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Authors: Tracy L Carbone

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BOOK: Hope House
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The girl laughed and snapped her gum. “
Yeah, apart from that.”

Gloria hung up.

If the boss was in tomorrow then Gloria would just have to meet him face to face and get answers. She Googled the agency again and got their address in Miami. Then she went to
and booked a round trip flight leaving Boston early in the evening, coming home late Wednesday night. That would give her a couple of days to sniff around.

There were worse places to be in February than south Florida. She called work and spoke to Stephen, telling him that she needed a couple of days off.

Is everything all right, Gloria?”

“No, I mean yes . . . just need a few personal days is all. 

No more explanation than that. Being partner had its privileges. She had the hard copy of a manuscript to read and edit, and a couple more saved electronically to her laptop. She could easily do her work from the plane or a hotel room.

As cold as she was, and still a little sore from her marrow donation, she
didn’t dream of basking on warm beach and relaxing. Instead, Gloria looked forward to ambushing the owner of the New Age Adoption Agency. Miami was a hike, but she’d walk across the Earth if it meant getting her daughter back.

She reluctantly called Tommy again. She knew he thought her insane and a nuisance, but he had to know she’d be coming to his city on a mission that involved them both.

Gloria, hi.”

“Hi, Tommy. All these years we don’t talk an
d now it’s a regular thing, huh?”

Tell me you’re calling to inform me that you’ve come to your senses.”

She gauged the level of pleading in his voice. It was higher than ever. “Well, I’m actually calling to tell you I’m on my way to Miami to meet with the owner of the adoption agency in the morning. He’s out of the country, but he’s supposed to be back tomorrow. His receptionist wouldn’t tell me anything over the phone so I’m off to see the boss.”

Is that a good idea?”

“If I thought it was a bad idea I wouldn’t be going.”

As usual, seeking acceptance and support from Tommy proved futile.
What did I ever see in this guy? Just once I wish he’d—

Listen, I don’t think it’s smart to come all the way down here, trying in vain to find answers. But I know you’re determined. Until you accept the truth, the truth you don’t want to believe, there’s nothing I can do to stop you.

“So is that your blessing?”

If you want to look at it that way. I just want you to let it go, Gloria—get on with your life—and if this is what it takes, fine
.” She heard a long angry sigh escape him. “
Look, if you’re bent on coming to Miami anyway, we have a private investigator we use here sometimes.”

Am I hearing right, she wondered. “A PI? Tommy, that’s . . . that’s good of you.”

He’s a smart guy. Been in the business for years. If you want I can give you his number. Maybe he could help you get to the bottom of this; try to find the girl’s biological mother. Then you’d know for sure

Gloria translated that to:
Then you could let it go.

“I know you don’t believe this, but I do
to let it go. I wasn’t out looking for this, you know. She came to me. And now I feel like I have to follow through with it.”

I understand.”


He coughed and added, “
So when are you coming to Miami?”

“If the snow holds off, I’ll be in Miami at around ten o’clock tonight.”

Want me to pick you up?”

“Doubt your wife would like that. I’ll be fine.”

All right. Let me get you that number. PIs’ name is Kurt Malone. He’s a good guy.”

“So you said. Thank you, Tommy.”

He gave her the number. “
Be careful
,” he said before hanging up. 

Be careful.
Odd thing to say, she thought.
Well, no matter
Figure of speech; likely thinking of me flying in winter, or finding my way to the hotel so late at night.

She climbed the stairs to her bedroom and began to pack. Next to her open suitcase sat the picture of Alison. “Don’t worry; I’m going to get you back. Doesn’t matter what your Daddy believes. I’m going to get you back. You’re mine, damn it … mine!”



Maison D’Espoir, Haiti, afternoon


Mick Puglisi was anxious when he pulled up in the blue Maison D’Espoir van and saw Boris Jean-Baptiste standing outside the gates, gun slung over his shoulder. When Boris nodded hello and approached, Mick breathed relief.
Better than being drilled full of holes and assassinated
. Maybe Martine wasn’t a relative, not Boris’ sister after all but simply just someone with the same last name. God, Mick hoped so.
If anyone tried to lock my sister up as a breeding bitch, I wouldn’t take it so well.

“More babies today, Mr. Puglisi?” The wide tree of a man took up most of his view.

“Yes, ten are coming with me today.”

“I’ll open the gates wide then lock them behind you.”

Great, nothing to worry about. Business as usual. Mick thanked every Catholic saint he could name as he drove the baby transport van through the imposing gates.

He parked the company van in front of the main building and watched the girls as they walked by, most of them sporting big bellies. Some had dreadlocks, some braids, and some nappy Buckwheat hairdos. All Mick really saw in them were dollar signs.

A couple of the girls smiled at him and waved. Others cowered and avoided him. He didn’t care either way. This was a business, not a popularity contest. He was forced to do a lot of things in his line of work that would send lesser men running for the hills. At the end of the day, his father was proud of him, and Mick ran a successful and lucrative business. His son Luke had every toy and comfort money could by. If people lower down the food chain had to suffer, well, that was just survival of the fittest.

He walked through the clinic’s front door and straight to the nursery wing.

“Mick, hi.” Tad’s wave was tentative. He looked tired and pasty. Mick would have thought all the sun and heat would have darkened Tad up a bit over the years, given him some color; but he was the same old skinny, lanky pale kid he’d always been. Except now he wore a white jacket.

“How’s it going, Doc? Everyone healthy?”

“The babies are ready to go.”

“Good! Got the paperwork?”

“Yes, but Mick, you know I really don’t think implanting the twins is a good idea.”

“Worrying as usual I see.” The doctor’s whining phrase—I really don’t think it’s a good idea—had become a mantra with Tad.

“Come on, Tad. It’s how they do it in the outside world, in all the big fertility clinics out there. They always implant a few and hope at least one takes.”

“This is different and you know it. We’ve made medical strides they don’t know about which gives us a much higher pregnancy success rate.”

Mick smirked. “And your point is?”

“The purpose of implanting a few embryos at a time is because they hope one attaches and grows into a fetus. At Maison, with the technology we have, most of the embryos, hell, almost all of them, attach so we end up with multiple births. If you keep this up these surrogates will deliver twins over and over again.”

“Tad, you always were too soft. The bottom line is more product, less time. Ten kids instead of five this month. Five pregnancies and ten infants make for a pretty damn good profit margin.”

Tad made his holier-than-thou, Mick-you’re-a-monster face.

Mick hated that look. “What?”

Tad ushered him down the hall into his office and shut the door behind them. “These are humans we’re talking about here, Mick. Humans. Real girls who are having child after child. Do you have any idea what kind of exertion that puts on their bodies? You put twins in there, and if they both take it’s twice the strain. And then, God, you separate the twins and send them off to live in different homes.”

“Not always.”

Tad raised an eyebrow.

“Last month I adopted a pair together,” Mick defended. “Two brothers birthed to Natalie or Marjorie . . . whatever her name is.”


“I don’t know, but they were cute little boys, and I was in a beneficent mood.”

“How much more did the parents pay?” 

Mick frowned. Tad was overstepping his boundaries. “Drop it, Tad. If you don’t want to work here anymore, leave. I’ll find someone else in a minute.”

Mick knew he wouldn’t go. Tad love
d Martine. It was one of the reasons Mick gave her the job as a nurse even though she had no skills or education. The other reason, of course, was that she had carried Luke. Had named him. Out of respect for his son, Mick had spared her.

Tad cared too much about all the girls. They were his Achilles’ heel. Unlike Mick, Tad never saw the business side, only the human side.

“I don’t want to leave. I just wish you would remember once in awhile that it’s people you’re dealing with—not cattle.”

“I’ll work in it. Help me get the babies on the van, will you?”

“Sure.” Tad hung his head.

What must it be like to be so weak
, Mick wondered?
To go along with what someone else told you all the time, even if you completely disagree

Tad opened the double doors and led Mick to the waiting infants. They were swaddled and ready to go. A gangly, wide-eyed girl nodded to Mick and handed him one of the babies. She was young and new to Maison, helping with the babies until she got pregnant and earned her keep the conventional way. Probably only spoke Creole. Probably couldn’t even write her own name.

Let Tad judge me all he wants,
Mick told himself,
this girl and the others are getting a better life here.

After all the babies and their supplies were loaded on the van, Tad turned to go back inside.

“Can you come with me to the airport?”

“Why? You always take Boris.”

If Mick told him that Boris had asked about Martine, Tad would tell Martine. Next thing, she’d talk to the guard and might realize she had some family that cared about her. And she might leave. And then Tad might leave with her. And who knows what kind of revolt Mick would have on his hands. He fearfully imagined a bunch of pregnant natives running around, all of them yelling at Mick in Creole, leaving him helpless. Sure, he could get a new doctor, but no one who would run the whole place for such a small cut of the profits. No one who would want to live on the grounds in a little house among the residents.

“I thought you could come with me for a change.” Mick shrugged.  “For old time’s sake.”

“Don’t you have Louie to help you load the babies on the plane?”

“Once I get to the airport yes.  But you know as well as I do that I don’t speak the language. It’s almost a two hour drive on dirt roads to Port Au Prince and if I break down, or get a flat, or get stopped, I need someone who can talk to the locals.”

“All right, I’ll go. Let me just tell Martine to hold down the fort. You want a bottle of water for the road?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Mick sat in the warm van, which was kept at room temperature for the infants. Not so comfortable for him but necessary. The kids had all gotten a dose of something, Mick didn’t know what, to help them sleep for the long journey. The small Maison cargo plane had a hidden compartment for the infants. Sound proof and temperature controlled. Unable to be seen by customs inspectors unless they knew to look for it. Louie, his cousin and pilot, had contacts in Customs in Key West but Mick didn’t want to leave himself vulnerable and rely on them. He took precautions in case Louie’s friends couldn’t meet the plane, or if some damned inspector who wasn’t connected did the inspection. Over the years, they’d been lucky, but it just took one slip up.
Successful businessmen are always prepared,
Daddy Puglisi so often said. 

Once he cleared Customs, Louie would help him take the babies off the plane and place them into another specially designed cargo van waiting at the Key West airport. That van was also navy blue but had “Hope House” written on the outside. No one ever stopped charity vans. At least not in the U.S.

Then Mick would pay Louie his envelope of cash and his cousin would be on his way.

Mick would take the Hope House van on the ferry to Windy Key where he would drop off the infants at the holding facility for a few days. He
flinched when he envisioned the bittersweet visits he had with the woman who maintained the center.  It was torturous going there monthly, seeing her and having to leave her behind, but he had no choice. It was Daddy’s rule, like so many of the other restrictions and practices he had no choice but to accept. No one confronted Daddy Puglisi.

BOOK: Hope House
5.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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