A Family Found Part 1 – Plans made
When Colby heard Jenny's voice on his answering machine, his heart stuttered. The only reason Jenny ever called was to make arrangements to drop Nena off for her visits -- and it wasn't time for one of those -- or to tell him that Nena was badly sick or hurt.
The first words of the message calmed his fears but the next words made his heart flip-flop again. "Nena's okay," Jenny's voice said, "We're moving to LA. I'm sick of snow, I'm sick of Michigan. I know you want to see Nena more often so this will be good. You can help us with money for getting a nice apartment, right? See you next Tuesday. I'll drop Nena off with you while I find us a place and get things set up. You can take care of her for a few days, right? See you."
Colby sat down hard on his couch and stared at the machine. His little girl … She was going to be close by? He could see her regularly? He felt both excited and terrified. It was one thing to want to be more involved in her life and another to have it handed to him out of the blue.
He sat there for a moment, stunned into immobility, then his brain started working again. Tuesday? Today was Sunday already so that was in just two days. How was he going to find a place to go with Nena in that short a period of time? Probably just a hotel, maybe one with a pool. Nena would like that. His one-bedroom apartment was too small and too boring for an active five-year-old. He'd have to take some time off of work, Don wasn't gonna be thrilled about that. Oh well, nothing came between him and the time he got with Nena … wait, he was going to see her a lot now.
So much to do, so much to do … Instead, he turned around, headed out the door, and went to find Charlie.
Charlie looked up when Colby arrived at his office and immediately knew something was up. Charlie was on campus on a Sunday because it was usually quiet and he could get some work done.
"New case?" Charlie asked, but somehow that didn't seem right. Colby didn't get this … anxious about cases.
"Nena," Colby blurted, "Jenny is moving to LA! Nena is gonna be right in town!"
"That's great!" Charlie said, then reconsidered, looking at Colby. "That is great, isn't it? You said you wanted to see her more often."
"It is great, it is," Colby said.
"But?" Charlie asked.
"But it's just so sudden, and Jenny and I are going to have to work out a whole new system and seeing Nena more means seeing Jenny more and I'm not really looking forward to that." Colby flopped down in a chair. "And what am I going to tell Jenny … what am I going to tell Nena about us?"
"You and I?" Charlie said in surprise.
"What's she going to think? She was raised in an extremely conservative place and maybe she'll think it's weird or bad or …"
"Or maybe she won't care," Charlie said gently.
"But what if she does?"
Charlie set down his chalk and came over to where Colby sat. He crouched down in front of Colby and put his hands on Colby's knees. "'Don't borrow trouble', my dad always says. Besides, if she's such a smart kid as you say, she'll see that her daddy is happy and not care about the gender of the person that makes him happy."
Smiling softly, Colby touched Charlie's cheek. "You do make me happy."
Charlie rubbed his face against Colby's hand. "So we'll just introduce me as your boyfriend, no explanations or excuses, and see how it goes."
"Okay," Colby said, then groaned. "I've got to find a hotel that has a fridge and maybe a kitchenette so we don't eat out all the time but don't have to go back to my place, and a pool and rent a car seat and maybe a video game player and …" Colby put his head in his hands.
"Cole …" Charlie started then paused for a moment, wanting to make sure that this wasn't just an impulsive offer. No, he really meant it. "Why doesn't Nena stay at my house? We've got a nice guest bedroom and … you can stay too."
Colby's head shot up. "Are you serious?"
"Of course," Charlie said, a tad huffily.
"Right, okay, sorry," Colby said. "But do you know what you're getting into? Nena's a good girl but she can get pretty noisy and crazy."
"It'll just be for a few days," Charlie said. "I can always hide in the garage or come to my office."
Colby frowned thoughtfully.
"Sorry, I don't have a pool. The Koi pond is pretty deep though."
Colby laughed and pulled Charlie up to sit in his lap. "I accept your generous offer. But I still have tons of stuff to do to get ready. And we need to talk to your dad to make sure it's okay with him, 'cause he lives there too."
Charlie smiled down at Colby. "Maybe a little stress relief first?"
Colby looked like he was going to object then he returned Charlie's smile. "Right here, in your office?"
"Yeah," Charlie said warmly. "It's Sunday." He shifted to straddle Colby's legs and leaned down to kiss him. Colby's hands slid under Charlie's shirt and they were distracted for a while.
"Dad?" Charlie called, coming through the front door. "You around?"
"Yes, Charlie," Alan said from the nearby couch. "No need to yell."
"Oh, hi," Charlie said and came inside, Colby on his heels. Charlie clenched his hands together nervously. Why was he nervous? This was his house. It was just that his dad could be weird about kids …
"Umm, Dad, a member of Colby's family is gonna be in town Tuesday and he just found out. Colby's got a little place and we have a spare bedroom so I told Colby that we could put her up for a few days and him too while she's here. That okay?"
"Sure," Alan said easily. "A cousin?"
Charlie looked at Colby. Colby flushed and cleared his throat. Charlie knew he was one of the few people in the world that knew about Nena. Now Colby was going to have to start telling everyone.
"My daughter, actually," Colby said uncomfortably.
Alan's eyebrows shot up. "Your daughter? You have a daughter?"
"Yeah, Nena," Colby said, pulling out his wallet and removing a rumpled picture from the hidden pocket. It was of Nena holding a fishing rod twice as tall as she was. He handed the picture to Alan. "That picture is almost a year old. She's almost five now."
Alan took the picture, smiling. "She's adorable."
"She's a good girl," Colby said quickly. "She won't give you any trouble."
Alan frowned. "Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but why is she coming here? Something happen?"
"Oh," Colby waved his hand in irritation. "It's her mother, Jenny. She wouldn't marry me, by the way. She decided to move to LA and just now told me about it."
"Move from where?"
"Michigan." Colby went and sat heavily in a chair. "I usually only get to see Nena twice a year and now I'm going to see her a lot."
Alan eyed him. "That's a good thing, right?"
"Yeah, it's just …" Colby trailed off, looking at his hands.
Charlie said quietly. "Colby is worried that Nena will think it's strange about me and him."
Alan frowned thoughtfully. "You think that she will?"
"I know Jenny," Colby said bitterly. "She loves to run me down whenever she can and she's gonna have fun with this. Seems to think that if Nena loves me then she loves Jenny less."
"Ah," Alan said, nodding sadly. "I'm familiar with the type." He smiled and handed the picture back to Colby. "But let's not worry about that unless it happens. Meanwhile, we need to get the house ready for a visitor!"
"It should just be a few days. Normally I rent a cabin or something but—"
"Not a problem," Alan said, standing and rubbing his hands together. "It'll be fun."
"Uh-oh," Charlie said with an uncomfortable laugh. "She's not your grandkid, dad."
"Aw, an old man can have some fun, can't he?"
Charlie gave Colby an apologetic shrug. "He's always bugging me about grandchildren."
"Well, umm," Colby said, obviously taken aback. "Nena and I are probably gonna do some stuff but I do have to work so …"
"Great!" Alan said, looking around for something to write on. "What does she like to eat?"