite, Tawny felt weak again. So when they reached the 38th floor, Wayne, the elevator operator, scooped Tawny into his arms to carry her to Mr. Grissom's suite.
At the door, Ron entered his access code and when he opened it he instructed, "Just bring her back to the master bedroom."
From her position in an overstuffed chair in the living room, Angelina lowered her book and removed her reading glasses. One look at the extraordinarily young and buxom blonde in the elevator operator's arms and she jumped up screaming, "GUERO! You've gone too far this time! I think you've finally lost what little is left of your mind! What is she twenty! I quit!"
"What!" Then Ron realized the conclusion to which she had jumped. "You think I'm bringing her up here for sex?" Holding his chest he burst out laughing. "Have you lost your mind? Two minutes with her and my ticker would give. Besides, she's not my type." He saw Lina's judgmental glare. "Okay, she's not my type anymore! She's Gil's co-worker's girlfriend and it's a long story."
"Whoa," Tawny remarked as the hotel employee whisked her through the suite. "When I was active on the party circuit, I saw my fair share of luxury suites in this town, but this is outrageous. This even makes Edward's suite in Pretty Woman look small!"
Nick and Carrie's Apartment
When Nick and Carrie excused themselves from the church picnic early, everyone, even the Pastor, accused them of going home to fool around. Little did they know.
As soon as they entered the apartment, they kicked off their shoes, hurried into the bedroom and collapsed with their backs against the rumpled sheets.
Glancing over at his fiancée, Nick joked, "You wanna be on top?"
Closing her eyes, Carrie wistfully retorted, "I don't care what position I'm in as long as I can sleep."
"Amen." Reaching over he pulled her close, snuggled up and closed his eyes. Two minutes later he groaned, "Maybe we should set the alarm clock, in case we sleep through the night. I'm that exhausted."
Already comfortable she sighed, "I'm sure one of us will get up to pee at some point because we drank a lot of iced tea at the picnic. Whoever does first should set the clock."
His eyes snapped open. "Damn…why did you have to go and mention drinking all that iced tea and peeing?"
Carrie moaned, "Mmmm…I was just about to curse myself for that, because now I have to go."
In a flash, Nick pounced over Carrie, bounced off the bed and darted into the master bathroom.
"Nice show of chivalry, Tex!" She yelled while thrusting her exhausted body out of bed and trudging out of the room to use the guest bath. "You pull that stunt in the future when I'm pregnant and suffering from an overactive bladder, you better sleep with your eyes open when you come back to bed!"
After peeing for what had to be the tenth time that day, Sara breezed out of the bathroom stall and approached the row of sinks.
Sofia, who was already there washing her hands snipped, "That must be one hell of a raging bladder infection you have."
"Excuse me?" Sara stopped in mid-scrub.
"Sorry, as a Criminalist I can't turn off my powers of observation. I've noticed you going in and out of the ladies room all day." Grabbing a paper towel she smirked. "The two most popular ways to join the frequent-pee club are bladder infection and pregnancy. So which is it? Do I offer to get you a container of cranberry juice from the cafeteria or say congratulations? Or are you prematurely aging and have lost control of your functionality?"
Caught off guard Sara replied, "Uh…"
"Wow, I've rendered you speechless." Sofia snatched her lipstick from her purse and began applying it.
"I'm speechless because I was surprised you'd offer to get me cranberry juice. I've always assumed you hated me."
"I don't hate you," She scoffed then smiled. "You irritate me, and your husband irritates me even more."
Sara returned the smile. "Well, you irritate me, and you irritate my husband even more, so I guess we're all even in that respect. So tell me, why did you agree to work Greg's shift and consequently work for me, if you find me so irritating?"
"Ugh." She twisted her lipstick closed. "Because Greg is one of the few people around here who doesn't irritate me, and when he came begging he had that pathetic puppy-dog eye thing going on and I can't resist him when he's like that…that look is kryptonite to my seemingly impervious bitchiness. But if you tell him I feel that way, I'll spread the word that you're peeing like a racehorse every twenty minutes and rumor has it the baby is Vartann's."
Laughing, Sara replied, "There's the Sofia I know and don't love."
Tossing her purse over her shoulder, she headed for the door laughing. "Yeah well, I have my hard ass rep to protect. Congratulations on your bladder infection and on second thought…get your own damn juice."
Nick and Carrie's Apartment
When Carrie returned to the bedroom she saw Nick stripped down to his boxer briefs curled up on top of the bed waiting for her. "Sorry, Honey, but I really had to go."
"No problem." Sipping her glass of ice water she headed for the bed. "We both know iced tea races through you."
Now that he was drained, he was suddenly thirsty. "Can I have a sip of your water?"
"Sure." After smiling sweetly she gulped down the contents of her glass. "Oops. How rude."
"You did that on purpose to get me back for jumping in the john ahead of you." Fixated on his thirst he climbed out of bed laughing. "I'll get my own damn water."
At first when Tawny bolted out of the restaurant Greg worried that lunch would be ruined. Now however, after listening to Grissom sing his praises for twenty minutes, he couldn't imagine a better twist of fate. "Really, Gris, you're being too generous," Greg humbly announced while hoping it prompted his mentor to vehemently deny the accusation.
"Not at all," Gil confidently disagreed. "I can't speak highly enough about you, Greg, that's why last night when I offered my townhouse rent-free for six months I felt justifiably…."
"Greg, you told me you were leasing the townhouse." Scott turned to his son for an explanation.
"Uh…" Greg lowered his fork. "I will be leasing it, after the first six months free. Right, Gris?"
"Yes." Gil felt obligated to help out. "I insisted on the terms. It's been impossible to find responsible renters and I didn't want the place sitting empty. Sara and I both have a soft spot for Tawny. So, knowing Greg and Tawny fell in love so quickly and consequently didn't have time to save up for a nice place, we let them have it for free the first six months and then…"
"Greg!" Scott chided his son. "How could you take the man's generosity when you have thirty grand saved? Did you lie to him? Or wait…were you lying to me?"
"Thirty grand?" Gil spoke in shock. "You told me you didn't have five hundred bucks to your name last week." Had Greg been playing him all along? "Were you lying?"
"Uh…" Wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans Greg jittered a response, "I didn't have five hundred bucks to my name last week, but last night…uh…Tawny and I were at the Riveria and won the progressive, which coincidentally ended up being just a tad less than thirty grand. So…I wasn't lying to either of you…um…actually. I have thirty grand saved as of four a.m. this morning."
Scott rubbed his temples. "I knew it was all too good to be true. Is there anything else you've embellished, Son? Christ, did you type up that letter saying your paper would be published? Talk about seems like old times."
"What? NO!" Greg felt the positive vibe rapidly deteriorating. "The paper's legit!"
"You're getting published!" Gil excitedly asked, "The paper on the Rodgers case? PCR DNA technology and degraded evidence?"
"Yes!" Forgetting his father's disappointment for a moment, Greg rejoiced with his pseudo-father. "I'm so stoked!"
"That's fantastic." Gil beamed with the pride of a proud papa. He had encouraged Greg to write the paper and spent countless hours critiquing it with him to achieve what he thought was the perfect final product. "I knew that one would do it for you."
"Excuse me," Scott interrupted the celebration. "I'd like to jump back a minute if the two of you don't mind. I'm going to ask you one more time, Greg. Is there anything else you need to clarify for me? Is Tawny really your girlfriend or is she your beard? Just tell me the truth. That's all I ever want from you, but you insist on making up stories and…is your mother in on this charade? Because she was acting awfully weird when she returned from Vegas…she is isn't she? Son…how many times do I have to tell you, I don't care if you're gay? For once could you and your mother not hide something from me? Just be a man and tell me the truth."
Greg blurted, "For the last time, I'm not gay. You're still hung up over the pirate shirts and eyeliner, aren't you? I swear Tawny really is my girlfriend! Gris…you've seen me kiss her. Tell my dad!"
Gil immediately answered truthfully, "Actually, have I seen you kiss her, Greg? I don't think I have. But you know…no one saw me kiss my wife in public until last night, so I don't see the relevance. Public displays of affection are…wait, I do remember you kissing her last night. Yes." He turned to Scott. "And he even played a special song for her. What was it, Greg?"
"A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes!"
"It was sweet." Gil smiled while he felt like strangling Greg as well as his own father for suggesting this ruse in the first place. "And since I'm the one who introduced them to each other, I can assure you they hit it off immediately."
Scott piped up again. "You introduced them? Greg told me he bumped into her at The Cheesecake Factory."
"Uh…that's true. We were at The Cheesecake Factory and I knew Tawny from dining there previously. Greg was instantly smitten with her, and Tawny was equally grateful for his attention." If his father were here, Gil knew he would have just gotten a pat on the back for operating so smoothly within the gray.
Feeling back in control Greg pointed out, "See, Dad…I didn't lie…you didn't ask if I was paying for the first six months rent and you didn't ask how long it took me to save the money. You asked me if my paper is really being published, if I'm gay and if Tawny is really my girlfriend. I've answered those questions truthfully and Gris has backed me up." Greg took a deep breath in. "Okay? All your concerns have been addressed, so can we chill now?"
After blowing out a trapped breath, Scott smiled. "Forgive us, Gil. Greg and I have some baggage when it comes to covering up the truth. I didn't mean to drag you in."
"Trust me, I can empathize when it comes to the intricate dynamic between fathers and sons." He gave a nervous laugh. "And that vast knowledge pales in comparison to my familiarity regarding the dynamic between overprotective mothers and their only child."
Scott stared at Greg. "Yes…we know all about that one in our family too. Don't we, son? Especially how overprotective mothers will go to extremes to hide things about their sons?"
"So we're cool, right Dad?" Greg forced a smile while his gut twisted. "All the cards are on the table."
Gil gawked at the boy in shock that he wasn't using the opportunity to come clean about Tawny's pregnancy. Suddenly he saw a distinct personality similarity between Jim Brass and Greg Sanders…a penchant for avoidance when granted a temporary reprieve. And like he was certain it would bite Jim in the ass, he saw the same writing on the wall for Greg. But it wasn't his place to speak up and stop the insanity.
Nick and Carrie's Apartment
When Nick returned to the bedroom he wasn't only hydrated, he was carrying a deliciously decadent chocolate brownie. Normally the sugary carb-based treat wouldn't have enticed him, but he knew Carrie brought the brownies home because she was due to get her period and was craving chocolate. "Mmm…this is good," He announced after devouring half.
"Oh please." Lifting her eyes from her In Style Magazine she laughed, "As if I didn't know the only reason you're eating that is to make me want it. Better be careful, Stokes. Your biceps might disappear if you suck down that many carbs in one day."
"You're right." Standing at the foot of the bed he extended the chocolate snack. "You can have the rest." But when she went to snatch it he shoved it in his mouth.
"I'll just go get my own." Jumping out of bed she headed for the door.
"That was the last one," He informed her as he smacked his lips. "I ate the other one in the kitchen. Since I'm not used to eating this crap, I'll mostly like be in a sugar coma twenty minutes from now, but it will be worth it. You should thank me for sparing your bloodstream."
Staring at him she mused, "Oh, please…sugar is poison? Yeah, I'm ready to take healthy living advice from a guy who chased down six beers with a bottle of tequila last night. Right after I take fashion advice from Chuckles." Shaking her head she left the room. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm grabbing me a big 'ol sugar-filled Snickers bar from my briefcase."
Presidential Suite A
Tawny lay on Ron Grissom's bed with a cool towel pressed to her forehead while Angelina sat on the edge next to her, and Ron stood nearby watching. For the last half hour she had answered their questions and shared most of her life story…explaining several times that they couldn't share any of it with Greg's dad.
"Feeling better?" Angelina asked in a motherly tone for the third time since the girl arrived. "Because suddenly you're looking much better."
"I'm not queasy anymore, just tired." Groaning she said, "Then again I thought I was fine until I smelled all that raw fish."
Ron took a seat in a chair. "I remember when Jillian was pregnant. Her hot button was coffee. It didn't matter what time of day it was, if she smelled strong coffee she was racing for somewhere to vomit. Morning sickness is a misnomer. Got so out of control once she dehydrated and I ended up taking her to the hospital, which was really bad because I didn't have enough cash to pay the bill. That was back in the dinosaur age my dear…pre-plastic. It was cash or nothing and debt wasn't acceptable. Kids today usually find that humorous."
"You were poor?" Tawny asked while finding it hard to fathom.
"So poor bologna sandwiches were a treat." He chuckled at the girl's mystified expression.
"When did you win the lottery?"
Angelina was thoroughly enjoying the moment and said, "He didn't win the lottery, he worked for it. Ask him what the name of his company is."
She happily played along. "What's the name of your company?"
"IHMD, Inc." He laughed every time he told someone because it seemed so ridiculous now. "I Hate My Daddy, Incorporated."
Angelina smiled brightly at the girl. "Guero, tell her why you hated your daddy so much. I think she'll like the story."
"When I was your age, I got Gil's mom pregnant out of wedlock, and when I went to my father for help, he told me to take her for a backwoods abortion. I refused. He disowned me and laughed in my face saying I'd come crawling back. I vowed to show him I didn't need his money. The day I finally had a million in the bank I formed IHMD and sent him a love note. Hating a parent is a fabulous motivational tool." He was certain his own son would agree.
"Wow." Tawny sat up in awe. "I really hate my mom, but I guess I haven't been channeling it properly, because I hate her so much I should have a mansion by now. Instead of dancing and waiting tables I should have started my own company."
Both smitten with the Cinderella-like quality of the young girl, Ron and Angelina exchanged smiles.
"Guero, are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Kid…Lina and I like your spunk. And since I'm a sucker for a knocked up cutie whose guy is afraid of pissing off his daddy, I have a proposition for you." Ron stood and approached the bed. "How would like to work for me? Lina really. We had three people working for us in Boca, so have several staff positions to fill here in Vegas. What position can we offer her, Lina?"
"Assistant. It won't be glamorous…it's an entry level position. I say jump, you ask how high." Angelina spoke in a professional tone. "But I'm sure the salary will top what you're making waiting tables and the benefits are excellent."
"Really?" Tawny couldn't believe her luck. "But you barely know anything about me."
Ron clarified his reasoning. "I know my black and white son thinks enough about you to step into the gray on your behalf. That means you're pretty special. And having listened to you for thirty minutes I feel the same way. I always operate on gut instinct and my gut likes you too. What's the salary, Lina?"
"I know the salary for Boca, but I don't know what the pay is like here in Vegas." She stared at her employer.
Ron suggested, "Then add ten percent on top of the Boca salary just to be safe then. We don't want the offer to be insulting."
"Good plan." Angelina returned her gaze to the dazed girl's. "Thirty-one thousand."
"Dollars!" Tawny thought her head would explode from the intensity of her smile.
"Should I take your enthusiasm as a yes?"
"But I'm pregnant. What if…"
"We'll work around it," Lina instantly assured her.
"Yes!" Bursting with excitement she enthused, "I won't let you down! Is it okay if I start after Labor Day though because I have to finish out my schedule at the restaurant or I'll leave people stranded, and I already have the commitment to…"
"Absolutely," Ron confirmed. "I like a girl who sticks with her commitments. And don't worry about maternity leave, you get twelve weeks paid. It's a popular perk among women in my company."
The ring of the phone halted the hysteria.
Ron hustled to grab it. "It's probably Gil telling me he's on his way up."
Nick and Carrie's Apartment
When Carrie entered the bedroom she said, "Ready to get some sleep?"
Nick dropped his Sports Illustrated and stared at her. "Well…I'm wired from messin' with you and eating all that chocolate."
Before slipping into bed she stripped down to her turquoise lace bra and panties and grabbed the remote from Nick's nightstand. "There's a ballgame on. Wanna watch it?"
"Sure." Smiling, he fluffed the pillows and got ready to snuggle.
Clicking on the TV, Carrie went right to The Romance Channel. "Then you better get out of here because A Walk in the Clouds is on and you hate this movie. If I remember correctly, you said you can't believe Keanu Reeves could be so cool in The Matrix and be such a sap in this chick flick."
"You tricked me."
"Uh…no…I told you there was a ballgame on and asked if you wanted to watch it." She giggled riotously. "I never said you could watch it in here. Better pay closer attention to the line of questioning next time. Didn't your lawyer mama teach you anything?" Pointing to the screen she sighed, "My favorite part is coming up soon…when they stomp the grapes."
Grabbing his pillow he huffed out to the living room to watch the game.
Counting the seconds, Carrie stuffed a pillow over her face so she wouldn't give herself away while cracking up. As predicted, twenty seconds later she heard Nick scream.
"What the? BLAKE!" Rushing back in the room he half-laughed, half-yelled, "You swiped the god-damn cable from the TV!"
"Sooooo naughty, aren't I?"
"That's it!" He pounced on the bed. "Roxie has given me more than enough shit to deserve her usual punishment." With that, he started tickling her mercilessly, sending her into a fit of tortured laughter. "Good thing you peed, woman, because you would have wet the bed by now."
On her stomach with him straddling her, she finally screamed, "Stop!"
"I suppose that works for tickling too." He relented but didn't move from his position.
"I can't believe it took me so long to think of that!" She laughed into the sheets. "I guess lack of sleep has made me a little slow on the uptake."
Covering her body with his he whispered in her ear. "Since I'm wired…"
"Slick Nick, are you feeling frisky from all that sugar racing through your veins?" She released another round of laughter. "I'll give you two choices…sex or the cable for the living room TV."
"I'll take the second one," He quipped as he climbed off her back. "You can stay in here and let your boy, Keanu get you hot."
"Too bad you moved from that position, Sport." Turning over onto her back she posed seductively and released a pouty sigh. "Because I was just thinking, after having so much fun last night changing things up from our standard missionary routine, I would have liked to have given that new position a try. I bet it's one of your favorites, but you were holding back because it wasn't sweet enough for a sensitive girl like me." And while Nick stood there realizing the totality of his loss, Carrie turned up the TV volume. "Oh look…Keanu is covered in grape juice and he's kissing Victoria with unbridled passion. OH! I love that! Look at him running his hands all over her eager body. OH! He's got her so hot…hell, he's got me hot. If only my guy didn't choose a silly TV cable over sex I'd be letting him ravage me right now!"
"You win! I lose! You're the champ! I'm the chump! All hail Carrie Blake! She is the best of the best. I am humbled by her shit-giving ability. I bow to the master. Hell, if you get tired of working for the DA, I'm sure Lady Heather would love to have you work for her." Then he pleaded, "With that said…can I change my mind and pick the first choice now?"
"No…you'll have to earn the privilege back." Patting the mattress she smirked, "Come here and watch the movie with me. If you make it ten minutes without making fun of Keanu's character, I'll consider your request."
Sliding behind her he joked, "I sure as hell hope this movie is on a channel with commercials."
"Damn." He snuggled closer, pressing his front to her back, hoping the reminder of his reward for good behavior would keep him focused on the task at hand. "Oh look at how nice and sensitive Keanu is being. He's such a swell guy."
"He's ending his marriage with his cheat of a wife."
"Well, he's being nice about it, isn't he?" He laughed into the nape of her neck. "Give the guy a break. Yeah…don't pick on my man Keanu in this movie. He's da bomb."
Shaking with laughter she dropped a bomb of her own. "Nine more commercial-free, Keanu-lovin', sap-filled minutes of chick flick for you to gush over."
"Holy hell, this better be worth it." He cringed, "Then again, I don't know if I'll have enough manhood left to ravage you if I keep up this Keanu sweet talk for nine more minutes."
Presidential Suite A
When they entered the suite, Greg and Scott couldn't help but be impressed with the fine surroundings. Scott, of course, showed the appropriate level of decorum. Greg, on the other hand, yelled, "Whoa! Grissom, you never told me your daddy's name was Warbucks! Now THIS is a party suite." Seeing the older man, he called over, "Nice to meet you, Papa Gris! I'm your son's favorite CSI!" Next, he threw his arms around Tawny, hugging her tight. "I hope your friend is feeling better."
"Much!" Then she whispered in his ear, "And thank you for chomping on what I'm assuming is a dozen breath mints before coming anywhere near me."
"You know it." With that, he covered her mouth in a very intense, 'see dad, I looooove girls' kiss.
Scott extended his hand to Ron. "Scott Sanders. Nice to meet you and please, forgive my son, he stopped taking his meds years ago."
Gil laughed, "I wondered about that myself."
Ron chuckled, "Nice to meet you, Scott. Yeah, don't worry about the meds…I stopped taking mine too. I found they stunted my creativity. From what Tawny told me, your boy is quite a fantastic young man."
Angelina breezed into the center of the room and handed Tawny a packet. "Here are all the papers you need to complete."
Gil and Greg simultaneously said, "Papers to complete?"
Tawny was all too eager to explain the mysterious papers. "I finished my phone call a while ago. After that I was interviewing for a job position. I'm happy to announce I've been hired as an Assistant. No more waiting tables for me. I'll be working from Mr. Grissom's new house. And it's a huge pay raise and I'll have benefits for once in my life."
Thrilled to have Tawny working out of public view, Greg gave her a squeeze. "Congratulations, Sweetie!"
Gil glared at his father. "An Assistant? What exactly will she be assisting you with daily?"
Angelina jumped in. "She'll be assisting me assist him."
Floored that his father would insinuate himself into his friends' lives, Gil droned, "Dad…you're so needy you need an Assistant to assist your Assistant?"
"What can I say?" Ron grinned as he tossed up his arms. "I'm just a victim of my hard-earned money…pathetic and rich." He loved every minute of his son's discomfort.
Lina shoved her hands on her hips and set the record straight. "You don't think I actually get my hands dirty around here, do you, Gil? Your father may be my employer, but I'm the boss."
As Gil stared at his father and his…whatever she was technically and unrequitedly, he took comfort in knowing that his working relationship with Sara was no longer the most screwed up one he'd ever known.
Nick and Carrie's Apartment
With one minute to go, Carrie decided to let Nick off for good behavior. "Since you've managed to keep your mouth shut for that really sweet and sappy part, I'll cut the last minute off your punishment." The truth was she primed for some cloud-walking lovin' of her own.
The corners of her mouth curved up as she turned to face her good-sport of a guy. "And now I…" That's when she realized he was asleep…or maybe he was faking. "Nick?" She gave him a shove. "Nicky!"
"Huh?" His lids tried to open but quickly gave up as he rolled onto his back and returned to a deep slumber.
"Dammit! He's really asleep. He crashed from the sugar and the boredom." Carrie returned her gaze to the TV and the romantic movie that had successfully got her hot and bothered. "Well, Blake, this is fun…you're wired and horny and your man is…" That's when she heard it start. It happened whenever he was totally wiped out. "…snoring"
"Ugh!" Grabbing her pillow she headed to the living room to reconnect the cable and mull over some legal briefs. "Looks like I'm the big loser after all. It wouldn't be half as bad if I still had brownies in the kitchen!"
After walking Scott to his meager room at the Mandalay Bay, Greg and Tawny made a beeline out of there thinking God must truly protect good-hearted fools and grown children.
With no plans to see Mr. Sanders before he returned to California the next afternoon, they were thrilled to have kept the pregnancy hidden and preserved some respect…even after the truth about the townhouse and the thirty grand were revealed.
Because Greg was exhausted and had downed a Sunday shooter and two beers with his dad, Tawny climbed behind the wheel and Greg stuck to operating the stereo. "What do you want to hear?" He asked as he popped open his CD case.
"I want to hear you sing."
"I don't sing." Sensing she wasn't going to take that for an answer he explained, "I can sing. I choose not to sing. I mean, I'll sing along to stupid stuff like the Boom Boom song, but I don't ever really sing. When I was thirteen I swore I would never sing for real again. Apparently I broke the rule after drinking way too much tequila."
"That's so stupid!" Tawny pulled out of the casino parking lot and stated her case. "Do you know how many people would kill to have a voice like yours?"
"Uh…you don't know how I almost got killed when the jocks at school found out I spent my weekends getting dressed up and singing soprano. Clay Aiken may be popular now…with girls, but he wasn't when I was in middle school. And I doubt the jocks at middle schools across the country were the ones text messaging American Idol votes." Dropping his head in his hands he groaned, "You could drop the guy kissing me knowledge, but you can't drop singing."
She gladly offered an alternative. "You don't have to sing for anyone else, just sing for me."
"It wasn't just the bullying, okay?" Slouching in his seat he relayed the rest of the ugliness. "My mother's a music teacher and from the time I was…I don't even know how old I was, three, four maybe, she had me singing places. At first people thought she was just a delusional mom who thinks her kid is talented, but she wasn't, I was quickly given that label most often responsible for psychosis…gifted…which I went on to be triply cursed with later in life, when I also got it for math and science. In music terms gifted meant I was invited to join this prestigious boys choir and be a soloist. Mom was ape over it all and loved singing and didn't mind being the center of attention….shocking, I know."
At a stop light she turned and smiled. "Not at all."
"Yeah well…when the kids at school found out and my life became a bigger living hell than it already was just from being a science nerd. My parents eventually put me in a different private school over it. But the real trauma wasn't the bullying, it was…" A tortured sigh escaped his lips. "When I said I wanted to quit the choir before moving to the new school, my dad supported my decision, but my mom was heartbroken…which of course killed me. Then they got into this huge argument. My dad accusing my mom of never letting him parent and saying she always put her interests ahead of what's best for me. My dad was worried about me…he didn't want to see me getting pummeled. My mom was delusional about what was really going on at school and she knew I loved singing so it was hard for her to hear I wanted to quit."
Since her eyes were on the road she couldn't see Greg's expression, but she could tell by his tone that the memory was still painful.
"My dad threw all this shit in her face…like saying as soon as I wanted to quit the swim team she was all for me quitting, but now that I wanted to quit singing it was a huge mistake. He blamed her for what was happening and said that maybe if she had listened to him and I had kept up swimming that the jocks wouldn't be picking on me because I would have been more balanced. My dad was all about balance. He also accused my mom of exploiting me and wanting to make me a freak so that she'd be the only friend and then she wouldn't have to share me."
"Yeah...they both had valid points throughout the verbal smackdown, which of course they were having when I was in my room and could hear everything. Stuff like…my mom yelling, Greg stunk at swimming, so why keep at it when he can't excel? To which my dad replied, why should he only do things he's gifted at, why can't he just be average at something for once? Then hearing my mom cry…he's too talented to stop singing and my dad screaming at her…Greg's getting tortured at school because of you and you refuse to see it!" Shrugging he said, "He was right, I didn't have balance and was getting tortured, but my mom was right too…I didn't want to blend in with everyone…not that I even thought it was possible. Anyway, at the height of the ugliness…and I'm talking I seriously thought they would end up on Divorce Court by the end of this one, I marched into the room and lost it…screamed at them both saying I'd never sing again and I'd never play sports again so they could both shut up and go to hell. So there you have it…why this caged bird does not sing."
"Yeah…I stand by my original thought on the matter…" After she turned at a four-way stop she finished her thought. "…your refusal to sing is stupid."
Ticked by her comment he snarked, "Hey, way to be understanding. I'll keep that in mind the next time you ask me to open up about something."
"HEY NOW!" She burst into a huge grin. "How about giving me a chance to explain myself? Jeez…keep your shoes on, Pal and don't even think about opening the car door and running."
Busted, he laughed. "Hypocrisy is gonna cost me some cool points."
"I'll let you off with a warning." As she parked the car in their apartment's lot she continued her train of thought. "It's stupid not to sing to spite your parents, not when you loved it and you were great at it. I mean…that's exactly what I did after I ran away from home. I tossed away school when I was great at it and I purposely didn't pursue it again because of the memories attached to it. That is until you helped me get over that. Now that I have it back I feel so much better." Taking his hand she smiled sweetly. "And really…aren't you letting the bullies win…the ones at school and your parents…if you're not living the way you really want to? If you never want to sing to me that's fine…even though I think a guy singing to me is incredibly sexy, but do you think you'll be able to sing to our baby? Because I stink and I don't want our kid to grow up thinking tone-deaf is normal."
His face creasing into a serene smile, Greg wished just for a moment he had a ring in his pocket. But since he didn't have one, he unbuckled his seat belt and demonstrated his love in a different way. Even though the scientist in him knew an embryo couldn't possibly hear, he leaned over, bringing his mouth to Tawny's belly and quietly began singing one of his childhood oldies that he thought would resonate well with his future wife. "Somewhere over the rainbow…way up high, there's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby."
"Oh…Greg," She sniffled as her happiness mixed with her pregnancy hormones. His velvet voice caused an ecstatic smile to rise on her face as he continued to tenderly croon to their baby growing inside her.
"Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true."
"Greg!" She shrieked while tapping his back. "Stop!"
"What?" He popped up, returning to his seat. "First you beg me to sing and now…"
She pointed straight ahead. "It's Mrs. Krazelsmith…that nasty old lady from Apartment 110…the one with the psycho snarling cat…the one who always stares at me funny . She's been watching us out of her window. I think she thinks you were…um…down there, you know…I was looking pretty happy while you were singing."
"OH!" Seeing the crotchety neighbor in the window he gasped. "Wait…we're moving soon and I'm not going to let some nosy broad bully me from singing to my baby." So after taking a hearty swig from the water bottle Tawny had in the cup holder, he plastered a grin on his face, waved to the neighbor and dove headfirst into Tawny's lap.
"Someday I'll wish upon a star…"
After grinning in her neighbor's direction, Tawny reclined her seat and let Greg wow her…with his voice.
Gil Grissom's Office
Behind a closed door, sitting at her husband's desk, Sara continued to scan the computer listing in front of her while singing out loud…just in case anyone in the immediate vicinity of her uterus was listening.
When the ring of her cellphone interrupted her song, without checking the display she answered, "Sidle."
Gil's voice reflected his surprise. "I haven't heard you say that name in a long time. I got chills for a second thinking we weren't married and all this great stuff in my life has been nothing but a dream."
Smiling, she assured him, "It's been a dream, but quite real. Did you forget I use my maiden name at work? How did things go with your dad?"
"Talk about surreal. Unfortunately I have no time to tell you anything. I'm calling from outside of the gym. My session starts in two minutes and I'm thinking he's a stickler regarding punctuality. I just wanted to hear your voice and make sure everything was still…"
"All signs point in a positive direction." She flashed her widest smile yet. "Like a total dork I'm in your office singing out loud to the blastocyst while searching for a missing person listing on the computer. Am I losing it or what?"
"Embrace your inner-dork, Honey. Just make sure my office door is shut."
"It is." She grinned. "I'll be ready to massage your sore muscles when you get home."
"That really is my prime motivation for getting sore in the first place. Love you."
"Love you too." After clicking off the phone she returned her gaze to the computer screen and decided to take her dorkiness to an extreme by singing a real baby song to the blastocyst. "Twinkle, Twinkle little star…"