CHAPTER ONE HUNDRED and SEVENTY-THREE
Sunday night — 6:21 P.M. MDT
Sandy looked across the main Castle dinner table at Noelle. Her eyes were swollen and her face red from the meltdown she’d had only an hour before. Sandy smiled when Noelle laughed at something Mike had said.
Sandy glanced at Charlie. He’d spent most of the day anxiously pacing the apartment. He was so distracted by his worry for Tink that he hadn’t finished his assignment on fairness. She tried to catch his eye, but he was busy worrying. Since they weren’t Tink’s family, they only received the most minimal details. Tink was alive and on life support. The seizure was from the beating she’d received the night before. She was lucky they were there when she collapsed. Tink didn’t seem that lucky to any of them.
Sandy sighed. Aden looked at her. His eyes asked if she was all right. She nodded. Using his chin, he pointed to Nash. Noelle wasn’t the only person missing Teddy. Nash kept looking at his watch. They were going to call Teddy at exactly eight o’clock so he could listen in to story time. Nash didn’t want to be late. Teddy was truly a part of their family now.
Sissy’s laugh caught Sandy’s attention. Sissy and Jill’s mother, Anjelika, were deep in conversation about ballet. Under Anjelika’s kind attention, Sissy had blossomed. Sandy could see the prima ballerina just begging for Sissy’s insecurities to let her out.
At the end of the table, Jacob laughed at something Katy said. Jill was pretending to be offended. When Delphie laughed, Jill laughed. Sandy was so happy to see her best friend so happy. Even Jill’s hair was growing in. Valerie came in from her latest trip to the bathroom. For such a small person, she was truly huge with baby. She stopped to kiss Mike and went to sit near Sam. They fell into their on-going conversation about some mine they owned.
Honey caught her attention. She crossed her eyes at Sam and Valerie’s ongoing argument about the mine. Sandy laughed. MJ leaned over to say something to Honey and they laughed. Sandy knew Jacob and Jill had finished rehabilitating an entire floor of Jill’s old building. They were waiting until every detail was perfect before surprising Honey and MJ with their new apartment building for paraplegic people.
So many people. So many worries.
Sandy was always amazed at how much laughter there was around this dinner table. No matter what happened, they came together at the table to enjoy each other and laugh. Rachel squirmed in her sling and Sandy looked down at her.
“Can I?” Noelle asked.
When Sandy nodded, Noelle came around to take Rachel. The baby smiled when she saw Noelle. Aden put his arm around her and they watched Noelle make Rachel laugh.
Sandy’s phone rang with “Moves like Jagger”, the latest Maroon 5 song. Sandy gave Nash a hard look. He laughed. Earlier, he’d snuck “Cheers” by Rihanna on her phone. She’d told him to get rid of it this afternoon but he’d clearly replaced it with another pop song. Shaking her head, she answered.
“Sandy?” Ava’s voice sounded frantic. Sandy heard airport noise in the background.
“Ava? What’s going on?” Sandy stood up to walk out of the room. “Has something happened?”
“Are you off tomorrow?” Ava asked.
“Yes, I don’t work Mondays,” Sandy said. “Did something happen to Seth?”
“No, no,” Ava said. “Seth is fine.”
The noise in the background disappeared.
“Listen,” Ava said. “Seth got a heads up call from someone at the FBI. They’re coming tomorrow morning to pick you up.”
“I’m not sure,” Ava said. “Seth called them back but didn’t catch them. I called my friends there and they said it was ‘nothing good.’”
“For you,” Ava said.
Sandy felt as if all of the light, all of the joy, and all of the laughter faded. Her awful past had risen up again to blot out her sun. Ava continued talking. Sandy glanced into the dining room. Everyone continued eating and laughing.
But all Sandy heard was the pounding of her own heart. The shadow of her past overwhelmed her. Again.
Denver Cereal continues on Monday…