Chapter 3.34

I thought about Hannah’s offer for a few weeks and then headed over to take Adam up on the offer.  I was still on the fence but the kid..er man…has grounded me since he was a teen so I figured we could at least talk it through.

It also allowed Hannah and I to take a break from the Harper and Vi.  They adore each other.  They’ll be trouble in a few years!

“Take the money, Penny.  You know you want a fresh start.  There’s no strings attached.  In fact, considered it repayment for the debt of raising me.  You gave a lot and I wouldn’t be where I am without it.”

“The kids though.  I can’t trust them to another babysitter.  Last time…I don’t even want to think about it.”

“I’ve got a friend.  He’s an author and his sister is looking for a full-time nanny gig.  She’s perfect.  I’ll call him up tonight and have her get in touch with you.  Do it, Penny.  You deserve it.”

He was right.  I raised him.  I’m raising Liv’s kids.  I’ve got Harper.  We’re never going to get anywhere until I go back to school.  I really wanted a business degree.  I didn’t know what I would do with it but something said it would be worth it.

“Alright.  I’ll do it.   It’ll take some time but I think I can make it work.”

It did take a few months but the house made its “debut.”  I didn’t change much.  Mostly just expanded but we needed the extra room.

With puppies, a toddler, and two children the living room needed some room to…well, live in.

And the kitchen had a growth spurt, too.  The dining room was tossed out in favor of a playroom and office.  It was too difficult for the poor toddler to hobble up and down the stairs to either her room or the basement to play.  Dining rooms are overrated anyway.

I planned to head off to university in the spring.  Granted, I’d be attending Storybrook County College but I’d be there for 10 hours and then there was homework.  My baby was going to grow up in the arms of a nanny.

Of course I was putting my horse in front of the cart.  I hadn’t even taken my entrance exams let alone applied to the school.

The aptitude exam was more difficult than I remembered.  Of course, it had been about 15 years since I took the last one.  Also I have relatively no business skills.  It’ll be a few more months before I know the results.  In the meantime there was still a lot to do.

One was meeting the nanny.  The doorbell rang early one fall morning.

She was quite unexpected.  When I think “nanny” I think old woman.  However, Linzy was lovely and highly qualified.

As we sat drinking coffee I interviewed her.  I already knew she would be perfect but I wanted to seem like I knew what I was doing.

“So, tell me about yourself.  Why do you want to be a nanny?”

“Hm.  Well, I love children.  I’m nurturing, neat, a natural cook.  I’m a master gardener and chef.  I have a degree in education and I used to be a teacher.”

Someone up there must love me.  If there is such thing as divine intervention this is it.

I showed Linzy to her room in the basement.  One more of the remodeling projects from the summer.  It wasn’t much but she loved it regardless.

Harper took right to Linzy as if they were old friends.

For the first time in a while I actually allowed myself to feel optimistic about the future.  Things could work out for us after all.

Chapter 3.33

I took to motherhood much easier than anticipated.  Granted, I never expected to raise Harper alone but I don’t think Xander needs to know I was pregnant when I left him either.

Someone takes after her mom in more than just good looks.

Harper is brilliant.  She took to walking nearly as soon as she hit the ground.

“MAMA!  MAMA!”

I realized that I didn’t want to miss a second of this walking, talking extravaganza.

I called Hannah to watch Harper and headed to the big-box resale store out in the boonies.

Everything is marked down to 25%.  You get what you pay for but I didn’t care.  I rushed into the store.

I grabbed the closest video recorder and paid.

Hannah was due any day now with their SECOND daughter.  We couldn’t wait to meet Azalea Kalliope (to be known as Kallie) but Hannah had a bigger surprise for me.

“My aunt just died and left Adam and I $50,000.  We want you to have it, Penny.”

“Uhh…what?”  I was dumbfounded.  “What about Violet and Kallie?  They need college funds?”

“Oh shush, P.  We both know your brother makes more than that each week in book royalties.  Take it.  Upgrade the house.  Go back to college.  Pay a real babysitter and go get laid.  Do something.  It’s your money now whether you like it or not.”

I have no idea how I ended up with such a kick ass sister-in-law.  She’ll never best my missing twin but she comes damn close some days.

Chapter 3.32

It’s that time again.

Not only was Dylan having a birthday…

Which he was totally excited for…but it was Harper’s birthday too.

It was a quiet celebration for poor Dylan since Katie was away at boarding school but we made it work.

“Is all that cake for me?”

“Do you really think you need that much cake, Pickle?”

“Is that a real question, Auntie?  Cuz the answer is yes.”

Harper had a bit more pomp for birthday and Dylan made sure she knew it was special.

Immediately upon becoming a toddler she started to beat the hell out of some creepy doll some long lost relative maile her.  Good girl.

“Penny…do I get any presents?”

“Oh…um…did you check your room?”

He was up the stairs before I even had a chance to think.

“NEW STUFF!”

I made sure he had a fully stocked toy chest and a new bed.

“So…did you just get me furniture?  I love it but…”

“Did you try going to the backyard and whistling for the present fairy?”

“The what?”

“The little old lady who sometimes brings presents if you whistle for her in the backyard?  You know the story…”

“There’s no presents out here, Penny.”

“Well you didn’t whistle did you?”

“This is stupid…but ok.”

“Hello?!  Old Lady Present Fairy?”

It was funny to watch him make a fool of himself.  Of course there was no present fairy but the hollering would bring his present running.

“Well looky there, Pickle.”

“Hi there, little guy…”

Merry and Pippin were the newest and tiniest members of the Hanks family.

His smile is totally worth all the frustration that awaits us.

Chapter 3.31

Note from SweetPoyzin: Nothing exciting happens in this chapter.  It is just to show off some adorableness.

With his birthday just around the corner, I thought I would spend some time with my little guy.  I reluctantly called a babysitter for Harper and left her alone for the first time.

I must say, Mr. Dylan quite enjoyed getting out of the house for a change.  I did, too.

We headed to the toystore to pick up some birthday goodies.

It also has the added bonus of having an attached park and we spent most of the day on the playground.

More specifically, we spent 5 hours riding the bee.

“All right, bud.  Time to go.”

“NO.  Don’t wanna.”

“Oh, you’ll live.”

While we were out we ran across these guys.  Dylan took to them right away.  Too bad they belong to someone.

Dylan continued to put up a stink about leaving but passed out immediately on the ride home.

I got home just in time to find Harper dirty, hungry, lonely, and sleepy.  Fuck babysitters.  I’m never leaving her again.

Chapter 3.30

It’s ours!  After I foolishly sold everything we owned in order to make the down payment.  We were left with nothing but the house.

A wonderful couple named Colt and Anna heard about our tale and graciously donated furniture, toys, and money to help us get everything we needed for our home.

This is a perfect place to raise my family.  I knew it would be.

And I have a coffee maker.  God knows with a baby and a toddler I needed that hardcore.

I’m still amazed it is ours.

I made sure the kids had everything they wanted and needed.  All new toys and furniture.

I picked out paint and wallpaper.  I went nuts.

Harper’s room is still a bit spartan but she’s 9 months old.  I’m pretty sure she doesn’t really care.

I really went overboard with the kid stuff.  They’ve been through a lot and they are such troopers.  They deserve the best.

I didn’t ignore myself though.  I need some quiet, too!

I made sure I got some pampering after the kids were taken care of.

The garden is where I really went crazy.

I even bought a canning set for the shed.

This is our home now and for as long as I can tell.

I sold off all the produce from the garden as soon as Katie told me she wanted to go to boarding school.  She was accepted to Le Fromage and starts at the end of the summer.  We’ll miss her but she’s earned it.

She looks more like her Mama every day.  All my babies are growing up fairly well.  I’m surprised I didn’t break them.

**Note from SweetPoyzin** Many thanks to all those who sent in-game gifts to get Penny and crew through their period of financial distress!**

Chapter 3.29

Several months after Harper’s birth we were all chugging along as normal.  I headed over to Adam’s house for a much needed adult afternoon.  Nothing super special because my sister-in-law, Hannah was due to give birth any day now.

We had tea and chatted about my need for a bigger house and her need for a smaller belly.

“Why don’t you put in an offer on the house behind ours?  It’s right across the alley.  It would be perfect!”

“When did it go up for sale?!  Also, I have no money so that’s one reason…”

The conversation didn’t get any farther than that.  It was time to meet ADAM’S kid.  I didn’t have time to ponder the idea of my baby brother being a father.  Hannah needed a driver.

That evening Violet June Hanks happily joined our family.

The next morning I went over to check out the house.  Three bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, a huge backyard.  It was perfect for us.

How could I not love it?  How could I possibly afford it?

I knew what I had to do.  I took Olivia’s paintings to the consignment shop.  It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made but Liv would want her kids to grow up in a house and not a shithole apartment.

I may have tried to make money some other ways too.  I would get those kids a house by any means necessary.

Chapter 3.28

We settled into some semblance of routine before too long.

Pickle was up with the sun and ready for breakfast.

He and I would get some one-on-one time in after Bug headed for the school bus.

He’d get bored before too long and he’d head for greener pastures aka more fun toys.

It was about this time that Harper would start screaming for her own breakfast.

With all the commotion on the itty-bits I was worried poor Bug was feeling forgotten.  She was growing up before my eyes.

I snagged her after dance class one night.

“Hey, I have a gift for you.  Head to the living room while I change this stinky kid.”

I pulled her Mom’s trunk out of Adam’s basement earlier that day (well, Adam pulled it out of his own basement because I have TONS of time to leave the house).

“Here.  I took this while your mom and I were in college.  You should have it if you want it.”

She seemed unsure at first.

But I think she’ll be ok.

Chapter 3.27

Before too long our tiny apartment became home.

Bug and Pickle made sure there was plenty to welcome Baby Peanut when she got here.

Early one morning in spring I woke up knowing it was time to bring Peanut into the world.  Despite never having birthed a baby something told me she was ready.

I got up and prepared breakfast before Bug went off to school.  Today was going to be as normal as possible regardless of fact that I was going to push a bowling ball out of my vagina in a few short hours.

The thought of what I was going to do was slightly shocking a bit painful to think about.  Dear God…I was going to be a mother.

The kids were oblivious to my peril (probably because there wasn’t any) but I still liked having them close.  Bug ran off to school without a look back  and I was left with Pickle.

We got in some good playtime before my contractions started.

“Are you ready to help with a baby?”

“I da baby.”

Just then I was hit by more than just a tiny contraction.

“Mama Peenee hurt?” The concern in my nephew’s voice hurt almost as much as the contractions.

“No, honey.  The baby just wants out.”

“Bad baby.  No hurt Peenee.”

I called the babysitter and told her to hurry.

I sat down on the couch but knew there wasn’t time for sitting.  I needed to get dressed.  Like hours ago.

I threw on some clothes and tried to be quite so I wouldn’t scare Pickle even more.

That plan failed.  The babysitter was still en route but there wasn’t time to wait.  I yelled across the hall for the neighbor to keep an ear out because I had to go.

I drove myself in spite of being in hard labor.  That’s just how I roll.

After 15 hours of labor Harper Gray Hanks came into the world.  She didn’t have an ounce of her father in her so I saw no need to tack on his name as a reminder.

It wasn’t long after I got home when it become painfully obvious that we were going to need a bigger place…soon.

Chapter 3.25

Note from SweetPoyzin:  Bad things come in threes…sorry again.

With all the shit happening in my life something was bound to break.  It was work.  I got sloppy on the job and  a patient died during a routine surgery.  I was put on leave and that’s when I made a decision.  I called Adam to tell him.

“The kids and I are leaving.”

“WHAT!?  Why!?  Just because someone died on your watch doesn’t mean you will lose your job.”

I sighed.  “I’ve already lost my job, Adam.”

I couldn’t even look him in the eye.  My little brother had stood by my side for years but this blind faith in me was too much.

“Stephen and I were having an affair.”

“YOUR BOSS!?  God damn it, Penelope.  Why can’t you stay out of trouble?”

“DON”T FUCKING JUDGE ME, ADAM!  In the past 3 months I have lost my twin, my marriage, and my job –”

“They were my family, too.”  He said quietly.

At that moment I realized I was not the only one still hurting.  I was just the only one handling it so poorly.

“Fuck.  You’re right.  At any rate I need a fresh start.  The kids and I are moving to Storybrook county…next week.”

“Fair enough.  I’ll pack my things.”

“Adam.  Don’t be ridiculous.  You just bought a house.”

“Yeah, well it looks like I’m selling it now.  We both know you need someone to keep you out of trouble.  And I need to be the fun uncle to these two monsters.  Sugar before bedtime and all that jazz.”

“Well…college?”

“Storybrook County is even closer to University.  I’ll live there while I attend classes.  Boom.  Next excuse?”

“Alright.  Pack your things.  You only have a week.”

And with that we were off to our next big adventure.

Chapter 3.24

Note from SweetPoyzin: My apologies…again.

A few months after the funeral things were finally getting settled.  Adam was gearing up for college in a couple of weeks.  He moved out into his own place to give me space for the kids.

Xander came home one night and had big news.

“Honey!  I’m no longer working the night shift!  We can get started on that baby now!”  He was thrilled.  I had doubts.

“You got promoted?”

“Well…not so much.  I got…fired.  Penny, I haven’t been 100% honest with you.  That security job I was working?  I was actually a Master Crime Boss.  My dad found out and well, I got arrested.  Remember that trip I took a year or so ago?  Yeah…”

“Penny?”

“Get. Out. Now.” I growled.  I didn’t know I could make that noise but I growled at him.

“I don’t even care that you were a crime boss, Xander.  You lied…for 10 years!  I’ve known you for TEN YEARS!  How long?”

“I worked there for 8 years.”

“FUCK YOU.  You disgust me.”  I had no idea how badly his betrayal hurt.  I honestly didn’t care about his being a crime boss.  He lied…for 8 years.

“How can I fix this, Penny?  Tell me.  I will do anything.”  He was actually heartbroken that he hurt me.  I could feel his sincerity oozing off his body.

“Get out and sign the divorce papers I send you tomorrow.”

“Penny!  Wait, please!”  His begging was almost worse than his lies.

“OUT or I will call the cops on your ass again.”

“I’m so sorry, Peanut.  It looks like it’s just us now.”