I pull the door to the kids' bedroom close behind me and walk over to the couch. Sarah looks up to me and smiles. "That's fast."
"They were beat." I sink down in the seat next to her. Today was the first day the kids went to kindergarten and day care. Completely worn out, of course. Just like Sarah and me. I never thought that taking care of two little kids would be this demanding.
Sarah takes a sip of her coffee and plays with the pen in her hand. "You think that they liked it?"
Gabe seemed a little down when we went to pick him up. I'm not sure, honestly. "I don't know," I admit. "I mean, they've been neglected by their real parents, and now we're putting them in day care and kindergarten. They could easily think that we're trying to get rid of them as well."
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking." A stray of hair falls before her eyes and she pushes it back. When I started to think of her as Sarah, I have no idea, but now I know for sure it fits her better than Mac. Mac is the totally professional Marine I work with; Sarah the woman who is sitting next to me on the couch, worrying about the kids in the bedroom. Her eyes meet mine. "We're gonna have a problem with the rooms next week, Harm."
Yep, we are. I nod. "Yeah, I know."
"We really need to look for something else. Even if it's just for the time being." She puts her pen down. "I was thinking that we could sublet both of the apartments and rent a house somewhere. They need a back yard to play in."
Suddenly, I have the perfect idea. I jump up so unexpectedly, that Sarah almost chokes in her sip. She frowns. "What?"
"I have the perfect house for us." Grabbing the phone from the table, I dial a familiar number. The phone rings twice before someone picks it up.
"Burnett Residence."
I grin. "Hey Mom, it's me."
Needless to say that I have to keep the phone away from my ear before I turn deaf. "Darling! How are you?"
"Great Mom, thanks. Listen, is Frank around? I need to ask him something."
She's disappointed that I won't talk to her, I'm well aware of that, but I really need to get Frank's permission for what I'm about to do. If he approves, that is. "Of course, honey. Nothing serious, I hope?"
I shake my head. "Nope, nothing serious. Nothing that you have to worry about, that is."
"Hello Harm," comes Frank's voice over the phone. He actually sounds happy to hear my voice. "Your Mom tells me that there was something you needed to ask me?"
Sarah is giving me a confused look. She obviously doesn't understand why I called my Mom and Frank. I wink at her. "There is. Do you guys still own that house up in Rosslyn?"
Frank built a house in Rosslyn about a year ago, so that he and Mom didn't have to worry about a place to stay when they are in town. Frank used it a couple of times last year, but when the both of them are in La Jolla, the house is empty.
"Yes," Frank says. "Why do you ask?"
"Is it okay if I use it for a while?"
The both of them are confused, just like Sarah, but for different reasons. "I guess so. Why do you need it?"
How do you explain to your parents that you're living with your partner from work to take care of two (soon to be, three) neglected kids? Well, there is one simple explanation. The truth. Mom will probably freak out, though. I start to twist Sarah's pen between my fingers. "Are the two of you sitting down?" When they confirm, I continue. "About ten days ago, a friend of Sarah and me, called. I told you about her, Ellen Harrison? The friend who has a foster home? Anyway, they put two extra kids in her care, but since Ellen already has eight kids to take care of, she asked us if we would look after the other two for the time being. At least until CPS has found a family for them." It's complete silent on the other end of the line, so I opt to go on. Probably the safest thing to do; knowing Mom. "We've been staying at Sarah's apartment for the past week, but the place is kind of small for four. Especially since the baby can be born anytime now." Damn, that came out wrong. Get your foot out of your mouth, Hammer. But Mom heard me. "A baby? Harmon Rabb Jr., what have you been holding out on me?"
Sarah starts to laugh when she hears the tone of my moms voice and puts the phone on speaker. "Mom…" I try to interrupt without success.
"You and this… Sarah are expecting a baby, and you haven't told me? What in the world is wrong with you? Are you going to get married?"
I roll my eyes at Sarah, who is really having trouble keeping her laughter suppressed. "Mom, will you slow down? That came out wrong. Mac and I are…"
Nope, no success either. "You and Mac? I thought you and Sarah were having a baby? You're not cheating on your girlfriend, or fiancée or whatever she is to you, are you Harmon?"
I made one stupid comment, and now I won't live it down. Why am I so completely capable of delivering perfect closing arguments in court, but do I have trouble saying the right things to my mother? I really don't get myself. "Mom, slow down and listen to me, okay? First, I'm not cheating on anyone. I don't even have a girlfriend, I'm not engaged to anyone, and I'm not married either. Second, Sarah and Mac are one and the same person. Third: what I was trying to say about the baby came out wrong. Well, it didn't come out wrong, you understood wrong. The thing is, Gabe and Noa's mom is almost nine months pregnant with number three, and since they don't have any rights anymore, and Sarah and I already have Gabe and Noa, we're going to take care of their baby sibling too. That's all, okay?"
It stays quiet for a while. "Well son, it looks like you can use the house a whole lot better than we can right now."
Thank you for someone with a little reason. Didn't I say that Mom was going to freak out? "Are you sure it's no trouble? I mean, I might change a couple of things here and there…"
Franks starts to laugh. Why is everybody laughing at me? I'm being totally serious here. "Harm, the house is barely furnished. Do with it whatever you want. Your Mom didn't finish decorating. And all I've needed while I'm over there is a bed. You've got enough room to set up a nursery, give both of the kids their own room, have a play room and an office. I'll send a check to cover the expenses."
He's going to do what? "Frank, you don't have to do that. We're perfectly capable…"
"Harmon, will you please shut up? The house needs to be finished, and I was going to pay for that anyway, since it's my house, so now that you're finishing up, I'm sending you a check. Understood?"
Sarah is staring at the telephone now. She can't believe it anymore than I can. "Are you really sure?"
"I'm really sure. Do you have a key?"
I'm supposed to have a key somewhere, yes. "I believe so."
"Use it. From now on, the house is all yours."
God, thank you for such wonderful parents. Thank you for stepfathers. Thank you for a whole lot of other things. "Thank you, Frank."
I thought I had it all covered, but apparently, my mother thinks otherwise. "Harmon, have you thought about everything? Especially since you're going to take care of a baby, you're going to need a lot…"
Sarah and I went over that about three days ago. Figured that we were going to need a whole lot of stuff. For the kids and for the baby. "Yes, Mom. Sar and I went over that a couple of days ago. We're going shopping tomorrow." Had to take an extra day off for that. It better be worth it.
"Good." Now she suddenly sounds pleased. Just a moment ago she was angry with me, and now she's pleased? Am I ever going to understand women? Do I want to understand women?
I sigh. "I gotta go. Thanks for letting us use the house, Frank. We'll turn it into a nice place."
Sarah shakes her head at me as I say goodbye to Mom. "He's sending us a check to cover expenses? What does he mean with that?"
Knowing Frank… I put the phone down. "That means that he's sending a lot of money to make sure the house is comfortable. Enough to make it the way we want to."
She plays with a strand of hair now and grins. "Your Mom flipped for a minute there, didn't she?"
Will someone please cut me some slack? Okay, it was a stupid thing to say, especially since I hadn't explained the whole situation yet, but do they need to drag it on? I shrug, pretending that it's no big deal. "I should've explained before I said it."
She nods and starts to gather her papers. "You should've." She chuckles; she has to be repeating that conversation in her head again.
“Sar, it’s not that funny,” I protest, hands on my hips. When she looks at me, she starts to laugh out loud. Oh heaven, now I’m sure I won’t live it down. Not ever. My mother gave me a hard time and now Sarah won’t stop laughing… You really did a great job, Rabb. Sarah puts her papers away and kisses my cheek. “Don’t worry, Harm. You’ll always be my hero.”
With that, she goes over to the couch and plumps down. And I wonder what I ever did to deserve her in my life.

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