A short fic continuing my Annie Universe picking up where February Funk left off. This chapter depicts a father and son moment with Oliver and Johnny Briar (aka J.B. to his friends and family). Let's just say Oliver seeks out his surrogate dad for some much needed fatherly advice after getting into some hot water with his girls.
Italics will Oliver's POV.
Gams- 1930s and 1940s slang for long shapely legs (often used by Clark Gable)
I do not own the 1982 characters of Annie just a few that I have created for my universe. :-)
Also, the title of this fic is in honor of the great American tradition of NCAA basketball frenzy around this time of the year! I am a Hoosier so here in the midwest we love our basketball, however, Notre Dame is my favorite school to cheer for in this great state! Our boys lost a hard fought game versus Kentucky, but our girls are still representing this great state as well as student/athletes. :-)
March 30th, 1934
Well, I definitely don't have a 'journal' or 'diary' as my two loves do to write down their thoughts and frustrations; but, I do have a comfortable worn out chair that sits in front of J.B.'s hearth for times of self reflection and silent stewing. J.B. can read me like a book and when I show up with a sour yet lost look he'll motion toward the fire to add another log or stoke it, then point to the serving cart to pour us some drinks as well as crack open the box of Cuban cigars (he use to do this all but since his health has deteriorated he has finally allowed us to fetch the items for him). Talking is not required just manly grunts and nods to confirm this or that. He'll let me stew and self reflect without asking any questions nor are there any expectation to share my troubling thoughts (which mind you has gotten me into my current situation).
Sharing or not sharing! Ugh! I went from being single, independent, self-sufficient, nobody to answer too, tyrant, workaholic, money hungry, lonely, and miserable person to father, husband, life partner, expectant father, doting, loving, caring, worshiping, expected to share everything (not only business information but personal thoughts as well), and codependent decision maker! This month has been a nightmare to say the least! I can't seem to do anything right!
It started off well, Annie got an overall clean bill of health on March 1st, being released to occupational therapy to strengthen her arms again. Dr. Wheatley put her on mild restrictions instructing her to stay away from certain activities such as ice skating and sledding that may cause unwarranted harm to her newly healed bones if she fell on them wrong. Of course this wasn't what our energetic, explore the world, precocious daughter wanted to hear after being sidelined from these activities as her friends got to enjoy them on the Warbucks' grounds this winter. However, he did state that she could resume swimming so Grace (who was also released from her 'confinement') planned ahead figuring that this would be the outcome and had Cecile tailor a maternity swimsuit for her while she was bedridden. When the girls returned from the doctor's appointment they ventured into my office to tell me the good news in addition to enticing me into 'playing hooky' from work the rest of the afternoon to enjoy the pool as a family of three.
Boy was I ever glad I said yes after a little bit of arm twisting from Annie! Especially, when my girls joined me in the pool area in their robes. After all, I had arrived on my own because Grace decided to change in Annie's room instead of ours. While I waited for my ladies to join me I floated on my back as I reflected on Grace's odd behavior that I'd noticed recently especially during her 'confinement' where she appeared to have become more self conscious changing in front me.
The peace and quiet didn't last for long because a giant cannon ball splashed near me causing me to sputter in indignation, and just as I righted myself to tread water that said cannon ball resurfaced to spray pool water in my face. Of course this action called for immediate war with my daughter who I proceeded to dunk back under water! When she resurfaced a 'DADDDDDDY' resounded off all the walls and I'm sure echoed down several the Mansion's halls.
This resulted with one of my favorite sounds, my wife's musical laugh, causing my attention to flick to the most gorgeous site I'd ever laid my eyes on. Grace sporting a new, very sexy, navy blue swimsuit that not only showed off her very shapely gams but her very enhanced figure that our unborn child has blessed her with recently. Her laugh caught in her throat for a split second when my smoldering gaze latched on to hers and soon her eyes matched mine; but, before I could verbally praise her my 'pool enemy' jumped on my back and proceeded to dunk me breaking our heated stare. I was so afraid I would take Grace in the pool and not care if Annie witnessed our transactions that I avoided making eye contact with her for at least another half hour by distracting my overcharged testosterone by frolicking in the water with our energetic daughter.
However, once I got my raging hunger under control I wanted to pull my very sexy wife into the water war just so I could sneak in some fondling attacks to rev up her libido a bit for later that night (after all it had been over a week since our last encounter with the 'birds and the bees')! Also I felt like it wasn't fair that she got to float on an inter tube as I was drowning under my daughter's siege. So, I quickly called a truce with my 'pool enemy' and divulged my plan to sink the only floating vessel in the water. Of course, my enemy quickly became my alley as she swam over to distract our target while I swam under her like a shark aiming for his prey.
Before my lovely wife could answer our beloved daughter, I devilishly cupped her blooming bosoms as I pulled her under the water causing her to sputter her surprise as we resurfaced. Grace quickly regained her wits, "Oliver! Annie! I wasn't going to get my hair …," but before she could finish her lecturing I silenced her with a toe curling kiss and eliciting giggles from our water monkey. As we both pulled up for air I could hear our water monkey swimming laps in a distance probably giving us a few moments to ourselves. Since she wasn't close by I started to gyrate a bit against Grace as we continued to tread water together causing her eyes to spark a rich blue of passion. We initiated another round of kissing as we half listened to Annie's free style laps as we discretely started a little bit of foreplay under water. I started to guide us over to a corner but just as things started to get a little out of hand an unwanted disruption occurred with Drake clearing his throat above us!
Talk about a cold bucket of ice! I've never felt Grace claw at me like she did that day, as if she wanted to crawl under my skin to hide. 'DAMN BLASTED BUSINESS ASSOCIATES' is what I thought but unfortunately it was Adrienne Bouvier (my once mistress). Drake informed me that the matter was urgent and that my guest was in my study waiting for me at my earliest convenience. Drake's interruption alerted Annie as well and she saved Grace from some embarrassment as she joined us wrapping her tiny body around mine teasingly calling us a 'Warbucks sandwich' with me being the meat between his two slices of bread! Of course, Drake allowed us a family moment again before clearing his throat to remind us of his presence but never provided my guest's name. Because both of my girls are selfless they both told me to go save the day with mischievous winks as they both started to race toward the inter tube leaving me to attend to this 'urgent matter' that would take me away from the two best things in my life.
Well, after donning my robe and hastily walking toward my study, you could say I was shocked to say the least. There was Adrienne and when I entered the room her quiet calm quickly dissolved into sobs. After comforting her the best I could I finally got her tell me what was distressing her. She then pulled out a bundle of opened letters from a mysterious source beginning with dates nearly two months before Annie arrived at the mansion. They started off short and in riddles but quickly turned into evil death threats if she didn't pay off an unknown debt her husband left behind plus interest. When I asked her why she didn't bring them to me before she stated at first she ignored the riddles and when they started to get nasty Grace, Annie, and I were settling in as a family. She stated that she didn't want to rock our happy boat.
Of course, as I went to give her a comforting hug and tell her I would alleviate her stress by hiring a detective to find the culprit and bring him to justice the study doors were thrown open by my redheaded ball of energy. Annie quickly slammed on her breaks as she noticed Adrienne and her look of mischievousness quickly turned to confusion then to horror as she tried to turn around in mid-break to head back out of the room, most likely to try and stop Grace from entering behind her. Unfortunately, Grace was still very agile, even with her growing belly, and was right on Annie's heels so she saw the scene Annie burst into immediately coming to the same wrong conclusions as Annie. I know I was saying over a 1000 'hail Marys' to help me out of this situation as I hastily pulled out of our embrace as 'my past' and 'my present' sized each other up like two lionesses. However, one lioness quickly snatched up her cub and placed her briskly in front of her bump hiding the the evidence of her future cub as a fleeting emotion of possible self doubt or self consciousness flicked across her eyes.
Grace then cleared her throat and boldly met my eyes, "Oliver are you going to introduce us to your guest?" I felt about two inches tall about then, however, I pulled it together, after all I'm Oliver Warbucks the billionaire. "Adrienne Bouvier this is my wife Grace Warbucks and our daughter Annie," I stated and was somewhat surprised I hadn't stuttered on any part of their introduction because my mouth felt like it was full of cotton balls. Each of them dipped their heads in acknowledgement but Annie probably sensing her mother's distress blurted out that she was getting hungry and that's why she interrupted us. She then hastily grabbed Grace's hand and darted out the study. The look on Grace's face was a mix of relief and something else that I couldn't place until much much later.
I remember looking at Adrienne with a bit of chagrin for their departure and for a split second I saw envy flash across her eyes but then she dismissed the departure by stating, "Oliver, they're both lovely and I can tell why you love them so much. It also helps that I already know a bit about them due to The New York Time's society pages. I can also tell that they both fiercely love you and would fight for you! Don't let either one of them doubt your love for them even if they make it difficult for you." Of course, I wasn't sure what she was talking about, I felt like she was talking to me in code toward the end like there was more to the girls' exchange then I witnessed.
AND BOY DID I MISS SOMETHING OR HELL FROZE OVER AT DINNER! When I finally entered the dining room, after Adrienne left and I hired a private eye, the atmosphere was somber with an undercurrent of chill. Both of my girls sat in their usual spots across from one another toward the head of the table where I generally sit but neither would meet my eye nor did they say more than two or three words in response to my greetings. Annie at least gave me side way glances of disproval so I definitely knew the undercurrent of their moods centered around Adrienne's visit, and not my surprise which Annabelle, Abigail, and Cecile were assisting me with the last few months.
Not wanting either of my girls to remain upset with me due to any unwarranted misunderstandings about the purpose of Adrienne's visit I withdrew the letters out of my interior breast pocket and slid them toward Grace. Her gaze flicked toward mine quickly as she reached toward the letters just as some of the kitchen staff entered the dining room to serve our dinners. As we allowed the staff to place the plates in front of us, Grace skimmed through three of the letters with her lower lip in between her teeth causing our precocious daughter to inquire about the letters, "Mom what's in the letters?"
"Never mind, dear, your father is taking care of it, I'm sure," Grace stated as she slid the pile back toward me. She cast me a quick look of what appeared to be approval but their was something else there. I couldn't place it but her comment had Annie happy again, however, I could still tell something was off with my Grace. The rest of the meal was like old times, before Annie came to us, where Grace and I stole glances at one another but instead of business being discussed at the table to cloak our discomfort and longing it was Annie's rambling on about this or that. It wasn't until the end of the meal when Annie's commentary died down that we were both alerted to her awareness of our awkwardness. We silently communicated 'to table our issues' (which I wasn't real sure of other than Adrienne's appearance), and bless our little tyke's timing because he or she gave Grace a good wallop causing her to gasp real loud as she immediately rubbed the spot that was kicked.
This sent Annie out of her chair quickly to dash around the the table to feel for the baby. This also provided a great distraction for Grace and I. Grace then sent me a look of awe twisted with a bit of melancholy, but she quickly hid it by giving Annie a kiss and stating it was time to get ready for bed. This caused our spitfire to jump up leading her mother briskly away from the table which I am 99.9% sure that was Grace's full intention.
I have to admit I am very jealous of their nightly routine but I am too much of a coward to say anything. Grace and Annie have had this bed time routine since Annie initially came to stay with us and they have kept it every since. Even when we are really busy with work Grace always manages to take a quick break to see that Annie gets ready for bed and at least rocks Annie in the overstuffed rocking chair singing Ballyeamon Cradle Song. On nights were time is not so sensitive they will discuss more of Annie's day if necessary, then read a chapter or two from one of Annie's chapter books, then as Annie's eyes begin to droop Grace will begin to hum and sing their lullaby.
How do I know all this? Because I always listen to them from our sitting room like an outcast listening to the party next door. It was a brilliant idea of Grace to have my wing of the mansion remodeled after we were married. During the remodel we resided in Grace's old rooms. The two rooms next to my master bedroom were converted into two other bedrooms, one for Annie with her own bathroom and the other I'm sure Grace had in mind as a future nursery with its own bathroom. At the time she stated that we could use it as an option for J.B. or any other ailing family member that may require it and/or our assistance. However, ever since finding out about our little tyke I'd find Grace glancing into the room with this dreamy look on her face while rubbing her belly. That look spurred on my surprise!
Yes, I am a romantic when it comes to Grace, always paying attention to the little things and filing them away to utilize later. One of those occasions occurred over two years ago, when I eavesdropped on a conversation between her and Cecile. They were discussing Willis' nursery room. They were assisting with its décor of Winnie the Pooh and Grace made an off handed comment that if she were ever so lucky to decorate her own child's nursery it would be of Peter Rabbit and his Hill Top friends. However, after the car accident her sole focus, other than the business and me, was Annie (as it should be) so she hadn't yet gotten around to the nursery.
So, I took advantage of her distraction and enlisted Cecile, Annabelle, and Abigail's assistance in decorating the nursery in Beatrix Potter's Hill Top animals featuring Peter Rabbit. My 'sister' Annabelle is a wonderful artist and has taken Annie under her wing. Unfortunately my precocious daughter caught wind of the nursery preparation and begged to assist with some of the décor which has delayed its reveal a bit due to her casts hindering her 'artistic painting skills' per her! My cohorts have been stock piling the nursery décor at J.B.'s cottage until they could move it to the house. Grace's 'confinement' was the perfect time to wallpaper the room in Beatrix Potter's characters in addition to other wall and floor accents (whatever that means but I hired the appropriate contractor's Cecile suggested) as well as haul over some of the finished furniture pieces. Let's just say Grace hasn't had the time to catch onto my surprise yet, thank goodness!
Anyway, back to the beginning of my hell! After, Grace and Annie completed their nightly routine I joined them to assist with tucking Annie into bed. Once she was 'snug as a bug in rug,' we headed over to our room, but the chill was still in the air in addition to the awkwardness. Grace quickly grabbed her night gown and headed into the bathroom and again I was puzzled by her shyness to not dress in front of me. She hadn't been this reserved since our first two nights as a married couple. When she completed her nightly routine she quickly gave me a chaste kiss on my cheek (ON MY CHEEK) and turned down her side of the bed. She then proceeded to put a gulf between us by laying toward the edge of the bed. I had to stop and stare for a moment, I had no idea what to do so I left the room to regroup for few minutes leaving our bedroom door ajar.
After running down the stairs to call Annabelle to discuss the progress of the nursery décor and jotting down some notes about furniture that were still required for the room, I returned to our suite. I didn't turn on any lights so I didn't alert Grace to my return and the saddest sound reverberated from our room, her sobs … I felt like such a heel for reasons I was still baffled about but I was pretty sure all stemmed from Adrienne's earlier visit. Adrienne's earlier comment about making sure Grace and Annie knew how much I loved them also popped into my head while listening to Grace's sorrows; so I crept back out of the sitting room into the hallway to reenter our room with some noise to see if my hunch was right … if Grace heard me enter into our suite she would stifle her sobs and play possum. AND I WAS RIGHT!
Well two could play that game! I decided I would play dumb and proceeded to get ready for bed in order to join her. So, I went into the bathroom to complete my nightly hygiene before I joined her in bed and this is when I noticed that she was still near the edge of it. Knowing that she was playing possum I proceeded to move closer to the center of the bed then I snaked my arms around her bosom and lower hips (avoiding her baby bump) as I hauled her body up against mine so I could spoon up against her. After all, this was our general position when we dozed off at night after love making or just pure exhaustion. Initially, I felt Grace tense up but then I felt her body slowly relax against mine as I kissed her neck and whispered my 'I love yous.' Slowly, her arms wrapped around mine as we both succumbed to the sandman.
The next morning I woke up alone and my personal hell continued to spiral out of control during the day. Grace had an earlier start than I, I know now that it was to snoop around our office for more information, most likely for more information on Adrienne, but instead she uncovered my short hand on my calendar the previous week that was very cryptic yet would give the wrong impression if misunderstood. Boy was it misunderstood but I didn't want to give away my surprise until it was finished! My stupid short hand read 'interviews for Grace's replacement' meaning interviews with different furniture makers for Grace's new rocking chair for the nursery. I KNEW WHAT IT MEANT! She had made a statement before her confinement that before long she wouldn't be able to hold Annie in her lap during their nightly routines. Soooo I thought it was a 'win-win' situation to have a two person rocking chair created for all of us to use in the future (which would be my way of asking my girls if I could join them during their nightly routine so I wouldn't feel like such an outcast anymore). Well it backfired on me that morning and for the last three weeks … let's just say that hell froze over in the Warbucks' household.
Unfortunately, I didn't know what sent Grace over the edge the next morning but I'd never felt such hostility radiating off her before. It wasn't until today when Annie asked, "Are you firing mom because she's having a baby? Do you expect her to give up her career to raise it?" Of course, I was completely baffled by this notion after all we had a short conversation with the Roosevelts during the 4th of July party where I stated I could never work without Grace's assistance. I asked Annie where in the world she heard that rumor and that my answer was a resounding negative. She told me she heard it from a person, who heard it from a person, who said Grace read it in my daily schedule book. Annie stated that I had scheduled interviews while Grace was on her 'confinement.' I quickly recalled the note in my schedule book and told Annie that it was about replacing the rocking chair for a bigger one for all of us to use in the nursery. My answer seemed to pacify her as she ran up to the nursery to check it out, after I told her it was delivered two days ago, and that Annabelle was probably still up there adding final details to it before I revealed it to her mother this evening.
Oh brother was I in trouble! I really thought my statement to FDR and Eleanor made my thoughts very clear on the matter, unfortunately, now I know this misunderstanding spurred on by other people's discontentments in our household as well (especially among the staff). Let's just say, God forbid, that if we ever parted ways I would be the one kicked out of the mansion by several of the household staff, I know where their loyalty lies! Thank goodness for Annie, if it wasn't for her question I would still be in the dark about all the death stares and cold shoulders I had recently received by many of the staff.
It also shed some light, as to why Grace insisted that a crib and a playpen be set up in the office when the baby came, of course, this set forth a very verbal altercation between the two of us today (probably our first real, awful, and hurtful fight where we both said horrible things to each other). Yep … if I wasn't already in the 'doghouse' I'm definitely in it now after today; but, after the second night of frost the term 'doghouse' was very fitting especially when I felt very unwelcome in my own home so I left in order to stay at J.B.'s cottage, however, he sent me back. He stated, "I could sit, think, and stew at his house but at night I belonged in the same house as my wife." J.B. told me to never provide my wife with more doubt about my love and devotion toward her (particularly since she's met 'my past') especially loud actions such as leaving our home for another woman's bed just because we quarreled.
And, you know what it paid off somewhat because early the next morning, around 1 a.m., I felt a tear splash against my face as trembling lips brushed over mine. Grace then tugged on my hand stating, "I'm still furious with you Oliver but pleeeaaase come back to bed. I promise to never lock you out again!" I knew that her declaration was valid because during the day she was the 'ice queen' toward me, but at night she humbly threw up the white flag allowing me to join her in the bed. She'd even allow me to spoon up behind her and entangle my legs with hers in addition to feeling our little tyke kick and turn (something she wouldn't do during the day); and, BOY was he/she getting feisty and rambunctious. We silently agreed to not talk during this time, I know I didn't want to send her over the edge and get kicked out again, and I'm sure her reason was similar.
I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE OUR MISERY HAS STEMMED FROM THAT RIDICULOUS SHORT HAND I HAD IN MY SCHEDULER! After 20 minutes of stewing and reflecting I finally shared this new information with J.B. yet at the time he appeared as stumped as I felt and lacked the insight I was looking for. Now its been over an hour with us, or should I say mainly me, grunting and snorting as we continue to mull over the information as we stare into the fire's flames and sip on our brandies.
"Ya know if ya keep gruntin,' snortin,' and hem hawing 'round here much longa people are gonna think this place is a barn and not a cottage!" nonchalantly stated J.B. in his gravel warn out voice. "Howeva, I think I knows the root of all your problems. I've been thinkin' about my Janice and the situation we found ourselves in afta I returned from my first voyage afta our wedding. She was thick with pregnancy and 'cause I was out'ta sea notification of our bundle of joy neva reached me. It reached me afta our bundle of joy was born!"
Oliver turned stunned but recovered quickly because J.B. generally didn't share much information on John Jr. nor did Oliver push for information. It was a mutual understanding since their first voyage together, that their pain for lost loved ones was their own business unless they wanted to share it with the other person. However, J.B.'s story had the effect he was looking for because it appeared Oliver was hanging onto every word with bated breath.
J.B. with a twinkle in his eye from his last comment continued with a lilt of amusement to his voice, "I remember walkin' inta the kitchen and Janice had her back toward me. She was bent over the stove checkin' her vittles and I was thinkin' she's a bit curvy 'round the hips, at least more than I rememba! I was like who cares, she's my gal and I plan'ta have my way with her all week long! I rememba sneakin' up and grabbin' her 'round the waste! I'm not sure who was more surprised in that moment, her or me! I was lucky it twas a spoon in her hand and not a knife, son, otherwise we'd not have had Annabelle after J.J." J.B. winked at Oliver causing both men to burst out into their belly laughs. I can only imagine Janice beating J.B. with a spoon thinking he was an intruder.
J.B. continued as he whipped tears of laughter from his eyes, "I learned afta that'ta announce my arrival home!"
"Ahhhhh, so that's why you would always say 'MISTRESS OF THE HOME MAY WE SEA URCHINS ENTER YOUR LOVELY LAND VESSEL?!'" laughed Oliver.
"Absolutely, I learned very quickly that I may have earned the money as a sailor, but she ruled the roost as well as the finances! Oliva, I've always thought fondly of Grace, she's as gentle as Janice, but with a fiesty Irish twist! She's definitely your match, that's why I've been coachin' ya boy! When ya've found your match don't let go or have her finda reason'ta let ya go!" J.B. emphasized his statement by grasping Oliver's hand firmly with his knobby one with fierceness in his eyes. He didn't release Oliver's hand until Oliver nodded his understanding and agreement.
"Hmmm, anyway," snickered J.B. as he continued his story, "not only was I shocked'ta bein' attacked by a mad woman with her spoon, but I also received a great whack from her protrudin' stomach as well! I'm not sure what surprised me more 'the lioness' protectin' her unborn cub or the belly cocoonin' it! Once, she recovered of course she threw her arms 'round me but the belly hindered us a bit in more ways than one! Let's just say this fella didn't get what he wanted from his gal that night, and do ya know why?! Later much much much later in the week, I finally had it! I wanted her and I wanted her bad! I'd missed her so much and all I wanted'ta do was show her ... OLIVA! Ya're married, ya know what I'm talkin' about, NO NEED'TA GET EMBARRASSED!"
"Welllll," stuttered Oliver as he tugged on his collar in discomfort, "Welllll, you and Janice, are like my parents! I think it's okay to say I really don't want to hear about my parent's love life."
"I can stop sharin' my story but I'm tellin' ya, ya won't get where I'm leadin' ya. I think I've figured out the catalyst of all your frustrations," continued J.B.
"You have? Please share man! I'm sorry for bellowing just now! I just want our relationship back on track!" pleaded Oliver.
"Well, like I was sayin', J.J.'s arrival in our life wasn't'ta long afta our honeymoon phase. I shipped out three months after tyin' the knot with Janice, so we definitely had'ta make up for lost time!" started J.B. but when Oliver ears started to turn red he stopped with the 'love details' even though he found it quite hilarious. "Anyway, afta a few days of bein' denied, I'd had enough and I came stormin' inta our bedroom where I saw her lookin' in the ol' dressin' mirror with her belly exposed. It was the first time I'd laid eyes on it, she'd neva let me see her belly 'fore that and I imagine she'd have kept it that way if I hadn't walked in on her!
"Oliva, I'm tellin' ya this 'cause I'm positive Grace and Janice were cut from the same cloth. They're women that feel highly blessed'ta give their man a child of his own as well as feeling thankful to have any child that God sends her way; however, like my Janice she's totally head o'er heels in love with her husband and wants'ta continually please 'im. She's prob'bly feelin' lost 'cause as a mother she's absolutely relishin' in her body's changes and feelin' her little tyke move and grow; but, on the otha hand, as a newly wed and woman she's findin' it hard'ta imagine she's still your aphrodisiac with all her body's changes," continued J.B. with a far off look but with a distinct glimmer of pride.
"What are you talking about? Grace's body is gorgeous with all her new curves even though I'm more of a leg man myself! I mean her gams are … well let's just say I've admired them for years or maybe I've been a leg man because their some of Grace's greatest assets!? ANYWAY, THE CHANGES HAVE ONLY BEEN SLIGHT, I MEAN SHE'S PRETTY MUCH ALL BELLY RIGHT NOW! Her added curves have only enhanced her body," rebutted Oliver.
"I'm glad you think that but have ya told her?" questioned J.B. as he glanced over toward his adopted son.
"Well, not exactly, I mean every time I go to tell her either someone interrupts us, it doesn't feel like the appropriate time, or she's frosty toward me," weakly argued Oliver as J.B. just shook his head.
"Hogwash! No wonda she's all o'er the place. The puzzle is finally all comin' togetha! No, hear me out," stated J.B. as Oliver tried to interrupt him, "Didn't ya say that durin' her 'confinement' Grace appeared'ta have popped? And didn't ya say that the doctor told ya'ta not continue with your nightly activities until afta she was released from bed rest?"
"Yes, but …"
"Well … if I was a bettin' man, I bet she noticed the change too and feared your reaction. Do'ya know what happens'ta women beside gettin' rounda? Their stomach veins also appear more pronounced givin' their bellies a blue look as well as stretch marks marring their porcelain skin," continued J.B. Oliver stared at him in disbelief and then slapped his forehead with his hand as he shook his head as everything started to fall into place.
"Now I understand the 'blue hippopotamus' comment I overheard her mutter to herself one early morning when she was trying to find something to wear. I'm sure she thought I was still asleep otherwise I'm sure I would never have heard it. Nor, was I dumb enough to bring it up to her since overhearing it. J.B. I'm walking on eggshells around her! I've never felt this intimidated by anyone in my life!" confessed a bewildered Oliver.
"I wouldn't say intimidated but more like fear that your other half is pulling away from you?" nonchalantly questioned/stated J.B., which Oliver's long pause confirmed his suspicions.
"Yes, deep down there is still a little doubt as to why Grace would love ME, ME of all people! She's an angel where I'm the tyrant!" confessed Oliver.
"Rubbish! She's your otha half! Her strengthens compliment yours and vise versa!" refuted J.B. as he held Oliver's gaze and didn't continue until Oliver nodded his agreement to his assessment.
"Anyway, back'ta my discovery of Janice's glorious belly! I felt this rush of pride that shot from my loins'ta my heart! I rememba her look of horror as I slowly advanced toward her and how she tried'ta cover it. I rememba pleadin,' 'No, let me …' as my voice hitched with all the emotion a proud papa could feel, 'that I did that!' That we created that little bein' that she housed in her belly. Oliva, I hit my knees as I kissed her bare belly and rubbed my head against it.
"When I looked up she had tears runnin' down her face and I didn't realize I had tears as well until she brushed her delicate fingers against my face'ta wipe 'em away. We shared a tenda moment that only two lovers slash future parents can share, but she broke the contact 'gain then attempted'ta cova her belly. We played tug'a war with her garment and she finally screeched at me! I let go but not without my own protests!" recalled J.B. with a gleam in his eyes.
"Well, I asked what the matta was with her? She stated that she looked hideous!" continued J.B.
"Hideous?!" questioned an incredulous Oliver.
"Apparently, she thought I would view her belly as an abominable appendage," J.B. supplied with a shrug as he knew the outcome of his story.
"ABOMINABLE APPENDAGE?!" bellowed an astonished Oliver shaking his head back and forth in bewilderment.
"Yes, rememba Oliva, we were newly weds 'fore I shipped out! In her eyes, I shipped out leavin' a captivating enchantress and returned'ta a abundantly fruitful motha-ta-be! She finally wailed her thoughts'ta me, 'Can't you see how fat and ugly I am?' I musta gave her an incredulous look 'cause she pushed me on my bum and attempted'ta stalk outta the room. Howeva, I wasn't done with her, I spun her 'round, pushed her up 'gainst the wall, and well … well you're married! Once, we pulled up for air, I told her she's the most alluring sight I'd eva beheld! She then asked meekly, 'really?' I was floored, I rememba thinkin' can't she feel my lust? Yes, she knew I loved and adored her, but the vibrant and passionate woman needed'ta hear and be shown that she was still breath takin' even with child!" wistfully stated J.B..
"So, you told her right?"
"As well as showed her all night long, Oliva! My homecomin' was finally fulfilled if you must know," cheekily responded J.B. as Oliver's face turned fire ball red with embarrassment causing him to clear his throat a few times.
"Ah, I see," finally responded Oliver, causing a round of chuckles from his surrogate father as he reached over and clapped Oliver on the back. "So, you think all this stemmed with Grace's 'new appendage' and that she thinks it's abominable due to the veins and stretch marks?" softly questioned Oliver.
"Yes, it all seems'ta fit. The timin' of the tyke makin' itself known'ta the world, the Adrienne incident probably knocked more of her confidence down, and then readin' your chicken scratch notes in your daily planner probably ripped the rest of it right out from unda her. Not only did all those incident's rock her womanly foundation but also her professional one as well! Rememba Oliva, she's been your sidekick in business much longa than your wife and I'm sure she's just as unbalanced as ya are right now if not more! After all, ya've both had a tailspinnin' year with Annie stealin' your hearts, your whirlwind of a romance, balancin' newly wed bliss with parentin' and business, discovering your upcomin' parenthood 'gain, the accident, both girls' restrictions, Annie's misunderstandin', and now all this, I'd say a lots happened and it's not even been a full year yet! So, yes, I'd say my epiphany makes sense, and I'd also advice that you skedaddle home to your lovely wife. She needs reminded that she's still your enchantress as well as your recently branded tigress sporting her newly acquired pink stripes that only gestating cubs produce on their mommas!" brazenly encouraged J.B. as he slowly hoisted himself out of his chair to lead Oliver to the door.
Once both men reached the door, J.B. started to clear his throat and then jerked Oliver's arm with intent as he choked out, "Oliva, don't eva … eva take for granted … or miss the blessin's … blessin's your children will brin' ya! If Grace wants ya'ta … ya'ta be with her when the babe comes … ya be there ya hear! Hospital rules be damned! If she wants … wants that babe near ya durin' the day … so be it! Ya neva know when the opportunity'ta be a dad … dad will be taken … taken away from ya!"
Oliver looked at the strong man beside him, his father figure, as he poured out his heartache to him. He knew J.J.'s death tormented him since he was at sea and never got to say goodbye to him nor was he there to support Janice and Annabelle during the immediate loss. The fact the two remained together and stood together as a united front spoke volumes of their love for one another. Not knowing how to respond Oliver pulled J.B. into a tight embrace and if tears weren't already trailing down each man's face they were after J.B.'s parting words. "And neva doubt God's blessin's sometimes … sometimes when ya … ya least expect it … He graces ya … ya with second chances," as he clapped Oliver on the back before hauling him back into another father-son hug like a proud papa. Once both men regained a semblance of calmness an understanding fell over them as they both appeared to have grown another inch from love and pride.
Oliver then briskly left the house with a light but purposeful bounce to his stride as he strolled through the gardens toward the mansion. Leapin' lizards! If only … I hope I can fix things with Grace and correct some of the bumbling errors I've made sense the beginning of this month. If J.B. is right and Grace thinks that I don't find her attractive anymore as a woman … well I've got news for her! Her newly added curves with those mile high gams … WOWZERS … if I didn't think Grace agreeing to be my wife was glorious enough THEN I've died and gone to heaven as I get to behold and ravish in her fruitful transformation!
When Oliver reached the back terrace his stride slowed as well as his thoughts when he heard, "Daddy, daddy," near the front entrance of the house. Annie was waving madly at him before she made a mad dash toward him yelling in the process, "Daddy Warbucks! I'm going to Aunt Annabelle and Uncle Christian's house tonight! Aunt Annabelle is going to show me some more tricks of the trade!" Once Annie closed in on her target, she threw herself at Oliver and he quickly returned the embrace relishing in her love a little bit more after his man-to-man talk with J.B. "Oh … uh … well uh … I don't know how to tell ya but mom discovered the nursery!" Annie quipped quickly biting her lower lip in trepidation knowing Oliver wanted to be the one to show Grace.
Oliver blanched a bit but briskly inquired, "What was her response?"
"Oh! She went mad about it! You shoulda seen her daddy she was speechless at first and when she found her voice she asked whose idea it was. When Aunt Annabelle told her it was all you, and that you hand picked every piece of furniture, then reviewed all her sketches for the different illustrations of Peter Rabbit and his friends in order to add to the different pieces, in addition to hiring that rug and wallpaper company to make all those one of a kind Peter Rabbit accents for the nursery, she started to cry! BUT, when she went over to our new rocking chair and began to read your letter she began to wail! Aunt Annabelle shooed me out of the room so I'm not sure if it was happy or sad tears that she was crying, all I know is that about 20 minutes later Aunt Annabelle came out and told me to go in and hug mom, not ask any questions, and pack my overnight bag! I'm thinkin' though that they were happy tears 'cause 'the end of the world look' was gone and a look I'm not sure I can explain was on her face instead. It looked like a good one though! Well, I gotta go! Love you daddy Warbucks!" Annie proclaimed as Annabelle called her to join her as she and Oliver shared an endearing waive.
By the time Annie had reached Annabelle, Oliver was already in the house hastily striding up the stairs. Wow, please, dear Lord, let Annie's perception be right that Grace was pleased with the nursery! After this past month I'm not sure what to expect! Oh God forbid, she's upset that I did it and not her!
Lord have mercy, she's leaving me! This was Oliver's thought when he burst through their bedroom door to find stacks of clothes on the bed. "GRACE!"
Another big thanks to my incredibly busy yet fantastic editor, Sis21K! When she okays my story-line and its flow my confidence in continuing my plot mounts tenfold!
Also, linked to my profile page are two websites that inspired my nursery idea (the rocker and the Petter Rabbit theme).