Total Pageviews

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chapter 18

Her golden curls were covered by a little straw sunhat with a band of daisies around its brim as Sidney carried Becky’s sleeping form towards the big dark vehicles waiting a stone’s throw from the bottom of the stairs of the jet. It was the middle of the night, just as it had been when they’d left the city. Cody followed closely behind, keeping her head down. Her hair, freshly dyed midnight black, was pulled into a pony tail and mostly hidden beneath one of Sidney’s baseball caps. Just one more concession they’d had to make to the FBI in order to make their return to Pittsburgh feasible. That and the order of a ten foot high metal security gate for his property that was already in a gated community and the hiring of a professional security team, two of whose members would be driving the vehicles idling on the tarmac.

Cody looked up into the serious gaze of a very tall, very burly man with a dark complexion and acne scarred face. He smiled, showing a row of perfectly white teeth. His unexpectedly warm smile made her flinch.

“We’re going to take very good care of you ma’am,” he nodded. Cody knew her eyes were wide but she nodded back and then stepped into the back seat of the SUV and slid across the wide leather bench. Sidney went to hand Becka to this stranger. Cody made a sound of distress and reached for her niece. The big guy might have been hired help but that didn’t mean she trusted him.

With an understanding but tired smile, Sidney handed Becky to her but as soon as he sat down Becky climbed across the seat and back onto his lap. Cody didn’t take umbrage. If she had a choice it’s where she would be too.

“Home,” Sidney reached over to give her hand a squeeze. The word should have conjured images of safety, security, warmth and peace. Right now, in the middle of the night surrounded by men in dark clothes with bulges that let everyone know they were armed. She might have felt secure, for the moment at least, but with that there was none of the warm fuzzy feelings that the word should have created. “It’ll be alright,” Sidney added, giving her hand another squeeze and sending an encouraging look her direction.

Cody nodded and tried her best to smile but all of the warnings that the real FBI agents had given them before they had left still had her stomach in knots. There were serious men who were seriously hunting them to seriously kill them and big muscle heads with guns was no guarantee of their safety, not if someone really wanted them dead. It was kind of a lot to take in.

“You’re crazy,” she breathed, not for the first time. Sid’s smile grew.
“For you,” he replied with a wide, toothy grin. His eyes crinkled and he laughed when she made a face at him and stuck out her tongue.

He paused at the foot of the stairs, listening to the sound of voices above them. At that moment he wished he wasn’t carrying Becky in his arms. He heard Cody’s sharp intake of breath behind him, knew her pulse would be racing just like his was. He wanted to call out to the big man with the gun standing outside the front door he’d just closed. He wondered if that would scare off the intruders, if they’d run outside and get gunned down in his driveway.

That would certainly make for an interesting story for the morning Gazette, he thought as he took another step up. He was glad the stairs weren’t old, that they didn’t creak and that he’d had a carpet runner put on them to stifle the sound of his shoes on the hardwood.

There was a light on, he could tell as he reached half way. ‘Fuckers’, he thought grimly, ‘I wonder if they’ve eaten the food in my fridge too?’ He turned and handed Becky silently to Dakota. The little golden haired angle stirred in her sleep and then tucked her head under Cody’s chin and stuck her thumb in her mouth.

“Stay here,” he whispered and then turned and headed slowly up the stairs, trying to stay as silent as he could.

“About fucking time you got home, mon ami.” Sid stopped, his foot hovering above the top stair. A grin broke out across his face.

“Jesus Max, you scared the shit out of me,” he laughed, exhaling the breath he had been holding as he saw Max’s head appear above the back of the couch wearing a grin that could only be described as one the Joker in Batman would wear right before doing something unspeakable.

“Someone had to be here when you got back. Welcome home Cap!” his friend exclaimed as he climbed over the back of the couch, right before another head sheepishly popped over the back of the couch as she readjusted her glasses and made an unsuccessful swipe at fixing her bobbed dark hair which had the look of having had fingers run through it, at the very least.

“Making yourself at home, I see,” Sidney pitched his voice low as Max thumped him on the back in welcome.

“Well what was I supposed to do? Sit and watch movies by myself?” Max asked, looking crushed by the very thought. Sid found himself grinning. It was good to know some things never changed. “Besides, your new nanny, très jolie, non?” His smile erased, Sid groaned. Had it been Flower waiting up for their arrival, this wouldn’t have happened.

“Maaaxxx,” he moaned but couldn’t complete his complaint as a pair of blue eyes fluttered open and looked up at him.

“Teddy?” Becky asked and then yawned wide. 
“Right here,” Cody appeared beside him to take the bright blue bear out from under his arm. “Let me,” she continued with a bemused glance towards Max. “Which way is her room?”

“We set up her room down the hall,” Max replied brightly, as if he hadn’t just been caught shagging the babysitter. “Vero painted some really cool Winnie the Pooh stuff on the walls I put up the border. Flower just hung the mobile,” he added, with his best butter wouldn’t melt smile on his face. “You must be Dakota. Creature’s been telling us all about you.”

“Creature?” Cody raised an eyebrow as Sid leaned in to press a good night kiss to Becky’s round, warm cheek.

“I’ll explain later,” Sid sighed watching her turn to head down the hall.

“I’ll help,” the nanny that Nathalie had hired, having gotten herself straightened out suddenly appeared at Cody’s side. He felt himself stiffen, waiting for Cody to curtly dismiss the woman who had to be around their own age but with a roll of her eyes in his direction she nodded and both women disappeared around the corner.

“Je ne résiste jamais à une grosse belle derrière,” Max shrugged and Sid grinned back at him. It was nearly impossible to stay mad at Max.

“It’s good to be back,” he sighed, following Max to the couch and letting himself fall into it. He closed his eyes for a long moment to allow the familiar scents and sensations of home begin to ease the tension that had manifested itself in a slow, dull throb at the back of his head.

“So, CIA, FBI, what’s next, a tank on the front lawn firing shots at curious puck bunnies?” This was the reason Max was one of his best friends, Sid thought as a smile crept across his lips. No matter what was happening, Max somehow managed to find a way to lighten the mood. A vision of a tank that shot pucks like a slap shot from the point filled his imagination.

Not that he’d ever really partaken in the line up of puck bunnies in the way that say Jordan and Max had but Sid shook his head. “No more puck-fucks. Not for me,” he sighed and then leaned forward and dropped his head into his hands so he could rub his temples. His head was really beginning to ache.

“She must be really something, this mob moll of yours,” Max prompted. Sid raised his head enough to look over at his friend to see if he was making fun of him and he could tell by his raised eyebrow that Max was, kind of, but there was concern in his friend’s blue eyes too.

“She is,” Sid replied quietly but firmly. “She really is.” 

She’d never had a room like this. She was sure that Becky had never had a room like this. Dakota made a mental note to thank anyone and everyone that had obviously put in time and energy to make a room as welcoming and as gorgeous as this one was. As soon as she turned on the overhead light, she felt like she was standing in the middle of the hundred acre wood, including what seemed like real tree branches fanning out over the small bed like a protective canopy with hidden fairy lights blinking on and off like fireflies.
“Wow,” she whispered looking around at the various murals that covered each of the walls containing the familiar characters from the stories, Kanga and Roo, Owl, Tigger and of course Pooh with his jar of honey. “Someone did a lot of work.”

“The guys mostly did the tree and the lights and filling in but Veronique...that’s Marc Andre’s girlfriend, she did most of this.” Cody didn’t turn to face the young woman who was hovering anxiously in the doorway behind her, mostly because she couldn’t help but sort of enjoy the nervous energy coming off of her. It was kind of cruel but she wanted the girl to squirm, just a little. “Ummm I’m Mel and I am soooo sorry about what happened, you know...before.”

Dakota put Becky gently down on the small bed and started to peel the old fashioned patchwork quilt down around her as her niece grumbled and turned over onto her side, her teddy clutched tightly to her chest. Once she had her under the quilt, she bent over her, tugged off the sun hat and pressed a kiss to her forehead.

“From what I’ve been told,” she replied quietly, “Max can be quite...,” Dakota hunted for a long moment about the right word, tried to remember how Sidney had described his incorrigible friend.

“I think the word you’re looking for is irresistible,” Mel sighed and Cody turned to find the woman smiling though her face had turned a deep shade of rose.

“Mmmm, not sure that’s what I was going for, but I’ll take your word for it,” Cody chuckled as she lead the woman out of the room and turned out the light. “I’m not going to make you promise it will never happen again,” she continued once the door was closed part way behind them, “but the only reason I haven’t bounced you down the stairs on your head is that Sid’s boss recommended you for this position and...well, we don’t have a lot of people that we can trust right now,” she added, searching the woman’s face for a long, silent moment. She had a pleasant face, open and honest looking with bright eyes and an infectious smile. “I guess what I’m asking is, can you keep the...Max thing separate from looking after my niece? Nothing can distract you and I mean nothing,” she added seriously.

The woman, Mel, nodded and after a moment, so did Cody. ‘Not that I trust her’, she told herself as she indicated that she’d follow the woman down the hall, ‘but I think I’ll fall down dead if I don’t sleep soon,’ she thought as they both rounded the corner to find the boys deep in conversation.

“So you’re not ready to play?” Max was asking and Sid was shaking his head. Cody felt her chest tighten. She knew he wanted to, that he would rather not be giving that answer, but she also knew that he’d been seeing white spots dancing in front of his eyes for the best part of the last day.

“Not yet,” she answered for him. He shot her a grateful look as she slid onto the arm of the couch and reached for his hand. “You just need a little more time, dontcha babe?” she added quietly.

“Yeah, maybe in a week. I’ll see the doc tomorrow and I guess I’ll know better then.” She watched him send a more confident smile to his friend. “But first and fucking foremost I need to sleep and you need to take the baby sitter home,” he added and then winced but this time, she could tell by the smile that quickly followed that he wasn’t in pain. “I mean her home Max, her home.” Max feigned a shot direct to the heart and collapsed back on the couch and played dead. “Never mind, I don’t want to know. Do what you want,” Sid grumbled but smiled at his friend. The woman, Mel, turned crimson. “Just have her back here before practice tomorrow.” 

“I’m sorry about Max,” Sidney sighed as he stepped out of his jeans and left them on the floor beside the bed. Cody let her gaze roam lazily up his thickly muscled legs to his bare, smooth skinned torso. It was a nice view, even if she knew she was far too tired to do anything about it.

“From what you’ve told me about him, I’m not sure I would have expected anything less,” she mused as he turned out his bedside light and slid beneath the quilt, tucking his body in next to hers’.

“He can be pretty...persuasive,” she heard the smile in his voice as he slid his arm over her waist and tucked his knees in behind hers’, “but if Nathalie says she’s great...”

“We’ll give her a chance,” she finished his thought and heard his relieved sigh right before he pressed his lips to her shoulder. “Glad to be home?” she asked as the warmth of his body and the heavy comforter began to lull her to sleep.

“Ask me again tomorrow,” he yawned. Cody closed her eyes and nestled herself down into the warm clean sheets. The house was quiet and dark. The only noise was the slow, even sounds of Sidney breathing.

“Everything will be okay, right?” she asked in a whisper as she laced her fingers in his and pulled his hand up beneath her chin.

“I sure as hell hope so,” he answered, pressing his lips to the back of her neck. “We’ll start figuring things out in the morning,” he added like a promise in a voice that trailed off into a long yawn and then she felt his hold on her tighten as he too nestled himself further into the sheets. “Guards outside. Go to sleep. Worry...tomorrow,” he mumbled and then she heard his breathing slow and deepen as his body relaxed heavily against her own. Taking a deep breath Cody closed her eyes again and matched her breathing to his, emptied her mind and let sleep take her too.


  1. There may be trouble ahead... is this new nanny going to be everything she seems? And how on earth did Max get in with all this security? Should I be worried about that?
    Loved this and can't wait to see what's happening next, definitely trouble brewing, it's been quiet for too long :)

  2. blonde curly heads in daisy brimmed sun hats, Winnie the Pooh with twinkly lights, dontcha babe and warm, clean sheets. This is getting more and more idyllic (love it!!) and get the sense like India that something is about to unhinge. Anxious!

  3. HAHAAH!!! Oh Max... Only he would be pulling the nanny before they even got home :D

  4. Love the part with Max and the nanny! lol..Can't wait to see what surprises await Dakota and Sidney! :)