It had been a few weeks since the doctor’s appointment and I saw the guys at the gym every day. I had apologized to Parker for the break down and naked tease, but he wouldn’t even let me finish a sentence. We had all become good friends and they had known to stay away from the subject of the military as it made me cry, but they had no idea why. I had talked to Chastity and Grace a few times and escaped to the “Massage Parlor” to do my homework when I needed peace and quiet. It was a week before my birthday and it wasn’t something I was really looking forward to. I went to the gym just like everyday where I ran into Parker and the guys, but today they didn’t seem so happy. I walked over to him and put my hand on his arm.
He turned around and gave me his usual one arm hug, but it looked like he was angry. I took a step back and ran into Andrew, he looked at me with sorrow and I was starting to get scared. “Alright, what’s going on? You guys seem down and out, am I missing something?”
Tyson came over to me and hugged me tight and whispered in my ear. “We got an ERD notice, we ship out tomorrow for God knows how long. We don’t even get time to adjust to it.” I felt like I had been slammed in the chest. Harley’s last set of orders were ERD and I never saw him again. I was close to these guys, they had let me into their tight knit group and they didn’t even know a lot about me. I took a step back, then another. My mind was racing at the thoughts that crossed my mind, the fear, the sorrow and the pain that seeped through the walls I had built around myself. I felt myself start to lose control when Parker came over and held me close.
“Just breathe through it, whatever it is. The pain will subside, we will come home I promise.” I shook my head frantically and tried to break loose but Parker held me firm. “Yes, we will come home, and when we come home I want to see the strong woman we have come to care for over the last few weeks. She has been like an annoying sister that you just can’t get enough of. Now put a smile on your face, promise us you will be there tomorrow to see us off and I don’t want to see one tear fall from your eyes. Do you understand?”
I nodded my head, took a deep breath and put my hands on his chest to get him to let me go. “Alright, if you promise to come home, then you better damn well come home. While you are gone you better keep each other safe, do I make myself clear?”
I saw them all stand at attention and smile. “Yes Ma’am.” I giggled to myself and then hugged each one of them before I punched Parker in the arm.
“Annoying sister huh? Well better that than the meat head brothers. What time tomorrow?”
They looked at me before they pulled out a letter and handed it to me. I read it over and then nodded. “Alright I have to drop the kids off at school and daycare, but then I am free until 4:00pm.”
I smiled as they tried to figure out just how many kids I had and the specifics that I wouldn’t tell them. We worked out for a while before I had to go, I waved goodbye with another promise that I would see them off and then ran into the rat race that was my children.
Once I had all my kids home and dinner started there was a knock on the door, I quickly went to open it and found Parker and the guys there. I looked at them dumbfounded before I opened the flood gates of utter chaos as the kids ran around getting everything ready for the next day. I closed the door after them and nodded to the couch. Once they sat down they got the kids attention and all of them came running to check out the guests. I tried hard to stifle a giggle as six of my seven kids squared up to the six burley men on the couch. Tyson looked at me for a moment before he smiled.
“So how many of them are yours?” He looked like he was hoping it was only one or two of them. I laughed at the expressions on their faces.
“All of them, but we are missing one, she is a little slow these days on moving around.” I smiled as I heard Laura curse from the stairs.
“Mom, really, you be seven months pregnant and try to get down the stairs. It is....” She paused and looked at the guys on the couch. “I’m sorry, momma when did company arrive?”
I raised my eyebrow at her. “About three minutes ago, do you need some help?” She shook her head at me and made a beeline for the recliner. I laughed as the guys looked her over and she stared at them with daggers in her eyes. “Alright, I see I am going to have to make some introductions before my daughter blows up the room with all that hostility. Who wants to go first?”
Parker looked at me and then nodded. “I think we should because we intruded. My name is Parker and these are my friends Bradley, Tyson, Andrew, Dewayne and Jordan. We kind of adopted your mother as our honorary little sister at the gym.” He looked so nervous as he sat face to face with my seven children.
I smiled. “Alright let me go from oldest to youngest, might help you guys remember their names. First is Laura, she is almost sixteen, then we have Aleria who is seven, Reese is six, Christian is five, Celeste and Charles are four and Scott is three. And that is my zoo, kinda scary being face to face with so many kids huh?”
Tyson nodded before he put his hand out to Laura. “It’s nice to meet you Ma’am, sorry to just intrude on your time with your mom, but we were wondering if we could talk to her for a minute.”
Laura looked at Tyson but didn’t shake his hand. She crossed her arms over her chest and squared up to him. “And what per say would you need to speak with my mother about? You have to understand us kids are very protective of her and she hasn’t been having an easy time of it.”
I bumped her a bit with my arm and nodded to the stairs. “Laura we will talk later, if you could please go get the horde cleaned up for dinner.” She looked at me for a second before she rounded up the youngins and headed upstairs. I looked at the guys and put my hands on my hips.
Andrew stood up with his hands out defensively. “I’m sorry I know it was rude of us to drop by we just wanted to know a bit more about you. You are like the mystery woman that keeps so much locked inside. When you said you had kids, I didn’t think you had so many.”
I smiled a bit. “Well, there are circumstances behind these children. See my husband and I dated in high school, we got into a nasty fight, split up and went our separate ways for a while. I ended up in a relationship with Laura’s father and I got pregnant which gave me Celeste. When Celeste was eight months old we broke it off since we were poison to each other. I got back home and found out two weeks later I was pregnant with Scott. Two days after he was born Laura was on my doorstep because her parents called her a problem. My husband had four kids with two different moms. Aleria was his first born with Rina, then he had Reese, Christian and Charles with another woman named Kayla.”
They all looked at me like I grew a second head. Jordan looked at me for a second before he put his hand up. “You mean you’re married?”
Before I could answer I saw Laura with tears in her eyes. “She was married and we did have a dad, but seven months ago while he was deployed he was killed in combat and sent home to us covered in the flag. Momma has been alone since with us and she has worked so hard to keep us fed and clothed since the military turned their back on us. They found it convenient to tell us that due to recent economic changes they couldn’t afford to pay us when daddy died. Don’t get me wrong we would rather have had our dad back but it was just how they threw us down like we were nothing. Mommy has worked two jobs, she goes to school, finds time for all of us and I don’t think she has had a decent night’s sleep since before he died.”
They looked at her for a moment and then back at me. I put my arms protectively around my pregnant daughter as she broke down. I held her to me as the rest of the kids came over to hold her as well. I watched Jordan and the rest as they saw us band together through the pain. I saw the six of them stand up and it got the attention of all of the children as well. They stood at attention and saluted the kids and I. Reese, Christian, Charles and Scott saluted back while Aleria, Celeste and I held on to Laura. I kissed the tops of each of the kid’s heads and sent them back upstairs. I then had six sets of eyes all on me and I was scared.
“Sid, why didn’t you tell us this, that was the reason for the breakdown at the shoot. You were talking to Sarah about what happened to your husband, you relived the memory in your head and broke down didn’t you?” I nodded. Parker stood up and looked at me, he took a step forward, grabbed my wrist and then held me tight. “You could have told us Sid, we would have understood, why didn’t you tell us the military didn’t do anything for you? It isn’t right Sid and we would have worked to make it right.”
I quickly pushed against his chest. “It isn’t your problem Parker it’s ours and we will deal with whatever is to come. I don’t ask for pity, or remorse or help, I don’t need it. I have eight great reasons to live and they keep me going every day of my life. I didn’t ask for the hand that I was dealt, but I don’t whine about it, I only cry when I am alone and I work damn hard to make sure that my children want for nothing. So now you know the big secret, the one that I have been locking up inside, makes you look at me just a bit different doesn’t it?”
Andrew shook his head at me. “No, we don’t look at you any different, you are still the annoying little sister, but you are the annoying little sister that we have worlds of respect for.”
I rolled my eyes. “You guys need to go get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be a long day for you, and I promise I will be there. Now get going before I make you take on the horde.” I started to laugh as two ran for the door while the other four ran for the stairs. I was going to miss them and that was the honest truth.
After they all left and the kids had been fed, bathed and put to bed I looked at my phone and saw a message. I opened it up and smiled at Parker’s words.
***Just because you are too strong to ask for help doesn’t mean we don’t want to give it.***
I looked at the message a few times before I answered back.
***What is it that you are going to do, petition the government to make them give me money that I will just turn around and send back to them?***
I was never one for charity, even Chastity and Grace had tried to help me out to no avail, why would I let them try as well? I heard a beep and looked at the message on my phone.
***Nope, no petition, but you better watch out cause we have a plan now.***
I giggled before I sent a message back.
***OMG you have a plan..... I think.... I need.... to... RUN!!!!!***
I turned off my phone as sleep started to pull me under. Tomorrow was going to be a long day and I didn’t know how I was going to fare with so much emotional damage already inflicted.