Anne and George both got up early the next morning to fix breakfast for everyone. After getting Robbie ready and placing him in his high chair, Anne went to wake up Ashley.
"Wake up, Ashley," she said as she gently shook her daughter's shoulder. Ashley rolled over to look at her mother, confused as to why she'd be waking her up. "Come into the kitchen for a moment then you can go back to sleep if you want." Anne waited by the door to make sure Ashley was following her before heading back into the kitchen. Amy had already gotten herself and John up and ready for the day and was heading down the stairs as Anne and Ashley made their way into the kitchen. Amy was surprised to see Ashley up that early and the look on her sister's face told her she wasn't up because she wanted to be.
"Alright girls your father and I have something to tell you," Anne began. The sisters looked at each other, silently trying to ask the other if she knew what was going on. "Until this family gets back on track we're going to be having dinner together as a family every night, and we expect both of you to contribute to the conversation. Any questions?" Anne looked from one daughter to the next and Ashley shook her head. Amy bit her lip.
"Um, actually could we make an exception for Wednesdays and weekends?"
"Why?" Anne asked her.
"Ricky and I decided to have dinner as a family over at his apartment on Wednesdays this summer so we could get to know each other better and Margaret and Shakur want me to have dinner with them once or twice a month so I can get to know them better too." Everyone was a little surprised at Amy's announcement. Anne did some quick thinking.
"Alright, Amy. We'll eat dinner without you and John on Wednesdays and whatever night you have dinner with Margaret and Shakur. And it's only fair that we give Ashley one night a week when she doesn't have to eat with us too. Fair enough?" Anne looked at each of her family members and everyone nodded. "Okay then. Ashley, breakfast is ready if you wanna eat now but if not I can fix you a plate and leave it in the fridge for you to heat up later."
"Sounds good," Ashley said just before she yawned. "I'm going back to bed," she announced and left the kitchen. Anne, George, and Amy sat down at the kitchen table to eat their breakfast while the boy's enjoyed theirs from their high chairs.
"Ames," George said.
"Your mom and I talked last night about the conversations we've had with you recently and I just wanna let you know that we're all on the same page now."
"And we're gonna work at being better parents. How does that sound to you?" Anne asked. Amy smiled.
"So is there anyone else you're gonna have a heart-to-heart with?" George asked, genuinely curious. Amy nodded.
"I wanna talk to Grace and Jack next and then I need to talk to Adrian." George and Anne looked at each other with surprise.
"You don't have to if you don't want to, Ames," George was quick to reassure her. "Don't you think you've heard enough of what she has to say?"
"Dad, I need to talk to her, but it won't be anytime soon." George breathed a sigh of relief. He and Anne finished their breakfast and got ready to head off to work for the day. They hugged and kissed Amy and John before leaving and Amy placed a kiss on her little brother's cheek. Amy finished her breakfast and checked her watch. She still had a few minutes before she needed to leave for work so she decided to make some phone calls, starting with Grace. She hadn't expected Grace to be up yet and was prepared to leave a voice mail but Grace picked up after the third ring.
"Oh, hi Grace. I didn't think you'd be up this early."
"Things get started pretty early here at Med Camp. What's up?"
"I wanted to talk to you about some things and I was wondering when you'll be back from camp so we can meet up and talk."
"Well, I'm here for three more weeks but I have free time at night when we could talk if you didn't wanna wait."
"Okay, sure. John's usually down for the night about 8:00. Could you talk then?"
"Yeah. Lights out isn't until 10:00 so we can talk for a bit."
"Sounds good. I'll talk to you tonight, Grace."
"Kay. Talk to you later, Amy." Although Amy really wanted to talk to Grace face-to-face, she didn't really wanna wait three more weeks. Plus, thankfully she didn't have a lot to ask or say to Grace so this could work. One more conversation to schedule this week Amy thought to herself as she again pulled out her parents' directory. She flipped until she found the number for Reverend Stone and dialed the number.
"Community Church, this is Georgia speaking. How may I help you?"
"My name is Amy Juergens and I was wondering if Revered Stone was available."
"One moment please." Amy waited as Georgia went to see if he was around, and he was because she was patched through to his phone.
"Hello, Amy. What can I do for you," the reverend asked.
"Hello. I just have a question for you and a request to make."
"Alright. What's your question?"
"Why did you offer me a job at the nursery?"
"Well, because my son informed me that you needed a job so you could keep your baby and I had a job available. Are you unhappy working at the nursery, Amy?" She chuckled.
"No, it's nothing like that. I was just wondering why you decided to help me when you didn't have to and you had nothing to gain by it." This time the reverend chuckled.
"Believe it or not, Amy, there are still some people out there who believe in helping others and don't expect or want anything in return, Christians or not."
"I don't think I've ever thanked you for helping me so I'd like to formally say thank you for giving me my job, Reverend Stone."
"You're very welcome, Amy. Now didn't you say there was also a request you wanted to make?"
"Yes. I'd like to also formally thank Jack for enlisting your help to help me but I don't know his cell number. I was wondering if you'd be willing to give it to me."
"Well, since he hasn't given it to you already I'm not really comfortable giving it to you but I'll give you our home phone number and you can call to speak with him whenever you'd like. Although I should tell you that he's at football camp for three more weeks."
"Alright, and I don't mind waiting three more weeks to speak to him." Reverend Stone gave Amy his home phone number and she put it in her phone. A thought occurred to him.
"Does Jack have your cell number?"
"I don't think so. Why?"
"He calls home from camp once a week. I was just thinking that if he called I could tell him you wanted to speak to him and suggest that he call your cell. But if he doesn't have your number I'll suggest he call your house and speak to you. Thank way you won't have to wait three weeks if you don't want to."
"I'd appreciate that and having him call my house would be fine."
"Alright, will do. Is there anything else I can do for you today, Amy?"
"No, thank you. You've been very helpful. Well, I've gotta get to work. Bye Reverend Stone."
"Bye, Amy, and have a good day." Amy hung up and gathered her bags and John to head off to work. The day passed by quickly and it was time to head home for the day before Amy knew it. For the second time that week Amy sat down with her parents and siblings to eat dinner and they had a pleasant conversation. Both of her parents had interesting stories to tell from their day at work, Amy shared anecdotes about the kids at the nursery and Ashley contributed some interesting things she'd learned that day while watching Animal Planet. Who knew jellyfish could get stuck in aquarium filters if their fish tanks weren't designed just right. They worked together to clear the table and clean up the dinner dished before going their separate ways to get ready for bed. Anne and Amy bathed John and Robbie together to save some time and after a splashtastic half an hour the boys were tuckered out enough to go down for the night without a fuss. Amy had just finished getting ready for bed when her phone rang at exactly 8:10. Amy got comfortable on her bed before answering.
"Hi, Amy. How are you?"
"I'm good, thanks. How's med camp?
"It's great. I'm so glad I came back. So, what did you wanna talk about?"
"Well first I wanted to formally say thank you for getting me my job."
"You don't have to thank me for that."
"Yes, I do, and I want to. Grace, if you hadn't helped me find a job I would've had to give my son up for adoption simply because I couldn't afford to take care of him. That was the only reason I was considering adoption in the first place and I'll forever be grateful to you for helping me, especially considering that your dad and my mom didn't get along and you didn't even really know me. So thank you, Grace."
"Amy, I could see that you wanted to keep your baby and I just wanted to do something to help you. Thanks aren't necessary but if you need to hear the words then, you're welcome." Amy chuckled.
"Is that all you wanted to talk about." Amy sighed.
"No. I also wanted to ask a couple of questions."
"Why did you tell Adrian my dad lied about his vasectomy?" Grace wasn't prepared for her question and was quiet for a few moments. "Grace?"
"Well…I….it was a huge secret and…..well…..I just had this desire to tell somebody…anybody really…..and well…..Adrian was the first person I ran into…I'm not usually one to gossip, Amy, I just….I don't know….," Grace rambled nervously. "Are you mad at me for what I did? 'Cuz I wasn't trying to gossip on purpose I just…couldn't help myself at the time. I mean, my dad had just died and I didn't know if I believed in God anymore and I was mad at Jack for making me feel like I had to go against my dad's wishes because my dad died that same night and then your dad was being so nice by letting me vent and then suddenly my problems weren't so important anymore and, well…"
"Grace, are you done rambling?" Amy asked with a chuckle. Amy heard Grace swallow.
"I think so. So are you mad at me or something?"
"No, Grace. I was just curious as to why you'd let my dad's secret get out around school." Grace sighed.
"I didn't mean to hurt you or your family, Amy."
"I believe you, Grace," Amy said with another chuckle.
"Why are you asking me about this now?"
"When I got back from New York I decided to remove the drama from my life by severing all ties to people in my life that I can't trust or who keep hurting me. The problem was that I wasn't sure who I could and couldn't trust so I've been having conversations with everyone so I could figure that out."
"And you aren't sure if you can trust me because I gossiped about your dad?" Grace asked her nervously. Amy sighed.
"I believe you helped me because you wanted to and I also believe you weren't thinking it through when you told my dad's secret. The problem I have, Grace, is that your actions caused more problems for me and I'm not sure if I can trust you as a friend and tell you what's going on in my life or if we're just going to be acquaintances."
"Hang on. What problems did I cause?" Grace asked, genuinely curious and a little confused.
"Well, when Adrian found out my dad was Robbie's father she approached him to sell his house to her parents so she could spy on me and Ricky. If she hadn't known my parents were thinking of reconciling for Robbie's sake she never would've known my dad's house might be for sale and then moved in next door and started spying on me, not to mention her mother was the woman my dad had an affair with." Grace gasped.
"Oh, Amy, I didn't think about that! I'm so sorry!"
"Grace, I know and I forgive you. Bottom line is that we're gonna have to spend some time really getting to know each other before I can be sure I can trust you enough to call you a friend."
"Oh. Okay," Grace responded a little downcast.
"There's one other question I wanna ask you, Grace."
"How'd you find out I was pregnant with Ricky's baby?" She had to think back for a moment.
"Jack told me."
"He was mad at me for comparing him to Ricky?"
"I'd just found out that Jack had lied about just kissing Adrian and they'd actually had oral sex. I confronted them and told Jack I was glad I'd met a nice guy like Ricky. He got mad at me and said maybe I should ask my nice friend Ricky if he was the father of your baby."
"So Adrian found out the same time you did?"
"I think so. I mean, she looked as surprised as I did when Jack said that. Wait, are you gonna be mad at Jack for telling me you were pregnant?" Grace asked quickly, nervous that she's just gotten someone else on Amy's bad side. Amy guessed why Grace was suddenly nervous again and chuckled.
"No, Grace. I already know how news of my pregnancy got out at school. I was just curious as how everyone in our little twisted circle of friends found out. I already know how Jack found out." Grace let out a sigh of relief and Amy tried hard not to smile, even though she knew Grace couldn't see her.
"So I guess we'll talk when I get back?"
"Yeah, we'll talk when you get back. Goodnight, Grace."
"Goodnight, Amy." She ended the call and stared at her phone for several minutes. She didn't realize that her actions were the reason Adrian had moved in next door to Amy. Maybe I'm not such a good friend or Christian after all. Grace decided to call her mother since she still had some time before lights out.
"Hi, Grace. How's Med Camp?" her mom asked.
"It's fine but I'm calling to ask you something."
"Do you think that if you accidentally do something to hurt your friend and you're truly sorry that they should forgive you?"
"Well, if it's a strong friendship than most of the time hurt feelings disappear on their own after a little while. Why do you ask?"
"I just talked to Amy and found out I did something that sorta upset her a while ago but she wasn't ready to talk to me about it until now. I'm just wondering if you think she'll forgive me if I sincerely apologize because I'm really sorry for hurting her without realizing it."
"What did you do?"
"Well….I kinda spilled the beans about her dad not really getting a vasectomy." Kathleen was stunned for a moment.
"Grace, how did you even find that out?" Grace cleared her throat.
"He told me."
"He what!? Why would he do that?"
"He was trying to make me feel better about sleeping with Jack and then dad dying by telling me he had bigger problems than I thought I had. And it worked because I thought my problems weren't a big deal anymore and I kinda told Adrian, who kinda talked George into selling her parents his house so she could spy on Ricky and Amy."
"Oh, Grace. You had no way of knowing that was going to happen so if Amy's angry at you for something you had no control over than I think you should just give her some time to deal with her anger, and eventually she'll see that having Adrian as a neighbor wasn't your fault."
"But that's just it, mom. Amy's not mad at me, she doesn't know if she can trust me to be a true friend to her! I thought I was becoming a better person but it's like you said, your past always catches up with you and what if I don't deserve Amy's friendship because deep down I'm not a good person?"
"Grace, listen to me. We're all human and we all make mistakes and poor decisions. That doesn't make us bad people, especially if we realize we've messed up and are truly sorry for our actions. If you truly want to be Amy's friend then just give her some time, sweetheart." Grace took a deep breath.
"That's what Amy said. She said we'd talk and spend some time getting to know each other to see if we could really be friends or just acquaintances."
"Well that sounds like a good idea. Don't stress yourself about it, honey. Just enjoy the rest of camp and deal with Amy when you come home."
"Okay. Thanks, mom."
"Goodnight." Grace ended the call with her mother and felt a lot better. She wondered if she should call Adrian and let her know Amy was upset that her parents had bought George's house but quickly squashed that idea. If we're gonna become better friends I need to start by not talking about her behind her back. She finished getting ready for bed and then climbed under her covers. Starting tomorrow I'm gonna be a better friend to all of my friends.