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This segment of the story has no overt sexual activity, it’s purely context, scene-setting, and dialogue, but is in this story-genre because it forms an essential part of the ‘Rag Doll’ sequence, and I hope you, the readers, will understand why this part has been included here. The next part is where all that takes place, so please be patient and follow the storyline, that’s all I ask.
As always, I caution the reader that this is not the real world, it’s an imaginary universe where things happen the way they do because that’s how I need them to happen, but honestly, it’s not that different from the real world.
There is no sexual activity, but all characters are over the age of 18, and if you liked this chapter, please do let me know, or why you didn’t, all comments are addressed, and if you want to email me with comments, questions, or suggestions, please don’t forget to add a return email address so I can come back to you.
Please read, and, hopefully, enjoy, I had a lot of fun and enjoyment getting this out there, I hope you have as much reading it. The next part follows very shortly.
Nicky yawned and stretched luxuriously, groaning pleasurably as his joints popped. Lying here, sprawled in front of the TV, late at night when the house was silent, was a rare privilege these days, one he could only enjoy once all the kids were put to bed; it was fun being ‘Uncle Nicky; climbing frame, entertainment centre, and occasional wrestling opponent’, but with all his nephews and nieces, and daughters, and little sisters to entertain, more than a little tiring. He looked around thoughtfully at his childhood home, comparing his memories of how it had been to how it was now.
It was still a strange, sometimes unsettling experience to come back to this house where he had grown up, where so many bad memories and old hurts had once dwelt, but the cold, cavernous barn with the frigid atmosphere of hostility and throttled anger he remembered living in, tempered only by the warm, loving presence of his ‘mother’, his Barbara, was gone forever, courtesy of Bobby, Shari, Rick, and Yaz. Thanks to their efforts it was a home now, a proper family home at last, filled with warmth, love, and laughter, and the sound of children playing and storing-up happy memories of growing up here surrounded by love.
Nicky smiled to himself as memories of his beloved Barbara here, with him, intruded on his reverie; how she would have loved the light and laughter, and the sound of children laughing and playing filling the house now, and the fact her prison had finally become the place of love and treasured memory she had longed for.
With the thought of Barbara and children returned the reason for his treasured solitude; in the morning he’d be ferrying all the children, all seven of them, to the local Golden Arches, and he was already regretting volunteering to take them; now that he thought about it, he was almost certain Bobby, Ricky, Leon, all four girls, and even his stepfather, David, had taken one step back when his mother had asked for someone to do it, leaving him alone in her direct line of sight, so now he was stuck with it.
He’d promised he’d take them in a moment of weakness, but he wasn’t sure he had the strength to ram-rod his two raucous, golden-eyed little speed-demons, Barbara and Judy, Ricky’s two boys, David aka Richie Jr. and little Leon, Bobby’s little girl, Ayesha and her younger brother, Nick, and his own little sister, Rachel. Leon was supposed to be helping him, but only because Judy had ‘volunteered’ him, and he hadn’t exactly been straining at the leash for the privilege of rounding up a gaggle of kids; he’d said at the time he’d rather herd cats, earning him a baleful glare from Judy and a pained look from Ashley, and so it was decided; either help-out or live indefinitely in Judy’s painfully inventive dog-house, so he’d taken the path of least resistance.
As he savoured the last of the peace he so rarely got, light footsteps intruded on his solitude, before his wife, Ashley, his younger half-sister, a fact he usually forgot, dropped lightly into his lap. Every time Nicky looked at her he found himself being astonished all over again that he’d captured such a beautiful girl, or that she’d want anything to do with someone like him; tall, slender, with a mane of gold-shot bronze-auburn hair, clear grey-green hazel eyes, sometimes grey, sometimes almost bottle-green, depending on her mood, but always huge, and beautiful, her pale skin and clear complexion highlighted by the most adorable spray of faint freckles adorning her upper cheeks and the bridge of her snub nose.
With Nicky ten years now, and in her late twenties, married for nearly eight years, and the mother of two children, she nevertheless still looked like the nineteen year-old high-school girl who’d captivated him all those years ago.
“Penny for your thoughts, English-Boy,” she murmured as she wriggled herself into a more comfortable position on his lap. “You bursa escort looked like you were having some deep thoughts there, care to share?”
Nicky nuzzled his beautiful wife as he wrapped his arm around her waist.
“Nothing really, sweetheart; I was just contemplating the great trek tomorrow morning; I know I wasn’t that enthusiastic about it, but really, they’re just a bunch of toddlers and little kids; how bad can it get, I mean, really?”
Ashley twisted around in his lap to look into his eyes. As always, Nicky instantly became lost in her eyes, caught by her frank gaze; it happened every time he looked into those beautiful, expressive wells, truly the windows of her soul; her eyes fascinated, compelled, held him fast, and drew him in.
“They really saw you coming, didn’t they, you poor, trusting simpleton? You’re taking Ayesha, Barbara, and David out in public, together, in the same place, at the same time, without tranquiliser darts, nets, and a lasso, and you ask ‘how bad can it get’? Those three alone are bad enough; add in all the other kids, and they’ll all get on like a house on fire. Have you ever seen a house on fire? Explosions, flames leaping, roofs collapsing, broken glass everywhere, people screaming and running for cover; Babs all on her own, with no prompting whatsoever, would hit the big red ‘Armageddon’ button just to hear the bang, and you know that, so tell just me; who are you, and what have you done with my husband?”
Nicky nodded glumly.
“You’re right, who am I kidding, this is going to be a disaster, like World War 3, but with fries and extra ketchup…”
Ashley nestled her head in the hollow of her neck and pulled him closer.
“At least we have now, Nicky-baby; savour the silence, hot-stuff; psycho-loony chimpanzee time is still several hours away! Look on the bright side, though; after this is all over, I promise to visit you in the asylum every other Friday!”
“Yeah, ha-ha- very funny…” grumbled Nicky, but cuddled her closer anyway, “and what are you going to be doing the Friday’s you’re not visiting me, then?” he grinned.
Ashley smiled impishly.
“That’s easy; I’ll be spending them with my new husband, the one smart enough to not be so easily conned by mom. She really saw you coming, Hot-Shot!”
Nick grinned and pulled her close for a quick, but satisfying kiss, before settling her more comfortably in his lap. They sat in silence for a while, each content with their own thoughts, Ashley savouring her quiet-time with her husband, until Nicky began picking up that perhaps his wife wanted to talk about something; if it was important, Ashley would have brought it up right away, so it was something she wanted to talk about, but not important enough to disturb him. Of course, when it came to Ashley, Nicky never let anything lie; part of his charm, as far as she was concerned, was that he was always interested in what was going on with her, so, after they’d sat silently for a while, he squeezed her bottom companionably and tipped her face up so he could look into her eyes.
“What’s up, Ash? You’ve got something on your mind, I can tell; come on, former Miss Lowry, spill it.”
Ashley grinned at his using her maiden name, something he only ever did in private.
“Actually, it’s not so much a problem as something that’s been nagging at me for a while now, but in an ‘I’m curious’ way, not an ‘I’m worried’ kind of way…”
Nicky cocked an eyebrow at her, a quirk of his she’d always found absurdly attractive.
“Go on, please; you’ve piqued my curiosity, don’t leave me hanging here.”
Ashley looked thoughtful for a moment, then smiled.
“So, what it is, I was looking back over the last few years, from pretty much the day you first came to us, going over it all, getting things straight in my mind and I realised there was one side of the story we’ve never heard…”
Nicky nodded. “Go on…”
“Baby, I knew most of your story, and, from talking with Ricky, I managed to fill in the odd gap here and there, from back then, and of course Bobby’s been very forthcoming about where he was with you, the place he was in, and how Shari came into his life, but the one big blank spot is…I don’t know anything about Ricky, apart from what you remember when he was young, and how he’s so very different now, plus a few bits and pieces Bobby let slip. From the time he left home until the time he showed up back here with Shari and Yaz in tow, there’s a two year blank space. What was he doing? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s got anything to hide, but even Bobby’s mentioned it a few times in passing; when Ricky came home he was so radically different that it was like having a whole different person walking around and being Ricky; he was nothing like the Ricky who’d left a couple years earlier.”
Nicky kissed her cheek as she paused to collect her thoughts.
“So what are you asking, Ash?”
Ashley looked into his eyes, struck, as always, at how much bursa escort bayan like their mother’s eyes they were, a warm, golden-tawny, something she’d never seen before, except in Nicky, her mother, and of course, their two little girls, who also had those startling golden eyes, and Nicky’s dark-golden hair . She smiled distractedly as she picked at the collar of his polo shirt.
“I’m curious, is all; what happened to him, what made such a drastic change in him that even Bobby found it hard to believe it was him when he returned? How and where did he join up with the girls, how did he find them at all, and what led him there? Something must have tipped him off, what was it, and what happened when he found them? Yaz and Shari don’t seem at all inclined to talk about it, at least not to me, but perhaps they’ll open up to you; you have a special connection with them, they searched for you, they travelled half-way around the world looking for you, so they obviously felt that connection pretty strongly; perhaps they’ll tell you things they don’t think they can share with me. I’m only their big sister by a long, weird, and winding way, but you’re their straight-up big brother; they love and are obviously in love with the boys, there’s no doubt in my mind about that, but they absolutely adore you too, that’s got to count for something… “
Ashley paused, obviously feeling her way along what she wanted to say.
“I’d like you to talk to Ricky, babe; him, and Shari, and Yaz. Something happened to Ricky while he was gone, something profound, and it’s all wrapped-up around Yaz and Shari and their mom. I think there’s a story there they all need to tell; Shari’s mom was so badly abused by your psycho father, yet she took Ricky in, his son, she took him and loved him like her own son; why? How did that even happen?”
Nicky looked quizzically at his beautiful sister.
“This is really bugging you, isn’t it, babe? Before you say anything, I know how much you care about him, he’s kinda-sorta your kid brother too, but even that doesn’t give you, me, anyone in this family the right to go rooting around inside him and maybe pulling strings best left untouched; don’t you think he needs to keep some things between himself and his maker? Every man and woman on the planet has things stirring around inside him he doesn’t want to look at too closely, things hidden in dark corners they don’t ever want to think about, why can’t Ricky have those too? Hmm?”
Ashley nodded soberly.
“He should, I’d be the first to agree with you, but maybe he needs to let some of that stuff out, too, maybe share it with us, the people who love him most in the world? The story of our family will never be complete as long as this piece of the puzzle is missing, and it’s one of the most important pieces. When Ricky came home, he brought the girls with him, and now the family’s all together, there’s all the kids, mom and dad now have, to all intents and purposes, eight kids, we’re all interconnected and joined together, then there’s that business with the charm bracelet too, so we know Barbara is still with us. We’re a clan now, as Judy likes to point out, and she’s right, but we’re only a clan because Ricky found the girls and came home to Bobby, they looked for us and found us, and that’s how this whole family-clan was born. How do we join the dots here? How did that come about?”
She tapped the tip of his nose with a pink fingertip.
“it’s important we know, baby, even Mom thinks so. There’s pain there that Ricky needs to get off his chest, deep pain, and loss, she sees it in his eyes when he sidesteps any hints about what happened. Mom can feel him hurting, it shows in so many little ways, especially whenever Yaz or Shari mention their mom, and it worries her that he’s still holding back and pushing all that pain way back down so he doesn’t have to think about it. In every way that counts, Ricky is mom’s son too, and she feels his hurt acutely. Talk to him if he’ll talk to you, Nick; help him get this out, then we can finally set the record straight. We’re only here a few more days; I really, really want to fill in the last blank spaces before we have to go home. Get Leon to help you; Rick trusts him, they’re really close, and maybe he’ll share if Leon asks him… “
Nicky rubbed his forehead gently against hers.
“OK, you’ve asked me, I’ll see what I can do tomorrow, after the great food fight, but no promises; if Ricky’s hurting like you say he is, then it’s for a reason, maybe a reason he doesn’t feel like sharing, so I’ll ask, but if he blanks me, then that’s that, got it? When we get back, you and the girls take the kids to the park or something, run them around until they drop, and see if you can get mum to go along too. I know where dad’s going to be; there’s an exhibition of medieval junk at the museum, he was saying he wanted to go take a look, and I know for certain Bobby will go with him; they’re pretty much joined at the hip. I’ll see if I can collar Rick escort bursa and get him to open up, but just think about this.”
Nicky stroked her cheek lightly, emphasising his point.
“Shari’s mother was also Ricky’s mum, the first real mother he ever had. She took him in, and she loved him unconditionally, and he loved her desperately; it shows in all sorts of ways whenever her name comes up, and losing her hit him hard, I’m guessing the way losing Barbara hit me, maybe even harder. He’d only just learned how to love her, how much she loved him, she was all he had, and then it was torn away from him; that must have left some deep scars and even deeper wounds. I know it did for me, and Ricky’s a lot like me, even I know that. However it was for him, he’s bottling it up and keeping it down inside for reasons of his own, so I’m not going to push it, not even for you, babe. People have the right to keep their private pain private, and no-one has the right to go digging for it, not you, not me, and not even Leon, not that he will, got it? Being his family still doesn’t give us any right to know what’s buried in his heart, we have no right to go dragging whatever it is he wants to keep private out into the open; that’s his to keep or share as he sees fit, you understand?”
Ashley stared at him, her eyes searching his face, then slowly nodded.
“I know, you’re right, babe; Ricky’s your kid brother, so he’s my kid brother too, and I don’t want him hurt any more than you do; if he wants to tell, let him, but don’t go scraping any raw nerves. It’s just that the five of you have such a lot of loss and hurt between you, more than any one family should have to bear, because of what your father did to all of you, and me, too, but I’ve gotten past that. Maybe it’s time you all faced your past, but yeah, you’re right; if Ricky pulls back, just leave it be, don’t go tearing off any scabs.”
Nicky grinned and jiggled her on his lap.
“And with that delightful image, I think we should get some sleep; I have a tough and toilsome morning ahead, and don’t think I didn’t notice you lot all looking the other way and whistling and sticking your fingers in your ears and going ‘la-la-la, I can’t hear you…’ at the tops of your voices when mum asked for volunteers; remember, revenge is a dish best served cold, and I will have my revenge, in this world or the next, mwahahahah!”
Ashley slid off his lap and held out her hand.
“C’mon, let’s go Nicky, I need to rub your back; how’s the Betamethasone cream helping? I saw a lot of the redness seems to be fading, does it still hurt much now?”
Nicky shrugged at the sudden twinge of pain as he thought about his injuries, about the mass of scar-tissue that was his back, raw scars inflicted by his psychopath father so many years earlier; his back had never really healed properly, never really stopped hurting, and it never would, but the pain had become so much a part of him now he barely noticed it.
“Back’s fine, babe, and yeah, the itching along some of the major scars has died down; that was a good idea dad had, I think I’ll stick with the cream, I think it’s working.”
Hand in hand, Nicky and Ashley, once upon a time brother and sister, now, husband and wife, parents, and part of a strong, solid, and deeply connected family, switched off the lights and TV, checked the windows and doors, and went to their bedroom, pausing only to look in on their two little girls, tuck them in and kiss them goodnight one more time.
Leon slumped down on the couch and glared at Nicky, while he tried to block out the sounds of mayhem as seven excited kids shrilled, gabbled, shrieked, and argued at the tops of their voices in the next room. Nicky grinned at him and saluted him semi-mockingly.
“Welcome to the wonderful world of childcare, Leon; how convinced are you about kids now?”
Leon grimaced at the thought, thinking of what Judy had to say, in-depth and at length, on the subject.
“Look, Nick, I know they’re technically my nieces and nephews; one of them’s even my sister-in-law, and I love them all like crazy, I love being ‘Unka Leon’, I love being Rachel’s big brother too, truly, and I know how crazy Judy is about all of them, but I have to be honest; today they nearly drove me batshit; it was like trying to reason with a busload of lunatics; loud, angry, attention-deficit, sugar-rushed lunatics; if Ashley and Judy are planning to get me into ‘Father-Mode’, this was not the way to do it…!”
Nicky turned his head to hide his grin; he’d figured out during their excursion with the wild-bunch exactly what Judy was doing, aided and abetted by Ashley, so he decided to help it along a little.
“And yet you’re still alive… Be honest, Lee, I don’t think we did too badly, no broken bones, we arrived home with the right number of kids, all ours, too, no innocent bystanders killed in the cross-fire, I’d call that a win! Now, if we could manage seven wild things, how hard could it be to manage just one?”
Leon cocked a suspicious eye at him.
“Have you been talking to Judy again?” he demanded, “because I’m not ready for all…this…this…lunacy, not yet; I already put my foot down with Judy…!”
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