It was moving day and no one was happy about it. Laura huddled up the crying children and one by one put them into the van. Aleria came over to me and hugged me tightly as she said her own silent goodbye to her childhood home.
"It will be okay hun, we will start over and things will be alright. You will make new memories. I know for a while it will be cramped sharing a room with your two sisters but you can do it can't you?"
She nodded and then moved over to the van. Each kid left something outside the front door in memorial to their father that wasn't able to come with us. Lastly I went up to the door and left a white rose with a note attached to it. "Our love is just as pure." I got in the van and started out of the driveway and down the road, the moving truck not far behind me.
The trip to Vegas took almost a full two days with the kids having to go to the bathroom and always being hungry. When we finally got there I smiled as our apartment was on the second floor of an old theater. I looked at the kids and smiled. “Alright guys we are here, now I know you guys are used to having your own space, but for right now you are going to be sharing. The sleeping arrangements are as follows. Girls get one room and boys the other. The living room is mine and until we save up enough this is how it is going to be.”
I heard groans all around and looked at my kids for a minute. They understood necessity, but still it wasn’t the home they were used to. I grasped Charles hand as Scott reached for me and I smiled. “Alright guys and gals, let’s get everything out of the van and into the house so that I can at least have some sanity when I take you guys to school and such.”
It didn’t take us long to unpack and move things into the apartment. Each kid had a backpack with all of their important things with them, things that meant the most to them. I grabbed up my own backpack and started to place letters that Harley and I had written into the same decorative box they had been in at home. I placed my bedding on the couch and then moved into the kitchen and put some of the bare essentials away.
It wasn’t long before Monday came and I had to get the kids to school and myself to a new job. After I dropped the young-uns off at daycare, I rushed across town and in the door of a large building where I was greeted by a friendly receptionist.
“Welcome Mrs. Ross, Mr. Jenkins will be with you momentarily, and welcome to the firm.” Her perky attitude and the fact that she had called me by my married name struck me oddly.
“It’s Anderson actually. Ms. Anderson. My husband passed away, it was painful to keep his last name so I reverted to my maiden name, but you can call me Sidonie or just Sid. I feel more comfortable with that.”
She nodded her head and I saw an older gentleman start my way with a smile on his face. “Sid, so good to see you, it was really hard to do all those phone interviews, but I am so glad that we snagged you. Come with me and we will get you settled into your new office and if there is anything you need, please don’t hesitate to ask. I know it is hard being the new person in the office, kinda like a sideshow thing, but we are pretty laid back here.”
I smiled at him. “Thank you Mr. Jenkins, I do have to ask though, are my hours flexible? You see I have seven children and I have to be able to meet their needs as well as my own. I know that you need someone that works hard, and I promise I will do just that but my kids are still adjusting to losing their father and now the move is just a bit much.”
He nodded. “I can understand and we don’t like to put a strain on family so as long as your projects are up to par I think we can be a bit flexible. My goodness your husband and you must have been busy to have seven children. The divorce must still be hard on them.”
I shook my head. “No sir, we aren’t divorced. My husband died in Afghanistan fighting for our freedom, and the children are from our previous relationships. None of them are ours together, and I have another one on the way with my Laura being pregnant so young. It is just a lot of adjustment to get used to I guess.”
He nodded in understanding. “I am so sorry for your loss, all of your loss. I think between a cell phone and laptop you should be able to do whatever it is your family demands, I was very impressed with the samples you sent me. If you can throw something like that together in just thirty minutes I wonder what you can do with a couple of days.”
I nodded and smiled. “Thank you sir, I promise not to let you down.” He handed me my first project and left me to my own devices. By the end of the day I handed my new secretary a jump drive with my ideas on it and walked out to start picking up the kids from school and daycare. When we all got home it was close to 6:30 so I started dinner, got all the lunches ready for the next day and got all the clothes set out and baths ready. By the time I got the kids in bed and myself settled down it was almost midnight and I was exhausted.
My days settled in to the same routine and weeks turned into months, the kids got back into their sports and other things they liked to do and I was stretched about as thin as I could be. Mr. Jenkins loved my work ethic and how quickly my jobs got done, perfect down to the last detail. One day I walked into the office with a surprisingly happy boss grinning at me.
“I have so news for you. Our client at the Television station has asked if they could borrow you for a show they are doing to prank some people. I told them that the final decision is yours, but we will pay you for your time away and you will also be compensated by the TV station themselves. I figured with how thin you have been lately it would be perfect for you to do. I think they said a few grand would be good and you will get the normal $1000 that you make here. What do you say?”
I thought for a moment and nodded. I mean it couldn’t be that bad. “Sure when do I start?”
He looked at me, handed me my keys and pushed me towards the door. “You start now, don’t worry about the kids, we have hired a certified nanny to take care of them while you are gone. We asked your daughter Laura to write down schedules, allergies and things that she would need so that you could go straight to set. We will call only if there is a problem, but I think everything is under control.”
I nodded and smiled as I headed for the elevator. Once I reached the Lobby I called Laura.
The phone rang three times before she answered.
Laura *Ross and Reynolds residence this is Laura
Me* You sound so professional sweetie. Listen I might not be home tonight. I am going to try, but they want me to do this TV show and it pays better than anything I have had in a while so I had to take it.
Laura* I wondered why your boss needed all that information from me. I guess they are sending in a Nanny and I need to step up to wrangle the hoard?
Me* Please, I would owe you if you could do that for me. I am scared they will make her run for the hills, I don’t think she understands what she is getting into with seven kids.
Laura* Don’t worry Momma, I’ve got it taken care of. You just do what you need to do and I will handle it from here.
Me* Thanks honey, I will be back when I can. I love you and I will talk to you later.
Laura* Love you to Momma, take care and see you when you get home.
The phone clicked and I turned the van on and headed to the site of the show. As I walked through the door with my ID and the pass that my boss had given me I sighed at how busy it was. I missed the slow life that we had before. A woman smiled to me as she took my pass and ID.
“Welcome, you are going to go down the hall, third door on the left and ask for Ms. Spencer. She is the director and will talk to you about what you are going to do.”
I nodded and took my ID back from her. “Thank you Ma’am.” I walked down the hall and knocked on the door. I heard a beautiful voice answer curtly.
“Come in.” I opened the door to see a woman about my age with beautiful black hair and stunning blue eyes. “Can I help you?”
I looked at her for a second in shock. “Yes, yes I’m sorry. You called my boss about me being in your prank show. He told me I had to come right over.”
She smiled and walked around her desk. “Oh thank goodness, I thought I was sent another air head. The other five I have had to deal with aren’t the brightest girls on the planet. Now, why don’t you take a seat and I will tell you what is going on. First off, would you like something to drink?”
I shook my head and she continued on. “We do a show to prank your spouse or significant other. Our accomplice gives us information on the person and we set it up, make it look real and then play a horrible joke on them. The couple that contacted us wants to throw a fake wedding for their friends and then have their reception turn into a strip show. I know you might not be comfortable with this, but I thought you would be the best choice. We are also pranking their friends who happen to be a group of six marines fresh from deployment. What do you think?”
I thought for a second. “I am not shy, that I promise you, but are you sure I am right for this, I mean I’m not in the best shape.”
She looked at me for a moment. “You look beautiful and we know your husband was military, may the Goddess guide his soul, so you would be great bait for a dateless marine. The other five are showing up with what we in the industry call “Escorts” and I think he would appreciate a smart woman.”
I nodded. “With the kind of money that you are offering I really can’t turn you down. My kids and I are living paycheck to paycheck and we need a chance to get ahead for once. When do we start shooting?”
She eyed me for a moment. “Well the joke starts tomorrow so can you be here bright and early for wardrobe and then go to an address we specify?”
I nodded. “Until tomorrow then.” I walked out of her office and smiled to myself. With the money I would get from the show and my check I would be able to afford to get some gifts for the kids.
I got back to the house a little late and the children were already in bed. I looked at the Nanny and smiled. “Not easy is it?”
She shook her head at me. “You have a gem in that daughter of yours. Laura really kept them at bay when I started to feel lost in it all. How do you do it?”
I shrugged. “Sometimes I wonder myself, but it is unconditional love. You learn what each one needs and make sure you remember they all need attention. Do you think you could watch them again tomorrow? I have to start my shoot tomorrow.”
She nodded. “I am paid up for however long you need me. How about I get here early, get your van and learn how to get them ready in case I am here for a couple days.”
I nodded. “Truly helpful, I hope you are up for a 4am wakeup call, that is just to cook breakfast for them all.”
She sighed but nodded. “I’ll be here.”
I laid down on the couch and smiled to myself. It was about time that we got a break.