Crystal's StorySite


Jade Box - Mum’s the Word

by Genni Smith


Part Five


Talk about a pregnant pause, the one that hung heavily between the new mother and her daughter was more than that. With this pause there would have been time for conception, pregnancy, delivery and the baby's first birthday party. The more time that ticked by the more tears trickled down Ally’s cheeks and the more Cassie willed herself to deny it, but deep down she knew she couldn’t. This was way too important to try and fob the little girl off with lies and untruths but how was she to tell her what was really going on when she didn’t know herself?

‘Well, it’s like this Ally, you see this crazy old Chinese woman for no reason that I can see, took it upon herself to change my sex and therefore create you, your brother, this house and almost everything you hold dear… The only reason I know about the woman is because of a high school kid who had his sex changed a few months back came around and told me about an e-mail he got from aforementioned Chinese woman when his damn computer was turned off.’

Ally still sat there looking at her with these puppy dog eyes and Cassie tried to walk through the minefield of the girl’s emotions. Finally Cassie sighed and said, "You’re right sweetie, and you’re wrong too."


"This is very hard to explain and even harder to understand sweetie but I will tell you what I know, okay?"

"The truth?" Ally asked unsure.

"The truth." Cassie nodded. "Pinkie swear. Can I ask you a question first?"

"Ah ha."

"Do you believe in magic?"

"You mean like Harry Potter?"

Cassie smiled, unsure how Mamma Chow would appreciate the comparison to the boy wizard. "Okay then, let me tell you a fairy tale. Once upon a time there was a man named Rick . . ." She paused for a moment then went on. "Prince Richard," that sounded more like a fairy tale. "Now Prince Richard was a nice Prince and had defended his lands against all sorts of bad men for many years. One day his father, the King, sent him off on a long journey to meet other royal families." Under her breath Cassie said, "Especially the daughters."


"He was in a far off land when, incredibly, he bumped into his old friend, Sir Michael of Buller. The two men were overjoyed to meet each other so far from home and they went out for a drink together."

"Like Daddy does when his football team wins?"

"Yes," Cassie laughed. "Anyway, Sir Michael was looking for a special present for his lovely wife who waited anxiously for his return, so the next day Prince Richard and Sir Michael headed out into the strange town to find the best present they could. Eventually they were told to go and see a little old woman who, it was said, made the best jewellery boxes in the known world. It took them awhile to find her but when they did, sure enough they saw her handiwork they were amazed at the delicately carved little boxes made from green stone. After a long time of negotiating a good price, because Sir Michael was known for being as tight as a fishes ar . . . well very tight with his money, the two men found out they had a problem. Sir Michael had to leave for home before the box would be ready but Prince Richard said he would collect the box and deliver it to Sir Michael’s castle. What neither of the men knew is that the woman was a witch and she’d cast a spell on the box so that any man who opened it would turn into the woman they would have been if they were born a girl. Prince Richard opened it when he arrived home and magically became Princess Cassandra who had two children."

"Ooh," Ally said jumping up and down in bed. "Me and Lachie?"

"You’re a pretty clever girl, do you know that?"

"Yeah. One question though. Where is my Mummy?"

"To tell you the truth I don’t really know sweetie, maybe she’s Prince Richard now."

"Poor mummy, being a boy must be terrible."

"It has its advantages Ally, believe me. Now lets make a deal okay? You help me remember the things I need to know to be the best mummy I can be for you and your brother, tell me if I make a booboo, and I’ll do what I can to help your real mummy come back as soon as possible."

"Okay," Alicia yawned. "As far as mummies go you’re not doing so bad."

"I am glad to hear it. Now, how did you know I wasn’t really your mother?"

"Lots a little things," Ally shrugged. "You were normal before we went to Daddy’s house but since we came back you’ve been . . . different. You didn’t read me my favourite book last night, you haven’t called me by our special name or sung me the lullaby you made up."

"Does your brother know?"

"I don’t think so," Ally rolled her eyes. "He doesn’t notice anything unless it’s a football, a computer game or a water bomb."

"Well I think you’d make a great police officer when you grow up."

"Don’t be silly mummy, I’m a girl."

Those seven words struck Cassie like a slap in the face. What or who was this little girl listening to that gave her that impression in the year 2002?

"Now you listen to me young lady," She said as calmly as she could. "A woman can do anything a man can. There are woman police, women astronauts, women politicians, and women doctors. We’re everywhere and don’t you ever let any man tell you that you don’t deserve to be there. You can be anything you want to be when you grow up, anything at all. You can do any of those things and be a mother too. I’ve only known you a little more than a day and I already know how special you are and what you can be when you go out into the world. Trust me Ally, you’re going to be a wonderful woman."

The big grin that spread across the girl’s face was reward enough, but Cassie was going to make it her mission as long as she was around to emphasise the point. "Now would you like me to read you some of your book?"

"It’s okay mummy, you already told me a story tonight." She replied giving the older woman a huge hug that was accompanied by another yawn.

"I think it’s time for you to say hello to Mr. Sandman. Goodnight little one."

"Night night." The little girl laid her head on the pillow as Cassie turned on the night-light and headed for the door. "Mummy?"

"Yeah sweetie?"

"If you’re a princess does that make me one too?"

"Always Ally. You’ll always be a princess to me and your daddy." Cassie smiled but her daughter was asleep before she got to the end of the sentence. For some reason she couldn’t work out Cassie blew a kiss to Alicia and feeling pretty good about herself she headed back out into the family room where Lachlan was sitting glued to the television.

"Was that a yawn mister?" She asked as he tried to prop his eyelids open.

"Ten more minutes mum?" The boy begged not even looking away from the tube. "Just til the end of this program."

"Gee, I don’t know. I think I should initiate a new rule here."

Lachie looked up from the floor with a wary expression on his face. "A new rule?"

"Yep, for every ten minutes after your bed time I get . . . to tickle you for one minute." And with that she leapt on the boy and tickled him until he almost wet himself.

He squealed and complained loudly and strongly, but Cassie could tell the boy was enjoying the rough housing, and the wall that had been there between the two was shattered, at least for the time being. "Stop," he laughed. "Stop it please or I am gonna pee my pants."

"Okay, that’s ten minutes worth. After the show ends you go brush your teeth, put on your pj’s and go to bed or I will really have to set the tickle meter to high."

Two for two, she thought not long after when Lachie entered the bathroom, where she had a hot bubbly bath ready and waiting for her. "Goodnight Mum."

"Night chief, sleep tight."

"I love you." He said but didn’t hang around for what he suspected would be a mushy response.


Bliss is about the only word Cassie could think of as she slid into the warm soapy water not long after -- pure, unadulterated bliss -- and for a while she thought of nothing but keeping her hair out of the water. She no intentions of spending 20 minutes drying it, or going to bed with wet hair.

Slowly she turned her attention to the problems at hand. Now Buller, Stuart, Jade and Ally knew. If she kept on going that way half of Adelaide would know before the end of the week. She had to work in a strange environment, work out how to be the best mother she could be, work out how to get the kids to all of their extra curricular activities and manage a household on a much smaller budget for three people than she was used to doing for just one person. For some reason she decided that her underarms were getting a little too hairy she had searched for the razor she had used to shave her legs the day before but instead found a home waxing system and guessed it was just one of the sacrifices that Cassie had to make to get both ends to meet. She also decided that she could do without the pain of waxing her armpits that night and made a mental note to wear something with sleeves the next day. When the water was getting cold and her skin was starting to wrinkle like a prune she stepped out of the bath, patted herself dry then made her way to the kitchen for a glass of wine and sat to watch the late news. Before long she was tucked up in bed fast asleep, until a thunderstorm started and Ally’s little face appeared in the semi darkness of the lightning. "Come on then." Cassie grinned, lifting the covers so the girl could cuddle up to her shivering in fright.


The alarm woke her from a deep slumber and once again she was on the go. Two kids to feed, get ready for school, a load of washing to hang up on the clothesline and a mountain of dishes to wash. Somehow she still found the time for a quick shower and a hair wash, then she went to her room to blow-dry her hair and get dressed. A smart grey business suit and pink blouse with slacks was chosen above a skirt and stockings, mainly because after yesterday's disaster with the pantyhose she didn’t own a pair without runs or ladders in them. Her hair was styled back into a ponytail and make up was applied. She noticed her fingernails needed a new coat of polish and put a bottle into her handbag so she could fix it later. She probably should have done her toes as well but they were a lot harder to do while driving. Instead she put on some knee high stockings and a pair of closed toe pumps.

"The car is leaving in 5 minutes," she shouted as she grabbed a breakfast bar and sipped on a coffee. Lachie was, of course, glued to the television, and Ally was having a deep and meaningful discussion with one of her dolls. Cassie flicked through her organiser and realised that Ally had a morning appointment with a dentist and Cassie had arranged to get to work a little later than normal. She’d have to drop Lachie off at school and then take the girl to the dentist, something that probably made the thunderstorm seem like a picnic.

Right on time both children got to the front door with school bags slung over their shoulders. "Do you have your soccer uniform Lachlan?"

"Yep," the boy replied happily. "Dad says he’s gonna be there to watch me practice."

"That’s good honey. What about you Princess?"

"I’m all set," Ally replied as they all piled into the car.

Lachlan had just been dropped off at school and Cassie had started to drive off in the direction of the dentist, or at least where the yellow pages had said the dentist was, when a car cut in front of her and slowed down so fast she didn’t have time to hit her brakes fast enough. After a very short squeal from her tyres she felt a medium sized thud and saw the front of her car crumple up like last week's newspaper.

For a few seconds she sat there staring down at the car in front of her and her own then she remembered who was in her back seat. "Oh my god! Are you okay, Ally?"

"I think so," the little girl replied sounding almost as shocked as Cassie was feeling.

"Are you sure?" The mother asked, unbuckling her seat belt, getting out of the car and going back to where Alicia sat. "Are you sure you’re okay? No broken bones? No sore neck?"

"Uh uh."

"Stay there." She shifted from guilt to anger in one nanosecond and now the driver of the car that cut her off was in for a full dose of it. "What the fuck do you think you are doing?" Cassie yelled as she walked towards the driver who had gotten out of his convertible to inspect the damage to the back of his car.

"Well, I thought I was driving and it turns out I was, but I was doing it pretty badly."

"You’re damn right you were. Do you have any idea of the amount of traffic laws you just broke?"

"Not really but ball park figure would be two."

"Five!" Cassie said counting each one off with her fingers. "Driving while using a mobile phone, doing more than 25 kilometres in a school zone, failing to indicate a lane change, driving in a dangerous manner and failure to allow a person behind you enough room to slow down after changing to their lane. I would add being an absolute dickhead to the list but hey, I don’t make the laws."

"Mea culpa," The man replied. "Mea maxima culpa."

"Damn straight." Cassie shot back and grabbed Ally’s hand as the little girl climbed out of the car and joined the two. Cars were backed up behind them now and looking at her watch the mother could tell she was going to be late for the dentist appointment. "Look I really don’t have time for this right now. Ally, be a good girl and get my handbag from the car please."

"I really am sorry," the man said. "Just give me your details and I’ll have my insurance company handle everything. I’m sorry, I should introduce myself." He held his hand out. "Josh Anderson."

"Cassie Taylor," she replied shaking his hand and looking at the man for the first time as her nerves settled down. He was taller than her but that wasn’t hard these days. He had to be at least 6’2" in the old money. Trim, but athletic looking, broad shoulders, and well-proportioned body. He had brown hair that had to cost at least $50 per trim, a ruggedly handsome face complete with a killer smile and Kirk Douglas cleft in his chin. He was dressed in a dark blue double-breasted suit that shouted money, and amazingly, as the two didn’t often come together, taste. ‘Whoa there,’ she told herself. ‘A minute ago you were ready to kill the guy for endangering not only your life but the life of Ally and now you’re . . . you’re noticing his handsome face, killer smile and Kirk Douglas chin.’

"Here you go Mummy."

"Thankyou sweetie." Cassie was about to find a piece of paper and a pen when she found some business cards tucked away in her purse. "Here you go," she said to Josh. "You can reach me there every weekday from 9:30 am until 3:00 pm."

"Okay then," He smiled. "Do you want me to write down my details for you?"

"No, I don’t know why, but I trust you to do the right thing."

"You do?" He asked surprised.

"Well not really, but I have memorised your plates and I know a lot of cops, so if I don’t hear from you with in a week expect a heavily armed star force team to kick down your door."

"Fair enough." Josh smiled again then looked down at Alicia. "I’m sorry if I upset you young lady. I did the wrong thing and it shows you how that can cause other people a lot of problems."

"We’re running really late here," Cassie interjected, not too sure how she felt about him talking to Ally or the fact that Ally was smiling like a Cheshire cat.

"Mummy?" Ally asked when they got in the car.

"Yeah hon?"

"You remember how you wanted me to tell you when I thought you did the wrong thing?"

"Ah ha."

"You just did the wrong thing."

"Your real mummy wouldn’t have sworn as much?"

"No, it’s not that. Mummy can swear with the best of them if she has a reason."

"So it was quoting all of the laws he broke?"

"Well that was kind of strange, but it’s not what I am talking about."

"What then?"

"Mummy would have got his phone number," the little girl smiled. "He was cute."

"I hope you have lots of cavities." Cassie grinned at the girl in the rear vision mirror.


After managing to work her way through the labyrinth of corridors to her office for the second day of work Cassie dumped her handbag down and checked her in-box so she could keep track of what she needed to do that day. Being an hour late didn’t help things, and she knew she’d be on the go pretty much all day. Despite her wish she was only too pleased when Ally’s teeth turned out fine, sitting there holding the girl's hand was bad enough just while she was getting her teeth cleaned, she couldn’t imagine how she would feel if there were needles and drills involved.

"Great, you’re in." Sue smiled from the doorway. "Here’s some caffeine, you look like you need it."

"That is the understatement of the year, Sue. Hook it up to an I.V. stand and keep it coming." She quickly filled her colleague in on her morning and was a little pissed off that Sue was mostly interested in how hot Josh was.

"Well, don’t worry about it now," Sue said after pumping as many details as she was going to get about the tall dark handsome man. "Its that time of year again."

"What time?"

"Time for us to start organising the Charity ball and auction. I have some numbers of sporting clubs so you might as well start ringing around and begging for them to donate some autographed memorabilia. That always goes down well at the auction. I am gonna ring around and get some prices for catering, DJ’s and decorations."

"Can do." Cassie smiled.

It was just before lunch that she heard a commotion from outside her office and stuck her head out to see what was going on. A bunch of women were standing around looking at something that Cassie couldn’t quite make out. Whatever it was it was receiving a large amount of interest and a good many ribald jokes. Someone spotted her and said, "Well here’s the woman we want."

"Me? Sorry, I guess I would be kind of hard to find. After all I’ve only been sitting at my desk all morning. What’s up?" When the giggling throng of females shifted to give her a view of what was being held she saw a bunch of flowers. Well, actually it was bigger than a bunch. This one would have qualified as a rain forest in some areas.

"And just who is Josh?" Another woman asked.

"That depends on who opened the card." Cassie replied. She took the heavy flowers and couldn’t help but smile as she read the short message. "MEA CUPLA. JOSH."

"Come on," said another of the bunch of interested women. "Give!"

"Information? Nope. A flower? Sure." She took out some long stemmed roses and handed each of the 6 or 7 women one. "Now you’d better scoot before Smiley sees you all hanging around."

"You’re no fun."

"And yet I still get flowers, go figure."


"They make the office smell wonderful," Sue commented a little later and she sniffed at an orchid.

"Yeah, I guess they do."

"How are you going with the auction?"

"I’m getting there. I’ve rung pretty well everyone on your list, but most are going to ring back. I have a few ideas of my own and I’ll get to them this afternoon."

"Great. Lets go and get some lunch shall we?"

"Now that sounds like a plan."

They both grabbed a salad sandwich and went out to the courtyard outside to eat, which is where Cassie ran into Josh for the second time that day, only this time she wasn’t in her car. "We’re sort of making a habit of this aren’t we?" He smiled down at her.

"What . . . what are you doing here?"

"Well you were pretty angry this morning."

"Gee, I don’t understand why." Cassie sniped.

"Well even with steam rushing out of your ears you were very cute and I wanted to see what you looked like when you’d calmed down a little."


"So I can decide if I should ask you out for dinner."

Cassie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. A guy, a very handsome guy was asking her out on a date, which was strange enough in itself, but he was doing it at her work in front of a large number of women who were acting like a teenaged cheer squad. She took his arm and steered him away from anyone listening. "Look, I am flattered and everything but I have two kids . . ."

"So that means you can’t go out for a meal with me?"

"Well no. It’s just hard to find a sitter for them," Cassie lied. She knew her parents would be more than happy to do it, as would Patrick, and even the kids' father -- Although he might be a problem if he found out he was doing it so she could go out with a guy.

"But if you could organise one you would go out with me?"

"I didn’t say that," She smiled.

"Well how about lunch with me then?"

"What, here? Now?"

"Why not?"

"Well . . . I . . . I’ve promised a client I’d go and chat with them." She stammered feeling like a teenager herself now.

"Fair enough, but I want you to know I am not going to give up," Josh warned, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. "I like you Ms. Taylor, and I want you to like me too." He gently took her hand in his much larger one and kissed it softly. "I’ll be back tomorrow for lunch."

"You do know there are laws in this state against stalking don’t you?"

"Yeah, but one look at you and no judge in the land would convict me. Until tomorrow."

"Thanks for the flowers," she remembered as he walked away. "They’re darling." ‘Darling? Darling?’ She mentally berated herself. ‘I’ve never said anything was darling in my life.’

Unwilling to face the barrage of questions she knew awaited her at the table where Sue and the regular bunch sat, and probably to avoid yet another lie to Josh, Cassie took her salad sandwich and diet coke and went to the patient’s sun lounge where she found the mystery girl from yesterday. "Hello," she said to her. "How are you? It’s okay, I’ll understand if you don’t answer me. My name is Cassandra, Cassie for short, which I guess is what I am nowadays, short. I’m sorry, I don’t know your name but I’ll make sure I find out before out next lunch date.

"Well, I don’t know about you but I have had a shit time the last few days. I guess you’re looking at me from your wheelchair thinking I’m pretty damn lucky huh?" She said remembering that at one stage the disabled girl with the bib around her neck was a fit, healthy, active young woman who somehow injured her brain. "Well that’s true." She stopped to unwrap her sandwich. "Do you mind if I eat in front of you. Judging by the freshness of food on your face and clothes I’d say you’ve already had lunch." Standing again Cassie found a tissue in her pocket and wiped some tomato sauce off of the girls face. "Anyway, I’ll take your silence as a no. Where was I? Oh yeah, a shit couple of days. I’ve been a mother now for two days and I’ve already learned my two biggest lessons. The first one is you need to have the logistic skills of an Army general just to make sure they get out of the house with everything they need, as well as make damn sure you can run a household. It’s hard work and it never stops. The second lesson is that you don’t manage kids, they manage you, and if you're lucky enough to come out of it sane and with children who don’t have criminal records or drug dependencies you can consider you’ve done a good job.

"I have two kids," she told the girl as she finished a bite of her lunch. "Lachie is 10 and Alicia who’s 6. I have photos in my purse, want to see them?" She held up the photos for the girl to see. "I’ll tell you this for free. Lachlan’s a pistol and he’s going to be very popular with the girls in a few years, but Ally, Alicia, she’s as smart as they come. I guess a mother shouldn’t have favourites, but right now Ally is bucking for top spot on my list. I used to ask my grandmother who her favourite grand kid was and she always replied with the same thing. ‘My favourite is the child who is sick, until they are well. The child who is away, until they get home, and the child who is sad, until they are happy again.’ She was a smart old woman, my grandmother. I miss her." She thought she saw a brief flicker of a smile from the girl in the wheelchair, but then again it could have been anything. Hell, the girl might be bored to death with her for all she knew.

The two sat there chatting, well Cassie chatted to the captive audience at any rate, until she had finished eating she looked down at her fingers with the flaking nail polish and remembered the small bottle that she had placed in her handbag that morning. She pulled it out of the bag and looked at it. ‘You’d think they’d put instructions on the damn thing wouldn’t you?" She asked the girl. "The put a bloody health warning on a packet of cigarettes even though you’d have to be locked in a cave for the past 50 years not to know they’re bad for you but the makers of nail polish just assume everyone who uses it know how to do it." Shrugging she undid the lid and pulled out the little brush. "As you might have guessed I am not a typical woman and I suppose that most women learn how to do this from friends when they’re about ten or even younger. The thing is I better learn this stuff because I might be the one teaching Ally one day. Are you supposed to get rid of the old stuff before you put the new layer on? I guess I’ll have to put that on my mental list of questions to ask Stuart."

Starting to just paint it on her nails, trying to avoid getting it everywhere Cassie just kept on talking to the girl as if she was chatting to an old friend, for some reason that is exactly what she felt she was. "That sounds pretty weird huh, asking a kid called Stuart about nail polish? Well as I said, I’m not a typical woman and I don’t have typical friends. You’d like Stuart, he’s about your age. He’s a good kid and he’s certainly seen life differently than most boys." As she did a passable job of at least patching her nails up and letting each hand dry before she started on the other it appeared that the girl’s eyes were following her hands. "Would you like me to practice on you? No guarantees I’ll manage to paint within the lines but I’ll give it a bash."

The girl didn’t have time to say no, even if she could because Cassie set about putting a slap dash coat of red polish on the girl’s short nails. "One of these days my girl I’ll fill you in on my history but," looking at her watch and saw it was time to go back to work. "Time for me to get back to the salt mines. It’s been nice chatting to you," She said and meant it. "I’ll come and see you again tomorrow, and I’ll know your name by then. I’ll also find out if you’re on any special diet and if you’re not I’ll bring you something special from the cafeteria."

As she was about to depart a nurse came out from the building onto the semi-enclosed sun lounge. "Hi Cassie," she smiled. "Hows things?"

"Things are good . . ." She replied finding herself in the now familiar role of not knowing the name of someone she should know. "What about you?"

"Busy as usual. Have you been visiting Meg?"

"Meg?" The name didn’t ring a bell but Cassie still had this feeling she knew the girl in her other life. "Yeah, we’ve been having a lovely chat."

"Pleased to hear it. She doesn’t get many visitors. Oh well, time to take her to physiotherapy. Have a good afternoon Cass."

"You too."


As soon as she left work it was like a starting gun had fired and Cassie was on the run from minute one. She literally raced to the school to pick up her kids, drop Lachie off at soccer practice, take Ally to her friend Amanda’s house, and then it was off to the supermarket. It was as she was driving from the school to the soccer field that her cell phone rang and she deftly drove with one hand while putting on the hands free kit with the other. When she was all set to go while making sure she stayed aware of the other road users, not wanting a repeat of that morning’s accident. "Hello?"

"Cassie? It’s Mike."

It took her a few minutes to work out that it was her ex-husband. "Hi Michael, what can I do you for?"

"I’m really busy here at work," He told her. "I know I promised Lachie that I’d be there for soccer but I am so close to selling a house that’s been on our books for almost a year and I just can’t get away now."

This of course would have been an acceptable excuse; unfortunate but acceptable, if she couldn’t hear the melodic tunes of poker machines and the clinking of beer glasses. She’d spent too much time in bars and pubs to not be able to sense one in under a second. He wanted to let him know she knew but with the children in the backseat she decided that discretion was the better part of valour. "Okay, I’ll let him know." She replied a little tersely.

"I’m really sorry. Tell him I’ll make him up to him on our next weekend."

"Will do," She said pressing the send button to cut him off before she taught Lachie and Alicia some new words.

"He’s not coming is he?" The boy in the backseat asked crestfallen but almost as if he was expecting it.

"No honey, he said to tell you sorry but he’s snowed under at work."

"He’s always busy."

As they pulled up to the field she asked, "do you want me to drop your sister off and come back to watch you practice? We can do the shopping together later."

"Nah, that’s okay, you’re always there for the matches and they’re the important thing. Besides, I’ve been shopping with you two before and it takes forever."

After a quick chat with Amanda’s mother, Jill, she was on her way to the supermarket. Of course, not really having a clue what to buy she got a good mixture of meat, vegetables and the extras a family needs like toilet paper, cleaning products, small snacks for the kids, and she made sure to buy the same pantyhose that she had found in her dresser when she woke up in her new form. For the first time in a long time she stood at the checkout hoping there was enough money in her bank account to cover the bill. Her card was swiped and she entered the pin number then waited for what seemed like forever until the machine whirled into life and started spitting out the receipt. A sigh of relief and then it was back to pick up Ally and off again to the oval where her son was kicking a round ball around.

The practice was almost over and it was a very sweaty but happy boy who greeted them as he ran off the field, seemingly forgetting his disappointment about his father not being there. "I kicked butt mum."

"I thought the idea was to kick the ball," Cassie grinned.

Lachie rolled his eyes as if to say ‘why do I bother talking sports with a girl?’ "I did kick the ball," he explained. "I just mean I did real well."

"Really well," Cassie corrected. "Well that’s good. What say we stop in at MacDonald’s on the way home and get burgers?"

"Ooh. Can we?" Ally asked. "I want a happy meal."

"Cool," was all her brother said. Cassie was just happy she had another night where she didn’t have to cook.


The shopping was all put away, then she went picked up a seemingly huge amount of dirty clothes in the kids' rooms, and ended up tidying each room for at least 15 minutes each. Finally she managed 15 minutes to sit down and put her feet up while the kids were in the other room fighting over the remote control. ‘Damn it,’ she thought. ‘I still didn’t find out any more about Meg.’ The girl bugged her. Normally she could place someone’s face from her many years on the police force, but this Meg, who must’ve been around 16 or so, was one that just didn’t click, and it was like watching a movie or a TV show and trying to work out where you’d seen a particular actor before. It was driving her mad.

After the kids were in bed she changed the towels in the bathroom and cleaned out the basin where one or both had missed when spitting out the toothpaste. Again she was asleep before her head hit the pillow, but visions of people haunted her sleep. Meg for one, Buller and Jamie Sunderland danced in her mind, as did Claire and Molly and Mamma Chow. It all came across as a giant jigsaw puzzle one her very instincts pushed her to solve.




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.