Carrie Ryan & K. Darblyne


"...Gone away is all my innocence, my nerves have turned to mud..."


Installment One – Wedding Bell Blues


The loud screech of her lover’s name settled into her gut like a bomb waiting to explode. The next thing that Brooke knew, there was a bevy of lights flashing in their direction as a steady stream of people came rushing into the room. Each one was yelling out questions and demanding answers. As they moved forward, they shoved their outstretched hands with microphones in them toward the front of the room, circling in on the couple like sharks in the sea. The only difference between these predators and sharks seemed to be the use of cameras and recording devices as they came rushing in for the kill.

"Huh?" Blue eyes looked to the mangle of people and their inquiring voices as if she were a deer caught in someone’s headlights. Brooke felt Sam’s arms wrap tightly around her waist and the tall woman clenched her fists, preparing for the battle of her life.

Brooke’s view was filled with swarming predators that were closing in, the lights from their cameras now making it harder to see. With every advancing step, the hackles on her neck rose until she felt trapped with nowhere to go. Desperately she tightened her grip on Sam.

"What is this?" Mable looked anxiously to her husband. "Henry, they’re ruining our daughter’s wedding day. Why aren’t you stopping them?"

"Now, Mable," he took her arm and held on to it for fear his wife would step out into the path of the melee. "Brooke and Sam have to weather their own storms. We’ll be here when they need us." He tried to reassure his wife. "That is, if they need us. We’re not going to be around forever, you know. They have to learn to rely on each other. That’s their family now."

"But, Henry…" Mable saw the warning in his eyes. "I just can’t stand here and watch."

"You can be proud of your daughters," Henry motioned to Randi, Terri and C.C. who were already showing signs of concern at what was happening. Each one of their daughters had moved slowly forward, lending their support. "…And Mario." Henry pointed to the dog that had already positioned himself between the intruders and the newlyweds. "There," Henry motioned with his head toward their grandchildren who were all nestled around their eldest daughter’s husband. "Tend to Randi’s kids. Our daughter will be more use to her sister and Sam than we could be."

Mable sighed, knowing that her husband was right. "Julie, come over here to Grandma." She bent down and scooped the young girl up into her arms. "David and Kevin, come with me. I think it’s time we see if your Aunt Brooke’s ride is here." Mable glanced over to her husband. "So help me Henry, if…"

"If they need you, Mable…" he paused staring at his wife. "I’ll keep an eye on the proceedings and know right where to find you," Henry glanced toward his grandchildren and smiled, "And the rest of the cavalry, too."

Husband and wife locked gazes for a moment then Mable turned, nudging her brood along. "Come on, children. Let’s go check out that ride that your Aunt ordered for her getaway later."

"I bet Aunt Brooke got a stretch limo," Kevin held his arms as wide as he could.

"Knowing your Aunt," Mable tried to keep her mind occupied with her grandchildren, "I bet she ordered two."

Henry watched her move to the side door of the room with his grandchildren in tow before turning his attention back to his musician daughter and her new wife.

Coming out from behind Brooke‘s protective stance, Sam could feel the tension in the woman’s arms that wrapped around her. "Tell me you didn’t plan this," Sam spoke quietly into the taller woman’s ear so as to be heard above the cacophony of voices.

A pained look came to Brooke’s face as she turned to face her wife. "How could you think that I would do something like this?"

"I couldn’t." The warm smile flashed first followed by determined green eyes. "Then let’s meet this head on and end it here…together."

Blue eyes twinkled at the sound of the word "together". Brooke smiled and turned to face the onslaught coming at them. Mustering up her best stage voice, she turned on them with a few questions of her own. "What in the hell is going on here? How did you get in here?" Brooke held her hand up to shield both Sam and herself from the bright flash of light that was almost in their faces. "Who the hell are you?"

"GRRRR," the warning growl was low and expressive of the degree of protection that Mario was willing to give. The rapid succession of barks pierced the air and sent a chill up the spines of all those present.

"Mario," Brooke called out the dog’s name, then gave a single command. "Stay."

Now suddenly the noise stopped and for a brief second Sam took a breath.

"Is it true that you just married someone half your age, Brooke?" The booming voice of the reporter burst through the silence like an explosion.

"No!" Brooke’s grip on Sam’s shoulder tightened as she tried to hold Sam back.

"But you did just get married, right?" The question came from the other end of the group.

"I…WE," Brooke rolled her eyes, then locked eyes with the woman standing next to her and smiled. "Yes, we just got married." She stood tall and proud as she turned to the crowd. "And Sam here is closer to half my height than my age," she chuckled out.

"Is it true that you’ll go back to music now that you’ve got something to sing about?"

"What?" Brooke’s head jerked to the source of the question.

"Yeah, rumor has it that’s why you left the group in the first place. That you and James…."

"I want nothing to do with that ba…." she hesitated after seeing Randi subtly shaking her head. Brooke throttled her anger back, thinking better of what she’d give the press to play with. "James Anderson. NO, never," Brooke shook her head defiantly. She leaned into Sam’s ear. "I’m sorry, Baby."

Sam comforted her wife the best way she could by reaching up and patting the hand on her shoulder before the next question sent a chill up her spine at the sound of her name.

"Is it true that Sam is your live-in lover?" The man cleared his throat at the chuckles that surrounded him. "I mean, was your…"

"This is my wife." Brooke hugged Sam, drawing her even closer than before.

"How many more, Brooke?" The question floated to the top out of the melee.

"How many more what?" Brooke’s brows crinkled up in confusion.

"Wives, Brooke. You’re a Mormon, right?"

The laughter burst from Sam’s mouth at the thought. "Mormon. Where do they get their information? Talk about bad press releases…" She turned to look at Brooke. "You aren’t, are you?"

"NO!" The drummer’s attention focused solely on Sam now.

Picking up on the little scene unfolding before them the media instantly jumped on the wagon.

"Did you know that your wife is linked to the famous Loran, Sam?"

Another reporter quickly took advantage and stepped into a pause for breath. "Is that why you married her?"

"Alright," Brooke took in a deep breath. "You people are starting to get really f…" her mouth wanted so badly to say what she was thinking but again she considered the field day the press would have. "Rude." She could feel Sam’s grip around her waist tighten.

"Hey Brooke!" The man waited just a second until he saw her eyes searching in his direction, then snickered. "Since you’re married now, does that mean you’ll be including your wife in all those late night song writing sessions with your long time friend, James?"

At the sound of the man’s name, Mario started with a low-pitched growl and the dog’s lips curled, revealing his clenched teeth.

Angry blue eyes shot in the reporter’s direction. "That is enough!" Brooke stepped forward in challenge. "James is not my friend. I want nothing to do with that sorry piece of shit." She felt the small hand on her back rubbing in soothing circles and her tone of voice calmed slightly. "I don’t want him within fifty miles of my wife or myself. Mario, sit. Stay," she commanded.

"Sam, is that enough for you?" The woman’s voice split through the air like a knife, parting the reporters as they all tried to see whom it was. "Don’t you see what her life is going to be all about?"

"It’s our life now," Brooke interjected, seeing the figure of Sam’s mother coming toward them.

The neatly dressed woman at the rear of the room stepped forward through the parting sea of reporters. "See what I mean? It’s all about her, Sam, not you."

Sam tensed as she looked in the direction of the voice. When the last reporter stepped off to the side the mysterious figure came into full view. "Mother!"

Brooke looked first to Sam, then caught Samuel’s gaze as she turned to face the figure at the rear. Instinctively, Brooke’s hand fell from its place on the blonde’s shoulder and took her hand as they headed together toward Sam’s mother. "You? How could you do this to your own daughter?"

Leveling her eyes at Brooke, Elaine glared at the tall woman. "Me? What did I do but try to raise her properly? You’re the one that is making a mockery out of her life." The woman crossed her arms over her chest and turned to meet Brooke head on. "You and your high and mighty ways. You better listen to me now because I’m only going to say this once. I never," she stamped her foot hard into the plush carpeting. "taught my daughter deceitful ways, lying…"

"Mrs. Moleson," Brooke’s temper flared. "I am not the one making a mockery out of anything here. I just married Sam. Legally too, I might add." She took in a breath trying to keep her anger in check. "And I’m far from being evil or manipulative. I’ve never lied to her or to you. Now as far as deceitful…"

"Then how do you explain Sarah’s running off and ending up here for this…this…" Elaine closed her eyes as if in pain, "…spectacle?" A look of disgust took over her face as she opened her eyes and glared once again at Brooke. "She had to know about it from someone. You planned this all." Elaine sniffed as she brought a tissue out of her balled up hand and dabbed at her eyes. "You’ve turned my whole family against me."

"MOTHER," Sam shouted in anguish. "You’re wrong. Brooke has done nothing but try to get us back together as a family. I would have never gone home this Christmas if it wasn’t for her."

"You know she’s right, Mother…" Sarah’s voice trailed off when her mother’s intense stare shifted to her.

"Hmmph! And that poses another problem all together." Elaine turned her head and looked directly at her husband. "Doesn’t it, Samuel."

"That’s enough, Elaine." Samuel moved forward to stand next to Sam.

"I can’t even trust my own husband. What else don’t I know?"

"I brought Sarah here," the man proclaimed to his wife. "I never lied to you, Elaine. I told you I had to go to Vermont for a few days. You never cared enough to ask why." Samuel glanced back to his youngest daughter Sarah, then turned back to face his wife. "Sarah didn’t know anything about the wedding until I told her." He smirked, "Hell, Sam didn’t even know about it until they were here in Vermont."

"He’s right, Mother. We only decided to do this two days ago." Sam’s grasp tightened on Brooke’s larger hand.

"Oh, so you and Brooke plotted the whole thing out then." Elaine’s face twisted with anger as she gazed at her husband. "How much did she pay you, Samuel. What’s the going price for your daughter?"

The words were out faster than Sam could think of what she was saying. "My love doesn’t have a price, Mother. It’s given freely and without reservation to whomever I choose to share my life with." There was a moment of silence as mother and daughter locked gazes while the reporters stole frozen moments of emotion from both their faces.

Samuel felt compelled to break the standoff, speaking his mind. "Brooke told me on Christmas day that she wanted to make a commitment to Sam." He planted his feet and squared off his shoulders. "I gave her my permission and offered to help her. They love each other. Can’t you see that? It is not a mockery, Elaine. This is a legal civil union." Samuel sighed, afraid that he hadn’t been able to make her see his point. "Look, Brooke is a good woman and so is Sam. They just happen to love each other more than most supposedly married people do. Can’t you at least accept that?"

Elaine watched as the anger grew in her husband’s eyes. "That’s it…you’re one of them now," she said, pointing a roving finger at the assembled wedding guests, "Condoning this…this…aberration."

"Talk about being all high and mighty, Mother." Sam closed her eyes trying to hold back the tears. "Have you ever taken a good look at yourself?"

There was a moment of silence as Elaine festered in the thought. Her gaze slowly moved to each member of the Gordon family as the line stretched toward the wedding couple, the last one standing next to her daughter. She glared at Brooke and waited.

"Yes, Mrs. Moleson?" Brooke could feel the perspiration building on her upper lip, the muscles of her arms twitching, ready to meet the next challenge.

"You don’t know what love is," Elaine spoke to no one but Brooke, her eyes boring holes right through the tall woman. "You’re just saying whatever you have to so that you can have your perverted way with my daughter."

Brooke felt the sudden tensing of Sam’s body. Her fingers ached from the increased strength in the young woman’s hand as she heard the gasp come from Sam’s mouth. "I know what love is." Brooke looked over to her father, then swiftly shot a quick look at each of her sisters. "I grew up in a family of two parents and four daughters who all show unconditional love to one another. They don’t judge me by who I love." She turned her back to Sam for a moment then directed her gaze to Elaine. "You’re the one that pushed your daughter away from her entire family over something that is beyond her control."

"You have no idea what it’s like to watch someone you love walking into a life of sin and self-destruction." Elaine took a step closer in challenge to the tall woman. 

"Oh yes, she does," Peter spoke the words without thinking. "I can vouch for that with my own life." He stopped only when Crystal elbowed him in the side. He elaborated no further as a sheepish look crossed is face.

"Don’t you understand, Mrs. Moleson, that to us, being together is not a sin. Now to go against your true nature…" Brooke paused for effect, "That is the sin. For me, not being with your daughter would be going against my true nature." Brooke shrugged, letting a shy smile come to her face. "I love her and I would do anything to make her happy. I’d give up my life in a minute if it would give her the feeling of love and protection." She lifted Sam’s hand and kissed it before looking back at her mother-in-law. "Isn’t that all the things that a mother is supposed to provide her children with?"

"Is that it?" Elaine took in a deep breath. "That’s what this is all about…you taking my place." She looked directly at her daughter. "Samantha, if you wanted another mother you could have at least chosen better."

"I chose love, Mother, pure unconditional love," Sam said sarcastically.

Brooke’s eyes roamed the room until they made contact with her father’s. She could see that his patience was waning with the situation and decided to bring it to a close. She cleared her throat before starting to speak. "If my child wanted to marry a purple orangutan, I might not agree with it but I’d be fine as long as I knew it would make them happy. I’d support them no matter what they wanted." Brooke looked to Sam’s mother. "Actually, Mrs. Moleson, two people are supposed to provide that unconditional love and protection…your mother and your spouse. Sam is my wife now, and I am hers."

"And I suppose you want me to welcome you with open arms?"

"I don’t expect you to welcome me," Brooke almost snorted at the thought. "Hell, you don’t even have to like me, but you do have to live with the knowledge that you ruined your daughter’s happiness on what should be the best day of her life."

Elaine cocked an eyebrow. "I’m not making a mockery out of this."

"Ah, but you are the one making a mockery out of our wedding day." Brooke looked around at the members of the media. "You’re the one that showed up with this circus of people."

"Oh no you don’t." Elaine was on the defensive now. "I didn’t bring them." She crossed her arms in triumph. "They brought me here."

Taking a step closer toward her mother-in-law, Brooke took a deep breath in and started her verbal assault. "Who cares how you got here, you went along with it."

Letting go of Brooke’s hand, Sam stepped out in front of her wife and placed both hands on the woman’s midsection. "Brooke, " she cautioned, "Think about what you’re doing."

"Elaine, how could you?" Samuel moved closer, placing himself between the newlyweds and his wife. "You’ve done some things I haven’t agreed with over the last twenty-four years but this is the absolute lowest."

The bride placed her hand on her father’s shoulder and guided his gaze to her. "Dad, I’m not a child anymore. I’m not going to let her bully me." Sam shot a defiant glance toward her mother. 

"Baby…" the tall woman leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Don’t say anything. I’m not worth you losing what’s left between the two of you."

"Brooke, there’s some battles that you’re going to have to let me take a part in." Sam spun around and locked gazes with her wife. "And this is one of them."

"Don’t say something that you’ll regret." Blue eyes pleaded with green.

There was a moment of silent communication between the two before Sam took in a breath and turned toward her mother. "I may be your child, Mother, but I’m not a little girl that you can tell what to like and what not to. I’m twenty-one, a college senior and most importantly now, I’m a wife, just like you." Sam could see her mother’s mouth start to open in rebuttal and glared at her. "No one made me agree to this. I wanted it. It’s something that I needed to make my life whole."

"Whole?" Elaine shook her head. "You call this whole? You know nothing of being whole. You’re not whole until you’re a mother and your child turns on you," she snarled. "When that day comes, then you’ll be whole. Only after experiencing the joy of giving birth and the loss when they are taken away from you…" she faltered then continued in a whisper, "…like mine." 

"Oh, I’ll never do anything to alienate my children, Mother. Not like you."

Elaine laughed out loud, "Ha! You expect to be a mother with the likes of that?" She pointed to Brooke. "You’re not a mother now, later, or ever, Samantha. It will never happen."

Long arms wrapped around Sam’s waist and before she knew it, Brooke’s chin had taken up residence on her shoulder. "I love you," the woman whispered, then placed a chaste kiss on her wife’s cheek.

Feeling even more confident now, Sam answered back. "Oh, it’s going to happen. Just you wait and see."

"Samuel, are you going to stand there and let her speak in that tone to me?" Elaine looked to her husband for support.

"Well, dear, they do say that all women tend to have disagreements from time to time. You always taught her to stand up for herself and not let anyone walk over her." Samuel looked back to his daughter and smiled. "Actually, I’m surprised she let you do it for this long."

Elaine stood there in shock unsure of what to do next. Her eyes roamed aimlessly looking for sympathy from anyone that remotely looked like they could have been parents. Receiving none only angered her more. "I can’t believe this. You raise them and they just do what they please." She mumbled something unintelligent, then closed her eyes in pain as she clutched at her chest. "I tried…I really tried," her face grew more red by the minute. She turned and went running for the door. "You tell me, what’s a mother to do?" She came to the door and tried to open it. Frustrated by its impedance, she stepped back and kicked at it.

"Here, let me help you with that," Brooke came up from behind her and with a long arm, hit the panic bar in the middle of the door, springing it open. She waited for the woman to depart and proceeded to dust off her hands as the door slowly came back to close. The right corner of her mouth twitched as she mumbled out, "Stop back anytime, Mother."

The entire room was stunned into silence as Samuel stood there, his gaze transfixed to the door that was now closing. Emotions crossed over his face as he thought about what had just happened. He turned looking apologetically at the newlyweds, but the words wouldn’t leave his mouth. Determination now showing on his face, he turned and exited in pursuit of his wife.

"Samuel…" Sandy called out to her brother but he never turned. She stepped toward the door but her daughter’s hand on her arm stopped her.

"Mom," Crystal cautioned her. "They need to work this out alone."

Silence reigned in the room as the seconds turned into minutes while newlywed, guest, and reporter alike thought about the display that they had just been witnesses to.


Upon exiting the door, Samuel didn’t have to look far to see his wife, standing in the middle of the hotel’s lobby. Within seconds their eyes met and his anger fueled even more.

"How could you?" He continued to walk toward Elaine, pausing only when his path was crossed by some unsuspecting patron. "How could you come here and ruin this day for your own flesh and blood?"

Elaine stopped him cold. "I’ve aired enough dirty linen in public today." She tried to smile at the passing hotel guests as she spoke. "I’m not doing this here. If you want to talk to me," she leveled an icy glare at her husband, "Let’s go somewhere more private."

"Fine," he said through gritted teeth. "We can take this outside." Samuel turned and stalked off toward the exit.


After seeing Samuel slowly move past her to go after Elaine, Brooke studied her own wife. For a fleeting moment, she put herself in Samuel’s place and tried to think of what she would do in his predicament. Would she be able to make a choice between Sam and any children that they may ever have? She watched silently as the mist built up in her lover’s eyes. In that instant she knew her answer. I’ll never let it get that far that I’d have to make a choice. Secured that she had just learned her first lesson of marriage, she wrapped her arms around Sam and gave her a comforting embrace.

"I love you, Sam," she whispered in the woman’s ear, then kissed her gently on the cheek.

Thankful for the comfort shown her, Sam responded accordingly. "Love you, too."

Brooke felt Sam’s arms as they tightened around her waist. She let the comfort take effect before depositing another kiss and then slowly moved away to face the media.

"I’m going to calmly ask all of you one time." Brooke blinked back a tear that threatened to escape her eye. "Who started this?"

Silence remained in the room before a smart-ass reporter worked his mouth without thinking. "So Brooke," he started off slowly then built up steam. "Do you anticipate any family vacations this year with your in-laws?"

Ice cold eyes pinned the reporter to where he stood as long legs moved her in his direction. Before anyone could grasp her seriousness, the ex-drummer reached out to grab a chair in passing and held it high over her head. "DAMN IT," she raised her voice. "I WANT TO KNOW RIGHT NOW, WHICH ONE OF YOU IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?"

The muffled gasps and voiced concern of the Gordon family sounded simultaneously. Sam’s voice was the only one that her ear picked up. "Brooke, NO!"

"AURRRGH!" Brooke let out an anguished cry, then closed her eyes and brought the chair crashing down to the floor in front of her.

In an instant Mario was in front of Sam and barking at the noise. "GRRRRRRR, RUFF-RUFF!" With his hackles raised and his tail deadly still, the dog eyed the roomful of intruders, challenging anyone to make a move.

Brooke opened her eyes and panned the reporters. "Which one of you despicable vermin…" she stopped there noticing that one by one the reporters were moving off to the side of the room leaving the pack. When the last one had turned to leave, only a lone shapely woman in a dress stood before her.

"YOU?" Brooke studied the woman for a moment. "Damn it lady, this isn’t the Horrowitz family. What do you want?"

"You Brooke, but if that’s not available…" She stretched out her words. "Why, a good story always is, of course."

"What?" Sam gasped.

"And for your information, I’m not available. I’m…" Brooke couldn’t get the rest of her words out before being interrupted.

"A good story." A faint smile could be seen from under the netting on the woman’s garish hat. "How else was I going to get my story without tipping you off?" Delicate hands reached up, bringing the netting on the hat with it. Slowly, as if to tease everyone, she revealed her identity.

"For the love of money, Brooke," C.C. stepped forward, "It’s that TV reporter. I’d know that bad make-up anywhere."

"What?" Brooke stalked up to the woman, studying her face in the process until she overshadowed her like a large elm to a sapling. "I should have known. How did you find us?"

The woman gloated. "At MTV we may be all about the music but we do know how to root out a good story, Brooke or should I call you Loran?" She flashed a big smile. "Yes, I put the pieces together, Brooke L. Gordon, CEO of Brownstone Recordings alias Brooke Loran, drummer for Anti-Zero. You can change your hair color and cut but you can’t change the face." Her coy smile said more to Brooke than she realized.

"You…" Brooke pointed a finger at the reporter while she pushed her mind to come up with an answer. "I know you and I’m not just talking about that two bit lip service you get paid for."

"You should," she turned away from the ex-drummer, then gazed back at her from over her shoulder. "I saw enough of your shows that you should remember me." She turned to look over the other shoulder now, twirling a lock of hair between her fingers. "I often wonder if it had been Sam in my place, would you have paid me any more attention."

"Why you…" C.C.’s face turned red with rage. "Let me scratch her eyes out." She started to go in the woman’s direction only to be stopped by a strong hand grabbing the material on her dress.

Terri stood next to her husband shaking her head. "Weddings used to be much more fun before I became a doctor." She leaned into her husband and whispered, "I’m going to go get our doctor’s bags, you stay here and keep them alive until I get back."

Rick shrugged. "Once a doctor, always a doctor." He turned toward her flashing a grin, then whispered back, "I’ll save your place."

Terri rolled her eyes and started across to the door, brushing past Sam as she left.

"Brooke…" Sam timed her steps to allow her sister-in-law to cross in front of her before sidling up to her wife. "You know her?"

Blue eyes roamed the figure before her. "No…I don’t know her," Brooke groaned as she wrestled with her sister, "But I do know of her." Brooke yanked C.C. back even with herself and glared at her. "Behave," she cautioned her sister through clenched teeth, then turned to look at Sam. "She was one of the groupies that hung around back stage when we first started out." Out of the corner of her eye Brooke saw her mother slowly moving back into the room with her niece in tow.

"Hey, I remember her," Peter came forward through the crowd to get a better look. "Yeah, that’s her. She’s the one I told you about Brooke. The one that hung on every lyric you ever wrote." Peter turned toward the group and shook his head as laughter erupted from his mouth. "Can you fucking believe this?" Catching the stern look on Mrs. Gordon’s face Peter quickly apologized. "Sorry, Mrs. G.," he grinned weakly, "It just slipped out." He shrugged before turning to level his gaze at the reporter.

"I still want to know how she found out about this." Brooke turned the attention back to the situation. "Nobody but my family knew about this, so how did you find out? How did you know where we were holding the wedding? Where we were staying?"

"I learned one important thing hanging around those halls waiting for you to make an appearance, Brooke. You told me everything that I needed to know." She smirked seeing the confused look on the musician’s face. "You spent all that money on a fancy alarm system with its secret code locks and keyless entry but you never gave one thought to that little ol’ doggie door for that precious pup of yours, did you?" She smiled coyly. "You see…I remembered your stories about what you wanted when you got done touring…privacy for you but all the god damn freedom in the world for that animal."

"You broke into my house?" Brooke challenged her to deny it with an arched eyebrow.

"I wouldn’t say broke into," she twirled the lock of hair with her finger, acting as innocent as she could. "It was more like…I entered through an open door," she chuckled. "Weren’t you inviting me in?" She looked over at the dog and smiled.

Brooke followed the reporter’s gaze to Mario. "The doggie door? You entered my house through that?"

"Sure, the door’s big enough to fit a small Amazon through it." The reporter looked directly at C.C. and smiled.

"Come on, Brooke…" C.C. begged flexing her fingers like a cat playing with yarn. "Let me at her. Thirty seconds, that’s all I’ll need. I’ll show her who’s an Amazon."

Sam reached out to grab onto her ex-room mate. "No, C.C.," her voice was stern like that of a mother’s reprimanding a child.

"No, C.C.," the youngest Gordon sister mocked the command under her breath as she pouted. "I never get to have any fun."

"Oh, puhleease," Brooke rolled her eyes. "I don’t have time for this." She turned around to face the rest of the media, her face somber and determined. "This woman," Brooke pointed at the singled out figure, "broke into my home and I suppose all of you agree with that." She paused amid spontaneous coughs and grumbles that came from the group that now seemed to be collectively moving further away.

"Hey Randi," Brooke spoke loud enough for everyone in the room to hear. "When I have this bitch arrested for trespassing on private property along with breaking and entering, can I have all of them," she cast a roving finger in their direction, "arrested for being accessories after the fact?" Brooke gave it her best at an evil smile. "You are the assistant DA in the family…" she turned to look at her older sister. "Right, Sis?"

Randi took great pleasure in being called upon and moved forward until she stood next to her brother-in-law, Rick. "That’s a very good question, indeed."

Sensing that the attention was now moving from her, Randi caught Rick’s eye and motioned toward the camcorder in his hand. Her eyes shifted to Brooke and the media that she was holding at bay. She glanced back to see the glowing red dot on the camera as Rick pointed it toward the cast of characters.

Sam marveled at the dramatic ability of her new wife when it came to making people’s knees shake. The blonde quickly brought her hand up to her face to hide the beaming smile that was filling her face then cleared her throat trying not to be so conspicuous.

The spiteful reporter spoke up, trying to defend her actions. "I just stopped by to see you, Brooke. It wasn’t my intent to break in. I just got concerned when no one answered the door. I mean…as a long time friend, I looked for a way in to check on you."

"You're a lying bitch." The words flew out of Brooke’s mouth. "You DO NOT know me." Blue eyes flashed with fury. "You had no business in my home, for any reason." 

"Lying? I think not," she smiled coyly. "I was the one that told Mrs. Moleson what you all were doing here today." She crossed her heart with her fingers. "And that’s not a lie. Bitch…Hmm…" the reporter pondered with a noticeable chuckle, "Now that’s a gray area there."

Aunt Sandy nudged her daughter. "Crystal…did she say gay or gray? Oh, I wish they’d speak up."

"Shhhh!" Crystal brought a quick finger to her mouth not taking her eyes off of the unfolding story in front of her. "This is the most exciting wedding I’ve been to in a long time." The nurse raised her voice, "Drag it out of her, Brooke. You’ve got her on the run."

"So let me get this straight." Brooke smirked with her choice of words, "Yeah, right." She quickly cleared that thought from her head and pressed the reporter further. "You went into my house through the dog door. So how did you find out where we were?"

The reporter laughed. "You know, computers are a wonderful thing. They’re like an electronic filing cabinet of all your thoughts. They just store things away for use in the future."

Looking back toward her family, Brooke noticed the camcorder in Rick’s raised hand and the glowing red dot on its front. "Nice," she mumbled under her breath seeing the smug look on Randi’s face. She turned back to direct another question at the reporter, drawing more of the truth to the light of day. "How did you get into my computer? Not even Sam knows that password."

"You think that no one knows your password, but getting that information was easy, Brooke."

"Humor me," Brooke opened her arms invitational style.

"I didn’t hack into your system. It had all the answers to my questions waiting right there for me." The reporter smiled. "Did you forget anything, Brooke?" She watched as blue eyes stared off in a distance deep in thought. "Or…did you mean to leave that copy of your wedding plan on the printer for me?"

"You know what, lady…." Brooke could feel the fine hair on her neck tingle at the thought. "Actually," disgust shown on Brooke’s face, "you are far from being a lady so I’ll just have to call you Bitch."

"Brooke!" Sam crossed the few feet, with Mario at her heels. She stood next to her angered spouse hoping to calm her.

"I’m having you arrested for trespassing, breaking and entering and whatever other charges they can come up with that will apply." She eased her long arm around Sam’s shoulder and drew her closer. "You," Brooke pointed directly at the reporter, "screwed up."

There was a moment of silence as the occupants of the room slowly registered the events of the last few minutes. Without a doubt in any of their minds, the dark haired woman meant business. Gradually the eyes and the whispers of the media began to turn to one of their own as their interests now shifted in the developing story.

Feeling trapped by the turn of events, the accused reporter implored her colleagues to rally and stand behind her. "It’s all the truth." She moved to another man after the first turned away from her. "Harry, you know me. I was just doing my job." She stared in amazement as he turned his recorder off and shuffled to the rear of the pack. She spun around and randomly addressed the room. "I have rights, too Goddammit," she cursed, then broke into a sob. "It was my job! I was just doing my job." She turned to glare at the pack of sharks she had entered with as they all began to turn tail looking for a place to hide. "You all would have done it if you would have thought of it first. I know you would have."

Noticing the changing demeanor of the group, Brooke slipped her arm out from around Sam and walked over to the cameraman nearest her. Slowly, she extended her hand toward him as she stared him straight in the eye. "Give me that tape, please."

She never wavered in her stance as he instinctively cradled the piece of electronic equipment to his chest meeting her stare with one of his own. Brooke’s voice seemed somewhat more threatening in tone then before. "Don’t make me ask you twice," her head shook slightly from side to side in a foreboding manner.

"Or the second time will be a court order," Randi warned him, "And I’ll serve it myself."

There was a long pause before the cameraman broke off his stare, looking around the room as he gathered his thoughts as one by one the Gordon clan took a step to stand behind the lawyer showing their support.

Terri came back into the room setting the two medical bags on the floor under her husband’s chair, then moved next to his side. "What are we doing?" She whispered.

"Shhhh!" Rick held a finger to his mouth. "You’re just in time to show your support. We’ve just volunteered for a posse," he teased her, then motioned toward the stare-off and smiled.

"Next time, you go for the bags." She turned her attention to Brooke and the man she was facing.

Letting go of a long sigh, he then withdrew the tape from its compartment in the camera. The cameraman’s gaze dropped to the cartridge as he began to speak. "It would have been great footage, too." He took in a breath and handed it over to Brooke. "Now no one is going to see it." He looked up into blue eyes.

"Thank you," she said quietly, then turned to look to her sister, Randi. "Will you take care of this trash for me, please?" She turned her eyes back to the group of reporters. "Now about no one seeing it…" Brooke gave her fiercest face as she spit out her next word. "BULLSHIT! I’m sure someone else taped it. I just needed this one to collaborate with one of our own," she looked over to Rick as he smiled and waved holding the camcorder up to his face now for the best imaging of the event. "That will help us when we press charges."

"Speaking of pressing charges, Brooke." Randi stepped up beside her sister. "I’m sure that the D.A. back in Virginia Beach might even think of a few more charges to go along with those." She gave the reporters her best courtroom persona. "I’m sure you’d all like the idea of being a party in a conspiracy to commit a break in." The corners of her mouth turned upward into a subtle smile at the groups’ collective uneasiness.

"Hmm…Maybe if they gave up all of the tapes…video and voice recordings…" Brooke pondered aloud.

Randi smiled obligingly as one by one the reporters held out their tapes in offering.

"C.C.," Brooke called her youngest sister’s name. "I’ve got a job for you," her melodic voice sing-songed out as she shared an embrace with Sam. "You wanted to get into the action didn’t you?"

"Hell, yeah." Looking around for something to collect them in, C.C. eyed Terri’s purse. "I need that," she took it from the chair.

"It’s full, C.C.," Terri pleaded. "Why don’t you use your own?"

"Too small," C.C. shot back at her as she lifted one of the two identical black bags from under the chairs.

"Hey, that’s not a toy. All my stuff is in there…"

"Not now," C.C. smiled as she opened Terri’s doctor’s bag and proceeded to dump the contents of the purse into it. "See, now it’s all in there." She pointed to the medical bag. "Hmm…and it all fits, too." C.C. closed the bag and handed it to Terri, then headed off on her rounds through the ranks of the reporters.

"Thank you," C.C. grabbed the first audiocassette and moved on down the line. "Hmm…digital," she eyed the camcorder cassette that was handed to her next and smiled. "I can download this. That will add to the wedding memories. Glad you could come." She worked her way through the reporters. "I got to remember to be famous when it comes time for my wedding. I’ll save a bundle on video taping the whole day." She moved on to the next in line. "Thank you," she took the last cartridge out of the reporter’s hand then headed for the cause of all this commotion. "You’re next, Sweetie," C.C. grinned evilly. "Hand it all over."

Brooke stepped forward to grab C.C.’s hand as she reached for the reporter’s purse. "Sorry Sis, but this one is mine." The ex-rocker flashed a toothy smile at the reporter. "You always wanted to get close to me, didn’t you? Just consider it your fifteen seconds of fame." Brooke snatched the audio recorder from the woman’s hand and popped the cassette out. "Now see…that wasn’t so bad."

The woman stared straight into Brooke’s eyes as a combination of shock and fear crossed her face. "I…I…" she stopped abruptly at the sound of ringing that came from her purse.

Amused by the timing of the call, Brooke goaded her. "I’d answer that if I were you, it might be your lawyer." She turned and winked at Sam, satisfied to see a smile finally coming to her new wife’s face. Looking down to her trusty four-legged companion as he stood next to Sam, Brooke winked. "Good boy, Mario."

The reporter reached into her purse and grabbed for her cell phone. "You think you’re so sm…" she never finished her thought. Seeing the numeric display on the phone, the woman’s face showed the horror of what was going through her mind. "Oh, sssshit!"

Sam’s attention was taken by the exaggerated word of the reporter. She looked to see shock turning to anger on the reporter’s face. Acting on impulse, Sam moved swiftly across the carpeted floor and reached for the phone just missing it as it was jerked away. "Brooke, I think we may have found our press leak."

"Press leak…" Brooke’s hesitation was only momentary as the words registered in her mind. "C.C. don’t let her leave."

Seconds later both Gordon siblings converged on the woman with Mario at their heels. The dog’s jumping and growling as he tried to get in on the action added to the confusion of the moment. Like a well-rehearsed double team, the youngest Gordon sister covered the woman’s escape in the rear while Brooke’s long arm reached out and the phone was grabbed.

The reporter flailed wildly trying to retrieve her possession. She found out very quickly that she was no match for the duo. "That’s mine," the reporter slapped at the tall woman’s shoulder. "Give it back to me."

Coming to Brooke’s defense, Sam effectively threw a hip in the reporter’s direction shaking the woman’s delicate balance on the stiletto heels that she wore. "Nobody hits my wife and gets away with it." The force of the words startled even Sam. She watched helplessly while the reporter tumbled in a slow motion fall just barely missing C.C. and her overflowing hand bag of tapes as she stepped out of the way. The last to react was Mario as he moved only enough to let the woman’s body hit the floor, snarling at her while he stood guard.

"Sorry, Brooke," C.C. grabbed onto her sister’s arm for support. "I didn’t mean to bump into you."

"What do you think?" Brooke steadied her sister. "Not too bad for the newest member of the family, huh?" She motioned with her head toward Sam, then winked. "That’s my wife," Brooke flashed a big smile to her family.

"I’ll sue you and your wife for that, Brooke." The reporter sat up and looked over toward the only man in the room with a camera in his hand. "And your own tape will prove it."

Mario’s growl became more intense and Brooke quickly acted. "Mario, stay!"

"Damn…" Rick smiled weakly. "I just ran out of tape before that happened."

"Yeah," Brian moved forward slipping an unwrapped cassette out of his pocket. "Sorry, but I’m lousy when it comes to getting into packages. Ask my wife, we’ve got three kids."

"You could’ve fooled me," Rick muttered casting an eye in Randi’s direction.

Brian looked over to his wife and sighed before glancing to Terri with her hands coming to rest on her newly swollen belly. "Hmm…I see you have that same trouble, Rick," he said with a wry smile.

"Bastards," the downed reporter spit out as she turned her gaze to her fellow news journalists. "You all saw it," she pointed an accusatory finger. "You can all be my witnesses." She watched as they all shuffled from one foot to the other and looked everywhere in the room but directly at her. "Cowards, the whole lot of you."

The continued ringing of the phone brought her thoughts back to the present. Brooke turned her eyes to the caller ID on the cell phone. "What the…" she muttered, flipping open the phone and bringing it up to her ear to listen.

"It’s about time you answered the goddamned phone. Was I right? Did you get there in time with my little wedding present? Oh, better yet, is that bitch happy with it? Did we surprise her?"

The ire rose in the ex-drummer’s body as she heard the all too familiar laughter over the phone. "We’ll see how surprised you are when I crush your skull in, you mother fucker." Brooke glared at the reporter sprawled out on the floor. "I’m sorry but you’re friend won’t be able to talk to you for a while. You’re little bitch here is going to jail."

"Broooooooke," James drew his ex-group member’s name out till it made her cringe. "How nice of you to talk to me on such a momentous day in your life. I remember you telling me long ago that when the right one came along you wouldn’t waste any time. Such a pity it wasn’t me. I always thought that we’d share more than just conversation together on this day…maybe even bring more to life than beautiful music." He let the hidden meaning of his words sink in. "Say, do you need any help breaking that little blonde in on the wedding night? If you do," he snickered, "I could always help." He howled with laughter. "You know, I’m only a few hours away by your private jet."

"What tipped you off that it would be now?" Her tone was cold and biting in nature.

He laughed uproariously. "Brooke, Brooke…Only a lesbian in love would think to take her whole fucking family to Vermont. Besides, your girl Ida started me thinking."

Brooke turned to look in her employee’s direction.

Sam followed her wife’s gaze, figuring that it had to be one of the two figures standing in close proximity to Peter. She watched as both Ida and Janet showed their apparent nervousness under the intense scrutiny.

"Ida, huh? How?" Brooke demanded.

"She’s the one that told me there would be no one in the office to drop money off to this weekend. That’s not like you to leave business high and dry, Brooke. Right then and there, I knew something was up and I sent Ruth word to fish it out of you under the guise of an interview, but you were already gone." He laughed. "Nice ploy, eh?"

"You just don’t know when to quit, do you James?" Brooke shook her head. Out of her peripheral vision she could see Peter emerging through the crowd, coming toward her. Before she could wave him off, the voice coming from the phone again drew her attention.

"I wasn’t the one who quit, Brooke. If I remember it correctly, you were."

A sly smile came to Brooke’s face. "Well, either way, thanks for the present. Now I can get you in on the conspiracy charge, too." Feeling totally in charge, Brooke gazed over to her wife, then turned away from her. Her voice was barely a whisper but the message was conveyed clearly enough for James to understand. "You stay away from Sam or so help me God, I’ll hurt you like you’d never believe. In fact, touch any of my family and you’ll wish you were dead." Brooke turned even further from her sister C.C. who was standing close to her. "No, make that, you will be dead."

The anger on Brooke’s face could be plainly seen as Peter came up to her. He stood there with questioning brown eyes as she met his gaze. He never remembered seeing this side of Brooke, not in all the years they’d played together. But then again, the majority of that time he was under the influence of alcohol to one degree or another.

Brooke took in a breath and buried her anger in a mask of ambiguity. Resuming her normal tone of voice, she spoke so that every one could hear. "Be expecting the cops, Asshole. I wouldn’t go anywhere if I were you. Oh, and pretty boy, I wouldn’t run if I were you." Her conversation ended, she disengaged the phone.

"Here Randi," Brooke tossed the cell phone to the lawyer. "You’ll be able to use this for evidence. I want her arrested and his ass back in jail." She motioned to the reporter kneeling on the floor, "That little bitch got her information from James."

The two newlyweds moved toward each other. Sam reached out first, sliding her arm around Brooke’s waist. "It’s over and done with," her hand began moving in small circles across the tense muscles in an effort to calm. "He can’t hurt us if we don’t let him."

The murmurs of hushed conversations sounded around them as Brooke gazed down into Sam’s face. They shared a long moment of silence before it came to an end. "I’m not letting anything spoil this day for you."

"Us." Sam said quietly, still staring into mellowing blue eyes.

"You’re right…it is us now, isn’t it?" Their smiles grew in proportion to the others and the question was answered without a word.

Lost in their own world, the pair didn’t hear the relentless grumbling of the reporters until one strong voice got their attention. "Ladies, could we at least have some kind of photo story for our readers? Something, anything?"

Sam bit at her lip, then spoke so that only her wife could hear. "This is our day. Let’s not think of James or my mother," she sighed, "or any of the others." Seeing the slight nod of her partner she turned to address the media. "Please, let us have some semblance of a happy wedding day."

"Yeah," Brooke wrapped her arms around Sam’s waist, pulling her close. "I have a new life to start and you’re holding it up."

"Seriously, Brooke." The vocal reporter stepped forward. "Can’t you give us something to report? I mean, we did come all the way up here for your wedding." He tried playing on her emotions.

She stared at them for a long moment as she thought. Finally she spoke. "Tell them that I got married and have never been happier." Her eyes looked down to the woman cradled in her arms.

A radiant glow came to Sam as she fought the warming sensation she knew would quickly manifest into a blush. She looked up to meet Brooke’s gaze with a smile. "Here’s one picture that you can let everyone see." The blonde turned toward her new wife and met her halfway in a kiss. Oblivious to the snaps and flashes going off around them, their kiss deepened expressing the passion that flowed from within.

Crystal led the chorus of hoots and hollers. "Wahoo!" Crystal raised her arm in the air. "Now that’s what I call a kiss."

"Kiss? That better be a new form of mouth to mouth breathing or we’re in trouble," Rick nudged his own wife and gave her a peck on the cheek.

"They don’t seem to be in any trouble." Aunt Sandy wrapped a comforting arm around her young niece. "What do you think, Sarah?"

"I think it’s great." She looked up to her Aunt. "At least it’s one way to keep Sam from screaming "Oh God" every time they’re together." Upon seeing the scrutiny of her Aunt’s gaze, Sarah’s face took on its most innocent look.

"That’s my sister," C.C. chimed in as she let her hand fall to her side, conveniently giving Mario a pat on his head. "She can put the fear of God into anyone. I should know, she did it to me when we were growing up." C.C. suddenly felt the urge to rub the top of her head, remembering the upside down poundings she received as a child.

Henry stood proud, gazing at the spectacle in front of him. "Oh, Mable," he called out seeing that the woman was standing just inside the door. "Mable, you can bring yourself and the rest of the Calvary over now. It looks like it is happily ever after time."

"What?" Mable rushed to his side with Julie cradled in her arms. "She did it without any help from her mother?"

"No," Henry turned to his wife. "They did it, Mable. Sam and Brooke did it together."

"And da baby, too." Julie added her own thoughts to the mix. She clapped her hands then repeated the words of wisdom that she remembered. "Mawwage always comes firwst."

Suddenly those words took on new meaning to the elder Gordons as husband looked to wife and burst into laughter, their attention now centering back on the happy couple.

Coming up for air, Sam’s cheeks were a little more then tinged by her blush. "Whoa…you keep kissing me like that and we’re gonna be in trouble."

"So," Brooke whispered against Sam’s lips, "Do we go to the reception or go to work on that baby?"

Sam giggled nervously. "I know what I’d like to do." She wiggled her eyebrows and smiled sexily at her partner. Her gaze shifted to the stairway on the other side of the room and the crowd blocking their way. "I think there’s just a little bit of a road block, though."

"What’s that…the crowd?" Brooke stepped back from her then smiled raising her hand up in the air and snapping her fingers twice. "No problem."

Puzzled by her wife’s action, Sam watched as Peter came over to Brooke and whispered in her ear. He pulled back from her and pointed to the door at the side of the room. With his other hand, he produced something from his pocket and placed it into her outstretched hand. The next thing she saw was Brooke’s subtle wink at her best man before he stepped away from her.

Sam studied her wife for a moment then asked, "Something else that you had planned?"

"Why certainly." Brooke smiled as she grasped Sam’s hand in hers and moved toward the side door. "I always have a plan." She turned her attention to her nephews, "Hey, munchkins, let your Aunt Brooke through, huh?"

"Sure," David stepped out of the way. "Kevin…Kevin," he called to his brother, "get out of the door so they can see them too."

"See what?" Sam looked for an answer but received none. "What’s out there, Kevin?"

"SHHHH!" David cautioned his brother. "Remember what Grandma said."

"Oh, yeah," Kevin clapped his hands over his mouth and looked up at the two women, his eyes growing bigger each second.

"Ah…that’s my good little man," Brooke winked at him as she grabbed onto the doorknob. Once the door was open, she positioned her foot in the opening and turned back towards Sam.

"Brooke…what are you…" Sam squealed as her feet left the floor. "Yikes!"

Brooke hoisted the small blonde up in her arms and carried her out through the door. "You like?" Blue eyes met green and guided them toward the waiting ride. "I thought we might need a quick getaway."

"Oh, my God." Sam sucked in air as she surveyed the waiting team of white horses hitched to an eloquently decorated carriage complete with driver and a sign on the back. "Civil Union – A contract of forever," Sam’s smile grew bigger. "Bells, too!"

"Got to have Wedding Bells of some sort, didn’t we?" Brooke winked at her bride.

"You’re such a romantic, Brooke Gor…"

The woman leaned in kissing her to stop the progression of her name. "Remember, we’re together now so that would be Moleson-Gordon, Sam."

"Oh, I’ll remember, Hon, now and forever." She dropped a kiss of her own on inviting lips. "Always."

"That’s what I was thinking too." Brooke carried her bride to the carriage and helped her in. Climbing up, she settled herself into the seat and placed the waiting blanket over their legs, then she snuggled in and wrapped her arms around Sam.

"So what did Peter give you, before? I thought it might have been a key to a car but now…I’m not so sure."

"You mean this?" Brooke produced the key and smiled. "Why it’s the key to the getaway suite, of course."

"Oh, I do so like a woman with a plan." Sam chuckled.

Brooke gave a quick nod to the driver and the carriage was in motion. "You don’t really think that I was going to have my wedding night in the same building that the rest of my family are staying at." The dark haired woman arched a brow. "Besides, they’d get tired of listening to you praying."

Sam gave her wife a playful slap.

"Hmm…I think I’ll take that as the first of many…" Brooke’s eyes twinkled in delight, "Many love taps in the years to come."


It seemed like they’d walked for hours while in essence it had only amounted to ten minutes or so. The combination of enraged anger and boiling blood kept the brisk January temperatures of Vermont at bay. Samuel pulled his suit coat tighter as he followed the cleared path. Before he’d realized it, they had found their way across the parking lot and up the sloping grounds to a small gazebo type structure that had been weatherproofed for winter use.

Samuel held the door open as an invitation to his wife. He knew that it was now or never if they were going to come out of this in one piece or not. He started to collect his thoughts, deciding what to do.

"How could you lie to me, Samuel?" Elaine’s voice filled the air before she was completely inside. "Isn’t our marriage worth anything?" Once inside the enclosed area, she spun on her heel and faced him, not letting him get a word in before she started again. "I can’t believe that I had to find out about this…this…" she cringed, "wedding from a reporter."

Samuel’s voice came out with the anger he had churning inside. "I never lied to you." His words were clipped by the slamming of the door. "I told you I had business in Vermont. I never said that it was of a more personal nature."

"Humph!" She let out a disgusted sigh. "No, you just never said anything." She crossed her arms over her chest. "And I suppose that week with Sarah at her friend’s house was just another lie, too? What did you do…plan this all during that Christmas visit of Sam’s. Don’t think that I didn’t see you two with your heads together." She turned her face away so as not to look at him. "I should have known nothing good would come from that."

"Elaine," he shoved his hands into his suit coat pocket to keep from lashing out at her. "You know, I really can’t believe that you’re the same woman I married," Samuel sighed. "This all came about when Brooke called the house to let me know that Sarah was there. I thought she was at Jamie’s just like you did." He sneered as he thought back on the situation. "But then again, why should I expect you to even think that your daughter would run away from home? You’re such an understanding mother," he said sarcastically.

"What do you mean?" Defiantly she faced him and gave her rebuttal. "Imagine my shock to find out from a tabloid lowlife that my oldest daughter was involved in some perverted rock star’s life." Elaine shook her head trying to get the images out of her mind. "I’ve tried to understand my children," she fought back a tear. "I’ve tried to keep them on the straight and narrow.

His face grew redder as his anger came churning to a boil. He tried to figure out where to start. "Your daughter ran away from home because you pushed her to that point." He raised is right arm and pointed back toward the hotel. "That rock star, who happens to love our daughter more than life itself, is the one who called so that we wouldn't worry about Sarah."

"And did you tell me where she was. NO!" Her gaze became distant and cold. "I had to look like the fool when I called Jennie’s mother asking if I could come pick her up earlier than planned."

"Jamie’s," Samuel’s head shook as he spoke his mind correcting her.

"Jamie," Elaine repeated it. "See, you have me so mad that I can’t even remember people’s names."

"I can’t believe you can hate so much. Brooke and Sam took care of Sarah until I left to get her." He looked away. "Your straight and narrow is not always the best thing, Elaine."

"Oh!" Elaine let out an exasperated breath, then looked directly at her husband. "Am I such a bad mother that I’ve driven all of my children away?"

Samuel mumbled an inaudible phrase under his breath.

"What?" Elaine squinted at her husband in defiance.

Samuel thought before he spoke choosing to stick to the matter at hand. "You’ve already thrown one daughter to the curb. You’ve acted like you didn’t care whether she lived or died until now." His eyes narrowed as he continued on. "Our other daughter runs away because you don’t try to understand..." He took in a breath and mumbled out his next thought so that she didn’t hear it. "You might as well have given them all away."

"I was only trying to do what I thought was best for them," was her hasty reply. "I love them and you know that, Samuel. I love them all," her words trailed off.

"You say that you love them, but all I know now is that you gave up one without my realizing it and I’m not going to let that happen again, not this time." He turned toward the window looking out over the parking lot. "You’ve driven both your daughters away."

He paused for a moment trying to calm himself. "Elaine, I love you but I can’t handle this anymore." He slammed his hand onto the gazebo’s supporting frame. "I will not lose all of my children because of your closed mind."

"I’m not closed minded…I’m…I’m…just…"

"Dammit!" He pivoted to confront her face to face. "You can either learn to accept our children for who they are or," his voice raise to a bad-tempered growl. "I can’t accept you any longer."

Elaine’s eyes grew wider with shock. "You’re not thinking of a divorce are you?" She looked deep into his relentless stare. "Oh God," she brought her hand up to her face. "You…you wouldn’t leave me, would you, Sam?"

"Why not?" He sneered, "You left all of us a long time ago."

"But you know that I love you. I loved our children. I tried to do the best that I could for them." Her eyes darted wildly as each new thought came to her head. "You can’t tell me that I never did a single thing that wasn’t in their best interest."

"Their best interest?" He let the air escape his lungs rather sharply. "I’m thinking that you need to reconsider what’s really important to you?" He looked her straight in the eyes. "Is it me, your children and any offspring that might come their way, or is it your warped sense of self-righteousness that damned steepled building gives you." He saw the query as it came to her face. "I’d think long and hard if I were you, Elaine." Samuel drew his hand up and adjusted his tie. "I’d think quickly too, since our eldest daughter has just taken a wife. She may not live our lifestyle but it was her choice."

Dumbfounded by her husband’s aggressive attitude Elaine stood there speechless.

Seeing no act of rebuttal, Samuel started for the door, then stopped short of it. He wanted to make sure that his wife understood him perfectly. This was going to be Custard’s last stand and in looking over to his wife, he could see that the yellow hair general was dying. Finally, he’d be on the winning side. "Here it is, Elaine, me, Sarah, Sam and her family now or none of us. The choice is yours. I’ve lost too much time with my daughter as it is because I’ve let you dictate our lives. I refuse to lose another minute." With that said, he walked out the door, allowing it to slam shut in his wake.

"But I…" She swallowed and tried again. "Why, I…" Her words were too little and too late as she watched the man she’d loved all of her adult life leave her behind.

She stood there still transfixed to his vanishing figure. Her mind awash with confusion, Elaine looked to what had gotten her into this predicament in the first place. She raised her eyes to the heavens above. "Please, I know he loves me. Tell me what to do."

She lowered her gaze back to the man she loved and that’s when a spark of hope filled her heart. Her answer was there as it had been all her life. Now, she would just have to try to find it.

"They’re to blame for this…" she took in a breath to settle her gut. "I know what’s right."


"What is that damn ringing sound?" Samuel stopped on the path when he came to the parking lot and looked first to one side, then the other. There, with bells a-ringing came the horse drawn carriage. His mood swiftly changed after seeing the familiar faces on the bundled-up passengers inside.

He smiled as he took his hand from his pocket and waved to his little girl. "I love you, Sam."

"Love you too, Daddy." One of the brides yelled back over the sound of the bells.

He chuckled as Sam’s voice melted his hardened heart. "And as for you, Brooke…" He said sternly, making sure that he had her attention. "You take good care of my daughter."

"I will, Sir, very good care," Brooke turned to look into Sam’s eyes. "For the rest of my life," she whispered, closing the distance between their lips until she was rewarded with a kiss.

Samuel watched them as they rode off, locked in a passionate kiss. He looked back at the gazebo and saw the anguished woman standing within. "Maybe their happily ever after will last." He sighed to himself and headed back to the hotel.


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

Be sure to come back in 2 weeks for Installment Two!!!

See You Then!!!


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