Note: Hey hi hello, it's me again. I know it's been a while sorry about that. RL did that crappy thing it does by getting a little too real. Let's see I guess it wouldn't be a story of mine without a note attached right? Ok a little background might help, we've fast forwarded seven and half years, Minx are pretty much the Minx you remember from the last of my stories – couldn't help that - I sorta fell in love with them a little. So this is them and their family in the future. Old adage wise to remember – Pine Valley is not a dull place to live!
Disclaimer: All My Children and Minx belong to others who didn't know how to treat them I'm just borrowing them with the hope of lessening the impact of that travesty. All rights reserved to those bleeps, I own little and gain nothing but a smile from sharing this
There were two distinct sounds in the office, the occasional crackle of paper as pages turned and the swish and swoop slither of the pendant moving along its golden chain. Marissa Tasker sat with head bowed over a file, a silky curtain of red hair partially obscuring her face it bangs threatening to creep into focused hazel eyes. A slender hand moved almost hypnotically, finger and thumb hugging the small birthstone as it slid back and forth. It was a habit the lawyer was completely unaware of, one her firm's partners often teased about. Marissa turned another page and spared a quick glance at the clock on her desk, a pensive frown shadowed her pretty features; it couldn't be 3:30 already? Could it? The watch on her wrist confirmed that it was. Marissa got to her feet spilling files into her attaché case and grabbing the bag and jacket from the back of her chair; she was rushing towards the elevators when Reggie Montgomery stepped out into the corridor and into her path. The collision sent the younger man's file flying and the redhead staggering back in apology.
"Jez Marissa where's the fire?"
"Sorry Reggie, sorry. The kids have a game this evening and I promised I'd be there."
Reggie rolled his eyes before hunkering down to gather the scattered paperwork.
"I'd hardly call that sport a game. Why don't you let me show them round a basketball court? Now that's a game."
A sculpted brow arched, hazel eyes challenging; the younger man glanced up catching the look and had the foresight to stop while he was ahead.
"But we're set for tomorrow right?"
Marissa nodded folding the beige jacket across her arm and shouldering her handbag.
"As good as, it's all on the system."
She stepped toward the elevator when it pinged open, her voice chirpy and her smile bright.
Miranda Montgomery gathered her hair away from her face pulling it into a ponytail before wrapping a golden hair tie around it.
"You remembered my cleats right Mom?"
From the driver's seat Bianca took her gaze off the big yellow bus that was holding up the traffic and smiled into the rear view mirror at her oldest child; Miranda's tendency to doubt her birth mother's interest in a sport the teenager loved had become a family joke.
"I sure did, they're in the trunk. Guys how did your maths tests go?"
AJ shifted uncomfortably in his seat, blonde bangs falling into his eyes as he turned to look at Miranda. Both teenagers looked decidedly guilty. Bianca shook her head in bemusement; neither youngster had learnt how to school their features; she hoped they never would.
"Ma's coming right?"
It was an effective change of conversation that had all three kids turning to gaze at Bianca. AJ had taken to calling Marissa Ma a few years ago saying that it made more sense because then his adoptive sisters could shorten it too; all three now called her Ma.
Gabrielle's excited grin was infectious.
"Yes they're coming, they're meeting us there."
Bianca turned her attention back to the road in time to avoid a collision with the school bus. In the back seat AJ and Miranda hi fived.
Marissa strapped her daughter into the car seat securing the five point harness before tucking auburn strands behind Lydia's delicate ears. Lydia offered a lopsided smile as she rested her head to one side and closed her eyes. Her mother turned a questioning look to Aishling, the daycare worker that Lydia adored so much.
"She hasn't been herself all day Ms Tasker but I wouldn't say she was sick either, just very quiet and sleepy. The tummy ache started about an hour ago."
The young woman had carried the sleeping girl out to the car for Marissa hoping not to wake Lydia. The little two year old was pale, much too pale for Marissa's liking. Lydia's wide brown eyes opened as if sensing her mother's gaze.
"Tummy sowa Mama."
The redhead reached back into the car to soothe her daughter's cheek placing a tender kiss upon her brow.
"Guess we better get you home so you can take some of that pink medicine your sisters love to hate."
Lydia's eyes closed a frown covering her young face as her hand settled over her tummy.
"Will it take the sowa away?"
Marissa smiled as those eyes opened again to gaze into hers.
"I hope so munchkin."
The lawyer bid the daycare worker goodbye and tapped off several messages on her iPhone before getting in the car and heading home.
Bianca sat in the stands beside Gabrielle both looking down towards the field where the two teams were doing warm up exercises. Miranda glanced up at them, a flash of disappointment crossing her pretty face before she turned back to her team mates.
"Mimo's not going to be very happy if Ma doesn't show up, she promised she'd be here."
Gabrielle's words echoed Bianca's thoughts. Marissa had worked until late last night so that she could leave early today to make it to the game. The fact that she wasn't there was beginning to make the brunette worry. Bianca reached into her pocket and removed her phone, the new message only served to worry her more. She dialled Marissa's cell.
Marissa had Lydia settled on the couch with a sippy cup of juice and was heading to the kitchen for that pink medicine when Bianca's call came through.
"Hi I can see your worried frown from here and it ain't pretty."
Bianca's laughter was just what Marissa needed to hear, it was the one sound guaranteed to soothe the redhead. The brunette chastised her partner playfully before demanding a full report. Marissa gave it as she searched for that medicine.
"Baby where's the kid's Tylenol?"
Marissa closed the cupboard and made her way back to the den to check on Lydia.
"Hi munchkin how about you talk to Mom while I go grab your medicine from upstairs?"
Lydia greeted her other mother with a shaky hello.
"What's wrong Mom?"
Gabrielle Montgomery was pretty tuned in to her family's emotions, at eight years she considered herself an expert on what made her parents smiles turn funny and their frowns turn serious. So Gabrielle knew from the downward turn on her mother's lips that something was wrong; it also helped that she'd been listening to Bianca talking to Lydia.
Bianca squeezed her daughter's shoulder brushing hair back from it.
"Lydia is feeling poorly so our girls won't be making it to the game."
Deep soulful brown eyes looked up at Bianca in question.
"Do you want to tell Mimo or should I?"
Bianca found it very hard to keep a straight face at her daughter's dramatic tone.
"It won't be that bad, I'll tell her."
Gabrielle's response was an arched brow that was so very like her aunt Kendall's that this time Bianca failed at keeping a straight face.
As soon as the half time whistle blew AJ Chandler jogged across the field to join Miranda at the bleachers with the rest of their team. The young brunette had that look on her face that told him it was probably a good idea not to get too close. Lately AJ had noticed his best friend/sister was having a lot of strange moods.
Miranda shook her head, the ponytail swaying furiously to match her anger. She grabbed it and pulled it down upon her shoulder.
"Number 4 is getting on my nerves, he keeps yapping on at me then pulling my hair when the ref isn't looking."
AJ scanned the field until his eyes settled on the Landlview Lanterns Number 4, the boy was sitting staring at Miranda and AJ recognised the look, he was smart enough not to mention it to his sister. The coach called their attention but Miranda's eyes were focused on the stands, AJ followed the gaze and realised what else was making his sister fume.
"Come on Miranda you know Ma would have been here if she could."
Angry brown eyes turned to AJ.
AJ didn't have an answer to that.
"Mama it huwts."
Lydia Montgomery's brown eyes glistened with tears, her pale face contorting as another wave of pain lanced her tender tummy. Marissa placed a gentle hand upon her daughter's fevered brow and tried not to let her worry show; the Tylenol should have taken the little girl's temperature down yet Lydia was burning up.
"I know munchkin I know and Mama's going to make it better I promise."
Lydia shivered as her mother wrapped the comforter around her before gently lifting her from the couch.
Miranda ran at the ball refusing to let her opponent get the better of her; it was her job to stop the Landview Landtern's striker from scoring and it was made easier by the fact that she was the faster sprinter between them. Miranda caught sight of her team mate heading for space in the middle of the field, with a quick turn and precision kick she passed the ball. A cheer rang out around the field, Gabrielle's voice clear above the others as she chanted.
"Go Mimo! Go Mimo go!"
The teenager spared a glance at the bleachers where her younger sister and mother both stood clapping and cheering, the sight brought a brief smile that dimmed at the absence of Marissa and Lydia.
"Is that your girlfriend? Bit young isn't she?"
The snide comment was ignored as Miranda stepped in front of her opponent, the move only serving to irritate the boy further. It started a tussle, both trying to get in front of the other. Miranda stood tall refusing to be intimidated as her ponytail was pulled yet again. Her eyes scanned the field focusing on the game as Number 4 began his insistent muttering again.
"I know who you are."
Miranda ignored the words and made to move forward as the ball came down towards them but the boy caught her wrist tugging her closer. His voice was a venomous sneer as he whispered words that stunned the young brunette. With her concentration shattered, Miranda didn't see the foot that was shoved in front of hers until it was too late; the dirty tackle sent her on a collision course with the ground.
Bianca forgot all about the ball and the game as she watched her oldest daughter begin to fall. It was as if the world began to slow down, the other spectators suddenly going quiet as Miranda stumbled. Bianca's breath hitched, her eyes growing wide as her daughter tumbled towards the ground. And then the world stopped, everything stopped as Bianca waited for her baby to move, waited for some sign that her oldest child was unharmed.
Gabrielle's voice sounded like a fog horn echoing through her mother's mind but it was not enough to take Bianca's gaze away from the prone form still lying on the ground. The crowd began to jeer, voices calling out to the referee demanding he blow his whistle. But Bianca didn't hear them, all she heard was the blood thumping at her temples as she waited for her daughter to move. And then Miranda did and the relief that flooded through Bianca was short lived as the crowd began to cheer; the Landlview Lanterns had scored.
"It wasn't your fault Miranda, the guy fouled you everyone could see that."
AJ wrapped his arm around his sister's shoulder trying his best to take the look of guilt from her eyes. He wasn't sure which he preferred more; an angry Miranda or a sad one.
"Yeah Mimo that guy was a giant."
Gabrielle walked alongside her sister and brother hoping to help make Miranda feel better. It had been a close game, the Pine Valley Vultures just edging ahead by a goal until the striker for the Landlview Lanterns had fouled Miranda and sank one into the back of their net.
Bianca watched as the kids climbed into the SUV, Miranda's head still bowed. The oldest Montgomery loved soccer, both AJ and Miranda did but it was Miranda's passion.
"She's taking it hard."
Adam Chandler's voice broke into Bianca's thoughts, she turned to watch him approach. He was smiling that coy smile she had often seen on AJ's face, one she remembered seeing on JR's too.
"She is but it'll pass and by tomorrow she'll be back to her smiling self. How's JR?"
The Chandler tycoon pressed his key unlocking the car parked next to Bianca's.
There was little else Bianca could say to the short response, JR's condition hadn't changed in seven and half years but Adam Chandler refused to give up hope. Guilt shadowed the man's every thought where his son was concerned. It was Adam's gun that JR had fired into a crowded room, his first bullet hitting Marissa before he'd slipped causing the second to hit himself. JR's drunken state had saved Marissa's life his aim so off that all she came away with was a scar on her upper arm. He on the other hand had been left in a coma, the bullet to his brain causing irrevocable damage that his father still refused to accept.
"Good job it was a draw and not a loss then."
Brought back to the present by Adam's teasing words Bianca glanced in at her sullen daughter pretty sure it wouldn't have mattered even if they'd won the game; she suspected Miranda's mood had a lot more to do with Marissa not being there than it had to do with the game itself. Adam tapped on the window to get his grandson's attention.
"I'll pick you up after school tomorrow."
AJ turned back to speak to Miranda making Adam tap the window again.
"You played good Miranda that guy should have been carded, the only way he could get the better of you was to cheat."
Miranda raised her head, deep brown eyes offering Adam a timid smile.
"Thanks Mr Chandler."
The tycoon smiled and said his goodbyes to the kids before turning back to Bianca.
"I thought Marissa might have made it, she working late?"
Bianca shook her head, lately Marissa had been working more late hours than either of them liked but the lawyer had managed to leave early today so that she could make the game. It was the quarter finals of the cup and AJ and Miranda were first team players, Marissa had wanted to be there for both.
"No Lydia isn't well, in fact Adam I really want to get home and check on her."
"Of course you do. I'll drop AJ off at the usual time on Sunday. See you then."
Bianca waved goodbye as she hopped into the driver's seat.
Marissa paced the small confines of the hospital room wondering when a doctor was going to come tell her what the hell was going on. Lydia was sleeping but even in slumber her small body twitched in pain. Glancing back at the bed and her sleeping child Marissa didn't see the doctor enter; focused on reading a chart the doctor didn't see Marissa either until they walked right into each other in a collision that caused both to yelp in shock.
"Sorry sorry I wasn't watching where I was going."
The doctor smiled in bemusement.
"Then I'm sorry too because neither was I. Would you be Ms Tasker?"
The female doctor, a petite slender brunette glanced back to the chart she was holding.
The doctor's gaze rose and met Marissa's, dark brows furrowing in a way that suggested she was trying to place a face.
"I'm Dr Dubois a visiting paediatrician, your daughter's case was referred to me."
"Does that mean you know what's wrong with my baby?"
The doctor hooked the chart to the bottom of the bed and stepped closer to the sleeping child.
"No not yet but I'm going to find out. How long has she been sleeping?"
"She dosed off after the nurse took her blood maybe a half hour ago."
Dr Dubois lifted Lydia's wrist and glanced at her watch.
"And when did she start having symptoms?"
Marissa dragged a shaking hand through her copper locks trying again to remember what Bianca had said about last night. She'd been in such a rush this morning to make a breakfast meeting that she hadn't really heard what her partner had said about Lydia's night.
"I'm not sure. Last night maybe. She was grouchy this morning when my partner dropped her off at daycare. They told me she's been quiet and tired all day but nothing to make the daycare worried. So I guess it had passed but when I picked her up at 4pm she was sickly pale and complaining about her tummy hurting."
The doctor nodded and turned to look at the agitated mother. Marissa was still in her office clothes, beige shoes matching the short skirt that was rumpled with lines, the satin white blouse creased across the middle where she'd held her sickly child to her.
"Would you like to wake her? I need to examine her and I think maybe it would be better she see you first."
Marissa bent to the bed, her hand settling along her daughter's beautiful pale face.
"Munchkin mama needs you to wake up."
The little girl moaned in her sleep a small hand moving to settle upon Marissa's.
"Come on baby girl open those big brown eyes for me."
Lydia blinked once then twice and finally held her eyes open to gaze into Marissa's. Tiny pools of chocolate brown began to glisten, pain dulling their depths.
"Mama it huwts."
"I know baby but Dr Dubois here is going to help take the pain away."
Marissa turned pleading eyes to the doctor praying she wasn't lying to her young daughter. Dr Dubois leaned forward smiling down at the little girl.
"Hello Lydia can you tell me where it hurts most?"
Lydia's eyes went from her mother's to the strangers and back several times before answering the question.
"My tummy on my lima bima."
Dr Dubois looked to Marissa in confusion and the redhead smiled.
"Her birthmark on the right of her tummy, it's shaped like a lima bean so her sister started calling it her lima bima."
The doctor smiled and turned back to the frowning child.
"Ok can I please take a look at your lima bima?"
Lydia hesitated until her mother soothed her cheek again.
"The doctor needs to see it munchkin if she's going to make it better."
Lydia let the doctor pull her t-shirt up, her little body tensing as cool hands settled upon her midriff. When the woman pressed gently upon Lydia's tummy the child screamed in pain. Marissa's heart began to pummel in her chest when Lydia's face turned deathly pale and the little girl began to retch. The doctor grabbed for a bedpan holding it to the child's chin as she began to throw up amid a flood of tears. Marissa tried to calm her but Lydia continued to throw up until all that was coming out was green bile.
Bianca followed the kids into the house listening as feet sped off in opposite directions; Miranda took the stairs two at a time in an effort to be on her own, AJ kicked off his trainers and headed for the kitchen to feed his insatiable appetite while Gabrielle, just like her mother, headed in search of their family's two other members.
The morning room which they'd converted to a joint office was in darkness the faint light from its huge window was enough to show Marissa's attaché case sitting upon her desk. Bianca pulled the door closed and met Gabrielle as she came running from the den.
"Mom where's Lydia?"
"She's not in the den?"
Gabrielle shook her head deepening the frown on her mother's face. 7:30 was a little early for Lydia's bedtime but then the little girl did tend to sleep more when she wasn't well.
"Maybe she's down for the night, go check for me Gabby please."
Gabrielle took off for the stairs taking them two at a time just like her older sister had. Bianca glanced around the huge den seeing the pillow on the couch and the sippycup on the coffee table. She reached into her pocket removing the cell phone and sighed when she found it without a charge.
In the kitchen AJ was sitting at the breakfast bar slurping from a drum of OJ his handsome face colouring when Bianca raised an arched brow at him.
He wiped the top of the drum and replaced the cap before returning it to the fridge and munching into the sandwich he'd made.
"AJ you won't be fit for your dinner. Have you seen my cell charger?"
The teenager spoke around a mouthful of food.
"I'm starving and yeah Miranda stuck it in the cabinet by the cooker yesterday I think Lydia was using it as a lasso. We should take her to the fair she'd win all those big cuddly toys Gabby likes so much."
Bianca laughed and reached for the cupboard finding the charger on the second shelf. She plugged it into a socket and connected her cell wondering why Marissa hadn't started on dinner already.
"Mom nobody's home but us."
Gabrielle's voice was coming from the hallway, Bianca's face creased with concern as her phone finally held a charge to show her that she had four missed calls and two messages all from Marissa. She dialled her answerphone service and gripped the rail of the cooker to steady herself as her partner's scared voice filled her ear.
"Gabby get your sister, AJ put on some shoes. Move guys, we need to move."
Marissa had gone beyond panic and was stumbling towards catatonic shock by the time Bianca reached the hospital. Lydia hadn't stopped throwing up until she'd passed out from pain and exhaustion. Dr Dubois had asked a battery of questions some of which Marissa couldn't answer and then they'd wheeled Lydia off to an OR. An OR, two harmless little letters that were ripping through Marissa's mind leaving her horribly horribly afraid. She closed her eyes trying to will the fear away.
Bianca's heart threatened to stop beating when hazel eyes opened and looked up at her with such raw pain, oh God no, not their baby.
The tall outwardly strong brunette shook her head as Marissa got to her feet.
Bianca's voice was a terrified whisper as her mind tried to bypass the thought of life without Lydia. Images of Marissa's pregnancy, the huge beautiful bump that would kick and keep them both awake, the amazing moment when a pink and squiggly Lydia took her first breath and squealed, the day they took her home, the first smile she give her mothers, the first step she took…..they all played like a movie reel within Bianca's mind as her heart filled with an unbearable sadness at the thought of that movie now ending. Hands settled on the brunette's paling face, hazel eyes locking with glistening brown as Marissa tried to anchor Bianca.
"Shush baby she's in the OR, they think it might be appendicitis."
The breath Bianca took seemed to shudder right through her; she blinked several times trying to calm her frazzled nerves. When her vision cleared she recognised that pain again in hazel eyes and wrapped her arms around her smaller partner pulling her in for a tight hug.
"Thank God you were there."
The soft words opened the dam which had held Marissa's tears at bay and she began to sob. Bianca held on startled at the intensity of the sobs that racked through her lover. When Marissa began to settle a little, Bianca pulled away to look at her.
"Talk to me."
Marissa wiped at her tears trying to look anywhere but at those worried eyes. Bianca settled a palm against the smaller woman's cheek.
A small smile slipped across the redhead's face only to flee when a voice interrupted them.
Both turned to see Dr Dubois stare at them with open shock. Bianca gasped.