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Jade Box - Mum’s the Word

by Genni Smith

 

Part Four

 

Cassie only stumbled in her heels once as she walked into the large building and if the woman noticed she didn’t show it. For the most part they just exchanged small talk, after all, Cassie didn’t even know her name, let alone anything about her, so it was hard to get deep and meaningful. Cassie watched the woman closely to try and foresee which direction she would turn as they wandered down a maze of halls and corridors and she was happy when they finally made their way into a large canteen that both staff, patients and visitors used.

"Morning Sue. Morning Cassie." A woman behind the counter smiled. "What will it be?"

‘Sue,’ Cassie thought. ‘One problem solved, 10 million to go.’

"Coffee Jo, strong and black." Sue smiled.

"The same way you like your men," Jo grinned but Cassie got the impression that it was running joke that the two had exchanged many times. "Cass?" Jo asked as she turned to face the once tough cop who was feeling a little more than uncomfortable in a woman’s work suit, heels and hose.

"Ah… The usual." She ventured.

"No sweat, they’ll be ready in a tick. Shall I put them on your slate?"

"Put them both on mine." Cassie smiled happy to have found a friend in Sue.

As they both had a sip of the wonderful caffeine rich fluid and headed off, you could hear the sigh of relief as it hit their blood stream.

Cassie waited until there was a lull in the conversation and then launched into her cunning plan to work out what she was supposed to do in her job. "I was talking to an elderly neighbour of mine yesterday, Mrs. McIvor, she’s fairly new to the street and we got chatting when she asked about my job." Cassie used my instead of our in case Sue wasn’t a social worker.

"And?"

"Well I found it very hard to put into layman’s terms especially for the older people. They hear social worker and think we’re in the bomb shelters handing out blankets or some thing."

Sue took another sip of the coffee as unknowingly steered Cassie through the large building. "Yeah, I get that a lot," she smiled. "I just put it in its most basic forms. We help the patients, or clients as we’re supposed to call them this week, and their families settle in to the Centre. We offer a shoulder to cry on and a kick up the bum when needed. We make sure that anyone coming from the country has access to visitors from home. We coordinate the volunteers and do the occasional fundraising." Finally she turned into a smallish office and sat at a desk. Cassie was glad to see a small photo of Lachie and Alicia on the only other desk and promptly put her purse down and then sat to get the weight of her already sore feet. "In short, we’re underpaid Jack’s, or should that be Jill’s? Anyway, we’re Jack or Jill’s of all trades and masters of none. We do all of the shit and get none of the glory."

"That’s pretty much what I said to the old girl." Cassie said examining her desk. There was a mountain of paper work, sitting in an in tray and very little in the out tray that sat next to the computer and along with the photo of her kids were a few other personal nick nacks.

"Well, do you want to start on the phones or do a walk about and see how the patients… sorry, clients are?"

"The phones?"

Sue took it as a statement rather than a question. "Good," she said. "I was hoping you’d say that. I was on the phones half of the afternoon yesterday trying to get some one to service our busses at the price we can afford."

"Which is?"

"Nothing."

Now that was something Cassie could do with her hands tied behind her back. She knew many mechanics and had arrested plenty of them for dealing in stolen parts so it would only take a few well-chosen words to the right one and it would be done. "No sweat, leave it with me."

"You’re a doll. I had no luck at all, they all wanted too much in return. I’ll be back in an hour or so and yes, I’ll bring more coffee."

Cassie cleared some of the papers on her desk and grabbed a copy of the yellow pages that she had found in one of the drawers. After finding the number fairly quickly she dialled the number and asked for Max Morrissey.

"Yeah?" The voice of Max said in a gruff, straight to the point manner.

"Mr. Morrissey. My name is Cassie Taylor, I’m ringing from the James Elliot Centre…"

"…I don’t wanna buy anything sweetie."

"No." Cassie said quickly a little peeved to be called sweetie by a grease monkey that she had arrested three times for running a chop shop. "I got your number from Detective Shane McGuire."

"Huh?"

"You’ve heard of the James Elliot Centre?"

"Yeah, the rehab joint. What do you want from me love?"

"Well, we need our buses maintained," She saw some paper work on her desk about the buses. "…For Insurance purposes, by a qualified mechanic and Shane… Sorry, Detective McGuire suggested I ask you if you might be willing to volunteer your services." The mistake of calling McGuire by his first name was hardly that, it wouldn’t hurt Cassie’s cause at all for the mechanic to think she was screwing the head of the stolen cars division and wasn’t like Max would call the cop to check on it.

"Volunteer?" Max said but Cassie could tell he was already wavering with the mention of Shane’s name. "You mean for nix? Shit love, I don't know. I’m pretty busy here."

She quickly scanned the paper work in front of her. "We would send you a lovely certificate of appreciation that you can display in your office and show your customers support the Centre." ‘Jeez, if that’s all we offer them I don’t blame them for not helping,’ she thought. Luckily she had an ace to play. "But offcourse if you’re busy I can call the other name Shane gave me."

"Who’s that then?"

"Ah…" She paused to pretend she was looking for the name. "John Hadley."

"Hadley?" Max sputtered. "Shit you don’t want him to touch them love. Bring them over here and I’ll do ‘em for you. How many are there?"

"Twelve." She said looking again at the paperwork and trying not to laugh.

"Twelve? Bloody hell."

"We can of course do one a month Mr. Morrissey."

"Alright darl, sign me up."

Cassie finished up the call fairly quickly and hung up and a huge smile on her face. How was this poor female social worker to know that Hadley was the one who gave Morrissey’s name to the police in the first place? With a giggle she started checking out the office and her computer. One thing that helped greatly was finding a job description for her new job. It listed what they should be doing and when.

Sue walked in about 30 minutes later after Cassie had handled a few calls and tried to make sense of the stack of files on her desk. "Everything alright?" She asked Sue as the other woman handed her a coffee and sat down with a contented sigh.

"Seems to be the usual amount of problems but I managed to work them out. How did you go?"

"Done." Cassie smiled.

"Done? How many?"

"Of the buses? All of them Sue."

"Who did you get to do it?" The other woman asked amazed at Cassie’s quick work.

"Mr. Morrissey from Mosley Auto Repairs."

"Never heard of him. Who cares? How on earth did you manage it?"

"I could tell you but then I’ll have to kill you." Cassie grinned.

At midday both women made their way to the canteen for lunch and sat with some of the physical therapists. Cassie, of course, knew none of their names but she managed to keep her end of the conversation. Luckily with nine women around a table there wasn’t too much chance to get a word in.

The afternoon went quickly because she only worked until 3 pm and Cassie was amazed at the amount of work there was to do. She made numerous phone calls to patient’s family and was pleased to find that all of the patient files were stored on her computer and the nurses, doctors or physios usually noted what she needed to discuss with them. She also had to make quite a few trips around the complex to speak to clients themselves, some of whom knew her and others that she was meeting for the first time. She had been worried about getting lost until she noticed the fire escape maps tacked to all of the walls with the wards listed and a big "You are here" arrow.

It was on one of these visits that she saw a girl that she had seen before but for the life of her she couldn’t remember where. The girl looked to be around 17 years old and was sitting in a wheelchair in one of the sunrooms. Cassie bowed to her curious nature and walked over to the girl with the stunning long brown hair and beautiful face. "Hello." She said.

If the girl heard her she certainly didn’t show it, just sitting staring off into space.

"Hello." Cassie tried again moving around until she was in the girl’s line of sight.

Again the girl didn’t even acknowledge her.

‘Of course,’ Cassie thought. ‘This is a centre for brain injuries you bloody idiot.’ She retreated as casually as she could but it bugged her that she couldn’t place the girl.

Another thing stuck in her mind that afternoon but she was in no doubt about the reasons for it, his name was Cobby. After walking into the crowded office she shared with Sue she could see that Sue was working flat out, a telephone pinned between shoulder and ear while she typed away on a computer and simultaneously fished through the pile of paper on her desk for one thing or another. "What can I do to help?" she mouthed.

Sue just rolled her eyes, stopped typing for a second and held her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. "Have you got a gun?"

Cassie shook her head slightly. ‘You’re about three days too late.’ She thought.

"Can you take this to… Hang on a tick." Sue reached across the desk for her calendar and then spoke into the phone as she flicked through it. "Thursday week? No problems. How does 10 am sound? Great, I’ll see you then."

Cassie passed her a pen and watched as her new colleague scribbled something down on the appropriate date. "Whew." Sue sighed and rolled her eyes. "That was Mrs. Simmons." Not that it meant anything to Cassie but it was obviously supposed to. "You can do me one little favour."

"Sure. Name it."

"Take that into Smiley will you?"

Cassie took the piece of paper and gave it a quick look over. "Smiley?"

"Ah ha, he wanted to see it as soon as we got it faxed to us."

‘That’s great but who the fuck is Smiley?’ Cassie wondered but was saved from asking a question that she should most likely know when she saw at the top of the fax in Sue’s hand writing ‘PLEASE READ AND LET ME KNOW IF IT’S OK JOHN.’ She had passed a large office more than once that day with ‘JOHN COBBY, PATIENT’S SERVICES MANAGER’. If her hunch was right that would make him her boss. "Can do." She said.

"You’re a doll." Sue smiled as the phone rang again. "Shit, I’m supposed to get this report done today. If that’s Mrs. Simmons again I quit."

Cassie was on her way out of the room when she was called back and handed the phone. "Hello," she said a little nervously, not knowing w hat to expect. Sue happily went back to her typing.

"Hi Cass."

"Mum?"

"Yeah love. Look I won’t keep you long; I know you’re probably busy. I just wanted to make sure you wanted me to pick the kids up from school and look after them so you can get some shopping done in peace."

"Ah… Yeah… That would be wonderful. Thanks."

"You may as well come here when you’re done. I’ve got a leg of lamb ready to cook and it’s way too big for me and your dad. Patrick was supposed to come over but he has to work now. There’ll be plenty for you and the kids and it saves you a job."

Cassie was stunned. Not so much for the offer, her parents were always there to help and they adored Molly so it was only natural that they’d be the same in this fucked up universe. For the first time Cassie, or Rick, realised just how wonderful her mother had been and what a little arsehole he had been as a kid. Talk about karma. "That’ll be great mum. Thanks. What time will you be serving up?"

"Oh… Say about 6ish?" Mrs. Conlon replied.

"I’ll see you then." For the first time in as long as she could remember she added something that was long overdue. "I love you."

"Love you too sweetie." Her mother said as she rang off.

Stuart’s words flashed to mind again. "Mamma Chow has her reasons and hidden agendas." ‘If this is about respecting your mother then I get it.’ Cassie thought. ‘I really get it.’

The door of John Cobby’s office was open and the same man Cassie had seen earlier on her travels was sitting behind what looked like a huge desk, mainly because it was. She knocked lightly on the doorframe before she entered. "Oh," He said, sounding disappointed upon looking up. "It’s you. What can I do for you?"

‘A change of attitude would be a good start.’ "Sue asked me to give you this."

Cobby, a balding man in his mid 50’s put on a pair of small reading glasses that only added to the school master image he seemed to radiate. There were two seats in front of his desk but Cassie noticed he didn’t ask her to sit down so she stood on those damn heels. At least it nailed home one thing that she never understood as a man. Walking in high heels could be a pain in the rear, but standing still in them for any length of time was worse. No wonder women take them off as soon as they possibly can.

"Mmm…" Cobby tutted looking over his glasses at her making it appear that he was looking down his nose figuratively as well as literally. "This isn’t good. Surely you girls can work these petty problems out without running to me every five minutes."

"Sue said you wanted to see it." Cassie said as evenly as she could after being called a girl jarred at her. She also noted that the desk that must surely prove Freud’s theory about men and size was clear of paperwork as opposed to the desks of both Sue and herself, which were almost collapsing under the weight of work.

"Alright," Cobby sighed. "Leave it with me." And with a wave of his hand he dismissed her and returned to doing what he was doing when she entered, basically nothing. She was almost to the door when he spoke again. "Actually, come to think of it, you may have saved me a call."

"Oh really?"

"Yes. I need some one to show some visitors around here. They’re from a rehab centre in Sydney and are here for a conference and they wanted to see how we do things in Adelaide."

"When are they coming?"

Cobby lifted his wrist just enough for him to glance at his watch. "In about half an hour I expect."

Cassie glanced at her own small watch. "I go home in half an hour."

"This shouldn’t take too long. One hour maximum." Cobby said and promptly looked back down at the paper she had delivered to him, as if that was the end of the discussion. She got the feeling that he had done it many times before.

"One hour? Well you should be able to find that in your busy day. After all, who would these people rather see, the manager or some girl who’s a social worker?"

Cobby was not happy with that response. "I don’t think I am asking too much here Ms. Taylor."

"I’d love to help you out but I have something I need to do when I leave here."

"Like?"

"Like have a life." Cassie said as she left the room before she launched herself bodily at the man’s scrawny neck.

-oOOo-

35 minutes later Cassie sat in her car, her shoes again sat on the floor by the passenger’s seat. "How the fuck do women drive with these things on?" She muttered still fuming about Smiley, obviously so named because he never did. She ran through her entire vocabulary of swear words just thinking about him and the anger transferred over to anyone who might dare to cut in front of her in traffic. Her mind eventually shifted to what she had to buy for the weekly grocery shopping when her cell phone rang. As she stopped at a red light she fumbled in her handbag for the phone and the hands-free kit. "Yeah?"

"Cassie?"

"Ah ha."

"It’s Stuart Denton here. How’s it going?"

"I’m sorry, I thought you said it was Stuart Denton."

"I did." The boy responded slightly taken aback by her tone.

"Well if it’s the same Stuart Denton I know, the one who spent three months as a girl, he wouldn’t need to ask me how things are going."

"That bad huh?" Stuart replied laconically.

"Yes. That bad. I’ve gone from running murder task forces, to managing my own small business to being called a girl by some sanctimonious little creep who now appears to be my boss. I’ve gone from armed and dangerous to worrying about how I am supposed to shop for two kids when I have absolutely no idea what they like."

"Two words for you Cassie; Junk food."

Despite not wanting to feel better she couldn’t stifle a giggle at that. "I’ve got two words for you too Stuart but I am pretty sure they are most unlady like."

"So apart from your boss being a dick, how was the rest of your day?"

Cassie pondered this for a moment and shrugged. "Busy as buggery but not too bad I guess. How about you?"

"Me?" Stuart said sounding surprised to be asked. "Same shit, different day. I had school of course."

"Yeah well I bet you didn’t learn anything like the amount of shit I have taken on board."

"Hey, I got my graduate diploma in that particular subject a long time ago Cassie."

Stuart had managed what she would have thought was the impossible, he calmed her down. "Oh yeah," she responded. "and I bet you are doing your PhD. in it at the moment."

"Studying women?" Stuart laughed. "Yeah I still take an interest in them but at least now I can do it from a far."

"Not too far sonny Jim… It works a lot better when you’re reasonably close to them."

"No fear about that Cassie. With Mum, Jade and my girlfriend Katie around me I still get plenty of exposure and all of them are more than willing to bring up my own experiences if I ever have trouble with what they’re doing."

"Hang on a tick. I thought you said only your mother and sister know about the jade box." Cassie’s ear for a lead was well and truly pricked.

"Nah… well it was only them at first but Katie found out later."

"How? Doesn’t that break all of the rules?"

"Well the way we figured it is that Mamma Chow doesn’t so much as change the past as alters people’s memories of it. Katie lives next door to me and knows me better than I know myself. I guess in the end her mind couldn’t get two and two to add up to four so it slipped back into it’s old ways and worked out that Amy was Stuart… or should that be the other way around?" Stuart paused for a few seconds. "Your brain is working overtime there isn’t it Cassie?"

"My brain is always working overtime kid." Cassie grinned. "I’ll call you in a couple of days. Thanks for all your help."

Stuart started to say "No sweat," but the phone went dead before he could even get those little words out. "Women!" He exclaimed as he shook his head at his own cell phone.

-oOOo-

Cassie couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of her situation. As Rick she had always loved sport and had played football and tennis right the way through high school and she was an oarsman at University and had boxed while at the police academy. Of course her job as a police man and the shift work of the early years on the job put paid to most organised sport but she had continued to work out with weights and also to jog a few miles as many days as she could. Like every other guy she knew she avidly followed her local football team and if she had a few spare hours on a weekend she’d more often than not spend them on a sofa watching anything to do with sport.

Now, as she sat demurely, legs crossed at the knee, sipping on a white wine she found out what it was like to be the football. She was young, good looking and alone so she was every bit as coveted as a goal was on the football field. As she sat there in the grimy front bar waiting she had lost count of the men who had offered to buy her a drink, try to strike up a conversation with her or blatantly just stare across the room at her.

‘Where the fuck are you?’ She thought as she smiled and shook her head at a guy around her age that had offered her another drink. ‘Every day I didn’t need you I’d be sure to find you propping up the bar and today of all days you’re not bloody here.’

Glancing at her watch yet again she noted the clock had ticked past 5 pm when the door opened and in he walked, bold as brass. Of course he headed straight for the bar and Cassie headed straight for him. She stood barely a foot away from him as he ordered his beer and smiled at him while she ordered another Chardonnay.

He didn’t notice her at first, being deep in conversation with the barman as he was, but then Cassie could see his radar switch on and hone in on her like a heat seeking missile. Her smile was the icing on the cake and she was sure his eyes were glued on her butt as she walked back to her seat.

Of course he couldn’t just walk straight over to her, she knew that. He had other regular patrons to chat to before he could turn his attention to the pretty blonde. Besides, she knew him well enough to know that he wouldn’t want to look too desperate. Well that and he’d need a trip to the men’s room to give himself the once over. A lesson learned well after one time when he had wandered over to a woman he fancied, smoother than Teflon, only to find his technique was all for naught when his zipper was undone.

She timed it to perfection, finishing her drink exactly when he had schmoozed his way through the pub, nicked out to the toilets for a quick look in the mirror and then wandered back over towards the jukebox. "Hi," He started peering down at her. "Can I buy you a drink by way of a thankyou?"

"Ah… a thankyou for what?" She replied, pretending to be surprised when he stopped right in front of her.

"Well I was having a terrible day until now. Then I walked into this bar and saw you. You are so beautiful it puts the rest of the day into perspective. So I just want to buy you a drink for making my day."

Fighting the urge to vomit, just as she had done when she had heard it used to many times as Rick, Cassie manage a blush, more in embarrassment for him and the women that he’d used the line on before but it didn’t matter, he took the blush to mean she was flattered. "Uh… I don’t know…" She said shyly.

"Come on, one more won’t hurt. Live a little." The man kidded her. "White wine?"

"I’d better not, I’ve had a couple already and I am driving." She paused just long enough for him to start to feel awkward before she threw him a lifeline. "Maybe a mineral water."

"Mineral water it is."

"Would you excuse me for a second? I just need to…"

He followed her eyes as they darted towards the ladies room. "Oh sure. I’ll have your drink waiting here when you come back."

‘My god, leading men around by their noses is easy.’ Cassie thought as she picked up her handbag and slinked away to the bathroom. ‘Was I ever that pathetic?’ the question was meant to be rhetorical but her brain came back with an answer anyway. ‘Okay, maybe when I was a teenager… for about five seconds.’

The ladies room was empty of all other occupants, which was just as well for Cassie who burst out laughing as soon as she had the door closed. ‘This is just like fishing,’ she pondered as she retouched her lipstick and checked her hair. ‘Either way it looks like I end up with a flathead.’

After what she deemed to be an appropriate amount of time Cassie steeled her resolve not to laugh at him and headed back out where he was sitting patiently, waiting for her with a beer in his hand and a mineral water on the table. A mineral water with a pink cocktail umbrella in it, which, knowing the pub like she did, she knew he had added.

After five minutes of small talk and of her throwing out little signals that she had seen women use most of her adult life Cassie said goodbye to him. "It’s been lovely chatting with you Jim but I really have to get going now."

"Are you parked far away?"

"Not too far… why?"

"It’s getting dark outside." The man replied. "I wouldn’t be a gentleman if I didn’t escort you to your car."

"Don’t be silly," Cassie giggled. "I’ll be fine."

"It’s not safe out there for beautiful young single ladies after dark Cassie. I should know. I insist."

"Well okay then," she shrugged knowing she had nothing to fear. It was a ruse sure but one that he intended to use to get her phone number not jump her bones as soon as they were out of sight.

A little more small talk followed as he walked her to her car. She was trying out more of those moves women used when they wanted a guy to know they liked him. Of course she didn’t exactly know how well she was doing them because she could have had a neon sign on her head that read ; "RABID LESBIAN" and he’d still fancy himself with a chance of getting into her panties.

She opened the door and looked deep into his eyes, leaned forward just a little and said in as sexy a voice as she could manage; "Get in the car Buller or I’ll phone your wife and let her know what a wanker you really are."

Buller’s face went through a colour scheme of emotion as he tried to work out what was going on, shock, dismay, suspicion and then anger before finally settling on denial. "Buller?" He said innocently. "You have me mistaken for some one else I think. My name is Jim… Jim Foster."

"Yeah and you’re an architect, you told me." Cassie said. "Now get in the car please Senior Sergeant Michael Buller or I will ring Laura and tell her why she’s got a perfectly good roast beef sitting on the table while you are ‘working late’. Your home phone number is 8348-6634."

Buller started to back away from the car. "Have we met?"

"In a manner of speaking." Cassie grinned.

"Shit… I didn’t get you pregnant one night or something did I? I don’t remember you so I was obviously drunk."

"Drunk, you must be psychotic to think you’d ever have a chance with some one that looks like me Bull. I know the type you’ve ended up with in the past and believe me mate, even with a bucket of booze under your belt none of them looked this good."

"So it’s blackmail then?" Buller demanded suddenly getting angry again. "As you obviously know I’m a highly respected Senior Sergeant in the South Australian Police department. You’d have to be pretty stupid to try and blackmail me."

"For Fuck sake Bull, you’re a shadow of a once fine cop who’s waiting out his final years on his fat arse doing paper work until your pension comes through. Now will you get in the damn car?"

Cassie smiled as her former good friend sat down in the front seat looking like a lost puppy. "Thank God for that. I thought I was gonna have to knock you out to get you in here." She said as she sat in the drivers seat and closed the door.

"Who are you?"

"Who I am is irrelevant mate. It’s who I used to be that you need to concentrate on."

"Okay then, who did you use to be?"

"Does the name Rick Conlon mean anything to you?"

"Conlon, Conlon… Nope, don’t think so. Should it."

Cassie’s forehead creased up as she realised that things weren’t going to plan. "Jeez, I forgot you were always useless when it comes to remembering names. Alright," she said. "Let’s put it another way. You recently went to Hong Kong right?"

"Ah ha."

"Do any shopping while you were there?"

"What has that got to do with anything?" Buller responded looking perplexed.

"Did you bump into any old friends over there?"

"No, it was work. Listen here love, either get to a point here or I am leaving."

"Come on Bull, you’ve got to work with me here." She said getting somewhat desperate now. "You’ve known me since my first day on the job."

"Job? Oh, you’re a prostitute then?"

"No I am not a bloody prostitute you goose. Does a little old lady selling jade boxes ring any bells at all? You bought one to give to Laura for your 15th wedding anniversary. " Little by little Cassie could see she was chipping away an outer surface and as Bull seemed to go into an almost hypnotic trance she could see what she was saying was finally hitting home. "You have to remember Inge."

"Inge?…" Buller’s tone of voice had changed slightly and his breathing was heavy.

"Yeah, tall Scandinavian type. Legs up to here and boobs out to here." Cassie said illustrating her point by moving her hands half way up her own torso and then cupping them out in front of her. "Come on mate, it’s me. Twitch."

All of a sudden Buller snapped out of it. "Don’t be stupid love. Rick Conlon is over seas. I saw him myself in Hong Kong "

Breathing a sigh of relief Cassie went on just long enough to convince him of the truth.

"That little pissy jade box did that to you?"

"Well I didn’t take Claire’s birth control pills and grow these in under a fortnight did I?" She asked motioning to her breasts.

"Hang on, I paid $800 for that box. Where is it now?"

"It disappeared along with my house Bull. Trust me, I think I paid a much higher price for that box…" Her eyes dropped to her lap before she added; "Or this particular box that I have now. I won’t even mention the kids."

"Kids? Who Molly?" Buller asked. "If Rick Conlon doesn’t exist then how can Molly?"

In between gales of laughter from Mick, Cassie explained about Lachlan and Alicia.

"Bloody hell Twitch, I always said you were a bit of a mother but I didn’t mean it in this way."

"Yeah, a mother you thought you were gonna score with." She reminded him. "While the mother of your kids is at home. I wouldn’t be throwing stones if I were you mate. Now I don’t suppose you have any more trips to Honkers planned for work?"

"Are you kidding Twitch? You know what tight arses they are in Headquarters. I’ll be lucky to get enough money for petrol to get me five miles out of the city centre after that trip."

"I thought it would be too much to ask. Look you can do me a favour though."

"Name it."

"I have to go soon but I want you to promise you’ll look after Claire for me. I met her through you so there’s a fair chance you will still know her even though I don’t exist…Well at least Rick doesn’t exist."

"No sweat."

"Good, I don’t want to know anything about her but if I know she’s got some one looking after her I can at least work through my problems with some peace of mind. Now I’ve got your cell phone number so do me one more little favour and remember the name for crying out loud. Cassie Taylor."

"Nag, nag, nag." Bull smiled as he got out of the car. "Typical bloody woman."

"Oh and Bull?"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks for the drink you big stud."

-oOOo-

For the second night in a row Cassie was exhausted by the time she had both children home and showered. Facing her parents for the first time as Cassie had been a strain in itself and she had constantly been on her toes trying to pretend to remember all sorts of stuff that she’d never experienced. All in all she thought she coped pretty well. ‘Only Mick, Stuart and Jade knew I am not who I appear to be’ She thought on the short drive form her parents house to hers’

She quickly came down with a thump upon realising that she had another day at the James Elliot Centre ahead of her as well as finally getting the grocery shopping done. At least she would be helped there because Lachlan had soccer practice and Ally had been asked over to her friends’ house so she could easily drop them where they had to be and then do the shopping on her own.

Taking her high heels off and walking on the soft carpet was bliss and so was getting rid of the bra, changing into some old sweats and putting her hair up with an butterfly clip so it was out of her face.

"You’ve got 30 minutes mister." She said to Lachie as she went into Ally’s room to tuck her in. As soon as her son was in bed she intended to take a bubble bath and try and work things out in her head.

"45?" Lachlan asked hopefully.

"20?" Cassie shot back immediately.

"Okay, okay. 30."

"You all packed for tomorrow?" She asked the tired little girl as she sat on the side of her bed.

"Ah ha."

"Okay. Goodnight hon."

"Mummy? Can I ask you a question?" Alicia asked as she bent down to kiss her forehead.

"Sure sweetie, what is it?" Cassie yawned.

"Where’s my real mummy?" The little girl asked, putting emphasis on the word real as tears welled at the corner of each eye.

-oOOo-

 

 

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2002 by Genni Smith. All Rights Reserved. These documents (including, without limitation, all articles, text, images, logos, compilation design) may printed for personal use only. No portion of these documents may be stored electronically, distributed electronically, or otherwise made available without express written consent of the copyright holder.