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Barbara Lynn Terry

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Home Sweet Home - Part II
By Barbara Lynn Terry
Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Jamie has found a home. What delights, surprises and other things does she find in her Home Sweet Home?

Jamie has found a home. What delights, surprises and other things does she find in her Home Sweet Home?
Home, Sweet Home II

HOME SWEET HOME
By
Barbara Lynn Terry

Part II

As I stood there in the foyer looking at myself in the mirror, Donna came up to me.

"Miss Jamie, your mother would like to see you in the parlor, please."

"Ok, Donna, thank you."

Donna was the downstairs maid. She was in her mid-twenties, I was told, and was working her way through college. She was five feet four inches tall, nice and slim with a pretty figure and auburn hair that cascaded past her shoulders. Her eyes were, while not emerald green, green enough to put a hint of mystery in her expression.

I sauntered off to the parlor, and when I got there, I was told to sit down. I sat in the same chair I did when I had first come into this room.

"Jamie, dear? I want to know something right now. If you say no, then I will forget the matter and never bring it up again. Okay?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"I want to know if you would let me contact your parents, and let them know you are all right. This would be done through a third party contact who doesn�t know me or where I live, but will be paid to deliver a message to your parents and wait for a reply to be dropped off. I think it is important that we do let them know you are all right."

I looked at her with such a gaze of terror that she wanted to know if there was something else I hadn't told her. I told her there was and she wanted to know if I wanted to talk about it now, and I said no.

"Well, Jamie, all in good time. Whenever you are ready, dear. You will need to tell me though, but in your own good time. Okay?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Tell me something though, Jamie. Is it something very bad?"

"Yes, ma'am."

At the memories of what had transpired, the real reason I had actually run away in fear of my parents, came flooding back to me and I began to cry then I was uncontrollably sobbing. Mom had moved over to me and put her arms around me to comfort me, but I would not be comforted. The real reason I had run away wasn't because of the chores but because of something else. Something my parents wanted to impose on me. Well maybe it was because of the chores, that they wanted to inflict the final insult on me.

That final insult added to injury, was the wearing of a French maid's uniform. I was not about to become a maid in my own home. I was leaving and never coming back. Now, I was asked if Mom should contact my parents. Why? Everything started out great here. Why make it more difficult? I looked at mom and said.

"Mom? I need to think about that one for a bit. Okay?"

"Why of course, Jamie. Feel free to take as much time as you need. But if you decide you think we should contact your parents, I will assure you right now, they will not know where you are. Okay?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Thinking back to yesterday, the memories played in my mind, like a vivid dream. I saw it like I was still there.

"Jamie!" My father said in a stern voice. "We have decided that since you are the maid in this house, that tomorrow, we are going to take you to a uniform shop and get you a maid's uniform. It will not be just any maid's uniform, but a French maid's uniform. You will wear that uniform from the time you get home until you go to bed. On Weekends and holidays, you will wear that uniform from the time you get up until the time you go to bed. You will also wear that uniform when you go to the store and do the shopping. You will address your mother and sister as Madam, and you will address me as Sir. Do you understand that, Jamie?"

"Yes, sir," I replied.

"Good," my father had continued. "Right now though, we are going to go and get some carry out at that fast food place on the turnpike and come right back. I want you to make sure the table in the dining room is set and the place settings are proper. Do you understand, Jamie?"

"Yes, sir," I replied again.

"There is one other thing. Since you are now our official maid, you will keep your eyes lowered when addressing anyone in this house, including the guests. If you do a good job, we will get you presents that you can enjoy in your duties. Now we will back shortly, and the place settings had better be done."

They left to go get the food, and as soon as the car pulled out of the driveway and was headed down the street, I went into my room and got my back pack. I went into my sister's room and started rummaging through her closet. I took out two skirt sets (she always had her skirts and blouses together), a short set, and some socks, stockings and a pair of shoes. I put everything in my back pack and headed out. After I had gotten about two blocks from the house I ducked in an alley and changed from my regular clothes into white cotton panty briefs, a white bra and slip, and a light blue blouse with an A-line plaid skirt. The shoes were just regular black pumps with a two inch heel. After I was dressed in my sister's clothes, I hid my clothes behind a dumpster, and headed for the highways. Since they were going on the turnpike, I headed in the opposite direction. Well, you know the rest. I was not going to be humiliated just because my parents were lazy and unloving, as far as I was concerned.

"Are you all right now, Jamie?" Mom said as she looked at me with concern.

"No, ma'am. All the indignities they inflicted on me came flooding back into my memory and it was like I was still there. I could hear my father's voice as though he was standing in this room. Mom, what they wanted me to do was be their maid, and wear a French maid's uniform from the time I got home until I went to bed, and then on holidays and weekends, and during the summer, from the time I got up until I went to bed, and they even said I would wear that uniform to the store when I did the shopping. Also, my father told me I had to lower my eyes, whenever addressing any member of the family and guests. When you asked me if you should contact my parents, I was frightened. Mom? I am scared of my parents.

"It isn't the same thing living here and being your daughter, though. What they wanted me to do was be humiliated, and degraded and be treated less than a human being. I-I wasn't going to let them do that to me. I don't mind dressing like and being a girl, but I wasn't going to be humiliated in my own home as a maid."

"There, there, child. Everything is going to be all right. I will send a message to your parents and tell them that what they had planned is now known and that you are safe, but do not want to go home. I will tell them to reply and drop it off at the offcie of the man who delivered the message to them. I don't think they will be looking for you though. I have a suspicion that they wanted you to leave.

"Do you think they'd retaliate against your sister because you left?"

"No, ma'am. She is so neat and keeps all her clothes together. She puts her skirts and blouses together on hangers so she has a complete outfit to wear. Her under briefs are folded and her slips are hung up on hangers too. Her dresses are immaculate and hung up with plastic sheaths on them. What they will do is look for me, and then stop when they can't find me. They will not go to the police because they don't want their dirty secrets told and they know I will tell on them."

"Well, Jamie, you have had a very harrowing and fearful experience. I don't blame you for running away. But, you don't mind wearing these clothes like for always?"

"No ma'am. I am not being humiliated by this. You asked me to stay and be your daughter. I thought about it, and decided that it would be nice to be your daughter. I will be the best daughter I can be, mom. I will make your heart glad and you will make my heart glad. Together, we will be a team."

"Oh my god, child. You are a dear. I only wish my late husband was here to meet you. You know that it is almost another three hours before dinner. Why don't you and I go outside for a walk around the grounds and I will show you points of interest, at least to me?"

"All right mom. That would be very nice. Our first mother/daughter outing just by ourselves."

We went outside, and walked around by the flower beds. There were red roses, yellow roses, petunias, begonias, tulips, carnations and some very colorful ones I was told were from central and south america. It was so pretty out here and the scent that arose from the flowers made you dream of having a bubble bath and just letting this wonderful scent envelope you. Well yes, I am thinking like a girl, aren't I? It must have been all those household chores I was required to perform, while my parents and sister watched. Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if they had helped, but when they told me I was officially their maid, I left. Then we went down a path that mom said led to the stables.

"Jamie, have you ever ridden a horse?"

"No, mom, I haven't. I have never even seen a horse, except in pictures in my school books."

"Well then, young lady. You are in for a real treat."

We walked to the stables and I began to hum a song I learned in school. I saw mom look at me and smile. I hummed all the way to the stables and when we walked in, there were eight stalls and every one of them had a horse in them. There was one stall she led me to that had a very nice horse with a reddish brown coat. Mom said they called that breed of horse a roan. This roan was what mom called a mare, a female horse. She had white just above each hoof, what mom said were called stockings. her tail was just a little darker than her coat, but she was a beautiful animal.

"Mom, she's beautiful."

"Yes, she is, Jamie. Take an apple from that basket there and hold it in the palm of your hand up to her mouth. She won't bite you."

I took an apple and held it to the roan's mouth and she took it very gently and ate it. Then she nudged me with her nose, which was a little wet and I giggled. The horse then nodded at my giggle.

"Why Jamie, dear, she likes you. That is the way horses show affection."

I then put my hand out to touch her by the mouth and nose and she leaned forward and bent her head down. I then gave her a hug and she she whinnied. Mom said that meant she like being hugged in that manner.

"What is her name, mom?"

"Well Jamie, until you came, I've been calling her Brownie."

"That's a beautiful name, mom. I like you, Brownie, you're very beautiful."

Brownie whinnied again but this time she nodded her head and pawed the hay with her right hoof three times. Mom said that meant she understood what I said and liked to be complimented. Then I understood the meaning of the phrase horse sense that I have heard my parents say dozens of times.

"Well Jamie, guess what. Would you like to have Brownie for your very own?"

"Oh mother! Do you really mean it?"

"Yes, dear. I really mean it."

I gave mother a big hug. "Oh mother, my very first, very own horse. Thank you so much." I hugged her again and then I turned to Brownie. "Did you hear, Brownie, we're gonna be friends, like forever." Brownie whinnied again and nodded her head and pawed the hay again three more times. I was very happy. I never imagined anything like this.

"Okay, Jamie. Say good night to Brownie. Tomorrow is Saturday and we will come back out here and you can learn to ride her. Okay?"

"Okay, mom. Brownie, I have to go now, you be good and I will be back tomorrow and we can go out and get some exercise." I hugged Brownie again, and she let me. What a wonderful gift. I was so happy that I was acting like a little girl with her first doll.

"School will be starting in about a month, so Monday we will have to get you registered. Now, Jamie, the school administrators and teachers will know that you are physically a boy, but if you act like you did today in the stables, you will have no problems. They will see you are a girl and they will accept you as such. This is a very exclusive school. The students there are mainly girls, but there are some boys there as well, taking classes as girls. I'm sure there will be no problems."

"I will be good, mom. I will make you proud of me."

She smiled and looked at me. "Jamie, when we register you, they will give us a list of clothing items to get for you. Your uniform, gym clothes, and maybe we will even get you some new earrings too. How does that sound."

"Like I died and went to heaven, mom."

I just could not believe this. Yesterday, I was being set up to be a maid in my parents house. Today, I am this lady's daughter and will be going to school as a girl. Is this what I wanted but just didn't know it? I had to think about this. I had to prepare my mind to act like I did at the stables. But I wasn't acting, was I? I mean my whole being just kind of seemed normal and the girl part of me just came out, and I wasn't even embarrassed. Mom smiled at me when I was being just a girl. I mean, is this something that was in me all along and I just didn't know it? I am going to have to think about this. Mom's a very nice lady. Lonely and uncontented. But now she seemed to have a purpose. She seemed alive and doing things. I wonder just how long it had been since she was down at the stables.

"Mom? When was the last time you went down by the stables just to be around the horses?"

"Oh, you are a sweet child. It has been a long time. I haven't been to the stables since my late husband died. I didn't know how much I missed those beautiful animals, until today when you were so energetic with Brownie. Thank you, Jamie. You made my heart glad today."

We started walking back toward the house, holding our hands in each other's. I started humming that song again and then mom did something I didn't think she was capable of. She began skipping and I skipped right along with her, our arms swinging back and forth, hand in hand. I looked at her face and saw life there, happy life. I was very glad that I could make this woman happy and if being her daughter made her this happy, then I was happy too. All of a sudden, there were tears in my eyes and mom looked at me and asked if I was okay, and I said Iwas, but that these were happy tears because I was happy to see her so full of life and she smiled, gave me a big hug, and we skipped back to the house.

We had to go past the garage to the house and Jeri was standing there watching us, with a big smile on her face. "Why Madam, it is so good to see you so full of life. I'll bet, Madam, that Miss Jamie is the reason." Jeri then winked at me and I winked back. We got to the house and Donna was outside, and when she saw us, remarked.

"Madam, you look ten years younger. What has Miss Jamie done to you?"

"Made my heart glad, Donna. Made my heart glad."

"Oh Madam, it is going to be so much fun in this home again. Thank you Miss Jamie, for just being you."

We went into the house and it was time to get cleaned up for dinner. I was told to go to my room and put on the knee length dress we had gotten earlier. I went up to my room, and as I entered, I saw Simone putting out my clothes. Simone, the upstairs maid, was about the same age as Donna, in her twenties, with nice long blond hair and sky blue eyes. She had a very nice figure and was singing a song I wasn't familiar with. She saw me and came over and gave me a very big hug.

"Oh, Miss Jamie! You have brought back life to this drab old house. We now have a home again, thanks to you. C'mon, it's time to get dressed for dinner."

After taking a quick bath and putting body lotion on, I got dressed. I went downstairs to the dining room and saw that the staff was also standing at chairs at the table.

"Jamie, this is a special occasion. The staff, and includes both Doug and Jeri. You may all sit down now and I will say grace." Mom said grace and thanked God for bringing me into her life in answer to her prayers for someone to make her heart glad again. We then beagn passing around the food and when everyone was served we all just kinda 'dug' in.

"Miss Jamie," Jeri began. "I saw you and Madam skipping while holding hands and just having a blast. I want you to know that I am glad that Madam has a reason to be happy again. It has been a long time since she laughed the way she did today. I for one, am very gald that you are here."

"Yes, Miss Jamie," Charles added. "I had my doubts when you first arrived. But after what I was told today, I too, am very glad that you are here. I hear Madam is going to teach you to make your own dresses , so that you can learn to sew. I think that is very nice. So, as I said yesterday, welcome Miss Jamie, to MacCreeley Manor."

Charles wasn't very tall, but he was slim and I don't know if he was muscular becauase I haven't seen him with his shirt off. He was maybe mid-forties, and wore that Tuxedo that all butlers wear. He walked with a straight gait, and when guests were in the house used a formal type of speech you have seen butlers on tv do. I know, I said I never could watch tv. Well, somtimes I would sneak downstairs at night and watch a movie on cable, when my parents were alseep.

"Miss Jamie? I too am glad that you are here. It has been three long years since we have all sat at this table together and enjoyed each other's company." Donna intoned. She sounded like she was singing, when she said that. "I want you to know Miss Jamie, that if there is something I can help you with, or if you just want to talk. You can come to any member of the staff except Charles. Sometimes, he just isn't good at giving advice or just talking to young ladies." She giggled. "Thanks, young Miss, for just being you."

"Miss Jamie? I too am glad that there is a reason to sit down at this table and just be sociable again. Like Donna said, it has been a long time. Madam seemed so vibrant today and she is still smiling from ear to ear. You have done wonders in just one day. I didn't think it was possible. And yes, Miss Jamie, thank you for just being you and for just being here, also." Simone smiled, and ate more of her salad.

"Madam? May I make a toast, please?"

"Why yes, Martha. Go right ahead."

"For three long and dark years, this house was not a home like it used to be. But now, there seems to a bright light shining down on MacCreeley Manor. And that light is Miss Jamie Anne MacCreeley. Miss Jamie, I salute you for making this house a home again."

Everyone stood up but me and said 'here, here.' I blushed a solid red and because I had not known until today, just how much mom had regarded the staff as friends as well as hired servants. Then mom asked if I wanted to say something to the staff.

"I guess so," I replied. "Donna, Simone, Martha, Jeri, Doug, Charles. I just want to say thank you so much for this very warm welcome. I never had anything so good like this in my entire life. I want you to know that I will do nothing to disappoint any of you and I will definitely not do anything to disappoint mom. You are all very special people and I know we are all going to be friends." I sat down and began to cry. These people were virtual strangers to me and yet, they have welcomed me with open arms into their home. This made me very happy. So what was I crying about then? Because I was happy, that's why. Donna got up and took me into the parlor. We sat down on the settee and she held me in her arms and comforted me until I stopped crying. She wiped the tears from my eyes and we went back to the dining room. When we got there, mom was not there.

"Where did mom go?" I ahd asked.

"Madam will be right back, Miss Jamie. She had to, uhmm, take care of some personal business." Charles volunteered.

When mom came back to the table, I saw she had red eyes. She had been crying too. I said to everybody there that I was as happy as a little school girl wearing her new dress to school for the very first time. They all nodded and smiled. When dinner was over, mom and I went for a walk outside while the staff all helped to clear the table.

"Jamie? I want you to know that you are an answer to my prayers. For three long years, I had prayed that someone would come along and make my heart glad again. I was afraid I was going to end up like the Grinch, with too small a heart and too tight shoes."

"Mom? I will never, never leave you. And, who is the Grinch?"

"You mean you have never seen the the animated movie, or the one with Jim Carrey called How The Grinch Stole Christmas?"

"No mom. I haven't seen any movies that had Christmas in them."

"Not even the original Miracle On 34th Street? Or maybe, It's A Wonderful Life? Or maybe Santa Claus: The Movie?"

"No mom."

"Now that is child abuse, in my opinion."

"Mom? When you contact my parents. Tell them I still love them, and that I want to know why they were so mad at me and treated me the way they did. Okay?"

"All right, sweetheart. I will do just that."

We walked on some more and talked some more about nothing, really. But we laughed, and we skipped and giggled, and sang and held hands. Then we sat by a small pond near the stables. We had such a good time, I began to think of the saying my father used. All good things must end. I wondered if that was the case in this situation. After a while, the sun was starting to go down, so we walked back to the house. When we got passed the foyer, I gave mom a kiss and hug and went to bed telling her that I loved her.

That night I had a dream that I was back at my parents house. I was dressed in a black French maid's uniform that was very, very short. I was picking things up off of the floor that my parents and sister just threw there for me to pick up. Under the uniform I had two crinolines and bright red, ruffled panties. My stocking were black fish net and my shoes were black stilettos, with six inch heels. I was not allowed to stoop to pick things up, but had to bend over showing off my ruffled panties to everyone, including the guests that were there. Then I heard my father say.

"Maid! Pick up this piece of paper here. Do it now!" He yelled. The guests just looked in his direction but paid him no mind. Then he said low enough for my mother, sister him and me to hear. "If I had my way wench, you would have been gone a long time ago. You are worthless, a piece of trash. Now bend over and pick up that paper."

"Yes sir," I said. Then I realized my mistake as soon as I made it. I didn't lower my eyes when I responded to my father's command.

"Didn't I tell you to lower your eyes when addressing members of this family or our guests? Why I ought to . . . no I don't think I will this time. But, wait, maybe on second thought, I should." He got up threatening and began walking towards me. That's when I sat bolt upright and screamed "NOOOOOOOOO."

Simone was the first one in the room, running. In a very panicky voice she said.

"Miss Jamie, are you all right, girl?"

"Oh Simone. I had the most horrible dream. Please hold me, please." Mom had just come in and Charles was not far behind her.

"Madam, Miss Jamie has had a very bad dream. She is shaking very badly."

"Charles." Mom said rather than asked. "Please take Jamie to the parlor and lay her on the settee."

"Of course, Madam. Come Miss Jamie, just put your arms around my neck."

I did and Charles carried me downstairs to the parlor. Mom had brought my pillow with her and put it on one end of the settee. Charles laid me down and set my head on the pillow, and was just about to leave, when mom said.

"Charles I want you to stay. Jamie has had a very bad experience. And I would like to find out just what she dreamt about."

"Yes, Madam."

"Now Jamie, I want you to tell us what scared you so."

"Mom, I had a very horrible dream about my parents again, and this time I think I was going to be hurt." I told them about the dream, and as I related it to them, I saw the shocked look on all their faces. I told mom, that we should not contact my parents. I didn't trust them. I just wanted to stay out of sight until I was eighteen and then they couldn't do anything about me being gone, even if they wanted to. But mom said that they should at least know that I was alive because it was the right thing to do. She also said she would put in the things I said and send the letter out to a man whose specialty is delivering messages. He will be instructed to wait for a reply. I said okay, but I still think it's a bad idea.

I fell asleep and woke up in my bed. Charles must have carried me upstairs. The sun was coming throught he windows and mom was there in the chair. When I saw that, I knew she loved me and didn't want anything to hurt me, not even the bogie man. I got up and went over to the chair.

"Mom?" I said softly. "Did you sleep here all night?"

"Yes, I did honey. I didn't want anything or anyone to hurt you again. I love you. I told you I would take care of you, and that is what I inetend on doing. You had a nasty nightmare last night, and I could see that you were hurt and scared. So, I slept here and rode shotgun, as they say in those old dusty westerns."

I gave her a big hug and kiss and went into the bathroom. I did what I had to do and then ran my bath. I put in the magnolia and jojoba bath foam and put in some magnolia scented crystals. Today I want to be all girl, I mused to myself. I then did the slide in and out of the water, except for my head, so that the magnolia scent would cover all of me. Why is this all coming to me naturally? Are these things I had always wanted but was afraid to ask? Could be. All I knew is, I had a nightmare and mom slept in my room to protect me. That was a feeling that just made me warm all over. This lady truly did love me or she wouldn't have made herself uncomfortable during the night by sleeping in my chair. I got out of the tub after rinsing off and patted myself down. I put on some perfumed body powder that smelled of the magnolia tree. I wrapped the towel around me from under my arms and it looked just like I was wearing a terry cloth wrap around dress. I brushed my teeth and made sure my hair would stand a Saturday riding horses. I get to ride Brownie today I mused again. This made me happy. Very happy. I then went into the bedroom, but mom was gone. I started getting dressed. I selected just white panties and bra. I went to my closet and took out a pair of jeans that had an elastic waistband and a floral print shirt. I got dressed and went to my dresser again because I had forgotten my socks. I took out a pair of white ranch socks (double knit) and put on my black boots with the three inch heels. I then went downstairs and mom was waiting for me in the dining room.

"Well sweetheart," Mom said looking at me with approval. "I see you're ready for your first horse lesson. uh, excuse me, second horse lesson." She smiled when she said that because my first lesson was when I had met Brownie.

"Yes mom," I said back to her. "I'm really excited. I like Brownie. She's a nice animal and well behaved. I'm going to enjoy this day for the rest of my life." I gave her a hug and a kiss again. Everytime I hugged her and kissed her she just beamed with smiles. Smiles I was told, weren't had in this house for three years. I thought of how sad mom must have been those three years. I will do anythng to make her glad and keep it that way. As I sat down she again rang the bell that would bring Donna to serve our breakfast. As Donna entered the Dining room with the tray she said.

"Good morning, Miss Jamie. I see you are ready for your day with Madam. I know it isn't my place, Miss Jamie, but you are a welcomed ray of sunshine that I hope never leaves this house."

"That's all right, Donna," mom said. "You know that you are all my friends. Yes, you are also my hired staff, but also my friends. And I am sure that Jamie appreciates the compliment. Don't you, dear?"

"Oh yes, mom. I sure do. And if my being complimented makes you glad, then I am glad. I only want to make you glad that I am your daughter and you are my mother. I will even count Donna, Simone and Jeri as my sisters, Martha as my auntie and Charles and Doug as my uncles. I have never had a real family that loved me the way everyone here does."

I saw the tears start in Donna's eyes as she came over and gave me a big hug and hurried off to the kitchen. Then Martha, Simone, Jeri, Charles and Doug all came into the dining room and each in their turn gave the biggest hugs I had ever gottent from anyone except mom. Even Charles and Doug had tears in their eyes. I knew then just how much they had missed in the last three years. I looked at mom and said.

"Mom? It's all right if I consider them family, isn't it?"

"Oh, you are such a dear child. Where have you been all my life? Yes, of course you can consider them family. I do everyday of my life. Oh God, I wish my late husband could have met you. You are an angel sent from heaven in answer to my prayers." Then she broke down and cried. I laid my napkin on the table and went to her and held her until she stopped crying. There was even moisture in my eyes, because everyone was so happy I was here. When I told them I would consider them family, they were crying happy tears. I wish every family could feel the love bouncing off the walls of this house which is now a complete home.

After we had finsihed eating, we left for the barn. Walking hand in hand and humming and giggling to the delight of the "family." All of a sudden I burst into singing a song I heard on my radio. I started singing 'We are family, all my brothers, sisters and me . . .' Mom joined in and as we sang we began skipping to the barn. I looked over my shoulder and saw the smiles from the kitchen door as they were all standing there. Jeri again gave me the thumbs up. A little more skipping and singing and we were at the barn. We went in and found Brownie waiting by the stall gate. I got an apple from the basket and handed her one. She ate it and then let me give her a hug at which she whinnied and tapped her right hoof three times. Mom showed me how to saddle a horse, first by putting a blanket over Brownie's back and the tossing the saddle on top of the blanket. There was a strap that hung from saddle called a cinch. You buckled that under the horse to other side of the saddle. Not tight but firm. Then she showed me how to put the bridle on. Brownie opend her mouth to accept the bridal because she knew she would get exercise today, with me. Then mom took the reins on the bridal and ran them to the saddle horn and wrapped them around it. Then we went over to another stall, and mom gave her horse and apple and petted her she gave her a hug. This horse's name was Buttercup. She told me that was the name of Dale Evans' horse in the Roy Rogers series. Not wanting to be dumb, I just said Oh.

Just as mom was ready to put the saddle on Buttercup, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Jeri and the rest behind me. Jeri gave me a hug and asked.

"Do you mind sis, if we go riding with you and mom today?" I looked into her eyes and the life I saw there and the life I saw in mom's eyes, they could have been mother and daughter. I looked at mom but she was busy with Buttercup. So I said.

"No sis, I don't mind at all. I would love for my sisters and auntie and uncles to go riding with us." That is when I knew the other horses belonged to the rest of the "family." More hugs and statements of don't you dare change, sis. I looked over at mom, and this time I saw the smile of approval. After all the horses were saddled, we took the horses out to the corral and I got my first lesson in horse riding. I was told that if I wanted the horse to turn left I just slightly pulled the right rein to my left and the horse would turn left, the left rein for right and just let the reins relax a little without tugging if I wanted the horse to go staright. Brownie was well trained, all I had to do was say come on Brownie, and the horse would go. I guess Brownie sensed this was my first time because she just loped along in the corral.

Mom said it was time we took the horses around the property and she opened the corral gate and we all went for our ride in earnest. By the time we had gotten to the edge of the forest area, we took the horses by the little creek that flowed there and let them drink and relax, while we sat and watched the deer and the rabbits and other wildlife just living there lives without a care in the world. Jeri pointed to a bird that was all red with a crown like you would see on a rooster only much smaller.

"Sis? Do you know what they call that red bird over there on that tree?"

"No," I said.

"It's called a cardinal. They are very beautiful birds. That red one there is the male of the species."

"Why is that, sis?"

"Because, where some bird families are concerned, it's the male that has all the color. The females, unlike us, are plain, by comparison. The cardinal is a member of the finch family."

"How do you know so much about birds, Jeri?" I asked astonished at her knowledge.

"Why, dear sister of mine. From our mother, who else."

I looked over at mom and she just smiled. I found out another important fact about my family. These weren't just staff and friends, they had been considered family long ago, when "dad" was around. They had been taught about various different and sundry things in nature and about love, understanding and acceptance. I was awed. These people sure weren't like my birth family. All I had known in my birth family was dejection and slavery. Here, I didn't have to do anything but make them happy just by being me. It's a wonderful feeling when you are accepted and treated like a human being.

Then mom said to Donna. "Donna? Did you bring any lunch?"

"Yes, Madam. Honey ham and cheese and some potato chips. I also brought some Iced tea."

"Well then, what are we waiting for? I'm famished. And since everyone here is family today, we can all help ourselves."

We had lunch taking our time and just talking about how things have gotten lighter around the house and how everyone seemed to be getting things done long before the day was through. Then Simone piped up.

"Well, it looks like we are going to have to start back so Martha can get the dinner ready."

"Why? When we get back to the house, we can order out. What would everyone like? My treat." Mom said enjoying the day with her family. She was so lively in her talk and gestures that everyone seemed relieved to have an extra day off.

"Gee, mom. I don't really know," said Donna.

"I know," Martha said enthusiastically. "We could have chinese. I've got the menus from the chinese restaurant in town and they deliver. Well, they will deliver to us, anyway."

We rode the horses a little more as mom was showing me the rest of the property. we went into the forest area a little ways and mom was showing me some deer that were just standing there looking at us. Mom said in a hushed voice so as not to frighten the deer.

"See, Jamie. They don't even run when they see us. However, if we talk in a loud voice they will get scared and run. So whenever you are out this way, just watch them. They are very skittish creatures. I provide this forest for their home and their food. I do not permit hunting here. That makes the deer safe from predators."

"I see, mom. That baby deer looks so cute."

"Yes Jamie. The baby is called a fawn. See the white spots? She will lose those as she gets bigger and older. The mother is called a doe, and the father is called a stag."

I giggled and the deer looked up at us as I told mom. "Deer have such funny names, mom."

"Yes Jamie, they may sound funny to you, because you have never learned about them. But these are my pets as are Buttercup, Brownie and the other horses. If you noticed Jamie, I don't have any cats and the only dog here is Mister Max, who belongs to no one. I take care of my animals. They are as precious to me as you are, Jamie."

"Thank you, mom."

So, we rode back to the barn to give the horses a rub down and clean their stalls while they were out in the corral. This was a nice day having a family that really and truly loved me. I wasn't going to do anything to hurt any of them. Okay, so I'm mom's daughter. What child wouldn't be proud to have her?

We went into the house and I went upstairs to change. I heard the phone ring. I heard mom say what real loud as if surprised at something. Then I heard her say, "When is suppposed to be here?" After an I see, I heard her say to call Corrine at the Sheriff's office and have Corby stop by about the same time.

The next couple of hours went by and we heard a loud pounding on the front door. I was ordered to my room and not to come out until called. What was going on? I did as I was told as I saw mom was agitated and I didn't want to hurt her by refusing. After all, she has been nice to me.

"Yes? May I help you sir?" I heard Donna's voice.

"You certainly may, young lady. Is the mistress of the house at home?"

"Yes sir, she is. May I ask who is calling sir?"

"No! Just get her out her to the door, pronto!"

"Yes, yes sir. Right away sir."

I heard mom's voice at the door about five minutes later.

"Yes sir? What is it you want that you have to be so rude to my staff?"

"I came for my son, Jamie. I know he's here so you better hand him over, if you know what's good for you."

Why don't you tell me what's good for her," I heard another man's voice. This must be Corby, the Deputy sheriff.

"I want my son and if she doesn't hand him over I'm going and take him out."

"I see," Corby said. "I wonder sir, if you will step away from the door and go stand by my cruiser."

"I want my son!" My father yelled and from a vantage point on the stairs I saw him push mom very rudely and he walked in the house. Corby had him on the floor and handcuffed before he took another step. Mom was actually knocked to the floor by my father. After Corby had him handcuffed and in the backseat of the cruiser, he came back in to talk to mom.

"Amanda, are you all right?"

"I - I don't know Corby. That man's insane. Come in Corby and I will tell you a story that goes right along with what happened here just now."

They went into the parlor and mom told Donna to bring refreshments. While that was being done I was called from my room to come downstairs. I walked into the parlor and ran to mom and just hugged her tightly. Now I was scared. My father had somehow found me, but didn't really know I was here because he hadn't seen me. My heart racing a mile a minute and tears in my eyes, mom told me to tell Corby what had happened with my birth family. I related what had happend and what my father wanted to do to me, which made me run away. I didn't leave anything out. Corby just looked at me in awe, and started asking me questions.

"Jamie, I notice you are dressed like a girl. Now tell me. Is this something that is being forced on you or is this something you are doing to hide from your father's wrath?"

"I am doing this so my father doesn't find me, sir. I'm scared of him. He's mean and cruel. Mom here, offered to let me stay and be her daughter, if I so chose. She didn't put any pressure on me to make a decision, either. I don't know how he knew I was here, but I am scared of him."

"It's all right, Jamie. He's not going to hurt anyone, anymore. Aman . . . your mother here, is going to file felony assault charges against him. You see, Jamie. In this state, what your father did will land him in prison for a long time. Plus, your mother has me for a witness. I want you to understand too, young lady, that you will have to testify. Do you think you can be brave and come into court and tell what all happened that led to this?"

"Yes sir, I can be brave. If it will put that, that, that skunk where he can't hurt no one else."

"Jamie, I'm only twenty six years old. My name is Corby, not sir. Okay?"

"Yes sir, I mean, Corby."

"Now, when the court hearing comes up, there is going to be a social worker there who is going to interview you before the hearing starts. All she is going to want to know is, are you happy. Just be yourself, okay, young lady?"

"Yes Corby. Thank you so much."

We heard a siren outside and we went and saw another sheriff's car there that had just pulled up. Corby went out and said something to the other officer and they put my Father in the back seat of the other car and then it was gone along with my father. I looked at mom, and she too was shaking. I went over to her and gave her a hug and a kiss and told her everything was going to be all right. Corby then said that he was going to drive mom to the station to file a complaint and he would bring her right back. I gave mom and big hug and kiss again, and said I would be waiting. Donna came to me and put her arms around me and held me, as I was trembling. We went into the parlor and sat down.

"Jamie, your mother will be fine. Corby is the area deputy here for the sheriff's department. He knows what he's doing. Want to know what, though? I bet Corby can find some case that is unsolved and throw that at your father too. I hope so, for the way he treated your mother and me."

"I want him to suffer, the way he made me suffer. When mom comes back I am going to ask if maybe my real mother and sister can come and live here. I know they're not bad people. I think they were just scared of my father."

"Why Jamie! That's a good idea. It will be very nice to have your mother and sister here. Then they can see, what a real home is really like."

"Thank you, Donna. So far you and the others, including mom, are the only ones that have treated me with love and kindness."
 


We'll be back.
 


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