Andi and Allie - 28

Andi and Allie - Chapter 28

Things that go bump in the day!!!

We managed to escape around eight thirty. We were too engaged with some of the guests who arrived simply to see the work. Bob and his people did an excellent job of advertising the showing but the result on that day was a surplus of people…strollers…who wandered in after dinner. This was their evening’s entertainment.

Of course the entire following week I was walking on…dast I say it…water? Air would have been too easy? I felt as though the fates had predetermined to make amends for my ‘childhood not’ period. Bob called me on Tuesday all freaked out.

“An anonymous buyer wants your self-portrait. I was told to name my price.”

I could hear the near panic in Bob’s voice.

“Who called then?”

“Susan Scoville…?”

I was floored. I wasn’t so sure Susan didn’t want that piece for herself. I mean… I didn’t particularly want it out of my hands for a few reasons. It was a visage of me at my worst. I didn’t think it was that good a piece anyway regardless of what Allie and Bob…and everybody else thought. There was only one thing to do.

“Let me make a call and get back to you sweet heart.”

“Okay… But please…” Bob was pleading? “Don’t sit on this one Andi.”

“I won’t. I promise Bob. I just need to make a call…or two.”

After assuring Bob I wouldn’t forget, several times I might add, I immediately called Susan.

“Yes my darling girl… Somebody wants to buy that painting and I was informed you could name your price. She doesn’t seem to care about the money.” Susan chuckled. “And believe me honey…she really doesn’t.”

28-1A IMG_2349.png“A woman wants to buy it?”

“Yes… Does that surprise you?” Susan’s voice sounded a bit odd…almost chilled?

“I’m simply trying to recall if any women other than you and the others I knew seemed interested.”

“Heavens no…” Susan laughed which made me feel somewhat relieved. “I actually sent her a picture from my phone. She was otherwise involved that evening so I didn’t hear back from her until today.”

“So you know her?” I was so very eager to find out who this woman was.

“Yes… Of course you silly rabbit… But I should really be speaking with your wife, shouldn’t I?”

“Ummm…” My what…?

“You’d best grow accustomed to that dear. After all, you two will become wife and wife I’m sure.”

Susan chuckled as I began to panic and melt down. Although the thought of marriage had crossed my mind more than a few times to be sure, hearing it from someone else made it seem…tangible…even inevitable? There could be such a thing…wife and wife? Hmmm…

“She’s the one who talk’s price and money…honey.” Susan giggled. “As it should be... Is she at home?”

“Ummm…”

I was definitely overwhelmed and overcome with a lot of different and conflicting emotions. I simply stood there with the phone frozen to my ear. I was trembling.

“Oh…” Susan chuckled. “Just have her call me sweet heart. And please… Take a deep breath and do have a glass of wine.”

Susan, as usual, was right. And that’s exactly what I did once we finished speaking. I sipped my wine and waited patiently for my Allie to come home. And while I waited I began thinking about us and us forever. It’s not like I hadn’t considered this topic in the past. It’s just that Susan was probably right. Was our union inevitable?

When I heard Allie at the door I literally ran to open it. My poor love looked exhausted. Her shoulders drooped and she could barely manage a smile as I quickly took her bags from her hands.

“I think life is catching up to me.” Allie spoke in a whisper.

She simply sat down on the antique loveseat near the door. I sat down next to her and grasped her hands.

“I took a cab home. I just couldn’t see myself waiting for the train or bus. And I spent the entire day just trying to stay awake and get some work done.” She took her hands from mine and hugged me to her. “I’m too tired to eat. I just want to get undressed, washed, and go straight to bed.”

I could hear her verging on tears. There was no way I could, or would, ask her to call Susan. I held her for a few moments and then helped her up. We walked; actually I led her, pulled her, into our bedroom.

After helping her undress and wash up from the day, I put my poor Allie into our bed. I went to the kitchen to prepare her at least a few munchables. At this point in time, poor Allie was either feast or famine. I mean she sometimes couldn’t eat enough and other times…nothing. However, she couldn’t get enough chocolate in any available form or quality. She desired double Dutch chocolate ice cream most of all.

I brought the tea cart in with its top loaded with whatever I could find and throw together easily. Allie, with the blanket drawn up to her chin, just looked at me adoringly and smiled.

“You really should have something.” I said as I poured her a glass full of juice.

“Yeah…”

Allie sighed as she sat up against the headboard and allowed me to spread out a bath towel on her covered lap.

“So…” She gazed at me and giggled. “How was your day dear?”

“Ummm…” I hesitated to tell Allie about Susan’s call before she ate anything. “I got an interesting call from Bob.”

“Oh…?” Allie took the plate with some fruit and cheese with a sliced baguette. “And what did he want?”

“Well…?” I hesitated for a moment until Allie at least took a bite. “He said there was a buyer for the self-portrait.”

“Well…? You don’t want to sell it.”

“He said the caller told him to name his price.”

“Really…!” Allie laughed. “Tell Bob you want two and a half million for it.”

“Ummm…”

I waited until she had another piece of bread and cheese before continuing. I sat down on the bed and took a piece of cut fruit for myself.

“The buyer, for whatever reason, wants to remain anonymous. But the woman who called him was Susan.”

“Oh my God…! You’re kidding!” Allie’s eyes opened wide and a huge grin was on her face.

“No… Seriously…! So I called her back but she won’t discuss this with me. She wanted to speak to you.”

“Well…? Give me my phone.” Allie laughed as she wolfed down a piece of the cut meats. “I’ve got to find out what’s going on.”

Allie suddenly became very animated as she virtually ripped her phone out of my hands and speed dialed Susan. As she waited she bit into another piece of bread and cheese.

“Am I disturbing you?” Allie spoke as she chewed and swallowed. Then she laughed. “No… I’m just having a bite to eat. I am so tired these days. I’m not sure whether it’s a slow recovery from the show or simply the second trimester blues.”

Allie listened for a short time and then laughed. She and Susan seemed to be having just a normal conversation between a mother and a mother to be. I sat and fidgeted with my hands as Allie suddenly handed me the plate and mouthed that she wanted more bread and cheese.

I handed her the glass of juice which she sat upon her nightstand. She laughed again as I filled her plate once more and gave it back to her. I felt like a child whose mother was on the phone with the teacher. As if… Finally…FINALLY… They got down to it.

“Well… You know Andi didn’t even want to show that piece.” Allie listened intently for a brief moment. “Oh… She felt to…exposed…too naked. You know?” Allie laughed at whatever Susan said. “I was thinking about two and a half million for it. I mean… If she really wants it that much...”

I didn’t believe Allie actually said that price! I was truly stunned. In fact I was suddenly breathless. I mean a work of mine selling for that…that ridiculous price?

“Yeah… You’re so right. So… Maybe four…?”

Now what? They chatted for a bit longer about something totally unrelated as I sat dying to know what was going on with my work…and my world for that matter. Finally Allie bid Susan a good night and put down her phone.

“Okay sweet heart… It’s all settled. May I have a bit more to drink?”

I could have strangled Allie at that moment. I filled Allie’s glass and handed it back to her.

“So what’s the deal?” I asked so anxious.

“Oh…” Allie giggled. “I forgot about Bob’s cut. So we decided on four million. That way you’ll get your two and a half. We need to start thinking about a new arrangement with Bob.”

I sat with my mouth agape and my eyes wide opened. I must have looked quite the sight because Allie simply giggled as she gazed at me.

“Well I think it’s fair. I mean… You didn’t even want to show it.” Allie giggled and tossed a bit of cheese into her luscious mouth. “And… Susan said we could announce the sale of the piece as long as the buyer’s name isn’t mentioned.”

I still could say nothing. I simply couldn’t absorb the fact that anyone would pay that amount for a painting from a…a virtual ‘newbe’ in the fine art community. Far more renowned artists sold their work for less…much less. The expression on my face said it all.

“Oh baby doll…” Allie sighed and smiled maternally. She reached over to hug me. “Don’t fight it. Just go with it.”

‘Don’t fight it. Just go with it.’ Those were nearly the same words Susan said to me. And they were very true. I was fighting it…and myself. I had such a fear of letting go; of anything and everything. I was fighting my gender and sexual identity. I was fighting my urges when I was around Peter. And most of all…I was fighting Allie; her plans for us…for our destinies as one.

I hugged her in turn and just let go. The tears flowed down my cheeks as easily as my pens slid across a sheet of stock. I buried my face into her very soft shoulder and neck. Her warmth was so very comforting and reassuring. Mommy was kissing her baby’s metaphysical scrape and making it all better.

When I told Peter about the sale the following day he was nearly as stunned as I was.

“I have to be honest with you.” His face had his most serious appearance. “It’s a magnificent work. But I wouldn’t have gone over half a million.”

“Really…? I can’t believe that anyone would pay that much for what I do.”

I felt like crying again. I was doing a lot of that lately.

“You have an extraordinary gift Andi. I wouldn’t fight it. I envy you.”

Once again I’m being told not to fight it. I wish I knew how. I wish I knew how to forget my confusion and anger. Really the only time I can is when I’m working.

“I will tell you one thing.” Peter leaned forward and placed his elbows on his desktop. “If Susan knows the buyer…and the buyer lives in the city…it’s got to be one of the members of her club.”

Again… The mysterious club…

“They’re the only ones who would have that kind of money. I mean there are other big money collectors, and a few were at your opening night, but they would have jumped on it had they known it was for sale.”

“But that’s kind of the point. Isn't it? I mean it wasn't for sale.” I was both curious and slightly upset. Was I really that mercenary?

“Well…” Peter laughed. “Count yourself lucky and please…” He folded his hands as if he was praying. “Don’t leave your day job before the Scoville account is finished. And just keep listening to your...muse.” He chuckled.

Peter was right. Allie was right. Susan was right. Jill was right. Hmmm…

Anyway… Bob brought over two checks at the end of the week. The showing amounted to a little over nine hundred thousand dollars, which pleased him to no end. And the big check for the self-portrait. A team of movers came and crated the work right on the spot and brought it to an undisclosed address in Manhattan. I was now officially a millionaire. Sacred feces…!!!

“The last time I sold a painting for a comparable amount… It was a Lichtenstein.” Bob said as he spoke wide eyed…and in shock.

The phone call came on a Sunday around noon. Allie had our phones. I never answered my phone when I was working and poor Allie was exceptionally sensitive to the stench of my oils during her second trimester.

When Allie came down to the studio with my phone I knew something was terribly wrong. She had a very solemn expression on her face.

“It’s the police Andi.” She gingerly handed me the phone. “It’s about your mom.”

I knew immediately what the call was about. This was the proverbial shoe that I knew someday would drop. I only wished it didn’t happen so soon; not before I could find out who my father was. I put the call on speaker so that Allie could hear.

“Hello…?” I spoke quite warily.

“Is this…” there was a very brief pause. “…Andrew Di Angelo?” The woman’s voice was soft.

“Yes…?” ‘Andrew’…? The name sounded so…foreign…so…estranged?

“My name is Detective Connors of the Bakersfield Police Department. I’m afraid I have some very bad news for you.”

I said nothing. I didn’t know what to say to the news I knew was coming.

“We found your mother in an apartment she was sharing with two other people. She apparently died from a drug overdose.”

I sighed and hung my head. This wasn’t exactly unexpected. But still… Allie came to my side and hugged me around the waist.

<28-2a IMG_2355.png“When did she die?”

I knew it had to take them some time to locate me.

“The estimated time of death was around midnight four days ago. We needed to perform an autopsy and it took me some time to find you once we identified her. I’m very sorry for your loss.”

My loss..? I lost her years ago. In truth I never really had her. She was simply not available.

“Do I need to come out there…for anything?” I asked numbly.

“Well… We do need to furnish you with her death certificate and you’ll need to claim the body. But if you wish, a notarized statement of your identity and where you live is really all that’s necessary. You will need to make some kind of arrangements for the disposition of her body.”

The disposition of her body… Just what would I do with her body? I had no idea of even where to begin. Allie was listening to the conversation. She gazed at me. She put her hands upon my shoulders. I felt…supported.

“Would you like to have her cremated? That’s usually the least expensive and involved process. Unless you want to have her buried…” Allie’s hands never left my shoulder.

I saw no point in burying her. I mean it’s not like I’d go and visit her grave or something. She meant so little in her life to me, why should she mean anything in death. I let Allie deal with this as I nodded my head in approval. Allie took the phone from my trembling hand.

Allie seemed to always be one step ahead of me in the everyday sort of stuff. What’s that stuff called? Life…? Anyway, after she explained who she was, Allie and the Detective Connors worked out a suitable plan of action.

My mother would be cremated at the mortuary recommended by Connors and her remains shipped to me. The death certificate would be sent out as soon as a notarized statement of identity and address could be furnished.

The mortuary bill came to a grand total cost of five hundred dollars for everything including the shipping of the ashes. After Allie explained she was a potter, they reluctantly understood why I didn’t need their fifteen hundred dollar urn. And so it was done. I had only one regret about the entire…mess.

28-3 IMG_2325.jpg“I really wish I knew who my father was.”

I began to cry.

This was a problem for me. His name was not listed on my birth certificate. And knowing my mother and her…habits, I began to doubt she even knew. I had always wondered and even attempted several times to ask her. But the back of her hand always gave the only answer she cared to give. I had no choice but to accept her answer.

“Well…” Allie hugged my head to her boobs which I always found comforting. “We could hire a private detective I suppose. Maybe they could find him through your DNA.”

“Hmmm…” Hmmm… “How do we find someone who can do that? I mean… Where do we go?”

“Well…?” Allie bent and kissed the top of my head. “I could certainly ask Jill and I’m sure Susan would know of someone.”

“Yeah… Maybe I’ll ask Peter?” I knew he had resources for all sorts of things.

And so the great search ensued. Peter expressed his sympathy upon hearing about my mother and I graciously accepted. He knew that I really had no relationship with her. But Peter, always the man of great propriety when it came to…delicate matters, was sympathetic none the less. He gave me the name of a detective agency and the particular detective he’d used on more than several occasions; usually involving matters of the heart.

As the fates would have it, both Susan and Jill provided Allie with the very same name. Sean McCann was an incredibly imposing man. He had the facial appearance of what is a typical New York City Irish cop. His hair was white and his complexion ruddy. His piercing blue eyes seemed to see everything; hidden and overt. He had the build of an Olympic weight lifter; a very heavy weight lifter.

His office was lavishly appointed complete with various degrees of higher education and various certificates of merit and honors. One wall was decorated with pictures of renowned people and famous celebrities that one could assume he either worked for or knew. In light of all three of the recommendations, I could easily assume this.

Mister McCann graciously seated us in the two winged back leather covered chairs that were placed in front of his large imposing desk. After having coffee brought in and served to us, he folded his hands and leaned forward with his arms on his desk. His steely blue eyes focused upon us both as he spoke.

“It seems like everybody who is anybody in the city has called me about you two.” His smile was truly warm and it reflected in the softening of his gaze. “I won’t be able to show my face around town if I don’t take you two on as a client.” He chuckled.

28-4 IMG_2324.jpg“How can I help you?”

I went on to relate the entire sordid tale. Allie held my hand the entire time. It was difficult to tell everything to a complete stranger but I simply felt that this man would not only hold my tale in confidence, he could sympathize with me.

Mister McCann listened very closely and attentively. His eyes never left mine and I could see that he was gauging my accuracy and, perhaps, my honesty. I could only image some of the tales he must have heard during his career. After I finished, he sat back in his oversized winged back chair and, with his palms down on his desk, smiled.

“Well… I think we can help you in your quest.” My heart skipped a beat or two. Could this be? “Generally speaking… It’s not unusual for addicts to be in codependent relationships. And it’s also not uncommon for their DNA to be on record somewhere due to perhaps a hospital visit or even a clinic visit for drug related diseases.”

Mister McCann was professional enough to maintain his serious demeanor. After all, what we wanted could have serious implications for me. I very well might have an entire ‘other’ family to reject me…or accept me…or even openly welcome me.

“My normal fees are fifteen hundred dollars a day plus expenses.”

Sacred feces…!!!

“But since I don’t anticipate anything unusual…in other words…the DNA sample should do it, we’ll simply charge for the expenses of the analysis and for running the results.” He gazed upward for a moment. “This usually comes to about five hundred dollars.” He smiled quite graciously. “We use a very good lab so the results should only take…oh…perhaps two or three days to run. The time varies depending upon how many data bases we need to hit. If he’s not in a data base, there are other means but at that point the meter starts running.”

I became quite excited. I was actually bouncing up and down slightly in my seat. Allie giggled.

“I guess you made someone happy today.” She laughed as she spoke to Mister McCann.

“I only wish I could do that once every day.” Mister McCann quipped. “Usually my clients are requesting…well…confirmation of wrong doings?”

After being taken to another part of the offices, we entered a door into what appeared to be a modern chemistry or biology lab. There were several technicians working and tons of equipment scattered across dark stone counter tops. Computer terminals were all over the place. One of the techs swabbed the inside of my mouth and placed the swab into a tube. He marked it and the process began.

After a few final encouraging words from Mister McCann, we were on our way. Fortunately our appointment was first thing in the morning and his offices were located in midtown. Allie and I kissed and we went off to our respective jobs. And of course I had to spend at least ten minutes with Rhona and another ten with Peter informing them of the latest adventures of Allie and myself.

I was a mess by the time I got home. Working was next to impossible. I simply couldn’t focus or concentrate. I spent more time on the phone with Susan, Jill, and of course my Allie than I did with the task at hand. Fortunately all of the critical designs were finished for both major projects.

Allie was of great comfort. She understood my anxiety over…everything. She met me at the door with glass of white wine and a kiss. She arrived home before me and was only partially changed. I joined her in our bedroom and we both washed and changed into our comfort clothing.

Allie, of late, has been tiring easily and leaving work a bit early. On those days when she could be spared she worked from the apartment. And although she seemed to have lost her tremendous desire for sex, she more than compensated by her need for an unusual amount of comforting and easing. I felt truly needed and relished those moments in time.

We were on the couch in the cave. Allie was nestled in my arms leaning back against me. We were kind of staring at a wonderous candle sculpture that we purchased from the maker. It was an elaborate candelabra with the arms emanating from the one center post. I was still sipping my wine and Allie had her fruit juice. A piano étude played softly.

“This entire thing is so weird…you know?” I sighed.

“Yeah baby doll…” Allie drew my arms tighter around her.

“For years I’ve wondered about whom he was and did I get anything from him other than this nose.” I giggled nervously. “Do you think he’d want to see me? Do you think he even knows?”

“Oh… I don’t know sweet heart.” Allie brought my hands to her lips and kissed them very gently. “You never know with people. I mean… Wouldn’t it be enough just to know he really existed? Would you really need to meet him?”

“Yeah… I would. I would want to know if there’s anybody else out there…you know? I mean you are my only family. All the others I know, Peter and Jill and Bob and the gang make me feel like I’m part of something? But it would be really nice to know that I’m not the last of my kind.” I sighed.

But in truth I felt sad and, in spite of Allie’s presence, I felt very alone. At least when my mother was alive there was a thread; thin as it may have been. But now there was nothing. I felt like my entire past, whatever family history I might have had, was written off the face of the world forever.

The next day was little better. I stared into my coffee as I half listened to Rhona go on and on about something; some new hem style? But my mind was back upon the question at my very core.

“Be careful what you wish for.” Peter chuckled. “You could wind up with relatives like Allie’s parents. Or even worse…” Peter laughed. “They could be like my relatives; always conniving and scheming over money…usually mine.”

“Well… At least I’d know.”

And then I got into the thought of my mother being shipped back to me in a very small, very cheap box. How totally apropos...! That night I sat with Allie relating all my misgivings.

“Maybe you could use the ashes like grog or something. Or maybe I could work the ashes into a color? I mean…would ‘dead mommy Gray’ work?” I sighed sadly.

“Oh Andi… Please…” Allie shook her head. “That is way over the top. Look… I know it wasn’t easy by any means. But you really need to deal with your anger. I mean she’s dead. What do you want to do? Maybe throw darts into a picture of her?”

“I don’t even have that.” I blotted a tear. “That means that the only grandparents our child will have are…yours?”

“Yuk…!”

Allie turned her face toward me. She looked like she’d just bitten into a lemon.

“That’s why I hope we can find my father. Maybe he has a brother or sister or even living parents? I might even have half siblings.”

I managed to ease my mind enough to let Allie have her turn at the day’s events. I took such comfort in finding that we both could do this; her time and my time. It seemed so natural at this point in my life…in our lives. I don’t think I would even recognize that young former art student looking for any place to live only a little over one year ago.

28-5a IMG_2321.jpgWe both rested on our side, head to foot.

Allie was finding comfortable positions becoming ever harder to discover as her tummy grew. We rarely visited each other’s body from this particular vantage point and I’d forgotten what a treat this was.

Allie fondly my boy bits gently and caressed my butt and thighs. The feeling of her hands was so very sensual. And I got the opportunity to do the same to her…except for the boy bit part. As I gently separated the lips of her vagina to view the hole leading into her being, I gazed and tried to imagine what, and how, it must feel to have a living being come out of so small an aperture.

Whilst I envied Allie for her ‘indoor plumbing’ and her ability to create, sustain, nourish, and produce life, I never envied the actual pain of the birthing process. I’d seen enough more than enough viddies on the web to understand that the very last part of pregnancy was something special and reserved only for those who could bare the weight of the thirty six weeks; the final relief!

“Listen baby doll…” Allie giggled as she snuggled my head between her ever growing boobs. “I think it’s time to get you started with the breast pump.”

“???”

“You’ve been on the ‘mones for months now and you’ve really developed quite a little rack. But nothing will happen unless we make it happen.” Allie giggled.

I raised my head leaving my…oh so very comfortable resting place to gazed at Allie…in horror.

“Well you said you wanted to feed our child. Right…?”

I nodded my frightened little head.

“Well…? We need to start you on the pump now so that maybe…” Allie gave me a really stern look. “Just maybe… We can get you to lactate. I see no reason at all why you shouldn’t be able to and certainly I’ll need the help.”

I swallowed and gazed at Allie. She was right. This was something I had wanted. I smiled at her as another piece of what once was Andrew crumbled into dust…just as it should have.

“Yeah sweet heart… You’re right.” Of course… As usual… “What do we need to do?”

“That’s better…” Allie giggled as I laid my head back down upon her. “I’ll buy a double breast pump tomorrow; a really good one. That way we don’t have to waste time doing one boob at a time. You’ll only need to do maybe fifteen minutes three or four times a day.”

My mind was still working on the breast pump thingy. Fifteen minutes three or four times a day…? I’d have to use that…that thing for an hour a day? She couldn’t possible mean for me to use it at work…could she?

“That sounds like an awful amount of time.”

“Well…”

Allie giggled as she tightened her grip on my boy bits slightly whilst still rubbing gentle circles around my dick’s head.

“It was your idea.” She snickered. “Anyway… I’m likely to spend hours each day, day after day, just feeding OUR child. I’ll start with the pump as well. No sense in waiting until the last minute…so to speak. I’ll buy two; a ‘hers’ and a ‘hers’ pump.” Allie chuckled.

“Well…” I couldn’t argue with her. “I guess you’re right. I just thought it sort of just happened with me taking the ‘mones though.” My voice trailed off.

“Listen… Even mine won’t come without a little natural stimulation.”

“Well mommy… I could provide that.” I giggled.

“Yeah…” Allie laughed. “I know you could at least do that.”

‘At least do that’? What does that mean?

“Oh yeah… I almost forgot. Susan wants to throw me a baby shower at the club.”

It’s ‘the club’ now? Not Susan’s club? Did I miss something here?

“Well… Then I guess it’s a toss-up whether I’m invited then?” I had to giggle.

“Oh…!” Allie’s face became so serious. “You can’t come to that. You’re…the daddy?”
We both broke into laughter at the same time. I had no idea how we would ever explain our little family group to our child; two moms…one and a half moms? I decided to not even broach that one with Allie. I was already getting way too much information I didn’t want.

The call came two days later. I was so completely occupied with work, Allie’s condition, and my new breast-pumping regimen, that I’d forgotten about Mister McCann. I was busily at work assembling a presentation that the other artists had been working on. I was, at first, annoyed to have my phone sound. But when I saw who was calling my heart dropped down to my feet.

“Hello…?” Could I have been more tentative?

“Good afternoon Ms. D’Angelo…” His voice sounded so…cheerful? “I have some news for you. If you’d like, we could review everything at my office if that’s convenient.”

“Ummm…” Better I freak out in there then here at the office... “Sure… When would be a good time for you?”

“Well…? We could meet…oh…say at four this afternoon or first thing in the morning.”

There was no way I was going to sleep without knowing something…anything. I only hoped Allie could meet me there.

“Today would be fine.”

“I think you’ll find the results of our research very interesting. See you soon.”

Thankfully Allie was more than happy, and ready, to meet me at Mister McCann’s offices. I never would have made it up there. I was so very nervous that I couldn’t stop trembling. Even Allie’s most tender ministrations didn’t help…very much. We both sat before his imposing desk and held hands as he smiled and opened up a folder on his desk.

28-6 IMG_2327.jpg“We got a hit back the first day.”

Mister McCann smiled sympathetically. “But I wanted to be very sure of all the information which is why I waited to tell you. I’m very sorry for your loss.”

Somehow I knew I would miss this one and I would never find any true ancestry to trace myself.

“…but your father died years ago.” Mister McCann gazed down at the file for a moment. He looked up at me sympathetically again. “He passed away almost eighteen years ago.”

That bit of news was stunning. He might not have even known I was in the making…so to speak? As I was about to ask the first big question, Mister McCann anticipated me.

“He was a heroin addict and past away from AIDS related illnesses.” Glancing down at the file, he continued. “It was evidently tuberculosis and dementia. Both are commonly found in addicts who inject their drugs. I am very sorry.”

I was still stunned from hearing of his death so long ago. But hearing why didn’t surprise me. I might have been the result of a one-night stand or something.

“What was his name?”

“Well… This is where it begins to become interesting. The name he using was Andrew Colbert.”

I nearly fell out of my chair. Now I knew where my gift came from. I’d studied and greatly admired his legacy of work, small as it was. For the short time he produced works, he was prolific. But how much larger and important it would have been had he lived.

And what was more interesting was that my mother gave me his name. So they must have been together for at least some time. I wouldn’t have wanted to continue to believe I was a one night mistake.

“However…” Mister McCann leaned forward in his chair and broadly grinned. “That was not his real name. His actual family name…” He leaned forward and grinned. “…and someone went through a lot of trouble to cover up the fact, was Andrew Gray. You do have an aunt. This was confirmed late yesterday. Her name…” I really almost fell off my chair from leaning so far forward. “…is Martha Gray.”

I felt Allie suddenly perk up. She’d been sitting quietly and gently squeezing my hand every time Mister McCann related a bit of information.

“The Martha Gray…? Of Gray Adams…?” Her voice was full of shock.

“The very same Ms. Morris… And her mother is still very much alive. I didn’t research any further. But if you’d like…”

“No…” Allie giggled. “That won’t be necessary.”

“If you wish, I could contact her but that might take some time. I do know for a fact that she’s been out of town these past few weeks. But she is returning…” Mister McCann gazed off for a moment. “…today I believe. But I’m sure I’d need to get through three or four receptionists and administrative assistants.”

“No…” Allie giggled as she pulled her phone from her shoulder bag. “That won’t be necessary.”

Allie hit a speed dial on her phone as Mister McCann and I watched. I couldn’t imagine who she was calling until she spoke.

“Hi Susan…” Allie giggled. “You’ll never guess what we just found out.”

Susan…? Why didn’t that surprise me as much as it should have?

“Guess who’s related to Martha?”

‘Martha’…? They’re on a first name basis? Did I miss something?

“Andi is her…” Allie hesitated for a moment. “…her niece! Honestly…!” There was no hiding Allie’s excitement as she spoke. “No…! We only just found this out now. Nobody else knows.” There was a brief pause. “I have no idea how to do that.” There was a short pause. “Would you…? Oh my God… You’re the best.”

And the call ended. I sat staring at Allie; wide-eyed and mouth agape. She simply giggled and smiled back at me.

“Well…” Allie snickered. “Who do you think Susan stayed with whilst trying to find a new place to live?”

Even Mister McCann seemed surprised.

“You’ve got to be kidding.” I was…stunned…again.

“No…” Allie giggled. “Martha is president of the club. I’ve never met her or even seen her but I’ve only been going for luncheons and dinner during the week. She’s almost always there on Friday nights and on the weekend when many of the members are around.”

No sooner did Allie finish her discourse than her phone sounded its lovely chimes.

“Hi…” Allie gazed at me with a huge grin, her free hand flipping with excitement. “Really…?” Allie grinned at me as she obviously listened to whatever Susan was relating. “Really…? Oh my God…! That is fantastic. Yes…! For sure…!” Allie turned away from me for a moment. “Oh… No, no… We should be fine but thanks anyway. You’re the best.”

Allie put her phone away and grasped both my hands. She was literally bouncing slightly up and down with excitement. She also had this grin like the cat that just ate the canary?

“We’re going to meet your aunt tomorrow at nine in the morning. We’re going to her offices. She’s not even arrived yet and needs to go home to see her family otherwise she would see us now. Isn’t that great?”

I didn’t know what to say…or even feel. All I could think about was the totally sleepless night ahead of me. I would show up deprived of sleep and looking like something the cat left at the back door.

“I’ll certainly join you there.” Mister McCann leaned forward again. “I can certify that the documentation is genuine and that only the best lab was used to do the sampling. And if there are any questions concerning the investigation, I’ll be there to field them for you.”

“Thank you Mister McCann. That would be wonderful.” Allie grinned. “This is going to be so great for you baby doll. You have an actual family!”

To be quite honest, I don’t know how I felt. Even as Allie was leading me out the door and then, after paying a nominal amount, out of the offices, I was in quite a state of shock. Had she not been with me, I probably would have had a major melt down.

Indeed I was in the midst of a minor one now. I was totally oblivious to my surroundings. Allie managed to get us an Uber to ride downtown. Along the way she called Peter to tell him the ‘good news’ and to let him know I would not be in that morning.

Jill was next on the list of course. They had an extended conversation as we headed downtown. The entire thing was white noise to me as I gazed out the window not even looking at anything in particular. The ride seemed to take forever even for the rush hour traffic. When it was finally over, I actually needed help exiting the car and Allie had her arm around my waist as we made our way up to our home.

The evening was no better for me. The phones, both Allie’s and mine, never stopped. Allie was an absolute sweetheart. She fielded all the calls, sometimes two at once! Jill called, then Susan, Peter, Bob twice, Jill again and they all wanted details. I had none to give and sat with my legs folded beneath me with my head resting on Allie’s shoulder in the cave.

I listened attentively to what Allie said and could easily guess the questions. I had only one; who was Martha Gray and what was she like? I knew that if Susan liked her well enough to live with in the same residence with her children, then Martha Gray had to be somewhat similar to her. And though I always treasured Susan’s opinions, I knew they would be weighted toward my aunt?

After hearing the conversations and thinking about what I’d heard, I knew that Peter would be the one to ask. He knew everyone who was anyone in Manhattan and he was all too honest and straight forward in his opinions. He either liked you or he didn’t. And if he didn’t, there had to be a good reason.

“Andi… How good of you to call. I imagine this all must be quite a jolt for you.”

Peter’s voice was so warm and reassuring. I felt better simply hearing it. My tears began to flow as the momentous news of the day struck me.

“Yeah… I am so nervous about tomorrow…you know?”

“I can hear that in your voice.” Peter chuckled. “And it’s all quite understandable. Not all of us come from a place without virtually any roots to find that they indeed have very deep, and I must add, caring roots.”

“But I know almost nothing about her.” I must admit that my fear made me a bit…whiney? “I mean… Susan likes her a lot and only says good things. But they’re friends to begin with…you know?”

“Listen Andi…” Peter gave me his most paternal voice; calm and reassuring. “Who cares what she’s like? If you can just be yourself…you’ll be fine. She could be the biggest witch on earth, which by the way she isn’t; my mother still holds that position…” Peter chuckled and I so loved that sound. “You simply won’t give her any chance to…not like you.”

“Have you met her?”

“Indeed I have. Several times in fact… It’s usually at some charity or museum fund raising event. She’s a very striking woman in appearance. And her wife…”

Wife…???

“Petra…? Pet…is just as delightful. Martha is very much like Susan. She is very no nonsense and forth right in her opinions. But she is also truly a very caring woman. Don’t worry sweet heart. You’ll love her.”

Even though I heard the same things from Susan and Jill, somehow hearing them from Peter was much more comforting.

“I assume Allie will be with you.” I could almost see Peter grin.

“I couldn’t go without her. I would never make it to…to wherever I’m going without passing out or something. Mister McCann is also going to meet us there.” I was verging on tears…again.

“Andi… I know this is all very overwhelming but you really need to get a grip. Martha, if nothing else, is a very sensitive and intuitive woman. She’ll know exactly how you feel and I can guarantee that she’ll be gentle.”

We spoke for a few more minutes. Although I found Peter to be comforting, I still couldn’t help feeling what I felt. Thankfully Allie was by my side all the time. She patiently listened to my half of the conversation and I filled her in on what Peter had told me.

“Listen baby doll…” I turned to see Allie’s radiant smiling face. “Why don’t we go and pick out your outfit for tomorrow?”

“Yeah…” I grinned at her as I dried my tears.

I loved when Allie helped me arrange my OOTD. She had such exquisite taste and she knew my likings. Often times when we were out for just an evening meal, we’d gaze arm in arm into the windows of the various clothing and accessory shops we’d venture across.

“Oh my God… This is so exciting.” Allie giggled as we walked into our bedroom. “Oh… Oh my God…!” Allie suddenly clutched her hand to her tummy.

“What’s wrong?”

I was about to freak! This is all either of us needed at the moment; something wrong with our baby. Allie gazed at me with a totally startled and…amazed expression on her face? Then she broke out into the most blinding smile.

“I think I just felt it move!” A tear came to her eye. “Oh my God…!” She looked down at her tummy. “There it is again!” She giggled.

Allie grasped my hand and placed in upon her belly where the movement was coming from. Her hand left mine and I waited.

28-7 IMG_2362.jpg“There it is again!”

Allie nearly screamed into my ear. But, in truth, I felt nothing. I smiled sadly at her and told her so.

“No… This is a good sign. You may not have felt it but I sure did.” She laughed.

I couldn’t even begin to image what she felt. Allie said it was like something little tapping inside of her. In truth I was envious. I wished I could feel what she felt. It would have been totally amazing.

After Allie sat on the bed for a wee bit, we finally got past the baby movement and moved onto the subject at hand. I wanted to wear something business like but with a flair to it? I mean we were going to a place of work to meet with the boss; my soon to be real live aunt.

“Listen sweet heart… Why don’t you use the breast pump whilst I pick out an outfit for you?”

Allie became a real stickler when it came to this regimen. She wanted me to nurse our child as much, if not more, than I did. And after her feeling that movement, I knew that time wasn’t on my side.

I got out the device and set it upon my nightstand. Then I took a tube of KY from the drawer and, after uncapping it, rubbed the jelly a few inches around my nipples. This helped me get a good seal. I was always amazed to see the flesh around my nipple being sucked in when I held both breast shields to my boobs.

The feeling of the suction pulling upon my nipples was intensely stimulating? I mean at first it felt like two mouths working on them. Then they seemed to actually thicken and extend as the sucking continued. I would even manage to achieve a little stiffy on rare occasions although I rarely felt…stimulated in that manner? I closed my eyes and imagined what our baby’s mouth might feel like. I could almost blot out the awful noise that machine made.

“Well…” Allie chuckled.

28-8a IMG_2366.jpg“I guess someone’s enjoying themselves.”

I opened my eyes and saw Allie standing at the foot of the bed holding what she thought I should wear. I must have had the most ridiculous expression on my face.

“I… I…”

“Oh don’t sweat it baby doll.” Allie giggled. “I’ve actually had women tell me that they’ve had orgasms whilst breast feeding. It’s really quite sensual. But it does wear on the nips.”

Allie held out my smoke Gray linen and silk blend suit. It was a decidedly femme cut with slightly flared pant legs. I adored this suit and the two others I had. But I hated the fact that they were good for one or two outings before they wrinkled as if I’d slept in them. Allie mentioned some kind of steam device we could get to press them out as needed.

Allie also picked out one of my silk blouses with a collar tie. This one was white with a long floppy black bow tie at the neck. The collar had a ruffled trimming and the bone buttons were concealed. I wore them on the rare occasions I had to go uptown with Peter. It was quite femme in appearance but also quite professional looking with a blazer.

“That’s perfect sweet heart.” I grinned knowing that I was definitely going to look good. “I guess my black pumps would be okay.”

“Yeah… Especially with the ribbon bow tie...” Allie turned and hung the clothes on one of the doors of our closets. “I think we should go simple with maybe just stud earrings or something and a simple chain necklace.”

Allie and I shared two jewelry selections in one of the drawers of our bureau. One was for the fine jewelry…the ‘real’ stuff. And the other was for our fashion jewelry. Who owned what no longer was of any consequence so our selection was quite varied. Of course my lucky glass medallion was a must. Maybe I could find out if indeed it was my grandmother.

“How about the pink pearl studs with the pink pearl ones that have that slight drop…?” I always consulted Allie about this kind of thing. And she always turned to me for approval as well. “Oh my God… We should have gotten our nails done.” I said as I gazed done at my hands.

“Silly rabbit…” Allie was definitely spending too much time with Susan. “We had them done only a few days ago. Don’t worry baby doll… You’ll look amazing…as usual.” Allie giggled. “Oh… By the way… You can remove the pumps now.”

Thankfully I turned off the machine and slowly broke the seal between the shields and my now tender boobs. My nipples were sore so, after putting the breast shields down to be washed later, I reached for the nipple cream. It was ever so soothing. I often used the cream when they were itchy or simply pained from the growth.

We decided that the best thing to relax me was to take a nice warm bath. Allie performed her usual magic with oils and scented herbs as the tub filled. But before getting in she reached into the cabinets beneath the counter and basin and pulled out a metal tray fill of various medication bottles.

Most were the usual over the counter type of pills and potions. She shuffled through them until she finally came to what appeared to be a prescribed medication. Allie uncapped the bottle and took out two little peach colored little pills.

“Here baby doll… Take one of these now and one before we get into bed.”

Allie placed one pill into my hand.

“What is it?”

“It’s a happy pill. It’ll make all that nasty anxiety go away and you’ll be able to sleep.” She giggled.

Now I must tell you that coming from wear I did, and having a mother like mine, I scrupulously avoided drugs in any way shape or form. I never even smoked pot although I did have this brownie with pot in it? But that was the one and only time. I looked up into Allie’s eyes and I glanced at her maternal smile and I swallowed the pill with some water she gave me.

Now I must also say that by the time we were ready to get out of the tub, I was feeling really amazing. Nothing bothered me and I had a hard time to keep from falling asleep in the tub. With only a towel wrapped around my body, I had started for the bed but Allie stopped me.

“Oh no you don’t…!” She laughed knowing I was…stoned? “Get back here and let’s do our ritual. You’ve got to take care of your skin baby doll.”

We did our nightly ritual complete with the cleansers, creams, lotions and potions. I towel dried my hair and Allie simply air-dried hers. We finished and, after donning our usual tees and panties, went into bed. Allie gave me the second pill to take. I snuggled up next to her and Allie held my head.

28-9a IMG_2358.jpgI don’t even remember falling asleep.

Will Andi be accepted or excepted by Martha? Will Allie begin to lactate before Andi? Will the new found wealth go straight to Andi's head...or to her wardrobe? Will Lucas and Johnny stop shooting at everything that moves? Will I run out of different shades of red before this sordid affair terminates? Will Black Paw and White Fang ever become housebroken? Or will they simply continue to destroy the house. For the answers to these compelling questions...be sure to read the next tax exempt chapter of 'Andi and Allie'.



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