Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)155 - 8/24/19 - Complete

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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)137-9/10/16

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:08 pm

keepsmiling7: Just to let you know, we are both big fans of X-files. One of the best shows in the whole universe !


Part 137

Michael hummed along with the music on the stereo while he chopped, sliced and diced fresh vegetables. He and Maria had a common love of Italian food and since spaghetti was one meal he knew he could cook without screwing it up he’d decided on that fare for their dinner. He’d asked Max to give him a hand setting things up, and if the guy had decided to toss in the occasional pointer, well, he was okay with that too. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Max had the romance thing down pat and he himself did okay with it as a rule. At least Maria had never complained so he had to be doing something right.

But tonight was special and he wanted things to be as close to perfect as possible. The weather was cooperating, but then again, it was California and from everything he was hearing that was pretty much the norm. Max had managed to get all of the girls out of the house for the afternoon and they weren’t supposed to be back for at least another hour if all went as planned. He decided to forego the excessive amount of onions and jalapenos he normally piled into the meat as it cooked, choosing to use just enough to season rather than spice.

He didn’t pay much attention when the phone rang, too focused on what he was doing. He was completely at ease as he worked alone. Max had disappeared to get ready for his date with Liz, knowing full well that once the girls descended on the house any chance of grabbing a shower or gaining access to the bathrooms would be out the window.

“Michael, phone!” he hollered from somewhere in the house.

He turned the heat down under the pot of sauce and snatched up the cordless handset that was mounted on the wall by the refrigerator. “Got it!” he yelled as he brought the phone up to his ear. “Yeah?”

“Hi, Michael.”

“Linda?” He frowned at the unexpected voice and the slight quiver that was evident in spite of her obvious efforts to hide it. “What’s wrong? Is it Maggie? Linda, are you guys okay?” His mind was already turning over half a dozen scenarios where one of the girls had been hurt.

“We’re okay.”

His eyes narrowed, not believing her. “Linda, what’s wrong?”

“No, no,” she giggled nervously, “we’re all okay. Nothing’s happened.”

Yeah, right. She sounded like she was about ready to fall apart. “Then why’re you callin’ me?”

“I just… um… y’know what? It’s not that big a deal. I can – “

“Linda,” he growled impatiently.

“I probably shouldn’t have called. I mean, you’re on Spring Break in California. With your girlfriend. And I’m sure it’s not even that serious. And really, it’s probably even…”

He tuned the rambling out and tried to make sense of what little she’d said so far but he was running into a brick wall. “Stop right there.” She immediately fell silent. Combined with her borderline hysterical dialogue and the disjointed sentences, her silence was a dead giveaway. He forced his voice to remain even and in spite of his concern for her he could hear the impatience when he spoke. “You called for a reason. Whatever that reason is, it’s important enough to you to come to me with it, so spit it out.”

“Cameron wants to have sex and I said no and now he’s pissed at me.”

The words were spoken so fast it took him a moment to sort them out and when he did, his grip tightened on the phone until his knuckles turned white and the casing was in immediate danger of being crushed. “You said no,” he said, carefully enunciating every word.

“Yeah.”

“Where are you?”

“At the hotel, waiting for Maggie and Christina to get back so we can go to dinner.” She sniffled loudly and cleared her throat. “I mean, it’s kinda my fault he’s so mad.”

“Excuse me? Was he pressuring you to have sex?”

“No, it wasn’t like that. I mean, he was trying to convince me, and maybe he was pushing a little, but he wasn’t like trying to force me or anything. It’s just, I thought while we were here…” she trailed off and her embarrassment was palpable.

“So he was expecting more than just sand and sun while you guys were down there.” He rolled his eyes and wondered where exactly his threats had gone off the tracks. “Look, Linda, first off, regardless of what you guys were planning…” he shook his head. It was just too weird to be having this conversation with a girl that was like a sister to him. “It doesn’t matter what the plan was. You put the brakes on and said no. Like it or not, a guy should always respect that.”

“I really wasn’t lying when I told him we could… y’know…”

He ran a hand over the back of his neck, squeezing muscles that were now tense thanks to this phone call. “No, I’m sure you weren’t. And once he cools his jets, gets over the disappointment and gives it some thought, Cameron will realize he knows that.”

“So you don’t think he’ll break up with me?”

If Cameron had a lick of sense he’d break up with her and head off to college early. “I’m sure right now that sounds like the end of the world, but the fact of the matter is, if he breaks up with you over this, he was never worth your time to begin with.” And he’d kick his ass twice as hard when he got back home.

He could hear the quiver in her voice beneath the smile when she spoke again. “Thanks, Michael.”

“Yeah, whatever,” he grunted. “Linda? Don’t ever let any guy pressure you into somethin’ you’re not ready for, you got it? If he’s got any character at all he’ll wait for you. He might not admit it but a decent guy’s gonna respect that.” He paused for a heavy moment, wishing once again that her mother would actually sit down and talk to her rather than just talk at her. “You’re worth the wait.”

He endured several painfully long minutes of tearful babbling before she thanked him again and hung up. He ignored dinner in favor of dialing Cameron’s number and waiting impatiently for the boy to answer. He kept the call brief, acting like he was just checking on things, and enjoying the fear he could hear in the shaking voice on the other end.

He replaced the receiver, the motion carefully controlled in order to avoid breaking it. He couldn’t believe that boy had ignored his warnings! That’s alright, you’ll be having a talk with him when you get back home and it’ll be one he won’t ever forget. Every time he goes out with a girl for the rest of his life that talk will be in the back of his mind. He smirked and nodded to himself, pleased with his ability to rationally handle the situation but the scent of burning sauce quickly brought the present back into focus and he cursed colorfully as he whirled around to grab the pot and take it off of the burner.

“Everything okay?”

He glanced at Maria when she appeared in the doorway. “Fine,” he muttered as he leaned over to taste the sauce. He made a face. Yeah, it was just great. His plans for dinner had been ruined because there was just no getting around that burnt taste.

Maria watched him, taking in the taut line of his shoulders as he mulled over the conversations he’d just had with Cameron and Linda. She’d walked in on the tail end of his first call and she’d backed out of the room to give him privacy but she hadn’t been able to shut out the sound of his voice as he spoke to the girl. He’d kept a lid on his temper while talking to Cameron but she had a feeling he’d be making it a point to pay a visit to the boy when they got back home. She bit back a smile at that thought. She’d hate to be in Cameron’s shoes when Michael cornered him. He’d do it when the boy least expected it and she knew he’d do it that way on purpose. And she couldn’t find it in herself to fault him for that tactic.

“Sandwiches work just as well,” she said when she realized he hadn’t relaxed at all. If anything his tension level seemed even worse than it had been a few minutes before.

“Yeah, I guess they’ll have to work.”

No, no, no. She had her suspicions about his plans for the evening but that phone call had just thrown him off track and if she didn’t find a way to get things back on track he was going to go into one of his moods. “Tell you what,” she offered, leaning against his back as she reached around him to turn the burner off. “Why don’t I fix some sandwiches and get them packed up and we’ll take that walk you wanted to take?”

Michael stared morosely into the pot of burned sauce, doing his best to bring his mood back under control. He felt himself relax fractionally when she pressed against him and she brought a hand up to lay flat against his chest, her closeness bringing tension of a completely different nature to the surface. He reached up to cover her hand, threading their fingers together and watching the way hers curled around his without hesitation. “We were supposed to be havin’ spaghetti for dinner.”

“So make it for me tomorrow night.” She pressed a kiss to his shoulder when he continued to grumble under his breath. “We still have a couple of days before we head back home.” She tightened her arms around him for a moment. “Sandwiches are fine,” she assured him as she tugged him back away from the counter and gave him a nudge towards the doorway. “I’ll make the sandwiches while you go get ready and then you can handle the cleanup in here while I go get ready.”

“Yeah, okay.” His mind wasn’t just on his ruined dinner plans as he left the room though. He was turning over everything that had happened since answering the phone and how it related to his own situation. Damn Cameron, pushy little punk!

*****

The waves rolled up on the beach, startling a few of the seagulls searching the sand for anything that might interest them and sending them into flight. The sun was hanging low, making its daily descent and painting the sky with a broad spectrum of colors – oranges, pinks and purples. The beauty of Mother Nature’s canvas wasn’t lost on the couple strolling through the sand, joined hands slowly swinging between them.

They had spent a considerable amount of time touring the campus, talking to students and getting a feel for what their life would be like here. They’d also spent a couple of days checking out dorm rooms and nearby apartments, an option provided by the university for certain students. They were supposed to be leaving in a couple of days and rather than spend the evening at the beach house or wandering around campus, they’d gone to dinner at a very nice beachside restaurant. They had dressed for the occasion, fitting right in with the other patrons.

“We have other options,” Alex said after a while, breaking the comfortable silence.

“What?”

“You’re still obsessing over living in the dorms.”

She sighed and gave him a rueful smile. “I’m sorry, Alex.”

He shook his head and waved her apology aside. “I’d be surprised if you’d showed any interest in sharing a cramped space with a stranger.” He chuckled. “Not to mention, sharing a bathroom, a microwave and mini fridge, and hauling your laundry up or down several floors.”

Isabel made a face. None of that appealed to her on any possible level. “There are other options, but I’m not eligible for the apartment housing. And even then, living with several strangers? I mean, I’ve spent most of my life sharing a bathroom with my brother but I can tell him to get lost and he’s fairly accommodating. Well, more so before Liz came into the picture. The point is, living with other people I’m not gonna have that option.” Not to mention sharing bathroom space with several other girls was a nightmare she didn’t even want to contemplate.

“There is another option.”

“Off campus housing would be too expensive.” She’d browsed the apartment ads over breakfast that morning and nearly choked on her orange juice when she’d gotten a look at the prices.

“For one person, maybe,” he agreed as he looked out at the expanse of beach that stretched out before them. The Golden Gate Bridge rose up in the distance, the setting sun glaring off of the steel beams.

“Alex…” she stopped walking and turned to look at him. “What if we got a place together?”

“I’ll admit that thought’s crossed my mind.”

She nodded. “But you’d rather not.”

His hand tightened around hers, stopping her when she started to move away. “I’m not opposed to the idea at all. But we haven’t been together that long and moving in together is a pretty big step. And doing it just so we don’t have to share space with a roommate we don’t even know probably isn’t the best reason to get a place together.”

He was so sensible sometimes it made her want to scream! “Yeah, I suppose you’re right. Although it’s not just the roommate thing; it’s the bathroom situation, the cramped space situation, the sleeping in a bed who knows how many other people have slept in situation, and let’s not forget having to haul laundry down to the laundry facilities and using washers and dryers that other people use on a regular basis.” She shuddered comically. “It’d just be so much easier if you were the roommate.”

He smiled and they started walking again. “We share an apartment that means we’d be sharing the washer and dryer, probably even a bathroom.”

“I still think that’s preferable to the other option.” She was quiet for a few minutes, mulling over their conversation. “You said you wouldn’t be opposed to the idea though, right?”

He nodded. “I’m definitely not opposed to it.” They walked for a while before he tugged on her hand, once again bringing them to a standstill. “You know living together, sharing a small space like that, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that certain aspects of our relationship could move forward at an escalated pace.”

Isabel bit her bottom lip to control the smile that was threatening to erupt. Sometimes the way he explained things made her want to laugh. Not to make fun of him, never that, but just because it delighted her that she’d managed to find a guy like him. He was a rare breed these days and she was so glad she’d finally opened her eyes to the possibilities.

“I’m not opposed to that but I’m an old fashioned girl in certain respects.”

Alex brought their joined hands up and pressed a kiss to her ring finger. What she’d just revealed was so much more important than a simple acknowledgement that they could end up moving into a physical relationship. She was telling him that she intended to wait and while he knew it wouldn’t be easy, especially if they were cohabitating, he respected that and he knew without a shadow of a doubt that she’d be worth the wait. “One of these days, Isabel Evans, I’m gonna put a ring on this finger.” Yeah, he was kind of an old fashioned guy in certain respects too.

Isabel moved into him, her left arm resting on his shoulder and the fingers of her right hand tracing lightly over his face. A year ago she’d have laughed in his face and walked all over him at the sheer absurdity of his statement. But now? Now she could actually imagine having that one day, and she could imagine it with him.

*****

The sun was dipping low in the west as Maria walked beside Michael. She’d originally intended to just put sandwiches together but changed her mind after browsing through the refrigerator while he was getting ready. It was an easy fix and there was no reason for good food to go to waste. Not that there were any problems with that when there were three guys with bottomless stomachs in the house. They had enjoyed a dinner of cold fried chicken, potato salad, fruit salad and pie before deciding to talk a walk further down the beach.

They walked in silence for a while, eventually turning to retrace their route back to where they’d started. She squeezed his hand before releasing him to straighten the picnic blanket that had shifted around in the light breeze. “Okay,” she said as she moved the basket out of the way and took a seat, “let’s talk about what’s bothering you.”

“Nothing’s bothering me,” he denied outright, his back to her and his eyes locked on the ocean.

Liar! “Nothing at all?”

“Nope, not a damn thing.” He leaned over and picked up a small rock, tossing it in the air a few times before pulling his arm back and throwing it out into the water with force. “I’m fine.”

“Um-hmm. Well, you and I have two very different versions of what fine is.”

He jerked around and stared at her, hands propped on his hips. “Do you have a point?”

“I do, yes. See, I kinda had an idea about where you intended this evening to lead and unless I’m way off base it wasn’t this,” she said and motioned to the space between the two of them. “Not that this surly mood doesn’t set the perfect tone for a romantic evening,” she added with a snort.

“Do you ever feel like I’m pressuring you about sex?” he blurted out, completely ignoring her last comment.

“What?” She controlled the urge to laugh at the question, largely due to the fact that she’d been expecting it. “No, Michael, I don’t. Everything that’s happened between us has been totally consensual and fully participatory.”

“Maria, I’m bein’ serious.” He moved suddenly, dropping down to sit facing her. “I know guys can be pushy when it comes to sex, pressure the girl they’re with into doin’ it before they’re really ready, and – “

Her fingers pressed against his lips, stopping the rush of words. “Michael, there are plenty of guys like that. I’ve even dated one or two.” She shook her head to stop him before he could open his mouth and insert his foot. “You’re not one of them. We’ve been together for a while now and we’ve taken our relationship at a pace that’s worked for both of us. I’m fully capable of saying no and, Michael,” she tugged on his collar to pull him closer, “I’m not saying no.”

His eyes dropped, tracing over her eyes, nose, her full lips and lower before retracing his path at a pace that made her breath quicken. His lips quirked and his trademark smirk finally surfaced as the tension in him dissipated. “No?”

She smiled when his eyes darkened and she leaned into him. “No,” she whispered against his lips.

His arms came around her and he pulled her close. They didn’t rush, taking their time and letting the intensity between them build until their need for more began to assert itself. Hands fumbled and stroked, sought and conquered, and as the sun dropped out of sight and the stars began to come to life in the sky their eyes met and their panted breaths mingled as he searched her eyes.

Her silent nod was all he needed before his arm tightened around her and he shifted their positions, rolling her onto her back and bracing himself over her. The connection between them exploded as their mouths came together in a rush of heat and need and the world around them ceased to exist as they lost themselves in each other.

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)137-9/10/16

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 1:41 pm

Great part.
Too bad Michael's spaghetti sauce burned.......but he'll make it up to Maria.
Nice walk on the beach.
Thanks,
Carolyn

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ArchAngel1973
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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)138-9/24/16

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:23 pm

keepsmiling7: I'll bet the sauce isn’t what Michael and Maria will remember about that night, lol.


Part 138

Maria breathed a sigh of relief as she finally escaped through the double doors at the front of the school. The exit exams, which she felt was a completely stupid name for them since there were still two weeks to go before graduation, were finally over. Two days of rigorous testing that would determine if they actually graduated. She really didn’t get the point. Parents of the seniors had already paid for their graduation packages – caps, gowns, class rings and everything else that went with the milestone.

“Hey, how’d it go?”

She turned her head to look at Alex when he loped down the steps to join her. “I know I passed but I’m sure I didn’t do as well on the Math as I did on the English/Language Arts. What about you?”

“Probably the opposite. You know me and numbers.”

“Math nerd,” she teased and bumped him with her shoulder.

“Hey,” he protested, “if you’re gonna name call, get it right. Math geek.”

She snorted quietly. “I forgot, there’s a difference.”

“There is a difference.”

“And please don’t get him started,” Isabel spoke up as she joined them. She loved him but he could go on and on if certain subjects picked up momentum. She’d been subjected to the incredibly misunderstood differentiation between geeks and nerds on more than one occasion and with a three-day weekend before them that was the last thing she wanted as a springboard.

Alex laughed and shrugged amiably when her hand slid into his. “How’d it go?”

“Well, other than a couple of hiccups on the Calculus portion I did fine.” She made a face at her brother and Liz when they waved to get the group’s attention. “I’m sure none of us did as well as they did.”

Maria rolled her eyes affectionately. “Please, no one in the school probably did as well as the two of them. They probably aced the tests. How else do you explain both of them getting accepted to Harvard?”

“Good point. They can have those East Coast winters though. I’ll stick with the Mediterranean climate of the West Coast.” He couldn’t stop the laugh when he saw the matching grins on their faces. “Well?”

Max just shrugged. He knew they’d done well. School was one area where he had no issues staying ahead of the game and neither did Liz.

“Yeah, that’s what we thought.”

“Any word about how Michael’s tests went?” Liz asked as they fell into step and the group headed for the Crashdown.

“He refuses to make any guesses.” Maria wrinkled her nose. “I know he passed. There’s no way he’d risk not graduating.” No way, Jose! There was too much riding on them graduating. If he failed Catherine would have just one more reason to add to her list why them being together wasn’t a good idea. Although, to be fair, the woman had imposed some sort of moratorium on that particular stance.

She was certain that had been put to the test more than once since they had returned from Spring Break a couple of months ago. They had tried not to be obvious about the change in their relationship but apparently some things were just impossible to hide. Maybe it was just impossible to hide when people were looking for that change. Or maybe they just weren’t as subtle as they thought they were.

Isabel snapped her fingers when the other blonde started to lose focus. Ungh, did the two of them really think no one knew they were sleeping together now? “Okay, before we lose Maria to Michael-land, what’s the plan for this weekend?”

Maria cleared her throat and shrugged when they all looked at her. “Um, I think we’re supposed to move to grid twenty-three.” She held her hands up and hurried to catch up with them when eye rolls and laughter was her only response as they resumed walking. “What?”

“I think she was actually asking if Michael had let you know if Friday or Saturday was gonna work best for this week’s hunt,” Max said, reaching out to open the door to the Crashdown.

“Oh, right. Saturday. He’s gonna be busy tomorrow.” They both had the next afternoon completely free and they were spending it out in the desert. She fought to control the smile that wanted to explode across her face as she thought about it. It felt like they hadn’t been together in so long. No, she wasn’t blushing, she assured herself as she walked past Max and Liz turned to smile at her, it was just the heat.

They spent the next hour hanging out, discussing their plans for Saturday and what the summer held in store for them before they headed off to begin life on their own. It was an exciting time in their lives and they were eager to embrace the changes. After eating their snacks and setting a time to meet on Saturday morning so they could begin combing the next section of desert for the elusive cave they said their goodbyes and went their separate ways.

Maria was smiling to herself as she walked through her neighborhood a short while later, her thoughts occupied by Michael. Her mom had been cool about the change in their relationship, something she was certain was due largely to the fact that she hadn’t tried to hide it or lie about it. She loved that they were capable of having that kind of relationship. A lot of kids didn’t have that with their parents; sex was something taboo, something they lied about and hid from their parents. She was fortunate to have a parent that had always been open and welcomed discussion about anything and everything.

She was a few houses from home when she spotted the car parked on the street in from of her house. She probably wouldn’t have paid it any attention except it wasn’t the kind of car normally seen on the streets of Roswell. It was a low-slung convertible with the top down, sleek and silver. She didn’t know what it was but it definitely drew attention.

“You must be Maria DeLuca.”

The matter-of-fact words spoken in a woman’s lilting voice did nothing to calm her nerves as she turned to face the stranger. She forced herself to calm down, knowing if she started digging for her cedar oil she would lose focus. There had been no signs of a threat to them since Tess died and Nasedo disappeared, but they still had to be careful. And a stranger approaching her in front of her house demanded the use of caution. Of course, someone intending to harm her would be a fool to show up in such a flashy vehicle.

“And you are?” she asked without confirming or denying. The woman was tall, striking in appearance with mahogany skin and dark eyes. She was dressed in a full length floral patterned dress that was a beautiful shade of lavender. She wore heels although with her height they really weren’t necessary. Around her neck a chain of braided silver supported a crescent moon pendant that curved around a purple diamond. This was not a woman who blended in anywhere, Maria thought.

“I’m sorry, how rude of me.” The woman laughed and the sound was melodic. “My name is Savannah Paisley. I own the Montague Gallery in San Francisco.”

“Yeah, well, if you’re looking for an artist to showcase I’d say you took a wrong turn about two states back.”

“Maria?” Amy let the screen door snap shut behind her as she stepped out on the porch. She’d been on the phone with Gabriel, making plans for the weekend when she looked outside and saw the woman approaching her daughter. She had decided it was time to stop putting off the inevitable and he was very happy with her decision. He hadn’t wasted any time making plans to take her out to dinner with his parents. She was glad he was so proud to be introducing her to his parents, but she couldn’t quell the nervous tension that had her stomach in knots.

“Mom, this lady’s from San Francisco.”

“Oh, you’re a tourist. Are you lost?” She turned and motioned to her left. “Downtown’s back that way.” Her daughter was eighteen now but that didn’t mean her parental concern had just shut down and gone on vacation.

“No,” the woman held out a well-manicured hand, “I’m actually here to see the two of you, Ms. DeLuca.” She smiled as they shook hands. “My name is Savannah Paisley and I own the Montague Gallery in San Francisco.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand. You’re here to see us?”

Savannah nodded. “I spend a lot of my free time checking out estate sales and on occasion I have the opportunity to run across a rare find. Such an opportunity recently fell in my lap and I had the good fortune of leaving a sale with a lovely selection of paintings by an artist named Lorenzo De Santis.”

Maria gasped in surprise when the woman spoke her father’s name and she looked to her mom for confirmation.

“An estate sale you say?” Amy asked as she reached out to touch her daughter’s arm.

“Yes. The estate belonged to an elderly woman and I spoke with her daughter at length about the paintings. I thought at first that her mother was the artist but she told me that she wasn’t. She had run a boarding house for years and she came into possession of them because they were left behind by a former tenant.”

“Would you care to come inside, Ms. Paisley? Maybe sit down, have a glass of lemonade and we can talk,” she offered.

“Call me Savannah please, and that sounds lovely.”

Settled down in the living room a few minutes later, glasses of lemonade resting on mismatched coasters, Amy motioned for the woman to continue her story. “So Lorenzo left the paintings there?” That didn’t sound like him. The man had been very careful with his work, at times to the point of obsession.

“Yes, she said her mother had been very fond of him. Apparently they spent quite a lot of time together and he spoke often of his daughter. She said after the accident the police hadn’t found anyone to notify of his death so his belongings – “

The glass slipped from Maria’s hand and hit the corner of the table, upending and spilling the liquid across the surface. She grabbed a handful of tissues from a box on the end table, trying to mop it up while digesting the sudden news. Her dad was dead.

“Oh, my goodness,” Savannah said apologetically, “I’m so sorry to have blurted it out like that. I just thought after all these years you’d have heard of his passing.”

“Honey,” Amy whispered as she stilled Maria’s hands.

“When?” she croaked.

“March twenty-seventh, 1991.”

It shouldn’t bother her this much, she thought absently. It shouldn’t [/b]hurt[/b] this much. He hadn’t been a part of her life for more than ten years now. He’d walked out on them and never come back for her after he’d promised he would. She cleared her throat, trying not to be obvious as she collected herself.

“So you came here…” she frowned and shook her head. “Why did you come here?”

“I came about your father’s paintings. I purchased them at the estate sale and I would love to show them at my gallery but something about the story the woman told me about the way he spoke to her mother about his daughter convinced me that I had to find you. The paintings really belong to you and it just wouldn’t be right for me to display them knowing there was an unfinished story there. If you decide you don’t want them I’d love to showcase them and when they sell, of course I’d allocate a percentage for you.”

“No.” Maria shook her head. “No, I don’t want them. You’re welcome to do whatever you want to do with them.”

“Maria, wait,” Amy rested a calming hand on her daughter’s arm. “Ms. Paisley, how did you know where to find us?”

Savannah opened her small purse and reached inside to pull out a worn envelope. “I found this letter stuck to the back of one of the frames. It didn’t seem to be placed there intentionally. More like it had fallen between the paintings at some point and over time became stuck to the frame.” She looked at Maria. “Your name is written on the envelope, addressed to this town in the care of your mother. Once I had that information, locating you was much easier.”

“I appreciate that you came all this way, Ms. Paisley, but like I said: I don’t want the paintings. They’re yours to do with as you wish.”

“At least take the letter.”

After several long moments Maria accepted the envelope, the paper creased and soft from age. “Thank you,” she said and stood up. “If you’ll excuse me.”

“I’m so sorry I’ve upset you.”

“No, it’s fine. Thank you for making the effort.” But it wasn’t fine.

“I really am sorry, Ms. DeLuca,” Savannah apologized again after Maria had left the room.

“It’s not your fault. It’s a wound that’s still raw in many ways. I do appreciate that you made such an effort to find us. It’s not what I wanted to hear about Lorenzo, but it does explain some things and I can’t thank you enough for that.” She paused a moment. “You mentioned an accident. Do you know what happened to him?”

“Mrs. Hollis only said that he had been involved in a car accident on his way home from the grocery store.” She opened her purse again and pulled out a leather card holder, flipping the cover back and extracting a couple of business cards. “I’d like to leave these with you if that’s alright. The paintings are crated at my home and I’ll leave them there until she’s had time to really consider whether she wants them or not. I’d hate for her to look back down the road and regret a decision made in haste.”

Amy accepted the cards and nodded. “Thank you for understanding, Ms. Paisley.”

After the woman had left Amy got up and finished cleaning up the mess from the spilled lemonade. There was no way there wouldn’t be fallout from Savannah Paisley’s visit, it was just a question of how bad it would be. They’d both spent more than a decade believing that he’d just abandoned Maria, never once really giving much thought to the possibility that maybe he hadn’t come back for her because he couldn’t.

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)138-9/24/16

Post by keepsmiling7 » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:08 pm

Interesting visit from Savannah........
Thanks,
Carolyn

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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)139-10/9/16

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 10:34 am

keepsmiling7: Yes, it seemed a quite out of the blue visit. But at the same time, Maria’s father leaving her was never dealt with in the show, it deserved to have an explanation in our story.


Part 139

Maria lay in her bed, curled up with the well loved stuffed alien she’d had since her fourth birthday. The purple fabric was faded from years of being dragged around, hugged and of course, numerous trips through the washing machine. She had retreated to her room after speaking with Ms. Paisley the day before and she’d only ventured out a couple of times since. She’d picked at dinner the night before and hadn’t done much better with breakfast that morning. Mom hadn’t pushed though, not for her to talk or to eat, and she was grateful for that.

She could hear Mom moving around down the hall, getting her things together for a trip to Hobbs for a festival showcasing local artists. She sighed and turned her head to look at the envelope propped up against the lamp on her nightstand. She hadn’t been able to bring herself to open it. She’d spent most of the night lying awake, staring at the envelope, and thinking back over the years since her dad had left… and before.

She looked up at the quiet knock on the door and forced herself to sit up. “Come in,” she called tiredly.

Amy stepped into her daughter’s room and took a seat on the edge of her bed. “Honey, are you sure you don’t want to ride over to Hobbs with me?”

“No,” Maria shook her head. “And no, I don’t want you to stay here and miss the festival. I know you’d cancel in a heartbeat, but I just need to get through this so I can move on.”

“I’d feel better if you weren’t dealing with this alone.” She cupped her daughter’s face in her hands and her thumb lovingly stroked one of the stray tears that escaped from her shimmering eyes. If there was any way she could take her little girl’s pain away she would. There was nothing in the world she wouldn’t do to save her from being hurt, but this was one of those times when taking it away was out of her hands.

“I’ll be fine, Mom, really.” She forced a weak smile and placed her hands on her mom’s wrists. “You should get going. You don’t wanna be late getting back. Big date tonight, remember?”

Amy tried to ignore the nervous butterflies that burst to life in her stomach at the mention of the impending disaster, er, dinner with Gabriel’s parents. She cleared her throat. “Yes, thank you for the reminder.”

Maria leaned forward and hugged her mom, squeezing her eyes shut and trying to control the emotions that continued to rise and fall like an out of control rollercoaster. “You’ll do fine, Mom.”

“I’ll do my best,” she promised with a smile as she leaned back. “Are you still meeting Michael for the afternoon?”

She cleared her throat and nodded, resuming her original position when her mom stood up. “I’m not heading out there until closer to noon. He’s got chores to do and I’d only distract him.” That succeeded in bringing a genuine smile to her lips. “And I’m not opposed to distracting him when it’s beneficial, but if we’re gonna spend the afternoon together then I definitely want him to finish his work on time.”

“And tomorrow you’ll be spending the day with Michael and your friends out in the desert?”

“Um-hmm.”

“Make sure you remind him he promised me a copy of that picture he took of you a few weeks back while you all were out there.”

“I will.”

Amy smoothed her hands over her clothes and paused at the door. “Between our plans for this evening and tomorrow I don’t imagine we’ll see each other until tomorrow evening.”

“I’ll have dinner ready when you get home then,” she offered with a smile.

“Alright, that sounds good. I love you, honey.”

Maria nodded. “I love you too, Mom.”

“And if you need me for anything, no matter how small…” she sighed and trailed off, nodding when her daughter’s head started bobbing. It hurt to see her little girl in pain and knowing that she had to step back and let someone else take her place in a way. It wasn’t that Maria would never confide in her again, never share her thoughts and feelings, never again need her, but with the introduction of that one special person, it paved the way for that separation that inevitably occurred between a parent and child.

With one last lingering look at her daughter she turned and left the room, gathering her things up and heading to the front door. Nearly twenty years ago she had been on the other side of the fence and at the time she hadn’t had the foresight to see that one day she would be standing in her own mother’s shoes. But then again, no daughter ever saw that happening, did she?

She pulled back in surprise when she opened the door and saw Michael standing there, fisted hand raised to knock. He didn’t react to her sudden appearance, simply nodded and greeted her, his voice low.

“Ms. DeLuca.”

“Michael.” Several months ago she would’ve been nervous about leaving the two of them alone in the house together. Teenage hormones were notoriously difficult to contain so turning them loose without supervision was normally a nightmare… one she’d had more than once over the course of their relationship. Even knowing the change that had occurred – and she was grateful that Maria was able to be honest with her about it – she still maintained certain boundaries at home. Given the current situation though, she felt Maria couldn’t be in safer hands. “She’s in her room.”

“She doin’ okay?”

“Not really, no.”

Michael rolled his shoulders and shoved his left hand in his pocket. “How about you?” He shrugged and shot a glance back at the street. “I mean, it was probably difficult for you to find out what happened to her dad too.”

Amy smiled and reached out to pat his arm. “That's very sweet of you to ask, thank you. It was a shock, but in a way it was a relief. Oh, that sounds horrible,” she muttered.

“No, I get what you're saying. All this time you thought he just walked out and deserted her and now you know that wasn't the case. That's gotta be a relief, finding out that he wasn't that kinda man.”

“Yes, it is.” She had long ago made peace with Lorenzo leaving. She had understood his need to reach for more, to travel and experience life, and he had understood her need to remain stationary for their daughter’s sake, but they just hadn’t been able to find a way to make it work for both of them while staying together. It wasn’t until after he’d been gone for a while with no contact that she’d gotten so angry with him. They couldn’t make it work as a couple and she’d come to terms with that, had forgiven him as well as herself for their shortcomings, but cutting off all contact with their daughter, that was something that there’d been no forgiveness for.

And now, years later, that anger and bitterness that she’d harbored deep down inside had been let go because a visit from a stranger had proven that those emotions had no foundation. It was a big relief, she thought, echoing the sentiments of the young man standing on her front porch. Her eyes widened as she realized she’d forgotten her manners and she stepped back, gesturing for him to come inside.

“You must’ve finished your work early,” she commented as she closed the screen door.

Michael shrugged. He’d made a deal with Maggie that he’d probably regret later, but she’d agreed to cover a couple of his more time-consuming chores, freeing him up to get to Maria sooner. “I figured I’d come pick her up early if that’s okay.”

“And you two are spending the day…?”

“In the desert. I thought it’d be good to get her out for a while.”

She shook her head. “You kids do like that desert, don’t you?” She enjoyed the beauty of the desert landscape, but certainly not enough to spend every free minute out there.

“No walls, what’s not to like?”

“Well, enjoy yourselves, and I’ll expect you to have her home by a respectable time.”

He nodded and waited patiently, already knowing what was coming next. Amy was pretty cool about things and she hadn’t upheld a strict curfew since Maria’s eighteenth birthday. There were a few times he had been very grateful for that since she was pretty lenient and generally unless it was a school night she didn’t have a problem with her daughter being out late as long as she was home by one in the morning.

“I’ll be expecting a call when she gets home – from the house phone, not her cell,” she added with a smile. “And Nina will let me know if Maria has company when the lights go out.” She held a finger up when she saw the smirk playing over his lips. “Whether or not the actual lights go out is irrelevant,” she said, anticipating his next comment. She’d discovered that he had a wicked sense of humor that revealed itself on occasion and every once in a while he poked at the boundaries she’d set just for the sake of fun.

“I may be eighteen but I do still live under my parents’ roof and I know better than to take advantage of an opportunity like this. You’ve put a lot of trust in us, in me, and I’m not about to violate that.” Not to mention, he’d have to be a major jerk to take advantage of Maria’s current emotional state and he’d been raised a hell of a lot better than that.

“Alright, you kids have fun.” She paused on the porch to turn and shoot a look at him over her shoulder.

Michael held his hands up. “I’ll take care of ‘er.” He waited until she was gone to close the door and make his way to his girlfriend’s room. The door was open and he leaned against the frame, thumbs hooked in his front pockets as he watched her for a few minutes. When she didn’t move to acknowledge his presence he knew she was too caught up in her thoughts to even realize he was there.

“Hey,” he called quietly, letting her know he was there so he wouldn’t startle her.

Maria shifted just enough to look at him over her shoulder. She hadn’t been expecting him but somehow she wasn’t surprised to see him standing there. “Hey.” She winced at the gravelly sound of her voice and forced herself to sit up. She swiped at the tears that had escaped against her wishes and got to her feet, avoiding her reflection in the mirror over her dresser as she brushed past him and mumbled a quick, “Be right back.”

He smirked and crossed the room, making himself comfortable on her bed while he waited. He picked up the stuffed toy, holding it out in front of him and staring at it for a moment. What the hell was it supposed to be? He had no idea, but the faded material, soft from years of being held and nearly bald in spots, attested to the fact that it had been well loved over the years. He had a teddy bear that he’d carted around everywhere and she had… well, this thing. Being in Roswell, it was probably supposed to represent some form of alien.

He sat up when Maria came back a few minutes later, tossing the purple toy on the bed behind him. “Hey.” He leaned forward, stretching his hand out to catch hers and pull her closer. He reached up, his work-roughened hands cradling her blotchy cheeks. “How’re you doin’?” he asked, his gruff voice gentle.

She shrugged, not really sure of the answer. “I thought I was supposed to meet you at your place?”

He didn’t push, knowing she’d talk when she was ready. She hadn’t gone into a lot of detail the night before when she called him, just told him what had happened. “You were, but I thought I’d come pick you up.” His arms came around her when she moved into his space and settled in his lap. “We’ll have to go by my place to get the horses, grab my camera and somethin’ for lunch, and then we’ll head out into the desert. C’mon, what do you say?”

She considered his offer for a few seconds before nodding. “Alright.”

“I have a feelin’ we’re gonna find a good spot, get everything set up, and you’re gonna go to sleep on me.” His thumb brushed over her lips, silencing her automatic denial. “You didn’t get much sleep last night and if you wanna get some shuteye while we’re out there that’s fine.” He smiled and shrugged one shoulder. “Fresh air’s good for that.” He gave her an unsubtle nudge. “Now, c’mon, let’s get movin’. We’re burnin’ daylight.”

Maria rolled her eyes at him but didn’t move. She was grateful he was just being himself and he wasn’t pushing her to talk about the news she had gotten the day before. “How’d you do on your exams?”

“Good enough,” he said with a smirk.

“Good enough to talk to your parents about our plans?” They had talked to her mom about their plans but he kept coming up with reasons to put off talking to his parents.

“It won’t be much longer.” He reached up to scratch his eyebrow. “We graduate in two weeks. I’ll tell them before that.”

“Okay.” She stood up, feeling like she was ready to face the day now. She pulled him to his feet and wrapped her arms around him. “Thanks, Michael.”

He lowered his head to kiss her when he felt her fingers at the back of his neck, urging him forward. “For what?” he murmured.

“For just being you.”

“We’re good to go then?”

She moved around him to pick up the purple stuffed toy and sit it up on the bed, wedging it between the pillows to keep it upright. “Do we need to stop and pick up anything for lunch?”

“Nope, got it covered,” he said and held a hand out to her. “You ready?”

Maria took his hand, pausing as she looked at the envelope that had been staring back at her since the day before, daring her to open it and view the contents. Without giving it another thought she reached for it, snatched it up and shoved it in her back pocket. “Yeah, let’s go.”

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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)140-10/16/16

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Oct 16, 2016 12:03 pm

Part 140

Michael’s gaze rested on Maria as she slept next to him, the side of her face pressed against his thigh that she was using for a pillow. As predicted it hadn’t taken long for her to doze off once they reached the spot he had in mind. Uncommon as it was, she hadn’t had much to say since he had picked her up. On the drive to his house she had said very little and even less on the drive out into the desert. After unloading the horses and saddling up they had ridden out in complete silence. It had been unsettling to say the least.

He brushed the tip of his finger over the drawing he had been working on, the motion easily blending the different shades and smoothing the rougher edges out. He lifted his head, his eyes scanning the desert for a few moments before coming to rest on a rocky foundation in the distance. He’d spent so much time in the desert over the years, taking comfort in its familiarity. It was constantly changing, yet it maintained its majesty and mystery.

Most people thought of it as harsh and unforgiving; a deadly landscape barren of life and color. He snorted softly. They couldn’t be farther from the truth if they tried. If someone encroached past its borders carelessly and didn’t pay it the respect it deserved, it could easily turn on them. But that was true of just about anything in life, people included.

Against his will his thoughts drifted to his cousin. He still didn’t understand how anyone could hate for no reason other than hate itself. He didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about him but there were occasions when it crept up on him. Dakota had made his choices and he was paying for them. Just a few months earlier he and some of his friends had gotten into a fight with some other guys and one of them had ended up hospitalized in critical condition. The guy had been beaten so severely he’d required extensive medical care. He’d defied the odds and survived multiple surgeries only to die four months later from complications related to the injuries he’d sustained during the fight.

Hate was such a senseless emotion. Sure, everyone experienced it at some point, but in this situation it wasn’t only senseless, it was also wasted. His parents hadn’t wanted him or Maggie to be present during the trial, which was fine with him; he wasn’t interested in showing support for his cousin or his aunt. Uncle Randolph was a different story. He felt bad for him. It wasn’t his fault his son had turned out the way he had. Aunt Dawn had filled Dakota with hatred for White people and then she’d encouraged his behavior. And unfortunately someone had paid for that hatred with their life.

His fingers combed through Maria’s hair when he felt her beginning to stir and he set his pencil and sketchpad aside. She shifted and sighed quietly so he started to talk, hoping to draw her out. It just wasn’t right for her to be so silent, so still.

“Maggie’s been burnin’ up the phone lines talkin’ to some other girl that got accepted to Duke. She’s a basketball player too. They met down in Texas on Spring Break. I think I told you about her. They’re hopin’ to room together. They’re pretty sure they’ll get the room assignment they want and she’s excited about it. I don’t really get what’s so great about roomin’ with a stranger, but apparently Maggie thinks it is.”

Maria listened to him ramble on about his sister, smiling slightly when he grumbled about her choosing a college on the East Coast when she could’ve chosen Stanford, which would’ve been much closer to where they would be living. It wasn’t completely a matter of choice. She knew Maggie had wanted Stanford but she hadn’t gotten an acceptance letter from her first choice. He insisted he was fine with Maggie heading off on her own to attend school on the opposite side of the country, but he had moments where he vocalized his concern about her being so far away. He’d admitted once that if she chose a school back east that he hoped it’d be Harvard since at least Max would be there to keep an eye on her. But then Maggie had blown that thought out of the water when she’d gotten her acceptance letter from Duke.

“Anyway, I guess it’ll be okay.” He fell silent for a few minutes, his eyes following the rioting streaks of pinks, purples and oranges as they chased the sun beyond the horizon. “Uncle Randolph came by to see Dad last night. The sentencing was yesterday. The judge gave Dakota the full six years. I’ve never seen him like he was last night. I heard him talkin’ to Dad. It’s like he can’t make sense of his feelings. He said he’s angry that Dakota’s gonna be in prison for six years, but at the same time he doesn’t understand how the judge could only sentence him for such a short time for taking that guy’s life. He didn’t sound angry.” His hand curled around hers when she reached for him. “He sounded… broken.”

“Will he go out into the desert?” she asked quietly.

Michael smiled at the question. She understood. “Yeah, he called Aunt Elizabeth and talked to her and left from our house. She wanted to be at the sentencing with him for support but he didn’t wanna put her through another scene with Dakota.”

She nodded, remembering him telling her about his cousin going off on the poor woman during the trial. In spite of that the woman had continued to attend the trial to support her husband. His uncle had given up that support the day his son had punched the bailiff and launched himself at her, intent on inflicting harm while screaming obscenities and racial slurs.

“How’s Shyanne handling it?”

“Worried about her dad, relieved Dakota’s goin’ to prison, and feelin’ a little guilty for feelin’ that way.”

“It’s not wrong for her to feel that way.” Personally, she was glad he was safely behind bars too.

“No, it’s not. I don’t know if hate like that can be changed.” He shrugged one shoulder. “I don’t know if it even matters at this point.”

“It can be changed, but only if he wants to change. I mean, he wasn’t born hating anyone. He allowed that to become part of him and his mom actively fostered that attitude so that only made it worse.”

“She should’ve been held accountable for his actions too.” He didn’t have any sympathy for his aunt. “She wasn’t there, didn’t beat that kid, but Dakota learned to hate because of her. If she hadn’t actively encouraged it and constantly pounded it into him, maybe it would’ve turned out differently.” He exhaled slowly. “I don’t know, maybe it wouldn’t have, but she’s still partly responsible for what went down.”

“I agree with you. I mean, there are times when parents do everything right and their kids still turn into monsters, but in Dakota’s case, his mom encouraged his behavior.” Her fingertip trailed over the leg of his jeans, drawing random designs while they talked. “You don’t feel guilty do you?”

“No.” There was no hesitation in his response. “Do you?”

Silence fell over them again as she pondered his question. She knew he wasn’t asking about his cousin. He had turned the conversation to her father, opening the door if she wanted to talk about it. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep on you,” she said finally.

“No problem. You needed the rest.”

She relaxed when his hand began to stroke her arm from shoulder to wrist and back again, the contact soothing and reassuring. “I didn’t sleep much last night.” She bit her lip when the tears welled up in spite of her best efforts to push her emotions down. “All these years I just assumed he’d abandoned me, thought maybe he had another family out there somewhere and just forgot about me. All this time I’ve been angry with him for just leaving me and it wasn’t even his fault he didn’t come back.”

“Your parents split when you were a little kid, Maria. All you knew was he promised to come back for you and he never did. You didn’t know to believe any differently.”

“Maybe not when I was six years old, maybe not even when I was ten, but I haven’t been that little girl for a long time, Michael.”

“Emotional scars don’t suddenly fade away because you grow up.”

“No, but I’m a rational woman.” Her fist thumped against his leg when he snorted. “Rational enough that I should’ve thought about it later and realized it didn’t make sense, not just judged him on the emotions of a six-year-old.”

“Rational or not,” he decided there was no point getting into that minefield, “the point is that years of believing something, having that belief colored by crushed childhood dreams, it alters the ability to perceive a situation clearly. You don’t stop feeling like you were abandoned just because time passes and you get older. Be nice if it worked that way but it doesn’t.”

She fell silent for a while and he made no effort to fill the air with empty words. It would take time for her to work through this but he could be patient when it suited him. Darkness settled over them and he watched as the stars began to appear one by one until they filled the sky as far as he could see. The full moon appeared overhead a while later, casting its white light over the desert and bringing the shadows out to play.

She looked down when she felt the trembling in the ground beneath them and she after watching small pebbles dance across the surface she lifted her head to gaze out into the desert. The herd of wild horses had been absent from this section of the Reservation for the past couple of months but Michael had explained that in the spring Santana took the herd farther south. “They’ve come back?”

“They always do.” He stood up and held his hand out to her. “C’mon, I wanna show you somethin’.” He led her over to the cliff, leaning back against an outcropping of rock and pulling her back to rest against his chest. “Just wait for it.”

The trembling beneath their feet increased and just a few minutes later the herd came into sight, dust rising in a cloud behind them and their hooves pounding out a hard rhythm that slowed as they came to a stop and began to mill around, some moving to the water troughs, others searching the ground for vegetation to snack on. Santana circled the herd, his small ears flicking back and forth as he searched for potential threats.

Maria scanned the herd, looking for Mirage and finally finding the lead mare when the herd moved to accommodate her chosen path. She drew in a sharp breath when she noticed the foal running beside the mare, its spindly legs seeming to be too long for its body. Its moves weren’t quite coordinated, but its joy was palpable as it bolted away from her side for a moment before something moved on the desert floor and started it and it quickly returned to her.

“She had a baby?”

“Um-hmm, a colt, and he’ll probably run his own herd one day.”

“He won’t stay with Santana’s herd?”

“Some of the colts will, but it’s unlikely considering his dam and sire. After this year’s foals reach a year or two of age Santana will run them out of the herd. Running them out protects the herd against inbreeding.”

“But what’ll happen to them?”

“It’s a small herd so there aren’t that many. They’re usually rounded up and taken to Tahoma. He has a ranch out in one of the more remote areas on the Rez and he gentles and trains the wild horses so they can be given to families here.”

“You think they’ll let Santana’s colt remain free?”

“I talked to River Dog about it and he said they’ll keep an eye on the herd. Depending on the number of horses Santana runs off, they may thin them out, take some to Tahoma and then move the rest to a different area of the Rez.”

Her gaze wandered over the herd, smiling when the foals frolicked around, playing under the watchful eyes of their mothers. “I count seven, no, eight babies.”

“Foals,” he corrected with a quiet laugh. “There’s eight of ‘em, but Mirage’s colt stands out from the others. There’s no doubt Santana sired him.” He tightened his arms around her for a moment before relaxing his hold again. “Give him a name.”

“Me?”

He nodded. “He’s the first foal Mirage has thrown since the two of them were brought here.”

She ignored him when he laughed again, knowing he was remembering the first time he’d used the phrase ‘thrown a foal’ around her. She’d misunderstood its meaning, thinking it meant something as horrible as it sounded, and had been relieved when he’d explained it was a term used to say a mare had given birth. “But shouldn’t someone from the Rez name him?”

“Someone from the Rez is naming him.” He pointed over her shoulder when she looked up at him. “So what’s it gonna be?”

Maria pressed a kiss to his jaw before turning back to look at the colt. “He looks like a miniature version of Santana. He’s almost identical, right down to his markings.” She watched him as he finally came to rest beside Mirage, nudging against her and finally finding what he was looking for. The mare shifted to accommodate her hungry colt but her eyes continued to search the landscape for threats. “Shiloh,” she said with a smile. “His name is Shiloh. It means ‘his gift’ and that’s exactly what he is.”

“Shiloh it is then.”

“My dad left me a gift without even knowing it,” she murmured and turned in his embrace, sliding her arms around his waist and holding onto him tightly.

He waited.

“The lady that came to see us, she had found a letter he wrote to me. I guess he never got the chance to mail it.” She reached back to pull it out of her pocket, leaning back against his linked hands, confident that he wouldn’t let her fall. “Part of me’s scared to read it, Michael.”

“He wanted you to have it. Whatever he wrote in the letter, it was meant for you.”

“I told her she could have the paintings, that I didn’t want them. I don’t even know what they are or what they meant to him.”

“Maria,” he rubbed small circles against her back as he searched for the words he needed, “listen to me, okay? If you need to see those paintings, we’ll just give her a call and tell her that. You said she seemed like she was on the level so I’m sure she’ll understand.”

“She was talking about a showing and it didn’t sound like she was talking about months from now. We’re not going back until the end of August and a trip like that would take a chunk out of our savings and we can’t really afford that.”

“Hey,” he cupped her face in his hands, bringing her eyes to his, “if you need to do this, we’re gonna do it. We’ll figure the money out and we’ll make it work. Okay?”

She gave him a watery smile and nodded as she played with the edge of the envelope where it was sealed. “Do you mind if I read it aloud?” she asked as she carefully pulled the pages out and unfolded them, pressing them against his chest to smooth out the creases.

“Go for it. You got enough light?”

“Yeah, the moon’s full and it’s plenty bright out here tonight.” Somehow the setting was perfect for this moment.

“Then let’s hear what your dad had to say.”

She smiled gratefully and took a deep breath, feeling tears clogging her throat when her eyes landed on the familiar handwriting. He had been an artist, passionate about his work and his handwriting had revealed that aspect of his personality. Her fingertips traced over the words, written by his hand. She exhaled slowly before starting to read.

March 12, 1991

Maria,

It’s only been a few days but I miss you very much, so much more than words can say. I know it seems so long to you since I left. It feels just as long to me. The miles between us are many but know that in my heart you are never far away. I’ve found a place for us. You’ll love it. Do you remember the slides? You were so little when I took you to see them but we spent hours there. Flying down the slides and then hiking all the way back up to the top to do it all over again. You were tireless and I lost count of how many trips we made up that hill and back down the slides before they closed for the day.

I can’t wait to take you there again. San Francisco is an amazing city and I think you’ll love it here. If everything goes according to plan we’ll be together for the summer. I’m going to send this after I have all the details nailed down with Mom. I’m not sure if she’s making plans for the summer yet and I don’t want you to be expecting to come here and then be disappointed if you can’t. But don’t worry, even if it’s only for a week or two, I’ll be seeing you this summer.

We’ll go down to Fisherman’s Wharf and spend the day, maybe even go to Pier 7 and see if we can spot a leopard shark. I know how curious you are about everything so I know we’ll go there many times. We’ll spend time at the slides of course. And I can’t wait to take you to the art galleries here. I’m biased but I think some of the greatest artists live here. I’ve met a few people I can’t wait to introduce you to. I’ll tell you all about them soon.

March 15, 1991

Guess what? I’ve found a job. Nothing big yet, just something to get things going, but it’s a start. It keeps me busy and that’s a good thing. I’m living in a boarding house right now, just renting a room until I’m ready to move into the place I’ve found for us. It’s worked out perfectly because the other place won’t be ready for about three months and the owner’s willing to work with me. It’s in the same neighborhood with the slides, an easy walk for an afternoon of laughter and fun.

Maria, please never think that I left because of you. I know how your little mind works and you’ll be turning these events over in your head, trying to find a reason for my leaving. Your mom and I just needed different things in life and sometimes no matter how much you love someone you have to follow separate paths and it’s rare that those paths come together again once they’ve chosen to travel alone. I’ll always love your mom, never doubt that. Love is a beautiful thing, something to be cherished and treasured, something to be protected, and when it’s right it’s worth fighting for. But there are also times when the right thing is letting it go.

March 23, 1991

Forgive me for not getting back to you sooner. I’ve been working on a piece for you. I’ve called it Luce Della Mia Vita. You’ve picked up some Italian as I know I have a tendency to ramble in my native tongue, but I’ll have to teach you more. So much more. It’s a beautiful language and it’s a part of you. You have the soul of an artist and the heart of an activist. You truly are the best of your mom and me. Even now at only six years old you amaze me with your capacity for love, for forgiveness, for fighting for what’s right. No parents could be prouder than we are. I know right now you’re hurt and angry and you have every right to be those things. Don’t ever apologize for the way you feel. Emotions so strong take time to sort out and deal with.

March 27, 1991

Maria,

I may save this page for when you’re a little older, I’m not sure yet. I’ll be leaving for work soon but I had a dream before I woke this morning and it’s been on my mind all day. Please don’t let your choices in life be colored by what I’m sure most perceive as a failure. The relationship between your mom and me was far from a failure. We have you and no could in any way, shape or form consider you anything but an amazing human being. You’re our greatest achievement as a couple and as individuals. Your mom and I had different paths to travel and that’s not a bad thing, it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other so much it hurts sometimes. I know that sounds dumb, but one day you’ll understand it.

One day you’re going to meet a boy and he’ll be the one who complements you, the other half of your soul. An artist needs that connection to be complete. Some people would call that person your soulmate, and perhaps that word is correct, but not in some fairytale sense that people use it for these days. You never cared much for the fairytales, which is good in a way. Reality is a far cry from perfection and happily ever after. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the fairytale as long as you know and understand that it’s far from perfect and it takes two willing people to make it work. No one in their right mind is happy 24/7 and that’s a good thing too. You have to have balance in your life, and that means working hard to make sure the bad doesn’t outweigh the good.

You have the DeLuca-De Santis blood running through your veins. That’s a volatile combination when it comes to love, believe me. But it’s a good thing under the right circumstances and when you meet the right boy you’ll understand it. And even if he isn’t Italian, if he’s the right one, he’ll be your match in every way possible. Wait for the right one, Maria, because I promise you, it’s worth the wait.

I love you,

Daddy


Maria swallowed hard and folded the letter up, careful to line up the creases in the sheets of paper. She’d had to stop more than once as her emotions threatened to pull her under, especially when she noticed that the last page had been written the day he died. Her dad had been making plans for them and he hadn’t forgotten her.

Michael took it from her once she’d slipped it back into the envelope, sliding it into his back pocket and freeing her hands up to clench in his shirt. Her body was taut and shaking and she was making little hiccupping sounds, a clear indicator that she was about to lose control of her emotions in spite of her best efforts not to.

“My dad wanted me, Michael. He wanted me,” she choked out and collapsed into his waiting arms.

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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)141-10/23/16

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:02 am

Part 141

Michael rubbed his hands together nervously. Time was running out on his self-imposed deadline and he had decided today was the day. Mom and Dad were both off, which gave him plenty of time to lay out his plan and explain his reasoning behind not going to college. Well, not going to college right away, he amended silently. He had to keep them focused on that point otherwise the whole conversation was going to be blown out of the water before it even really got started.

His ears perked up when quiet descended over the house and he realized that meant Maggie was done talking their ears off about her new roommate at college, the basketball season and of course, Jesse. Her boyfriend was going to be attending community college at home and hoping to get into Duke the following year. A lot depended on how his dad’s therapy went over the coming year, but according to Maggie he was making slow but steady progress.

“You’re up,” she said as she came into the room and sat on the arm of the couch, leaning against his shoulder.

“Get ‘em all softened up for me?”

She snorted and rolled her eyes. “As if.” She hugged him and pressed a noisy kiss against his head, laughing when he shoved her away and reached up to run a hand over his intentionally messy hair.

“You better not have left any spit in my hair,” he grumbled.

“I have never done that. Just stick with the plan,” she advised as she shook her head at the spiky mess he insisted he had combed. “Don’t just tell them outright that you don’t wanna go to college.”

“I know what to tell them.”

“Um-hmm, just so you remember it when you get in the lion’s den,” she teased mercilessly. “I mean, you’ve got that look you had when you were eight and you broke Great Grandma’s favorite vase and that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in your ability to pull this off.”

“Shut up. Don’t you have a boyfriend to pester?”

“I do,” she said and got to her feet gracefully. She paused at the doorway and turned to look back at him. “But if you need me to stick around for morale or anything…”

He waved her off. “Thanks, but I’ve got it.” He sighed quietly when she bit her bottom lip uncertainly and he shrugged one shoulder. “We still on for movie night?”

Maggie grinned and slapped her hand against the doorframe. “Tomorrow night and it’s my turn to pick.”

“It was your turn last time.”

“And who mucked out the stalls so you could cut outta here early the other day?”

“Fine, just don’t pick somethin’ stupid or girly.”

She stuck her tongue out at him and waved over her shoulder as she left the room, laughing at his disgruntled grumbling. She already had something picked out, a movie Jesse had talked about recently that had plenty of action sequences with an underlying romantic storyline. Personally, she preferred it the other way around, but considering Michael was about to finally deal with the college issue with their parents it was the least she could do.

Michael shoved himself to his feet and rolled his shoulders before forcing his feet to carry him into the kitchen. Mom and Dad were sitting at the table quietly talking while she folded freshly laundered dishtowels and he worked on the crossword puzzle. She laughed at something he said when he leaned over to erase the letters from a few of the blocks on the grid.

“Hey, you guys got time to talk?”

John immediately glanced up from his puzzle. “Of course, Son, c’mon over here and sit down.” As their kids got older times when they wanted to talk to their parents became fewer and further between and with Michael it was even rarer.

“Would you like a snack, sweetie?” Catherine asked when he pulled one of the chairs out and dropped down into it heavily.

He shook his head and his parents glanced at each other with concern. Michael didn’t turn down food as a rule, and when he did he usually had something pretty heavy on his mind.

“There’s somethin’ I need to tell you and you’re not gonna like it,” he warned them as his hands found the salt shaker and started turning it in circles. “I’m not goin’ to college. Not this year anyway,” he hurried to add. He had to keep them focused on that point. “I know how important it is to you and I’m not discounting it outta hand. I just… I need a break. I need to get out there and see what it’s all about. I need to breathe for a while without the confinement of school.”

John’s hand tightened over his wife’s in a demand for silence. “College isn’t the same as high school, Michael. You’re not indoors for so many hours at once.” He’d known these thoughts were on his boy’s mind, but a good education was so important. How could he make him understand that without making him feel as if they were demanding it from him?

“No, I know that, Dad. And there are other options available besides traditional classes. I mean, there’s distance learning, and Ms. DeLuca was tellin’ me the other day that some of the colleges are even talkin’ about making degrees available through online courses.”

“So you’ve talked to her about this,” Catherine said slowly.

Michael shrugged. He wasn’t interested in getting into an argument over having a conversation about this issue with his girlfriend’s mom.

“And I suppose she supports your decision.”

“She supports me.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised. She’s not even encouraging her own daughter to go to college, why would she be any different with you?” She shook her head. “I’m sorry, that was uncalled for. I know she loves her daughter and she’s very supportive. I just think parents should stress how important a good education is.”

“Mom, I know you think she’s a flake, and sometimes she kinda comes across like that, but she’s really not like that.” Well, not all the time, he amended silently. Amy was cool but sometimes she was a real fruitcake. “She’s not anti-education. She’s just a little more open-minded about the path to obtaining that education. And yeah, if either of us decided college isn’t in the plans, we’d still have her support.”

“Son, no one’s saying you’d ever lose our support over deciding against college.” John was scrambling to find the right words because this was an important issue and one he also felt strongly about.

“No, I know that.” He abandoned the salt shaker for a moment to run his hands through his hair. “I don’t wanna disappoint you guys and I feel like this decision’s already done that.”

“We’re just concerned about how a decision of this magnitude affects the rest of your future.” John glanced at his wife, grateful to see that she was holding onto her tongue for the moment. “I know you and Maria have been making plans and that’s good, but supporting a family means looking to the future. You want a good job so you can make a decent living.” He paused a moment. “You’re also going to have to decide what you plan to do after the summer’s over if you don’t intend to go to college. I know working fulltime isn’t an appealing thought but if you plan to stay home you will be working.”

Michael shook his head. “That’s the other thing I wanted to talk to you about.” He stood up suddenly. “Hold on, I’ll be right back.”

“I knew this was coming,” Catherine hissed.

John pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. He’d tried to hide his concern with Michael’s lack of interest in pursuing a college education, but this worried him. He didn’t believe in forcing his own beliefs on his children; they were adults now, preparing to go out into the world and make their own way. They had to be allowed to make their own choices and to face the consequences but that didn’t mean they would be alone.

“We have to let him make his own decisions, Cath.”

“That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better I don’t like it either.” In fact, it bothered him a great deal.

Michael paused in the hallway, swallowing hard when he heard the quiet conversation between his parents. He couldn’t miss the disappointment echoing in their hushed voices and that hurt. He didn’t want to disappoint them but he had to make his own way. He straightened his shoulders and moved into the room, slapping the folder in his hand on the table as he dropped back down into his chair.

“Me an’ Maria did some lookin’ around while we were in San Francisco over Spring Break, met with a friend of her mom, and we’ve got a plan laid out.” He opened the folder and slid the photos he’d taken of the houseboat out, spreading them across the surface of the table. “We’ve got a place to stay, jobs lined up, and the little community’s quiet and pretty self-contained. It’s even got two bedrooms so if you guys wanted to come visit, take a look around, see how we’re doin’, y’know, you could do that and you wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel or anything.”

Catherine shifted uncomfortably at the unintentional reminder that her son was having sex with his girlfriend. It had been an unmistakable change in their relationship when they’d returned from Spring Break. They hadn’t flaunted it, but she was familiar with the changes and she’d been vigilantly looking for them now that both of her children were involved in serious relationships.

She forced herself to remain quiet and nonjudgmental as he laid out the plans he and Maria had made. He talked about the jobs, the people that would be their neighbors, the city, and the houseboat that she had to admit held a certain charm. His eyes were alight with the fire of youth, the intense desire to go out and find his place in the world, and the knowledge that he had someone at his side who believed in him.

They had no right to snuff that fire out. John was right. They had to let him make his own choices and just hope and pray they turned out for the best.

“Dad, Mom, I’m not nixing the college thing altogether. I wanna take the next year and see how we do on our own. College or not, I’m gonna have to have a job, so this gives me a chance to find a job that’s a good fit for me. I think the courier thing’s gonna work. I think I’m probably gonna like it. I know Maria’s gonna enjoy writin’ those pieces for that online magazine.”

Catherine momentarily tuned him out as her thoughts turned back to Maggie’s words the morning she and Michael had left for their Spring Break destinations.

“I know you’re trying, Mom, but please try harder.” She shrugged one shoulder. “I know things change and so do people and I’m okay with change. I just want our family to be strong enough to grow with those changes. Remember how you always told us that we have to stand for what we believe in? That we had to understand there would be times when the difference between knowing we were right and digging our heels in and refusing to see someone else was right was simply a matter of taking a step back? You said we had to know when to bend and when to let go because if our only foundation was foolish pride we’d eventually crack under the pressure.” She smiled and hugged her mom. “It’s time to bend, Mom.”

She had worked hard to be more understanding where her son’s relationship with Maria was concerned. She had made an effort to control the temptation to push too hard about college even though she’d known he was dragging his feet about submitting his applications. The last thing she wanted to do was push him away. And he hadn’t outright said he wasn’t going to college, just that he wanted time to do something else.

“I’m sure you’ll do well at whatever you do, Michael.” She smiled when he relaxed at her unexpected response. “And we’d love to visit after you get settled in.”

“Really? I mean, that’d be great, Mom. Give us a couple months and I’m sure Maria’ll have every interesting spot in the city mapped out.”

“You’re not planning to leave until the end of summer, right?” She was supposed to have three more months before her kids were out the door and off on their own.

“Yeah. Well, you remember me tellin’ you about that lady who came to see Maria and the letter she got from her dad?” He waited until they responded before he continued. “She needs to go back to San Francisco and, I don’t know, see the paintings he did, walk where he walked, stuff like that.”

John watched his boy as he talked so animatedly, something that had become a little less rare since Maria had come into his life. “You’ll need money to take a trip like that.”

Michael shook his head. “We’ve both got money saved up from workin’ and other than food and public transportation in the city we won’t need much. The art lady insisted on sending her a couple of roundtrip plane tickets and covering the hotel for a three-day weekend. She’s having a showing next weekend, which works out since it’s after graduation and we wouldn’t be missin’ any school for the trip.”

“So you’d be gone for three days?”

He looked at Mom when she spoke and he nodded. “Three days.” He gave her a lopsided grin. “Then you’re stuck with me for the next three months.”

She smiled at him. “Well, three days for three months. I suppose that’s a fair exchange.”

“Whatcha say, Dad?”

John pushed his misgivings aside, knowing his boy needed his support and not a lecture on getting a good education. Education didn’t make the man and his son was already a man his parents were proud of. “I say enjoy your trip and if we can help at all just let us know.”

Michael felt a weight fall off of his shoulders as he gathered the photographs back up, lined them up together and placed them back in the folder. “Thanks.” He stood and tucked the folder under his right arm. He’d been so worried about this conversation and it had gone so much better than he’d even dared hope for. “Gotta make a phone call so I can get the rest of my chores done.”

Catherine watched her husband after their son had grabbed the phone and gone to his room. “I’m not sure but I think the universe just rocked out of alignment.”

“I think you’re right about that.” He got to his feet. “I’m gonna take a walk. I’ll be back in time for dinner.”

He leaned over for a quick kiss and her eyebrows lifted when he left the house without another word. Now that she had managed to find a way to balance things inside of herself where their son was concerned, John was having a difficult time doing the same thing. She supposed turnabout was fair play but she hoped he could find peace with Michael’s decision without it causing a problem between father and son.

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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)141-10/23/16

Post by keepsmiling7 » Fri Oct 28, 2016 11:05 am

I'm trying to catch up after being gone several weeks.
It's good that Maria's dad is in this story........but it is very sad.
Thanks,
Carolyn

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Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)142-10/30/16

Post by ArchAngel1973 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:36 pm

keepsmiling7: Yes, it’s sad about Maria’s father. But not all stories end up with a happy ending and in case of Maria’s father, it definitely wasn’t a happy ending. But at least, Maria will get closure.



Part 142

“I had a feeling I’d find you here.”

John turned his head to look at his father, shrugging once before shifting his attention back to the desert. His thoughts and emotions were a jumbled mess that he just couldn’t get a handle on. He sighed as the sun dipped low behind the mountains in the distance, leaving him surrounded by the dull glow of twilight.

River Dog remained motionless, his gaze resting on the solitary figure of his son as he sat silently observing the landscape. Catherine had called him about an hour ago, telling him what had happened and expressing her concern because her husband hadn’t returned home by dinnertime as promised.

Nearly an hour passed in silence before John leaned back and ran a hand over his face tiredly. He looked up at the sky, finally realizing just how late it had gotten. He hadn’t intended to stay out so long.

“Where did the time go, Dad?” he asked finally.

He wasn’t asking about the hours since leaving the house and River Dog chuckled, accepting the invitation to talk. He walked around the outcropping of rocks to join his son. He braced his hands on the cooled stone and levered himself up to take a seat. “I’ve asked myself that very thing many times over the years. Every time I had to let one of my children go I was reminded of how very fast the years pass by.”

“I’ve given Catherine grief so many times, thinking she was overreacting about her little boy growing up and leaving home, and sitting at the table this afternoon I was listening to him talk and it really hit me that we only have about three more months with the two of them underfoot. My boy’s a man, my little girl’s a woman, and when they walk out that front door in August it’s never gonna be the same again.”

“No, it won’t.”

“There won’t be arguments over who gets the bathroom or which one of them gets to choose the movie or who does the dishes. I won’t be reminding them to do their chores or pick up after themselves or settling arguments between them.” He shook his head. “I was listening to him earlier today, Dad, and regardless of how many times I’ve told Catherine that our boy’s become a man, I don’t think I really saw it myself until today.”

River Dog smiled knowingly. It was a moment in every parent’s life that was a combination of pride and heartbreak. Freeing a child to spread their wings and fly on their own was a hard thing to do. Hard, but necessary for them to fulfill their potential.

Silence fell between them for a while and he waited his son out, knowing he would speak when he was ready. The wind picked up for a moment, already cooling from the heat of the day and brushing against their exposed skin to leave gooseflesh in its wake that went unnoticed. He had experienced this revelation most profoundly with his eldest child and it had continued to occur with each of them as they came of age and left home to make their own way in the world. It was a difficult thing to face, hard with both sons and daughters, but for different reasons.

“He wants to take a year off before considering college.” He rubbed absently over an old scar on his left hand. “He was talking about alternatives to traditional college but I’m not sure he’ll really give them much thought. Michael needs his freedom and I do understand that. Catherine and I, we’ve sacrificed so much to make sure the opportunity would be there for them, that when the time came college would be an attainable goal.”

“You feel as if he’s throwing that gift away,” River Dog mused.

“No,” he denied quickly. Too quickly. “Yeah, I do. It makes me angry, Dad. I want him to have everything he deserves and a good education is a part of that. He could go so much farther with it than without it.”

“John, do you feel that you have a failure for a father?”

His head turned sharply and he stared at the weathered features of the man who had given him life and raised him. “What?”

“I’m a simple man with very little education, I’ve only loved one woman, and I raised seven children with a lot of love, discipline and very little money in a home smaller than the one you have.” He met his son’s gaze directly. “Do you think I’m a failure?” He didn’t wait for John to respond. “I understand you want what’s best for your children. Any good parent does. But sometimes what they want, what they need, is the complete opposite of what we want for them.”

“I just don’t want him to waste this chance.” He shook his head with a small smile. “And no, I’ve never thought of you as a failure.”

“John, there comes a time in every parents’ life when we have to let our children go. No matter how much we want certain things for them, they get to a point where the decisions are theirs to make. All we can do is continue loving them, supporting them, and make sure they know that no matter what we love them.”

“Yeah, I know you’re right, Dad.”

River Dog chuckled. “Son, Michael may never pursue a college education, but he could surprise you too. He’s been in school for the best part of twelve years and now he’s ready to step out into the world on his own. And right now he needs to be free of the confines of a classroom. He’s done his best and no matter what he chooses to do I have no doubt he’ll continue to do his best.”

“Michael’s always done his best. The boy’s got so much potential.”

“Yes, he does.” He elbowed his son. “Now let him see where it takes him. Fathers and sons have a special relationship and the two of you have a very strong bond. Time and distance won’t break that. I know how important a college education is and I know you want that for him, but give him the opportunity to determine if it lines up with the path he’s chosen.”

John nodded after a few minutes. “I can’t believe my kids are graduating in less than a week. I remember sitting out here after bringing Michael home and trying to figure out how we were gonna manage financially.” He shook his head as he looked up into the star-filled sky. “There were months it was harder than others but we did it.” Sometimes, looking back over the years, especially the first few after bringing Michael home, he wondered how they’d done it.

He’d spent countless hours with his sister Skye and her husband Kaden, learning the ins and outs of investing. He and Catherine had wanted their children to have some financial stability when they went off on their own, and while they weren’t wealthy by any means they’d managed to save up a tidy sum for each of their children. The majority of those accounts had been earmarked for college tuition, but there was also a decent amount set aside to give them a safety net as they stepped out into adulthood.

They had raised their children to be responsible and that extended into the area of finances. Maggie was a penny pincher and she didn’t part with a cent unless she’d weighed the pros and cons and determined it was a necessary expense. Michael was even tighter with his money. He knew they were both focused and goal-oriented and they weren’t prone to foolish notions, but he was finding it difficult to let go.

Obviously he was paying for all those times he just glossed over Catherine’s concerns about their children growing up and moving away. He cleared his throat. “Well, I suppose his college fund will just continue to draw interest for another year.” He shrugged when his father looked at him. “You’re right. I might not agree with his decision, but I can understand it a little better now.” He gave a short bark of laughter. “Talk about your sudden role reversal. It took a little bit, but then Catherine was completely calm when he started talkin’ about taking a year off.”

River Dog placed a hand on his son’s shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “He’ll do well no matter what he chooses to do in life. You’ve raised him to be a good man, John.”

Eighteen years, John thought. Looking back, it seemed like the years had just flown past. One minute Maggie and Michael had been inquisitive six-year-olds, the next they’d been teenagers beginning to exert their independence, and now they were adults ready to go out into the world and start their own lives. He sighed and his breath hung in the air for a moment, proof that the temperature had dropped.

Somehow he’d never given much thought to this moment. Not where Michael was concerned anyway. He’d known it would be hard letting Maggie go. It was different with girls. There were just a lot more reasons to be concerned, especially when she was going to be living in a strange new place, surrounded by new people and facing new experiences. He’d really been hoping that she’d choose a college closer to her brother but she’d chosen the East Coast and he had chosen the West Coast.

With Michael he’s always been confident that he would make his mark on the world in spite of any opposition he might encounter. He could handle himself and anything that might be thrown at him. It wasn’t that he had more faith in his son than his daughter it was just that it was different with boys. He knew some people would call it a double standard or even sexist, but that didn’t make it any less true. As a father he wanted to protect his children, both of them, but protecting his daughter had an altogether different meaning.

They sat in silence until the desert air began to chill their skin and John had found peace with his son’s decision. He drew in a deep cleansing breath and nodded to himself before looking at his father. “I guess I’d better get home, Dad.” He dropped down off of the rock he’d been sitting on and held his arms out at his sides, stretching muscles that had been dormant too long. “Thanks for the talk.”

River Dog smiled and nodded as he got up and stretched. His job here was finished for the moment.

“Big week,” John said as they walked back to where the trucks were parked.

“Very big. Four grandchildren graduating in one year.” He chuckled and shook his head. “It’s a blessing to see every time.”

“You think Randolph’s gonna be alright?” He couldn’t imagine what his brother was going through right now.

“The Great Spirit will provide the guidance he needs and the rest will be up to his family to provide. He has a difficult road ahead of him but he will get through it.”

The path widened out as they reached the trucks and John leaned back against his, crossing his arms over his chest. “Do you think there’s any chance that Dakota will learn anything from his incarceration?”

“There’s always a chance. Right now his heart is filled with darkness and until he allows the light to fill that space there won’t be a change. We’ve all tried to help him but the change has to come from inside of him.” He squeezed his son’s arm. “What he’s done is wrong and he must pay for his actions. Unfortunately there is no way he can ever make amends for taking a life. He has to carry that knowledge for the rest of his life. If it is the Great Spirit’s will, he will one day understand what he has done and that burden will change the course of his life.” River Dog gave his son a push. “Go home now. Your family is waiting for you.”

*****

Michael looked up when his dad’s truck pulled into the driveway, saved from a temporary blinding when the headlights were switched off as he made the turn. He bounced the basketball with his right hand for a few moments before taking a shot at the basket. He frowned when it hit the rim and bounced in the opposite direction, heading down the driveway.

Dad opened his door and stepped out, bending over to stop the wayward ball. He bounced it a couple of times before raising his hands and releasing the ball. His surprise was evident when it sank into the basket with perfect precision.

“It just figures I’d finally get better at this game just when you’re about to leave.”

Michael snorted and focused his attention on the ball in his hands. “C’mon, Dad, one lucky shot doesn’t make you better.” He shrugged one shoulder and took another shot, this one successful. “Besides, I’m not leavin’ for three more months.”

“I want to talk to you about your decision.”

“I know I disappointed you an’ Mom, and that’s somethin’ I never wanted to do, but…” he trailed off when Dad held a hand up in a bid for silence.

“Michael, your choice disappointed me, there’s no getting around that. But, Son, you didn’t disappoint me. Yes, a college education is important to me and to your mother, and I know I speak for both of us when I say that I do hope one day you choose to pursue that, regardless of which method works best for you. There were things your grandparents wanted for us, some we wanted ourselves and others we passed on because they weren’t important to us. What it all boils down to is that it’s your life and the decisions you make have to fit your situation, what you want and need. So while I do hope that college is somewhere in your future, if it’s not, I just want you to know that I believe you’ll succeed no matter what you do.”

“I’m not completely deep sixing the idea. I’m just not sure it’s somethin’ I’m ever gonna wanna do.” He spun the basketball between his hands. “I know a college education increases your worth to employers and maybe some people gauge their self-worth by it, but I’m not one of them.”

“No, and you shouldn’t need something or someone to validate who you are. Your mom and me, we’re proud of you with or without it, I just want you to know that.”

“I know how important a college education is to you and Mom. I know what it means to come off the Rez and have that opportunity, to actually achieve that goal, but if it isn’t somethin’ I want I just don’t see the point in setting myself up for a decade or more of repaying those loans.”

John nodded in understanding. “You do whatever you’re comfortable with. Your happiness is more important to us than anything else, Michael.”

“Yeah.” He took another shot, watching the ball impact with the backboard before dropping into the net. He jumped forward and grabbed the ball, bouncing it against the pavement as he looked at his dad. “If you had it to do over again, would you have done it?”

“Yeah, I would have. It’s allowed me to move up at the factory. A college degree isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get a better job, but it’s been beneficial for me. And your mom too.” He smiled and cuffed his son’s shoulder. “It hasn’t made us rich by any means, but it has allowed us to live comfortably. Things have been tight before, and they may be again, but we’ve never had to go hungry or worry about providing a roof over your heads and clothes on your backs.”

“Yeah, but you’ve both pulled extra shifts just to put more money away for a college education I probably won’t even get.”

“Maybe you will and maybe you won’t.” He chuckled and shook his head. “I suppose if you decide that college isn’t in your future and instead you find a job that’s steady and pays well, and it’s something you enjoy, that’ll be just as well.” He pulled his boy into a tight hug for a moment before releasing him to reach up and rest his hands on either side of his son’s neck. “Whatever you do, Michael, do it well and be happy. That’s what’s most important to us.”

He stared at his dad for several long seconds, searching his eyes and finding understanding there. “Thanks, Dad.”

John smiled and stepped back. “Go get cleaned up. I know your Mom and I’m sure she held dinner.”

His son tossed the ball up on the porch and took off for the house, leaving no doubt in his mind that Catherine had made the kids a light snack and held dinner. It wasn’t very late but having dinner together was something they had tried to do as often as possible and with Michael and Maggie heading off for college on opposite sides of the country in a short while he knew she wouldn’t miss a chance for them to share meals.

He drew in a deep breath and tipped his head back to look up into the sky, finding the brightest star in the sky before closing his eyes and saying a silent prayer for the Great Spirit to protect his children and guide them along their individual paths.

keepsmiling7
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Re: Doo 'awéé ééhoozIIh da-The Lost Child(M/M,TEEN)142-10/30/16

Post by keepsmiling7 » Mon Oct 31, 2016 12:07 pm

of course all parents want college for their children........and anything that will afford them the best advantages in life......
Thanks,
Carolyn

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