~ Extended Family: Just Starting Out ~
by Eveh


Disclaimer: Two People here may seem kind of similar to ones we all know, however these characters are mine.

Content: Two women here are in love although it's not very graphic; just know it's here. As far as language goes?well that's not too bad either. This would actually be rated PG-13 and that's really stretching it.

Other Stuff: If you have not read all those Accident stories I wrote then this will make absolutely no sense to you. You might want to read all those first considering that I'll say this is actually part of the Accident series. And to those who have already read all those previous ones then read on.

Feed the Bard at XenGab01@aol.com

©2001


Without complaint Kel immediately drove me home. We walked into my house and I noticed that Sam and Dana were conspicuously absent. I just figured they went out to dinner or something so didn't think much of it immediately. I guided Kel to the kitchen and fixed us something to eat since we had skipped dinner due to our little encounter with Richard.

Kel wasn't that big on cooking so she handled making the drinks, which mainly involved getting cups out of the cupboard and filling them each with glass and Dr. Pepper. It actually took her a surprisingly long amount of time to accomplish this simple task. I, on the other hand, was busy making us some nice homemade sandwiches. I didn't feel comfortable to exposing Kel to my cooking yet, not that I was a bad cook, because I really wasn't. Sam had insisted I learn how to cook for myself so that I could be prepared in life. She had told me, "I will not allow you to take on any else's of Dana's bad habits by only being able to use the microwave as your only means of cooking anything. You've already developed too many of her bad habits."

So I learned to cook and have been the better for it ever since. When Sam would be working late at the ER and it was just Dana and I home at night, I would often do the cooking and Dana would make the salad, which was her only specialty. Well, that's not entirely true. Dana could make really good steaks too, but that's more of a grilling thing instead of an actually cooking thing. Plus, I gave Sam a lot of credit for Dana's ability with steaks because she would often season them.

Thinking of all this cooking made me hungrier, which made me pay attention to the task at hand. I hurriedly finished making the sub sandwiches and handed Kel's over to her. She took it eagerly and we made our way over to the kitchen table and began eating.

We hadn't really spoken at all since we left the restaurant, but I really didn't mind. I didn't really want to talk. In my mind, there was nothing really to talk about. Richard was a bastard and should rot in Hell for eternity. What was there that possibly needed to be discussed?

After we finished our meal, I made Kel clean up and moved my way into the living room. On my way, I finally noticed that the light on the answering machine was blinking indicating there was a message. I thought about not listening to it, but then thought it might be my parents and it might be important. I pressed the play button somewhat reluctantly and listened. It was Dana and she sounded almost frantic.

"Tori? Tori where are you? I tried calling your cell phone, but it wasn't on. I thought we talked about that. You really need to keep that on. I know you're out with Kel, but I hope you get this soon although I have no clue when you'll be home, because your cell phone is off. Sam went into labor and we took her to the hospital. The contractions are only eight minutes apart still so you have time to get down here. You should really keep your cell phone on, by the time you get this message your baby sister or brother might already be born." There was a pause in the message and I could hear Dana talking to someone in the background. "Audrey is here and she tells me you went to go see a movie which is why your cell phone might be off. I'm not too sure I like the idea of that?you can just set it to vibrate you know. Your Mama's in labor for crying out loud and you're at the movies. Your Mama needs you here. If you're at home, you shouldn't be. Get here now. Hurry!" Finally there was the click of the other end of the phone signifying my mother had finally hung up.

I stood staring at the answering machine for a moment with my arms crossed. I was running the message around in my head trying to decipher what it was Dana was trying to tell me. She seemed to complaining about my cell phone a lot?she did sound a little stressed. I wasn't quite too sure what my cell phone had to do with it though.

Then that's when it hit me. My Dear God my MAMA'S HAVIN' A BABY! I was able to reach that panic mode I had just heard Dana in. My first thought was about getting to the hospital. I ran out the door to the house, not bothering to lock it or anything and went straight to my car. I then realize I might need keys to drive the car and a license. So, I turn to go back into the house that Kel is currently, calmly exiting. She has my wallet in her hand along with my keys to the house. She locks the door and turns to me. "I'm driving." She tells me sternly. "There is no way you're driving when you are in this condition."

I have to agree with her considering my nerves are making me shake almost violently. I run to the passenger side of her NSX and jump in. Not too patiently, I wait for her to get settled on the driver's side. "Hurry up." I tell her. "My Mama's having a baby. I don't want to miss this. There is no way Audrey is going to be able to see this and me not."

Kel just smiles at me then starts up the car and pulls out of the driveway. She doesn't seem to be in any real hurry and I can't help but tap my fingers against the armrest on the door. Kel gives me a look and I immediately stop my tapping. She settles back in her seat and guides the car in the direction of the hospital where I will find my family getting ready to greet the newest member.

I start my tapping again and Kel's gives me the same look as before. "I can't help it." I say defensively. "My Mama's about to have a baby."

Kel just shakes her head and chuckles lightly. I notice she increases the speed of the vehicle slightly.

Ten minutes later we are at Baylor hospital. The same hospital I was in when I got in a car accident with my parents. The same hospital I was in when I was in an accident because of my friend drinking and driving. The same hospital my parents worked in as very successful doctors. The same hospital I met them in. The same hospital where my life started?again. Now, this hospital would be the place I would greet the newest member of my family.

I rushed to the maternity floor of the hospital, knowing exactly where it was. I knew the layout of this hospital like the back of my hand. And no, this not where I look at the back of my hand and say, "What's that?"

The nurse at the desk tells me where Sam is, just upon seeing me approach and quickly move to my destination. Kel is close on my heels trying to keep up, but I am moving extremely fast down the corridors of the hospital. Finally, I reach my Mama's room and knock on the door. Dana's voice from inside yells for me to enter and I gently push the door open.

I am greeted with the site of a very uncomfortable looking Sam being fed ice cubs by a very harried looking Dana. My half sister is standing in the corner of the room doing her best impression of a fly on the wall. "Thank goodness you're here." Audrey tells me. "I can leave the room now, I was afraid to leave Dana alone with her." She rubs her head. "I think I need a drink."

A soft chuckle escapes my lips and I step aside to let Audrey out of the room. Once she has left, I immediately make my way to the bed. I take Sam's sweaty hand and hold onto it gently. "I bet you're going through hell right now, huh?" I had decided upon seeing the scene not to ask how she was doing because I didn't feel like being yelled at. I would reserve that question for Dana. She wouldn't dare yell at me while Sam was in labor.

"It needs to come out now." She tells me and squeezes my hand as another contraction hits. I can feel my bones immediately protest the stress they are now being put under. After a few moments she releases the death grip she had on my hand and I, as discretely as possible, release her hand. I rub the matted blonde hair on her forehead back instead and place a gentle kiss there. "I love you Mama." I tell her softly then break away.

Sam's expression softens. "I love you to Tori." I can tell she is calmer now and am glad I could give her this small reprieve from the labor.

Now, I realize it is Dana's turn to receive my attentions. Immediately though, when I look up, she asks me, "Why didn't you have your cell phone on?"

I want to roll my eyes and let a massive sigh escape, but hold back. "It's a really long story and I think it would be better told at another date and time." I say instead. I know Dana is under stress and don't want to do anything to provoke her further. Besides, I know her worry stems from love and I must remember that in these trying times.

Dana accepts my answer by nodding her head and lowering her eyes back to the Sam. The doctor steps in and takes a look at Sam then tells us we're ready. So, naturally I take this as my queue to go to the waiting area. I'd much rather be informed when the baby arrives then actually see the baby arrive.

I know?I know it's a beautiful thing and a very unique experience. We all should be blessed to witness something as joyous as seeing a new life enter this world. It's the natural process of things going on with the whole "circle of life".

Why do I have the urge to suddenly sing a song from The Lion King?

Anyway, I had decided long ago that the only way I would actually see birth was when I was much older or I was having the baby myself. Of course, if I were to have the baby myself I would want to be completely drugged so I couldn't feel the extraordinary pain of trying to fit something rather large out of something rather small.

Yes, these were the thoughts of an eighteen-year-old girl who early on in life decided to just adopt. It's funny to think about me like that now though. Time really does change a person's perspective of things.

Today, if I were to have the chance to witness Sam giving birth I would probably take it. Of course now I am mature enough to handle such a thing. I don't think I was at the mere age of eighteen. If I had stayed in that room while Sam was giving birth I probably would have ended up in close proximity to the floor.

Needless to say now, I didn't witness the birth. I sat in the waiting room with my sister Audrey and my friend Kel.

I'm not a very patient person; never have been really. My biological mother once told me I couldn't wait for anything in this life. The moment I was born I was trying to talk like all the "big people" were. The moment I was walking I wanted to run.

It's a funny thing; I hadn't remembered her ever telling me that until now. I'm glad I do remember now though because the memories I have of my biological parents are few and far between. I often wonder if it is wrong I cannot remember them. Then I just think about all that I do remember and I hold on to that as tight as I can.

All the memories I have with Sam and Dana I very much treat in the same fashion. I just have to hold on as tight as I can so I can never forget. I always want to be able to remember every detail of all the important moments, and every moment is important.

This is why I remember the birth of my little sister so well, Riana Evans. She weighed six pounds and four ounces. Her hair was a light blonde and she had the lightest blue eyes I have ever had the chance of seeing, except for Dana's of course. My baby sister was the best thing that could have happened to me my senior year of high school.

Forget about the hundreds of millions of dollars and the new best friend. Forget about the fact that I was becoming independent and moving on to the next phase of my life. When I held Riana in my arms and looked down to her sweet innocent little face, I knew that this was the best thing that could have happened this year.

She weighed out all the bad things that had transpired over the last couple of weeks. She weighed out all the crap that I would soon be going through with Richard and the media. She weighed out everything because when I looked at her the world couldn't really be that bad if this precious little person decided to join it.

When I sat in Sam's hospital room, mere hours after she had given birth, watching her sleep in an effort to gain back all the energy she had lost, and watching Dana lounging in a chair next to Sam's bed holding her hand looking almost as exhausted as Sam, and seeing my sister Audrey hold our new baby sister in her arms making cooing noises to the tired newborn, and feeling Kel at my back her hand resting on my shoulder; I realized that this what life was really about.

What was surrounding me at this moment is what was important. This was my life that I had acquired throughout my short existence on Earth. From where I was sitting, it looked like I was doing pretty damn well.

*******************

A few days after Riana's birth everyone finally came back home. Those first couple of days I had been staying with Kel at my home preparing for the baby's arrival. I got the nursery ready to be officially lived in and even prepared Sam a nice area to rest while her body recovered. Dana, however, was on her own. I couldn't really do anything to make her more comfortable except to take turns at being snapped at by Sam.

Yes, I know that it wasn't Sam's fault that she was all the sudden acting like the monster out of some horror movie. Please God don't let Sam find out I ever said such a thing however true it might be.

I'm sure you've heard the term 'walking on eggshells', well when it came to Sam's hormonal time, I couldn't take a safe step anywhere. I remember I was cleaning the living room and Sam had come in and told me I had done it wrong. Being the kind hearted, good-natured, not wanting to get into a fight, person I am; I cleaned the living room again to Sam's specifications. It was still wrong. So, I cleaned it yet again and yet again it was still wrong. Sam was seeing dust where there just wasn't any. I ended up cleaning that stupid living room for two hours until Sam just gave up and said I just didn't understand her.

Instances like this went on for three grueling weeks?then suddenly?like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow?it just stopped. Dana and I wanted to throw a party, but we didn't want to offend Sam so instead we took Riana out to the mall and bought ourselves some ice cream for the hard work. Sam, to this day, I don't think, knows we did that. Then again, she probably does because she has a way of finding out the most insignificant things Dana or I or we together have done.

What can I say? Sam was a real bonified mother. She had a sixth and seventh sense about certain things. For example, I hadn't gotten the chance to tell her or Dana about what had gone on with Richard the night Riana was born, but when everything had settled down she came into my room one day while I was just laying back reading a book and took a place next to me on my bed.

She let out a great big sigh and her emerald green eyes looked at me expectantly. I lowered my book and looked to my side where she was resting nearly on my arm. "Is there something you need?" I ask.

Sam rolls over to her back and looks up at me batting her eyes. "I'm bored." She answers me letting out another exaggerated sigh.

Dana had take Riana out somewhere to just get her out of the house and to give Sam a break from caring for the baby. "Read a book." I tell her waving my own book in her face.

"Hmm?don't really feel like it." She said shrugging her shoulders.

"Watch TV." I hand over the TV remote that is on my nightstand that goes to the small TV in my room.

My parent takes the remote then lays it back down beside her. "TV's stupid." She says sounding like she's five.

"Have a cookie." I again reach over to the nightstand by my bed and pick up the small plate of cookies I have resting there.

Sam takes a cookie and bites into it. "I'm still bored." She informs me.

"Go do something online." I say offhandedly as I flip the page in my book.

"I don't wanna'."

I peer over the side of my book and look down at my mother. "What are you five?"

Sam leans up on her elbows and looks at me exactly as I imagine a five year old would. I put in a book marker to save my place in the novel I am currently trying to read knowing my time for reading is now over. "Ok. What is it you want to do?" I ask as if I were talking to a five year old. "We can go outside and go for a walk or we could just sit in the backyard on the grass and watch it grow."

"That doesn't sound like much fun." She complains.

I roll my eyes and get up off my bed. I reach down my hand, which Sam immediately takes. "Come on." I tell her and grab my keys and identification then walk out the door to my car. Sam follows me and dutifully takes her place in the passenger side of the vehicle.

"Where are we going?"

I put the car in drive and pulled out of the driveway. "You'll see."

Half an hour later Sam found herself at the local zoo. She clapped her hands together like a little girl who was extremely excited would and cheered happily. "Yea! The zoo. Can we see the tigers first?they're my favorite."

"We can see everything you want to. We have all day." I told her rather mollifying. "Besides, this will give us the perfect opportunity to sign up for that zoo run they're having for charity."

Sam stopped in mid-motion from getting out of the car. "What are you talking about zoo run?" She asked. "That sounds more like something Dana and you should be doing."

"You're right it does." I replied. "However, you're complaining about being so out of shape from having Riana I just figured this would be a good way to help you get back in shape. We can start getting ready for the run now so we can be prepared for it in three weeks."

Sam looked at me for a long moment in exhaled heavily in such a way that I knew I had talked her into doing the run with me. "When do we start?"

"I suggest we start as soon as possible if we're going to have you ready to run the 15K."

"15K?!" Sam's eyes bulged.

"You don't have a problem with that, do you?" I asked sweetly. "If that's going to be too hard for you to do, then we won't do it. I don't want you to overexert yourself." I eyed her carefully. "You are getting older."

One thing Sam and Dana had very much in common was their competitive nature. They each wanted to be the best at what they did and could never say no to a challenge. The funny thing about that though, is that they never competed with each other. They would ALWAYS compete with me, but never really each other. My parents would challenge each other in simple little games of?well?anything, but there wasn't that deep desire to win at any cost that they usually carried deep within. I guess that is just yet another one of life's little mysteries that I would have to learn at an older age.

"We start training tomorrow." Sam ordered then stepped from the car.

I sat there for a moment more and reveled in my small victory until Sam poked her head back in the car and asked if I was going to sit there all day. I quickly exited the vehicle and we walked over to the entrance of the zoo. I paid for the tickets, having it been my idea to go to the zoo in the first place.

"So," I asked her when we stepped into the zoo. "What is it you want to see first?" My mother just stared at me with a disbelieving look on her face. "I'm almost offended you don't know." She told me.

I thought about it for a moment then that light bulb flashed in my mind. "The tiger's it is." I say grabbing her hand. "I just thought you might want to add a little variety to your life and see something else first for a change."

"Are you saying you don't think my life has variety?" She asks now walking directly beside me her hand still within my own.

"It's probably just another effect of getting old." I smirked. "Don't really like change."

Sam smacked my arm playfully. "I'll have you know my life has a lot of variety. Besides, I just had a child. I'm considered a young mother."

I shrugged my shoulders. "That may be true, but you also have a child who is going to be in college in a few short months. That," I tapped my finger on her button nose. "Makes you old."

She groaned and allowed her head to drop into her hand. "Don't remind me."

"Remind you about what?" I asked grinning broadly. "The fact that I'm going to college or that you're old."

"I'm not old." She growled. "And you won't be in college for a while yet."

"I'll be going to college in no more then four months." I did some quick math in my head. "Actually probably less then that."

Sam wrapped her arm around my waist and guided me towards the area they kept all the big cats. "Have you decided whether or not you're going to live in the dorm the first semester or not."

"Um?Mama, I'm going to college in Denton, Texas. That's not exactly a drive I can make every day from here." I needlessly informed her self-deluded mind.

She seemed to think about this for a moment. "Well, it's only a few hours away."

"A few hours?!" I looked at her incredulously. "More like a few days."

"Why do you want to go to Texas anyway?" She ignored me. "California is a perfectly nice place. There's the ocean, the culture, the bright sun?"

"?The same thing I've seen all my life." I interrupted. "I really like what Texas can offer. They have a lot of really good schools."

"Isn't everyone in Texas a Republican?"

"That certainly isn't my impression." I could feel a headache coming on.

"Don't they all wear cowboy boots and hats and wear jeans that are way too tight?"

I shook my head. "No Mama."

"Well it seems like Texans have some real issues Tori. I mean any group of people who are so proud of their state being so?big, kind of concerns me."

"Don't you have a sister that lives in Texas?" I asked.

I feel like I should take this moment to inform you that I had never met any of Sam's family. She never really talked about them, but all I could really gather from her was that they decided to have nothing to do with her the moment they found out she was with Dana. Which, was around the time they also found out that Sam was going to adopt me. I think, they didn't think that was such a good idea either.

I believe I would have liked to meet Sam's family. It would be interesting to see what kind of family she came from, to see what kind of people raised her. From what I know, Sam's father was in politics (Isn't everyone). Her mother, I guess, was playing the good politician's wife and her sisters were doing whatever they saw fit to do with their lives.

I had spoken with her sister Kathy only on a couple of occasions over the phone. She had called Sam to tell her to stop sending her children presents and cards for their birthdays and holidays. Fortunately, Sam wasn't home when her sister called and by some insane way the message never got delivered. It seems that I had forgotten that Kathy called when Sam returned home. These unfortunate things happen.

Kathy did try to call again though. It's a good thing I was on the phone talking to someone else when she called, because my parents never got the chance to hear the phone ring. This time when I spoke to Kathy she was very upset. She had the gall to accuse me of screening her calls to her sister. She yelled at me for a while informing me of how bad a person I was. She told me how indecent a person I would become.

I don't really like this Kathy woman much. Maybe, that's why her messages never got delivered to her sister or maybe the real reason was because I didn't feel like her two daughters should suffer the loss of an aunt because of their mother's ignorance. Of course, I made this decision seeing through the eyes of a young woman who had lost a lot in her life and didn't wish that same loss to befall on those two young girls. I also didn't want Sam to loose her entire family.

It is my understanding that to this day, Sam has a relatively close relationship with her two nieces. They write her as often as they can and as they have gotten older have gone against their parents' wishes to see their favorite aunt. They aren't that much younger then I am. I believe Anna is eleven now and Linda nine. I've never met them, but I'm glad I could save them from the pain of never knowing their terrific auntie.

"I don't know if Angela is still in Texas." Sam answers me. "You know I haven't talked to her in a long time."

We had finally reached the tigers and we each were leaning on the bar that separated us from the large fence that enclosed these exotic cats. "Why is that?" I asked her deciding not to play the guessing game any longer when it came to Sam's family.

"I have my reasons." She answered vaguely. I know she wants this to be the end of this conversation, but I just can't grant her that silent request. "This may sound absurd to you Sam," I used her name so she could gauge my seriousness. "But I don't understand why if a person has family they would allow their relationship with them to die. To me it seems that people are taken away too often in life by circumstances we cannot control, why would someone let their family go voluntarily if they are allowed to possess some amount of control over the situation?"

"You don't know what you're talking about Tori," Sam instantly brushed aside my comment.

I shrugged my shoulders. "Maybe I don't." I said wistfully. "But I do know that if you our Dana decided not to be part of my life anymore, I would crawl over broken glass so I wouldn't have to let you go." I shrugged my shoulders again. "But I guess that's just because I've lost so much already that I'm not ready to sacrifice anything else."

Sam turned and gripped my arm tightly. "We would never leave you Tori." Her emerald green eyes tore through my own eyes to the point of where I could feel her words reverberating inside my skull.

"I never thought you would." I told her gently taking the hand she held my arm in. "I just don't understand the reasons of your estrangement with your family."

My parent's body deflated with my words and I could tell she held back tears. I gathered her up in my arms and hugged her as tight to my body as possible. Seeing Sam in any kind of pain did wicked things to my heart. "Mama, I don't want to judge you, but I know you have all this fire within you and I can't help but wonder why didn't you use that to show your family that they were and are wrong."

Sam pulled slowly away from me and wiped her tears away with the back of her hand. "I guess I owe my parents a phone call then."

"Don't do anything you don't want to." I quickly told her not wanting to push her into anything she wasn't ready for.

"I think I've wasted enough time already."

We turned and watched the tigers for a moment more then decided to walk over to the monkey house. It seems I had won another little victory with Sam and I was shooting two for two. It seems that on this particular day my luck was with me, but there's this thing about luck. You see, it sways from side to side of a very invisible line and while you think it's on your side it can just change within one moment.

That moment for me was when Sam and I were just walking along and ran smack dab into Richard and Kimberly. We literally ran into them. We were walking into the monkey house and they were walking out of it, neither of us was looking where we were going and there was this big collision.

Kimberly fell to the ground and Richard instantly turned to help her up. I took that moment to inform Sam in just a few short words about what happened almost a month ago at that damn restaurant. I had yet to tell either of my parents of that particular event?I'm not too sure why.

"Caught Richard cheating night Riana was born. Haven't spoken with him since." I whispered into my parent's ear trusting her to keep her cool.

My trust was somewhat misplaced, because Sam had a very protective streak when it came to me.

"He CHEATED on you!" She yelled, her voice echoing off the stonewalls of the monkey house.

I closed my eyes tightly and steadily nodded my head. "Yes, but please let's not make a scene here, please." I pleaded with the irate woman.

Sam looked at me carefully then reluctantly nodded her head. "Fine."

Richard turned around and noticed us for the first time and slowly dropped the arm he had resting around Kimberly's shoulders. "Tori?" He squeaked. "Ms. Evans?" He cleared his throat. "What are you doing here?"

The answer to his question seemed, at least to me, to be rather obvious so I chose not to answer him. I smiled and stared at him instead. "I haven't seen you in a while, Tori. How have you been?"

Was he actually trying to converse with me?

"Fine." I answered shortly.

He looked to Sam obviously thinking he might have better luck with her. He had always seen her as a rather forgiving, sympathetic soul. "How have you been Ms. Evans? I see that you've had the baby."

Sam just turned to me ignoring every word he had just spoken to her. "I'll be over at the cages waiting for you Tori." She turned back to Richard and smiled rather unpleasantly. "It was great seeing you again Richard. I expect this will be the last time." She gave him a small wave. "See ya."

Now alone with Kimberly and Richard standing across from me I wasn't quite sure what to do. After I had left the restaurant that night three weeks ago, Richard hadn't even tried to call me. That hurt a part of me, but a bigger part of me was relieved because that meant I didn't have to deal with him. Of course that also meant that there really wasn't any closure in our relationship, which was now obviously over?at least within his eyes.

I crossed my arms over my chest and looked at him. In that moment, I decided that I wouldn't let him bother me anymore. Seeing him with Kimberly on this day just cemented the fact that everything between Richard and me was really over. He had been a great friend to me when I needed one, and if possible in the future I would try to salvage that, but at this moment we were through.

"Are you doing the zoo run?" I ask him knowing that at some point he was thinking about participating in the event.

The question blind-sided the poor boy but he answered me anyway. "I was still thinking about it. Kim and I were thinking about doing it together." I could tell he regretted mentioning the last part to me because we had planned on doing it together, and it seems he had obviously replaced me.

It was funny how that fact didn't hurt me as much as it probably should have.

"Oh really," I say looking at him then Kim then back to his shifting body. "I just talked Sam into running it with me. I think it will be a lot of fun."

Richard looks terribly confused but nods his head. "It should be."

I look to Kim. "Have you ever done a run like this before?"

"Not really." She mumbles.

"You do know how long a 15K is, right?" I ask.

She looks to Richard. "Not really."

"It's nine miles." I tell her hoping to at least inform her of what she has in store for her. I know she is not an athlete in the traditional sense of the word. She really is just a cheerleader, and I just assume she does cheerleading stuff.

Kim's eyes bulge out. "I can't run nine miles." She tells Richard. "I can hardly manage to run one mile, how do you expect me to run nine?"

Richard shrugs his shoulders. "Train?" He says in a typical guy like fashion.

"Train?!" She smacks his arm. "Are you going to be training with me?"

I smile and laugh silently.

"Kim, you know I can't. It's still baseball season. I don't have the time." He doesn't sound like he really regrets that fact.

"I can train you." I helpfully offer.

Richard's face goes pale. "I don't really think that's a good idea."

"Nonsense." I wave my hand dismissing his doubt. "If you want to Kim, I run after school every day. You could run with me then."

Kim looked at me for a very long moment, trying to gauge my sincerity no doubt. "I'll have to think about it."

"Well I'll be at the park behind the school after school whether you're there with me or not. If you decide to come out that'd be fine and if you don't that'd be fine too. Just whatever you're comfortable with." I quickly said my goodbyes then walked over to where Sam was not so patiently waiting.

"What happened?" She asked immediately upon seeing me. "Are you okay? He didn't say anything to upset you did he? What was he doing here with her? Do you know her? She seems like a cheerleader. I bet she's a cheerleader. Why didn't you tell me about Richard? Does Dana know? If she knows and she didn't tell me then her and I are gonna' have to have a serious talk. When did you catch him cheating? What happened with that? What did you do? Well, aren't you going to answer me?!" Believe it or not, she said all this in one solitary breath. When she was through her chest was heaving, her lungs trying to take in the much-needed oxygen. I couldn't help but laugh. Sam was just so special.

"Why are you laughing? I don't see anything funny with this situation." Before she could get on a roll again with her questioning I hurriedly placed my hand over her mouth to silence her. "Calm down." I told her gently. "I promise I'll tell you everything."

I slowly lowered my hand and proceeded to wipe it on the front of her shirt. She gave me a dirty look but remained silent, eagerly awaiting me to begin speaking.

I took a deep breath and begin telling Sam all about the night I had caught Richard cheating. It didn't seem like that interesting of a story to me, but it enraged and amused Sam greatly. I then told her about the conversation I had just had with him and she looked at me in disbelief. "You offered to train his new girlfriend?" She asked incredulously. "Why exactly did you do that? I know you're a very considerate individual, but don't you think you're going overboard just a bit?"

"Not really." I shook my head. "I think it will be fun making that little blonde-no offense-run her ass-sorry for the language-off. Besides, having Richard wonder about what we talk about in his absence seems like it would be a rather satisfying type of torture. He can't trust me to not try and turn Kim away from him."

"You seem to have really thought all this through." Sam raised a brow at me. "I like the way you think." She smiled and shook her head. "I think you get that from me."

"Maybe." I tell her chuckling. "Now lets go finish our little tour of the zoo then we can sign up for the zoo run."

"I almost forgot I agreed to do that with you."

"Yeah well, you're not getting out of it. It'll be fun. After you do this one run you'll want to do them all." I tell her confidently. "It's all for a good cause and I know you're in favor of helping out for these type of things."

"You know I could just hand out the water."

I put my arm around her shoulders. "Nonsense. Anyone can hand out water but we," I indicate the both of us, "we are especially the types that should be running. We need to feel the wind in our hair and the ground beneath our feet as we glide across it in perfect step to the rhythm beating within our own minds. We need to feel the relatively clean air course through our lungs and feel as it feeds the blood that will flow rapidly through our veins, that are protesting slightly to our physical exertion."

"You keep on saying 'we need'. Who do you figure is the 'we' because even though you create a rather vivid picture of our bodies' physical functions this is something I don't need?"

"Oh come on Mama, don't be such a prude. You know that you enjoy working out just as much as Dana and I do."

"I do not." She says incredulously. "Where did you ever get that idea?"

"You know you do." I told her knowingly. "I've seen the twinkle in your eyes when you've just finished an arduous workout session." I lifted my finger at her to forestall any comment she was about to make. "Don't lie. Just admit it."

Sam crossed her arms over her chest. "I will admit no such thing."

"Then you don't deny it?"

Her eyes narrowed dangerously, but there was a sparkle there that told me she wasn't very serious. "I admit to nothing." She said grinning.

"Tell me Mama, if you don't like working out so much, then why do you have one of the best bodies God ever created. You worked hard to keep in shape and you could never stand to be the least bit unfit." I informed her needlessly. "You enjoy playing sports just as much as Dana and I do. You're just as adventurous and you need the physical exertion just as much as we do." I smirked. "Don't deny it."

Sam said nothing. She just stared at me her gaze unflinching. "Fine." I held up my hands in surrender. "I just want you to know that you ain't fooling me. When we run in that zoo run, you're going to enjoy yourself just as much as I am."

"Of course I'll enjoy it." She said. "But that's because it'll be something you and I do together. I enjoy anything we are able to share."

That was just so sweet of her to say. I wasn't expecting it, but that's how Sam operates. She just says things like that all the time when I'm not expecting it. If it were possible for her to burrow any further into my heart that statement certainly did it. "Thanks." I say sheepishly feeling very much like a small child who had just been praised by a doting parent. Hell, I was a small child who had been praised by a doting parent.

"Anytime." She told me rubbing her hand gently on my back. "Now let's finish our little visit to the zoo. You can choose what we see next."

We spent another couple of hours at the zoo seeing everything we could and I was coerced into buying Sam lunch. I never caught sight of Richard again, which wasn't that odd considering the zoo what rather large. We signed up for the zoo run then made our way home.

By the time we got home, Dana had put Riana asleep and she was snoozing on the couch looking rather tuckered out from caring for the baby most of the day. It seems, and I had only found this out on our way home, Sam and her had agreed that Dana would watch the baby and Sam would get me to tell her what had been bothering me. It seems they had gotten the idea, I don't know how, that I was sort of depressed and they wanted to get me talking.

I didn't think I seemed at all depressed. I was extremely happy because Riana was finally born. The fact that a relationship that I had going on for two years had ended because I caught a guy I loved cheating on me, didn't have the smallest effect on me. In my strong opinion, I was not acting depressed in the least. Sure, at one point I did yell at the TV because on this show-I forget which-a girl caught her boyfriend cheating. Naturally, it upset me as it would any person who happened to be watching the show and found themselves involved with the characters. Sometimes a person can get carried away, but I guess my parents saw this as "unusual behavior" for me.

So, even though I wasn't depressed, I felt a lot better after Sam and I came back from the zoo.

*************************

Another week passed and finally that interview I gave was aired on TV. It apparently, had become highly anticipated. There were ads everywhere that proclaimed that Victorianna Marcus had finally reappeared after years of seclusion or as I like to call it: leading a normal life.

My family and Kel sat around the TV with sodas and popcorn and watched the interview like millions of other Americans. It didn't seem like anything special, but I did recognize the fact that a few parts of it seemed to be rather intense. I anticipated that there would be problems with people thinking Kel and I were an item.

Kel didn't seem to mind that idea so much and neither did her current girlfriend, so I didn't really question it. Everyone who at least considered themselves "in the know" knew that Kel Wilkinson was gay and was damn proud of it. If they were really "hip" then they should also know that she was dating her co-star in the movie she was now filming and not her rich friend Victorianna Marcus.

Victorianna Marcus wasn't dating anyone no matter what she said in the interview. The Marcus girl was single and really had no current love life going on. Hell, she was eighteen and still a virgin. How often does that happen nowadays? She seemed like a pretty nice young lady who had suffered through some tough times. I was able to sympathize with her as I watched the interview. Actually, I kind of wanted to know more about her. I wanted to reach inside her mind and find out what was going on there. I also had the urge to find out more about the two women she was now calling her parents.

I say this so objectively because I watched it that way. The Marcus girl was not who I was. She was Victorianna and I was just Tori. She was a millionaire and?well so was I but I didn't really live like I was. Victorianna seemed like she did. She just seemed like an entirely different person then me and she really was. The onscreen personality differed greatly from the off screen one.

As I watched the stupid TV, I realized that I had split personalities: the Marcus girl and the less prestigious Tori. I feared that these two beings could never be mixed because one of them would inevitably be forced to outshine the other, and I wasn't too sure whether I was more scared by the fact that people would see the real Tori or that I would fully become the distant, wealthy Victorianna. Each prospect had a definite down side.

I also realized as I watched the interview, as if I hadn't realized enough, that that wouldn't be the last time I would be seeing Victorianna Elizabeth Ann Marcus on the television screen. After this interview she would be very much in demand and it's never easy trying to ignore the press. To confirm my thoughts the phone rang and when I answered it, it was some producer from some morning show asking me to make an appearance.

Without really thinking about it I told him no then hung up. My parents had informed me that I would not miss a single class because I was doing some interview. They had laid down the rule very early on and I just didn't think about going against their wishes. There was no good reason why I should miss anything in school because I was talking to a camera.

That wasn't the last call I received that night, though. More producers called asking me to come share my story. They each wanted a piece of me while I was hot and they all offered quite a big sum of money too. They even offered to pay more if I would bring my parents along or just even bring one parent along. Most of the produces seemed like they would be rather accommodating my schedule.

By the time the night was over I had scheduled three interviews and one walk on appearance to some TV show for teens that Kel told me I just had to be on. She said she had tried to get on that show for a few years and could never even get an audition. I only agreed to do the show so she'd be able to get her foot in the door. Personally, I wasn't entirely interested in going on some show where the only point of it was for teenagers to sit around and complain about how hard their lives were.

It seems that my life had decided to get a little more interesting-as if it wasn't interesting enough before-by throwing yet something else in my face and saying, "now deal".

*************************

Months passed and I graduated from high school. My whole family was present cheering me on inside the building and on the outside of the building a lot of the media awaited for me to exit with my diploma in hand. I didn't want them there but could really do nothing about it. Even though it was months after my first interview I was still hot news. The teen show I had agreed to be in had aired and what was supposed to be my small walk-on roll turned out to be three episodes long with the possibility of more.

Now picture me smiling as I say this next part, but realize the smile is entirely fabricated.

I really didn't mind returning to do more episodes because I had a really great time doing all the other ones. All the people there were really nice and treated me like family, because everyone on the set was really like family anyway. All the other actors showed me the ropes and had me working like a professional in no time. If I hadn't already made plans for college, I would have signed the contract that was offered me to be a permanent cast member.

Now picture my fašade change into regret.

Unfortunately, I was unable to continue the show. I will miss everyone I met, while doing it, greatly. If it is at all possible, in the future I would like to return and do a couple more guest shots.

One thing I figured out while doing the whole TV scene was that it really isn't for me. I'm sure a lot of people naturally thought that because my biological parents were in the spotlight I would want to be as well. Honestly though, I really didn't want to be able to turn on the television and see my face on every channel. It just wasn't who I really was, although at that time I couldn't really tell you who I was either.

I mean, I had just gotten out of high school and everyone was asking me what I was going to do with my life.

Well, the hell if I knew that answer.

It was the graduating part of my life that I was focused on, not the part where I had to consider what I intended to do with my life far, far, far in the future. Well, actually it wasn't so far in the future. The future actually seemed as if it would be met up with fairly soon.

Let's see, I had already picked my major, but I don't think it was really going to pertain to what I might end up doing as a career; and I did plan on having a career. I didn't much think "rich orphan girl" could really be classified as one.

Sure, I had enough money where I wouldn't have to work a day in my life, but I don't think my parents would have been that happy with me if I had made that decision to just do nothing. Dana and Sam had instilled a very strong work ethic within me and they would not stand idly by watching me not get an education and act like everyday was my own personal holiday. They expected me to at least work (I'd like to add 'for a living' but I didn't need to work to live) for my own self-growth and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, I had not clue what it is I wanted to do with my life. I knew I was going to a University quite a ways away from home, but I was just majoring in University Studies, which is just another form of being undeclared. At least I'd be getting a well-rounded education.

As careers go, I had considered being a doctor, but I knew there were already way too many in the family already. My sister, Audrey, was just now breaking out into her doctoring career going through whatever torture she had to in order to learn about what she had would be her specialty. She had decided to be a pediatrician and I think she would make a great one. Of course, I could be considered slightly prejudiced on the issue. Audrey could have decided to be professional bird watcher and I'd still think she'd be awesome at it, even though she can't really tell the difference between an Eagle and a Robin. I'm sure she'd learn.

So, I wasn't going to go on the medical career track, what else could there be? I had also seriously thought about becoming a lawyer, but that just presented way too many problems. I mean me becoming a lawyer would just be me throwing myself into the kind of crap I wanted to stay away from. Don't get me wrong, I really respected most of the attorneys I know, the only exception being all the attorneys I had working for me. Those money guzzling, idiotic, looking for a problem where there really isn't one, windbags. They had once told me it would be best for me to have Dana and Sam sign a waiver so they could not lay a hand on any of my money. When they asked me to do this, I just laughed in their faces. I guess what really turned me away from wanting to go into law, was that I had already had enough of the law by the time I was eighteen. I didn't feel the need to get any more involved in it then I already was.

Okay, I wasn't going to be a doctor and I wasn't going to be a lawyer, what other prestigious career could I have considered. I thought about getting into psychology, the human brain had always fascinated me. I imagined about how much fun it would be to go around and nit pick Dana's every word informing her of her inner psyche. I chuckle now just thinking of the looks she would have given me. The only thing about psychology though, was that I would have to sit in a room with some highly disturbed individuals. I wasn't too sure I could handle that. However, I took some psych classes anyway. I decided it would be my minor.

Now, just to figure out what that elusive major would be.

On one sunny day in the middle of June it came to me. My family and Kel and her girlfriend were out having a very nice picnic. Riana was having the time of her life even though she was a little over two months old and always seemed to be fascinated by any little thing. I lay back on the sheet we had lying on the grass-I had designated myself the food watcher-and looked up at the sky. It was blue. There weren't very many clouds floating about. A bird or two flew overhead. I was so relaxed I could have been asleep.

Suddenly, this young girl-she couldn't have been more then ten years old-runs up to me and asks for help. She was frantic and I could hardly understand a word she said, but what I understood was that some man was assaulting her mother. Well, I thought about going to get Dana and Sam but they were all the way on the other side of the park and Kel was off somewhere with her girl. In an effort not to waste any time, I just followed the girl to wherever she was taking me-which I assumed was to her mother.

I was taken to another part of the rather empty park, and saw some woman trying to fend off an attacker. She was actually doing a good job of it, but I could tell it wouldn't be a battle she'd be able to fight for long.

In a moment where later I would ask myself, 'what the hell were you thinking?' I rushed up to the pair in order to offer my assistance. I had no clue what I was going to do once I reached them. For all I knew that man could have had a gun or a knife or a could hurt Tori seriously object. With no plan but full of good intentions I reached the pair and jumped on the man's back.

He fell to the ground like a piece of lead. The woman began screaming (louder). I'm not quite sure what happened after that, because I was on this adrenaline high and I can just remember snapshots of what really happened.

However, what the woman told me she saw, and what she reported to the police, was that-and I quote-"I had just told my daughter to get away because I didn't want her to get hurt. I began fighting with the man when he tried to drag me off-I had always heard in those shows that you shouldn't let your attacker take you to a second location-so I began hitting him as best I could. He was really strong and I was getting tired, when out of nowhere this Amazon of a girl runs up behind him and jumps on the guy's back. They both fell to the ground. I didn't know this a first, but the guy was carrying a knife and once he was able to get back up he pulled it out. I don't know what that girl was thinking, but she rushed the guy and he stabbed her right in the side. She looked like she was going to pass out, but somehow she managed to stay conscious and was able to get the guy's knife." I really didn't remember all this happening of course.

"Once she was able to get the knife," The woman continued. "She got the upper hand and the guy was falling to his knees asking her not to hurt him. Then, she took her belt off and tied the guy's hands behind him. She pulled out her cell phone handed it to me and told me to call the police because she thought she was going to pass out; and she did. She just fell right to the ground with blood coming from where that bastard stabbed her. I called 911 just like she said to then rush over to her and tried to help.

"That's when?" She looked pointedly at my parents. "Those two arrived and took over. That woman," She pointed to Sam. "took care of the wound."

The only reason why I really remember the report was because she gave it at my bedside of none other then the hospital. A place where I had spent way too many hours in. Which, could possible contribute to the mix of why I didn't want to become a doctor. At least this time, it was a different hospital then Baylor so I got a change of scenery.

I don't really remember much about the whole event though. Some doctor told me it could be because of the trauma I had suffered from the knife wound. Actually, I was told that if Sam hadn't of treated me so soon I could have possibly died. Now that's something I don't really wish to think about. I also choose not to think about the looks my parents were giving as I lay on my hospital bed recovering. They were the type of looks that told me, without the need of words to follow, that they knew they had almost lost me.

Dana had actually asked me, "What the hell were you thinking?" The question was asked in anger but stemmed from fear.

I think my answer saved me from any more questions in that form, because my answer was this, "I wasn't really thinking. I just saw someone in trouble and as the woman was yelling for somebody to help her, I knew I was somebody and I knew I'd do whatever I could to help. The fact that I was the only person that was hurt means I did."

Dana's head bowed down and she shook it gravely. "Tori, I swear you've added at least thirty years to my life." Her eyes raised and met my own. She reached out and grabbed my hand, mindful of my IV. "I'm proud of you though. You scared the hell out of me, but I'm proud."

I just smiled at her and decided that I'd inform her later as to my intentions of going into criminal justice. I figured her heart needed a little time to slow down. There was no reason to cause her to have a heart attack. Besides, I needed to tell her and Sam at the same time so all the yelling and objecting could be taken care of in one sitting.

Life's great when you always have something to look forward to.

To be continued in: Unsettled



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