Welcome to What-A-Burger @janewithay
Chapter 25: Blood Typing

It is not blood that makes us family

It is love …

***Blood Typing***

"How is any of this possible, Boots?" I – I thought Miss Vick had a boy?"

Boots grins wide and sits at the edge of my bed.

"No, she didn't," he says, gently. "Bella, I promise you'll find out everything as soon as Miss Vick is up and ready to talk. For now, though … let's just concentrate on getting you well, okay?

I nod my head, stunned at the news. I take a sip of water and lay my head back on the pillow, trying to digest the news.

"Vasectomy!"

Boots looks at me like I have two heads.

"What?"

"James … James had a vasectomy," I shout, remembering. "He told me just before … well, you know," I say, wincing. The ghastly image of James' head being blown off by the shotgun will be embedded in my memory forever. I let out a long shudder.

"Oh. So … that means …"

"It means the baby is ours," I say, relieved.

"I was never worried about that anyway," he reminds me with a hug. But I could tell you were."

I nod my head weakly.

"Bella, do you want someone to talk about what happened? I know it was traumatic," he says uncertainly.

"I – not right now. Maybe in time. For now, I just want you to hold me."

He toes off his shoes and climbs in the bed, gathering me in his arms.

"Always, Bella. Always."

"Boots?"

"Yeah?"

"James almost grabbed Bip."

"What?" His eyes widen, and he looks like somebody shot him through the heart. I guess I just did.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have told you. I start to cry.

"Hey … Hey, Yank, no. No tears, okay? Just tell me," he pleads.

"When he had me cornered at the studio, he told me he thought about taking Bip. Said he was at Pete's farm. Almost grabbed her, too, but Bertie saw him and came charging; bit him on his ankle."

"Jesus Christ, Bella. Remind me to give that pup a steak dinner when we get home. Hell, filet mignon, whatever he wants, it's his."

"I'm sorry, Boots. I shouldn't have told you. It's over now, anyway."

Boots sits up and gathers me against his chest.

"Bella, it isn't over. I mean, yeah … that prick is dead and all, but you still need time to process everything. I might not be a doctor or hittin on much in the smarts department, but even I know that much."

"Boots, does not having a higher education bother you?

He's silent for a long moment and then answers with surprising candor.

"Not even a little bit, Yank. But I do worry it might bother you. Maybe not now, but eventually."

I sit up and stroke his chin. There's more than stubble on that sharp jaw, a sure sign that it hasn't seen a razor in the past four days. His eyes are rimmed with fatigue and unshed tears.

"Boots, you're one of the smartest guys I've ever known. You've also got the biggest heart. When I'm with you, I feel safe."

"Well, I wasn't very smart to leave you alone, Bella. But hell … I guess none of us were."

"You mean you, Jasper, and Emmett?"

He nods his head against my chest.

"Well, I think it's pretty fitting that it took a woman to finally get rid of him."

"Yeah, I 'spect you're right. Still can't believe she left her home after all these years."

"Me, either."

"Boots?"

"Yeah?" He says, sleepily.

"I don't want to wait to get married."

He sits up and looks at me with a smile.

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"Because of the baby, or …?"

"No. I just don't want to wait for our lives to begin. I was afraid for so long, and I'm not anymore. I mean, I know my head is still in a strange place. But my heart isn't. We've been through more together in the past few months than most couples have in a lifetime We almost lost each other and would have if it weren't for Miss Vick. I know it sounds trite, but life really is too short."

"Okay."

"Yeah?"

"Mm-hm. Lets get married when you're out of the hospital and feeling better. Do you want to head back north, or …?"

"No. Here. Just us and our families. Maybe some of the town folk. I'd like to get married in Miss Vick's backyard."

"She'll love that," he murmurs, nestling his head on my chest.

We snuggle in, just us two, until a noise in the corridor jolts us out of our solitude.

"I want to see Crow! Get your mitts off me – I took care of one scoundrel already this week, so I can certainly take care of the likes of you, I swanny."

"But Ma'am … you've just been moved from ICU … you have to wait until the doctor clears you before you can see anyone."

"I'm fixing to clear you if you don't get your tail out of my way. Now, step aside before I jab you with my chopsticks."

We look up to see a tall, young, handsome orderly trying to block the path of Miss Vick.

"Riley, I think the gig is up, son. Just let her in and go get my daddy before she hurts herself or you," says Boots, with a smirk.

"Oh, it'll surely be you," she says, having the last word.

"Miss Vick?" I cry, looking at her frail figure in a wheelchair, which she pushed through the narrow door opening. I hear a muffled, "Ow," as she clips past the poor orderly.

"Serves you right," she says with a huff.

"Sorry, Reilly," mutters Boots. The door shuts with a woosh.

Miss Vick rolls the chair to my side.

"Crow, are you all right?" she asks, with a worried face.

"Yes, I'm fine," I assure her. "But should you be up and about – you were in worse shape than me," I tell her, worriedly.

"Oh pish … I'm fine or will be once they get me out of this contraption. I declare, I waited fifty years, plus some change, to finally leave the house, and this is what I get for all that? A damn wheelchair, an arrogant orderly, and a long-term hospital stay."

"I'm so sorry," I say, tears in my eyes.

"Oh, bother. If you're fine, it was worth it," she admits with a grumble.

"Yes, I am. I feel wonderful … just a little confused about everything. I'm still trying to remember all the details."

"Well, the mind has a way of shutting off the things that trouble it most, I suspect. Look at me – I closed all my problems out for fifty years. I suppose I have you to thank for making me see how foolish that was – my fear became my prison until you came along, Crow." She takes my hand in hers and gives it a pat.

"So, I suppose you've heard the news?"

"About Shelly? Yes, well … just the little Boots shared with me," I tell her.

Boots gives me a sharp look and shakes his head.

"Shelly? What on earth are you talking about, Crowsie? I'm referring to Jasper and Rosalie being second cousins. Isn't that amazing?"

"Er, yes … yes, it is incredibly amazing. I don't know the story about that yet, either."

"Well, far be it from me to enlighten you, then. I'll let them tell you," she pronounces. Now, what's this about Shelly?"

I bite my lip and look to Boots for guidance.

He's about to open his mouth when the door burst open, and in walks Carlisle.

"Ant Victoria, you're supposed to be in your own room resting. I understand you gave poor Reilly a difficult time –"

"Psh … that boy doesn't know the meaning of a difficult time – I'll gladly show him, though, if he puts his paws on me again."

Carlisle smothers a laugh by coughing into the crook of his elbow, discreetly.

"All right, then ... if you insist on keeping visiting hours, might I suggest we all move into a larger area? There's a small conference room on this floor; I'll see if it's available. But first, I'd like to speak to Bella privately."

Boots wheels Miss Vick to the corner of the room while Carlisle draws the privacy curtain around my bed.

"Bella, we had to insert a catheter while you were sleeping. I'd like to check it if you're comfortable. If not, I can get another attendee to do it for you,' he says, uncertainly.

I nod my head weakly. If I can survive the James ordeal, I guess I can allow Carlisle to check on things down under.

He draws the blanket up and takes a quick look and nods his head.

"I think we can safely remove it if you're up to it, Bella."

I nod my head in agreement, and he rings for the nurse. Together they remove the dratted thing without too much discomfort on my part.

"I'll need you to use the bathroom as soon as possible," he says, making some notes on my chart.

The nurse helps me out of bed and I practically fall flat on my face and would have, if not for Boots' quick maneuver around Miss Vick and to my side.

"Now, what on earth is going on?" Asks Miss Vick, clearly put out she's been waiting.

"Just routine," says Carlisle with a wink.

Five long humiliating minutes later, I've urinated on my own and am declared "Good," by the nurse. Boots has the decency to smother his grin. I know I'll be teased about the first time he saw my pee for years to come, and although I should be embarrassed, I'm not in the least. It's just so wonderful to finally be free of that stupid thing.

Boots and the nurse help me settle back in bed, and Carlisle makes a few more adjustments to my chart.

"I'll leave you to your chat, then, and go see about booking the room, so we have some space for your reunion," he says with a smile.

He no sooner leaves when Jasper, holding a sleepy Elizabeth, comes to the door.

"Hey, Mama …

"Hi," I say, beaming at him.

"Listen, I want to talk to you when you're up to it – I need to, well, tell you how sorry I am – because I am Bella, truly."

"No, please don't … I think – I think this was the way it was supposed to happen, Jasper."

He looks at me with a puzzled expression. I'm about to respond, but Miss Vick beats me to the punch.

"Isabella is correct, Mr. Whitlock. It was always meant to unfold this way. From the time Bella met you, our fate was sealed."

He shakes his head, unable to comprehend her words.

"She's right, Jasper."

"Explain, please."

I look at Boots, and he gives me a nod and a kiss as he rises from the bed and retrieves Bip from Jasper's arms.

"I'll just step out and head over to the conference room and see if it's ready for us to meet. Jasper, when you're ready, come and get me, and I'll help you wheel the girls down the hall, okay?"

"Um, sure," he says, confused.

"Have a seat," says Miss Vick, pointing to the ugly, avocado-green vinyl chair. He pulls it closer to the bed and sits.

"Mr. Whitlock, do you believe in destiny?"

"Um, sure. I mean … huh?"

Miss Vick smiles at him gently.

"I'll excuse your incoherent response for the time being. I'm still recovering from a gunshot wound – something I never thought I'd utter in my lifetime. In any case, it's left me feeling more tolerant, and dare I say, forgiving of one's inability to be grammatically correct."

"Thank you, ma'am," he says with a tip of his head. "But what I meant to say is I do believe in fate; how else could I explain my presence here in Masenville, or my relationship with Mary Alice, if I didn't? And then, of course, there's Rosalie … talk about a bizarre coincidence," he says, shaking his head.

I sit up a little straighter and hug the pillow to my chest.

"Yes, I believe we'd both like to hear the story behind that one, wouldn't we, Crow?"

I nod my head vigorously.

Jasper lets out a little sigh out of the corner of his mouth.

"So … Bella, you might recall I kept staring at Rose trying to figure out who she reminded me of … she called me out on it back at Miss Vick's."

"Yes, I do," I say, remembering.

Well, when I was at the garage with Boots, I took out my wallet to pay him for the work he's done on the truck. Anyway, my wallet has been falling apart now for some time – I had it held together with a rubber band –"

"Men," clucks Miss Vick. I laugh.

"Anyway, he says with a grin, "all my pictures and credit cards spilled out on the counter. One was a picture I had of my cousin Candace. You remember me telling you about her, Bella – she's the one who was abused and eventually killed by that worthless husband of hers – a murder-suicide?"

"Yes … I remember you said something about her right after James …." I grimace, recalling the time he struck me."

Miss Vick grasps my hand, and Jasper mutters a quick apology.

"No … I'm okay – please – he's dead now, and he's never going to hurt me again," I say, shaking my head. I refuse to shed another tear or even a thought over James Hunter. again.

"Okay, if you're sure." I nod my head. "Well, Boots helped me pick up all the stuff and he looked at the picture of Candy. His first comment was, "Why do you have a picture of Rose in your wallet? I told him it was my cousin, and then I looked at it again, and that's when I saw he was right – Rose is a dead ringer for Candy – pardon my expression. It blew my mind, to be honest. Er, sorry … another poor expression, given the circumstances."

Miss Vick and I both wave off his apologies and wait for him to continue.

Anyway, I asked Boots about Rose's background, and he told me all he knew was that Rosalie was born in Texas and was a product of a custody battle that resulted in her going into foster care. One grandparent died, and her foster family moved to North Carolina shortly afterward. Things went along okay for a few years, but when Rose was four, the foster couple divorced, and Rose ended up at Boiling Springs."

"Wow. So, how did you make the connection? Texas is a huge place …" I trail off.

"Well, the first thing I did was call Granny and asked her if Candy had a baby before she died. I was just a kid when all this went down, so my memory is kind of vague. Well, Granny started crying and said yes, Candy's mama tried to get custody of her, but she died from a heart attack before anything was resolved. Candy's daddy and my mama were brother and sister. Uncle Ambrose died in the same car with my parents when I was a kid."

"Lord, that must have been a terrible tragedy – your poor granny," says Miss Vick.

I had the benefit of being told this story long ago when Jasper and I first became friends. Jasper and I had both suffered loss – it was one of the things that bound us, truth be told.

Apparently, the court felt the father's family was nothing but pure trash, so she went into the system. Granny wanted to fight for custody too, but granddaddy's health was bad. Anyway, after I hung up from her, we walked over to Burger, and I talked to Rose myself.

"What did she say?"

"Well, she told me the same story as Boots, and then she shocked me when she said she had her original birth certificate. You know Carlisle and Esme were never able to adopt her legally, right?"

"I do, indeed. I remember when they came to me and told me the situation with that child as if it were yesterday. Being a lawyer, I told them it would be better just to take her in quietly and keep their mouths shut. I suppose it wasn't the best legal advice, but it was in the best interest of Rose. I knew how ugly these things could get once you get the court involved. I also knew how lazy the court system was, and that it might be years, if ever before they even attempted to come looking for Rose." She said, without a hint of apology.

"Well, once I looked at her birth record, I was able to confirm that Candace Hale was indeed my cousin and Rose's mama."

"Wow … that's …"

"Incredible? Yes, it is," he says with a huge grin.

"It was also destiny, young Jasper."

"Ma'am?"

"If you had never met Crow, and she had never gotten involved with that no-good-piece-of-trash, and ended up here in Masenville, then you and Rosalie may never have revealed the truth about her parentage."

"True," he says. "It's a bizarre coincidence for sure."

"It was meant to be," says Miss Vick.

"I believe you're right," he finally admits, scratching his head.

"Well, good. Now, I'd like to have a moment alone with Isabella if you don't mind. Then I believe I'll go back to my room after all; I declare I'm more tired than I realized," she says with a yawn.

Jasper rises, gives Miss Vick a small peck on her cheek and leaves the two of us alone.

"Well, Crow, you might as well tell me," she says with a huff.

Confused, I shake my head. "Tell you, what?"

"Isabella, I wasn't born in a cabbage patch, and my mama didn't give birth to no dummies. You mentioned something about Shelly, and I saw Boots shake his head to hush you. Now, what is going on with my girl … is she all right?"

"Oh – yes, as far as I know, Shelly is fine." I am amazed that Miss Vick noticed my faux pas, and even more, she caught Boots' subtle movement. But she had.

"I was a lawyer, Crow – a damn fine one, too. Now, I know that something is going on, so you might as well spill."

I let out a sigh.

"Look, it's not my place to tell," I say hesitantly.

"Well, it wasn't my place to save your life in the dance studio, but I did."

My mouth opens in shock.

"Oh, close your mouth before something flies in there, Lord. I'm not suggesting I'm sorry I took care of that cretin, but I'm also not afraid to bribe you with it either, from time to time. It's time for you to pay the piper, Crowsie."

"I don't know any of the details – Boots didn't have time to tell me anything before you came in …" I look at the door and pray that Boots or someone will appear and save me. I don't want to be the bearer of this monumental news – it simply isn't my place.

"Is Shelly sick? Does she … is it cancer?"

"What? No … it's nothing bad, truly."

"Hmm." She fiddles with her hospital band, twirling it around her tiny wrist. I watch her examine it for a long moment, her eyes narrowing, considering.

"You look different, Crow," she says, eying me sharply.

"Different?" I'm sure I look, as Alice would say, a hot mess. I run my hands through my hair self-consciously.

"No, not different as in you look terrible, although we both could use a shower and a full day with Este Lauder. No, you just look … different."

I shrug my shoulders.

"You're pregnant, aren't you?"

My mouth flies open again, but I close it quickly before I'm told.

"Never mind, I can tell. I've always been able to tell when someone's expecting – sometimes before they do. It's wonderful, Crow. We haven't had a baby in our family since Elizabeth was born."

I nod my head. "I only found out this morning."

"Does Edward know?"

"Yes, he's the one who told me. We still haven't had an ultrasound."

"Well, you don't need all that newfangled stuff, I just told you, and believe me, I am never wrong. Are you happy?"

I rest my hands on my stomach lightly and grin.

"Yes, I'm so happy," I say eagerly.

Because I am.

"Yes, babies are always a blessing," she agrees. "Congratulations."

"Thank you, Miss Vick."

Oh, psh … you may as well call me Ant Vick; we're family now."

"I'd like that."

"Everything that's happened here happened for a reason. And now your blood will be bound with my blood for all eternity."

She grows quiet for a long moment, and I think perhaps she is drifting off when she suddenly sits up straight and gives me a hard look.

"They tell me I had a blood transfusion."

"Yes, so did I," admit.

"What's your blood type?"
"Um, O positive. It's pretty common."

"Yes, I believe it is," she says thoughtfully. "Mine, however, is not. I'm B negative, which is quite rare; only 1.8 percent of the population has B Negative blood type. Did you know that? It's the second rarest there is, Crow."

"Oh, is it?" I'm wondering where she's going with this thought process when she interrupts my musing.

"It is indeed. Shelly is also B negative; did you know that? We always joked that we could be each other's doner should the need arise. I guess it did."

"Yes."

She twirls her diamond and ruby ring around her finger, deep in thought.

"Shelly's son, Isiah, has green eyes. Did you know that? Large, green eyes without a fleck of hazel."

"No, I didn't."

"Oh, yes, and her daughter, Frances, has red highlights in her hair. It's very becoming with her complexion."

"I imagine so."

"Shelly has tiny hands just like me. Tiny hands and big feet. We used to joke that the Lord put the wrong feet on our bodies before he sent us to earth; size four rings and size nine shoes. Isn't that silly?" she chuckles.

I smile back at her in agreement.

"It is a bit unusual, I suppose."

"Mmm." She continues to twirl the band around thoughtfully, then stops abruptly.

"Shelly's birthday is the day after my sons."

"Yes."

"I didn't have a son, did I?"

Her question catches me off guard.

"I … I don't know."

She nods her head.

"They told me he died. Buried him next to my father, they said. Course I've never visited either grave. Maybe I will one of these days."

"That would be …"

"A lie."

"I'm sorry … what?"

"He's not buried next to my daddy, is he?"

"Miss Vick, I really don't know anything at all about that," I say frantically. Where on earth is Boots?"

"Crow, is Shelly my child?"

I look at this woman's face – a face that has seen so much and has loss, love, longing, and disappointment etched across her fine features. It is a face I've come to know and love—the face of the woman who saved my very life in more ways than one. I cannot lie to her.

"Yes," I whisper. "Yes, Shelly is …"

"My daughter."

"Ant Vick?" Carlisle chooses this moment to pop his head in the room. Behind him is Boots, wearing a grin that fades like a tan the second he sees my face. I shake my head slowly, my eyes begging him to remain silent.

'A day late and a dollar short, Bella. That's life, Bella.' Aunt Margaret's long-ago words come to mind.

"Oh, Carlisle and Boots come in. We were just discussing the fact that Shelly is my daughter."

They look at us in shock.

"So, it's true then?"

"I'm sorry, Boots. I swear I never said anything to her; I don't know any of the details … she, she …"

"Deduced. Deduced is the word I believe you're rooting for in that file cabinet you have stored in your brain, Isabella. I told you I was a lawyer and a television addict—a brilliant combination when it comes to the art of deduction. Now, if you will be so kind as to explain the details, I'd like to know the rest of the story.

Carlisle lets out a deep sigh, then reaches in his pocket and pulls out what appears to be a letter. Judging from the faded ink, it appears to be quite old. He hands it to Miss Vick.

"What is this?" She asks, opening the yellowed paper.

"Esme found this when she was remolding old Doc Arrow's office downtown. It was stuffed in the back of his desk. Doc died the day this letter was written. I imagine that's why it never found it's way to you," he says, with a shake of his head.

"I can't read this without my glasses, Carlisle. Have Bella read it to me, please?"

Carlisle hands me the letter with a small, resigned smile. Boots hands me a pair of readers from his pocket.

"Bella, are you sure you're up to reading this?" Boots asks, concerned. I nod my head, adjusting the glasses.

"A better question would be, is Miss Vick up to hearing this?" Carlisle asks.

"Carlisle, I sustained a gun-shot at the age of eighty-eight years old; I think I can manage to hold on to my pulse for the time it takes to read a letter. But before you begin, Crow, I do have one question.

"Does Shelly know?"

"Yes. She's back at the house, readying a room for you downstairs. We planned on telling you together. I know she's going to be mighty upset she isn't here. I've sent everyone home – the conference room isn't free until tomorrow. By then, I expect you'll both be released."

"Ant Vick, maybe we should wait until tomorrow so Shelly can be with you," Boots suggests.

"I could die in my sleep tonight, Edward, having never learned the truth. Now stop this nonsense and get to it, Crow. Lord, I haven't waited this long to get to the finish line since Kristen shot JR."

I look at her, puzzled.

"Never mind … just read."

Boots stands behind me and squeezes my shoulder. The mere touch of his hand gives me courage.

I clear my throat and begin.

June 10th, 1984

To whom it may concern,

I am old and quite alone with my thoughts. This, as it turns out, is not a pleasant combination, especially when one has a heavy burden to tote.

I have such a burden.

Years ago, I participated in a cover-up that changed the course of many lives. I have no excuse, other than I thought I was in the service of a friend. Time, however, has given me great pause, and I now see that I was quite in the wrong.

On the evening of June 10th, 1964, I was called to the home of Judge Victor Masen. Thinking the judge had an episode (I had diagnosed him with severe hypertension only two weeks prior) I made haste and arrived at his home within minutes.

Once there, the judge informed me it was his daughter, Victoria Masen, who needed my services.

After a hurried conversation, I found her lying on her bed. Miss Masen, a spinster in her late thirties, practiced law somewhere in Mississippi. I was not aware she had returned home or that she was with child.

Upon examination, I quickly discovered she was in active labor following a fall while attempting to close the exterior shutters. To say the judge was shocked would be an understatement of the highest degree; he did not know she was pregnant.

The child, a girl of mixed race, was born within 40 minutes of my arrival. The judge informed me he knew she had a lover in Mississippi - a black lawyer who worked with Miss Masen for Dr. King. Apparently, a fellow constituent of his informed him months before she returned home. Because the law forbade such a union, the judge had made some calls to have him relocated to a New York office. Unfortunately, the men involved took matters into their own hands, and the unfortunate man became a victim of a secret lynching, the details of which I was never informed. When Judge Masen discovered this, he was quite stricken. However, times being what they were, he decided to withhold this information from his daughter.

Victoria Masen returned to Masenville, unaware of the events that transpired before her arrival.

When the infant was born, the judge determined that she be told everything and that together, they would decide the best course of action regarding the rearing of the child. However, he suffered a massive stroke a mere few hours later.

Due to the circumstances, I took it upon myself to put Miss Masen in a twilight sleep. Although patients normally awaken a few hours following the anesthesia, I kept delivering it to her in small doses over the course of five days. My late wife helped care for the infant in the interim.

During that time, I was able to converse with a man named Alfred Jenks – a retired judge from Alabama. Jenks was the man responsible for alerting Judge Masen about his daughter's affair. He informed me that Robert Shelburne Jones had a mother in Eastern North Carolina and suggested I take the baby and deliver her to her father's people. We decided to inform Miss Masen that the child was a boy and stillborn.

My wife stayed by Miss Masen's side while I made the trip to Greenville. I left the child on her steps with a small note stating that the child was the daughter of her son, Robert, and her mother had died in childbirth.

Mr. Jenks and I vowed we would never reveal the truth to Miss Masen, the child, or anyone involved in her care.

This was many years ago. Times are different now. My granddaughter is married to a man of color. My own grandchildren are half black. I love them dearly.

I have few regrets as a husband, father, or doctor to the hundreds of families I've cared for in my career.

Except for one …

This is my exception.

I apologize for any hurt I caused. I know that isn't much, but it is all I have.

To Miss Masen and her daughter, I pray that fate will lead you to each other. I shan't ask for forgiveness, but I do beg for mercy. I am so heartily sorry.

I remain,

Doctor Steven P. Arrow, MD.

I hand the letter back to Miss Vick. Although the tears have been flowing down my own face since I started reading the letter, Miss Vick's face is quite composed.

"Ant Vick … are you all right? I know it's been quite a shock, believe me, it was not my intent for you to be told while you're still recovering," he says, clearly worried.

"Carlisle, I'm fine. Now, if you would be so kind as to fetch that wretched fellow – what was his name? Reilly. I'd like to collect my things and go home."

"But Ant Vick, please be reasonable … your health is still fragile; I much prefer you stay in the hospital for one more night."

"Crow … if it were your child, where would you want to be, right now?"

I place my hand on my flat stomach protectively. "I'd want to be with him or her, I whisper."

She looks at me shrewdly for a moment, reaches for my hand, and grasps it in her own. "I thought so."

She releases my hand, crumples the letter, and with a surprising aim, sends it flying in the direction of the trashcan.

"Well, Carlisle, I didn't ask for your opinion or permission; I'm checking myself out

… And going home to my daughter."

***Burger***

B/N: Well, hot damn! I knew things happened for a reason – Miss Jayne's been plotting this thing out for five years, js. But hell – even I didn't see all this coming. Lord.

Well, I expect Miss J is gonna tie things up all neat and pretty and tied with a bow. I for one will miss ya'll something fierce. Still, like all good stories, they gotta come to an end sometime. Good news here is there's gonna be another chappie after this one and an epi (what you gals like to call the PS on a tale. I've been payin attention – I know all the lingo and the codes, js.)

I'll be seeing ya'll in a week or two. I know Miss J takes along time to update. She lives in that head of hers so long that she gets a little lost. Still, I have it on good authority that the next installment of the stomach churns is in the hopper.

Till then, ya'll stay smart now.

Boots

A/N: Thank you all so much for the lovely condolences over the loss of my sweet Dolley Madison. My heart is still broken, but I am at peace knowing she is no longer suffering.

A big shout-out to my fic-sis, Frannie, for the quick beta. I love you, girl!

One more chapter and an epilogue. I know ya'll were expecting this one to be the last, but it was a lot to digest (and a bugger to write!) plus, I really want to give Boots and Bella a wedding. Call me a romantic sap, but after all the crap they've been through, I think they deserve a bit of wonderful, don't you?

See you soon!

Jayne

xo

PS: I find blood type to be fascinating. My two son's are both B Negative. I am AB positive. My husband is O positive. When we discovered that our boys were B Negative we were stunned. I didn't know that two positives can make a negative. But they can. And we did.

What's your blood type?

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. Chapter 1: Prologue 1583 1 0 2. Chapter 2: Shrinking Violet 4096 0 0 3. Chapter 3: Mud Season 4731 0 0 4. Chapter 4: The Lying and the Lam part 1 2932 0 0 5. Chapter 5: The Lying and the Lam part 2 3782 0 0 6. Chapter 6: Over the Rainbow 3762 0 0 7. Chapter 7: Home Training 5736 0 0 8. Chapter 8: A Rose for Miss Vick 5118 0 0 9. Chapter 9: Whiplash 5851 0 0 10. Chapter 10: Boiling Springs 5848 0 0 11. Chapter 11: Boiling Mad 6381 0 0 12. Chapter 12: Down the Drain 7220 0 0 13. When the Cat's Away, Boots will Play 4793 0 0 14. Chapter 14: Safe Haven 8215 0 0 15. Chapter 15: Order Up! 3135 0 0 16. Chapter 16: The Witch Doctor 3261 0 0 17. Chapter 17: Fly Trap 4274 0 0 18. Chapter 18: Bless Her Heart 4101 0 0 19. Chapter 19: Transitions 5236 0 0 20. Chapter 20: L'air du Temps 4169 0 0 21. Chapter 21: Of Testosterone and Kismet 5864 0 0 22. Chapter 22: Outfoxing the Fox 6570 0 0 23. Chapter 23: Pas de Trois 3979 0 0 24. Chapter 24 Pas de Trois part two 2522 0 0 25. Chapter 25: Blood Typing 4940 0 0 26. Chapter 26: Wedding Bella 3724 0 0 27. Chapter 27: Epilogue 3641 0 0