We walked up the road past ten houses then I let us in, no Conner but I didn't expect him for another hour. I warmed up some milk and found a t-shirt he could sleep in, I discarded his shorts and windcheater that Mary had found then put him in the shirt.
"You are safe now, no one's going to hurt you Teddy, I have a nice clean bed waiting for you and if you hear anyone else come in, it will be my friend Conner, he's a good guy so don't be scared okay?"
I got him into Beth’s room but after twenty minutes I heard crying so I climbed in with him and held him while he went back to sleep, I laid there and watched his perfect little face.
Conner came in a half hour later and called my name as he went up the hallway, I didn't want to wake Teddy so slipped out of bed and went to find him.
"There you are baby, where were you?"
"With the cute little man in in the front bedroom, don't wake him."
Conner walked up to the room and poked his head in.I wasn't far behind.
"Where did you get him?"
"I stole him from his mother earlier at the flats." I didn't tell Con the full story, not yet anyway.
"He's just needing some TLC so he's staying the night,"I added.
"He looks beautiful Brent,what’s his name?"
We pulled the door in a bit but didn't lock it; if he needs me he knows where I am.
We talked a bit, I tried to tell Con he was temporarily without family but Mary was on to it.
We didn't hear anything through the night, he slept soundly but by the look of Conner he didn't sleep much so I let him sleep on and when I awoke I checked on Teddy but he wasn't there, he was in front of the TV watching a cartoon.
"Good morning Teddy, did you sleep well?"
"Yes thank you Mr.Brent."
I smiled at him and thought what good manners.
"Toast okay for breakfast?"
I started cooking and made a banana milk shake for him, which he drank in front of the television and the toast disappeared very quickly.
Conner came out and said good morning to him, again he was polite and returned the greeting.
"How is he?"
"Good Con, he's been up awhile and it looks like he's washed his face and been to the toilet, he didn't flush," I smiled.
"What do you want for breakfast baby?"
"Just toast and avocado thanks, I'll go have a shower." He looked longingly at me.I winked.
I tried to ring Mary to see if there was any news but no answer so by eleven I was getting worried.
The doorbell rang and Mary was there with a very well dressed woman she introduced as Mrs. Timms, she seemed okay for a child services worker but my heart fell a bit as Mary was smiling at me.
"Nanny!" A little boy yelled.
"Teddy my darling boy, nanny is here, you're okay now." She held him in her arms and he kissed her face several times.
"I tried to ring you nanny but the phone is not working, I got locked in so I couldn't come to your house."
"It's okay baby, nanny's been away for a few days, she didn't know you needed her otherwise she would have come to get you."
Mary looked at me and smiled then whispered,
"A good result Brent, we have just been to see a judge and he's granted Mrs. Timms full custody, her daughter is an ice addict and she thinks she forgot to ring her to come get Ted. Normally Teddy stays with her part time but she had to go away for a few days but now she has the order, he will live with her full time, she doesn't hold out much hope for her no good daughter."
"Nanny I was so scared at momma's place and Mr.Brent helped me and Mary and Conner."
She looked at Conner and immediately joined the dots.
"I can't thank you enough boys and Mary if I had only known, he's the most precious boy in the world and I'm just so sorry he ended up like that, I should have taken him with me but Ruth insisted she was alright to do it. I just can't trust her anymore,she’s ruined the whole family and this little boy is paying the price but no more. She won't get her grubby hands on him again, I'll see to that."
"If you need any help with that Mrs. Timms I have a team of lawyers at the ready," Con offered.
"Oh thank you Mr.Conners but all is not what it seems, I have a coffee shop on high street, I do pretty okay but yes, if I need help then I will call Mary," she explained.
She made Teddy kiss us both and thanked us as we stood there with sinking hearts but happy he has a good home with family.
"Got to you didn't he?" Mary asked.
"Sure did," I sighed.
"Coffee?" Con offered.
"Yes please Conner, we can talk a bit then we have to get to work,"Mary answered.
"Not all the kids are abused Brent, nowadays people are a lot more aware of their neighbors, especially in government housing and it’s not like it was years ago. He had some rotten luck for a few days but I'm sure his nan will set him straight and see him right, why don't you both become foster parents?"
I thought about it for a minute.
"Because of moments like this, we had him and lost him within twenty four hours, it hurts." A tear dropped.
Conner held me for a minute and said,
"I don't think we are strong enough to do that Mary, we want a little boy or girl to be part of our family, not a kid we have to give back."
"Okay, I'll do some reading and make some calls, if ever two people need a brood of kids then it's you two," she said with a smile.
We showed her out and I promised I would only be a half hour away. As I closed the door, I looked into Con's eyes and led him to Beth's room, the bed was messed up and I laid on it putting a little kid's pillow over my face, smelling his smell, Conner joined me.
Arriving at work I was faced with another problem, Mary had asked me to look at a little girl's back and tell her what I thought. She was bruised and looked really scared, I could make out the outline of an open hand so I took some photos and not to panic the kiddy, I let her play with my stethoscope, she listened to her heart and mine then giggled.
I went to see Mary.
"Open handed, very hard slaps."
"Okay bring her in Brent, it could only be some hard discipline but we have to make the call," she sighed; I could see she was tired.
A kindly man from child services called back and talked to
the little girl then said he would be back. He did after two hours and talked to Mary, the girl would be placed into a temporary foster home for now until his investigation was finished, I watched him take a very upset and scared little girl away.
That night I sat on the sofa and wept, I can’t do this it's too hard. John poked his head in with some dinner and we talked for two hours, I had lost my, 'don't get involved persona.' He listened; I ate then cried, he held me and I cried more.
"Perhaps Brent my love, it was a bad move for you, working in that big hospital you saw all sorts of agony, grief and suffering, you became immune to it, I know that’s what fundamentally makes a good nurse, it's to get on with the job at hand, be sympathetic but focused. When Conner and Ray were discussing your change of job they didn't factor in the suffering you personally went through and of course Conner’s abuse which you took upon yourself to make right, not only for him but the both of you. I feel being a flight attendant was your real calling and I urge you to talk to Ray and Conner about it, but you know they were only trying to make you feel safer."
"He's already told me John, I'm so sorry I put you in that situation baby, so sorry," Conner said standing in the open doorway.
I looked at him and broke down again, I have let everyone down and felt so guilty I couldn't help that little girl; I didn't even know her name.
"I'll leave it to you Conner but you know what has to happen for now, I will talk to Ray and see what can be done." He kissed us both I thanked him and he left.
I had been talking for three hours trying to make sense of my feelings and I still felt guilty.
"Want something to eat Con, John's feeding us again?"
"No baby I just want you at the moment, come with me."
He took my hand and we got into bed, he held me all the while as I poured my heart out to him.
"Nothing's that bad that it can't be fixed babe."
"But I let you and Ray down, not to mention Tom and Mary, how can I face them everyday knowing I'm dying inside and can't do a thing about it?"
"You won't have to Brent, you are taking a break from nursing and child care and as soon as my contract is over we are going away for a long time just to be with ourselves, no pressure."
"But Conner I can't do that to Tom, he's so excited."
"Then we get a replacement he likes babe or he can come here and you can teach him in private, either way you're safe with me and you are never ever going to be put in that position again."
He pulled me in closer and eventually we drifted off to sleep.
I showered and dressed for work but Conner said he had it covered; we were going to the office for a meeting.
Mary called by early and we talked.
"I knew I had lost you the moment we walked into that flat Brent, I had hoped you were stronger but I knew deep down this might be your undoing,so don't be so hard on yourself, it happens to the best of us. If I hadn't hardened up after the rape I wouldn't be able to cope with this job, that’s why I never married Brent, underneath this feminine body is a solid brick that can't be broken, you don't have that, your heart is open and pure. I know Phil has told you I am a lot better than I used to be but it's because no one gets near this body of mine, ever, I built walls to protect me and in the process I can take the knocks without my inner feelings getting in the way," she explained.
"I'm sorry Mary, you’re a beautiful woman that deserves all the love you can get, but I understand."
Conner drove us to the office and we met with Ray but before I said anything he closed the door,grabbed me and kissed my cheek then said,
"Don't you even think about an apology Brent."
I was going to apologize but had to suck it up.
"Now what to do with you in this situation? I have organized a temporary nurse at the safe house, I still have to find a permanent flight attendant for the jet and I maybe need to move you into a casual desk job." He was concerned but I noticed a little smirk.
I looked up at him,my mouth opened and my hands spread.
"I won't tell Phil and Davo, you can surprise them, now go get your travel papers from Helen,she’s expecting you. You start tomorrow morning so I will bring your dinner over at seven then I want you in bed by nine. Conner, no nooky nooky when you get home either,"he laughed.
This was getting so intense and I was still worried about Tom.
"Poor Tom," I said.
"All organized, he can still go to the safe house, Mary has instructions to hire someone who is familiar with tutoring, he's going to be a busy little lad I feel."
"Thank you and I am...."
"Go," Ray said firmly.
"Yes sir." I looked at Conner, he was smiling but looked tired, I better get him home for a nap.
"Sorry Con," I hung my head.
"We tried to push you too far baby, it didn't work, nothing has changed, you still fly with the boys and don't feel bad for fucks sake, it's your life, we were just trying to help, that’s all, it's me who should be sorry babe."
I pushed Conner back onto the bed and kissed his sweet lips hoping the images would leave me soon, an abandoned boy and a battered little girl, they were in my dreams but I knew it was only the very tip of the iceberg and it had gotten to me so easily.
And I had to help Mary.
I didn't go to the casino with Con like he wanted; I just wanted to have some me time for the four and a half hours he would be away. Ray brought some food in, he thought I might just want a quiet night, but he sat with me for a while.
He apologized for the big stuff up, he said Conner was always looking at ways to keep me out of harms way, it was a good plan but not the wisest. After he left I sat and ate dinner, I picked away at it, thinking about all the kids in the world that go through shit like that, but like my homeless lady in New York, I can't help everyone.
My man arrived home at precisely eleven pm, I of course was lying on the sofa in the nude, he stood and looked at me for ages.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"Take your clothes off."
He did and came to sit next to me, I got up and pushed him down then laid on top of him, his arms went around my waist.
"Remember the reason I took the flight attendant’s job? It was because I had fallen in love with you and I couldn't bear to be parted from you for too long. And do you remember why I resisted taking it, because I didn't want to be treated as my boss’s latest fuck.That was my decision to make on my own, you didn't influence me at all, if I had any inkling I would be treated differently, I would never have taken the job.
Now the same goes for the safe house, I actually thought it was a good move but I wasn't thinking how it would affect me, it’s a totally different environment from what I was doing at the hospital. You didn't make me do it, you suggested it was a good thing and I agreed. I should be thanking you for letting me go back to flying and I do understand the reasons behind the change but you didn't make me, nobody could ever make me do anything I don't want to do, so don't go there again."
"I love you, you're so amazing Brent," he said.
"So are you; now do you want dinner or some hot loving?"
We ground into each other on the sofa for ages until my hand brought us both to a wonderful climax; there was bloody white sauce everywhere.
I wore my uniform and sunglasses into the hangar the next day and felt a lot brighter, I could see one of my boys moving in the cabin so up the stairs I went and ran straight into Dave.
"Brent? What the fuck are you doing here, god it's good to see you, Phil, hey Phil, come here."
"Brent!!" Phil rushed out of the cockpit, and hugged me along with his lover.
"Looks like your stuck with me boys, the other job didn't work out so I'm back." I smiled at them both.
"What happened?" Phil asked.
"Oh it was a good idea at first but I never factored in the daily dose of neglected kids to deal with, I guess I have lost my brick walls, so in short, I lost my nerve to deal with that kind of abuse."
"Yes please, we've got plenty of time, can we talk about it for awhile?"
"Of course Dave, I can bring you up to date and you can tell me about Tony."
"Tony, you know your friend, I want to know more about him."I smiled and patted his cheeks.
I talked my head off, teared up a little for Teddy and was very happy to be home,flying again. I got some information on Tony and decided I might just accidentally run into him for coffee one day.
Our flight to Brisbane was smooth and it was nice to sit in the sunshine for a few hours at Brisbane airport, Melbourne had become a little rainy and grey. Although I love the winter, I do like some sun also.
Phil and Dave took it in turns to sit with me, I think they were doing their big brother thing and I felt warm.
I told them I was going to go to Conner’s concert tonight to surprise him, I could sit through them every night but I didn't want to get in his way all the time, I'm such a distraction. So when we landed I called him and we planned to go to dinner at the casino before the show. I hi-tailed it over there to pick him up from his dressing room, he ate very little but it was nice to get him out of there for an hour.
His show, as usual, was magnificent. I actually stood up in the back to watch it and at interval I moved to back stage. I watched him go through the motions and finish with a magic finale.
He quickly showered and we were on the road home.
I told him how my day was and I had bought him an anniversary present so he bugged me all the way home, he even grabbed my jump bag to look in it.
We had a glass of wine when we got in and I handed him a paper bag wishing him happy anniversary, inside was a brightly painted wooden carving of the sun, flames and all. He was wrapped I had brought some Queensland sunshine into his life and he reached into his pocket and gave me another tiny gift. He kissed me on the lips, smiling, it was a blue diamond this time and he called it Teddy's diamond.I was moved beyond belief.
He took his sunshine up to the bedroom, removed a small sketch and put it on the wall so we would see it every morning when we woke. The little drawing he actually bubble wrapped and put in the safe.
"Why?" I was curious.
"It's a DaVinci."
"What!! And you had it hanging on the bedroom wall?" I yelled.
"Umm yes Brent, it's always been there, it's just a small sketch, it's not even completed."
"It must be worth millions?"
"Not quite baby, but close, it was an anniversary present to my uncle, he kind of liked his work." He stood back flicked his beautiful black hair and gave me a Mona Lisa pose.
"What the fuck else is worth money on the walls Con? I've been dusting classic paintings with my dishcloth for God's sake."
"Don't go all arty farty on me baby, only that one, it was my uncle's favorite, the rest are on loan to the Arts Centre."
"When Aunty Beth lent them, I asked to keep this one for my room, I liked it so that’s how it was left behind."
"And you now have hidden it away for a two bob homemade carved sun?"
"No, I have put it away to replace it with a wonderful memory of your love for me, but if you want to put it out again, bang another nail in the bedroom wall because my sunshine isn't moving," he indignantly replied.
"Well I just might do that, now can we go to bed and get some warmth into our lives?"
"Brent I’m half naked already or haven’t you noticed?"
"Oh, so you are, let's go."
On my next day off I went up the street to see Mary and Chris and I also met Margo the new nurse, she was also lovely and we had a big discussion about Tom. She said she worked in Human Resources for a year and was completely up to date with her nursing, she always did extra training and Tom was a beautiful young man and it was going to be a pleasure to pass on her knowledge to him. I didn't ask her how she was coping with the job, I thought I wouldn't even go there but she did say she worked in the Children's Hospital most of her life so I figured she had seen it all before. Mary was on a high, she had a win with the little girl's father, he has been charged with child abuse and the mother moved out to her parent's place, she apparently didn't know it was going on but I had my doubts.
"What was her name Mary?"
"Belinda Brent, a real sweetie, I hope the grandparents keep a strict eye on her from now on, do you feel a little better now?"
"Yes Mary, the shock has left me but the images are lingering, it will pass and when I'm feeling a bit better I want you to come for dinner down the street, I have to pick a night when Conner is home, just a little apology get together,that’s all."
"No need, but I won't say no to a free meal."
"Good, I want to invite Phil and Davo too, they were so surprised to see me the other day, we are back to normal and I'm back to making coffee."
"Brent you never stopped," she quipped with a laugh.
My phone rang on the way home, it was Con, he would be a little late tonight as he had a few extra numbers to do for some VIPs that requested him to sing in the Mahogany room. No one gets in there if they don't have at least few million in their accounts so I told him I would wait for him, it was a late start for me in the morning so I could stay up longer.
He didn't arrive at twelve or one or two but three, he fell in the front door drunk as a skunk then he fumbled to put the light on but finally found it.
"Sorry Brents, I got a biddle pissed, dey kept buying me drinks but I think dey were free."
"Its okay baby,all’s good, do you want some water?"
"No Brett, I want my sunshine." He kissed the brightly colored sun on the wall.
And yes he fought with every piece of clothing except his jeans, he gave up on them so I hopped out of bed and took his shoes and socks off then his jeans came off easily.
He fell sideways onto the pillow and I lifted his legs under the blankets.
"Sorry," he said.
"No need Con, I'm just happy your home in one piece,that’s all."
"Umm." He was nodding off, boy is he ever going to have a hangover tomorrow, thank god he didn't have work.
He was on his side facing away from me so I slipped my left arm under his neck and held his chest just to keep him safe, he mumbled something then proceeded to lightly snore.
In the morning he was as white as a sheet, I got water into him and he moaned his way through eating breakfast.
"Well you only have yourself to blame, you know you overdo the drinks Con, it’s not good that you do that."
"But I feel awful."
"Okay, let me see."
I took his temperature, which was a bit high; maybe he's coming down with the flu, which will make his concertgoers happy.I rugged him up and told him not to move out of the house all day.I had to get to work but before I did, I rang Ray who said he would come home for a few hours or he would get John to sit with him. I thanked him.
Luckily it was just a short day for me, we had three members of the cast of a local sit com going on location to Sydney so it was a lot of fun. They were great actors and totally different to their onscreen characters. They signed my autograph book, well I'm a fan. I rang John from Sydney and he said Conner was sleeping; he looked a bit better but was missing me. I laughed and thanked him for sitting with him, I would be home in three hours.
When I got in, Conner was up eating chicken soup, I don't know if it ever helps but just the name conjures images of an instant cure. I took his temp again and his pulse. Passing over a couple of Panadols, he downed them with lemon honey juice.
"I missed you today."
"I missed you too but you were okay, John was with you."
"But I wanted you to cuddle me."
"I wanted to, also, but my prick of a boss actually wants me to work occasionally."
"But I'm sick Brent, I should have made you stay home."
"Well you know what you have to do in the future don't you? I won't have this conversation with you again Conner."
He looked sheepishly at me and coughed into his napkin.
"Okay let's get you warmer."
I really didn't think he was getting the flu as his temp was almost normal. I think he had what all men get, the 'I'm sick look after me will you,' that kind of thing; worst patients.
I went over to the big easy chair and unfolded the blanket then made him stand up. He swayed a bit and I rolled my eyes. I put the blanket around him and moved him to the couch, turned the TV on, then cuddled him. He moaned and nestled into my neck. For the next three hours I got him another juice, more water, apologized for him on the phone. He was too sick to talk and to top it off he wanted some scones and jam. Fuck me, I don't even know how to make them. I called my caterer, he was happy to oblige.
They arrived a little over half an hour later and he chewed his way through three of them then moaned.
I suggested we hit the sack but he wanted to finish watching,'Spicks N Specks.' He had another scone while he watched, then I had to take him to the toilet and I held his dick, not because he wanted me to, I just thought what the hell, a free feel.
Finally he was ready to go to bed. I undressed him and got him under the covers. I drew him in and tucked the blanket around us snugly. He looked up at me and said,
"Thank you my beautiful sunshine." Then went to sleep.
Morning arrived and so did Conner. He was up and showered by the time I had his coffee on the bench. We talked about the three messages he had on the notepad from last night and said he would call them back this morning.
He basically was dancing around the kitchen making toast for us but then he went quiet and looked at me.
"Can we do it again tonight Brent?"
"And what would that be Con?"
"Can we play nurse, patient again tonight?"
He was good to go to work. Actually he was eager to go and I needed to put my plan into action, so I left for work early.
After my coffee with Tony where I wanted to see if he was okay after the night at Con's concert, I had gotten more information than I needed from him. He was a softy and I could tell he was very lonely so I finished my fishing around with an invitation for dinner the following Monday night, which was Con's next night off. I didn't want to out Conner and so I decided on the Chinese restaurant around the corner. Phil, Dave, Ray, John, Mary, Tony, Con and I, there, that should do it just fine.
I told the boys and Mary and she was happy with that. She loved Chinese food and I told Con no goo goo eyes as Tony was coming and when he asked why, all I said was,
"Mary, he's ideal."
The night arrived and they did hit it off. I had encouraged them to talk by asking a few choice questions so they sort of got to know each other through that. I had set them apart but by the time the meal had finished they had moved together and were deep in conversation. Phil gave me a funny look, I blushed. Mr. Lee asked Con to sign a poster for his grandson and he obliged and that was the okay for some diners to do the same, photos were taken but it wasn't over done. We decided to have coffee just up the road at Mrs. Timms Coffee Lounge, which was very busy. I spoke with her about Teddy and she took my fears away when she showed me out the back to her lovely apartment, I looked in and he was fast asleep, all tucked up in bed in a little boy's room full of toys. She thanked me and said she checks on him every half hour so if I don't see her around then I would know where she was and to come through anytime. I felt nothing but love.
The conversation Tony and Mary were having was about her work and how it was not unlike his, you had to check every detail before you make a decision. I didn't impose, just smiled to myself.
"She’s not that dead Brent," Phil whispered to me.
"I know what your doing, thank you but she’s not as cold as you think she is and she thinks too," he said.
"Maybe your right Phil but I wanted to at least try,she’s a beautiful woman and needs love in her life," I replied.
"Well if I know her and Tony they have already made a big connection."
"I hope so." I smiled to myself.
We walked home, Tony had walked Mary up to the corner and if I didn't know better I thought he actually skipped back to us, we said our goodnights to the boys and Con and I entered our house.Tony came in for coffee and talked nonstop about his night and what a lovely group of people we were, he also hinted he was tight lipped and trustworthy, we didn't come out to him but I guess it wasn't hard to work out.
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