CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and SIXTY
“Her brain kind of stops working when she’s overstimulated,” Charlie said. “She’s been doing really great. This is still here from. . . well, you know. She was probably focused on me screwing up — again — and then she saw you and. . .”
Sissy rubbed Tink’s arm. After a moment, Tink seemed to breathe. Charlie kissed her lips and stepped away. Sissy hugged Tink. The young women hugged each other tight. Sissy kissed Tink’s cheek and stepped back.
“I talked to you yesterday!” Tink said. “You sneaker! You didn’t say a word!”
“I wasn’t sure that we’d be able to come,” Sissy said. “You know the flights are banned from other countries and. . .”
“How did you do it?” Tink asked.
“Oh you know,” Sissy shrugged. “Ben, Alex, the usual.”
Tink grinned at her friend.
“I’m so glad that you’re here,” Tink said.
Tink grabbed Sissy’s hand and pulled her out of the kitchen. Before Sissy left, she turned to Charlie.
“You and me?” Sissy gestured with her hand.
Charlie nodded. Sissy blew him a kiss, and he grinned. Tink dragged Sissy out of the apartment. In the hallway, Tink hugged Sissy.
“Do you have Covid?” Tink asked. “I don’t care. I would hug you either way but. . .”
“I don’t. Jill picked me up at the airport,” Sissy said. “We were able to dance and keep each other safe.”
Tink hugged her even tighter.
“The house is full of people!” Tink said.
“I saw that,” Sissy said. “Lots of kids!”
“They were here at the beginning of the summer,” Tink said. “That military team that Alex is on?”
“All of their kids were here as soon as they found out that Teddy was here,” Tink said. “It was really fun. You should have seen Charlie. He took on getting everyone to read books and then talk about what they read. It was really great. They go to the Marlowe School now too!”
Tink pulled back to look into Sissy’s face.
“You look so grown up,” Tink said. “I feel like a little kid.”
“You look gorgeous,” Sissy said. “Happy. Smart. Your hair is amazing. Did you put your applications in for school? You didn’t say when I asked before.”
Nodding, Tink blushed.
The door to the apartment jerked open.
“If you want pancakes,” Noelle said, “you should come in now before Nash and Teddy start eating up everything.”
“They eat a lot,” Tink said with a nod.
Tink led Sissy back inside. At the doorway, Sissy stopped walking. Her family — Noelle, Nash, Charlie, Tink, Sandy, Aden, and Rachel Ann — were sitting around the table. She had missed them so very much. And there they were — ready to love her, ready to welcome her, and. . .
“Can I have your pancakes?” Nash asked, shaking Sissy out of her fog.
“Nash!” everyone at the table said.
“Not a chance,” Sissy said.
She jogged over to take her seat. For the next hour, they ate, laughed, and talked about everything and nothing.
It was everything Sissy needed and much, much more than she could have hoped for.
She was loved.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...
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