Authors: Breanna Hayse
“What's that?” Lance asked.
“It’s one of the alternative life-styles that some people are involved in. It goes beyond role-play. The partners actually assume a child and guardian type relationship.”
“Um, I’m not quite following you. Are you saying the adults pretend to have sex with children?” His frown was deep, disapproving and he felt anger brewing.
“No, no… nothing like that. When they have sex, the ‘child’ gets to be an adult again. I read about it in one of your psych magazines.”
“What about the possibility that she was just close to her father? Or that he was involved in this accident with her and is lost, too?”
“Could be. Either way, she assumed the immediate role of a child and until she retrains, she’ll have to be cared for as one.”
“I don’t mean to be insulting, but how did you become so wise and get stuck working as an aide?”
“I have three kids and I do this because I love it,” Darla smiled, “My husband and I also enjoy finding new things to spice up our marriage. We were thinking about giving this age-play thing a try.”
“Off the record… you’re a kinky little bitch.” Lance grinned back.
“Off the record… I know,” Darla replied.
“Why don’t you take a break? I’ll sit with her for a while.”
“Thanks, Doc. I’ll be back in a few. May I bring you something?”
“Some coffee, please. Then take your time. It’s going to be a long night.” Lance sat back in the chair next to the hospital bed, studying the sleeping girl. Age-play?
Where she would remain a permanent child to be cared for, loved and even disciplined? Hmmm, the idea appealed to him. His sister always complained that he was a control freak and she was right. He liked being dominant, having things done his way (which were usually the right way, anyway), and being obeyed when orders were issued. His all-female staff adored him and treated him like an older brother or uncle, but still respected him as their boss. They brightened at his frequent praise and would come close to tears during his infrequent scolding, but all his girls knew he was there for them.
He thought of Kathy and the relationship they had growing up. His brother and he were always very mature and responsible for their age. They had instinctively assumed a parental role with their baby sister even before their parents began to frequently travel overseas to continue their research as seismic geologists. He had taught Kathy how to ride a bike, kissed away all her ouches, chased the monsters from her closet, helped her with homework, and even disciplined her when necessary. He missed that relationship. It gave him a sense of self, one that had been lost a long time ago.
“Who are you and what happened?” he whispered to the girl, holding her hand, “Don’t be scared. Daddy is here to protect you.”
Noelle murmured something and smiled in her sleep as she pulled his hand to her cheek.
Yes, there was something odd about this one. Once again, he felt his sixth sense tingling.
Alan Callahan, Esq. leaned back in his large chair, studying the couple in front of him.
“Are you absolutely sure that you want to go through with this?”
“Mr. Callahan, you’re an attorney. Are you trying to talk us out of divorce?”
“Mr. Cresnik, it’s because I’m an attorney that I have to ask you that question. I can put one of my partners on your case, however, I always insist on meeting the couple before we pursue it.”
“Are you a marriage counselor, too?” the woman scowled at him.
“Actually, yes. I have a Masters in psych and I am licensed to practice in Nevada. Please answer this question. Why, with all the attorneys here in Vegas, are you coming to
firm? Our specialty is corporate law, not family law.”
“It’s because we joint-own a business and I want to make sure she doesn’t hose me.”
“I helped make that business, you jerk! If it wasn't for me, it wouldn’t exist!”
“Now, see here. You…”
“Whoa, please. Not in my office. Mrs. Cresnik? If you could fix things in your marriage, what would they be?”
“That he would appreciate me more and not take me for granted.” The woman had tears in her eyes.
“I DO appreciate you! I just can’t stand your constant nagging and criticism of everything I do.”
“You never bother to listen to me or put any value on my ideas. I feel like you stopped loving me and love the business more.” Real tears started to fall as the woman sobbed into her hands. Alan remained silent, handing her a box of tissues.
The room was quiet for a few minutes. “I’m sorry,” the man said softly, reaching for her hand. “I never meant to make you feel that way. I didn’t know you were jealous of the business.
You never told me.”
“I tried, but you were always so busy. You never have time to talk to me anymore.”
“It’s really hard to talk when I’m constantly being yelled at. If I promise to make time, do you think you can tone down the nagging?”
“I promise to try and be more aware of it. That’s all I can do. I’m sorry. I never knew it bothered you so much,” his wife sniffed, dabbing her eyes with a Kleenex as she looked up at him.
“So, would you two like to give it another go? Maybe think about the things you said and show each other some more respect? You’ve been together for four years, another few months of serious changes can make a difference.”
“Yeah, but what can we do about the yelling and nagging? Sorry, hon, but you are way out of control. I honestly can’t take much more of it.”
“Mrs. Cresnik? Do you like that behavior?”
“Of course not, Mr. Callahan. It’s a bad habit and I know I should stop. I just never catch myself in time. I have a pretty awful temper.”
“I’m married to a redhead. Full blooded Irish Catholic girl with a disposition that can sometimes test the patience and grace of the saints. I know all about tempers, tantrums, and
‘tudes’,” Alan grinned.
“How so you deal with them? Any advice would be appreciated,” his client asked.
“I’m not so sure about that,” came the chuckling response.
“No, seriously. How do you handle the fits?”
Alan leaned forward, looking back and forth between them. “They are not so much of a problem anymore. Since you are neither my client or under my council, I think it’s not completely out of line for me to share my secret to a happy marriage. We practice Domestic Discipline. Go to the store, buy yourself a nice, flat, wide hairbrush, and apply it to this young lady’s bare bottom when she acts out. Bad habits are changed very quickly when we want them to be.”
“Are you suggesting that my husband is to spank me?” the woman looked appalled.
“No, I’m not suggesting, I’m
him to spank you. You’ll both feel better. Trust me, it’s a lot healthier for a marriage than fighting. It has a financial benefit as well. A hairbrush is a heck of a lot cheaper than a divorce.”
“Come on, Stacey. There’s a Wal-Mart close to home. We have some shopping to do, then how about if we go out to a nice, romantic dinner. Mr. Callahan? Thank you,” the man stood to shake his hand.
His wife turned to Alan and smiled. “Yes, thank you. I hope we won’t have to come see you again.”
“So do I, my dear. Good luck and watch that temper of yours.” Alan sighed as the couple left. Another marriage saved. Maybe his brother was right and he should go full time into family counseling. He picked up the phone as he reached around to rub his back. He had been sitting too long and his old disc injury was complaining.
“Hey, little brother. Just thinking of you. What’s happening?”
“Had a long night with Noelle. Some strange things happened. Oh, before I tell you, did your sister call you to confess?”
“Damn, what did Mary Katherine get into this time?”
Lance quickly told him, listening for the telltale grunt of annoyance. There it was!
“When is Todd going to stop babying her and begin to paddle her little butt? We can’t keep doing it for him.”
“I know, I told him that. He’s considering it still. You know how protective he is of her, especially now.”
“He’s not doing her any favors by waiting. She’s used to this type of discipline and needs it to keep her focused.”
“You’re preaching to the choir, Alan. Hey, I need some counsel, counselor.”
“Yes, Doctor? How can I help you?” Alan asked, doodling on a tablet. Lance shared the details of his evening with Noelle, including her ‘adoption’ of him.
His brother chortled. “Sounds like Kathy all over again. She called both of us Daddy until she turned nine, remember?”
“No, I actually forgot. So, what should I do? I don’t want to cause her any more damage or confusion.”
“Lance, since we were kids, you’ve been the rescuer. Your sixth sense has never failed you. Follow it. If you say there’s something special about this woman, then I believe you.”
“If you say so.”
“Since when do you second guess yourself, little brother? Pull up some of that famous arrogance I hear about and put it to work. We’ll find an answer to this mystery, ok?”
“You’re in on it?”
“Sure am. Anything that has you and Todd so riled up beckons for my involvement.
Now, you tell that kid sister of ours that I will be over tonight after work for a long talk.”
“Poor Kathy,” Lance snickered. He stretched his long body and yawned, checking his schedule. No surgeries, just general rounds and follow-ups. It was Thursday and tomorrow was a regular half day. He looked up as Kathy appeared in his doorway. “Well, hello, Mrs. Makin.
What can I do you for?” Lance smiled, pointing at a chair.
Kathy hopped into it. “I wanted to stop by and see you before I met Noelle. What happened last night? You didn’t come home and your staff is doing a lot of giggling.”
“Those ladies are going to send me to an early grave. We had an interesting episode that I hope you are comfortable enough to follow through with. Come with me.” They walked into Noelle’s room where she sat up in bed, coloring in a book with the OT
next to her. She was freshly showered, her hair pulled back into a ponytail and tied with a pretty pink ribbon. Her face lit up when she saw him. “Daddy! Look! Miss Julie put a ribbon in my hair.”
“It’s very lovely, Noelle. How are you feeling today?” Lance asked, leaving Kathy staring and mouthing the word ‘daddy.’ He held out his arms for a hug.
“Good. We’re coloring. See?”
“Very pretty. You are staying in the lines, too. I’m proud of you.”
“Miss Julie said I didn’t have to, but I like to. When are we going home?”
“Soon, honey. Probably tomorrow. I want you to meet someone. This is Aunt Kathy.
She’ll be staying with you while I’m at work.”
“Hi Noelle, it’s so good to meet you.”
“You’re pretty. I never had an Aunt before.”
“Can you tell me about your family?” Kathy asked, sitting down next to the girl.
Tears started to well in her eyes. “No, only Daddy. I can’t remember…”
“It’s ok, honey. Don’t cry. Oh, come here.” Kathy said, holding the sobbing girl in her arms and looking tearfully at Lance. His instincts were correct; this was exactly what they both needed.
While Kathy tended to Noelle, Lance pulled Julie aside. “Did you get her to draw?”
“She only wanted to color, sorry. She learns incredibly fast, but seems to be stuck in this mode right now. Her vocabulary has increased exponentially since she started talking. She might benefit from a private tutor.”
“Kathy taught elementary school before she married Todd. She can start with her. I’ll get materials for them ASAP. Thanks for the input, Jules.”
“She’s a sweet young lady. It would be nice if…”
“I just thought that you two would look so cute together as a couple. She needs to grow up first. And you, Dr. C., need to stop frowning. It’s putting wrinkles on your gorgeous mug.”
“One of these days, I’m going to remind this staff that I’m the boss and you need to stop treating me like your little brother. I don’t need to be set up.”
“Don’t be so grumpy. We love you and know you love us. Why do you think no one ever leaves this place? I wish all facilities were like this one, sans Dr. Hart-less.”
“Don’t let him hear you say that. You did well with her, Jules. Thank you.” Julie beamed, accepting his hug. “Call me if you need anything else, ok? And think about what I said. It’s time you moved on and found someone to appreciate you.” Lance pointed to the door, silently ordering her to leave. Giggling, Julie complied.
Lance cursed under his breath. She was right. He knew he needed to move on. His last relationship had ended terribly two years ago. Rebecca, a lounge singer, had left him high and dry for a casino owner. It came as a shock, coming home and seeing her stuff gone with only a note telling him, “I found someone else. Good bye.”
Alan had warned him about her, but he hadn’t listened. He put her through vocal classes, took care of her bills, and worshipped the ground the tall, willowy, brunette walked on. Alan offered to represent him to retrieve the lost funds, but Lance refused. He just wanted a clean break from the woman who had shattered his heart.
Lance sat down, watching Kathy color with the odd girl. She seemed so innocent, but her violet eyes were old, knowing, mature. He could not put his finger on what nagged him about her. Hopefully he would, in time. “Since you girls are getting along so well, I’m going to get back to work. Katherine? Call me if you need anything. By the way,” he paused to look at her,
“Alan wanted me to tell you he was coming over this evening to discuss your recent purchase with you.”
Kathy’s face paled. “I can’t believe you called him! When are you two going to realize I’m an adult?”
“Maybe when you start acting like one, little sister. Love you. Noelle? Be a good girl for Aunt Kathy, ok?”