Monday, July 29, 2013

Salt and Pepper Affair

Part One


The old brownstone building blended in amongst the other brownstones on the street. It was a traditional street of Boston.  There were 18 steps that led up to the front door.  A small gold plate was attached to the dark brown door that read  ‘Mason Binion Attorney At Law’.  The sign had been there for over twenty years.  The original ‘Mason Binion’ had long since passed away.  His son had followed in his father’s footsteps.

Inside the building Mason II or ‘Sonny’ as he was called by his friends and family stood looking out the tall windows onto the street below.  The room behind him smelled of lemon wax and old books.  It was the same room he had grown up in.  His father’s office door [now his office] led into the library.  Polished mahogany bookshelves lined two walls of the room in an L shaped form.  The other wall was where the fireplace stood.  A large gold framed picture of Sonny’s grandfather sitting in a chair with his father standing to one side hung on the wall above the fireplace.  His grandfather had come from England years ago  and had established this law firm.  His name was Daniel Binion.  He was a formidable man with a large brown eyes that peeked out from beneath steel gray eyebrows and gray wavy hair.  He had kept it short so that it did not appear curly.

Sonny had inherited his grand father’s hair and his father’s tall angular build.  Most women saw Sonny as one of Boston’s most eligible bachelors.  He looked to be a little older than thirty years of age when in fact he was forty two.

Sonny could remember sitting on his grandfather’s lap.  ‘Sonny, my boy…this all will be yours one day.  You will become a lawyer as your own father did.  I will see to it.  Your only job is to bring forth another son to take over for you!’  His grandfather had always said the same thing and then patted his head and sent him on his way.  Sonny turned from the window and stared at the mahogany table and chairs where his grandfather used to sit.  He had always reminded Sonny of a king sitting in this room. He absent mindedly ran his long tapered fingers over the tops of one of the chairs.

Sonny remembered how his father and grandfather would sip their tea and discuss their plans for the day in these very chairs.   His father was a gentle man and less imposing than his father.  Sonny knew his grandfather had doted on his son Mason.  Much laughter had filled this library as Sonny played with his toys on the floor.

As Sonny had grown older though, his play time had ended.  He was sent to private schools and was expected to excel in all areas, which he did.  He made  few close friends but was well thought of by all who knew him. 

Few knew who Sonny really was or what he was like.  Certainly, his family did not.  His father worked diligently at the law firm.  He went to the usual gatherings and made sure his son was introduced to the right people.

His father introduced him to the woman that he married.  ‘This is a suitable girl for you son.  She’s from a good family with no black sheep amongst the midst.’

Sonny’s one extravagance was to become a member of the Society of Antiquities.  He was applauded in this by his grand father.  ‘It’s good to become members of good society.   Helps to boost your name.’  In truth, Sonny didn’t join the group for any other reason except he loved rare artifacts.

The cellar had a special room where he arranged his collection of rare butterflies and a few Indian pieces. It was air conditioned and sealed off from the rest of the house.  It was a place where Sonny could go to relax.  Once a year he went on a trip with friends to discover something new.  He traveled to almost every state in the United States and then traveled to Egypt and England, France, Italy and Spain as well.  He had brought his son Joseph on some of the trips.

Sonny’s name was also on a gold plaque at the local hospital where he had donated a sizeable sum to help fund the new children’s wing.

All of these things did not bring back the missing pieces in his life though.  Sonny lived much of his life alone.

Edward and Agnes lived with him.  Agnes was his housekeeper/cook.  Her husband Edward was his secretary and made sure he was in the right places at the right time.  Agnes and her husband lived in the rooms on the top floor.  Agnes always brought supper to him and returned to her apartment upstairs.  Sonny appreciated all she did and felt that she earned her private time with Edward.

Sonny’s eyes drifted over to the mantel. The mantel piece held many pictures of the family.  Sonny walked over and glanced at them.  His father had been the eldest of the children.  He had three sisters and one other brother.  That brother had died in a car accident.  The photos showed family picnics on the beach, graduation photos, Christmas photos and wedding photos.  Sonny had been an only child, much to his grandfather’s displeasure.  His mother had never seemed to be able to get pregnant again after Sonny’s birth.

On the end of the mantel piece was a photo of Sonny’s wedding.  Next to it were pictures of his own son.  His wife had died soon after the birth of their son Joseph.  Joseph had been valedictorian of his class, captain of the football team in college, and a recent graduate from Harvard University.  As Sonny stared at the face so like his own, he wondered if he had been a good father.  He had been only twenty one when Joseph was born.  He’d married young at the encouragement of both of their families and his bride became pregnant immediately.  Joseph was such a pleasure to his father and grandfather.

Sonny ran a hand through his salt and pepper hair.  He was in need of a haircut as he noticed it was starting to curl.  He took a breath and sat down in one of the chairs.  It just didn’t seem possible that everyone in his family was gone.  His grandfather had passed away in 1998.  His mother had died ten years later.  His father had seemed to be a lifeless soul in a shell of the body he’d once had.  He too had passed on just last year.

It had been a lonely life for Sonny.  He’d sent his son off to college and had been glad to have him back home.  The plan was for Joseph to work with him. 

It didn’t seem possible that a month had gone by since his car accident that had taken his life.  The doctors had tried but it was too late.  Sonny got up and wandered to the window again.

‘Dear God, there must be more to life than this.  I feel ancient and except for my work I have no life.’  He said.

There was a soft knock on his library door just then.  ‘Come in’  he said.  Agnes entered with a tray of tea followed by Edward.

Edward sat and drank tea with Sonny each day.  Today, however Agnes lingered.  ‘I have something I need to discuss with you Mason.’  She had always called him Sonny since he was just a boy when she was hired.  For her to call him Mason meant that something serious was coming.

Sonny sat down and motioned for her to sit.  ‘What is it Agnes.’  Sonny sat back and waited for a few seconds.

Agnes cleared her throat and Edward gave her a nod.  ‘Well, it’s like this.  Do you remember Reverend Thomas from our church?  He’s been here a few times for dinner.’

Sonny nodded.  ‘He passed away about a year ago?’

‘Well, seven months but’s that’s close enough.  The thing is, he had a daughter.  A lovely girl named Hope.  Well, she needs to speak with you.’  Agnes blurted it all out without taking a breath.

Edward reached over and patted her hand.  Sonny stared at them both and was confused.  ‘Speak with me?  Whatever for?’

Edward cleared his throat and took a sip of tea.  ‘Sonny, we’ve known you practically all your life.  I know you are very organized, this might mess you up a bit.’

Sonny stared across the table still totally bewildered.  ‘Out with it man.  You and Agnes seem to be talking in riddles.’

‘Perhaps it is best if she explains.  She is coming over in about ten minutes.  All we ask is that you hear her out.  We will sit with her, only because she is quite emotional and she knows us…’

Sonny put his cup down.  ‘For crying out loud!.  What is this about?’  He yelled.

Just then the doorbell rang.  Agnes jumped up.  ‘There she is now.  Mason, please calm down.  You’ll scare the wits out of her with that scowl!’

Sonny didn’t have time to ask Edward any questions as Agnes escorted a lovely young lady into the library immediately.  ‘ Mason this is Hope Thomas.  Hope this is Joseph’s father, Mason the second.’

Sonny was still a bit confused but somehow he was supposed to listen to whatever this woman had to say.  ‘Miss Thomas is this legal matter?’

The woman blanched a bit and sat down next to Edward.  ‘Well, perhaps.  But, it’s not meant to be.  Mr. Binion, I’m sorry about the loss of your son Joseph.  I knew him for a short time and he was a very sweet man.’

Sonny nodded. ‘Thank you.  You were a friend of his?’

Hope took a breath and let it out.  ‘It’s all right dear, you just explain like you did for us.’ said Agnes.  She gave Sonny a warning look.

‘Well, as you might know, my father passed away almost a year ago.  I was a mess.  I had lived with him all of my life and suddenly I was told I had to leave the parsonage.  The new Reverend and his family would be moving in.  I had to find a job, find a new home, and try to come to grips with the loss of my best friend.  My father was my most precious friend.’  Hope’s hands began to shake and she folded them in front of her.

Sonny observed it all and remained quiet.

‘Mr. Binion, I have never been one to go to a lot of parties but one of my friends invited me out and it was there I met your son.  We spent the entire evening talking.  He let me talk and well, one thing led to another.  It’s very unlike me.  I can’t believe this all happened.  Long story short, I am pregnant and I know the child is Joseph’s.’

‘Young lady, I am sure you are mistaken.  Joseph would have surely told me.  I can have you investigated but that might embarrass us both.’  Sonny’s face grew quite red.

Edward leaned forward.  ‘I have all ready done this sir, at her request I might add.’  Edward drew out a manillia folder and handed it to him.’

Hope began to shake and suddenly stood up.  ‘I knew this was a bad idea.  I’m sorry to bother you.’  She ran out of the room and down the stairs.

Sonny sat and stared at the envelope.  ‘Please just leave me alone.  I need to think.  I need to look at this.’

Agnes got up and circled the table.  She reached out and hugged him.  ‘It’s all right Sonny.  I brought your favorite cookies and tea.  You just relax and later I’ll bring your supper.’  Agnes left the room quickly.

Edward knew that this was his cue.  ‘I know this is quite a shock.  She’s agreed to DNA testing.  She also wants no money.  She just thought you’d want to know.  She’s quite frightened you might want custody of the child, but still wanted you to know.’

Sonny sat quiet and looked at his tea cup.  He could hear Edward’s soft footsteps leaving the room.  He sat for two hours going over the private investigation into Hope Thomas.  Suddenly, he could not see the pages.  Tears coursed down his cheeks.  ‘Could it be he might still have some family?  If so, what on earth was he supposed to do?’

He knew his father and grand father would be appalled.  This was not proper.  Sonny’s thoughts went all over.  Three hours later, Agnes woke him up.  He had fallen asleep at the table.

Agnes didn’t miss the dried tear stains on his face.  She knew how lonely he was.  A baby would certainly brighten his world.  ‘I’ve made your favorite turkey and stuffing.  Apple pie too.’

‘What am I going to do now?’ He said.

‘Why Sonny, your going to eat your supper!’  Agnes hugged him again.

‘How long have you known?’

Agnes bit her lip.  ‘Well, she’s always been special to me.  I was friends with her mother and sort of looked after a bit.  She took sick a while back and then kept crying in church.  I knew something was wrong.  Edward and I helped her find a little apartment down town.  She’s working at the library now.

I just had a suspicion when she kept getting sick in the morning.  She finally confessed to me but didn’t want you to know at first.  She was so afraid.'

Sonny nodded.  'I just can't believe it.  Wow!'
Agnes smiled.  'I knew you'd take this well.'
'Oh no, I won't take it from her.'
'What?'
Sonny looked at Agnes. 'I would never take a child from it's mother.  I know what it's like to live without a mom.  You were wonderful but still...'
'Oh Sonny, be sure and tell her that.'
Sonny looked down at his dinner.  'I thought I did.  I'm suddenly famished.'
Agnes hid a smile.  'Goodnight Sonny.'

 






Part 2


Hope drove home and threw her purse on the futon sofa bed.  She went into the bathroom and washed her face.  ‘I made such a mistake’ she said out loud.  No one answered in the empty room.


Hope stood over the sink and took a few deep breaths.  ‘I’ve got to calm down.’  She told herself.  She walked back into the next room and sat on the sofa.  Her tiny apartment was really just two rooms.  There was a bathroom and the large living room with a small kitchenette on one end.  She had brought her parent’s small oak kitchen table and chairs and placed them beneath a ceiling light near the kitchenette.  The dark green cushioned futon served as her bed as well.  Each night she opened it up and made it up.  She had a small television set placed inside her parent’s oak entertainment center.  It went well with the kitchen table and made it look homey.  She had a rocking chair that was painted white. She had made a green checkered cushion for it with matching pillows for the futon, when it was in couch mode.  Artificial daisies were in vases and hung from two baskets in either corner of the room.  She had made green and white checkered curtains that matched the chair cushion and couch cushions. She had found a bolt of green checkered fabric at a thrift store for just a dollar.  She placed a green checkered table runner on the table with a basket of yellow flowers in the center.


She glanced over at her kitchen sink and the tall cabinet near it.  She had floor to ceiling cabinets with shelves on one side and a good sized closet on the other.  Her oak armoir stood on one wall near the bathroom door.  It had been in her room at home all her life.  It served as a dresser and storage place for her clothes.


She looked out the window and stared down at the street below.  She could see the library from her upstairs apartment window.  She was glad she’d had the two days off.  She was too upset to go to work anyway.  She turned and rummaged in the cupboard and found some crackers.  She puts some on a paper plate and turned to the refridgerator.  Ginger ale was her closest friends these days.  She sat on the futon and began to much on the crackers.


She watched an old movie on tv and suddenly realized it was dark outside.  She opened up the futon and took a shower.  Her hands gently touched her abdomen.  ‘Hello little fellow…or lady.  I wonder what you are?  Anyway, I’m glad you are here.  I’m never really alone am I?’


She soaped up and then rinsed.  After drying off, she donned her usual bed attire. She wore thick flannel pajamas in a floral print.  She prayed her usual prayers and got under the heavy quilt her mother had made.  It made her feel safe.  She was twenty nine years old and still needed to feel safe. ‘I’m pathetic’ she said to herself, just before she fell asleep.


A loud knock was the next thing she heard.  At first, she thought she was dreaming.  Hope rolled over and pulled the quilt up.  The knocking continued.  ‘I’m coming!’  she yelled.

Hope rolled off the futon bed and went to the door.  She opened the door and wished she hadn’t.

Sonny was stunned to see this young woman in flannel pajamas and braids.  ‘She wears braids?’ He thought to himself.  He looked past her to the quilt on the bed.  ‘I’m very sorry.  I should have called.  Oh wait, I don’t have your number so I couldn’t call anyway.  Perhaps I’ll come back later.’  He turned to leave and Hope impulsively reached out and took his arm.

‘No, I’m so sorry.  Please come in.  I sometimes sleep late when I have a day off.’  She stepped to one side and suddenly realized her attire.  ‘Oh my goodness!  I’m in my pajamas and braids!  Just let me go change!’ 

Sonny walked into the room and looked around and around.  He tried to find anything to look at so he wouldn’t be looking at Hope.  Hope dashed to her armoire and dug out some clothes and then dashed into the bathroom.

A bell sounded and Sonny realized her coffee maker was pouring coffee into the carafe.  It all looked like a green and white doll house to him.  He never had a sister but if he did, he was sure a doll house would look like this.  He smiled at the matching curtains, cushions, and pillows.  All of a sudden he wondered where she would put a baby in here.

Hope suddenly emerged from the bathroom in black slacks and a cream colored short sleeved sweater.  She had put her hair up in a bun and washed her face.  Sonny observed she had no make-up on and was barefoot as well.  He was utterly charmed.  He noticed she had a few freckles on her turned up nose.  Her hair that had seemed blonde yesterday was actually strawberry blonde.  He realized that she was probably about five foot five and one hundred and thirty pounds.  She was delightfully shocked to see him with wide blue eyes and a flushed face.

‘I think your coffee is done.’  He said.

‘Oh, would you like some?  My coffee maker makes four cups.  I have sugar and cream too.  I also have some donuts.’  She knew she was babbleing but she couldn’t stop.  ‘Why did he have to come here?  Why in the early morning when she was at her worst?’

Sonny walked over to the table and sat down.  ‘You know, I’d really love a cup of coffee. My father and grand father drank tea.  But I prefer black coffee.  You have donuts?  Agnes never lets me have any.  I would love one, or two.’  He sat back and tried to relax.  It was comical to him to see her in this setting.  He found he was enjoying himself.

Hope quickly poured two cups of coffee and placed the donuts on a plate in the middle of the table.  She put the fake flowers to one side.  She put two white placemats on the table and then placed white plates with daisies in the center, on the table.

Sonny sipped his coffee and took a taste of the plain donut.  It tasted delicious.  ‘I came over to tell you how sorry I am that I frightened you yesterday.  It was just a shock is all.  I’m usually quite friendly.  I understand Agnes and you have known each other a long time.’

Hope sat down and crossed her legs.  ‘Agnes was my Sunday School teacher.  She and my mom were best of friends.  I’ve known her since I was about five. ‘

Agnes had told him all of this that morning.  He had also found out that Hope had no other family in the world.  She had lived at home and taken care of her sick mother until her death.  Then, she took care of her father.  Agnes and Edward assured him that she was not a gold digger.  She simply felt that he should know he was about to be a grand father.  It was his right.

‘Hope, I want you to know that I’m thankful that you chose to have this baby.  In this age, many women would abort. How far along are you?  Do you plan to keep the child or give it up for adoption?’  Sonny drummed his fingers and then stopped when he realized he was doing it.  He was nervous, hoping that Hope would keep the child.

Hope nearly choked on her donut.  ‘I’m three months along. I plan to raise my own baby.’  She took a swallow of coffee and set the cup down a little too hard.  ‘Why do you ask?’

Sonny let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding.  ‘I want to help.  I want to be a good grand father.  Do you have a doctor?’

Hope squirmed in her seat.  ‘Yes, I went to social services.  I’m fully covered.  I won’t be staying here either for that long.  I’m just saving  up for a better place.  I don’t want you to think..’

‘I don’t’ Sonny interrupted.  ‘But, I would like to have a chance to get to know you.  Agnes, Edward and I know how hard this is for you.  At least, we can imagine.  What would you think of moving into the Binion House until you decide what you will do?  Agnes wants to hover over you I think though.  You might want to think it over.’

Sonny reached for a second donut.  ‘Where did you get these?  They are addicting!’  Sonny smiled and Hope realized that he was very handsome.  His salt and pepper hair was just a bit more white around the ears.  He had no wrinkles on his face and he had perfectly straight white teeth.

‘There is a bakery next door.  I get to smell them baking a lot.  I just hope I can resist a little.  I’ll be a mountain if I don’t.  You said Agnes and Edward AND you want me to come stay?’

Sonny smiled and nodded his head.  ‘It was Agnes’s idea.  But, the more I thought of it I liked the idea.  You have a real friend in those two.  They really sing your praises.’

Hope’s face was serene.  ‘I found out who my friends were when all this happened. The girls in my group were amazing.  It’s weird, I never thought of myself as a spinster at twenty nine.  Yet, I guess I am.  Being a single Mom was never something I ever thought of.  I am so sorry to load you with this Mr. Binion.’

Sonny nodded ‘Well, we’d love to have you Hope.  Just give it some thought.’

A few seconds went by in silence.  Sonny looked around and was still amazed at how much she had managed to make this little space into a home.  ‘I really like what you did with this place.  You have a knack for decorating.’

Hope smiled.  ‘I took a few art classes and excelled in home designs as well.  I would have tried to do more but Mom and Dad really needed me.’

Sonny took it all in for something to think of when he got home.  He looked at his watch.  ‘I have an appointment in an hour so I must leave.  Here is my card and I wrote my private cell number on the back.  Just call and let me know what you decide.  You can stay in your own room and even keep your furniture if you like.  I can always store what you don’t need.’

Hope blinked.  She already had Agnes number.  ‘I’ll let you know.  Thanks for coming.  It was nice having someone to eat donuts with.  That’s two donuts I won’t devour.’  She smiled.

‘Three, I snuck a donut when you weren’t looking.  Don’t tell Agnes though!’  He winked and then opened the door. ‘Talk to you later.’

‘Bye’  Hope stood still for a moment and took a breath.  Boston’s biggest lawyer had come to her little studio apartment and ate donuts.  He invited her to live in his brownstone.  Suddenly, she raced to the bathroom.  Five minutes later she rinsed her mouth and ate more crackers.

  Gee, I should be over this morning sickness by now.  I wonder if they have donut flavored crackers.’


Part 3



Edward and Agnes waited impatiently for Sonny to return from visiting with Hope.  Agnes opened the door as he was ascending the steps.  ‘Well, did you scare her half to death again or did you behave like I told you!’ she said with a scowl.


Sonny went inside and hung up his coat.  ‘You know, one would think you would be more respectful to your employer Agnes.’


‘Phooey, I used to change your diapers!  Don’t go all lawyer with me now!  Did you tell her we wanted her to come here or not?  How did you act?’


Sonny smiled.  ‘I was on my best behavior.  She was really kind of cute.  She answered the door in her pajamas and hair in braids with bare feet.  I wasn’t sure I had the right apartment.’  He sat down in the living room.


Agnes smiled.  ‘She’s as cute as a button.  Don’t forget she is twenty nine though.’


Edward poured Sonny a cup of tea and one for Agnes and himself.  ‘I’m glad you are back.  Agnes was tiring me out.’


‘What?’ she hollered.

‘You kept walking back and forth and wringing your hands.  I was getting ready to put a vaccum in your hands to you could at least be useful.’  Edward was teasing and she knew it.

‘Oh you!’ She waved her dishcloth at him.  She’d forgotten she still had it on her shoulder.  ‘I’ve got supper cooking.  But, tell me the details first.’

Sonny sat back.  ‘So if I don’t tell you then I don’t get to eat?  You drive a hard bargain Agnes.  I smell pot roast.’

Agnes scowled and Sonny spoke up.  ‘I was on my best behavior.  Gentle as a lamb.  Remember, she could have been my daughter in law.  Did you know she decorated her whole apartment in green and white check, with daisies all over?  It’s very bright to say the least.’  He looked around his home since childhood.  It was dark compared to that tiny apartment.  ‘She said she was schooled in design.  I wonder what she would do in here if I let her.  Can you imagine green, white and yellow in this dining room?  It’s been brown and burgundy since forever.’

Agnes smiled.  ‘She has a sunny disposition and it flows out of her decorating is all.’

Sonny smiled.  ‘So, do I get dinner?’

‘Pot roast is for supper, your lunch is ready though.’  Agnes scurried away.

Edward sipped his tea in silence for a bit and then cleared his throat.  ‘Sonny, I have the papers ready for your deposition on the Murphy case on your desk.  Are you ready to go to court this afternoon?’

‘Yes, I just have to change and glance over a couple of things.  Ugly case this is.  I just can’t believe how a family would swindle an old lady out of house and home.  I’ll be able to get her house back but the family relations are another matter.’  Sonny thought for a moment and then asked ‘What about the investigation on the Hooper case?  Have they found any evidence that would connect my client to the theft?’

‘None whatsoever Sonny.  The young boy simply was delivering papers when the theft occurred.  Are we still going to send out Thomson to look for any evidence regarding a second person in the house?’

‘Yes, I think you should call him today.  No arrest has been made but I think they are warming up to it.  Mrs. Hooper was wise to hire me when she did.  Her son is only fourteen with no criminal record.  He has friends and his paper job that speaks well for him.  It just doesn’t make sense.  He would have to deliver the rest of the papers within ten minutes to have pulled that robbery off.’

The two men ate lunch and then went over the paperwork.  Sonny changed into his suit and grabbed his brown leather briefcase.  ‘I don’t know when I will be home.’ He said to Agnes. 

‘So what else is new?  I’ll have supper in the warmer as usual.’  She smiled as Sonny walked out of the house.  ‘He looks so much like his father.  Except for his taller frame that is.  Not a mean streak in him either like that old Mr. Mason Binion!  I was so scared of him!’

Edward smiled from the open doorway.  ‘I know you didn’t want to be around him very much.  Well, I have several calls to make Agnes so I had better get to work myself.’

‘Now, don’t you be up working half the night Edward!  You aren’t a young man anymore!’  Agnes teased him.

Edward sat up in his chair.  He was a thin man of seventy.  He was bald except for a thin row of hair that circled his head.  He wore wire framed glasses that constantly slid down.  He was quite healthy though and his gray eyes twinkled as he pretended to glare at his wife of forty years.

‘Is that so?  Well, I guess you better hang up your broom and put that apron away then.  I think the wheelchair is in the closet for you!’  Edward grinned.

‘Edward!  You are terrible!  I’ll see you later dear!’  she laughed as she slowly closed the door to leave him to his work.

Agnes hummed old hymns as she dusted the living room, dining room and then the hallways.  The home had eight bedrooms and five bathrooms.  The rooms on the top floor belonged to her and Edward.  It was made into a one bedroom apartment with an elevator that took her downstairs.  She was able to bring dirty laundry down to the basement on the elevator.  The rear staircase was seldom used but it was kept in good working order in case of fire.

Unlike the downstairs rooms, Agnes kept her apartment light and cheerful.  Pink rose wallpaper hung on the walls and her love seat and recliner were a darker rose color to match.  She usually sat in her dark rose colored glider rocker.  It was the only piece of furniture from their old home.

Before their children moved away, they had owned a small home on the other end of town.  Edward had traveled to work each day to the Binion brownstone.  Yet, the neighborhood had gotten run down and they had been robbed twice. Her son had remarked about this to Sonny’s father one day and they decided to fix up the third floor for their dear employees.

Their home was sold and they had lived with the Binion family ever since.  Agnes began working as maid and cook soon after they moved in. 

Agnes knew every crack and crevice in the one hundred year old home.  Above the third floor was the attic.  It was only four feet high and she was the only one who could stand up bent over.  The men usually had to be on their hands and knees.  Old trunks were stored up there and a few broken pieces of furniture.  The cradle that Sonny and his own son used was stored up there.

The pot roast was dished out after it was finished.  Edward wiped a hand over his head and turned out the lights to the law office.  He got in the elevator and went up to his apartment.  A white tablecloth was spread over their table with fresh linen napkins pillowing silver plated silverware. 

Agnes had the table set per usual.  Their home was a welcoming place after a long day of paperwork and phone calls.  Few knew of all the work Edward did for the Binion law firm and he was not about to tell anyone.  When Sonny was a young boy, he was often the babysitter as well.  He opened doors and at times acted as a sort of butler depending on what was needed.  Mr Binion had decided that it was a bad idea to have a female secretary.  'Too easy to get involved with one of those pretty little things.  I will always have a male secretary.  Keeps me on my toes '
 ‘I have apple dumplings for dessert tonight Edward.’

Edward smiled.  They were his favorite.  ‘We have a wonderful life dear!’  The thoughts of the clients troubles slipped away as he ate baked potatoes, pot roast with gravy and snap beans.  He looked out the window onto the quiet street below.  In the distance he could see the traffic lights of the busy city.  He wondered how a little pregnant frightened lady was doing tonight.

Agnes and Edward said grace and asked the Lord to look in on her.


Part 4





The next day found Agnes and Hope sipping a cup of coffee in Hope’s little apartment.  ‘Honestly Agnes, I don’t know what to do with my things.  I have so many questions too.’


Agnes smiled. ‘Well, ask away.  Perhaps I can help.’


‘Well, where would I stay?  I mean, I wonder if I’ll have a bedroom that is large enough for my rocking chair.  How much do you think Mr. Binion will charge per month?  Where will I store the things I want?’


Agnes stirred her second cup of coffee and smiled again.  Her face had a few wrinkles around her eyes and mouth.  She was short in stature and looked like the typical Grandma.  Her white hair was in a short wispy style that complimented her round face.  ‘Well, I can tell you that you will have three rooms.  They are in the back of the house.  You will have a room connected to the nursery.  The third room is a full bath.  Really, it’s just about as large as this apartment.  The nursery will need some redecorating as it hasn’t been used in a long time.  But, we can do that.  As far as where you’ll store your things, well what you don’t want to keep we can donate to the thrift store from church.  You’d like that wouldn’t you?’


Hope nodded.  ‘Yes, I won’t need the futon.  I think I’ll keep the dinette set though.  I mean, when the baby is born I’ll need to find another place to live.  But the rest of the things can go.  They are quite old and I might want a change.’


‘Sure, sure I understand.  We can put the dinette set in the attic too.  It’s large and has other furniture in it.  Oh, and you don’t have to worry about paying rent to Sonny.  Didn’t he tell you that?  You can stay as long as you like too.  No hurry to move out.  He’d like to be near the baby.  He has no living relatives you know.’

Hope nodded and understood perfectly.  ‘It  would seem nice not to be alone.  I’ll just take it slow and see how it works.’

‘Good, good, now when can we expect you?’

Hope looked out the window.  ‘Well, I will have to give a month’s notice or I’ll lose my deposit.’

‘That’s no problem.  I know the owner of this place.  Remember, I am the one who helped you find it.  Now, you can leave in a week if you like!  We can pay the movers and you won’t have to do a thing except pack you clothes.’

‘You’ll take care of it all?  That sounds great.  Ok, then I will move next week.’  She looked around and began to form a plan to donate the dishes and small appliances to the thrift store.

Agnes said good bye and went downstairs.  She knocked on her cousin’s door.  Pheobe answered almost immediately.  ‘Well, did our plan work?’ she asked.

‘Like a charm!  God is so good!  We’ll have her packed up and put into the brownstone next week.  Oh, Pheobe I can’t thank you enough for watching over her.’

Her cousin laughed.  ‘Well, her father was a dear man and she took care of him so well.  She is a darling.  I just know that she needs family and Sonny will treat her well.  Care for coffee?’

‘No, I have to be going.  We’ll be back with the movers on Saturday.  OK?’

‘Oh, that’s fine!  I’ll go up and wish her well!’

Agnes told her that was a great idea and then left for home.

No one was in the house when Agnes got there.  She knew that Edward was at the market with the list she’d given him and Sonny was in court.  She went upstairs to the rooms she had told Hope about.  She gazed at the crib and remembered when Joseph was a baby.  Her eyes misted as she thought of his passing.  ‘Well, there’s nothing that more tears will fix now.  It’s time for joy to come back to this room.  I wonder how Hope will decorate?  I’ll dust and mop but I think I’ll leave the decorating to her.’  She went into the bedroom that had been Josephs until last month and began to clean the room. She had emptied all of Joseph's things long ago and packed them away in the attic. 
 A four poster full size bed was in the center of the room.  It was Sonny’s mother’s bed.  It had been a family heirloom.  The rich mahogany bed was engraved with beautiful cherubs and roses on the head rest and matching design on the foot of the bed.  Agnes removed the plastic that she had put on the cleaned mattress. A chest of drawers that matched the bed stood on one wall.  A mirror that matched also graced the wall.  She opened a window and let the room air out a bit.  She began to hum a familiar hymn as she cleaned the room.  After an hour, the room looked clean.

Sonny arrived home the same time as Edward.  ‘Here, I’ll help with those bags.  You bought out the store!’

Edward handed him a bag.  ‘Well, Agnes had some things to do so I offered to help.’

Sonny asked if she had gone over to see Hope. 

‘Yes, that was one of her stops I think.’

The two men went to the kitchen and deposited the groceries on the table.  ‘Hello you two.  Sit down and I’ll give you a snack.  Supper will be a bit late today.’  She poured them a cup of tea and slid a tray of brownies in front of them.

Edward dove into the brownies but Sonny stared at the plate.  ‘Well go on Sonny. What’s the matter?’

‘Oh, nothing.’  He took a brownie and sipped his tea.  ‘I was just thinking of the donuts that I had over at Hope’s apartment.  Do you think we could get some?’

Agnes didn’t make good donuts though she had tried.  ‘Well, I suppose.  Don’t think I’m going to make a habit of it though.  Those greasy things are full of fat.’

Edward laughed.  ‘I suppose these brownies are fat free eh?’

Agnes blushed at being caught.  ‘Well, I guess I could buy some donuts once a month.’

‘So, how did you make out with Hope?’ Sonny asked.

‘She’s moving in Saturday.  You will pay her moving expenses won’t you?’ She turned to look at Sonny.

‘Well sure, how much is she bringing?’

Agnes tried to remember.  ‘I think she said she wants to store her dinette set in the attic and she wants her rocking chair.  The rest is being donated to the church thrift store.  That can be dropped off the same day.’

Sonny chewed his brownie and thought.  ‘I wonder if she’ll redecorate the nursery.’

‘Well, I’ll leave that up to her if that’s all right.’  Agnes said.

‘I was thinking of giving her a job.  I’d like the entire house updated and she seems to have a knack for it.  What do you think?  I’d pay her of course.’    Sonny relaxed in the kitchen chair.

‘Why I think that’s a splendid idea!’ Edward said.  He always wished the house was more cheerful.

Agnes turned to chop lettuce and spoke her agreement.

The moving truck arrived at two o’clock the following Saturday afternoon.  Sonny opened the door and smiled down at Hope.  ‘Let me help with the movers.’  He said. 

Agnes spoke to Hope.  ‘Here let these men do the moving while I show you around.’  She took hold of her arm and brought her to her rooms.  ‘Now you can decorate all you want.  But it’s neat and clean.  I put fresh linens in the bathroom and on the bed.’

Hope stared at the large rooms.  She went over to the bed and felt the posters.  ‘This is so beautiful!  There is even a crib in there!’

‘If you want a different one, I can get you one.’  She watched as Hope’s eyes grew wide at the matching changing table and dresser in the nursery.  Hope’s eyes went to the walls and Agnes knew she was deciding how to redecorate. 

Agnes showed her the bathroom and then opened the door for the movers and Sonny to bring in her things.

‘Edward is directing the men to the attic.’ He said.  Hope had only four medium sized boxes of clothes and personal things.  When everything was put into her room, Sonny offered to show her the rest of the house.

‘Now, I don’t expect you to stay in your room.  You are welcome in the rest of the house as well.  In fact, once you are settled I have a job offer for you.’  He waited to see how she reacted.

Hope walked into the dining room and stared at the huge chandelier.  The walls were dark red with dark velvet curtains at the windows.  The floors were also covered with a dark carpet.  They walked into a parlor that was filled with heavy antique furniture and dark walls.  He showed her into the waiting room with the fireplace and portrait of his grandfather peering down from the wall over the fireplace mantel.  Hope visibly gasped as she stared at the portrait.

‘That was your father?’ she asked.

‘No that was my grandfather.  My father is standing behind him.’  Hope looked closer and realized that Sonny resembled his father.

‘Your grandfather looks rather imposing.’ She said without thinking.  She suddenly clamped her mouth shut.  ‘Oh, I didn’t mean that he looked bad.’

Sonny laughed.  ‘He was imposing!  My father was terrified of him!’

Sonny continued the tour of the whole house.  ‘Well, as you can see it is old and very large.  It is also quite dark.  I wonder, how would you go about redecorating?’  He wondered if she would put yellow pansies everywhere.  He shuddered at the thought.

Hope was quiet for a while and then replied.  ‘Well, you would have to be careful here.  You don’t want to take away from the beauty of the home.  It has a sense of class with the furniture and of course the chandelier.  I’d remove those curtains though to let more light in.  Sheer white or beige would accent the room better.  Do you know what is beneath the carpets?’

‘The carpets?  I’ve no idea.’ He answered.

‘Well, I’d venture a guess it is hardwood flooring.  If not, I’d spend the money for a honey colored hardwood.  Or, white tile.  You would be surprised how a lighter floor would brighten the room without taking away the integrity.  I think I’d strip the built in cabinets too and put a lighter varnish on them.  I have a lot of ideas actually.’

Sonny looked around and tried to visualize it all.  ‘I’d like to hire you to redecorate the whole house.  I’d hire the workers so you could just direct.  But, I like your ideas.’  He cleared his throat.  ‘What would you do with the painting in the waiting room?’

‘Well, I’d have it cleaned first.  Then, I’d exchange the dark frame for a lighter wood frame.  It would pick up the light from the window and take away from the sternness of the picture.’

By the end of the day Hope was tired but excited as well.  She had never been commissioned to redecorate anything.  Sonny had agreed that she would start with the nursery and her bedroom first.  Then, she would take on the waiting room.  Sonny was sending the painting to be cleaned in the meantime.

That night Agnes decided to serve them supper together.  She turned on the chandelier and let the room glow in it’s light.  ‘You two need a nice relaxing supper.  I’ve set the table so you can eat together. You need to get to know each other if you are living under the same roof.  I know you have much to discuss.’

Sonny was amazed to find his favorite pork roast with small red potatoes and creamed corn.  Hope’s eyes were wide as she looked at the linen napkins and china.  ‘This is so beautiful’ she said.

‘Yes, it is.  I usually get a tray in my office.  It’s too lonely to eat in this room alone, and Agnes and Edward have always eaten in their apartment.  Having you here will be a nice change.  If you don’t mind eating with me that is.’

‘Mind?  I’ve eaten too many meals alone for a very long time.  The last few years I’ve always been inviting friends over to eat so I wouldn’t have to eat alone.’ 

The two sat and ate while talking about their lives.  They found themselves laughing as they shared numerous stories.  Their childhoods had been similar.  She was an only child of a minister and expected to be on best behavior yet played many unexpected pranks.  He was the only child of a lawyer who was also expected to be a pillar of excellent behavior yet always wanting to swing from the chandelier.

Agnes and Edward listened for a while in the staircase and smiled.  As they went upstairs via the elevator Edward said, ‘I think Sonny will enjoy this time in his life.’

Agnes agreed. ‘I think Hope will enjoy having a father in law too.  Lord knows she needs one.’’

‘Yes, Lord only knows.’ Edward replied.




Part 5











Agnes knocked on Hope’s door and waited for a moment.  When no one answered, she peeked her head in.  ‘Hope?’



Hope was sitting up in bed with her headphones on.  She was listening to a teaching from the previous sermon from church.  ‘Oh, Agnes!  I’m sorry I didn’t hear you with these head phones on.’

Agnes laughed.  ‘Oh, that’s fine dear.  What are listening to?  One of the latest tunes?’

‘No, I’m listening to the new pastor’s sermon from last week.  I always like to hear them twice if I can find the time.’

Agnes smiled and looked around the room.  Hope had seemed to settle in nicely.  She noticed that Hope had put the quilt that she made on the foot of her bed.  ‘This was one of my favorites.  Do you like it?’

‘Yes, I found it in the closet.  The wedding ring pattern I think, right?’

‘Right you are!  I made it a few years ago.  I love to sew and crochet in my spare time.’  Agnes sat on the edge of the bed fingering her needlework.

Hope thought this was as good a time as any to ask something that had she’d been wondering.  ‘Agnes, I was wondering about something.  I know that you and your husband attend church and know the Lord, but I’ve never seen Mr. Binion or his son there.  What church does he belong to?’

Agnes hesitated before she spoke.  ‘Well, Sonny was not brought up the same way you were.  His grandfather was an agnostic.  His father married a sweet girl who knew the Lord, but he never would go against his father.  When Mr. Binion died though, he listened to Gloria quite a bit and I think he was a believer before he died.  Losing Gloria was quite a blow for him though, he never went much further in his faith.  Sonny was not raised with much knowledge of Christ.  Oh, I have spoken to him of course.  Sonny knows the basics of the gospels.  However, having a knowledge of the Lord and having a relationship are two different things.’

Hope sighed.  ‘How well I know.  For the longest time I thought my father’s faith would sustain me.  It was quite a surprise to find that we each have to have our own relationship.’

‘The difference with Sonny is that he never felt the need to want to reach out for more of God.  He has never hungered for more of God.  Think back to when you first came to know Jesus in a real way.  You had a hunger, correct?’

Hope thought for a moment and then nodded her head.  ‘I guess that’s true.  But, how can Sonny get a hunger for the Lord when he never hears about him.  Faith comes by hearing, right?’

Agnes was growing more and more excited.  ‘Of course my dear.  We have a part in that area.  Sonny can watch as we respond to the trials of life.  He can also find a certain light in us as we live in front of him.  I dare say that he has often found that Edward and I have something that he lacks.  He just never figured out what it was.  It’s not as though I haven’t tried to tell him though.  Like I said, he simply has not hungered after the one who gave us that something.’

 

‘Hmmm, that something is peace, joy, love and wholeness.  You can’t find that anywhere but in Christ.  I’ll ask the Lord to help me shine for Him.  I certainly haven’t shown Him in a good light by showing up at Sonny’s doorstep pregnant, have I?’  Hope felt defeated in this area.

Agnes put her arm around her.  ‘Tut tut, now we have gone through this already haven’t we?  You already asked for God’s forgiveness and He gave it to you.  This child is going to be a blessing.  It is not a curse.  You are starting out fresh as well.  The other side of asking for forgiveness is receiving.  That does not mean we go back and wear that filthy cloak of shame ever again.  Right?’

Agnes gave Hope’s shoulder a slight squeeze and then moved away.  Hope smiled and nodded her head.

‘Well, if you don’t need any help here, I have a roast to tend to.  I’ll see you downstairs soon?  I have tea in the kitchen.’  Agnes smiled and left the room.

Hope was still sipping her tea when a very tired Sonny wandered into the kitchen.  He had loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt.  His hair was a bit messed from him raking his fingers through it.

‘It must have been a rough day.’ Hope said.  ‘Here, sit down and I’ll pour you a cup of tea.’  She got up before Sonny had a chance to reply.

‘Dinner smells great Agnes.’  He sat down at the kitchen table and leaned back against the chair.  ‘Thanks for the tea Hope.  I am bushed.  I’ve been in court since 8:30 a.m. and my lunch was on the go.’  He began to yawn.  ‘Oh, sorry.’

Hope felt sorry for him.  ‘Listen, it’s almost an hour before dinner.  I can serve the two of us if Agnes leaves it out.  Do you mind eating in the kitchen?  I just thought you could stretch out for a bit.’

‘Sounds great’  Sonny left the room before Agnes had a chance to answer.  When she did, she shook her head.

‘He comes home like this a lot.  I usually serve him a plate in the parlor and he eats it cold.  He falls asleep on the couch.  You’ll probably find him there later.’

Hope was surprised.  ‘I figured he’d retire to his room.  I’d forgotten he eats alone most times.  Maybe he would rather not have company tonight.  I could fix my plate and leave him be.’

Agnes shook her head.  ‘No such thing!  It’s good for him to have some company.  I’ll just be  a minute with these rolls.  You just sit and keep me company a bit.’

Agnes talked but Hope didn’t hear much.  She was thinking of a very tired Sonny Binion.  It must be very lonely for him to come home each night to a cold plate of supper.  A half hour later Agnes had the roast ready.  ‘Well, you can dish it out whenever you wish.  I have my supper upstairs in the crock pot.  Just call me if you need anything dear.  Don’t let him sleep too long though or he’ll be up all night.  He rummages around in the fridge.  That’s how I know he’s been up.’

Hope nodded and said good night.  After Agnes went upstairs, curiosity got the best of Hope.  She wandered into the waiting room parlor and sure enough, Sonny had passed out on the couch.  He’d removed his tie and shoes.  One arm was draped over his head.  The other lay draped over his stomach.  One leg was propped up on the arm of the couch and the other dangled off the side.  Hope reached for a light blanket and covered him up.  He inhaled and did not awaken.  Hope went quietly back to the kitchen.  She turned off the stove and noticed it was 6 p.m.  She decided to let Sonny sleep until 7p.m.

She took a note pad and made a list of things she wanted to do with the rooms she was staying in.  She would speak to a friend at church about painting.  She wasn’t supposed to inhale certain paints due to her pregnancy.  She thought of colors, fabrics, linens and an assortment of other things.  She had decided to ask Sonny about the dining room and foyer as well.  She thought some wide white tiles would lighten up the rooms.  She’d would leave the furniture alone, as well as the walls in the foyer.  She thought about how the dining room would look with sheer white curtains.  Before she knew it, an hour had gone by.

She was surprised when Sonny came into the kitchen in his stocking feet.  ‘Wow, I slept like a log.’  He sat down and noticed the note pad.  ‘Making a list?’

‘Yes, I am trying to make a list of things I’m going to decorate with.’  She got up and took some plates out of the cupboard.  ‘I hope you don’t mind an informal supper.  I don’t know much about fancy dining.’

Sonny smiled.  ‘I’m so hungry I’d eat off the floor right now.’
 
Hope put the plate in front of him and he stared.  'Is it ok?'
'Yes, it's just that I usually have it cold.'
Hope felt bad.  'Oh, I thought you might like it hot.'
 
Sonny laughed.  'I do!  But, somehow it's always cold when I get to it.'

They ate in silence.  ‘Would you like more?’  she asked.

Sonny looked up.  ‘I can get it.’  Hope shook her head.

‘Let me.’  She got up and refilled Sonny’s plate. 

‘It didn’t take you long to find your way around this kitchen.  I lived here all my life and still have no idea where the toaster is hidden.’  He laughed.

Hope smiled.  ‘Toaster, let’s see.  Oh, it’s under that cupboard near the refrigerator.’’

When Sonny finished eating he took his plate to the sink.  Hope found a dish pan and began to wash the dishes.  ‘You’re going to wash them?’

‘Well, I thought I would.  Agnes might like to come down to a clean kitchen.’

Sonny smiled.  ‘She might at that.  Here, since I don’t know where anything is let me wash and you dry and put away.’

‘You want to wash dishes?’  Hope was incredulous.

Sonny looked at her with a confused look.  ‘Why not?’

‘Well, I just never thought Mr. Binion the famous lawyer would wash dishes.’ She laughed.

Sonny rolled up his shirt sleeves and began to wash the dishes.  ‘I’m pretty good at it.  When I was about ten, I used to help in the kitchen by washing dishes.  That way, Agnes would make me chocolate chip cookies.’

Hope laughed.  ‘Agnes was pretty smart back then too eh?’

‘Yeah, she always had my number.’

The dishes were done and put away in half an hour.  ‘Well, I think I’ll turn in Sonny.  It’s almost 9p.m. and I get so sleepy.

Sonny said goodnight.  ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’

Sonny was about to turn off the light and noticed Hope’s notepad on the counter.  He sat down and read all of her ideas.  ‘White tile, sounds interesting.’  He then began to close the spiral notebook and noticed that there were a lot of notes in it.

He didn’t want to be nosey but he had nothing to do so he began to read.  Hope had written down her prayers on some pages.  Sonny read her despair at losing her father.  She also had written about finding herself with child.  She had written a prayer to the Lord to help her be a good mother and to try to approach Mr. Binion in case he wanted to see the child.  She was worried he either wouldn’t want anything to do with the baby, or he’d want to take the child away from her.’

Sonny took the spiral notebook into the living room and sat in front of the fireplace reading.  Hope was a woman who had been lonely most of her adult life.  She had taken care of a sick mother while her father took care of the church.  When her mother passed on, her father became quite ill and then unable to function.  She had cooked, cleaned and later took total care of her father and some of the matters of the church as well.

Sonny shook his head.  This was not a woman who was a gold digger.  She was a hard working woman.  She had written about how thankful she was as well.  In many pages she had listed ten things she was thankful for.

Sonny was surprised to find that on the day he had visited, she had written how thankful she was to have someone share her donuts.  She thanked God for being able to come to the Binion home.  ‘Perhaps I will be able to assist Agnes.  It will be wonderful not to have to climb the stairs when I am fat and ugly.’

‘You will never be ugly Hope.’  He murmured.  He took the notebook back into the kitchen.  The wall clock said 1 a.m.  ‘I’m exhausted.’  He went down the hall and got ready for bed.  As he lay in the bed staring into the darkness, he wondered at someone who could find so much to be thankful for each day.

He fell asleep thinking that he was thankful for a hot supper.  Sleep came easily.

The sound of something woke him up at 4 a.m. though.  He wasn’t sure what it was.  Sonny got up and wrapped his robe around him.  He went into the hall and saw Hope wandering throughout the house.

‘Father, do you want a hot water bottle?  The church secretary called.’  Sonny heard her talking and realized that she was sleep walking and talking in her sleep.  He feared she’d hurt herself.

Gently he turned Hope around before she went into the kitchen.  He walked to the back of his home and walked Hope back to her bed.

‘Good night Father’ she said.  Sonny helped her back into bed and covered her up.  He noticed she was still sound asleep.

Walking back to his own bedroom he shook his head.  ‘What on earth am I going to do with her?’

The next morning started as any other.  Agnes had the coffee ready by 6:30.  Sonny went into the kitchen and looked to see if Hope was in there.  When he found that she was not, he spoke to Agnes.

‘Agnes, I have a problem.  Well, I mean we have a problem.  It’s Hope really.’  He began to ramble.

‘Sonny, what on earth is the matter?  Spit it out!’

‘Hope sleep walks and talks in her sleep too.  I found her wandering around 4a.m. this morning!’  Sonny grabbed a cup of coffee.  ‘What are we going to do?’

Agnes was horrified.  ‘Why, I have no idea!’

Just then Hope walked in.  ‘Oh, am I interrupting?  I can come back.’

‘No dear, but I think we need to ask you something.  Do you know that you sleep walk?’

Hope sat down and began to shake.  ‘Oh no, not again!  What did I do?  Did I break something?  I’m sorry.  I just sometimes sleep walk but I haven’t done that since I was about 15 yrs old.’

Sonny nodded.  ‘Well, do you know why?’

‘Well, I don’t know.  The doctor said it’s nerves.  But, I didn’t feel nervous last night.’  She was visably trembling. 

Agnes went over to her.  ‘My dear, your whole life has changed within just a few months.  Your body just needs to adjust.  I’ll just have to have you lock the kitchen door at night and perhaps some of the hall doors.  That way, you won’t hurt yourself.  I hate the idea of locking your bedroom door though.’

‘No, that’s not good.  I just wanted you to know that it happened.  I walked you back to your room and you went right back to bed.’  He hoped he didn’t upset her.

Hope nodded.  ‘That’s what Father used to do.  I’m so sorry.’

‘We’ll manage.’ Sonny said. 

Agnes hugged Hope.  ‘We have had to manage with a lot worse.  Haven’t we Sonny?’

‘Yes, this house has had some ups and downs.  This is just another bump.’ He said.

Sonny made a mental note to go online and look up sleep walking though.




Part 6




 
Sonny took the stairs two at a time.  It was only 4:30 a.m.  But he was in a hurry and quite anxious.  He rapped on the door and a haggard Edward answered.

‘For pity’s sake man!  Do you realize the time?  Whatever is it that could not have waited until a decent hour?’  Edward stood back and let Sonny enter their apartment.

Edward wrapped his robe around him and tied it at the middle.  He had foregone his slippers in an effort to answer the door and not awaken his wife.  ‘Settle down Sonny, sit down and let’s have an explanation.  It better be good.’ He sighed and yawned.

‘She sleep walks!’  Sonny burst out!

‘Wonderful.  Now, mind telling me who?’

Sonny drew his hand through his hair in frustration.  ‘Hope!  Who do you think?’

Agnes suddenly appeared in the doorway of her bedroom in her night wrapper.  ‘Hope should know that she sleep walks Sonny.  Why don’t you address it to her?’

‘I can’t do that!  She’d be mortified.’  Sonny sat back in misery.  ‘What am I going to do if she suddenly goes outdoors in the middle of the night?’

‘Oh for Pete’s sakes!  Just tell her!  Perhaps she has done it before!’

Sonny squirmed in his seat.  ‘I once heard if you awaken someone who is sleep walking that they could have a stroke or something.’  He looked at Agnes for confirmation.

‘That’s just stuff and nonsense!  Now, go downstairs and get dressed!  You have the morning clear today so you better speak to Hope this morning.’  Edward yawned and said ‘Good night!  Or should I say, good morning?  Anyway’s just go back downstairs.  This is MY day off!!’  With that, Edward laughed and went back to bed.

Agnes reached over and touched Sonny’s arm.  ‘Seriously dear, ‘she spoke in her all too familiar motherly tone which Sonny had become accustomed to and deeply cherished.  ‘You just talk to the girl about it and I think she will give you some pointers on what to do.  I’ll make cherry scones this morning with ham and eggs.  It’s her favorite and she’ll relax over the breakfast table.  Don’t worry.’

Sonny took a deep breath and began to relax.  ‘Thanks Agnes.  I’m sorry for barging in like this.  I guess I wasn’t thinking.’

Agnes laughed.  ‘You’ve done it before and it’s perfectly all right.  Remember when you lost your favorite suit pants?  I still remember the morning you came knocking in your shorts!  How about the time you didn’t know what to do when your son’s front tooth fell out?’

Sonny’s face turned red.  ‘I thought he was going to have to go to hospital or something.  OK, I’ll just go downstairs.  See you in a few hours Agnes. ‘

‘See you later.’ She replied.

A few hours later Sonny was dressed casually and sitting across the breakfast table watching Hope.  Hope noticed he was staring.  ‘Have I got something on my face?’

‘Well of course you have.  A nose, freckles, mouth, eyes..’

‘No, I meant something like food.’ She said.  ‘What is wrong with you this morning.  You look nervous.’

Sonny shifted in his seat.  ‘Well, I do want to speak to you about something.  I’m just not quite sure how.’  He looked at his eggs and blinked.

‘Usually the best way to start is to come out with it.’ She said.  ‘Have you changed your mind about my being here?’  She started to get nervous.

Sonny looked up quickly.  ‘Oh no, nothing like that.  It’s just well, last night I was in the study quite late.  I saw you walk by the doorway.  I realized that you were sound asleep.  Do you sleepwalk often?’

Hope’s mouth dropped.  She shut her eyes and tilted her head back.  ‘I’m so embarrassed!  I never thought this would happen again!  I used to do this when I was younger.  Usually when I was nervous.  I’m not nervous now though.’

Sonny put his elbow on the table and leaned his head on his closed hand.  ‘What should I do?  Wake you up?  I’m worried you’ll go outside or something.’

 

‘Oh, Daddy used to just take my hand and walk me back to my room.  For some reason I would just get back to bed he said.  Just nudge me in the direction of my rooms, should work.  Otherwise, just wake me.’

‘What happens when you wake up?’ he asked.

Hope smiled and gulped down some tea.  ‘Well, I have no idea.  Daddy never woke me.  Listen, I’m really sorry.  I hope this doesn’t last.  Would you like to lock my room at night?  It’s fine with me.’

‘Well, that would not make me feel too safe.  I mean, in case of fire I’d like you to get out.  I’ll just do like your father and nudge you back to your room.  Of course if you walk when I’m sleeping …’ he took a deep breath.

‘I usually don’t walk in the wee hours.  Gosh, I just don’t know what to do.’  Hope started to get upset and Sonny could see it.

‘Listen, it’s no big deal and it probably won’t last.  You are pregnant and perhaps your hormones are adjusting or something like that.  I just wanted you to be aware and ask what to do.’  Sonny tried to relax and give her the impression that all was well.  His stomach was jumping with nerves but he didn’t want to scare her.

The conversation turned to the new dining room curtains and wall paint and then Agnes came in to clear the table.  She smiled at Sonny and he got the signal that he’d done all right.

‘I have to go to the obstetrician today.  Do you want to come with me Agnes?’  She was hopeful, not wanting to sit in the waiting room alone.

‘Well I would love to my dear, but I always do the grocery shopping on Saturdays.  Hey Sonny, how about you run along with her?’’  Agnes turned her innocent looking eyes to him.

Sonny’s eyes got wide.  ‘What?’ he squeaked.

Hope smiled.  ‘It’s no big deal really.  It’s just hard sitting by myself with all the married couples .  I feel like, well never mind.’  She got up and started to walk away.

Agnes glared at Sonny.  He looked up with a sheepish grin.

‘What time is your appointment?  I mean, I don’t have to do anything but sit in the waiting room right?’ he asked.

Hope’s smile took his breath away.  ‘Well, of course!  Oh than you so much!  The appointment is ten a.m.’

Sonny nodded and stared ahead.  After Hope walked away Agnes touched his shoulder.  ‘You can do this Sonny.’

Sonny nodded.  ‘When my wife was pregnant I was never around.  I mean, I lived here but…’

‘I remember, I was here.  Your father and grandfather kept you a safe distance away.  This is different Sonny.  That girl has no one but you for family.  She needs you.’  Agnes put one hand on her hip.  ‘If truth be known, you need her too.  Now run along and get yourself ready to go.’

A few hours later Sonny and Hope were sitting in the waiting room.  There was a poster on the wall with a message about the Lamaze method of birthing.  He could hear the other couples making all sorts of plans, from college to baby clothes.  Suddenly, he realized that someone had asked him a question.  ‘Is this your first?’

The young man was waiting for an answer.  ‘Beg pardon?’ Sonny asked.

‘Is this your first baby?’ 

Sonny stared at the young man and thought he was barely able to shave.  He suddenly felt like he was ancient.  ‘Yes’ he said.  He thought to himself, ‘well, it’s my first GRANDCHILD’ He didn’t say anything else but picked up a magazine.

‘I think it’s great that you waited until you were more mature.  I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing.’  The young man said.

Sonny wanted to jump out of the window but he stuck his head in the magazine.  He had no idea what he was reading, he was just hiding.  Hope realized what was going on.  She leaned over and whispered In Sonny’s ear.  ‘I don’t think I need any of those for a while.’

Sonny suddenly saw what he was looking at.  He was staring at breast pumps.  His face reddened and he turned the pages quickly.  It seemed like hours until Hope’s name was called.

He suddenly wanted to go into the room with her rather than be left alone with all the other young couples.  He spotted a newspaper and felt like it was heaven sent.  Looking out the window, he noticed a bench just outside.  He picked up the paper and told Hope he needed a little air.  She smiled at him and said, ‘Thanks, I’ll see you out there soon.’

Sonny breathed a sigh of relief as he opened the paper on the outside bench.  He watched as huge bellied woman came parading by him.  He felt like half of Boston was going to give birth within a year.  He watched as fat bloated ankles and worried looking young man ambled by.  One woman came in with a big belly and a wheel carriage with a baby inside.  Another woman came in talking to her husband.  ‘The doctor says I’m having twins!’

Sonny didn’t hear the rest of the conversation.  ‘Twins?  What if Hope is having twins?  What do we do with two?’  He had ideas of having Agnes shop for another crib when Hope tapped him on the shoulder.

Without asking how the doctor’s visit went, he blurted out….’Are you having twins?’

Hope looked down at Sonny’s white face and took pity on him.  ‘Don’t worry, it’s too soon to tell but twins do not run in my family.  How about yours?’

A few seconds passed and Sonny’s mind was still blank.  ‘I don’t know.  So, how was the dr visit?’

‘I’m doing fine he said.  He suggested I go to Lamaze classes though.  I want to have the baby natural.’

Sonny wasn’t thinking too clearly.  ‘Of course you want it natural.  Why would you want it UN natural?’

Hope smiled as she got into the car.  ‘I was wondering, would you like to be my Lamaze coach?’

Sonny was busy watching for stop signs, red lights and making turns.  He was trying to think.  ‘What are Lamaze?’ He thought.  He was quiet for a while.  Then, it came to him.  ‘I don’t think I’d be very good at it.’

Hope’s shoulders slumped as she sat next to him.

‘I realize it’s quite a favor to ask.  It’s all right.  I’ll ask Edward.  Agnes said she was too weak to really be much help.’

Sonny’s heart was beating so fast that he felt she could hear it.  ‘Edward? Edward!’  He shouldn’t be anybody’s coach!  I’m the grandfather, I’ll be the coach.’

As Sonny was parking the car, Hope looked at her pamphlet on Lamaze.  ‘It says here that the first classes should begin soon for me.  I’ll let you take this to read.’

Sonny took the pamphlet and exited the car.  ‘How far are you in this pregnancy?  Oh wait, I asked you that all ready!  I can’t remember though.’

‘It’s all right Sonny.  I’ve entered my fourth month.’

Sonny nodded and walked into the house.  That night he went on the internet and looked up Lamaze courses.  His stomach was about to flip when he heard soft footsteps.  Looking up he saw a glimpse of Hope’s blue night wrapper.

He got up and walked slowly over to her.  She was headed for the couch in front of the fireplace.  Sonny gently to her hand and walked her to the other end of the house. He smelled the sweet smell of baby powder as he walked down the hall.  When he got to her room, he opened the door and nudged her gently in.  Just as she had said, she went back to her bed.

 

Sonny sat back down in his study and turned off the computer.  Tomorrow was Sunday.  He was going to have to pray real hard to help him through this whole ordeal.  He couldn’t decide if he was scared, horrified, or excited.  ‘Dear God help me.  I had no idea how to be a father.  Now I am going to be a grandfather.  I still have no clue.  Lamaze looks like a horrifying experience.  I am supposed to be in the same room that the baby is born in.  Blood makes me queasy.  What if I pass out?  I’ll make a fool of myself.  I’m a prominent lawyer.  I gave the money for half the hospital.  The gossip!  What have I gotten myself into?’ ‘Sonny went to bed and dreamed of pink and blue walls with twins running all over the place.’ 








Part 7





 Sonny went to the library and took out all sorts of books on pregnancy, childbirth and the natural child birthing methods.  When he wasn’t going over his clients needs, he was reading in his office.  For a few weeks no one in his home saw very much of him.


Occasionally he would scoot upstairs with a book and question Agnes.  ‘Is this really how a woman gives birth?  I’m not sure I want to be there in the birthing room at all.’

‘Relax, it’s a beautiful thing to be there.  You will be so happy, the messy part won’t be a problem.’  Agnes took his hand and reassured him.

Sonny continued to eat his meals with Hope.  Hope noticed him watching her one evening.  ‘Umm, I guess I am starting to have a little more belly.  Did you know we start the natural child birthing classes this week?  I have my pillow all ready.’

‘Pillow?  Oh, yes I remember now.  I have Tuesday all free to go.’  Sonny picked at his breakfast after that.

Hope noticed he was a bit nervous.  ‘You can back out if you want.’

Sonny looked up quickly and met her with huge eyes.  ‘Don’t you want me?’

‘Well, of course I do.  But you seem scared and uncomfortable.’

Sonny shook his head.  ‘I’ve been reading about this.  A lot is involved.  I wasn’t around when my son was born.  I want to be there Hope, I will be there.’

‘You must miss your son terribly.  Was your wife sick or anything when she was pregnant?  I’ll bet you worried over her.   Were you one of those overprotective husbands?’  Hope tried to draw Sonny into conversation.

Sonny put his cup of coffee down and sat back.  ‘I cared about my wife.  No, I wasn’t particularly overprotective.  You must understand, our marriage was not a love match.  She was chosen for me due to her social status.  I just didn’t have the romance that you read about in books.’  Sonny looked down fearing he had revealed too much.  ‘I’m not a cold hearted man Hope.  I don’t want you to think that.  I will be a good grandfather.’

‘Sonny, don’t worry.  I know you aren’t a cold hearted person.  I know you’ll be a terrific grandfather…and a great coach!’  Hope reached over automatically and took his hand in hers.

Sonny jumped a bit and tensed.  ‘uh, thank you.’

‘Listen, I have to go get ready for a client so I’ll see you around supper.’  Sonny tried to smile but it did not hide his nervousness.

That afternoon Hope spoke with Agnes while she was in the kitchen.  ‘Sonny told me that he and his wife were chosen and not a love match.  He must have had an unusual upbringing.’

Agnes sighed, ‘Sonny has a heart of gold Hope.  He was very loving as a child.  He wanted so much to get his grandfather’s and father’s approval that he was under their thumb.  He was shown no affection at all and I would think he does not know how to react to it.  Yet, I know that he will be a doting grandfather.  All these years Edward and I were the ones who showed him physical affection.  He would run upstairs to show us his school work or when his feelings got hurt.  Edward would hug him and I’d give him his favorite cookies.  We would love on him like he was our own.  He never got that from his family.’

‘Oh, that’s probably why he tensed up when I took his hand earlier.  I was trying to reassure him.  Did I do the wrong thing?’

Agnes smiled.  ‘No child, you did the right thing.  Keep on doing it.  He thrives on affection.  He’s forty two years old but still longing for affection like he did as a child.’

Hope thought about this as she got ready for her first child birthing class that week.  Sonny rapped on the door as she was about to open it.  She was startled to see him out of his dress clothes again.  ‘I’ll never get used to you in jeans and a pull over.’

‘I thought since I’ll be on the floor, no sense ruining my trousers.’  Sonny said.

‘Ah yes, always the practical one aren’t ya!’  Hope gave him a playful  squeeze on his arm with a gentle laugh.

Sonny knew she was laughing at him but he didn’t care.  Her laughter was such a change from the years of seriousness.  He found himself smiling down at her.

Hope looked up and was stunned to see him look so much younger.  ‘You should smile more often Sonny.  You look 10 years younger.’

‘I don’t think that would work well in the court room, but thanks.’

Their first night at the child birthing was a get a acquainted night.  Everyone introduced themselves.  He was not the only one there who was not the baby’s father.  There were friends, brothers, fathers and even mothers.  They learned how to position themselves on the floor for their first lesson.  Next, they watched a movie showing an actual child birth.

Sonny was surprised to see he was not as squeamish as he thought he would be.  Hope looked a bit green though.  ‘I’m not sure I’m going to like this.’

All the way home, it was Sonny who reassured Hope.  That night, Sonny sat up a while sipping a cup of tea.  He was worried that Hope would sleep walk.  Sure enough, she came out of her room and sat down on the sofa.  Sonny gently took her hand and walked her back to her room.  She walked back to her bed and lay down.  Sonny shut the bedroom door quietly and then went to bed himself.

‘I guess I am getting to know her ways.’ He thought.

He was in for a shock though the following week.  As he was eating his supper, Hope burst into tears for no apparent reason.

He sat across the table and watched open mouthed.  ‘What’s wrong?’

‘I don’t know.’ She sniffed.  ‘I just feel awful.  I’m getting fat.  I’m all alone.  I’m tired and yet if I lay down I can’t sleep. ..’  She put the napkin to her face and began to cry again.

Sonny remembered something about hormonal changes causing mood swings.  He got up bravely and went to her side.  He knelt down and took her in his arms.  Hope didn’t really she was in his arms until she smelled his aftershave.  ‘I’m getting your shirt all wet.’

‘It’s ok, I’m not seeing anyone tonight.   Listen, you are just having a mood swing.  Your hormones are all changing with the pregnancy.  You will be all right.  You just need a hug now and then.  I hope I’m doing this right.’  Sonny wished he had not said that.

Hope smiled into his shirt.  She felt warm hands massaging her back.  She reached out and hugged him back.  ‘You hug nice.’

‘Are you all right now?  Agnes made my favorite meat loaf and it’s getting cold.’

Hope suddenly burst out laughing and was unable to stop.  Tears were streaming down her face and Sonny was afraid she was hysterical.  He was almost going to slap her but he knew he couldn’t hit a woman.  He wondered if he should go get Agnes to do it.

‘Hope?’

‘Oh Sonny, go sit down and eat.  You are hysterical funny!  You are just what I needed!  Oh my goodness that was so funny.’  Hope took a deep breath and tried to compose herself.

Sonny got up and went to his place at the table.  He was trying to figure out what was so funny, when it dawned on him how he must have sounded.  He smiled again.  ‘Yes, I’ve been thinking about going into a new profession.  Comedy.’

This brought on another onslaught of laughter from Hope.  ‘Oh please, I have to eat vegetables and if I laugh this hard I will choke on them…or worse.’

Sonny made a face.  ‘Oh dear, I have this horrible image of you spitting peas on this white linen tablecloth.  Agnes will skin me alive. How will I ever explain that I made you laugh.’

Hope slammed her fork down and slapped her knee.  She was laughing out of control again.

Sonny was very pleased with himself.  He had never made anyone laugh like that since college days.  He would try to make her laugh more often.  The crying thing was a bit uncomfortable for him.







Salt and Pepper Affair      part 8


 

Hope continued to get a little bigger each month.  Her pregnancy was a constant thought in Sonny’s mind.  They continued to go to the child birthing classes.  He did all that he was instructed to do.  He found himself on the floor behind Hope one day , telling her to ‘pant pant pant, blow , pant pant pant , blow’.  It all sounded surreal to him but he knew according the books he’d read; that this was the way it was done.

The other brownstone homes began to sport lights and wreaths for Christmas.   Hope decided to decorate.   ‘Agnes, where are the Christmas decorations?’

Agnes smiled.  ‘Well, we do not have many.  But, I’ll go have Edward fetch them.’

A few minutes later Hope was given a few small boxes.  ‘Wow, you are right.  The family didn’t believe in decorating for the holiday season, did they?’

‘Well, they wanted it to look subtle.  They always bought a real tree though.’  Agnes stepped forward to look into the boxes.  ‘Oh dear, this will never do.  It appears they all have mildew.  I’ll just take them to the trash.’  Agnes started to walk away when a small box fell out.’

Hope leaned down with great care.  ‘Let’s see if this is moldy.’  She opened the box and found 12 tin soldiers.  There were also four  small elves.  ‘These look so cute.  They don’t have anything wrong with them.  I can use them.’

Edward walked into the room as Hope was examining  them.  ‘I believe those were Sonny’s own decorations, Hope.  He bought them with his own money when he was about ten yrs old.  His mother used to put them on the mantle every year.’

‘Well, that is exactly where they belong then!’  Hope smiled as she thought of how she was going to decorate.  ‘Sonny said I could decorate, so I will do just that.  I’ll need to go shopping though.  I’ll ask if he’ll go with me.’

Agnes clapped her hands together.  ‘That’s a wonderful idea.  He hasn’t done that in years!’

Edward and Agnes smiled and walked into the kitchen for a cup of tea.  Hope could hear them laughing and chattering all down the hall.  She knew Sonny was going to have one more court appearance before Christmas and then he was free.

That evening she spoke to him at dinner.  ‘I was wondering if you would go shopping with me.  All of the Christmas ornaments have molded in the boxes and I’d like to decorate for the Christmas season.’

Sonny thought of his own decorations and was saddened to think they were gone.  He didn’t say anything about it though.  ‘Well, I am free tomorrow afternoon.  Let’s make a day of it.  We can shop and go out to dinner.  I’ll tell Agnes not to fix our dinner.’

Just then, Sonny had another idea.  ‘Hope, are you sure you should be out shopping in your condition?  You are now five months pregnant you know.’

‘I’m fine Sonny!’  Hope suddenly jerked and drew in a breath.

‘What’s wrong?  Should I call an ambulance?’  Sonny’s face turned white and he rushed over to where she was sitting.

Hope began to laugh.  ‘No, I don’t think that’s necessary.  The baby kicked is all.  Want to see?’

Sonny was baffled.  ‘I don’t see how I can see anything.’

Hope grabbed his wrist and guided it to her stomach.  A tiny flutter and then a kick.  ‘Oh my goodness!  Is that the baby kicking?’  Sonny had a wide smile.

‘Yes, that’s the baby!’  Hope began to laugh and Sonny joined in.

The next day Sonny drove to the shopping center with Hope.  They saw all sorts of displays and it took some time to decide what to buy.

Hope  picked out some garland with lights on it.  ‘This is for the mantle piece’

‘I see’  said Sonny.

‘Don’t you think your tin soldiers would look great on the mantle with garland all around them?’

Sonny’s face lighted up.  ‘I thought everything was moldy?’

‘Oh, didn’t I tell you?  Your little box was fine, no mold at all!’

Just then, Sonny looked over Hope’s head to the window.  It had begun to snow.

‘Look, Hope.’  He turned her around.

Hope smiled.  ‘Our first snow!  Doesn’t that make shopping all the more fun?’

Sonny smiled and nodded his head.

By the end of the day they had bought all sorts of colorful bulbs, pine cones, ribbons, and even a real tree.  Sonny made arrangements to have the tree delivered and it would arrive the next day.  ‘Now, it’s time for dinner.  I have a special treat for you.’

Sonny drove to the outskirts of Boston and pulled up to a log cabin restaurant with a sign that read ‘Tea Party Inn’. 

He escorted Hope to a chair near a window.  The smell of a wood fire permeated the room.  A huge fireplace was in the middle of the wall opposite where they were seated.   Pine cone wreaths with holly and ivy hung from the walls.  A deer head wore a wreath of green with gold and red bulbs.  It felt like Christmas to Hope.

‘I’ve never been here before!’  Sonny watched as Hope’s eyes grew wide.  ‘I love this place!’  She turned her head and looked all around.

Sonny was glad she liked it.  ‘I found it when some business brought me here one day.  I thought you would like it.’

‘I love it!’

Sonny grinned and handed her a menu.  ‘The beef stew is delicious.  Also, the chicken pot pies are amazing.  I like the ham dinners too.  They make their roles here.’

‘It sounds like you’ve been back to this place quite a bit.’

‘Guilty as charged my dear!’  Sonny scanned the menu and then asked ‘Would you like coffee or hot cocoa?’

‘mmm, hot cocoa!’

‘Good, me too.  I didn’t want to look silly ordering it just for me.’

They enjoyed their meal and then went home to decorate.  ‘I will hang the high stuff and you can direct.  How’s that?’

Edward stared from the hallway.  ‘It looks like you bought out the store!’

‘Well, we did!’ Sonny said.

Soon garland was hung and all sorts of decorations were stewn all through the house.  ‘I want it to look like  a vintage Christmas in Boston.’

 Hope said.

‘Wow, I think you did it my girl!’  said Agnes

Sonny watched as she put the garland on the mantle.  She then placed his tin soldiers in spaced places.  ‘Do you like it?’

‘That looks very pretty!’  Sonny couldn’t believe how beautiful everything looked.
 
The next day,
there was a knock on the door and  their Christmas tree arrived.  ‘Stand it in the corner of the room!’  Edward and Sonny were in charge of standing the tree up.  Sonny was in for another surprise when Hope brought out his grandmother’s antique tree skirt.

‘Where did you find that?’ he asked.   It was gold satin with antique lace trim. 

‘I found it among some old boxes in the attic.  It looks great, don’t you think?’  She spun around and brought out four six inch tall wooden Christmas elves.  Sonny’s eyes grew wide as his elves were placed strategically under the tree.  ‘There!  Now for the candles in the windows.’  Hope put a candle in each front window of the house.  They were battery operated and she turned them all on.

Agnes suddenly appeared with cider and donuts.  ‘This deserves some of the bakery’s donuts!’

‘You mean it Agnes?’  Sonny said.

‘I sure do Sonny!  This house hasn’t seen such joy and laughter in a long time!  It’s time for the donuts!’

The four of them took time out to eat and then it was time to trim the tree.

Edward stood back as the the tree became an antique Christmas tree.  Sonny and Hope had found old fashioned bulbs and tinsel.  The tree was the most beautiful tree the house had ever seen.

Sonny looked and noticed everyone had sat down with a donut.  ‘I’m turning the lights on!’

The tree was lit, they ate the donuts, and hope filled the home.




Part 9



Sonny was busy in court when Agnes and Hope carefully put away the ornaments and took the tree to the curb to be picked up by the trash people.  Hope sat wrapping the ornaments carefully and her mind wandered back to the wonderful Christmas that she had enjoyed.

Most of her gifts were clothes for the baby or toys.  She received some sweaters and a few maternity pant suits that she was already wearing.  She felt like she was getting big at a steady rate.  Sonny’s eyes had lit up when he opened his gifts.  She had bought him a gold pen set, a new brown leather attaché’ case, and a new appointment book for the new year.  Agnes and Edward bought seven shirts and some handkerchiefs for him.

‘I guess that’s about it Hope.  Edward will take care of the boxes.’  Agnes noted the wistful look on Hope’s face.  ‘Are you missing your father dear?’

Hope turned from her daydreaming.  ‘I really hadn’t thought of him much.  I know that sounds awful.  I’ve just been so busy redecorating the house, and then the holidays.  It would be nice to have had him near though.’

‘I’m sorry to bring sadness to your face dear.  It’s just that you were so far away.  Where were you?’  Agnes sat down next to Hope.

‘I was just remembering Sonny’s face as he opened his gifts.  He seemed so happy.’  Hope didn’t realize that she was smiling and her eyes were twinkling.

Agnes noticed everything though.  ‘You really like that man don’t you Hope.’

Hope was suddenly embarrassed.  She blinked her eyes and looked down.  ‘Well, yes.  I just like to see people happy.’

Agnes waited for a moment before speaking.  ‘Child, I want to speak frankly with you.  Is that all right?’

Hope was suddenly very aware of her hands.  She nodded her head and waited for Agnes to speak.

‘Right now you are in a very emotional state.   Your hormones are not in a normal state due to the pregnancy.  However, I have seen a longing look in your eye whenever Sonny is near.  Your eyes light up when he enters a room.  If I haven’t missed my guess, you are attracted to him.  Am I right?’  Agnes reached out and gently took Hope’s hand.

Hope’s voice was barely a whisper.  ‘Please don’t mention this to anyone.  If I have done anything untoward, I’m so sorry.’

‘It’s all right Hope,’ Agnes voice was soothing, ’a woman my age just notices these things.  It’s all right to have feelings for him.  He is single and if it’s God’s will then its fine.’

Hope shook her head.  ‘I’m 29 years old and he’s so much older.  He is the baby’s grandfather too.  I don’t know.’

Agnes laughed and sat back in her chair.  ‘I think it’s time for a cup of tea.  I have some of those Christmas cookies left.  Let’s go in the kitchen where we won’t worry about anyone walking in. ‘

Hope got up and followed Agnes into the kitchen.  The kitchen looked so much more cheerful since they had hung wallpaper of white with ivy and yellow daisies on one wall.  The cupboards had been painted white and floor was now a pretty mahogany parquet.  The walls on the other three sides were painted yellow.  White princess curtains graced the two windows over the sink.  The view through the windows of the back yard was a pretty sight.  A fresh blanket of snow framed snow covered trees.

The tea kettle was ready and cookies laid out on a plate.  Agnes was pouring the tea and remained silent. 

‘Do you like the way I decorated the kitchen?  I’ve been so busy, I haven’t asked.’  Said Hope.

Agnes smiled.  ‘I truly think it was a stroke of genius.  This was so dark and I had gotten used to it so I didn’t notice.  The moment you put the wall paper up I knew it was going to be pretty.’

Hope smiled.  She was delighted that Agnes approved of her color schemes.

‘Now, back to our conversation.’  Agnes cleared her throat and prayed that this was the Lord’s will for her to talk this way.  ‘First of all, Sonny is just 42 years old.  He is only 13 years your senior.  As you know, Michael was born when he was very young.  Also, Joseph was several years younger than you.  He probably didn’t know it because you have such a pixie face.  You look more like twenty!’  Agnes smiled at Hope.  ‘You are a very pretty lady Hope!  You look much younger than 29.  Also, I know I prejudice but our Sonny does not look like any 42 year old either.  He works out a lot.  He hasn’t got an ounce of fat on his bones.  Plus, he is the most eligible bachelor in town.  Women are always trying to get his attention.’

Hope grinned.  ‘You don’t say?  Well, I do think he quite good looking.  I love the way his hair has just a hint of gray at his temples.  Big chocolate brown eyes with dimples do not hurt either.  I hope the baby gets those eyes and dimples.  In fact, Joseph was a spitting image of his father’ ; wasn’t he?’

‘He looked like him, but Joseph's personality was much more relaxed.  He had a good heart, but he loved to party.  I’m not sure if he could have taken on the firm when the time came.  But, back to Sonny…I think you should pray about your feelings.  Ask the Lord to open a door or shut the door.  The word says to guard your heart.  I don’t want you to do anything until the Lord tells you to do so.  Also, I don’t want you to dismiss your feelings either.  I will be praying for the Lord to lead.’

They finished their tea talking about the other rooms that Hope had finished decorating.  The bathroom downstairs in the hall was wall papered in white and pink satin looking pinstripes.  A new vanity and toilet had been installed.  The bathroom off Sonny’s office was done in pale greens with darker green trim.  Hope had left the antique molding and painted it antique white to match the toilet and sink.

For the rest of the day, Hope thought of what Agnes had said.  She went to her room to lie down in the afternoon and found herself asking the Lord for direction.

Meanwhile, Sonny had lost his case in the court room.  His client would have to pay thousands of dollars that Sonny felt was unlawful.  He filed an appeal shortly after and a new court hearing would ensue.  He came home and sat quietly in his study.  He opened his attaché’ case and took out the paper work.  He opened his filing cabinet and took out more files.  Soon, his desk was a mess of papers and he sat in the midst.  Edward was busy as well.  ‘Do you want to question more people?’

‘Yes, I am making a list of those I wish to speak with.  I am also calling my old friend from New York.  I might be going at this from the wrong direction.  My brain is just fried right now.  Leave this stuff on the desk Edward.  Don’t clean up.  In fact, could you please have Agnes send me a plate of supper.  I doubt I will be much company tonight.  I just want to make the phone calls and get everything in order.’

Edward left the room, as Sonny’s head was bent over his computer.  His fingers were flying over the keyboard.  Edward doubted Sonny even heard him close the door.

Edward met Agnes in the hall way.  ‘It was a horrible day in court.  We lost the case due to some evidence that suddenly appeared.  Sonny is like a dog on a bone and it’s going to be an all nighter for him.  Can you bring in a plate of sandwiches or something?’

Agnes felt bad for Sonny.  This had happened in similar situations before.  She knew the routine.  ‘I’ll have something to bring to him.  Poor boy!’

‘Agnes!  He is a grown man, almost grand father’  Edward began to laugh.

Agnes put her one hand on her hip and stuck her finger in the air.  ‘He will always be my precious boy!’

Hope came downstairs just as Agnes was speaking.  ‘What ?  Is everything alright?’

Edward was still smiling.  ‘Sonny won’t be dining with you tonight.  He is pulling an all nighter with a bad caseload.’

Agnes’ eyes suddenly lit up.  ‘How about you bring him some sandwiches?’

Hope smiled.  ‘Why sure.  Let’s get something put together.’

At first Sonny didn’t hear the knock on his door.  The second time he hollered…’come on in Agnes!’

‘Hi Sonny, I brought you something to eat!  I hope you like leftovers.  I got turkey sandwiches, chips, coffee and some cookies.’  Hope looked around and decided to put the tray on a coffee table in front of a couch.  His office was very pretty since she decorated.  Soft beiges, and browns with sheer curtains to let in the sunshine while he worked.  There was no sun now though.  It was six p.m. and dark.

‘It sure gets dark fast now.’  Hope put on the lamps in the room.  ‘You shouldn’t be working with only one lamp on.’

Sonny’s head jerked up when the lights were turned on.  ‘Agnes will you please just leave the food?  I’m doing something right now!’  He shouted.

Hope nearly dropped in her tracks.  Sonny’s tie was half off and his sleeves rolled up.  His hair was a mess and he had the typical five o’clock shadow of beard stubble.  He looked nothing like the Sonny she was used to.  This Sonny had dark circles under his eyes and he was shouting.

‘Don’t you dare shout like that!’  Hope yelled.

Sonny realized it was Hope and he stopped cold.  ‘Shouting?  I didn’t know I was shouting.  I’m sorry, I’m just in the middle of this…..and…’  he shook his head unable to concentrate on what he was saying. 

‘Just go back to what you were doing!’  Hope yelled again.  She walked out the door and let it slam behind her.

Sonny tried to keep going but he had lost his concentration.  He ran his fingers through his hair.  He stood up and made two fists at his sides as he took a deep breath.  He looked down at a piece of paper and realized it made no sense.  He grabbed it and wadded it up in a ball and threw it across the room.

Just then he heard the door open quietly.  He stood silently waiting for Hope to yell again.  He knew he deserved it.  The whole day was a complete failure; it might as well end that way.

Instead of yelling though, Hope’s expression was one he did not recognize.  ‘Sonny, please forgive me.  I’m sorry I yelled.  You have a job to do and I don’t mean to interrupt.   I just never….’  Hope ran out of breath and began to cry.

‘Aw no!’ said Sonny.  He walked over to her and gave her a giant hug.  ‘I’m just a bear when I’m concentrating on this stuff.  It’s always been that way.  If I yell, it’s just frustration.  It’s no excuse but it’s all I got.  Mostly, folks just don’t talk to me at times like this.  I’m sorry too!’

Sonny held her close to his chest and breathed in her hair.  It smelled like strawberries. 

Hope realized that Sonny had been on the go since six that morning.  Perhaps even earlier.  Yet, he smelled like spicy aftershave and it was a nice musky smell.  One of his hands was gently massaging her back while the other held her shoulders.  She realized he was suddenly silent.

‘Sonny?’

‘Your hair, it smells wonderful.’  Sonny inhaled and put his cheek on the top of her head and just stood there.

Hope looked up just then.  ‘It’s my shampoo.’  She stood smiling up at him. 

Sonny looked down into her face.  Strawberries and sunshine had walked into his dark stressful life.  They were now nose to nose and eye to eye as he leaned down.  He brushed his lips across hers without thinking.  In fact, Sonny wasn’t thinking of anything at that moment except the smell of strawberries and a gentle breath of fresh air that walked wherever Hope was.

The kiss started out gentle but took on a life of it’s own.  Years of lonely nights and fierce tension of a life built around nothing but work evaporated into a kiss fueled by raw passion.  He held her in a vise grip of his arms as his lips plundered hers.

Hope was beyond thinking, just feeling.  Too soon the kiss ended and Sonny’s arms flew back as if he were burned.

They looked at each other stunned.  Sonny was the first to speak.  ‘I don’t know what happened.  I am so sorry! ‘  He raked his hands through his hair and turned around with his head in his hands.  ‘I am so sorry!’

Hope was a little dazed but still on her feet.  She always made jokes when she was stunned or nervous.  ‘Sorry?  Did I do it wrong?’

Sonny turned around and looked at her in shock.  Hope stared back for a moment and then turned and left the room.  She closed the door quietly this time.

The walk down the hall and to her room seemed like a mile long.  She hoped that Sonny would not try to talk to her.  ‘I am such a dunce!’ she kept saying to herself.  She had no idea what to say when next they met.

She had no idea that Sonny was now sitting down thinking of her last words.  ‘Did I do it wrong?’  He suddenly broke out laughing.  He sat there laughing for about five minutes.  ‘No my dear, I think you got it quite right.’  Every time he thought of it he cracked up laughing.  He was still laughing when Edward came back to get the tray.

‘Sonny, I think you’ve been at this too long.  You are talking to yourself and not making a bit of sense.  Plus, you have some sort of laughing jag on.  Come now, go to bed with you!’

Sonny got up and hugged Edward.  ‘I think your right Edward!  I can’t seem to stop laughing!  I’ll see you tomorrow.’  Sonny left the room as it was and walked to his room still chuckling.  ‘I’m going to pay for this tomorrow and won’t know how to act with her.  But for now, ….’ That’s as far as the thought went and he began laughing again.

Edward scratched his head.  ‘Agnes won’t believe this.’




Part 10


Sonny awoke with the alarm clock.  He rolled over and shut it off and then lay staring at the ceiling.  He remembered her fragrance.  He still felt the softness of her face.  He tasted the sweetness of her kiss.  Rubbing his face, he swung his legs over the side of the bed and slipped into his night robe.  He padded barefoot to the bathroom that adjoined his bedroom.  As his eyes adjusted to the bathroom light, he took a moment and looked at the redecorated room that Hope had spent hours in thought to maintain its old world charm while updating it to be both masculine and also beautiful.

‘She is a wonder’ he thought to himself as he stripped and stepped into the shower.  Warm rays of water splattered over salt and pepper wavy hair.  Sonny began to soap himself up and thought of how to approach Hope at the breakfast table.  He smiled as he took his shower, never knowing the anxiety just down the hall in Hope’s bedroom.

Hope had not slept well.  She had been trying to prepare herself for another look of shock and horror from Sonny.  ‘How could I have let myself do that?’  She thought.  ‘He must think I fall into men’s arms whenever I am upset.’  She thought of her night with Joseph, Sonny’s own son.  The night was a bit of a blur but end result lay tucked neatly within her womb.  She looked down at her stomach and realized that it seemed to have bloomed overnight.  She was now in her seventh month of pregnancy.  The baby kicked more frequently now.

Hope took out one of her dark green maternity dresses and removed a light green long sleeved sweater from her closet.   She brushed her hair while she tried to remember what she had finally planned to say to Sonny.  ‘I guess a quick apology and a promise to never behave that way again would be the thing to do.’  In all of her anxiety however, she could not forget the feel of steely long arms enfolding her.  Nor could she forget the smell of aftershave on his shirt mingling with the feel of soft bristles from a five o clock shadow.  His hair had been severely rumpled and showed curls of salt and pepper hair that had hung over his forehead.  He was in need of a hair cut but that only added to his appeal.  Hope was hopeless at that moment.  She knew she was in love.  Yet it was a love that she knew Sonny did not share.  No, her mind was made up.  She would try to assure Sonny that she would not do that again….would not fall into his arms and revel in a kiss made for movies.  Hope shook her head and realized that she had brushed her hair into a frizzy mess.

She grimaced and decided to just put it up with a barrette.  A few tendrils of wavy hair popped out and trailed down her neck unbeknownst to her. 

Sonny met Agnes as she was setting food on the table.  Agnes noticed that he looked particularly in a good mood.  ‘Why Sonny, you look radient!  What’s the smile about?’

Sonny didn’t hide secrets from Agnes.  She was like a mother to him.  He grinned like a teenager.  ‘Well, it seems that perhaps my relationship with Hope is changing.  I’m thinking of asking her on a date.’  He waited for Agnes to make some kind of remark.  She didn’t flinch.

‘Sonny, she is a wonderful girl.  The two of you have gotten quite close, anyone can see that.  What brought this on though, if I may ask?’  Agnes tried to remain calm though her heart was racing.

Sonny grinned again.  ‘Well, I’d rather not say.  But you think it is ok?  I mean I am a lot older.’  He waited to see if Agnes would try to dissuade him.

‘Oh, you aren’ t that old Sonny!’  Agnes smiled and patted him on the shoulder.  ‘I think it’s a great idea!’

Sonny was seated with a cup of coffee and scanning the morning paper when Hope entered the room.  She was a vision of soft loveliness that floated to the table and sat down a bit awkwardly due to her tummy.

‘Good morning.’  Said Sonny.  He smiled and Hope was stirred into another fit of anxiety.  ‘He’s positively gorgeous’ she thought.  ‘No matter, I will guard my heart.’

 

‘Good morning Sonny.’  She said softly.  Agnes had laid out oatmeal for her and sausage and eggs with buttered wheat toast for Sonny.  Sausage was not agreeing with her since her pregnancy.  To the side of her oatmeal, she did have some scrambled eggs though.  ‘You have to have protein!’ Agnes had said.  Orange juice and decaf coffee were also on the table.  Agnes had the table looking beautiful as usual.  The chandelier sparkled on the white china.  The crystal orange juice glasses winked at her from their place next to her plate.  ‘Anyone would think that we are royalty’ she thought.

Yet it was simply that she was carrying a rich man’s grandchild.  He was kind enough to let her stay there at his home until she had the baby.  All of a sudden she wondered what she would do after the baby was born.  She remembered that Sonny had pledged he did not want custody of the child.  She took a breath and prepared her speech.

Hope put her head down and prayed.  ‘Lord, let my words be right.’  She cleared her throat.  She noticed that her hands were shaking as she set down the juice glass.

Agnes was in the doorway getting ready to bring in some muffins. 

‘Sonny, I just want to tell you how sorry I am for my behavior last night.  It was totally out of line.  You are, after all , the baby’s grandfather.  I promise it won’t happen again.’  Hope’s head was down and she did not see the stricken look on Sonny’s face.  Agnes did see his face though and she prayed for them both.

Sonny quickly put a serious look on his face and replied.  ‘Consider it forgotten Hope.  I was just getting ready to leave for the court appearance.  If you’ll excuse me.’  Sonny got up and walked by Agnes.  She wanted to say something but knew to remain quiet.  Sonny’s car was heard and then she knew he had driven away without eating.

Agnes sighed and walked over to where Hope was seated.  ‘I don’t know what happened but I can say you both look like you’ve been whipped.  Do you want to talk?’

Hope’s throat was dry and she felt tears forming.  She shook her head.  Agnes didn’t leave, she sat down next to Hope.  When she put her hand on hers, Hope broke down into tears.  No words were spoken.

That evening at the supper table, Sonny’s attitude was merely friendly.   In fact, for the next two months he was strictly polite as he addressed Hope.  Agnes noted that although Hope gained weight, Sonny lost weight.  He went to the child birthing classes and performed his duties each week.  Her time was coming soon and the classes increased.  Sonny worked around her schedule, but did not make any move to be anything but a concerned grandfather.  He did not invite her to dinner or take her out.  He spoke politely to her but did not engage in any conversations. 

Each evening Sonny tried to absorb himself in work.  ‘I’m such a fool’ he said to himself whenever he remembered the idea of asking Hope for a date.  Yet, his eyes followed her everywhere when she wasn’t looking.

Hope stared at him as well.  Agnes watched the two of them and spoke to Edward.  ‘They’re acting ridiculous!  It’s obvious they are attracted. ‘

‘We can’t get involved dear.’ Her husband said.

‘Oh, I won’t.  I’d like to kick them though.’ Agnes threw her hands up and walked into the kitchen.

Finally, one evening after supper Hope doubled over in pain.  Sonny had been sitting across the table one minute and on his knees in front of her chair the next.  ‘Is it labor?’ he asked.

Hope was unable to speak.  She had been having pains all day but not sure it was labor.  Now, she was sure.  ‘Yessssss!’ she hissed out. 

Sonny looked at his watch.  ‘How far apart?’

‘Not sure, 20 minutes I think, oh ….’ She doubled over again.

‘Well, it’s down to eight minutes now.  I’ll call Agnes to get your bag. ‘ He started to get up when Agnes walked into the room.  ‘Agnes, could you get her bag.  I think it’s time.’

Agnes ran to get the bags while Sonny called the doctor.  Soon, the bag, Hope and Sonny were on their way to the hospital.  An orderly met them at the door and helped Hope into a wheel chair.  They were in a pretty pale blue and green birthing room within seconds.

Sonny turned around and faced the window as the doctor came in to examine her.  ‘You are dilated five centimeters dear.  I think your time is going to come fast.’

Sonny turned back to Hope and they began to do the breathing exercises together.  Within a half hour Hope was in hard labor.  ‘I can’t do this!’  she yelled.  Her face was wet with sweat.  Her hair stuck to her face.  Sonny thought she was beautiful.

He was very gentle with her.  ‘You’re doing fine Hope. ‘  He was sitting on the bed behind her and holding her up as she panted.

The doctor was at the foot of the bed.  ‘Don’t push yet!’

Sonny rubbed her shoulder and waited as Hope groaned in pain. 

‘Ok’ said the doctor.  ‘Take a deep breath a push hard!’

‘Aaguh!’  Hope screamed as she bore down and pushed the baby out.

Sonny wasn’t prepared for the sight of a red skinned dark haired baby boy.  He was smiling though.  ‘It’s a boy Hope!  A beautiful baby boy!’  He hugged Hope and then stood up.

The nurses quickly took the baby and washed him and put him wrapped him in a blanket.  The nurse put the baby into Sonny’s arms.  ‘Here Daddy, just for you!’  said an unknowing nurse.  This time Sonny did not correct her.  He was too busy staring into the face of a tiny bundle of joy.  ‘He is beautiful Hope.  Thank you!’

Hope watched as Sonny’s face seemed to miraculously transform into a loving father before her eyes.  She had no doubt that Sonny loved this baby as his own.

The doctor finished taking care of Hope and Sonny then handed her the baby.  The baby weighed in at seven pounds two ounces.  He was 22 inches long.  ‘He’s a tall one!’ said the nurse.  ‘He’ll probably be tall like his father.’

Hope smiled.  She looked over at the tiny crib for a while and then fell asleep.  When she woke up, Sonny was still in the room staring at the baby.  Edward and Agnes asked if they could come in.  They were amazed at the baby.  ‘He looks just like Joseph did.  Only I think he has your chin Sonny.  He is going to look like Hope too.  I can see you all in his little face!’

Sonny smiled.  ‘I just think he looks like himself’.

‘What are you going to name him Hope?’ asked Edward.

Hope smiled.  She had thought of the baby‘s name for a long time.  ‘I am going to name him ‘Patrick Mason Binion’

Sonny looked up quickly.  ‘Did you know that my middle name is Patrick?’

Hope smile again.  ‘Yes, you don’t mind do you?  It’s seems right.’

Sonny shook his head and stared down at the baby.  ‘Hello Patrick’ he said gently.  ‘It’s perfect’



Part 11






The days that followed in the Binion home were a mixture of excitement and wonder.  Hope was ushered into the house by a beaming Sonny.  Little Patrick was quickly handed over to Agnes and Hope collapsed into the nearest living room chair.

‘It’s good to be home!’ She announced.  She looked around the beautiful room that once held such awe and coldness at one time to her.  Now, with the light cream colored sheer curtains and soft lighting against a maroon and gold pinstriped wall; it seemed like home.  She had left the maroon leather furniture and it all seemed to blend in with the tapestry rug.

Sonny took the baby from Agnes and gave him back to Hope.  ‘He slept through the whole trip home.  He seems to be a bit fussy now though.’

‘Yes, it’s time for his feeding.  If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just take him to the nursery.’  Hope left to go down the hall without noticing Sonny’s surprise.

Agnes understood though and spoke softly.  ‘I think it’s wonderful that she’s decided to breast feed.  So many girls now days go to the formula right away.  That rocking chair will get a lot of use now.’

Sonny understood now why she had left the room.  He gathered Hope’s things and put them near her bedroom door.  He didn’t want to go in, in case the adjoining door to the nursery was open.

Sonny was busy for the next few days with a case he was working on.  He came and went quite frequently.  Agnes and Edward were surprised that he popped into the house unexpectedly so often.  He wanted to get a glimpse of Patrick whenever possible, even if it was just five minutes or so.

One day it when Patrick was asleep, Hope took the opportunity to go into her room and take a nap with the door open.  She rolled over and realized that she had slept almost 2 hours.  Her heart pounded and she leaped to her feet before she heard the low murmurings.  Slowly, she peeked around the door to see Patrick with his sleeves rolled up and bent over the changing table.

‘Hush now little one.  I’ll have this done in no time.  I used to help watch your daddy you know.  He would squirm and wrestle me until I had all the tapes in place too.  There’s a good boy, suck on that fist.  I’ll wake mamma soon and you can have supper.’  Hope watched as Sunny carefully lifted Patrick off the changing table and held him in his arms.  He sat down on the rocker and snuggled Patrick.

Then, Hope was totally astounded!  Sonny began to softly sing ‘Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep little baby…’  The baby opened his eyes and looked up at Sonny.  His mouth began to suck quite loud on his fists but he kept looking at his grandfather.

Hope decided to keep this memory tucked away.  She made a soft noise so as not to startle Sonny.  Sonny looked up and grinned.  ‘He was a little fussy.’

‘You have a wonderful voice Sonny.  It seems there are a lot of surprises when it comes to you.’ 

Sonny got up from the chair and Hope took his place.  He gently put the baby into her arms.  ‘I’ll see you later.’

Sonny quickly left the room and soon Hope heard the car pull out of the driveway.  Patrick suckled and Hope watched him and thought of his grandfather.  Sonny had been so gentle and yet sure as he held and cared for Patrick.

Later that day, Hope spoke of this to Agnes.  ‘Oh, I’m not a bit surprised.  Sonny used to dote over his son from the time he was born.  You’ll be surprised when he gets to crawling around the floor with him.  Sonny’s wife didn’t want much to do with their son.  She wanted to travel or go shopping.  That was fine with Sonny.  He would put him on the floor on a blanket in his study.  I watched him balance his son on one knee and do paperwork at the same time.’

‘My goodness.  I just assumed he would be awkward after the way he was in child birthing at first.’

‘Oh, well that’s a whole new story for him.  He’s a quick learner though.  I’ll bet he was great in the labor room.’  Agnes smiled as she rolled out pie crust.

Hope sipped tea as she kept an eye on the basinet in the corner of the kitchen.  Little Patrick slept on as she spoke to Agnes.

‘Yes, he was amazing.  I’m glad it’s over though. ‘

Both women laughed and had a nice visit.  Soon, a cherry pie was in the oven and Patrick was needing attention.

The days went by quickly and soon a week went by.  Sonny was half asleep on the sofa when he heard a loud scream from the baby.  The baby seemed to want to be asleep during the day and awake through the night.  As the baby cried for quite a while, he began to get nervous.

He found himself pacing back and forth in front of Hope’s bedroom door.  Finally, he knocked softly.  ‘Come in’ said a sleepy Hope.

She was rocking Patrick and he just kept on screaming.  ‘I don’t know what to do.  He’s been fed, changed and rocked.  I’m sorry he woke you up.’  Suddenly Hope’s face turned to Sonny and he could see tears streaming down her face.  ‘I’m so tired and I just don’t know what to do.’

Her tears moved Sonny more than she knew.  ‘You go to bed; I’ll see what I can do.  Hope, you are a terrific mother.  You just need a little break now and then.’  He reached down and kissed her cheek.  ‘Go on now ‘little mother’ go lie down.’

Hope wasn’t sure if It was a good idea.  But, if it meant she could lay down for a bit, she would let Sonny try.

Hope lay down and listened to Sonny sing to Patrick.  ‘Moon River’ was a soft song and Sonny’s voice was low and gravely.  Nothing ever sounded so relaxing.  Hope listened for Patrick’s scream but all was quiet within minutes. 

The sun was streaming through her curtains when she awoke.  She stretched and felt the heaviness in her breasts.  It was time to nurse Patrick.  She peeked around the door and found Patrick sound asleep in his crib.  She also found Sonny sprawled out on the daybed near the window.  His back was to her.

Not wanting to awaken him, she tip toed into the room and gently picked up Patrick.  She sat on the rocker and fixed her gown.  A soft blanket covered herself and soon Patrick was happily nursing.

Hope watched in silence as Sonny suddenly stretched and turned over.  His hair was curly as usual and a lock of hair hung over one eye.  She watched as Sonny blinked himself awake.

‘Oh, I’m sorry.  I’ll just leave.’ He mumbled.

‘It’s okay Sonny.  I’m covered and you can help burp him if you like.’  Hope knew her hair was a mess, but she had gotten up without combing her hair.

From Sonny’s perspective she was a vision with the sunlight catching her long tresses.  ‘Alright.  I’ve never seen anyone nurse a baby.  I’m sorry for staring.  Does he always slurp loudly?’

Hope laughed.  ‘Yes, he does.  He’s a hungry bear after he wakes up.’

The sight made Sonny forget himself.  Words came tumbling out before he could stop them.  Perhaps it was from sleeping so sound.  Perhaps it was that he’d been working around the clock.  ‘Hope, I think you need a partner.  You know, I could marry you if you like.  You can’t handle everything by yourself and I could help out a great deal.’  He had no idea how his words kept coming but he kept talking.

‘I do care about you Hope.’  He realized he’d put his heart out and suddenly sat back and rubbed the back of his neck.  ‘Don’t answer right now.  Maybe I was wrong to suggest it.  I know I’m an old fool.’

Hope’s heart was beating so fast that her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth.  When she could finally speak, it was time for Patrick to be burped.  She gently rearranged her clothes and handed him over to Sonny.

‘What did you mean when you said you cared for me?’  She looked up into Sonny’s face and met him eye to eye.  She realized it was a mistake the minute his eyes met hers.  A gentle softness that revealed his heart was in the look he gave her.

‘I’ve never been a romantic man, but I do care about what happens to you.’  He sat down with the baby and hoped she wouldn’t ask any more questions that he was afraid to answer.

Hope got up and said ‘Just lay him down when you are done burping him.'I’ve got to go to my room for a few minutes.’

Sonny didn’t look up as he felt this was her way of saying no to him.  He nodded and kept burping the baby.

In fact, Hope just had to go to the bathroom.  When she returned to the nursery, Sonny was gone.

The next day Hope got a manila envelope in the mail.  She opened it in front of Agnes.  ‘Look Agnes!  It is a check for forty one thousand dollars!  It seems my father had taken out some sort of policy and it was for me!’  She kept reading the letter enclosed and then returned it to her pocket.

A week later Hope spoke with Agnes in the kitchen.  ‘I was thinking that I’d like to buy a summer cottage near the lake.  It would be a great place to go for a vacation.  I know Sonny’s family owns property by the ocean, but this way we could have two places we could go.  The lake is closer and we could enjoy week ends there.  What do you think?’

Edward walked in and heard the conversation.  He and Agnes agreed with Hope.  Hope got busy and called a real estate agent.

When it was time to go see the property, Hope went in the office to try to find Sonny.  He wasn’t in the office, so she left a note as to where she was going.  She left Patrick with Agnes and left to see the property.

Sonny was livid when he came home and read the note.  No one explained anything to him.  No one had a chance, as Hope walked in soon after.

‘So, you left a tiny infant with Agnes to go find a cabin?  You could have told me you planned to leave!  All I did was ask you to marry me, so now you are moving out?’  Sonny’s voice could be heard yelling all through the house.  ‘You don’t have to worry!  I’ll rescind my offer!  You are sneaky!  All this time you had money!  What did you think?  You’d save your money until you found a place?’  Sonny accused Hope of all sorts of things and didn’t stop yelling until he saw her lips quivering.  She ran passed him to her room.

Agnes brought Patrick to her and went straight to Sonny.  Edward was already there.  ‘My but you’ve really fixed things up now haven’t you?  You never asked what she was doing.  You just assumed!’

This time, Agnes shook her head at her husband.  ‘We need to stay out of this.  Let’s go Edward.’

An hour later Sonny was sitting with his back to the door of his office, staring out the window.  The house was quiet.  He realized that soon, Hope and Patrick would be gone.  Was Hope laughing at his offer to marry him?  Him, and old man wanting to marry the most beautiful precious person he’d ever met!  He realized now, more than ever how much he’d grown to love her.

‘Sonny?’  Hope stood still and waited.  She knew he heard her.  Suddenly she thought perhaps he didn’t’ really care about her at all.  Perhaps he just wanted an heir to the Binion dynasty.  Perhaps he was incapable of love.  Perhaps she was not the right social status.  She waited.

When she was almost ready to leave, she watched Sonny’s arm reach out for a sip of his tea.  It was in that moment she knew the truth.  Sonny’s hand trembled as he took the cup from the saucer.

Hope took a breath and gathered up her courage.  She swallowed and to a step closer, closer, and then walked around the chair and kneeled in front of Sonny’s chair, so she could look up into his face.

Sonny’s kept his face like a stone.  He held on to the cup for a moment and then with shaky hand, he put it back on the saucer and cleared his throat.  ‘You don’t have to beg me for Patrick.  I told you I wouldn’t try to take him from you.’

Hope shook her head.  ‘Sonny, you are so wrong.  I have no intention of leaving. ‘

Sonny looked down at her.  ‘Why did you go looking for property?  Why didn’t you tell me you had money?’  He was a little out of breath and gulped in some air.

‘I only just found out about the inheritance last week.  You were so busy with a case load that I didn’t get to tell you.  Plus, Patrick keeps me quite occupied during the times when I could talk to you.  I haven’t seen you even.’  She reached over and held on to Sonny’s cold hands.

‘Sonny, I bought a cabin near the lake for the family to have for weekends when we get the chance.  I wanted to surprise you, not hurt you.  I care about you Sonny.  I wanted to find a place where you could relax with us without the phone or work.  I do care about you.  I love you Sonny!’  Hope looked deep into Sonny’s eyes and waited for his response.

Sonny had been holding his breath and let it out.  He looked down at Hope and shook his head.  ‘I thought, well…you were running away from me.  I thought it was your way of saying I am too old to ask someone like you to marry me.’  Sonny swallowed and never took his eyes off Hope.

‘Too old?  You are the most eligible handsome bachelor in town!  Women stand in line just to get your attention!  Run away?  Do I look that stupid?  Besides, didn’t you hear me?  I said I love you!’  She squeezed his hands.

Sonny wasn’t convinced and wanted to be sure.  ‘I’m 43 with gray hair.  You mean you love your father in law?  I’m glad to know you love Patrick’s grandfather.’  He tried to smile and fell short.

Hope suddenly knew the words to that he needed to hear.  ‘I want to clarify my declaration of love.  Yes, I love the baby’s grandfather.  I also am quite fond of the very handsome, sexy  man you are.  I am in love with you as any woman could love a man.  I want to love you as a wife loves a husband.  Here, I’ll prove it…’

Hope got closer to Sonny and put her hands on either side of his face.  She kissed his forehead, both sides of his face, his chin and when she kissed his neck he made a growling sound.

She then kissed his lips.  Both arms went around his neck.  Before she knew it, she’d been picked up and they both were standing in a tight embrace.  Once again, Sonny kissed her with every ounce of passion he had.

‘I love you woman!  You have to marry me!  Soon!’  He kept kissing her as her fingers raked through his hair. He smelled lilacs as he breathed in her hair.  His hair was messed up and his breathing a bit ragged.  ‘Soon!’

‘Yes, I see you understand me now!  How about this week end?  I have the perfect honeymoon cabin!’


the end

 



 










 

 

 


 

 




 

 

 


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