Carrie Ryan & K. Darblyne


"...I'm cool, It's great, She rocks, We're alright, Let's go, It slams, I'm in, You're Gorgeous..."

Installment 2–9 -- Get The Table

The stiffness in her neck slowly pulled Brooke out of the sleepy haze that had once again enveloped her.  With her head leaning down onto her shoulder, there was little more she could do but straighten up.  Each second of her torturous movement brought pain to the woman’s somber face.  The next muscles to cry out for attention were that of her abdomen.  The cramping twinges of pain made her more cognizant of her surroundings as heavy eyelids rose, revealing lackluster blue eyes.  Her eyes focused on the dashboard and things started falling into place.  She was seated on the passenger’s side.  Rubbing the back of her neck with her hand, Brooke turned her head to see an empty driver’s seat. 

“I guess that saying is right.”  Brooke covered her yawn with her hand and started to look outside of the SUV.  “You snooze, you lose.”  She shook her head as if to get the sleep out of her mind.  “Hmm…wonder where…” scanning the array of storefronts making up the strip mall, Brooke spied a golden head of hair emerging from one of the doors opposite her.  “Hmm…now what would she be doing in a pharmacy?”  She didn’t have long to wait for her answer as another cramp came through her lower abdomen.  “Pills, right.  I remember now.”  Brooke gave her lower abdomen a soothing rub with her hand.  “Dr. Dennison did say that she was giving us a prescription.”

Brooke continued rubbing her abdomen as she watched her wife cross the busy parking lot.  To hide her discomfort, she stopped seconds before Sam got to the driver’s door and opened it.

“You’re awake.  How are you feeling?”  Sam watched the woman in the passenger seat give her a half smile.  The next second, Brooke started rubbing her neck and turning her head, trying to work out the stiffness that had settled in.  “You need me to give you a little neck massage?”

“Sam, you want to do that here?”  Blue eyes shifted to the vehicle and pedestrian traffic around them.  “You know what happens when you get your hands on me.  I’m not sure they’re up to that sort of show,” Brooke motioned to a woman with two small children in tow.  “It’s prime time viewing here, being right before dinner and all.”  She looked to the clock on the dash.  “Speaking of which, weren’t we supposed to be headed to dinner at your parents’?”

“Hmm…so you didn’t forget, huh?”  Sam got into the vehicle and pulled her cell phone from her purse.

“Not something like that…I mean…I do like to see your father and your sister.”  Brooke looked out the window to avoid her wife’s gaze.  “Who knows, maybe in twenty or thirty years, I may even like seeing your mother on a regular basis.”  Not!  She completed her thought silently before turning back to see her wife punching in numbers on the cell phone.

“That’s okay Brooke,” Sam patted her wife with her free hand.  “I’m twenty-one and I’m still not that excited at the prospect.  I can’t expect you to be happy about it after meeting her only a few times in the last 3 months.”  Suddenly Sam’s attention was tugged in a different direction and her eyes sparkled in delight.  “Hi Daddy.  It’s me, Sammy.” 

Brooke watched as Sam’s smile emerged like the sun from behind a cloud.  Her interest piqued, she listened in on the one-sided conversation.

“We’re running a little earlier than I expected.”

Early?  Brooke glanced up at the name of the shopping mall and it registered in her brain just where they were.  “Sam, we’re five minutes from their house,” she cautioned her wife in a whisper.  She watched as Sam held up a finger and continued talking on the phone.

“Would you mind if we come over now?”  Sam nodded as she listened to her father.  “You’re sure that Mother knows that we are both coming, right?” 

A dark eyebrow arched high on Brooke’s forehead.  If she thinks I’d let Sam come anywhere near her alone…”


Brooke’s expression soured hearing the word.  At the same moment, another cramp registered its protest.  We had that last night…as a left over from my mom’s. Just what I need as a reminder of those hormones…another bout of constipation.  She gulped thinking about the layer upon layers of cheese before picking up on Sam’s conversation once more.

“Is somebody special stopping by for dinner too?”

“Great,” Brooke mumbled under her breath.  “She’s gathering in her cronies to help her with the exorcism.”  She caught the furrowed brows on her wife’s questioning face.  “Exercise…” Brooke coughed up the word.  “Remind me to exercise from now on.”  She waited until Sam’s attention was back on the phone conversation before she breathed easier.  Thank God those drugs are wearing off. 

“Grammie,” Sam’s face lit up with emotion as a smile nearly split her face in two.  “I haven’t seen her in almost a year.”  Green eyes focused on Brooke as she continued talking to her father.  “That’ll be nice.  I’m sure she’d like to meet Brooke.”

Brooke found herself mouthing the word, ‘Grammie’ in her wife’s direction.  “Who’s Grammie?” She whispered, “I mean…whose mother?”  Oh Lordy, Brooke raised her eyes to heaven.  Let it be Samuel’s, plee-ee-ase.  She could feel the muscles in her neck tightening even more.

“I don’t know, Daddy.  Maybe we should wait and see how the evening goes.”

How the evening goes…?  Brooke’s eyes grew bigger.  “What does she…I mean…who could…” she mumbled out, then looked over to her wife.  “What’s going on, Sam?”

Sam looked over to see the hesitant look on Brooke’s face.  “We’ll talk about this later,” she directed her comment to both her father and her lover.  “Right now I’d better get driving if we’re going to even get there.”  She paused for a moment then nodded.  “Yes, Daddy.”  The smile came back to her face, “I’ll be careful.  See you soon.”

Blue eyes studied Sam’s reflective mood as she terminated the call.  Brooke didn’t say anything.  Instead she waited while her wife sat there staring at the phone for a moment. 

As soon as Sam started to put her phone back into her purse, Brooke’s curiosity got the best of her.  “So…” Brooke cleared her throat, “I take it there’s someone you want me to meet?  Someone that I’m going to like, I hope.”

“Yeah,” Sam smiled pleasantly. 

“Grammie, huh?” Brooke tried to satisfy her growing need to know.  “Would that be Grammie Moleson?”  She watched the devilish grin come to Sam’s face.  “You’re not going to say, are you?”  Brooke studied her wife’s face more intently.  “Great, I’m in pain and you’re going to let me hang on this.”

Sam’s facial expression turned to one of concern.  “Sorry Hon, I didn’t mean to…” Sam sighed.  “Don’t worry about Grammie, Brooke.  She’s a cool lady.  In fact, one of the coolest ladies I’ve ever known.”  Sam caught the trepidation in Brooke’s glance.  “I like her Brooke, and I’m sure that you will too.  Sometimes growing up, I think she was the only one that understood me.”

Brooke breathed a little easier as she tried to picture what Samuel’s mother would look like.

“Grammie Addams is one…”

The rest of Sam’s words were lost to Brooke as terror gripped her.  Addams…great.  It’s Elaine’s mother.

Sam saw her wife’s color drain.  “Are you in pain?”

“Ah…pain?”  Brooke shifted her eyes to her wife and then to the shopping mall.  “Pain…maybe a little.”

“I’ve got your prescription filled, I could get you something to drink so you could take one,” Sam offered.

“No,” Brooke shook her head.  “I’ll be alright until we get to your Dad’s.  Another five minutes won’t bother me.”

Sam looked to her wife, “Okay, but only if you’re sure.” 

“I’m sure.”  Brooke shifted in her seat as Sam started up the SUV.  Open minded…that’s what you wanted her mother to be. That’s what you need to be.  She stared straight ahead through the windshield.  Okay Grammie, let’s see what you’ve got.  I’m ready for you.


The wheels of the SUV slowly came to rest in the driveway when Sam’s voice shattered the silence inside the vehicle.  “Don’t look now but…” she smiled weakly and sang out as though she did the original sound track from the Poltergeist movie, “We’re he-e-e-re.”  She looked over to see Brooke let go of a long sigh. 

“We’re here, right.”  Brooke kept her voice down trying to mask the effect that the cramps were having on her.  Their untimely twinges always seemed to happen when she tried to forget about them.

“Give me a minute and I’ll catch that door for you, Hon.” Sam turned off the engine and slid the keys from the ignition.  Within seconds she was rounding the front of the vehicle and opening her wife’s door for her.  “See, just like Dr. Dennison said…no physical activity for twenty-four hours.”

“Sam, opening the door is hardly strenuous work.”  Blue eyes pinned Sam where she stood as Brooke swung her feet out of the compartment and set them down onto the cement of the driveway. 

“I know but I’m not taking any chances with my favorite lady.”  Blonde eyebrows wiggled and a sexy grin came to Sam’s face.  “Hey, I don’t get the chance to do this often so I’m taking full advantage of it now, while I can.”

“Thank you, Darlin’,” she said as she moved away from the open door.

“Careful, Hon,” Sam uttered, offering her hand to the woman.  “Remember to take it slow.”  Sam waited until Brooke was clearly out of the way of the door before closing it.  “Boy, is this a role reversal.”

“Ya know…” The arched brow on the woman’s forehead didn’t scare Sam at all.  Brooke gathered her into long strong arms that pulled her in for a quick hug and a kiss on the top of her head.  “I love you.”

“I know…” Green eyes locked onto blue, “I can tell.”  Sam rubbed the back of her wife’s coat in a soothing manner.  “You’re not worried that I’m taking over all of your jobs right now, are you?”

“Nope…” Brooke shook her head, “because I trust you.”

“Hmm…I like the sound of that.”  Sam kept one arm wrapped around Brooke’s waist as she turned toward the door of her parents’ house.  “Oh, and Hon, don’t worry, I’ll never tell Peter that I was your white knight.”  Sam looked to her wife and winked.

“Oh boy,” Brooke rolled her eyes as she chuckled.  “My reputation will remain intact.”  She encircled Sam’s shoulder with her arm and motioned with her eyes to the front door of the house.  “Okay Darlin’, ready to run the gauntlet?”

Sam took in a deep breath and slowly started to nod.  “Anytime, anywhere, but only with you.”

They were only a few steps closer to the door when Samuel came jogging out of the open door and over to his daughter.  “Sam!”  The man’s body was planted firmly in front of Sam as he engulfed the woman in a hug.  “It’s so good to see my daughters,” he looked over to Brooke and smiled, then planted a kiss on Sam’s cheek.  “How’s my Princess?”

“Hi, Daddy.  I’m fine.”  She pulled back to look at her father.  “It’s so good to see you again.  Thanks for inviting us.”

“No problem,” he pulled Brooke in for a quick hug.  “I’m glad that you could make it.”

“Me too, Sir.”

“Brooke, I thought we were past that formalness.”  He looked her straight in the eye.  “Samuel…or Pop…that’s your only choices.”  A cool breeze caught the man off guard and he shivered.  “Come on, it’s cold out here.  Let’s get inside where the temperature is more conducive to life.”  He huddled his arms around them and hurried them toward the door.  “Elaine…the girls are here.”

“Warm…yeah…” Brooke muttered numbly.  It’ll be just like walking into hell.  Looking around the house as they passed into the entryway, she quickly scanned the area for piles of wood or low hanging, thick, black smoke.  Hmm…I guess they haven’t lit the bon fires.  Tsk, tsk…slacking now are we Elaine?  Brooke placed a weak smile on her face the moment that Sam gazed in her direction.  To further advance her case, she entwined her fingers with her lover’s and gave a little squeeze.

“Come on in and have a seat.”  Sam shut the door before following them into the hallway.  “Here, let me take those coats from you,” he held onto his daughter’s outer garment as Sam slid her arms out of it.

“Thanks, Daddy.”  She let her father have her coat and quickly grasped onto Brooke’s, holding it as the woman withdrew her arms from the sleeves.  “I got it, Brooke.  Let’s go into the living room.  I know just where there’s the biggest old stuffed chair that I think you’ll never want to get out of.”

The idea sounded appealing to Brooke, so she let her wife guide her into the living room.  Seeing the overstuffed chair, she had to agree.  Only her abdomen voiced its opinion, sending a cramp to register its delight as Brooke sank down into the chair.

The grimace on her wife’s face triggered Sam’s next statement.  “You wait right here, Hon,” Sam leaned closer to Brooke.  “I’ll get you a glass of water and you can take something to help with that.”

“Water? ”  Samuel studied the dark haired woman for a moment as her hand clutched on to Sam’s.  He touched his daughter’s shoulder lightly.  “Let me get that for you.  You stay here.”  A second later he was heading toward the kitchen.  “Elaine…did you hear me?  I said the girls were here.”

“Samuel, what is it?  I can’t be running off every time the door opens.  I’m busy in here with dinner.”

“Didn’t you hear me?”  Samuel walked up behind his wife and spoke directly to her.  “I said that the girls are here.”

“Already?” Elaine spun around nearly knocking her husband over.  “But I thought…I mean…dinner isn’t anywhere near being done.”  She looked back at the timer on the stove.  “The meal won’t be done for another fifteen minutes.” 

“Calm down, Elaine.”  He moved around his flustered wife to the cupboard, retrieving a glass from it.  “They’re sitting in the living room amusing themselves.”  He crossed the kitchen to the refrigerator and took out some ice, dropping several of the cubes into the empty glass.  “I’ll see to them right after I get this glass of water for Brooke.”  He went to the faucet and turned it on, filling it with water.  “You know…” Samuel turned around and looked over to his wife, “Now that I think of it, Brooke’s looking a little funny…kind of under the weather tonight.”

“What do you mean…” Elaine looked at her husband with a peculiar expression, “funny?  Do you think she’s on drugs or something?  I’ve heard what those rock musicians do when they’re too scared to be in front of an audience.” 

“Elaine…” Samuel’s voice was stern.  “I said that she looked sick, didn’t I?”

Elaine thought about it for a moment.  “Yeah, but is she really sick or just too scared to be in the enemy’s territory?  I knew it…she’ll bring a plague down on all of us and my Samantha will be the first to be taken by it.”

Samuel rolled his eyes.  “You can stop that right now.  Samantha was a lesbian long before she ever met Brooke.”  He turned to face his wife.  “Elaine, you’re the only person who can make this ‘enemy territory’.  Why, you told me yourself that you were trying to be more accepting of your children.  I think it’s time you tried a little harder,” he cautioned his wife.

“I know,” Elaine wiped her hand on the towel that was nearby, “take in a breath and let it go.”  She exaggerated her intake of air and slowly blew it out of her mouth.  “We talked about that…see, I remember.”

That’s good Elaine.  Thank you.”  The smile was hard to keep on his face but she had earned it.  “Now, how about going in there and saying hello.”  He watched as the color drained from her face.  “As a matter of fact,” he handed her the glass of water, “you can take Brooke this glass and break the ice.”  His eyes twinkled with the thought of the pun he’d just made.

“ME?” Elaine’s mouth dropped open.

“Yes, you.”  Samuel placed the glass into her hand and motioned for her to go.

“Alright, but remember, Sarah doesn’t have the skills to feed you more than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I’m sick in bed.”

Samuel fought back the smile that wanted to overtake his face.  “Oh you won’t get sick Elaine…you’ll just become a lesbian.”

She glared at him for a long moment before moving toward the living room.  “Samantha, Brooke…” she called out as she rounded the hallway, plastering on a smile for them to see.  “How nice to see you both again.”

“Hello Mrs. Moleson,” Brooke spoke up directing Elaine’s gaze off Sam.  “How are you?”  She locked onto the woman’s eyes as she took the glass of water from her hands and conveyed her silent message.  The hate comes my way, mommy dearest, not at Sam.

“I’m…” Elaine was startled by the tired look in Brooke’s eye and the guarding movement of the woman’s body as she took the glass of water and lifted it toward her mouth, “fine.”  She watched as Sam poured two capsules out of a medicine bottle into Brooke’s hand and Samuel’s observations from before came rushing back to her mind.  “You’re…you’re not looking too good.  Are you sick?”

“She’s not sick, Mother.”  Sam was quick with her answer.  “She’s just had an extraction done today and she’s still in a little pain from it.

“No, Ma’am.” Brooke swallowed the pills with a gulp of water.  “I’m just a bit sore, that’s all.  Thanks for asking.”

Elaine could see the silent plea in the crystal blue of Brooke’s eyes.

“Extraction…?” Worry was written across Elaine’s face as she brought her hand up to cover her mouth.  “Are you sure you’re up to eating?  If I would have known…I could have made you soup or something…”

Brooke’s gaze shifted to Sam as a questioning look came to the woman’s face.  “You don’t have to make anything special for me, Ma’am.  I’m sure that I’ll be just fine with whatever you’ve prepared.”

“Well, it is my special company dish,” Elaine smiled self-consciously.  “But it’s soft so you won’t have to worry.  You just do the best you can.”

Startled by the politeness, Brooke fought the urge to pull back her hand when she felt Elaine’s hand gently pat hers.  “Yes, Ma’am, thank you.”

The few seconds of awkward silence was almost deafening.  In a hurry to get past it, Brooke found herself doing what her mother had always taught them to do.  “Do you need any help?”  She started to rise from the chair but was quickly tugged back into her seat by Sam.

“Let me help.”  Sam met her wife’s gaze.  “It’s been a while Mother, but I think I still remember where you keep everything in your kitchen.  So if you need some help, I’ve got some free hands just itching to get to work.”

“I could set the table or something…” Brooke felt the hand on her shoulder as she started to get up.

“I’ll get that,” Sam drove the idea home with a single, momentary glare.  “You rest.”

“I’d hardly call setting a table as being strenuous work, Sam.”  Brooke protested without raising her voice.  “I’d like to be of some help.”

“You want to help?”  Sam saw the eagerness in the nodding of Brooke’s head.  “Good, then you can keep my father company.”  She smiled as the man walked back into the room as if on cue.  “Daddy, don’t let her out of your sight.  I’m going to give Mother a hand in the kitchen.”

“Sure Princess,” Samuel kissed his daughter’s cheek in passing as Sam headed out of the room.  His face lightened up afterward and he headed for the chair opposite Brooke.  He watched as the tall woman sank back down into the overstuffed chair, defeated in her attempt to help with dinner.

Seeing the amused face of her father-in-law staring at her, Brooke sighed.  “Let me guess,” Samuel’s raised eyebrow urged her on, “This is where I’m just supposed to shut up and take it like a man, huh?”

“You’re a fast learner, Brooke.”  Samuel smiled at his daughter’s spouse.  “It took me years to learn that.”


Coming into the kitchen for more tableware, Sam looked at her mother standing at the sink.  It’s been four years since I’ve been here.  Four years since I’ve set the family table and it’s still quiet. Sam sighed.  Maybe it’s better that way.  The last time I did this for her all hell broke loose.  That was the beginning of the fight that left me without a family and looking for a place to live.   Sam made a mental note to thank her Aunt Sandy for answering the door that night.  I can see that nothing changes here. She opened the drawer and searched for the tableware that she needed.


“Yes, Mother?” Sam held her breath as she felt her stomach begin to churn.

“I know that she said she could eat with us, so what kind of extraction did she have…” Elaine tossed the salad greens for a time or two then continued with her thought, “I mean…if she didn’t have a tooth extracted…”

The question struck Sam as odd.  “She who, Mother?”

“She…your…ah…your…” the woman’s mouth tried several times to form the beginnings of the word but was unable to get more then a breathy ‘w’ sound out at the most.  Finally Elaine gave up and took a new approach.  “Brooke…that’s who.”

“Oh, you mean my wife or some other Brooke?”  Sam arched an eyebrow, as she stayed turned away from her mother’s view.

“You know perfectly well who I’m talking about, young lady.”

Sam could feel the glare at the back of her head even though she didn’t turn to see it.  That Brooke.  No, she didn’t have any teeth extracted, Mother.”

“Then what did she have taken out?”

“It’s nothing that you need to concern yourself with…” Sam took in a breath.  At least not right now.

“What do you mean…not concern myself with?”  Elaine now tossed the salad with fervor.  “This is exactly why we can never get along, Samantha.  You always keep things from me.”

“And if I had told you of my lesbian tendencies earlier than I did, would it have really made a difference Mother?” Sam could feel her anger starting to rise and she tried to keep it in check.  Maybe this was a bad idea.

“That’s water over the dam,” Elaine turned and shook a finger at her eldest daughter, “and you know it, young lady.  I try to take an interest in your life and this is the thanks that I get.”  She turned back to her salad bowl, picked it up and then set it back down on the counter with a slam.  “Samantha, I’m trying but I can’t do it without some help from all of you.  I’m not your Uncle Charlie who could turn the other cheek and go on about the business of life even with death staring him in the face.”  She made the sign of the cross and looked to the ceiling.  “God rest his soul.”

“Mother,” Sam’s voice lowered with the second syllable of the word.  “Bringing up Uncle Charlie is not going to make me…”

“You’re just like him, you know.  Secretive and all…” Elaine stared at the bowl of salad.  “He never told his family until it was too late.  He was well into those…those treatments before anyone found out.”  She turned to face her daughter.  “You want me to treat her as part of the family…the two of you as a couple…then treat me like I’m a part of your family, too.”  Elaine cocked her head to the side, “I’ll bet Mabel knows.”

The words hit Sam and stunned her for a moment.  She’s right, Mabel does know.  Well, she at least knows that we’re trying to have a child.  I was the one that let it slip out to her.  She looked in the direction of the living room as she battled with herself.  Brooke, I’m sorry, it was out before I could stop it.  Sam felt her stomach churn and she thought about her mother.  She and Daddy did ask us here for dinner.  Maybe she is trying.  Sam studied the woman for a second as she tried to make up her mind.  But can I trust her?  Maybe if I just give her a little something to make her think she’s getting the information…

“Fine.  If you don’t think I’m trying, then maybe I shouldn’t,” Elaine said as she turned to leave in a huff.

“They took a few pieces from her…seeds, that’s all.”  Sam hoped that would be enough to appease her.

“Seeds?” Elaine whispered under her breath.  “What would they be…Oh my heavens.”  She turned to look at her daughter.  “You mean seeds that they implant?”

“Yeah,” Sam smirked.  “It’s pretty amazing what they can do with modern medicine now a days.  They go right to the source and limit all that exposure to medications and any other tomfoolery.”  Sam turned to see her mother’s face as it paled.  “We’re lucky to have found a pretty progressive doctor to guide us through this.”  Seeing the apprehension on her mother’s face, Sam took a step in the woman’s direction.  “Mother, are you alright?”

“Me?  Ah…fine…I’m fine.”  Elaine grabbed the bowl of salad and started for the dining room.  “I’ll let the others know we’re ready to eat.” 

Well, I hope that appeased Mother.  Maybe we can skip the topic at the dinner table all together now.  Sam breathed a little easier as she watched the woman walk out of the room.

A few seconds later, Elaine was calling out their names as she entered the living room.  “Samuel, Brooke, dinner is ready.”  She gazed in to see the tall woman slowly pulling herself up from the overstuffed chair, pain obviously something that she was trying to avoid.  To keep from staring in disbelief, Elaine breezed back into the dining room.  “She’s looking just like poor Charlie before he told us…” she mumbled to herself.  “Samantha, would you bring in that bottle of wine on the counter?”  Elaine took in a breath and readied herself as she turned to Brooke.  “I thought it would go nicely with the lasagna.”

Well, that seemed to be enough to get her off the subject.   “I’ve got it, Mother.”  Sam carried the bottle into the dining room.

“That sounds nice, Mrs. Moleson.”  Brooke waited until Sam came nearer to her.  “I could have just a little taste, couldn’t I, Sam?”  She held her fingers apart by barely an inch as her eyes pleaded her case.

“Hmm…” Sam made a face at Brooke’s increment of measure until it shrank considerably.  “I don’t think a little would hurt you.”  She sat the bottle down at her father’s place setting then pulled out the chair to his left, offering it to her wife.

“Darlin’, please.”  Brooke’s eyes shifted from Sam to the woman’s parents.  “I can get this,” she said taking the last few steps toward the offered seat.  “Thank you, but I’m not completely helpless you know.”

“Brooke,” Sam smiled at her mate, “you remember what we agreed upon.”  She pulled the chair out further and motioned to it.  “Now sit.”

Elaine watched as the tall woman struggled with both her pride and her reluctance to do as Sam had instructed her.  Finally, Brooke bowed her head in defeat as the first changing hues showing her embarrassment came to the surface.

“Yes, Darlin’.”  Brooke rounded the table and stepped into her place as Sam gently pushed the chair beneath her wife.  She waited until Sam was almost seated next to her before she gave her subtle comeback.  “Maybe you want to eat dinner for me, too.”

Samuel fought hard to keep the smile from reaching his face as he looked to the newly married couple. 

“Cute, Brooke.” Sam gave her wife a stern look.  “But not necessary.”  She glanced over to her mother at the opposite end of the table.  “Everything smells wonderful.”  

“Yes, Ma’am, it looks great.”  Brooke eyed the melted cheese on the lasagna.  “I hope you didn’t go through too much trouble for us.”

“Trouble?” Elaine scoffed,  “Lasagna is never trouble.  It’s second nature to me after all the dinners we’ve had.  I could do it in my sleep as much as you could…could…” Elaine stammered for a second trying to think of what Brooke did.  “Well, whatever it is that you do.  I’m sure you do it just as well.”

“I can do a few things in my sleep,” Brooke’s glance drifted to Sam for a second, “but I’m sure you’re thinking of my drum playing.”  She grinned at Elaine, trying to ease her tension.

“Oh, is that what you do at the record company, Brooke?”  Elaine’s face was emotionless.  “You play drums for everyone?”

“Mother,” Sam spoke up.  “She owns the company.  She doesn’t just play the drums all the time.”

“Sam, it’s all right.”  Brooke’s hand covered Sam’s with a little squeeze as she tried to soothe her wife.  “I do help out in some of the sessions on my label…if a drummer’s having a hard time getting something on track that we can use.”  A smile came to Brooke’s face, “I…ah…I’ve even done a little bit of work for TV jingles and radio promos, as well.”

“Interesting…” Elaine nodded, then turned her attention to her daughter.  “And what do you do, Samantha?  I understand you work there also.”

Sam cleared her throat.  “Well, right now I’m hoping that I’ll be working on a new group that Brooke just signed to the label.  It’s an all girl group.”

“All girls?”  Samuel showed his interest.  “What are they…a duo…a trio?”  He saw the amused look on his daughter’s face.  “Sam…you know what I’m talking about.  Are they as good as the Supremes?”

“You mean that old black record you listened to all the time, Daddy?” Sam teased him innocently of his age.  She watched as her father made a face.

“That’s just a side project for the future,” Brooke interjected, trying to get her wife out of the hot seat.  “Sam is actually in charge of handling all the promotional work for one of our new contracts from New Jersey.”  She looked to Sam’s mother, then to the man at the opposite end of the table.  “We’ve been working with them for a few months in preparation of launching their big national tour later this Spring.”

“That sounds pretty darn impressive for my little girl.”  His eyes centered on his daughter, “Sam, why didn’t you tell us?”

“I…ah…” Sam shrugged, “I didn’t give it that much thought.”  She stopped at the sound of the front door closing and looked over her shoulder to see who had just entered the house.

“Mom, Dad…I’m home.” 

“You’re late, young lady.”  Elaine sat ready with a stern gaze for her youngest daughter when she came into the room.

“Sorry, but that jerk Tommy was acting up in seventh period and they made the whole class stay for detention.”  Sarah stopped short as she entered the dining room.  “Sam, Brooke…I thought that truck looked familiar outside.”  Her eyes widened with surprise.  “What’s the occasion…it’s not your first anniversary already, is it?”

“No…it’s not.”  Sam shook her head.  “Wait a minute…” a puzzled look came to her face.  “Isn’t Tommy the one you have a crush on?”

“ME and Tommy?” Sarah laughed as Sam got up from her seat and gathered her sister in a hug.  “That’s so retro, I can’t remember it anymore.  Mmm…I’m so glad to see you, Sam.”  She gave her sister a squeeze and stepped over to Brooke with her arms outstretched.  “Don’t think you’re not going to get a hug too.”

Elaine watched the tall woman slowly rise from her chair.  The look of pain flashing across Brooke’s face for a brief second caught the woman’s eye and suddenly things started to make sense.  “Sarah, we’re eating,” she snapped.  “This is not proper dinner etiquette.” 

“I don’t see Emily Post anywhere near our house, Elaine.”  Samuel turned his gaze to Sarah.  “I’ve gotten you out of the line of fire, pumpkin.  You’d better take your seat and catch up to us.”  Samuel motioned to the empty chair across from Sam. 

Brooke ensconced the girl in a friendly embrace.  “How you doing, Kiddo?”

“Good, now that I get to see my sisters again,” the girl beamed as she slipped out of Brooke’s arm and headed for her place at the table.

“Sarah,” Elaine cast a glare in her daughter’s direction, “go wash those hands before you sit at the table.”

“Yes Mother.”  Sarah said as she dutifully headed for the kitchen.

“Line of fire…that’s funny, Sir.”  Brooke gave a little chuckle as she eased herself down onto the chair again.  “That’s the name of the group that Sam’s promoting.”

“Line of Fire,” Sarah squealed as she ran in from the next room.  “Sam, you didn’t tell me that.  Can you get me their autographs?  Can you book them for my school’s prom? Oh, wait…” Sarah jumped up and down, wiping her wet hands on her clothing.  She moved closer to her sister, giving her another hug.  “I’ll take one to the prom.”

“Sarah!”  Elaine gasped, “This is neither the time nor the place to badger your sister.  This is a dinner table and we will have dinner, not some school girl antics.  We have company tonight.”

“That’s alright, Ma’am.  I’m pretty used to it,” Brooke looked over to her mother-in-law.  “After you live in a house with C.C., you expect the childishness.”  Brooke jerked her elbow from Sam’s playful punch and gave her wife a wink.  “Hey!”

“You’re talking about my ex-roommate,” Sam chided her wife.  “I’ve got to stick up for her.”

“See Mom, I told you Brooke’s family was cool.”  Sarah unfurled her napkin and draped it over her lap as she turned her attention to the table full of food.  “Mmm…lasagna.  I just love how you make it with extra cheese.”

“Me too,” Brooke said weakly, smiling at her mother-in-law as Elaine served up a generous portion of lasagna on a plate and sent it her way.

“Brooke,” Samuel uncorked the bottle of wine and offered it to her, “care for some vino with that?”  When their eyes met, he winked at her and smiled.  “Things always go down a little easier with some good wine.”  His eyes shifted to his wife and then back again as he offered the bottle to Brooke once more.

“Thanks, Sir.”  She held out her glass while he poured.  “I appreciate that.”

“Remember Daddy, just a little.”  Sam smiled at her wife.


“Hey Dad,” Sarah whispered rather loudly as she entered the living room.  “I see your newest daughter takes after you.”  She smiled and motioned to the snoozing woman in the overstuffed chair.  “It’s a good thing Sam and I helped Mom clear off the table.”

“I heard my name, what’s up, Sarah?” Sam came up behind her sister.  As soon as Sarah stepped aside, she could see Brooke sitting there, sound asleep.  “My poor baby.”

The worry lines crinkled Sam’s brow while she crossed the room and gently nudged her wife.  “Brooke…are you sleeping?”

“Sleeping…huh?” Expression started to come into the lifeless face of a second ago as Brooke started to sit up a little.  “Sorry Darlin’, guess I zoned out for a bit.”  Brooke looked over at Mrs. Moleson as she entered the room.  “That was a great dinner, Ma’am.

“Thanks, Mother, for inviting us.  It was a very good dinner.”  Sam studied Brooke for a second.  “Maybe we should go so you can rest.”

“You’re going to drive all that way back to the beach with her being so sleepy?” Samuel looked rather concerned.  “She needs to sleep in a bed, not an uncomfortable seat.”

“Actually Daddy, we thought it might be better for us to just stay here in…”

“Stay here?”  Elaine’s voice cracked uncontrollably.  “But we only have one room…your old room, Samantha.  Where would…”

“Where would your bags be, Princess?” Samuel spoke over top of his wife’s voice.  “I’ll go out and bring them in for you. “

“But Samuel…” Elaine started to protest. 

“No buts, Elaine.”  He glared at his wife for a long second then turned to face the couple.  “They’re married.  I’m sure that they share a bed at home.”  Samuel winked at his daughter causing her to blush.

“Daddy…” Sam tried hard not to let her embarrassment show.  “We don’t want to cause any problems,” she glanced in her mother’s direction.  “Besides, my bed was only a single…”

Brooke immediately came to her wife’s aid.  “I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.  We can go get a room.”

“I know that Mother is trying to accept us, but this may be too soon for…” Sam’s voice trailed off at the sight of her father’s growing anger.

Samuel got up from his seat abruptly, as he started firing directives to everyone in the room.  “I’ve made my mind up, you’ll stay with us.”  He turned to his youngest daughter, “Sarah, you go up and get your sister and Brooke some towels while I get their bags in.”  The man was pleased with his child’s quick dispatch to her task as he watched her leave the room.  Turning, he looked to his eldest daughter, “This way Sam can visit with us while Brooke,” he smiled politely at the woman, “can get some rest.  You know Princess, we’ve replaced that tiny bed of yours with our old one when your Mother redecorated our room last year.”

“And what am I supposed to do?” Elaine asked in a slightly defiant tone.

As Samuel leveled his gaze at his wife and opened his mouth to speak, Brooke got up from the overstuffed chair, stepping in between them.  “Mr. Moleson, thank you for the offer but your wife and I…” Brooke turned her head in Elaine’s direction and forced a smile.  “We’ve actually been getting along fairly well tonight.  I’d rather not upset her or make her uncomfortable in any way.”  She looked lovingly at Sam.  “I wouldn’t want to jeopardize any ground that Sam and her mother have gained.  I’m sure that she’s going to need her mother’s help over the months ahead.”

Samuel looked at the woman in front of him with a scrutinizing gaze for a long moment then let his thoughts surface.  “What do you mean?”  Getting no answer from Brooke, he turned to his daughter.  “Sam?”

“Ah…” pinned for an answer she chose the truth.  “We were at the Doctor’s today.”

“Doctor’s,” her father repeated as his skin paled.  “Why all the way up here to Richmond?”

“Now, don’t go getting excited Daddy,” Sam cautioned.  “We don’t know anything yet but when we do…” Sam felt Brooke’s fingers entwining her own, giving her confidence, “I’ll make sure that you’re one of the first to know.”

“I don’t understand.  Samantha, how can you be so calm?” He looked to his wife who was edging toward the hall.  “Elaine, where are you going?  We could have a crisis here at any moment.”  The man’s forehead was etched with worry lines.

“To pray.”  Elaine made the sign of the cross on her body and retreated to the kitchen mumbling under her breath, “I knew it.  He’s sent a cleansing plague.”

Sam went to her father, comforting him.  “It’s not bad news Daddy.”  She glanced over her shoulder to Brooke for a second.  “Well,” she shrugged, “at least not yet.  We just don’t want to say anything that could jinx it.”  She looked into her father’s eyes.  “Please Daddy, just give us some time.”

Brooke stood up with Sam at her request, placing an arm around her shoulder.  “Please Sir.”

Their eyes held for a long moment as he studied each of the women’s faces.  He opened his mouth to speak, but didn’t.  Instead, he kissed Sam on the cheek, then laid a gentle hand on Brooke’s shoulder.  “I don’t understand it all but I’ll abide by your wishes…for now,” he cautioned Brooke as he passed by her on his way out of the room.


A shaking hand held the bottle as the last drop of wine rolled down from its brim into the half-filled wineglass.  Acting without thought, Elaine sat mesmerized as her hands acted out of routine.  The sound of glass meeting the tile counter top startled her and she reached for the bottle with her other hand to steady it.  Slowly, she pulled her hands away from the empty bottle and sat back, staring at the wine she’d just poured.  The next moment she saw the unfocused image come solemnly walking into the kitchen and her eyes shifted to make sense of it.  There, in the doorway, stood her husband.

“If you’re going to lecture me Samuel,” Elaine’s gaze drifted back to the glass of wine, “you can stop right there.  I think I’m seeing things more clearly now.”  She brought the wineglass to her mouth and sipped from it. After swallowing, she muttered deep in thought, “Much more clearly…”

“Elaine so help me if you know what’s going on with our daughter and her wife and you’re not telling me, I’ll…”

“Seeds…” the word floated on the air as if it were the answer to everything.  Elaine smirked, “I should have caught it then…”

“What are you talking about?” Samuel demanded.  “This is no time to be thinking of your garden.  Something is going on in our Samantha’s life that made her come all the way to Richmond to see a doctor and all you can say is ‘seeds’.”  He moved closer to the table until it was the only thing between him and his wife.  “Damn it woman,” he kept his voice down as he looked into Elaine’s eyes.  “Can’t you see the pain in Brooke’s eyes.  She can barely sit or stand up without grabbing onto something.  I saw it there in her face when Sarah gave her a hug.  Granted that I’ve only known her a short time, but I’ve never seen pain like that in her eyes.”  He let a breath escape his lips, and hung his head.  “Not even when you and all those goddamn reporters tried to ruin their wedding.”  Now the pain registered on his face as he remembered that day.  “I tell you,” he started slowly, “there’s more to this than a toothache.”

“There is Samuel.”  Elaine took in a breath to settle her.  “Samantha told me that Brooke had a few seeds extracted.  The only seeds that I know about that doctors put in and take out are the seeds that they use to treat some…some…” she couldn’t bring herself to say the word and bolstered her courage with another sip of wine.

“Seeds?” Samuel’s eyes darted around the room as he sorted the thoughts in his head for an answer.  “You mean radiation seeds like Sandy’s husband, Charlie had for his…” he looked down to his lower abdomen and whispered, “prostate?”

“I think so,” Elaine nodded. 

The pallor of Samuel’s face suddenly turned red with anger.  “Stupid!”  He smacked his forehead with the palm of his open hand.  “Brooke was trying to tell me it on the sly.  I should have picked up on it sooner than this.”

“What did she say?”  Elaine’s attention riveted from the glass of wine to her husband.

“Something about Sam going to need her mother’s help in the months ahead.” 

“I did notice that Samantha held the chair for Brooke.  I was thinking that was rather unusual for the two of them.  I mean…Brooke’s always been the ma…” she hesitated for a second, “I mean…more protective of our daughter.”  Elaine got a far away look in her eyes as she stared off into space.  “Now I know why she married that woman,” she whispered.  A tear formed in Elaine’s eye and she wiped it away with her finger.  A moment later, her eyes met Samuel’s as the stark reality of it all settled in. 

“Elaine, what are we going to do?”  He looked to his wife for an answer.  “We can’t let them go to some hotel room.  Samantha may need us now more than ever.”

“Samuel, they need to stay here with family.” 

“They’re pretty set on not making anyone feel uncomfortable.  They know you have a hard time with their choices.”

“Then I’ll insist that they stay.”  Elaine got up from her chair and headed for the living room.

The man couldn’t believe his ears. “Elaine, are you sure?” 

There was no reply, only the sound of determined footsteps that faded with each step.


Sarah held Brooke’s coat for her as she slid each arm into its sleeve.  “I don’t know why you have to leave so soon.  I mean, tomorrow isn’t a work day or anything.”

“Thanks Kiddo,” Brooke winked and pulled her jacket onto her shoulders. 

“I really think it’s for the best,” Sam said as she buttoned her coat.  “You know that you can always come down to the beach and visit us anytime.”  She looked up to see the disappointed face of her sibling.   “Sarah…” Sam sighed.  “We aren’t going anywhere.”

“You’re right,” Elaine projected her voice down the hall, “you’re staying right here in your old room.”  She paused when three sets of eyes focused on her, then continued speaking.  “I won’t have my daughter and her w-w-wife,” she wet her lips hiding her surprise at getting the word out, “staying anywhere but here when they’re in Richmond.”

“Really Mrs. Moleson,” Brooke shook her head, “we wouldn’t want to impose.”

“You’re not, but I am.”  Fire flashed in Elaine’s eyes.  “What kind of mother do you think I’d be if I let my own family sleep under a stranger’s roof when there’s a perfectly good bed for them here?”

“I…I…” Brooke stuttered out finally, turning to Sam for help.

Sam viewed her mother with disbelieving eyes.  “Having a change of heart, are you Mother?  I remember a night four years ago that you did just that…sent a family member out into the cold.”

Sarah gasped, “Sam!”  

The sharp sound of her sister’s voice captured Sam’s attention.  “Sarah, I’m sorry but I don’t want any misconceptions now or ever again.  I’ve laid my cards out on the table and all I’m asking is for Mother to do the same.”  She then leveled her gaze at her mother, asking her directly, “Are you sure about this, Mother?”  Sam watched as her mother took in a deep breath and then swallowed.

“No…” Elaine’s voice sounded shaky at first, then grew with confidence, “but we have to start somewhere.  It might as well be here and now.”

There was an uncomfortable silence in the room as mother and daughter locked gazes for what seemed to be an eternity, each one trying to read deep into the other’s heart.

Feeling helpless, Brooke watched Sam’s father come into the room and stop.  The look on his face was a mix of both agony and relief.  “Sam…” she blew out a breath, “I’ll be right back.”  Brooke looked to the three principal family members in the room and then slipped out the front door.

“Brooke…?” Sam called out to her wife but she was already gone.  Sam turned her attention back to her mother.  “I hope you’re serious about this.  I won’t have you hurting either one of us.  Brooke’s a strong woman, but right now, I’m not sure how much she can take.”

“I am serious, Samantha.”  Elaine’s face showed both love and anguish at the same time.  “I want to try.  I am trying, if only you’d let me.”

“You better be,” Samuel spoke up from the background, “or I’ll make sure your mother knows about it when she comes through here tomorrow.  I’m sorry she couldn’t be here now.  Drat that foul weather up North.” 

Compassion overwrought Elaine as she looked at her daughter.  “I’m sure your grandmother will be thrilled to see you when she stops in the morning.”

Sam became reflective as she lowered her gaze.  “I would like for her to meet Brooke.”  She bit at her lower lip, then looked up to her mother.  “Are you really sure about this?  You’re alright with us…as a couple?”
“It’s not something that I can do overnight Samantha, but I’m really trying.”

The young woman studied her mother for a few seconds and slowly started to nod.  “I can see that now.  Thank you for trying.”

“Samantha…” Elaine paused, uncertain to continue or not.

“Yes, Mother?”

“I thought…” she watched as her daughter’s face became filled with concern.  “I want you to know that I’m here if you need me.”  Elaine looked away and mumbled to herself.  “A girl always needs her mother at certain times.”  She looked back to Sam.  “Maybe when Brooke is resting, we can sit and talk about what’s going on in your life.”

“Mother,” Sam sighed, “Brooke and I promised each other that we wouldn’t say a word to anyone until we know what our possibilities are.”

Then maybe you could tell me more about your Brooke.”  Elaine looked directly into her daughter’s eyes.  “I realized earlier that I don’t really know that much about her and I’d like to get to before it’s too late.”

Shell-shocked to hell and back, Sam stared at the figure that she thought was her mother.  She didn’t hear the front door open, but the six-foot figure carrying a duffle bag caught her attention.  “Hey, I would have gotten that.  You know what the doctor said,” Sam took a step in her wife’s direction and reached for the bag.
“Here,” Elaine pushed past her daughter and grabbed the bag, “I’ll take that.” 

“Elaine,” Samuel blurted out.

She threw up a cautionary hand in her husband’s direction.  “I’ve got it, Samuel.”  Her subtle smile as she turned her attention to Brooke spoke of sincerity.  “Now Brooke, if you’d like, I’ll show you to Samantha’s old room.”  Elaine positioned herself with her foot on the first step leading to the upstairs and waited.

Brooke looked to her wife, and shrugged before returning her gaze to her mother-in-law.  “Yes Ma’am, I’m coming with you.”  Brooke cringed slightly as the words echoed in her ears.  Seeing no change in Elaine’s face, she took her first step, bridging the gap between them.

“You should be comfortable in here.  The bath is at the end of the hall and I see Sarah’s already put out fresh towels on the dresser for you.”  Elaine stood at the door and watched Brooke take in the atmosphere of the room.  “If there’s anything that you need, just ask and if we have it, it’s yours.”

“Thanks Mrs. Moleson,” Brooke walked over to the window and looked out into the darkening sky before turning back to address Sam’s mother.  “Thanks for letting us stay here tonight.  It’s very kind of you.”

“You’re welcome, Brooke.”  Elaine moved to the bed and placed the duffle bag on it.  Nonchalantly she started to straighten the bed cover.  “You know…I do love Samantha.”  She paused for a second and looked over at Brooke.  “I…I just wasn’t prepared for this.” 

A dark eyebrow arched high on Brooke’s forehead, “For what?”

Elaine shrugged, “For her choices…and their outcome.”  She fluffed a pillow with two hands and muttered, “You know, when you become a parent, they don’t give you a manual so that you know how to act for every situation.  You just fly by the seat of your pants and hope you do the right thing.”  Elaine stopped what she was doing and stared straight ahead.  “Brooke, whatever the future holds, I want you to know we’ll be here for Samantha.  Whenever she needs us.  God knows I wouldn’t have wanted to go through something like this as a new bride.”

Brooke’s hackles raised at the comment.  “She’s not you, Mrs. Moleson.”

Elaine let her gaze drift until it settled on Brooke.  The momentary locked gazes brought an uneasy feeling over Brooke. 

“Oka-a-ay,” she said cautiously, then turned to look away as she cleared her throat.  “I’m sure Sam will really appreciate that.  I know that you and I didn’t get off to the greatest of starts but I want you to know that I do love your daughter.”  Brooke turned to face the woman.  “I love Sam more than anything in this world.”  She could see the woman’s roiling emotions as hints of them surfaced briefly on her face.  First a frown, then the barely noticeable hint of a smile made Brooke start to think about all that Elaine had said to her as the woman started to move to the doorway.

“Mrs. Moleson?”

“Yes,” came her tentative reply as she stopped her forward motion and turned to face Brooke.

“Something like what?”  Blue eyes narrowed and an eyebrow started to rise.  “I don’t think I understood what you were talking about.”

Elaine hesitated with her answer, trying to find the best words to use.  Not wanting to see Brooke’s face as she revealed her knowledge, she looked to the floor.  “Samantha didn’t say anything to me, so don’t be mad at her.”  She looked up at Brooke.  “It’s cancer, isn’t it?  That’s why you were at the doctor.”

“Cancer?”  Brooke’s eyes bugged out.  “Uh…no Ma’am.  It was something entirely different.  Nothing like that at all,” she shook her head with vigor.

Elaine fought back a tear as she tried to keep a wavering smile on her lips.  She reached out and took Brooke’s hand in hers and patted it.  “Don’t worry dear, denial is one of the first stages in the fight.  I’ll leave now so you can get your rest.”  She slipped her hand out from under Brooke’s, retreating to the hall and closing the door to the bedroom.

Dumbfounded, Brooke stared down to her hand.  A million thoughts suddenly came soaring through Brooke’s mind until she felt like the room was starting to spin.  As she took a step to the side to steady herself, an idea came slamming into the front of her mind.  “No wonder she’s being so nice to me…” Brooke turned to look at her reflection in the dresser mirror, “She thinks I’m gonna die.”

Shocked and barely breathing, Brooke stumbled back a step or two until her legs came up against the bed.  She sank down onto it, numb and speechless.  The sound of voices filtered into her head as they rose through the house from the living room.  She could make out the pleasant giggle of her wife as it wove its path in and out of the conversations.  First, she could hear the heavier tones of Sam’s father, then the energetic, youthful sound of her wife’s sister.  Now, a fourth voice was entering the conversation, pleasant and good-natured in manner.

“Mrs. Moleson?” Brooke’s eyebrow arched high on her forehead.  “Great,” she sighed, “Sam and her mother are finally sounding like they are mending the fences and I’m going to have to be the one to tell her why.”

Brooke looked to the side of her and cleared her throat as she embarked on her rehearsal.  “Darlin’, your mother is only tolerating us because she thinks I’m dying.”  The woman took in a long breath and held it for a moment before letting it out.  “Sam’s going to go ballistic.”

Song Lyrics from this week's installment by Steve Brown.