THE MONROE HOME - LIVING ROOM
have you been a good boy while Stephanie and I were away?" Patterson asked
as he held Todd in his lap.
"He was a very good boy," Lorraine
smiled. "I stopped in and checked on him almost everyday."
"Lorraine did wonders for Todd's spirits while you
were gone," Mrs. Oliver spoke up as she brought a fresh pitcher of tea in
from the kitchen so that she could refill their glasses. "She even
bought him a new toy train."
toy train?" Patterson looked at his little brother with
over-exaggerated surprise for the child's benefit. "Lorraine, you
really shouldn't have. You're going to spoil him."
"Yes, Lorraine, you shouldn't have," Stephanie
grumbled under her breath so that neither one of them could hear.
"Well, Paddy, Todd's birthday is coming up and I'd
tucked it away for that...." She paused and looked at Todd and
smiled. "But I just couldn't wait."
Paddy!" Todd exclaimed as he jumped up out of his lap and grabbed his
hand. "It's so neat! Come look!"
"Okay, Todd, I'm coming," he laughed as Todd
kept a tight grip on his hand and drug him towards the stairs.
"Girls, I'm going to check out this neat train and I'll be back down in a
bit." He paused as his eyes darted from Lorraine to Stephanie.
"You two have a nice talk while I'm gone."
Stephanie sat in silence on the sofa until Paddy had gone
upstairs and was clearly out of hearing range. "What the devil do you
think you're doing?" she asked angrily.
"What?" Lorraine asked in shock. "I
don't know what you're talking about."
"You most certainly do know what I'm talking
I really don't think you need to use that tone," Mrs. Oliver spoke up.
"If you'll excuse us," Stephanie glared at the
housekeeper. "I'd like to speak with Lorraine in private."
"As you wish."
As Mrs. Oliver disappeared into the kitchen, Stephanie
returned her focus to Lorraine. "Who do you think you are coming over
here every day and buying Todd presents like that?"
"Stephanie, I think you're making too much out of
"Oh, I'm sure you do," she snapped.
"Why can't you mind your own business?"
"Excuse me?" Lorraine's eyes grew wide
"You heard me!"
"I'll have you know that Todd is like a little
brother to me. He's like the brother I never had!" Lorraine
quickly found her own temper starting to rise. Who the devil did Stephanie
think she was, anyway? "I care about that little boy very much."
care about him, too!"
"Oh, you only care about him because he's Paddy's
brother and you have to!" Lorraine leaned forward and stared
Stephanie right in the eyes. "I care about him because he's a
wonderful little boy who's been through entirely too much in his life. Who
do you think was there when their parents died? Me! Who do you think
held Todd's hand during the memorial service? Me! Before Mikey was
born I promised Todd that I would never leave him and that's a promise I intend
"That was before Paddy and I got married,"
Stephanie pointed out bluntly. "Paddy's my husband, now, and Todd's my
responsibility. I appreciate everything you've done for him, so far, but
you're not needed, anymore."
responsibility?" Lorraine couldn't resist the urge to laugh.
"Stephanie, in case you've forgotten, Todd doesn't like you. What
makes you think that you're going to have any sort of influence over him?"
"Well, I would if you'd just butt out!"
"That's never going to happen," Lorraine
responded firmly. "I care about that boy very much and there's not
anybody in the world who's going to stop me from caring about him. And
that includes you!"