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Posts: 277
Title:O'Boy O'Malleys
story starter: various. story starts from all over the forum
genre: mystery...may include romance at some point
writers: Darlene Kirkpatrick, Beth Gibson, Eric Gibson, Carol Bland, Jerry Bland, William Davis, Robert Kirkpatrick II
initial critiques by Robert Kirkpatrick
story type: story round
Open, closed, or sign up: Open
can it be nominated to be a fb story: no

When we last saw our heroes, Deb and Pete and the rest of their unit, along with a young witness had been moved by witness protection to a little town in Montana. Deb and Pete had finally admitted their love for one another and were on their way to adjusting to civilian life.

The noise level suddenly increased tenfold. Every eye in the B&B turned towards the four children causing the ruckus. A teen boy carried a sleepy boy who looked barely old enough for school. Beside him, at first glance, appeared to be 2 more boys of school age, but on closer examination, the larger one was beginning to bloom into a young lady. All four children were wearing jeans and sports jerseys. Each wore a back pack. Mabel O'Malley's breath caught in her throat. She had, for a second, seen one of her her little boys in the oldest boy, but quickly recovered. Her little boys would be grown now, Paul would not still be a teen as she had last seen him over 20 years ago. Mabel approached the scared children with care. They immediately brought out the maternal instincts in her. Maybe she was still in mourning for her lost boys, but she could see them in each of the children's faces. “Can I help you, Dears?” Her voice was pleasant. A little on the plump side. Her gray hair pulled into a loose bun. She had kind eyes, making Nate, the youngest of the children relax immediately.
The oldest boy spoke. “Dad didn't come home. He said if he was late to come here and find Mabel.”
“I'm Mabel, dear.”
“Dad said give you this,” the small boy in his arms said, unceremoniously producing a stained envelope.
Mabel read the note inside and her heart sang.
“Mabel, You were the only Mama I ever knew. It took me a long time to find you and I had hoped to come see you in person, but if you're reading this, I've been delayed and my children are there without me. Please take care of them and I will be home as soon as I can be. I also need land bought near you and several houses built. The layout I'd like is included. My oldest son, Adam has my credit cards and checks. He'll pay for everything. Alicia is 13. Greg is 9 and Nathaniel is 5. I will be home to see you real soon. Matt, Pete, and Luke are coming with me. We'll explain everything when we get home. Love, your son, Paul.” Behind the note were plans for several houses. Paul was coming home to stay!
Mabel's eyes teared up from pure joy. “Welcome home, my sweet grandchildren,” she told the confused kids, then hugged them all tightly. The smallest boy clung to her and seemed reluctant to let go. “I always wanted a grandma.” he announced before putting his head on her shoulder.
“Come sit down in the parlor. We can catch up before lunch.” to the patrons and neighbors in the parlor, she said, “These are my Grandchildren. Paul sent them to visit. My boys are coming home. ” She positively beamed with pride.
The neighbors all said hello, then left them to catch up.
Lunch had barely hit the table when Mabel's two best friends, Jan and Franny joined them. “So these are Paul's kids! How long are they staying?” Franny wanted to know.
“We're staying here forever,” Nathaniel told her. “Dad is having a house built for us. We're getting our own rooms and everything!”

The next morning, Mabel called her friend Jan's daughters' construction company. Owned by women, the Right construction Company employed mostly women. Many of the women were young mothers. They were taught a trade on site, then given awesome references when they left. The Right sisters had helped many many families get on their feet.

Lizzie Right answered the phone on the 3rd ring. "Right construction. Get it done right with Right construction, Lizzie speaking how may I help you?"
"Lizzie, this is Mabel O'Malley."
"Hi, Aunt Mabel!"
"Lizzie, I have a job available for y'all if you are available."
"We have one crew available. What kind of job you need done?"
"I need a few houses built."
"A few?" the shock was evident in her voice.
"Well, 7."
Lizzie was quiet for a moment. "okay, what size houses?"
"I have blueprints, but I don't know how to read them."
"okay. How bout I come out today and have a look and we'll see if we can work together on this."
The two women agreed on a time, talked a few minutes, then said their goodbyes.

Mabel checked finding a builder off her list. If her company could not do it, Lizzie would find someone for her. It's the kind of business they ran. Next call was the ranch owner next door. She needed land to build the houses on. Her plan was to try to buy the land she had been renting adjoining her land to the east. The call to the rancher, went better than Mabel expected. He agreed with her first offer and told her he also had land adjoining hers to the back for sale. They talked for a while and settled on a fair price for all the land, then agreed to meet at the title company.

Mabel went upstairs and woke her grandchildren.
"What do you mean, she's gone?" Joe looked at the nurse in disbelief. "She can't be gone."
"I''m sorry, Sheriff, Mrs. O'Malley left without the children. She left a note to give them to you." The nurse handed him a pink, folded note. Joe blindly stared at the note. All he could make out of it was her final words. "I never wanted to be a mother."
He looked around the nurses' station. Every face was filled with sympathy.
Guilt and panic filled his head. His thoughts began to spin faster than he could catch them, then suddenly, everything went black.
Joe opened one eye slowly, then quickly closed it back. The lights here were bright. Where was he? He searched his brain, but finding no answer, he peeled his eye lid open again. Sterile. He seemed to be in a hospital room.
"Ah, you're awake, good." A nurse. Definitely a hospital.
"Hi, Sheriff. Do you know where you are?"

Slowly it came back to him. He was at the hospital where his wife had given birth to twin girls. He had come here to take his family home, only to find that his wife had abandoned him and their newborn twins. There had been a note but he couldn't recall what it had said except that she didn't want to be a mother.

"Sheriff?" the nurse said again with a compassionate voice, as he nodded his acknowledgment." I sorry that this has happened to you, but you need to pull yourself together, for the sake of your baby girls. Listen, we checked you over while you were out and you seem to have just fainted from the shock. Stress and panic will do that. Dr Miller has decided to keep you overnight for observation just to make sure. Of course the babies will stay in the nursery. This will give you a chance to decide what you want to do. Do you want to call anyone? Is there someone who can help you with your daughters till you establish a routine or hire a care giver?"

" Yeah, I'll do that in a minute," He replied.

"Well, my name is Linda, I'm your nurse for the night." Introducing herself even though he knew full right who she was. "Well, I'll be her till midnight anyway. I've put a fresh jug of water on your tray there by the phone. Just dial 9 for an outside line. Someone will bring supper by in about an hour. Just push the buzzer if you need anything. I'll leave you to make your calls before it gets any later."

She turned back just before she reach the door and said " Your just around the corner from the nursery if you want to see you girls. Or if you like someone to bring them in to you just let me know. I sure you will be a fine dad, and maybe your wife will come back when she's had a chance to think things through. She may have just gotten scared and panicked. Any way the note she left you is there on the tray too." She then turned and left the room.
Joe picked up the phone and set it back down again. The only family he had were his brothers. Bachelors every one, they would not be of much help. Joe tried to imagine any of his six brothers holding a baby and failed. Only Paul had children, but he had been in the military during their baby years, only coming home long enough and often enough to keep his wife pregnant. All the O'Malley boys were built like pro football players. In addition to working the ranch, they all had jobs in law enforcement or Rescue except Dave. Dave, the youngest was still in high school and worked part time at the town garage fixing and detailing cars.
Joe wished his mind had not gone there. The garage. It was the best in 3 counties, but Joe never took his car there. Sam was there. Samantha Phillips. At one time, they flirted. a lot. One day, out of the blue, she kissed him. The kiss was good. Joe had barely wrapped his arms around her slight frame when she pulled back and decked him hard. He fell like a sack of potatoes right there in the town square. Everyone in Stevensville knew about it within hours, but the version that got back to him was that he grabbed her and kissed her against her will and she retaliated. Sometimes, Joe hated small towns. Best to just avoid Sam all together.
Joe stared at the phone. Who should he call, then? Times like this, he wished his mama was still with them. That was it! Who was the best Mama in town? Franny Phillips, Sam's mama was a foster mother now that her brood was all grown up. After raising her three boys and Sam, she said, it was easy to take in 2 or 3 at a time. Joe picked up the phone and dialed Franny before he could change his mind.
The phone rang eight times before Franny picked up, out of breath. "Hello?"
"Mrs. Franny, she left me. She disappeared from the hospital. She left a note, but no way to find her." It all rushed out in one breath. "I-"
"Joe?" Franny interrupted him. "Joe, honey," She called everyone honey. "You have to slow down. I can't understand you."
"Mrs. Franny, she left us!" He wailed. "I need your help."
Franny looked around her shop. She had 4 children at the table painting and 3 more at the workbench gluing Popsicle sticks together to make bird houses.
"Honey, I can't help today. It's crafts day." Every Tuesday, Franny opened her shop, Franny's to the neighborhood kids to do arts and crafts. She had been doing it for years.
Joe met Mrs. Franny on his first case in Montana, when he had had to quickly place a troubled child. Franny's was the closest foster home, but Joe had soon learned it was also the best.
"But Mrs. Franny,-" He started to protest. Joe heard a crash through the phone.
"Joe, Honey, I have to go. Call Samantha if you really need young-in help."
The phone went dead.
If she had stayed on the line longer, Joe would have told her she was crazy. Franny's daughter, Sam was the last complication he needed right now. There was no love lost between the two of them. The woman was pure spitfire and seemed to take opposite sides from his on everything just to spit him. She even fought his business expansion in City Council. The woman was a burr in his boot.
Joe fell asleep, one hand on the phone, undecided on his next move.

The sunlight entering the room woke him many hours later. He ran his hand through the stubble that had grown on his chin. Was there anyone he could call? His mind drew up yet another blank.
A nurse came to the door and hesitated. She looked positively terrified and Joe took pity in her until she spoke.
"Sheriff O'Malley, I hate to rush you, but we need the infants' beds. Last night was a full moon. We had a lot of births," She spoke with authority, but there was a tremble in her voice.
Joe squared his shoulders and straightened to his full seated height. The nurse took a step back. Even seated, he was taller than her. "I'll go get the truck. Can you bring me the girls and the paperwork?" He stood and smiled at her with the well practiced, slow smile he knew usually got him his way with women.
She nodded and bolted.
Another nurse came in before he had managed to get to the closet. "Sheriff O'Malley, let me get those wires outta ya." He sat down in the wheel chair she had brought in with her.

(here, he goes home, adjusts to life single with kids with help from friends, especially Sam. )
When all is OK..at some point, we gotta make 2 O'Malley brothers disappear ....All the O'Malleys are in witness protection and are ex FBI agents...one is a mole.)
They are not actually brothers and Paul is actually a relocation specialist

The female contractors and their crew of three are working on one of the houses. There is sawdust everywhere. Mathew O'Malley comes in and hollers in a fake, saccharin voice, "Oh, Lizzy?" Getting no answer, he walks through the house, repeating himself. "Lizzy? Where are you?" The contractors and workers ignore him.

Finally, from a closet in the master bedroom, he hears her sweet voice barking orders to the only male on her team and the boy's quiet response. "Dave O'Malley, get your skinny little butt back to work. Your break is over."

"Yes, ma'am, Miss. Right. I'll go help your sisters."

Mathew enters the room booming, "Lizzy?"

Elizabeth Right barely blinks, "I really wish you wouldn't call me that. What is it now?"

"Lizzy, when will you have this house ready?"

Elizabeth stops hammering and looks at her clipboard, getting up and walking to the bathroom with Mathew following her. "We're two weeks ahead of schedule, so unless something goes wrong, by the 29th."

A bit dumbfounded by her good news, Mathew almost smiles, then hides the smile so quickly that Elizabeth is not sure if she imagined it or not. "Good." he replies gruffly.

Elizabeth pulls her hair out of the scrunchie and fluffs it before catching it back into her usual bun. Used to her usual old librarian look, Mathew is temporarily awestruck. "Seems today is full of good surprises," he says under his breath. Images of her hair fanned out on his pillow invaded his mind.


"Nothing, Sorry. I'll get out of your way." Mathew walks quickly down the stairs and out of the house before she could respond. Elizabeth wiped the confused scowl off her face and went down to see how her youngest sister, Andrea was making out with the trim work The high blush in Matthew's face and ears as he scurried away was confusing, but there was no time to think on it. There was work to be done.

Responding to a confidential invitation from an old friend, Harry finally just took the Baggins exit off the long winding farm road at the base of the mountain. As he began his cork-screw journey up and around the now misty peak, he rolled down his window to let in the cool alp air to help keep him awake. It was getting rather late, and a reddish sun flickered through the giant redwoods and into Harry's passenger window where no passenger sat. He could now, once again, feel the loneliness of the upper mountain, where no one but Baggins stayed anymore. Harry stopped for a moment at a clearing in the trees, and gazed out over the town below that was being born. And he wandered if something there was the reason for his peculiar summons. Damp light was slowly fading, so Harry made-way to the gate way up at the end of the curve. As he arrived, the ten foot high black wrought-iron gates slowly opened-in by themselves (as if they were expecting him) and revealed a narrow, hard-to-see, black gravel road ahead. For the next few minutes, Harry concentrated intently on the winding trail, atop a high winding ridge that separated sky on the left from sky on the right. Now unfortunately, a fog was developing that cut his visibility down to 10 feet and caused him to feel as if he were traveling through the clouds - blindly. Finally, Harry came to a widening in the road and blessed land began to encroach him all around as he sped on past the ghost town in the clearing air. There it was! The tall black rock castle that the eccentric Baggins built, seemingly floating above the surrounding mist. It was dark all around except for the faint reddish hue in the west, painting the distant town far below. Harry parked his Hummer at the base of the rocky stairs that led to the doors on the dark side of the castle, the east wing. One of the huge doors slowly creaked open and a soft light quickly escaped the fortress, illuminating the visitor and his path to the entry. When Harry came to within reach of the open door, a shadow came over him quietly and blocked-out most of the light. And then Harry heard a deep voice that said "Welcome! Harry. Come in. Follow me up to Master Baggins. He awaits you on the west balcony." "Thank you Mr. Cutler", said Harry. The butler then replied, "HARRY, you don't have to refer to me by my last name." " O.K.!" said Harry, "Great, so hows Mutt for Cutler Hey Mutt... has a nice ring." "Nope!", Mr. Cutler quickly replied in a winded voice due to the journey up the winding staircase."Alright Butt Butt for the butler? How is that?", asked Harry, in an oxygen-starved voice." O.K. Here we are Hairy Harry", the butler said, as he stood still, panting at Baggin's balcony door, with his hand on the door knob. " But before we enter, you should prepare your self. He doesn't look well at all. Because he isn't at all well! Mr. Baggins has a serious disease. Now I know it's hard to imagine a disease that isn't serious, but you'll quickly know the gravity of this illness when I tell you it's name..."Silence dominated. "Don't keep me in suspense, Butt, with that silly grin on your face. What is it??" "Well, replied Mr. Cutler, actually, it's the hives again, which we know is a direct result of the 'Harrys Comin' syndrome!" "O.K.",replied Harry,"2-shay! Ya got me. And I'm sure your right! I did give him a lot of hell when he was building this place, didn't I" "UGH Da!" replied Butt. Without further a-doo, Butt Cutler swung open the door, in an elegant, sort of butlery way of course, and announced the arrival of Mr. Harry Earz. "He's here!", said Butt, who then quickly vanished. And there stood Harry. Un-ready Harry, staring in the face of a cute little brown-eyed girl who was frozen in her tracks at the sight of the stranger. "Harry!", shouted the spotted-red face of Baggins, as he slipped into the room from around the corner. "What are you looking at?" "Hmmm.. a gelfling?" maybe?", replied Harry. "I don't know." said Baggins, "Even after my tireless research" (he looked over at the girl who was now looking up at him curiously), "I just can't put my finger on it, but I think it could be a?" and then the girl screamed out "I'm a little girl!". "O.K. said Baggins, "I shall call you, hence forth, "a little girl." "Now watch this Harry, as I cause this remote control to vanish before your eyes." And then he handed it to his granddaughter and said "Go now, and cause the TV to magically turn on and then watch it intently. GO!" And the girl vanished. "Your right!" said Harry, "The remote is no more to be found. So, Mr Baggins, how can I help you?" "You can start, Harry, by simply telling just why you're here!" "Well, ha ha, you sent for me sir, and WALA! I'm here" "Harry, you always were observant. You never missed anything. That's the inspector in you, as I remember well! And you are here indeed. What can I do for you?" "I was sorta hoping you would tell me what I'm doing here Bill!" "Baggins then looked at him curiously, and studied over him weirdly, and turned his head and peered out over the city that had now risen over the red fingers of the sun. Bill turned and began slowly walking out to the edge of the windy balcony. Black storm clouds were beginning to settle over the new city while the evening's first stars shined bright above them. "Mr. Earz," Baggins mumbled softly in the wind, "I have a mission for you. You must locate a contractor named Elizabeth Right in the city below. When you have done that, follow closely the instructions in this book." Baggins handed Harry a small leather-bound book, and then took Harry's hand that held the book, and put them inside Harry's coat, and whispered, "Let no-one see it. Have it always on your person until the deed is done." Baggins then took 2 steps back and reached up and grabbed a rope that hung on a bell, which summoned Cutler "Harry, you will be well paid. Cutler will hand you your advance on the way out. Hope to hear from you soon, I haven't much time left." Harry was just about to ask him what he meant by that when Butt appeared, and swiftly took him down the stairs, stuffing his advance in his pocket on the way. Before Harry knew it, after a gentle nudge between his shoulder blades, he could here the creaking of the huge castle door as the light, that was on the steps, quickly darted back in to the fortress before the door slammed and echoed around the dark side of Baggin's rock.. Luckily, the hummers headlamps were on and now pointing toward home, and the driver's door was open. Harry, shivering, quickly got down and in, and locked the book into the glove compartment. He raced through ghost town and slowly began his trek across the dark and misty sky-ridge toward home. Two days later, after studying the book, Harry questioned Bart at the bar, who gave him info he had heard that eventually created a trail to one of the houses where Elizabeth could be working. He matched this info to city permit records and the lack of records. Early the next morning, Harry went to the first house on the list. HE rolled-up just after 9:00 AM in his city inspector's car and knocked on the open door. After a minute a man arrived at the door and introduced himself as Mathew. Harry said, "Mathew, nice to meet you. I was hoping you could tell me if the work here is being supervised by a lady named Elizabeth Right?"

"Yeah," replied Matthew, "Lizzy and two of her sisters. Amazing, the work she does, helping teen parents make a go of it."

"Yep!, I've heard good things about her.", replied Mr. Earz" " I'm here to do the usual half-way inspection of the work you applied for a permit for. I don't know if your aware, but Elizabeth probably is, about the new policy. Many cities have adopted a policy of doing a halfway inspection in order to prevent a red tag at the end of the process; If there are any problems, they can be brought to your attention now, to save you future time and expense. We have recently adopted that policy. If I can come in and take a look around, this will take just a few minutes."

"No problem," Matthew replied, stepping aside to let Mr. Earz into the unfinished house he had himself been looking over. "I'm sure everything is great. Lizzy & I go way back and she is a perfectionist."

Harry brought a new blank inspection form to the top of his clipboard, and began the slow scrutinizing process. He even used a tape measure and caliper to measure the thickness of flooring planks and metal stud braces. He checked the distance between studs in the walls, and assured that any walls that were removed to create space, had the proper supporting beams installed if they were weight-bearing walls. He assured that the windows met current energy standards, being made with insulated glass and a LOW_E coat, and that they operated properly. Harry took about 20 minutes to complete a 5-part detailed inspection, then went back over to the front door and called-out for Mathew. When Mathew arrived, Mr. Earz said, " You know, Mathew", looking down at his clipboard,"This is most unusual! Most contractors seem to strive to get at least an 80% correctness on their inspections; You people, on the other-hand, appear to be shooting for 110%. However, your only getting 105! I guess the Right crew lives-up to their name. There seems to be a misprint for her office address on the permit. If you can give me that address and perhaps her home address as well, I'll see that the documents get to her. Meanwhile , here is your green tag" When Harry handed Mathew the tag, he handed him his clipboard with a separate blank piece of paper on top and said, "You can just put the addresses on that if you will please sir."

Matthew shifted from one foot to the other, then answered, "She's staying at the Magnolia Hotel during this project. Won't be home or at her office until mid 2005. I think she sublet both her apartment and her office."

A couple of days after his conversation with Mathew, and after having a few at the local bar, Harry finally built-up his nerve to carry-out the next step."Hey Bart, come over here a minute."
"Yea Harry" said Bart, the bartender, "Ya need another Pina Colada?"
"No!" said Harry, " But I'll take a beer and some info!"
"What ya need to know Harry?"
"Do you know where the Magnolia Hotel is? I thought I'd get away from it all for a day or two and heard that was a good hotel."
"Righto!",said Bart,"It is indeed. Ya go north on this road out front for about 5 miles, and take Hwy. 247 South through Bedlam to FM 112 west, round a right curve and go high up the hill to the beautiful Magnolia with a great view. Here is your beer. Here is your mouth, where tha beer goes, where is your tip?"
"Just put it on Elizabeth Right's tab, Ha! Ha!"
" Your kid'n", replied Bart, "You know Lizzy?"
"In a way" said Harry,"And ya know, I think I just saw her drive by here a few minutes ago in that black jaguar."
"Woa!" said Bart, "Black jag?. I usually see her in a Chevy van with a black headache rack, and I heard she was relaxing a few days in the forest, but didn't know she chills in a ride like that! Anyway, no can do - put this on her tab. She'd killeth me to the point I'd no longer walk with tha livin."
"I know Bart, thats why I asked ya to do it!"
"And your not even an heir." said Bart, "Get out of here Harry, while ya still can!"
"I was just on my way", said Harry, as he hurried out the door."Thanx Bart, see ya later."
Thirty minutes later, Harry arrived at the Magnolia, and was carefully scoping the parking lot for a Chevy van with a black rack, that he tricked Bart into telling him about. Not spotting the van, Harry proceeded to the lobby and rang the bell at the vacant check-in desk. Up popped, from below the counter, a 300 pound short-haired wo-man, with a sweaty see-through T-shirt and toothless grin.
Smiling ear to ear with a gleam in her eye, She looked way down at Harry and said," How can I help ya cutey?" "Well," whimpered Harry , " I hate to admit this, but Miss Elizabeth Right invited me here for a business meeting concerning an upcoming contractors' convention, and I lost her room number."
"Well", the giant fuzzball replied, " I don't work here. I'm just fixing the shorted ac lines goin to this here terminal. The clerk is takin a weewee and he will be back 'shortly', I'm sure, since thats the way he was when he left! HeHe! Butcha know! I was just up in that room, 220, adding a new DSL interface. She was the last on that wing to receive them, and she wasn't home 10 minutes ago."
"Thanks", said Harry, "I'm sure she will come 'shortly'. I'll just hang around, up that way, see ya."
" OK! By honey!", said the beast.
Harry then went up and knocked on the door, and when Elizabeth did not answer, he quickly picked the lock and slipped in. He went directly to her computer and turned it on. While it was booting-up, he carefully examined some files on her desk and in her drawers. He then poured-over many files in her hard drive. All the files he seemed interested in, were her business tranactions. He then called Mr. Baggins from his cell phone. "Sir," said Harry, anxiuosly, when Baggins answered, "Everything looks legit here!"
"Good God!", said Baggins, " I knew it! Ok, next step Harry."
Harry then shut down the computer and got off the phone and headed for the door when he heard footsteps and jingling keys. He dashed for the closet. Once inside, he noticed there were slats in the top half of the closet door like louvered shutters, just as someone came rushing-in and flying to the bathroom; Terrified at the thought of being discovered, Harry fainted in the closet, and thus, a loud THUD!

Elizabeth breezed into her room at the Magnolia ecstatic and exhausted. There was a loud thump from the next room as she set down her purse on her rush to the bathroom. Once relived, she bounced onto her bed, took off her high heels, and massaged her sore feet. She hated meetings. It was the worst part of business, but it had to be done. The funds from the state could really boost her project and let her help more teen parents. Her slip was cutting her side, so Elizabeth reluctantly got up. She opened her closet door. A man jumped out at her. Elizabeth screamed. The man layed still on the floor. In seconds, Andrea and Penny, Elizebeth's sisters were beside her and the hotel manager, a tiny woman of 5' was close behind. Andrea, always the quick one, flipped open her cell phone and called the police.

The sky was the deepest blue. And tranquil, for a while. Harry was just lying there on his back, observing vultures coming in to view one by one. The peaceful state he had been in was now being bombarded by the squawking sounds of predators swooping down and circling their pray. Slowly, the bird's faces were becoming like human and Harry could hear what seemed like girl's voices echoing from the sky which was turning white. He cleared his eyes with his fingers and could now see a light fixture in the sky, not far above, and there were shocked and angry faces, which were attached to women's bodies, coming in and out of view under the light. Now Harry was finally beginning to realize that he was waking up on a floor full of strangers -- all except one. Now he knew he had been caught spying. He thought he had been knocked-out by the girls.
"The police are coming!", one of them shouted. "You pervert! You'll get yours!", shouted another.
"No!", replied Harry, "When the police get here, tell them it was a mistake. I have important business with Elizabeth, as I must now, obviously, explain." Harry then looked at Elizabeth, squarely in the eyes, for the first time, and said "My mission is completed. And as for the result of it, there is great news for you. But I must give it to you in private, because I'm sure you do not want half the world to know the state of your affairs."

Elizabeth hesitated. The man really did not look very dangerous. He had kind eyes. "On one condition," She finally agreed.
Her sisters and the landlady began talking loudly all at once. "HEY!" Elizabeth had to yell at the top of her voice to be heard. She lowered her voice once she had everyone's attention. "I know what I'm doing. I'll keep my gun handy. Agreed?" Elizabeth looked directly at the stranger as she said it.

Harry responded,"I got an idea. We just take care of this here and now. All of you please be so kind as to wait just right outside this door for a few minutes, while I give Elizabeth the news. And if I should attempt to harm her, she will shoot me and drag me out to you for further beating about the head and such."

They all happily agreed, and hurried out the door, expectantly. Just before Harry closed the door behind them, he reminded them to tell the police, when they arrive, that all is fine in Camelot.

When Harry first turned around, Elizabeth was pointing the gun at him, but then began to let it relax in her lap as she slowly sat down on the edge of the bed. Harry walked over cautiously, to the chair behind her computer desk, and pulled it out and sat down."Elizabeth.", then looking up at her with a question mark in his eyes,"Lizzy?" She slowly moved her head side to side, horizontally, in a no-like fashion, frowning."O K then Eliz-a-beth, the whims of the rich and eccentric can reak havoc in peoples' lives, but I suppose this was no whim. This rather desperate act, is for the good, because the old man cares for you."

Harry got up and walked over to the rear of the room and opened-up the drapes, where there was a view of the mountain where Baggins lives."There is an old man up on that mountain, Elizabeth, who has left you a small fortune. He lives in the castle just beyond ghost-town. I've known him for a while, and have had business with him. I trust him. Although he may seem strange, I believe he is a good man, and perhaps some distant relative of yours. Before granting you any funds, however, he wanted to be assured that time had not corrupted you. The you he said he knew when you were a child. So he hired me to basicaly spy on you, and confirm that you were all legit in your business dealings with the local townspeople and loyal to your family. I discovered that all was well, and reported this to Baggins, and then was caught in this predicament."

"You must go and see him soon. I fear he is dying. I can tell you how to get there, when your ready to go, or I can take you. You don't have to decide now, what to do. If you have any questions, you can contact me at the city permit office. I'm the chief inspector, believe it or not! I need to get going, please don't let them get me!" Harry said, as he pointed toward the front door on his way out.

Memories of a huge fantasy castle came to Elizabeth She had felt very small, but very special in her party dress and patent leather shoes. While the grown ups drank and danced, she had wandered away, always too curious for her own good. In a hallway far from the ball room, she had met a handsome man. She had been scared that she would get in trouble again, so she hid, but the man quickly found her. The words were fuzzy, but Elizabeth could remember him telling her something that made her giggle. Then, he had taken her to see his art gallery. A HUGE room filled with paintings. Her favorites had been the houses. When she had looked at all the paintings, he had shown her another room full of doll houses. He called them scale models. He had said they shared a passion for the beauty of houses. She came to an unfinished house. She said it needed to be finished. he left her to look at the rest of the houses for a few minutes and when he came back, they spent the next few hours finishing the little house. After the party, her parents came with a servent and took a very sleepy, very happy Elizabeth home. For the next few months, Elizabeth had wanted to go play with her new friend, but her mama had said they shouldn't bother him and bought her a set of doll houses to build as an attempt to distract her.

Torn back to the present by the sound of the door, Elizabeth yelled, "Wait! I want to go see him!"

Harry asked Elizabeth if she would like to go now to see Mr. Baggins, or wait and scheduel an appointment. He informed her that since he had taken off work this day, he could take her. She decided to go with Harry, and take her sisters along with her. So they all headed merrily up the mountain, after Harry made a 10 minute long pay-telephone call at the side of the road. By the time they were passing over the sky ridge and about to enter ghost-town, it was getting dark, and Harry had been telling them stories about ghost-town, that had to do with deceased relatives of the citizens of the new town that was being built below the mountain. They recalled having conversations with some of the relatives Harry had mentioned, and hoped they were not about to meet some of the subjects of the most unusual communion. Just as they were passing the gates of the main cemetery, the car began to bog-down , the lights went off, and they slowly came to a quiet halt at the side of the road. It was dead quiet - for good reason. And for some reason, the cemetery gates began to creak open, just as Harry opened the car door to get out. Fog filled the car and a damp cold set-in on all the victims and in their spirits. Harry bent down, looking at Elizabeth in the front seat and said, " If you knew what I knew, you wouldn't open these doors until I return. And then, I'd make sure it's really ME! Here's the code phrase... 'Dead! - like me!" Then Harry turned and vanished through the gates, deeper into the night.

A long, long, long 5 minutes passed for Elizabeth and her sisters, who were frantically theorizing their demise. Then they heard a loud crash on the hood of their car, and a few seconds later, a limp arm with a bloody hand fell into view.

All the occupants screamed histerically, until they were frozen at the view of Harry, slowly sliding down, head first, passed the driver's window, his face looking in on them - bewildered, and then a thud and a slosh into the earth below. Now the girls noticed that the cemetary gates began to slowly creak closed. Elizabeth hesitantly creaped over to the driver's seat and peeked out the window at the ground below. No Harry! He had vanished, just as the tombstones had in the thickening fog.

Elizabeth and her sisters slowly crept out of the car, trying not to draw attention to themselves, and headed down the road toward a black castle they could see looming in the distance, for they had come too far to return. When they reached the top of the hill they were on, they could see and now here, the approach of a black horse-drawn carraige with a swinging lantern cutting through the mist and illuminating the dark figure headed towards them.

The tall black horse began to gallop suddenly and approach them more quickly they than could imagine,and they jumped down into a ditch along side the path. The carraige abruptly stopped when it came beside them as if it sensed them somehow. Now the girls were peering up through the twigs like rats in a hole, shiverring. and looking for the tall cloaked rider. He appeared from behind the horse, walking directly toward them and with one hand pointing at them and the other toward the carraige door, which was now being opened by a passenger in the shadow of the door below the lantern. The carraige then slowly turned around in the road, to head back toward the castle. The other door opened and the shadow of a man from within the carraige spoke in a deep raspy and windy voice saying," Come, Now, to the castle above, or (looking back down the dark road), go back to your graves." The girls immediately scamperred-up out of the ditch and in to their transport. The driver remounted and the big wheels began to roll and bounce over the rocky terrain.

The girls nestled close to each other on the seat across from the dark stranger. He reached in his pocket and held his hand out toward a hanging lantern within the coach, and with a flick, there was fire in the glass, and the light revealed the face of Mr. Harry Earz.

"Elizabeth", said Harry, quitely,"What day is it?" Astounded and confused, one of Elizabeth's sisters answered,"It's Friday." "Harry turned and looked at her and said,"What month is it?" The other sister replied,"April!" "Yes!" said Harry, and looking at Elizabeth, he whisperred,"What day of the month is it girly?" She squinted at her calendar watch in the shadows, and saw the numero 'uno' and realized she'd been had. The cabin erupted into a riotess rumbling, frought with frayed girls, freaking on the freckeled Earz whom was now learning the error of his ways. When they were exhausted, they quit. Some how Harry still looked the same. Elizabeth sunk down into her seat and cast a sad gaze out the coach window. Now she wandered if her inheritance were also a joke.

By now, her sisters were laughing, and were just curious and glad to be alive. Harry noticed that Elizabeth was troubled, and told her that Baggins wanted her to have the carriage ride to the castle, but that it was his own sick idea to ditch the car with a fake break-down and then his murder, but after-all, it was April fools day. " Don't worry Lizzy", Harry said, This horse pulls you toward your fortune. No joke! And we are almost there."

Finally, they arrived at the base of the rock & marble stairs that leads up to entrance at the east side of the castle. The carriage door opened, but as they stepped down onto the landing, there was no sign of the driver. Harry ran up the steps and used the knocker to alert Mr. Mutler. Soon, the door opened, and a little more light was allowed to momentarily escape the castle, and it streaked down the stairs illuminating the visitors. Mr. Mutler, the butler, then invited them in, and as he closed the door behind them, the light quickly followed them back in. They began their long trek up the winding stairs to the rich eccentric.

Deborah pulled a box out of the office corner. This was harder than she thought it would be. Most of the boxes here in her late husband's office were personal. He did not seem to have much business clutter in here. Deborah opened the box wearily. Her heart clenched as she discovered another box of full of pictures. This time, Indonesian landscapes taken near his home.

Deborah sealed the box back up. Pictures were not what she needed. She needed access to her husband's bank accounts. All she needed was a password to transfer the money into her own account online. The pay on death order on his accounts should have given her his money, but with no body, they assumed Luke was missing, not dead. To officially pronounce him dead would be to give up, though, so Deborah could not do it.

She pulled another box out, crossing her fingers mentally that this was the one. She dug through it piece by piece. Half way through, she found what she was looking for. A list of accounts and passwords. Over 20 accounts were listed. Deborah took the paper to her computer and logged in to each site, transferring all the money in each to her own account. There was more than she expected. Quite a nest egg in each. When she logged to her own account, her balance was well over a million. "This can not be right."

Aside from the money she had transferred to her account, there were other deposits. One extra for each transfer. Deborah payed her bills from the account and signed out.

Deborah paced the floor. What had her husband been into?
She thought back over the years, trying to find some clue. Had she just been blind? too trusting? Was her beloved Pete the mole? Sold out his unit including 3 of his own brothers?
Deb heard stirring in the next room. Her angel was waking. Within seconds, the baby's waking noises turned to cries. Deb went to her and started their wake up ritual. First, a diaper, then lil princess gets a bottle while mama gets hot tea that they drink on the back porch swing. She tried to be upbeat for her lil angel, but she was exhausted. She had not had a good night's sleep since Pete had disappeared. Deb trudged through her day with her angel, through baby gym and a play date with Joe's twin girls. It was finally nap time when they got home. Instead of working, Deb decided to take advantage of her angel's nap and take one of her own.
The sound of glass shattering woke her. It was followed by a thump. The noise came from downstairs, but the house echoed with each sound. Someone was in the house with her. She remembered her husband's strange warnings the day before he disappeared. Panic seizing her, she grabbed her purse and slipped through the door leading from her room to the nursery. There would be clothes waiting in the tunnel. She gently picked up her sleeping angel, then threw the full diaper bag over her shoulder.
She heard another thump, this time closer, followed by a curse. The voice was unfamiliar, a fact that made her hurry more. She pulled quietly at the hidden door at the back of the nursery. In this room, it was disguised as a window seat. It opened without a sound. She carefully stepped inside, took half a dozen steps down the stairs, then closed the door above her tightly, locking it as an added measure. The dark enveloped her, calming her. No one would look here, but to be sure, she did not switch on the light. She made her way down the steps by feel. After a few more steps, she closed and locked the false bottom of the window seat, stuffing toys in last minute to make it look like a harmless toy chest. Paul and his brothers had thought of everything when they had the houses built.
She heard another crash this one beside her. Whoever was in her house was in her husband's office looking for something. She forced herself to breathe and keep walking towards safety. At the third door, she punched her security code into the lighted key box. The door opened easily. She sighed as she closed the metal self locking door, relief flooding her at the sound of the magnetic locks engaging. With the door safely closed, she switched on the light. Her safe room. Just as she remembered it with the exception of the added playpen and crib. She set her purse and diaper bag down on the table and laid the still sleeping angel in the crib.
Her phone rang, startling a scream from her. Her precious angel woke, crying. Deb picked the girl back up and soothed her, humming a lullaby until her angel fell back to sleep. She set her angel back in the crib and dug her phone out. It was Paul. She flipped her phone open and called him back, thankful for the sound proof walls. It rang only once before Paul answered, “Get out of the house!”
“I am. I'm in the safe room. I heard someone downstairs and panicked.”
She heard his sigh of relief. “Stay there. Check the monitors and see if you can find out anything.”
Deb went through to the common area, a cavernous room that was a mix of better homes and gardens, kindergarden and a Star trek ship helm. She passed the play area with its ABC block carpet and cubbys full of toys and wooden rockers, then the livingroom with a 20 piece sectional and entertainment center. On the far wall, the monitors were black. Utilitarian chairs flanked the computers that ran the wall of monitors. Deb vaguely remembered going over what does what in the briefing, but it was so long ago. She had become complacent.
“ok. What button to I push?” she asked her brother in law.
Paul gave her a series of commands and when she pushed enter, portions of her house showed up on each monitor. “It's one man. He's in the office, looking through Pete's desk. Its too dark to see him.”
Paul gave her another command to push and the screen lit up in night vision.
“I don't recognize him.” She suddenly shook herself. Where was her training? She was acting like a simpering scared mess; a damsel in distress. She squared her shoulders, gave Paul a detailed description of the man. She knew what needed to be done. She had never been a techie like her husband, but she WAS an FBI agent. Just because she had had one mission go bad, and just because she had not been in the field in nearly 3 years, did not mean she could turn into a helpless woman at the first sign of danger.
“I am an FBI agent.” She said out loud with authority.

Run to Alaska

Cassandra pulled her long Auburn hair out of her face for the third time in as many minutes. She continued to write frantically, her head leaned over the desk close to the paper so she could see it in the dark. After several long hours of writing, her lesson plans for the next week were done. Cassandra stretched, sighing. Only the slapping of the branches against the window broke her delirium. The power was out again because of the weather. Only three weeks of lesson plans to go before she could sleep. They were due at the end of the week and the weather was not helping. The heavens were dumping the second blizzard in the three months since she moved here on her tiny town in Alaska.
Cassandra nearly jumps out of her skin as a loud thud hits her door. Shaking her head and deciding she watched too many movies, she cracked the door and looked out. Snow burst in and the cold came with it. A squeal pulled her attention downward and her eyes lit on a small basket. The basket squealed again. Eying the basket wearily, Casandra grabbed the basket and shut the door. Pulling back the deerskin blanket, Cassandra discovered a very small baby wrapped in a pink blanket.

Cassandra pulled back the heavy drape from the window and peered out into the storm. She thought she saw the dark image of someone running away through the snow. She threw open the door and shouted "Hey!" but she was too late. In her hurry she stumbled on a large object and looked down, hoping that it would not be another baby. There at her feet, was a large diaper bag. She pulled it inside and hurried back to the baby. The phone lines had been down all day so she could not call the authorities. She checked the receiver any way but there was still no dial tone. Then she sat down in the rocker next to the fire place and began to search the basket and diaper bag for a note, or something that would tell her who the baby was, to whom he belonged, and why for heavens sake would anyone leave him on her doorstep especially in the middle of a blizzard.

The Baby was cooing and giggling, oblivious to her circumstances. From her chubby cheeks, Cassandra could tell she had not been neglected...If you did not count being left on her door step. She searched the diaper bag. No note.

"Well, little princess. I guess we're on our own for a few days."
The baby cooed and blew a bubble.
"You need a name." Cassandra picked up the baby and looked at him more closely. "You look like a Hannah."

Cassandra lifted Hannah from the basket to cuddle him to her as much for her own comfort as for Hanna's, and as he did so she found a large bulky envelop under where she had been laying in the basket. Gently she laid him back in the basket so she could examine the envelop.

Inside the large envelop were two small envelops, one was flat and the other was bulky. She open the flat one first. It contained a note which appeared to have been quickly written with a shaky hand.

"PLEASE, You must take care of her, and TELL NO ONE. IT IS NOT SAFE. WE are in DANGER and she is no longer safe with me. I must flee. I WILL be in touch as soon as it is safe. In the other envelop you will find $ 5000.00. Use it as you see fit to take care of her and yourself. PLEASE KEEP HER SAFE."

Cassandra read the note several times, it did not give the child’s name or age, nor was it signed. What DANGER could such a small baby be in? Why would anyone think she would be any safer with her than with her own parents? The note had only made things more confusing and difficult. She looked in the other envelope and sure enough it was full of cash. She glanced at the young baby but Hannah was fast asleep now. So she sat pondering the note and trying to decide what to do now. It was obvious that whomever had left him did not expect to be able to come back any time soon. The supply they had left with her along with the $5000 would last at least 3 months if not more. Even if diapers, wet wipes, formula, baby food and miscellaneous other baby care products were expensive.

But how was she going to explain the sudden appearance of a baby in her life without telling anyone what had happened?

Cassandra looked out the window at the snow swirling and blanketing everything in sight. The snow had shrunk to waist high a week ago, but was now shoulder high and more snow was expected. "At least I have a few days to come up with a cover," she sighed, picking up Hannah and cuddling her. "This will be fun," she assured her.

"Well, Hannah, since we're going to be together for a while, we should get to know one another," Cassandra nervously started talking to him to pass time. "My name is Cassandra. I'm a high school teacher at the school down the street. It's called Teager Montessori. I am a widow." Cassandra walked to the mantle. "This picture is of my Alex. He passed four years ago of cancer. I don't have any children-Well, besides you at the moment, I suppose. This fiery red head here is my sister, Caitlin. She's a cop. She lives in Stevensville, Montana, my hometown. This red head is my brother, Conner. He's head of security for jester's. He has 4 kids and another on the way. This one is my brother, Calvin. He's in college in Boston. That's a long way from here. This red head is my sister, Courtney. She's in high school and works at Gregory's grocery. This picture is my parents. You'll love them. They are great. Well, except for naming us all names that start with C." Cassandra giggled at her own joke and Hannah giggled at her giggle. Inspiration struck her then. "We'll be telling people you are Calvin's girl. That should keep you safe for now. I should write him and tell him."
Cassandra sat at her desk and write the letter, balancing Hannah on her leg.

" my dearest brother,
I am in need of you help. I have been left an infant to care for for the time being and I need a cover story for his sudden appearance. when the snow clears, I plan to go to the store for some baby care items and someone might ask about my new found house mate. if I could tell them that the baby Hannah is in fact your daughter and I am caring for her as a favor to you it would be much obliged.
I am truly sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you but I do thank you or the assistance. The baby as been said to be unsafe in some way and her family must leave her with me for the time being. I have everything we need don't worry about me too much, I'll be fine. signed your loving sister, Cassandra.

After writing the letter she worried that she was doing the right thing by letting her family know the truth about the baby, after all the note had said to tell no one. But how could she not tell any one. She had too many family members close by that would know the that the baby wasn't really her nephew and if she wanted every one else to believe that he was she would have to convince her family to play along. For goodness sake her cousin was even a local cop. She would have to convince him to keep the truth about the baby off the record and secret. It would be hard because he was such a stickler for following the letter of the law but she sure hoped she could make him understand just this once for the baby's safety.

There was not much she could do but wait and plan. After the storm, she would claim the she had picked the little girl up at the international airport in Anchorage when she was there getting supplies. Some art supplies were just not available in her little town. She went there once a month to get her hair done and picked up supplies while she was there. Her last trip had been right before the storms started and Cassandra had not seen anyone local since before she left. Everyone had been preparing for the blast. It would be almost too easy.

(adjust to fit storyline...
here, she runs home to Montana to stay with her sister at the B&B/dude ranch, making a stop at the O'Malley ranch on the way.)

Meanwhile....On the last ranch in the area, a doorbell rang. Luke O'Malley ran a hand through his too long dark blonde hair before opening the door. At first, he thought no one was there. Then, he heard the soft mewing at his feet. A basket filled with a wiggling pink blanket sat on his front porch. As he watched, the blanket opened and a tiny hand stretched out of it. A note was barely visible sticking out of the blanket near the handle. Luke carefully tugged the note out. "Luke, I can't handle this. Her name is Hannah. I'm sorry." is all the note said. The handwriting was unfamiliar and there was no signature. Luke frowned. Who would leave a baby on his doorstep? He wracked his brain. He could think of 5 women he had been with in the last two years, but none of them seemed the type to drop off a baby. He scanned the ranch. There was no one within sight. Luke scooped the tiny girl from the basket and cuddled her to his chest. "Well, Hannah, let's go exploring," he told the tiny redhead. His hold was awkward and Hannah seemed to feel his unease. She began a halfhearted fuss, so Luke readjusted her, holding her like a football, almost dropping her in the process. Hannah giggled. Luke walked off the porch, vigilant for any sign of whoever dropped off Hanna. "They couldn't get far, Hannah. I didn't hear a car." Hannah frowned up at him. There was something familiar about that frown. They walked around the house, checking behind the trucks.

Luke O'Malley and Hanna walked the whole ranch, finding no indication of any person. "Well, Hannah, looks like it's just you and me."
Luke walked back around the house to his truck. Remembering she was supposed to be in a car seat, he told her, "We'll have to chance it this time, Sunshine. I need supplies if you're stayin' with me." He grabbed a jacket from the back, put it on, then slipped the infant into it and zipped it half way. "There, all snug & secure." He started the truck. It squealed, upsetting Hanna. "It's OK, Sunshine," he cooed. As he backed out, he lined out his battle plan for Hannah. "First, we stop by Mrs. Franny's. She'll know what I need until I figure out who you're Mama is and track her down. Then, to town for everything she says I need. After that, we go see Caitlin. She's a cop. Maybe she can help me track down an ex or two of mine."

The drive was long and bumpy, but a content Hannah fell asleep before they crossed the property line. Luke kept talking to her, so intent on driving carefully 20 miles below the speed limit that he did not notice he had bored his audience to sleep. They arrived at Mrs. Franny's ten minutes later. Screams came from the small building beside Mrs. Franny's house, waking Hannah. Hannah let out a healthy scream of her own. Knowing the nurse, Mrs. Franny occasionally worked as a midwife, Kevin decided not to investigate and instead slid the unhappy baby out of his jacket and rocked her until she calmed despite the continuing screams.

Doc Grimes pulled up. He was a bear of a man. Standing 6'7" and weighing in at over 250, he was an imposing presence, but those who knew him knew a gentle giant. Luke nodded a greeting to the doctor. The two men had gone to school together.

Doc grinned at Luke, "She got you babysittin' now, too, O'Malley?"

"No, Doc, this little beauty is mine. I was hoping Mrs. Franny could help me with a list of what I'll need until I can find her Mama." Luke purposely did not mention that he was unsure just who her Mama was. The child resembled him so much, he couldn't make out any traits that he did not see in the mirror every morning. The only difference was her bright red hair, a trait Luke had out grown by middle school, but even it was a remnant of himself.

Doc looked a little shocked, but he was used to thinking on his feet. "I'll go get her & finish for her so y'all can go to town." Without an answer, Doc turned on his heal, a mannerism left behind by his army days, and walked into the small building where all the screams were coming from. Moments later, Mrs. Franny came out smiling. She was a tall, thin woman with red hair, salt and pepper roots, and a cowboy's lope. "Doc said you had a bit of a situation on your hands."

Luke couldn't help but smile back. Mrs. Franny's cheer was contagious. When she got closer to Hannah and Luke, Mrs. Franny's smile abruptly disappeared and she stopped in her tracks. Needlessly, Luke introduced the two, "Mrs. Franny, this is my daughter, Hannah. Hannah, this is Mrs. Franny." Hannah giggled at Mrs. Franny.

"Land sakes, the girl looks just like you did when you were small," She said as she walked to Luke and took the fascinated baby in her arms. The smile returned to Mrs. Franny's face. "She has your chin, your smile, your eyes, your unruly red curls. How old is she?"

Luke squirmed noticeably. "I don't know. The note didn't say," He admitted, handing her the note he had tucked into his jeans pocket.

Mrs. Franny scanned the note over Hanna. "We have to report this."

Luke panicked. "No, please. I just need to know what I need to take care of her until I find her mama. They won't let me keep her if we report it as an abandonment, not with my record, but if her mama had just handed my girl to me..."

Mrs. Franny looked at him with sympathy. "OK. we'll play it your way, but if you do not find her soon, you'll have to report it. You can not raise a girl without her birth certificate and you shouldn't raise a girl without her mama. Come inside a minute."

Luke eyed the small building with weariness. There was still a woman in there. The screams had quieted some, but Luke did not want to see anything he shouldn't. Mrs. Franny had walked away, so Luke had no choice but to follow her. "Load up everything in this room, Luke. You'll need it all," she told him, pointing to the second room to the right of the door.

"but...how much?" Luke asked, knowing the clinic was always in need of funds.

"Luke, as much as you do and donate around here, I'm sure you've earned it. Load the baby things and if you find you don't need them someday, you can donate them back. I have to check on Tina and Dave."
"Dave is here?" He started walking back towards to exam rooms.
Mrs. Franny stopped him. "Tina is having a prenatal check up."
"oh...OH!" Luke's eyes narrowed. "They are too young. Dave!" He called out. "Dave, get yer butt out here!"
Dave appeared in a doorway.
"Busted, little brother," Luke told him.
Dave was grinning from ear to ear. "We're having a baby!"
Mrs. Franny told them, "you can talk this out while you load up that room."
Luke watched her walk away carrying his daughter, then got to work covering the bed of his truck with blankets and loading the nursery into his truck.

Luke loaded the nursery into his truck, pausing only to slip a few hundreds from his wallet into the clinic's donation box. It was a game they played. She said he did not need to give and he snuck the money into the box when she left the room. It was only $500 a month, but it was all he could do. The lady had practically raised him.

It was nearly two hours after he finished that Mrs. Franny finally showed back up. Hannah, curled up in a baby backpack hung in front. Mrs. Franny carried a diaper bag decorated in a checkerboard pattern. She set the diaper bag next to Luke and indicated that he should stand up. Luke stood stiffly. He had been on the verge of a nap crooked oddly in the small rocker/recliner in the waiting area. At some point, he wasn't really sure when, the screams had been joined by two healthy infants, then everything had gone quiet.

Mrs. Franny slipped the backpack containing Hannah onto Luke. "She's just finished eating. You should take her home and set up her room while she sleeps. Feed her every two to three hours. Change her when the designs on her diapers smear. After you feed her, put her on your shoulder and pat and rub her back until she burps. Sleep when she does if you can." The dumbfounded look on his face told her she had lost him. "OK. I'll write it down. Set your watch for 2 hours from now." He obediently set his watch while Mrs. Franny wrote down his instructions. After she slipped the instructions into the diaper bag, she called Dave to come into the waiting room. When the young man showed, he looked like a tornado had hit him. Mrs. Franny told him to go home with Luke and help set up the nursery and help him learn the baby basics. Dave nodded and Kevin followed him out the door.

It took Dave and Luke ten minutes to figure out how to get Hannah out of the baby backpack thing Mrs. Franny called a snugly and into her new car seat. Hannah blissfully slept through it all. In the first turn, they suddenly realized the seat was not secure as it flew into Dave's lap. Dave grabbed it and secured it as Luke stopped the truck. To lighten the mood, Dave started lesson one.

"Lesson one: always make sure the car seat is securely fastened to the seat using the seat belt through these two slots. Once you tighten it, nothing can pull out the seat. She's now in a mini roll cage." He secured the seat. Hannah opened her eyes momentarily, but they closed seemingly of their own accord almost immediately.

(.... here, he goes home with the baby. adjusts with help of...)
family of kids invade the B&B...Cassie & sis find their parents. B&B girl falls in love (with their dad. Cassie goes to pick up Clayton and fights with then makes up with O'Malley, maybe just as friends...her guy to be into later?
Clayton's mom is part of "family" of former FBI agents that were relocated for their own safety after leak.
It was the strangest ad she had seen in a while.
Rug Rat Wrangler needed. Twin girls Betty and Bonny are 9. Dan is 7. Alice is 6. Tommy is 5. Len is 4. Paula is 3. The baby, Michael is 2. Wild as mustangs. Only the strong of will and courage need apply. Contact Joe 217-8765.

Molly reread the ad. She promptly dismissed it. She was desperate for a job, but 8 children under 8? Molly continued searching the job listings. Every one wanted job experience. She had none, only her three weeks volunteer time at the infant ICU. The over sized ad caught her attention again. The idea formed even as she tried to squelch it. The worst that could happen is she could fail...again. Molly flipped open her cell and dialed before she could change her mind.

Joe bounced Michael on his hip to keep him quiet. It was nap time. Len and Paula were asleep, but barely. The older children were tucked away in town in the small community school. The house would be calm until they invaded at 3:30.

Michael squirmed. "Dog Dog" Joe followed his gaze. Sure enough, their chow-chow Lady was by the barn. "Dog Dog!" Michael said again, louder and clearer.
"Not now," Joe told him gently.
"DOG DOG!" Micheal insisted again. He reached for the window, then suddenly launched himself towards it. Caught off guard, Joe lost his grip. Michael fell as if in slow motion. Joe grabbed for him and caught his overalls, but Michael's head swung and hit the leg of the kitchen table. His screams woke Len and Paula, who wandered into the kitchen.
By then, Joe had Michael cradled to his chest. Len and Paula began to cry, too, scared and worried about Micheal. Michael was not a crier. It was in the midst of this chaos that the phone chose to begin ringing.

The noise that attacked her ear when the phone was answered was almost deafening. For a few minutes, no one said anything on the other end of the line. There was only screaming. "Hello?" "Hello?" Molly got louder with each hello. "Hello?" Molly inquired at the top of her lungs, fighting the urge to just hang up. No answer. The cries seemed to fade a little, then a deep voice was on the line. "Hello?" He sounded stressed. Molly felt for him.
Startled, Molly stuttered her greeting, "hi...hello. My name is Molly. I'm calling about your ad."
"We'll be at the Stevensville ER. Meet us there and we'll talk about the job. I'm in Pajamas and I'll be the only man in the place with three high strung young-ins attached." The roar was suddenly gone. He had hung up on her.

Molly closed her phone, slightly miffed. He had hung up on her. On the other hand, he had said something about Stevensville ER, so maybe he had a good reason to be rude. Molly debated with herself whether or not to go meet him as he had suggested. Finally, desperation and curiosity won out. She rushed out of the nearly empty diner, leaving her last $1.74 as a tip for her waitress.

The drive to the ER was a nightmare. Joe's minivan rivaled the crying children's noise level. What worried Joe was not the noise of the car, but the noise of Michael's crying. The child bounced, going through life bumping and scraping every inch of himself constantly and he never complained. With this bump, he had not stopped crying. Judging by the noise the other two were making, they were just as scared as Kieth. When the ER doors were in sight, Joe finally let out a sigh. They could fix it here. He knew that with confidence because they had fixed every other injury his lot had gotten since their mama, Sam, the love of his life had passed when Micheal was born. His crew was so accident prone that they had gone through 12 sitters in that short two years.

Joe gathered the three wailing banshees in his arms and was almost in the door when Molly stepped in front of him. "Here, let me help." she offered, taking Len out of his arms without waiting for an answer. She tucked Len's hand in hers, then took Paula from Joe's arms, also, leaving him with only the obviously hurt Michael clinging to his chest in a snugly The red spot had started to swell and turn darker. Even an amateur like her could see which child really needed his daddy. Molly tried to comfort the two crying angels while they walked into the ER together, a stunned Joe following the stranger and his children.

Molly sat down in the waiting area and pulled the two reluctant children into her lap, snuggling them close in an attempt to calm and comfort them. Paula was shaking. Molly covertly checked each to make sure neither was physically hurt. Both seemed fine as far as she could tell. She'd ask Joe what happened when he rejoined them. He had taken Michael to the desk to check in.

Joe looked over at the woman in amazement. The children had stopped crying and were now staring fascinated at something she was saying, cuddled naturally on either side of her lap. An outsider could easily mistake her for their mother. She had the same brown hair as Paula and the same brilliant green eyes that Len had inherited from his Grandma.

The woman behind the desk handed him a stack of papers. "Fill these out & bring them back." she said automatically.
"But we've been here before," Joe protested.
"Those are out of date, Mr. O'Malley. Please fill these out." As she said this, she turned her back to him and began filing papers.

A bit steamed, Joe joined his children and the stranger. Joe adjusted the snugly so he could write on the endless forms.

Michael stopped crying gradually and began whimpering. When it came time to flip the form over, Joe struggled. Micheal had begun to doze and Joe did not want to disturb him, but somehow he had to shift to be able to switch forms.

Molly looked up from the story she was telling the two small children and saw something that made her heart stop. Joe was letting the baby go to sleep. She set the children off her lap to either side and was standing over Joe in two steps. She tried to pull Michael from the snugly Seeing the look of shock, then annoyance on Joe's face, Molly explained herself, "He's had a head injury. He can't sleep. Didn't they tell you that?"

Joe unhooked the snugly and handed the drowsy infant to Molly. "They didn't tell me anything except fill out these forms," He told her, frustration marring his words.
Molly cradled the little on carefully. "Hey little guy, wake up. Let's play."
Michael opened his eyes, looked up at Molly, smiled, then closed his eyes again. snuggling closer to her.
"Play time, Michael. Wake up and play with Molly." When he didn't respond, Molly took him to the desk.

Joe could not hear what she was saying, but the nurses seemed to be listening. Three of them were giving her their undivided attention.

One of the nurses gestured for Molly to go through the doors that Joe knew from experience led to the exam rooms. Molly waited for him as he gathered Len and Paula and followed. Two lefts and a right later, the 5 of them were in the exam room waiting for the next available doctor. One of the nurses stayed with them, keeping Michael awake and keeping an eye out for symptoms of serious injury. He was enthralled by her tiny flashlight as she used it to check his eyes. Seemingly satisfied, she looked his head over. "Poor guy," she cooed at him to calm him when he had to touch the bump on his head. "Here, mama," The nurse directed Molly, "Hold him while I get some ice for his noggin. It will slow the swelling."
Molly held his hands as he sat on the table and played patty cake with him.
The nurse returned quickly with an icepack, which she velcroed around his head. Micheal began screaming in earnest again. Molly picked him up, but he only screamed louder. He tore the icepack off and threw it on the floor.
"Mrs. O'Malley, he needs to keep the ice on for a few minutes, at least until the doctor comes in," the nurse said shyly, barely audible over Micheal's renewed cries.
Molly talked to Micheal while the nurse put the pack back on his head. Molly tried to keep his hands otherwise occupied. He rid himself of the pack twice more before a strict looking doctor entered the room.

The sarcasm was evident in the doctor's voice as she greeted Kieth. "Mr. O'Malley, How nice to see you again." She emphasized the last word.
The nurse slipped quietly out.
The doctor reached into her pocket and produced 3 suckers. After handing one to each child, the room was suddenly very quiet. "That's better. Now, Mr. O'Malley, which child has done what?" she inquired briskly.

Joe looked fit to be tied, but his voice was smooth as he answered, "Micheal," he said pointing. "He fell. I almost caught him, but he swung and hit his head."
The look of annoyance on the doctor's face was enough to put any major in his place. "Mr. O'Malley, do you remember what we talked about last time you came in?"
"Yes, but.."
"And do you remember what I told you to do in a non-emergency situation?"
"Yes, but..."
"Good. Now, go home, Mr. O'Malley." The doctor turned and walked toward the door.

Molly looked at the doctor's name tag as she passed her. Dr. Elizabeth Wallace.
"Doctor Wallace!" Molly called after her. Dr. Wallace kept walking. Molly came behind her and used her free arm to grab the doctor's shoulder. "Dr. Wallace, unless you want a lawsuit, you will turn around and see to the medical care of this young man who is, by the way, showing all the signs of having a concussion and may have worse!" Molly told the doctor forcibly.

"I seriously doubt anything is wrong with Michael," Dr. Wallace countered. "Mr. O'Malley brings his children in for the tiniest scrapes and sneezes." She turned again to leave.
Molly stepped in front of her, closed the door and stationed herself between the door and Dr. Wallace. "Look, Doctor, I am a trained professional. I have two degrees in early childhood development. I have been highly trained in infant and child emergency procedures. I have even spent time volunteering here in your infant ICU. I would not have let Mr. O'Malley bring Michael here and waste the hospital's precious resources had it not been an actual emergency. Now, are you going to at least examine Michael or am I going to call another doctor to care for him and my lawyer to take care of you?" She said it in a dead calm, never pausing for breath.

Dr. Wallace was completely flustered.."I...I....I'll"
Molly took that as a yes and moved from in front of the doctor to climb onto the table with Michael cradled in her arms. The room was silent while Dr. Wallace checked Michael over. Finally, she spoke, "Mrs. O'Malley, Michael needs x rays"
Molly nodded, then corrected Dr. Wallace, "I'm not Mrs. O'Malley. I'm Molly Blakemore."
"She's the children's' new nanny," Kieth interjected. "She just started today."
The ice in Dr. Wallace's face seemed to thaw a bit. "What a first day," Dr. Wallace commented sympathetically.


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