Serena arrived in Tokyo shortly after three a.m. and had immediately gone in search of a hotel; she found one and had begun to grieve the loss of her mother at the hands of her father. The next morning she was up early, she needed to take care of her brother now; she was all he had left. He needed her. With that thought she got up and got ready for a long day job hunting. At around ten in the morning she and Sammy headed out. They stopped at restaurants and many other places, until she finally found the right place.
It was an arcade. She went in and looked around, exhausted from carrying around Sammy all day. She got a highchair and pulled it to the booth for him to sit in while she found the manager. The manager was an elderly man. Serena walked up slowly. "Are you hiring?" she asked. He looked up slowly. "Yes," he rasped out, handing her an application. She filled it out slowly, telling the truth on some questions and half-truths on others. "Why do you want this job?" he asked. Serena thought for a moment. "To provide for ." She pointed to the highchair and the manager glanced over.
"He's a cutie. You'll have to wait for my son to come in, he runs the place, but my grandson is sick, so he took the afternoon off. Would you like something to eat? My treat, as apology for the wait." Serena looked at Sammy, he was beginning to fuss and nodded. "Please." She went to the booth and sat down, taking Sammy out of his chair and bouncing him on her knee. Soon a meal was delivered to their table and the manager sat down. "How old is the little fellow," he asked. Serena smiled proudly. "Five months." "He's adorable. Just wait till my wife sees him." Serena frowned. "What?" "She's dropping my son off, she'll love the little guy."
Serena smiled and hugged him. "He's very loveable." He began to squirm and she began to feed him pieces of a French fry. "I noticed that you didn't list a place of residence on your application." Serena looked at the top of Sammy's head. "I'm staying at a hotel until I get back on my feet." He frowned. "That must cost an absolute fortune." Serena frowned. "I hadn't thought of that." The bell over the door rang and a man and a woman walked in. "Richard, we're here." He nodded. "I can see that, Barbara, I'm not completely blind yet." She walked over and kissed him on the top of the head. If she had to guess, she would have to say that she was at least twenty years younger than him. "And who is this?" she asked looked Serena and Sammy over with a critical eye. "This is Serena and her son Sammy." "Son? How old are you?" Serena kept her eyes on her feet. "Fifteen and a half." "And where is his father?" Serena only shrugged. "How dare that irresponsible young man just up and leave you with a child to care for!" Barbara exclaimed.
She turned to Richard. "Is she here for a job?" He nodded, unable to fit in a word edgewise. "Well, you can have it. Andy, come here," she shouted for her son. He walked over. "Andy, give Serena a job." "What?" "You heard me." Andy turned to Serena. "Do you have any skills?" Serena frowned thoughtfully. "I can cook really well." Andy nodded and with a glance at his mother said, "You have a job." Richard stood with the help of his wife and walked into the corner with her. They whispered quietly for a few moments before coming back to the table. Barbara kneeled in front of Serena and said, "Serena, I know you don't know us, but, well, we'd like for you to come live with us until you get on your feet. I know you really shouldn't because we're strangers, but, I would feel so much better if you would. I could watch your son in the mornings when you're working." Serena began to cry for the first time since her mother died. "I don't know how to thank you." Barbara hugged her.
After that they headed to the hotel to collect her and Sammy's things, then they headed to Barbara and Richard's home. It was a lovely old Victorian with dark green painted shutters. It was the kind of home Serena had always dreamed of. She began crying. "What is it, sweetie?" Richard asked in that raspy, pack-a-day voice. "My parents-" "If they kicked you out because of Sammy, they should be ashamed." Serena didn't say a word; she knew if she did, she would spill their entire story. That couldn't happen. "Thank you so much for your hospitality." Barbara snorted. "No problem, let me just take this adorable baby out of your arms." Barbara tried but Serena clung to him. "Or not. Do you want to tell me what's wrong, honey?" Serena shook her head stubbornly. "No, I'm fine, it's just that 's nap time." Barbara frowned, but didn't comment and led them up to a bedroom. "You can stay in here." She said as she opened the door.
Serena gasped as she looked around the room. It was huge. Bigger than anything she'd ever seen before. It was decorated in dark blue silk and it had a small cradle in the corner. She looked questioningly at Barbara. "This was my son and daughter-in-laws room until they moved out. I hope you enjoy it. Dinners' at seven." Serena set Sammy in the cradle gently and stroked his soft head. "It's going to be ok now. It will all be fine now," she said as she gently rocked the cradle, unaware of the tears going down her face. Seven o'clock came around and Serena didn't come down for dinner so Barbara headed up to see what was holding her up. When she opened the door she saw Serena huddled under the comforter on the bed, fast asleep. Barbara smiled and closed the door, letting her have a peaceful sleep for the first time in her life.
The next morning Serena was up bright and early making breakfast. Eight o'clock rolled around and Barbara walked sleepily into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and to her surprise saw the table set with a steaming cup of coffee at her place. She hugged Serena. "You are the greatest." She sat down and began gulping coffee, not seeing Serena cry, she only frowned when she ran out of the room to 'check on Sammy.' At noon Serena headed off to work, leaving Sammy (with some reservation on her part) with Barbara and Richard.
When she got there it was packed and Andy waved her behind the counter in a distracted manner. He pointed out buttons and soon enough Serena was delivering orders. She took a hot cup of coffee out of the kitchen and was heading to a table carefully, as not to spill it, when she ran into someone, the coffee spilled and landed on her arm, burning her. She bit her tongue to prevent herself from screaming and looked up. She looked into deep blue eyes and frowned as the metallic taste of blood filled her mouth. She stood up quickly, ignoring the mans proffered hand and ran to the bathroom to rinse out her mouth, a little bit of blood escaped her mouth and ran down to her chin, yet she didn't dare cry out, for fear of punishment.
As the years passed she forgot that fateful day, burying herself in her work to earn enough money to send Sammy to a private school. She moved out of Barbara and Richards house when Sammy was three and into her own apartment, they never lost touch. One desperate day, when bills threatened to over run her she got a second job. A night job, as a stripper. Seven years passed and she kept the job. The pay was good and her manager never forced her to do anything she didn't want to do.
"Sammy, come on, you're going to be late for school and I'm going to be late for work," she yelled from the hallway, looking in the mirror as she applied lipstick and mascara. Ten-year-old Sammy ran into the hallway. "Let's go mom," he said impatiently as she put her makeup in her purse and took out her keys. "Where did you get that racing engine?" she asked, pointing at his stomach. He grinned. "From you." Serena made a face and pinched his nose as she locked the door. "Do I have to go to school, mom? My teacher is such a jerk." Serena frowned. "Where did you learn that word?" "From Uncle Andrew." "Really?" she asked in a mother's tone. Sammy, realizing his mistake, poked out his lower lip and gave her the look. They got to the car park and got into Serena's dark blue eclipse. "I'll drop you off and I don't want to hear those words out of your mouth again." Sammy rolled his eyes and buckled his seatbelt. When they got to the elementary school and Sammy got out, Serena leaned over the seat. "Kiss, baby boy," she said, puckering her lips. He kissed her. "Uncle Buchi's expecting me, got to go." She waved as Sammy closed the door and walked into the large school building.
Serena drove away frowning, not liking the thought of Sammy's teacher. Maybe she had better have a word with the headmaster. The thoughts were dismissed from her head as she pulled up to the Foxy Lady. Ignoring the flashing neon lights she parked in her usual spot and headed in to change into her costume, a slinky bunny costume. After five numbers and about five hundred dollars in tips she changed back into her street clothes and headed to Sammy's school to pick him up. She parked the car and headed into the crowded school. She gathered strange looks from the teachers as she walked down the hall in a tight halter-top, skintight jeans and boots. She leaned in the doorway of Sammy's class. "We got to go, baby," she said. She took off her sunglasses and gave him a mother's look when he didn't move. "What is it, baby?" she asked as she walked over and got down in front of him. "Mr. Shields wants to talk to you," he said, his voice muffled. "Why?"
"Because he was throwing paper balls at my head during class," came a voice from the door. Serena stood up and put on her sunglasses before turning around. "Mr. Shields I presume," she said. He nodded. "Right, well, you'll have to make an appointment. I'm late for work and Sammy needs to be at the babysitter," she said, taking Sammy's hand and walking right past him and into the hallway. "The school register has our number," she called over her shoulder. Darien raised an eyebrow as he watched her leave. His eyes drifted down and he smiled. "Oh, I will be calling you."