General Fiction posted September 30, 2020 Chapters:  ...32 33 -34- 35... 

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Monique makes a bold move.

A chapter in the book Par Angusta Ad Augusta

Chapter 34

by teols2016

A law professor gets a family and a bookstore owner offers advice.
Previously in "Par Angusta Ad Augusta":

After his brother and sister-in-law are killed in a car accident overseas, NYU law professor Jefferson Thomas brings his young nieces and nephew to live with him in Manhattan. Meanwhile, local bookstore owner Monique Vasquez continues running her family's business while pursuing a relationship with Jefferson.

"Oh," Monique commented, squeezing Jefferson's hand, "I wish you were coming with me."

"I've gotta pick up the kids in Charlottesville," Jefferson pointed out as Monique's train pulled into the station with a blast of its horn and the accompanying bell. "You're welcome to come with me."

"As much as I love you, I think I'll take the direct route. Thanks."

Jefferson kissed her one more time before making sure her roller bag was securely fastened to the back of her wheelchair. Monique knew she had to board now and moved forward. She was able to get on to the train just fine and gave Jefferson one final wave before the doors slid shut.

Jefferson's train to Charlottesville arrived about twenty minutes later. The ride wasn't long and the kids were already waiting for him when he arrived, William and Beth standing with them.

"Hey you guys," he said, hugging them each. "Did you have fun with Grandma and Grandpa?"

The kids' responses seemed to indicate they did.

"We missed you," Abigail said.

"I missed you too," Jefferson said, smiling as he turned to speak to his parents.

* * *

Dr. Wade Abbens sat at his desk, reading through one of his patient's files while taking an occasional sip of water. The patient had just left and he was seeing what updates he had to make before putting the file away. He knew he still had a few minutes until his next appointment, a new patient, was due to arrive.

Dr. Abbens added his notes from the day's session to the file and found that nothing else needed to be done. So he stored the file away in a cabinet and stood up to stretch, thinking about who was coming in next. He didn't know much more about this patient than her name and the fact she was having recurring nightmares based on a bad experience she had lived through.

Dr. Abbens was sitting down again and taking another drink of water when someone knocked on the door.

"Come in," he said.

He was surprised when a woman entered, strapped into an elaborate-looking wheelchair. Pulling out the file, he saw no notes or other mention of the chair.

"Monique Vasquez?" he asked.

The woman nodded. Dr. Abbens noticed she was operating her wheelchair with a handheld joystick. He figured she could shake hands and stuck out his own. Monique shook it.

"Would you like to get out of that chair?" the doctor asked, gesturing towards his couch.

"No," Monique said. "I'm all right."

Dr. Abbens didn't push the matter and instead offered her some water. Monique took some in her tumbler and he then sat down behind his desk, asking why she was seeking therapy.

"You were a bit vague on the phone," he pointed out. "I'd like to understand more about these nightmares you're having."

Monique took a deep breath before speaking.

"A few months ago," she began, "my store was robbed ..."

* * *

The phone rang just as Jason Green was leaving, having completed one of his surprise visits to Jefferson's house. He encouraged Jefferson to answer it, saying he'd let himself out. Anya nonetheless followed him in order to lock the front door.

"Hello?" Jefferson asked as the social worker left.

"Jefferson," a female voice said. "Hi. It's Cassandra Kingman."

Jefferson couldn't believe it. He'd spoken to Cassandra a couple times since leaving Berlin, but it had been a while.

"Oh hey," Jefferson said. "How are you?"

"I'm good," Cassandra said. "But more importantly, how are you? How is everyone?"

"We're good. Everyone's healthy, happy, and so on."

"That's good. Listen, we're coming to New York for a few days to see my parents on Long Island, and we were wondering if we could come see you as well. Would that be possible?"

Jefferson smiled.

"Sure," he agreed. "Come on by. When's your trip?"

* * *

Though Ellen O'Ryan and her friends were generally a great source to find a baby-sitter, they were all busy one day, leaving Jefferson to search for an alternative solution. That solution turned out to be Monique. After the two of them brain-stormed how she could supervise the three kids while Jefferson was off teaching and Anya was off to see a doctor regarding a possible ear infection, she agreed to do it.

Monique was knocking on the sliding glass door at 10:00 one morning, waiting to be let inside. Opening the door, Taylor was happy to see her.

"What are you doing here?" she inquired.

"I'm baby-sitting you guys today," Monique told her, coming into the house.

The look on Taylor's face suggested Jefferson had shared this bit of information with her at one point or another but she had forgotten about it until now.

Jefferson came downstairs, briefcase in hand. He greeted Monique and then called for all three kids to come down as he put Presley in her guide dog harness. They came, curious about what he wanted.

"Okay guys," Jefferson said. "We talked about this. Monique's gonna watch you today while I'm at work. You're gonna listen to what she tells you and you are absolutely not going to go upstairs. She can't get up there, so if something happens to you, she can't help you. Got that?"

All three kids nodded.

"Okay then," Jefferson said. "Be good,"

He reminded Monique where the emergency numbers were kept.

"We'll be fine," Monique assured him.

Jefferson nodded and left with Presley. Monique turned to the kids.

"Okay," she said. "What do you wanna do?"

* * *

Jefferson arrived to find Jason Green talking to Amy and Eric outside his office. Apparently, he had run into them while looking for Jefferson.

"Ah," he said as a greeting. "Your friends were just telling me some nice things about you."

"I'm sure," Jefferson said. "What can I do for you?"

"I just wanted to make sure you were okay. We're a week out from the custody hearing now and I've seen plenty of parents and guardians get nervous as it gets closer."

"I'm okay. I mean, I'm a bit nervous, but I'm okay."

Jason Green nodded.

"Yes, you lawyers don't show fear right before the battle," he said. "Don't forget that you've gotta have all your paperwork in the judge's hands by the twelfth, including any testimonials from friends and family."

"I'm helping him with that," Eric chimed in. "I'm his lawyer."

"Then I'll see you around."

Jason Green bid the group a good day and left.

"I think I actually like this guy," Eric commented when he was gone. "And I've dealt with my fair share of social workers."

"So what are you two doing here anyway?" Jefferson asked.

"Eric had to come in to take care of a few things for the hearing," Amy explained. "Then we're going to lunch."

"If you didn't have to teach, we'd invite you," Eric remarked. "Though you'd have to be okay with us going to a hotel room for a while afterwards."

Jefferson heard Amy emit a slight, embarrassed gasp. He was amused as he pictured the possible faces she was making right then.

"I tell you," Eric said, "I've got letters coming in left and right. Everyone's behind you on this."

This was true. Colleagues and students alike wrote letters of support for Jefferson, dropping them off with Eric, who would then deliver them to the judge.

"I'm gonna need a truck for that," he commented.

Jefferson nodded.

"I got one from your parents as well," Eric went on. "I know Monique is still working on hers, and I got one from Germany ... someone named Cassandra."

Jefferson nodded again.

"Your nanny dropped one off yesterday," Eric said.

"Isn't that biased though?" Amy asked.

"Still couldn't hurt," Jefferson said as he shrugged his shoulders, thankful Anya had taken the time to do this.

"We're gonna blow that judge away," Eric said enthusiastically. "Everyone, including the law, is on our side on this."

* * *

"Monique?" Taylor asked. "Can we play outside?"

She was pointing at the backyard, which she could see through the sliding glass door that led out onto the small patio.

"Sure," Monique said. She followed the three kids over to the door, which Abigail managed to unlock and push open, and headed outside.

Monique stayed on the cement patio while the kids started up a game of tag on the lawn. Since the yard was small, there wasn't much space for them to run and they were often cornered and tagged "it" pretty quickly.

"You can't run inside," Monique said when the twins tried to go inside to evade Matthew.

Thankfully, they listened to her. Then, when Abigail was "it", she decided to come over and tag Monique.

"You're it," she declared.

"I think you guys could all outrun me pretty easily," Monique remarked with a chuckle.

* * *

Eric sat in his office, working. Amy had found a couch out in the hallway, where she decided to sit and read a magazine while he updated some things for Jefferson's case. He promised they'd be done soon and they'd then head off to their lunch date.

However, it seemed Amy soon changed her mind about waiting and instead burst into Eric's office, seemingly holding some important information. Eric stared at her.

"Run and hide," Amy advised. "I just saw Paula Franks coming this way."

"I thought she graduated," Eric said with a groan. "What does she want?"

Just then, Paula Franks entered the office. Amy sprang away from Eric's desk, hoping to be able to sneak out. But Paula Franks wasn't paying attention to her to begin with, instead focusing solely on Eric. He looked back at her but said nothing.

"Relax," Paula Franks said. "I'm not here to see you."

"Then why are you here?" Eric asked.

"I just wanted to drop this off. I hear you're collecting them."

She put an envelope on his desk. Eric reached for it and read the name written across the front. He then looked up at Paula Franks, confused.

"Jefferson's a good man," Paula Franks stated. "Those kids are lucky."

"Does this mean you'll stop pursuing him?" Eric asked, daring to hope for his friend.

Paula Franks didn't answer, but Eric could tell she wouldn't.

"For what it's worth," he said, "thanks. You are a good person."

Paula Franks gave him a single nod and left. Both Eric and Amy stared at each other and then at the envelope.

"Are you actually gonna give that to the judge?" Amy finally asked.

* * *

"Hey Monique?" Taylor asked, coming up next to the wheelchair.

"What's up?" Monique asked, turning her head to look at her.

"You have to sit in that chair because you can't walk, right?"

"That's right."

"Why can't you walk?"

Monique took a deep breath.

"Well," she said, choosing her words carefully. "when I was a little girl, I got very sick. I had to stay in bed for a long time and I had to see a lot of doctors. They were finally able to give me the right medicine to make me better, but my backbone didn't work properly anymore, so I couldn't walk anymore after that."

"Oh," Taylor said thoughtfully. "Could that happen to me?"

"I don't think so. You look pretty healthy to me. Plus, I was a lot younger than you when I got sick. It usually only happens to really little kids."

Taylor seemed satisfied with this and went off to play again as Monique reminded her not to go upstairs.

* * *

Jefferson returned home around 3:30 in the afternoon, shortly behind Anya, who was complaining about the medicine she had to take for her now-diagnosed ear infection. The woman definitely didn't like doctors.

"Listen to these possible side effects," she said, studying the small bottle. "A temporary burning or stinging sensation in the ear ... redness. ... swelling in or around the ears ... can I just keep the ear infection?

"Not on my health plan," Jefferson replied.

All three kids greeted their uncle enthusiastically, asking if Monique could baby-sit again. Monique was still in the den, waiting for the craziness to die down. Jefferson was eventually able to come see her.

"So," he asked. "things went well?"

"Yeah," Monique said. "we had fun."

"I'm glad."

He figured this was a good omen for their future.

"How are you doing?" Monique queried. She could tell he looked nervous and she was sure she knew why.

"I'm okay," Jefferson said. "Though I think I need a drink. You want anything?"

Monique asked for water and watched as he headed off to the kitchen. She then dug out her cell phone and dialed a number.

"Hey Joan ..." she said when the nurse answered, "I'm gonna cancel our appointment tonight ... no, I'm not gonna be home tonight ... Yeah, I'll be okay ... it's important ... thanks."

Looking at the nearby staircase, she thought back to hers and Jefferson's weekend at the cabin. She figured she might as well spring this on him.

* * *

That evening, Monique borrowed one of Jefferson's button-down shirts to sleep in and got him to help her into his bed. It had taken some coaxing, but she finally got him to allow her to spend the night. Neither of them had sex in mind, but she wanted to be there for him.

Apart from offering to help get Monique up the two flights of steps, Anya kept out of this. She simply bid them both a good night before going to her room to give herself another round of ear medication.

"I figured I could get you to bring me up here sooner or later," Monique cracked, looking around his bedroom.

Jefferson didn't smile. Clearly his earlier drink hadn't helped. Monique reached out and rubbed his arm.

"Come here," she encouraged, wanting to hold him close to her.

Jefferson didn't move.

"Look," Monique said, trying to withhold a sigh, "two-thirds of my body is dead weight. I can't get over to you. So stop being stubborn and let me make you feel better."

She tugged at his arm and Jefferson finally gave in, allowing her to hug him.

"You'll be fine," Monique said as she embraced him. "You're good to them. There's no reason a judge should see otherwise."

* * *

Strapped into her chair, Monique made her way down the corridor, checking the names on the doors. She finally found the office she was looking for and knocked.

"Come in!" a voice called.

Monique got the door open and moved inside. Eric looked up from the paperwork he had been reading. He smiled when he saw who it was.

"What brings you to law school?" he queried.

"I just wanted to drop this off," Monique said, handing him the envelope containing her testimonial for the family court judge.

"Thank you," Eric said, taking the letter and adding it to his pile.

"I've gotta run," Monique said and then turned to leave again.

"Hang on a second," Eric said, stopping her.

"What's up?" Monique asked.

"I just wanted to tell you something. Ever since he's met you, I've noticed a real change in Jefferson ... for the better. Thank you."

Monique smiled.

"No problem," she said. "He brings out the best in me."

* * *

"Hey Uncle Jeff," Abigail said, finding him cleaning up in the kitchen. "Can we watch one of our home movies that Mom and Dad made with us?"

"Sure," Jefferson said, deciding it was about time he watched one of those. "You wanna join us, Anya?"

"No thank you," Anya replied, carrying a clean stack of laundry up the stairs.

Jefferson then headed up to his office with Abigail following close behind and retrieved the DVDs from his desk. Taylor and Matthew had also seemed interested in this idea, but they had decided to wait downstairs.

"Okay," Jefferson said, setting the DVD cases down on the coffee table. "Which one do you guys wanna see?"

He almost immediately wished he hadn't asked as he got about two dozen different requests. Deciding to ignore the kids, he began looking through the choices himself.

"How about this one?" he suggested. "Family vacation 2018. That'll include all of you guys."

"Dad won't be in it very much," Taylor commented. "He was always holding the camera."

"Well, I'm sure he's in here somewhere," Jefferson told her as he inserted the disc into the DVD player.

As the movie began, Jefferson sat down on the couch with the three kids around him. It opened on what seemed to be footage of the family on the beach. Jefferson vaguely recalled his brother once talking about a trip to somewhere in the Mediterranean, but he couldn't remember it now. Still, the sounds of waves and birds made the general location clear.

One of the twins seemed to be building a sandcastle and Margret was helping while Stanley handled the camera and made occasional comments. Jefferson guessed Margret was wearing some sort of bikini or other type of bathing suit and he flashed back to his one-night-stand with her. To this day, he wondered how it had happened, but like with Amy, no clear answer came to him. He just had to make his peace with that.

"Hey!" Matthew exclaimed. "There's me."

Sure enough, Matthew could soon be seen running around the beach, occasionally getting his feet wet, while his parents reminded him to be careful. Abigail could also be seen here and there. She was pretending to look grown up and was spread out on a beach blanket, apparently getting a tan. As though for Jefferson's benefit, Stanley also commented on this from behind the camera.

As he listened, Jefferson couldn't help thinking that this was a family. There were the parents, the daughters, and a son. They were a family, and now Stanley and Margret were dead and he was left to raise Abigail, Taylor, and Matthew. What a world, Jefferson thought as Taylor climbed into his lap. What a world.

I have rearranged this story a bit. It is now thirty-eight chapters (instead of the original forty-two.)

Cast of characters:

Jefferson Thomas: a blind NYU law professor.

Presley: Jefferson's guide dog.

Monique Vasquez: a bookstore owner in Manhattan

Abigail and Taylor Thomas: seven-year-old twin daughters of Stanley and Margaret Thomas. Nieces of Jefferson Thomas.

Matthew: four-year-old son of Stanley and Margaret Thomas. Nephew of Jefferson Thomas.

Anya Motkova: Jefferson's new live-in nanny.

Eric Nelson: Jefferson's colleague and best friend

Amy Nelson: Eric's wife and Jefferson's friend

Paula Franks: a NYU law student who is interested in Jefferson.
Beth and William Thomas: Jefferson and Stanley's parents. Abigail, Taylor, and
Matthew's grandparents.

Stanley "Stan" Thomas: Jefferson's brother. Killed in a car accident in Berlin.

Margaret "Maggie" Thomas: Stan's wife. Killed in a car accident overseas in Berlin.

Feedback is always welcome. Enjoy.
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